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Yowest, by Grace, all spiritual favours were signified; temporal, by Peace. The Sweet Singer of Israel could not wish better to God's Church, than Peace be within her walls: and, behold, this is it, which God will give; Dabo pacem. Yea, our eyes should stoop too low, if they should fix here. The sweet Choristers of Heaven, when they sung that divine carol, to the honour of the first Christmas, next to Gloria in excelsis Deo, said, In terris, Par. Yet higher: the great Saviour of the World, when he would leave the most precious legacy to his dear ones on earth, that they were capable of, he says, My Peace I give you. And what he there gives, he here promises; Dabo pacem ; I will give it.
But, where? whence? In this place. Not any where; not every where: but in his own house; in his latter house; his Evangelical House: as if this blessing were confined to his holy walls, he saith, In this place will I give peace
. This flower is not for every soil: it grows not wild, but is only to be found in the Garden of Sion. It is very pregnant, which the Psalmist hath, Psalm cxxvii. 5, and cxxxiv. 3 ; The Lord, that made Heaven and Earth, bless thee out of Sion. He doth not say, “The Lord, that made the earth, bless thee out of heaven;" nor, “ The Lord, that made heaven, bless thee out of heaven;" but, bless thee out of Sion; as if he would teach us, that all blessings come, as immediately and primarily from heaven, so mediately and secondarily from Sion, where this Temple stood. Some philosophers have held the moon to be the receptacle of all the influences of the heavenly bodies, and the conveyances of them to this inferior world; so as all the virtue of the upper orbs and stars are derived by her, to this elementary sphere. Such doth both David, and Haggai, repute the house of God; whither, as to Joseph's storehouse, doth God conrey the blessings of peace, that they may be thence transmitted to the sons of men.
How, and why then doth God give peace in this his house ? Because here, as Bernard well, Deus et audit, et auditur, “ God hears, and is heard here:” audit orantes, erudit audientes; “ he hears his suppliants, and teacheth his hearers."
As this place hath two uses, it is both Oratorium and Auditorium; 80, in respect of both, doth it bless us with peace: our mouth procures it in the one, our ear in the other; God works in our hearts by both.
In the first, God says, as our Saviour cites it, Domus mea Domus orationis; My House shall be called the House of prayer. And what blessing is it, even the best, of Peace, that our prayers cannot infeoff us in? Solomon, when he would consecrate the Church he had built, solemnly sues to God, that he would invest it with this privilege of an universal-gracious audience: and, numbering the oecasions of distressed suppliants, makes it ever the foot of his request; Then hearken to the prayer, that thy servant shall make to wards this place: Hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling place; and, when thou hearest, have mercy. If ever therefore we would have peace outward, inward, private, public, secular, spiritual; if we
would have peace in our estate, peace in our land, peace in our Church, peace in our souls; pray for it. And if ever we will pray for it, pray here, in God's house; for in this place will I give peace. In vain shall we look for it elsewhere, if we ask it not here. It is true, we are bidden every where to lift up pure hands to God; but they cannot be pure, that are profane; and they cannot be but profane, that contemn the holy ordinances of God. He said well, In templo vis orare? in te ora: for, know you not, that your bodies are the Temples of the Living God? but, let me as truly return it; In te ris orare?' in Templo ora, “Wouldest thou pray with effect at home? pray at Church;" else thy devotion is but the sacrifice of fools: for He hath said it, who hath good reason to appoint the eircumstances of his own beneficence, In this place will I give peace. Will ye then see the reason, why there is so much empty cask in the cellar of God? Therefore are men void of grace, because they are void of devotion. They seek not God, where he may be found; and, therefore, it is just with God, not to be found of them, where they pretend to seek him: for, In hoc loco, In this place vill I give peace. Gerson distinguishes well, in his Sermon De Angelis, that there is Duplex Calum, “A double Heaven, Gloriæ et Ecclesie ; of “ Glory” above, of the “ Church” below. The Church is the heaven on earth; where God is seen, heard, spoken unto: where are his saints, whose assemblies are here: where are his angels; Let the woman have power on her head, because of the Angels; 1 Cor. xi. 10. As the Jews then, whilst the Church of God was National, were wont, according to command, to look towards the Temple, if they could not come to it, in their devotions: so, now that the Church is Catholic, or Universal, and every of our Churches is equally God's House, supraxx); we shall gladly, with Peter and John, go up to this Temple to pray. How can we look for a better encouragement, than God gives us here; In this place will I give peace?
