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actual belief of others at your baptism, with a historical belief, and with an evangelical belief too, with a belief in your root, in the heart, and a belief in the fruits, expressed in a good life too, yet there is a continuance and a perseverance that must crown all this; and because that cannot be discerned till thine end, then only is it safely pronounced, Now is saloation nearer you than when you beliered.
Here then salvation is eternal salvation; not the outward seals of the church upon the person, not visible sacraments, nor the outward seal of the person, to the church, visible works, nor the inward seal of the Spirit, assurance here, but fruition, possession of glory, in the kingdom of heaven; where we shall be infinitely rich, and that without labour in getting, or care in keeping, or fear in losing; and fully wise, and that without ignorance of necessary, or study of unnecessary knowledge, where we shall not measure our portion by acres, for all heaven shall be all ours ; nor our term by years, for it is life and everlasting life; nor our assurance by precedent, for we shall be safer than the angels themselves were in the creation; where our exaltation shall be to have a crown of righteousness, and our possession of that crown shall be, even the throwing it down at the feet of the Lamb; where we shall leave off all those petitions of Adveniat regnum, Thy kingdom come, for it shall be come in abundant power; and the Da nobis hodie, Give us this day our daily bread, for we shall have all that which we can desire now, and shall have a power to desire more, and then have that desire so enlarged, satisfied ; and the libera nos, we shall not pray to be delivered from evil, for no evil, culpæ or poenæ, either of sin to deserve punishment, or of punishment for our former sins shall offer at us: where we shall see God face to face, for we shall have such notions and apprehensions, as shall enable us to see him, and he shall afford such an imparting, such a manifestation of himself, as he shall be seen by us; and where we shall be as inseparably united to our Saviour, as his humanity and divinity are united together: this unspeakable, this unimaginable happiness is this salvation, and therefore let us be glad when this is brought near us.
And this is brought nearer and nearer unto us, as we come
nearer and nearer to our end. As he that travels weary, and late towards a great city, is glad when he comes to a place of execution, because he knows that is near the town; so when thou comest to the gate of death, glad of that, for it is but one step from that to thy Jerusalem. Christ hath brought us in some nearness to salvation, as he is vere Salvator mundi, in that we know, that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world's: and he hath brought it nearer than that, as he is Salvator corporis sui, in that we know, that Christ is the head of the church, and the Saviour of that body 16: and nearer than that, as he is Salvator tuus Sanctus, in that we know, he is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel, our Saviour17: but nearest of all, in the Ecce Salvator tuus venit, Behold thy salvation cometh 18. It is not only promised in the prophets, nor only writ in the Gospel, nor only sealed in the sacraments, nor only prepared in the visitations of the Holy Ghost, but, ecce, behold it, now, when thou canst behold nothing else: the sun is setting to thee, and that for ever; thy houses and furnitures, thy gardens and orchards, thy titles and offices, thy wife and children are departing from thee, and that for ever; a cloud of faintness is come over thine eyes, and a cloud of sorrow over all theirs ; when his hand that loves thee best hangs tremblingly over thee to close thine eyes, ecce Salvator tuus venit, behold then a new light, thy Saviour's hand shall open thine eyes, and in his light thou shalt see light; and thus shalt see, that though in the eyes of men thou lie upon that bed, as a statue on a tomb, yet in the eyes of God, thou standest as a colossus, one foot in one, another in another land; one foot in the grave, but the other in heaven; one hand in the womb of the earth, and the other in Abraham's bosom: and then vere prope, salvation is truly near thee, and nearer than when thou believedst, which is our last word.
Take this belief in the largest extent; a patient assent to all foretold of Christ and of salvation by the prophets; a historical assent to all that is written of Christ in the Gospel ; an humble and supple, and appliable assent to the ordinances of the church; a faithful application of all this to thine own soul, a fruitful 15 John iv. 42.
