The Ninth Lecture.
HOSEA 2. 11.
I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast dayes, her new moones and her sabbaths, and all her solemne feasts.
OF the Jewish new moons the last day, God threatens likewise to take away her Sabbaths. Sabbaths.]
Plutarch thought that the Sabbath of the Jews was from Sabbos,* a name of Bacchus, that signifies to live jocundly, and bravely, and merrily. Indeed the Sabbaths that many keep have such a derivation, their Sabbaths are sabbaths of Bacchus, to be merry, and to eate, and drinke, and play, is the end of all their Sabbaths.
But the word hath a better root. God would have us upon the Sabbath rest from all other works, that we may be free to converse with him: there∣fore it is so much the more inexcusable if when we have nothing else to doe we shall deny to converse with God as he requireth of us. If a friend should come to your house to converse with you, and he should know you have no businesse to take you up, yet you will scarce see him, or spend a little time with him, will hee not take it ill? If indeed you could have such an excuse that your businesse is extraordinary, though your time be lesse you spend with him, it would not be so ill taken; but when he knows you have nothing to do, and yet you deny time to converse with him, will not this be taken for a slighting him? Thus you deale with God; Had you indeed great occasions and businesses to doe upon that day, though you did not so converse with God in holy duties, it were another matter; God might accept of mercy ra∣ther then sacrifice. But when hee shall appoint you a day to rest, wherein you have nothing to doe but to converse with him, yet then to deny it, this is a sleighting of the Majesty of God.
Now the Jews had diverse Sabbaths, amongst others these were prin∣cipall ones. The Sabbaths of dayes, and the Sabbaths of yeers.
The Sabbath of dayes, every seventh day they had a Sabbath, and it was kept unto the Lord. Now this Feast of theirs had so me what in it Memora∣tive, somewhat Significative, and somewhat Figurative. It was a Memo∣rial, a Signe,* and a Figure. A Memoriall of two things.
1. Of the works of Gods Creation. After God had finished his works of Creation, then he rested, and sanctified the seventh day, and Psalm. 92. being appointed for the Sabbath, the Argument of it is the celebrating the Memoriall of Gods great works.
2. Of the deliverance out of Egypt, in remembrance of the rest that God did give them from their bondage. So you have it Deut, 5. 15. Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God Page 301 brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arme: Therefore he commanded thee to keepe the Sabbath day.
Secondly, it was Significative, a Signe, Exod, 31. 17. It is a signe be∣tweene me and the children of Israel for ever: And verse 13. It is a signe betweeue me & you, that I an the Lord that doe sanctifie you. God made it a signe, that as this day was by his command to be sanctified, set apart from other dayes, so God had set apart this nation of the Jewes from o∣ther nations.
Thirdly, It was Figurative, it did figure out or typific the rest that did remaine for the people of God, Heb. 4. There remaineth a rest to the peo∣ple of God, both here in the time of the Gospel, and in heaven eternally.
Now we are to know there was some speciality in this day of rest,* in this sabbath of the Jews more then in any other sabbath. As,
First, in the Antiquity of it. It was the most ancient of all the dayes, set apart for an holy use, being from the time of the Creation.
Secondly, it was written with Gods owne finger in the Tables.
Thirdly, God rained no Manna upon this day, and that even before the Law was given in Mount Sinai, for the honour of this day.
4. The whole weeke doth take denomination from the Sabbath. Luke 18. 12. I fast twice in the weeke, twice a Sabbath, so the words are in the Greek. So Marke 16. 2. The first day of the weeke, the first of Sabbaths, so the words.
5. This Sabbath is called an everlasting Covenant by way of eminency, as if nothing of Gods Covenant were kept if this were not.*Exod. 31. 16. Ye shall keepe the Sabbath for a perpetuall Covenant.
Yea 6. God puts a remembrance upon this day, and not upon any other sabbath. If a friend who would faine converse with you, send to you three or four dayes,* or a wecke beforehand, I pray think of that day, I will come to you then and converse with you, wee will enjoy communion together; now if when he doth come he shall finde you emplyed in unnecessary busi∣nesses, will he take it well? God doth so with you, saith God, I desire to con∣verse with your soules, and I appoint you such a day, think of it, remember that day that you and I may be together, and converse sweetly one with a∣nother; if God finde you then occupied in unnecessary businesses, he will not take it well.
This Sabbath the Jewes rejoyced much in, and blessed God for it, Nehem. 9. 14. as a great mercy. And Philo Iudaeus speaking of the fourth Com∣mandement saith, It is a famous precept, and profitable to excite all kinde of vertue and piety. And the Hebrews say we must sanctifie the Sabbath at the comming in and going out, and blesse God that hath given us this Sabbath: Yea it is called by some of the Hebrews, the very desire of dayes; And Drusius telleth of a Jew, who when the Sabbath d•y approached, was wontto put on his best cloathes, saying, Come my. Spouse, &c. as being glad of tharday, as a Bride-groome of his Spouse.
Page 302 It is not my worke to handle the point of the Sabbath-day, or Lords-day now, but to open it as we have it here in the Text, to shew what kinde of Sabbath the Jews had; onely observe this one thing about this Sabbath; If you compare Numb. 28. 9. with Ezek. 46. 4. you shall finde that the offer∣ings in the time of the Gospel prophesied of, were more then those were in the time of the Law. In Numb. you finde but two Lambes, but in Ezekiel you finde six Lambs and a Ram for the Sabbath: This by way of type shewes, that in the setled times of the Gospell, Gods worship upon the Christian Sabbath should be solemnized more fully then it was in the time of the Law.
The next is the Sabbath of yeeres, and they were of two sorts. There was one to be kept every seven yeeres, and another every seven times seven, eve∣ry fiftieth yeere. Every seventh yeer there was a rest of the land; as every seventh day there was a rest of the labour of their bodies, so every seventh yeere there was a rest of the land. Exod. 23, 10. Six yeeres thou shalt sow thy land and gather in the fruits thereof, but in the seventh yeere thou shalt let it rest analye still, rhey must not prune their Vines, nor gather their vin∣tage one yeere in seven.* The Sabbath of dayes signified that they themselves were the Lords, therefore they ceast from their own labours: But the Sab∣bath of yeeres, the resting of the land signified that the land was the Lords, at Gods dispose, and that they were to depend upon the providence of God for their food in the land; God would dispose of the land, when they should plow, and when they should sow, and gather in the fruits thereof as he pleased.
