396 SERMON XLIX.
PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.
Psalm vi. 2, 3.
Have merey upon me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed : my soul is also sore vexed ; but thou, O Lord, how long ?
This whole Psalm is prayer; and the whole prayer is either deprecatory, as in the first verse, or postulatory. Something David would have forborne, and something done. And in that postulatory part of David's prayer, which goes through six verses of this Psalm, we consider the petitions, and the inducements; what David asks, and why: of both which, there are some mingled, in these two verses, which constitute our text. And therefore, in them, we shall necessarily take knowledge of some of the petitions, and some of the reasons. For, in the prayer, there are five petitions; first, Miserere, Have mercy upon me, think of me, look graciously towards me, prevent me with thy mercy; and then Sana me, 0 Lord, heal me, thou didst create me in health, but my parents begot me in sickness, and I have complicated other sicknesses with that, actual with original sin, O Lord, heal me, give me physic for them ; and thirdly, Convertere, Return, 0 Lord, thou didst visit me in nature, return in grace, thou didst visit me in baptism, return in the other sacrament, thou dost visit me now, return at the hour of my death ; and, in a fourth petition, Eripe, 0 Lord, deliver my soul, every blessing of thine because a snare unto me, and thy benefits I make occasions of sin, in all conversation, and even in my solitude, I admit such temptations from others, or I produce such temptations in myself, as that, whensoever thou art pleased to return to me, thou findest me at the brink of some sin, and therefore Eripe me, O Lord, take hold of me, and deliver me; and lastly, Salvum mefac, 0 Lord, save me, manifest thy good purpose upon me so, that I may never be shaken, or never overthrown in the faithful hope of that salvation, which thou hast preordained for me. These are the five petitions of the prayer,
and two of the five, the Miserere, Have mercy upon me, and the Sana, 0 Lord, heal me, are in these two verses. And then, the reasons of the prayer, arising partly out of himself, and partly out of God; and some being mixed, and growing out of both roots together, some of the reasons of the first nature, that is, of those that arise out of himself, are also in this text.
Therefore in this text, we shall consider, first the extent of those two petitions that are in it, Quid miserere, what David intends by this prayer, Have mercy upon me, and then, Quid sana me, what he intends by that, 0 Lord, heal me. And secondly, we shall consider the strength of those reasons, which are in our text, Quia infirmus, why God should be moved to mercy with that, because David was weak, and then Quia turbata ossa, Why, because his bones were vexed; and again, Quia turbata anima valde, Because his soul was sore vexed. And in a third consideration, wo shall also see, that for all our petitions, for mercy, and for spiritual health, and for all our reasons, weakness, vexation of bones, and sore vexation of the soul itself, God doth not always come to a speedy remedy, but puts us to our Usque quo, But thou, 0 Lord, how lory ? How long wilt thou delay ? And then lastly, that how long soever that be, yet we are still to attend his time, still to rely upon him; which is intimated in this, that David changes not his master, but still applies himself to the Lord; with that name, that he begun with in the first verse, he proceeds; and thrice in these few words he calls upon him by this name of essence, Jehovah, 0 Lord have mercy upon me, 0 Lord heal me, 0 Lord how long wilt thou, delay ? He is not weary of attending the Lord, he is not inclinable to turn upon any other than the Lord; have mercy upon me, 0 Lord, &c.
First then in our first part, that part of David's postulatory prayer in this text, have mercy upon me, this mercy that David begs here, is not that mercy of God which is above all his works; for those works which follow it, are above it; to heal him, in this text, to- return to him, to deliver his soul, to save him, in the next verses, are greater works than this, which he calls here in that general name of mercy. For this word chanan used in this place, is not Dele iniquitates, Have mercy upon me so, as to blot out all mine iniquities; it is not Dimitte debita, Have mercy upon mo so, as to forgive all my sins; but it is only Des mihi gratiam, Lord shed some drops of grace upon me, or as Tremellius bath it, Gratiosus sis mihi, Be a gracious Lord unto me. For this word is used, where Noah is said to have found grace in the eyes of the Lord1; which grace was, that God had provided for his bodily preservation in the ark. And this word is used, not only of God towards men, but also of men towards God; when they express their zeal towards God's house, and the compassion, and holy indignation which they had of the ruins thereof, they express it in this word, Thy servants delight in the stones of Zion, et miserti sunt pulveris ejus, They had mercy, they had compassion iipon the dust and rubbish thereof*. So that here this miserere mei, which is the first groan of a sick soul, the first glance of the soul directed towards God, imports only this, Lord turn thy countenance towards me, Lord bring me to a sense that thou art turned towards me, Lord bring me within such a distance, as my soul may feel warmth and comfort in the rising of that sun ; miserere mei, look graciously upon me.
At the first meeting of Isaac and Rebecca, he was gone out to meditate in the fields, and she came riding that way, with his father's man, who was employed in making that marriage; and when upon asking, she knew that it was he who was to be her husband, she took a veil and covered her face, says that story*. What freedom, and nearness soever they were to come to after, yet there was a modesty, and a bashfulness, and a reservedness required before; and her first kindness should be but to be seen. A man would be glad of a good countenance from her that shall be his, before he ask her whether she will be his or no; a man would be glad of a good countenance from his prince, before he intend to press him with any particular suit: and a sinner may be come to this miserere mei Domine, to desire that the Lord would think upon him, that the Lord would look graciously towards him, that the Lord would refresh him with the beams of his favour, before he have digested his devotion into a formal prayer, or entered into a particular consideration, what his necessities are.
1 Gen. vi. 8. ' P*alm cii. 14. * Gen. xxiv. 63.
Upon those words of the apostle4, / exhort you that supplications, and prayers, and intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, St. Bernard5 makes certain gradations, and steps, and ascensions of the soul in prayer, and intimates thus much, that by the grace of God's spirit inanimating and quickening him, (without which grace he can have no motion at all) a sinner may come adsupplicationes, which is St. Paul's first step, to supplications, which are a mppliciis, that out of a sense of some judgment, some punishment, he may make his recourse to God; and then, by a further growth in that grace, he may come adoratienes, which are oria rationes, the particular expressing of his necessities, with his mouth ; and a faithful assurance of obtaining them, in his prayer; and after, he may come farther, ad intercessicnes, to an intercession, to such an interest in God's favour, as that he durst put himself betwixt God and other men, as Abraham in the behalf of Sodom, to intercede for them, with a holy confidence that God would do good to them, for his sake; and to a farther step than these, which the apostle may intend in that last, ad gratiarum actiones, to a continual thanksgiving, that by reason of God's benefits multiplied upon him, he find nothing to ask, but his thanksgivings, and his acknowledgments, for former blessings, possess and fill all his prayers; though he be grown up to this strength of devotion, to supplications, to prayers, to intercessions, to thanksgivings, yet, says St. Bernard, at first, when he comes first to deprehend himself in a particular sin, or in a course of sin, he comes verecundo affectu, bashfully, shamefastly, tremblingly ; he knows not what to ask, he dares ask no particular thing at God's hand; but though he be not come yet, to particular requests, for pardon of past sins, nor for strength against future, not to a particular consideration of the weight of his sins, nor to a comparison betwixt his sin, and the mercy of God, yet he comes to a miserere mei Domine, to a sudden ejaculation, O Lord bo merciful unto me, how dare I do this in the sight of my God?
