PREACHED ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
John X, 10.
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more
The church celebrates this day, the birth of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, blessed for ever; and though it fall amongst the shortest days in the year, yet of all the festivals in the year, it is the longest: it is a day that consists of twelve days; a day not measured by the natural and ordinary motion of the sun, but by a supernatural and extraordinary star, which appeared to the wise men of the East, this day, and brought them to Christ, at Bethlehem, upon Twelfth Day. That day, Twelfth Day, the church now calls the Epiphany; the ancient church called this day (Christmas day) the Epiphany. Both days together, and all the days between, this day, when Christ was manifested to the Jews, in the shepherds by the angels, and Twelfth Day, when Christ was manifested to the Gentiles in those wise men of the East, make up the Epiphany, that is, the manifestation of God to man. And as this day is in such a respect a longer day than others, so, if we make longer hours in this day, than in other days; if I extend this sermon, if you extend your devotion, or your patience, beyond the ordinary time, it is but a due, and a just celebration of the day, and some accommodation to the text, for, I am come, as he, in whose name and power I came, came; and he tells you, that He came that you might have life, and might have it more abundantly.
God, who vouchsafed to be made man for man, for man vouchsafes also to do all the offices of man towards man. He is our Father, for he made us1: Of what I of clay; so God is figulus, so in the prophet8; so in the apostle3, God is our potter. God stamped his image upon us4, and so God is statuarius, our minter, our statuary. God clothed us5, and so is vestiarius; he hath opened his wardrobe unto us. God gave us all the fruits of the earth to eat6, and so is wconomus, our steward. God pours his oil, and his wine into our wounds7, and so is medicos, and vicinus, that physician, that neighbour, that Samaritan intended in the parable. God plants us, and waters8, and weeds us, and gives the increase; and so God is hortulanus, our gardener. God builds us up into a church', and so God is architectus, our architect, our builder; God watches the city10 when it is built; and so God is speculator, our sentinel. God fishes for men", (for all his Johns, and his Andrews, and his Peters, are but the nets that he fishes withal) God is the fisher of men; and here, in this chapter, God in Christ is our shepherd. The book of Job is a representation of God-, in a tragic-comedy, lamentable beginnings comfortably ended: the book of the Canticles is a representation of God in Christ, as a bridegroom in a marriage-song, in an epithalamion: God in Christ is represented to us, in divers forms, in divers places, and this chapter is his pastoral. The Lord is our shepherd, and so called, in more places, than by any other name; and in this chapter, exhibits some of the offices of a good shepherd. Be pleased to taste a few of them. First, he says, The good shepherd comes in at the door", the right way. If he come in at the window, that is, always clamber after preferment; if he come in at vaults, and cellars, that is, by clandestine and
1 Mai. ij. 10. * Isaiah Xlv. 9. 3 Rom. ix. 21. 4 Gen. i. 27. 5 Gen. Hi. 21. 6 Gen. i. 29. 'Luke x. 8 1 Cor. iii. 6. 9 Acta xx. 32. 10 Ps. cxxvii. 1. 11 Matt. iv. 19. "Johnx.1.
secret contracts with his patron, he comes not the right way: when he is in the right way, His sheep hear his voice1": first there is a voice, he is heard; ignorance doth not silence him, nor laziness, nor abundance of preferment; nor indiscreet, and distempered zeal does not silence him; (for to induce, or occasion a silencing upon ourselves, is as ill as the ignorant, or the lazy silence) there is a voice, and (says that text) it is his voice, not always another in his room; for (as it is added in the next verse) The sheep know his voice1*, which they could not do, if they heard it not often, if they were not used to it. And then, for the best testimony, and consummation of all, he says, The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep16. Every good shepherd gives his life, that is, spends his life, wears out his life for his sheep: of which this may be one good argument, that there are not so many crazy, so many sickly men, men that so soon grow old in any profession, as in ours. But in this, Christ is our shepherd in a more peculiar, and more incommunicable way, that he is pastor humani generis et esca; first, that he feeds not one parish, nor one diocese, but humanum genus, all mankind, the whole world, and then feeds us so, as that he is both our pastor, and our pasture, he feeds us, and feeds us with himself, for, His flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed1". And therefore, honor celebratur totius gregis, per annua festa pastoris11: as often as we come to celebrate the coming of this shepherd, in giving that honour, we receive an honour, because that is a declaration, that we are the sheep of that pasture, and the body of that head. And so much being not impertinently said, for the connexion of the words, and their complication with the day, pass we now to the more particular distribution and explication thereof, / am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
In these words, our parts will be three; for first we must consider the persons, the shepherd and the sheep, God and man, him and them, them indefinitely, all them, all men, / came, says Christ, I alone, that they, all they might have life: and secondly we consider the action itself, as it is wrapped up in this word, / came; for that is first, that he who was always omnipresent, every where before, did yet study a new way of coming, and com
13 John x. 3. l4Ver.4. i5 Ver. 11. 18 John vi. 17 Leo.
municating himself with man, / came, that is, I came by a new way; and then, that he, who fed his former flock but with prophecies, and promises, that he would come, feeds us now with actual performances, with his real presence, and the exhibition of himself. And lastly we shall consider the end, the purpose, the benefit of his coming, which is life: and first, that he might give life, bring life, offer life to the world, (which is one mercy) and then, that we might have it, embrace it, possess it, (which is another) and, after both, a greater than both, that we might have this life more abundantly; which is, first, abundantius Mis, more abundantly than other men of this world, and then abundantius ipsis, more abundantly than we ourselves had it in this world, in the world to come; for, therefore he came, that we might have life, and might have it more abundantly.
