CHURCH Reformation, A DISCOURSE Pointing at some VANITIES in DIVINE SERVICE. Delivered in Two SERMONS at Bridg­north: Sept. 30. 1660. Being the Lords Day; and the time of the Assizes held there for the County of Salop. By MICH: THOMAS, Rector of Stockton in the same County.

Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and Reverence my Sanctuary: I am the Lord,

Levit. 19. 30.

Si quis dicat Domum Dei contemptibilem esse; & Conventus qui in ea ce­lebrantur, Anathema sit: Concilium Gangrense, Canone quinto.

LONDON, Printed for Jo: Martin, Ja: Allestry, and Tho: Dicas, and are to be sold at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1661.

[...]

ECCLES. 5. 1.

Keep thy foot when thou goest to the House of God, and be more ready to hear, then to give the Sacrifice of Fools; For they consider not that they do evil.

SOme of those Learned men, who have im­ployed The Preface. their Talent of sacred knowledge in the Exposition of this Book, have made a critical Observation upon the Inscription of it. They tell us, that according to the Origi­nal, we should read the first Verse of it thus.

The words of the Preacheress, the Son of David, King in Jerusalem: But what? Was Solomon the Son of David a Preacheress? How so? they endeavour to assoyl the doubt thus; Either by supplying the word Sapientia or Anima.

That in this Book, The Wisedom of Solomon is the Preacheress, instructing the Sons of men in that diffi­cult Question, de summo bono; and directing them towards the attainment of the Chiefest Good.

Or, the Soul of Solomon is The Preacheress; that is, Solomon is delivering the various Observations which he had made upon the world heartily and experimentally. The Text wch he chose was, Vanity of Vanities, which he proves and prosecutes by convincing Arguments, [Page 4] and in such a Method and Manner, as St. Paul after­ward instructed his Son Timothy in the Art of Prea­ching.

I made use of this Criticisme for a Preface to my Discourse, Captare Benevolentiam; to bespeak and prepare your favourable attention: for here are those Three things which (according to the Orator) are most available to gain an Audience. Here is, First, Eloquence in the Authour: The Wisdom of God speaking in, and by Solomon. Here is, Secondly, Im­portance in the matter. St. Ambrose, and St. Gregory of Nyssen say, This Book is a Treasury of Divine Knowledge; the Doctrine of it may serve to wean us from the love of these earthly things, and further us in securing our interest in the things of Heaven. Here is, Thirdly, Perspicuity and Brevity in the Method. This great Argument concerning the Vanity of the Creature, is handled Succinctly and Demonstrative­ly, so as to convince the judgements, and to stop the mouths of such as have the greatest love and affection for the world.

Supposing then this whole Book to be but one Sermon, I must intreat you to look upon the words which I have selected for the Text, as upon one par­ticular Note of it.

In the former Chapters Solomon declares the seve­ral Vanities which he had observed in other things. In this Chapter he points at those Vanities which are incident to Divine Service. It pleased the Lord to appoint and enable Solomon to be the Builder of his Temple; It pleased him also to inspire and direct Solomon to be the Reformer of the abuses of his Tem­ple: [Page 5] So that from him we may expect a perfect Pat­tern or Plat-form of Church Reformation.

We have had of late much talk and high pretenti­ons by some for A Thorough Reformation of this Church of England; but the Lord knows, and the Lord give them grace to know, and to consider, that (beside nothing was done) the face of Divine Wor­ship was rendered more deformed to the wo [...]ld, and left more ill-featur'd then when they first undertook the cure; and the ways they proceeded by we [...]e crook­ed, and improbable to produce such a blessed effect.

It was not likely to Reform a Church by ejecting learned and faithful Ministers; by decrying a pious Liturgy, and Form of Divine Worship; by leaving Churches utterly void, and no Ministers to attend their desolate Congregations in their holy things. But I shall chuse rather to mourn in secret, then to in­large a publike complaint against those unhappy mis­carriages.

That there are corruptions crept into the House of God; and that there are still some very considerable, and very deplorable Vanities in our Divine Service, is too visible and apparent; and by the good provi­dence of God, I am here this day as Solomons Amanu­ensis; as one that hath taken some short Note out of his great Sermon, and in an humble way to give you some notice of them.

Since we are so happily met together on the Lords Day, and in the Lords House, I could not conceive any Argument would be more proper, then to dis­course of that Divine Service which we ought to per­form to God as on these days, and in these places. [Page 6] I am so charitable as to hope, that there is not one soul in this Congregation so vain, but desires to serve the Lo [...]d reverently and acceptably, and to observe the prescriptions of his most holy Will, both for the matter and form of it; and the doctrine of this text will direct us in both the parts of it. I must tell you, that I have not managed my meditations on this ar­gument so as to please all, but as near as I could, to edifie all. I durst not neglect my duty, nor be defi­cient to that providential Call which summoned me to this publique employment; and I hope no one will be displeased at such a plain and faithful dis­course; by which I endeavour to deliver my own soul, and to further the salvation of his. And so I proceed to the Explication and Division of the text.

I do not obserue any considerable variety in the se­veral Translations. Arias Montanus renders the He­brew, by Quando ibis, When thou shalt go. The Lxx. by [...], Quum vadis, When thou dost go. The Vulga [...] Latine by Ingrediens Domum Dei, When thou art entring into the house of God.

But some may say, Must all our care be taken as we are going to, or, as we are entring into the house of God, as these Translations import? And indeed the Syriack and the Arabick import no more.

I answer, It is an usual Trope in Scripture, Ex anteceder te intelligere consequens; by the antecedent to collect the consequent; and the Trope must have place here. This counsel of Solomon is not to be un­derstood of things to be done when we are going to the house of God; but what we are to do when we are come thither. There may be some preparatory [Page 7] actions and meditations, which may dispose and qua­lifie us for Divine Worship; But that which Solomon here speaks of, is of the essence and substance of it. But what is that?

Keep thy foot.] Spiritualem pedem animae omnes in­terpretantur, says Lorinus; All those Expositors whose opinions he had collected, do with one voyce interpret it of the feet of the Soul; of the tempe [...], and disposition, and resolution which the soul ought to be in, both when we are coming to, and when we are come into the house of God.

But some may say, where is that? and urge against Solomon's counsel in the text, Solomon's confession in another text; That God dwelleth not on earth, the Hea­ven of Heavens cannot contain him, much less that House which he had built; 1 King. 8. 27.

I shall answer briefly for the present, That by the house of God here, is meant such a place as is pecu­liarly designed, and consecrated to, and for divine Service.

Here is yet a farther enquiry; Suppose the soul of a man to be rightly prepared to come; and being come, to be so well affected, as really and reveren­tially to conceive himself to be in the house and presence of God; What must he do then? Most Translations of the Text tell us, Be rea­dy to hear: But sure there is more in it. Learned men observe, that the original word signifies also to obey; and so the vulgar hath it, Melior est Obedientia quam Victimae stultorum, It is not auricular, but pra­ctical hearing which is intended in this place; Obedi­ence to God's Commandments, conformity in our [Page 8] lives to such sound doctrine as is delivered to us in the house of God.

There lies not any difficulty upon any other term in the text; and therefore for a full explication, be pleased to receive the Chaldee Paraphrase upon it, which I have faithfully translated. As if Solomon had said thus;

Thou son of man, Keep thy feet at what time thou The Paraphrase on the Text. shalt go into the house of the Sanctuary of the Lord to pray: Do not come thither full of sins, before thou be converted; and while thou art there, incline thine ear to receive the doctrine of the Law from the Priests and Wise men; Be not as the fools, who offer a gift for their sins, yet are not converted from their evil works which they have wrought with their hands; and so God is not well pleased with them, neither do they know what to do between good and evil.

