Page images

delight. The bowels of the earth yield him treasures of metals and minerals; quarries of stone, and coal serviceable to him for various uses. The vilest and commonest stones he treadeth upon are not unprofitable; the surface of the earth, what variety of delicate fruits, herbs, and grains doth it afford to nourish our bodies, and cheer our spirits, and please our tastes, and remedy our diseases! How many fragrant flowers, most beautiful and goodly in colour and shape, for the comfort of our smell, and delight of our eyes! Neither can our ears complain, since every wood hath a quire of natural musicians to entertain them with their sprightful melody! Every wood, did I say? yes, too, the woods adorned with stately trees yield pleasant spectacles to our sight, shelter from offences of weather and sun, fuel for our fires, materials for our buildings (our houses and shipping) and other needful utensils. Even the barren mountains send us down fresh streams of water, so necessary for the support of our lives, so profitable for the fructification of our grounds, so commodious for conveyance and maintaining of intercourse among us. Even the wide seas themselves serve us many ways: they are commodious for our traffic and commerce: they supply the bottles of heaven with water to refresh the earth: they are inexhaustible cisterns, from whence our springs and rivers are derived: they yield stores of good fish, and other conveniences of life. The very rude and disorderly winds do us no little service in brushing and cleansing the air for our health; in driving forward our ships; in scattering and spreading about the clouds, those clouds which drop fatness upon our grounds. As for our subjects the animals, 'tis not possible to reckon the manifold utilities we receive from them how many ways they supply our needs, with pleasant food and convenient clothing: how they ease our labour; and how they promote even our sport and recreation. And are we not, not only very stupid, but very ungrateful, if we do not discern abundance of wisdom and goodness in the contrivance and ordering of all these things, so as thus to conspire for our good?Barrow.


GOD is everywhere present, that we may always bear the sense of Him in our minds; indeed, how can we forget Him That doth every moment remember our frame, and remember our wants and necessities, and doth not forget our work and labour of love? What a mighty favour do we count it, if a king doth think of us, or admit us into his presence; and shall we not think it a wonderful mercy that the King of Glory, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, is never absent from us, and is pleased always to take notice of us? The sick man receives comfort if a friend do visit him; and should not our souls rejoice, our weak, our sinful souls, that God doth always look upon them, and takes their concerns into consideration? If a prince vouchsafes a favourable look to a servant, he thinks himself happy; and shall not we count ourselves so, when our God never turns away His eyes from us? Behold how the vulgar run to see a king pass by. Our God not only passes by us, but this mighty God remains with us always, every moment encircles us with the beams of His Majesty; and shall we not stand amazed at His brightness? Nay, look how men hasten to see a monster, some unknown African beast; and shall not our hearts leap to think that an incomprehensible Beauty is continually about us? The queen of Sheba comes from afar to behold the Jewish king in his glory, and when she sees him, wonders; we every day behold a far greater, and far more splendid monarch; and do we make nothing of it? How! shall not we work to do Him service that works all our blessings for us? How can we deal worse with a man that hates us, than by not looking on him when he meets us? Is God our enemy, that we care not for beholding Him in secret, when He stands before us in our closets? The glory of God surrounds us, penetrates our souls and bodies more than the sumbeam doth the crystal stone; and shall not we tremble when we are alone, at so great a Majesty? The presence of God's wisdom provides for us, and sees that we may want nothing, is always busy about us, either to direct or to reward us; nay, God doth not trust His angels with this

province, but Himself watches over us, every moment, every hour, and like a nurse He carries us in His everlasting arms. Have we such a constant Benefactor continually about us, and are not we concerned more at His presence ?-Horneck.


