502 SERMON LIV.
PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm xxxii. 1, 2.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered ; blessed is the man, unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
This that I have read to you, can scarce bo called all the text; I proposed for the text, the first and second verses, and there belongs more to the first, than I have delivered in it; for, in all those translators, and expositors, who apply themselves exactly to the original, to the Hebrew, the title of the Psalm, is part of the first verse of the Psalm. St. Augustine gives somewhat a strange reason, why the Book of Enoch, cited by St. Jude in his Epistle, and some other such ancient books as that, were never received into the body of canonical Scriptures, Ut in authoritate apudnos non essent, nimia fecit eorum antiquitas, The church suspected them, because they were too ancient, says St. Augustine. But that reason alone, is so far from being enough to exclude anything from being part of the Scriptures, as that we make it justly an argument, for the receiving the titles of the Psalms into the body of canonical Scriptures, that they are as ancient as the Psalms themselves. So then the title of this Psalm enters into our text, as a part of the first verse. And the title is Davidis Erudiens; where we need not insert (as our translators in all languages and editions have conceived a necessity to do) any word, for the clearing of the text, more than is in the text itself, (and therefore Tremellius hath inserted that word, An Ode of David, we, A Psalm of David, others, others) for the words themselves yield a perfect sense in themselves, Le David Maschil, is Davidis Erudiens, that is, Davidis Eruditio, David's Institution, David's catechism; and so our text, which is the first and secojid verse, taking in all the first verse, in all accounts, is now David's catechism; Blessed is he whose tramgression is forgiven, &c.
In these words, our parts shall be these; first, that so great a master as David, proceeded by way of catechhm, of instruction in fundamental things, and doctrines of edification. Secondly, That the foundation of this building, the first lesson in this art, the first letter in this alphabet, is blessedness; for, Primus actus voluntatis est amor; Man is not man, till he have produced some acts of the faculties of that soul, that makes him man; till he understand something, and will something, till he know, and till he would have something, he is no man ; now, the first act of the will is love; and no man can love anything, but in the likeness, and in the notion of happiness, of blessedness, or of some degree thereof; and therefore David proposes that for the foundation of his catechism, blessedness; the catechism of David, Blessed is the man. But then, in a third consideration, we lay hold upon St. Augustine's aphorism, A mare nisi nota non possumus, We cannot truly love anything, but that we know; and therefore David being to proceed catechistically, and for instruction, proposes this blessedness, which as it is in heaven, and reserved for our possession there, is in-intelligible (as Tertullian speaks) inconceivable, he purposes it in such notions, and by such lights, as may enable us to see it, and know it in this life. And those lights are in this text, three; for, The forgiveness of transgressions, and then, The covering of sins, and lastly, The nof imputing of iniquity, which three David proposes here, are not a threefold repeating of one and the same thing; but this blessedness consisting in our reconciliation to God, (for we were created in a state of friendship with God, our rebellion put us into a state of hostility, and now we need a reconciliation, because wo are not able to maintain a war against God, no, nor against any other enemy of man, without God) this blessedness David doth not deliver us all at once, in three expressings of the same thing, but he gives us one light thereof, in the knowledge that there is a forgiving of transgressions, another, in the covering of sins, and a third, in the not imputing of iniquity. But then, (that which will constitute a fourth consideration) when God hath presented himself, and offered his peace, in all these, there is also something to be done on our part; for though the forgiving of transgression, the covering of sin, the not imputing of iniquity, proceed only from God, yet God affords these to none but him, In whose spirit there is no guile. And so you have all that belongs to the master, and his manner of teaching, David catechising; and all that belongs to the doctrine and the catechism, blessedness, that is reconciliation to God, notified in those three acts of his mercy; and all that belongs to the disciple, that is to be catechised, a docile, an humble, a sincere heart, In whose spirit there is no guile; and to these particulars, in their order thus proposed, we shall now pass.
That then which constitutes our first part, is this, that David, than whom this world never had a greater master for the next, amongst the sons of men, delivers himself, by way of catechising, of fundamental and easy teaching. As we say justly, and confidently, That of all rhetorical and poetical figures, that fall into any art, we are able to produce higher strains, and livelier examples, out of the Scriptures, than out of all the orators, and poets in the world, yet we read not, we preach not the Scriptures for that use, to magnify their eloquence; so in David's Psalms we find abundant impressions, and testimonies of his knowledge in all arts, and all kinds of learning, but that is not it which he proposes to us. David's last words are, and in that David's holy glory was placed, that he was not only the sweet Psalmist1, that he had an harmonious, a melodious, a charming, a powerful way of entering into the soul, and working upon the affections of men, but he was the sweet Psalmist of Israel, he employed his faculties for the conveying of the God of Israel, into the Israel of God ; The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue*; not the spirit of rhetoric, nor the spirit of poetry, nor the spirit of mathematics, and demonstration, but, The Spirit of the Lord, the Rock of Israel spake by me, says he; he boasts not that he had delivered himself in strong, or deep, or mysterious arts, that was not his rock; but his rock was the rock of Israel, his way was to establish the church of God upon fundamental doctrines. Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, says Stephen*. Likely to be so, because being adopted by the king's daughter, he had an extraordinary education; and likely
1 2 8am. xxiii. 1. * 2 Sam. xxiii. 2. • Acts vii. 22.
