« FöregåendeFortsätt »
of God, in the whole Sacred Trinity, is signified and expressed to men, it were most meet to be accordingly exhibited unto them. And now, since it hath, without inhibition of the like regard to the rest, pitched upon that name, which, intimating and comprising in it the whole gracious work and immediate author of our dear redemption, hath been exposed to the reproach and opposition of the gain-saying world; we cannot, if we be not wanting to our filial obedience, detract our observance of so antient and pious an institution. Never any contempt was dared to be cast upon the glorious name of the almighty and absolute Deity: only the state of exinanitiou subjected the Son of God, to the scorn and undervaluation of the world : justly, therefore, hath our holy and gracious Mother thought fit and ordained, upon that person and name which seemed less honourable and lay more open to affront, to bestow the more abundant honour. In the mean time, as she is a professed encourager and an indulgent lover of all true devotion, she cannot but be well pleased, with whatsoever expressions of reverence we give to the Divine Majesty, under whatsoever terms, uttered by our well advised and well instructed tongues.
I have known and honoured, as most worthy a constant imitation, some devout persons, that never durst mention the name of God, in their ordinary communication, without uncovering of their heads, or elevation of their hands, or some such other testimony of reverence. And, certainly, if the heart be so thoroughly possessed with a sad awe of that Infinite Majesty, as it ought; the tongue dares not presume, in a sudden unmannerliness, to blurt out the dreadful name of God: but, shall both make way for it, by a premised deliberation; and attend it, with a reverent elocution.
I am ashamed to think, how far we are surpassed by heathenish piety. The ancient Grecians, and, amongst the rest, Plato, as Suidas well observes, when they would swear by their Jupiter, out of the mere dread and reverence of his name, forbear to mention him: breaking off their oath, with a, uà Tòv; as those, that only dare to owe the rest to their thoughts: and Climas, the Pythagorean, out of this regard, would rather undergo a mulct of three talents, than swear; while the profane mouths of many Christians, make no difference in their appellation, between their God and their servant. to the Word
[2.] As the name, so the Word of our Maker of God:
challengeth an awful regard from us; as a reflection
of that fear, we owe to the Omnipotent Author of it. What worlds of nice caution have the masters of the Synagogue prescribed to their disciples, for their demeanour towards the Book of the Law of their God! No letter of it might be writ, without a copy; no line of it, without a rule; and the rule must be upon the back of the parchment: no parchment might be employed to this service; but that, which is made of the skin of a clean beast: no word might be written in a different colour ; insomuch as, when, in the Pentateuch* of Alexander the Great, the name of Jehovah was, in pretence of honour, written in golden characters, their great Rabbins condemned the whole volume to be obliterated and defaced: no man might touch it, but with the right-hand, and without a kiss of reverence: no man might sit in the presence of it: no man might so much as spit before it : no man might carry it behind him ; but lay it next to his heart, in his travel: no man might offer to read it, but in a clean place: no man might sell it, though the copy were moth-eat, and himself half famished. And is the word of the Everlasting God of less worth and authority, now, than it hath been? Or is there less cause of our reverence of those Divine Oracles, than theirs ? Certainly, if they were superstitiously scrupulous, it is not for us to be carelessly slovenly, and neglective of that Sacred Book, out of which we shall once be judged. Even that impure Alcoran of the Turks is forbidden to be touched by any, but pure bands. It was not the least praise of Carlo Boromeot, the late Saint of Milan, that he would never read the Divine Scripture, but upon his knees: and, if we profess to bear no less inward honour to that Sacred Volume, why should we, how can we, think it free for us, to entertain it with an unmannerly neglect ? [3.] As to the name and word, so to the Services
-o the Serof God, must the efficacy of our holy fear be diffused: vices of God; and these, whether private or public. If we pray, our awe will call us, either to a stand
prayer; ing on our feet, as servants; or a bowing of our knees, as suppliants; or, a prostration on our faces, as dejected penitents: neither, when the heart is a camel, can the body be an elephant. What prince would not scorn the rudeness of a sitting petitioner? It was a just distinction of Socrates I of old, that, to sacrifice, is to give to God; to pray, is to beg of God: and who is so liberal, as to cast away his alms, upon a stout and unreverent beggar?
