CANTICUM MORIENTIS CYGNI, OR, The last Dying NOTE of STEPHEN the first Gospel-Martyr.

Opened and Improved in a SERMON PREACHED At ALHALLOWS BARKING London, 17. Septemb. 1658.

At the Funeral of Mr. ANDREW BASSANO, Gentleman; and since in some particulars enlarged.

By WILLIAM TUTTY, M. A. Minister of Totteridge in the County of HERTFORD.

LONDON, Printed for J. Rothwel, at the Fountain in Goldsmiths-Row, in Cheapside, 1659.

TO THE Truly Religious Gentlewoman, AND His much endeared FRIEND, Mistris ANNE BASSANO.

Much Honoured in Christ,

I Humbly here present you with the first-born of my Meditations, which were ever yet published to the eye of the World. I durst never till now, adventure any thing out abroad; and therefore this first piece cannot but go from me, with a kind of Virgin blush. I never yet judged any of my weak labours worthy of a curious eye to look upon: Sen­sible I am, that my parts are as low as my person; and therefore hitherto it hath been mine only ambi­tion, [Page]to do good among mine own people in mine own sphere. But truly, the love, and respects in my Ministerial work, which I alwayes met with from your dear yoke-fellow, now with Christ, while he sojourned with us here below in this val­ley of tears, forces me to this thankfull retaliation, and makes me willing that the World should know how much I was indebted to him. As I have lost a very loving Neighbour; so have you a most dear and, tender Husband. But it is not my desire, or design to renew or aggravate your sor­row under this sad stroke, but rather contrarily, to present you with something (that through the strength of Christ) might lighten your burden. I know you are like Hannah, a Woman of a trou­bled Spirit, at all times, but much more now, that you have more than ordinary to do and suf­fer; and your adversary is most busy, now he finds you at the weakest: And therefore, the good Lord forbid, that by this Sermon I should add to your Affliction, in which already your cup runneth over: I only beg of you, that you would seriously read, and remember this Sermon, but strive to forget the sad occasion of it. Oh do not with Rachel refuse to be com­forted; [Page]Confident I am you are dear to Chist though too too cruel to your self; and that your Spirit is clean, though very cloudy; and that you are a child of light though you so often sit in darkness. The dead never complain as you do (I fear too much) and darkness could never re­veal so much darkness as you dayly mourn under. Black thoughts which we continually resist, and pray against, are but the smoak of the bottomless Pitt; they flow from Satans envy against us, not our enmity against God. We must with thank­fulness take comfort in the grace of Christ in us, as well as allways be poring on our own wants and weaknesses: Our Father expects we should walk thankfully, as well as humbly, and that we should melt under his goodness, as well as our own unworthiness. Our dear Saviour a little be­fore his death, begins his last Sermon to his Dis­ciples, John 14.1. with this, not only Counsel, but Command, Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me: intimating, that we may be guilty of Gospel-disobedience and unbelief, by being too much troubled, as well as by being too much defective herein. Our infinite­ly gracious God hath made large and strong pro­vision [Page]in his Word, as well for the consolation of his servants here, as for their salvation hereaf­ter: he hath given us not only his Word, but his Oath, That by too immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lye, we might have a [...]., strong consolation, Heb. 6.18. even a formi­dable, giant-like consolation as the word signifyeth; and indeed strong food calls for strong labour; as we should be strong in the Lord in point of duty, so in point of comfort, seeing he hath given us such strong encouragement, even the highest security in the World, his own Word, and Oath to feed upon. Oh when shall I see you come up to a full assurance of faith; unto which all believers should give all diligence: I know you dare not allow your self in any one sin willingly; do not do it in this, in Fathering a spiritual untruth upon your self, that you are an Hypocrite. How an­gry was God with Jobs friends for this untrue, and uncharitable censure concerning him? nothing but a sacrifice from Job himself for them would appease him: and it is worth the minding, the nature of Gods enditement against them, Job 42.7. Ye have not spoken of Me, the thing that is right, why, their Doctrine was true, though not [Page]Application; the Premises they laid down were sound, though the Conclusion were rotten, con­cerning Jobs rottenness. Now God interprets this as false doctrine, as speaking an untruth con­cerning himself, Paul, while Saul; persecuted Christ the head, in the members; so do we when we persecute our own graces (the best part of Christ in us) and father spiritual untruths upon our selves, to gratify the Father of lies. Stephens prayer immediately after the Text, for his enemies, shall be mine, though in a different sense for you; The Lord lay not this sin to your charge, that you even stone to death your own graces, not giving God the glory of them; but sin against him, by sinning against your own grace and peace. I now leave this weak piece with you, and leave you in the arms of Jesus Christ, who loves you, and hath dyed for you; And in him remain,

Your unworthy Pastour W. Tutty.
ACTS 7.59:

And they stoned Stephen calling upon God, and saying; Lord Jesus receive my spirit.

THe whole chapter contains the Tragical history of Stephen a primitive Deacon; wherein we have 1. his large sermon, 2. The Jewes ill resentment of it, 3. Their cruelty to the Preacher, insteed of love and honour.

1. For the Sermon, it consists of Doctrine, and Application. The Doctrinal part ends at the 50th. verse, and all this while the Auditors are still and quiet, no noise at all.

The Application begins at the 51 verse, and this enrages them, and drives them into the worst kind of madness.

In the Applicative part, 1. The holy Preacher upbraids them in general, with the stoutness, stubbornness, and stiff-necked­ness of their hearts, verse 51. 2. Charges upon them their re­sisting the Holy Ghost, and this too modo, and more patrum, after the manner of their Predecessors; so lashing them, and their Ancestors with the same whip, in the same 51. verse.

3. He charges upon their fore-Fathers their horrid cruelty to the prophets, ye their cruelty to the very death, against them which were the Propheciers of Christ, his [...] and [...] the forerunners of him; thus were they the stock of bloody parents.

4. He charges upon them (the cruel seed of cruel Butchers spiritually) that they were worse than their parents; for of the Me­ssias himself that holy and just one, they themselves had but late­ly been the betrayers, and murderers 52 verse.

Last, He lays at their dores the guilt of high treason against the Law of Moses, in every part and parcel of it, though they seemd so much to cry it up, and wore broad Phy­lactories of it upon their Garments in their dayly Garb; and he circumstantiates this guilt, by their breaking of the Law,Theophi­lact & Oc­cumenius though received by the disposition of Angels; Some refer this to [Page 2] Moses and Aron; Lorinus Calvin & alii. Some to the Angel that appeared to Moses in the burning bush;Lorinus Calvin & alii. Some to many Angels which were testes & internuncii, Witnesses and Messengers betwixt God and Moses in giving the Law.

2. For the Jewes ill resentment of this close application, it is expressed by divers cross and curst gestures, 1. they were cut to the heart, not savingly prickt, but maliciously pierced and gall'd, verse 54, 2. They gnashed. on him with their teeth, this stridor dentium the action of damned Friends, enraged against the Lord. 3. made a great outcry 57 verse, with an unanimous, tumultu­ous rage 4. They stopped their ears to hear no more, either of his Counsel or complaints. 5. They ran upon him with one accord, in the same verse, united in malice. 6. They cast him out of the City; not only out of the Synagogue; but they look upon him as such an Anathema not fit for humane society.