It is much such an affection as is sometimes in a felon taken in the manner, or in a condemned person brought to execution: one desires the justice to be good to him, and yet he sees not how
* 1 Tim. ii. 1. 4 De quatuor modis orandi.
he can bail him; the other desires the sheriff to be good to him, and yet he knows he must do his office. A sinner desires God to have mercy upon him, and yet he hath not descended to particular considerations requisite in that business. But yet this spiritual malefactor is in better case, than the temporal are ; they desire them to be good to them, who can do them no good; but God is still able, and still ready to reprieve them, and to put off the execution of his judgments, which execution were to take them out of this world under the guiltiness, and condemnation of unrepented sins. And therefore, as St. Basil says, In scala, prima ascensio est ab humo, He that makes but one step up a stair, though he be not got much nearer to the top of the house, yet he is got from the ground, and delivered from the foulness, and dampness of that; so in this first step of prayer, miserere met, O Lord be merciful unto me, though a man be not established in heaven, yet he is stept from the world, and the miserable comforters thereof; He that committeth sin, is of the devil*: yea, he is of him, in a direct line, and in the nearest degree; he is the offspring, the sou of the devil; Ex patre vestro estis, says Christ, You are of your father the devil1.
Now, Qui se a maligni patris affinitate submoverit*, He that withdraws himself from such a father's house, though he be not presently come to means to live of himself, Quam feliciter patre suo orbatus! How blessed, how happy an orphan is he become ! How much better shall he find it, to be fatherless in respect of such a father, than masterless in respect of such a Lord, as he turns towards in this first ejaculation, and general application of the soul, Miserere mei, Haw mercy upon me, 0 Lord, so much mercy, as to look graciously towards me ! And therefore, as it was, by infinite degrees, a greater work, to make earth of nothing, than to make the best creatures of earth; so in the regeneration of a sinner, when he is to be made up a new creature, his first beginning, his first application of himself to God, is the hardest matter. But though he come not presently to look God fully in the face, nor conceive not presently an assurance of an established reconciliation, a fulness of pardon, a cancelling of all former debts, in an instant, though he dare not come to touch God, and * 1 John iii. 8. 7 John viil 44. * Basil.
lay hold of himself, by receiving his body and blood in the sacrament, yet the evangelist calls thee to a contemplation of much comfort to thy soul, in certain preparatory accesses, and approaches. Behold, says he; that is, Look up, and consider thy pattern : Behold, a woman diseased came behind Christ, and touched the hem of his garment; for she said in herself, If I may but touch the hem of his garment only, I shall be whole*. She knew there was virtue to come out of his body, and she came as near that, as she durst: she had a desire to speak; but she went no farther, but to speak to herself; she said to herself, says that Gospel, if I may but touch, &c. But Christ Jesus supplied all, performed all on his part, abundantly. Presently he turned about, says the text: and this was not a transitory glance, but a full sight, and exhibiting of himself to the fruition of her eye, that she might see him. He saw her, says St. Matthew: her, he did not direct himself upon others, and leave out her; and then, he spake to her, to overcome her bashfulness; he called her daughter, to overcome her diffidence; he bids her be of comfort, for she had met a more powerful physician, than those, upon whom she had spent her time, and her estate; one that could cure her; one that would; one that had already; for so he says presently, Thy faith hath made thee whole. From how little a spark, how great afire? From how little a beginning, how great a proceeding? She desired but the hem of his garment, and had all him.
Beloved in him, his power, and his goodness ended not in her; All that were sick were brought, that they might but touch the hem of his garment, and as many as touched it, were made wholeTM. It was far from a perfect faith, that made them whole ; to have a desire to touch his garment, seems not, was not much: neither was that desire that was, always in themselves, but in them that brought them. But yet, come thou so far: come, or be content to be brought, to be brought by example, to be brought by a statute, to be brought by curiosity, come any way to touch the hem of his garment, yea the hem of his servant, of Aaron's garment, and thou shalt participate of the sweet ointment, which flows from the head to the hem of the garment. Come to the house of God, his church; join with the congregation of the
* Matt. ix. 20. 10 Matt. xiv. 36.
VOL. II. 2 D
saints; love the body, and love the garments, too, that is, the order, the discipline, the decency, the unity of the church ; love even the hem of the garment, that that almost touches the ground; that is, such ceremonies, as had a good use in their first institution, for raising devotion, and are freed and purged from that superstition, which, as a rust, was grown upon them, though they may seem to touch the earth, that is, to have been induced by earthly men, and not immediate institutions from God, yet love that hem of that garment, those outward assistances of devotion in the church.
Bring with thee a disposition to incorporate thyself with God's people here; and though thou beest not yet come to a particular consideration of thy sins, and of the remedies, though that spirit that possesses thee, that sin that governs thee, lie still awhile, and sleep under all the thunders, which we denounce from this place, so that for awhile thou beest not moved nor affected with all that is said, yet Appropinquas, et neecis, (as St. Augustine said, when he came only out of curiosity to hear St. Ambrose preach at Milan) thou dost come nearer and nearer to God, though thou discern it not, and at one time or other, this blessed exorcism, this holy charm, this ordinance of God, the word of God in the mouth of his servant, shall provoke and awaken that spirit of security in thee, and thou shalt feel him begin to storm, and at first that spirit, thy spirit, will say to the spirit of the preacher, Tune qui conturbas? Art thou he that troubles t Israel"? (as Ahab said to Elijah) Art thou he that troublest the peace of my conscience, and the security of my ways ? And, when the Spirit of God shall search farther and farther, even ad occulta, to thy secretest sins, and touch upon them, and that that spirit of disobedience, when he feels this powerful exorcism, shall say in thee, and cry as Ahab also did, Invenisti me? Hast thou found me, 0 mine enemyTM? God shall answer, Invent te, I have found thee, and found that thou hadst sold thyself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, and so shall bring thee to a more particular consideration of thine estate, and from thy having joined with the church, in a Dominus miserebitur Sion, in an assurance, and acknowledgment, that the Lord will arise, and have mercy upon
11 1 Kingaxviii. 17- " 1 Kings xxL 20.
