The Tenth Lecture.*
HOSEA 2. 11.
And all her solemne Feasts, &c.
WEE began the last day to speake something of the Feast of Trumpets, you shall finde the institution of it in Leviticus 23. 24. You shall have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of Trumpets, Now there were divers ends of Gods insti∣tution of this Feast, I have spoken of one; the second rea∣son of that Feast, the Hebrews thinke, was a remembrance of Isaacs deliverance, when he should have been sacrificed, and the Ram caught by the hornes to be sacrificed in his stead; they drew it from this ar∣gument, because that Feast is called A memoriall, (say they) to remember the deliverance of Isaac, and it must be by the Trumpets of Rams hornes, to call this to remembrance, the deliverance of Isaac, and a Ram sacrificed in his stead; this is the Iews opinion of it, but it seemes to be farre from the meaning of the holy Ghost. A third reason of the Feast of Trumpets, some say, (Cajetan amongst others) was instituted for a memoriall of Gods gi∣ving the lay by sound of the trumpet; that is not likely neither, because this Feast was not kept at the time of Gods giving the law, if there were any time for the celebration of giving the law, it must be at the Feast of Pentecost.
A fourth, it was for a celebration of a memoriall of Gods goodness to them in the time of war, for all the mercies of God unto them in their wars, which was declared by the blowing of the trumpets. But I rather take another reason, to be a maine and principall reason of Gods institution of this Feast, to be a preparation to the Feast of atonement and expiation, and therefore (saith Calvin) it is called a memoriall, Levit. 23, for this reason, to put them in minde to humble themselves before God, to afflict their hearts in the day of atonement; and secondly, a memoriall before God, that God may remember them for mercy, so the Iews observe from the seventh day of the first moneth, unto the tenth day, there was more then ordinary exer∣cises in giving of almes, in praying, in going to their synagogues, they were ve∣ry devout for those ten dayes in way of preparation for the day of Atone∣ment, of Expiation. From whence note,
It is of this use to us to prepare for the day of Fasting; Ministers should blow their trumpets to the people to prepare them for that day: God hath accepted of those poore kinde of fasts that we have kept, abundance of mer∣cies we have received on them; there is scarce any one Fast day that is kept, but we presently hear good news after it; if we had kept Fast dayes as we ought, if we had been prepared as we should, O what might we have obtain∣ed of God by this time! if God accepts such poor things as we do, (as God Page 322 knowes they are poore and meane) if we had every time a trumpet blown before us to prepare us for the day of atonement, what atonements might England have made with God before this time!* to reade understandingly those things you reade about the Feast of Trum∣pets. The next Feast was the feast of Expiation, in the tenth day; I thought not to have spoken of that, because the Feast of Expiation is a Fast rather then a Feast, but that is meant here as well as any of the other, for this rea∣son, though it were a Fast, yet the Hebrew word here that is translated so∣lemne Feasts, signifies onely a setled, stated, solemn time.
And Secondly, It was a great mercy to them to have such a day of Fast; though the day of atonement, be a day of afflicting themselves, yet it is the cause of rejoycing to a nation, that God grants them such a day of atone∣ment; it is the speciall meanes to make way to the joy of a nation, and therefore this is included amongst the other: now the history of that, you have in these two famous Scriptures, Levit. 16. and Levit. 23. In this day of atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, there are divers things very observeable, and usefull for these times.
[ 1] The first is, The solemn charge that God gave for the afflicting mens souls upon that day; you shall finde in a few verses three severall times a so∣lemn charge to afflict their soules, to humble their souls, Levit. 23. 27. 29. 32. God appointed one day in the year for all the Jews to afflict their souls, to make an atonement between God and them, in a day of Fast, and they were charged to be sure to afflict their souls then, and that soul that did not, God threatened to cut it off.
