COncionem banc perlegi, & cùm nihil in eâ aut Ecclesiae Anglicanae, aut bonis mo­ribus contrarium reperiatur, Publicâ Luce do­nandam censui.

Edm. Diggle, S. T. P. Reve­rendissime in Christo Patri, ac Dom'. Dom'. Archiepisc', Eborac. à Sacris Domest.

A SERMON AD CLERUM: At the Visitation of the DEANE and CHAPTER there, holden the 19th. day of November, Anno Dom. 1662.

By the most Reverend Father in God ACCEPTUS By Divine Providence, Lord Arch-Bishop of YORK his GRACE, Primate of England and Metropolitan.

Preacht by Thomas Bradley, D. D. one of his late Majesties Chaplains, and Praebendary of the Church afore-said.

Canst thou stay the sweet influences of the Pleades? or loose the bands of Orion, Job 38.31.

The Sauffers, and the Snuffe-dishes, shall be of pure Gold, Exod. 25.38.

Yorke, Printed by Stephen Bulkley, and are to be sold by Francis Mawbarne at the Minster-Gates, 1663.

Cum Privilegio.

Revel. 2.1.

And to the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, Write, These things saith he, which holdeth the seven Starrs in his right hand, and walketh in the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks.

Ver. 2. I know thy Works, &c.

IN the precedent Chapter, we have the Descripti­on of a wonderfull Person, One like unto the Son of Man, walking in the midst of seven Golden Candlesticks, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a Golden Girdle, ver. 13. His head and his haire as white as wooll, or snow, and his eyes as a flame of fire, ver. 14. And his feet as fiue brasse, burning in a furnace: and his voyce as the sound of many waters, ver. 15. &c. which is none other, but the de­scription of Jesus Christ the Eternall Sonne of God, in his glorious capacities of King, Priest, and Prophet of his Church. In these two Chapters, the second and the third, are con­tained seven Epistles, written from him to the seven famous Churches of Asia: To every Epistle there is prefixt a seve­rall Preface; and every of those Prefaces taken out of some part of that glorious description: As for instance; The Pre­face to this first Epistle, is taken out of those parts of this de­scription which are found, verses 13. and 16. Verse the 13. I [Page 2]saw one like unto the Sonne of Man in the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks: And in the 16. ver. He had in his right hand seven Starrs, thus the Description: The Preface to the Epistle thus, Thus saith he, which holdeth in his right hand the seven Starrs, and walketh in the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks. The Preface of the Epistle to the second Church, the Church of Smyrna, is taken out of those parts of the De­scription which are found ver. 11. and the 18. ver. the 11. thus, I am the first and the last: And ver. the 18. thus, I was dead, and am alive, thus the Description; the preface to the Epistle thus: Thus saith he which is the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; and so of the rest: The Preface to every one of them is taken out of such part of this glorious Description, as represents Christ unto them in such a forme or posture, as is most suitable to that Churches State, or Condition, such as may adde a greater authority to the whole Epistle, such as may make the deeper impression into them, and procure the greater reverence and obedience to that which is written and contained in them. But our businesse is with the Church of Ephesus, the most famous of all the rest; Famous for this, that it was the Metro­polis of all the rest; Ephesus was the Metropolis of all Asia: Famous for the University there, it was an Universi­ty as Atheus was, but it seems they studied much the black Art; for when by the Preaching of St. Paul among them, they were convinced of the vanity of those Studies, in testi­mony of their Repentance, They brought their Conjuring Books, and burnt them before all men, but first they were pri­zed, and upon the valuation, they came to fifty thousand pieces of silver, Acts 19. Famous for the magnificent Temple of Diana, in it the statelyest Fabrique in the world, two hun­dred and twenty years in building, as some Histories relate; [Page 3]Famous for the Preaching of St. Paul there, Acts 20. and for that Divine Epistle which he Wrote to that Church, inserted in the sacred Canon, and one of the largest among them, the Epistle to the Ephesians; But much more famous for this Epistle written unto them, more immediately from our Lord himself, whereof our Text is a part: Other Churches had the Honour to be written unto by the holy Apostles of our Lord: but this, more immediately by our Lord himself; for he it is which here dictates to his sacred Penman, and amanuensis, John, Ʋnto the Church of Ephesus Write.

So then, It was St. Johns Charge to write this Epistle; It is our Businesse now to Reade it, and to consider of the Con­tents of it: For not unto Ephesus alone; but unto us doth it belong, Let him that hath an eare, heare what the Spirit saith unto the Churches: To us therefore, as directly doth it belong, as if the Epistle were superscribed, To the Angel of the Church of York, write, These things saith he, that holdeth the seven Starrs in his right hand, and walketh in the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks: Novi opera tua, I know thy works.

For the opening of this Letter, at the first view, it divides it self into these three Parts:

1. The Person to whom it is directed here, represented to us under the name and Notion of an Angel, To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus.

2. The description of the Person, from whom it is sent, as he is here represented to us in two wonderfull postures; 1. Holding in his right hand seven Stars. 2. Walking in the midst of the seven golden Candlesticks; These things saith he, which, &c.

3. The speciall notice that he took of their state and [Page 4]condition, the carriage and behaviour of that Church, in these words, Novi opera tua, I know thy works.

And now, oh for the Tongue of an Angel, to speak of so Angelicall, so Heavenly a subject, Angels, Starrs, Golden Candlesticks! A Chrysostome here, to set them forth in their luster, and in their brightnesse, would well suite with such a subject; but we must doe as we may.

The Text is of Shew bread all along, and that belongs pro­perly to the Priests. And in the Tabernacle where the golden Candlestick was set, it was commanded, That the Table there should be furnished with such Bread; and so it is here. And that I may break to every one of you a morsell of it, and give to each of you his portion in due season: Let us take a second view of the Text in the particulars of it, branching themselves out of these more generall Parts: And here out of the first part, The Person to whom the Epistle is directed, The Angel of the Church, we are to consider.

  • 1. What is meant by this Angel?
  • 2. Who in particular this Angel was?
  • 3. Whether under that Name he understand some one particular Person onely? or whether there were any more included under that name?
  • 4. Why he is represented under the name and notion of an Angel? To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus.

Then out of the next part of the Text, The Person from whom the Epistle is sent, we are to consider out of the first part of his description, Holding the seven Starrs in his right hand; what? or who are meant by these seven Starrs? whe­ther it may not be literally understood of that famous Con­stellation clearly visible in our Horizon, in dorso Tauri, called by Astronomers, the Pleyades; by our vulgar people, in plain English, the seven starrs? Or, if not them? then [Page 5]who? or what else is meant by them. And thirdly, Why represented under the similitude of the seven Starrs? And next, What is meant by his holding of them in his right hand?

Then out of the next part of his Description, as he is represented, Walking between the seven golden Candlesticks, we are to enquire, VVhat these golden Candlesticks are? who they are that are represented by them? and why? And lastly, what is meant by his walking in the midst of them? not sitting, nor standing; but walking: Non in angulo, sed in medio, in the midst of them.

