Inferences of practice from the Author of this Sacrament.
HEre then we see, first both the absurdity and the wickednesse of a wil-worship, when the same man who is to performe the obedience shall dare to appoint the lawes, implying a peremptory pur∣pose of no farther observance than may con∣sist with the allowance of his own judgement. Whereas trued obedience must be grounded on the majesty of that power that commands, not on the judgement of the subject, or benefit of the precept impos'd: divine laws require o∣bedience, not so much from the quality of the things commanded (thoughe they be ever holy and good) as from the authority of him that institutes them. We are all the servants of God, and servants are but livingfinstru∣ments, whose property it is to be governed by the will of those in whose possession they are. Wil-worship, and services of superstition, well they may flatterg God, they do not please him. He that requires us to denie our selves in his service, doth therein teach us that his commands stand ratherin feare, than in need of us; in feare of our boldnesse lest we abuse Page 20 them,* not in need of our judgements to polish or alter them. The conquest of an enemy a∣gainst the perscript of his Generall cost a Ro∣man Gentleman his life, though his own fa∣ther were the judge. The killing of a Lion contrary to the establish'd Laws of the Kings hunting, (though it were only to rescue the King himself,* whose life was set upon) lost a poor Persian the losse of his head.* The over∣wise industry of the Architect in bringing not the same but a fitter peece of timber than he was commanded to the Romish Consul,* was rewarded with nothing but the bundle of rods. So jealous and displeased are even men them∣selves,* to have their own Laws undervalued by the private judgements of those who ra∣ther interpret than obey them. And there∣fore even those men who erected the fabricks of superstition and wil-worship,* have yet ever endeavoured to derive the originall of them on some divine revelations. And that great Roman Captain Scipio, ever before the undertaking of any businesse, was wont first to enter the Capitol and pretend a consultati∣on with the Gods touching their allowance of his intended designes, grounding all his attempts and governing all his actions by the unerring judgement of their Deities.* And generally in all the Roman sacrifices the mi∣nister or servant was to attend a command before hee was to strike the beast that was Page 21 offered. Horrible then and more than hea∣thenish is the impiety of those who mixing humane inventions and ceremonies of their owne unto the substance of these sacred my∣steries, and imposing them as divine duties with a necessitie of absolute obedience, do by that meanes wrench Christs owne divine pre∣rogative out of his owne hands, and make themselves, shall I say confounders and joynt authors of his Sacraments? nay rather indeed the destroyers of them: since as he that re∣ceives otherwise than Christ requires,* re∣ceives not Christ but rather damnation; so he that gives otherwayes than Christ instituted doth not indeed give Christ, but an Idoll of his own making.
Secondly, we see here with how great re∣verence we ought to approach Gods Temple, to receive these deep mysteries of Salvation, which it pleas'd Christ in his owne person to institute, and with his owne presence to ex∣hibit unto the Church: was a beast slaine for touching the Mount, and shall not a man of beastly and vile affections,* bee punished for touching that table where the Lord is present? was Moses to put off his shooes at that bush which represented Gods power, and must not we shake off our earthly and corrupt de∣sires at those mysteries which represent his mercy? were Nadab and Abihu destroyd be∣fore the Lord for offring strange fire at his Page 22 Altar, and shall we plead immunity if we pre∣sent strange soules, and a false faith at his Ta∣ble? was Adam thrust out of Paradise for his sinne in eating of the tree of knowledge; and shall we escape if we sinne in eating of the bread of life? even unto the institutions of mortall men, though often in their substance needlesse, in their observance difficult, and in their end not much beneficiall, so long as they keep within the compasse of indifferent things, there is requir'd not only our obedi∣ence, but our reverence. The word of God, though delivered unto us in earthen vessells, by men of like, weak, and fraile affections with our selves, yet because of that native preti∣ousnesse which resides in it, and of that de∣rived glory which it brings from the spirit that reveald it, is so farre to be honor'd, as that the vessells that bring it, are to be had in high estimation, even for their works sake: But the Sacraments are not either of humane authority, as are positive lawes, nor of; divine inspiration unto holy men, as were the Scrip∣tures, but they are by so much the more the immediate effects of divine power, by how much they are instituted without the least concurrence of any other instrument; being reach'd out first unto the Church of God by that immaculate and pretious hand, which was it selfe presently stretcht forth on the Crosse to embrace the weary and heavy laden. Page 23 Let us not then venture to receive so sacred things with unwashen hands, as matters of meere custome, fashion, or formality. But let us look unto that high authority that or∣dayn'd them, on that holy mouth that blessed them, on that arme of mercy that exhibits them; being ever assur'd that as Christ hath one hand of bounty and redemption which reacheth forth life to the worthie receiver, so hath he another of justice and power ready to avenge the injuries and contempt that shall be done to his owne holy institution.
Thirdly, we see here the honourable condi∣tion of the faithfull, in that they not only re∣ceive Christ, and all the benefits of his me∣rits and actions, but all this they receive from his owne hands. For we may not think that the actions of Christ in looking up and bles∣sing, and breaking, and giving, were meerly temporary, locall, or confined actions, ter∣minated only to the present company that were then with him. Certainly as the Apo∣stles were then the representative Church, so was that a representative action, the vertue and effect whereof descends, and passeth through all successions of the Church. The arme of the Lord is not shortned or any way shrunk that it cannot still exhibit what then it did. If he can so lengthen the arme of faith in us, as to reach as farre as heaven to embrace him, he can as well stretch out his owne arme Page 24 of mercy from heaven to present that unto us which he did unto his disciples. It was an admirable and unexpected honour that was shewd to Mordecay when the royall Crowne and the Kings owne apparell was put upon him,* though by the service of wicked Haman: But Christ doth not only bestow on us his Kingdom in the Sacrament (which seales unto us our inheritance with him) nor doth only invest us with his own meritorious purple roabs,* his red garments from Bozrha (the gar∣ments of innocency and of unity) but doth all this with his owne immediate hand;* so that our honour must needs be so much greater than was Mordecay's, by how much the roabs of Christ are more royall than the Persian Kings, and his person more sacred than was wicked Hamans.