A DISCOURSE OF THE Divine Omnipresence AND ITS CONSEQUENCES, Delivered in a SERMON BEFORE The Honourable SOCIETY of Lincolnes-Inn, upon the first Sunday of this Michaelmas Term.

By JOHN TURNER, late Fellow of Christs-College in Cambridge.

Sic vive cum hominibus tanquam Deus videat, sic loquere cum Deo tanquam homines audiant.

LONDON, Printed by R. E. for W. Kettilby, at the Bishops-Head in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1683.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE Sir George Ieffryes. Knight and Baronet, Lord Chief Justice of England, and one of His Ma­jesties most Honourable PRIVY-COUNCIL.

My Lord,

THis little Performance, which would have courted you for a Patron had you still continued at the Bar, one of the best Advocates that ever pleaded there, now dreads and fears you sit­ting upon the Bench, where you have approv­ed your self, by the extorted confession of your Enemies themselves, to be so just, and so im­partial a Judge. But, my Lord, I know the [Page] obligingness and goodness of your Nature to be such, that you can pardon, what you will not defend, and therefore I could not forbear taking this first occasion, after having recei­ved so great a mark of your Favour, to lay my self humbly at your Lordships feet, to pay my hearty and affectionate Acknowledg­ments for the great Obligation and Honour you have done me. It was an Obligation of the highest nature, because I wanted a subsi­stence so much, and was in danger every day of encountring with greater difficulties than before: And it was an Honour so extraor­dinary, that nothing could be more; that your self, and those other Lords and Gentlemen in Commission with you, should give me so desira­ble a Character, and so good a Preferment together; for it is plain, it was for my Loy­alty and Affection to my Prince and Country, two Interests that are inseparable from each other, that I was made the Object of your Choice, and therefore it would be very incon­gruous [Page] in me, if having withstood the shock of the most miserable Circumstances, in a firm adherence to my Allegiance and Duty, I should not now continue to the end, a perpetual Ex­ample of the most constant and entire Obedi­ence, when Interest, Gratitude, and Inclination are in a triple League and Confederacy to­gether.

I owed my Fellowship at Christ-Col­lege, to the Kings Royal Prerogative and Princely Favour, and it is to the same Roy­al Goodness, reflected from those that act in Commission from it, that I am now proud and safe in the Title and Advantage of Hospi­taller of St. Thomas; so that the King hath now a double Title to my Studies and my Life, beside that of my being his natural Subject and Servant, and it is still a further Obli­gation upon me to conform to all the Instan­ces of Loyalty and Obedience, that I may not disappoint your Lordship and the rest of the Commissioners, who have reposed a confidence and expectation in me.

The Subject here treated of, the Omnipre­sence of God, is of that universal influence up­on all the Actions and Affairs of Humane Life, that if it were but duly and frequently attended to, there would be no need of the Pulpit or the Bar, and though there may be defects in the management and method, yet it happens very luckily in my discourse upon it, which was uttered when I did not think of that good Fortune which has since befallen me, that it will appear you have preferred a Pro­testant Divine, at a time when every thing but a Protestant Dissenter, that is, a Dissen­ter from the Established Protestant Religion, is by some branded with the Character of a Papist.

But, my Lord, you are wanted at West­minster-Hall, and I do rudely to detain your Lordship thus long, therefore I shall conclude with my Prayers to Almighty God, whose Providence, in so necessary a Juncture, hath placed a person of so much Prudence, [Page] Learning, Integrity, and Courage, in so high a Station, that he would assist and guide you by his wise and good Spirit in your great and difficult Affairs, and that you may go on with continuance and increase of Honour, to be eminently serviceable and useful to your Coun­try, till you arrive, after a peaceful and vi­gorous Old Age, at those blest Mansions of Eternal light, and rest, and peace, which God hath prepared, as an encouragement and re­ward of Virtue, for all those that Fear him, and Honour the King. I am, may it please Your Lordship,

Your Lordships, Most Humble, Obliged, and Obedient Servant. John Turner.

ERRATA, disturbing the Sense.

Page 27, for employed read enslaved. p. 32. for seasonable r. reasonable.