Out of the third part, The speciall notice that he takes of their works; We are to consider, what works he means, and how, and why he is so exact in observing them, and taking notice of them? All these things clearly offer themselves to our consideration and enquiry. And if I should metho­dically, and exactly treat of them all, I might well conti­nue my Discourse as large as Paul did his Sermon, which he Preach't to this very Church, Acts 20. till Starr-light, and till we should have occasion to make use of these Candlesticks here before us, to finish it. But I am com­manded brevity, and I will observe it, as well as I can, in so copious a subject as this is, in which, Crede mihi labor est, non levis esse brevis: But I have heard of foure sorts of Preachers, The Quoter, the Noter, the Taunter, and the Flaunter: Amongst all these, upon this account, I shall fall in with the second sort, I shall neither Taunt nor Flaunt, nor fill the Margin with Quotations; but onely note, as it were with an asterisme, and point with the singer at those things which are most remarkable, & tanquam Canis ad Nilum, hint and away. And first of the Person unto whom this Epistle is directed, here represented to us [Page 6]under the Name and Notion of an Angel, To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus.

First, VVhat was this Angel? Pererius tells, and gene­rally the current of Interpreters, that by the Angel here, is meant the Bishop of the Church of Ephesus; Per Ange­lum hunc, non alium intelligimus, quam Episcopum Ecclesiae Ephesinae; By the Angel here, we understand none other but the Bishop of Ephesus. And reason it self suggests it, for it is clear by that which we Reade, Acts 20. and in the Epistle written by Saint Paul to Timothy, That there were many Pastors and Teachers in that Metropoliticall Church; yet our Lord, writing unto the Church, doth not direct his Epistle indifferently to them all; but to one more eminent then all the rest, one that was Superinten­dent over all the rest, whom here he stiles, The Angel of that Church; though there were many Pastors and Teachers in that great and populous City; yet they are not all in­differently styled Angels, although they might all, in a way of resemblance, be styled Angels; yet not all, nor any of the rest [...], the Angel: But to this Person he writes as to one more eminent then all the rest, to one that had power, authority, and jurisdiction over the rest, whom here he styleth by an Emphasis, and [...], by an excel­lency; [...], the Angel, To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus.

Note. It appears then, there were distinctions, and different Orders and Degrees among the Clergy from the begin­ning, even under the Gospel. In our Saviours time, there was first himself, the Prince of the Order; then the Apo­stles; then the Evangelists; then the seventy Disciples, all Ministers of the Gospel. But can you imagine that all these were of equall Dignity in the Church? In Ti­tus [Page 7]1.5. Saint Paul authorizes Titus, to Ordain Elders in every Church. That the Elders were Teaching Elders, it appears by their Ordination. But can any man imagine, that these Elders Ordeined by Titus, and Titus Ordain­ing, and Saint Paul authorizing Titus to Ordain them, were all of an equall authority in the Church, Ejusdem Ordinis, ejusdem Dignitatis, ejusdem Potestatis? Reason it self speaks the contrary; In Heaven above there is an Hierarchy: we Reade of Angels, and Arch-Angels, &c. And why should it seem so strange that there is such an one here below? and that we should heare of Bishops, and Arch-Bishops, &c. If it be usefull in the Church Triumphant? surely in the Church Militant much more. So it was here in this Church of Ephesus, there were many Pastors, many Priests, or Mini­sters belonging to it, and Ministring in it; yet among all the rest one more eminent then the rest, of greater Dig­nity, Power, and Authority then the rest, here styled, The Angel of the Church: To the Angel òf the Church of Ephesus.

The second Quaery is, Who in particular this Angel was then Bishop in that See: And 'tis generally noted to be Timothy: Sure we are, that Timothy was Bishop there, and that much about this time; We have Scripture for that, in the Close of the second Epistle to Timothy, where Paul Dates, and Directs his Epistle thus, The second Epistle to Timothy, Ordained the first Bishop of the Church of the Ephesians, Written from Rome, when Paul was brought bèfore Nero the second time. After whom, Saint John him­self that writ this Epistle, Succeeded him in the same See, where he lived many years, and at last ended his dayes, a very old Man, and dyed in Peace in his Bed, and so did none of the Apostles, but he; all the rest being Crowned [Page 8]with Martyrdome: For the latter of these, we have the History of the Church: But for the former, we have the Canonicall Scripture it self to confirm it: So that you cannot cast Bishops out of the Church Root and Branch, (as the cry goes among some of you) except you will burn your Bibles.

3. But why doth he write in the singular number, To the Angel of the Church, as to one? VVere there no more concerned in it? Surely yes, all the Clergy at the least; so Rupertus, Dum ad Angelum scribit, ad totum Clerum scribit: VVhen he writes to the Angel, or Bishop of the Church, he Writes to the whole body of the Clergy of that Church. Lyra goes further, In Angelo Ecclesiae, totam affatur Ecclesiam; In the Angel of the Church, he speaks to the whole Church, however most especially to the Pastors and Ministers of it. But why in the singular number, as to one? but because he was their Chief, he was their Governour, he had the over­sight of all the rest, he had the Charge of them, as they had of the Flock of Christ, and of the Congregations un­der him; he was to give them their Charge, to set them upon their Duty, and to see that they did discharge it ac­cordingly; and therefore, as if they were all involved in him, and included in him, whatsoever is found good in them, is imputed unto him, and he is commended for it; what­soever is found reproveable in them, is charged upon him all along throughout the whole Epistle, and he is blamed for it. Judge you then if he, and all his Successors in the like Charge, have not reason to look into the Carriage and Behaviour of those which are so immediately under their Government, and under their Charge; if they have not rea­son as their [...], to Oversee them, to Visit them, to take an Account of them how they carry in their Places, [Page 9]and discharge their Duties in their severall Charges. Surely it is but reasonable, and necessary, that he should take an Account of others, which is to give an Account for others unto God; and such is the Case in the Text, To the An­gel of the Church is the Epistle directed, of him is the Account required for all that are under his Charge and Government, especially his Clergy, To the Angel of the Church of Ephesus, Write.

But the main thing offered out of this superscription of the Epistle to be inquired into, is this; Why it is Di­rected to the Bishop? (or who ever else are included in it) under the Name and Notion of an Angel, To the Angel of the Church. And Saint Augustine gives the Reason in a word; Propter similitudinem, for the likenesse that is be­tween them, and for the many properties wherein all Bi­shops, Pastors, and Ministers of the Church should resem­ble the Angels; and the resemblances between them for which they are called by that Name, are principally these five.

1. Propter Dignitatem, For the Honour and Dignity that God hath put upon them; God hath Clothed them with Honour and Dignity above their Brethren, and hath Anointed them with the Oyle of Grace and gladnesse above their fellows; Hath Dignified them with the highest Ti­tles that Men can be capable of, Spirituall Fathers, Pastors, Rulers, Embassadors, Starrs, Angels, that they may be Ho­nourable in the Eyes of the People; it is much for his own Honour that it should be so; it is for the Honour of his Service that it should be so; it is much for the ad­vantage of their Ministery that it should be so; it is for the Honour of the People that it should be so; and there­fore hath he Commanded, that we should account them wor­thy [Page 10]of double Honour, if not for their own sake, yet for their works sake, and for their Masters sake, we should not think much to Honour them whom God doth Honour: And let them whom God hath thus Honoured, take heed they doe not dishonour him, nor themselves. Remember the Item given to Elyes Sonns in this very case; Those which Honour me, I will Honour; but those that despise me, shall be despised, 1 Sam. 2.30. made good Malach. 2.9.