[ 2] The second thing observeable is, that the Priest was to goe into the Holy of Holies, where he was to go but once a year; Levit. 16. the beginning and the latter end compared together; you shall finde it. This may teach us thus much;* If ever we are to looke upon JESUS CHRIST in the presence of God, to go into the Holy of Holies, making intercession for us, it is in the day of atonement, in the day of publick Fast of the Kingdome, then are we to exercise our Faith upon Christ, as entring before God into the Holy of Holies for us, after we have charged upon our souls our sins, and afflicted our souls, we must likewise cast up an eye of Faith, beholding Je∣sus Christ our high Priest at that day before the Father making intercession [ 3] for us. The third thing observeable is, at that day the Priest was to make an atonement for all the holy things; in Lev. 16. 20. When he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, the Tabernacle, and the altar, &c. the Priest was not only to seeke to make reconciliation between God and the people, but to reconcile the holy places, even the Holy of Holies had a kind of pollution in it, and must be reconciled then, and the Tabernacle, and the Altar, all of them had a kind of pollution upon them: so infectious is the sin of man,* and all these were to be 〈…〉 a day of atonement.
〈◊〉 teacheth us, That in a day of Atonement, of F•sting, we are then 〈…〉 speciall care to sc••• mercy from God, to be ••conciled to us Page 323 in regard of all our holy things, our holy duties, and offerings; we are to seek then to get the best services that ever we performed in all our lives, to be cleansed, that God may be pacified in regard of the filth and uncleanness that hath cleaved even to them. You are not in the day of a Fast, onely to confesse your notorious sins to God, those that in their own nature are sin∣full, but you are then to examine all your holy duties, and to humble your selves before God, and to seek to make peace with God, in regard of the un∣cleannesse that hath been in them. This few thinke of, they 〈◊〉 the day of a Fast confesse such sins as are vile in themselves, but to be made sensible of the uncleannesse of holy duties, that is little thought of in the day of their Fasts.
4. In their day of Atonement, the Priest was to lay the sins of the congre∣gation [ 4] upon the scape goat. The story of the scape goat was this, The Priest must come and confesse the sins of the congregation, laying his hand upon the head of the goat, and then he must send this goat into the wildernesse.
The meaning is of great use to us; Jesus Christ he is the scape goat, and we are in the dayes of our humiliations to come and lay our hands upon Ie∣sus Christ, and to confesse all our sins over him, and look upon all our sins as laid upon him. Now the scape goat was to be sent into the wildernesse: What is that? That is, sent into a land of forgetfulness, so as the Iews should never come to see that goat again that their sins were laid upon, it signified to them, that their sins were now so forgiven them, that they should never hear of their sins againe. Thus are our sins upon Christ, as we shall never come to see, nor heare more of them, In the day of our Fasts we should thus exercise our Faith upon Christ.
A fift thing that was to be done, was to sprinkle the blood of the slaine [ 5] goat upon the mercie-seat, and before it. It is the blood of Christ that is up∣on, and before Gods mercie-seat, that procures mercy from thence for us.
The sixt thing. In the 16, of Leviticus, ver. 12. the Priest must take a censer full of burning coales of fire from off the Altar, and his hanfull of sweet incense beaten small. This he must doe in the day of Atonement; to teach us, That in the day of our solemne Fasts, we must be sure to get our hearts full of burning coales from the Altar, full of affection and zeale, full of mighty workings of spirit to God, although you that are godly, and so are Priests to God, at other times come with few coales from the Altar, a little affection, your affections are scarce heated, but in a day of Atonement you must come with your hearts full of coales, and be sure it be fire from the Al∣tar, doe not satisfie your selves in naturall affections then, but be sure you be full of spirituall affections; and then full of incense.