Psal. CXXXIX. 7, 8, 9, 10.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into hea­ven thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there: If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the Sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

AS there hath never yet been any Nation so barbarous, nor any People so stupid, as not to acknowledge the Existence of a God, a Truth that shines with so much Evidence and Demonstration, that blind­ness it self can hardly be insensible of so glareing Brightness, and so piercing Light; so the great reason upon which all Ages have all along proceed­ed, in their acknowledgment of the Divine Ex­istence, hath been evermore taken from the con­sideration of the works of Nature, and the Phoeno­mena that were about them. For they consider­ed, that the far greatest part of this Universe being stupid and insensible, was in no capacity to order and dispose it self after so comely and regular a [Page 2] manner, nor to preserve it self in so magnificent and beautiful a Structure, for so many Ages; and what was true of the whole Universe taken toge­ther, the same was true likewise of its several parts. Plants and Animals, and Minerals and Mettals, could not frame or organize themselves, or one ano­ther; neither could the same Seed, by Virtue of any Power, or Wisdom, or Contrivance which it had in it self, be able so constantly to produce the same sort of Herb, or Tree, or Flower. And as the observation of the whole Universe together, and of every part of it considered by it self, did undeniably argue that there was some infinitely wise and understanding Nature, indued with Pow­er and Goodness equal to his Wisdom, by whom the whole Universe, and every part of it, was so strangely, so wisely, and so graciously contrived, or in the Language of the Royal Psalmist, so fear­fully and so wonderfully made; so the usefulness and Friendly Conspiracy of the several parts, for the support and maintenance of each other, tho' in themselves they were destitute of Counsel, and were incapable of any such contrivance, was still a further Evidence, a most unquestionable, invinci­ble, and irrefragable demonstration of an invisi­ble and immortal Being, by which all these things were administred and governed.

For to say that all these things came to be thus [Page 3] by chance, by the Epicurean jumbling of a rash and inconsiderate Chaos; and that by the same Chance, by which they were first disposed into so wise and orderly a Frame, they have continued as they are for so long a succession of time, ever since before the Theban and the Trojan War; to affirm, as Lucippus, Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius, and the rest of those absurd and ridiculous Philosopha­sters have done; that the Ear was not made for hearing, nor the Eye for seeing, nor the Nose for smelling, nor the Feet for walking, nor any part or vessel of the Humane Body, which are so vast­ly numerous, for the uses for which they are so ex­quisitely fitted, and that as they were made at first by chance, so they continue still to be propagated by it, is to ascribe not only Wisdom but Constan­cy to Chance, both of which are perfectly incom­petible, and inconsistent with its Nature.

And for the same reason that they concluded there was indeed such a Being, as an Invisible and Immortal God, they did likewise conclude him to be Omnipresent, or infinitely extended over all his Works: For this is certain, that nothing can ope­rate by any Power or Efficiency which is properly its own, where it is not present it self; and there­fore if the Divine Power, the Divine Goodness, the Divine Wisdom be extended over all things, it follows unavoidably, that the Divine Substance, [Page 4] in which these Attributes have their perpetual resi­dence and abode, must be coextended to the Attri­butes themselves, which is all that is meant by the Divine Omnipresence; and to say that God can be present by any Virtue, or Power, or Efficacy of the Divine Nature, where the real and local substance of the Divinity is not, is to affirm Transubstantia­tion with the Papists, or to deny motion with Ze­no, or to say any thing which is never so absurd with any other of the Philosophers; as Cicero tells us, there is nothing so absurd, which some Philoso­pher or other hath not owned; and therefore when Aristodemus in Xenophon urged Socrates with this Objection, how it was possible for God, being but one, to manage and order all things both in Hea­ven and Earth; the Answer of Socrates to the Ob­jection was this, [...]. That God was so large and spacious a Being, that he could hear and see all things, and be present every where, and order every thing at the same time: And it was the inward sense and apprehension of this Divine Am­plitude, and Omnipresent Extention; an Extenti­on not only of Attributes, but of Substance and of Nature, That made David utter such Expressions as these, That he covereth himself with Light as with a Garment, and stretcheth out the heavens like a Cur­tain; That he layeth the beams of his Chambers in the [Page 5] Waters, and maketh the Clouds his Chariot, and walk­eth upon the wings of the wind; That his way is in the Sea, and his paths in the great Waters, and his foot­steps are not known; that is, his Immensity is un­bounded, and his Extention infinite; or in the words of my Text: Whither shall I go from thy spi­rit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the Sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

From which words I shall not enter upon a Di­scourse of the Divine Omnipresence it self, of which all that is fit for a Sermon hath been already spoken, and which cannot easily be called in question, with­out questioning at the same time the Existence of a God, which hath a necessary connexion with it; but I shall chuse rather to entertain your attention at this time, with an Enquiry into the natural Re­sults and Consequences of this Doctrine, which if they had been either so throughly understood, or so heedfully regarded as they ought to be, the man­ners of the world would always have been better, than ever yet they have been known to be, and the Religion more pure and reasonable than it is even at present, I do not say in some parts of the world, but in some parts of Christendom it self, which is [Page 6] so far from being truly Christian, that setting a­side that light which the Gospel hath afforded, it falls very short of the Religion of Nature.

