PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S ON CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1626.
Luke ii. 29 & 30.
Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.
The whole life of Christ was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha (where he was crucified) even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as his cross at last. His birth and his death were but one continual act, and his Christmas-day and his Good Friday are but the evening and morning of one and the same day. And as even his birth is his death, so every action and passage that manifests Christ to us, is his birth, for Epiphany is manifestation; and therefore, though the church do now call Twelfth-day Epiphany, because upon that day Christ was manifested to the Gentiles in those wise men who came then to worship him, yet the ancient church called this day (the day of Christ's birth) the Epiphany, because this day Christ was manifested to the world, by being born this day. Every manifestation of Christ to the world, to the church, to a particular soul, is an Epiphany, a Christmas-day. Now there is nowhere a more evident manifestation of Christ than in that which induced this text, Lord, 1101c lettest thou thy servant, 8fc.
It had been revealed to Simeon (whose words these are) that he should see Christ before he died; and actually and really, substantially, essentially, bodily, presentially, personally he does see him; so it is Simeon's Epiphany, Simeon's Christmas-day; so also this day, in which we commemorate and celebrate the general Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the whole world in his birth, all we, we, who besides our interest in the uersal Epiphany and manifestation implied in the very day, have this day received the body and blood of Christ in his holy and blessed Sacrament, have had another Epiphany, another Christmas-day, another manifestation and application of Christ to ourselves. And as the church prepares our devotion before Christmas-day, with four Sundays in Advent, which brings Christ nearer and nearer unto us, and remembers us that he is coming, and then continues that remembrance again with the celebration of other festivals with it, and after it, as St. Stephen, St. John, and the rest that follow; so for this birth of Christ in your particular souls, for this Epiphany, this Christmas-day, this manifestation of Christ which you have had in the most blessed Sacrament this day, as you were prepared before by that which was said before, so it belongs to the thorough celebration of the day, and to the dignity of that mysterious act, and to the blessedness of worthy and the danger of unworthy receivers, to press that evidence in your behalf, and to enable you, by a farther examination of yourselves, to depart in peace, because your eyes have seen his salvation.
To be able to conclude to yourselves, that because you have had a Christmas-day, a manifestation of Christ's birth in your souls by the Sacrament, you shall have a whole Good Friday, a crucifying and a consummatum est, a measure of corrections and joy in those corrections, temptations, and the issue with the temptation; and that you shall have a resurrection and an ascension, an inchoation, and an unremovable possession of heaven itself in this world. Make good your Christmas-day, that Christ by a worthy receiving of the Sacrament be born in you, and he that died for you will live with you all the year, and all the years of your lives, and inspire into you, and receive from you at the last gasp, this blessed acclamation, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant, fyc.
The end of all digestions and concoctions is assimilation, that the meat may become our body. The end of all consideration of all the actions of such leading and exemplary men as Simeon was, is assimilation too, that we may be like that man; therefore wo shall make it a first part, to take a picture, to give a character of this man, to consider how Simeon was qualified and prepared, matured and disposed to that confidence, that he could desire to depart in peace, intimated in that first word now; now, that all that I look for is accomplished, and farther expressed in the first word of the other clause, For; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation; Now, now the time is fulfilled, For, for mine eyes have seen. And then enters the second part; what is the greatest happiness that can be well wished in this world, by a man well prepared, is, that he may depart in peace: Lord, now lettest thou, fyc. And all the way, in every step that we make, in his light (in Simeon's light) we shall see light; we shall consider that that preparation and disposition, and acquiescence which Simeon had in his Epiphany, in his visible seeing of Christ then, is offered to us in this Epiphany, in this manifestation and application of Christ in the Sacrament; and that therefore every penitent, and devout, and reverend, and worthy receiver hath had in that holy action his Now, there are all things accomplished to him and his For, for his eyes have seen his salvation and so may be content, nay glad, to depart in peace.
Ill the first part then, in which we collect some marks and qualities in Simeon which prepared him to a quiet death; qualities applicable to us in that capacity, as we are fitted for the Sacrament, (for in that way only we shall walk throughout this exercise,) we consider first the action itself, what was done at this time. At this time, our Saviour Christ, according to the law, by which all the first born were to be presented to God in the temple at a certain time after their birth, was presented to God in the temple, and there acknowledged to be his, and then bought of him again by his parents at a certain price prescribed in the law. A lord could not exhibit his son to his tenants, and say, this is your landlord; nor a king, his son to his subjects, and say, this is your prince; but first he was to be tendered to God; his, they were all. He that is not God's first, is not truly his king's, nor his own. And then God does not sell him back again to his parents, at a racked, at an improved price. He sells a lord or a king back again to the world as cheap as a yeoman; he takes one and the same price for all. God made all mankind of one blood; and with one blood, the blood of his son, he bought all mankind again; at one price, and upon the same conditions, he hath delivered over all into this world; tantummodo crede, and then, fac hoc, et vives, is the price of all; believe, and live well. More he asks not, less he takes not for any man, upon any pretence of any unconditioned decree.