Sion ", that is, of his whole Catholic church, and then come to a Dominus misereatur nostri, God be merciful unto us, and bless ««, and cause his face to shine upon us1*, upon us that are met here, according to his ordinance, and in confidence of his promise, upon this congregation, of which thou makest thyself a part, thou wilt also come to this of David here, Domine miserere mei, Have mercy upon me, me in particular, and thou shalt hear God answer thee, Miserans miserebor tibi, With great mercy will I have mercy upon thee; upon thee; For, with him is plentiful redemption ; mercy for his whole church, mercy for this whole congregation, mercy for every particular soul, that makes herself a part of the congregation. Accustom thyself therefore to a general devotion, to a general application, to general ejaculations towards God, upon every occasion, and then, as a wedge of gold, that comes to be coined into particular pieces of current money, the Lord shall stamp his image upon all thy devotions, and bring thee to particular confessions of thy sins, and to particular prayers, for thy particular necessities. And this we may well conceive and admit to be the nature of David's first prayer, Miserere mei, Have mercy upon me; and then, the reason, upon which this first petition is grounded, (for so it will be fittest to handle the parts, first the prayer, and then the reason) is, Quia infirmus, Have mercy upon me, for I am weak.
First then, how imperfect, how weak soever our prayers be, yet still if it be a prayer, it hath a quia, a reason, upon which it is grounded. It hath in it, some implied, some interpretative consideration of ourselves, how it becomes us to ask that, which we do ask at God's hand, and it hath some implied, and interpretative consideration of God, how it conduces to God's glory to grant it: for that prayer is very far from faith, which is not made so much as with reason; with a consideration of some possibility, and some conveniency in it. Every man that says Lord, Lord, enters not into heaven; every Lord, Lord, that is said, enters not into heaven, but vanishes in the air. A prayer must be with a serious purpose to pray; for else, those fashional and customary prayers, are but false fires without shot, they batter not heaven ; it is bfet an interjection, that slips in; it is but a parenthesis,
" Psalm cii. 13. 14 Psalm Lxvii. 1.
that might be left out, whatsoever is uttered in the manner of a prayer, if it have not a quia, a reason, a ground for it. And therefore when our Saviour Christ gave us that form of prayer, which includes all, he gave us it in a form of a reason too, Quia tuum, For thine is the kingdom, &c. It were not a prayer, to say, Adveniat regnum, Thy kingdom come, if it were not grounded upon that faithful assurance, that God hath a kingdom here; nor to say Sanctificetur nomen, Hallowed be thy name, if he desired not to be glorified by us; nor to ask daily bread, nor forgiveness of sins, but for the quia potestas, because he hath all these in his power. We consider this first access to God, Miserere mei, Have mercy upon me, to be but a kind of imperfect prayer, but the first step ; but it were none at all, if it had no reason, and therefore it hath this, Quia infirmus, Because I am weak.
This reason of our own weakness is a good motive for mercy, if in a desire of farther strength we come to that of Lazarus' sisters, to Christ, Ecce, quam amas, infirmaturTM, Behold Lord, that soul that thou lovest, and hast died for, is weak, and languishes. Christ answered then, Non est infirmitas ad mortem, This weakness is not unto death, but that the Son of God might be glorified. He will say so to thee too ; if thou present thy weakness with a desire of strength from him, he will say, Quare moriemini, domus Israel? Why will ye die of this disease? Gratia mea sufficit; You may recover for all this; you may repent, you may abstain from this sin, you may take this spiritual physic, the word, the sacraments, if you will; Tantummodo robustus esto, (as God says to Joshua) Only be valiant, and fight against it, and thou shalt find strength grow in the use thereof. But for the most part, De infirmitate blandimurTM, says St. Bernard, We flatter ourselves with an opinion of weakness; Et ut liberius peccemus, libenter infirmamur, We are glad of this natural and corrupt weakness, that we may impute all our licentiousness to our weakness, and natural infirmity. But did that excuse Adam, (says that father) Quod per uxorem tanquam per camis infirmitatem peccamt, That he took his occasion of sinning from his weaker part, from his wife ? Quia infirmus, That thou
14 John xi. 3. 1" De gradibus humilitatis.
art weak of thyself, is a just motive to induce God to bring thee to himself; Qui vere portavit languores tuos, Who hath surely borne all thine infirmities17; but to leave him again, when he hath brought thee, to refuse so light and easy yoke as his is ; not to make use of that strength which he by his grace offers thee, this is not the affection of the spouse, languor amantis, when the person languishes for the love of Christ, but it is languor amoris, when the love of Christ languishes in that person. And therefore if you be come so far with David, as to this mtserere quia infirmus, that an apprehension of your own weakness have brought you to him, in a prayer for mercy, and more strength, go forward with him still, to his next petition, Sana me, 0 Lord heal me, for God is always ready to build upon his own foundations, and accomplish his own beginnings.
Acceptus in gratiam, hilaritcr vent ad postulationes: When thou art established in favour, thou mayest make any suit; when thou art possessed of God by one prayer, thou mayest offer more. This is an encouragement which that father St. Bernard gives, in observing the diverse degrees of praying, that though Servandce humilitatis gratice, divina pietas ordinavit, To make his humility the more profitable to him, God imprints in an humble and penitent sinner, this apprehension, Ut quanta plus profecit, eo minus se reputet profecisse, That the more he is in God's favour, the more he fears he is not so, or the more he fears to lose that favour, because it is a part, and a symptom of the working of the grace of God, to make him see his own unworthiness, the more manifestly, the more sensibly, yet, it is a religious insinuation, and a circumvention that God loves, when a sinner husbands his graces so well, as to grow rich under him, and to make his thanks for one blessing, a reason, and an occasion of another; so to gather upon God by a rolling trench, and by a winding stair, as Abraham gained upon God, in the behalf of Sodom; for this is an act of the wisdom of the serpent, which our Saviour recommends unto us, in such a serpentine line, (as the artists call it) to get up to God, and get into God by such degrees, as David does here, from his miserere, to a sana, from a gracious look, to a perfect recovery; from the act of the Levite that looked upon the wounded man, to the act of the Samaritan that undertook his cure" ; from desiring God to visit him as a friend, (as Abraham was called the friend of God") to study him as a physician. Because the prophet Esay makes a proclamation in Christ's name, Ho, every one that thirsiethTM, &c. And because the same prophet says of him, Vere portavit, He hath truly borne upon himself (and therefore taken away from us) all our diseases", Tertullian says elegantly, that Esay presents Christ, Pnedieatorem, et Medicatorem, As a Preacher, and as a Physician; indeed he is a physician both ways ; in his word, and in his power, and therefore in that notion only, as a Physician, David presents him here.