also, because he brought so good natural faculties, for his masters to work upon, Ut reminisci potius videretur, quam discere*, That whatsoever any master proposed unto him, he rather seemed to remember it then, than to learn it but then ; and yet in Moses' Books, we meet no great testimonies, or deep impressions of these learnings in Moses: he had (as St. Ambrose notes well) more occasions to speak of natural philosophy, in the creation of the world, and of the more secret, and reserved, and remote corners of nature, in those counterfeitings of miracles in Pharaoh's court, than he hath laid hold of. So Nebuchadnezzar appointed his officers, that they should furnish his court with some young gentlemen, of good blood and families of the Jews; and (as it is added there5) well-favoured youths, in whom there was no blemish, skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science; and then farther, To be taught the tongue, and the learning of the Chaldeans. And Daniel was one of these, and, no doubt, a great proficient in all these; and yet Daniel seems not to make any great show of these learnings in his writings. St. Paul was in a higher psedagogy, and another manner of uersity than all this; Caught up into the third heavens, into Paradise, as he says*; and there he learnt much; but (as he says too) such things as it was not lawful to utter; that is, it fell not within the laws of preaching to publish them. So that not only some learning in humanity, (as in Moses' and DanieFs case) but some points of divinity, (as in St. Paul's case) may be unfit to be preached. Not that a divine should be ignorant of either; either ornaments of human, or mysteries of divine knowledge. For, says St. Augustine, Every man that comes from Egypt, must bring some of the Egyptian's goods with him. Quanta auro eximt suffarcinatus Cyprianus, says he, How much of the Egyptian gold and goods brought Cyprian, and Lactantius, and Optatus, and Hilary out of Egypt? That is, what a treasure of learning, gathered when they were of the Gentiles, brought they from thence, to the advancing of Christianity, when they applied themselves to it ? St. Augustine confesses, that the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, Mutamt affectum meum1, began in him a con
4 PhUo. * Dan. i. 4.
* 2 Cor. xii. 2. 7 Lib. 3. c. 4.
version from the world, Et ad teipsum, Domine, mutavit precis meas, That book, says he, converted me to more fervent prayers to thee, my God; Et surgere jam cceperam lit ad te redirem, By that help I rose, and came towards thee. And so Justin Martyr had his initiation, and beginning of his conversion, from reading some passages in Plato. St. Basil expresses it well; They that will die a perfect colour, dip it in some less perfect colour before. To be a good divine, requires human knowledge; and so does it of all the mysteries of divinity too; because, as there are devils that will not be cast out but by fasting and prayer, so there are humours that undervalue men, that lack these helps. But our congregations are not made of such persons; not of mere natural men, that must be converted out of Aristotle, and by Cicero's words, nor of Arians that require new proofs for the Trinity, nor Pelagians that must be pressed with new discoveries of God's predestination; but persons embracing, with a thankful acquiescence therein, doctrines necessary for the salvation of their souls in the world to come, and the exaltation of their devotion in this. This way David calls his, a catechism. And let not the greatest doctor think it unworthy of him to catechise thus, nor the learuedest hearer to be thus catechised ; Christ enwraps the greatest doctors in his person, and in his practice, when he says, Sinite parvulos, Suffer little children to come unto me; and we do not suffer them to come unto us, if when they come, we do not speak to their understanding, and to their edification, for that is but an absent presence, when they hear, and profit not; and Christ enwraps the learnedest hearers, in the persons of his own disciples, when he says, Except ye become as these little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; except you nourish yourselves with catechistical, and fundamental doctrines, you are not in a wholesome diet. Now in this catechism, the first stone that David lays, (and that that supports all) the first object that David presents, (and that that directs to all) is blessedness; David's catechism; Blessed is the man.
Philosophers could never bring us to the knowledge, what this summum bonum, this happiness, this blessedness was. For they considered only seme particular fruits thereof; and it is much easier, how high soever a tree be, to come to a taste of some of the fruits, than to dig to the root of that tree: they satisfied themselves with a little taste of health, and pleasure, and riches, and honour, and never considered that all these must have their root in heaven, and must have a relation to Christ Jesus, who is the root of all. And as these philosophers could never tell us, what this blessedness was, so divines themselves, and those who are best exercised in the language of the Holy Ghost, the original tongue of this text, cannot give us a clear grammatical understanding, of this first word, in which David expresses this blessedness, ashrei, which is here translated, blessed. They cannot tell, whether it be an adverb, (and then it is Bene viro, Well is it for that man, a pathetic, a vehement acclamation, happily, blessedly is that man provided for) or whether it be a plural noun, (and then it is Beatitudines, such a blessedness as includes many, all blessednesses in it) and one of these two it must necessarily be in the rules of their construction; that either David enters with an admiration, O how happily is that man provided for! Or with a protestation, that there is no particular blessedness, which that man wants, that hath this, this reconciliation to God.
Eusebius observes out of Plato, that he enjoined the poets, and the writers in his state, to describe no man to be happy, but the good men; none to be miserable, but the wicked. And his scholar Aristotle enters into his book of ethics, and moral doctrine, with that contemplation first of all, that every man hath naturally a disposition to affect, and desire happiness. David who is elder than they, begins his Book of Psalms so; the first word of the first Psalm, is the first word of this text, Blessed is the man. He comprehends all that belongs to man's knowledge, and all that belongs to man's practice, in those two, first in understanding true blessedness, and then, in praising God for it: David's alpha is Beatus vir, O the blessedness of righteous men ! And David's omega is Laudate Dominum, 0 that men would therefore bless the Lord ! And therefore, as he begins this book with God's blessing of man, so he ends it with man's praising of God: for, where the last stroke upon this psaltery, the last verse of the last Psalm, is, Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord, yet he adds one note more to us in particular, Praise ye the Lord; and there is the end of all. And so also our Saviour Christ himself, in his own preaching, observed that method; he begun his great sermon in the Mount with that, Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the pure in heart; blessedness alone was an abundant recompense for all. And so the subject of John Baptist's commission before, and of his disciples' commission after, was still the same, to preach this blessedness, That the kingdom of God, that is, reconciliation to God in his visible church, was at hand, was forthwith to be established amongst them.
