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mire its own worth. What corner of earth, what creek of sea, what span of heaven is unsearched by it? How hath it surrounded this globe, and calculated the stars and motions of the other! What simple, or what metal, or mineral can be hid from it? What eclipse, or conjunction, or other postures of those celestial bodies, can escape its certain prediction? Yea, O Lord, it can aspire, and attain to know thee the God of Spirits, the wonderful mysteries of thy salvation ; to apprehend I mean, never, oh never, to comprehend, the wonderful relations of thy blessed and incomprehensible essence: Divine particula aure: Lord, what is man, that thou thus makest account of him ? I fear I shall make this topaz but só much the darker by polishing: but, as we may, shortly. Next to that, the tongue hath not skill enough to tell the wonders of itself. That little film, the interpreter of the soul, how sweet notes, how infinite varieties of expressions can it form: and well near utter whatever the mind can conceive; where other creatures car but bleat, or bellow, or bray, or grunt, not exceeding the rude uniformity of their own natural sound! By this, we can both understand ourselves, and bless our Maker: whence it is, that David justly stiles his tongue, his glory.
Besides his person, how hast thou, O God, ennobled him with privileges of his condition! How hast thou made him the sole surveyor of heaven, the lord of the creatures, the commander of the earth, the charge of angels! Lord, what is man, that thou makest this high account of hiin?
But, what is all this, yet, in comparison of what thou hast done for our souls? I am now swallowed up, O God, with the wonder and astonishment of thy unconceivable mercies. What shall I say, that, ere the world was, thou lovedst man that should be? With an everlasting love hast thou embraced him; whom thou madest happy, and foresawest forlorn and miserable. The angels fell; thou lettedst them go: man fell; and, O thou Blessed Son of the Eternal Father, thou wouldst rather divest thyself of the robes of heavenly glory; and come down and put on these rags of our flesh; and therein endure the miseries of a servile life, the scorns of wretched men, the pains of a bitter and accursed death; the wrath of thy Blessed and Coessential Father; than man should not be recovered. By thy stripes, are we healed; by thy blood, we are redeemed; by thy death, we are quickened; by thy Spirit, we are renewed; by thy merits, we are saved : and now, Lord, what an account is this, thou hast made of man!
What a wonderful honour is this, to which thou hast advanced us! By thee, O Saviour, we are not only reconciled to God; but, of strangers, are become servants of the High God; Açts xvi, 17 Servants? Yea, friends; James ü. 23 : yea, sons; the sons of the Highest; Luke vi. 35. Sons? yea, heirs; heredes cum re, as St. Ambrose: co-heirs with Christ; Rom. viii. 17: conheritors of immortal glory; 1 Peter ïïi. 22.
Y a, that, which all the angels of heaven stand still amazed at and can uever be satisfied with admiring, thou hast carried up this human nature of ours into the inseparable union with the ever-glorious apd blessed Godhead; to be adored of all principalities, and powers, and thrones, and dominions of heaven.
Lo, i, that even now could have been sorry that I was a mali, begin now to be holily proud of my condition; and know not whether I may change the man for the angel. Pardon me, ye Glorious Spirits : 1 durst not speak thus big of myself; but, in the right of my Saviour, I dare and must : non assumpsit angelum, sed hominem. Howsoever, man is lower than you. Alas, what should dust and ashes talk of comparing with spiritual and heavenly, powers? Yet I am sure the Son of Man is above you. In him, will I glory. In itself your nature is so much above ours, as it is more spiritual, and nearer to your Infinite Creator: but if the Son of God hath advanced our nature above yours in uniting it to the Deity, we cannot so much praise his mercy as you do for us. Yea, 0
ye Blessed Angels, whose greatness though we must not adore yet we cannot but awfully acknowledge with due veneration, I may boldly say, ye hold it in no scorn to be wveúuola deitypy mà, serviceable spirits to the behoof of us weak and sinful men; Heb. i. 14. Ye behold the face of our Heavenly Father for us; Matt. xviii. 10. Ye bear us in your arms, that we dash not our feet against the stones of offence ; Psalm xci. Ye pitch your tents about us, for our defence. Ye rejoice in heaven at our conversion. Fe carry up our parting souls into the bosom of Abraham. As this is a wonderful joy and honour to us; so can it be no derogation from your celestial glory and magnificence: since he, whom ye profess to serve with us, professes that he, the Son of Man, came not to be served, but to serve. Oh now what can we want, when we have such purveyors ? What can we fear, while we have such guardians ? While we have such conveyance, what can let us from ascending into our heaven?