And now that we do in some measure understand The Division: the sense and meaning of the words, be pleased to receive the division of them into these two general parts.

Here is an Instruction, and a Caution.

The Instruction consists of two branches, and both full of fruit:

The first branch is, Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God.

The second branch is, Be more ready to hear (or o­bey) then to offer the sacrifice of fools.

The Caution is conteined in the latter clause, which is presented in the term of a reason; For they consider not that they do evil.

So now the parts of the Text are laid open, and the work lies before us; and I hope we have all been so careful of our feet in coming to this house of the Lord this day, as that our pretended Divine Service may not prove a sacrifice of fools; I must declare again, that my designe lies against the irreverend and wilful sinne, though he be a frequenter of the House of God; and my procedure shall be with all meek­ness and gentleness, as becomes a Minister of Christ; and with all reverence and respect, as becomes so great a presence as this is.

The first general part, the Instruction; I am to invite your religious attention to gather the fruits of the first branch of it; In which we shall stop and stay upon these three things.

First, That God hath an House here on earth.

Secondly, That there is a reverence due to that House.

Thirdly, We shall enquire wherein that reverence doth consist.

From whence, we may pass to the view of the se­cond branch; wherein we shall find what is the main constituent part of divine reverence; namely, Obe­dience to Divine Commands.

For the first of these; That God hath an House here on earth, I am to make good the proof, thus.

First, That God hath owned such places as were peculiarly designed and consecrated to his Worship, for his houses, for his dwelling places here on earth.

Secondly, That the people of God in all ages have owned and acknowledged such places as the houses of God.

I cannot conceive more cogent arguments in this point, then the Word of God, and the practise of the people of God: Such as will not be convinced by these, must be reckoned in the number of those [...], St Paul speaks of, unreasonable men, whom no To­pick nor rational argument can win over to the de­cency and uniformity of Divine Worship.

First, I say, God doth own such places for his Houses.

Is there no weight in that command of God? Ye shall sanctifie my Sabbaths, and reverence my Sanctuary, I am the Lord. Lev. 19. 30. Where observe; Doth not the Lord own the Sanctuary as well as the Sab­bath? Doth he not say, Ye shall reverence my San­ctuary, as well as ye shall keep my Sabbath?

Such as would evade this evidence, by saying, that the Tabernacle, and the Sanctuary, and the Temple were Jewish things, they were types and shadows, and are vanished and abolished: We Christians are free to serve God in any place, and at any time. True, we are so; but by such an argument as this, we may wipe out the Commandments of both Tables; for they were Jewish things, as being first given to them: and truly it is easie to observe, that such as have been the revilers, and despisers, and destroyers of the houses of God amongst us, have been rejecters and contemners of all the other Commandments of God; a very sleight care of godly or neighbourly duties hath appeared among them.

But I confess it is improper to answer an argument by an invective; and therefore I say, in the second place.

Where the fundamental reason of somthing in the first constitution of it abides still the same; there the thing it self must abide in the like esteem.

I have heard it is a Rule in the Law, Eâdem, vel si­mili ratione manente, idem statuendum est; Like rea­sons produce like determinations in all cases.

There was a fundamental reason in the Institution of the Sabbath, the day allotted for divine Worship: and therefore the holy Apostles did not abrogate, but change it. Now the fundamental reason of the Jew­ish Tabernacle and Temple was, that God should have a set place, as well as a set time for his Worship; it being improbable that Divine Service should ever be solemnly performed, except there be both time and place appointed for it.

And this was the reason why holy David was so careful in providing materials; and Solomon was so industrious in building the Temple of Jerusalem, that there might be a fixed place where the Name of the Lord might be placed and called on, and where the Lord might meet his people and bless them.

Hence was that command of God, That while the Jews were in their ambulatory condition, removing their Tents from place to place, they should build him an Altar of earth, wherein their Sacrifices were to be offered: The reason whereof is there assigned. In all places where I record my Name; that is, In every place where the remembrance or Memorial of my Name shall be, I will come unto thee and bless thee, Exod. 20. 24.

The like command, upon the like reason, we find Exod, 25. 8. Let them make me a Sanctuary, that I [Page 12] may dwell in the midst of them; which makes to the Point in issue: That the Lord owns his Sanctuaries, the places designed for his Worship, as his Houses, and his dwelling places. But there are in this case more clear and plain evidences; yet I shall enforce but one more.

When the Lord says by the Prophet, Isa. 56. That he would make the Gentiles joyful in his House of Prayer; and again, My House shall be called the House of prayer for all people: verse the 7. it is worth the noting, that the Prophet speaks in the Future Tense, My House shall be called; and this universally, in regard of all people, not of the Jewes alone, but of the Gentiles also.

And this precious promise is recorded by three of the four Evangelists; by St. Matthew in the 21. By St. Mark in the 11. By St. Luke in the 19. Chapters of their Gospel: I infer, if that Temple, that House of Prayer, had not been the Lords House by a pecu­liar right and propriety, he had had no [...]eason to take the prophanation of it so unkindly: If a Stable, as some have said, be as holy a place as a Temple, what need had the Lord Christ to be angry, that Sheep, and Oxen were brought into it? and sold to the peo­ple for their Sacrifices. Surely 'tis no offence to Christ, nor dishonour to Religion, to put Cattel in a Stable, but the Lord Christ did not conceive so of it. He esteemed and called it his House: and as Di­vines observe on that passage; He gave the most sig­nal testimony of his displeasure that appeared in the whole course of his life. St. John tells us, that he made a Scourge of small Cords, and drove the buy­ers [Page 13] and sellers out of his Temple; he would not en­dure that that House, which was designed to the duty of prayer, and other parts of divine Worship, should be made an house of Merchandise, and Den of Theeves.

Again, is it not plain out of that promise, that the Lord intended there should be a succession of his Houses? that in all ages, as the light of the Gosp [...]l should appear to any Nation, they should have an House, a fixed place to resort unto for Divine Wor­ship; It was im­possible that the Temple at Je­rusalem should be an House of Prayer to all Nations. and the Lord performed this promise, in stir­ing up the hearts of holy men, to erect and prepare convenient places for holy Worship; and if the re­cords of antiquity do not deceive us, there were some Churches built even by the Apostles themselves; by St. Andrew and St. Luke. That evidence of Isidore Pelusiota, is fraudulently detorted by some, when they cite him, saying, [...] That in the Apostles time there were no Churches; but they leave out what he adds, [...], that is, not so magnificently built, nor so richly adom'd as in the succeeding age they had, whereof there is mention made by Saint Ignatius in his Epistle to the Magnetians; by Justine the Martyr, in his second Apology; and by St. Martialis in his Epistle to those of Tholouse.

By this that hath been spoken, I hope the Evidence is clear, That the Lord doth own some places as his Hou­ses. And I was the larger in this, because I conceived the proof would mainly stick here: If the Lord vouchsafe to call them his Houses, and his dwelling places, and the Memorials of his Name; It might be [Page 14] necessary, that some amongst us would consider, whether those reproachful Names which they put up­on our Churches, in calling them Steeple-Houses, and Meeting-places; And whether their continual wilfull absence from them, be not defaults against that command of God, Of Reverencing his Sanctuaries? The Lord in his due time give them g [...]ace to consider of it, and bring those wandring and well-neer lost Sheep into the Fold of his Church again.