At the time of this presentation there were to be offered a pair of turtles, or a pair of pigeons; the sacrifice was indifferent. Turtles that live solitarily, and pigeons that live sociably, were all one to God. God in Christ may be had in an active and sociable life, denoted in the pigeon, and in the solitary and contemplative life, denoted in the turtle. Let not Westminster despise the church, nor the church the exchange, nor the exchange and trade despise arms; God in Christ may be had in every lawful calling. And then, the pigeon was an emblem of fecundity, and fruitfulness in marriage; and the turtle may be an emblem of chaste widowhood, for, I think we find no bigamy in the turtle. But in these sacrifices wc find no emblem of a natural, or of a vowed barrenness; nothing that countenances a vowed virginity, to the dishonour or undervaluing of marriage. Thus was our Saviour presented to God; and in this especially was that fulfilled, The glory of the latter house shall be greater than the glory of the former*; the latter temple exceeded the former in this, that the Lord, the God of this house, was in the house bodily, as one of the congregation; and the little body of a sucking child was a chapel in that temple, infinitely more glorious than the temple itself. How was the joy of Noah, at the return of the dove into the ark, multiplied upon Simeon, at the bringing of this dove into the temple! At how cheap a price was Christ tumbled up and down in this world! It does almost take off our pious scorn of the low price at which Judas sold him, to consider that his Father sold him to the world for nothing; and then, when he had him again, by this new title of primogeniture and presentation, he sold him to the world again, if not for a turtle, or for a pigeon, yet at most for five shekels, which at most is but ten shillings.
And yet you have had him cheaper than that, to-day in the Sacrament: whom hath Christ cost five shekels there? As Christ was presented to God in the temple, so is he presented to God in the Sacrament; not sucking, but bleeding. And God gives him back again to thee; and at what price? upon this exchange; take his first born, Christ Jesus, and give him thine. Who is thine? Cor primogenitum, says St. Augustine. The heart is the first part of the body that lives; give him that; and then, as it is in nature, it shall be in grace too, the last part that dies; for it shall never die. If a man eat the bread that cometh down from heaven, he shall not die*, says Christ. If a man, in exchange of his heart, receive Christ Jesus himself, he can no more die, than Christ Jesus himself can die. That which Eschines said to Socrates admits a fair accommodation here. He saw every body give Socrates some present, and he said, Because I have nothing else to give, I will give thee myself. Do so, says Socrates, and I will give thee back again to thyself, better than when I received thee. If thou have truly given thyself to him in the Sacrament, God hath given thee thyself back, so much mended, as that thou hast received thyself and him too; thyself, in a holy liberty, to walk in the world in a calling, and himself, in giving
1 Hag. ii. 9. 8 John vi. 50.
a blessing upon all the works of thy calling, and imprinting in thee a holy desire to do all those works to his glory. And so having thus far made this profit of these circumstances in the action itself, applicable to us as receivers of the Sacrament, that, as the child Jesus was first presented to God in the temple, so for your children, (the children of your bodies, and the children of your minds, and the children of your hands, all your actions, and intentions,) that you direct them first upon God, and God in the temple, that is, God manifested in the church, before you assign them, or determine them upon any other worldly courses, and then, that as God returned Christ, as all other children, at a certain price, so God delivers man upon certain and upon the same conditions; he comes not into the world, nor he comes not to the Sacrament, as to a lottery, where perchance he may draw salvation, but it is ten to one he misses, but upon these few and easy conditions, believe and love, he may be sure and then also, that the sacrifice, pigeons or turtles, was indifferent, so it were offered to God, for any honest calling is acceptable to God, if God's glory be intended in it: that of marriage and of widowhood, we have some typical intimations in the law, in the pigeon, and in the turtle, but of a vow of virginity, begun in the parents for their temporal ends, and forced upon their children, for those ends, we have no shadow at all; that Christ, who was sold after by Judas for a little money, was sold in this presentation by his Father, for less, and yet for less than that to us this day in the Sacrament: having made these uses of these circumstances in the action itself, we pass on now to the consideration of some such qualities and dispositions of this person, Simeon, as may be applicable to us in our having received the Sacrament.