First then, in our first part, we consider the persons, the shepherd and the sheep, him and them, God and man; of which persons, the one for his greatness, God, the other for his littleness, man, can scarce fall under any consideration. What eye can fix itself upon east and west at once I And he must see more than east and west, that sees God, for God spreads infinitely beyond both: God alone is all; not only all that is, but all that is not, all that might be, if he would have it be. God is too large, too immense, and then man is too narrow, too little to be considered; for, who canjfix his'eye upon an atom? And he must see a less thing than an atom, that sees man, for man is nothing. First, for the incomprehensibleness of God, the understanding of man hath a limited, a determined latitude; it is an intelligence able to move that sphere which it is fixed to, but could not move a greater: I can comprehend naturam naturatam, created nature, but that natura naturans, God himself, the understanding of man cannot comprehend. I can see the sun in a looking-glass, but the nature, and the whole working of the sun I cannot see in that glass. I can see God in the creature, but the nature, the essence, the secret purposes of God, I cannot see there. There is defatigatio in intellectualibus, says the saddest and soundest of the Hebrew rabbinsthe soul may be tired, as well as the body, and the understanding dazzled, as well as the eye. It is not
18 R. Moses.
VOL. I. K
needful for thee, to see the things that are in secret, says the wise man19; thou needest not that knowledge: thou mayest do well enough in this world, and be God's good servant, and do well enough in the next world, and be a glorious saint, and yet never search into God's secrets. Te decet hymnus*", (so the vulgar reads that place) to thee, O Lord, belong our hymns, our psalms, our praises, our cheerful acclamations; and conformably to that, we translate it, Praise waiteth for thee, 0 God, in Sion: but if we will take it according to the original, it must be, tibi silentium laus est, Thy praise, O Lord, consists in silence: that that man praises God best, that says least of him; of him, that is of his nature, of his essence, of his unrevealed will, and secret purposes. 0 that men would praise the Lord, is David's provocation to us all, but how? 0 that men would praise the Lord, and declare his wondrous works to the sons of men! but not to go about to declare his unrevealed decrees, or secret purposes, is as good a way of praising him, as the other. And therefore, O that men would praise the Lord so as to forbear his Majesty, when he is retired into himself, in his decrees, and magnify his Majesty> as he manifests himself to us in the execution of those decrees; of which this in our text is a great one, that he that is infinitely more than all, descended to him, that is infinitely less than nothing; which is the other person whom we are to consider in this part, I to them, God to us.
The Hebrew doctors almost every where repeat that adage of theirs, lex loquitur linguam filiorum hominum, God speaks men's language, that is, the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures descends to the capacity and understanding of man, and so presents God in the faculties of the mind of man, and in the lineaments of the body of man. But yet, say they, there is never brain, nor liver, nor spleen, nor any other inward part ascribed to God, but only the heart. God is all heart, and that whole heart, that inexhaustible fountain of love, is directed wholly upon man.
He comes to us, God to man; all to nothing: for upon that we insist first, as the first disproportion between us, and so the first exaltation of his mercy towards us. Man is, says the prophet Isaiah, As a drop upon the bucket". Man is not all that,
"Ecclus. iii. 23. 10 Ps. Lxv. 1. "Isaiah xx. xv.
not so much as that, as a drop upon the bucket, but something, some little thing, towards it; and what is a drop upon the bucket, to a river, to a sea, to the waters above the firmament? Man to God? Man is, says the same prophet in the same place, Quasi momentum staterw; we translate it, As small dust upon the balance: man is not all that, not that small grain of dust; but quasi, some little thing towards it: and what can a grain of dust work in governing the balance I What is man that God should be mindful of him? Vanity seems to be the lightest thing, that the Holy Ghost could name; and when he had named that, he says, and says, and says, often, very, very often, All is vanity. But when he comes to weigh man with vanity itself, he finds man lighter than vanity: Take, says he, great men, and mean men altogether, and altogether they are lighter than vanity". When that great apostle says of himself, that he was in nothing behind the very chief est of the apostles*3, and yet, for all that, says he was nothing; who can think himself any thing, for being a giant in proportion, a magistrate in power, a rabbi in learning, an oracle in counsel? Let man be something; how poor, and inconsiderable a rag of this world, is man? Man, whom Paracelsus8* would have undertaken to have made, in a limbeck, in a furnace: man, who, if they were all together, all the men, that ever were, and are, and shall be, would not have the power of one angel in them all, whereas all the angels, (who in the school are conceived to be more in number, than not only all the species, but all the individuals of this lower world) have not in them all, the power of one finger of God's hand: man, of whom when David had said, (as the lowest diminution that he could put upon him) / am a worm and no man", he might have gone lower, and said, I am a man and no worm; for man is so much less than a worm, as that worms of his own production, shall feed upon his dead body in the grave, and an immortal worm gnaw his conscience in the torments of hell. And then, if that which God, and God in the council and concurrence, and co-operation of the whole Trinity hath made thee, man, be nothing, canst thou be proud of that, or think that any thing, which the king hath made
%t Ps. Lxii. 9. "2 Cor. xii. 11. 54 L. i. De rerum generations.
*5 Ps. xxii. 6.
thee, a lord, or which thy wife hath made thee,"; rich, or which thy riches have made thee, an officer? As Job says of impertinent comforters, miserable comforters, so I say of these creations, miserable creations are they all. Only as thou mayest be a new creature in Christ Jesus, thou mayest be something; for that is a nobler, and a harder creation than the first; when God had a clod of red earth in his hand, to make me in Adam, he had more towards his end, than when he hath me, an unregenerate, and rebellious soul, to make a new creature in Christ Jesus. And yet to this man comes this God, God that is infinitely more than all, to man that is infinitely less than nothing, which was our first disproportion, and the first exaltation of his mercy; and the next is, that this God came to this man, then when this man was a professed enemy to this God.