If we attend God's message, in the mouth of his holy servants, whether read or preached, our fear-preaching ; will frame us to a reverent carriage of our bodies: so as our very outward deportment may really seem to speak the words of the good Centurion; Now we are all here present before God, to hear all things, that are commanded thee of God; Acts x. 33. We shall need no law to vail our bonnets, save that in our own breast. It was a great word, that Simeon § the son of Satach, said to the Jewish prince and priest, convented before their Sanhedrin: “ Thou standest not before us, but before him that said, Let the world be made, and it was made.” Did we think so, how durst we sit in a bold sauciness, while that great embassy is delivered, with our hats on our heads; as if we acknowledged no presence, but of our inferiors ? Yea, that which is a shame to say, those very apprentices, who dare not cover their heads at home, where their master is alone; yet, in God's house, where they see him in a throng of his betters, waiting upon the ordinances of the God of Heaven, think it free for them, equally, to put on, and to be no less fellows with their master, than he is with his Maker : as if the place and service gave a public privilege to all comers, of a profane lawlessness. Surely, the same ground, whereon the Apostie built his charge for the covering of the heads of the women, serves equally for the uncovering the heads of the men, because of the angels; i Cor. xi. 10: yea more, because of the God of the Angels; who, by these visible angels of his Church, speaks to us, and solicits our salvation. If we address ourselves to the dreadful
* Idem Schichardus De Jure Regio Ilebræorum. + Ogier. Apolog. Bal. faci, &c.
1 Το θύων, δωρεΐσθαι επί τοις θεούς: το δε ευχεσθαι, αιτεϊν τους θιάς. Plat. Apol.
mys-administration teries of the blessed sacrament of the body and of sacraments :
blood of our Lord Jesus, our fear will bend our knees, in a meet reverence to that great and gracious Saviour, who is there lively represented, offered, given, sealed up to our souls; who, at that heavenly table, is, as St. Jerome* truly, both the guest and the banquet. Neither can the heart, that is seasoned with true piety, be afraid of too lowly a participation of the Lord of Glory; but rather resolves, that he is not worthy of knees, who will not here bow them: for, who should command them, if not their Maker; if not their Redeemer? Away with the monsters of opinion and practice, concerning this sacrament. Christ Jesus is here really tendered unto us; and who can, who dares take him, but on his knees? What posture can we use with our fellows, if we sit with our God and Saviour? At our best, well may we say, with the humble Centurion, Lord, we are not worthy thou shouldest come under our roof: but, if we prepare not both souls and bodies, to receive him reverently, our sinful rudeness shall make us utterly uncapable of so blessed a presence.
[4.] Neither doth our awful regard reach only -o the House of to the actions of God's service; but extends itself
even to the very House, which is called by his name; the place, where his honour dwelleth. For, as the presence of God gives a holiness to what place svever he is pleased to shew himself in; as the sun carries an inseparable light wheresoever it goes: so, that holiness calls for a meet veneration from us. It was a fit word for that good Patriarch, who sware by his father's fear, (Gen. xxxi. 53.) which he spake of his Bethel; How drradful is this place! this is none other, but the house of God: this is the gate of heaven; Gen. xxviii. 17.
The several distances and distinctions, that were observed in the Temple of God, at Jerusalem, are famously known. None might sit within the verge thereof; but the king: all others, either stood or kneeled. I have read of some sects of men so curiously scrupulous, that their priests were not allowed to breathe in their
* Ipse contira el convirium. Ad Bedibiam.
temple; but were commanded, while they went in to sweep the floor, to hold their wind, like those that dive for sponges at Samos, to the utmost length of time; and, when they would vent their suppressed air and change it for new, to go forth of the doors, and return with a fresh supply*. But, we are sure the Ethiopian + Christians are so holily mannerly, that they do not allow any man so much as to spit in their churches; and, if such a defilement happen, they cause it to be speedily cleansed.
What shall we then say, of the common profaneness of those careless Christians, that make no distinction, betwixt their church, and their barn; that care not to look unto their foul feet, when they come under this sacred roof; that, with equal irreverence, stumble into God's house and their tavern; that can find no fitter place for their ambulatory, their burse, their counting house, their sepulchre ?