VVhat was that? it typically represented our prayer, you must be sure [ 6] to have your hearts full of prayer, to send up abundance of incense before God; the incense must be of spice• beatou small, what is that? the prayer• that we are to send up to God, in the day of Atonement, must come from much contrition of spirit, our hearts must be beaten small to powder, when Page 324 the hearts of men are beaten to powder, then they are able to send forth such incense, as is a sweet favour in the nostrills of God. Many of you in the day of a fast seem to be full of prayer, but is this prayer a sweet incense to God or no? how shall I know that? by this, God hath appointed the incense, upon the day of atonement, to be that, that must come from spices beaten, if thy heart be beaten to powder, and thy prayers be but the savour, and the odour of thy graces that are as spices, and heated by the fire of Gods spirit: then here is the incense that pleases God. First, graces, which are the spices, the contrition, that is the beating small, then the fire of Gods Spirit to cause the incense to rise up in the nostrills of God as a sweet savour.
Further, a seventh thing in the day of atonement was, the cloud of the in∣cense must cover the Mercy seate, ver. 13. and then the blood both of the bullocke, and the goate, must be sprinkled upon the Mercy seate, and that seven times, and ver. 15. the blood of the goat must be sprinkled not onely •pon the Mercy seate, but before the Mercy seate; what is the meaning of this? must our mercy seat be clouded in the day of atonement? wee had need have it appear to us, and not be clouded; yes, in the day of atonement it must be clouded, but clouded with incense; the incense that was sent up, was a type of the sweet perfume of the merit of Jesus Christ; Now in the day of atonement we must look up to the mercy seate, as clouded with the merit of Christ, clouded, that is, the merit of Jesus Christ round about it, as a cloud, and covering the Mercy Seat, to teach us that no man must dare to look upon the Mercy Seat of God as it is in it selfe, but he must have the incense of the merit of Christ round about it, the reason was given why the Lord must have the incense as a cloud to cover the Mercy Seat, lest hee die; if he had entered into the holy place, and there looked upon the Mercy Seat, and not clouded by the incense, he must have died for it; those men that think to come into Gods presence, and look upon God out of Christ, and think to receive mercy from God out of Christ, they die for it, this is the damnation of mens soules, to look upon God as mercifull out of Christ, mercy is an at∣tribute of God, but if we dare (who are sinfull creatures) to looke upon this attribute of mercy, and not have the incense of Christ merit, it is the way to destroy our souls. O how many thousands are in hell for this! many who are afflicted for their sins, and cry to God to forgive their sins, and believe he is mercifull, and think to exercise their faith upon God as mercifull, and yet not looking upon the mercy seat as clouded with the merit of Christ, it proves the destruction of their soules. In a fast, when you come to look up∣on God, you must not look upon God as the Creator of heaven and earth, or as mercifull in himself barely,* but look upon Gods mercy in his Sonne, and so exercise your faith, or else you can never make an atonement, but rather will procure Gods wrath. It is not only dangerous, but horrible, once to think of God without Christ, sayes 〈◊〉.
Again, the blood of the Bullocke and the Goate must be sprinkled seven time 〈◊〉 the mercy seate, when wee come to make our atonement with Page 325 God, we must exercise our faith in the blood of Christ, and sprinkle it seven times, again and again upon the mercy seat; wee looking upon God when we pray to him as a God of mercy, and we present our selves in our humi∣liations before the mercy seat, but know this, that the mercy seat will doe us no good, without the blood of Christ; faith must take this blood of Christ, and sprinkle it, tender it up to God his Father, for the atonement of our souls and procuring mercy to us; and not only so, the blood of the Bullock & the Goat must be sprinkled upon the Mercy seat, but before the Mercy seat; we must not only thinke there can be no mercy obtained from God, but by the blood of Christ, but we cannot so much as have accesse to Gods Mercy seat without the bloud of Christ, we must not dare to enter but by the bloud of Christ, by him we have accesse to God; we must all know, that all sinners are banished from the presence of God, and must not have accesse to Gods pre∣sence as they are in themselves.
Lastly, this day divers times is called A Sabbath of rest, that is, A Sab∣bath of Sabbaths, so it is in the Originall, as one of the principall Sabbaths that they had; I did not handle it amongst the Sabbaths, because it comes in now more fully amongst these solemne Feasts; there must be more rest in the days of atonement, then in other of their solemn days: There was that permitted in other solemn days, that was not permitted in that day; this may teach us, that in the dayes of fasting, above any dayes, we must get our souls now separated from the world, there must be a rest in our hearts, a rest from sinne, a rest from the world, it must be a Sabbath of Sabbaths unto us.