Though then the consummation of this blessedness be that visio Dei, that sight of God, which in our glorified state we shall have in heaven, yet, because there is an incohation thereof in this world, which is that which we call reconciliation, it behoves us to consider the disposition requisite for that. It is a lamentable perverseness in us, that we are so contentiously busy, in inquiring into the nature, and essence, and attributes of God, things which are reserved to our end, when we shall know at once, and without study, all that, of which all our lives' study can teach us nothing; and that here, where we are upon the way, we are so negligent and lazy, in inquiring of things, which belong to the way. Those things we learn in no school so well as in adversity. As the body of man, and consequently health, is best understood, and best advanced by dissections, and anatomies, when the hand and knife of the surgeon hath passed upon every part of the body, and laid it open : so when the hand and sword of God hath pierced our soul, we are brought to a better knowledge of ourselves, than any degree of prosperity would have raised us to.
All creatures were brought to Adam, and, because he understood the natures of all those creatures, he gave them names accordingly. In that he gave no name to himself, it may be by some perhaps argued, that he understood himself less than he did other creatures. If Adam be our example, in the time and school of nature, how hard a thing the knowledge of ourselves is, till we feel the direction of adversity, David is also another example in the time of the law, who first said in his prosperity, he should never be moved*; but, when, says he, thou hidest thy face
0 Psalm xxx. 6.
from me, I was troubled, and then I cried unto thee 0 Lord, and I prayed unto my God; then, but not till then. The same art, the same grammar lasts still; and Peter is an example of the same rule, in the time of grace, who was at first so confident, as to come to that, si omnes scandalizati, if all forsook him, si mori oportuit, if he must die with him, or die for him, he was ready, and yet without any terror from an armed magistrate, without .any surprisal of a subtle examiner, upon the question of a poor maid, he denied his master: but then, the bitterness of his soul taught him another temper, and moderation; when Christ asked him after, Amas me? Lovest thoume? not to pronounce upon an infallible confidence, I have loved, and I do, and I will do till death, but, Domine tu scis, Lord thou knowest that I love thee; my love to thee is but the effect of thy love to me, and therefore Lord continue thine, that mine may continue. No study is so necessary as to know ourselves ; no schoolmaster is so diligent, so vigilant, so assiduous, as adversity: and the end of knowing ourselves, is to know how we arc disposed for that which is our end, that is this blessedness; which, though it bo well collected and summed by St. Augustine, Beatis qui habet quicquid full, et nihil mali wlt, He only is blessed, that desires nothing but that which is good for him, and hath all that, we must pursue, in those particulars, which here, in David's catechism, constitute this blessedness, and constitute our third part, and are delivered in three branches, first, The forgiving of our transgressions, and then, The covering of our sins, and thirdly, The not imputing of our iniquities.
First then, that in this third part, we may see in the first branch, the first notification of this blessedness, we consider the two terms, in which it is expressed, what this is, which is translated transgression, and then what this forgiving imports. The original word is pashang, and that signifies sin in all extensions, the highest, the deepest, the weightiest sin; it is a malicious, and a forcible opposition to God : it is when this Herod, and this Pilate (this body, and this soul of ours) are made friends and agreed, that they may concur to the crucifying of Christ. When not only the members of our bodies, but the faculties of our soul, our will and understanding are bent upon sin: when we do not only sin strongly, and hungerly, and thirstily, (which appertain to the body) but we sin rationally, we find reasons, (and those reasons, even in God's long patience) why we should sin : we sin wittily, we invent new sins, and we think it an ignorant, a dull, and an unsociable thing, not to sin; yea wo sin wisely, and make our sin our way to preferment. Then is this word used by the Holy Ghost, when he expresses both the vehemence, and the weight, and the largeness, and the continuance, all extensions, all dimensions of the sins of Damascus; Thus saith the Lord, for three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn to it, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron*; so then, we consider sin here, not as a stain, such as original sin may be, nor as a wound, such as every actual sin may be, but as a burden, a complication, a packing up of many sins, in an habitual practice thereof. This is that weight that sunk the whole world under water, in the first flood, and shall press down the fire itself, to consume it a second time. It is a weight that stupifies and benumbs him that bears it, so, as that the sinner feels not the oppression of his own sins; Et quid maerius misero non miserante seipsumTM? What misery can be greater, than when a miserable man hath not sense to commiserate his own misery! Our first errors are out of levity, and St. Augustine hath taught us a proper ballast and weight for that, Amor Dei pondus animce, The love of God would carry us evenly, and steadily, if we would embark that: but as in great tradings, they come to ballast with merchandise, ballast, and freight is all one ; so in this habitual sinner, all is sin, plots and preparations before tho act, gladness and glory in the act, sometimes disguises, sometimes justifications after the act, make up one body, one freight of sin. So then transgression in this place, in the natural signification of the word, is a weight, a burden, and carrying it, as the word requires, to the greatest extension, it is the sin of the whole world ; and that sin is forgiven, which is the second term.
The prophet does not say here, Blessed is that man that hath no transgression, for that were to say, Blessed is that man that is no man. All people, all nations, did ever in nature acknowledge not only a guiltiness of sin, but some means of reconciliation to
* Amos i. 3. 10 Augustine.
their gods in the remission of sins: for they had all some formal, and ceremonial sacrifices, and expiations, and lustrations, by which they thought their sins to be purged, and washed away. Whosoever acknowledges a God, acknowledges a remission of sins, and whosover acknowledges a remission of sins, acknowledges a God. And therefore in this first place, David does not mention God at all; he does not say, Blessed is he whose transgression the Lord hath forgiven; for he presumes it to be an impossible tentation to take hold of any man, that there can be any remission of sin, from any other person, or by any other means than from and by God himself; and therefore remission of sins includes an act of God; but what kind of act, is more particularly designed in the original word which is nasa, than our word, forgiving, reaches to; for the word does not only signify auferre, but ferre; not only to take away Bid, by way of pardon, but to take the sin upon himself, and so to bear the sin, and the punishment of tho sin, in his own person. And so Christ is the Lamb of God, Qui tollit, not only that takes away, but that takes upon himself, the sins of the world. Ttdit, portavit, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows"; those griefs, those sorrows which we should, he hath borne, and carried in his own person. So that, as it is all one, never to have come in debt, and to have discharged the debt; so the whole world, all mankind, considered in Christ, is as innocent as if Adam had never sinned. And so this is the first beam of blessedness that shines upon my soul, that I believe that the justice of God is fully satisfied in the death of Christ, and that there is enough given, and accepted in the treasure of his blood, for the remission of all transgressions. And then the second beam of this blessedness, is in the covering of sins.
