PREACHED AT WHITEHALL, MARCH 4, 1624.
Matt. xix. 17.
And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but One; that is, God.
That which God commanded by his Word, to be done at some times (that we should humble our souls by fasting) the same God commands by his church, to be done now: in the Scriptures you haveprwceptum, The thing itself, what; in the church, you have the Nunc, The time, when. The Scriptures are God's voice; the church is his echo; a redoubling, a repeating of some particular syllables, and accents of the same voice. And as we hearken with some earnestness, and some admiration at an echo, when perchance we do not understand the voice that occasioned that echo; so do the obedient children of God apply themselves to the echo of his church, when perchance otherwise they would less understand the voice of God, in his Scriptures, if that voice were not so redoubled unto them. This fasting then, thus enjoined by God, for the general, in his word, and thus limited to this time, for the particular, in his church, is indeed but a continuation of a great feast: where, the first course (that which we begin to serve in now) is manna, food of angels, plentiful, frequent preaching; but the second course, is the very body and blood of Christ Jesus, shed for us, and given to us, in that blessed sacrament, of which himself makes us worthy receivers at that time. Now, as the end of all bodily eating, is assimilation, that after all other concoctions, that meat may be made idem corpus, the same body that I am; so the end of all spiritual eating, is assimilation too, that after all hearing, and all receiving, I may be made idem spiritu s cum Domino, the same spirit, that my God is: for, though it be good to hear, good to receive, good to meditate, yet, (if we speak effectually, and consummatively) why call we these good? There is nothing good but One, that is, assimilation to God; in which perfect and consummative sense, Christ Vol. I. v T
says to this man, in this text, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but One, that is God.
The words are part of a dialogue, of a conference, between Christ, and a man who proposed a question to him; to whom Christ makes an answer by way of another question, Why called thou me good, &c. In the words, and by occasion of them, we consider the text, the context, and the pretext: not as three equal parts of the building; but the context, as the situation and prospect of the house, the pretext, as the access and entrance to the house, and then the text itself, as the house itself, as the body of the building: in a word, in the text, the words; in the context, the occasion of the words; in the pretext, the pretence, the purpose, the disposition of him who gave the occasion.
We begin with the context; the situation, the prospect; how it stands, how it is butted, how it is bounded; to what it relates, with what it is connected. And in that, we are no farther curious, but only to note this, that the text stands in that story, where a man comes to Christ, inquires the way to heaven, believes himself to be in that way already, and (when he hears of nothing, but keeping the commandments) believes himself to be far gono in that way; but when he is told also, that there belongs to it a departing with his riches, his beloved riches, he breaks off the conference, he separates himself from Christ; for, (says the story) This man had great.possessions. And to this purpose, (to separate us from Christ) the poorest amongst us, hath great po*? sessions. He that starves, as well as he that surfeits, he that lies in the spitting places, and excremental corners of the streets, as well as he that sits upon carpets, in the region of perfumes, he that is ground and trod to dirt, with obloquy, and contempt, as well as he that is built up every day a story and story higher with additions of honour, every man hath some such possessions as possess him, some such affections as weigh down Christ Jesus, and separate him from Him, rather than from those affections, those possessions. Scarce any sinner but comes sometimes to Christ, in the language of the man in this text, Good master what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And if Christ would go no farther with such men, but to say to the adulterer, Do not thou give thy money to usury; no more to the penurious usurer, but, do not thou waste thyself in superfluous and expensive feasting; if Christ would proceed no farther, but to say to the needy person, that had no money, Do not thou buy preferment; or to the ambitious person that soars up after all, Do not thou forsake thyself, deject thyself, undervalue thyself, in all these caseB, the adulterer and the usurer, the needy and the ambitious man, would all say with the man in the text, All these things have we done from our youth. But when Christ proceeds to a vade, et vende, to depart with their possessions, that which they possess, that which possesses them, this changes the case.