We must acknowledge (that is the morall of it to our selves) that all lands are the Lords, & the fruit that we enjoy from the land it is at his disposing. If any man should aske, what should we eate that seventh yeere, seeing they might not plow, nor sow, nor reape, neither have vintage, nor harvest? The Lord answers them, Levit. 25. 20. 21. I will command my blessing upon thee in the sixth yeere, and it shall bring forth fruit for three yeeres. God you see will not have any to be losers by his service. Let us trust God then, though perhaps you have now one yeer in which you have no trading; Peo∣ple cry out, Oh this twelve-month we have had no trading in the City, we can get no rent out of the Country neither. Do not murmure, trust God; It may be God hath beene beforehand with many of you, you have had full trading formerly that may preserve you comfortably now: If not before, trust God for the next; the Jews were faine to trust God every seventh yeer, they had nothing comming in for one yeere in seven. If once in all your life time God take away your trading upon extraordinary occasion, do not murmure, do not give lesse to the poore now; I speak to those whom God hath blessed in former yeers, so as that they are not only able to subsist, but to give too; See for this Deut, 5. 9. Beware thou sayest not in thine heart the seventh yeere is at hand, and thine eye be evill against thy poor bro∣ther, and thou givest him •ought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, Page 303 and it be sinne unto thee. If now because you have not such a full Income as you were wont to have in your trading, if a company of poore distres∣sed plundered people come among you and desire your helpe, if you de∣ny to relieve them, if they cry unto God against you, it will be sin unto you.
Now this rest of the land was to put them in minde that there was a time comming when God will free them from labour; Now they were faine to eate their bread in the sweat of their browes, but God would supply them once in seven yeeres without the sweat of their browes in •illing the land, shewing that there was a time where in God would bring his people to such a rest that they should have full supply of all things without labour.
But further, besides this there was a second thing, in this seventh yeere all debts that their brethren owed to them were to be released. Deut. 7. 15. it is called there, the Lords release, the Lord is mercifull to those that are in debt. God knowes what a grievous burthen it is for his people to bee in debt, it is indeed an inconceivable burthen; rich men who are full-handed do not understand what a burthen it is for men to hang upon every bush, to be in debt to every man they deale with, they cannot sleep quietly, they can have but a little joy and comfort in their lives, the burthen is so grievous.
Now God in mercy to his people that they might not all their dayes goe under such a burthen, and so have little joy of their lives, therefore he gran∣ted this favour to them, that once in seven yeeres their debts were to be re∣leased: But it was the debt of an Hebrew, Deut. 15. 30. Forraigners debts they were not bound to release: By that wee are to learne this in∣struction, that there should be more pity and commiseration shewen to those that are our brethren in the flesh, or our brethren in regard of Reli∣gion and godlinesse, in regard of their debts then others.
It is true, there is a complaint of many that are godly, that they have lit∣tle care and conscience in paying their debts: the justnesse of that com∣plaint I know not, but there may be a slothfulnesse in many, if not unfaith∣fulnesse, and if there be carelesnesse & unfaithfulnesse in some, it is enough to cast an aspersion upon all that are godly: but though those that are god∣ly should be more carefull of paying their debts then others,* but if they can∣not, you are bound to be more mercifull unto them then to others, because they are godly, and not to seeke to take advantage the rather upon them, be∣cause they are godly, this is a vile and a wicked heart, to take advantage so much the rather, if thou seest them godly & laborious in their calling, and it be meerely a providence of God, and not any negligence of theirs, thou art bound to shew much commiseration unto them. In that forenamed place, Deut. 15. 9. Beware there be not an evill heart in thee, to be lesse merciful to thy poore brother because of the seventh yeeres rest of the ground, or be∣cause the debt was to be released that seventh yeere, but (verse 10.) thou shalt surely give it him, and thy heart shall not be grieved, because for this thing the Lord thy God shall blesse thee in all thy workes, and in all that thou put test thy hand unto.
Page 304 Notwithstanding there must be a cessation of plowing, and sowing, and vintage in the seventh yeer, yea and notwithstanding thou wert bound to re∣lease thy debt in the seventh yeer, yet you must doe this, and not do it grudg∣ingly, you must not murmure and say, what doth God require of us that we must neither plow uor sow, and that we must release our debts and give too, nay and give, and not have our hearts grieved too, that we must not complaine of this? Oh my brethren, God loveth exceedingly cheerfull gi∣vers, and hearts inlarged with bowels of compassion, he doth no: love hearts grumbling and objecting against giving. Many men have no quicknesse of understanding in any thing else but against workes of mercy, how quick are they in their objections, and can finde such subtle wayes to save their purses that a man would wonder at it, against this there is a solemne charge, Deut. 15. 11. Thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brother, to the poore and needy in the land.
The third thing to be done once in seven yeers was the release of servants too, they must goe free, and they must not be sent away empty neither, as ver. 18. of that Deut. 15. It shall not seeme hard to thee when thou sendest him away free from thee, you must give them liberty, as ver. 14.
It is true, we are not bound to the letter of this, every seven yeers to doe thus, but there is a morall equity in it, when servants have done you faithfull service, you must not think that it is enough that you give them meate and drink, and cloth, but you must be carefull of your servants how they should live after they are gone from you.* This was the first sabbath of yeers.
But the second was most famous, and that was the rest that was every se∣ven times seven yeers, the fiftieth yeer, which was called the yeere of jubile, from that trumpet that they were wont to proclaime that yeer by, which as the Jewes tell us was a Rams-horne. In this yeere there were divers of the same things done that was in the seventh yeer, as the release of debts, the re∣lease of servants. But there are some things observable that were done at this time beyond what was done every seventh yeer.
As for servants, the release of them was not onely of such servants as had then served seven yeers, yea if they had served any time, they were then to be released, but besides there was order taken by God for release of some ser∣vants that would not be released in the seventh yeere, for when the seventh yeer came, though all servants might then be released, yet there were some that would not be released,* and there was an order taken by God for that, Exod. 21. 6. if there were a servant that loved his master and would not goe free, then his Master should bring him to the post of the door, and with a nayle bore his eare, and then the Text saith, he should serve him for ever: Now that [for ever] is by Interpreters interpreted but for a time of Jubile, and then he should have rest. Here it is to be understood of the 50. yeer, the yeer of Jubile.
Page 305 There are some kind of spirits that are so slavish that when they may have liberty they will not, they deserve to have their eares bored, to be slaves to the fiftieth year, if not for ever. Many amongst us this day have such spi∣rits. God offereth us a release from bondage, how many of us love servitude still! It is just with God that we should have our eares bored, and that we should be slaves even for ever, but we hope there will be a Iubile come at length for our deliverance, God would have a Iubile even to deliver those that were of the most servile spirits, and might justly be left to serve for e∣ver. It is true, when God began with us in the beginning of our Parlia∣ment, like the seventh year God offered to us a release, and we refused it then, and since we deserve that our ears should be bored; but God is infi∣nitely mercifull, though we be of servile spirits, and know not how to pitty our selves, we hope the Lord will pity us, and grant us out of free and rich grace a Iubile, even to deliver those who have a mind to be bond-slaves; I am sure God doth so spiritually. If God should not deliver those that are minded to be slaves, he should deliver none.
