Project Canterbury






A  S E R M O N









In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah xxx. 15.





















NON-RESISTANCE and passive obedience, in the sense to which they are generally limited, are but two sides of the same doctrine, (the former speaking of it negatively, as not opposing force to force, the latter positively, as taking patiently whatever may be laid upon one,) and, together, are only a particular application of a general principle. In religion, it is faith; under misfortune, it is resignation; under trial, it is patient waiting for the end; amid provocation, it is gentleness; amid affronts, meekness; amid injuries, it is endurance; towards enemies, non-requital; towards railing, it is "not answering again;" to parents, it is filial obedience; to superiors, respect; to authorities, unquestioning submission; towards Civil Government, it is obedience upon principle, not only when it costs nothing, (as obedience to it ordinarily does not, and so can hardly be called the fulfillment of a duty,) but when it costs something.

On this, (as on almost every other subject of morals,) our standard in this superficial age is for the most part lax and low; not simply (as of course it ever must be) in the selfish and profane, but in the current notions of the day. Maxims are received as indisputable, which betray a mixture of heathenism with Christianity, and which proceed upon no principle even of heathen morality. As a warning against this, it has been wished, in the following Sermon, [v/vi] to point out how deeply the principle itself lies in Holy Scripture, how largely it extends, how it was acted upon by the Church, in her healthy state, and how God has uniformly blessed those who acted upon it, and has chastised those who abandoned it. But though the circumstances of the day required it to be illustrated by the events, for which that day is so memorable, and that the lesson of those events should be inculcated, it was not intended to consider the doctrine prominently in its political bearings, much less to confine it to what politicians of these days would consider as such. For the temptations to offend against this law, in the extreme degree of rebellion, are happily very rare, while yet the principle itself may be broken very frequently.

If any be prejudiced against this doctrine, because it is opposed to the current notions of the day, let him consider how much besides of valuable truth will, in a superficial age, share the same fate. It is discarded, not because it has been disproved, but because it is "out of date," just as if eternal truth were a matter of chronology; or as if any changes introduced by men could annul the ordinance of God.

EXOD. Xiv. 13.

Fear ye not, stand still, and see the Salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to-day.

THE history of the Old Testament is the sum of all other history, Christian or profane. In it the cloud, which veils the mercy-seat as well as the pathways of Divine Providence, is withdrawn, and the light from behind the cloud flashes through, the token of the Divine presence to those who can behold it, light to His people, although to the Egyptians darkness. So marked, indeed, is the analogy of the kingdoms of unseen and revealed Providence, that men must acknowledge it one way or the other. Unless they trace it where it is less distinct, they will lose sight of it where it is most clear. Unless they explain what is less known by what is declared, they will explain away what is declared by what is obscure. Unless they make use of the light given them where they might see, it will be withdrawn from them where they think they see. Twilight, in that it has a portion of light, has a correspondence with day-break; and whoso, when the light is come, will not explain the indistinct outlines which he saw, "men as trees, walking," by the distincter and revealed forms which he now beholds, must go on to walk in the darkness which he loves rather than light. They who interpret not what men call nature [1/2] by the Bible, will bring down the Bible to the standard of nature.

This has been done of old times. This very history of the passage of the Red sea, Josephus, it has been wisely noticed, "in his worst spirit of compromise," compared to an escape of Alexander; and the modern historian of the Jews, who, with a righteous indignation, censured Josephus, was himself much to be blamed for the like parallels; and what was in his case rightly condemned, was, in another form, circulated as religious teaching. Whoso, again, will not recognise the finger of God in His providential cures, will not see it in His miraculous agency. They who resolve every thing into secondary or physical causes in the one case, and will not see Him Who is the Cause of all causes, and worketh by all those things whose operation meets our senses, will lose all sense for discerning His hand, where Scripture plainly declares it. When men had explained away, as the mere effects of imagination, cures in modern times, out of the wonted order of God's Providence, which, though no confirmation of a religious system, seem to have been personal rewards to strong personal faith, they were ready to apply the same principle to many of the miracles of the Gospel. [2/3] When they had altogether ceased to see in any derangement of the faculties, a power permitted to evil spirits, they were prepared and did, as soon as it was suggested, deny it in the daemoniacs of the New Testament. And so, again, one may see the evil of a class of illustration, derived from the Arminian school, whereby all sorts of heathen sayings are brought into parallel with Gospel teaching. So soon as they ceased to be regarded as the seeds of truth which the Divine Word had scattered among the Heathen, (as way-marks and finger-posts, looking on to something to come, and requiring correction and developement,) and were viewed as something independent and substantial, they were used as interpreters, or critics, or rivals, of Gospel truth. The words of inspiration again are glowing language, such as in human compositions is poetry; but whoso looked upon the Hebrew prophets as poets, forgot [3/4] that they were the awful messengers of the Most High. They who measured by earthly principles the actions of God's instruments, lost sight, Whose they were, and Whom they served. He who illustrated the law given by Moses, upon the principles of ordinary legislation, undermined in his people the belief that it was divine. Apologists, accordingly, in every department, have substituted a human counterfeit for the Divine reality, by illustrations, by defending (as they deemed) divine truths on human principles, by explaining "hard sayings" through the commonplaces of ordinary morality, the justice of God by the expediency of men: and on this ground, there has (as a fact) been no more fruitful source of heresy or unbelief, than defences of the faith.

In history, morals, poetry, legislation, philosophy, language, physics, religion,--Heaven and Earth, a body of clay and a spirit breathed into its nostrils by the life-giving Spirit, stand over against each other, and whoso lifteth not up the earthly to the heavenly, will bring down the heavenly to the earthly. "Homer," says even a heathen, "transferred human things to the gods; would he had rather things divine to man!" If the body be not spiritualized, the soul will be carnalized.