3. For their cruelty against the Preacher, that is fully expres­sed in the 58, 59 verses, they stone him to death,Augu­stine. ad dures durio­res; being more hard with cruelty than the Stones they cast at him; a sad course they took, and made most vile Application, casting stones at the Preacher, insteed of casting the first stone at their own hard and stony hearts.

Thus their rage brings Stephen to his Martyrdome; his name in Greek signifies a [...] Crown, from henceLorinus one alluding, tells us, that he was at this time Crowned with pretious stones, lapidibus' preciosis coronatns est, andArator another, that he was joyned closer to Christ the corner stone. Et per tot lapides petrae conjungitur uni.

But see now the sweet, and gratious deportment of this bles­sed Deacon, Saint, and Martyr; as before he had faithfully prea­ched to them, so now he as servently prayes before them and for them: as he imitated the death of Christ, so Christ in his death,Calvia in locum. turning himself to God: and truly it was now high time, satis verborum apud homines perdiderat, meritò ad Deum convertit, he had lost too much time in speaking to malicious man, he there­fore now directs himself to the mercifull God by prayer.

And in his dying supplications he imitates his dying Saviour; those 2 petitions which he put up to his Father on the Cross, he sends up to God now, only inverting Christs Order, Luke 23.34.46. Christ prayed first for his enemies, then for himself but Stephen first for his own Soul, and then for his enemies; And [Page 3]surely there may be good reasons given for it, 1. The Servant must be below the Master; Christs love to enemies was the Copy, his the transcript, Mat. 5.44, 48. In loving enemies, and pray­ing for them, we must strive to be perfect, as our heavenly Fa­ther; it is honour enough for us to follow. 2. Christ and Ste­phen (so other Christians too) in this walk by distinct rules; we must love our Neighbours (so our Enemies) as our selves, Christ loved them better than himself, in this commended his love to us to imitate, not equalize, Rom. 5.8. 3. Christ needed no prayer for himself, but Stephen did, and so do we asCalvin one ob­serves Christ prayed but for example sake, as to himself, but up­on a real need for his crucifiers; now needfull workes should all­waies be done first, and therefore Christ observed this method, but not Stephen, for it was more needfull for him to secure his own Soul first by prayer, and then to intercede for his Enemies.

These 2 prayers of his, proclaimed him a right Christian in his death, the first discovers fidei constantiam, the constancy of his Faith in his petition for himself, the second contains summam cha­ritatis, the substance of his love and charity, even to enemies, which 2 graces and duties contain the marrow of Christian Religion, for which and in which he dyed.

The Text is Stephens first Prayer for himself, in which we have part of the last words of the first Martyr after Christ; and the ho­ly gratious farewell-breathings of a dying Saint; the words may be called morientis cygni cantilena, the last sweet note of a milk-white innocent dying Swan; his petition is short, but sweet, when totum pro vulnere Corpus, the whole body was but one wound, little leisure he hath to speak much, and therefore he speaks fully and fervently, much in a little, as Homers Ileads in a nutshel.

There are two parts of the Text, of Text. The great person or Prince petitioned, the Lord Jesus.

2. The sum and substance of his petition. Receive my Spirit,Calvin. De corpore minime sollicitus animam in Christimanus deponit; he minded not his Body, his whole care was for his Soul.

I shall handle the words two wayes.

1. In sensu divise, every word by it self, for there is a weight in every single word.

2. In sensu composito, taking the substance of the whole pray­er together:

1. In a divided sense; here are 5 words in the prayer, every one is praegnant with holy matter.

Note 1 1. Lord; in death he turns himself to the Lord; hence observe, Good men should shut up their lives with prayer; we should be­gin and end with it at all times and in all employments; this duty should bring up the front,—lead up the rear in all the actions of our life, which is a warfare; he who is the Alpha and Omega, in himself, should be the beginning, and the end of all our ser­vices, but chiefly when we begin to draw to an end of our time, and work, we should be sure to clasp up the book with most se­rious calling upon God; As the Arabian Phoenix makes her self a nest of spices, and is burnt to death in it, so should we dy in in the spyced bed of prayer: an Emperor should dystanding (in the Court of Judicature) so Vespatian; a Minister should dy Prea­ching in the pulpit, so Doctor Jewel; and a Christian should dye praying, so holy Stephen in the Text; and thus our dear Medi­ator.

Note 2 We should dy with prayer to the Lord, who is the [...], the Master of our Souls, and lives: to fly to Saints and Angels at any time in this duty is very illegal; we ow this homage and debt only to our great Lord and Master; and we must not pay it to the servants, except they can shew a warrant, or letter of Atturney for it, from their, and our Master, as Mr. Herbert hath an ex­cellent poem to this purpose. Much less in death should we pay this tribute due only unto God, to them; for as they are the great Lords menial servants, and must not share in their Lords Rents, so they are in many offices the Saints Servants too, both in life, so 1 Heb. last, ministring spirits to the heirs of Salvation, and in death, the bearers of the Saints souls into Abrahams Bosome, Luke 16.22. poor Lazarus being dead, had these honourable bearers.

Note 1 2. Lord Jesus; Stephen directs his dying prayer to the Lord Jesus, rather than to the Lord Jehovah; Christ is coaequal with his Father in glory; not only [...] but [...], not only in glory the nearest to him, but one with him; Stephen asserts this clearly in his death, not only dying in Christ and for Christ, but praying to Christ in his death, acknowledging hereby his di­vinity by giving him divine worship. And to avoid this clear de­monstration we read of on Franciscus David an Arrian here­tique, who reads this word [...] in the Text in the genitive case, [Page 5]insteed of the Vocative; and so would fain give us this sense, Lord of Jesus, insteed of Lord Jesus; but this blasphemous shift is sufficiently confuted by the Antients, asLorinus a Learned man, though a Jesuite, upon this place discovers,

All power is given to Christ in Heaven and Earth, Math, 28.18. and holy Stephen dying, virtually in this last prayer acknowleges it.

Note 2 In the Gospel we must chiefly run to Christ in prayer, asking all in the Sons name, and this is now the way to speed our selves, and to glorifie the Father together, John 14.13. These 2 glori­ous persons in the blessed Trinity have not 2 distinct interests, but one, and the same, the glory of the one is the glory of the other, yea now the glory of the Father is chiefly deposited in the hands of Christ: at first God was only known by his name of Almighty, afterwards by his name Jehovah, Exod. 6.3. but now by his name Jesus, [...] in not at the name. In whose name every knee under the Gospel must bow, to the Glory of God the Father, 2 Phil. 10.11. Augustine tells us, how much he did delighted in the works of Tully for the elegancy of the Latine, before his conversion; but not a whit after, because he could not read the name of Jesus there. Paul desired to know nothing else but Christ crucified, 2 Cor. 2.2. and he discovers God the Father to be only in him the Father of Mercies, and God of all Consolations, 1 Cor. 1.3. to the Judge of all flesh then, by an Advocate, we must now run at all times.