It was a great mercy so to provide for servants, that they might be deli∣vered. The greater, because servants then were not as they are now, there was a great deal of hardship that servants indured then more then now, they were bought and sold, not only other nations, but the Hebrews were bought for servants also, so you shall find it, Exod. 21. 2. Besides, servants were in such bondage then, as if the Masters did beat them with a rod untill they killed them,* yet they must only be punished, they must not have blood go for their blood, yea though he died under his hand, yet he was but to be pu∣nished, and if the servant lived but 2. or 3. days after, the Master was not to be punished at all, so you have it, Exod. 21. 20, 21. If a man smite his servant with a rod, and he dye under his hand, he shall be surely punished, notwithstanding if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his money.
Oh that servants would consider of this, and bless God for the liberty they have now more then servants had in former times! It was so likewise with the Romans, the word [servant] cometh à Servando, because the Romans used to have such for servants as were preserved in time of war, that should otherwise have bin put to death, whether they were those or others, yet the condition of all was very servile both amongst Iews and Romans, which may justly rebuke the pride of servants now, if they be but crost in their minds in the least thing, they make such a complaint as if they were exceed∣ingly wronged. Let servants rather bless God for their condition, then mur∣mur at a little hardship they indure, for the hardship of servants in former times was another manner of hardship then any you can indure who have the hardest masters. Hence it is that in the day of Iubile the servants did so rejoyce; Iewish antiquities tell us that nine days before their release, the ser∣vants feasted and made merry, and wore garlands, because of their freedom approaching.
Page 306 The second thing extraordinary in the day of Jubile, was, that not onely debts,* but lands were released. Lev. 25. 22. The land shall not be sold for ever. And there were divers reasons for this, why the land must not be sold for ever, but must return to the first possessors in the year of Jubile.
[ 1] One reason is in the Text,*Lev. 25. 23. For the land is mine, saith God, for yee were strangers and sojourners with me: God would hereby teach them that they must not account themselves absolute lords of the land, the land is mine; and you that are the greatest land-lords of all are but as stran∣gers and sojourners with God, the land is still Gods. And vers. 28. If a man bee not able to redeeme his land, nor his kinsman for him, it shall re∣main unto the yeer of Iubile, and in the Iubile it shall goe out, and hee shall return unto his possession. If he could redeem his land himself or a kinsman for him, he was to redeeme it before; but if a man should be so poor as he could not give any thing to redeem it, yet in the year of Iubile it should re∣turn unto him.
[ 2] God would not have his people too greedy to bring the possession of the Countrey in to themselves, to have a perpetuall inheritance to themselves and their posterity. This is the greediness of many covetous and ambitious men, oh that we could lay land to land, and house to house, to get a perpetuall inheritance for our selves and posterity! God would not have his people be of so greedy dispositions, for a few of them to get the whole Countrey into their own possession, therefore he would have no man that e∣ver had any possession, but once in fifty years that possession must return to that familie again.
[ 3] The land was to return to the first owner, that the distinction of Tribes might be continued, which was known much by the continuance of their possessions that belonged to every tribe & family. God had great care be∣fore Christs time to keep the distinction of tribes, that so it might be cleare out of which tribe Christ came.
But further, this year of Iubile aymed at a higher thing, it was a type of Christ, to set out the blessed redemption that we have by Christ. The trum∣pet of the Gospel which the Ministers blow is a trumpet of Iubile. That place Isa. 61. 1, 2. seems to have reference to a Iubile, there the Text saith, that Christ was appointed to proclaim liberty to the captives, & the opening of the prison to them that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable yeer of the Lord; now that acceptable year was the year of Iubile, there was the opening of the prison, and the releasing of them that were bound. Psal. 89. 15. saith the text, Blessed are the people that heare the joyfull sound, that hear the Ju∣bile. Oh blessed are our ears who live to such a time as we do, to heare the trumpet of Iubile blowing in one congregation or other almost every day! now we have a release of our debts & bondage, this is the joyfull sound. We are all by nature in debt (sins you know are called debts in the Lords pray∣er) every soul is bound over to Gods eternall justice to answer to the law, for not obeying the law; now cometh this Iubile and releaseth all debts. And we Page 307 are all bond-slaves, in bondage to sin, to the law, and to the devil, now com∣eth the Gospel, this Iubile, and releaseth our bondage, sets us at liberty. 3. We have forfeited our right to the crea ure, yea to heaven it self; now the Gospel comes and restores all, we have right now to the comforts of this world, and to heaven. Canaan was a type of heaven, and the loss of their inheritance, there was a type of the loss of heaven, and the bringing them a∣gain to the possession of it, a type of the restoring of right to heaven; Oh hap∣py are they then who hear this joyfull sound, not only with the eares of the body, but who have it sounding in their hearts, and that by the work of the spirit of God in them.
In this year of Iubile there is one thing further very remarkable, and that is the time when this trumpet that was to proclaim this yeer was to blow, Lev. 25. 9. the trumpet was to blow upon the tenth day of the seventh moneth. What remarkable thing is there in this, that the trumpet must be blown the tenth day of the seventh month? yes, there is this remarkable in it, the tenth day of the seventh month was their day of expiation (the day of their atone∣ment, their publique fast) This day appointed every year for all Israel to af∣flict their souls before God,* to humble themselves for their sins, and to seek for mercy from God (as we shal shew you more largely when we come to open the solemnity of that day) I only mention it now to shew that the trumpet of Iubile was to be sounded upon that day. It is a strange thing that upon that day wherein they were to afflict their soules before God, and to mourn for their sins, the trumpet of Iubile was to sound, that was to pro∣claim joy and mirth, things of a contrary nature to humbling and mourn∣ing. Yea but this affords us divers excellent instructions. As
First, God would have his people so to mourn as to know their joy is co∣ming. [ 1] In the darkest day they had, wherein they were bound to afflict their souls most, yet they were so to mourn, as to know there was a Iubile at hand. We are not to mourn as those without hope: in our most grievous & sorest mournings we must have our hearts sink in desperation, wee must so mourne as to expect a Iubile. Yea further, the Saints mourning [ 2] is a preparation to a Iubile o• joy. Ioy then is neer at hand when the Saints must mourn in a godly manner. Did not the Lord deal graciously with us the last fast day when we were mourning before him? There was amongst our brethren in other parts a kind of trumpet of Iubile blown; the Lord was then working for us; what great deliverance did God grant that very day at Chichester? God shews that the mourning of his people doth make way for joy. Yea further, then indeed is the sound of the trumpet of Iubile sweet∣est, [ 3] when we are most afflicted for our sins. When we are most apprehen∣sive and sensible of the evill of sin, then the joy of God, the comforts of the Gospel are sweetest to the soul. When the trumpet of Iubile is blown in congregations, if it meets not with hearts afflicted sensible of sinne, they are not delighted with the sweet sound of this trumpet, it is not melody in their ears, it rejoy ceth not their hearts: But let a poore soul be brought down Page 308 and made sensible of the evill of sinne, and Gods wrath, then let but one promise of the Gospel be sounded forth, how sweet, how joyfull is it!