The light then of all history is God's guidance, dim [4/5] indeed often, and overlaid by the intricacy of human policy and craftiness, yet still visible to those who in the detail of the workmanship forget not the Maker, nor allow themselves by the study of the visible creature to be held down from beholding the Invisible. Even in Heathen empires He declares by His prophets, that "He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings." Even there, among those who seem to rule, He is the One Ruler. "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men," (an unseen power within man's visible kingdom, permitting or withholding, uniting or dissolving, giving strength or bringing age upon them, and directing man's free agency, like the wild uproar of the sea, to His own ends, unseen by man His work, but ever present with and within His work,) "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Pharaoh, Cyrus, the "Assyrian, the rod of His anger," but "who meant not so, neither did his heart think so," Nebuchadnezzar, of whom God saith by Jeremiah, "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground,--and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me, and now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, My servant,--and all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come, and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him are but so many specimens and instances [5/6] of His universal empire, doing all that is good, and ordering what is evil, so that "the wrath of man doth but praise Him."

And this should be understood not simply of certain fixed laws, whereby the rise and decay of states are regulated, as that an enduring self-denying state should prosper, a luxurious self-indulgent people should decay, an upright state should acquire might, a crafty (like Carthage) should be taken in its own craftiness, and the like. God is not separate from His Providence and His laws, nor is His law an abstraction, to which He has committed the government of things; rather, His laws are His own continued action, dispensing in one uniform way His sovereign will, because "in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." In all He Himself acteth, personally present and personally measuring out to every nation its portion according to its works, by His own Will, Whose will is the law of things created. For so doth Scripture, speaking of all his doings every where, speak of His Personal acting. "With Him," it is written in Job "is strength and wisdom, the deceived and the deceiver are His: He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools: He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle: He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty: He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged; He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth [6/7] the strength of the mighty:--He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way." Nay it seems to be one object of the relations of the Old Testament to correct man's Atheistic way of contemplating things, whereby he would substitute for the Living God some abstraction, as law, or nature, or general Providence, or order of things, for the Giver and Maintainer of laws and nature, "the Lord Who will provide" and order all things. And therefore, it may be, doth God, in this place of Job and elsewhere, speak in such detail and so vividly, shewing that not only the ends but the means, not only the victory but the strength, not the power to persuade, but eloquent speech and the understanding of the experienced, are His, that He giveth or with holdeth, turneth them to foolishness or taketh them away, as He will. Not the great results only, (as men call great,) but the smallest, most insignificant means, every step of the countless multitudes who march along the high-way of God's Providence, is ordered by Him, so that they should "march every one on his ways, and not break their ranks, neither one thrust another, but walk every one in his path." And hence God's saints so often in holy Scripture confess, that all their power and wisdom and might cometh from Him, not in general terms only, but in particulars. It is He "Who girdeth them with strength," giveth swiftness [7/8] to their feet, "maketh them wiser than the aged," "teacheth their hands to war." For this faith in God's aid and in His presence in details is the life of all belief in His general Providence; and, without this, that more general belief is little better than an empty abstraction.

But if the history of God's dealing with the Jewish Church is a key to His governance of that His larger family, who had "gone away into a far country to follow their own desires uncontrolled, much more is it to His governance of the Christian Church. For here we have not only the general correspondence of God's sovereignty, whereby the creatures of God's hands must, either willingly or against their will, be under His rule, must bear the sceptre or the rod of iron, and carry on His ends in their preservation or destruction, by their obedience or their perverseness. We have the happier lot of being His family, the kingdom which He has chosen out of all nations to dwell in them. The Theocracy is continued, only invisibly. As God dwelt before by the Shechinah in the temple, so now the universal Christian Church is one temple, wherein it pleaseth Him to dwell, not now for a time--but "the Lord will abide in it for ever," by virtue of His own promise, "Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."

We must not think of the law or its blessings as passed away. Our Lord forbids it. What does not [8/9] yet remain, is fulfilled, i. e. filled up as an outline by the substance. The moral law remains. The ritual and the political had their fulfilment in Christ and His Church. The particular Providence over the Jewish people continues on in the Christian Church; only in the Christian, higher far and more enduring, as the spiritual is higher than the civil Government, the relation of sons than that of servants, Heaven than Canaan. "The whole kingdom of the Hebrew nation," says S. Augustine, "was one great prophet, because it prophesies of one Great One. In the actions as well as the words of their holy men must we look for prophecies of Christ and His Church; but, for the rest of the nation, collectively, in God's dealings with them. 'For all these things (as the Apostle says) were our ensamples,' i.e. types and images of us." From the mutual connection of the Head and His members, the Jewish people, wherein they image forth our Lord, reflect also His Body, the Church, as well as in their more direct resemblance; nor is it in their waywardness, or their rebellions, or their turning back to Egypt only, that they shadow out individuals. In God's dealings with them also they picture His dealings with His Church, which He formed into one in Christ out of them and of the Gentiles. God's dealings with them, then, not only give instruction, (as any knowledge of God must,) but are a prophecy; peculiar situations of the Jewish people are [9/10] prophetic warnings or encouragements; and it may be that a very minute correspondence will be found between the histories of the Jewish and Christian Church. At all events, we ought to look to striking occasions, where God's dealings were more visibly manifested, as grounds whereon to build our conduct and our hopes. The passage of the Red sea was one of those occasions; its typical relation to the Christian Church St. Paul has authoritatively declared; St. Matthew has pointed out the relation of the Exodus, which it completed, to our Lord's call out of Egypt; the Song of Moses, wherein he praised God for His mercies therein, itself looked on and furnished the form and language of other prophecy; and it use in the Universal Church, as a hymn of praise, shews them to have recognised its continued Christian meaning and application.

At the very verge of that deliverance, thus solemnly commemorated in the Jewish and Christian Church, when the whole early people of God seemed to be in a great strait, entangled in the land, and shut in by the wilderness, the sea before them, and behind them "all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horse men, and his army," Moses uttered the prophetic words, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." The peril was at its height; the Church seemed on the very brink of destruction; Egypt, the emblem of Antichrist, was ready to destroy, and there was no way left, when God "made the depths of the [10/11] sea a way for His people, that the ransomed of the Lord might pass over."