Note 3 We must chiefly run to Jesus Christ by prayer in an hour of death: to him who dyed for us, we must go when we come to dy; for he alone hath the keys of Hell and of Death, Revelation 1.18. he alone is the dore, and the gate of Heaven, John 10.9. He is via, vita, & veritas, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, John 14.6. He is our journeys end the Life, and he is the way to it, and the truth to guide us in the way, & no man can come to the Father but by him: he also is the great reconciler of God and Man, Col. 20. he only can make us [...] more than conquerors over all the forerun­ners of death, and over death it self, Rom. 8.36, 37, 38, 39. He only can pull out the sting of death, and destroy this last Enemy, as the Apostle fully shewes, 1 Cor. 15. To whom should we go both in life and death, but to him who hath the words of eternal life? John 6.68.

3. Lord Jesus Receive; [...] It is a relative word; Relations (as the Logician tels us) are double, either relata secundum dici, or [Page 6] secundum esse, in name, or in nature; this is a relative word in name, now omne relatum implicat suum correlatum, every relative must have some word or thing to answer it: receiving hath 2 usual correlates, it implies either giving something, or paying, it im­plies both here in the Text. Observe.

Note 1 We ow our selves, and Souls, to Christ, in life, and death; when we live to him, dy for him, he doth but receive his own; de jure it should be so, it is our sin and shame if de facto it be not so, Rom. 14.7, 9. For Christ dyed, (as the Apostle shewes there) that he might be the Lord, and master, both of the dead, and of the living. When we come to dy then we do nothing else but pay debts; we do but pay then 5 debts, 1. A debt to nature; the corruptible part must put on corruption, and worms must feed upon us, [...] as we feed upon other Creatures. 2. A debt to sin; for the wages of sin is death, or the breakfast and food of it, Rom 8.23. 3. A debt to posterity, for one generation must pass away, that another may come in its stead, Eccless. 1.4. the generat on of one, must be the corruption of another, that the Earth may not be pestered and crowded too much with inhabi­tants. 4. A debt to divine Justice: for the same Soul that sins must dym point of equity. 5. To Christ, and our own Souls; when we dy for Christ, it is but lex talionis, for he dyed for us: when we dy naturally by the appointment of Christ, we pay a debt to our own Souls, which cannot be refined, and calcined but by fire, by melting down the whole mass of the Body. Every righteous man will be willing to pay his debts, so should we be to dy: our lives are lent to us by God but for a time, and must be restored to the lender or owner; the Spirit shall return to God that gave it, so Solomen Eccles. 12.7. the anima, & animus, the natural life, and spiritual Soul, of due right belong to God.

Note 2 God will certainly take and receive in death what is sincerely offered up in life. Our hearts must be his living, if we desire that our Spirits should be his dying; so Augustine paraphrases on these words; Tibi vixi, tibi morior, &c. accipe spiritum me­um, è manu eorum qui oderunt tuum: he represents Stephen in this prayer thus speaking to his dear Saviour; Lord Jesus to thee I have lived, and to thee I now dy, receive my Spirit from the hands of cruel Enemies, who have hated thy spirit. Our acquain­tance with Christ, must not be to begin when we are just at our [Page 7]end. To such as have been friends, Christ will say, Come in my friends, I will receive you, I will give you house, and harbour, but to others he will say, Depart from me, I know you not now, because I never knew you before, Mat. 7.23. a very solemn profession he makes of it. How many of us would fain live to our selves, yet fain dye in Christ, as that dissolute young man, who was present at the death of Ambrose cryed out to his com­panions, Libenter vobis cum viverens, modò cum illo moriar. I would willingly live with you, so I might dy with him? but Je­sus Christ very seldom drives such late bargains with any Soul.

4. Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. The pronouncing hath a great emphasis in it, worth the marking, and from hence we may ob­serve 2 things.

Note 1 The godly mans Spirit is his own, in opposition to all other Lords and Masters below himself, though not above. His Spirit is his own, he hath not sold it to sin and wickedness, as Ahab did, (who though he was a Prince, yet was of the basest mechanick Spirit, a hellish huckster as to his own Soul) neither hath he morgaged it, as Ephraim did hers to Idolatry, being a silly dove without heart, Hos. 7.11. other Doves as the Naturalists tell us, are without gall, but she was a Monster in nature, without heart, because she had pawned it to her wicked paramours, and so con­sequently had, though jus ad rem, not jus inre, no possession of it. Neither hath he exchanged his Soul for any part of the World, or the whole bulk and body of it, as Christ himself uses the ex­pression, Math. 16.26.

Note 2 The godly man dying can offer up his Soul to God as his own, in the former sense. It is his own, he hath reserved it, and saved it for Christ only, as Christ hath redeemed it, and will save it, for the alone enjoyment of himself. The holy gracious Soul, being once joyned to the Lord by one Spirit, 1 Cor 6.17. And married to Jesus Christ by faith, the Husbands interest is the Wives,or glued, the word [...] comes from [...] gluten. and the Wives her Husbands, what Christ hath he hath, and what he hath Christ hath; true grace frees the Soul from all base Masters and Lordly Tyrants: and a believer in death it self may say to Christ, Lord Jesus receive my Soul, which since conversion, ne­ver knew any bonds but thine own service, which is perfect free­dom: that never was under any yoke, or burden but thine, which is most easie and light, Math. 11.30. which was no willing Servant [Page 8]to sin and lust, but upon pure force, and highest compulsion: re­ceive then dear husband, now my Virgin Spirit, not abused, not deflowred, since thou hast entred into a conjugal league with me

Happy Soul that can thus argue, flying from the Body, with an all-searching knowing Master.

5. Lord Jesus Receive my Spirit. By [...] Spirit here he doth not mean his natural breath; for as the body is dust, and returns to dust, so the breath is ayr, and in death the air sucks it up, we do then expirate, not respirate, breath it out into its element, not suck it in any more: but he means his Spiritual, not natural breath, which was a divine infusion; as he breaths out the one, he breaths up the other into its proper center, the bosom of Jesus Christ.

Note A gracious Soul minds not, in death, his natural, but his spiritu­al part, his only care is to secure that, to lock it up safe in heaven, as in a Noahs Ark, when the storms of death drown his body; But of this more by and by, when the words are handled in their second sense, unto which I now hasten.

2. to handle the words in a compounded, united sense, and so to bind up the single flowers in a bundle together; and the Lord make them a fragrant posy to your spiritual sense.

For expedition sake, I shall joyn Doctrine and Application both in one, and so infer 4. particulars from the whole prayer.

  • 1 1. Matter of Information.
  • 2 2. Matter of Consolation.
  • 3 3. Matter of Examination.
  • 4 4. Matter of Exhortation; chiefly the last.