Again, pardon of sin is the only foundation of all Jubiles. For this tenth day of the seventh month, wherein the trumpet of Jubile was to be sound∣ed, was a day of Atonement. What is that? A day of covering (for so the word is) of pardon of sin to the people of God. Many men keep a continu∣all Jubile, live merrily and bravely, doe nothing but eate, and drink, and play, and dance, and laugh, and cannot endure these fadde melancholy peo∣ple. What is the foundation of this thy Jubile? Art thou sure there is an A∣tonement made between God and thy soule? Art thou sure thy sin is pardo∣ned? Is this the foundation of thy rejoycing? Know it will not last, it is not Gods, but the Devils Jubile, except there be an atonement made between God and thee as the foundation of it.
Yet further, in that the sound of the Jubile was at that time when the day of Atonement was. Note this,
When God hath pardoned us, then our hearts are in a fit frame to par∣don others. Now comes the Jubile, and now you must release your lands, your debts, and forgive those that owe you any thing. This is the day where∣in God testifieth his mercy in pardoning your sinnes, and they might well say, Now Lord command us what thou wilt in shewing mercy to our bre∣thren, we are ready to pardon, to release them, to extend the bowels of our compassion towards them, for thou hast pardoned our sins. The reason of the rigidnesse, of the cruelty, the hardness of the hearts of men, and strait∣nesse of their spirits to their brethren, is this, because God hath not witnes∣sed to their souls the pardon of their own sinns, an atonement between God and them.
Their solemn feasts.
Among their feasts, they had three that were especially very solemn feasts more then others: And they were
- The Feast of
- The Passeover.
These three were very solemn, especially in this one regard, wherein they are all three united in one thing, that is, upon these three Feasts all the Males were to ascend up to Jerusalem to worship, to the place which God did choose, and so you have it, Deut. 16. 16. Three times in a yeere shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God,*in the place which he shal choose in the feast of unleavened bread, (that was the Passeover) and in the feast weeks, (that was Pentecost) and in the feast of Tabernacles.
But how could the ten Tribes then keep these Feasts? for they went not to the Temple.
You may as well say, how had they an Ephod? of which Chap. 3. Jero∣boam was wise enough to keep the feasts, though not in that way God ap∣pointed, he could tell them the going to the Temple was but circumstance of place.
Page 309 From this connection of these three together in this solemnity, upon which these three were especially called their solemn feasts, there are divers things to be noted.
First, we may see a reason why there were sometimes so many beleevers [ 1] at Ierusalem. An argument is brought by some from that place, Acts 21. 20. to prove that there may be in one Church more then can possibly assem∣ble together in one Congregation, for the Text saith there, Thou seest how many thousands of Iews there are which beleeve, how many millions it is in the Originall; now say they, there could not be so many millions to joyn in one Congregation: The answer to this is cleare, that the time of which this place speaketh, was when the people of the Jews were all assembled to∣gether at Jerusalem to keep the feast of Pentecost, for Chap. 20. vers. 16. the Text saith, that the Apostle hastned, if it were possible for him to be at Ierusalem the day of Pentecost; now reading the story on, it plainely ap∣pears, that in that journey in which he did so hasten, he did get to Ierusalem at the day of Pentecost, and being there at that time, no marvail that they said, Dost thou not see how many thousands of Iews there are that beleeve? For all the males of the people of the Iewes were got together at Ierusalem, according to the institution, so that they were there by reason of that Law that as yet they submitted to, they were not in a Church state at Ierusa∣lem, therefore there is no strength in that objection against congregationall Churches.
Secondly, where there is a nationall Church, there must be an uniting of [ 2] them in some way of Nationall worship. There is this Nationall worship that the Iews by institution from God were united in, three times in a yeare to go up to the Temple to worship: And except there shonld be some such kind of individuall worship, not in the same species, that is, as others are praying, so are we, and as others are hearing, so are we, for so all the Chur∣ches in the world may be joyned, but to joyne in one act of worship toge∣ther, as that was of going up to the Temple, there must be such a thing. And that made the Iews a Nationall Church, because we have no such in∣stitution now, no Nation in the world can in a proper sense be said to be a Nationall Church as theirs was; in some figurative sense we may so call it, but not in that proper sense as it was among the Iews.
Thirdly, there are some Ordinances that cannot be enjoyed but in the [ 3] way of Church-fellowship. The Iews could not enjoy these feasts as they ought (indeed it may be Israel, the ten Tribes would make a kind of patch∣ed up feast, but they could not feast so as they ought) unlesse they went to Ierusalem in that way God appointed. As among the Iews, there were some Ordinances they might enjoy in their Synagogues and private houses, but some which they could not enjoy but in the Temple; so there are some Or∣dinances we may enjoy in our families, but others wee cannot enjoy but in Church-communion, which Ierusalem is a type of. A fourth thing obser∣vable is, these three times wherein they were to go up to Ierusalem, were all [ 4] in the Summer time, not in the Winter.
Page 310 For the first, which was the Feast of the Passeover, was in the latter end of our March, and the beginning of April; the Feast of Pentecost was fifty dayes after, the Feast of Tabernacles was about the middle of our Septem∣ber. It was indeed a very laborious thing for them to goe up to Ierusalem to worship, but God did so commiserate and pitty them, that they were not to goe in the winter time. That is the reason of that phrase in Acts. 27. 9. Sayling was dangerous, because the Feast was already past, that is, the Feast of Tabernacles was past, which was about the fifteenth of Septem∣ber, and so it began to be winter. God would be so indulgent to his people that they should have the Summer time to go up to Jerusalem in. If it would be an affliction to goe up to Jerusalem in the winter, and therefore God would favour his people in that; Oh what an affliction is it then to flie from Jerusalem before our enemies in the winter time? We had need pray the more hard now for those that are in danger of the enemy, that God would be mercifull to them in this.
[ 5] A fifth note is when they did goe up to these three Feasts, they must not come empty, but full-handed, so you have it, Deut. 16. 16. Ye shall not ap∣peare before the Lord empty; Noting thus much, That when ever we come to acknowledge Gods mercy for any thing, we must come with full hands, and liberall hearts, with hearts ready to distribute, or otherwise we doe but take Gods Name in vaine.