16 Eph. v. 23. 19 Isaiah xliii. 3.
18 Isaiah Lxii. 11.
declaration of all that to the whole world in thy life, yet all this (though this be inestimable riches) is but the earnest of the Holy Ghost; it is not the full payment, it is but the first fruits; it is not the harvest, it is but a truce; it is not an inviolable peace ; There remaineth a rest to the people of God", says the apostle ; they were the people of God before, and yet there remained a rest, which they had not yet; not that there is not a blessed degree of rest, in the credidi, a happy assurance in the strength of faith here, but yet there remaineth a rest better than that; and therefore says that apostle there, Let us labour to enter into that rest; as though we have rest in our consciences all the six days of the week, if we do the works of our callings sincerely, yet all that while we labour ; and there remains a sabbath, which we have not all the week ; so though we have peace and rest in the testimony of our faith and obedience in this life, yet there remains a rest, a sabbath, for which we must labour ; for the apostle in that place adds the danger; Labour to enter into that rest, says he, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief: he speaks of the people of God, and yet they might fall; he speaks of such as had believed, and yet they might fall, after the example of unbelief, as far as they that never believed, if they laboured not to the last and set the seal of final perseverance to their former faith. To conclude all with the force of the apostle's argument, in urging the words of this text, since God hath brought salvation nearer to you, than to them that believed; nearer to you in the Gospel, when you have seen Christ come there to the Jews in the prophets, where they only read that he should come, and nearer to you, than where you believed, either seminally and potentially, and imputatively at our baptism, or actually, and declaratorily in some parts of your life, by having persisted therein thus far; and since he is now bringing it nearer to you, than when you believed at best, because your end grows nearer, now, whilst the evil days come not, nor the year approach, wherein thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them?o; before the grinders cease, because they are few, and they wax dark, that look out at the windows, before thou go to the house of thine age, and the mourners go about in the streets, prepare thyself by casting off thy sins, and all that is gotten by thy sins : for, as the plague is got as soon in linings, as in the outside of a garment, salvation is lost as far, by retaining ill gotten goods, as by ill getting; forget not thy past sins so far, as not to repent them; but remember - not thy repented sins so far, as to delight in remembering them,
19 Heb. iv. 9.
20 Eccles. xii.
or to doubt that God hath not fully forgiven them; and whether God have brought this salvation near thee, by sickness, or by age, or by general dangers, put off the consideration of the incommodies of that age, or that sickness, and that danger, and fill thyself with the consideration of the nearness of thy salvation, which that age, and sickness, and danger, minister to thee: that so, when the best instrument, and the best song shall meet together, thy bell shall toll, and thy soul shall hear that voice, Ecce Salvator, Behold thy Saviour cometh, thou mayest bear a part, and cheerfully make up that music, with a Veni Domine Jesu, Come, Lord Jesu, come quickly, come now.
THE FIRST SERMON AFTER OUR DISPERSION BY THE SICKNESS.
A SERMON PREACHED AT ST. DUNSTAN'S, JANUARY 15, 1625.
Exodus xii. 30.
God intended life and immortality for man : and man by sin induced death upon himself at first : when man had done so, and that now man was condemned, man must die; yet God gave him, though not an absolute pardon, yet a long reprieve; though not a new immortality, yet a life of seven and eight hundred years upon earth : and then, misery, by sin, growing upon man, and this long life which was enlarged in his favour being become a burden unto him, God abridged and contracted his seven hundred to seventy, and his eight hundred to eighty years, the years of his life came to be threescore and ten; and if misery do suffer him to exceed those, even the exceeding itself is misery. Death then is from ourselves, it is our own; but the executioner is from God, 'it is his, he gives life; no man can quicken his own soul, but any man can forfeit his own soul: and yet when he hath done so, he may not be his own executioner ; for as God liveth, so he killeth, says Moses there : not as the cause of death, for death is not his creature; but because he employs what person he will, and executes by what instrument it pleases him to choose, age or sickness, or justice, or malice, or (in our apprehension) fortune. In that history from whence we deduce this text, which was that great execution, the sudden death of all the first-born of Egypt ; it is very large, and yet we may usefully, and to good purpose enlarge it, if we take into our consideration spiritual death, as well as bodily: for so in our houses from whence we came hither, if we left but a servant, but a child in the cradle at home, there is one dead in that house. If we have no other house but this which we carry about us, this house of clay, this tabernacle of flesh, this body, yet if we consider the inmate, the sojourner within this house, the state of our corrupt and putrefied soul, there is one dead in this house too. And though we be met now in the house of God, and our God be the God of life, yet even in this house of the God of life, and the ground enwrapped in the same consecration; not only of every such house, but let every man's length in the house be a house; of every such space this text will be verified, There is not a house where there is not one dead.
God is abundant in his mercies to man, and as though he did but learn to give by his giving, as though he did but practise to make himself perfect in his own art, which art is bountiful mercy; as though all his former blessings were but in the way of earnest, and not of payment; as though every benefit that he gave, were a new obligation upon him, and not an acquittance to him; he delights to give where he hath given, as though his former gifts were but his places of memory, and marks set upon certain men, to whom he was to give more. It is not so good a plea in our prayers to God, for temporal or for spiritual blessings, to say, Have mercy upon me now, for I hare loved thee heretofore, as to say, Have mercy upon me, for thou hast loved me heretofore. We answer a beggar, I gave you but yesterday; but God therefore gives us to-day, because he gave us yesterday: and therefore