Now notwithstanding God had given this solemne charge for this day of atonement, yet Theodoret tels us, that in his time they did so degenerate, that they spent this day in sports, and made it a day of mirth, God grant that the ordinariness of our days of atonement do not grow to this abuse, as in some places it is amongst us; the most solemne things that ever God gave charge of yet in time degenerates, this is the wickedness of mens natures.
One note more from this Feast of Expiation, it is very probable that the Grecians did use yearly in expiation of their Cities, in this manner from this we find amongst the stories of the Grecians, that yearly they were wont to have a kind of Expiation, in imitation of the ways of the Jewes (the Devill is Gods Ape) for their Cities, there was this custome amongst them, cer∣taine condemned persons were brought forth, with garlands in manner of Sacrifices, and these they were wont to tumble down from some steep place into the middst of the Sea, and so offer them up to Neptune the God of the Sea,* with these words, Be thou a〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉for us; The like was used by them in the times of publique infection, when they had a publique plague in their Cities, they used such a custome to make an atonement betweene them and their gods, there were certain men brought to be sacrificed to their Gods, for an expiation for ther whole City, and they were caled 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 this word was used to signifie that that man that was to expiate for all the sins of their Ci∣ties to their gods, Page 326 ing all their sins upon him, was as filth and 〈◊〉-scouring; and from these two words it is probable the Apostle in the first to the Corinthians 4. 13. hath that expression, by which we may come to understand the meaning of those two words there, We are (saith he) made the filth of the world, and off-scou∣ring of the people;〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉▪ in these alluding to the manner of the Grecians, We for our parts (saith he) are made as despicable and o∣dious in the sight of the people, and are as much loaded with the curses of the people, as those condemned persons that had all the sins and curses of the people put upon them, and so were offered to their Gods for expiation.
The Feast of Tabernacles.* The history of this Feast is Leviticus 23. 34. & soon; In this Feast the Iews were to take boughes off the trees, and make booths of them; and those that write the history in their manners, they tell us, they used to carry boughs in their hands, because they could not make booths & Tabernacles for all the people, therefore some of them thought it sufficient to carry boughs in their hands, and those boughes they carried in their hands they used to call Hosanna; Do thou fold, or prepare the Ho∣sanna,* so they used to speake, therefore when Christ came to Ierusalem, they cryed, Hosanna to the Sonne of David; the meaning was not a prayer, Save us O thou Son of David, as some would have it; but Hosanna to the Son of David, that is, we hold forth these boughs to the honour of the Mes∣siah, the Son of David, the Feast of Tabernacles was to point at the Messi∣ah; now for those boughs, ver. 40. there was a command of God, they should be goodly trees, palme trees, or willowes of the brooke, but why so? it noted that thereby they were to acknowledge Gods goodnesse to them, that whereas they had lived forty yeares in the wildernesse, in a dry place, they were now brought to a fruitfull land, that had much water, which was a great matter in those hot countries, and therefore they were to bring the willows of the brooke, and goodly trees, those that might most testifie the goodnesse of God to them in delivering them from the wildernesse, and in bringing them to a land, filled with sweet and pleasant brookes: Things observable in this Feast are, First. The end why God would have this Feast kept, he aimes at these three things chiefly.
[ 1] First, God would have them to blesse his name for his mercies to them in the wildernesse, when they dwelt in boothes; it was appointed by God, that they should once a yeare call to minde the great mercies of God, while they were in the wildernesse, and there dwelt in boothes, and had no houses, for so was the dispensation of God towards his people, for forty yeares they were to be in the wildernesse, and not to have a house in all that time, but dwelt in Tabernacles; this was a mighty worke of God, and manifested his exceeding protection over them, and provision for them, and his provi∣dence every way to provide necessaries for them, even as well as if they had had the strongest houses; that so many hundred thousands should live forty 〈◊〉, and never have a house built all that time, was a great work of God; God •ould declare thereby, that the Church in this world is not to expect Page 327 any certaine habitation, any setled condition, but to be as men that dwell in tents, removing up and downe, and so seeke after a City that hath foun∣dations, as it is said of Abraham.
