PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S INN.
The Third Sermon on Psalm xxxviii. 4.
For mine iniquities are gone over my head, as a heavy burden, they are too
heavy for me.
As a torch that hath been lighted, and used before, is easier lighted than a new torch, so are the branches, and parts of this text, the easier reduced to your memory, by having heard former distributions thereof. But as a torch that hath been lighted and used before, will not last so long as a new one, so perchance your patience which hath already been twice exercised with the handling of these words, may be too near the bottom to afford much. And therefore much I have determined not to need. God did his greatest work upon the last day, and yet gave over work betimes. In that day he made man, and (as tho context leads us most probably, to think) he made paradise, and placed man in paradise that day. For the variety of opinions amongst our expositors, about the time when God made paradise, arises from one error, an error in the Vulgate edition, in the translation of tho Roman church, that reads it plantaverat, God hath planted a garden1, as though God had done it before. Therefore some state it before the creation, which St. Hierome follows, or at least relates, without disapproving it; and others place it, upon the third day, when the whole earth received her accomplishment; but if any had looked over this place with the same ingenuity as their own great man Tyr*: (an active man in the Council of Trent) hath done over the Book of Psalms, in which one book he hath confessed six thousand places, in which their translation differs from the original, they would have seen this difference in this place, that
1 Gen. ii. 8.
* The only person whose name will agree with the abbreviation in the text, is Turrianus, mentioned by Mosheim as an ecclesiastical writer contemporary with the Council of Trent. He refers for more particulars to Dc Pin, Bibliotheque des Auteurs Ecclesiastiques, torn. xiv. and xvi., which book I have not the opportunity of consulting. Ed.
it is not plantaverat, but plantavit, not that God had before, but that he did then, then when he had made man, make a paradise for man. And yet God made an end of all this day's work betimes; in that day, he walked in the garden in the cool of the evening. The noblest part of our work, in handling this text, falls upon the conclusion, reserved for this day; which is, the application of these words to Christ. But for that, I shall be short, and rather leave you to walk with God in the cool of the evening, to meditate of the sufferings of Christ, when you are gone, than pretend to express them here. The passion of Christ Jesus is rather an amazement, an astonishment, an ecstasy, a consternation, than an instruction. Therefore, though something we shall say of that anon, First, we pursue that which lies upon ourselves, the burden, in those four mischievous inconveniences wrapped up in that metaphor.
Of them, the first was, inclinat; that a burden sinks a man, declines him, crookens him, makes him stoop. So does sin. It is one of St. Augustine's definitions of sin, conversio ad creaturam, that it is a turning, a withdrawing of man to the creature. And every such turning to the creature, let it be upon his side, to her whom he loves, let it be upwards, to honour that he affects, yet it is still downward, in respect of him, whom he was made by, and should direct himself to. Every inordinate love of the creature is a descent from the dignity of our creation, and a disavowing, a disclaiming of that charter, Subjicite et dominamini, Subdue, and govern the creature. Est quoddam bonum, quod si diligat anima rationalis, peccat*. There are good things in the world, which it is a sin for man to love, Quia infra illam ordinantur, Because though they be good, they are not so good as man; and man may not decline, and everything, except God himself, is inferior to man, and so, it is a declination, a stooping in man, to apply himself to any creature, till he meet that creature in God; for there it is above him; and so, as beauty and riches, and honour are beams that issue from God, and glasses that represent God to us, and ideas that return us into him, in our glorifying of him, by these helps, so we may apply ourselves to them; for, in this consideration, as they assist us in our way
* August. De ver. relig. c. xx.