It follows now that I declare unto you, that the people of God in all ages have owned and acknow­ledged those places which were designed for the pub­lick Worship of God, as the Houses of God.

When Cain complained that he was driven from the presence of God, Peter Martyr understands it, that he bemoand himself, as being cast out of the Church of God, which was then in the Family of Seth.

When the Lord vouchsafed to holy Jacob that vi­sion of the Ladder; and when he saw the Angels ascending and descending upon it, he breaks out in­to that Expression; How fearful is this place? This is none other but the House of God! and it was a part of his Vow: This Stone shall be the House of God, and of all that thou hast given me, I will surely give the Tenth unto thee.

How often doth holy David make mention of the Sanctuary of the Lord, and the presence of God, and the House of God? In all which expressions he in­tended the place of publick Worship; and that, be­fore the Temple was built.

It were endless to cite the Testimonies of all the Prophets; do but consider that sharp reproof of the [Page 15] Prophet Haggai, when the people of Israel were re­turned out of Babylon, and were more intent on the building and beautifying of their own houses then the House of God; He puts that confounding question to them: Is it time for you to dwell in sieled Houses, and the House of God lye w [...]ste?

Doth not St. Paul check the Corinthians for despi­sing the Church of God, and for the divisions that were among them when they met in the Church of God, 1 Cor. 11?

That by the Church of God he meant the place which was then set apart for divine Service, is the concurrent opinion of those 18 Greek Fathers, whose judgements Gecumenius sum'd up; and of those mo­dern Divines whom Marlorate hath epitomiz'd; they all understand it, non de coetu, sed de loco; not of the Congregation, but of the place they were met in, which was not to be prophaned by their uncharitable divisi­sions, nor their luxurious Feasts, which had been less sinful in their own houses.

I shall not conceal from you, in what a passionate way St. Hierom expressed himself against Sabinian for an indecent action in a Church. Infaelicissime morta­lium; Oh thou most unhappy of all the sons of men! Proh nefas! non possum ultra progredi: When he was about to declare his sin, he breaks off, and cryes out, Oh horrid Impiety! I am not able to express my self, my tears flow faster then my words; my spirit is streightned through grief and indignation. Even Cicero and De­mosthenes would be dumb in such a cause as this, and could not say any thing to defend it; So great an ag­gravation did Sabinians sin contract from the holi­ness [Page 16] of the place it was committed in.

And we may wonder the less at the passionate zeal of St. Hierom, when we hear old Eli reproving his Sons for their misdemenor with the women of Israel at the door of the Tabernacle: If (says he) one man sin against another, the Judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? He calls their sin, a sin against the Lord, in respect of the place; and intimates, that it was of such an heinous nature, as was not to be expiated by sacrifice or inter­cession.

To declare the reverend esteem which holy men have had of the Houses of God, is too copious an Ar­gument to be touched upon in a Sermon; 'tis fitter ra­ther for a Volumne then an hours discourse; and I had not said so much, but to invalidate those pretensi­ons of piety, by which the Sectaries would disguise their contempt of the Houses of God, and their separation from us.

It was one of the brain-sick humours of the Dona­tists of old; they esteemed a beggarly Cottage fitter for Gods service, then a magnificent Temple.

The Manicheans objected it as a criminal matter a­gainst the Christians, that they have Temples and Altars after the manner of the Jewes, and the Gen­tiles.

The Messalians imitated them, execrating and a­bandoning all Churches, and would pray only in their own houses.

Socrates reckons it among the errors of Eustatheus, that he detested all Churches, and perswaded his fol­lowers to keep their Conventicles in their private Houses.

In this Glass our modern Sectaries may see from what Progenitors they are descended; that in despi­sing the Churches of God, they walk in the paths of condemn'd Hereticks: And whereas they pretend P [...]ety and Purity in their separation from us, they pol­lute themselves with the greatest impiety; for they rob God of his right and propriety in the Houses of Prayer, which himself hath claimed, and his people in all ages have cheerfully and humbly acknowledg­ed.

Well then, If God hath an House here on earth: It will follow in the next place, that there is a Reve­rence due to it.

It is due, first, in respect of the divine Command. Ye shall Reverence my Sanctuary; the Command is twice repeated in the Book Leviticus: and that we may not conceive it a service peculiar to the Jewes only, St. Paul makes it his Exhortation, to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire, Heb. 12.

Secondly, Reverence is due to the House of God, because it is the memorial of his divine presence.

There is something in that Promise, which the Lord made to Solomon, when he had consecrated his Temple by prayer: Mine eyes and my heart shall be there perpetually, 1 Kings 9. 3. And doth not our bles­sed Saviour promise, That when two or three shall be gathered together in his Name, He would be in the midst of them: These places import a divine presence in the Houses of Prayer, especially in the time of Prayer.

Some of the Ancients raised an Argument for Re­verence to the House of God, in regard of the imme­diate [Page 18] presence of the Angels of God there. [...], says St. Chrysostom; He is re­proving his Antiochians for their irreverent behavi­our in the Church, in walking, and talking, and salu­ting one another, and the like. The Church (sayes he) is not like a Barbers shop to tattle in, and tell news, but the place of Angels, and Arch-Angels, the P­lace of God, even Heaven it self.

And in another place he advises thus: Consider (says he) with whom thou standest, with whom thou callest upon the Name of the Lord: With Cherubims and Sera­phims, and all the powers of Heaven: It may be suffi­cient to perswade thee to reverence, when thou re­membrest, that thou who art but flesh and blood, but dust and ashes, art admitted with the incorporeal powers to celebrate the Lord of Glory. So that Father.

To the same purpose, St. Ambrose. Nè dubites as­sistere Angelos, ubi Christ us assistle; There is no questi­on to be made, but where Christ is present, the Holy An­gels are present also.

Tertullian observing the irreverent gesture of some, sitting in the time of Prayer in the Church, manages his Argument thus. Siquidem irreverens est asside­re, &c. If it be an irreverent thing to sit in the sight and presence of him whom thou honourest in an especial man­ner; how much more irreligious is it to do it in the pre­sence of the living God? Angelo orationis adstante, and the Angel of Prayer standing by: Unless thou wilt upbraid God that thou hast wearied thy self with praying, and canst stand nor kneel no longer.

And these judicious Fathers did not urge this Ar­gument [Page 19] for reverence, without good grounds for it. The learned Junius in his Not [...]s upon that place of Tertullian, conceives, that in that expression he had respect to that place, 1 Cor. 11. 10. where S. Paul in­structing them for the most decent manner in the du­ty of Prayer, says, For this cause ought a woman to have power (or a covering) on her head; because of the Angels; namely, which are present there; for other­wise there were no strength in the Argument: Why should the woman be covered in the place of prayer, more then any where else, unless the Angels be more there then any where else? They are [...] said Philo Judaeus, Overseers, to look that all things be done as they ought in the houses of God; and hence no doubt was that expression which we have in our Liturgy, Wherefore with Angels and Archan­gels, and all the Company of Heaven, we laud and mag­nisie thy glorious Name.

We have now well neer gathered the fruit of the first branch of Solomon's Instruction. Two things have appeared to us.

First, That God hath his Houses here on Earth.

Secondly, that there is a Reverence due to them.

