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PREACHED TO THE VIRGINIAN COMPANY, 1622.
Acts i. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and
ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and
in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. There are reckoned in this book, twenty-two sermons of the apostles; and yet the book is not called the preaching, but the practice, not the words, but the Acts of the Apostles : and the acts of the apostles were to convey that name of Christ Jesus, and to propagate his Gospel, over all the world : beloved, you are actors upon the same stage too: the uttermost parts of the earth are your scene act over the acts of the apostles; be you a light to the Gentiles, that sit in darkness ; be you content to carry him over these who dried
up one Red Sea, for his first people, and hath poured out another Red Sea, his own blood, for them and us. When man was fallen, God clothed him; made him a leather garment; there God descended to one occupation; when the time of man's redemption was come, then God, as it were, to house him, became a carpenter's son ; there God descended to another occupation. Naturally, without doubt, man would have been his own tailor; and his own carpenter ; something in these two kinds man would have done of himself, though he had had no pattern from God : bút in preserving man who was fallen, to this redemption, by which he was to be raised, in preserving man from perishing in the flood, God descended to a third occupation, to be his shipwright, to give him the model of a ship, an ark, and so to be the author of that, which man himself in likelihood, would never have thought of, a means to pass from nation to nation. Now, as God taught us to make clothes, not only to clothe ourselves, but to clothe him in his poor and naked members here; as God taught us to build houses, not to house ourselves, but to house him, in erecting churches, to his glory: so God taught us to make ships, not to transport ourselves, but to transport him, That when we have received
power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon us, we might be witnesses unto him, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.
As I speak now principally to them who are concerned in this plantation of Virginia, yet there may be divers in this congregation, who, though they have no interest in this plantation, yet they may have benefit and edification, by that which they hear me say, so Christ spoke the words of this text, principally to the apostles, who were present and questioned him at his ascension, but they are in their just extension, and due accommodation, appliable to our present occasion of meeting here: as Christ himself is alpha, and omega, so first, as that he is last too, so these words which he spoke in the east, belong to us, who are to glorify him in the west ; That we having received power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon us, might be witnesses unto him, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. 4
The first word of the text is the cardinal word, the word, the hinge, upon which the whole text turns; the first word, but, is the but, that all the rest shoots at. First it is an exclusive word; something the apostles had required, which might not be had; not that; and it is an inclusive word; something Christ was pleased to afford to the apostles, which they thought not of; not that, not that which you beat upon, but, but yet, something else, something better than that, you shall have. That which this but, excludes, is that which the apostles express in the verse immediately before the text, A temporal kingdom; wilt thou restore again the kingdom of Israel? No; not a temporal kingdom ; let not the riches and commodities of this world, be in your contemplation in your adventures. Or, because they ask more, wilt thou now restore that? not yet: if I will give you riches, and commodities of this world, yet if I do it not at first, if I do it not yet, be not you discouraged; you shall not have that, that is not God's first intention ; and though that be in God's intention, to give it you hereafter, you shall not have it yet ; that is the exclusive part; but; there enters the inclusive, You shall receire power, after that the Iloly Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesscs unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in
Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. In which second part, we shall pass by these steps ; Superveniet Spiritus, the Holy Ghost shall come upon you, the Spirit shall witness to your spirit, and rectify your conscience; and then, by that, you shall receive power; a new power besides the power you have from the state, and that power shall enable you, to be witnesses of Christ, that is, to make his doctrine the more credible, by your testimony, when you conform yourselves to him, and do as he did ; and this witness you shall bear, this conformity you shall declare, first in Jerusalem, in this city; and in Judea, in all the parts of the kingdom ; and in Samaria, even amongst them who are departed from the true worship of God, the papists ; and to the uttermost part of the earth, to those poor souls, to whom you are continually sending. !! Summarily, if from the Holy Ghost you have a good testimony in your own conscience, you shall be witnesses for Christ, that is, as he did, you shall give satisfaction to all, to the city, to the country, to the calumniating adversary, and the naturals of the place, to whom you shall present both spiritual and temporal benefit. And so you have the model of the whole frame, and of the partitions; we proceed now to the furnishing of the particular rooms.