First then, we receive it, though not literally, and expressly in the story, yet by convenient implication there, and by general tradition from all, that Simeon was now come to a great age, a very old man; for so St. Augustine argues, that God raised up two witnesses for Christ in the temple, one of each sex, and both of much reverence for age; Anna, whose age is expressed, and Simeon, who is recommended in the same respect, says that Father, for age too. And Nicephorus, and others with him, make him very old, as it is likely he was, if he were, as Peter Galatinus makes him, the son of Rabbi Hillel, Hillel the master of Gamaliel, the master of St. Paul. So then we accept him, a person in a reverend age. Even in nature, age was the centre of reverence; the channel, the valley, to which all reverence flowed. Temporal jurisdiction, and spiritual jurisdiction, the magistracy, and the priesthood, wero appropriated to the eldest; almost in all vulgar languages, the name of a lord or magistrate hath no other derivation than so, an elder; senior noster is a word that passes freely, through the authors of the middle age, for our lord or our king; and the same derivation hath the name of priest, in a holy language, presbyter, an elder. So evermore in the course of the Scripture all counsel and all government is placed in the elders; and all the service of God is expressed so, even in heaven too, by the four-and-twenty elders3. Thy Creator will be remembered in the days of thy youth; but God hath had longer experience of that man, and longer conversation with that man, who is come to a holy age. That wise king, who could carry nothing to a higher pitch in any comparison than to a crown, says, Age is a crown of glory, when it is found in the ways of the righteous'1; but in the ways of righteousness, no blessing is a blessing; and in the ways of righteousness, wealth may be a crown of our labours, and health may be a crown of our temperance, but age is the crown of glory, of reverence. That crown, the crown of reverence, the Lord, the righteous Judge, hath reserved to that day, the day of our age, because our age is the seal of our constancy and perseverance. In this blessed age, Simeon was thus dignified, admitted to this Epiphany, this manifestation of Christ; and, to be admitted to thy Epiphany, and manifestation of Christ in the Sacrament, thou must put off the young man and put on the old. God, to whose table thou art called, is represented as antiqmis dierum, the Ancient of days; and his guests must be of mortified affections; he must be crucified to the world, that will receive him that was crucified for the world; the lusts of youth, the voluptuousness of youth, the revengefulness of youth, must have a holy damp, and a religious stupidity shed upon them, that come thither. Nay, it is not enough to be suddenly old, to have sad and mortified thoughts then; no, nor
3 Rev. iv. 9. *- Prov. xvi. 31.
to be suddenly dead, to renounce the world then, that hour, that morning, but quatridaani sitis, you should have been dead three days, as Lazarus; you should have passed an examination, an accusation, a condemnation of yourselves, divers days before you came to that table. God was most glorified in the raising of Lazarus, when he was long dead and putrefied. God is most glorified in giving a resurrection to him that hath been longest dead; that is, longest in the contemplation of his own sinful and spiritual putrefaction; for, he that stinks most in his own, by true contrition, is the best perfume to God's nostrils, and a conscience troubled in itself is odor quietis, as Noah's sacrifice was, a savour of rest to God.
This assistance we have to the exaltation of our devotion, from that circumstance, that Simeon was an old man; we have another from another, that he was a priest, and in that notion and capacity the better fitted for this Epiphany, this Christmas, this manifestation of Christ. We have not this neither in the letter of the story, no, nor so constantly in tradition, that he was a priest, as that he was an old man; but it is rooted in antiquity too, in Athanasius, in St. Cyril, in Epiphanius, in others, who argue, and infer it fairly and conveniently, out of some priestly acts which Simeon seems to have done in the temple, (as the taking of Christ in his arms, which belongs to the priest, and the blessing of God, which is the thanksgiving to God in the behalf of the congregation, and then the blessing of the people in the behalf of God, which are acts peculiar to the priest). Accepting him in that quality, a priest, we consider, that as the king takes it worse in his household servants, than in his subjects at large, if they go not his ways; so they who dwell in God's house, whose livelihood grows out of the revenue of his church, and whose service lies within the walls of his church, are most inexcusable, if they have not a continual Epiphany, a continual manifestation of Christ. All men should look towards God, but the priest should never look off from God; and at the sacrament every man is a priest. I had rather that were not said (which yet a very reverend divine says5), that this Simeon might be aliquis plebeius homo, some ordinary common man, that was in
the temple at that time, when Christ was brought. He, who is of another subdivision", (though in the reformed church too,) collects piously, that God chose extraordinary men to give testimony of this Son; Nicodemus, a great magistrate, Gamaliel, a great doctor, Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, and this Simeon, in probability pregnant enough, a priest. But was that any great addition to him, if he were so? For holiness, certainly it was; but for outward dignity and respect, it was so, too, amongst them. In omni natione, certum aliquod nobilitatis argumentum1, Every nation hath some particular way of ennobling, and some particular evidence and declaration of nobility; arms for a great part is that in Spain, and merchandise in some states in Italy, and learning in France, where, besides the very many preferments by the church, in which some other nation may be equal to them, there are more preferments by other ways of learning, especially of judicature, than in any other nation. All nations, says Josephus, had some peculiar way; and amongst the Jews, says he, priesthood was that way; a priest was, even for civil privileges, a gentleman. Therefore hath the apostle, not knighted nor ennobled, but crowned every good soul with that style, Regale sacerdotium, that they are a royal priesthood. To be royal without priesthood seemed not to him dignity enough. Consider, then, that to come to the communion table is to take orders. Every man should come to that altar as holy as the priest, for there he is a priest; and, Sacerdotem nemo agit, qui libenter aliud est, quam sacerdos*, no man is truly a priest which is any thing else besides a priest; that is, that entangles himself in any other business, so as that it hinders his function in his priesthood. No man comes to the Sacrament well, that is sorry he is there; that is, whom the penalty of the law, or observation of neighbours, or any collateral respect, brings thither. There thou art a priest, though thou beest but a layman at home; and then, no man that hath taken orders can deprive himself or divest his orders when he will: thou art bound to continue in the same holiness after in which thou presentest thyself at that table. As the sails of a ship, when they are spread and swoln, and the way that the ship makes, shows me the wind, where it is, though the wind itself