We are now in the third place to enquire, wherein that Reverence doth consist?

And we have the answer in the Text, Custodi pedem tuum, Keep thy foot when thou enterest into the House of God.

And here it were easie to refresh your attention, with the grateful variety of conjectures, what Solo­mon might mean in these words.

Hugo de Sancto Victore conceives, that our Reve­rence [Page 20] to the house of God may be expressed, First; in the decent decking and adorning of them; which he collects from that passage Psal. 144. 12. That our daughters may be as the polished corners of the Temple: the Lxx. renders it, [...] concinnae & ornatae, beautiful and adorned.

In this Prayer of David it must necessarily be sup­posed, that the corner stones of the Temple were car­ved and polished; had they been rough and unhewen, it had been a frivolous prayer, if David had desired of the Lord that the daughters of his people should be like to them.

But in this last and worst age of the world, the Re­verend Sons of God may invert that prayer, That the stones of our Churches were but polished and beautified as our daughters are. There are many wealthy persons who have laid out more money for a new Dressing, or a new Gown for a Daughter, then ever they gave to­ward the repair of a Church, in their whole lives.

Paulinus the Bishop of Nola, expressed his reve­rence to the House of God in that desire of his;

Prae foribus servire tuis: tua lumina mane
Munditie curare sinas.—Translated thus.
Let me attend thy doors, and every morn
Sweep clean thy Threshold, and thy Porch adorn.

So we find S. Hierome commending Nepotian for dressing up the Church with boughs and flowers, and for keeping the walls and the pavements clean.

Certainly there is a golden mean between that pompous Ornament which the Papists bestow upon [Page 21] their Churches, and that sluttish neglect which we may observe in some Churches of the Protestants. Look upon their out-sides, and by the thatch, and broken roof, you would take them rather to be Sta­bles for Horses, then places designed for the Wor­ship of the God of Heaven.

Look into their insides, and were it not for a worm­eaten Table, and some broken seats and forms, you would think them rather places littered for Swine to lye in, then for Christians to pray in.

The Lord be merciful to this Land for our irreve­rence to his Sanctuaries in this particular, and raise our hearts to that pitch of devotion, to make and keep Gods House, at least, as decent as our own.

But in the second place, let us inquire what this keeping of the Foot is.

This is certain, that both the Jews and the Gen­tiles also did understand it literally.

Aben Ezra (as I find him cited) glosses it thus. Come not into the House of God, Illotis Pedibus, with unwashen feet.

Maimonides tells us, it was not lawful for a man to come into the House of God with his shoes on his feet, or with his staffe, or in his working garment, or with dust on his feet.

Which is further confirmed by what Burtorsius relates to be the modern practice of the Jews in their Synagogues, even in these Western and colder parts of the World. Before the door of their Synagogues they have an iron fastned in the wall, whereat every one is bound to make clean his dirty shoes, and that by the authority of Solomon, who saith, Look to thy [Page 22] Foot. And whosoever had slippers on, if they were foul, he was bound to put them off, according as it is written, Put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

In this literal sence did the Jews understand this Instruction of Solomon: And we find that the Gen­tiles, by the impulsion of the Law of Nature did reverence the Temples of their gods in this manner.

It was one of the Precepts of Pythagoras: [...]. Offer thy Sacrifice, and wor­ship with thy shoes off.

Drusius tells us, that some of the Eastern Nations held it a crime not to be pardoned, to tread upon the pavement of their Temples with their shoes on.

And so a late Writer, who was a long time Priso­ner among the Turks, tells us what their behaviour is, when they come into their Mosguees.

Their first duty is, to wash their hands and their feet; then they sprinkle water thrice on their heads, repeating these words: Glory be to my God.

Then putting off their shoes, they enter into their Temples.

And so Arnobius tells us, it was the custome of some Heathens to fall down flat in the Temples of their Idols.

And that all these expressions of Divine Reve­rence may not be blown away as superstitious Rites and Ceremonies, savouring of Judaisme and Genti­lisme; be pleased to hear in what sence some Chri­stians have understood this Instruction of Solomon.

Zaga Zabo, a Bishop of Ethiopia being sent Embas­sadour to the King of Portugal, and being requested [Page 23] to make a Relation of the Rites and Ceremonies which the Abysines used in their Divine Service; He gives this.

It is forbidden amongst us, that either Heathens, or Dogs, or any other beasts should come into our Churches.

It is not permitted to us to go into our Churches, but bare-footed.

It is not lawful for us to walk up and down in our Churches, nor to laugh, nor to spit, nor to speak of secu­lar matters, because our Churches are like Mount Sinai, where God spake unto Moses, saying, Put off thy Shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is Holy Ground.

St. Hierome reports it to the honour of that devout Matron, Paula, that she died with these words in her mouth: How dreadful is this place? this is none other but the House of God.

And Greg. Nazianzen commends his pious Mo­ther Nonna, that in the Church she would never o­pen her lips but concerning divine matters; that she never turn'd her back upon the Altar; that she would never spit upon the pavement, as considering her self to be in the House, and presence of the Lord.

By these several Instances we may perceive how all Nations, both Jews, Gentiles, and Christians, agree in this reverent behaviour in the House of their gods: And shall the English Christians be the only rude, uncivil, and irreverent worshippers of their God above all the world beside? God forbid.

I press you not to a strict imitation of these several Nations, in putting off your shoes, or washing your feet, or your heads: Onely this, that whensoever [Page 24] ye are coming to, and when ye are entred into the Houses of God, ye would consider that ye have a glo­rious, and a jealous God to meet with: That the ho­ly Angels, though they know not your hearts, yet are over-seers of your outward gestures and behaviour; and it is their joy to see and hear the real expressions of unfeigned repentance. So Junius interprets those words of St. Luke 10. 15. I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the Angels of God over one sinner that repenteth: that is, The Angels of God can see our tears and our humble postures; they can hear our sighs and our groans, aad the confession we make of our sins; and this is matter of joy to them, that the number of the Servants of God, and such as shall be saved, is encreased.

It may beget an abasing blush in us to hear what Seneca said in this case. Intramus Templa composud, in omne argumentum modestiae fingimur: We enter in­to our Temples with composed spirits, and frame our selves to all possible expressions of modesty and humility. And no doubt the Lord expects the like from us, and more; forasmuch as we have a better God to serve then the Heathens had; and the knowledge of him is delivered over to us by clearer and more abundant revelations.

But I must not stay too long upon the literal sence of these words. Keep thy foot when thou enterest into the House of God: There is something more in them.

Hippomanus, and some other Expositor, have ob­jected, The Second Sermon. That that Ceremony of Discalceation, among the Jews, was used to signifie a mans departure from [Page 25] his Right; in passing his Inheritance to another, as we read, Ruth 4. 7.

And it is not improbable, that Solomon in this In­struction, might have respect unto that Ceremony.

When St. Paul called upon the Corinthians to glorifie God, both with their bodies and their spirits, he presses them to it by this Argument: Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price; as if he had spo­ken to them in the phrase of the Text: Put off your Shoes from your feet. Yeild up that right which ye have to the members of your bodies, and the faculties of your souls unto Christ, who hath redeemed them: And from this Notion of the phrase (which is genuine enough, and analogous to the rule of divine Worship) I may raise some other Notions, which may serve to ad­vance and promote the Duty which we have in hand.

