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PREACHED AT THE EARL OF BRIDGEWATER'S HOUSE IN LONDON, AT THE MARRIAGE OF HIS DAUGHTER, THE LADY MARY, TO THE ELDEST SON OF THE LORD HERBERT OF CASTLE-ISLAND, NoVEMBER 19, 1627.
THE PRAYER BEFORE THE SERMON.
O ETERNAL, and most gracious God, who hast promised to hearken to the prayers of thy people, when they pray towards thy house, though they be absent from it, work more effectually upon us, who are personally met in this thy house, in this place consecrated to thy worship. Enable us, O Lord, so to see thee, in all thy glasses, in all thy representations of thyself to us here, as that hereafter we may see thee face to face, and as thou art in thyself, in thy kingdom of glory. Of which glasses wherein we may see thee, thee in thine unity, as thou art one God; thee in thy plurality, as thou art more persons, we receive this thy institution of marriage to be one. In thy first work, the creation, the last seal of thy whole work was a marriage. In thy Son's great work, the redemption, the first seal of that whole work, was a miracle at a marriage. In the work of thy blessed spirit, our sanctification, he refreshes to us, that promise in one prophet, that thou wilt marry thyself to us for ever: and more in another, that thou hast married thyself unto us from the beginning. Thou hast married mercy and justice in thyself, married God and man in thy Son, married increpation and consolation in the Holy Ghost, marry in us also, O Lord, a love and a fear of thee. And as thou hast married in us two natures, mortal and immortal, marry in us also, the knowledge, and the practice of all duties belonging to both conditions, that so this world may be our gallery
to the next; and marry in us, the spirit of thankfulness, for all thy benefits already bestowed upon us, and the spirit of prayer for the continuance, and enlargement of them. Continue, and enlarge them, O God, upon thine universal church, &c.
MATTHEW Xxii. 30.
For, in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Of all commentaries upon the Scriptures, good examples are the best and the liveliest; and of all examples those that are nearest, and most present, and most familiar unto us; and our most familiar examples, are those of our own families, and in families, the masters of families, the fathers of families, are most conspicuous, most appliable, most considerable. Now, in exercises upon such occasions as this, ordinarily, the instruction is to be directed especially upon those persons, who especially give the occasion of the exercise; that is, upon the persons to be united in holy wedlock: for, as that is a difference between sermons and lectures, that a sermon intends exhortation principally and edification, and a holy stirring of religious affections, and then matters of doctrine, and points of divinity, occasionally, secondarily, as the words of the text may invite them; but lectures intend principally doctrinal points, and matter of divinity, and matter of exhortation but occasionally, and as in a second place: so that is a difference between christening sermons, and marriage sermons, that the first, at christenings, are especially directed upon the congregation, and not upon the persons who are to be christened; and these, at marriages, especially upon the parties that are to be united; and upon the congregation, but by reflection. When therefore to these persons of noble extraction, I am to say something of the duties, and something of the blessings of marriage, what God commands, and what God promises in that state, in his Scriptures, I lay open to them, the best exposition, the best commentaries upon those Scriptures, that is, example, and the nearest example, that is, example in their own family, when, with the prophet Isaiah', I direct them, to look upon the rock, from whence they are hewn, to propose to themselves their own parents, and to consider there the performance of the
1 Isaiah Li. i.
duties of marriage imposed by God in St. Paul, and the blessings proposed by God in David, Thy wife shall be a fruitful vine by the sides of thy house, thy children like olive-plants round about thy table; for, to this purpose of edifying children by example, such as are truly religious, fathers in families, are therein truly learned fathers of the church; a good father at home, is a St. Augustine, and a St. Ambrose in himself; and such a Thomas may have governed a family, as shall, by way of example, teach children, and children's children more to this purpose, than any Thomas Aquinas can. Since therefore these noble persons have so good a glass to dress themselves in, the useful, as the powerful example of parents, I shall the less need to apply myself to them, for their particular instructions, but may have leave to extend myself upon considerations more general, and such as may be appliable to all, who have, or shall embrace that honourable state, or shall any way assist at the solemnizing thereof; that they may all make this union of marriage, a type, or a remembrancer of their union with God in heaven. That as our Genesis is our Exodus, (our proceeding into the world, is a step out of the world) so every gospel may be a revelation unto us: all good tidings (which is the name of gospel) all that ministers any joy to us here, may reveal, and manifest to us, an interest in the joy and glory of heaven, and that our admission to a marriage here, may be our invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb there, where in the resurrection, we shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be as the angels of God in heaven.
These words our blessed Saviour spake to the Sadducees; who not believing the resurrection of the dead, put him a case that one woman hath had seven husbands, and then whose wife, of those seven, should she be in the resurrection? they would needs suppose, and presume, that there could be no resurrection of the body, but that there must be to all purposes, a bodily use of the body too, and then the question had been pertinent, Whose wife of the seven shall she be? But Christ shows them their error, in the weakness of the foundation, she shall be none of their wives, for, in the resurrection, they neither marry, &c. The words give us
2 Psalm cxxviii. 3.
* Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Chancellor, grandfather to the bride.
this latitude, when Christ says, In the resurrection they marry not, &c. from thence flows out this concession, this proposition too; till the resurrection they shall marry, and be given in marriage; no inhibition to be laid upon persons, no imputation, no aspersion upon the state of marriage. And when Christ says, Then they are as the angels of God in heaven, from this flows this concession, this proposition also, till then we must not look for this angelical state, but, as in all other states and conditions of life, so in all marriages there will be some incumbrances, betwixt all married persons, there will arise some unkindnesses, some misinterpretations; or some too quick interpretations may sometimes sprinkle a little sourness, and spread a little, a thin, a dilute and washy cloud upon them; then they marry not, till then they may; then their state shall be perfect as the angels, till then it shall not; these are our branches, and the fruits that grow upon them, we shall pull in passing, and present them as we gather them.
First then, Christ establishes a resurrection, a resurrection there shall be, for that makes up God's circle. The body of man was the first point that the foot of God's compass was upon: first, he created the body of Adam: and then he carries his compass round, and shuts up where he began, he ends with the body of man again in the glorification thereof in the resurrection. God is Alpha and Omega, first, and last; and his alpha and omega, his first, and last work is the body of man too. Of the immortality of the soul, there is not an express article of the creed: for that last article of the life everlasting, is rather de præmio, et pœna, what the soul shall suffer, or what the soul shall enjoy, being presumed to be immortal, than that it is said to be immortal in that article; that article may, and does presuppose an immortality, but it does not constitute an immortality in our soul, for there would be a life everlasting in heaven, and we were bound to believe it, as we were bound to believe a God in heaven, though our souls were not immortal. There are so many evidences of the immortality of the soul, even to a natural man's reason, that it required not an article of the creed, to fix this notion of the immortality of the soul. But the resurrection of the body is discernible by no other light, but that of faith, nor could be fixed by any less assurance than an article of the creed. Where be all the splinters of that bone,