« PreviousContinue »
PSALM cxxii. 6. Pray for the Peace of Ferufalem : they shall
. profper that love thee.
THERE is nothing places Religion in Ta more disadvantageous View, than the Opinion entertained by fome, that a Concern for the present Peace and Prosperity of the World is fo foreign to all the Ends and Purposes of true Religion, that a good Man ought not to suffer his Thoughts, much less his Passions and Affections, to be engaged in so worthless a Subject.
The inspired Writers have indeed, with repeated Instructions, guarded us against the Temptations of Riches, Honours, and Pleasures, and prepared us to undergo the Calamities and Afflictions of Life, with
Firmness and Constancy of Mind. But what then? So does the General exhort his Soldiers to bear with Patience the Fatigues of War, to despise the Dangers of it, and in the Day of Action to press forward, regardless of Life itself; yet still Victory and Triumph, and the sweet Enjoyments of Peace, are the End of War; and the Soldier, though he must not fear to die, yet it is his Business to live and conquer. Reli. gion is a spiritual Warfare, and the World is the Scene of Action, in which every good Man will be sure to meet with Enemies enough; and it is not the End he aims at, but the Opposition he meets with, in pursuing that End, that makes it necessary for him to be inured to bear the Miseries and Afflictions of the World. Were the Case otherwise, it would be Iniquity to pray for temporal Peace and Prosperity ; since we never ought to seek that by Prayer to God, which the Rules of our Religion will not permit us to be concerned for. So that the Exhortation in the Text, to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, implies that we ought to be concerned for her Peace, so concerned as to do whatever is in our Power to procure, and to preserve it; since Prayer to
God for his Affistance, supposes the Use of our own Endeavours to obtain the Blessing we contend for: and that we may not think, that the Christian Religion has made any Alteration in this case, St. Paul has exhorted us to pray, and to give Thanks for all Men; especially for Kings, and all that are in Authority; for this Reason, That we may lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all Godliness and Honesty.
Upon this View then a Concern for the Peace and Prosperity of our Country is not only a political but a religious Virtue; a Care that becomes us, both as we are Men, and as we are Christians; which stands not upon the narrow Bottom of Self-Interest, but rises from a more generous Principle, partaking of the Love of God, and of our Neighbour ; since whilst we seek the public Peace, we shew our Beneficence to one, and our Obedience to the other.
But there is a farther Confideration, which makes the public Peace to be the juft Concern of every good Man. The present State of Religion in the World is such, and so connected every where with the civil Rights of , Mankind, that there is no probable Ground to hope, that even the Religion we
profess profess can be saved out of the Ruins of the Liberty of our Country. If therefore it be a Care worthy of a good Man, to preserve the Purity of Religion in his own Time, or to transmit it safe to Posterity; if we may wish, as well as pray, that he may lead a quiet and peaceable Life in all Godliness and Honesty; or that his Sons and his Daughters may stand up after him before the Lord in the Congregation of his Saints : if these be lawful Desires, and such as we may by our best Endeavours labour to obtain, our Re gion will never permit us to be unconce Spectators in any Cause that affects the Prosperity of our Country; upon which, under God, depends the Liberty we enjoy of freely profefling the Faith once delivered to the Saints.
The Psalm from which the Text is taken, turns wholly upon these two Topics; the temporal Prosperity of Jerufalem, confidered as the Head of the civil Government, in the flourishing Condition of which the Happiness of the whole Nation was concerned; and considered as the Seat of true Religion, the City in which God had chose to dwell, and to place his Name there ; upon whose Peace consequently depended the Security of
the the holy Religion, which was there taught and professed. The first Thing that gave Vent to the holy Psalmist's Joy, was observ. ing the Unanimity of the People in their Attendance upon the Service of God in the holy City; I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord: our Feet mall stand within tby Gates, Oyerufalem. From hence, he entertains himself with the beautiful Prospect of Jerufalem, as it was the Center both of religious and civil Government, in which were seated the Ark of God, and the Throne of David: from whence issued the Streams of Justice and Holiness, to refresh and make glad all the Cities of Israel. Jerusalem is built as a City, that is compaxt together; or, as the old Translation reads, that is at Unity in itSelf. Whither the Tribes go up, the Tribes of the Lord, unto the Testimony of Israel, to give Thanks unto the Name of the Lord. There are set Thrones of Judgment, the Thrones of the House of David. The Contemplation of this happy State of his Country, naturally vented itself in the Warmth and Ardor expressed in the Text, and following Verse: Pray for the Peace of Jerusa