I shall easily admit that account which Lorinus gives us, that by foot here, is meant, the feet, that is, the affections of the soul; but may I not put the question, Of the soul only? Had Solomons instructi­on no design upon the members of the body? Doth Divine Reverence consist only in the pious frame and composure of the soul? Certainly it requires the whole man; the inward man, and the outward man too; and the ensuing Discourse will be managed ac­cordingly in some short Directions for the decent be­haviour of the outward man.

First, I advise according to the letter of the Text. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the House of God: When thou art going thither keep on thy way; suf­fer no temptation either to stay thee at home, or to turn thee aside from it. It is one of the choicest arts [Page 26] of Satan, in hindering men from going to the House of God; he knows that there is not any thing that debauches the spirit of a man, nor hardens his hea [...]t more, then his frequent absence from divine worship; that's the sin which keeps men in ignorance of them­selves, and of the ways of God, and discomposes them for that great account which they must render to the Lord at the last day.

1 Chron. 21. 30. We read That David could not go up to Gibeon to inquire of the Lord, because of the sword of the Angel of the Lord: that is, because he was to pass through infected places thither; but when the way to the House of God is clear and safe, thy absence from it will not be defended by either of those too common excuses; some worldly business, or the entertainment of a friend that came to visit th [...]e.

Again, Keep thy foot when thou art come into the House of God.

Tertullian tells us, that the primitive Christians had their Dies stationum, days of standing, wherein they thought it Nefas, (as he expresses it) an unlaw­ful thing to kneel, though at Prayer; and those days continued from the Passover to the Pentecost, in me­mory (as it is thought) of our Saviours Resurrection. St. Cyprian tells us, that the Confessors and Martyrs, who persevered in the faith were called Stantes, The Standers. The ancient Church took up another custom at the reading of some portions of the Gospel, and at the repetition of the Articles of our Faith, that the Congregation should stand up; not only to acknow­ledge their unity and consent in faith, but to testifie their resolution to persevere in that faith, and to main­tain [Page 27] the truth of that Gospel against all opposers.

And since that custom of standing at those times, at the repetition of the Creed, and the reading of the Gospel, hath been derived down to us by the piety of our fore-Fathers; I advise you to look to your feet then; do not kneel at the Creed, as the manner of ignorant persons is, as if it were a prayer. Do not sit, as if ye doubted of the truth, or were not con­cerned in that publick profession of your Faith; and as if your constancy to it would be conditional; that is, so long as it stands in favour, and is in fashion with the world: But in the Name of God stand up at it, and stand up for it; that the Lord may stand with you, as He did by St. Paul, and strengthen you in the day of your tribulation.

I pursue my design of putting our outward Man into a reverend posture for divine worship; and there­fore the discourse riseth from the Foot to the Knee. Look to that, that it be not too stiffe in the House of God.

God standeth in the Congregation, saith David; doth God stand? and do his holy Angels stand and look upon thee, and wilt thou sit? Wilt thou sit, and never kneel? St. Jerom's rule is, not only frequen­ter orandum, to be often in the duty of prayer; but flexo corpore orandum, to declare an inward humilia­tion by an outward.

Our coming to Church is a Testification, a profes­sion of our Religion; and to testifie our fall in Adam; the Church appoints us at certain times to fall upon our knees; and to testifie our faith in the Resurrecti­on, both of Christs and our own; the Church hath [Page 28] appointed certain times to stand, but no man is so left to his liberty as never to kneel.

Genu-flexio est Peccatorum: Kneeling is the sinners posture: If thou come hither in the quality of a sin­ner (and if thou do not, what dost thou here?) put thy self into the sinners posture. Kneel sometimes. Habe reverentiam Deo, ut quod pluris est ei tribuas, is devout Bernard's counsel. And let me improve it thus.

Do but remember with what reverence thou hast come into thy Masters presence, when thou wast a Servant.

Do but remember with what reverence thou hast come into thy Landlords presence, when thou wert a Tenant.

Do but remember with what reverence thou hast come into a Court of Justice, when thou wert either a Client, or a Pleader, or a Witness, or but a stand­er by.

Do but remember with what reverence ye have come into the Kings presence, or the Council Table, or, which was much lower, to a Committee-Table.

Collect (I say) but the reverence which thou hast shewed to these Persons, and in these places, and though I could wish the Lord had but as much; such bowing of the knee, such bending of the body, such uncovering of the head, even in the coldest weather, such mannerliness in all points; yet, Quod pluris est, says Bernard, God must have thus much reverence, and more; for all these expressions of reverence may be counterfeit, these honourable Persons may have the body, but not the heart: but the Lord must have [Page 29] all: Remember that call of David in the 95. Psalm. O come let us worship, and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

From the reverence of the knee, we may pass to the reverence of the hands.

I will (says St. Paul) that men pray every where, lift­ing up holy hands.

This Rite in Prayer was observed by the Heathens, even by the instinct of Nature; So Virgil speaking of Aeneas,

Ingemit, & duplices tendens ad sidera palmas;

He sighed, and lift up his hands to Heaven. Many other authorities might be cited of this nature.

Cosma Magalianus glosses upon these words of St. Paul. The lifting up of the hands is, Orantis forma, ex alto auxilium petentis, 'tis such a posture of Pray­er, whereby we declare that we seek for help from Heaven.

This was that posture to which the Prophet Jere­my exhorted the distressed Jews. Let us lift up our hearts with our hands to God in the Heavens, Lamenta. 3. 41. Not the heart alone, but hands and heart too.

I had not mentioned this particular, but to remem­ber you, what an express and punctual charge the Lord gives for all parts of bodily Worship, among which, this of lifting up the hands is so eminent, that the whole duty of Prayer is comprehended under it. When ye stretch out your hands, I will turn mine eyes from you, says the Lord by his Prophet Isaiah.

And this may serve to shame us for our dulness and [Page 30] sluggishness; and for that no motion which our bo­dies express in the time of Divine Wo [...]ship. Out­ward gestures are not only the Ornaments of Religi­on, but the Incentives of Devotion: The lifting up of thy hands may be the raising up of thy Pew-fel­lows heart; he may take a spark from thy holy zeal, and kindle himself into a flame of piety; but howe­ver it fare with him, if thou bow down thy knee be­fore God, he will bow down his ear to hear thee; and if thou lift up thy holy hands, thy help shall come from on high, and the Lord will fill them with good things.

I should in the next place give you notice that there is a reverence due to the House of God from the tongue.

And I hope there is not such a critical Auditor in this Congregation, as to charge me with a digression from the Text; because Solomon speaks to this subject in the verse immediately following; he advises there, Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God.

Cajetan gave this sense of the words, Oratio ad De­um careat festinatione, tam in ore, quam in corde. Our prayers to God must be so ordered, that our hearts be neither hasty in conceiving, nor our tongues in utter­ing. The Original word (says Lorinus) signifies fe­stinare praecipitanter, an headlong haste; that is, when a man gives himself the liberty of speaking quicquid in buccam venerit, whatsoever comes next into his thoughts, without premeditation, whether the words, whereby those thoughts must be presented, be proper and acceptable; or no.

And therefore in provision against this vanity of the tongue, it seemed good to the Church in all ages to p [...]epare Liturgies, and set forms of Prayer, by which the devotion of the people of God should be regulated, that their mouths should not be rash, nor their hearts hasty, to utter any thing before God.