There are some sins so rooted, so rivetted in men, so incorporated, so consubstantiated in the soul, by habitual custom, as that those sins have contracted the nature of ancient possessions. As men call manners by their names, so sins have taken names from men, and from places; Simon Magus gave the name to a sin, and so did Gehazi, and Sodom did so: there are sins that run in names, in families, in blood; hereditary sins, entailed sins; and men do almost prove their gentry by those sins, and are scarce believed to be rightly born, if they have not those sins; these are great possessions, and men do much more easily part with Christ, than with these sins. But then there are less sins, light sins, vanities; and yet even these come to possess us, and separate us from Christ. How many men neglect this ordinary means of their salvation, the coming to these exercises, not because their undoing lies on it, or their discountenancing; but merely out of levity, of vanity, of nothing; they know not what to do else, and yet do not this. You hear of one man that was drowned in a vessel of wine; but how many thousands in ordinary water I And he was no more drowned in that precious liquor, than they in that common water. A gad of steel does no more choke a man, than a feather, than a hair; men perish with whispering sins, nay with silent sins; sins that never tell the conscience they are sins, as often as with crying sins: and in hell there shall meet as many men, that never thought what was sin, as that spent all their thoughts in the compassing of sin; as many, who in a slack inconsideration, never cast a thought upon that place, as that by searing their conscience, overcame the sense and fear of the place. Great sins are great possessions; but levities and vanities possess us too; and men had rather part with Christ, than with any possessions; which is all we will note out of this first part, the context, the situation, and prospect of the house, the coherence and connexion of the text.
The second part, is the pretext; that is the pretence, the purpose, the disposition of him that moved this question to Christ, and occasioned this answer. Upon which we make this stop, because it hath been variously apprehended by the expositors; for some think he came in an humble disposition to learn of Christ, and others think he came in a pharisaical confidence in himself, with which Epiphanius first, and then St. Jerome charge him. But in such doubtful cases in other men's actions, when it appears not evidently, whether it were well, or ill done, where the balance is even, always put you in your charity, and that will turn the scale the best way. Things which are in themselves, Dut misinterpretable, do not you presently misinterpret: you allow some grains to your gold, before you call it light: allow some infirmities to any man, before you call him ill. For this man in the text, says this evangelist, he came to Christ, he came of himself. St. Peter himself came not so, St. Peter came not, till his brother Andrew brought him: none of the twelve apostles came to Christ so, they came not, till Christ called them: here we hear of no calling, no inviting, no mention of any motion towards him, no intimation of any intimation to him, and yet he came. Blessed are they that come to Christ Jesus, before any collateral respects draw them, before the laws compel them, before calamities drive them to him: he only comes hither, that comes voluntarily, and is glad he is here; he that comes so, as that he had rather he were away, is not here. Venit, says our Evangelist, of this man: and then, says St. Markl, handling the same story, Venit procurrens, He came running. Nicodemus came not so, Nicodemus durst not avow his coming; and therefore he came creeping, and he came softly, and he came seldom, and he came by night.
Blessed are they who make haste to Christ, and publish their zeal to the encouragement of others: for let no man promise himself a religious constancy in the time of his trial, that doth
1 Mark x. 17
not his part in establishing the religious constancy of other men. Of all proofs, demonstration is the powerfulest: when I have just reason to think my superiors would have it thus, this is music to my soul; when I hear them say they would have it thus, this is rhetoric to my soul; when I see their laws enjoin it to be thus, this is logic to my soul; but when I see them actually, really, clearly, constantly do thus, this is a demonstration to my soul, and demonstration is the powerfulest proof: the eloquence of inferiors is in words, the eloquence of superiors is in action.
He came to Christ; he ran to him; and when he was come, as St. Mark relates it, He fell upon his knees to Christ. He stood not then pharisaically upon his own legs, his own merits, though he had been a diligent observer of the commandments before. Blessed are they, who bring the testimony of a former zeal to God's service, and yet make that no excuse for their present, or future slackness; the benefit of our former goodness is, that that enables us to be the better still: for, as all example is powerful upon us, so our own example most of all; in this case we are most immediately bound by ourselves; still to be so good, as we ourselves have been before: there was a time when I was nothing; but there shall never be any time, when I shall be nothing; and therefore I am most to respect the future. The good services that a man hath done to God by pen, or sword, are wings, and they exalt him if he would go forward; but they are weights and depress him, and aggravate his condemnation, if his presumption upon the merit of those former services, retard him for the future. This man had done well, but he stood not upon that; he kneeled to Christ, and he said to him, Good master. He was no ignorant man, and yet he acknowledged that he had somewhat more to learn of Christ, than he knew yet. Blessed are they that inanimate all their knowledge, consummate all in Christ Jesus. The university is a paradise, rivers of knowledge are there, arts and sciences flow from thence. Council tables are Horti conclusi, (as it is said in the Canticles) Gardens that are walled in, and they are fontes signati, wells that are sealed up; bottomless depths of unsearchable counsels there. But those Aquw quietudinum, which the prophet speaks of, The waters of rest, thoy flow from this good master, and flow into him again; all knowledge that begins not, and ends not with his glory, is but a giddy, but a vertiginous circle, but an elaborate and exquisite ignorance. He would learn of him, and what? Quid boni faciam, What good thing shall I do? Still he refers to the future; to do as well as to have done: and still to be doing so. Blessed are they that bring their knowledge into practice; and blessed again, that crown their former practice with future perseverance.