Now to benefit ourselves by this part of David's catechism, w§ must (as we did before) consider the two terms, of which this part of this blessedness consists, sin, and covering. Sin in this place is not so heavy a word, as transgression was in the former; for that was sin in all extensions, sin in all forms, all sin of all men, of all times, of all places, the sin of all the world upon the shoulders of the Saviour of the world. In this place, (the word
11 Isaiah Liii. 4.
is catah, and by the derivation thereof from nata, which is to decline, to step aside, or to be withdrawn, and kut, which is filum, a thread, or a line) that which we call sin here, signifies transilire lineam, to depart, or by any tentation to be withdrawn from the direct duties, and the exact straightness which is required of us in this world, for the attaining of the next: so that the word imports sins of infirmity, such sins as do fall upon God's best servants, such sins as rather induce a confession of our weakness, and an acknowledgment of our continual need of pardon for something passed, and strength against future invasions, than that induce any devastation, or obduration of the conscience, which transgression, in the former branch, implied. For so this word, i-1it'1l1. hath that signification (as in many other places) there, where it is said, That there were seven hundred left-handed Benjamites, which would fling stones at a hair's breadth, and not fail"; that is, not miss the mark a hair's breadth. And therefore when this word catah, sin, is used in Scripture, to express any weighty, heinous, enormous sin, it hath an addition, Peccatum magnum peccaveruntTM, says Moses, when the people were become idolaters, These people have sinned a great sin; otherwise it signifies such sin, as destroys not the foundation, such as in the nature thereof, does not wholly extinguish grace, nor grieve the spirit of God in us. And such sins God covers, says David here. Now what is his way of covering these sins?
As .--/;/ in this notion, is not so deep a wound upon God, as transgression in the other, so covering here extends not so far, as forgiving did there. There forgiving was a taking away of sin, by taking that away, that Christ should bear all our sins, it was a suffering, a dying, it was a penal part, and a part of God's justice, executed upon his one and only Son ; here it is a part of God's mercy, in spreading, and applying the merits and satisfaction of Christ upon all them, whom God by the Holy Ghost hath gathered in the profession of Christ, and so called to the apprehending and embracing of this mantle, this garment, this covering, the righteousness of Christ in the Christian Christ; in which church, and by his visible ordinances therein, the word, and sacraments, God covers, hides, conceals, even from the inquisition
1* Judges xx. 16. " Exod. xxxii. 31.
of his own justice, those smaller sins, which his servants commit, and does not turn them out of his service, for those sins. So the word (the word is casah, which we translate covering) is used, A wise man concealeth knowledge"; that is, does not pretend to know so much as indeed he does: so, our merciful God, when he sees us under this mantle, this covering, Christ spread upon his church, conceals his knowledge of our sins, and suffers them not to reflect upon our consciences, in a consternation thereof. So then, as the forgiving was auferre ferendo, a taking away of sin, by taking all sin upon his own person, so this covering is tegere attingendo, to cover sin, by coming to it, by applying himself to our sinful consciences, in the means instituted by him in his church: for they have in that language another word, sacac, which signifies tegere obumbrando, to cover by overshadowing, by refreshing. This is tegere obumbrando, to cover by shadowing, when I defend mine eye from the offence of the sun, by interposing my hand between the sun and mine eye, at this distance, afar off: but tegere attingendo, is when thus I lay my hand upon mine eye, and cover it close, by that touching. In the knowledge that Christ hath taken all the sins of all the world upon himself, that there is enough done for the salvation of all mankind, I have a shadowing, a refreshing; but because I can have no testimony, that this general redemption belongs to me, who am still a sinner, except there pass some act between God and me, some seal, some investiture, some acquittance of my debts, my sins, therefore this second beam of David's blessedness, in this his catechism, shines upon me in this, that God hath not only sowed and planted herbs, and simples in the world, medicinal for all diseases of the world, but God hath gathered, and prepared those simples, and presented them, so prepared, to me, for my recovery from my disease : God hath not only received a full satisfaction for all sin in Christ, but Christ, in his ordinances in his church, offers me an application of all that for myself, and covers my sin, from the eye of his Father, not only obumbrando, as he hath spread himself as a cloud refreshing the whole world, in the value of the satisfaction, but attingendo, by coming to me, by spreading himself upon me, as the prophet did upon the dead child, mouth to mouth, hand to hand; in the mouth of his minister, he speaks to me ; in the hand of the minister, he delivers himself to me ; and so by these visible acts, and seals of my reconciliation, tegit attingendo, he covers me by touching me ; he touches my conscience, with a sense and remorse of my sins, in his word; and he touches my soul, with a faith of having received him, and all the benefit of his death, in the Sacrament. And so he covers sin ; that is, keeps our sins of infirmity, and all such sins, as do not in their nature quench the light of his grace, from coming into his Father's presence, or calling for vengeance there. Forgiving of transgressions is the general satisfaction for all the world, and restoring the world to a possibility of salvation in the death of Christ; covering of sin, is the benefit of discharging and easing the conscience, by those blessed helps which God hath afforded to those, whom he hath gathered in the bosom, and quickened in the womb of the Christian church. And this is the second beam of blessedness, cast out by David here; and then the third is, the not imputing of iniquity, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.
