« PreviousContinue »
prevail, or they shall mischief themselves by their own prevalency, Mic. v. 8. As they shall be a dew where they are appointed for a blessing; so, as a lion where they are oppressed. Destruction will come forth on their account, and that terribly, like the destruction of a lion; speedily in passing through it shall be done. And whence is it that this feeble generation shall be as a lion? It is from the presence of Christ among them, who is “the lion of the tribe of Judah;" and, to honour them, he assigns that to them which is his own proper work. Let men take heed how they provoke this lion. For the present, Gen. xlix. 9, he is “gone up from the prey: he stoopeth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" He hath taken his prey in these nations, in the destruction of many of his enemies; he seemeth now to take his rest, to couch down, his indignation being overpast;—but who shall rouse bim up? Why! what if he be provoked? what if he be stirred up? Why, he will not lie down, "until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain,” Numb. xxiii. 24. There is no delivery from him. No; but what if there be a strong combination of many against him; will he not cease and give over? Isa. xxxi. 4. Be they who they will,—the shepherds of the people; be they never so many,—a multitude of them; let them lift up their voice and rage never so much,—all is one; he will perform his work and accomplish it, until you have bim in the condition mentioned, Isa. lxiii. 1-6. Blessed are the people that are under his care and conduct; yea, blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!
PREFATORY NOTE TO THE THREE FOLLOWING DISCOURSES
In the year 1672, the government of Charles II, began to abate its severity against Dissent. Penal laws against the Nonconformists and Popish recusants were suspended. They were allowed to meet for public worship, on the condition of taking out from government a licence to this effect. A large body of the Nonconformists availed themselves of the licence. Numerous congregations were formed; and, to illustrate the harmony between Presbyterians and Independents on the leading doctrines of the Christian system, a weekly lectureship was estab. lished, in which four Presbyterian and two Independent ministers officiated in rotation. The first lecturers were Dr Bates, Dr Manton, Dr Owen, Mr Baxter, Mr Collins, and Mr Jenkyn. The lectures were delivered in Pinner's Hall, an ancient and curious building in Old Broad Street. This lectureship was supported by considerable sums, which were bequeathed for the purpose. A division among the lecturers took place in 1694, occasioned by disputes in regard to the sound. ness of some opinions of Dr Crisp, whose works had been reprinted in 1690. The one party held these opinions to be Antinomian; the other party, who were called Neonomians, vehemently resented a work by Dr Williams, in refutation of Crisp's views. In the end, Dr Bates, Mr Howe, Mr Alsop, and Dr Williams withdrew, and established a separate lecture at Salter's Hall.
These lectures at Pinner's Hall were only the revival of a similar course of public instruction which had been instituted several years previously, and dropped at the Restoration. Neal, in his History of the Puritans, gives the following account of its origin:-“ Most of the citizens of London having some relative or friend in the army of the Earl of Essex, so many bills were sent up to the pulpit every Lord's day for their preservation, that the ministers had not time to notice them in prayer, or even to read them. It was therefore agreed to set apart an hour at seven o'clock every morning, half of it to be spent in prayer for the welfare of the public, as well as particular cases, and the other in exhortations to the people. Mr Case began it in his church in Milk Street, from whence it was removed to the other distant churches in rotation,--a month at each. A number of the most eminent ministers conducted this service in town, and it was attended by great crowds of people. After the heat of the war was over, it became what was called a Casuistical Lecture and continued till the Restoration.” According to Palmer's Nonconformists' Memorial, most of the lectures were delivered at Cripplegate Church, and some at St Giles', whilst the lectures in the series against Popery were delivered at Southwark.
The lectures were published in successive volumes, and are very valuable. The first volume was edited by Case, who had been chiefly instrumental in the erection of the lectureship,—it is entitled, “ The Morning Exercise Methodized; or, certain chief heads and points of the Christian religion opened and improved, in divers sermons," etc. The volume bears date 1660. Other four volumes successively appeared in 1661, 1674, 1683, and 1690. To each of the volumes there was a preface by Samuel Annesley, LL.D., who had also given one of the lectures in each course. In 1675, there was published, under the editorial superintendence of the Rev. Nathaniel Vincent, A.M., “The Morning Exercise against Popery; or, the principal errors of the Church of Rome detected and confuted, in a morning lecture preached lately at Southwark.”
It is not so generally known, that, besides the works enumerated above, there were volumes of the same character published at still earlier dates. The titles of them may be given :-“The Morning Exercise at Giles-in-the-Fields, May 1655, printed for Richard Gibbs, in Chancery Lane, near Sergeants' Inn;" and " The Word of Faith, at Martin's-in-the-Fields, February 1655, printed for Fran. Tyton, at the Three Daggers, in Fleet Street.”
Dr Owen contributed three sermons to these “ Morning Exercises;”—one entitled, “ How we may Bring our Hearts to Bear Reproofs,” published in the Supplement to “ The Morning Exercise” at Cripplegate, 1674; a second, “The Chamber of Imagery,” etc., in “The Morning Exercise” in 1683; and a third, which seems to have escaped the notice of Mr Orme, and is not included in Rus. sell's edition of Owen's works,-entitled, “The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God," and published in “ The Morning Exercise against Popery," 1675.-En.
HOW WE MAY BRING OUR HEARTS TO BEAR REPROOFS.
“Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it
shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. "-Ps. cxli, 5.
It is generally agreed by expositors that this psalm, as that foregoing, with two of those that follow, was composed by David in the time of his banishment, or flight, from the court of Sau). The state wherein he describeth himself to have been, the matter of his pleas and prayers contained in them, with sundry express circumstances regarding that season, and his condition therein, do manifest that to have been the time of their composure.
That the psalmist was now in some distress, whereof he was deeply sensible, is evident from that vehemency of his spirit which he expresseth in the reiteration of his request or supplication, verse 1; and by his desire that his prayer might come before the LORD as incense; and the lifting up of his hands as the evening sacrifice, verse 2. The Jewish expositors guess, not improbably, that in that allusion he had regard unto his present exclusion from the holy services of the tabernacle; which in other places he deeply complains of.
For the matter of his prayer, in this beginning of the psalm (for I shall not look beyond the text), it respecteth himself, and his deportment under his present condition; which he desireth may be harmless and holy,--becoming himself, and useful unto others. And whereas he was two ways liable to miscarry,—first, By too high an exasperation of spirit against his oppressors and persecutors; and, secondly, By a fraudulent and pusillanimous compliance with them in their wicked courses; which are the two extremes that men are apt sinfully to run into in such conditions,—he prays earnestly to be delivered from them both. The first he hath respect unto, verse 3, “Set a watch, 0 LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips;"_namely, that he might not, under those great provocations which were given him, break forth into an unseemly intemperance of speech against his unjust oppressors;