2. Propter Ministrationem; Pastors, and Ministers of the Church, are called Angels, for the likenesse of their Mini­stration with that of the Angels: Angels are Ministring Spirits, sent out for the good of those that shall be the Heires of salvation, Heb. 1.14. Pastors and Ministers are such for all the world, called, commissionated, and sent out for the good of those that shall be the Heires of Salvation, to Preach unto them the Gospel of Grace; To Publish and Declare unto them the Mistery of Godlinesse; To Proclaime the glad tydings of Salvation; To Instruct them in the way of Life; To Comfort, to Confirme them, to strengthen them, and every way to Build them up upon their most holy Faith, and so to fit and prepare them for the Glory that is intended them: their very Name imports their Duty, Angels, Mes­sengers from God to Man; And the Message that they bring is good, 'tis [...], good newes, tydings of Peace, and of good things: How beautifull therefore ought their very Feet to be upon the Mountains, which are shod with the preparation of such Gospel.

3. Angels, Propter Scientiam, & Sapientiam, for their wisedom and knowledge; Angels are wise, and knowing Spi­rits; As an Angel of God, so is my Lord the King to dis­cern good and evill, sayes the widdow of Tekoah to David, 2. Sam. 14.17. And verse the 20. My Lord the King is [Page 11]Wise, as an Angel of God, to know all things: Angels are wise, and knowing Spirits; such ought Pastors and Mini­sters of Churches to be, Wise, and Knowing: The Priests Lips must preserve Knowledge, and the people shall seek the Law at his Mouth: for he is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts, Malac. 2.7. The Roman Orator was wont to say of the Lawyers House, that it was Oraculum Civitatis, the Ora­cle of the City: I am sure it ought to be so of the Di­vines: The Divines Residentiary House ought to be, Ora­culum Civitatis, from whence any of the People ought to fetch Instruction, Direction, Resolution, Satisfaction in all their Doubts, and Difficulties; Tanquam ab Oraculo, as from an Oracle; and this requires much knowledge, wise­dome, and prudence: He must not be a Novice, saith Saint Paul, 1 Tim. 3.6. He must be as a Steward, saith our Saviour, plentifully furnished, that may bring out of his Treasury things New and Old. God will not send a Message by the Leggs of the Lame; nor make Blind men Seers, nor Dumbe men his Orators: Ʋbi desinit Philosophus, ibi incipit Medi­ [...]us. It was wont to be said, Where the Philosopher ends, there the Physitian begins: I am sure it ought to be so with the Divines: Arts and Sciences, Knowledge in the Learned Languages, Histories, and all other kinds of Humane Learn­ing, were wont to be accounted the Stayres into the Pulpit, the Handmaids to Divinity: But how ordinary hath it been in these latter and looser Times for young Neophytes to skip over all these at one jumpe into the Pulpit, and there with great Confidence and Impudence, the onely Ar­mour of Ignorance, to vent their own raw Fancies, or such things which they have taken up upon Trust, from such Authors as they have light upon, or what they have taken from the Mouth of their admired Teachers, by Brachygra­phie, [Page 12]and so Communicate them unto the people, apt to take any new Impressions, and fill them with varietie of Fancies and Innovations.

The fourth property wherein the Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers of Churches doe resemble the Angels, and for which they are so called, is, Propter Celeritatem, for their readinesse, chearfulnesse, and swiftnesse in Executing the Commands of Almighty God. Angels are represented to us Winged, and those Wings not let down, and clapt to their sides; but raised up, expansit and stretched out, to shew their readinesse to execute the will of the Heavenly Father; they stand in his presence, their Eye is upon him, they doe but watch for the word of Command, and pre­sently they are upon the Wing: They doe not goe, but runne; not runne, but fly, such should be our readinesse in do­ing the will of our God: we must not runne before we be sent; but being sent, we must not linger, delay, nor make excuses, we must not Drive heavily in his Service, the wheeles of our obedience, must be oyled with Chearful­nesse and Alacrity, that we may move swiftly in all our Duties and Performances; as we dayly Pray, so we must dayly Practise That his will may be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven; and we see how the Angels doe his will, with winged Chearfulnesse and Swiftnesse; Goe thou and doe likewise.

The fifth resemblance for which Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers of the Church are styled Angels, is, Propter Pu­ritatem, for their Holinesse and Purity: Angels are pure Creatures, so had they need be that stand in the presence of the holy God, and are admitted so neer unto him, in this respect we must be as the Angels, and that upon the same account. Moses tells Korah, Numb. 16.9. That the [Page 13]Lord had taken him neer unto him, to doe the service of the Tabernacle: Even so we that are the Lords Priests set a part to doe the service of the Tabernacle, and to Minister before him in holy things, are taken neer unto the Lord: And he hath said, He will be sanctified in them that come neer him, Levit. 10. Oh what a hatefull thing it is to God and Man, to see a profane person, polluted and besmeared with all manner of impiety, impurity, and uncleannesse, to draw neer to God in holy Services, with his polluted Heart, polluted Lips, polluted Life, and polluted Hands, to pol­lute all that he toucheth? it is a wonder that in such ca­ses, the holy God doth not break out upon them, to strike them through with a Thunderbolt, or by Fire from Heaven avenge himself upon their presumption, as he did upon Nadab and Abihu, in the like Case, and for the same Sinn, Levit. 10. And how hatefull it is to Man, we may per­ceive by that which Ely his Sonns are Charged with, in the same Case, 1 Sam. 2.17. You make the Lords People to ab­horre the Sacrifice of the Lord. Woe be to us, if through our profannesse, or irreverent handling of holy things, we make the Lords People to abhorre the Sacrifice of the Lord; take heed we handle holy things in a holy manner, that we put off our Shooes when we approach the burning Bush, and stand upon holy Ground, that we wash our Hands in innocency, before we compasse the Altar: All the wash­ings and purifyings under the Law, did but Typically Teach us, how holy we ought to be: Our very Garments that we wears, reade unto us Lectures of holinesse and purity. In the Consecration of Aaron to the Office of the Priest­hood, among other Religious Ceremonies, it was Comman­ded, That the Blood of the Sacrifice should be Sprinkled upon his right Eare, and upon the Thumbe of his right Hand, and [Page 14]upon the great Toe of his right Foot; And what did all this signifie? but that the Lords Priests must be Sanctified throughout, and from Top to Toe Consecrated as holy un­to the Lord. The Motto of the High-Priests Miter, was, Holinesse to the Lord; It should be the Motto of every one of our Hearts, our Lips, our Lives, and all our Service should Proclaime, Holinesse to the Lord. We are here sty­led Angels, to shew, That we should walk before the Lord even in Angelicall purity and holinesse.

We should now come to speak of the Person from whom this Epistle is sent: But by the way, we may not omit the Charge here given to Saint John, concerning the things to be signified unto the Church from him; and that is, To Write them down: To the Angel of the Church of Ephe­sus, Write.