That great searcher into Antiquity, Mr Gregory, hath delivered it unto us from very reverend Autho­rity, that Noah himself, while he was in the Ark, used a set form of Prayer, whereof he gives us the Copie out of an Arabick Manuscript; and although there be no need to distrust the faith of such a venerable Record; yet we have other evidence for the use of forms of Prayer, from unquestionable authority.

We have the manner of the Temple-service as it was in use in our Saviours time, and we find not any where that he took offence at it: Yea, we find that when his Disciples came to him, and besought of him that he would teach them to pray, as John had taught his Disciples; He prescribes them a set form: When ye pray, say, Our Father, &c. Verba et recitationem cer­tam praescribit, says Melancton. Christ commands to repeat the very words: Aliter orare quam Deus docuit non ignorantia sola est, sed culpa, says St Cyprian: To pray otherwise then the Lord Christ hath taught us, is not only our ignorance, but our sin: Wherefore (says he) My beloved brethren, let us pray as God hath taught us. And accordingly we find in Ter­tullian; It was the manner of the Primitive Christi­ans to begin their Divine Service with the Lords Prayer; praemissa legitimâ & ordinariâ Oratione Domi­nicâ. When they had used that lawful and ordina­ry [Page 32] prayer which the Lord Christ had taught them; then there was, jus superstruendi: A right of building up­on that foundation: and continuing their divine ser­vice according to those Liturgies which were comp [...] ­led by Saint Mark and Saint James, as the Eastern Church stedfastly believes: Which Liturgies (as it is supposed) were afterwards altered by St. Basil and St. Chrysostom, and fitted for more publick use; and out of which, and the ancient forms in the Western Church, that Liturgy which is established in this Church of England, was collected and composed.

Prayer is a duty, and every duty is a debt; and debts, you know, must be paid in currant money; such as hath the present Caesars stamp or image upon it: So that for the discharge of the duty, and the payment of that debt of prayer, I humbly conceive, the safest, and the most currant, that is, the most acceptable Coyn to pay it with, will be in those Prayers which have the stamp and impressions of the Church of God upon them; I mean in the Confessions and Absolutions, and Collects, and Letanies which are compiled to that purpose, and which were present, and end in the Name of Christ: And when we pay our debt of prayer in the words, and in the Name of Christ, I see no reason we have to doubt of a dis­charge, and acquittance of our sins in the blood of Christ Jesus.

There are yet two pieces of the outward man to be prepared and fitted for divine worship, which must be taken into a short consideration, lest I be too much streightned with time for the Points that remain.

The two parts or pieces of our outward man are [Page 33] the Eye and the Head; and we must have an especi­al regard of these.

It was the resolution of a very holy man; 'twas Job, That he would make a Covenant with his eyes; he would not allow them that liberty which nature had given them, of wandering upon every pleasant ob­ject.

And it was the confession of a very holy man: 'twas St. August; that in his younger days, Intra sacros pa­rietes egi negotium procurandi fructus mortis; Even while he was within the Walls of Gods House, his eyes were wandring and lusting, and he was making a bargain for the fruits of death. Now forasmuch as the chastity of the soul is in so much danger to be violated and be­trayed through the treason of the eye; it will concern us to joyn with another holy man, with David in his Prayer: Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in thy waey.

Be pleased to receive the reverend Dr. Hammonds Paraphrase upon those words; as if David had said, Lord grant me a strict guard over mine eyes, those inlets of so many sins: Withdraw me from all delight and com­placency in the wealth and grandeur of the world, on which the lust of the eye is wont to be placed; turn away my eyes from false, frail, and deceitful beauty, which is too apt to kindle impure flames in my breast: And on the contra­ray, inspire into me, and enliven in me all pious and vir­tuous designs. Such a Prayer as this may well be­come us, as we are going to the House of God, and when we are entred into it. It were a sad miscarri­age, if we should turn these Oratoria into Lupanaria; the house of Prayer into an house of sin; to come hi­ther [Page 34] with a greater desire to meet a vitious friend, then the holy God; and when we return, to be able to give a better account of the faces and the fashions of the Congregation, then the parts or points of the Ser­mon: But I forbea [...], because I hope better things of you.

And for the full preparation of the outward Man, there remains only a few words concerning his Head. But here I dare prescribe nothing; age or sickness may make a strong plea against a bare-headed pre­sence in a Church; especially when the God of mer­cy is to hear it: But supposing health and strength, I make some question whether a covered head will not be too pregnant an evidence of an irreverent heart. Mr Cartwright (who was no good friend to the disci­pline of this Church of England, yet) in his Homilie on our Text, presses for reverence in the House of God, by that argumentum ad hominem, which his followers have so much decryed since. The Houses of God may challenge as much reverence as the Courts of Princes: Who presumes to enter into the Kings pre­sence with his head covered? and if not there, why here?

Busbequius tells us, that the Great Turk, when he enters into his Mosques, lays aside his Robes, and continues in an humble posture till their manner of Service be finished. I am afraid the reverence which the Jews, and the Heathens, the Eastern Christians, and the Turks also, declare in their Temples and holy places, will rise up in judgment against some amongst us, who can hear that Sacred Name of Jesus pronoun­ced, and yet neither move Hat nor Knee: Who can [Page 35] sit at the Lords Table as familiarly as at their own; Who can uncover their heads when a Psalm is sing­ing, but cover them whiles the Psalmes and Chap­ters are reading; Who can allow their servants to sit covered before them in a Church, but not in a Shop. It is the wonder, and the greif of all sober persons, that the Christian Religion should produce such cross leg'd Monsters, such anomalous and unequal practi­ces; which are so far from being evidences of the true fear of God, that they are not consistent with the rules of common civility.

And now I have delivered my sence concerning the reverential deportment of our outward Man in the House of God; which I humbly submit to better judgements, and shall chearfully and willingly re­tract, if any thing hath passed from me in any respect diss [...]nant from prudence or piety.

These are the Vanities which I have observed in our Divine Service; and I shall heartily both wish and pray for a Reformation of them. That in our pub­lick Meetings we appear to God, and the Angels, and to all such who are not yet effectually called, as a Congregation of Christians; and they may say of us, Surely the Lord is among you.

Hitherto I have entertain'd your Christian Atten­tion with the fruits of the first Branch of the Text; and if any one doubt I have been too lavish of my time in regard of the Parts that remain: I hope I shall deceive him. Rouze up your selves I beseech you but a few minutes more, and I shall dismiss you.

The Second Branch.

I suppose you remember that I told you, that on this Second Branch we should find the main constitu­ent part of Divine Reverence; and that is, Obedience to divine Commands.

This Obedience hath a double Object.

The Commands of God; and the Commands of the King; for that is another Note in this excellent Sermon of Solomon: We have it Chap. 8. 2. I coun­sel thee to keep the Kings Commandment, and that in re­gard of the Oath of God. Now these are to be consi­dered apart: And first, our obedience to Gods Com­mands.

Hearing is a Preparatory duty to obeying; we must hear that we may learn how to obey: It is im­possible we should conform our lives to the will of God, unless we know it.

And that was the reason, I suppose, that St. Jerom translated his clause thus: Appropinqua ut audias, Draw nigh that thou mayst hear; Sanctifie the Lords holy day in that holy manner, in waiting in holy Or­dinances, hanging (as it were) upon the lips of such Messengers of God, as preserve Knowledge: But this is not all.

Hearing without a proportionable Obedience will but inflame our reckoning against the last day: And therefore St. Hierom notes upon the Text thus: Non ingredi in domum Dei, sed sine offensione ingredi, laudis est; The bare duty of entring into the House of God is not praise-worthy or acceptable to him; but when [Page 37] we enter so, as that our consciences are void of all pur­pose of offence towards God, and also towards man.