Si contrarium Deo quwras nihil est, says St. Augustine. If thou ask me what is contrary to God, I cannot say, that any thing is so; for, whatsoever is any thing, hath a being, and whatsoever hath so, hath in that very being some affinity with God, some assimilation to God; so that nothing is contrary to God. If thou ask me, Quis hostis, Who is an enemy to God, I cannot say that of any thing in this world, but man. That viper that flew at St. Paul8", was not therein an enemy to God; that viper did not direct itself upon St. Paul, as St. Paul was a useful and a necessary instrument of Christ; but St. Paul himself was a direct enemy to Christ himself, thou persecutest me, says Christ himself unto him. And if we be not all enemies to God in such a direct opposition, as that we sin therefore, because that sin violates the majesty of God, (and yet truly every habitual, and deliberated sin amounts to almost as much, because in every such sin, we seem to try conclusions, whether God can see a sin, or be affected with a sin, or can, or cares to punish a sin, as though we doubted whether God were a present God, or a pure God, or a powerful God, and so consequently whether there be any God or no) if we be not all enemies to God, in this kind, yet in adhering to the enemy we are enemies; in our prevarications, and easy betrayings, and surrendering of ourselves to the enemy of his kingdom, Satan, we are his enemies. For small
i6 Acts xxviii.
wages, and ill-paid pensions we serve him; and lest any man should flatter and delude himself, in saying, I have my wages, and my reward beforehand, my pleasures in this life, the punishment, (if ever) not till the next, the apostle destroys that dream, with that question of confusion, What fruit had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed*1? Certainly sin is not a gainful way; without doubt more men are impoverished, and beggared by sinful courses, than enriched; What fruit had they? says the apostle, and sin cannot be the way of honour, for we dare not avow our sins, but are ashamed of them, when they are done; fruitlessness, unprofitableness before, shame and dishonour after, and yet for these we are enemies to God; and yet for all this God comes to us; the Lord of Hosts, to naked and disarmed man, the God of peace to this enemy of God. Some men will continue kind, where they find a thankful receiver, but God is kind to the unthankful", says Christ himself. There may be found a man that will die for his friend, says he; but God died for his enemies: then when ye were enemies, you were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. To come so in-gloriously, he that is infinitely more than all, to him that is infinitely less than nothing, (that was our first disproportion, and the first exaltation of his mercy) to come, (shall we venture to say so) so selfproditoriously, as to betray himself and deliver himself to his enemies, (that was our second) is equalled, at least, in a third, he to them, that is, he alone for the salvation of all men, as it is expressly said, for this word in our text, they, hath no limitation, I came, I alone, that they, all they, might be the better.
Some of the ancient fathers, delivering the mercies of God, so, as the Articles of our church enjoin them to be delivered, that is, generally, as they are delivered in the Scriptures, have delivered them so over-generally, that they have seemed loath to think the devil himself excluded from all benefit of Christ's coming. Some of the later authors in the Roman church, (who, as pious as they pretend to be towards the fathers, are apter to discover the nakedness of the fathers, than we are) have noted in Justin Martyr, and in Epiphanius, and in Clement of Alexandria, and in Oecumenius, (and Oecumenius is no single father, but pater patratus,
*1 Rom. vi. 21. 88 Luke vi. 35.
a manifold father, a complicated father, a father that collected fathers) and even in St. Jerome himself, and St. Ambrose too, some inclinations towards that opinion, that the devil retaining still his faculty of free will, is therefore capable of repentance, and so of benefit by this coming of Christ; and those authors of the Roman church, that modify the matter, and excuse the fathers herein, excuse them no other way but this, that though that opinion and doctrine of those fathers, be not true in itself, yet it was never condemned by any council, nor by any ancient father. So very far did very many go, in enlarging the mercies of God in Christ to all. But waiving this over-large extension and profusion thereof, and directing it upon a more possible, and a more credible object, that is, man; St. Cyril of Alexandria, speaking of the possibility of the salvation of all men, says, by way of objection to himself, How can all be saved since all do not believe? But, says he, because actually they do not believe, is it therefore impossible they should believe? And for actual belief, says he, though all do not, yet so many do, that, by God's goodness, more are saved, than lost, says that father of tender and large bowels, St. Cyril. And howsoever he may seem too tender, and too large herein, yet it is a good piece of counsel, which that rabbi whom I named before, gives, be not apt to call any opinion false, or heretical, or damnable, the contrary whereof cannot be evidently proved. And for this particular, the general possibility of salvation, all agree that the merit of Christ Jesus is sufficient for all. Whether this all-sufficiency grow out of the very nature of the merit, the dignity of the person being considered, or grow out of the acceptation of the Father, and the contract between him and the Son, for that, let the Thomists and the Scotists in the Roman church wrangle. All agree, that there is enough done for all. And would God receive enough for all, and then exclude some, of himself, without any relation, any consideration of sin? God forbid. Man is called by divers names, names of lowness enough, in the Scriptures; but, by the name of Enosh, Enosh that signifies mere misery, man is never called in the Scriptures, till after the fall of Adam. Only sin after, and not any ill purpose in God before, made man miserable. The manner of expressing the mercy of God, in the frame and
course of Scriptures, expresses evermore the largeness of that mercy. Very often, in the Scriptures, you shall find the person suddenly changed; and when God shall have said in the beginning of a sentence, I will show mercy unto them, them, as though he spoke of others, presently, in the same sentence, he will say, my loving kindness will I not draw from thee; not from thee, not from them, not from any; that so whensoever thou hearest of God's mercy proposed to them, to others, thou mightest believe that mercy to be meant to thee, and whensoever they, others, hear that mercy proposed to thee, they might believe it to be meant to them. And so much may, to good purpose, be observed out of some other parts of this chapter, in another translation. In the third verse it is said, His sheep hear Ms voice, in the Arab translation it is oves audit, his sheep in the plural, does hear, in the singular. God is a plural God, and offers himself to all, collectively; God is a singular God, and offers himself to every man, distributively. So also it is said there, nominibus suo, he calls his sheep by their names; it is names in the plural, and theirs, in the singular: whatsoever God proposes to any, he intends to all. In which contemplation, St. Augustine breaks out into that holy exclamation, 0 bone omnipotens qui sic euras unumquemque nostrum, tanquam solum cures, et sic omnes tamquam singulos, O good and mighty God, who art as loving to every man, as to all mankind, and meanest as well to all mankind, as to any man. Be pleased to make your use of this note, for the better imprinting of this largeness of God's mercy. Moses desires of God, that he would show him, His ways89, his proceedings, his dealings with men; that which he calls after, His glory*", how he glorifies himself upon man, God promises him in the next verse, that he will show him All his goodness31, God hath no way towards man but goodness, God glorifies himself in nothing upon man, but in his own goodness. And therefore when God comes to the performance of this promise, in the next chapter3", he shows him his way, and his glory, and his goodness, in showing him that he is a merciful God, a gracious God, a long-suffering God, a God that forgives sins and iniquities, and (as the Hebrew doctors note) there are thirteen