This was his disposition that came; his, though he were a young man; (for so he is said to be, in the 22nd verse) and young men are not often so forward in such ways. I remember one of the panegyrics celebrates and magnifies one of the Roman emperors for this, that he would marry when he was young; that ho would so soon confine and limit his pleasures, so soon determine his affections in one person. When a young man comes to Christ, Christ receives him with an extraordinary welcome; well intimated in that, that that disciple whom Christ loved most, came to him youngest. He came though he were young; and he came though he were Unus e principibus, (for so he is qualified in St. Luke) a principal man, a great man; as we translate it, One of the rulers": for so he is a real and a personal answer and instance to that scornful question of the pharisees, Nunquid e principibus, Do any of the rulers, any great men, believe in Christ? It is true that the Holy Ghost doth say, Non multi mobiles3, Few noblemen come to heaven. Not out of Panigorola, the bishop of Asti's reason, Pauci quia panci, There cannot come many noblemen to heaven, because there are not many upon earth; for many times there are many. In calm and peaceable times, the large favours of indulgent princes, in active and stirring times, the merit and the fortune of forward men, do often enlarge the number. But such is often the corrupt inordinateness of greatness, that it only carries them so much beyond other men, but not so much nearer to God; it only sets men at a farther, not God at a nearer distance to them; but because they are come to bo called God's, they think they have no farther to go to God, but to themselves. But God is the God of the mountains, as well as
4 Luke xviii. 18. s 1 Cor. i, 26.
of the valleys*; great and small are equal, and equally nothing in his sight: for, when all the world is in pugillo, in, God's fist*, (as the prophet speaks) who can say then, this is the ant, this is the elephant 2 Our conversation should be in heaven; and if we look upon the men of this world, as from heaven, as if we looked upon this world itself, from thence, the hills would be no hills, but all one flat and equal plain; so are all men, one kind of dust. Records of nobility are only from the book of life, and your preferment is your interest in a place at the right-hand of God. But yet, when those men whom God hath raised in this world, take him in their arms, and raise him too, though God cannot be exalted above himself, yet he is content to call this a raising, and to thank them for it. Therefore when this man, a man of this rank came to him, Jesus beheld him", says the Gospel, and he loved him, and he said, One thing thou lackest; God knows, he lacked many things; but because he had that one, zeal to him, Christ doth not reproach to him his other defects: God pardons great men many errors, for that one good affection, a general zeal to his glory, and his cause.
His disposition then, (though it have seemed suspicious, and questionable to some) was so good, as that it bath afforded us these good considerations. If it were not so good as these circumstances promise, yet it affords us another as good consideration, that how bad soever it were, Christ Jesus refused him not, when he came to him. When he inquired of Christ after salvation, Christ doth not say, There is no salvation for thee, thou viper,- thou hypocrite, thou Pharisee, I have locked an iron door of predestination between salvation and thee; when he inquired of him, what he should do to be sure of heaven, Christ doth not say} There is no such art, no such way, no such assurance here; but you must look into the eternal decree of election first, and see whether that stand for you or no: but Christ teaches him the true method of this art: for, when he says to him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but God, he only directs him in the way to that end, which he did indeed, or pretended to seek. And this direction of his, this method is our tlnrd part; in which, having already seen in the first, (the contest) the situa
4 1 Kings xx. 28. 5 Isaiah xt. 12, 6 Mark x. 21.
tion and prospect of the house, that is, the coherence and occasion of the words, and in the second, (the pretext) the access and entrance to the house, that is, the pretence and purpose of him that occasioned the words, you may now be pleased to look farther into the house itself, and to see how that is built; that is, by what method Christ builds up, and edifies this new disciple of his; which is the principal scope and intention of the text, 'and that, to which all the rest did somewhat necessarily prepare the way.