THE saints of God living in the Church of Christ, are in communion with all the saints departed out of this life and admitted to the presence of God. Jerusalem is sometimes taken for the Church on earth, sometimes for that part of the Church which is in heaven, to show that as both are represented by one, so both are but one city of God. Wherefore thus doth the apostle speak to such as are called to the Christian faith: "Ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant." (Heb. xii. 22, 23.) Indeed, the communion of saints in the Church of Christ with those which are departed, is demonstrated by their communion with the saints alive. For if I have communion with a saint of God, as such, while he liveth here, I must still have communion with him when he is departed hence; because the foundation of that communion cannot be removed by death. The mystical union between Christ and His Church, the spiritual conjunction of the members to the Head, is the true foundation of that communion which one member had with another, all the members living and increasing by the same influence which they receive from Him. But death, which is nothing else but the separation of the soul from the body, maketh no separation in the mystical union, no breach of the spiritual conjunction; and consequently there must continue the same communion, because there remaineth the same foundation. deed, the saint departed, before his death had some communion with the hypocrite, as hearing the word, professing the faith, receiving the sacraments together; which being in things only external, as they were common to


them both, and all such external actions ceasing in the person dead, the hypocrite remaining loseth all communion with the saint departing, and the saints surviving cease to have their farther fellowship with the hypocrite dying. But being the true and unfeigned holiness of man, wrought by the powerful influence of the Spirit of God, not only remaineth, but also is improved, after death; being the correspondence of the internal holiness was the communion between their persons in their life, they cannot be said to be divided by death, which had no power over that sanctity by which they were first conjoined. Bishop Pearson.


GOD doth not every day manifest His will, by His Prophets, respecting the kingdoms which He setteth up and putteth down. But having so often done it in the cases of those great empires of which we have been speaking, He showeth us, by such remarkable and prominent instances, how he acts in all others, and thereby enables us to form a competent idea of our own situation and circumstances. Sacred history informs us what was the particular state of the ancient people of God, when He punished them by the heathen nations; and both sacred and profane history inform us what was the state of each empire, when subverted by another. Similar causes produce similar effects. For though God's counsels are always executed, yet they are executed, for the most part, in that way which we are wont to call the natural course of things. He Who has ordained that all parts of the universe should have a mutual dependence on each other, and operate regularly, by a due concatenation of causes and effects, has likewise ordained that the course of human affairs should have its progression and proportion. Individuals and communities arise, accordingly, at proper times, with qualities suited to the station they are destined to fill, and the work which they are intended to perform. It is therefore no less useful than curious, in reading history, to mark the different dispositions, manners, and characters of nations and their rulers, since these are the instruments working, under the direction of

Providence, for the accomplishment of its designs, without any infringement of man's free will. If you behold a nation distinguished by irreligion and contempt of things sacred, by licentiousness, faction, luxury, dissipation, and effeminacy, be assured that, without a reformation and a return to first principles, the conquest of that nation by some other is becoming more and more feasible every day; the same vices which provoke divine vengeance preparing the way for its execution. Such were the characteristics of the ancient people of God, in the times preceding their several captivities. Such was the case when the old Assyrian empire perished with Sardanapalus; when Babylon was surprised by Cyrus; when Darius was overthrown by Alexander; when Greece fell under the dominion of the Romans; when these last were overwhelmed by the northern nations; and when Constantinople was taken by the Turks. Every man who has the prosperity of his country at heart, should very seriously consider how far these tokens are to be found upon ourselves: what can be done to prevent the farther spreading of the infection, and to eradicate the seeds of the disorder.-Bishop Horne.


INSTRUCTION and prayer are duties which serve as elements, parts, or principles, to the rest that follow, in which number the Sacraments of the Church are chief. The Church is to us that very mother of our new birth, in whose bowels we are all bred, at whose breast we receive nourishment. As many, therefore, as are apparently, to our judgment, born of God, they have the seed of their regeneration by the ministry of the Church, which useth to that end and purpose not only the word, but the Sacraments, both having generative force and virtue.

The use of Sacraments is but only in this life, yet so, that here they concern a far better life than this, and are for that cause accompanied with “ grace which worketh salvation." Sacraments are the powerful instruments of God unto eternal life. For as our natural life consisteth in the union of the body with the soul, so our life supernatural in the union of the soul with God. Surely the

« PreviousContinue »