6 Chemnicius. 7 Josephus. 8 Erasmus.
Vol. I. F
be an invisible thing, so thy actions to-morrow, and the life that thou leadest all the year, will show me with what mind thou eamest to the Sacrament to-day, though only God, and not I, can see thy mind. Live in remembrance, that thou wast a priest today (for no man hath received Christ that hath not sacrificed himself); and live as though thou wert a priest still; and then I say, with Sidonius Apollinaris, Malo sacerdotalem virtm, quam sacerdotem, I had rather have one man that lives as a priest should do, than a hundred priests that live not so. A worthy receiver shall rise in judgment against an unworthy giver; Christ shall be the sacrifice still, and thou the priest, that eamest but to receive, because thou hast sacrificed thyself; and he the Judas, that pretended to be the priest, because he hath betrayed Christ to himself, and, as much as lay in him, evacuated the Sacrament, and made it of none effect to thee.
It is farther added for his honour, and for his competency and fitness for this Epiphany, to see his Saviour, that he was justus, a just and righteous man. This is a legal righteousness, a righteousness in which St. Paul says he was unreproachable, that is, in the sight of all the world. And this righteousness, even this outward righteousness, he must bring with him that comes to this Epiphany, to this manifestation and application of his Saviour to him in the Sacrament; it must stand well between him and all the world9. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, sa}rs Christ, (if thou bring thyself to the altar, says our case,) and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, (it was ill done not to remember it before, but if thou remember it then,) Go thy way, says Christ,-first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift, that is, offer thyself for that sacrifice. Better come a month after with a clear, than kneel it out then with a perplexed conscience. It is, If thy brother have ought against thee, how little soever; if thou have but scandalized him, though thou have not injured him, yet venture not upon this holy action till thou have satisfied him. Thou mayest be good; good, so as that thou hast intended no ill to him. He may be good too; good, so as that he wishes no ill to thee. And yet some negligence and remissness in thee may have struck upon
» Matt. v. 23.
a weakness and a tenderness in him, so as that he may he come to think uncharitably of thee; and though this uncharitableness be his fault, and not thine, yet the negligence that occasioned it was thine. Satisfy him, and that rectifies both; it redeems thy negligence, it recovers his weakness. Till that be done, neither of you are fit for this holy action; God neither accepts that man that is negligent of his actions, and cares not what others think, nor him that is over easy to be scandalized, and misinterpret actions otherwise indifferent; for, to them who study not this righteousness, to stand upright in the good opinions of good men, as God says, Why takest thou my word into thy mouth? so Christ shall say, to the shaking of that conscience, Why takest thou my body and blood into thy hand?
This must be done; he must be just, righteous in the eyes of men; though more seem to be implied in his other character, that he was timoratus, which we translate devout. In the former, his object was man, though godly men; here it is God himself. Man must be respected, but God especially. And this devotion is well placed in fear, for Basis verbi est timor sanctus, gays St. Augustine; and it is excellently said, if this be his meaning, that whatsoever I promise myself out of the word of God, yet the basis upon which that promise stands is my fear of God: if my fear of God fall, the word of God, so far as it is a promise to me, falls too. Tertullian intends the same thing, when he says, Fundamentum salutis timor; though I have a holy confidence of my salvation, yet the foundation of this confidence is a modest, and a tender, and a reverential fear, that I am not diligent enough in the performance of those conditions which are required to the establishing of it; for this eulabeia, which St. Hierome translates timoratum and we translate devout, is a middle disposition between a Pharisaical superstition and a negligent irreverence, and profanation of God's ordinance. I come not with this eulabeia, with Simeon's disposition, to my Epiphany, to my receiving of my Saviour, if I think that bread my God, and superstitiously adore it, for that is Pharisaical and carnal; neither do I bring that disposition thither, if I think God no otherwise present there, than in his own other ordinances, and so refuse such postures and actions of reverence, as are required to testify outwardly mine inward devotion, for these may well consist together;—' I am sure I receive him effectually, when I I look upon his mercy;' 'I am afraid I do not receive him worthily, when I look upon mine own unworthiness.'