And the first Consequence which I shall menti­on shall be this, That if it be true that God is a Sub­stance infinitely extended, that he is present to all things, and that in him, to use the language of the Apostle, that is, in the large comprehension of the Divine Space or Substance, we live and move, and have our being, then this ought to be a most pow­erful Argument and Motive to us, to behave our selves always as if we were truly sensible of his pre­sence in the midst of us, with reverence, and sobri­ety, and godly fear, with a dutiful regard both of him and of our selves; to live so as if we were al­ways immediately to dye, as if we believed, what is so plainly, so demonstrably true, that the Judge is always at the door, and that he may immediately place himself upon his dreadful Tribunal, to sum­mon us before him to give an account of our selves.

And indeed, what can be more impious, more impudently wicked, than for us to abuse our selves, or one another, in the presence of him that made us, to corrupt and debauch our Faculties and our Natures, in the presence of him that gave them, and intended them for better uses? What more un­grateful than to disoblige him, as it were before [Page 7] his Face, with all the aggravating Circumstances of Defiance and Contempt, who is so kind, so merci­ful, and so gracious to us, that we are upheld by his Mercy, and supported by his Arm, which is mighty to save, at that very time when we offend against him? What more foolish, than to provoke him who is so Powerful and so Just, so able to ex­ecute the utmost Vengeance, and so concerned for the happiness of Mankind, and for the good Or­der and Government of the World, that he must needs have a very deep, and a very affecting resent­ment of all our Personal and Political Vices, of the Offences which we commit against our selves, and of those acts of Injustice, Treachery, Cruelty, or Disobedience, which are committed against the Peace and Quiet of the World? His Goodness ap­pears so plainly in all the parts of the sensible Crea­tion, and it is so evident to Sence, that his mercy is over all his works, that he must degenerate very much from himself, and must lay by his Care and Concern for the Happiness of his Creatures, before he can suffer any wicked Action, or any bad Exam­ple, which is not heartily Repented of, to go un­punished; and therefore it is a very foolish and in­considerate Practice of the Sons of Men, to set themselves so fully to do Evil, because sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed; For the Wise man assures us in the very next words, That though [Page 8] a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, that though he be not immediatly taken off in the midst of his sins, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not before God; that is, being in his presence he feareth him not.

It is indeed an Argument of a merciful and com­passionate Being, that he spares when he might pu­nish, and that he gives us further opportunities of Repentance and Amendment, when he might im­mediately take the forfeiture of our Sins; but either we must think that there is no such thing as Ju­stice in his Nature, which yet discovers it self by a thousand remarkable instances of his Providence, in the Government of the World, as clearly and as fully as his Goodness does; or else we must una­voidably conclude, that the longer we continue in the willful practice of any known sin, the greater is the Provocation which is given to it, to exert it self with Usury and Increase of Vengeance, to make up what was wanting in the speed of Punishment, by the severity of it.

Nay, in truth, if he were not Just he could not be Good; for the punishment of Offenders is a warning to Repentance, and an exhortation to Virtue; it is intended for the good of those that [Page 9] are spared, and is in some sense the greatest instance of Mercy that can possibly be given, whereas to let the World run at sixes and sevens, to make no distin­ction betwixt the Innocent and the Guilty, is but to give a publick License to Mankind, to destroy and ruin themselves and one another, which is the great­est Cruelty that can be conceived; therefore God Al­mighty, as he hath annexed Natural Punishments of Poverty, Diseases and Disgrace to every thing that hath the Nature or the Notion of sin, so he does sometimes visit us by a particular Judgment, and makes it plain to all the World, by an unexpected turn of his Providence, that his hand is upon us, and that his Almighty Arm is stretched out a­gainst us; for which reason it was that David, though at sometimes his Faith were shocked and startled; his Feet were almost gone, his steps had well nigh slipt; and he was envious at the foolish, when he saw the prosperity of the wicked; yet at other times when he considered more maturely, when he laid all things together, and weighed the whole Cir­cumference of things in a Just and Impartial Bal­lance, he could pronounce with abundance of Confidence, and with a well grounded Certainty and Assurance, That God shall wound the head of his Enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his wickedness.

And this hath been in all Ages so generally ob­serv'd, and so constantly believed by wise men, that God does sometimes interpose himself by a parti­cular Judgment, for the punishment of sinful men, and that the slowness of his Justice is not to be in­terpreted as an Argument of the uncertainty of it, or of his disregard of Humane Actions and Af­fairs, that their Writings are full of Expressions to this purpose: Plutarch hath written an entire Trea­tise upon this Argument, which he stiles De Sera Numinis Vindicta: And Horace makes it a general Observation which seldom or never fails,

—Raro antecedentem scelestum
Deseruit pede poena claudo.

And Claudian in his Invective against Rufinus, introduces himself at first questioning the Provi­dence of God, and his Care of Humane Affairs, because he saw such Miscreants as Rufinus was liv­ing in so great prosperity and splendour.