It is conceived by Expositors, that Solomon in this Branch of his Instruction, had observed a corrupt hu­mour that was in his subjects, the people of Israel, that they rested and contented themselves with the outward formalities of divine Worship: If they came to the Temple of the Lord, and brought their Sacri­fices as they were commanded in the Law, they thought themselves religious enough, though they took no care of their lives. When they had sin'd, and brought their Sacrifice, they conceiv'd this was as much as God did, or could expect from them; and this was the Sacrifice of Fools which is spoken of in the Text: and the Prophet Samuel had so determin'd it in that famous case. The Lord layes a strict com­mand upon Saul, to make an utter destruction of the Amalekites; but he prevaricates, and spares some of the fattest of the Cattel for Sacrifice: But what says Samuel to him? Obedience is better then Sacrifice, and to hearken then the fat of Rams; and that covetous project undid him; within a short time he lost both his life and Kingdom.

Now let us learn to be wise by his Example. Let us take heed we do not delude our poor Souls as the Jews did, by the outward Formalities of Religion. Come to the House of God as often as ye can, but keep your Feet when ye come thither: That is, ac­cording to Lorinus, Keep the Feet of your Soul in a due temper. When ye come hither, be disposed and resolved to yield to the evidence of the Word of God, to acknowledge that to be sin, which the Word [Page 38] of God condemns for sin, and to yield that to be a Duty, which by the light of Scripture appears to be so. When we come to the House of God, we should be ready to say, as the Prophet Samuel did, Speak Lord, for thy Servant heareth: That is, as Men­doza glosses that place, Speak Lord what thou pleasest, and I am ready, not only to hear, but to obey it. Such a readiness appeared in St. Augustine, Da Domine quod jubes, & jube quod vis. O Lord give me grace to obey, and command what thou wilt.

And now, shall I be so bold as to inquire whether the Feet of your Souls be in that obediential posture as the Lord expects you should be? Solomon speaks in general terms in the Text; but it may be expedi­ent, for your better edification, that I instance in some few particulars.

Lay the two Tables of the Law of God before you, and examine your selves whether ye are hence­forth resolved to conform your lives according to those sacred Rules?

First, art thou resolved to have no other God but the God of Heaven? Wilt thou no longer serve the God of this World, Mammon, for the wages of unrighteousness?

Secondly, art thou resolved never more to disho­nour God by worshipping him in, or before some graven Image? Wilt thou never hereafter disguise, and palliate thy Idolatry by a nice distinction?

Thirdly, Art thou resolved that henceforth thou wilt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain? Wilt thou not swear rashly and customarily? Wilt thou not make a false Oath in the Courts of Justice, [Page 37] to take the righteousness of the Righteous from him?

Fourthly, Wilt thou hereafter remember to Keep holy the Sabbath day? never mo [...]e to profane it by idle­ness, or drunkness, or feasting, or luxury, or world­liness?

Fiftly, Art thou resolved henceforth to Honour thy Parents? To Honour the King, as the common Parent of the Country? To Honour the Ministers of God, who have begotten thee in Christ? To Ho­nour thy natural Parents, who have brought thee in­to this world, and bred thee up in it in care and sor­row?

Sixtly, Art thou resolved that henceforth thou wilt do no Murther? That thou wilt not take up Arms against thy King, and destroy thy fellow sub­jects, upon the mistaken quarrel of Religion and Li­berty?

Seventhly, Art thou resolved henceforth never to commit Adultery? never more to pollute thy body, which is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, by unclean thoughts or actions?

Eightly, A [...]t thou resolved henceforth never to wrong thy neighbour in his goods, neither violently nor fraudulently? Wilt thou not hereafter use false Dice, nor false Weights, nor false Measures, nor false words, nor over-reach thy neighbour in any matter?

Ninethly, Art thou resolved henceforth never to bear false witness against thy neighbor? Wilt thou not for fear or favour, nor for a bribe, give a false testi­mony to blind the eyes of the Judge, and to pervert the course of Judgement?

Lastly, Art thou resolved never hereafter to covet any thing that is thy neighbours? Wilt thou hereaf­ter restrain thy self from all covetous practices, and labour to be content with such things, as the Lord in a gracious providence shall please to allow and assign to thee?

In this Glass, in this perfect Mirror, you may see whether the feet of your souls stand right; whether they be wash'd and cleansed from all purposes and resolutions to sin: For let me tell you,

Unless ye can say with David, and say truly; Oh Lord my heart is ready, my heart is ready; I will have respect unto all thy Commandments; I am purposed that I will not offend: Unless (I say) ye are in this ready posture for holy Obedience, all your prayers, and all your Fasts, and all your days of humiliation, are but the sacrifice of Fools; they will avail nothing either to remove the guilt of sin, or to appease the wrath of God.

Let me give you but one Note more in this Point: This resolution (which I have been speaking of) will be best discovered by your constancy and fer­vency in prayer, both in private and in publick; for Mercy, in regard ye have transgressed the Laws of God; and for Grace, that the Lord would incline your hearts to keep them: And therefore it was a pi­ous provision in our Church Liturgy; that after the Minister hath repeated the several Commandments, as from the mouth of God; the whole Congregati­on are enjoyned to say, Lord have mercy upon us; in that we have broken those Commandments: And incline our hearts to keep them; that is, give us grace to do so no more.

Bucolcerus tells us of Henricus Auceps, one of the Emperours of Germany, that when his City of Mers­burg was assaulted by a vast Army of the Hungarians, he slew and put them to flight, his Souldiers crying out with a loud voice, Lord have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us. And truly, I do not know a bet­ter defence against temptation to sin, then to pray with David, Oh Lord incline my heart to thy Testimo­nies; nor a better remedy against the guilt of sin, then to pray with the poor Publican in the Gospel, Lord be merciful to me a sinner.

The Feet of our Souls are well kept, when we have taken up a firm resolution of obeying the Com­mandements of God; but yet we must take one step further.

We must keep the Kings Commandment also; this is certainly a Duty, however some men endeavour to distingu [...]sh themselves out of it. I counsel thee, says Solomon; and surely the counsel of so wise a man is worthy to be heard and regarded; as if he had said, I Solomon, who require obedience from mine own Subjects, do counsel all Subjects to yield obedience to their Kings: And St. Paul delivers the same Do­ctrine: Let every Soul be subject to the Higher Powers, not onely for wrath, but for conscience sake.

But wherein are the Commands of Kings to be obeyed? Must we yield up our selves in a blind obe­dience, to observe, and do whatsoever the Higher Powers shall impose upon us? This is a busie que­stion, and there is a short answer to it: We must either Obey, or Suffer.

If the Commands of Kings are consistent with the [Page 42] Laws of God, our Obedience is indisputable; yea, I may say, that in that case, we do not so much obey the King as God: So that the Tryal of our obedience to Kings lyes for the most part in such matters, which we call indifferent, which are neither positively com­manded nor forbidden by the Law of God. Such as are matters of Decency and Order in Divine Wor­ship, and such as are of absolute necessity, namely, the payment of Tribute and Custome, for the pre­servation of his Person, and his Honour, and his People, and his Kingdome, to boggle at such Com­mands as these, is, (as I am informed from very learned and pious men) a rejection of this counsel of Solomon, and that exhortation of St. Paul before-mentioned; we may make our selves lyable to the wrath of the King, which (as Solomon says) is, as the roaring of a Lion; yea, we may make our selves lya­ble to that which St. Paul terms [Damnation] an hea­vy word, and the Lord incline all our hearts to such a prudent and conscionable obedience both to his own Commands, and the Kings, that we may never feel the weight of it.