Our Saviour Christ thus undertaking the farther rectifying of this thus disposed disciple, by a fair method leads him to the true end; good ends, and by good ways, consummate goodness. Now Christ's answer to this man is diversely read: we read it, (as you have heard) Why callest thou me good? The vulgate edition in the Roman church, reads it thus, Quid me interrogas de bono? Why dost thou question me concerning goodness? Which is true? That which answers the original; and it can admit no question, but that ours doth so. But yet, Origen, to be sure, in his eighth tractate upon this Gospel, reads it both ways : and St. Augustine, in his sixty-third chapter of the second book De consensu Evangelistarum, thinks it may very well be believed, that Christ did say both: that when this man called him good master, Christ said then, There was none good but God; and that when this man asked him, What good thing he should do, then Christ said, Why dost thou ask me, me whom thou thinkest to be but a mere man, what is goodness? There is none good but God; if thou look to understand goodness from man, thou must look out such a man as is God too. So that this was Christ's method, by these holy insinuations, by these approaches, and degrees, to bring this man to a knowledge, that he was very God, and so the Messiah that was expected. Nihil est falsitas, nisi cum esse putatur, quod non est1: all error consists in this, that we take things to be less or more, other than they are. Christ was pleased to redeem this man from this error, and bring him to know truly what he was, that he was God. Christ therefore doth not rebuke this man, by any denying that he himself was good; for Christ doth assume that addition to himself, / am the good Shepherd. Neither doth
God forbid, that those good parts which are in men, should be celebrated with condign praise. We see that God, as soon as he saw that anything was good, he said so, he uttered it, he declared it, first of the light, and then of other creatures: God would be no author, no example of smothering the due praise of good actions. For, surely that man hath no zeal to goodness in himself, that affords no praise to goodness in other men.
But Christ's purpose was also, that this praise, this recognition, this testimony of his goodness, might be carried higher, and referred to the only true author of it, to God. So the priests and the elders come to Judith8, and they say to her, Thou art the exaltation of Jerusalem, thou art the great glory of Israel, thou art the rejoicing of our nation, thou hast done all these things by thy hand; and all this was true of Judith, and due to Judith; and such recognitions, and such acclamations God requires of such people, as have received such benefits by such instruments: for as there is treason, and petty treason, so there is sacrilege, and petty sacrilege; and petty sacrilege is to rob princes and great persons of their just praise. But then, as we must confer this upon them, so must they, and we, and all transfer all upon God: for so Judith proceeds there, with her priests and elders, Begin unto my God, with timbrels, sing unto the Lord with cymbals, exalt him, and call upon his name. So likewise Elizabeth magnifies the blessed Virgin Mary, Blessed art thou amongst women": and this was true of her, and due to her; and she takes it to herself, when she says there, From henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; but first, she had carried it higher, to the highest, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour. In a word, Christ forbids not this man to call him good, but he directs him to know in what capacity that attribute of goodness belonged to him, as he was God : that when this man believed before that Christ was good, and learnt from him now, that none was good but God, he might by a farther concoction, a farther rumination, a farther meditation of this, come in due time to know that Christ was God; and this was his method.
Now this leads us into two rich and fragrant fields; this sets us upon the two hemispheres of the world; the western hemi
6 Judith xv. 8. 9 Luke i, 42.
sphere, the land of gold, and treasure, and the eastern hemisphere, the land of spices and perfumes; for this puts us upon both these considerations, first, that nothing is essentially good, but God, (and there is the land of gold, centrical gold, visceral gold, gremial gold, gold in the matrice and womb of God, that is, essential goodness in God himself) and then upon this consideration too, that this essential goodness of God is so diffusive, so spreading, as that there is nothing in the world, that doth not participate of that goodness; and there is the land of spices and perfumes, the dilatation of God's goodness. So that now both these propositions are true, first, that there is nothing in this world good, and then this also, that there is nothing ill: as, amongst the fathers, it is in a good sense, as truly said, Dens non est ens, Deus non est substantia, God is no essence, God is no substance, (for fear of imprisoning God in a predicament) as it is said by others of the fathers, that there is no other essence, no other substance but God.
