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here principally respect to a funeral. The death, which is lamented for, being the end of all flesh, a man is, here and thus, put feelingly in mind of his mortality ; which, in a house of feasting and jollity, is utterly forgotten. By how much, then, it is better for a man to have his heart kept in order by the meditation of death, than to run wild after worldly vanity; by so much, is the house of mourning better than the house of feasting.
But, if this be not persuasive enough, hear what a greater than Solomon says; Blessed are they that mourn ; Matth. v. 4. Lo, he, that is the author, and the owner, and giver of blessedness, tells you where he bestows it, even upon the mourners. Did ye ever hear him say,
“ Blessed are the frolic and jovial ?” Nay, do ye not hear him say the contrary; Woe be to you that laugh now? Luke vi. 25. And though he needed not, whose will is the rule of all justice and paramount to all reason; yet, he is pleased to give you the reason of both; Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be conforted ; and woe be to you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn
Lo, joy, and comfort, is the end of mourners; and mourning, and weeping, is the end of mirth and laughter.
O Saviour, give me leave to wonder a little at this contrariety. That, to which the blessing is promised, which is mourning, is made the curse of laughter and joy: for they shall mourn, that rejoiced; and yet, they that mourn shall rejoice.
Is it not partly for that necessary vicissitude, which thou, in thine infinite wisdom, hast set of joy and mourning? So as no mau can be always capable of both these : but he, that rejoiceth, must have his turn of mourning, as Abraham told the rich glutton in his torment; and he, that mourneth, must have a time of rejoicing:
Or, is it for the great difference, that there is of the several kinds of mourning and joy? For, as there is a natural joy and sorrow, which is neither good nor evil
; but in itself indifferent: so there is a carnal sorrow and joy, which is evil; and a spiritual joy and sorrow, which is good : there is a temporal sorrow and joy, interchanged here ; and there is an eternal joy or sorrow, reserved for hereafter. So then hath thine infinite justice and wisdom distributed thy rewards and punishments, that the carnal and sinful joy is recompensed, with eternal sorrow and mourning; the holy and spiritual mourning, with eternal joy and blessedness.
Do we then desire to be blessed ? We must mourn. desire to have all tears wiped hereafter from our eyes ? we must not then have our eyes dry here below.
And, surely, did we know how precious our tears are in the account of the Almighty, we would not be niggardly of those penitent drops. These, these, if we know not, are so many orient pearls laid
up in the cabinet of the Almighty ; which he makes such store of, that he books their number for an everlasting remembrance; and, lest one tear should be spilt, he reserves them all in his bottle; Psalm lvi. 8: Do we not remember, that he hath
promised a happy and glorious harvest for a wet seed-time? that, those, which sow in tears, shall reap in joy ? that every grain, which we sow in this gracious rain, shall yield us a sheaf of blessedness? Psalm cxxvi. 5, 6. If then we believe this unfailable word of truth, who would not be content to mourn awhile, that he may rejoice for ever? Oh the madness of carnal hearts, that choose to purchase the momentary pleasure of sin, with everlasting torments; while we are hardly induced to purchase everlasting pleasures, with some minutes' mourning!
Neither is it the pleasure of the Almighty, to defer the retributory comforts of his mourners till another world. Even here, is he ready to supply them with abundant consolations. The Sweet Singer of Israel was experimentally sensible of this mercy : In the inultilude of the sorrows of my heart, thy comforts have refreshed my soul ; Psalm sciv. 19. Neither was the Chosen Vessel any whit behind him, in the experience and espression of this gracious indulgence of the Almighty: Blessed be God, saith he, een the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Vercies, and the God of all Comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribuations, thei we may be able to comfort them, which are in any trouble, by the com. forts, wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God; 2 Cor. i. 3, 4. What do I stand to instance in the persons of some special favourites of heaven? It is the very office of the Messiah, the perfect Mediator betwixt God and man, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn in Zion; to give unto them beau'y for ashes, the oil of joy for unourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heariness ; Isaiah Ixi. 2, 3. So as all God's faithful ones may cheerfuily espect the performance of that cordial promise, which the God of Truth had made to his Israel; Their soul shall be as a watered garden ; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the vir. gin rejoice in the dance ; both young men and old together : for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow : Jer. xxxi. 12, 13.
But, if the justice of God have been so highly provoked by the sins of a particular nation, as that there is no remedy but the threatened judgments must proceed against them; remember what charge Ezekiel tells you was given to the man clothed in linen, that had the writer's inkhorn by his side : The Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the unidst of Jerusalem ; and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men, that sigh and that cry for all the abominations, that be done in the midst thereof; Ezek ix. 3, 4. Lo, these marked Jews owe their life to their tears. If they had not wept for their fellows, they had bled with their fellows. If their sighs could not save their people from slaughter, yet they have saved themselves: their charitable mourning is recompensed with their own preservation.