17 Isaiah Liii. 4.
Now physicians say, That man hath in his constitution, in his complexion, a natural virtue, which they call Balsamum sunm, His own balsamum, by which any wound which a man could receive in his body would cure itself, if it could be kept clean from the annoyances of the air, and all extrinsic incumbrances. Something that hath some proportion and analogy to this balsamum of the body, there is in the soul of man too: the soul hath nardum suum, her spikenard, as the spouse says, Nardus mea dedit odorem suum", She had a spikenard, a perfume, a fragrancy, a sweet savour in herself. For, Virtutes germanius attingunt animam, quam corpus sanitas", Virtuous inclinations, and a disposition to moral goodness, is more natural to tho soul of man, and nearer of kin to the soul of man, than health is to the body. And then, if we consider bodily health, Nulla orati'o, nulla doctrince formula nos doeet morbum odiisse, says that father : There needs no art, there needs no outward eloquence, to persuade a man, to be loath to be sick: Ita in anima inest naturalTM, et citra doctrinam mali evitatio, says he: So the soul hath a natural and untaught hatred, and detestation of that which is evil. The church at thy baptism doth not require sureties at thy hands, for this : thy sureties undertake to the church in thy behalf, That thou shalt forsake the flesh, the world, and the devil, that thou shalt believe all the articles of our religion, that thou shalt keep all the commandments of God ; but for this knowledge and de
10 Luke x. 10 James ii. 23. so Isaiah i.i. 1.
*1 Isaiah Liii. 4. '8 Cant. i. 12. " Basil.
testation of evil, they are not put to undertake them then, neither doth the church catechize thee in that after : for the sum of all those duties which concern the detestation of evil, consists in that unwritten law of thy conscience which thou knowest naturally. Sets quod boni proximo faciendum, says that father, Naturally thou knowest what good thou art bound to do to another man; Idem enim est, rptod ab all is tute tibi fieri veils; For it is but asking thyself, what thou wouldst that that other man should do unto thee: Non ignoras quid sit ipsum malum, Thou canst not be ignorant, what evil thou shouldst abstain from offering to another, Est enim quod ab alio fieri nolis, It is but the same, which thou thinkest another should not put upon thee. So that the soul of man hath in it balsamum suum, nardum suum, a medicinal balsamum, a fragrant spikenard in herself, a, natural disposition to moral goodness, as the body hath to health. But therein lies the soul's disadvantage, that whereas the causes that hinder the cure of a bodily wound, are extrinsic offences of the air, and putrefaction from thence, the causes in the wounds of the soul, are intrinsic, so as no other man can apply physic to them; nay, they are hereditary, and there was no time early enough for ourselves to apply anything by way of prevention, for the wounds were as soon as we were, and sooner; here, was a new soul, but an old sore; a young child, but an inveterate disease. As St. Augustine cannot conceive any interim, any distance, between the creating of the soul, and the infusing of the soul into the body, but eases himself upon that, Creando infundit, and infundendo creat, The creation is the infusion, and the infusion is the creation, so we cannot conceive any interim, any distance, between the infusing and the sickening, between the coming and the sinning of the soul. So that there was no means of prevention; I could not so much as wish, that I might be no sinner, for I could not wish that I might be no child. Neither is there any means of separation now; our concupiscences dwell in us, and prescribe in us, and will gnaw upon us, as worms, till they deliver our bodies to the worms of the grave, and our consciences to the worm that never dies.
From the dangerous effects then of this sickness, David desires to be healed, and by God himself, Sana me Domine, 0 Lord heal me; for that physic that man gives, is all but drugs of the earth; moral and civil counsels, rather to cover than recover, rather to disguise than to avoid : they put a clove in the mouth, but they do not mend the lungs. To cover his nakedness Adam took but fig-leaves; but to recover Hezekiah, God took figs themselves". Man deals upon leaves, that cover, and shadow, God upon fruitful and effectual means, that cure, and nourish. And then, God took a lump of Jigs"; God is liberal of his graces, and gives not over a cure, at one dressing : and they were dry Jigs too, says that story; you must not look for figs from the tree, for immediate revelations, for private inspirations from God ; but the medicinal preaching of the word, medicinal sacraments, medicinal absolution, are such dry figs as God hath preserved in his church for all our diseases. St. Paul had a strong desire, and he expressed it in often prayer to God, to have this peccant humour, this malignity clean purged out, to have that stimulus carnis, that concupiscence absolutely taken away. God would not do so; but yet he applied his effectual physic, sufficient grace.
This then is the soul's panacea, the pharmacum cathollcum, the medicina omnimorbia, the physic that cures all, the sufficient grace, the seasonable mercy of God, in the merits of Christ Jesus, and in the love of the Holy Ghost. This is the physic; but then, there are ever vehicula medicince, certain syrups, and liquors, to convey the physic ; water, and wine in the sacraments; and certain physicians to ordain and prescribe, the ministers of the word and sacraments; the Father sends, the Son makes, the Holy Ghost brings, the minister lays on the plaster. For, Medicince ars a Deo data, ut inde rationem animce curandce disceremus", God's purpose in giving us the science of bodily health, was not determined in the body: but his large and gracious purpose was, by that restitution of the body, to raise us to the consideration of spiritual health. When Christ had said to him, who was brought sick of the palsy, Thy sins are forgiven thee", and that the Scribes and Pharisees were scandalized with that, as though he, being but man, had usurped upon the power of God, Christ proves to them, by an actual restoring of his bodily
14 Isaiah xxxviii. 11. "2 Kings xx. 7. " Basil.
*7 Mark ii. 5.