These words, which to fleshly Israel must have seemed so strange, and which to weak faith echo so strangely still, contain two parts, a duty and a blessing. They are not mere words of encouragement; they impose a duty, and annex a blessing to its fulfilment. "Quietness and confidence" were to be "their strength." They were to "stand still," and so should they "see the salvation of God." And this condition of blessing runs continually through the whole history of the Jewish and Christian Church. As the first sin of man was trust in self and mistrust in God, so the correction has continually been, mistrust in self and trust in God. When God has tried His chosen servants or His chosen people, the most frequent trial perhaps has been this, whether they would tarry the Lord's leisure, be content to receive God's gift in God's way, and, at least, take no wrong measures for obtaining it, whether they would be content, not to hasten or to turn to the right hand or the left; but "stand still," and "see the salvation of their God." They who have stood this trial have been eminent saints, the jewels of the Lord; they who have failed in this, have been like vessels, destined for some high use, but, through this one flaw, marred in the fire which was to prove and form them. Even when unlawful means have not been used, yet the employment of any means, until God gave the [11/12] means into the hand, were followed by pain and grief. Thus Abram and Sarai waited ten years for the promise, and then Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai, and Ishmael was born. Ishmael too had a blessing for Abraham's willing faith, who resigned him and his own hopes in him, yet was he a grief to both Abraham and Sarah, and to their descendants. The child, whose birth they had wished for, they themselves cast out; and "he who was born after the flesh," in himself and in his seed, "persecuted him who was born after the Spirit." By faith Moses slew the Egyptian; yet because this earnest zeal was not sufficiently subdued to do God's will and His only, he was forty years a stranger in the desert; and yet one like unbidden act cost him the land of Canaan. Jacob obtained the promise appointed to him before his birth; yet because he obtained it in the way of human device, "few and evil were the days of his pilgrimage;" Isaac waited twenty-one years for the fulfilment of the promise, and passed a peaceful life, strangely contrasted with his son's disquiet. Israel, in faithless fear of Ammon, asked for the king, who had been spoken of to them in the Law; and it became a sin and a snare to them; and God "consumed them and their king." Saul waited not for Samuel, for "fear the Philistines should come down upon him, and he had not made supplication unto the Lord;" and he was told, for this first sin, "now would the Lord have established thy throne upon Israel for ever, but now thy kingdom shall not continue, because [12/13] thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee." David (of himself hasty and jealous) evinced himself the "man after God's own heart," in preferring rather to be "hunted like a partridge on the mountains," than to obtain that which God had promised him, until God should give it him. Jeroboam, though by nature what men call able and of a noble spirit, by not waiting, and by human wisdom, became guilty of rebellion, his house was cut off, and himself became a proverb, with the miserable title, "who made Israel (the Lord's promised, chosen people) to sin." Baasha and Jehu were raised up by God to execute judgment on their masters, yet because they did this, and joined therewith policy of their own, the blood, which was righteously shed, was demanded of their hands, and God "avenged the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu." "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord," yet because he relied on the king of Syria for that wherein he should have relied on the Lord of Hosts, Hanani denounced God's judgments; "Here in thou hast done foolishly; therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. The inaugural visions of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, in different ways, lay the same burthen upon them, that they should be the willing spontaneous instruments of God; that they should use no words of their own, but speak every word given them by God: as the Apostles were afterwards forbidden [13/14] to premeditate what words they should use, but were to "speak what should be given them in that hour;"--an exercise at once of faith and faithfulness. And why speak of man, when He in Whom our nature was restored, as a part of the restoration of that nature, and as an example of what should be realized in His members, underwent man's threefold trial "of the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and vainglory," in this same way, whether He would obtain for Himself that which was His, in any other way than that which was appointed! When He had refused all, "Satan," we are told, had "ended all his temptation He left to His disciples the same rule and the same promise; "Ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake; but there shall not a hair of your head perish; in your patience possess ye your souls." The disciple and the Church were to be hated like their Master and their Lord; they were to withstand in the same way, by patient self-possession of their souls, and with. and through Him to stand. And, again, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it;" and "the meek shall inherit the earth." Through patient suffering did the Son obtain the heathen for His inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for His possession; as He said, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto Me." "It is enough for the disciple that [14/15] he be as his Master." By patient (the word implies suffering) waiting for God, an unresisting resistance unto blood, did the Church take root in the whole world. It would seem as if St. Paul's imprisonment was a hindrance to the Gospel: so, it seems, he may himself have feared; this was the affliction of his bonds: but they "fell out rather," he writes "to the furtherance of the Gospel;" the "bonds of St. Paul in Christ" carried the Gospel into the household and court of the Caesar, and "in all other places," and gave confidence to many; as, in later times, the captivity of Rome brought in the Gospel among the Vandals; and Christian slaves took captive their conquerors. The afflictions of the Thessalonians sounded out the Gospel to Macedonia and Achaia. "The signs of an Apostle were wrought among you," says St. Paul to the Corinthians, "in all endurance," as well as in "signs and wonders and mighty deeds." "The work of an Evangelist," bequeathed by St. Paul to Timothy and his successors, was to "watch in all things, and to endure hardships." It is a Christian proverb, (and proverbs become such by the frequency of their application,) that "the blood of martyrs was the seed of the Church." The Gospel alone made known that non-resistance was strength, because "the strength of God was made perfect in weakness." "The more," says Origen, "kings and the rulers of nations and people every where afflicted them, [15/16] the more they multiplied and prevailed exceedingly The spiritual Sons of the Gospel were multiplied by the self-same means as His chosen people in Egypt, by God's blessing on patient submission to injury. We are multiplied," says Tertullian, "so often as we are mown down by you. The blood of Christians is seed. And Justin, himself a Martyr, relates how, "when he was content with Platonism, the endurance of Christians, and their fearlessness of death and every thing accounted fearful," won his first attention to the Gospel. "When an ungodly man," says S. Chrysostom, "bears rule, persecuting us on every side, and encompassing us with innumerable evils, then doth our state become bright and glorious." And not in these only, but in the more fretting, because petty, oppressions to which [16/17] they were exposed. "We were enjoined not to strive," says Justin, "but through endurance and meekness to lead all from things shameful and evil desires. And this we can shew you in many cases, where men, from being violent and oppressors, were changed, being subdued either by narrow observation of a neighbour's lasting endurance, or having noted the strange patience of fellow-travellers when defrauded, or having made trial of it in commercial inter course." And this the more illustrates their conduct under deeper suffering,--that they suffered, not simply because they must suffer or deny the faith, not be cause they could not resist, but because they ought not, and so would not. God forbid that we should so wrong the memory of the blessed Martyrs, as to think, (as controversialists now traduce them,) that they were Martyrs because they had not strength to resist. They were Martyrs, rather because they had strength not to resist, because they had strength to resist themselves. They "filled the worlds" (I use their own language,) had "penetrated into every corner of it;" they were portions of the armies. Early as Tertullian, the appeal was made, "You must decimate Carthage, if you would destroy us; spare thyself, if not [17/18] us; if not thyself; spare Carthage." "No one of us," says a blessed Martyr of the same Church, "resists, when he is apprehended, nor avenges himself against your injustice and violence, although our people is an exceedingly numerous host," (nimius et copiosus.) What, then, had the Christians turned against their destroyers, and employed against the worn-out and enervated luxury of the crumbling Empire that energy with which they upheld it, had they acted instead of suffering? Truly then they had lost their strength, avenged themselves on their enemies, and like Samson perished--as to their real life. But they "had not so learned Christ." "The weapons of their warfare were not carnal, though mighty through God for the pulling down of strong-holds, casting down every high thing that exalteth itself, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. They had been taught the lesson, which the heathen Emperor, when revealed to him, but half understood, en toutw nika. Women, the ignorant, the young, mechanics, peasants, overcame the learning and the strength of the world, by endurance; and so they taught the might which they had conquered, to unlearn confidence in its own might, that when they were weak, then were they strong. They overcame by the rack, by torture, by the fury of wild beasts, by the flames, by the red-hot iron seat, by pincers which mangled the flesh so that there remained scarce a vestige of the human form--[18/19] not by using them, but by enduring them; they endured more than we could think that human malice could invent, or human sufferance endure: and in truth it was not what it seemed, but satanic malice which invented, and Divine strength which endured. So the smoke of their earthly torment went up as a sweet savour to God, Who, for His Son's Sacrifice accepted this sacrifice, and their countenances being "marred more than the sons of men," became images of Him, "in whom the Father was well pleased." They who could not be overcome, overcame; passiveness and unresistingness overcame the world; they overcame it by Him Who had overcome it, by taking up His cross, and following Him. And as they hung upon His cross, emblems, as it were, and shadows, yea and members of Him, He imparted to their sufferings one part of the efficacy of His own, and they also, by His might, being "lifted up from the earth," drew all men--not to themselves, but--to Him, whose witnesses they were. "Christians," says S. Justin, or one of his time, "abound more and more through suffering every day.--See you not how they are cast to the beasts, that they may be made deny their Lord, and are not overcome? See you not how they abound in proportion to the increase of their sufferings? These things seem not like the work of men; but they are the power of God, and indications of His presence."