Saint John had been an Authentique Messenger to have delivered Viva voce, byword of Mouth, a Message from Christ to the Church: But Christ doth not think that sufficient, but he must Write: The Reason was, Those things that he there wrote to that Church, did con­cern all other Christian Churches to the worlds end, He that hath an Eare must hearken unto them. And therefore that they may come to the knowledge of them, it was ne­cessary they should be written. Secondly. Things delivered by word of Mouth, and so transmitted from Mouth to Mouth by Tradition, are subject to be corrupted, misreported, to admit of Addition, Diminution, Alteration, there can be no cer­tainty in them, but Litera Scripta manet. Away then with all your Popish Traditions, Anabaptisticall Revelations, Fallacious [...], Ʋnwritten Verities, as they call them, when you speak of the Canon, whereby we should be di­rected [Page 15]in matters of Faith and Manners in order to our Eternall salvation. God hath better provided for his Church then so, By giving us a more sure Word of the Prophets and Apostles, and our Lord himself, all in Writing, unto which we shall doe well to take heed, as to the Lights shining in a dark place, to guide our Feet in the wayes of truth, life, and peace.

We now come to consider of the Person, from whom the Epistle is sent. Intererit multum Davusne loquatur, berusne: It adds much to the luster and authority of that which is written, to consider from whom it is written; And that is here, from this wonderfull Person described in the Text, by Holding the seven Starrs in his right hand, and walking in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks. As the Pro­phet Isay once askt the question, Isay 63.1. Who is this that commeth from Edom, with Garments died red from Bozrah? So here, Who is this wonderfull Person, which here we see walk­ing in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks? Why; It is none other but the Sonne of God, the Lord of the Candle­sticks, and the owner of them, the very same which we saw be­fore, bolding the seven Starrs in his right hand. But hath he no Name? Yes: But the Spirit thought it more fit to repre­sent him here in a Glorious Vision, to set him forth in such a Heavenly Description and Periphrasis, as might strike in the Church an awfull reverence of so Divine a Majesty, to tremble at his Word, and carefully to heed it; in the promi­ses, the Threatnings, the Instructions, the Admonitions, the Reprehensions, and all the severall dispensations of it, as the Word of the Mighty God, and not of Man, the King. Chiefe Priest, and Prophet of the Church, and one that was perpetu­ally in the midst of them, and had a continuall Eye upon them, and would take a strict account of them; therefore is he set forth not by his Name, but by a description.

In this Description here, are two parts, we must consi­der of them both in their Order: The former of them re­presents him to us, Holding the seven Starrs in his right hand. First then, What is meant by these seven Starrs? Se­condly, What is meant by his holding of them in his right hand? As to the first, It is no injury to truth to understand them in a Literall sence of that famous Constellation in Heaven, which in a clear Night is visible in our Horizon, in dorso Tauri, which our Vulgar People call, the seven Starrs; Astronomers, the Pleyades, and by a Synechdoche, for the whole number of the Starts in the Firmament; all which, this wonderfull Person holdeth in his right hand: He telleth the number of the Starrs, and calleth them all by their Names; He Created them at the first; He assigned to them their Pla­ces in the Firmament, their Constellations, their Motions, their Vertues, their Influences which he can cause them to send forth when he pleaseth, and when he pleaseth restrain them: Canst thou stay the sweet Influences of the Pleyades? or binde the Hands of Orion? thou cansts not; But he that made them, and gave them their Influences, can. Astra regunt Homines, sed regit astra Deus: The Starrs have a strong Influence upon Men, and upon the substellary Bodies: but he that made them hath a stronger Influence upon them; He holdeth them in his right hand, guides them, moves them, orders them as it pleaseth him; and therfore feare not the signes of Heaven, Jer. 10.2. but feare the God of Heaven; Look not so much at the Starrs, as at the Hand, and at him that holdeth them in his right hand. Thus if we understand these Starrs in a Literall sence, the words will beare it well enough; the Exposition is true, but not so genuine; 'tis sure enough our Lord did allude unto those Starrs we speak of in this Expression? But in the genuine [Page 17]Interpretation of them, he leads us another way, to a Me­taphoricall sence, Revel. 1. and the last, and by these seven Starrs, understands, the seven Angels of these seven Churches; and by those Angels, the Bishops, and Chiefe Pastors of those Churches; and under them, all the other Ministers, Pastors, and Teachers, which here he styleth, so many Starrs: But what is it that the Spirit would say unto the Churches, by this Metaphoricall Expression? Surely this is that which he would say,

Obs. That all Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers of the Church should be as Starrs in the severall Churches, and Charges where­in they are fixt, and that in a six-fold resemblance, for which they are there so styled.

1. Propter Lucem, for the Light that ought to be in them, and by which they ought to shine unto others: It is the property of the Starrs to shine, and to give light to the dark places of the Earth, and that in the Night time when there is most need of it; Remember we are Starrs, and Starrs must shine: We are the Light of the World, and must not be put under a Bushell, but set up on a Candlestick, that we may give Light to all that are about us. It is a high Testimony that our Saviour gave John the Baptist, That he was a shin­ing Light. Tis said of the Fathers, met in the Councell of Nice, that they were, Totius Orbis Lumina: It was said of Saint Basil, That he was in his Pulpit as Thunder; and in his exemplary Conversation, as Lightning. We must shine by our Doctrine, and shine by our Works, and shine by our Exem­plary Conversation; by all these we must so shine before Men, that they may see our good works, as well as hear our good words, that so they may be moved, to glorifie our Father which is in hea­ven.

[Page 18] 2. But Light without Heat, is but a kind of Ignis fa­tuus; there must be Heate within, as well as Light with­out, heate of Love, and heate of Zeale; John was a shining and a burning Light; he shin'd in his Doctrine, and exem­plary life without, and he burn'd within with Love and Zeal. Remember we are Sacrificers, and those Sacrifices were ever most acceptable which were offered by fire unto the Lord; without this holy fire to quicken, and to warm us, we shall be but cold in our performances, perfunctory in our servi­ces, we shall Drive heavily in the wayes of God, and doe the work of the Lord but negligently: Zeale is the wings of the soule that lifts it up, and carries it on swiftly in holy performances, the oyle of the wheeles of out obedi­ence that makes them run chearfully; it will put us upon all our Duties with earnestnesse, fervency, devotion, affection, and that which we doe for God, or to God, it will make us to doe it heartily and throughly; of all others we had need to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, from whose Zeal, all our People are to take Fire.

3. Starrs, Propter Influentiam; Bishops, Pastors, and Mi­nisters of the Church are called Starrs, by reason of the in­fluence that they have upon the people, and the Congrega­tions depending upon them: Radius est vehiculum lucis, ca­loris & influentiae; The Starrs and other Luminaries of Hea­ven, doe by the Rayes and Beams which they send forth, con­vey not onely Light and Heate, but strong influence also into the inferiour Bodies. Canst thou stay the sweet influen­ces of the Pleyades, saith Job, speaking of those very seven Starrs unto which the Text doth allude: Even so the Pa­stors and Ministers of the Church, the Church-Starrs doe convey unto the people under them, strong influence, good or bad; if they be benigne Starrs, then the influence Flow­ing [Page 19]from them is good, saving, healing, comforting, revive­ing influence: But if they be malignant Starrs, the influence Flowing from them must needs be like unto themselves, blasting and disasterous. There are some Astronomers tell us, That unto every Creature here below in this inferiour world, there is assigned a Starr, from whose influence it doth receive Vigor, Life, and Vegetation: Not much unlike the Opini­on of the Papists, That assigne to every Man borne into the World, an Angel to be his Guardian: And of the Manichees, Which assigne to every soule a good Angel and a bad; the one drawing him to that which is good, the other to that which is evill. I leave them to defend their own Opinions; this is sure, That from every of us Church-Starrs, there Darts out a Beame, or a Ray, which derives influence from us, good or bad, to every soule that lives under our aspect; if we prove malignant Starrs, and that influence from us be Killing, and Destructive, woe unto us; How many soules shall we have to answer for in that case, perishing through us? Remember we are Starrs, see the influence which we send forth to those that depend upon us be good influ­ence.