At this Feast the Jewes were wont to reade the Booke of Ecclesiastes, principally because it speakes so much of the works of Gods providence. All the while Gods people dwelt in boothes and Tabernacies, God himselfe would dwell in a Tabernacle; God would never have a house built unto him,* till he had brought his own people to be setled in houses of their owne; and therefore when David began to thinke that he had a house of Cedar, and therefore surely God must have one too, God tells him, Did ever I speake of a house for me? as if he had said, As long as my people went up and down in booths and Tabernacles, I was content to have a Tabernacle, and a booth for my dwelling, thus God is willing to suite himselfe with the condition of his people; Is the condition of his people in a fleeting way, then I will be so too, saith God; If your conditions be afflicted, and un∣setled, I will be so too; In all their afflictions, God was afflicted, in all their unsetlednesse, God seemed to be so too.
Indeed afterwards when Gods people came to be in a setled estate in Ierusalem, then God would have a house built him; God would hereby teach us, That if himselfe be content to be in a condition like us, then we must be content to be in a condition like him, as thus; when we are afflict∣ed will God be afflicted with us? when we are unsetled, will God be (as it were) unsetled with us? then let us not thinke it much, if afterwards God be in an afflicted way, his truth and his Gospell be in a suffering way; let us be willing to suffer with God; when God is magnified and praised, then our hearts should be inlarged too, and rejoyce in his praise; we should con∣sider the condition that God is in the world, & we must suite our selves with that. Again, would God have them once a yeare to celebrate the remem∣brance [ 2] of their dwelling in boothes and Tabernacles,* and that after they came to Ierusalem? From hence note. It is good to remember our low e∣states, to have a reall remembrance of our low & mean conditions we had heretofore; doth God now bring us into a more setled condition then here∣tofore? Let us not forget in what an afflicted condition we were in, how un∣setled, how ready we were to fleet up and down; If God should grant his people, that they should think themselves setled in their own kingdoms, yet let them never forget the time, when they were unsetled in this & other coun∣tries, there hath been a great part of the people of God, whose thoughts have been, what shall become of them, & whether shall they go, and perhaps to this day many have such thougts, unlesse there be some speciall mercies of God prevent it, yet may be the condition of thousands in the land, before a yeare go about; If God should prevent you, ever remember your fleeting condition once you were in; It was Gods great care of the people of Isra∣el, that they should never forget their dwelling in Tabernacles.
Thirdly, Note the time of their Feast of Tabernacles, they were to Page 328 dwell in booths, upon the fifteenth day of their moneth, it was but five dayes after their day of atonoment, so that being so presently after the day of pub∣lique atonement; this lesson may be learned.
After our humiliations for our sins,* and making up our peace with God, it is good to keep our hearts low with the meditation of the uncertainty of all things in the world. You have been humbling your selves, and making your peace with God, yet when your hearts are comforted with the hope of your alonement made, keep your hearts low, take heed of pride; the feast of Ta∣bernacles must be kept, presently after the feast of Atonement; this is one speciall means to keep your hearts low, to have a reall remembrance of the uncertainties of the comforts of this world. This lifteth up mens hearts to conceive some excellencies in things here; therefore goe into your boothes, and work your hearts down, keep your feast of Tabernacles.
[ 4] Fourthly, God would have their hearts kept low by the actuall going in∣to their booths and tabernacles, though they had faire and sumptuous houses in the City, yet they were to go out, and live in their booths a while; you might think, were it not enough for the Priest to tell them, and bid them re∣member their dwelling in Tabernacles, but they must go forth from their houses and abide in booths.