14 Prov. xii. 23.
VOL. II. 2 L
In this also, (as in the two former we did) we consider this imputing, and then this iniquity, in the root and original signification of the two words. When in this place the Lord is said, not to impute sin, it is meant, that the Lord shall not suffer me to impute sin to myself. The word is cashab, and cashab imports Biich a thinking, such a surmising, as may be subject to error, and mistaking. To that purpose we find the word, where Hannah was praying, and Eli the priest, who saw her lips move, and heard no prayer come from her, thought she had been drunk, imputed drunkenness unto her, and said, How long wilt thou be drunk? put away thy winel5: so that this imputing, is such an imputing of ours as may be erroneous, that is, an imputing from ourselves, in a diffidence, and jealousy, and suspicion of God's goodness towards us. To which purpose, we consider also, that this word, which we translate here iniquity, gnavah, is oftentimes in the Scripture used for punishment, as well as for sin : and so indifferently for both, as that if we will compare translation with translation, and exposition with exposition, it will be hard for us
"1 I Sam. i. 12.
to say, whether Cain said, Mine iniquity is greater than can be pardoned, or, My punishment is greater than I can bear"; and our last translation, which seems to have been most careful of the original, takes it rather so, My punishment, in the text, and lays the other, my sin, aside in the margin. So then, this imputing, being an imputing which arises from ourselves, and so may be accompanied with error, and mistaking, that we impute that to ourselves, which God doth not impute, and this misimputing of God's anger to ourselves, arising out of his punishments, and his corrections inflicted upon us, that because we have crosses in the world, we cannot believe, that we stand well in the sight of God, or that the forgiving of transgressions, or covering of sins appertains unto us, we justly conceive, that this not imputing of iniquity, is that Serenitas conscientice, That brightness, that clearness, that peace, and tranquillity, that calm and serenity, that acquiescence, and security of the conscience, in which I am delivered from all scruples, and all timorousness, that my transgressions are not forgiven, or my sins not covered. In the first act, we consider God the Father to have wrought; he proposed, he decreed, he accepted too a sacrifice for all mankind in the death of Christ. In the second, the covering of sins, we consider God the Son to work, Incubare ecclesice, He sits upon his church, as a hen upon her eggs, he covers all our sins, whom he hath gathered into that body, with spreading himself, and his merits upon us all there. In this third, the not imputing of iniquity, we consider God the Holy Ghost to work, and, as the spirit of consolation, to blow away all scruples, all diffidences, and to establish an assurance in the conscience. The Lord imputes not, that is, the Spirit of the Lord, the Lord the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, suffers not me to impute to myself those sins, which I have truly repented. The over-tenderness of a bruised and a faint conscience may impute sin to itself, when it is discharged; and a seared and obdurate conscience may impute none, when it abounds ; if the Holy Ghost work, he rectifies both ; and, if God do inflict punishments, (according to the signification of this word gnavaK) after our repentance, and the seals of our reconciliation, yet he suffers us not to impute those sins to ourselves, or to repute those corrections, punishments, as though he had not forgiven them, or, as though he came to an execution after a pardon, but that they are laid upon us medicinally, and by way of prevention, and precaution against his future displeasure. This is that Pax conscientice, The peace of conscience, when there is not one sword drawn: this is that Serenitas conscientice, The meridional brightness of the conscience, when there is not one cloud in our sky. I shall not hope, that original sin shall not be imputed, but fear, that actual sin may: not hope that my dumb sins shall not, but my crying sins may; not hope that my apparent sins, which have therefore induced in me a particular sense of them, shall not, but my secret sins, sins that I am not able to return and represent to mine own memory, may: for this non imputabit, hath no limitation ; God shall suffer the conscience thus rectified, to terrify itself with nothing; which is also further extended in the original, where it is not non imputat, but non imputabit; though after all this we do fall into the same, or other sins, yet we shall know our way, and evermore have our consolation in this, that as God hath forgiven our transgression, in taking the sins of all mankind upon himself, for he hath redeemed us, and left out angels, and as he hath covered our sin, that is, provided us the word, and sacraments, and cast off the Jews, and left out the heathen, so he will never impute mine iniquity, never suffer it to terrify my conscience; not now, when his judgments, denounced by his minister, call me to him here; nor hereafter, when the last bell shall call me to him, into the grave ; nor at last, when the angel's trumpets shall call me to him, from the dust, in the resurrection. But that, as all mankind hath a blessedness, in Christ's taking our sins, (which was the first article in this catechism) and all the Christian church a blessedness, in covering our sins, (which was the second) so I may find this blessedness, in this work of the Holy Ghost, not to impute, that is, not to suspect, that God imputes any repented sin unto me, or reserves anything to lay to my charge at the last day, which I have prayed may be, and therefore hoped hath been forgiven before. But then, after these three parts, which we have now, in our order proposed at first, passed through, that David applies himself to us, in the most convenient way, by the way of catechism, and instruction in fundamental things; and then, that he lays for his foundation of all beatitude, blessedness, happiness, which cannot be had, in the consummation, and perfection thereof, but in the next world; but yet, in the third place, gives us an inchoation, an earnest, an evidence of this future and consummate blessedness, in bringing us faithfully to believe, that Christ died sufficiently for all the world, that Christ offers the application of all this, to all the Christian church, that the Holy Ghost seals an assurance thereof, to every particular conscience well rectified; after all this done thus largely on God's part, there remains something to be done on ours, that may make all this effectual upon us, Ut non sit dolus in spiritu, That there be no guile in our spirit, which is our fourth part, and conclusion of all.