We cannot pursue this anatomy of good old Simeon, this just and devout priest, so far as to show you all his parts, and the use of them all in particular. His example, and the characters that are upon him, are our alphabet. I shall only have time to name the rest of those characters; you must spell them, and put them into their syllables; you must form them, and put them into their words; you must compose them, and put them into their syntaxis and sentences; that is, you must pursue the imitation, that when I have told you what he was, you may present yourselves to God, such as he was. He was one that had the Holy Ghost upon him, says that story. The testimony given before, that he was justus, and timoratus, righteous, and fearing God, was evidence enough that the Holy Ghost was upon him. This addition is a testimony of a more particular presence and operation of the Holy Ghost in some certain way, and the way is agreed by all to be, in dono prophetiw, the Holy Ghost was upon him in the spirit of prophecy, so as that he made him at that time a prophet. Thou art a prophet upon thyself, when thou comest to the communion; thou art able to foretell, and to pronounce upon thyself what thou shalt be for ever. Upon thy disposition, then, thou mayest conclude thine eternal state; then thou knowest which part of St. Paul's distribution falls upon thee, whether that tribulations and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, or that, but glory, and honour, and peace to every man that worketh goodTM. Thou art this prophet; silence not this prophet; do not chide thy conscience for chiding thee; stone not this prophet; do not petrify and harden thy conscience against these holy suggestions. Say not with Ahab to the prophet, Hast thou found me out, O mine enemy? when an unrepented sin comes to thy memory then, be not thou sorry that thou rememberest it then, nor do not say, I would this sin had not troubled me now, I would I had not remembered it till tomorrow; for in that action, first, in then, for the rule, thou art
Rom. ii. 9.
a preacher to thyself, and thou hast thy text in St. Paul, He that eateth and drinkeih unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself u: and then in hypothesi, for the application to the particular case, thou art a prophet to thyself; thou that knowest in thyself what thou doest then, canst say to thyself what thou shalt suffer after, if thou do ill.
There are more elements in the making up of this man; many more. He waited, says his story; he gave God his leisure. Simeon had informed himself, out of Daniel and the other prophets, that the time of the Messiah's coming was near; as Daniel had informed himself out of Jeremiah and the other prophets, that the time of the deliverance from Babylon was near. Both waited patiently, and yet both prayed for the accelerating of that which they waited for; Daniel for the deliverance, Simeon for the Epiphany. Those consist well enough, patiently to attend God's time, and yet earnestly to solicit the hastening of that time, for that time is God's time, to which our prayers have brought God; as that price was God's price for Sodom, to which Abraham's solicitation brought God, and not the first fifty. That prophet, who says, Woe unto him that striveih with his Maker1*, that is, that presses God before his time, says also, for all that, Oh! that thou wouldest rend the heavens, and come down13. When thou comest to this seal of thy peace, the Sacrament, pray that God will give thee that light, that may direct and establish thee in necessary and fundamental things, that is, the light of faith to see that the body and blood of Christ is applied to thee in that action; but for the manner how the body and blood of Christ is there, wait his leisure, if he have not yet manifested that to thee. Grieve not at that, wonder not at that, press not for that; for he hath not manifested that, not the way, not the manner of his presence in the Sacrament to the church. A peremptory prejudice upon other men's opinions, that no opinion but thine can be true in the doctrine of the Sacrament, and an uncharitable condemning of other men, or other churches, that may be of another persuasion than thou art in the matter of the Sacrament, may frustrate and disappoint thee of all that benefit, which thou mightest have by an humble receiving thereof, if thou wouldest
11 1 Cor. xi. 20. 18 Isaiah xi.v. 9. 13 Isaiah Lxiv. 1.
exercise thy faith only here, and leave thy passion at home, and refer thy reason and disputation to the school.
He waited, says the story, and he waited for the consolation of Israel. It is not an appropriating of hopes, or possessions of those hopes, to himself, but a charitable desire of a communication of this consolation upon all the Israel of God. Therefore is the Sacramont a communion; therofore is the church, which is built of us, Built of lively stones^*; and in such buildings, as stones do, Unusquisque portat alterum, et portatur ab altero"; every stone is supported by another, and supports another. As thou wouldest be well interpreted by others, interpret others well; and, as when thou comest to heaven, the joy and the glory of every soul shall be thy glory and thy joy; so, when thou comest to the porch of the triumphant church, the door of heaven, the communion table, desire that that joy which thou feelest in thy soul then, may then be communicated to every communicant there.
To this purpose, to testify his devotion to the communion of saints, Simeon came into the temple, says the story; to do a holy work in a holy place. When we say that God is no accepter of persons, we do not mean but that they which are within his covenant, and they that have preserved the seals of his grace, are more acceptable to him than they which are not, or have not. When wo say that God is not tied to places, we must not mean but that God is otherwiso present, and works otherwise in places consecrated to his service, than in every profane place. When I pray in my chamber, I build a temple there that' hour; and that minute, when I cast out a prayer in the street, I build a temple there; and when my soul prays without any voice, my very body is then a temple; and God, who knows what I am doing in these actions, erecting these temples, he comos to them, and prospers, and blesses my devotions; and shall not I come to his temple, where he is always resident? My chamber were no temple, my body were no temple, except God came to it; but whether I come hither or no, this will be God's temple. I may lose by my absence; he gains nothing by my coming. He that hath a cause to be heard will not go to Smithfield, nor he that
14 1 Peter ii. 5. 15 Gregor.