First then, there is nothing good but God: neither can I conceive anything in God, that concerns me so much as his goodness; for, by that I know him, and for that I love him. I know him by that, for, as Damascene says, Primarium Dei nomen, bonitas; God's first name, that is, the first way by which God notified himself to man, was goodness; for out of his goodness he made him. His name of Jehovah we admire with a reverence; but we cannot express that name: not only not in the signification of it, but not confidently, not assuredly in the sound thereof; we are not sure that we should call it Jehovah; not sure that any man did call it Jehovah a hundred years ago. But, Ineffabili dulcedine teneor cum audio, bonus Dominus1"; I am, not transported with astonishment, as at his name of Jehovah, but replenished with all sweetness, established with all soundness, when I hear of my God in that name, my good God. By that I know him, and for that I love him: for the object of my understanding is truth; but the object of my love, my affection, my desire, is goodness. If my understanding be defective, in many cases, faith will supply it; if I believe it, I am as well satisfied, as if I knew it; but nothing supplies, nor fills, nor satisfies the desire of man, on this
side of God; every man hath something to love, and desire, till he determine it in God; because God only hath imminuibilem bonitatem, as they render Dionysius the Areopagite, an inexhaustible goodness; a sea that no land can suck in, a land that no sea can swallow up, a forest that no fire can waste, a fire that no water can quench. He is so good, goodness so, as that he is Causa bonorum, et quw in nos, et quw in nobis", The cause of all good either received by us, or conceived in us; of all, either prepared externally for us, or produced internally in us. In a word, he is Bonum castera bona colorans, et amabilia reddensTM, It is his goodness, that gilds and enamels all the good persons, or good actions in this world. There is none good but God; and Quale bonum Me, says that father, What kind of goodness God is, this doth sufficiently declare, Quod nulli ab eo recedenti bene sit, That no man that ever went from him, went by good way, or came to good end; there is none good but God; there is centrical, visceral, gremial gold, goodness in the root, in the tree of goodness, God.
Now, Arbor bona, bonos fructus, says Christ; If the tree be good, the fruit is good too. The tree is God; What are the fruits of this tree? What are the offspring of God 2 St. Ambrose tells us, Angeli et homines, et virtutes eorum; Angels and men, and the good parts, and good actions of angels and men, are the fruit of this tree, they grow from God. Angels, as they fell, Adam, as he fell, the sins of angels and men, are not the fruits of this tree, they grow not radically, not primarily from God. Nihil in se habet Deus semi-plenum, says Damascene: God is no half-god, no fragmentary God; he is an entire God, and not made of remnants; not good only so, as that he hath no room for ill in himself, but good so too, as that he hath no room for any ill will towards any man; no man's damnation, no man's sin, grows radically from this tree. When God had made all, says Tertullian, he blessed all; Maledicere non norat, quia nec malefacere, says he: God could no more mean ill, than do ill; God can no more make me sin, than sin himself. It is the fool that says, There is no God, says David; and it is the other fool, says St. Basil, that says, God produces any ill; Par pretii scelus, quia negat Deum bonum; It is as impiously done, to deny God to be
"Augustine. 14 Idem.
entirely good, as to deny him to be God. For we see the Manichees, and the Marcionites, and such other heretics in the primitive church, would rather admit, and constitute two Gods, a good God, and a bad God, than be drawn to think, that he that was the good God indeed, could produce any ill of himself, or mean any ill to any man, that had done none.
And therefore even from Plato himself, some Christians might learn more moderation in expressing themselves in this point; Plato says, Creavit quia bonus, Therefore did God create us, that he might be good to us; and then he adds, Bono nunquam inest invidia, Certainly that God, that made us out of his goodness, does not now envy us that goodness which he hath communicated to us; certainly he does not wish us worse, that so he might more justly damn us, and therefore compel us, by any positive decree, to sin, to justify his desire of damning us: much less did this good God hate us, or mean ill to us, before he made us, and made us only therefore, that he might have glory in our destruction. There is nothing good but God, there is nothing but goodness in God.