And, afterwards, when the State oppressed the Church, and upheld a blasphemous heresy against it, [19/20] it was by the same weapons that the Church prevailed, not obeying man, when God was the rather to be obeyed, yet suffering whatever man could inflict. It was amid Arian persecutions, profaner in some respects than the heathen, that the five-times-exiled Saint, Athanasius the Great, upheld and transmitted to us the Catholic Doctrine, the rich reward of the exile and persecution of nearly half of his nearly half century's Episcopate. It was by readiness to submit to all things that St. Ambrose and St. Basil retained the Churches of their provinces for the right faith. "He is not liable to confiscation," answered St. Basil to the messenger of Valens, "who has nothing; unless indeed you want these worn-out rags, and a few books, which are my whole substance. Exile I know not, who am not bounded by place, and neither regard this as mine, where I now live, and yet all, wherever I may be cast, as mine, or rather God's, with Whom I am a stranger and a sojourner. And what hold could tortures have, when they would find no body, except for the first stroke? for [20/21] this alone is in your power. But death were a benefactor, for it would bring me sooner to God, to Whom I live, and serve, and for the most part have died, and have of old time been hastening." "And thus," says St. Gregory of Nyssa, "he was set forth by God, as Elias in the time of Ahab, and brought back all to the right way, engaging with those under authority, combating with generals, speaking fearlessly to kings, escaping the hold of his assailants; as having nothing whereby they might seize him." St. Ambrose repressed the people who loved him, and overcame the Arian Emperor of the world by peril of death.

And when they received gifts from the state, it was not as mendicants, but as "priests of the Most High God." They received them in the name of God, not for themselves, nor as "desiring a gift but rather desiring fruit which might abound to the account" of the givers. It was by a readiness to make sacrifices, that the "riches of the Gentiles flowed in" unto them, when they seemed to be given not to men, [21/22] (who cared not for them and were content not to receive them,) but to God, Whose ministers they were. St. Ambrose could then boldly and truly expostulate with Valentinian, whom they had almost persuaded to furnish the expenses of the heathen sacrifices. "What wilt thou answer to the priest when he saith to thee, 'The Church seeks not thy grants, because thou last with grants adorned the temples of the Gentiles? The altar of Christ rejects thy gifts, be cause thou hast made an altar to idols." St. Laurence yielded up his life, not the treasure of the Church, committed to him, to profanation; he took not "the gold of the temple to give to the king of Assyria," and thus he saved the deposit committed to him, and by the constancy of his death gained to himself a greater treasure, the crown of martyrdom, and many souls, which he won to Christ.

