Sidor som bilder

graciously didst thou both proclaim our peace, as a prophet, in the time of thy life upon earth; and purchase it, by thy blood, as a priest, at thy death; and now confirmest and appliest it, as a King, in heaven! By thee only it was procured; by thee it is proffered. O mercy without example, without measure! God offers peace to man: the holy seeks to the unjust; the potter, to the clay; the king, to the traitor. We are unworthy that we should be received to peace, though we desired it: what are we then, that we should have peace offered for the receiving ? An easy condition of so great a benefit! He requires us not to earn it, but to accept it of him : what could he give more ? what could he require less of us ?


The Receipt of our Peace offered by Faith.-A Corol

lary of the benefit of this Receipt.-The vain shifts

of the Guilty. The purchase, therefore, of our peace was paid at once; yet must be severally reckoned to every soul whom it shall benefit. If we have not a hand to take what Christ's hand doth either hold or offer, what is sufficient in him cannot be effectual to us. The spiritual hand, whereby we apprehend the sweet offers of our Saviour, is faith; which, in short, is no other, than an affiance in the Mediator: receive peace, and be happy; believe, and thou hast received. From hence it is, that we are interested in all that either God hath promised or Christ hath performed : hence have we from God both forgiveness and love; the ground of all, either peace or glory. Hence, of enemies we become more than friends, sons; and, as sons, may both expect and challenge, not only careful provision and safe protection on earth, but an everlasting patrimony above. This field is so spacious, that it were easy for a man to lose himself in it: and if I should spend all my pilgrimage in this walk, my time would sooner end than my way; wherein I would have measured more paces, were it not, that our scope is not so much to magnify the benefit of our peace, as to seek how to obtain it.

Behold now, after we have sought heaven and earth, where only the wearied dove may find an olive of peace. The apprehending of this all-sufficent satisfaction makes it ours: upon our satisfaction, we have remission; upon remission follows reconciliation; upon our reconciliation, peace. When, therefore, thy conscience, like a stern sergeant, shall catch thee by the throat, and arrest thee upon God's debt, let thy only plea be, that thou hast already paid it : bring forth that bloody acquittance, sealed to thee from heaven upon thy true faith; straightway thou shalt see the fierce and terrible look of thy conscience changed into friendly smiles; and that rough and violent hand, that was ready to drag thee to prison, shall now lovingly embrace thee, and fight for thee against all the wrongful attempts of any spiritual adversary. O heavenly peace, and more than peace, friendship; whereby alone we are leagued with ourselves, and God with us; which whoever wants, shall find a sad remembrancer in the midst of his dissembled jollity, and, after all vain strifes, shall fall into many secret dumps, from which his guilty heart shall deny to be cheered, though all the world were his minstrel ! O pleasure worthy to be pitied, and laughter worthy of tears, that is without this!

Go then, foolish man; and when thou feelest any check of thy sin, seek after thy jocundest companions; deceive the time and thyself with merry purposes, with busy games; feast away thy cares; bury them and thyself in wine and sleep: after all these frivolous deferrings, it will return upon thee when thou wakest, perhaps ere thou wakest; nor will be repelled till it have showed thee thy hell: nor, when it hath showed thee, will yet be repelled. So the stricken deer, having received a deadly arrow, whose shaft shaken out hath left the head behind it, runs from one thicket to another; not able to change his pain with his places, but finding bis wounds still the worse with continuance. Ah, fool! thy soul festereth within; and is affected so much more dangerously, by how much less it appeareth. Thou mayst while thyself with variety : thou canst not ease thee. Sin owes thee a spite, and will pay it thee; perhaps, when thou art in worse case to sustain it. This flitting doth but provide for a further violence at last. I have seen a little stream of no noise, which, upon his stoppage, hath swelled up, and with a loud gushing hath borne over the heap of turfs wherewith it was resisted. Thy death-bed shall smart for these wilful adjournings of repentance; whereon how many have we heard raving of their old neglected sins, and fearfully despairing when they have had most need of comfort! In sum, there is no way but this: thy conscience must have either satisfaction or

torment. Discharge thy sin betimes, and be at peace. He never breaks his sleep for debt, that pays when he takes up.

SECTION VII. Solicitation of Sin remedied.The ordering of Affec

tions. Neither can it suffice for peace, to have crossed the old scroll of our sins, if we prevent not the future : yea, the present very importunity of temptation breeds unquietness. Sin, where it hath got a haunt, looketh for more, as humours that fall towards their old issue: and, if it be not strongly repelled, doth near as much vex us with soliciting, as with yielding. Let others envy their happiness, I shall never think their life so much as quiet, whose doors are continually beaten and their morning sleep broken with early clients; whose entries are daily thronged with suitors, pressing near for the next audience; much less, that through their remiss answers are daily haunted with traitors or other instruments of villany, offering their mischievous service, and inciting them to some pestilent enterprize. Such are temptations to the soul; whereof it cannot be rid so long as it holds them in any hope of entertainment; and so long they will hope to prevail, while we give them but a cold and timorous denial. Suitors are drawn on with an easy repulse; counting that as half granted which is but faintly gainsayed. Peremptory answers can only put sin out of heart for any second attempts: it is ever impudent, when it meets not with a bold

heart; hoping to prevail by wearying us, and wearying us by entreaties. Let all suggestions, therefore, find thee resolute: so shall thy soul find itself at rest; for as the devil, so sin, his natural brood, flies away with resistance.

To which purpose all our heady and disordered affections, which are the secret factors of sin and Satan, must be restrained by a strong and yet temperate command of reason and religion: these, if they find the reins loose in their necks, like to the wild horses of that chaste hunter in the tragedy, carry us over hills and rocks; and never leave us, till we be dismembered, and they breathless: hut, contrarily, if they be pulled in with the sudden violence of a strait hand, they fall to plunging and careering, and never leave, till their saddle be empty, and even then dangerously strike at their prostrate rider. If there be any exercise of Christian wisdom, it is in the managing of these unruly affections; which are not more necessary in their best use, than pernicious in their misgovernance. Reason hath always been busy, in undertaking this so necessary a moderation : wherein, although she have prevailed with some of colder temper, yet those which have been of more stubborn metal, like unto grown scholars whịch scorn the ferule that ruled their minority, have still despised her weak endeavours. Only Christianity hath this power; which, with our second birth, gives us a new nature : so that now, if excess of passions be natural to us as men, the order of them is natural to us as Christians. Reason bids the angry man say over his alphabet, ere he give his answer;

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »