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A SERMON

PREACIED BEFORE

QUEEN ELIZABETH, AT GREENWICH,

ON TUE TWENTY-FOURTH OF FEBRUARY, A.D. MDXC. BEING

ST. MATTHIAS' DAY.

Psalm lxxvii. 20.

II.

Thou didst lead Thy people like sheep, by the hand of Moses

and Aaron. [Deduxisti sicut oves populum Tuum, in manu Moysis et Aaron. Latin

Vulg.] [Thou leddest Thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and

Aaron. Engl. Trans. ] SERM. Some, either present or imminent danger, and that no small

one, had more than usually distressed the Prophet at the writing of this Psalm ; wherewith his spirit, for a while, being

tossed to and fro in great anguish, as may appear by those Ps.77.7—9. three great billows in the seventh, eighth, and ninth verses,

yet at last he cometh to an anchor in the tenth verse, “upon the remembrance of the right hand of the Most High.” Which right hand, in one even tenor throughout all ages, not only to that of David's, but even to this of ours, hath ever shewed itself a right hand of pre-eminence and power, in the two points in the latter part of the Psalm specified, the especial matter of his and all our comfort. 1. The final confusion of his enemies, though for a while exalted until this

2. The final deliverance of His people, though for a while distressed in this verse. Which twain, of many Psalms are the substance, and of this now before us; and indeed, all the whole story in a manner is nothing else but a calendar of these two. That the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, is El Nekamoth, “a God of vengeance" against His enemies; and but a letter changed, is El Nechamoth, a God

verse.

of comfort" unto His people. That His Cherubims hold a flaming sword to repress the one, and have their wings spread to shadow and succour the other. That His creatures—the cloud from above is a mist of darkness to confound the Egyp- Ex. 14. 20. tians; and the same cloud a pillar of light to conduct the Israelites. That the water from beneathr, to the Egyptian is a gulf to devour them, but to the Israelite, “a wall of (Ex.14. 22] defence on their right hand and on their left.” We need not to seek far; in the Psalm next before, and again in the Psalm next after this, you shall find these two coupled ; as indeed for the most part they go still together.

And as they go still together, so still they end in the safeguard of the Church. Of all prophecies, of all judgments, of all miracles, past or present, new or old, that is the key and conclusion. The last verse, if I may so say, of the Deluge was the rainbow; of the Egyptian bondage was the Feast of Passover; and even here in this Psalm, after it hath in the four verses

next before rained and poured down, and lightened and thundered, and Heaven and earth gone together, there doth in this verse ensue a calm to God's people. This is the blessed period that shutteth up the Psalm: Them that hated Thy people, or dealt unkindly with Thy servants, them Thou drownedst and destroyedst; but “ Thy people Thou leadest like sheep by the hands of Moses and Aaron."

And in these two may all kingdoms and countries read their own destinies, what they are to hope for or to fear, at the hands of God. If they be Lo-ammi, “not Ilis people,” [Hos.1.9.1 they may look back, what they find in the verses before, and that is storm and tempest. If they be His, and we I trust are His—and more and more His He daily make us! this verse is for us, that is, safe and quiet conduct; “ Thou didst lead Thy,” &c.

In which verse there is mention of three persons: 1. God. The sum. 2. God's hand. 3. God's people. 4. And of a blessing or benefit issuing from the first, that is, God; conveyed by the second, that is, God's hands, Moses and Aaron; and received by the third, that is, God's people; and it is the benefit of good guiding or government. This is the sum of the verse. As for order, I will seek no other than as the Holy Ghost The

division, hath marshalled the words in the text itself. Which of itself

II.

2

SERM. is right exact; every word in the body of it containing matter

worth the pausing on. 1. First, in the foremost word. Tu, God Who vouchsafed this benefit.

And secondly, in Duristi. The benefit itself of guiding from Him derived. 3. And thirdly, derived to His people, the parties that

receive it. 4. And fourthly, derived to His people by His hands, which

hands are Moses and Aaron, the means that convey it. The first I. “ Thou leadest Thy people,” &c. To begin with God, Thou.” Who beginneth the verse, by Whom and to Whom we lead,

and are led, and in Whom all right leading both beginneth and endeth.

It is Thou, saith the Psalmist, that leadest Thy people, and Ps. 78. 52. in the next Psalm it is “He that carried His people in the

wilderness like a flock.” Who is that He, or this Thou? It is God, saith the Prophet in the sixteenth verse.

That is, whosoever be the hands, God is the Person, He is the Tu. Whose names soever we hear, whose hands soever we feel, whose countenance soever we behold, we must yet look up higher, and see God in every government. To Him we must make our apostrophe, and say, “ Thou leadest," &c. For He it is leadeth properly; and in strict propriety of speech Moses and Aaron lead not, but God by the hands of Moses and Aaron. And that thus it is, that God is the Person that leadeth, and all other but hands under Him and unto Him, the Prophet giveth us in this same verse matter of three marks of

difference between Him and them. 1.

The first is in Duxisti. “ Thou didst lead," saith the Prophet, didst and dost lead—didst then and dost still: but Thou didst lead by Moses and Aaron; so dost Thou not now. The hands are changed. Then, Moses and Aaron; after,

Joshua and Eleazar; after, Othniel and Phinehas; after, others; Ps. 102.27. sed Tu idem es, “but Thou art the same still and Thy years shall

not fail.” As if He should say; Their years indeed fail, and come to an end: within so many years they were not so led, and within so many more they shall not be.

But God hath a prePs. 74. 12. rogative, that He is Rex a Sæculo, and Rex in Sæculum; was Ps. 146. 12 "our King of old," and "shall be our King for ever and ever.”

The second is in populum Tuum, “Thy people;" another 2. limitation. For this people are, in the fifteenth verse before, | said to be “the sons of Jacob and Joseph:” so far stretcheth (Ps. 77. 15.) Moses' line, and no farther. But, Tu duristi, God's line ivit in, omnem terram, “goeth over all nations, even to the uttermost Ps. 19. 4. parts of the world.” God's leading hath no marches. This 1 people and all people are His; and He by special prerogative is Rex universe terræ, “King” not of one people, or of Ps. 47. 7. one country or climate, but “ of all the people of the whole earth.”

The third is, per manus, “by the hands.” For as He 3. guideth the people by the hands, so He guideth the hands themselves, by whom He guideth; ruleth by them, and ruleth them; ruleth by their hands, and ruleth in their hearts; is both “the Shepherd of Israel,” leading them Ps. 80. 1. like sheep, and farther leadeth Joseph also, their leader, tanquam ovem, like a sheep.” That is, they be reges gentium, 'kings of the nations, but Ile is Rex regum, “ King Tim.6.15. over kings themselves.” Moses and they with him be ýryoúpevol, “guides," as St. Paul calleth them; but Jesus Heb.13.17. Christ is 'Apxny's, “ the Arch-guide.” Aaron and his family Heb. 12. 2. be TTOLÉVES, “shepherds,” as St. Peter termeth them; but Jesus Christ is 'Apxetrouunu, “the high and sovereign 1 Pet. 5. 4. Shepherd over all.” Why then dicite in gentibus, tell it out Ps. 96. 10. among the nations,” saith the Prophet, “ that God is King;" that He is the Tu, the Leader, the perpetual, the universal, principal Leader of His people.

From which plain note, that the Lord is Ruler, the Psalmist himself draweth a double use, containing matter both of comfort and fear.

1. Of comfort, in the ninety-seventh Psalm: Dominus Ps. 97. 1. regnavit, exultet terra; “the Lord is Ruler, or Leader, let the earth rejoice.”

2. Of fear, in the ninety-ninth Psalm: Dominus regnavit, Ps. 99. 1. contremiscat populus ; “the Lord is Ruler, or Leader, let the people tremble.”

First, from God's ruling, matter of joy. For if we will be i. ruled by IIim, He will appoint over us a ruler “ according to 1 Sam. 13. His own heart;" He will prevent her with the blessings Ps. 21. 3. of goodness ;” He will deliver the power of Sisera into her

II.

Ps. 132 18.

1

2. Ps. 99. 1.

SERM. hands; "He will clothe her enemies with shame, and make

her crown flourish on her head, and set the days of her life Ps. 89. 29. as the days of Heaven.”

Secondly, matter of fear too. “ The Lord is Ruler, let the

people tremble.” For if they fall to be unruly, He can Ps. 76.12. vindemiare spiritum principum, as easily 'gather to Him’ “the

breath of a Prince,” as we can slip off a cluster from the vine. He can send them a Rehoboam without wisdom, or a

Jeroboam without religion, or Ashur a stranger, to be their Hos. 10. 3. King; or, which is worst of all, nullum regem, a disordered

anarchy, quia non timuimus Jehovam. Therefore exultantes et trementes, “in joy and trembling' let us acknowledge God and His supreme leading, that our parts may be long in Dominus regnavit, exultet terra, “ The Lord doth lead us, let the land rejoice.”

Yet one point more out of this Tu, by comparing it with the verses before, on which it dependeth; that as it is the Person and Power of God that is chief in every rule, so not every power, but even that very power of His,

whereby He worketh wonders.” For the Prophet, in the Ps. 77. 14. fourteenth verse, having said of God, “ Thou art the God That Ps. 77. 18. doest wonders,” and so particularising, “ Thou thunderest

from Heaven, Thou shakest the earth, Thou dividest the Ps. 77. 19, sea,” at last cometh to this Thou;“Thou leadest the people.”

Very strange it is, that He should sort the leading of the people with God's wonders, and that not only among them all, but after them all, as chief of all; recount the government of the people, as if it were some special miracle. And indeed a miracle it is, and whosoever shall look into the nature and weight of a Monarchy will so acknowledge it.

The rod of government is a miraculous rod—both that Exod. 4. 3. of Moses, for it would turn into a serpent, and back again ; Nu. 17. 8. and Aaron's rod too, for of a dry and sear stick it came

to blossom again, and to bear ripe almonds; to shew, J that every government is miraculous, and containeth in it matter of wonder, and that in two respects.

For whereas there is naturally in every man a secking his Ezek. 11.3. own ease, to lie soaking in his broth, as Ezekiel speaketh; Gen. 4. 9. not to be custos fratris, nor to afflict and vex his soul with the

care of others; it is surely supernatural to endure that cark

20.

1.

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