28 Exod. xxxiii. 13. 30 Ver. 18. *' Ver. 19. 38 Exod. xxxiv. 6.
attributes, thirteen denotations of God specified in that place, and of all those thirteen, there is but one that tastes of judgment, (that he will punish the sins of fathers upon children.) All the other twelve are merely, wholly mercy; such a proportion hath his mercy above his justice, such a proportion, as that there is no cause in him, if all men be not partakers of it. Shall we say, (says St. Cyril) it were better there were no tillage, than that weeds should grow, better that God had made no men, than that so many should be damned? God made none to be damned; and therefore though some would expunge out of our Litany, that rogation, that petition, That thou wouldst have mercy upon all men; as though it were contrary to God's purpose to have mercy upon all men; yet St. Augustine enlarges his charity too far, Libera nos Domine, qui jam invocamus te, deliver us, 0 Lord, who do now call upon thee, Et libera eos qui nondum invocant, ut invocent te, et liberes eos, And deliver them who do not yet call upon thee, that they may call upon thee, and be farther delivered by thee. But it is time to pass from this first part, the consideration of the persons, that God who is infinitely more than all, would come to man who is infinitely less than nothing; that God who is the God of peace, would come to man his professed enemy; that God, the only Son of God, would come to the relief of man, of all men, to our second general part, the action itself, so far as it is enwrapped in this word, I came; I came that they might have life.'
Through this second part, / came, we must pass apace; because, upon the third, the end of his coming, (that they might have life) we must necessarily insist sometime. In this therefore, we make but two steps; and this the first, that that God who is omnipresent, always every where, in love to man, studied a new way of coming, of communicating himself to man; / came, so as I was never with man before. The rule is worth the repeating, God speaks man's language, that is, so as that he would be understood by man. Therefore to God, who always fills all places, are there divers positions, and motions, and transitions ascribed in Scriptures. In divers places is God said to sit; The Lord sitteth king for ever"3. Howsoever the kings of
33 Psal. xxix. 10.
the earth be troubled, and raised, and thrown down again, and troubled, and raised, and thrown down by him, yet the Lord sitteth king for ever. The Lord dwelieth in the heavens**, and yet he sits upon the compass of this earth". Where no earthquake shakes his seat; for sedet in confusione (as one translation reads that place, Psalm xxix. 10.) The Lord sitteth upon the flood, (so we read it) what confusions soever disorder, the world, what floods soever surround and overflow the world, the Lord sits safe. Other phrases there are of like denotation. Behold the Lord cometh out of his placeTM; that is, he produces, and brings to light, things which he kept secret before. And so, I will go, and return to my place*1; that is, I will withdraw the light of my countenance, my presence, my providence from them. So that heaven is his place, and then is he said to come to us, when he manifests himself unto us in any new manner of working. In such a sense was God come to us, when he said, / lift up my hands to heaven, and say, I live for ever3*. Where was God when he lifted up his hands to heaven? Here, here upon earth, with us, in his church, for our assurance, and our establishment, making that protestation (denoted in the lifting up of his hands to heaven) that he lived for ever, that he was the overliving God, and that therefore we need fear nothing. God is so omnipresent, as that the Ubiquitary will needs have the body of God everywhere: so omnipresent, as that the Stancarist will needs have God not only to be in everything, but to be everything, that God is an angel in an angel, and a stone in a stone, and a straw in a straw. But God is truly so omnipresent, as that he is with us before he comes to us: Quid peto ut venias in me, qui non mem, si non esses in me*"? Why do I pray that thou wouldst come into me, who could not only not pray, but could not be, if thou wert not in me before? But his coming in this text, is a new act of particular mercy, and therefore a new way of coming. What way? by assuming our nature in the blessed Virgin. That that paradoxa virgo, (as Amelberga the wife of one of the earls of Flanders, who lived continently even in marriage, and is therefore called paradoxa virgo, a virgin beyond opinion) that
34 Psal. cii. 13. "Isa. ax. 22. 88 Isa. xxvi. 21.
37 Hose. v. 15. 88 Deut. xxxii. 40. 39 Augustine.
this most blessed Virgin Mary should not only have a son, (for Manes, the patriarch of that great sect of heretics, the Manichees, boasted himself to be the son of a virgin, and some casuists in the Roman church have ventured to say, that by the practice and intervention of the devil there may be a child, and yet both parents, father and mother remain virgins) but that this Son of this blessed Virgin, should also be the Son of the eternal God, this is such a coming of him who was here before, as that if it had not arisen 'in his own goodness, no man would ever have thought of it, no man might ever have wished, or prayed for such a coming, that the only Son of God should come to die for all the sons of men. For aliud est hic esse, aliud hic tibi esse*0; it is one thing for God to be here in the world, another thing to be come hither for thy sake, born of a woman for thy salvation. And this is the first act of his mercy wrapped up in this word, I came, I who was always present, studied a new way of coming, I who never went from thee, came again to thee.