It is a good way to keep those men humbled,* that are raised from a low condition to a high, even actually to goe into those houses that are low and mean, go into the houses of poor men, look into the cupboards, see what provision they have, this will be a means to humble your hearts, when you consider, This was once my condition.
A second end of this feast was,* to blesse God for all the fruits of the earth they had received, when they had received all in, their Vintage and all. As the feast of Pentecost was to blesse God for their first fruits, and their har∣vest, but now all the fruits of the earth, Vintage and all were gathered in. Now they were to joyn all together, and to blesse God for all the fruits of the Earth. That this is Gods end, is cleare in Deut. 16. 13, 14. Thou shalt observe the feast of Tabernacles, after thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine, and thou shalt rejoyce, &c. because the Lord thy God shall blesse thee in all thy encrease, therefore thou shalt surely rejoyce.
From hence there is this lesson.
It is usefull to remember what a poor condition we were once in, and the uncertainty of all things that we have; even when we have got our riches in∣to our houses, when all things are in our possession, it is not so much to think how uncertain they are, when they are growing in the field, but after the Vintage was gotten in, then they were to keep the feast of Tabernacles, to remember the uncertain condition of all things in the world, this we are very loath to doe, it is unsutable to our natures, and therefore this feast of Tabernacles was much neglected among the Jewes untill such time as they 〈◊〉 been in captivity, after God had carried them into Babylon, and the•• b•ought them back againe into their own Countrey, then they kept the Page 329 feast of Tabernacles, more solemnly then ever they had done, as we finde Nehem. 8. 17. Since the day of Ioshua the son of Nun, they had not done so, they never kept the feast of Tabernacles so solemnly from their first com∣ming into Canaan, as then they did, now being come out of prison they could remember the uncertainty of all things in the world; men forget the uncertainty of all things in the world, but if they be driven from house and home, and lose all, then they remember what they have heard and confessed; of the uncertainty of all worldly things: some of our brethren who are plundered and driven from their habitations, if God should ever restore them to their habitations againe, then their hearts would be enlarged in blessing God, then they would be more sensible of the uncertainty of the comforts of the creature then ever before.
Thirdly, The Feast of Tabernacles had an aime at Christ and the state [ 3] of a Christian, it was to typifie JESUS CHRIST to come into the world, and to pitch his tents amongst us, as John 1. 14. he dwelt amongst us;* he came and pitched his Tabernacle amongst us, it is in the Greek, and the state of a Christian likewise, is an abiding Tabernacle, 2 Cor. 5. 1. If our earthly house of this Tabernacle be dissolved, till we goe where JE∣SUS CHRIST is gone before us, to prepare mansions for us, Iohn 14. our dwelling is in Tabernacles.
In the offerings that God appointed to offer in this their feast, Numb. 29. 12. there are some things very observable, but hard to finde the mean∣ing of, the feast was to be kept seven dayes, the first day was a great day, and the last day a great day, the first day there were 13. bullocks to be offer∣ed, and 14. lambes, the second day, there was but 12. bullocks, and the third day but 11. and the fourth day but 10. and so every day one decrea∣sed, (as you may see there) and the last day, there was but one offered,
Now divers Expositors have sought to finde out the meaning of this. I doe not finde any such thing in all the Scripture, as this is, but onely in this place, Calvin confesses when he speakes of this, that for his part he doth not understand the meaning of it, and rather then to make guesses of it, & un∣certainties, I will saith he be silent in it, & yet he ventures upon a conjecture a very unlikely one, therefore I shall not name it. That which is most like∣ly seems to be in two things. The first is, they must offer every day lesse and lesse, that is (saith another interpreter) to shew their increase in sanctifi∣cation, that they should grow to more and more perfection, every day of their feast, and so have lesse need of Sacrifices then they had before, and so it will afford a good note to us, that when we come to keepe dayes to God, every day we should grow more and more in sanctification, and have lesse and lesse sin to answer for, then we had before.