It is for instruction only that we may ask why God should so have annexed the blessing of conquest to enduring suffering, and made patience mightier than what men call active virtues. One would not presume to think one knew all the grounds. It may be that they have some mysterious connection with the sufferings of Christ, which pass our understanding. Some such connection is indicated by St. Paul's words, "filling [22/23] up what remaineth of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the Church," as though it pleased God, that; the union of Christ and His members should so be set forth, that as He is persecuted in His members, so the more eminent of His saints, who were more closely united with Him, knowing, as St. Paul again says, "the fellowship of His sufferings, and being made conformable to His death," should shadow Him forth, by suffering in the flesh for their brethren, emblems of His vicarious, though not of His meritorious, death. Suffering for others may be so far well-pleasing to God, as having a communion with the Sufferings of His beloved Son; and doubtless it may make those, who are partakers of it, more capable of the communication of the merits and influence of His Passion, wherein they have been in a manner joined, being baptized with His baptism, and having drunk of His cup.

Then, also, it may be needful, in the wisdom of God, for the perfecting of His saints. As all trial implies pain, so the trial of the most precious vessels, it may be, is to be accomplished by pains proportionate. It seems not without special meaning that the analogy of gold is so often pointed out by Holy Scripture. God sheweth us in this natural process an emblem of things spiritual. If even gold, which in the end perisheth, must yet be tried in the fire, how much more must faith, being more precious, so be proved.

[24] But, besides, it is evident that so God's power and glory is most shewn. "Then all men that see it shall say, This hath God done, for they shall perceive that it is His work O There is a natural instinct, which recognises that when things are too intricate for man, God will interpose. Heathen poetry speaks of a perplexity of affairs, which claims God to interfere. A Jewish proverb says, "When Israel is brought to the brick-kilns, then cometh Moses;" a saying remarkably illustrated by the whole book of Judges. And Scripture itself has consecrated a like proverb, "In the mount of the Lord shall it be seen or provided," i.e. at the last moment, when faith and obedience have been tried to the uttermost, and there seemeth no help left, and that God would indeed exact what man could scarce endure, then would God from heaven avert the suffering, or crown the enduring faith by His blessing. "The Lord will provide." So Joseph rose from the dungeon, and Daniel from the lions' den, to rule empires for the sake of His people. The gallows were prepared, the edict was issued, the whole scattered people of God was given into their enemies' hand; the king passed one sleepless night, Esther ventured her life, the people was saved, the adversary hanged. Sennacherib had arrived at Nob; he was "shaking his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion;" on the morrow [24/25] it was to be destroyed; "in that night the angel of the Lord went out; early in the morning they were all dead corpses." At St. Paul's first answer, "no man stood with him, all forsook him;" then "the Lord stood with him, and strengthened him."

Then, also, since man's self-will was the cause of his fall, when he would be wiser than God, and in his own way be as God, God would thus teach him to submit his own will, to renounce dependence upon himself, to quit his own wisdom and his own schemes, to let every thing, if needs be, go out of course, and then, "when the earth is weak and the inhabiters thereof," it will appear that the Lord "beareth up the pillars of it, and will say to the ungodly, Lift not up your horn, for God is the Judge; He putteth down one and setteth up another." It is a practising of our daily prayer, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven," it is a preparing, a qualifying for, a practising, a foretaste, of Heaven--to do God's will blindly, and consent that it may be done, cheerfully, without fore casting how it may end, whither it may lead, careful only about this, that it be His will. It is an Angel's life to obey unquestioning, and fits for Angelic duties and Angelic glories.

Lastly, there is room to fear lest, mingling in human schemes for her own security, the Church should leave her dependence upon God, and adopt insensibly the maxims of the world. "Resist not evil" is a precept [25/26] plain in its mode of execution, though hard to fulfil; it prescribes a difficult but a plain track. But, admit the principle that man may resist evil, it is no longer easy to say where and how resistance begins to be sin. Man cannot avoid difficulties; they are essential to trial; he may, by shrinking from them, substitute greater, but he cannot escape them. And this difficulty is increased by the very immensity of the interests at stake. Acts, which have given occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme, have arisen out of principles in themselves indisputable. No one, for instance, could doubt of the superiority of things spiritual to things temporal, or that the office of a Bishop of Christ's flock is higher than that of a temporal sovereign; that the sufferings of hell are so dreadful that any present agonies are blessings, if they prevent them; that men will be damned for wrong faith, as well as for unholy lives. Yet, plain as these things are, it is even the more miserable, that, in such a cause, kings should be deposed, subjects absolved from their oaths and allegiance, murder, treason, rebellion, assassination, lying, perjury, secret slaughter of whole bodies at once, should ever have been justified by Divines, writing in the Name of Christ. Well may those "who think they stand, take heed lest they fall."

[27] The principle then of Holy Scripture, as interpreted by the conduct of the martyrs and the early Church, is to await God's time, to suffer so long as He wills, not to help ourselves--to "stand still, and see the salvation of God."

The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James's tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what [27/28] was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;--and we cherish their memories.

The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.

In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man's sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other's breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God's Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch's early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying [29/30] up in the monarch's soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, "a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day's service, find a striking completion in this history. "God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity--they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves."