1. Matter of Information; this shall be double.

1. It may inform us, that the rage of man cannot drive a gratious Soul from Christ; Stephen here in this whole prayer goes to Jesus Christ, though many stones not only lay in his way, but as a massy weight upon him, and not only lay upon him, but broke and bruised his body; when his enemies eyes sparkled fire at him by reason of rage, and malice, when they gnashed on him with their teeth, when they stopt their ears at all his complaints, and were desperately united together in their thoughts and Actions of blood and mischief; when they cast a shower of stones upon his body, and shot a whole volley of cruelty at his naked brest, yet [Page 9]all could not stop his mouth; nor that heap of stones dam up his passage to heaven, but in a moment he flyes thither by prayer to God his Rock, his Ammunition of Rocks, to Christ his precious corner stone. Thus may all the Saints do, when their adversaries are set upon the fire of hell, they may yet run to the gates of hea­ven; as all the gates of Hell (in Hell) cannot prevail against their persons, so all the gates of Hell (on Earth) cannot obstruct their petitions; they may see their Father, their Saviour, through the thickest cloud of humane rage, and fly to him as with the wings of a Dove by faith, and prayer.

2. It may inform us that Souls do not sleep in the grave; they are received so soon as we dy, either by Christ, as Stephens here, or else by Satan; they do not fortuitò vagare, wander uncertainly, as some sick-braind Philosophers did dream; nor pass from one bo­dy to another by a [...], as Pythagoras, & his foolish Scholars thought, much less sleep in the grave with the Body, till they are awakened by the found of the great Trumpet, at the day of judgment, as some now among us have sinfully held forth to their Auditors; This very prayer, to say no more at present, abundantly confutes this fond opinion. Our Souls are no sooner out of the vessel, and ship of the body, but presently they are landed, and set on shore in Heaven or in Hell: An Heathen could say of death,Seneca profectio est, quam putas mortem, it is but a passage from one Town to another, or a removal from one house to another. This to­tal Soul-sleeping is a worse opinion than Popish purgatory, or limbus patrum, and their dream of Abrahams bosome in the for old-Testament Disciples, until the coming of Christ in the flesh, is not so absurd as this, of lodging in the bosome of the grave for new-Testament discpiles till the second coming of Christ And truly it seems to be a great encouragement to profaness, and discouragement to godliness: for an antientAmbrose Father tells us: Angustae mentes irritantur promissis, excitantur speratis mercedi­bus; our narrow hearts are much quickned to duty by hopes of reward; and so consequently frighted from sin by fears, of pu­nishment: both which, hopes and fears if of things at a great di­stance have slender impression upon the heart: you shall not dis­courage your child from any untoward action, by threatning to whip him for it a yeer hence, or quicken him to obedience in doing any good, by promising him a new Coat, or a fayring se­ven [Page 10]years hence. Hope deferr'd makes the heart sick, and the hand lame; no wonder if men be hold in sin if confident their sin shall not find them out till the day of Judgement. God threatens sudden destruction to awaken us out of sin, and tells us, that he that comes shall come quickly, and bring his reward along with him, Rev. 22.12. to awaken us unto increase in holiness: The first Martyr after Christ, though he dyed not for, yet he dyed in this truth, That Spirits speedily are received by Christ in death, if they dy well.

2. Matter of consolation; this prayer affords comfort to all holy ones in such an hour when they need it most, even in an hour of death: all that dy in Christ, and for Christ, have a free and speedy passage by death to Christ, who is really to them pa­ter spirituum, & custos animarum, the Father of Spirits, and the keeper of their Souls. This comfort is double, both as to themselves, and to their Christian Relations when they dy.

1. As to themselves; they need not fear death, but look up­on it with an eye of comfort; this prayer of Stephens was oratio fidei, a prayer of Faith; we read Chap. 6.8. that he was full of faith and power; and at this time he had a strong exercise of it, as we may see verse, 55, 56. he looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at his right hand; this believing vision was when his tragedy was beginning; and cer­tainly as the rage of his enemies grew stronger, his faith incre­sed; and in this last prayer for himself he acted, and spake un­doubtedly with full assurance of faith, fervently believing that the Lord Jesus would receive his Spirit, as now he begd that he would; from hence,Calvin one observes; even from this faith of Ste­phens; haec fiducia instituere nos debet ad placidam mortis tolerantiam, this confidence should instruct, and strengthen us, which calmness and comfort to bear the stroke of death.Calvin Seneca An Heathen could say, si quid incommodi, morientis vitium est, non mortis; if death do us any hurt or prejudice, the fault is in the person dying, not in death; it cannot then hurt a godly man: Christ tels the Good Thief, this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise, though it were then about the ninth hour of it; and Lazarus his Soul was carried by Angels into Heaven, surely as for honour, so for expedition.

2. As to their Christian relations, here is matter of great com­fort in their death; the Lord Jesus takes care of their Souls; when [Page 11]an Husband or dear Relation dies in Christ, the Jewel we loved is but taken away from us, and lockt up in a surer Cabinet; we are content to part with our Children, and send them sometimes far from us, when we marry them, for their preferment sake; Death marries our dear Christian Relations to Christ, (as faith in life con­tracts them) and so carries them home to their Bridegroom;Ambrose Cyprian the dead in Christ do but abire, not obire, are but praemissi, non amissi, they do but depart from us, not dy, they do but go before, not go quite away; they are not lost, we shall meet them again the next style: what we lose, Christ receives; and is this a loss? we do but hide our Talent in Christs Napkin; and should we too much bewail such a breach? Luges Corpus à quo recessit anima? Augu­stine. luge animam, à qua recessit Deus; Dost thou bewail a Body, from whence the Soul is departed? rather bewail the Soul, from which God is departed; hinc illae lachrymae, this is matter of sorrow in­deed, to see Abner dying as a fool, to hear of a dear Absolom took off in the height of his sins, and of his Rebellion against God and Man; this is a Soul-rending heart-breaking spectacle; but to see a Stephen dying, the Church may make great lamentation for her own loss, but the matter is not worth a tear as to such a Mar­tyr, though he should ascend to Heaven in a fiery Chariot. Hea­ven is perfect happiness after the sharpest manner of dying. In such cases then let us rather save our tears for our own sins, than to weep, as persons without hope, for the dead in Christ.

3. Matter of examination; Whether we have given up our Souls to Christ in life, that he may receive them in death? Christ takes his Spouse by contract, not by rape; they willingly give up themselves to him in life, or else he will not (as old Elies Sons) take away their Spirit by force, when they come to dy. As our bodies must be offered up to God as a reasonable Service while we live, Rom. 12.1. so much more our Souls, or else it will be an unreasonable petiton to beg that Christ would receive them in death, when we can keep them no longer. As our dying Sa­viour cryed out, Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit, and dying Stephen here prayed, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit; so living David (in his health and strength) cryes, into thine hands, I commit my Spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth, Psal. 31.5. take thine own Lord both by Creation, and by Re­demption. And truly, if we lock God out now out of our own [Page 12]heart, which should be his possession continually while we live, no marvel if he lock out Spirits out of Heaven, which is our hope, when we dye. Calvin therefore from this place infers, quotidie spiritum in Dei manus commendemus, quia mille mertibus obsessi sumus, let us continually be commending our spirits into the hands of God, because we are dying daily, as to weakness, and di­stempers in our bodies: There are two wayes, whereby we should commend our Soules to God daily, as the Apostle shewes us, 1 Pet. 4.19. 1. Mala patiendo, by suffering the will of God, this is passive obedience. 2. Bona agendo, we must commit the keeping of our Souls to God in well doing, as unto a faithful crea­tour, this is active obedience; and without commending them thus to God dayly, we shall commend them with little success to Christ when we walk in the dark valley of Death.