4. Propter Ordinem. Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers of the Churches, are styled Starrs, for the Order that is among them, and which they ought with all due care, to keep and observe. The Starrs in their Order fought against Sisera, Judg. 5. We have Sisera's to fight against, and if ever we will fight prosperously, we must fight in Order. In all Order there is subordination, as well as Ordination; and there are Degrees, Secundum sub, & supra. There are se­verall Magnitudes, and one Starr differeth from another in Glory. The most Reverend Fathers in God, the Lords Arch-Bishops, and Bishops, they are Starrs of the first Magni­tude. [Page 20]The Reverend Prelates and Dignitaries in Cathedrall Churches, they are Starrs of a second Magnitude. VVe Country Priests, we are Starrs too, but of a lesser size, that move in a lower Sphere; Minores Nobiles Coeli in­ferioris, the Minors of the Inferiour world; we must all be content with our Stations, and with our Standings, and every one move in that sphere in which Providence hath plac't and fixt him. Those that are of the greater Magni­tudes, must not despise those that are lesser; those that are of lesser, must not envie those that are greater, but eve­ry one must move in his own sphere, every one Act in his own Place, and in that Constellation wherein he is fixt; there he must shine, and there he must send forth Light, and Heate, and Influence, and doe all the good he can: If the Starrs of Heaven should change their Cour­ses, Crosse their Motions, and justle one with another? what must needs follow, but a Conflagration in Heaven? And if the Church-Starrs here below, shall doe the like, they must needs threaten Combustion on Earth. If Aa­rons Bells once begin to jangle, become out of Tune, and Ring Crosse? what doe they cry, but Fire in the Church, which will soon take hold of the Kingdom too, and ru­ine all together? But remember we are Starrs, and we must keep our Course, move in our own sphere, and keep in Order; that's the fourth Resemblance, for which we are called Starrs.

5. The fifth is, In respect of our Fixednesse and set­tlement in our Charges; The Starrs in the Firmament are Fixed Starrs; those seven more particularly (unto which this Scripture seems to allude) in a famous Constellation: such should the Church-Starrs be, Fixed Starrs; Non stellae erraticae, non cadentes; Not wandring Starrs, not fal­ling [Page 21]Starrs, not Meteors, suddainly appearing, and as sud­dainly disappearing: But fixed Starrs, setled in that place of the Heaven, of the Church here below, which Providence hath assigned unto them; and there being disposed of, they must fix, there they must reside, there they must shine, thence they must send forth their in­fluences, to the enlivening, comforting, and refreshing of all those that are under their influences, and their aspect, suteable to their severall Positures, Capasities, Priviledges, and Honours.

6. The sixth Resemblance between the Starrs, and the Pa­stors and Ministers of the Churches, is in their borowed Light; the iniate Light of the Starrs is but weak; the best Light by which they shine, is but mutuatitious, derived from the Sunne, the Fountain of Light: Even so it is with our Church-Starrs, the Light that is in us, is not our own, it is a borrowed Light that comes down from the Father of Lights, and is derived from the Sonne of Righteousnesse, arising over us, with healing under his Wings, the Fountain of Light, out of whose fulnesse we all receive Grace for Grace. And this Consideration should teach us two things. First, Humility: Here's no ground for boasting: Saint Paul pricks the Bladder of that swelling pride, and makes it fall, when he puts us in mind of our Poverty and Dependency, What hast thou, which thou hast not received? And if Men will be boasting, let them boast of that which is their own; The Light that we have, is not our own, be the gifts and parts in thee never so great, the Light that is in thee never so clear, so illustrious; yet say of it all, as the Sonne of the Prophet did of the Axe which he let fall into the water, Alas Master, it was but borrowed; the glory of them is [Page 22]due to the Lender, not to the Borrower; to the Giver, not to the Receiver; But of him, and from him, and by him are all these; therefore to him be the glory of them all, for ever and ever, of him the Father, from him the Sonne, and by him the holy Ghost are they all; And therefore to him the Father, Sonne, and holy Ghost, in the Ʋnity of the Trinity, be the glory of them all for evermore. Secondly, This should teach us Charity, in the communicating of this Light to others, which is committed unto us for that very end; And therefore we are Charged with this Du­ty, not onely upon the account of Charity, but of Justice, and Faithfulnesse in our trust: As every one hath recei­ved, so let him distribute, as Stewards of the manifold gra­ces of God: Stewards are to give Accounts, as well as to take them; and the greater their Receipts are, the greater Accounts doe they make them lyable unto. A Day will come, when it shall be said unto them, Redde rationem Villicationis tuae; Give an Account of thy Stewardship: And such are we all in this Case. The Gifts that we have are not our own: they are committed to us but in trust; we Receive them to Have, but not to Hold; we must Communicate. The Starrs doe not shine to themselves; but to the inferiour world, to give Light to others, and that in the darkest times too of the Night, when there is most need of them. Such Starrs must we be, To shine into the World: To give Light to them that fit in Dark­nesse, and in the shadow of Death, to guide our Feet into the wayes of Truth and Peace. And thus you see what it is which the spirit would say unto the Churches, in this si­mile, in resembling the Pastors and Ministers of it by the Starres.

But what is meant, by Holding them in his right hand?

There are five things intimated to us in this Ex­pression.

1. The great Care that Almighty God hath of them, to secure them, to preserve them, to protect them, that the Sonnes of violence shall not come neer to touch them, or to hurt them; He that toucheth you, toucheth the Ap­ple of mine Eye, Who dare come so neer to hurt those which Christ holdeth in his right hand, but his left hand will be ready to avenge them?

2. The great Honour that he is pleased to doe them, to take them so neer unto himself, as into his right hand. The Right hand is a place of Honour and Dig­nity. Christ sitteth on the right Hand of the Father. The Sheep are placed on the right Hand of Christ. When Solomon would Honour his Mother, he caused a Throne to be set, and her to be placed at his right Hand. Pa­stors, and Ministers of Churches, they are on Gods right Hand, they are in his right Hand, they are there as Sig­nets of his right Hand, as pretious Stones in his Signer, Illustrious and Glorious. Great is the Honour that he is pleased to put upon them, even here in the Church; How studious ought we to be of his Honour, that hath thus honoured us, and of our own too, that we carry as becomes us in that high Relation, Calling, Dignity, Name, and Place that we beare in Gods right Hand, that so we way sit on his right Hand hereafter, in whose presence is fulnesse of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore.