health, that he could restore his soul too, in the forgiveness of sins : he asks them there, Whether is it easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise, take up thy bed, and w alt. ChristiM facit sanitatem corporalem argumentum spiritualis"; Christ did not determine his doctrine in the declaration of a miraculous power exercised upon his body, but by that, established their belief of his spiritual power, in doing that, which in their opinion was the greater work. Pursue therefore his method of curing; and if God have restored thee in any sickness, by such means, as he of his goodness hath imprinted in natural herbs, and simples, think not that that was done only or simply for thy body's sake, but that, as it is as easy for God to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, as Take up thy bed and walk, so it is as easy for thee, to have spiritual physic, as bodily; because, as God hath planted all those medicinal simples in the open fields, for all, though some do tread them under their feet, so hath God deposited and prepared spiritual helps for all, though all do not make benefit of those helps which are offered. It is true, that God says of his church, Hortus conclusus soror mea, My sister, my spouse is a garden enclosed, as a spring shut in, and a fountain sealed up"; but therein is our advantage, who, by being enwrapped in the covenant, as the seed of the faithful, as the children of Christian parents, are born if not within this walled garden, yet with a key in our hand to open the door, that is, with a right and title, to the sacrament of baptism. The church is a garden walled in, for their better defence and security that are in it; but not walled in to keep any out, who, either by being born within the covenant, inherit a right to it, or by accepting the grace which is offered them, acquire, and profess a desire to enter thereinto. For, as it is a garden, full of spikenard, and of incense, and of all spicks, (as the text says there) so that they who are in this garden, in the church, are in possession of all these blessed means of spiritual health ; so are these spices, and incense, and spikenard, of a diffusive and spreading nature, and breathe even over the walls of the garden: Oleum effusum nomeii ejus"; The name of Christ is unction, ointment; but it is an ointment poured out, an ointment that communicates the fragrancy thereof, to persons at a good distance; and, as it is said there01, Christ calls up the North and the South to blow upon his garden, he raises up men to transport and propagate these means of salvation to all nations, so that, in every nation, they that fear him are acceptable to him ; not that that fear of God in general, as one uersal power, is sufficient in itself, to bring any man to God immediately, but that God directs the spikenard, and incense of this garden upon that man, and seconds his former fear of God, with a love of God, and brings him to a knowledge, and to a desire, and to a possession, and fruition of our more assured means of salvation. When he does so, this is his method, as in restoring bodily health, he said, Surge, tolle, ambula, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk: so to every sick soul, whose cure he undertakes, he says so too, Surge, tolle, ambula. Our beds arc our natural affections ; these he does not bid us cast away, nor burn, nor destroy: since Christ vouchsafed indwre hominem, we must not exuere hominem; since Christ invested the nature of man, and became man, we must not pretend to divest it, and become angels, or natter ourselves in the merit of mortifications, not enjoined, or of a retiredness, and departing out of the world, in the world, by the withdrawing of ourselves from the offices of mutual society, or an extinguishing of natural affections. But, Surge, says our Saviour, Arise from this bed, sleep not lazily in an over-indulgency to these affections; but, ambula, walk sincerely in thy calling, and thou shalt hear thy Saviour say, Non est infirmitas hone ad mortem, These affections, nay, these concupiscencies shall not destroy thee.
** Bernard. " Cant. iv. 12. " Cnnt. i. 3.
David then doth not pray for such an exact and exquisite state of health, as that he should have no infirmity; physicians for our bodies tell us, that there is no such state; the best degree of health is but neutralitas; he is well (that is, as well as man can be) that is not dangerously sick; for absolutely well can no man be. Spiritual physicians will tell you so too ; he that says you have no sin, or that God sees not your sin, if you be of the elect, deceives you. It is not for an innocency that David prays ; but it is against deadly diseases, and against violent accidents of
*1 Cant. iv. 16.
those diseases. He doth not beg, he cannot hope for an absolute peace: nature hath put a war upon us; true happiness, and apparent happiness fight against one another: sin hath put a war upon us ; the flesh and the spirit fight one against another: Christ Jesus himself came to put a war upon us ; the zeal of his glory, and the course of this world, fight one against another. It is not against all war; nay, it is not against all victory that David prays, he cannot hope that he should be overcome by no temptations ; but against such a war, and such a victory, as should bring him to servility, and bondage to sin, that sin entering by conquest upon him, should govern as a tyrant over him, against such a sickness as should induce a consumption, it is that he directs this prayer, Sana me Domine, Not, Lord make me impeccable, but Lord make me penitent, and then heal me. And he comes not to take physic upon wantonness; but because the disease is violent, because the accidents are vehement; so vehement, so violent, as that it hath pierced Ad ossa, and ad animam, My bones are vexed, and my soul is sore troubled, therefore heal me; which is the reason upon which he grounds this second petition, Heal me, because my bones are vexed, &c.
We must necessarily insist a little upon these terms, the bones, the soul, the trouble, or vexation. First, ossa, bones, we know in the natural and ordinary acceptation, what they are; they are these beams, and timbers, and rafters of these tabernacles, these temples of the Holy Ghost, these bodies of ours. But Immanebimus nativce significationi? says St. Basil, Shall we dwell upon the native and natural sigmfication of these bones? Etintelligentia passim obvia contenti erimus ? Shall we who have our conversation in heaven, find no more in these bones, than an earthly, a worldly, a natural man would do ? By St. Basil's example, we may boldly proceed farther : Membra etiam animce sunt, says he: The soul hath her limbs as well as the body. Surdi audite, cocci aspicite, says God in Isaiah" ; if their souls had not ears and eyes, the blind could not see, the deaf could not hear, and yet God calls upon the deaf and blind, to hear and see. As St. Paul says to the Ephesians, The eyes of your understanding being en
** Isaiah M.ii.
lightened; so David says, Denies peccatorum contmvisti, Thou hast broken the teeth"; that is,'the pride and the power, the venom and malignity of the wicked : Membra etiam animc e sunt, The soul hath her bones too; and here David's bones were the strongest powers and faculties of his soul, and the best actions and operations of those faculties, and yet they were shaken. For this hereditary sickness, original sin, prevails so far upon us, that upon our good days we have some grudgings of that fever ; even in our best actions, we have some of the leaven of that sin. So that if we go about to comfort ourselves, with some dispositions to God's glory, which we find in ourselves, with some sparks of love to his precepts, and his commandments, with some good strength of faith, with some measure of good works, yea, with having something for the name, and glory of Christ Jesus: yet if we consider what human and corrupt affections have been mingled in all these, vonturbabuntur ossa, our bones will be troubled, even those that appeared to be strong works, and likely to hold out, will need a reparation, an exclamation, Sana me Domine, O Lord heal these too, or else these are as weak as the worst: Ossa non dolent; the bones themselves have no sense, they feel no pain. We need not say, That those good works themselves, which we do, have in their nature, the nature of sin; that every good work considered alone, and in the substance of the act itself is sin; but membrance dolent; those little membranes, those films, those thin skins, that cover, and that line some bones, are very sensible of pain, and of any vexation. Though in the nature of the work itself, the work be not sin, yet in those circumstances that invest, and involve the work, in those things which we mingle with the work, whether desire of glory towards men, or opinion of merit towards God; whensoever those bones, those best actions come to the examination of a tender and a diligent conscience, si ossa non dolent, membrana dolent, if the work be not sinful, the circumstances are, and howsoever they may be conceived to be strong, as they are ossa, bones, works, in a moral consideration, good, yet, as they are Ossa mea, says David, As they are my bones, such good works
"' Psal. iii. 7.
as taste of my ill corruptions, so long they are vexed, and troubled, and cannot stand upright, nor appear with any confidence 'in the sight of God.