The old Poets feigned Pluto to be the God of wealth, as well as the God of Hell, to shew us, that we may go to Hell when we dy, for all Wealth. Let us therefore faithfully examine whether we have given up our hearts and lives to God now; Christ in the second birth takes and redeems morgag'd Souls, but seldom or never in the hour of death; it is then too late usually to treat about so rich and high a piece of merchandice; Christ alwaies loves and likes a broken heart in life, but he cares not for an heart that is a breaking, and yet not broken, by a dying pang: when men are Spiritless, Faithless, Prayerless, till they come to be even speechless, and then think per miserere mei, tollitur ira Dei, by crying Lord have mercy on them, all shall be forgi­ven, no wonder if mercy be then deaf, to persons who have been so long dumb. Christ seldome sets up bankrupts who break upon such terms; or receivs such Souls that never had any acquain­tance with him before; that only which we freely and frequently give up in life, will he chearfully and willingly accept of in death.

4. Matter of exhortation; to stir us up to 4. duties; 3 I shall but briefly touch; the last a little more enlarge, because it is the principal intended in the Text.

1. It may exhort us to be much in prayer while we live, that we may prevail about the main, our Souls, when we come to dy, as certainly Stephen did here upon a former acquaintance with Christ in this duty, though not expressed in the Text, yet ne­cessarily [Page 13]implyed. Prayer is indeed a miraculous producer, it brings forth often times before it is conceived as,Dr. Featly a late learned Divine shewes: but yet it must be understood with this Salvo, if it come not when it is too late. God often answers before we call, cryes here I am before we cry, when holy begging is our constant trade, and we are skilfull by practice in this gainfull mystery. Yet we read too of foolish Virgins, that cryed out earnestly, Lord, Lord, open to us, Math. 25.11. Yet in this case the true God, was as deaf, and dumb to them, as Baal the false God, to his petitioners; late petitioners are welcom at the 11th. hour, that have been train'd to the work at the 7th. hour, and Christ best knowes the voice of them dying, that have watcht unto prayer living. Let us then pray continually, and chiefly for our bet­ter part, or else we run a very sad hazard of praying unsucces­fully in the hour when prayer shall have an end; at least as to our own Souls.

2. It may exhort us to exercise faith much while we live, that our faith may be warmest, with Stephens here, when we come to dy. The faith of this blessed Saint, and Martyr, in this prayer, hath a tincture of the Imperative Mood, more than of the Op­tative; as Christ comes with authority to his Father (more like an Advocate, or Lawyer, that pleads for Law, and Right, than a begger that pleads for an Alms, upon charity) in his last prayer John 17.24. Father I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me, to see my glory; so Stephen in part here speaks with some holy boldness, and believing authority, to Christ, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit. Prayer joyned with faith as a Prince prevails with God continually, especially in its last petitions and actings. Let us be much in the faith of assent to the truth of God and his word, in the faith of adhesion to the goodness, in the faith of application to the virtue of both, frequently in life: and this is the way to be much in the faith of assurance, when we dy, that Christ is really ours, that nothing shall separate us from his love, not death it self, and that then he will certainly receive our Souls. Pauls continual life, was a life of faith in the Son of God, Gal. 2.20. and how warm was his faith of assurance, when he speaks of dying, and laying down his Earthly house? 2 Cor. 5.1. We know that we have a building in readiness, eternal in the hea­vens; and from this, life was as a burden to him, he groans more [Page 14]under it, than many do under the pangs of death, 4th. verse. Generally the believers faith is at the highest when natural life is at the lowest, with Stephen here he sees Heaven open when he sees the graves mouth open; Act faith much while you live, and Christ hath prayed, that it shall not fail at any time, much less when your bodies begin to fall; his hand then will be most under you; let it but carry you thorough the Earth while you live, and it will carry you through the fire, when you come to dy.

3. Let it exhort us to fear nothing for Christs sake. Stephen here saithChristo­logus one, obtulit seipsum Christo, adhuc calente sanguine, Christi gratiâ diffuso; he offered himself up to Christ, while his blood was yet warm, shed for Christs sake; and did the Earth swallow up such blood? It did naturally the Earthy heavy parts of it, but the spirits of it quickly went in unto Christ. Who would not bleed for such a Master even to prodigality, that hath sweet drops of blood (or buttons to deck a garment of a Christians righteousness) on the behalf of his, [...] and will certain­ly receive such Souls, that make more than ordinary haste, by Martyrdome to fly into his bosom? Who would not pledge Christ in this bitter cup, and be baptized with his Baptism of blood, that hath confidence so soon as he is dead, to sit at the right hand of Christ? How many Souldiers of fortune have we that will venture their blood in hope of plunder, to reserve, and secure some thing against a rainy day? should not Christians much more be venturous for Christ, who will certainly secure their Souls, and hath provided goods for them which will last for many years, even longer than the whole World shall last.

4. The main exhortation is, to stir us up to mind nothing in life, and death, in comparason of our Souls; this was Stephens case, and care here, he begs not for any ease as to his body, though now sadly broken, and brused, nor any mitigation of the rage of his persecutors; he is totally silent as to his burial; al­though the less care he took for this the more good took, Act. 8.2. devout men were his bearers of whom the world was not wor­thy, and many of the best mourners attended him to the grave, that he minded not at all; as care, at his prayer in the first place was for his Soul; holy David was of the same temper and per­swasion, Psal. 141.7, 8. Though his bones lay scattered at the graves mouth, as when one cutteth or cleaveth wood, he looks [Page 15]upon them as contemptible chips, yet still his eyes are upon the Lord, &c. and he begs that he would not leave his Soul destitute, or in a naked uncovered condition.

Let men cark and care as much as they can for the Body,Hebrew. they can but have [...], a little to feed them when they live, and to bury them when they dye; they can carry away nothing else; a living Mole can do more than a dead Alexander, for he can stir the ground, when the other cannot: but the Soul must live for ever, we had need lay up in store for that; we had need have whole treasures in readiness for that, laid up in the highest Heavens.

But a little to enlarge this use by answering two or three questi­ons, because it seems to be the main, and chiefest scope of the whole prayers.

  • 1. What the Body is in comparison of the Soul?
  • 2. What the Soul is positively in it self?
  • 3. Wherein we should discover greater care, both in life, and death for the Soul, than the Body?