How justly do we now exult in the glory of manhood, thus attended, thus united! But, soft, that our rejoicing be not vain : while our nature is thus glorious, our person may be miserable enough. Except we be in Christ, united to the Son of God, we are never the better for the uniting of this man-hood to God. Where should ambition dwell, but at à Court ? Oh, be ye ambitious of this honour, which will make you everlastingly happy: Whatever become of your earthly greatness, strive to be found in Christ; to be partakers of divine nature; to be favourites of heaven. It is a great word, that Zozomen speaks of Apollonius, that never asked any thing in all his life of God, that he obtained not: if we follow his rule, we shall be sure to be no less happy. And now, being thus dignified by the knowledge, by the account of God, how should we strive to walk worthy of so high favours; both in the duty of self-estimation, and of gratitude !
Self-estimation : for, if God make such account of us, why do not we make high account of ourselves ? I know I do now spar a free horse, when I wish every man to think well of one : but there is a holy pride, that I must commend unto you, with St. Jerome, a
pride as good as the other is sinful; that, since God hath so ad. vanced you, you should hold yourselves too good to be the drudges of sin, the pack-horses of the world, the vassals of Satan; and think these sublunary vanities too base to carry away your hearts. It was a brave word of the old Jewish courtier Nehemiah, Should such a man as I flee? Say ye so, ye Regenerate Souls. Should such a man as I debauch and sin ? Should such a man as I play the beast? Is it for my upright face to grovel? Is it for my astections to walk on all-four? No, let beasts be sensual: let devils be wicked: let my heart be as upright as my face. I will hate to shame my pedigree; and scorn all the base and mis-becoming, pleasures of sin, and will bear myself worthy of the favourite of heaven.
Gratitude: in retribution of praise and obedience. O God, thou mightest have made me a beast; yea, the ugliest of crawling vermin, that I run away from. I could not have challenged thee: thy will and thy works are free, thy power absolute; and lo, thou hast made me thy darling, the quintessence of thy creation, man. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thou mightest have past by me, as an outcast reprobate soul; and so it had been a thousand times better for me never to have been: but thou hast bought me with a price. I will praise thee, for I am no less wonderfully redeemed. "O God, nothing but man, and man regenerate, of all the visible works of thy hands, is capable to give thee the glory of thy mighty creation, of thy gracious redemption, The lowest rank of creatures have not life; the next have not sense; the third have not reason: none but the last hath grace to return thee the praise of thy blessed power and mercy. "Oh, let not us be wanting unto thee, who hast thus superabounded
But, this is not all. Thanks is a poor windy payment. Our returns to God must be real: Quid retribuam? What should we render to our God, less than all ? Yea, all is too little for one mercy. We owe ourselves to thee, () God, as our Creator. What have we to give to thee, as our bounteous Redeemer, as our gracious Sanctifier? Thou, that ownest all, take all. Oh, that our bodies, souls, lives, actions could be wholly consecrated to thee! Oh, that we could really and constantly begin here those Hallelujahs, which we shall ever continue above amidst the Quire of Saints and Angels, giving all praise and honour, and giory, and immortality to thee, o Blessed Father, our Creator; to thee, () Blessed and Coeternal Son, our Redeemer; to thee, ( Blessed and Coessential Spirit, our Sanctifer; one Infinite God, in Three most glorious and incomprehensible Persons, now and evermore! Amen.
SERMON XXXI. '
ABRAHAM'S PURCHASE AND EMPLOYMENT OF A
BURYING PLACE. A SERMON PREACHED IN THE CITY OF EXETER, AT THE CONSECRATION
OF A NEW, BURIAL-PLACE THERE, ON ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S-DAY, AUGUST 24, 1637.
TO THE NEAREST AND MOST EMINENT PART OF MY CHARGE,
THE CITY OF EXETER.
