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RIGHT HONOURABLE THOMAS ALLEYNE,
LORD MAYOR OF THE CITY OF LONDON,
RIGHT WORSHIPFUL ALDERMEN,
As, in obedience to your favourable invitation, this Sermon was first preached; and the Author, conscious of his great unworthiness, employed in so honourable a work; so is it your pleasure, against which my judgment must not here contest, that hath thus exposed it to the public view; which yet I must confess doth not engage you in the patronage of any of the crudities' and imperfections of this hasty work, it being the matter, which is of God, that so far prevailed for your acceptance as to procure your pardon of the manner, which is too much my own. Rejoicing is so highly valued, even by nature, that I thought it a matter of great necessity to help to rectify and elevate your joys. The corruption of a thing so excellent must needs be very bad; and it being the great and durable good that must feed all great and durable joy; and seeing these little transitory things can cause but little and transitory delight, I thought it my duty to insist most on the greatest on which, in your meditations, you must most insist; which I repent not of, especially now you have given my doctrine a more loud and lasting voice, because it is only our heavenly interest that may be the matter of universal continued delight : and so the subject may, make the sermon to be of the more universal and continued use, when a subject of less excellency and duration than heaven would have depressed and limited the discourse, as to its usefulness. And also I was forced in this, as in all these sublunary things, to estimate the mercy in which we did all so solemnly rejoice but às a means, which is so far to be valued as it conduceth to its end; and is something or nothing as it relateth to eternity. Since I placed my hopes above, and learned to live a life of faith, I never desire to know any mercy in any other form or name, nor value it on any other account, as not affecting to make such reckonings which I daily see obliterated in grief and shame by those that make them; and remembering who said, that if we had known Christ himself after the flesh, henceforth we know him so no more. As it was my compassion to the frantic merry world, and also to the self-troubling melancholy Christian, and my desire methodically to help you in your rejoicings about the great occasions of the day, which formed this exhortation to what you heard, and chose the subject which, to some, might seem less suitable to the day; so, if the publication may print so great and necessary a point on the hearts of any that had not the opportunity to hear, as God shall have the praise, and they the joy, so you shall have, under God, the thanks, and I the attainment of my end, which is my reward : I rest,
LUKE X. 20.
Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject
to you ; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
Right Honourable, Worshipful, and Beloved Auditors,
If any of you shall say, up the hearing of my text, that I have chosen a subject unsuitable to the occasion, and that a
rejoice not” is out of season on a day of such rejoicing, they may, I hope, be well satisfied by that time they have considered the reason of these words, as used by Christ to his disciples, and the greater joy that is here commanded, and so the reason of my choice.
When Christ had sent forth his seventy disciples to preach the gospel through the cities of Judea, and to confirm it by miraculous cures, for which he endued them with power from above, upon their return they triumph especially in this, that “ the devils themselves were subject to them through the name of Christ.” (Ver. 17.) A mercy which Christ is so far from extenuating that, 1. He sets it forth more fully than they, (ver. 18,) “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” 2. He promised them yet more of it, “ giving them power to tread on serpents, and on scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and that nothing should by any means hurt them.” 3. He rejoiceth in spirit, and thankfully acknowledged it to the father himself. (Ver. 21.) And yet he seems here to forbid them to rejoice in it, commanding them another joy. What! was it not a mercy to be rejoiced in? Or is there any contradiction in the words of Christ ? Neither: he doth not absolutely forbid them to rejoice in it; but he saw that their corruption took an advantage by it, to puff them up with pride and vain glory, and that they savoured it too carnally, and were much taken with it, as it was a visible triumph and honour to themselves the instruments, and too much overlooked the end and use of it. Christ
therefore aggravateth the mercy in its proper notion, as it was to the honouring of the father and himself, and the advancement of his kingdom, and the saving of men's souls, by the confirmation of the gospel, and the fall of Satan. But the shell or grosser substance of the mercy applied to a wrong end, and by corruption made another thing, being deprived of its proper soul, this Christ admonisheth them to keep out of their estimation and affection. He meeteth his returning messengers rejoicing too much in themselves: and this proud, inordinate, selfish joy is it that he would take from them by his caution or prohibition, “ In this rejoice not.”
But that they may see that he doth not envy them their comforts, he showeth them cause of a greater joy, which he alloweth and commandeth them, as more suitable to his ends and their felicity : “But rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
For better understar.ding of this you may observe; 1. What matter of joy the subjection of the devils might afford them. 2. What manner of joy they were affected with, which Christ forbad them. 3. What manner of joy it is that Christ alloweth them, when he seemeth to restrain it wholly to their heavenly interest.
1. No doubt, to have the devils subject to them was a great mercy, in which they might rejoice. For, 1. It was the gift of Christ : and all is perfumed that hath touched his hand. Nothing but good can come from him that is so good, by way of gift.
2. It was a gift foretold by the prophets, as reseryed for the gospel time, that is eminently called the kingdom of God: and an extraordinary gift in respect to the precedent and subsequent generations. It was no usual thing for men to exercise such authority over the very devils, as to command them to come forth, and to heal the bodies that they had long afflicted.
3. It was a victory over the strongest enemy, that can make more effectual resistance than the most numerous armies of poor mortals, and would laugh at your horse and arms, your fire and sword, your greatest cannons : and cannot be expugned but by the power of the Almighty. A stronger than he must come upon him, and bind him, and cast him out of his possession, before he will surrender the garrison, goods, and prisoners, which he hath held in peace, (Luke xi. 31, 22.)
4. It was a victory over the most subtle enemy, that is not conquerable by any stratagems of human wit.
5. It was a victory over the most malicious enemy, that sought more than the subversion of men's temporal peace, and by afflicting the body intended the hurting of the soul.
6. It was a conquest of him that had long possession, and one way or other kept in bondage the prisoners that justice had subjected to his rage.
7. It was a victory exceeding honourable to Christ, whose very messengers, by his name alone, could make the powers of hell submit. He that refused to be made a as having not
8, a kingdom of this world, (John xviii. 36,) and that had not a place to lay his head on; (Matt. viii. 22 ;) commanded him that had presumed to tempt him with all the kingdoms and the glory of the world ! (Matt. iv. 8, 9;) and that not only by the bare word of his mouth, but by the word of his meanest, most despised messengers; which made the people stand amazed, saying, what manner of man is this?
8. It was a victory tending to the successes of the gospel, to convince the unbelieving world, and so to enlarge the kingdom of Christ, and to save the people's souls.
9. And also from so great a work it was no small honour that accrued to the instruments: an honour which, in its proper place, they might lawfully regard.
10. And all this was aggravated by the congruency of the mercy to the low, despised condition of the instruments, (and of Christ himself,) when they were destitute of all common advantages and means, for the carrying on of so great and necessary a work, surpassing all the strength of flesh: how seasonable was it that the Omnipotency of heaven should then appear for them, and thus engage itself for their success. So that in all this
you may easily see that here was abundant matter for a rational, warrantable joy to the disciples.
II. But where then was their fault? And what was that joy which Christ forbad them? Answer. Having already told you in general, I shall tell you more particularly. 1. They looked too much at the matter of dominion over the subjected and ejected devils and relished most delightfully the external part. As the Jews looked for a Messiah that should come in grandeur, and bring the nations under his dominion; so the disciples that had yet too much of these conceits began to be lifted the expectation of some earthly glory, when they saw the powers of hell submit, and Christ thus begin with the manifestation of his omnipotency. But the great end of these miracles they too much overlooked : they too much left out of the rejoicings the