But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished. To human sight it is as s that the massacre of S. Bartholomew should have been perpetrated, as that we should have escaped. The circumstances of that massacre even remind one of that destruction which extorted from the Heathen poet the confession, that it could not have been accomplished, [30/31] "si fata Deum, si mens non laeva fuisset." The chiefs, on whom it fell, were men, the wisest of their age, practised in avoiding surprises, alive to treachery, taught caution by their profession; yet neither past treachery, nor present oft-repeated warnings, nor the half-completed assassination of the chief, as a herald of the impending massacre, nor the forebodings of one, "Dei jussu non unquam creditus," nor the knowledge that their enemies, who had feigned a retreat, were still hard by, nor the menaces reported to them by their spies from those whom they were trusting, nor the bringing them together like sheep for the slaughter, [31/32] nor the setting a well-known enemy as a guard to their chief, nor the commencing tumults could wake them from the death-sleep of security which was to end in the sleep of death. "Instamus tamen immemores caecique." "Surely," says Solomon, "in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; unless, adds Job, "God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He imparted to her understanding." Rome alas! justified the plot which failed, and Gregory XIII. ordered, and himself attended, a procession and thanksgiving for that which succeeded. Both plans proposed [32/33] the same thing, the extinction of those who were or were held to be heretics. The one was carried on secretly, the other almost openly: of the one there were no intimations beforehand; in the other, they were frequent: the one seemed secure, being intrusted to a few; the other was in the hands of many: in the one, he on whom the execution depended, shrunk from sin so dreadful; Charles the Ninth hesitated to the very last, and was ready to; in the other they had no compunctions, or had stifled them. The depth of guilt in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, (if any thing,) seemed the more to call clown the avenging interference of God, through the multiplied hypocrisy and perjuries whereby it was carried on; yet the one, which every thing earthly combined to overthrow, succeeded; the other, which every thing tended to ensure, failed. "Verily, there is a God that judgeth the earth."

"Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known;" and it is [33/34] Thou who "leddest Thy people like a flock," though by human hand. Far be it from us to say that we understand God's counsels; why in the one case He sent warnings, yet allowed the plot to be completed; in the other He sent none, but Himself destroyed it; He seemed to "take His rest, and to consider in His dwelling-place, like a clear heat upon herbs, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest," (as it were, Himself maturing and bringing about their devices,) "but afore the harvest, when the bud was perfect, and the flower become the ripening grape, He cut off the sprigs--and took away, and cut down the branches. But this we must see, that those who were delivered (though not for their own merits) were passive, and that it was all God's hand; while the foreign Protestants, who perished, were an active, busy, scheming body, with worldly wisdom; and again we must with thankfulness acknowledge that it was the English Church whom God so preserved.

Yet she too has not been secure, when she forgot wherein "her great strength lay." In Ireland, for a time, she mingled her counsels with those of a different reformation, joined in turbulent proceedings [34/35] against her earthly sovereign, and sunk her peculiar character in the cabals of earthly polities. Towards her Roman fellow-subjects she preserved gentleness and peace, and they had been remarkably favoured. Yet "God brought fire out of the house of Abimelech to devour the men of Shechem;" her evil towards Charles He requited upon her own head from those whom she trusted, and among whom she dwelt securely. In this case, again, all things human combined to discover the plot, and in human sight its concealment seemed inexplicable; but again all the hints were neglected; the plot had been from six to eight years in preparation; it was well known in England, Spain, and other foreign countries; intimations were given to the king, and were by him communicated, but neglected [35/36] by those whose lives were threatened; revealed at last by one of the religion which was to be extirpated, but only when too late; the means of its execution were put into men's hands by those professedly most hostile to them; and the massacre, wide, horrible, indiscriminate, miserable too in its details of cruelty fell unabated upon this portion of our Church; for "their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had shut them up."

And now we may perhaps the more readily learn our lesson from that other event, which has been included in this day's thanksgiving, the arrival on this day of him who became William III. Man's sin is no hindrance to thankfulness for God's mercy; rather, the more we sinned, the more should we be thankful to God for not giving us over to our sins, for making that, as it now is, at last legitimate to us and our duty, which in our forefathers was sin, yea, and for the chastisements with which He has visited our sins. The arrival [36/37] of William may have saved the nation from the miseries of anarchy and civil war, which but for his arrival, had men pursued the same course, might have followed, and in this the Church and nation might have been grievously injured; and for this and for the preservation of our Church amid this convulsion, we have great cause of thankfulness. Further, it seems that their sin was not wilful, that they no more foresaw that they should end in dethroning the son, than Cromwell thought at first of murdering the father. It may be too that our forefathers in a degree deceived themselves, and persuaded themselves, that because they did not formally dethrone their sovereign, they were not guilty of rebellion. God, in His mercy, may have accepted this their shame, whereby they shrunk from their own act, and so mitigated His judgments. But it were in us but hypocrisy to use these pleas, and justify the action of our forefathers; to say, that when a sovereign retreats from his kingdom before an advancing foreign army, his servants arrested, and his guards displaced, he is other than deposed; that they who join herein are not guilty of rebellion; and that they who in a self-called convention made the prince of Orange king, did not act against their allegiance to the sovereign, [37/38] to whom they had plighted their faith. The misconduct of one justifies not the sin of another; David, though of God anointed, lifted not his hand against him, who had been once anointed by God, though now his princely spirit was taken from him, and "an evil spirit from the Lord came upon him;" and so, while we thank God, we should humble ourselves, and pray Him, not to remember our sins, or the sins of our forefathers.

Probably it was by man's contrivance that these two events are so brought together upon the same day; politicians about William probably retarded his arrival in order to take advantage of the old memories of the day. The instructiveness of their combination is other than they meant. In the one case, without his own merit, man was passive, and God delivered him from extremest peril; in the other, where, had men like our Bishops and a Confessor of this place remained passive under the shadow of God's wings, the tyranny would have passed over, man interposed schemes of his own. They did that, which their Lord upon the Cross was taunted to do, but did not,-- they "saved themselves;" and so they were permitted to mar the good purpose of God. I say, "mar;" for though God has been abundant in mercy, no one can have traced the state of our Church and nation, since [38/39] that second rebellion, without seeing God's judgments, though tempered with mercy. Let any one ask when was the golden age of our Divines? All will say, the reign of Charles II., when their passive virtues had been called out, and they exercised by suffering. The last century every one as readily condemns as the deadest and shallowest period of English theology and of the English Church. And this could be traced, (were this the place,) to the line which men took in resisting James's evil. The state feared and hated the Church, which it causelessly suspected; it could not understand that men might on principle object to the act which set the Sovereign on the throne, and yet upon principle obey, yea teach others cheerfully to obey, the Sovereign whom God had permitted to be so placed. It ejected a valuable portion of her members, the Nonjurors; divided, and so weakened her; cut off from her one element of teaching; gave her Bishops for secular ends, and profaned her offices to strengthen secular parties; wilfully corrupted her, and stirred up enemies against her and our Holy Faith. As clearly could it be shewn that the present storm, which towers around our Church and State, is but a drawing out of the principles of what men have dared to call the "glorious revolution;" as that revolution (though in this portion of our country, but still in this only, by [39/40] God's mercy without bloodshed, as indeed, besides His other mercies, He generally restrains men in a second revolution, by an implanted instinct, from renewing the miseries of the first) was the sequel and result of the first rebellion. The name given to the act of 1688 is no question of words. The very service of this day evinces the feeling even of such as could take the oath of allegiance to William, that it is not indifferent to God, how we look back upon His dealings with our forefathers. If we would not be partakers with other men's sins, we must disavow them; while we boast of them, we make ourselves sharers in them. If we would cut off the curse entailed by the fathers upon the children, we must disclaim the act which has entailed it. We should thankfully acknowledge God's "undeserved mercies," not glory in our father's sins, so may He exempt us from the impending chastisement.