Saepe mihi dubiam traxit sententia mentem,
Curarent superi terras, an nullus inesset
Rector, & incerto fluerent mortalia casu.

And then he gives the Reasons of his doubt, that on the one hand he was tempted to believe a Provi­dence, because of the regular and orderly moti­ons of the Stars, the constant return of the Seasons of the year, and such other things as seem to look as if they were managed by an orderly, wise, and [Page 11] understanding Nature, but then when he consider­ed the prosperity of wicked men, and the afflicti­ons and calamities to which the good and virtu­ous were frequently exposed, he then began to wa­ver in his Opinion, and to encline to the Senti­ments of the Epicureans, who affirmed all things to have come by Chance.

—Rursum labefacta cadebat
Religio, causae (que) viam non sponte sequebar
Alterius, vacue quae currere semina motu
Affirmat, magnu [...] (que) novas per inane figuras
Fortuna non arte regi.

But then when at last he saw Rufinus punished, and that Justice had overtaken him, and called him to account for all the Oppression and Villany of his wicked life, he then crys out in a triumphant man­ner, that now indeed he did in good earnest be­lieve there were such Beings as the Immortal Gods, and that they had a tender and compassionate re­gard to the happiness of men.

Abstulit hunc tandem Rufini poena tumultum,
Absolvit (que) Does—

And to this purpose it is what Serapis in the Epi­gram is represented, as discoursing to a Murtherer in his Dream.


He was advised by his Dream to remove from the place where he lay asleep, for that the wall he lay under was rotten, and would immediately fall up­on him; at which the man smiling, and pleased within himself, began to applaud himself in the memory of his wickedness, as thinking the Gods were pleased with Murtherers, and had a kindness for Cruelty and Bloodshed. No, said Serapis, you are mistaken for that, it is not out of kindness to you, but to the world, that this warning was given, that you may be made a more publick and notorious Exam­ple.

Neither was it only the opinion of the wiser sort, but all the world have generally believed, that great Offenders have ever been punished by a Divine Ju­stice, which will at length infallibly overtake them, as the Inhabitants of Melita or Malta, when the Viper came out of the fire and fastened upon St. Paul's hand, they said among themselves, Acts 28. 4. no doubt this man is a Murtherer, whom though he hath escaped the Sea, yet Vengeance suffereth not to live. And it was with allusion to this received Opi­nion among the Jews and other Nations, that our Saviour expostulates with those that brought him the news of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their Sacrifices, suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you nay; but except [Page 13] ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish: Or those eigh­teen upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell, and [...]w them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

This was the Reason of the Disciples Question concerning the man that was born blind: Master, who did sin, this man, or his Parents, that he was born blind? And so in the great Tempest when Jonah was on board the Ship, the Mariners presently concluded that there was some grievous sinner on board their Vessel, who was the cause of the danger they were in, and therefore they said every one unto his fellow, come and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. Which they had no sooner done, but the lot fell upon Jonah, and it appeared plainly by the sequel of the story, that it was for his sake the Tempest was raised: And upon the same account it is that Horace declares that he did not think it safe to go in the same Ship with a prophane or sacrilegious person.

—Vetabo qui cereris sacrum
Vulgarit Arcanae sub iisdem
Sit trabibus, fragilem (que) mecum
Solvat Phaselum.

To conclude, they did not only believe that God by his Judgments did pursue the wicked, and at some time or other certainly overtake them, but al­so that by a like miraculous Power he did some­times [Page 14] interpose himself for the preservation of In­nocence in the midst of danger. So Martial said very wittily and very wisely of an House that fell down after so strange a manner, that a person who then hapned to be in it got no harm, and was not buried in its ruines, stantia non poterant, tecta proba­re Deum, an House that had stood firm, with the same person in it, would not have proved the existence of a God.