hath cattle to buy or sell, to Westminster. He that hath bargains to make or 'news to tell, should not come to do that at church; nor he that hath prayers to make, walk in the fields for his devotions. If I have a great friend, though in cases of necessity, as sickness or other restraints, he will vouchsafe to visit me, yet I must make my suits to him at home, at his own house. In cases of necessity, Christ in the Sacrament vouchsafes to come home to me; and the court is where the king is, his blessings are with his ordinances wheresoever; but jhe place to which he hath invited me, is, his house. He that made the great supper in the Gospel called in new guests; but he sent out no meat to them who had been invited, and might have come, and came not. Chamber prayers, single or with your family, chamber sermons, sermons read over there, and chamber Sacraments, administered in necessity there, are blessed assistants and supplements; they are as the alms at the gate, but the feast is within; they are as a cock of water without, but the cistern is within; habenti dabitur; he that hath a handful of devotion at home, shall have his devotion multiplied to a gomer here, for when he is become a part of the congregation, he is joint tenant with them, and the devotion of all the congregation, and the blessings upon all the congregation, are his blessings, and his devotions.
He came to a holy place, and he came by a holy motion, by the spirit, says his evidence; without holiness no man shall see God; not so well without holiness of the place; but not there neither, if he trust only to the holiness of the place, and bring no holiness with him. Between that fearful occasion of coming to church, which St. Augustine confesses and laments, that they came to make wanton bargains with their eyes, and met there, because they could meet no where else; and that more fearful occasion of coming, when they came only to elude the law, and proceeding in their treacherous and traitorous religion in their heart, and yet communicating with us, draw God himself into their conspiracies, and to mock us, make a mock of God, and his religion too; between these two, this licentious coming, and this treacherous coming, there are many comings to church; comings for company, for observation, for music; and all these indispositions are ill at prayers; there they are unwholesome, but at the Sacrament deadly. He that brings any collateral respect to prayers, loses the benefit of the prayers of the congregation; and he that brings that to a sermon, loses the blessing of God's ordinance in that sermon: he hears but the logic, or the rhetoric, or the ethic, or the poetry of the sermon, but the sermon of the sermon he hears not; but he that brings this disposition to the Sacrament, ends not in the loss of a benefit, but he acquires and procures his own damnation.
All that we consider in Simeon, and apply from Simeon, to a worthy receiver of the Sacrament, is, how he was fitted to depart in peace. All those pieces which we have named, conduce to that; but all those are collected into that one which remains yet, Viderunt oculi, that his eyes had seen that salvation; for that was the accomplishment and fulfilling of God's word; according to thy word. All that God had said should be done, was done; for, as it is said, ver. 26, it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ; and now his eyes had seen that salvation. Abraham saw this before, but only with the eye of faith, and yet rejoiced to see it so; he was glad even of that. Simeon saw it before this time, then, when he was illustrated with that revelation he saw it, but only with the eye of hope; of such hope Abraham had no such ground, no particular hope, no promise, that he should see the Messiah in his time; Simeon had, and yet he waited, he attended God's leisure. But hope deferred maketh the heart sick ", says Solomon; but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. His desire was come, he saw his salvation. Perchance not so, as St. Cyprian seems to take it, that till this time Simeon was blind, and upon this presentation of Christ in the temple, came to his sight again, and so saw this salvation; for I think no one author but St. Cyprian says so, that Simeon was blind till now, and now restored to sight. And I may ease St. Cyprian too of that singularity, for it is enough and abundantly evident, that that book in which that is said (which is Altercatio Jasonis et papisci de Messia) cannot possibly be St. Cyprian's. But with his bodily eyes, open to other objects before, he saw the Lord's salvation, and his salvation; the Lord's, as it came from the