3. The advantage that we have of being abundantly il­luminated by the light of his countenance, at so neer a di­stance; [Page 24]The neerer the Starrs are to the Fountain of Light, the stronger must needs be the irradiation from it, and their illumination by it: Behold, we are neer unto the Lord, Starrs in his right Hand; how strong then must needs be the irradiation from so Glorious a Presence, through the beams of his countenance darting upon us. In was said of Moses, that when he came out of the Mount, his Face did shine, that the people could not look upon him for the glory of it. Behold, we are in the Mount with God, we are taken neer unto him; the Light in us should be so great, our Gifts and Graces so illustrious and re­splendent, that our people should look upon us with dazled Eyes, in admiration of our spirituall excellencies; while we behold with open face the Glory of the Lord, it should be our care and indeavour, and will be our hap­pinesse too, to be transformed into the same Image from Glory to Glory, and that that God, which made the light to shine out of darknesse, may shine into our Hearts, to give the light of the Glory of God, in the Face of Je­sus Christ.

4. By this expression is intimated, the continuall Eye that God hath upon us, to observe our carriage, and our behaviour in our Callings, and in our respective Churches and Charges. We cannot be in his right Hand, but we must be under his right Eye too, and that is as a Flame of fire, not so much for the anger, as for the perspicacity of it. Of all sorts of peo­ple, and Callings amongst men, there are none that he doth more strictly observe, or take a more exact account of, then he doth of us. How punctually and particularly doth he Charge the Angels of these seven Churches, in the second and third Chapters of this Book; This thou bast, for which I commend thee: And these and these things I [Page 25]have against thee; imagine it every one of us, as spoken unto our selves. A Day will come, when he will deale as punctually with us, as he doth here with them; In the meane time, He knows our Works, and fees our Wayes, and our Walkings; his Flaming and Fiery Eye is upon us: Oh what manner of Men ought we to be in all holy conversati­on and godlinesse? How circumspectly ought we to walk? How exactly to order all our goings and doings, that are under the inspection of so perspicatious, so severe an Eye?

5. By this Expression is intimated to us, The Power that Almighty God hath in his Hand, and the liberty that he reserveth unto himself, to dispose of these Starre as he pleaseth, to hold forth this Hand, with the Starrs in it, to what part of the world he pleaseth, and there to continue it as long as he pleaseth, and when he pleaseth to turn his Hand another way, even which may he pleaseth, with the Starrs in it, to give light to them that sit in darknesse, and in the shadow of death; and to leave the other from whom he took it in the darkness, in which at the first, he found them. Beloved, these Starrs doe not shine to any place of the world, of the Church, by chance: No, not in particular Churches, there is a Providence in the dis­posing of them. In the 16th. of the Acts, we have a clear evidence of it; there were three bright Starrs, faine would they have shined in Asia, but they received a prohibi­tion from the holy Ghost, The holy Ghost forbad them, ver. 6. Then they assayed to shine into Bithynia: but the spirit suffered them not, ver. 7. The Ruler, and Disposer of the Starrs, had otherwise determined, that they should goe to Macedonia, and shine there; and there did this Hand hold them forth for a season, ver. 12. The Starrs must shine where [Page 26]he will have them, and as long as he will have them, and no longer: These seven Churches of Asia, are an evidence of this truth at this day. Over them did Christ hold forth this Hand, with the Starrs in it at this time, and a long while after, untill he was weary of holding it forth: and by reason of their barrennesse, and unthankfulnesse, their irreligion, and Apostasie, they gave him just Cause to Complain, That all the day long, he had stretched out his Arme to an unthankfull, and a gain-saying people; and then to what purpose should he hold it forth there any lon­ger? In his wisedom and justice he turned his Hand from them, and held it forth more Westward, to the Westerne Churches: And since that, more Northward, to these Parts of the world, the Inhabitants of the Island, the Inheri­tance of Japhet, amongst whom we are: And now, by the blessing of God, we have enjoy'd the Light under them many years: But take heed, least for the same sinns, for which God turn'd his Hand from Shem to Japhet; he again remove his Hand from Japhet to Cham: and when he doth so, least as upon that remove, he left Shem in darknesse; so upon this turne, he also leave us in that darknesse, wherein he found us. Beloved, there is an Anci­ent Prophesie, Gen. 9.27. God shall perswade Japhet, and he shall dwell in the Tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant. What is meant by Shem there? but the Church, which was first Planted in those Easterne Parts, which were the Habitation of Shem. What is meant by Japhet's dwelling in his Tents? but his succeeding of Shem in the Priviledges of the Church, by translating the Gospel out of these Easterne Parts of the world, into these more Westerly and Northerly Quarters of the world, which were the Lot of Japhets Inheritance, and in which his Poste­rity [Page 27]seated themselves, and amongst whom we are, de­scended from him by Gomer. By vertue of this Promise are we this Day the Church, and dwell in the Tents of Shem. But what doe we think of Canaan all this while? All this while he hath been a servant. But is there not a time when he shall shake off the Yoke of servitude? shall all those Parts of America be for ever forgotten? shall Light never appear in them? Me thinks I see the Day-spring from on high, begin to visit them: Me thinks I see the Beames of the Morning Sunne, begin to breake out upon them, in the promulgation of the Gospel in Vir­ginia, one of the outward skirts of that mighty Conti­nent: And I am confident it will (as the Sunne) shine forth more and more, unto the perfect Day. I doe not doubt but God hath a great people among them to be gathered, and that there will be a glorious Church a­mongst them, before the Consummation of the world: But take heed, least as I intimated before, as God turning his Hand from Shem to Japhet, left Shem in darknesse, under which to this Day he lyes: So when God shall turne his Hand, with the Starrs in it from Japhet to Cham, or Canaan, he leave us also in the Darkenesse wherein at the first he found us, and their Sunne-rising, be our Sunne-setting, our Barrennesse, Unfruitfulnesse, Aposte [...], falling from our first Love, our Schismes and Divisions, our Hypocrisie, Formality, generall irreligi­ousnesse and profanenesse, seem to portend and bespeak no lesse; presages of it we have sure, our Golden Can­dlesticks lately tottering, and sore shaken, the Famous Lights in them put out, others burning in them blue, and dimly; all manner of Heresies that ever the Church hath been pestered withall Revived, Countenanced, En­couraged; [Page 28]the Seamelesse Coate of Christ Torne and Rent into an hundred pieces, by Sects, Schismes, and Divisions, Factions, and Fractions; The Discipline of the Church layd by, the holy Worship despised, and trampled under foor, the Sacraments throwne out, all Ordinances, but Preaching, and Extemporary Praying cryed downe; the lowest of the people made Priests, and the Priests made the lowest of the people; the Churches turn'd into Stables, and Stables into Churches; And how much did all this come short of the Abomina­tion of desolation, standing in the holy place? How neer did all this come to the execution of the judgement threatned against Ephesus in this Chapter, Of removing the Candlesticks out of their places? Well, blessed be God, they are not yet removed, they yet stand in their places, the Lights shining and burning in them, the right Hand of the Almighty is yet stretch't forth over us, with the Starrs shining in it. Let us be admonished by all these threatning punishments, to walk in the light of them better then ever we have done, while we have it amongst us, as Children of the Light, to walk up to the Light, to rejoyce in it, to be thankfull for it, and to bring forth the fruit of it: this is the best way to keep it, and to continue it among us. And thus you heare, what it is which the Spirit saith unto the Churches, in this Me­taphoricall Expression, Of holding the Starrs in his right Hand.