And this is the first thing, that the Considerati­on of the Divine Omnipresence should put us in mind of his Providence and of his Justice which are founded upon it; and that it should make us the more careful to please him, and to obey his Laws, who is present to all our actions, and inti­mately twisted into all our thoughts, who is a per­petual witness of our behaviour here, and will be the terrible Judge of it hereafter. Neither ought it only to deter us from publick and open trans­gressions, such as are committed in the view of the world, and in the face of the Sun, but we ought also to remember, in the language of the Psalmist, that he hath set our secret sins in the light of his coun­tenance; or in that of the Author to the Hebrews, that he is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open in the eyes of him with whom we have to do. And therefore we [Page 15] ought to pray with holy David, that God would keep us from secret, as well as from presumptuous sins: Nay, indeed if in this case there were to be any difference in the zeal and fervency of our Prayer to God, it ought rather to be greater that he would preserve us from the former, than the latter, because by being concealed from the notice of the world, there is the less danger of any temporal disadvantage from them, and so the temptation to commit them is the stronger; and another thing that is to be considered, is, that though it may be thought a sign of some Grace, a symptom of Modesty, and a token of Shame, for a man to manage his wick­edness in the dark; and indeed there is this to be said for him, that he is not so hurtful to the world by his Example, yet this must be acknowledged as an aggravating Circumstance of the most private sen­suality, and of the most secret and undiscerned in­justice, that it proceeds upon an Atheistical Princi­ple, such a man hath not God always before his Eyes, or else he saith in his heart there is no God, he wishes there were none, and he is willing to believe there is none; otherwise certainly he would consi­der with himself, that the presence of God, and of an accusing Conscience, that are Witnesses to his action, is more than that of an hundred thou­sand Spectators; he would consider that to do an unreasonable or a sinful thing, is either to act upon [Page 16] supposition that God is not by, which is the next thing to the denyal of his Existence; or upon sup­position that he will pardon it, which is to sin a­gainst him, and reproach him to his face, for a too easie and good natur'd Being at the same time, or it includes an utter and an absolute denyal of the Divine Existence, and a defiance to his Power and Justice, than which no greater, nor more unpar­donable or provoking sin can possibly be com­mitted.

And certainly, if we shrink away, and are asha­med of our selves, when we are taken napping by a mortal man like our selves, a man whose breath is in his nostrils, who carries the same appetites, the same desires, the same infirmities about him that we do, and who may possibly be guilty of the same or a like wickedness which he hath detected and discovered in us; a man against whom our Offence is not committed, a man who seeing our frailty ought to reflect upon his own, and who cannot punish our wickedness as it deserves, how much more ought we to dread the presence of the most high God, who is immediately affronted by us, whose Majesty is so great, and his Justice so im­partial, and his Power so irresistible?

But secondly, The Consideration of the Divine Omnipresence or Infinite Extention, ought to fill us with such awful and majestick Notions of God, with [Page 17] such large and spacious apprehensions of his nature, as are not only the most noble Object of Humane Contemplation that it can possibly pitch upon, but will, when duly attended to, create in us a suitable love of his immense goodness, and fear of his un­controulable power, and admiration of his infinite wisdom, and veneration for his unbiass'd and im­partial Justice. We ought always to behave our selves like virtuous and good men, because we are always in the Divine Presence; and it is certain we shall behave our selves so much the better, if we consider distinctly whose presence that is, it is the presence of him that is all in all, that filleth all things, and is present to all the possibilities of the most unbounded space; it is he, who being every where, governs all things after a strange and in­comprehensible manner, he that is as good as he is great, as wise as he is good, as just as he is wise, as powerful as he is just, he whose infinity disco­vers an amazing deal, but hides a much greater part of his immense Majesty, his vast, unlimited, and unbounded Nature.

It is impossible for us when we consider these things with a wistly and attentive mind, not to love and fear him, not to praise, magnifie, worship and adore him, not to humble our selves before his mighty Throne, and fall down low on our knees before his Footstool. And it was this immense [Page 18] amplitude of the Divine Extension, which Aratus made to be the very reason and ground of all Re­ligious Worship, as indeed it is,


Let us begin with God, said he, whom we mortals ought never to forget, for all the Streets and Markets, all the passages and avenues of Cities, the Sea and the Sea Ports, are all of them fill'd with God, and we stand in need of him every moment: And then fol­lows that passage which St Paul hath cited out of him, [...]. for we also are his offspring: And in imitation of Aratus, a Latin Poet hath ex­prest himself in the same manner,

A Jove principium Musae, Jovis omnia plena.

But, Thirdly, a third practical Inference which may be deducible from the Consideration of the Divine Extension, is, that we are not to make our application to Angels or to Saints, as Mediators or Intercessors with God on our behalf; for what need we any such to deliver our Message, when he who alone is able to grant our Petition is united and twisted into our very thoughts at the same time when we ask it; and how incongruous would it be, when we are in the Kings presence, and in [Page 19] his hearing, to entreat another to supplicate in our behalfs, when we are there our selves, which is as much as to intimate that his Majesty would have more regard to the person of the Petitioner, than to the reasonableness of the Petition, or to the Cir­cumstances of the person in whose behalf it was made; besides that, we have no reason to believe that either the Angels or the Saints departed are privy to our thoughts, or that they concern them­selves (any otherwise than as the first of these are sometimes employed by God to be his ministring Spirits) about any Humane Affairs. We are sure they are but finite Spirits, and consequently they cannot be present at all places at once, and this makes it very suspicious, considering the immen­sity of the Universal Space, besides that the Seat of all the glorified Spirits is generally agreed to be at so great a distance, that for both of these reasons they are too far from us to be able to hear what we say, or to be present to our thoughts and wishes, in order to present them before the Throne of God.