16 Gen. iv. 13.
Of all these fruits of this blessedness, there is no other root but the goodness of God himself; but yet they grow in no other ground, than in that man, In cujus spiritu non est dolus. The comment and interpretation of St. Paul, hath made the sense and meaning of this place clear: To him that worketh, the reward is of debt, but to him that believeth, and worketh not, his faith is counted for righteousness, even as David describeth the blessedness of man, says the apostle there17, and so proceeds with the very words of this text. Doth the apostle then, in this text, exclude the co-operation of man ? Differs this proposition, That the man in whom God imprints these beams of blessedness, must be without guile in his spirit, from those other propositions, Si vis ingredi, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the Commandments"; And, Maledictus qui non, Cursed is he that performs not all? Grows not the blessedness of this text, from the same root, as the^blessedness in Psalm cxix. 1, Blessed are they, who walk in the way of the Lord ? Or doth St. Paul take David to speak of any other blessedness in our text, than himself speaks of, If through the spirit ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall liveTM? Doth St. Paul require nothing, nothing out of this text, to be done by man I Surely he does ; and these propositions are truly all one, Tantum credideris, Only believe, and you shall be saved;
17 Rom. iv. 5. 1* Matt. xix. 17. " Rom. viii. 13.
and, Fac hoc et vives, Do this, and you shall be saved; as it is truly all one purpose, to say, If you live you may walk, and to say, If you stretch out your legs, you may walk. To say, Eat of this tree, and you shall recover, and to say, Eat of this fruit, and you shall recover, is all one; to attribute an action to the next cause, or to the cause of that cause, is, to this purpose, all one. And therefore, as God gave a reformation to his Church, in prospering that doctrine, that justification was by faith only: so God give an unity to his Church, in this doctrine, that no man is justified, that works not; for, without works, how much soever he magnify his faith, there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile in his spirit. As then the prophet David's principal purpose in this text, is, according to the interpretation of St. Paul, to derive all the blessedness of man from God: so is it also to put some conditions in man, comprehended in this, That there be no guile in his spirit. For, in this repentant sinner, that shall be partaker of these degress of blessedness, of this forgiving, of this covering, of this not imputing, there is required Integra pcenitentia, A perfect, and entire repentance; - and to the making up of that, howsoever the words and terms may have been misused, and defarifed, we acknowledge, that there belongs a contrition, a confession, and a satisfaction ; and all these (howsoever our adversaries slander us, with a doctrine of ease, and a religion of liberty) we require with more exactness, and severity, than they do. For, for contrition, we do not, we dare not say, as some of them, that attrition is sufficient; that it is sufficient to have such a sorrow for sin, as a natural sense, and fear of torment doth imprint in us, without any motion of the fear of God: we know no measure of sorrow great enough for the violating of the infinite majesty of God, by our transgression. And then for confession, we deny not a necessity to confess to man; there may be many cases of scruple, of perplexity, where it were an exposing ourselves to farther occasions of sin, not to confess to man ; and in confession, we require a particular detestation of that sin which we confess, which they require not. And lastly, for satisfaction, we embrace that rule, Condigna satisfactio malefacta corrigere", Our best satisfaction is, to be better in the amend
ment of our lives: and dispositions to particular sins, we correct in our bodies by discipline, and mortifications; and wo teach, that no man hath done truly that part of repentance, which he is bound to do, if he have not given satisfaction, that is, restitution, to every person damnified by him. If that which we teach, for this entireness of repentance, be practised, in contrition, and confession, and satisfaction, they cannot calumniate our doctrine, nor our practice herein; and if it be not practised, there is Dolus in xpiritu, Guile in their spirit, that pretend to any part of this blessedness, forgiving, or covering, or not imputing, without this. For he that is sorry for sin, only in contemplation of hell, and not of the joys of heaven, that would not give over his sin, though there were no hell, rather than he would lose heaven, (which is that which some of them call attrition) he that confesses his sin, but hath no purpose to leave it, he that does leave the sin, but being grown rich by that sin, retains, and enjoys those riches, this man is not entire in his repentance, but there is guile in his spirit.
He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster"; He that makes half repentances, makes none. Men run out of their estates, as well by a negligence, and a not taking account of their officers, as by their own prodigality: our salvation is as much endangered, if we call not our conscience to an examination, as if we repent not those sins, which offer themselves to our knowledge, and memory. And therefore David places the consummation of his victory in that, / have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them, neither did I turn again, till they were consumedTM: we require a pursuing of the enemy, a search for the sin, and not to stay till an officer, that is, a sickness, or any other calamity light upon that sin, and so bring it before us; we require an overtaking of the enemy, that we be not weary, in the search of our consciences; and we require a consuming of the enemy, not a weakening only; a dislodging, a dispossessing of the sin, and the profit of the sin; all the profit, and all the pleasure of all the body of sin ; for he that is sorry with a godly sorrow, he that confesses with a deliberate detestation, he that satisfies with a full restitution for all his sins but
21 Pi-ov. xviii. 9. " Psalm xviii. 37.
one, Dolus in spiritu, There is guile in his spirit, and he is in no better case, than if at sea he should stop all leaks but one, and perish by that. 8i vis solvi, solve omnes catenas"; If thou wilt be discharged, cancel all thy bonds; one chain till that be broke, holds as fast as ten. And therefore suffer your consideration to turn back a little upon this subject, that there may be Dolus in, spiritu, Guile in the spirit, in our pretence to all those parts of blessedness, which David recommends to us in this catechism, in the forgiveness of transgressions, in the covering of sin, in the not imputing of iniquity.