The other act of his mercy enwrapped in this word, / came, is this, that he that came to the old world but in promises, and prophecies, and figures, is actually, really, personally, and presentially come to us; of which difference, that man will have the best sense, who languishes under the heavy expectation of a reversion, in office, or inheritance, or hath felt the joy of coming to the actual possession of such a reversion. Christ was the lamb slain from the beginning of the world; appointed for a sacrifice from that first promise of a Messiah in Paradise: long before that; from all eternity. For, whensoever the election of the elect was, (date it when you will) Christ was at that election; and not only as the second person in the Trinity, as God, but Christ considered as man, and as the propitiation and sacrifice for man; for whosoever was elected, was elected in Christ. Christ was always come in God's purpose; and early come in God's promise; and continually coining in the succession of the prophets; with such a confidence, as that one of them says, A child is given unto us, a son is born unto us; born and given already; because the purpose of God, in which he was born, cannot be disappointed; the promise of God, by which he was
given, cannot be frustrated; the prophets of God, by whom he was presented, cannot be mistaken. But yet, still it was a future thing. Christ is often called the expectation of the world; but it was all that while but an expectation, but a reversion of a future thing. So God fed that old world with expectation of future things, as that that very name by which God notified himself most to that people, in his commission by Moses to Pharaoh41, was a future name; howsoever our translations and expositions run upon the present, as though God had said, my name is I AM, yet in truth it is, my name is, I SHALL BE. They had evidences enough that God was; but God was pleased to establish in them an assurance that he would be so still; and not only be so still as he was then; but that he would be so with them hereafter as he was never yet, he would be Immanuel, God with us, so that God and man should be one person. It was then a fair assurance, and a blessed comfort which the children of Israel had in that of Zachary, Rejoice ye daughters of Sion, and shout ye daughters of Jerusalem, Behold thy king cometh riding unto thee, upon an ass". But yet this assurance, though delivered as in the present, produced not those acclamations, and recognitions, and Hosannas, and Hosanna in the highest, to the Son of David43, as his personal, and actual, and visible riding into Jerusalem upon Palm-Sunday did. Amongst the Jews there was light enough to discern this future blessing, this coming of Christ; but they durst not open it, nor publish it to others. We see the Jews would die in defence of any part of their law, were it but the ceremonial; were it but for the not eating of swine's flesh; what unsufferable torments suffered the seven brothers in the Maccabees, for that! But yet we never find that any of them died, or exposed themselves to the danger or to the dignity of martyrdom, for this doctrine of the Messiah, this future coming of Christ. Nay, we find that the Septuagint, who first translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, for King Ptolemy, disguised divers places thereof, and departed from the original, rather than propose this future coming of the Son of God to the interpretation of the world. A little candle they had for themselves, but they durst not light anothers' candle at it. So also
41 Exod. iii. 14. a Zech. ix. 9. 43 Matt. xxi. 8.
some of the more speculative philosophers had got some beams of this light, but because they saw it would not be believed, they let it alone, they said little of it. Hence is it that St. Augustine says44, if Plato and his disciples should rise from the dead, and come now into our streets, and see those great congregations, which thrust and throng every Sabbath, and every day of holy convocation, to the worship of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, this it is likely they would say, says he, Hwc sunt, quae populis persuadere non ausi, consuetudini cessimus, This is that religion, which because it consisted so much in future things, we durst not propose to the people, but were fain to leave them to those present, and sensible, and visible things, to which they had been accustomed before, lest when we had shaken them in their old religion, we should not be able to settle, and establish them in the new; and, as in civil government, a tyranny is better than an anarchy, a hard king better than none, so when we consider religions, idolatry is better than atheism, and superstition better than profaneness. Not that the idolater shall any more be saved than the atheist; but that the idolater having been accustomed to some sense and worship of God (of God in his estimation) is therefore apter to receive religious impressions, than the atheist is. In this then consists this second act of Christ's mercy to us in this word, / came, I am actually, really, personally, presentially come, so that those types and figures and sacrifices, which represented Christ to the old world, were not more visible to the eye, more palpable to the hand, more obvious to the very bodily senses, that Christ himself hath been since to us. Therefore St. John does not only rest in that, That which was from the beginning", (Christ was always in purpose, in prophecy, in promise) nor in that, That which we have heard, (the world heard of Christ long before they saw him) but he proceeds to that, That which we have seen, and looked upon with our eyes, and handled with our hands, that declare we unto you. So that we are now delivered from that jealousy that possessed those Septuagint, those translators, that they durst not speak plain, and delivered from that suspicion that possessed Plato, and his disciples, that the people were incapable of that doctrine. We know that
4* De vera relig. cap. 4. 45 1 John i. I.
