« ElőzőTovább »
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
THOMAS LORD COVENTRY,
BARON OF AYLESBOROUGH,
LORD-KEEPER OF THE GREAT SEAL OF ENGLAND, &c.
MOST NOBLE LORD, It was the devout profession which St. Austin once made of himself, when speaking of the great delight which he took in Cicero's Hortensius (as containing a most liberal exhortation to the love of wisdom, without any bias or partiality towards sects,) he affirmeth, That the heat of this his delight, was by this only reason abated, because there was not in that book to be found the name of Christ; without which name, nothing, though otherwise never so polite and elaborate, could wholly possess those affections, which had been trained to a nobler study. And Gregory Nazianzen”, that famous divine, setteth no other price upon all his Athenian learning (wherein he greatly excelled) but only this, That he had something of worth, to esteem as nothing in comparison of Christ;' herein imitating the example of St. Paul, who though he profited in the Jewish religion above many others, yet when the Son of God was revealed in him, laid it all aside as loss and dung, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord d. The consideration of which sacred affections in those holy men, together with the many experiences of your Lordship’s abundant favour, hath put into me a boldness beyond my natural disposition, to prefix so great a name before these poor pieces of my labours in God's Church. Other argument in this book there is none to procure either your Lordship's view or patronage, than this one, (which that good father could not find in all the writings of Plato or Cicero,) That it hath that High and Holy Person for the subject thereof,the knowledge of whom is not only our greatest learning, but our eternal life.
In this confidence, I have presumed to present unto your Lordship this public testimony of my most humble duty, and deep obligations for your many thoughts of favour and bounty towards me, not in myself only, but in others, unto a Confess. lib. 3. cap. iv.
cGal. i. 14, 16.
b Orat. 1.
d Phil. ii. 8.
whom your Lordship’s goodness hath vouchsafed under that respect to overflow. The Lord Jesus, our eternal Melchisedec, meet your Lordship in all those honourable affairs which he hath called you unto, with the constant refreshment and benediction of his Holy Spirit, and long preserve you a faithful patron of the Church which he hath purchased with his own blood; and a worthy instrument of the justice, honour, and tranquillity of this kingdom. Your Lordsbip's most humbly devoted
TO THE READER. Christian Reader, When I was first persuaded to communicate some of my poor labours to the public, my purpose was to have added unto those treatises which were extant before, so much of these which I now present unto thy view, as concerneth the Elogies of the Gospel of Christ, the instrument of begetting the life of Christ in us. For little reason had I, considering mine own weakness, the frequent returns of that service wherein these pieces were delivered, and the groaning of the press of late under writings of this nature, to trouble the world a second time with any more of my slender provisions towards the work of the sanctuary, in this abundance which is on every side brought in. But finding that work grow up under mine hand into a just volume, and conceiving that it might be both more acceptable and useful to handle a whole Scripture together (especially being both of so noble a nature, and at first view of so difficult a sense, as this Psalm is) than to single out some verse and fragment by itself; I therefore resolved once more to put in my mite into the treasury of the temple, which (though for no other reason) may yet, I hope, be for this cause accepted, because it beareth the image and inscription of Christ upon it. Some passages therein are inserted, which were delivered in another order, and on other Scriptures; and some likewise which were delivered in other places, and on other occasions; which yet being pertinent to the series of the discourse, I thought might justly seem as natural parts, and not as tribaýpata, incoherent and unsuitable pieces. So submitting my poor labours to thy favourable censure, and commending thee to the blessing of God, I rest
HUNDRED AND TENTH PSALM.
PSALM CX. 1.
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until
I make thine enemies thy footstool. Christ Jesus the Lord, is the sum and centre of all divine revealed truth ; neither is any thing to be preached unto men, as an object of their faith, or necessary element of their salvation, which doth not, some way or other, either meet in him, or refer unto him. All truths, especially divine, are of a noble and precious nature ; and, therefore, whatsoever mysteries of his counsel God hath been pleased in his Word to reveal, the church is bound in her ministry to declare unto men. And St. Paul professeth his faithfulness therein, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God:” but yet all this counsel (which elsewhere he calls raptúpsov ToŨ Osou, the testimony of God) he gathers together into one conclusion, “I determined not to know any thing amongst you b,” that is, in my preaching unto you to make discovery of any other knowledge, as matter of consequence or faith, but only of Jesus Christ and him crucified. And therefore preaching of the Word, is called preaching of Christ,--and ministers of the Word, ministers of Christ“, -and learning of the Word, learning of Christo; because our faith, our works, and our worship (which are the three essential elements of a Christian, the whole duty of man, and the whole will of God,) have all their foundation, growth, end, and virtue, only in and from Christ crucified. There is no fruit, weight, nor value in a Christian's title, but only in and from the death of Christe.
c 2 Cor. iv. 5.
#1 Cor. iv. 1, 2.
* Acts xx. 27. 2 Cor. ii. 6, 14.
b1 Cor. ii. 1, 2.
The Word, in general, is divided into the Old and New Testament, both which are the same in substance, though different in the manner of their dispensations, as Moses veiled differed from himself unveiled. Now that Christ is the substance of the whole New Testament, containing the history, doctrine, and prophecies of him in the administration of the latter ages of the church, is very manifest to all. The Old Scriptures are again divided into the law and prophets (for the historical parts of them do contain either typical prefigurations of the evangelical church, or inductions and exemplary demonstrations of the general truth of God's justice and promises, which are set forth by way of doctrine and precept in the law and prophets.) Now Christ is the sum of both these ; they waited upon him in his transfiguration, to note that in him they had their accomplishment. First, For the law, he is the substanca of it; he brought grace to fulfil the exactions, and truth to make good the prefigurations of the whole law. The ceremonial law, he fulfilled and abolished; the moral law, he fulfilled and established"; that his obedience thereunto might be the ground of our righteousness, and his Spirit and grace therewith might be the ground of our obedience: and therefore it is called the law of Christ. Secondly, For the prophets, he is the sum of them too ; for to him they give all witness. He is the author of their prophecies ; they spake by his Spirit : and he is the object of their prophecies; they spake of the grace and salvation', which was to come by him: so that the whole Scriptures are nothing else but a testimony of Christ, and faith in him, of that absolute and universal necessity which is laid upon all the world to be
• Totum Christiani nominis pondus et fructus mors Christi. Tertul. Heb. i. 1. & Quid est quod dicitur Testamentum Vetus, nisi occultatio Novi? et quid aliud quod dicitur Novum nisi Veteris revelatio? Aug. de Civit. Dei, 1. 6. c. 26.-Hoc occultabatur in Veteri Testamento pro temporum dispensatione justissima, quod revelatur in Novo. Id. de Pec. Merit. et Remiss. 1. 1. c. ll, & tom. 4. de Catech. Rud. cap.4. Νόμος ευωγέλιον προκατηύγελμένον, ευαγγέλιον νόμος σεπληpwuévos. Justin. Mart. h Matth. v. 17, and vii. 12. Luke xvi. 16, 31, and ix. 28. Hilar. Can. 17. in Matth. St. Amlır. lib. 7. in Luc. i John i. 17. Gal. vi. 2. Acts x. 43. 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. John v. 39.