Not so our Church, who in her most solemn service, acknowledges unto God, that kings "have His authority," that they "are His ministers." Even the service of the day, as far as it may in any degree, since she acquiesced in its adoption, be regarded as her voice, speaks of "the wisdom and justice of God's Providence," and we acknowledge it to be such that James's evil fell upon his own head, that all his unrighteous [40/41] acts hurt himself; but she speaks not of our glory, but of "God's great and undeserved goodness." And again, the Homily on Rebellion seems by its very words prophetically to have denounced the measure wherein men now glory. "Had Englishmen," these are its words, "at that time known their duty to their prince set forth in God's word, would natural subjects have rebelled against their sovereign lord the king? Would English subjects have taken part against the king of England and Englishmen with the French [need but change the nation] king and French men? Would they have sent for and received the Dauphin of France with a great army of Frenchmen into the realm of England? Would they have sworn fidelity to the Dauphin of France, breaking their oath of fidelity to their natural lord the king of England, and have stood under the Dauphin's banner displayed against the king of England? Would they have expelled their sovereign lord the king of England out of London, the chief city of England?" The parallel ceases; if the Homily condemned the hard terms placed upon king John, much more would it the refusal of all terms to king James. The excuse that James was a bad king, in the sentiments of the Homily, but throws back the sin higher. "Shall subjects," it says, "obey valiant, stout, wise, and good princes, and contemn, disobey, and rebel------against undiscreet [41/42] and evil governors? God forbid!--shall the subjects both by their wickedness provoke God, for their de served punishment, to give them an undiscreet or evil prince, and also rebel against him and withal against God, who for the punishment of their sins did give them such a prince?"--And then it lays up, as it were, for future use, the remedy I have now been insisting on. "If we will have an evil prince (when God shall send such an one) taken away, and a good in his place, let us take away our wickedness, which provoketh God to place such a one over us, and God will either displace him, or of an evil prince make him a good prince, so that we first will change our evil into good--Else for subjects to deserve through their sins to have an evil prince and then to rebel against him, were double and treble evil, by provoking God more to plague them. Nay let us either deserve to have a good prince, or let us patiently suffer and obey such as we deserve." The Homily seems prophetically to have traced the line, on which we ought to have trodden, the blessings which promised to follow it, and the evils which ensued from forsaking it. And for the pretence of religion, it says, "what a religion it is, that such men by such means would restore, may easily be judged; even as good a religion surely, as rebels be good men and obedient subjects, and as rebellion is a good mean of redress and reformation, being itself the greatest deformation of all that may possibly be."

[43] Not so, again, the early Church; they resisted not evil; the whole city of Alexandria petitioned Julian to retain their Bishop, the saintly Athanasius, but rebelled not; the Christians of Gaul invited not the Barbarians to interfere and save them; the Christians held the balance of the Empire in their hands, yet even then took the fiercest of the ten persecutions patiently; the Christians of Persia implored not the Christian Emperors of Rome to interfere with armed force against those into whose hands God had given them; to try them "they were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might attain a better resurrection," and so in God's good time, the giant statue crumbled in its very base, and the stone cut out without hands "filled the earth."

Not so, lastly, holy Scripture, which that Church well understood. If slaves were to obey "froward masters," much more, argues our Homily, ought subjects "to obey sharp and rigorous princes." Scripture bids us obey princes "not only for wrath but for conscience sake;" it knows not our subtle distinctions [43/44] of "social compact;" it bids us peremptorily obey kings, and what kings? what compact, not with their subjects, but with human nature itself, had not Caligula and Claudius and Nero broken? It may be that God gave the Roman Empire such prodigies of wickedness then, that Christians might have no excuse to rebel. No one can doubt but that St. Paul would have taken his lot with our outcast Bishops; and if this be so obvious that one dare scarcely put the case from this place, how dare we call that "glorious" which he would have condemned? Had it been glorious, "to [44/45] God's name should have been the praise, for His mercy and truth's sake;" but now since it was men's act, they take to themselves the glory, when all was God's "undeserved mercy," and glory in their shame. Rather let us take to ourselves the shame, and give to God the glory, for not having "dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities;" let us thank Him for His "great and undeserved mercies."