Christ is come, and we avow it, and we preach it, and we affirm, that it is not only as impious, and irreligious a thing, but as senseless, and as absurd a thing to deny that the Son of God hath redeemed the world, as to deny that God hath created the world; and that he is as formally, and as gloriously a martyr that dies for this article, the Son of God is come, as he that dies for this, there is a God. And these two acts of his mercy, enwrapped in this one word, / came, (first, that he who is always present, out of an abundant love to man, studied a new way of coming, and then, that he who was but betrothed to the old world by way of promise, is married to us by an actual coming) will be farther explicated to us, in that, which only remains and constitutes our third, and last part, the end and purpose of his coming, That they might have life, and might have it more abundantly. And though this last part put forth many handles, we can but take them by the hand, and shake them by the hand, that is, open them, and so leave them.
First then in this last part, we consider the 'gift itself, the treasure, life, That they might have life. Now life is the character by which Christ specificates and denominates himself; life is his very name, and that name by which he consummates all his other names, / am the way, the truth, and the life*6; and therefore does Peter justly and bitterly upbraid the Jews with that, Ye desired a murderer, (an enemy to life) to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life*1. It is an honour to anything that it may be sworn by; by vulgar and trivial things men might not swear, How shall I pardon them this? says God, they have sworn by things that are not gods.*" And therefore God, who in so many places professes to swear by himself, and of whom the apostle says, That because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself", because he could propose no greater thing in himself, no clearer notion of himself than life, (for his life is his eternity, and his eternity is himself,) does therefore through all the law and the prophets still swear in that form, As I live, saith the Lord, and as the Lord liveth; still he swears by his own life; as that solemn oath which is mentioned in Daniel, is
** John xiv. G. 47 Acts iii. 14. 48 Jer. v. 7. 49 Heb. vi. 13.
conceived in that form too, He lift up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever" ; that is, by God, and God in that notion as he is life. All that the queen and council could wish and apprecate to the king, was but that, life, 0 king, live for ever". God is life, and would not the death of any. We are not sure that stones have not life; stones may have life; neither (to speak humanly) is it unreasonably thought by them, that thought the whole world to be inanimated by one soul, and to be one entire living creature; and in that respect does St. Augustine prefer a fly before the sun, because a fly hath life, and the sun hath not. This is the worst that the apostle says of the young wanton widow, That if she live in pleasure, she is dead whilst she lives6*. So is that magistrate that studies nothing but his own honour, and dignity in his place, dead in his place; and that priest that studies nothing but his own ease, and profit, dead in his living; and that judge that dares not condemn a guilty person, and (which is the bolder transgression) dares condemn the innocent, deader upon the bench, then the prisoner at the bar; God hath included all that is good, in the name of life, and all that is ill in the name of death, when he says, See, I have set before thee life and good, death and evil63. This is the reward proposed to our faith54, to live by our faith; and this is the reward proposed to our works, to live by our works; all is life. And this fulness, this consummation of happiness, life, and the life of life, spiritual life, and the exaltation of spiritual life, eternal life, is the end of Christ's coming, / came that they might have life.
And first, that he might give life, bring life into the world, that there might be life to be had, that the world might be redeemed from that loss, which St. Augustine says it was fallen into, that we had all lost all possibility of life. For the heaven and the earth, and all that the poet would call chaos, was not a deader lump before the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, than mankind was, before the influence of Christ's coming wrought upon it. But now that God so loved the word, as that he gave his Son, now that the Son so loved the
50 Dan. xii. 7. 51 Dan. v. 581 Tim. v. 6.
55 Deut. xxx. 15. M Heb. ii. 4.
world, aa that he gave himself, as David says of the sun of the firmament", the father of nature, there is nothing hid from the heat thereof; so we say of this Son of God, the Father of the faithful in a far higher sense than Abraham was called so, there is nothing hid from him, no place, no person excluded from the benefit of his coming. The Son hath paid, the Father hath received enough for all; not in single money, for the discharge of thy lesser debts, thy idle words, thy wanton thoughts, thy unchaste looks, but in massy talents, to discharge thy crying debts, the clamours of those poor whom thou hast oppressed, and thy thundering debts, those blasphemies by which thou hast torn that Father that made thee, that Son that redeemed thee, that holy Ghost that would comfort thee. There is enough given; but then, asM Hiram sent materials sufficient for the building of the temple, but there was something else to be done, for the fitting and placing thereof; so there is life enough brought into the world, for all the world, by the death of Christ, but then there is something else to be done for the application of this life to particular persons, intended in this word in our text, came
THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE LIFE.
There is air enough in the world to give breath to everything, though everything do not breathe. If a tree, or a stone do not breathe, it is not because it wants air, but because it wants means to receive it, or to return it. All eggs are not hatched that the hens sits upon; neither could Christ himself get all the chickens that were hatched, to come, and to stay under his wings. That man that is blind, or that will wink, shall see no more sun upon St. Barnabie's day, than upon St. Lucie's; no more in the summer, than in the winter solstice. And therefore as there is a plentiful redemption brought into the world by the death of Christ, so (as St. Paul found it in his particular conversion) there is a great and a powerful light exhibited to us, that we might see, and lay hold of this life, in the ordinances of the church, in the confessions, and absolutions, and services, and sermons, and sacraments of the church: Christ came that he might bring life into the world, by his death, and then he instituted his church, that by the means thereof this life might
55 Psalm xix. C. "1 Kings i. 5.
be infused into us, and infused so, as the last word of our text delivers it, / came, that they might have life More Abundantly.
