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S E R MON
ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHRIST;
NECESSITY OF MAN’S SUBJECTION, DEPENDENCE,
AND CHIEFEST LOVE TO HIM.
Preached before the Judges of Assise, at Worcester.
" But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me."-Luke xix. 27.
When I had resolved, at the desire of the Honourable Judge of Assize, to publish the foregoing sermon, I remembered that, about six years before, I had preached another on the like occasion, on a subject so like, and to so like a purpose, that I conceived it not unfit to be annexed to the former. I have endeavoured to show you, in both these sermons, that Christ may be preached without Antinomianism; that terror may be preached without unwarrantable preaching the law; that the gospel is not a mere promise, and that the law is not so terrible as it is to the rebellious: as also what that superstructure is, which is built on the foundation of general redemption rightly understood; and how ill we can preach Christ's dominion in his universal propriety and sovereignty, or yet persuade men to sanctification and subjection, without this foundation. I have laboured to fit all, or almost all, for matter and manner, to the capacity of the vulgar. And though, for the matter, it is as necessary to the greatest, yet it is for the vulgar, principally, that I publish it; and had rather it might be numbered with those books which are carried up and down the country from door to door in pedlars' packs, than with those that lie on booksellers' stalls, or are set up in the libraries of learned divines. And to the same use would I design the most of my published labours, should God afford me time and ability, and contentious brethren give me leave.
RICHARD BAXTER. August 7, 1654.
ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF CHRIST.
PSALM ii. 10, 11, 12.
Be wise now, therefore, Oye kings ; be instructed, ye judges
of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling, &c.
To waste this precious hour in an invective against injustice and its associates, is none of my purpose; they are sins so directly against the principles in nature, so well known, I believe, to you all, and so commonly preached against upon these occasions, that upon the penalty of forfeiting the credit of my discretion, I am bound to make choice of a more necessary subject. What? Have we need to spend our time and studies to persuade Christians from bribery, perjury, and oppression; and from licking up the vomit which pagans have cast out? And that in an age of blood and desolation, when God is taking the proudest oppressors by the throats, and raising monuments of justice upon the ruins of the unjust. And I would fain believe that no corrupt lawyers do attend your judicatures, and that Jezebel's witnesses dwell not in our country, nor yet a jury that fear not an oath; I have therefore chosen another subject, which, being of the greatest moment, can never be unseason-. able; even to proclaim him who is constituted the King and Judge of all, to acquaint you with his pleasure, and to demand your subjection.
The chief scope of the Psalm is, to foretel the extent and prevalency of the kingdom of Christ, admonishing his enemies to submit to his government, deriding the vanity of their opposing projects and fury, and forewarning them of their ruin if they come not in.
The verses which I have read are the application of the foregoing prediction, by a serious admonition to the proudest offenders : they contain, 1. The persons admonished, “kings and judges.” 2. Their duty: 1. In general to God, serve him ;" with the adjuncts annexed : 1. Rejoicing. 2. Fear and trembling. 2. More especially their duty to the Son, “ kiss him.”
3. The motives to this duty. 1. Principally and directly expressed, “lest he be angry,” which anger is set forth by the effect," and ye perish;” which périshing is aggravated, 1. From the suddenness and unexpectedness, “ in the way.” 2. From the dreadfulness, "kindled." 1. It is fire, and will kindle and burn. 2. A little of it will produce this sad effect. 3. It will be wo to those that do not escape it; which wo is set forth by the contrary happiness of those that by submission do escape. 2. The motives subservient and implied are in the monitory words, “ be wise, be learned," q. d. else you will show and prove yourselves men of ignorance and madness, unlearned and unwise.
Some questions here we should answer for explication of the terms: as,
1. Whether the Lord in verse 11, and the Son in verse 12, be both meant of Christ the Second Person?
2. Whether the anger here mentioned be the anger of the Father or the Son, “lest he be angry?” I might spend much time here to little purpose, in showing you the different judg, ment of divines of these, when in the issue there is no great difference, which ever way we take them.
3. What is meant by “ kissing the Son?” I answer, according to its threefold object, it hath a threefold duty contained in it.
1. We kiss the feet in token of subjection; so must we kiss the Son.
2. We kiss the hand in token of dependence; so must we kiss the hand of Christ; that is, resign ourselves to him, and expect all our happiness and receivings from him.
3. We kiss the mouth in token of love and friendship ; and so also must we kiss the Son.
4. What is meant by “perishing in the way?" I answer, (omitting the variety of interpretations,) it is their sudden unexpected perishing in the heat of their rage, and in pursuit of their designs against the kingdom of Christ.
I know no other terms of any great difficulty here,