First then, in this forgiving of transgressions, which is our Saviour Christ's taking away the sins of the world, by taking them, in the punishment due to them, upon himself, there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile in that man's spirit, that will so far abridge the great volumes of the mercy of God, so far contract his general propositions, as to restrain this salvation, not only in the effect, but in God's own purpose, to a few, a very few souls. When subjects complain of any prince, that he is too merciful, there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile and deceit in this complaint; they do but think him too merciful to other men's faults; for, where they need his mercy for their own, they never think him too.merciful. And which of us do not need God for all sins? If we did not in ourselves, yet it were a new sin in us, not to desire that God should be as merciful to every other sinner, as to ourselves. As in heaven, the joy of every soul shall be my joy, so the mercy of God to every soul here, is a mercy to my soul; by the extension of his mercies to others, I argue the application of his mercy to myself. This contracting, and abridging of the mercy of God, will end in despair of ourselves, that that mercy reaches not to us, or if we become confident, perchance presumptuous of ourselves, we shall despair in the behalf of other men, and think they can receive no mercy: and when men come to allow an impossibility of salvation in any, they will come to assign that impossibility, nay to assign those men, and pronounce, for this, and this sin, this man cannot be saved. There is a sin against the Holy Ghost; and to make us afraid of all approaches towards that sin, Christ hath told us, that that sin is irremissible,
unpardonable; but since that sin includes impenitibleness in the way, and actual impenitence in the end, we can never pronounce, this is that sin, or this is that sinner. God is his Father that can say, Our Father which art in heaven, and his God that can say, / believe in God; and there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile in his spirit, the craft of the serpent, (either the poison of the serpent, in a self-despair, or the sting of the serpent, in an uncharitable prejudging, and precondemning of others) when a man comes to suspect God's good purposes, or contract God's general propositions ; for this forgiving of transgressions, is Christ's taking away the sins of all the world, by taking all the sins of all men upon himself. And this guile, this deceit may also be in the second, in the covering of sins, which is the particular application of this general mercy, by his ordinances in his church.
He then that without guile will have benefit by this covering, must discover. Qui tegi vult peccata, detegat, is St. Augustine's way: he that will have his sins covered, let him uncover them; he that would not have them known, let him confess them; he that would have them forgotten, let him remember them; he that would bury them, let him rake them up. There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, and hid, that shall not be known". It is not thy sending away a servant, thy locking a door, thy blowing out a candle, no not though thou blow out, and extinguish the spirit, as much as thou canst, that hides a sin from God; but since thou thinkest that thou hast hid it, by the secret carriage thereof, thou must reveal it by confession. If thou wilt not, God will show thee that he needed not thy confession ; he will take knowledge of it, to thy condemnation, and he will publish it to the knowledge of all the world, to thy confusion. Tufecisti abscondite, says God to David, by Nathan, Thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun". Certainly it affects, and stings many men more, that God hath brought to light their particular sins and offences, for which he does punish them, than all the punishments that he inflicts upon them; for then, they cannot lay their ruin upon fortune, upon vicissitudes, and revolutions, and changes of
" Matt. x. 26. " 2 Sam. xii. 12.
court, upon disaffections of princes, upon supplantations of rivals and concurrents; but God clears all the world beside; Perditio tua ex te, God declares that the punishment is his act, and the cause, my sin. This is God's way; and this he expresses vehemently against Jerusalem, Behold, I will gather all thy lovers, 1f'1l/i whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated, and I will discover thy nakedness to all them". Those who loved us foi pretended virtues, shall see how much they were deceived in us; those that hated us, because they were able to look into us, and to discern our actions, shall then say triumphantly, and publicly to all, Did not we tell you what would become of this man ? It was never likely to be better with him. I will strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born"; howsoever thou wert covered with the covenant, and taken into the visible church, howsoever thou were clothed, by having put on Christ in baptism, yet, If thou sin against me, (says God) and hide it from me, I am against thee, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.
To come to the covering of thy sins without guile, first cover them not from thyself, so, as that thou canst not see yesterday's sin, for to-day's sin; nor the sins of thy youth, for thy present sins: cover not thy extortions with magnific buildings,' and sumptuous furniture; dung not the fields that thou hast purchased with the bodies of those miserable wretches, whom thou hast oppressed, neither straw thine alleys and walks with the dust of God's saints, whom thy hard dealing hath ground to powder. There is but one good way of covering sins from ourselves, Si bonafacta malls superponamus", If we come to a habit of good actions, contrary to those evils, which we had accustomed ourselves to, and cover our sins so; not that we forget the old, but that we see no new.
There is a good covering of sins from ourselves, by such new habits, and there is a good covering of them from other men; for, he that sins publicly, scandalously, avowedly, that teaches
" Ezek. xvi. 37. " Hopea ii. 3.
80 Nahurn iii. 5. " Gregory.
and encourages others to sin, That declares his sin as Sodom, and hides it not", as in a mirror, in a looking-glass, that is compassed and set about with a hundred lesser glasses, a man shall see his deformities in a hundred places at once, so he that hath sinned thus shall feel his torments in himself, and in all those, whom the not covering of his sins hath occasioned to commit the same sins. Cover thy sins then from thyself, so it be not by obduration; cover them from others, so it be not by hypocrisy; but from God cover them not at all; He that covereth his sins, shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy*1; even in confessing, without forsaking, there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile and deceit in that spirit. Noluit agnoscere, maluit ignoscere, St. Augustine makes the case of a customary sinner; he was ready to pardon himself always without any confession ; but God shall invert it to his subversion, Maluit agnoscere, noluit ignoscere, God shall manifest his sin, and not pardon it.