Thus far then first David needed this sanation, this health that he prays for, that his best actions were corrupt; but the corruption went farther, to the very root and fountain of those actions, Ad ipsam animam, his very soul was sore vexed. It is true, that as this word anima, the soul, is sometimes taken in the Scriptures, this may seem to go no farther than the former, no more that his soul was vexed, than that his bones were so : for, anima, in many places, is but animalis homo, the soul signifies but the natural man: and so opponitur spiritui, the soul is not only said to be a diverse thing, but a contrary thing to the spirit. When the apostle says to the Thessalonians, Now the very God of peace sanctify you throughout, that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be kept blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". And where the same apostle says to the Hebrews, The word of God divideth asunder the soul and the spirit"; here is a difference put between corrupt nature, and the working of the Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost in man; for here, the soul is taken for Animalis homo, The natural man, and the spirit is taken for the Spirit of God. But besides this, these two words, soul and spirit, are sometimes used by the fathers, in a sense diverse from one another, and as different things, and yet still as parts of one and the same man ; man is said by them, not only to have a body, and a soul, but to have a soul, and a spirit; not as spirit is the Spirit of God, and so an extrinsical thing, but as spirit is a constitutive part of the natural man. So, in particular, amongst many, Gregory Nyssen takes the body to be spoken De nutribili, The flesh and blood of man, and the soul De sensibili, The operation of the senses, and the spirit Deintellectuali, The intellectual, the reasonable faculties of man; that in the body, man is conformed to plants that have no sense, in the soul, to beasts, that have no reason, in the spirit, to angels. But so, the spirit is but the same thing with that, which now we do ordinarily account the soul to be; for we make account, that the image of God is imprinted in the soul, and that gives him his conformity to
" 1 Thess. v. 23. " Heb. iv. 12.
angels: but divers others of the ancients have taken soul and spirit, for different things, even in the intellectual part of man, somewhat obscurely, I confess, and, as some venture to say, unnecessarily, if not dangerously. It troubled St. Hierome sometimes, how to understand the word spirit in man : but he takes the easiest way, he despatches himself of it. as fast as he could, that is, to speak of it only as it was used iu the Scriptures: Famosa qucestio, says he, sed brevi sermone tractanda"; It is a question often disputed, but may be shortly determined, Idem spiritu s hio, ao in us verbis, Nolite extinguere spiritum; When we hear of the spirit in a man, in Scriptures, we must understand it of the gifts of the spirit; for so, fully to the same purpose, says St. Chrysostom, Spiritu s est charisma spiritits, The spirit is the working of the spirit, the gifts of the spirit: and so when we hear, the spirit was vexed, the spirit was quenched, still it is to be understood, the gifts of the spirit. And so, as they restrain the signification of spirit, to those gifts only, (though the word do indeed, in many places, require a larger extension) so do many restrain this word in our text, the soul, only ad sensum, to the sensitive faculties of the soul, that is, only to the pain and anguish that his body suffered; but so far, at least, David had gone, in that which he said before, My bones are vexed.
Now, Ingravescit morbus, The disease festers beyond the bone, even into the marrow itself. His bones were those best actions that he had produced, and he saw in that contemplation, that for all that he had done, he was still, at best, but an unprofitable servant, if not a rebellious enemy; but then, when he considers his whole soul, and all that ever it can do, he sees all the rest will be no better; the poison, he sees, is in the fountain, the canker in the root, the rancour, the venom in the soul itself. Corpus instrumentum, anima ars ipsa, says St. \\--\~-\\: The body, and the senses are but the tools, and instruments, that the soul works with. But the soul is the art, the science that directs those instruments ; the faculties of the soul are the boughs that produce the fruits; and the operations, and particular acts of those faculties are the fruits, but the soul is the root of all. And David
** Ad Hedibiam. q. xii., cpist. 150.
sees, that this art, this science, this soul can direct him, or establish him in no good way; that not only the fruits, his particular acts, nor only the boughs, and arms, his several faculties, but the root itself, the soul itself, was infected. His bones are shaken, he dares not stand upon the good he hath done, his soul is so too, he cannot hope for any good he shall do: he hath no merit for the past, he hath no freewill for the future ; that is his case.
This troubles his bones, this troubles his .<<>1i/. this vexes them both ; for, the word is all one, in both places, as our last translators have observed, and rendered it aright; not vexed in one place, and troubled in the other, as our former translators had it; but in both places it is Bahal, and Bahal imports a vehemence, both in the intenseness of it, and in the suddenness, and inevitableness of it: and therefore it signifies often, Prcecipitantiam, A headlong downfal and irrecoverablcness; and often, Evanesoentiam, An utter vanishing away, and annihilation. David, (whom we always consider in the Psalms, not only to speak literally of those miseries which were actually upon himself, but prophetically too, of such measures, and exaltations of those miseries, as would certainly fall upon them, as did not seek their sanation, their recovery from the God of all health) looking into all his actions, (they are the fruits) and into all his faculties, (they are the boughs) and into the root of all, the soul itself, considering what he had done, what he could do, he sees that as yet he had done no good, he sees he should never be able to do any; his bones are troubled, he hath no comfort in that which is grown up, and past, and his soul is sore troubled, (for to the trouble of the soul, there is added in the text, that particle, valde, it is a sore trouble that falls upon the soul, A troubled spirit who can bear?) because he hath no hope in the future; he was no surer for that which was to come, than for that which was past; but he, (that is, all, considered in that case which he proposes) he comes (as the word signifies) adprcecipitantiam, that all his strength can scarce keep him from precipitation into despair, and he comes (as the word signifies too) ad evanescentiam, to an evaporating, and a vanishing of his soul, that is, even to a renouncing, and a detestation of his immortality, and to a willingness, to a desire, that he might die the death of other creatures, which perish altogether, and go out as a candle. This is the trouble, the sore trouble of his soul, who is brought to an apprehension of God's indignation for not performing conditions required at his hands, and of his inability to perform them, and is not come to the contemplation of his mercy, in supply thereof.