How abusively then do men call the things of this world, goods? They may as well call them (so they do in their hearts) Gods, as goods; for there is none good but God. But how much more abusively do they force the word, that call them Bona quia beant, Goods because they make us good, blessed, happy 2 In which sense, Seneca uses the word shrewdly, Insolens malum beata uxor, A good wife, a blessed wife, says he, that is, a wife that brings a great estate, is an insolent mischief. If we do but cast our eye upon that title in the law, bonorum, and de bonis, of goods, we shall easily see, what poor things they make shift to call goods. And if we consider (if it deserve a consideration) how great a difference their lawyers make (Baldus makes that, and others with him) between bonorum possessio, and possessio bonorum, that one should amount to a right and propriety in the goods, and the other but to a sequestration of such goods, we may easily see, that they can scarce tell what to call, or where to place such goods. Health, and strength, and stature, and comeliness, must be called goods, though but of the body; the body itself is in the substance itself, but dust; these are but the acci
dents of that dust, and yet they must be goods. Land, and money, and honour must be called goods, though but of fortune; fortune herself, is but such an idol, as that St. Augustine was ashamed ever to have named her in his works, and therefore repents it in his retractations; herself is but an idol, and an idol is nothing, these, but the accidents of that nothing, and yet they must be goods. Are they such goods, as make him necessarily good that hath them? Or such, as no man can be good, that is without them? How many men make themselves miserable, because they want these goods? And how many men have been made miserable by others, because they had them? Except thou see the face of God upon all thy money, as well as the face of the king, the hand of God to all thy patents, as well as the hand of the king, God's amen, as well as the king's fiat, to all thy creations, all these reach not to the title of goods, for there is none good but God.
Nothing in this world; not if thou couldst have it all; carry it higher, to the highest, to heaven; heaven itself were not good, without God. For, in the school, very many and very great men, have thought and taught, that the human nature of Christ, though united hypostatically to the Divine nature, was not merely by that union, impeccable, but might have sinned, if besides that union, God had not infused, and superinduced other graces, of which other graces, the beatifical vision, the present sight of the face and essence of God, was one: because, (say they) Christ had from his conception, in his human nature, that beatifical vision of God, which we shall have in the state of glory, therefore he could not sin. This beatifical vision, say they, which Christ had here, and which, (as they suppose, and not improbably, in the problematical way of the school) God, of his absolute power, might have withheld, and yet the hypostatical union have remained perfect; (for, say they, the two natures, human and Divine, might have been so united, and yet the human not have so seen the Divine; ) this beatifical vision, this sight of God, was the cause, or seal, or consummation of Christ's perfection, and impeccability in his human nature. Much more is this beatifical vision, this sight of God in heaven, the cause or consummation of all the joys and glory which we shall receive in that place: for howsoever they dispute, whether that kind of blessedness consist in seeing God, formaliter, or causaliter, that is, whether I shall see all things in God, as in a glass, in which the species of all things are, or whether I shall see all things, by God, as by the benefit of a light, which shall discover all things to me, yet they all agree, (though they differ de modo, of the manner, how) that howsoever it be, the substance of the blessedness is in this, that I shall see God: Blessed are the pure in heart, says Christ, for they shall see God; if they should not see God, they were not blessed. And therefore they who place children that die unbaptised, in a room, where though they feel no torment, yet they shall never see God, durst never call that room a part of heaven, but of hell rather; though there be no torment, yet, if they see not God, it is bell. There is nothing good in this life, nothing in the next, without God, that is, without sight and fruition of the face, and presence of God; which is that, which St. Augustine intends, when he says, Seoutio Dei est appetitus beatitatis, consecutio beatitas; our looking towards God, is the way to blessedness, but blessedness itself is only the sight of God himself.
That therefore thou mayest begin thy heaven here, put thyself in the sight of God, put God in thy sight, in every particular action. We cannot come to the body of the sun, but we can use the light of the sun many ways: we cannot come to God himself here, but yet here we can see him by many manifestations: so many, as that St. Augustine, in his twentieth chapter, De moribus ecclesiw Catholicw, hath collected aright places of Scripture, where every one of our senses is called a seeing; there is a gustate et videte, and audite, and palpate; tasting, and hearing, and feeling, and all, to this purpose, are called seeing; in all our senses, in our faculties, we may see God if we will: God sees us at midnight; he sees us, then, when we had rather he looked oft*. If we see him so, it is a blessed interview. How would he that were come abroad at mid-night, to do a misehief, sneak away, if he saw the watch? What a damp must it necessarily cast upon any sinner, in the nearest approach to his sin, if he can see God? See him before thou sinnest; then he looks lovingly: after the sin, remember how fain Adam would have hid himself from God: ho that goes one step out of God's sight, is loath to come
into it again: if you will sit at the right hand of God hereafter, you must walk with God here; so Abraham, so Enoch walked with GodTM, and God took him. God knows, God takes not every man that dies: God says to the rich secure man, Fool, this night they shall fetch away thy soul; but he does not tell him who. That then yon be no strangers to God then, see him now; and remember, that his last judgment is expressed in that word, Nmcio vosf I know you not; not to be known by God, is damnation; and God knows no man there, with whom he was not acquainted here. There is none good but God; the fruition of that God, is in seeing him; the way to see him there, is to look towards him here. And so we have gone as far as the first of our two propositions carried us, that in this world there is nothing good.