I HAD not yielded, upon your strong importunity, to give public life to this Sermon rather than many other of the fellows, which have quietly died in your ears, had I not conceived, that the occasion might be no less profitable than the discourse : the discourse, by way of instruction, and the occasion, by way of e.rample. Your public charity to the dead, which is the ground and subject of this day's service, will, I hope, speak louder, and last longer, than these papers.
The world shall hereby learn to do good to those, which cannot be capable of returning thanks. Your grandfathers found that inconvenience, which ye have now redressed: they were not well apaid, to be thronged in their strained graves, and to mir their dust : And that goodly fabric of the Church, which is no small part of your glory and beauty, long complained, that, while it stood still, the carth began to rise up toward her lights, and threatened her obscuration.
Your care, and bounty, hath now happily put an end to these griezances; having, with the resolute neglect of your own apparent advantages, set apart so fair, spacious, convenient a portion for the dead, within the compass of your own walls: For the perfecting whereof, I cannot but justly congratulate to my worlhy sons, the Dean and Chapter of this Church, both their godly zeal in exciting your beneficence, and their munificent concurrence in seconding it. It is a happy emulation, when both Bodies are ready to contend for the honour of forwardness in good. Neither may 1, without just censure, forget the pious care and fervency of our most reverend and vigilant Metropolitan, in the promoving of this so religious a work; the interposition of whose great authority was well worthy and able to further it to a desired issue.
Blessed be God for all good hands! the thing is done, and now remains a noble monument of Christian charity, and a good pattern for populous communities. For me, your eyes and ears will witness, that ihe solemnness of the consecration was well answerable to the honour of that holy designment : which service of mine, because it was led in by this homely Sermon, there seemed good reason, both for you to desire it public, and for me not to deny it. The God of Heaven bless it in your hands, and consecrate all your bodies and souls to his own holy and constant service! Such shall ever be the prayer of your loving and faithful Pustor, JOSEPH EXON,
GENESIS xxiii. 19, 20. And, after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field
of Machpelah, before Mamre, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure to Abrahum for a possession of a burying-place by the sons of Heth.
After many agitations of thoughts and counsels, we see it effected this day, Right Worshipful and Dear Christians, which hath been oft mentioned and long desired, that there is, by mutual agreement, a new dormitory provided for our dead: so as now, we hope our Church shall not need fear to be buried with bodies, nor our bodies to be indecently pressed in their last lodgings: An act worthy, both of this common celebration, and of that Episcopal service of mine, which shall this day give a due consummation to it. I could not better parallel the occasion, than with the practice of him, in whose bosom we all once hope to rest.
Shortly then, my Text and my speech offer you two heads of meditation, ABRAHAM'S PURCHASE OF GROUND, and ABRAHAM'S EMPLOYMENT OF THAT PUPCHASE.
I. The PURCHASE is first in nature, though last in mention. We will be as short in the discourse, as Abraham was in the transaction; and he had not many words to a bargain.
Lo, even Abraham purchases': holiest men may touch with secular occasions: not the apeéyuate, but the aguyuetelu is that which offends. No man that warfares, as every faithful man doth and must, entangles himself in the affairs of this life, saith our Apostle. He says not, he meddles' not with them, but he entangles not himself in them. The world is pitch; scarce to be touched without a defilement: but if we touch pitch with a cold hand, it cleaves not to our fingers. So doth every right son of Abraham handle the world. The earth is the Lord's as the possessor; and he hath conveyed it by deed of gift to the children of men: so that, by due right of inheritance or purchase, it is lawfully devolved to us. This is no warrant for excess: Woe to them, that join house to house, and land to land, till there be no more place! devouring depopulators of whole countries! Such men purchase with a vengeance. Let it be our care so to purchase a share on earth, that we lose not our mansion in heaven.
Of whom doth Abraham purchase, but of Ephron the son of Heth? and he was the son of cursed Canaan: yet Abraham forbears not, both to converse and commerce with these, that were of the seven branded nations. Trade and cohabitation with them without, is not unjustifiable; so as it may be carefully managed: civil society and traffic is lawful; yea, compliment and courtesy, as we see here: but without too much entireness; so as, in the mean time, we lie at a sure lock for the avoiding of spiritual hurt. If our purses gain, and our souls lose, we make but an ill match.