It followeth now, That we consider of the next Part of the Description, Of this Wonderfull Person Christ the Sonne of God, as he is here represented, Walking in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks.

Not to trouble you with the speculations of Expo­sitors upon this sacred and misterious number of seven, so often mentioned in this Mysticall Book, in all the Visions which Saint John saw, Seven Spirits, seven Angels, seven Starrs, seven Candlesticks, seven Seales, seven Trum­pets, seven Heads, seven Hills, seven Vialls, seven Plagues, all by sevens, a sacred and misterious Number; and ma­ny are the Mysteries which some perspicatious witts have told us of, conteyned in that Number. But to passe by that. Two things we have here to enquire into:

  • 1. What is meant by these Candlesticks?
  • 2. What by his Walking in the midst of them?

And for the first, our Lord himself hath Interpreted it unto our Hands, what is meant by them. In the last verse of the Precedent Chapter, The seven Golden Candle­sticks, are the seven Churches, meaning of Asia. Where take up this Observation by the way.

That notwithstanding there were many Corruptions in them, in Doctrine, in Worship, in Discipline, in Govern­ment, in matters both of Faith and Manners; yet our Saviour still vouchsafeth them the Name of Churches: The seven Candlesticks, are the seven Churches. Ephesus is fallen from her first love, ver. 4. Smyrna had Hipocrites among them, Which said, they were Jews, and were not, ver. 9. Pergamos had in her, those that held the Doctrine of Ba­laam, and the Doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which God bated, ver. 14.15. Thyatyra suffered that Woman Jezabel, which called her selfe a Prophetesse, to teach, and to seduce men to commit Fornication, and to Eate of things sacrifi­ced [Page 30]unto Idolls, ver. 20. Sardis had a Name that she lived, but was dead, Chap. 3.1. Philadelphia was the purest of all the rest; yet she is Charged with her defect too, she had but a little strength, ver. 8. Laodicea was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarme; she had a high and Pharisaicall Conceipt of her self, that she was Rich, and Wanted no­thing; where our Saviour tells her, She was Poor, and Mi­serable, and Blinde, and Naked; and yet notwithstand­ing all this, a Church still; notwithstanding all these Defects, Corruptions, Blemishes in all the rest; yet all this did not un-Church them, all Churches still; The seven Candlesticks are the seven Churches; and the seven Churches the seven Candlesticks; nay, Golden Can­dlesticks still, for all this. It was not a little Drosse amongst them, not a little Dust, nor Rust adhering to them, that made them cease to be Candlesticks; yea, Gol­den Candlesticks still, for all this: The seven Golden Can­dlesticks are the seven Churches. Surely, Christ the Lord of the Churches, is more Charitable, more Indulgent to us in this point, then we are one to another. We have a Generation among us, I pray God they be not such a Generation as Solomon speaks of, Prov. 30.12. A Ge­neration that it pure in their own Eyes, yet are not clean­sed from their iniquity: I hope the best; But such a Generation we have amongst us, which out of a high Conceit of their own transcendent purity, think them­selves too good to joyne with others; others too bad to be admitted with them into Church-fellowship: Where they see any Defects, Errors, Miscarriages, though they be but personall, not Congregationall, and such as we doe no way allow of, but reprove, cry out against, lament, and bewaile, where we cannot help it; yet these [Page 31]men take such offence at them, that they with-draw themselves, separate from our Congregations, un-church us, revile, reproach, rayle upon us, as Synagogues of Sa­tan, Lymbes of Anti-Christ, and cast a greater reproach upon us, then the Papist, themselves. But my beloved Brethren, From what spirit comes this? from that spirit and wisedom which is from above, which is first pure; then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated? &c. Or, from a spirit of pride, singularity, disdain, vain glory, and hy­pocrisie? surely these things proceed not from that spi­rit which descended in the likenesse of a Dove, in all meeknesse and gentlenesse; but rather that of Boanerges, the Sonnes of Thunder, which called for Lightning and Fire to destroy, and to avenge. But if the same minde were in you, which was in Christ Jesus, in this Text, you would be more Charitable. He owns the Churches yet for Candlestickes: Nay, for all the Rust, and Dust, and Drosse which they were Corrupted withall, for Golden Candlestickes: The seven Golden Candlestickes are the se­ven Churches.

Quest. But we have-not yet Examined, Why the Churches are set forth unto us under the Name and Notion of Candle­stickes?

Sol. It is certain, that in this simile, the spirit of God doth allude to that famous Candlesticke which was set up in the Tabernacle, of which we Reade Exod. 25.31. From it then we must fetch light to understand what is meant by comparing the Churches to it. And herein the Apprehensions of Expositors have been very luxuri­ous in taking hold of variety of particulars, from whence [Page 32]to rayse severall Observations, not impertinent, but espe­cially from these three things. First, From the Matter and the Mettle whereof they are made. Secondly, From the Forme of them. Thirdly, From the Use of them. Frist, From the Matter and the Mettall of them, thus: When Christ resembles the Churches by Golden Candle­stickes, his meaning is, That they are, Per sanctitatem pura, per dona & gratias spiritu [...] sancti pretiosa, per sin­ceritatem solida, per bona opera splendentia, per morum gravitatem ponderosa, per persecutionem probata, per obe­dientiam facilè ductilia, per praedicationem verbi sonora. By their holinesse they are pure, by their Gifts and Gra­ces they are pretious, by their sincerity they are solid, by their wisedom and gravity they are weighty, by the fire of temptation and persecution they are tryed, by the Preaching of the word they ring, and give a sound, by their charity and obedience they are easily drawne forth as Gold out of the Lumpe, into Leafe Gold. All this From the Matter of them, and the Mettle whereof they are made. Secondly, From the Forme of them: It is observed, that they are erected, they look upward toward Heaven: such Candlesticks should the Churches be: Erecta per rerum divinarum contemplationem; Erecta per spem & fidem in Christo ad dextram Dei in coelo se­dent; Erecta ad lucem celestem recipiendam: Erecta ad lucem illam aliis prebendam, & circumquaque commu­nicandam: They must be Candlesticks erected and tend­ing upward, by their Contemplation of Divine things, and setting their Hearts and Minds on the things that are above, erected by Faith and Hope in Christ, sitting at the right Hand of the Father, erected to receive the Heavenly Light from the Father of Lights; and erected, [Page 33]that it being set up on high in them, might the bet­ter and the farther be Communicated to others: this from the Forme of the Candlestickes. Thirdly, From the Use of them, and that was touch't in the last, to hold forth the Light: Men doe not light a Candle to put it under a Bushell, but to set up in a Candle­sticke, that it may give Light to all that are in the House: Such a Candlesticke is the Church, to hold forth the Light of Truth to all her Children, cal­led therefore, The Pillar of Truth, Timothy 3.15. because as the Pillar holds forth the Kings Proclama­tion fixt upon it, that all that are Concerned in it may take notice of it, and he that runneth may Reade it. So should the Church hold forth the Truth, that it may be visible and audible to all her Children and Members, as the Pillar doth the Proclamation, the Candlesticke the Light. What use is there of the Candlesticke, if there be no Candle set up in it? Or what use of the Candle, except it be lighted, that it may burne and shine? And that it may doe so, there are two things necessary. First, That it should be fed with a continuall supply of Oyle, or other moysture, to nourish it, and to keep it burning; and good rea­son, that they, which like Candles, consume them­selves to give light to others, should from others re­ceive that Oyle and nourishment which may keep them burning. Secondly, 'Tis necessary sometimes that they should be Topt, or Snufft: We Reade Exodus 25.38. that in the Tabernacle where the Golden Candlesticke was, there were also Snuffers, and Snuffe-dishes: What the use of those Snuffers was, [Page 34]we all know, and what that use of them teacheth and leads to, we may imagine: sometimes the Candles may burne luxuriously, and in that Case, 'Tis necessary they should be snufft: sometimes they may burne but dimly, being choakt, and darkened with the snuffe it selfe, and in that Case, 'tis fit they should be snufft: sometimes there may be a Theefe in the Can­dle, that may waste the Oyle and nourishment of it, by conveying it the wrong way, and in that Case they may not take it ill if they be snufft. The Candle­sticks themselves are not so free from Rust and Dust, but sometimes they will stand in need of scouring, of rubbing, and of dressing, by Corrections, Visita­tions, and wholesome Discipline; Nor doe the Lights in them burne so clearly, but they had need to be look't too. Are we of this society so innocent, that we need no inspection? or so nocent, that we need to feare a Visitation? Are we, amongst all Societies, so absolute, so independent, that we have no Super­intendent? or if any, who should that be, but our Chiefe Priest, the Angel of this Church, our Dio­cesan, our Metropolitan, whose Presbytery we are, and to whom we have all Sworne Canonicall Obedi­ence? VVho but he our Aaron, to fit as a Refiner, to purifie the Sonnes of Levy in this Society?