The other that remains, is, that there is nothing ill; that this goodness of God is so spread over all, (all actions, all persons) as that there is nothing ill. Seneca, whom Tertullian calls still Senecam nostram, Our Seneea, that is, that Christian Seneca, as though he had read that of St. Paul, (between whom and him, it hath been thought, there passed epistles) Quid habes, quod non accepisti? What hast thou, that thou hast not received from God? and meant to say more than that, says, Quid non dedit? What is there, that were good for thee, that God hath not given thee? And he, whom they call so often Platonem Hebrcporum, the Jews Plato, that is Philo Judwus, says well, Nihil boni sterile crearsit Deus; God hath made nothing, in which he hath not imprinted, and from which he hath not produced some good: he follows it so far, (and justly) as to say, that God does good, where that good does no good: he takes his examples from God's raining in the sea; that rain does no good in the sea: and from God's producing fresh springs in the desert land, where not only no beasts come to drink, but where the very salt tide overflows the fresh spring, He might have added an example from Paradise, that God would plant such a garden, for so few hours; that God would provide man such a dwelling, when he knew he would not dwell a day in it. And he might have added an example from the light too; that God would create light, and say it was good, then when, it
13 Gen. v. 25.
could be good for nothing, for there was nothing made to see it, nor to be seen by it: so forward, so early was God, in diffusing his goodness. Of every particular thing, God said it was good, and of all together, that it was very good; there was, there is nothing ill. For, when it is ordinarily inquired in the school, whether anything be essentially good, it is safely answered there, that if by essentially we mean independently, so good as that it can subsist of itself, without dependence upon, or relatian to any other thing, so there is nothing essentially good: but if by essentially good, we mean that whose essence, and being is good, so everything is essentially good. And therefore when the Manichees pressed St. Augustine with that, Unde malum? If there be not an ill God, as well as a good, unde malum, from whom, or from whence proeeeds all that ill that is in the world? St. Augustine says, Unde malum? Quid malum? From whence comes evil? Why, what is there, that you can call evil \ I know no such thing; so that, if there be such a God, that God hath no creature. For, as poisons conduce to physic, and discord to music, so those two kinds of evil, into which we contract all others, are of good use, that is, malum pwnw, the evil of punishment, affliction, adversity, and malum culpw, even sin itself, from which the punishment flows.
Be pleased to stop a little, upon each of these. First, malum pwnw, affliction, poverty, sickness, imprisonment, banishment, and such, are not evil. The blood of Christ Jesus only is my cordial; that restores me, repairs me; but affliction is my physic; that purges, that cleanses me. Hostiliter se opponit medicus, says Tertullian, The physician comes in like an enemy, with a knife to lance, with fire to cauterize, but opponit se morbo, he is but an enemy to the disease, he means the patient no harm; no more does God to me, in all his medicinal corrections. But how if these afflictions hang long upon me? If they do so, that is, jffigrotantium dhimarum diwta14; God enters into another course of physic, and finds it better for me to spend my disease by a diet; and long sicknesses are such diets: God will recover my soul by a consumption of the body, and establish everlasting health, by long sickness. Howsoever, let God's corrections go as
14 Clem. Alex.
nigh as they can go in this world, Etsi novum videtur, quod dicere rolo, says Origen, dicam tamen; Though it be strange that I will say, I will say it, Etiam bonitas Dei est, qui dicitur furor ejus; That which we call the anger of God, the wrath of God, the fury of God, is the goodness of God. Correct me not 0 Lord, in thy wrath, says David; but, rather than leave me uncorrected, cor-^ rect me any way. We call God, just, and we call him merciful, according to our present taste of God, and use of God, Cum unicam habeat affectionem Deus, nempe bonitatem '*, When as God hath but one affection in himself, that is, goodness, nor but one purpose upon us, that is, to do us good.