1. What the Body is in comparison of the Soul? Let me briefly open this by a few emblems.

1. the Body it is but the shell of the Soul, it is but as the husk to the Corn, as the skin to the Apple, as the nutshell to the ker­nel; the husk is neglected, the skin or paring of the Apple thrown away, and the nutshel cast into the fire, that we may enjoy the Corn, the Apple, the Kernel: so should the Body be despised in competition with the Soul.Dr. Prest. A late reverend Divine tels us, that the Body is but the Souls shell, and as the shell breaks, and becoms altogether uselesse, when the Chicken is hatched, and coms to maturity, so must our Bodies, when the Soul hath done its work on Earth, and is ripened for Heaven: so the Egg is not meat for the Eater, till the shell be crackt, nor the Soul fit for Christ till the Body be broken to pieces by death.

2. The Body it is but the sheath, or Scabberd of the Soul, what is the sheath in comparison of the knife, or the scabberd in com­parison of the sword? so worthless and useless is the Body in com­parison of the Soul.

3. The Body is but the house of the Soul, animi domicilium, a poor contemptible cottage it is, the Soul is the Tenant, as Christ is the Landlord of both; and indeed the Body is but a very weak [Page 16]slender house, a poor mud wall; as the Apostle 2 Cor. 5.1. com­pares it with Heaven, so may I with our Heavenly part the Soul; he calls the one an house, the other a building; the first is a place we make a shift to sleep in, the other a rare Fabrick, a curious structure indeed; and he likewise alters the Epithites, he calls the one an [...] Earthly house, nothing but clay, and mud, the other an [...] eternal house, which all the storms cannot beat down, no nor the waves of death of it self, but Caput inter nubila condit, it is above the reach of any terrene or humane casualties; passions may bat­ter it, but nothing can break it down.

4. The body is but the vessel of the Soul, take it for a floting vessel on the Water, the Soul is the merchandice, the Body but the Ship to vvaft it up and dovvn: or take it for a standing vessel in the house, the Body is but animi tecta, the cask of the Soul; the invvard part that is the pretious Liquor. When Anaxarchus a poor Heathen, vvas sadly tormented by a Tyrant, he cryed out, tundis vasculum Anaxarchi, non anaxarchum, you do but knock and break the Cask and vessel of Anaxarchus, you cannot reach or hurt him: as the veins in the Body are the vessels of the blood which contains the vital spirits, and is the life outwardly; so the whole is but the vein, or vessel of the Soul, which is the highest life of Man.

5. The body it is but the casket, or chest of the Soul, the Spi­rit is the jewel, the treasure which lies within it. In a fire that takes an house, no great matter if the Chest be burnt, so the Writings, Evidences be safe; when thieves break in, if they steal away the Casket, but the Jewels are safe; in neither, the loss is not undo­ing: so if the soul be saved though as by fire, our darling pre­served from sin and Satan, two cruel thieves, no great matter is it though the body be burut to ashes, and rob'd of all its outward strength and beauty, by the hand of death.

6. The Body it is but the prison of the Soul, the Spirit is ani­mus in carceratus; but like Jeremiah in the Dungeon, while it is in the flesh; the Bird in a Cage is a fit emblem of the Soul in the Bo­dy: The Turks after great preservations among other of their Charities, go into the market and buy Birds in Cages, and so re­lease them, which they judge a charitable work; when God re­leases the Soul of a good man from the Body, we may and must look upon it as a piece of divine charity, and holy love. Fleshly [Page 17]fetters, do envolve our hampered hearts, saith one; the Soul hath [...]clog upon his foot, our clods of clay, are but clogs of clay up­on our feet: as the foot is the meanest part of the Body, so the whole Body is but the meanest part of a man; and truly, comforts for the Body are but [...]. sandals or shooes for the Feet, Soul-refresh­ments are as [...] Crowns about out head.

Lastly, The Body it is often, but the tempter, & tormentor of the Soul, it Acts Satans part; the eyes and the ears are but the back­doors to let in Thieves, and Murderers, Hellish lustings which rob, and wound the Soul: the Senses by tempting to sin, bring in many torments, sicknesses, diseases, distempers to the Body, and these raise up many tempests, and storms, and violent pas­sions in the mind, such as fears, and grief, and anger, &c. which hurt, & hurry the Soul up and down, that it can have no rest, nor ease, by reason of its inward maladies and mutinies. Thus is it often insteed of being a great help, a sad hindrance to the Soul, as Eve was to Adam, who was but newly taken as a rib out off his side, [...], asBasil. an antient expresses it; the rib newly taken near his heart, was shot back again by Satan as a dart into his heart: so too often the Body is to the Soul. Why then should we so much mind our bodies, to take inordinate care for them, both alive, and dead; since of themselves they are po­sitively vile bodies, Phil. 3.21. but in comparison of our Souls much more vile?

2. Consider in the next place, what the Soul is positively in it self; this is a large Orchard for the Fruit of spiritual discourse, but I shall only pluck down 2 or 3 Apples.

1. Remember its curious composition, the rare Art put forth in the making of it, so choice a watch should be very warily kept, and minded, so noble a vine planted in us, calls for much seri­ous attendance, so choice a silver lamp cals for much trimming. In minimis aliquid magnum, there is something of grandure and greatness in the least things, much more in the greatest. The Bo­dy of man, as it came out of the hands of the holy, great, and wise Artist, is a choice piece: David falls a wondring (not from pride, or vanity, but spiritual thankfulness, and observation of Gods works) at the curious structure of his Body, Psal. 139.14.15. considering how exactly it was wrought in the lowest parts of the Earth, he means the womb, in which this rare workmanship was carryed on invisibly, in a very dark shop, or sellar; how much [Page 18]more wonderfull is the Soul? nihil in mnndo admirabile praeter ho­minem, uihil in homine praeter animam, saith one The spirit of God significantly express its rarity in the Creation of it, it is cal­led Imago Dei, Gods own Image, Gen. 1.27. and the expression is double, that it might be the better minded; and it is added, Male and Female were thus created; contrary to that fond opini­on of Theophilact, and that Mahumetan dream of the Turks, who suppose that the Souls of Women are of a lower and baser Me­tal, than the Souls of Men; God made no difference. Augustine discourses largly of this Image of God in the Soul of Man in 10. or 11. particulars, which I cannot now name: it is enough for me to assert, and affirm, that the representation, and effigies of the highest glory must needs be ful of glory, A sad thing then it is to change this glory into the Image of a Beast by any besti­al courses; pejus est comparari jumento, quam esse jumentum; it is worse to be compared to a Beast morally, than to be a Beast naturally. Let the rare composition of thy Soul after the image of God, cause thee to mind and prize it above all things, next to thy God.

2. Consider the price and value of it, both as to Christ, and as it should be also to our selves.

1. To Christ; it cost no less than the blood of the Son of God; the whole World at first was created, verbo pronuntiato, by bare speaking of a word, here was only [...], but the Soul could not be new created but only verbo incarnato, by the word made flesh, here must be [...] (if I may so allude to our Logical distinction) in the first God only did much, in the second he did and suffered much. Silver and Gold which the World so much adore, are as corruptible, so contemptible things, and could never make a purchase this way, Psal. 49.8. The redemp­tion of the Soul is too pretious, and it ceaseth for ever, had there been no beter, or richer commodity to have bought out the mor­gage. Davids water of Bethlehem which was the price of blood, of the blood of the choicest Heroes, and worthies in Israel, is but a dark shadow of the Soul of Man.