There is Titrbatio timoris, A trouble out of fear of danger in this world, Herod's trouble; When the magi brought word of another king, Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him*1. There is Turbatio confusionis, The mariner's trouble in a tempest; Their soul meltethfor trouble", says David. There is Turbatio occupationis; Martha's trouble; Martha thou art troubled about many things", says Christ. There is, Turbatio admirationis, The blessed Virgin's trouble, When she saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying". To contract this, there is Turbatio compassion is, Christ's own trouble, When he saw Mary weep for her brother Lazarus, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled in himself41. But in all these troubles, Herod's fear, the mariner's irresolution, Martha's multiplicity of business, the blessed Virgin's sudden amazement, our Saviour's compassionate sorrow, as they are in us, worldly troubles, so the world administers some means to extenuate, and alleviate these troubles; for fears are overcome, and storms are appeased, and businesses are ended, and wonders are understood, and sorrows wear out, but in this trouble of the bones, and the soul, in so deep and sensible impressions of the anger of God, looking at once upon the pravity, the obliquity, the malignity of all that I have done, of all that I shall do, man hath but one step between that state, and despair, to stop upon, to turn to the author of all temporal, and all spiritual health, the Lord of life, with David's prayer, Cor mundum crea, Create a clean heart within me"; begin with me again, as thou begunnest with Adam, in innocency; and see, if I shall husband and govern that innocency better than Adam did; for, for this heart which I have from him, I have it in corruption; and, who can bring a clean thing out of uncleanness4*? Therefore David's prayer goes farther in the same place, Renew a constant spirit in me; present cleanness cannot be had from myself; but if I have that from
07 Matt. ii. 3. " Psalm cvii. 27. " Luke x. 41. 40 Luke i. 29. 41 John xi. 33. " Psalm Li. 10. « Job xiv. 4.
God, mine own clothes will make me foul again, and therefore do not only create a clean spirit, but renew a spirit of constancy and perseverance. Therefore I have also another prayer in the same Psalm, Spiritu principali confirma me", Sustain me, uphold me with thy free spirit, thy large, thy munificent spirit: for thy ordinary graces will not defray me, nor carry me through this valley of temptations; not thy single money, but thy talents; not as thou art thine own almoner, but thine own treasurer; it is not the dew, but thy former and latter rain that must water, though it be thy hand that hath planted; not any of the rivers, though of Paradise, but the ocean itself, that must bring me to thy Jerusalem. Create a clean heart; thou didst so in Adam, and in him I defiled it. Renew that heart; thou didst so in baptism; and thy upholding me with thy constant spirit, is thy affording me means, which are constant, in thy church; but thy confirming me with thy principal spirit, is thy making of those means, instituted in thy church, effectual upon me, by the spirit of application, the spirit of appropriation, by which the merits of the Son, deposited in the church, are delivered over unto me.
This then is the force of David's reason in this petition, Ossa implentur vitiis, as one of Job's friends speaks, My bones are full of the sins of my i/outh", that is, my best actions, now in mine age, have some taste, some tincture from the habit, or some sinful memory of the acts of sin in my youth; Adhceret os meum carni, as David also speaks, My bones cleave to my flesh", my best actions taste of my worst; and My skin cleaves to my bones, as Jeremy laments47, that is, my best actions call for a skin, for something to cover them : and therefore, not therefore because I have brought myself into this state, but because by thy grace I have power to bring this my state into thy sight, by this humble confession, Sana me Domine, 0 Lord heal me; thou that art my Messiah, be my Moses, and carry these bones of thy Joseph out of Egypt40; deliver me, in this consideration of mine actions, from the terror of a self-accusing, and a jealous, and suspicious conscience; Bury my bones beside the bones of the man of God"; beside the bones of the Son of God: look upon my bones as they are coffined, and shrouded in that sheet, the righteousness of Christ Jesus. Accedant ossa ad ossa, as in Ezekiel's vision50, Let our bones come together, bone to bone, mine to his, and look upon them uno intuitu, all together, and there shall come sinews, and flesh, and skin upon them, and breathe upon them, and in him, in Christ Jesus, I shall live; my bones being laid by his, though but gristles in themselves, my actions being considered in his, though imperfect in themselves, shall bear me up in the sight of God. And this may be the purpose of this prayer, this sanation, grounded upon this reason, 0 Lord heal me, for my bones are vexed, &c. But yet David must, and doth stop upon this step, he stays God's leisure, and is put to his Usquequo? But thou, 0 Lord, how long?
44 Psalm Li. 12. " Job xx. 11. « Psalm cii. 5.
47 Lam. iv. 8. « Exod. xiii. 19. 4* 1 Kings xiii. 31.
VOL. II. 2 B
David had cried miserere, he had begged of God to look towards him, and consider him ; he had revealed to him his weak and troublesome estate, and he had intreated relief; but yet God gave not that relief presently, nor seemed to have heard his prayer, nor to have accepted his reasons. David comes to some degrees of expostulation with God; but he dares not proceed far; it is but usquequo Domine? Which if we consider it in the original, and so also in our last translation, requires a serious consideration. For it is not there as it is in the first translation, How long wilt thou delay? David charges God with no delay: but it is only, Et tu Domine, usquequo? But thou, 0 Lord, hove long? And there he ends in a holy abruptness, as though he had taken himself in a fault, to enterprise any expostulation with God. He doth not say, How long ere thou hear me ? If thou hear me, how long ere thou regard me ? If thou regard me, how long ere thou heal me ? How long shall my bones, how long shall my soul be troubled ? He says not so ; but leaving all to his leisure, he corrects his passion, he breaks off his expostulation. As long as I have that commission from God, Die animce tuce, salus tua sum", Say unto thy soul, I am thy salvation, my soul shall keep silence unto God, of whom cometh my salvation: silence from murmuring, how long soever he be in recovertng me: not silence from prayer, that he would come; for that is our last consideration; David proposed his desire, Miserere, and Sana,
50 Ezek. xxxvil 7. 5I Psalm jutxv. 3.
look towards me, and heal me, that was our first; and then his reasons, Osset, anima, My bones, my soul is troubled, that was our second; and then he grew sensible of God's absence, for all that, which was our third proposition ; for yet, for all this, he continues patient, and solicits the same God in the same name, the Lord, But thou 0 Lord, how long?