It is recorded of St. Swithin I, the (no less famous than humble) Bishop of Winchester, that, when he died, he gave charge that his body should not, in any case, be buried within the Church; but be laid, where his grave might be wet with rain, and open to weather and passengers: I suppose, as conceiving that sacred place too good for the repository of the best carcases. Surely, we cannot easily entertain too venerable an opinion, of the habitation of the Almighty. If our hearts have the honour to be the spiritual temples of God, we shall gladly give all due honour to his material temples : and, doubtless, in all experience, we shall so respect the house, as we are affected to the owner. It was the discipline and practice of the Hetruscans, from whom old Rome learned much of her skill in auguries, and many mysteries of religion, that those deities, whom they desired to harbour in their own breasts, as Virtue, Peace, Modesty, should have temples erected within their walls; but those, which were the presidents of wars and combustions, or pleasures and sensuality, as Mars, Venus, Vulcan, should take up with temples without their walls: and even so it is, and will be ever with us; if we have a holy regard to the God of Heaven, and adore him as inhabiting our bosoms, we cannot but give all fair and venerable respects to those houses, which he hath taken up for his own worship and presence.
[5.] Neither, lastly, can God's very Messen- --to the Messengers, though partners of our own infirmities, es
gers of God. cape some sensible reflections of our fear. It was the rule of the Jews ||, that the very prince of the people, if he would consult God's Oracle, out of reverence to that divine pectoral, must reverently stand before that priest; who, at other times, was bound to give lowly obedience to his sovereign Lord.
What Great Alexander did to the Jewish High Priest, who knows not ? Neither hath the practice of the godiy emperors in
Rugianorum sacerdos non intra ædem Dei sui halitum emittebat we &c. Hospinian De orgi. Festor. Mahumetan.
+ Zago Zabae's Relation. # Matth. Westmonast. 862. || Vide Schishardum De Jure Regio Alebr
the Christian Church, through all successions of ages, savoured of less regard : even the late Cæsar Ferdinand, in the sight of our English, not long before his end, together with his empress, received an episcopal benediction publicly, upon their
Away with that insolent pomp of kissing of toes, which Justus Lipsius * justly called once “ foul and servile ;" fit for a Caligula, or Maximinus the younger, or a Dioclesian : away with the proud horseing on shoulders, or treading on necks, or the lackeying of princes. It was a moderate word of Cardinal Zabarel +, concerning his great master : “ So is he to be honoured, that he be uot adored.” Surely, when religion was at the best, great peers thought it no scorn, to kiss the venerable hands of their spiritual fathers; and did not grudge them eminent titles of honour f.
It was but a simple port, that Elijah carried in the world; who, after that astonishing wonder of fetching down fire and water from heaven, thought it no abasement, to be Ahab's lackey, from Carmel to Jezreel; 1 Kings xviii. 46 : yet Obadiah, who was high steward to the king of Israel, even that day, could fall on his face to him, and say, Art thou that my Lord Elijah ?
Not much greater was the state of those Christian Bishops, who began now to breathe from the bloody persecutions of the heatben emperors : yet, with what dearness, did that gracious Constantine, in whom this island is proud to challenge no small share, kiss those scars, which they had received for the name of Christ ! with what titles, did he dignify them ! as one, that saw Christ in their faces; and meant, in their persons, to honour his Saviour.
And, indeed, there is so close and indissoluble a relation, betwixt Christ and his Messengers, that their mutual interest can never be severed. What prince doth not hold himself concerned in the honours or affronts, that are done to his Ambassadors ? Those kers, which God hath committed to our hands, lock us so fast to him, that no power in earth or hell can separate us; but still, that word must stand fast, in heaven : He, thai despiseth you, despiseth me.
In vain shall they, therefore, pretend to fear God, that contemn and disgrace their spiritual governors. There is a certain plant, which our Herbalists call herbam impiam, or " wicked cud. weed ;" whose younger branches still yield flowers, to over-top the elder : such weeds grow too rife abroad: it is an ill soil, that produceth them. I am sure, that where the heart is manured and seasoned with a true fear of the Almighty, there cannot be but an awful regard to our spiritual pastors: well are those two charges conjoined, “ Fear God, and honour his priests;" Ecclus. vii. 31. Of the hum- (6.) Hitherto having considered that part of Holy ble Subjection Fear, which, consisting in an inward adoration of
* Lipsius, Electorum lib. ii. turpem et servilem. + Tract. de Schism. Innocentii septimi et Benedicti. Paulin. in viiâ Sancti Ambrosii. Il Gerard, page 642.