Oh then, my Brethren, as we desire the joys of another world, and as we tender our own comfort and safety in this, let us rot be sparing of our tears. Let them fow freely out, for our ow:r sins
first, and then for the sins of our people. Let not our mourning be perfunctory and fashionable ; but serious, hearty, and zealous : so as that we may furrow our cheeks with our tears. Let our devotions, that accompany our mourning, be fervent and importunate, as those that would otser a kind of holy force to heaven ; wrestling with the Angel of the Covenant for a blessing : let our amendinent, which should be the effect of our mourning, be really conspicuous to the eyes both of God and men. And, finally, that our mourning may be constant and effectual, let us resolve to make it our business; and, for that purpose, let us solemnly vow to set apart some time of each day for this sad, but needful task. And, which is the main of all, since the public is most concerned in this duty, Oh that the trumpet might be blown in Zion, fasts sanctified, solemn assemblies called; that the ministers of the Lord, as the chief mourners, might weep aloud in God's sanctuary; and say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach ; wherefore should the enennies of thy Church say among the people, Where is their God ? Joel ii. 15, 16, 17. This were the way to reconcile our offended God; to divert his dreadful judgments; to restore us to the blessings of peace; and to cause the voice of joy and gladness to be once again heard in our land.
LIFE A SOJOURNING:
A SERMON PREACHED AT HIGHAM NEAR NORWICH, ON SUNDAY,
JULY 1, 1655.
BY JOSEPH, BISHOP OF NORWICH.
1 PETER i. 17.
If ye call on the Father, who, without respect of persons, judgeth ac
cording to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning
here in fear. When our Blessed Saviour called Peter, and Andrew his brother, to their discipleship, he did it in these terms; Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men; Matth. iv. 19. And, indeed, this was their trade and profession; which they practised constantly and effectually. Neither doubt I to say, that the great draught of fish, which Peter took up, John xxi. 11. when he cast forth his net at the command of Christ after his resurrection, was a type and emblem of that great capture of souls, which he should make soon after; when, at one sermon, he drew up no less than three thousand souls; Acts ii. 41. Every exhortation that he made was an angle, or a casting-net to take some hearers; but these two holy Epistles are as some seine, or large drag-net to enclose whole shoals of believers : and this Text, which I have read unto you, as a row of meshes knit together, and depending upon each other.
First, you have here, THAT OUR LIFE IS A SOJOURNING ON EARTH: Secondly, this SOJOURNING HATH A TIME: Thirdly, THIS TIME MUST BE PASSED: Fourthly, THIS PASSAGE MUST BE IN FEAR: Fifthly, THIS FEAR MUST BE OF A FATHER: Sixthly, HE IS SO A FATHER, THAT HE IS OUR JUDGE : Lastly, HIS JUDGMENT IS UNPARTIAL, for he judgeth without respect of Persons, according to every man's work.
All which may well be reduced to these Two Heads; a Charge, and an Enforcement; a Duty, and a Motive to perform it: the Charge or Duty is, To pass the time of their sojourning in fear; the Motive or Enforcement, If we call on the Father, &c. The duty though last in place, yet is first in nature; and shall be accordingly meditated of.
I. First, therefore, our life is but a SOJOURNING here.
Our former translation turns it a dwelling; not so properly. The word is παροικία. Now παροικείν is, « to oιvell as a stranger or sojourner:" so the French hath it sejour temporel. So near together is the signification of words of this nature, that, in the Hebrew, one word signifies both “ a dweiler” and a stranger;" I suppose, to imply, that even the indweller is bui a stranger at home. But this mapornic here doth both imply a home, and opposes it. The condition of every living soul, especiaily of every Christian, is, to be peregrinus, as out of his own country; and hospes, as in another's
Think not this was the case of St. Peter only; who, by the exigency of his apostleship, was to travel up and down the world: for both it is apparent that Peter, after the shifts of our Jesuitical interpreters, had a house of his own to reside in, Matt. viii. 14; and that he writes this to his countrymen, the Jews: amongst whom, notwithstanding their dispersion, there were, doubtless, many rich owners; as there are still, in many parts of the world, after all their disgraceful eliminations. The Father of the Faithful was so ; Heb. xi. 9: and the sons of that father were so after him. Jacob speaks of the days of his pilgrimage. David was a great king; yet he confesses himself a stranger upon earth, and that this was hereditary to him; for he adds, as were my fathers. He had more land than they : they had some few fields in Bethlehem; he ruled from Dan to Beersheba, yet a professed stranger: wherein, as he was a type of Christ, so an example of all Christians : as strangers and pilgrims, saith the Apostle, abstain from fleshly lusts.
The faithful man is, according to that of Bernard, the Lord's servant, his neighbour's fellow, and the world's master.
All things are yours, saith the Apostle; yet is he, the while, but a sojourner upon his own inheritance: no worldly respects can free-denizen a Christian here; and, of peregrinus, make him civis. No; it is out of the power of all earthly commodities to naturalize him : for, neither can his abiding be here, if he should love the earth never so well; neither shall he find any true rest or contentment here below.
If any wealthy citizen, upon the uncertainty of trade, shall have turned his shop-book and his bags into lands and manors; and, having purchased plentifully, and called his land by his name, shall be so foolish as to set down his rest here and say, Hic requies mea; Soul, take thy ease ; he may well look, that God will give him his own, with a Thou fool, this night, Sc.
It is true, the worldly man is at home, in respect of his affections ; but he is and shall be a mere sojourner, in respect of his transitoriness. His soul is fastened to the earth: all his substance cannot fasten himself to it. Both the Indies could not purchase his abiding here.
This is our condition, as men; but much more, as Christians, we are perfect strangers and sojourners here in the world : and, if we