2. As to our selves; the Soul should be of more worth to us than the sublumary World; our Saviour (who best knew the worth of them, as he was a co-worker in the making of them, and a Ma­ster builder in the repairing and re-edifying of them) he himself tells us, Math. 16.26. That to make an exchange for the soul, by [Page 19]taking the whole World in the room of it, is to drive a most foo­lish, sad, losing bargain; he that thus sells his commodity shall cer­tainly dy a begger; as idleness, saith Solomon, shall cloath a man with rags, so more certainly will such a kind of trading and traf­ficking.

And yet generally such is the madness of the most of men, that they will exchange their Souls for a little of the World; for a ve­ry remnant, for the very coarse list of it, to cover their naked­ness; they will transgress for a morsel of bread, for a pair of shooes, as if they look upon their Souls as upon a sorry stained commodity, which they long to be rid of upon any termes, 3. Consider the infinite use of it as to the Body, as it is much above the Body. In other things, those are not alwaies the most use­full, that are most precious; (jewels do not cloth, and keep us warm, though they are very rich) but the Soul is very eminent for both. By viewing the natural and animal Soul as to its use and reference to the Body, we may by a Climax, see the greater use of the more refined and spiritual part: the natural Soul in us com­mon with plants, and beasts, it is the salt of the Body to keep it from stinking, from rottenness and corruption; Lazarus dead but 4 days noisomness followed; the natural Soul is the guide of the Body; as the light of the Body is the eye, so the light of the eye is the life, and natural Soul of it: besides it is the strength, and beauty of the Body, and what not? let but the Spirit natu­rally depart, and the strength ceases, the beautifull flower is cropt and withered, and looks so gastly, that we cry out, as A­braham of Sarah, bury my dead out of my sight; surely then much more is our spiritual part, which is but a little lower than Angels, the very salt of the Body eminently, the guide of it, the strength, the beauty, the all of it, and in it, next and immediately under God, who is the all in all.

3. I come briefly to answer the third question, and so to finish this discourse. What we must do to discover greater care, (with holy Stephen in the Text) over our Souls, than over our Bo­dies.

1. Begin betimes to trade for your Souls, before you begin to trade for your bodies.Aristotle The Pr [...]nce of Philosophers tells us, that man first lives the life of a Plant, then the life of a Beast, then the life of a Man; the first in the Womb by nourishment and growth, the second in Infancy by operation of common senses, the third [Page 20]afterward by the exercise of reason, and undestanding, and this too rises up by degrees; we are not fit for any considerable busi­ness, till we come to be of some considerable Age. Our most considerable business, is this of our Souls, and therefore we should begin with it, and teach our children this trade first, how to lay up provision for them.

I read of one Bensyra a Jewish child, that desired of his Pa­rents to be instructed in the Law of Moses; they replyed to him, it was yet a little too soon for him; but he returns them this an­swer, that he had been at play in the Church-yard, and there he saw little childrens graves as well as the graves of Elder persons; and he urged this, I may dy so soon, and sad it will be with me, if I have not the knowledge of God. Oh let us therefore labour to know, and to serve the God of our Fathers betimes, to mind the good of our Souls early in the morning of our age, seeing they are our better part.

2. Let us most carefully watch over our Souls; though the Lord hath appointed us peculiar watchmen for this purpose, Heb. 13.17. yet this must not make us the less industrious. Every one of us have a special command, and warning given, by the best Prea­cher that ever was in the world, except Jesus Christ, I mean by Solomon, Prov. 4.23. That we should keep our hearts with all diligence, because out of them are the issues of Life; and it is one of the sore complaints of the Church, Cant. 1.6, that she was so tyed up, and tyred with keeping the Vineyards abroad, that she had no leisure to keep her own. Oh what ever you omit, find time to look to, to watch over your own Spirits; the grea­test Merchant in the World, or highest whole-sale Shopkeeper, is but an errand Pedler, if he engages so deep in other businesses, that he neglects this. A sleepy Centinel that undoes a whole Gar­rison through his slothfullness; yet this man doth a meritorious Act, in comparison of him, who ruines his own single Soul, or the Sonl of any relation, for want of watchfulness; a short nap in security now may break thy rest, and sleep in Hell to the days of E­ternity.

3. Let us be often qustioning our Souls about their welfare; they are more to be minded than the Body; As you cast up your shop­booksonce a yeer, so you should examine your Souls once a day: If the Body be feavorish, or distempered, you lay your finger upon your pulse to see how it beats; but oh how silent generally is [Page 21]Conscience, the pulse of the Soul? and we are very willing to give it a writ of ease. Questions which engender strife have been much started of late, it were better to be exercised at home in the heart, about questions which concern our own eternal peace. Our Souls are then sick at Heart, when we never fear, nor que­stion them about any sickness. David was communing with his own heart often about its spiritual temper, and by it gained this blessed encomium from the Father of Spirits, that he was a man af­ter his own heart. Timidi mater non flet, the Mother of a fearfull Child seldome weeps, is proverbial among the Latines, and tru­ly a trembling Soul and a self-questioning creature, very rarely lies down in everlasting sorrow.

4. Let us still fear the worst as to the condition of our Souls. Ge­nerally doubtings, and fears may be compared to nettles, which though they sting, and trouble us, proclaim a fat and good soil where they grow; a naughty heart is but seldome troubled with them. Fear of badness is usually a sign of some goodness. As the Man is blessed that fears God alwaies, and this is the beginning of wisedome, Prov. 1.7. yea a very full and choise treasure, Esa. 33.6. so the Man is very near blessedness that fears his own state spi­ritually, and this is an introduction to holy wisdome, yea, that man hath some treasure in his house, and heart, that is suspiciouas of his house and heart: the empty traveller will sing and whistie be­fore the Thief, when the person loaded with mony is laden like­wise with fear if it grow but a little dark; thus is it usually with a suspicious complaining Christian. Faith charges it self often with much unbelief, and the perfect love casts out fear, imperfect doth not; because it is sensible it is imperfect. Where despair ruines one, presumption destroys a thousand. Better to go doubting to Hea­ven, than cheerfully and securely to Hell. Highest expectation brings greatest disapointment, and that poor Soul is double dam­ned when he falls into Hell, that never suspected such a fall; even Stephens full assurance of Faith in his death, was undoubtedly the Child of much holy fear in his life, and usually those Christi­ans dy most couragiously, that have walkt most tremblingly.