[ 6] The last is, the wonderfull providence of God toward them, though all the males in the whole Countrey were to come up to Jerusalem three times in the yeere, yet their Countrey should not be in danger of the enemies: For the Jews had not such walls of Seas about their Country as we have, but they lived in the very midst of their enemies, they were surrounded with them, on the East the An•onites and Moabites; the West, the Phylistims; the South, the Egyptians. Idumeans; the North, the Assyrians, to whom the Prophet seemes to have reference, Zach. 1, 18. Now they might say, shall our males goe up to Jerusalem three times a yeer, why then our enemies that lie close in our borders, (for they lay as neere them as Yorke, or any other shire is to us) may come upon us and destroy us; therefore God laid in a caveat and provision for the incouragement of them, Exod. 34. 24. he tells them there, None shall desire thy land when thou shalt goe up to appeare before the Lord thy God thrice in thee yeere; God tooke care that none should de∣sire their land.
Let us goe on in Gods service, and hee will take care to deliver us from our enemies. Many times out of slavish feare of the danger of enemies, and what disturbance they are able to make amongst us, wee are ready to betray the cause of God, and neglect his worship. Let us learne from hence to goe on in Gods wayes, and not feare any hurt our enemies can doe us, God saith that he will take care when they are all at Jerusalem in the exer∣cises of his worship that none should desire their land.
Now for the opening these severall Feasts, in it you may be helped Page 311 fruitfully to reade much Scripture in the Old Testament, for much of it is spent in things concerning some of these.
The first was the Passeover.* You have the history of it Numb. 28. 16. 17. and in divers other Scriptures: That Feast was in the beginning of the yeere. It is true, our Scripture was the beginning of their Annus Civilis their yeere for Civill affairs, but the Month Abib, which was the middle of March, and part of Aprill, was Annus Ecclesiasticus, the Ecclesiasticall yeere, and it was so appointed, upon their deliverance out of Egypt when God commanded them then to celebrate their Passe-over, hee told them that that Month should be unto them the beginning of monthes, the first month of the yeere.
Noting thus much, That deliverance from great evills are mercies that we are highly to prize; the Jews were to begin their yeere in memoriall of the mercy they had upon that Month.
For the name [Passeover] from God sending forth destroying Angels that yet passed over the houses of the Israelites that night; he went thorough the land and destroyed all the first borne of the Egyptians, but saved the Is∣raelites, this Feast was also called the Feast of unleavened bread, Luc. 22. 1. because they were to goe out of Egypt in hast, and could not have time to leaven their bread, but tooke only a little flower and water together, and so carryed it upon their backs; Josephus tells us that they tooke onely a little flower with water together that might serve them with a great deale of spa∣ring but for thirty dayes, there was all they had for so many thousand thou∣sands onely for so many dayes, God put them to it, to depend upon him.
We are ready to murmure if we see not enough to serve us many yeers, if our armies have not enough for so long time: they had but a little meale and water that might serve them for thirty dayes, and they knew not where to have more when that was spent; no marvaile that it is said of Moses, Heb. 11. 27. by faith we went out of Egypt. This bread is called the bread of af∣fliction, Deut. 16. 3. and it was unleavened bread, not onely to typifie that we must not have our hearts leavened with malice, but to put them in mind of that sore affliction they were in, not onely when they were in Egypt, but when they went out of Egypt, that they had then but a little meale and water to serve them for thirty dayes.
Now this Passeover was partly Memorative, and partly Figurative.
Memorative, First to remember the deliverance of their first borne.
Secondly, to remember their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt.
When others are smitten (that is the morall signification) and we passe over,* this is a great mercy. [ 2]
Againe, Deliverance from bondage, and in that outward man and bon∣dage in respect of Religion and conscience is a mercy for everto be celebra∣ted. God is pleased now to offer us this mercy of deliverance from both these bondages, certainly we are a people devoted to misery if we shall not take Gods offer of mercy.
Page 312 We have beene in bondage in our estates and liberties, God offereth us freedome, and freedome also from Antichristian bondage which is worse then Egyptian bondage. The Text saith when they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt Moses sang,* and in the Revelation when they were delivered from Antichristian bondage they sang the song of Moses.
We were long since delivered from a great part of this bondage, now the Lord ostereth to deliver us altogether.* But to let that goe.
They were to eate this Passeover with their staves in their hands,* this was to note their hasty going out of Egypt. We should not when God offereth us mercy of deliverance, goe forth slowly. This is our misery at this day, the Lord offereth deliverance and we lye slugging on our beds, and are like that foolish child the Prophet speakes of that sticks in the birth: We have stuck these two yeers in the birth, whereas we might have beene delivered long be∣fore this. It concerns us all to consider what the cause is, and to lament it before the Lord that we may make our peace with him.
But further.* In thanksgiving for a mercy we are ever to remember what we were before that mercy. They must eate unleavened bread at this Feast, the bread of affliction, they must remember the afflictions they were in be∣fore they had this mercy, whereof this Feast was a Memoriall; when wee blesse God for a deliverance, we must really present before our souls the sad condition we were in before we were delivered.
Further, The speciall thing that is aimed at in the Passeover, was that it should be a type of Christ, who was that paschall lamb that was to take a∣way the sinnes of the world, he that was rosted in the fire of Gods wrath for our sinnes, as that Lambe that was to be eaten in the Passe-over was ro∣sted in the fire: And if ever the Angell of Gods vengeance do passe over us, it is thorough the blood of that Lambe sprinkled upon our hearts, which was signified by the sprinkling the blood of the Lambe upon the posts of their houses. In the Lords Supper we celebrate in effect the same Feast of the Passe-over they did: and by this we may learne this excellent note.
There is little comfort in the remembrance of outward deliverances,* except we can see them all in Christ.
They were in this Feast to remember their deliverance out of Egypt,* but withall they were in it to have a figure and type of Christ, that sweetned their remembrance that made the Feast a joyfull Feast, when they could see their deliverance out of Egypt as a fruit of Christs sufferings, when this Lambe that was to put them in minde of it, did put them in minde like∣wise of Christ the paschal Lambe.
In all deliverances from any kinde of affliction, if you would have the remembrance of them sweet unto you, you must looke upon them all in the blood of Christ, and so remember them, and then your hearts will be in∣larged to blesse God.*
This was the Ordinance of God in the Passe-over, but besides Gods Or∣dinance, the Jews added divers other things.