Another interpretation that is given, is, that it was to shew the cessation of the sacrifices of the Jewes, that they were to decrease day by day, and this I take rather to be the meaning, because the last day is but one bullocke that was offered, and yet the Text saith, that that was the great Page 330 day of the Feast, when there was fewest sacrifices to be offered. Ioh. 3. 37. The last and the great day of the feast, Jesus cryed, if any man thirst, let him come unto me; there is somwhat to be noted about Christ there, though it is true, it was the feast of dedication, which was their own Feast, from whence many would prove the lawfulnesse of holy daies, yet the truth is, up∣on examination you shall finde there is scarce strength enough, from that place to prove it, though it be lawfull to take the advantage of such times, but it will appeare there, that it was the Feast of Tabernacles, as in 2 Chro. 8. 9. Their Feast of the dedication of the Temple, was at that time that the Feast of Tabernacles was; one thing is to be observed from Christs being there at the Feast, the last and the great day, Jesus cryed, if any man thirst, let him come unto me; Why did Christ upon the great day of the Feast cry out thus, If any man thirst, let him come unto me to drinke? one reason may be, because when men are most strongly possessed with the uncertain∣ties of all outward things in the world, then they are fit to entertaine the gos∣pell, then fit to heare of JESUS CHRIST, when their hearts are taken off from the world, and they looke upon all things here as unsetled, the con∣clusion of that feast is a speciall preparation to the Gospell. Esay, 40. 6. 7, &c. The preparation to the good tidings of the Gospel, is the Proclamation that All flesh is grasse, and all the goodlinesse thereof as the flower of the field: yea the withering of the grasse, and the fading of the flower must be proclaimed again and againe. And then seasonably and acceptably it fol∣lowes, ver. 6. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, behold your God.
Tremelius thinkes that the reason of the expression of CHRIST at this time was, from the custome of the Iews at this Feast; at the feast of Taber∣nacles the Iews were wont with great joy to bring store of water out of the River of Shiloh to the Temple, where being delivered to the Priest, he pow∣red it out upon the Altar, together with wine, and all the people sung that of Isaiah, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation; though it were their own invention, Christ takes a hint upon it, they accustomed themselves to draw water, and powre it out, Christ saith, what do you stand upon this ceremony of yours, this your custome will die and perish in the use of it, but come to me and there you shall have water, I am the well of sal∣vation, a spring of grace shall be continually in the heart of that man that beleeveth in me. One note more is observable in this Feast, we have a pro∣phesie that in the times of the gospel, the feast of Tabernacles should be kept then, that is in the truth of it, not in the ceremony. In Zach. 14. 16. there is a Prophesy that when Christ cometh, the very truth of the feast of taberna∣cles, then all people shall worship the true God, and keep the feast of Taber∣nacles. Why is it there Prophesied that all people shall come and keep that feast? the reason may be this, this feast is named, because in the times of the gospel, men shall acknowledge their outward comforts to be from God, & 〈◊〉•ertainty of all things here, and that they are strangers and pilgrims 〈◊〉 in the times of the gospell, this shall be made more evident to the hearts Page 331 of people, then ever before, the more JESUS CHRIST shall be known in the world▪ the more shall the hearts of men be taken up with the knowledge of God in every creature, and of the uncertainty of every crea∣ture, and have their hearts taken of from the comforts of the world, and never account any setled condition here, but account themselves pilgrims, and strangers; that is a signe that the Gospel hath prevailed with your spirits, if you have your hearts taken off from the creature, and you looke upon your selves, as strangers in the world, and looke for an abiding City, then do you keep in an Evangelicall sense this feast of Tabernacles.
Or secondly, if it be meant of the glorious setled condition God in the latter dayes shall bring his Saints unto, yet then they shall remember with thankfulnesse, what their poor unsetled condition once was.
Thus you have had a view of the chiefe of the Jewish Feasts, which God threatens here shall cease.