18 Prov. xiii. 12.
Lord, and his, as it was applicable to him. He saw it, according to his word: that is, so far as God had promised he should see it. He saw not how that God, which was in this child, and which was this child, was the son of God. The manner of that eternal generation he saw not. He saw not how this Son of God became man in a virgin's womb, whom no man knew; the manner of this incarnation he saw not, for this eternal generation and this miraculous incarnation fell not within that secundum verbum, according to thy word. God had promised Simeon nothing concerning those mysteries; but Christum Domini, the Lord's salvation, and his salvation, that is, the person who was all that (which was all that was within the word and the promise) Simeon saw, and saw with bodily eyes. Beloved, in the blessed, and glorious, and mysterious Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ Jesus, thou seest Christum Domini, the Lord's salvation, and thy salvation; and that thus far with bodily eyes, That bread which thou seest after the consecration is not the same bread which was presented before; not that it is transubstantiated to another substance, for it is bread still, (which is the heretical riddle of the Roman church, and Satan's sophistry, to dishonour miracles by the assiduity, and frequency, and multiplicity of them,) but that it is severed, and appropriated by God in that ordinance to another use. It is other bread; so as a judge is another man upon the bench than he is at home in his own house. In the Roman church they multiply and extend miracles, till the miracle itself crack, and become none, but vanish into nothing, as boys' bubbles, (which were but bubbles before at best,) by an overblowing become nothing; nay, they constitute such miracles as do not only destroy the nature of the miracle, but destroy him that should do that miracle, even God himself; for nothing proceeds farther to the destroying of God than to make God do contrary things, for contradictions have falsehood, and so imply impotency and infirmity in God. There cannot be a deeper atheism than to impute contradictions to God, neither doth any one thing so overcharge God with contradictions as the transubstantiation of the Roman church. There must be a body there, and yet nowhere; in no place, and yet in every place, where there is a consecration. The bread and the wine must
nourish the body, nay the bread and the wine may poison a body, and yet there is no bread nor wine there. They multiply miracles, and they give not over, till they make God unable to do a miracle, till they make him a contradictory, that is, an impotent God; and therefore Luther infers well, that since miracles are so easy and cheap, and obvious to them, as they have induced a miraculous transubstantiation, they might have done well to have procured one miracle more, a trans-accidentation, that since the substance is changed, the accidents might have been changed too; and since there is no bread, there might be no dimensions, no colour, no nourishing, no other qualities of bread neither; for, these remaining, there is rather an annihilation of God, in making him no God by being a contradictory God, than an annihilation of the bread, by making that which was formerly bread, God himself, by that way of transubstantiation.
But yet though this bread be not so transubstantiated, we refuse not the words of the fathers, in which they have expressed themselves in this mystery. Not Irenaeus's est corpus, that that bread is his body now; not Tertullian's fecit corpus, that that bread is made his body which was not so before; not St. Cyprian's mutatus, that that bread is changed; not Damascen's super naturaliter mutatus, that that bread is not only changed so in the use, as when at the king's table certain portions of bread are made bread of essay, to pass over every dish, whether for safety or for majesty; not only so civilly changed, but changed supernaturally; no nor Theophylact's transformatus est, (which seems to be the word that go#s farthest of all,) for this transforming cannot be intended of the outward form and fashion, for that is not changed; but be it of that internal form, which is the very essence and nature of the bread, so it is transformed, so the bread hath received a new form, a new essence, a new nature, because whereas the nature of bread is but to nourish the body, the nature of this bread now is nourish the soul; and therefore, Cum non dubitaxit Dominies dicere, hoc est corpus meum, cum signum daret corporis'1, Since Christ forbore not to say, This is my body, when he gave the sign of his body, why should we forbear to say of that bread, This is Christ's body, which is the Sacrament of his
body. You would have said, at noon, this light is the sun, and you will say now this light is the candle; that light was not the sun, this light is not the candle, but it is that portion of air which the sun did then, and which the candle doth now, enlighten. We say the Sacramental bread is the body of Christ, because God hath shed his ordinance upon it, and made it of another nature in the use, though not the substance. About six hundred years ago the Roman church made Berengarius swear, Sensualiter tangitur, frangitur, teritur corpus Christi, That the body of Christ was sensibly handled, and broken, and chewed. They are ashamed of that now, and have mollified it with many modifications; and God knows whether, one hundred years hence, they will not be as much ashamed of their transubstantiation, and see as much unnatural absurdity in their Trent canon or Lateran canon, as they do in Berengarius' oath. As they that deny the body of Christ to be in the Sacrament lose their footing in departing from their ground, the express Scriptures, so they that will assign a particular manner how that body is there, have no footing, no ground at all, no Scripture to anchor upon; and so, diving in a bottomless sea, they pop sometimes above water to take breath, to appear to say something, and then snatch at a loose preposition that swims upon the face of the waters; and so the Roman church had catched a trans, and others a con, and a sub, and an in, and varied their poetry into a transubstantiation, and a consubstantiation, and the rest, and rhymed themselves beyond reason into absurdities and heresies, and by a young figure of similiter cadens, they are fallen alike into error, though the errors that they are fallen into be not of a like nature nor danger. We offer to go no farther than according to his word; in the Sacrament our eyes see his salvation, according to that, so far as that hath manifested unto us, and in that light, we depart in peace, without scruple in our own, without offence to other men's consciences.