5. Provide for thy Soul more carefully than for thy Body. True it is, that without food and raiment for the flesh, we cannot well be contented, (it were well, if we could be contented with it, when it is competent and convenient) but with all we must remember, that the Soul must be fed and clothed as well, nay before the Body; but [Page 22] alimentum sit simile nutrito, the nourishment must be like the thing nourished: Different kinds must have different food, and different persons in the same species have a different diet, the Soul may fast, when the Body feasts, and the Spirit be naked, and hunger-starved as Dives was, though the outward carkass be clothed with purple, and fine Linnea, and fare sumptuously every day; the Soul of Dives wanted a drop of water at last, though undoubtedly he solaced his natural appetite with the richest wine contiuually. Christ had meat to eat which his disciples knew not of, and so the Soul must have meat to eat which the Body knowes not of. Our Saviour com­mands and commends idleness comparatively (though positively in it self, it be a great sin) even in comparison of Soul transactions, the body must live a very sedentary life as to its own affairs; the meat which perisheth must not be laboured for, in competition with, much less opposition, against the meat which endures to ever­lasting life, John 6.27. even the food, which only Christ himself can give to the Soul, who is sealed by the Father for this end. Eve­ry day and hour is prodigally wasted, in which we do not lay up something for our Soul (which is our glory) in order to eternity. Natura paucis cententa naturc is satisfyed with a little, glutted, op­pressed with too much; but the desires of the Soul are endless, it is continually hungring, and craving, only Christ, & spiritual objects can satisfie it, and yet even in them it hath not satiety, though it have satisfaction; thou mayest as well then quench the Leviathans thirst, (and the Behemoths, which sucketh up the River of Jordan) with a cockel shell full of water, as think to feed thy Soul to con­tentment, which Gold and Silver, and delicious banquets, and plea­sures in the World; where the appetite is infinite, the aliment and food must not be finite. Yet one thing will satisfie it, though ma­ny things cannot, even he who is the giver of all things; Let but thy Soul feed continually by faith and love on him, and then it will return to its rest, Psal. 116.7. as the sucking Infant when its belly is full.

6. Keep thy Soul pure, and clean, thus mind it more than thy Body. It is Gods advice to Jerusalem, Jerem. 4.14. Wash thine heart from wickedness; in this we should be most punctual, & exact Carefull we are most of us to keep our Bodies sweet and clean, to wash our feet, and face, and hands, to shift and change our linnen, that our Bodies may be sweet; carefull we are about our houses to wash, & sweep e­vety Room: but in the mean time we little consider that cleanliness [Page 23]of the heart is the best huswifery; truly God is good to Israel to them that are of a clean heart, Psal. 73.1. Paul enjoyns Timothy to keep himself pure, to wit the whole man, 1 Tim. 5.22. the Body in subordi­nation, and in order to the Soul, the earthly cask, and vessel, in order to the holy liquor, and the heavenly treasure. Eating with washed hands naturally was but an humane, vain, Pharisaical tradition, but to wash the hands morally with spiritual innocency before we compass Gods Altar, or engage the Soul in any serious duty, this is very neces­sary. It was Pauls design and care for to present the Corinthians a chast Virgin to Christ, 2 Cor. 11.2. so should it be our care. The Vir­gin Mary was the Mother of a blessed Son, yet still a Virgin: so may thine heart be the mother of some one cursed sin, and yet a Virgin in Christs esteem, if so soon as ever thou hast blackt and daubed thy self in ink, thou wash thy self in water, milk, and blood; the water of god­ly sorrow, the milk of free grace in the promise, and the blood of Je­sus Christ. Next to not falling is speedy rising, and next to keeping thy garments white, is washing as soon as thou hast defyled them; Thus be carefull to keep thy Soul pure continually, by washing it of­ten while it hath a tang of the cask, thine outward flesh, In this mind thy Soul most too.

Lastly, Be willing for the welfare of thy Soul to suffer in thy Body; and this double, both in life, and death.

1. In life, by keeping thy Body under, that thy Soul may be Master. Our life is a continual striving for mastery in this: the wicked man strives that his Body may be Master, and therefore he darkens his un­derstanding, sensualizes his affections, sears his conscience, &c. that the flesh may be Lord paramount. The godly man he makes a cove­nant with his eyes, as Job, keeps a watch before the dore of his lips, as David, keeps under his body, and brings it into subjection, as Paul, 1 Cor. 9.27. and all in order to this, that the Soul may be master over the body, and Jesus Christ over both; and this is that mastery which we should all earnestly contend for. Old Hilarion compares his Body to an Ass, which if it be too much pampered endeavours to throw his rider; and therefore saith he to his Body, faciam a sine ut non calcitres, O Ass I will so look to thee, and keep thee down, that thou shalt not spurn against thy Master. The way to do this, is to cross our selves most in those things wherein the flesh most pleases it self; whatever may make thy Soul proud, or wanton, do not give way to it for a moment. Some pride themselves in the excrements of nature, as long hair, some in the garments which cover nature (though indeed they [Page 24]are but poor borrowed coverlids from other creatures) and so glory in the hidings of their shame, and nakedness; some pride themselves in the ornaments of nature, tallness, strength, beauty, &c. O labour to deny thy self most in these things, which puff and swell thee up: so whatever makes thy Soul wanton, as wine, or fulness of bread, or any thing else, set a knife to thy throat, Prov. 23.2, 3. be not desirous of such dainties, for they are deceitfull meat, they may make rich thy ribs, but bankrupt thy Soul. The popish penance is ridiculous, and con­temptible, to lash the body one day in a yeer, or to go barefoot to such a shrine, & wear a cord about the waste, &c. but Christs penitence is very necessary, If thy right eye offend pluck it out, or thy right hand cut it off, Matth. 29.30. cross thy flesh in many lawfull com­forts; if the Son of the bondwoman, rebel against the Son of the free woman, better in this sense to go with Jacob, lame and halting to hea­ven, than to go dancing to hell, as too many thousands do by troops together.

2. In death; be willing for the good of thy Soul to suffer in thy Bo­dy, be contented that thy Body should be withered, that thy Soul may be the more fresh and green, that the old house should be puld down to the ground, that the Soul may take possession of a new building. As Christs sorrow, and shame, was our way to happiness and glory, so the suffering and breaking of the pitcher of the Body is the only way for the Soul to be made a vessel of honour. The cloth must be cut to pieces, before it can be made up into a rich robe, or ornamental gar­ment, the timber hewed or sawn into several quarters before the beau­tifull structure can be erected, as in regeneration we must exuere, be­fore we can induere, put off, the old man before we can put on the new, Eph. 5.22, 23. so in glorification too the old Adam must dy, flesh must perish, before we can be a new lump. The new corn in the fields in the spring, rose from the dying of the old in the Winter. Better bear an in­convenience than a mischief; death to the good man is but an incon­venience, the mischief would be worse; shouldst thou not dy, thou wouldst but live to sin, to be separated from thy Husband, to be ab­sent from the Lord; be not troubled then O gracious Soul, at thy bit­ter journey, at the narrow bridge thou must pass over; say with the Martyr, it is but winking, and thou art at home; think often on thy journeys end.

To conclude all, let us labour to live the life of Stephen, a life of faith, and holiness, and to dy with this prayer of Stephens in its full strength and latitude, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit.


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