Page 313 The first thing observable that they added, was earnest prayer to God for the building of the Temple; which many of them observe to this day. Those who writ of the customes of the Jews tell us, that because the Temple is de∣stroyed where they were to goe up thrice in the yeere to solemnize these Feasts, therefore they pray so earnestly and mightily for the Temple in this manner: They cry altogether to God, Lord, build thy temple shortly, very quickly, very quickly, most quick∣ly in our dayes:* & then they go over it again, Mercifull God, great God, kind God, high God, sweet God, with di∣vers other epithets, Now build thy Temple quickly, very quickly, &c. Now, now, now, five times together, •o Euxtorfius tells us. They teach us how much the Temple doth concern us. Here is onely their mistake, they rested in the materiall Temple, they did not consider that This Temple was a type of Christ, therefore as earn∣estly as they prayed for the building of their materiall Temple, so we are to pray for the building up of the mysticall body of Christ, now Lord, build quickly, doe not defer it, even in our dayes do it.
A second thing they added was the manner of casting out of unleavened bread, in this they observed three things, their inquisition, their extermi∣nation, their execration, first with a candle they would narrowly search e∣very corner of the house, to see if they had the least crumme of leaven, if any were found they cast it out with solemnity, and then they used to wish a curse upon themselves if there were any left in their houses that was not cast out.
This morall Observation wee may be taught from it, it should be our care when we are to receive the Sacrament, to make narrow inquisition, to get the candle of the word, and to search every corner of our hearts, every faculty of the soule, to see if there be no leaven in it. 2. Whatsover we see to cast it out of doores. And 3. to be so much set against sinne, as to be willing to take a curse upon our selves, if we should willingly let any knowne sin be in our hearts, and to acknowledge that God might justly curse us in his Or∣dinance, if we be false in this.
Thirdly, they used to shew forth all their brave rich things, if they had any [ 3] bravery in cloathes, in furniture, in any good thing, they would shew all at this Feast. By their superstition we may learne this note, that in the time of our comming before God, it is fit for us to manifest his graces, to exercise all those beautifull graces that the Lord hath endowed us with by the work of his Spirit, for there is the riches of a Christian, there is his brave cloathes, and his plate, all his excellencies are his graces.
The fourth thing they did was, after the Passe-over was at an end, they [ 4] Page 314 would fast three dayes, to humble themselves for their faylings in keeping that Feast. This was not Gods Institution, but it was their custome, and we may learne this from it, (though not to binde our selves to that they did) too looke back to our receiving the Sacrament, and to bewayle all our mis∣carriages; I beleeve if things were examined to the quick in our receiving the Sacrament, you would finde matter enough to fast and pray for the humbling your soules from your miscarriages.
[ 5] Lastly, in the Passe-over they used to reade the book of the Canticles, be∣cause that booke treats especially of the conjunction of the soule with the Messiah, which is sealed up especially in the Passe-over. And that indeed is a speciall meditation for us when we come to the Lords Supper, to meditate of our conjunction with Christ.
The next is the Feast of Pentecost.* This Feast is called also the Feast of Weekes, because there were seven weekes to be reckoned, and then at the end of them it was solemnly to be kept, you shall finde it, Levit. 23. 15. There you have the Feast of the Passe-over, and in that the first day of seven, and the last day of seven was solemnly kept; now they were to count from the morrow after the first Sabbath, seven Sabbaths, that is, seven weekes compleate; the first Sabbath of the Passe-over was the fifteenth day of the month Abib, and then the next day from that they were to count seven weeks, and at the end of seven weeks was the Feast of Pentecost to be kept. Now in this first day wherein they began to count their weeks (for the pre∣paration to this Feast of Pentecost) you shall find that the first fruits were to be offered up to God, it was a kinde of distinct Feast, called the East of the First-fruits, in which they were to bring a sheafe of the first fruits of their harvest unto the Priest to be offered to God; And the reason was, because new their harvest began: Assoone as ever the Passe-over was killed, and they had kept the first Sabbath of the Passe-over (for they were to keepe it seven dayes) they began their harvest, they must not put a Sickle into the corne, nor reape any thing of their ground untill they had kept the Passe-o∣ver; it affordeth auto us this instruction. We cannot enjoy any sweetnesse nor any blessing from any fruits of the earth,* but through the blood of Jesus Christ: After they had solemnized the memorial of the blood of Christ, then they might put a Sickle into the corne & reape it, and not before, & as soone as they had solemnized the remembrance of Christ in the Passe-over, they might goe with comfort and take the fruits of the earth & rejoyce in them, but not before. Now this was in the month of Abib, that is part of our March, & part of April, then began their harvest, & thence it hath its name, for Abib signifies an eare of corne. Now their harvest began so soone in the land of Canaan, not only because it was a hot Country, for it is observed that Africa was a hotter Country then theirs, and yet their harvest began not so soone;* but because of the blessing of God upon that land, therefore Ier. 3. 19. it is called a goodly heritage, because of the timely bringing forth the fruit; the words translated goodly heritage, signifies an heritage of comli∣nesse;Page 315 the same word that is here for goodly, signifies a Roe-Buck, to which this land was compared, and so it may be said to be a land of a Roe-Buck, because of the speedy and swift ripening of the corne.* The observation is, It is the blessing of the Church to have their fruit ripe betimes,* not to stay too long before they be ripe, for Canaan was a type of the Church. You young ones consider of this; the Lord loveth to have the fruits of Canaan ripe be∣times; if you grew in the wildernesse, though you did not bring forth fruit in your young time, God did not so much regard it; but if you live in his Church, in Canaan, the Lord expects you should beg in betimes, in the ve∣ry spring of your yeeres you should bring forth fruit un to God. Men doe much rejoyce in timely fruits, they are lovely: Yea and God rejoyceth in them too, Micah. 7. 1. My soul desireth the first ripe fruits, this is true of God himselfe. Your parents and Godly friends may say, our soule desires that grace may spring up betimes in these young ones, so it may be said of God, the very soul of God desireth to see the first fruits; fruit in young ones is that which is pleasing to Gods soule.
We may further note,* when we have had communion with God in holy things, then we may have a holy and more comfortable use of the creatures. As before we noted when we have solemnized the blood of Christ, then we may enjoy sweetnesse from the comforts of the earth; so now, when wee have enjoyed communion with God in his Ordinances, then it is a fit time to have a holy use of the creatures, yea then you must be carefull of having a holy use of the creatures; as soone as ever they came from the Passe-over the first day they were to celebrate the first fruits unto God,
Thirdly,* After the blood of Christ is sprinkled upon the conscience, then men will be ready to dedicate things unto God. Then as Zacheus said, Halfe my goods I give to the poore; here are my goods, here is my estate, doth the Church, doth my brethren stand in need of helpe? Loe wee are ready to offer them up unto God.