First then, this first word, but, excludes a temporal kingdom; the apostles had filled themselves with an expectation, with an ambition of it; but that was not intended them. It was no wonder, that a woman could conceive such an expectation, and such an ambition, as to have her two sons sit at Christ's righthand, and at his left, in his kingdom', when the apostles expected such a kingdom, as might afford them honours and preferment upon earth. More than once they were in that disputation, in which Christ deprehended them, Which of them should be the greatest in his kingdom. Neither hath the bishop of Rome, anything, wherein he may so properly call himself apostolical, as this error of the apostles, this their infirmity, that he is evermore too conversant upon the contemplation of temporal kingdoms. They did it all the way, when Christ was with them, and now at his last step, Cum actu ascendisset', when Christ was
i Matt, xx. 21.
2 Matt. xviii. 1.
not ascending, but in part ascended, when one foot was upon the earth, and the other in the cloud that took him up, they ask him now, Wilt thou at this time, restore the kingdom? so women put their husbands, and men their fathers, and friends, upon their torture, at their last gasp, and make their death-bed a rack to make them stretch and increase jointures, and portions, and legacies, and sign schedules and codicils, with their hand, when his hand that presents them, is ready to close his eyes, that should sign them: and when they are upon the wing for heaven, men tie lead to their feet, and when they are laying hand fast upon Abraham's bosom, they must pull their hand out of his bosom again, to obey importunities of men, and sign their papers : so underminable is the love of this world, which determines every minute. God, as he is three persons, hath three kingdoms ; there is Regnum potentiæ, The kingdom of power; and this we attribute to the Father ; it is power and providence : there is Regnum gloriæ, The kingdom of glory; this we attribute to the Son and to his purchase ; for he is the king that shall say, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world". And then between these three is ( Regnum gratiæ, The kingdom of grace, and this we attribute to the Holy Ghost; he takes them, whom the king of power, Almighty God, hath rescued from the Gentiles, and as the king of grace, He gives them the knowledge of the mystery of the kingdom of God, that is, of future glory', by sanctifying them with his grace, in his church. The two first kingdoms are in this world, but yet neither of them are of this world ; because both they refer to the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of the Father, which is the providence of God, does but preserve us; the kingdom of the Holy Ghost, which is the grace of God, does but prepare us to the kingdom of the Son, which is the glory of God; and that is in heaven. And therefore, though to good men, this world be the way to that kingdom, yet this kingdom is not of this world, says Christ himself®: though the apostles themselves, as good a school as they were bred in, could never take out that lesson, yet that lesson Christ gives, and repeats to all, You seek a temporal kingdom, but, says the text, stop there, a kingdom you must not have.
* Matt. xxv. 34.
5 Mark iv. 11.
6 John xviii. 36.
Beloved in him, whose kingdom, and Gospel you seek to advance, in this plantation, our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, if you seek to establish a temporal kingdom there, you are not rectified, if you seek to be kings in either acceptation of the word ; to be a king signifies liberty and independency, and supremacy, to be under no man, and to be a king signifies abundance, and Omnisufficiency, to need no man. If those that govern there, would establish such a government, as should not depend upon this, or if those that go thither, propose to themselves an exemption from laws, to live at their liberty, this is to be kings, to divest allegiance, to be under no man : and if those that adventure thither, propose to themselves present benefit, and profit, a sudden way to be rich, and an abundance of all desirable commodities from thence, this is to be sufficient of themselves, and to need no man: and to be under no man and to need no man, are the two acceptations of being kings. Whom liberty draws to go, or present profit draws to adventure, are not yet in . the right way. O, if you could once bring a catechism to be as ") good ware amongst them as a bugle, as a knife, as a hatchet: 0, if you would be as ready to hearken at the return of a ship, how many Indians were converted to Christ Jesus, as what trees, or drugs, or dyes that ship had brought, then you were in your right way, and not till then ; liberty and abundance, are characters of kingdoms, and a kingdom is excluded in the text; the apostles were not to look for it, in their employment, nor you in this your plantation.
At least Christ expresses himself thus far, in this answer, that if he would give them a kingdom, he would not give it them yet. They ask him, Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom ? and he answers, It is not for you to know the times : whatsoever God will do, man must not appoint him his time... The apostles thought of a kingdom presently after Christ's departure; the coming of the Holy Ghost, who led them into all truths, soon delivered them of that error. Other men in favour of the Jews, interpreting all the prophecies, which are of a spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of the Gospel, (into which, the Jews shall be admitted) in a literal sense, have thought that the Jews shall have, not only a temporal king