Neither does it help the matter, what some of the Schoolmen have been pleased to tell us, that the Saints behold the Prayers and the Necessities of their Votaries below in the Beatifical Vision, or in the face of the Divine Glory, which they fancy like a Glass wherein the Wants and Miseries of the [Page 20] Creatures may be seen, for it is plain that this is a very dull and heavy Imagination, and very unworthy the Majesty of God; besides that if he did not only know, as he does, the wants of all his Creatures, but if they had made such deep impressions and signa­tures upon his Nature, it would be great impiety to urge him any further, when of himself he had taken such particular cognizance of the desires and wants of all his Creatures; but it is still more detestable, in the Practice of the Church of Rome, that so long a Beadroll of Saints shall be invoked by a Rabble of Worshippers in a solemn Procession, as if nei­ther they nor God could be prevailed upon with­out abundance of importunity and clamour.

A man would think that place of the Colossi­ans might have been a sufficient Antidote, for the Church of Rome, to preserve her from the poy­son of this foolish Heresie; Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worship­ing of Angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly pufft up in his fleshly mind. For if the worship of Angels be forbidden, who are a Superiour sort of Creatures, that are supposed to have a more familiar correspondence and a nigher access to their Maker, then certainly that of Saints or Souls departed is much more, espe­cially if we consider, that the Angels being sent so frequently, as they are in Scripture, upon a Di­vine [Page 21] Message, they might be thought the fitter In­struments to convey a Message back again from whence they came; nay, the Christian Religion allows us, to believe that men have their Angels in heaven, that do in general intercede for them at the Throne of God, though it is still to be doubted, whether they have any particular knowledge of of our wants. For so our Saviour tells us, Matth. 18. 10. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little Ones; For, I say unto you, that in heaven their Angels do alwaies behold the Face of my Father which is in Hea­ven. And the Cherubims in the Sanctuary being pla­ced upon the Ark of the Testimony, and looking upon the Divine Glory and Majesty that sat be­tween them, is an Argument that the Jews had an opinion, and such an opinion as was authorized by God himself, that the Angels did make intercession in the presence of God on the behalf of men.

But yet it is true, that we are not to apply our selves to the Angels, though they should be allow­ed to intercede for us; it is true likewise that they are not made miserable by a particular view of our Calamities and Misfortunes, neither do they make any particular Intercession, but they are kind and charitable Spirits that wish well to all mankind, and that Intercession which they make is only a general thing, that God would hasten to accom­plish the number of his Elect, and that his King­dom [Page 22] may come, and his Will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. Lastly, it is still true, that there is but one Mediatour between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, that is, he is the proper Object of our Prayers and Intercessions, and it is he alone that Mediates in Virtue of that Sacrifice which he hath made of himself, as the High Priest did in the most Holy Place for all the Congregation of Israel upon the solemn day of Expiation.

Nay, perhaps after all, by Angels in that place of the Colossians, the departed Spirits of the Saints may be understood; for in this Sense the word seems to be understood, Acts 12. 15. Where Peter being loosed out of Prison, knocked at the door of Mary the Mother of John, and when the Maid went in and told how Peter stood at the Gate, they said un­to her, thou art mad, because they knew Peter was in Prison, and therefore they lookt upon it as an im­possible thing: But when she constantly affirmed that it was he, then said they, it is his Angel, that is, as I suppose, his Ghost, or his departed Spirit, conclu­ding that Peter had died, or had been put to death in Prison. So also, Acts 23. 8. The Sadduces say, that there is no Resurrection, neither Angel nor Spirit; but the Pharisees confess both: By which it is plain, that there are but two things mentioned, for the word both cannot be extended to more, one of them is the Resurrection, and the other is the Angel or Spirit, [Page 23] which in this place it seems are Synonymous terms to signifie the same thing, and comprehending at once both the Angelick Forms and the Spirits of men departed out of this mortal Life.

I know indeeed that there is another possible ex­position of this place, which hath not yet been hit upon by any Interpreter, no more than this which I have last mentioned concerning the Souls of men departed, but at present it is not for my purpose to insist upon it; and it is certain that the Council of Laodicea, who, as Theodoret informs us, condemn­ed the Worship of Angels from the authority of this place, understood it in the most plain and ob­vious sense in which we usually understand the word, and in this sense it proves with a still grea­ter force and evidence against the Romish Supersti­tion, Angels being still a more noble Order of Be­ings; and if it be not lawful to worship them, it is much less lawful to pay our Devotions to any Saints departed, however pious and exemplary they may have been, and much less to those that have been Canoniz'd for Money, or for Treason, and owe their Saintship to their Friends on the one hand, and which is still more horrid and detesta­ble, to their Crimes and Villanies on the other, who are preferred to Heaven for disturbing the Earth, and mounted into the blessed Regions of light, and peace, and love, as the reward of strife, [Page 24] disobedience, hatred and contention, and every evil work.