So then, this which we call malum pwnw, affliction, adversity, is not evil; that which occasions this, malum culpw, sin itself, is not evil; not evil so, as that it should make us incapable of this diffusive goodness of God. You know, I presume, in what sense we say in the school, malum nihil, xaApeccatum nihil, that evil is nothing, sin is nothing; that is, it hath no reality, it is no created substance, it is but a privation, as a shadow is, as sickness is; so it is nothing. It is wittily argued by Boethius, God can do all things; God cannot sin; therefore sin is nothing. But it is strongly argued by St. Augustine, if there be anything naturally evil, it must necessarily be contrary to that which is naturally good; and that is God. Now, contraria wqualia, says he; whatsoever things are contrary to one another, are equal to one another; so, if we make anything naturally evil, we shall slide into the Manichees' error, to make an evil God. So far doth the school follow this, as that there, one archbishop of Canterbury, out of another, that is, Bradwardine out of Anselm, pronounces it Hwreticum esse dicere, malum esse aliquid, To say that anything is naturally evil, is an heresy.
But if I cannot find a foundation for my comfort, in this subtlety of the school, that sin is nothing, (no such thing as was created or induced by God, much less forced upon me by him, in any coactive decree) yet I can raise a second step for my consolation in this, that be sin what it will in the nature thereof, yet my sin shall conduce and cooperate to my good. So Joseph says to his brethren, You thought evil against me, bnt God meant it unto
15 Cyril. Alex.
VOL. I. U
goodTM: which is not only good to Joseph, who was no partaker in the evil, but good even to them, who meant nothing but evil. And therefore, as Origen said, Etsi novum, Though it be strangely said, yet I say it, that God's anger is good; so says St. Augustine, Audeo dicere, Though it be boldly said, yet I must say it, Utile esse cadere in aliquod manifestum peccatwrn, Many sinners would never have been saved, if they had not committed some greater Bin at last, than before; for the punishment of that sin hath brought them to a remorse of all their other sins formerly neglected. If neither of these will serve my turn, neither that sin is nothing in itself, and therefore not put upon me by God, nor that my sin, having occasioned my repentance, hath done me good, and established me in a better state with God, than I was in before that sin, yet this shall fully rectify me, and assure my consolation, that in a pious sense I may say, Christ Jesus is the sinner, and not I. For, though in the two and twentieth session of the Council of Basil, that proposition were condemned as scandalous, in the mouth of a bishop of Nazareth, Augustinu s de Roma, Christus quotidie peccat, That Christ does sin every day, yet Gregory Nazianzen expresses the same intention, in equivalent terms, when he says, Quamdiu inobediens ego, tamdiu, quantum ad me attinet, inobediens Christus: As long as I sin, for so much as concerns me, me, who am incorporated in Christ, me, who by my true repentance have discharged myself upon Christ, Christ is the sinner, even in the sight, and justice of his Father, and not I.
And as this consideration, that the goodness of God, in Christ, is thus spread upon all persons, and all actions, takes me off from my aptness to misinterpret other men's actions, not to be hasty to call indifferent things, sins, not to call hardness of access in great persons, pride, not to call sociableness of conversation in women, prostitution, not to call accommodation of civil businesses in states, prevarication, or dereliction and abandoning of God, and toleration of religion; as it takes me off from this misinterpreting of others; so, for myself, it puts me upon an ability, to chide, and yet to cheer my soul, with those words of David, 0 my soul, why art thou so sad? why art thou so disquieted within me? Since
16 Gen. Li. 20.
sin is nothing, no such thing as is forced upon thee by God, by which thy damnation should be inevitable, or thy reconciliation impossible, since of what nature soever sin be in itself, thy sins being truly repented, have advanced, and improved thy state in the favour of God, since thy sin, being by that repentance discharged upon Christ, Christ is now the sinner, and not thou, 0 my soul, why art thou so sad? why art thou disquieted within me? And this consideration of God's goodness, thus derived upon me, and made mine in Christ, ratifies and establishes such a holy confidence in me, as that all the moral constancy in the world, is but a bulrush, to this bulwark; and therefore, we end all, with that historical, but yet useful note, that that Duke of Burgundy, who was surnamed Carolus Audax, Charles the Bold, was son to that duke, who was surnamed Bonus, the Good Duke: a good one produced a bold one: true confidence proceeds only out of true goodness: for, The wicked shall fly, when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion11. This constancy, and this confidence, and upon this ground, holy courage in a holy fear of him, Almighty God infuse and imprint in you all, for his Son Christ Jesus' sake. And to this glorious Son of God, &c.