Dignaris Domiye, ut eis, quibus debita dimittis, te, promissionibus tuis, debitorem facias*1, This, 0 Lord, is thine abundant proceeding; first, thou forgivest me my debt to thee, and then thou makest thyself a debtor to me by thy large promises; and, after all, performest those promises more largely than thou madest them. Indeed, God can do nothing scantily, penuriously^ singly. Even his maledictions, (to which God is ever loath to come) his first commination was plural, it was death, and death upon death; Morte morieris. Death may be plural; but this benediction of life cannot admit a singular; Chajim, which is the word for life, hath no singular number. This is the difference between God's mercy, and his judgments, that sometimes his judgments may be plural, complicated, enwrapped in one another, but his mercies are always so, and cannot be otherwise; he gives them more abundantly.
More abundantly than to whom? The natural man hath the image of God imprinted in his soul; eternity is God himself, man hath not that, not eternity; but the image of eternity, that is immortality, a post-eternity there is in the soul of man. And then, man is all soul in Moses' expression; for he does not say that man had, but that man became a living soulTM. So that tho natural man hath life more abundantly than any other creature, (howsoever oaks, and crows, and harts may be said to out-live him) because he hath a life after this life. But Christ came to give life more abundantly than this.
That he did, when he came to the Jews in promises, in types, and figures, and sacrifices: he gave life more abundantly to the Jew, then to the Gentile, because he gave him better means to preserve that life, better means to illustrate that image of God in his soul, that is, to make his immortality immortal happiness, (for otherwise our immortality were our greatest curse) better means to conform himself to God, by having a particular law for the direction of all his actions, which the Gentiles had not. For, therein especially consisted the abundant favour of God to the Jews, as it is expressed by Moses, Unto what nation are their
gods come so near unto them, as the Lord our God is come unto us? And in what consisted this nearness? In this, What nation hath laws and statutes so righteous as we have? God gave man life more abundantly than other creatures, because he gave him immortality; God gave the Jews life more abundantly than other men, by giving them a law to make their immortality immortal happiness, and yet there is a further abundantius, Christ came to give us, us Christians, life more abundantly than Gentile, or Jew.
Justin Martyr denies, that ever any understood the true God, till Christ came. He goes upon the same ground that St. Paul does, Whilst you were without Christ, you were without God; that is, without such an evidence, such a manifestation, such an assurance of God, as faith requires, or as produces faith. For, the ceremonial law of the Jews cast as many shadows as it did lights, and burdened them in easing them. Whereas the Christian religion is, as Greg. Nazianz. says, Simplex et nuda, nisi prave in artem difficillimam converteretur: It is a plain, an easy, a perspicuous truth, but that the perverse and uncharitable wranglings of passionate and froward men, have made religion a hard, an intricate, and a perplexed art; so that now that religion, which carnal and worldly men, have by an ill life discredited and made hard to be believed, the passion and perverseness of schoolmen, by controversies, hath made hard to be understood. Whereas the Christian religion, is of itself a sweet, and an easy yoke, and an abridgment and a contracted doctrine; for, where the Jews had all abridged in ten words (as Moses calls the Ten Commandments) the Christian hath all abridged into two words, love God, love thy neighbour. So Christ hath given us, us Christians, life more abundantly than to the Gentile, or to the Jew; but there is a further abundance yet; all this is but more abundantly than to others, but Christ hath given us life more abundantly than to ourselves.
That is, in the Christian church, he hath given us means to be better to-day than yesterday, and to-morrow than to-day. That grace which God offers us in the church, does not only fill that capacity, which we have, but give us a greater capacity than we had: and it is an abuse of God's grace, not to improve it, or not
Vol. I. L
to procure such farther grace, as that present grace make us capable of. As it is an improvident, and dangerous thing to spend upon the stock, so is it to rely upon that portion of grace, which I think I had in my election, or that measure of sanctification, which I came to in my last sickness. Christ gives us better means of eternal life than to Gentile or Jew, and better, that is, nearer assurance, in our growth of grace, and increase of sanctification every day, than in the consideration of anything done by God in our behalf heretofore.
Now, with these abundances (in which, we exceed others, and ourselves) Christ comes to us in this, that he hath constituted, and established a church; and therefore we consider his abundant proceeding in that work. From this day, in which the first stone of that building, the church, was laid, (for, though the foundations of the church were laid in eternity, yet that was under ground, the first stone above ground, that is, the manifestation of God's purpose to the world was laid this day, in Christ's birth) from this day, the incarnation of Christ, (for, of all those names, by which the ancients design this day, Christmas day, Athanasius calling it the substantiation of Christ; Tertullian, the incorporation of Christ; Damascene, the humanation of Christ; of all those fifty names, which are collected out of the fathers, for this day, most concur in that name, the incarnation of Christ) from this day, God proceeded so abundantly in enlarging his church, as that within two hundred years, Tertullian was able to say, The very hospitals of the Christians are more and more sumptuously built, and more richly endowed, than the very temples of the idols, or than the palaces of idolatrous princes. And still more abundantly, not to compare only with idolators, but with the Jews themselves, and with them, in that wherein they magnified themselves most, their temple. That church, which Justinian the emperor built at Constantinople, and dedicated to Sophia, to the wisdom of God (and the wisdom of God is Christ, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God6",) is found by them, who have written that story, in bigness, and in beauty, to have exceeded Solomon's temple: though in that there were employed for many years, thirty thousand carpenters, and forty
69 l Cor. i. 24.
thousand masons, and (other endowments of rich vessels heing proportionable to it) more than twenty thousand bowls, and goblets of gold, and silver, yet Justinian's church at Constantinople exceeded that: unto the riches of this wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, flowed all the treasure of the world, and upon this wisdom of God, Christ Jesus, waited all the wisdom of the world. For, at that time, when Christ came into the world, was learning at that height, as that accounting from Cicero and Virgil, (two great masters in two great kinds) to the two Plinies, (which may shut up one age) we may reckon to that one state, under whoso government Christ was born, Rome, seven or eight score authors, more than ever they had before or after. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice, and be glad in it"0. And as Constantino ordained, that upon this day, the church should burn no oil, but balsamum in her lamps, so let us ever celebrate this day, and with a thankful acknowledgment, that Christ, who is the Anointed of the Lord, hath anointed us with the oil of gladness above our fellows, and given us life more abundantly than others, in making us partakers of these means of Balvation in his church.