The second general Part.

The Caution. For they consider not that they do evil.

Have ye yet one minutes patience more? I hope ye have; and indeed there needs not much more for the discussion of this part.

Solomon here points at a palpable, and very dange­rous piece of Folly: As indeed, what can be more foolish, then for a man, when he doth evil, to think he doth well? And what can be more dangerous, then to dishonour God while we think we serve him? [Page 43] It is an heavy word that of Solomon; Who so turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his Prayer shall be an abomination, Prov. 28. 9. and that is a fea [...]ful state: Let but a sinner, against Gods and the Kings Commandments, retire into some private place, and there sit down and bethink himself, and say, What shall I do to be saved? Righteousness I have none, my whole life hath been (as it were) one continued trans­gression. I have in an Hypocritical way come often to the House of God, and heard many Sermons, and observed many Fasts; but my heart was not right towards God; it went after covetousness; my pre­tended zeal was cruel and bloody; and I served my self, while I bore the world in hand that I was a ser­vant of Christs. All my Religion lay in hearing, but I had no obedience: My practice was not conforma­ble to my pretences; and now what will become of me? Should I betake my self to prayer, and pour out my guilty soul in supplications; Solomon tells me, That they would be but the Sacrifice of Fools; that my prayer would be an abomination; that the Lord would cast it out as a filthy thing: So that I am in great danger to lye under the guilt of sin, and the wrath of God for ever.

Let (I say) a sinner, I mean one that hath been more ready to hear then to obey, but argue his own case with his own soul, and he will quickly see his fol­ly, and with tears acknowledge that he hath done evil; that there hath been iniquity even in his holy things; and there remaineth nothing for him but a fearful ex­pectation of vengeance to come.

But I would not close my discourse with such a sad [Page 44] note as this; neither dare I tell you, that the yoak of the Christian Religion is easier then it is. You have had the Nature of Divine Worship represented to you, both for the Form and the Matter of it: The Form I place in those Reverential postures and ge­stures of the outward Man: The Matter, in an obedi­ence to divine Commands, and to the Kings, so far forth as they are not repugnant to the Laws of God; nor injoin any thing which is unlawful for, or unwor­thy of a Christian: And I beseech you to think of it, & by a speedy resolution for new and better obedience, secure and lay in a stock of comfort for your poor souls against the coming of the great Day of the Lord. If hereafter ye shall come rightly disposed and prepared to this House of Prayer, the Lord (ac­cording to his promise) will meet you, and bless you, and make you joyful in it. He will give you the com­forts and the graces of his blessed Spirit to strengthen and guide you in the way wherein you should go, and at your end, receive you into that other House of his, not made with hands, which is eternal in the Heavens. For which the Lord of his Mercy prepare us.

Amen, Amen.

FINIS.

To the Honou [...]able Sir Christopher Turner, Knight, One of the BARONS OF HIS Majesties Exchequer.

My Lord,

AMong those many mercies which our good God in the happy Restoration of his sacred Majesty, hath poured upon this unworthy Nation; it is look'd upon by some pious and judicious persons as none of the least, yea rather, [Page] as one of the greatest, that his Maje­sty hath placed such Iudges over us, who understand both Law and Gospel, and are able not only to administer Iustice and Iudgement to the people in their Ci­vil Causes, but to be guides and examples to them in their devotions and addresses to God.

It was no small comfort to me, being by the Providence of God called to this service, and directed to this argument, that I found your Lordship such a practi­cal Auditor, recommending my mean discourse to the better consideration of the people, by your exemplar reverence in the House of God: And I have the sooner digested the Obloquy which was cast upon these weak pieces, when I saw the duty which they pointed at (Reve­rence in Divine Worship) was so well [Page] known, and so evidently performed (be­side your self) by so many learned, and pious, and honourable persons.

Many and sore were the evils which lay upon this Church of England in our late troubles; and although our chief cor­dolium arose, that we see some of the fun­damentals of our Religion undermin'd and shaken, it could not but beget some sighs and sad thoughts in us, to hear the circumstantials so decryed and despised, as if Divine Worship consisted only in our hearts and spirits, and it had been super­stition in any respect to have glorified God with our bodies.

It was an ingenuous concession of Mr Calvin in the case of Ceremonies, that if they were few in number, easie to be ob­served, and clear in their signification, they might juvare rudiorum imperiti­am, [Page] assist the weakness of the ruder sort of people, and that they would conduce, Christum illustrare, to make Christ better known to them.

And certainly the devout and reve­rend servants of God, in the various and humble postures and gestures of their bo­dies in Divine Worship, have no other design, but to testifie that awful sence which they have of an extraordinary presence of God in Holy Assemblies, by them to instruct and edifie the ignorant, and to prepare them for their more so­lemn approaches to the Throne of grace.

It was judiciously said by a late learn­ed man, that reverence was the pale of Religion; if that pale be broken down, the Roes and the Hinds of the field, as Solomon calls them, weak and unstable souls will break out, and wander into pro­faneness [Page] and Atheism, and in a short time forget that God whom they see worship'd in such a sleight and homely manner.

Wherefore we have cause to bless the Lord, that notwithstanding the Sectaries (like wild Boars) were so long foraging in his Vineyard which he had planted here amongst us, and had well neer laid it waste, by destroying the Dressers, and rooting out those goodly plants of Order and Decency, and Ʋniformity, he hath yet preserved an holy seed who know him, and fear him, and come with hearts and bodies to sanctifie him, at what time, or in what places soever they draw neer to him.

It is the joy of our hearts, notwith­standing we live so far remote from the Imperial City, to hear of the signal re­verence [Page] of his Sacred Majesty in ho­ly Worship, and it is our wish, that his pious example may have such an influ­ence upon the Nation, that this Church of England which was so lately black­ned by her own intestine troubles, may recover her former comeliness, and be­come once more a praise on the Earth.

Our expectations of this happiness are somewhat raised, since we see the E­piscopal Chairs, and the Seats of Iudica­ture fill'd with such eminent persons, who have given so ample testimony of their Loyalty to their King, and their con­stancy to their Religion.

My Lord, I am a poor stranger to you, I had not the happiness (to my best remembrance) ever to see your face, till I met you in the House of God, and af­terward received from your Lordship [Page] that more then sufficient reward, a very candid signification of your acceptance of my well-meant labours. And I hum­bly and heartily congratulate to you your Honour, that by the favour of your Prince, you shine in the Orb of Iustice, and are such an illustrious (and yet be­nevolent) star in that (Now) glittering Constellation.

Good luck have you with your Honor, and may you ride on prosperously (as you have begun) judging the Tribes of England in Truth, and Meekness, and Righteousness; and may he, whose name is, The Councellour, be continu­ally assistant to you; may you grow old & honourable in the service of your Country and your King, and your God; and then, when your Change shall come, your com­fort and assurance will be so much the [Page] greater, that you shall be translated and adscited into the number of those, who shall sit upon Thrones, judging the Tribes of Israel. These hopes and wishes shall be constantly and fervently seconded by the prayers of,

My Lord,
your most humbly devoted servant, Mich. Thomas.

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