Fourthly,* The first of blessings are to be offered up unto God. God gives them a charge, that the first of the first of all the fruits of their land should be offered unto him,* all that commeth afterward should be the more bles∣sed. Learne this you young ones, dedicate the first of your years unto God, the very first of your first, the dawning of your years.
Now assoone as they had dedicated their first fruits,* when harvest was done, then comes the Feast of Pentecost: then they rejoyced in the con∣summation of harvest. If you dedicate your young dayes unto God, when the consummation of your years comes, how may you keepe a Feast of Pentecost! The Jews first deditated the first fruits, fifty dayes before, and then at the fifty dayes end they kept their joyfull Feast of Pentecost, so might you if you dedicated your young yeares unto God, On the other side, what a sad thing will it be for old men that but now begin to thinke of God and Christ; it is well you do so; but you cannot doe it comfortably Page 316 as you might have done, if you had begun in your younger yeares. If the Jewes when their harvest was done had brought two loaves unto God, might God say, why did you not bring the first fruits unto me? God might so upbraid you, but however come into God and he will not upbraid you, he upbraideth no man, but yet the comfort will not be so much because your consciences will upbraid you.
Fiftly,* note this, Happy is the man that when he comes to reap the fruit of his actions, shall have a feast of joy. Thus is was with the Jews, the very beginning of their harvest was with a Feast, and the conclusion with a Feast toe. All the actions of our lives are a sowing of seed, if you sow sparingly you shall reap sparingly, and happy those men when they come to reap, that both the beginning and conclusion of their reaping shall be a joyfull feasting. Many sow merrily, but they reap horrour and anguish; but when the Saints come to reap, they shall have a Feast of joy. At thy right hand are joyes and pleasures for evermore.
6.* At the fiftieth day then they were to solemnize the mercy of God in giving to them the fruits of the earth for their harvest.
Hence this Note,
Much praise is due to God for the Fruits of the earth, for outward com∣forts, How much praise then is due for JESUS CHRIST, and all spirituall mercies in him? Though we ought to blesse God for the things of the earth, yet we should be so swallowed up in blessing God for his word & Ordinances, and spirituall mercies, as in comparison our hearts should be above the Fruits of the earth. Therefore it is observeable, that in Ezekiel where there is a Prophesie of the state of the Church, set out by the Jewish way of Feasts, though there be mention of the Passeover, and new moones, and Sabbaths, and of the Feast of Tabernacles, yet there is no mention of the Feast of Pentecost, no mention of keeping a Feast for blessing God for these things. Not but that they should doe so, but that their hearts should be so carryed up with abundance of spirituall mercies, that then all for Christ, and for heaven, and for eternity, their hearts should be wholly set upon spi∣rituall things.
7.* It was a great ingagement to them to use the creatures, when in the first beginning they had dedicated them unto God, and in the conclusion of harvest they had solemnized his mercy in giving them the creatures. For God did thereby teach them that they might be further engaged to use all creatures for his service. As it is a mighty engagement to any man if God give him a heart to dedicate the beginning of a mercy unto God, and when he hath got the mercy fulfilled, then in a solemne manner he blesseth God for it, to make use of this mercy for Gods honour. Certainly the reason why many are so loose in their conversations, and doe not employ the crea∣tures of God to his glory, is, because they do not in a solemn manner blesse God for that they enjoy. As in your trading, suppose you have some comfortable Incomes, perhaps you take these comforts, and thanke Page 317 God in a slight manner for them, how doe you use them afterwards? onely for your selves and for the flesh. But when you heare of Incomes of riches flowing in upon you, if you can then presently take the first. Fruits and give some part to Gods service as a testimony of thankfulnesse, and in your fa∣milies and closets in a solemne manner give God the glory for the good suc∣cesse you have had in your estate, this will be a mighty ingagement to you to use your estates for his service.
8. Mark at the first, in their preparation, they were to bring but a sheafe, but afterward, Levit. 23. 17. they were to bring two loaves; in the first they were to offer one he-lambe without blemish, but afterward seven lambes, & a young bullocke, and two Rams, &c. both burnt-offerings, and sinne-of∣ferings, and peace-offerings when they had received the full harvest.
Thence learne,* though you be forward to give God glory when you are young, the first fruit of your years, yet when you come to be old, you should flourish in the Courts of Gods house. First they offered but a little unto God, afterward abundance. Doe you so? I appeale to all old men that are here this day, if God did give you any heart to give up your young years to him, blesse God for it; but now when you are old, are you as forward as ever you were? You ought to be not onely so, but much more abundant in the work of the Lord. Nay cannot others witnesse against you, that there was such a time wherein you were more forward, and that now you begin rather to temporize? The LORD forbid this should be spoke of any old men.
God expects more afterward then at the first fruits; and though nature may decay, yet their is a promise that in their old age they shall flourish in the Courts of Gods house, and shall manifest the graces of his Spirit much more. VVe are ready at the first Fruits to offer unto God some what, when his mercy commeth first; but when mercy comes afterward more fully, we should be more in our offerings.
You will say,* what is the meaning of this, that there is a burnt offering, a sin-offering, and a peace-offering in the Feast of Pentecost? what is the difference of these three offerings?
The difference is this; The burnt offering was in testimony of their high respect to God, they wholly had respect to God in the burnt offering; that is, they tendred up something to God as a testimony of the high & honora∣able esteem they had of his Majesty, it was wholly to be given up to him.
Now in the other they had respect to themselves, the sin-offering was not to offer a sacrifice meerly to testifie respect to God, but to be a typicall sig∣nification of Christs sacrifice for sins; they were to looke through their sa∣crifice to Christ, and their sin-offering was to be an atonement for their sin.
The Peace-offering was in thanksgiving for a mercy, or when they would petition to God for a further mercy. All this must be done in the day of Pentecost. But besides this end of Pentecost, to solemnize the mercies of God in their harvest, there is an other that is constantly affirmed by the Jewes, and I finde many Divines making no question of it; but I finde it not so clearly laid down in the word.
Page 318 They say God in this feast did solemnize the giving of the law,* and this is their ground, because fifty dais after their coming out of Egypt was the time of Gods giving the Law, and so they say Pentecost was appointed to blesse God for giving the law. The Iews say that God dealt with them, as a King should deale with a poor man in prison, first hee releaseth him of his bon∣dage, and withall tells him, that after such a time he will marry him to his daughter; now say they, will not this man count every day, & long untill this time come? So when God did deliver us out of AEgypt, he told us that after such a time he would give us his law, and marry us to his daughter, which is the law, and this is the reason why wee count so disigently the very weeks, nay the days, as longing for that time when we are to be marryed to the law, when the Lord shall grant to us such a mercy.