In the latter, as it is Auditorium; so, I create the fruit of the lips to be peace, saith God. Naturaily, we are all, even those that applaud themselves in the best opinion of their harmless and fair disposition, enemies to God: enemies, both actively and passively. Actively, Seoryɛīs, God-haters; Rom. i. 30. Passively, Filii irë, The sons of displeasure. We fell out in Adam, through our own wilful apostacy and disobedience; and we still stand out, in the maintenance of our inward corruption. There is no way to peace, but by reconciliation: there is no way to reconciliation, but by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is Evangelium Pacis: there is no proper element for the Gospel of God, but the House of God; Locus iste, In this place will I give peace. · It is not, I know, for every heart to apprehend, either the want of this peace, or the misery of this want.
This is one of those happinesses, which is most bragged of, where it is least had. The sensual Securitan pleases himself in the conceit of his own peace. All is well at home: he quarrels not with himself; for he denies himself nothing: God quarrels not with him: here are no checks of a chiding conscience; no frowns of an angry judge; nothing but Pulchritudo Pacis, as the Prophet speaks. Alas, my Beloved, call not this peace: call it stupidity. Even hell itself is not a kingdom divided in itself. There is no blessing, which is not also counterfeited. Pacem verain dabo, is the stile of the Prophets; Jer. xiv. 13. This were a needless epithet, if there were not a false peace. Such is this of carnal hearts. That word of eternal truth 'must stand; There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. Have you seen a sore suddenly filled up with unsound flesh, and fairly skinned over, without all offence to the eye; which, ere long, will break out again, and bewray a secret and so muchmore-hardly-cured corruption such is a wicked man's peace. Have you seen a slave sit quietly in the galley; not struggling with his chain; not repining at his oar? Necessitas, fortiter; con suetudo, facile : “ Necessity hath taught him to bear it strongly; custom, easily." Have you heard a dying man profess, that he felt no pain? such is a wicked man's peace, of which he shall once say, though now all seem smooth and plausible; In puce amaritudo mea amarissima ; In peace I had great bitterness; Isaiah Xxxviii. 17.
Neither is the want of this peace less perceived, than the misery of this want. Men see no difference in the face of heaven, whatsoever they do: their blasphemies and prayers find the same entertainment: therefore, the careless man resolves, “ I shall have peace, though I follow the ways of mine own heart.” Oh the miserable sottishness of wilful sinners! Sin lies, like a sleeping Bandog, at the door of their heart: they look upon him, as if he would never wake; or, as if, though he should, yet he were so clogged and chained and muzzled, that there can be no danger of his hurt. Let God but rouse hinn up a little, he shall bay them to despair : he shall Ay upon them, and pull out their throats. Then 'shall their troubled heart project terrible things; and they shall feel what it is, to live in the anger of a God. They shall see the Almighty putting himself into the fearful forms of vengeance. Who can stand before his indignation ? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire; and the rocks are thrown down before him ; Nahum i. 6.
And if his very love have drawn blood of his dear ones; Tcrrores Domini militant contra me, saith holy Job; The terrors of the Lord are set in array against me; Job vi. 4: and he, that bore the chastisements of our peace, the Son of his Love, could say My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh, what shall be the judgments of his wrath? If this be the rod of children, Oh, what shall be the scorpions for his enemies? They shall see that gulph of fire, ready to receive them into everlasting burnings. They shall see the devils, their incessant tormentors, ready to seize upon their guilty souls
. Then, Oh then, shall they know, too late, what a happiness it is, that God here promises, Dabo pacem. :
Would we then avoid the unspeakable horror of this woeful condition? Would we find the bed of our sickness and death, com
forted with the sweet testimony of a heavenly peace betwixt God and our souls? see whence we must fetch it; In this place will I give peace. If ever we have it, we must have it from the blessed ordinances of God, his Word and Sacraments, which this place can afford us. In vain shall ye seek for this, Dear Christians, in a licentious tavern, in a rich counting-house, in chambers of dalliance, in full tables, in pompous courts; no, not in thrones of earthly majesty. Alas, many of these are the make-bates betwixt heavens and us. Most of them can mar, none of them can make our peace. It is only the despised Ministry of the Gospel; the Word of Reconciliation, as it is called, 2 Cor. v. 19; which sounds in God's House, that can do it. As ye love your souls therefore, as you would find peace at the last, and would look with a comfortable assurance in the face of death and judgment; as ye would see a gracious Mercy-Seat, in the dreadful Tribunal of God, at the day of our last appearance: frequent the house of God; attend reverently and conscionably upon the sacred institutions of God; yield yourselves over to be wrought upon by the powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, be not you wanting unto God; he will not be wanting unto you: but will make good this promise of his unfailable grace, In this place will I give peace.