Having thus seen Simeon in these his dimensions, with these holy impressions, these blessed characters upon him, first, (1,) a man in a reverend age, and then, (2,) in a holy function and calling, and with that, (3,) righteous in the eyes of men, and withal, (4,) devout in the eyes of God, (5,) and made a prophet upon himself by the Holy Ghost, (6,) still waiting God's time and his leisure, (7,) and in that desiring that his joy might be spread upon the whole Israel of God, (8,) frequenting holy places, the temple, (9,) and that upon holy motions, and there, (10,) seeing the salvation of the Lord, that is, discerning the application of salvation in the ordinances of the church, (11,) and lastly, contenting himself with so much therein as was according to his word, and not inquiring farther than God had been pleased to reveal, and having reflected all these several beams upon every worthy receiver of the Sacrament, the whole choir of such worthy receivers may join with Simeon in this antiphon, Nunc dimittis, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, fyc. St. Ambrose reads not this place as we do, Nunc dimittis, but Nunc dimitte; not, Lord, thou doest so, but, Lord, do so; and so he gives it the form of a prayer, and implies not only a patience and a contentedness, but a desire and an ambition that he might die, at least such an indifferency and equanimity as Israel had when he had seen Joseph: Now let me die since I have seen thy face18; after he had seen his face, the next face that he desired to see was the face of God. For howsoever there may be some disorder, some irregularity in St. Paul's Anathema pro fratribiis, that he desired to be separated from Christ rather than his brethren should, (that may scarce be drawn into consequence, or made a wish for us to imitate,) yet to St. Paul's Cupio dissolvi, to an express and to a deliberate desire to be dissolved here, and to be united to Christ in heaven, (still with a primary relation to the glory of God, and a reservation of the will of God,) a godly, a rectified, and a well-disposed man may safely come. And so, (I know not upon what grounds,) Nicephorus says Simeon did wish, and had his wish; he prayed that he might die, and actually he did die then. Neither can a man at any time be fitter to make and obtain this wish, than when his eyes have seen his salvation in the Sacrament. At least make this an argument of your having been worthy receivers thereof, that you are in wquilibrio, in an evenness, in an indifferency, in an equanimity, whether ye die this night or no. For howsoever St. Ambrose seems to make it a direct prayer that he might die, he intends but such an
equanimity, such an indifferency: Quasi serms. non refugit vitw obsequium, et quasi sapiens lucrum mortis amplectitur, says that father, Simeon is so good a servant, as that he is content to serve his old master still, in his old place, in this world, hut yet he is so good-a husband, too, as that he sees what a gainer he might be, if he might be made free by death. If thou desire not death, (that is the case of very few, to do so in a rectified conscience, and without distemper,) if thou beest not equally disposed towards death, (that should be the case of all, and yet we are far from condemning all that are not come to that equanimity,) yet if thou now fear death inordinately, I should fear that thine eyes have not seen thy salvation to day. Who can fear the darkness of death, that hath had the light of this world, and of the next, too? who can fear death this night, that hath had the Lord of life in his hand to-day? It is a question of consternation, a question that should strike him that should answer it dumb, (as Christ's question, Amice, quomodo intrasti, Friend, how eamest in hither? did him to whom that was said,) which Origen asks in this case, When wilt thou dare to go out of this world, if thou darest not go now, when Christ Jesus hath taken thee by the hand to lead thee out?
This, then, is truly to depart in peace; by the gospel of peace, to the God of peace. My body is my prison, and I would be so obedient to the law, as not to break prison; I would not hasten my death by starving or macerating this body; but if this prison be burnt down by continual fevers, or blown down with continual vapours, would any man be so in love with that ground upon which that prison stood, as to desire rather to stay there than to go home? Our prisons are fallen, our bodies are dead to many former uses; our palate dead in tastelessness; our stomach dead in an indigestibleness; our feet dead in a lameness, and our invention in a dulness, and our memory in a forgetfulness; and yet, as a man that should love the ground where his prison stood, we love this clay, that was a body in the days of our youth, and but our prison then, when it was at best; we abhor the graves of our bodies; and the body, which, in the best vigour thereof, was but the grave of the soul, we over-love. Pharaoh's butler19 and
19 Gen. Xl.
his baker went both out of prison in a day, and in both cases Joseph, in the interpretation of their dreams, calls that (their very discharge out of prison,) a lifting up of their heads, a kind of preferment. Death raises every man alike, so far as that it delivers every man from his prison, from the incumbrances of this body; both baker and butler were delivered of their prison, but they passed into divers states after, one to the restitution of his place, the other to an ignominious execution. Of thy prison thou shalt be delivered whether thou wilt or no; thou must die: Fool, this night thy soul may be taken from thee, and then, what thou shalt be to-morrow, prophesy upon thyself, by that which thou hast done to-day. If thou didst depart from that table in peace, thou canst depart from this world in peace. And the peace of that table is, to come to it in pace desiderii, with a contented mind, and with an enjoying of those temporal blessings which thou hast, without macerating thyself, without usurping upon others, without murmuring at God; and to be at that table, in pace cogitationis, in the peace of the church, without the spirit of contradiction or inquisition, without uncharitableness towards others, without curiosity in thyself. And then to come from that table in pace domestica, with a bosom peace in thine own conscience in that seal of thy reconciliation, in that Sacrament; that so, riding at that anchor, and in that calm, whether God enlarge thy voyage by enlarging thy life, or put thee into the harbour, by the breath, by the breathlessness of death, either way, east or west, thou mayest depart in peace according to his word, that is, as he shall be pleased to manifest his pleasure upon thee.