But without being beholding to the testimony of this place, which yet may serve for a sufficient proof against the Romish Idolatry and Superstition, we may appeal to that passage of Peter with respect to Cornelius, and of Paul and Barnabas with relati­on to the Inhabitants of Lystra, who would not suffer themselves by any means to be worshipped, meerly for that reason, because they were men; so that it seems, unless they lay down their humane nature at the time of their departure, that is, unless the Saints departed cease to be themselves, they can­not be Objects of Divine Worship. But we are sure that God hears our Prayers, and that he is able to answer them, and that he is every where present, as it were on purpose that he might first know our wants and then relieve them, and we may approach his presence with confidence in the Language of the Prophet, whatever becomes of that gainful Hie­rarchy of the Romish Saints and Angels, who pay the Priests well, for the worship of the People, Doubtless, thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us and Israel acknowledge us not; thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; thy Name is from Everlast­ing.

Fourthly; by a reflexion upon this universal Ex­tension of the Divine Nature, the worship of Images [Page 25] representing God the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, or the Blessed Trinity taken together, which hath been practised frequently in the Church of Rome, is ma­nifestly condemned: For besides the meanness of the Representation, that he that made all things should be represented by an Image made with hands; that he whose Nature is invisible, should be represented by a Carved Image, or a Painted Resemblance of that which the Scripture declares to have no Shape nor Appearance; that he who is Infinite should be drawn in little upon a Wall or a Window; that he who is all Life, and Power, and Wisdom, should be represented by that which is senseless, dull, and unactive, by that which knows nothing, and is next kin to nothing; I say, besides this, it is absurd to represent him as it were by Proxy, who is present and in the midst of us him­self; neither is it sufficient to say in this case, that his Substance being invisible, and not to be discer­ned by mortal Eyes, or humane Senses, there is therefore need of a sensible Memorandum, although the Worship be terminated in himself; for at this rate all the Idolatry of the Heathen World may be excused, for no man is so senseless to believe their Worship was terminated in a Stick or a Stone, at least we ought not to believe it without very good Proof, and if it could be proved, yet even this would be parallel'd in the Church of Rome, where [Page 26] they pray to the Crucifix of Wood or Stone as well as to Christ himself, and attribute as much satis­faction and expiation to it, as they do to the blood of their crucified Redeemer as appears undeniably from the Romish Missals which are extant at this day, and may at any time be produced against them.

Fifthly, upon the same account of the Divine Ex­tension, we are excused from all the Romish Pilgri­mages to Jerusalem, and Loretto, and Canterbury, and Compostella, and other places, for as to the Sepulchre of out Saviour at Jerusalem, if they could certain­ly assign the place where he lay, which it is more than probable they cannot do, yet what signifies the Sepulchre when the body is not there? or if it were; yet I hope, a dead Carcase is not a fit Object of Divine Worship and Honour; and as for the Shrines and Reliques of the Saints, certainly it must needs be gross Idolatry to worship them, when it is so plainly unlawful to do it to the glorified Spirits of the Saints themselves.

The Saints cannot be worshipped without dis­honour to God, who challenges all our Worship and Adoration, and God is alwayes present with us, so we need not undertake a long and costly that Journey to find him out; and wherever God is, there Christ is also; he is in the Father, and the Father in him, and they two are one and the same; and this is the great mischief which Idolatry and Super­stition [Page 27] do, they take our minds off from him who is the only true Object of Worship, in the contem­plation of whose Nature there is the most perfect satisfaction, and the truest pleasure, who is the most suitable and worthy Object of our fear and hope, our love, and admiration, and desire, and who is infi­nitely the most noble, and the most perfect Pat­tern of our Imitation; and instead of this, our minds are employed to a few ridiculous Rites, and imaginary Expiations, as if any thing but a sight and sense of our sin, a dutiful and awful appre­hension of that Majesty and Goodness which we have offended, were able to reconcile us to God, or to reinstate us in his Grace and Favour, who will not accept the Sacrifice of Fools, and the vain shews of bigotry and superstition, without the obedience of a reasonable, and the repentance of an humble and a contrite soul.