From whence we may note,* that we are not only to keep Gods law, but to rejoyce in Gods law; not only to look at what is commanded as a duty, but as a high priviledg, and so blesse God for the law. It is a higher thing to love Gods law, and rejoyce in it then to obey it; Great peace shall they have that love thy law; David profest that he loved the law of God more then silver and gold, that it was sweeter to him then the honey and the honey combe. The Iews at this day do much reioyce when the law of God is read, and in their Synagogues when the law of God is brought out, they lift up their bodies in a kind of exlatation, reioycing that God gave this law unto them.
Further, the time of their Pentecost was the time of the descending of the holy Ghost upon the Apostles: as God at that time gave the law by Mo∣ses, so the Spirit at that time came by Christ, to shew that we are in the Gospel to receive the Spirit of God, to inable us to fulfill the law. They had the letter of the law, but in comparison of what we have, they had not the Spirit, but now the holy Ghost is come in a full measure; as hee then came upon the Disciples, so he comes now in the time of the Gospel in a fuller way then formerly, there is a continuall Pentecost.
But the works of God do not of themselves sanctifie any time, except we take that note with us, we may run into a thousand absurdities; if we argue thus, because the Iews had such a time vve may have such a time, or because there vvere such blessings at that time, therefore vve may sanctifie that day. No, the vvorks of God do not sanctifie any time of themselves, it must be the Word, some institution or other, either the VVord vvritten, or some immediate dictate of the Spirit that must sanctifie any day. Certainly the vvork of our redemption it self is not enough to change the Sabbath, if vve had not s• me footing for a nevv institution. VVee usually give this ground for a change of the day, because of the greatnesse of the worke; but though the works of God be great, though never so great, it is not for us to sanctifie a day, it must be an institution of God, or else wee sinne in sanctifying any set and stated time for any such work, for Christs resurrection, or sending of the Spirit, except there come an institution, though the work be as great Page 319 as any thing God ever did for the Iewes, it will be but will-worship in us, and God will not be put off with this, What is not this as great a worke as that the Iewes had, and may not we celebrate the memory of it as they did? but God will say, Who required these things at your hands? Thus far you may do, that is, blesse God for those works all the dayes of your lives, but to sanctifie any particular day for them, certainly that cannot be done without sin; we have our warrant for the Lords day as well as the greatnesse of the work, because of the practise of the Apostles who were inspired by the holy Ghost.
The next is the feast of Trumpets, onely one particular about it at this time, because providence makes it so seasonable. In the seventh moneth, (which was the first moneth of their Annus Civilis) there were three feasts.
The first was the feast of Trumpets; now there was a three-fold use of Trumpets among the Iewes. 1. For the calling of the congregation toge∣ther, as we use to doe with bells.* 2. The calling of them to warre. 3. For the solemnizing of their feasts. This feast of trumpets you have, Numb. 17.
There are four ends given by Divines of the feast of Trumpets,* some I confesse are very improbable, but there are two very probable. The one is, this feast was to celebrate the New-yeer with them; as upon every new moneth, that was called the feast of the new Moon, to celebrate the begin∣ning of the moneth, so in the beginning of the yeare they had a feast to cele∣brate the beginning of the year, that was this feast, for it was on the first day of their civill yeare; so that it is very probable that feast was appointed to blesse God for the new yeere, as well as they had one to celebrate the new moneth. It was Gods insti•ution for that time to have the New-year con∣secrated by that feast, yet this can be no ground for us now to consecrate the beginning of every new yeer unto God: that was Iewish, and it is ceast, if we will have any consecration of a new yeer, it must be by vertue of some institution or other, let (who can) shew the institution: we must not thinke because it hath a shew of wisdome,* and it seemes to bee reasonable to us, therefore it may be this is not enough in matter of worship, you must strict∣ly tye your selves to an institution in matters of worship, in consecrating of times. As it is Iewish, so it is Heathenish, the Heathens consecrated their new yeer to the honour of their god Ianus, and we read in Concilium Antisiodorense, in France in the yeer 614. it was the judgement of that Councell that it is not lawfull to observe the festivities of the Gentiles, to keep their worship and observation of their Calends, (that is, the beginning of their months) to adorn houses with lawrel & bayes, for all these practises saith the Councell) savour of paganisme. And likewise an ancient writer Page 320 saith, that the Kalends of Ianuary are rather to be taken heed of, then to be accounted Kalends, and so to be sanctified; And further, hee saith, the Church hath appointed a solemn feast to be upon that very day, because o• the notorious abuses there were wont to be upon that day. And Polydore Virgil saith, that these solemnities of Lawrell and Bayes, and masques, and mummings, and such vanities, they all come from the Heathens Bachanali∣a, and Saturnalia, that were wont to be at that time of the year. However therefore we put them upon Christ, and think we honour him, and call it the Circumcision day of Christ, yet by those customes we dishonour him, for they are rather Heathenish then Christian, To doe it, I say, because we think to consecrate •ine; though there may be some naturall reason of re∣joycing, yet no ground for consecration.
Let no man object and say, these solemnities have beene a long time in the Church. It is true, these are ancient, but from whence comes the anti∣quity? It comes from hence, because Christians being newly converted out of Paganisme, they would keepe as much as possibly they might of the Pagan customes, only they would give them a turn, turn them to Christian solemnities, but the rise was from their Pagan customes: therefore all the argument of antiquity, either for these, or Ceremonies, or Prelaticall go∣vernment, it comes from this ground, because their pagan customes were so, and they lived among pagans, and having been lately pagans, they savo∣red and smelt of Heathenisme still. So now, many plead that such things were in the first Reformation: no marvail they retained them, for they were but newly come out of popery, and they savoured and smelt of popery. Indeed to plead the antiquity of these things, which men must shew when they are put to it, is one of the greatest arguments against them. Thus was they Feast of All-Saints turned from the Feast Pantheon, and so the Feast of the Virgin Mary, which they call Candlemas, the Heathens had the fe∣stivity of their goddesse Febru (who was the Mother of Mars) upon that day, from whence the name of our moneth February cometh, they did then celebrate that time with Candles, and such things, as papists doe now. This antiquity have you for celebrating of Candlemas.
The like may be said for the argument of antiquity for the Prelates. O say some, such a kind of government hath been ever since Christian Religi∣on hath been in England. Grant that there hath been some kind of Bishops ever since, but from whence came they? We find in Histories, that when the Pagans were here in England, they had their Flamins, and their Arch∣flamins, London was one, and Yorke was another, and when they were con∣verted to the Christian Religion, yet still keeping some of their Heathenish customes, instead of their Arch-flamins, they made Arch-bishops, and of their Flamins, Bishops, and that in their very places, as London and Yorke, and some say Chester, they kept their Bishopricks still. This is the very ••und of the antiquity of them; therefore my brethren, let not us be put off with such arguments as these, men delude you, they baffle you by these ar∣guments.