There are onely these three Observations to be drawn from altogether.*
First, Even those things that are appointed by God himselfe, if once they be abused, God will not own them, but then they are accounted ours rather then Gods, her sabbaths, why not my sabbaths? why not Gods sabbaths? God did appoint them, but because they had abused them, God would not own them; her sabbaths, and her solemn Feasts. The Ordinances of God, though never so good in themselves, if you pollute them, God rejects them, they are your ordinances then and not Gods, looke then that all ordinances be,* as God would have them.
Secondly, It is a grievous and lamentable affliction upon any people, for God to deprive them of his sabbaths and ordinances, his ordinances are included in their solemne Feasts, nay (saith God) you will goe on in your wickednesse, and would put me off with your sabbaths, and solemne meet∣ings, and with those things that were once my ordinances, you will satisfie me with them, though you continue in your wickedness, no, you shall be deprived of them, you shall have no more sabbaths, no more solemne Feast dayes; it is a sad affliction for a people to have no more sabbaths.
How many of you neglect solemne meetings of Gods people? time may come when God will rend these priviledges from you, and then your con∣science will grate upon you, O the sabbaths that once we had! O the solemn meetings that once we enjoyed! but our hearts were vaine and slight; we did not make use of them, and now they are gone, now perhaps thou art cast into a goale, or into a dungeon, and there thou keepest thy sabbaths & thinkest upon thy solemne meetings. O how unworthy is this land of sab∣baths? how did we set our selves to persecute those that kept sabbaths? there was never any such a thing in any Christian nation: other places though they are somewhat loose upon their sabbaths, yet they never persecute them that will keep sabbath: how justly might God have taken away our sab∣baths? let us acknowledge Gods free grace; what reproach hath it been in England to assemble to heare Sermons? how justly might God have taken Page 332 away these solemne Assembles from us long before this? let us pray that what ever judgement God sends upon us, he will not take away our Sab∣baths, nor our solemne assemblies, but that we may still enjoy those we have, and enjoy them to better purpose then ever we have done.
3.* God hath no need of our services; If God call upon us to worship him, it is for our good, not for any need he hath of what we doe. What do I care, saith God, whether I have any Sabbaths kept or no? I can provide for my glory, what ever becomes of your duties; I need them not, I can be glorious without you.
But these threats are but to take away things that are spirituall; carnall hearts thinke if they may live and prosper in the world, what care they for Sabbaths, and for solemn meetings? Tell them of taking away Ordinan∣ces, tell them of truth of Gods worship, what is that to them? Let us have our peace, our trading, and our outward blessings, and truth will follow, O no, a gracious heart will rather reason thus, O Lord, let us have thy Ordi∣nances, let us have thy Gospel, and then for our Vines and Fig-trees, our tra∣dings, and our outward blessings, we will leave them to thy dispose; if thou will give us thy Sabbaths, and thy Ordinances, we will trust thee for our Vines, and for our Fig-trees. But if the Lord be so angry to deny us his Ordinances, how can we ever thinke that he will be so mercifull to us, to continue our peace, or our civill liberties? No sure, if Truth be gone, Vines and Fig-trees will not stay long: The next words therefore are, I will destroy her Vines and her Fig-trees. The Lord may suffer those places that never had Sabbaths and Ordinances to prosper in their Civill •eace a long time, but where these have, and the wrath of God be so incensed as to take away these, it cannot be expected that outward peace and plenty can hold long there, First seeke the kingdom of heaven, saith Christ, and all these things shall be added unto you: No, (say they) let us first seeke the kingdome of earth, and the things of heaven will be added to us; which shewes the sleightnesse of their account of heavenly things. As the paper and the thred in a shop, is given in to the commodity, it is added, if a man bargaine for the paper and thred, and think the commodity will be given in, what a folly were it? Many men have their thoughts altogether upon the things of this life, and they think the Gospel will be given into the bargaine, as if they have peace, they shall no question have truth, as if the Gospel were the paper and thred, and the things of the world were the commodities. It is your wisdome if you would enjoy outward peace, let your hearts be for Ordinances, cry to God for Ordinances, and then God will take care you shall sit under your Vines, and under your Fig-trees peace.