Sixthly, by a due and serious reflexion upon this Doctrine, we may absolve our selves from any obli­gation to the Romish Austerities and Mortificati­ons, because as the Divine Substance, so also are his Attributes, his Mercy, and his Goodness extended over all his Works: And it appears plainly, not only by the appetites, which we find about us, which may be innocently gratified, as well as from the provision which is made for their enjoyment, that God did not expect we should make our selves [Page 28] miserable by a perpetual abstinence and self-denial, but we are to make the interest of Virtue and the honour of Religion, the measure of our abstinence and enjoyment in these Cases. There must be a prudence and a temperance in all things, and so St. Paul tells us, Every man that striveth for the ma­stery is temperate in all things; and that he kept under his body, and brought it into subjection: lest that by any means when he had preached to others he himself should be a cast away. But in another place he tells us expresly, speaking of the painful and un­natural mortifications of some in those times, such as were some among the Pharisees, and the Essenes, and such as followed the severe Discipline of the Sons of Jonadab the Son of Recab, and some no doubt, that pretended to be Christians likewise, that bodily exercise profiteth nothing, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the Life that now is, that is, it is consistent with a sober and moderate enjoyment of our selves, and of that which is to come: And in the beginning of that Chapter, he tells us, that the Spirit spake expresly, that in the latter times some should depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing Spirits, and Doctrines of Devils, that is, Doctrines exhorting to the Wor­ship of Demons, or Angels, or departed Spirits, speak­ing Lies in Hypocrisie, having their Consciences sear­ed with an hot Iron: The very Picture of the Jesuites [Page 29] at this day, who do not only practise, but de­fend in their Writings, the Doctrine of Equivoca­tion; and then it follows, Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats: And who they are that do both of those things at this time of the day, we understand very well. And indeed if we consider the unreasonable Austerities of some of the Religious, as they are called, abroad, a man would be enclined to think they were not the Di­sciples of Jesus, but of John; and that they took part with the Baptist against the Messias, accusing him, as his Enemies the Jews were wont to do, that he was a glutton and a wine-bibber, and a friend of Publicans and sinners: And it is observable, that though John the Baptist were a great Example of Abstinence himself, yet it does not appear that he enjoined any such thing to his Followers and Disci­ples; but on the contrary, every man was admitted to the Baptism of John, upon the sole and only Condition of Repentance, and was as to other things, so far as was consistent with Virtue and with Prudence, left to be guided by his Constitu­tion, and by the Circumstances of his Life and Fortune.

Seventhly, By a due Reflexion upon the Divine Extension, we shall be excused from the shame and inconvenience of auricular Confession, as it is pra­ctised in the Church of Rome at this day, for God [Page 30] does not expect that we should make a particular confession of our sins to men, the consequence of which is only to make our selves uneasie in the company of those to whom we have confessed; to run an apparent hazzard of being undone in ma­ny cases, by Knaves for interest, or by Fools out of levity, inconstancy, and a blabbing humour; and indeed I know nothing that it can be good for, but to let men, that have nothing to do to pry into such matters, into the secrets of Families, and to put our selves perfectly at the Mercy of a Priest, who will sometimes be treacherous as well as other men; besides, that instead of keeping up a whol­som Discipline, it is the way to corrupt it, and tends to the debauching both Layety and Clergy, in as many ways as there are sins to be committed, when the Confessor and the Penitent begin to discover and understand one another: But we are obliged in the presence of men to make a general Confes­sion, and we are in our thoughts, as we go along, to apply that general Confession to our particular sins; and before God, who is a Witness and a Spe­ctator of our evil ways, who is so intimately pre­sent to all our thoughts and actions, that it is to no purpose to think of concealing any thing from him, we are to bewail and bemoan our selves in a most particular manner, we must humble our selves before him in sackcloth and ashes, by laying [Page 31] our sins at the Footstool of his Mercy, with all their aggravations, beseeching him most humbly, with a sorrowful and broken heart, to pardon us for what is past, and to assist us with his preventing Grace for the time to come; that we may no lon­ger abuse our selves, and do despite to so merciful and so gracious a God.

In the Eighth place, The Consideration of the Divine Omnipresence and Extension, ought to fill us with chearfulness and courage in all our trou­bles and adversities whensoever they oppress us; it ought to give us a full confidence and assurance in his Providence, which where ever we are is al­ways hovering with wings of mercy and compas­sion over us, that is, always at hand, and is a rea­dy help in the needful time of trouble, that is ne­ver far off in a day of adversity, or in a time of danger, but is always nigh to them that call upon him, yea to all such as call upon him faithfully.

Or if he do not see it fit or expedient to remove our trouble, to ease us of our pain, to prevent our danger, and to instate us in a full possession of peace, and rest, and safety, we are then in the Ninth and last place, to Consider, That a Being of so great Goodness, and so tender Mercies, as all his Works discover him to be, would not suffer us to be tormented, when we are not conscious to our selves of any heinous Guilt, or when we are, [Page 32] after an hearty and sincere Repentance, but that there is a Scene of Happiness behind, which as yet we do not see; that he designs by this Calamity, compared with the innocence of our lives, or the sincerity of our repentance, and the goodness of his Nature, to give us a seasonable prospect of a blessed Immortality in another and a better state, wherein these light afflictions that are but for a mo­ment, shall be made sufficient recompence and amends for, by a far more exceeding and Eternal weight of glory.


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