Sin hath that pride, that it is not content with one garment; Adam covered first with fig-leaves, then with whole trees, He hid himself amongst the trees: then he covered his sin, with the woman; she provoked him: and then with God's action, Quam tu dedisti, The woman whom thou gavest me; and this was Adam's wardrobe. David covers his first sin of uncleanness with soft stuff, with deceit, with falsehood, with soft persuasions to Uriah, to go in to his wife; then he covers it with rich stuff, with scarlet, with the biood of Uriah, and of the army of the Lord of hosts; and then he covers it with strong and durable stuff, with an impenitence, and with an insensibleness, a year together; too long for a king, too long for any man, to wear such a garment: and this was David's wardrobe. But beloved, sin is a serpent, and he that covers sin, does but keep it warm, that it may sting the more fiercely, and disperse the venom and malignity thereof the more effectually. Adam had patched up an apron to cover him; God took none of those leaves; God wrought not upon his beginnings, but he covered him all over with durable skins. God saw that David's several coverings did rather load him, than cover the sin, and therefore Transtulit, He took all away, sin, and covering: for the coverings were as great sins, as the radical
00 Isaiah iii. 9. " Prov. xxviii. 13.
sin, that was to be covered, was; yea greater; as the arms and boughs of a tree, are greater than the root. Now to this extension, and growth, and largeness of sin, no lesser covering serves than God in his church. It was the prayer against them, who hindered the building of the temple, Cover not their iniquity, neither let their sin be put out in thy presence**. Our prayer is, Peccata nostra non videat, ut nos videat**, Lord look not upon our sins, that thou mayest look upon us. And since amongst ourselves, it is the effect of love, to cover Multitudinem peccatorum**, The multitude of sins, yea to cover Uersa delicta, Love covereth all sins", much more shall God, who is love itself, cover our sins so, as he covered the Egyptians, in a Red Sea, in the application of his blood, by visible means in his church. That therefore thou mayest be capable of this covering, commit thy ways unto the Lord**; that is, show unto him, by way of confession, what wrong ways thou hast gone, and inquire of him by prayer, what ways thou art to go, and (as it is in the same Psalm) He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day; and so there shall be no guile found in thy spirit, which might hinder this covering of thy sin, which is, the application of Christ's merits, in the ordinances of his church, nor the not imputing of thine iniquity, which is our last consideration, and the conclusion of all.
This not imputing, is that serenity and acquiescence, which a rectified conscience enjoys, when the spirit of God bears witness with my spirit, that, thus reconciled to my God, I am now guilty of nothing. St. Bernard defines the conscience thus, Inseparabilis gloria, vel confimo uniuscuj usque, pro qualitate depositi: It is that inseparable glory, or that inseparable confusion which every soul hath, according to that which is deposited, and laid up in it. Now what is deposited, and laid up in it ? Naturally, hereditary, patrimenially, Con-reatus, says that father, from our first parents, a fellow-guiltiness of their sin; and they have left us sons and heirs of the wrath and indignation of God, and that is the treasure they have laid up for us. Against this, God hath provided baptism; and baptism washes away that sin; for as
** Nehem. iv. 5. " Augustine. " 1 Pet. iv. 8.
" Prov. X. 12. M Psalm xxxvii. 6.
we do nothing to ourselves in baptism, but are therein merely passive, so neither did we anything ourselves in original sin, but therein are merely passive too; and so the remedy, baptism is proportioned to the disease, original sin. But original sin being thus washed away, we make a new stock, we take in a new deposit 1nn. a new treasure, actual and habitual sins, and therein much being done by ourselves, against God, into the remedy, there must enter something to be done by ourselves, and something by God; and therefore we bring water to his wine, true tears of repentance to his true blood in the sacrament, and so receive the seals of our reconciliation, and having done that, we may boldly say unto God, Do not condemn me: show me wherefore thou contendest with me*1. When we have said as he doth, / have sinned, what shall I do to thees*? And have done that that he hath ordained, we may say also as he doth, 0 thou preserver of men, why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity ? Why dost thou suffer me to faint and pant under this sad apprehension, that all is not yet well between my soul and thee ? We are far from encouraging any man to antidate his pardon; to presume his pardon to be passed before it is: but when it is truly passed the seals of reconciliation, there is Dolus in spiritu, Guile and deceit in that spirit, nay it is the spirit of falsehood and deceit itself, that will not suffer us to enjoy that pardon, which God hath sealed to us, but still maintain jealousies, and suspicion, between God and us. My heart is not opener to God, than the bowels of his mercy are to me; and to accuse myself of sin, after God hath pardoned me, were as great a contempt of God, as to presume of that pardon, before he had granted it; and so much a greater, as it is directed against his greatest attribute, his mercy. Si apud Deum deponas injuriam, ipse ultor erit**, Lay all the injuries that thou sufferest, at God's feet, and he will revenge them; Si damnum, ipse restituet; Lay all thy losses there, and he will repair them; Si dolorem, ipse medicus; Lay down all thy diseases there, and he shall heal thee; Si mortem, ipse resuscitator, Die in his arms, and he shall breathe a new life into thee; add we to Tertullian : Si peccata, ipse sepe
" Job x. 2. * Job vii. 20. s> Tertullian.
liet, Lay thy sins in his wounds, and he shall bury them so deep, that only they shall never have resurrection: the sun shall set, and have a to-morrow's resurrection; herbs shall have a winter death, and a spring's resurrection; thy body shall have a long winter's night, and then a resurrection; only thy sins buried in the wounds of thy Saviour, shall never have resurrection; and therefore take heed of that deceit in the spirit, of that spirit of deceit, that makes thee impute sins to thyself, when God imputes them not; but rejoice in God's general forgiving of transgressions, that Christ hath died for all, multiply thy joy in the covering of thy sin, that Christ hath instituted a church, in which that general pardon is made thine in particular, and exalt thy joy, in the not imputing of iniquity, in that serenity, that tranquillity, that God shall receive thee, at thy last hour, in thy last bath, the sweat of death, as lovingly, as acceptably, as innocently, as he received thee, from thy first bath, the laver of regeneration, the font in baptism. Amen.