If ever these lessons were of moment, they seem likely to be so now, and we have reason to thank God for His Providence in so connecting the events of these two days, that their commemoration should be a yearly warning to us, in a way which they who appointed the latter festival thought not of. What times are coming upon the earth, we know not, but the general expectation of persons of all characters in all nations is an instinct implanted by God to warn us of a coming storm. Not one nation only, but all; not one class of thinkers, but all; they who fear and they who hope, and who fear and hope things opposite; they who are immersed in their worldly schemes, and they who look for some "coming of God's kingdom;" they who watch this world's signs and they who watch for the next, alike have their eyes intently fixed on somewhat which is coming, though whether it be the vials of His wrath, or the glories of His kingdom, or whether the one shall be the herald to the other, none can tell. They who [45/46] can calculate what is likely, speak of it; they who can not, feel its coming; the spirits of the unseen world seem to be approaching to us, and "awe comes on us, and trembling, which maketh all the bones to shake," "all nations are shaken;" the sound, which for these many years has been heard and spoken of from this place, has been waxing louder and louder, and spreading wider: there is "upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth." Times of trouble there have been before; but such a time in which every thing every where tends in one direction, to one mighty struggle of one sort, of faith with infidelity, lawlessness with rule, Christ with Antichrist, there seems never to have been till now. The ancient images of Antichrist are growing old, and decaying; and a more fearful Antichristian power, that of popular lawlessness which maketh its will its God, and will own neither God nor man but its own rule, seems to be held in, not by the weak threads of human rule, which it would snap "as flax burnt by the fire," but by the Almighty power of God, discovering His might [46/47] in human weakness. These are "fig-tree signs," whether "our redemption" indeed "draweth nigh," and this long warfare of this world be at last almost accomplished, or whether it shall be but some fuller image of that long longed-for coming, which shall be revealed, we cannot tell; enough for us that we have signs that God is more than heretofore visiting the earth, and that Satan more than heretofore is let loose upon it; that persons must and are taking their sides more decisively with Christ or with Belial.

Whether then this fearful conflict burst in our days, or when we are withdrawn, let those who live to share it, or any portion of it, recollect that our strength is to "fear not, stand still, and wait for the salvation of God." God hath shewn great mercies to our Church, as on this day, and those greater than to any other nation; trust we Him. Even now He seems, contrary to His dealings with all other nations, to have checked the waywardness of our course, and though we had done things displeasing in His sight, to be restoring us from the feverish sickness, wherein we had fallen, and bid us "go our way, and sin no more, lest a worse thing happen unto us." It is our duty indeed, as they did of old, to warn men of the great sin and danger of sacrilege, or apostasy, or interfering with the Church of God, or polluting her offices, or indifference and promoting error, lest we be guilty of the blood of others, if we warn them not; and in all lawful ways permitted to us, we are bound to extend truth, diffuse [47/48] right principles, as well as adorn them in our lives; but this done, recollect we, that our armour is not "the wisdom of this world, which shall come to nought," earthly activity and worldly schemes, but humiliation, acknowledgment of our past sins, prayers, fasting, watching, endurance, submission to men, and patient tarrying for God. Let the Church use these, let her use the Psalms and the prayers put into her hands and her mouth, use them not as forms but as realities; let her realize to herself that a great contest is going on between the dragon and the woman in the wilderness, and that prayers are the arms of the saints; that the welfare of each, his spiritual privileges, are bound up in the welfare of the whole Church, but that, besides, each ought to love the whole for herself, as the spouse and body of Christ: let her recollect that "the hearts of kings are in His rule and governance," and that He "stilleth the madness of the people;" and pray, as our Church with the ancient Church does, twice each day, "for the whole world, for kings and all that are in authority"--and they who seem to be hurrying on things with rapidity so fearful, will be found but to be bound around the wheels of God's Providence, not leading events but dragged along by them, to accomplish by their self- or free-will "whatsoever His hand and His counsel determined before to be done. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder of wrath shalt [48/49] Thou restrain." God warneth us by the very swiftness with which all things are moving around us, that it is He who is impelling them; man cannot impart such speed, nor rouse the winds from the four quarters of the heavens, nor bring men's varying wills towards one uniform result; and therewith He warns us to beware how we attempt to guide, what He thus manifestly is governing. As the trial of our faith is increased by the greatness of the interests at stake, so is it lightened by God's more visible Presence, which would awe us into confidence and quiet. The "Egyptians are behind" us, but the "pillar of the cloud" is between us and them. He will "remove the chariot wheels" of the enemy, though they drive on never so furiously. Those things only can be marred, which we ourselves mar. He would have us do our plain duty quietly, suffer evil, if needs be, patiently, and then await the end, placing our confidence not in our own strength, nor in the wisdom or numbers of any secular party, but in Him.

And let the young especially remember, that it is not by giving vent to their feelings, but by restraining them; not by blaming others, (in doing which they could scarcely avoid sin,) but by schooling themselves; by meekness, by self-command, by quietness, by peaceableness, by disciplining themselves, and by acting under discipline, by submitting to authority, even when they see not presently the reason, by acting, in their petty occasions, on faith, that they may best prepare [49/50] themselves for whatever duties, in the great army of their God, it may please Him hereafter to call them to.

In brief, then, we may be over-anxious even about holy things, such as the deliverance of the Church from unjust thraldom or from spiritual disadvantages. God allowed His chosen people to lie in bondage 400 years, and not till the set time was come, did He judge that power which enthralled them; and when after wards He delivered them for their sins to Nebuchadnezzar, they were to "seek the peace of the city whither He had caused them to be carried captive, and after 70 years to be visited." They "stood stiff," till Cyrus came, they invited him not, helped him not, but he acknowledged that "their God, the King of heaven, had given him all the kingdoms of the earth, and had given him in charge to build His temple at Jerusalem God is visibly working, and preparing the army, which "shall be willing in the day of His power" but it is His day, His army, His power, and He must "give the word." As of old the feet of the image were crumbling, the world was growing old, institutions were dissolving, but the people of God might not put a finger thereto, but "a stone cut out of the mountain without hands smote it, and brake it in pieces;" so must it be now: whether it please God to breathe fresh life into the old institutions of the world, or whether "He take away their breath, and they return to their dust," it must be His doing, [50/51] not man's; what God doth, that is well done; we might mingle "hay, straw, and stubble" with His work, which in the day of trial will not abide. "O tarry thou the Lord's leisure; be strong, and He shall comfort thy heart:" "though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." "O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man that putteth his trust in Thee!"

O Lord, we beseech Thee to keep Thy Church and household continually in Thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of Thy heavenly grace, may evermore be defended by Thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [Collect for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany]

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