III. It is a great word, that is here spoken; Dabo pacem : and therefore it is undertaken by an omnipotent AGENT; I will give peace. If all the angels of heaven should have said so, we should soon have replied, as Korah and his company did to Moses and Aaron, Ye take too much upon you ; Num. xvi. 3. This work is not for any finite power. The stile of peace, is The Peace of God: the stile of God, the Mediator betwixt God and man, is, The Prince of Peace. He is the true Solomon: the other was but typical. It is he only, that, when the disciples were tossed with contrary winds and threatening billows, could command the winds and waves to a calm. It is he only, that, when his Church is tossed with the winds and waves of raging and impetuous enmity, can give outward peace. It is he only, that, when the distressed soul is tossed with the winds and waves of strong temptation, of weak diffidence, can give inward peace. Justly, therefore, doth he challenge this act as his own; I will give peace.
We use to say, “ It is best treating of peace, with a sword in our hand." Those, who have the advantage of the war, may command peace: underlings must stoop to such conditions, as the victor will yield. To shew us, therefore, how easily he can give peace, God stiles himself the God of Hosts: a title, wherein he takes no small delight; referring, not to the being of the creature, but to their marshalling; not to their natural estate, but their military: neither would God be looked at in it, as a Creator, but as a General. In but two of the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, no less than a hundred and thirty times hath he this stile given him. Every thing, as it hath an existence from the Maker, so an order from the Governor: and that order is no other than warlike; If ye
wherein it doth militare Deo, “serve under the colours of the Almighty.”
All creatures are both mustered, and trained, and placed in gar, rison; and brought forth into the field, in the service of their Creator. They are all exercitus pugnatorum.
If ye look into Heaven, there is a company of heavenly soldiers; Luke ii. 13. Neither was there only in the construction of idolaters universa militia cæli, to which they burnt incense: but Moses himself; Thus the Heaven and Earth were finished, and all the Host of them; Gen. ii. 1.
look to the Earth, not men only, whom reason hath fitted for such designs, but even the brute, yea, the basest and indociblest of the brute creatures are ranged into arrays: even the very Locusts, though they have no leader, yet Egrediuntur per turmas, They go forth by bands; Prov. xxx. 27. And, if ye look into Egypt, where for the time was Sedes belli, you shall find a band of Frogs, that were appointed to march into the very bed chamber, the bed, the ovens, the dishes of Pharaoh; you shall find a host of Lice, of Flies, of Caterpillers, sent against those Egyptian Tyrants. Elsewhere, ye shall find troops of Palmerworms, of Locusts, of Cankerworms, of Caterpillers, to set upon Israel; Joel j. 4. Shortly, where he means to preserve, the fiery Chariots and Horsemen of heaven shall compass Dothan: where he means to destroy, the most despicable of his creatures shall be armed, to the tuin of the proudest. Doth Goliath stalk forth to the defiance of the God of Israel? a pebble out of the brook shall strew him on the ground. Doth a Herod hear his flatterers gladly say, Nec var hominem sonat? stay but a while, God sets his vermin upon him: all the king's guard cannot master those Lice. He hath Hornets for the Hivites and Canaanites; Exod. xxiii. 28: Mice for the Philistines; 1 Sam. vi: Rats for the Covetous Prelate: a Fly for Pope Adrian: a world of creatures for either defensive or offensive services.
Quare fremuerunt Gentes? Why do the Heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The Kings of the Earth set themselves, and the Rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed: presumptuous dust and ashes, that dare rise up against the God of Hosts! If a silly ant out of a mole-hill should march forth, and proffer to wrestle a fall with a giant, there were some proportion in this challenge: there is none of a finite power to an infinite. Should all the powers of hell band themselves with those on earth, Quis restitit? Who hath resisted his will? What power have they of being, of motion; but from him, whom they oppose ? How easily can he blow upon their enterprises! How easily can he command these to the dust, those to their chains! Be confounded therefore, O Vain Men, whose breath is in your nostrils, (and that not your own neither,) when ye think of the Power and Majesty of the God of Hosts.
And why are we dismayed with the rumours or fears of the