But we haste to the other Part of the Descripti­on of this Wonderfull Person, as he is here represen­ted to us, Walking in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks. And this is the last Part of this his Description.

And what is meant by this his Walking there, Saint Bernard tells us, Ambulare in medio Candelabrorum, quid est, nisi Ecclesiis semper adesse, eis delectari, eas servare, erudire, protegeri, dirigere, juvare, & eis om­nibus modis advigilare: To walke in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks, what is it, but to be ever pre­sent with the Churches, to delight in them, to direct them, to protect them, to instruct them, and by all means to Consult their good? they are all Comprehen­ded in these foure; His Presence with them: His Delight in them: His Observation of them: And his Care for them. First, He walks in the midst of them with Delight; Of Syon, he hath said, here will I dwell, for I have a delight in her; and so he walk­eth in the midst of them, as a Man would doe in his Garden, for Pleasure, and for Recreation. Secondly, He walks in the midst of them, to Preserve them, and Protect them; where he is in the midst of them within, he is as a VVall of Brasse round about them without too: Nay, As a Wall of Fire, Zachary 2.5. not onely to Defend them within; but to Consume and burne up all them without, which shall presume to attempt to break in upon them; and so he walkes in the midst of them, as once he did in the midst of the Fiery Furnace for the preservation of the three Children, Daniel 3.23. which he did so powerfully, that the fire in it had power to burne the Bands and Cords, with which they were bound; but not to touch an Haire of their Heads, or a Hemme of their Gar­ments. Thirdly, He walkes in the midst of them, Erudire, to Teach, and to Instruct them, to Awe them, [Page 36]to keep them in order; For he is the beloved Sonne of the Father, in whom he is well pleased, whom we must Heare and Obey, Matthew 3.17. He the great Pro­phet of his Church, whom we are Commanded to Heare with a severe intimation, by his Spirit, by his Word, and by his Pastors sent out by him, doth he teach the Churches to the worlds end: And so he walks in the midst of them, as a Schoole-Master in the midst of his Schoole, and his Disciples or Schollers. Fourth­ly, He walkes in the midst of them, To Observe them, to take notice of their Carriage, their Manners, their Order, and their Behaviour, as appeares by the parti­cular Charges which he gives to these severall Churches in this his Visitation, in all of them making good what in Generall he tells them, before he come to deale particularly with them, Novi Opera tua, I know thy Works: And so he walks in the midst of them, as the Master of the Feast in the Gospel walk't in his Dining Roome, to take a View of his Guests, to see who had, and who had not on his Wedding Garment. And to this purpose it is observable, in what manner of Posture and Gesture he is here seen, He is seen Walking; Not Sedet Otiosus, as Bullinger observes; not Stat Negligens, he doth not sit, as being Idle; He stands not still, as being negligent; but he is seen Walking, from end to end, forward and backward, to and fro, that at every turne he might take a View, and at every step cast an Eye, that nothing done or said amongst them, may escape his Cognizance. Last­ly, he is walking, in Medio in the midst of the Candlesticks; Non in Angulo, non in exteriori aliquâ [Page 37]parte; Not in a Corner, not in some Skirt, or Out­side of them: but, In medio Candelabrorum, in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks, that he might look over them every way; and they at an equall distance on all sides, might receive from him that Direction, Protection, Comfort, and Encouragement which is their Light and Life. The truth is, He bought them, he layd down a Price for them, which was far more pre­tious then Gold, his own Blood; he had need see what becomes of them, and he is to deliver them up to God the Father; he received them by weight, and he received them by tale; Of those which thou hast given me, have I lost none; It is his great Care that he may deliver up his full Tale, and that he may de­liver them up Pure, and Bright, and Cleare, and that he may present them without spot or wrinkle; and therefore is it that he hath such a speciall Care of them, such a vigilant Eye upon them, continually re­sident among them, and walking in the midst of them. Oh how happy are the Churches under the inspecti­on of such an Eye, under the Care of such a Guar­dian, under the Protection of such a Patron, in the Favour of such a Prince, the Teaching of such a Pro­phet, the Intercession and Benediction of such a Priest continually present with them, President over them, and resident among them, walking in the midst of them? and how holily ought they to carry themselves in such a Presence? how circumspectly under the Inspection of so severe an Eye? that when he shall come to vi­sit them, as here he doth this Church, and to take an Account of them, they may give up their Ac­count [Page 38]with joy, when he shall say unto them, as here to Ephesus, Novi Opera tua, I know thy Works, they may be such as they need not be ashamed of, such as may stand by us, and abide the tryall, such as may prayse us in the Gate, such, as upon the enquiry and examination, he may approve of, and upon which we may expect the Promise here in this Visitation made Vincentibus, To them that over come, to Eate of the Fruit of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradice of God, to Receive the White Stone, and therein the New Name Written, which none can Reade, but he that receiveth it, to be Cloathed with White Ray­ment, washt in the Blood of the Lambe, and in it to follow the Lambe whither soever he goeth, and to be ever in his Presence, in whose Presence is fulnesse of joy, and at whose Right Hand there is pleasure for evermore: Which the Great God of Heaven and Earth be pleased to admit us unto, for his sake which Holdeth the seven Starrs in his Right Hand, and Walketh in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks; To whom be all Honour and Glory, now and for ever, Amen.


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