But I bring it closer than so; now, and here, within these walls, and at this hour, comes Christ unto you, in the offer of this abundance; and with what penuriousness of devotion, penuriousness of reverence do you meet him here I Dens stetit, says David, God standeth in the congregation"; does God stand there, and wilt thou sit? sit, and never kneel? I would speak so, as the congregation should not know whom I mean; but so, as that they whom it concerns might know I mean them, I would speak: for, I must say, that there come some persons to this church, and persons of example to many that come with them, of whom, (excepting some few, who must therefore have their praise from us, as, no doubt, they have their thanks and blessings from God) I never saw master nor servant kneel, at his coming into this church, or at any part of divine service. David had such a zeal to God's service, as that he was content to be thought a fool, for his humility towards the ark. St. Paul was content to be thought mad; so was our blessed Saviour himself, not only by his enemies, but by his own
M Psalm i. 18, 24. 61 Psalm Lxxxii. 1.
friends and kinsfolk". Indeed, the root of that word Tehiliim, which is the name of the Psalms, and of all cheerful and hearty service of God, is Halal, and Halal is insanire, to fall mad; and, if humility in the service of God here, be madness, I would more of us were more out of our wits, than we are; I would all our churches were, to that purpose, bedlams. St. Hierome's rule is not only to come often to prayers, but to declare an inward humiliation by an outward. As our coming to church is a testification, a profession of our religion, to testify our fall in Adam, the church appoints us to fall upon our knees; and to testify our resurrection in Christ Jesus, the church hath appointed certain times, to stand: but no man is so left to his liberty, as never to kneel. Genuflexio est peccatorum*3, kneeling is the sinner's posture; if thou come hither in the quality of a sinner, (and, if thou do not so, what doest thou here, the whole need not the physician) put thyself into the posture of a sinner, kneel. We are very far from enjoining any one constant form to be always observed by all men; we only direct you, by that good rule of St. Bernard, Habe reverentiam Deo, ut quodpluris est ei tribuas. Do but remember, with what reverence thou eamest into thy master's presence, when thou wast a servant, with what reverence thou eamest to the council table, or to the king's presence, if thou have been called occasionally to those high places; and such reverence, as thou gavest to them there, be content to afford to God here. That sacrifice that struggled'at the altar, the ancients would not accept for a sacrifice; but Caesar would not forbear a sacrifice for struggling, but sacrificed it for all that. He that struggles, and murmurs at this instruction, this increpation, is the less fit for a sacrifice to God, for that; N but the zeal that I bear to God's house, puts so much of Caesar's courage into me, as, for all that struggling, to say now, and to repeat as often as I see that irreverence continued, to the most impatient struggler, God stands in the congregation, and wilt thou sit; sit and never kneel? Venite, says David, Let us come hither, let us be here; What to do? Venite adoremus, Let us come and worship''*; How? will not the heart serve? No; Adoremus et procidamus, Let us fall down, and kneel before the Lord our
68 John x. 20; Matt. iii. 21. 63 Just. Mart. 64 Psalm xcv. 6.
Maker. Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification; and as without this, without holiness, no man shall see God, though he pore whole nights upon the Bible; so without that, without humility, no man shall hear God speak to his soul, though he hear three two-hours' sermons every day. But if God bring thee to that humiliation of soul and body here, he will improve, and advance thy sanctification more abundantly, and when he hath brought it to the best perfection, that this life is capable of, he will provide another manner of abundance in the life to come; which is the last beating of the pulse of this text, the last panting of the breath thereof, our anholation, and panting after the joys, and glory, and eternity of the kingdom of heaven; of which, though, for the most part, I use to dismiss you, with saying something, yet it is always little that I can say thereof; at this time, but this; that if all the joys of all the martyrs, from Abel to him that groans now in the inquisition, were condensed into one body of joy, (and certainly the joys that the martyrs felt at their deaths, would make up a far greater body, than their sorrows would do,) (for though it be said of our great Martyr, or great Witness65, (as St. John calls Christ Jesus) to whom, all other martyrs are but sub-martyrs, witnesses that testify his testimony, there was never sorrow like unto his sorrow*"1, it is also true, (there was never joy like unto that joy which was set before him, when he endured the cross67;) if I had all this joy of all these martyrs, yet I shall have a joy more abundant, than even this superlative joy, in the world to come. What a dim vespers of a glorious festival, what a poor half-holyday, is Methusalem's nine hundred years, to eternity 5 What a poor account hath that man made, that says, this land hath been in my name, and in my ancestors from the conquest I What a yesterday is that? not six hundred years. If I could believe the transmigration of souls, and think that my soul had been successively in some creature or other, since the creation, what a yesterday is that? not six thousand years. What a yesterday for the past, what a to-morrow for the future, is any term, that can be comprehended in cypher or counters? But as, how abundant a life soever any man hath in this world for
65 Apoc. L 5. 66 Lam. iii. 12. 67 Heb. xii. 2.
temporal abundances, I havo life more abundantly than ho, if I have tho spiritual life of grace, so that what measure soever I havo of this spiritual life of grace, in this world, 1 shall have that more abundantly in heaven, for there my term shall be a term for three lives; for those throe, that as long as the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost live, I shall not die. And to this glorious Son of God, and the most Almighty Father, &c.