Need we then any other example of such a patience than God himself, who stays so long in expectation of our conversion ? But we have David's example too, who having first made his deprecation, that God would not reprove him in anger, having prayed God to forbear him, he is also well content to forbear God, for those other things which he asks, till it be his pleasure to give them. But yet he neither gives over praying, nor doth he incline to pray to any body else, but still Domine miserere, Have mercy upon me 0 Lord, and Domine sana, 0 Lord heal me: industry in a lawful calling, favour of great persons, a thankful acknowledgment of the ministry and protection of angels, and of the prayers of the saints in heaven for us, all these concur to our assistance; but the root of all, all temporal, all spiritual blessings, is he, to whom David leads us here, Dominus, The Lord; Lord, as he is proprietary of all creatures; he made all, and therefore is Lord of all; as he is Jehovah, which is the name of essence, of being, as all things have all their being from him, their very being, and their well-being, their creation, and their conservation ; and in that name of recognition and acknowledgment, that all that can be had, is to be asked of him, and him only, him, as he is Jehovah, The Lord, does David solicit him here; for, as there is no other name under heaven, given amongst men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ"; so is there no other name above in heaven proposed to men, whereby they should receive these blessings, but the name of Jehovah; for Jehovah is the name of the whole Trinity, and there are no more, no queen-mother in heaven, no councillors in heaven in commission with the Trinity.
In this name therefore David pursues his prayer: for, from a river, from a cistern, a man may take more water at once, than he can from the first spring and fountain-head; but he cannot
58 Acts iv. 12.
take the water so sincerely, so purely, so intemerately from the channel as from the fountain-head. Princes and great persons may raise their dependents faster than God doe.s his; but sudden riches come like a land-water, and bring much foulness with them. We are God's vineyard; The vineyard of the Lord of hosts, is the house of Israel, and the men ofJudah are his pleasant plant**, says the prophet. And God delights to see his plants prosper, and grow up seasonably. More than once Christ makes that profession, That he goes doivn into the aarden of nuts, to see the fruits of the valley", and to see iKhether the vine flourished, and whether the pomegranate budded; and he goes up early into the vineyard, to see whether the tender grape appeared". He had a pleasure in the growth and successive increase of his plants, and did not look they should come hastily to their height and maturity. If worldly blessings, by a good industry, grow up in us, it is natural; but if they fall upon us, pluit laqueos, God rains down springes and snares5*, occasions of sin in those abundances, and pluit grandinem, he will rain down hailstones"; hailstones as big as talents, as in the Revelation50; as big as millstones ; he will make our riches occasions of raising enemies, and make those enemies grindstones to grind our fortunes to powder. Make not too much haste to be rich: even in spiritual riches, in spiritual health make not too much haste. Pray for it; for there is no other way to get it. Pray to the Lord for it: for saints and angels have but enough for themselves. Make haste to begin to have these spiritual graces; to desire them, is to begin to have them : but make not too much haste in the way; do not think thyself purer than thou art, because thou seest another do some such sins, as thou hast forborne.
Beloved, at last, when Christ Jesus comes with his scales, thou shalt not be weighed with that man, but every man shall be weighed with God: Be pure as your Father in heaven is pure, is the weight that must try us all; and then, the purest of us all, that trusts to his own purity, must hear that fearful Mene Tekel Upharsin, Thou art weighed, thou art found too light, thou art divided, separated from the face of God, because thou hast not
5* Isaiah v. 7. " Cant. vi. 10. " Cant. viL 12.
" Psalm xi. 6. " Exod. jx. 23. M Rev. xvi. 21.
taken the purity of that Son upon thee, who not only in himself, but those also who are in him, in him are pure, as his, and their Father in heaven is pure. Neither make so much haste to these spiritual riches, and health, as to think thyself whole before thou art: neither murmur, nor despair of thy recovery, if thou beest not whole so soon as thou desiredst. If thou wrestle with temptations, and canst not overcome them, if thou purpose to pray earnestly, and find thy mind presently strayed from that purpose, if thou intend a good course, and meet with stops in the way, if thou seek peace of conscience, and scruples out of zeal interrupt that, yet discomfort not thyself. God stayed six days in his first work, in the creation, before he came to make thee; yet all that while he wrought for thee. Thy regeneration, to make thee a new creature, is a greater work than that, and it cannot be done in an instant. God hath purposed a building in thee; he hath sat down, and considered, that he hath sufficient to accomplish that building, as it is in the Gospel, and therefore leave him to his leisure".
When thou hast begun with David, with a Domine ne arguas, O Lord rebuke me not, and followed that, with a Domine sana me, O Lord heal me, if thou find a Domine usquequo? Any degree of weariness of attending the Lord's leisure, arising in thee, suppress it, overcome it, with more and more petitions, and that which God did by way of commandment, iu the first creation, do thou by way of prayer, in this thy second creation ; first he said, Fiat lux, Let there be light: pray thou, that he would enlighten thy darkness. God was satisfied with that light for three days, and then he said, Fiant luminaria, Let there be great lights: bless God for his present light, but yet pray that he will enlarge that light which he hath given thee ; and turn all those his commandments into prayers, till thou come to his Faciamus hominem, Let us make man according to our own image; pray that he will restore his image in thee, and conform thee to him, who is the image of the invisible God**, our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. He did his greatest work upon thee, before time was, thine election; and he hath reserved the consummation of that work, till time shall be no more, thy glorification: and as for thy vocation he hath taken his own time, he did not call thee into the world in the time of the primitive church, nor perchance, call thee effectually, though in the church, in the days of thy youth; so stay his time for thy sanctification, and if the dayspring from on high have visited thee but this morning, if thou beest come to a fiat lux but now, that now God have kindled eome light in thee, he may come this day seven-night to a fiant luminaria, to multiply this light by a more powerful means. If not so soon, yet still remember, that it was God that made the Bun stand still to Joshua, as well as to run his race as a giant to David; and God was as much glorified in the standing still of the sun, as in the motion thereof; and shall be so in thy sanctification, though it seem to stand at a stay for a time, when his time shall be to perfect it, in a measure acceptable to thee. Nothing is acceptable to him, but that which is seasonable; nor seasonable, except it come in the time proper to it: and, as St. Augustine says, Jfatura rei est, quam indidit Deus, That is the nature of everything, which God hath imprinted in it, so that is the time for everything, which God hath appointed for it. Pray, and stay, are two blessed monosyllables; to ascend to God, to attend God's descent to us, is the motion, and the rest of a Christian ; and as all motion is for rest, so let all the motions of our soul in our prayers to God be, that our wills may rest in his, and that all that pleases him, may please us, therefore because it pleases him; for therefore, because it pleases him, it becomes good for us, and then, when it pleases him, it becomes seasonable unto us, and expedient for us.
54 Luke xiv. 28. M Coloss. i. 15.