to God, they are above us, otherwise, to love them for themselves, is a declination, a stooping under a burden; and this declination, this incurvation, this descent of man, in the inordinate love of the creature, may very justly seem to be forbidden in that commandment, that forbids idolatry, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them; if we bow down to them, we do worship them; for it is in the love of all creatures, as it is in money; covetousness, that is, the love of money, is idolatry, says the apostle; and so is all other inordinate love of any idolatry. And then, as we have seen some grow crooked, by a long sitting, a lying in one posture, so, by an easy resting in these descents and declination of the soul, it comes to be a fashion to stoop, and it seems a comely thing to be crooked; and we become, infrunit% that is, quibus nemo frui velit3, such as nobody cares for our conversation, or company, except we be ill company, sociable in other sins, et viliores quo castiores, if we affect chastity, or any other virtue, we disaffect and distaste other men; for one man's virtue chides, and reproaches a whole vicious company. But if he will needs be in fashion, cum perverso perverti, to grow crooked with the crooked, His iniquities shall take him, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin*; that is, in that posture that he puts himself, he shall be kept; kept all his life; and then, (as it follows there) He shall die without instruction; die in a place, where he can have no absolution, no sacrament, or die, in a disposition, that he shall receive no benefit by them, though he receive them. He hath packed a burden upon himself, in habitual sin, he hath chosen to stoop under this burden, in an idolatrous love of those sins, and nothing shall be able to erect him again, not preaching, not sacraments, no not judgments. And this is the first inconvenience, and mischief, implied in this metaphor which the Holy Ghost hath chosen, Mine iniquities are as a burden, inclinant, they bend down my soul, created straight, to an incurvation, to a crookedness.
A second inconvenience intimated in this metaphor, a burden, is the fatigat, a burden wearies us, tires us: and so does our sin, and our best beloved sin. It hath wearied us, and yet we cannot divest it. We would leave that sin, and yet there is one
talent more to bo added, one child more to bo provided for, one office, or one title more to be compassed, one temptation more to be satisfied. Though we grumble, not out of remorse of conscience, but out of a bodily weariness of the sin, yet we proceed in it. How often men go to Westminster, how often to the Exchange, called by unjust suits, or called by corrupt bargains to those places, when their case, or their health persuades them to stay at home i How many go to forbidden beds, than when they had rather stay at home, if they were not afraid of an unkind interpretation? We have wearied ourselves in the ways of wickedness; Plus miles in uno torneamento, quam sanctus monachus in decem annis, says our Holkot, upon that placo, A soldier suffers more in one expedition, than a monk does, in ten years, says he; and perchance ho says true, and yet no commendation to his monk neither; for that soldier may do even the cause of God, more good, in that one expedition, than that monk in ten years: but it is true as Holkot intended it, (though perchance his example do not much strengthen it) vicious men are put to moro pains, and to do moro things against their own minds, than tho saints of God are in the ways of holiness. We have wearied ourselves in the ways of wickedness, says he, that is, in doing as other wicked men have done, in ways which have been beaten out to us, by the frequent practice of other men; but he adds more, We have gone through deserts, where there lag no way; that is, through sins, in which, we had no example, no precedent, the inventions of our hearts. The covetous man lies still, and attends his quarter days, and studies the endorsements of his bonds, and he wonders that the ambitious man can endure the shufflings and thrustings of courts, and can measure his happiness by tho smile of a greater man: and, he that does so, wonders as much, that this covetous man can date his happiness by an almanac, and such revolutions, and though he have quick returns of receipt, yet scarce affords himself bread to live till that day come, and though all his joys be in his bonds, yet denies himself a candle's end to look upon them. Hilly ways are wearisome ways, and tire the ambitious man; carnal pleasures are dirty ways, and tire the licentious man; desires of gain, are thorny ways, and tire the covetous man; emulations of higher men, are dark and blind ways, and tire the envious man; everyway, that is out of the way, wearies us; but, Lassati sumus; sed lassis non datur requies; We labour, and have no rest', when we have done; we are wearied with our sins, and have no satisfaction in them; we go to bed to-night, weary of our sinful labours, and we will rise freshly to-morrow, to the same sinful labours again; and when a sinner docs so little remember yesterday, how little does he consider to-morrow? He that forgets what he hath done, foresees not what he shall suffer: so sin is a burden; it crookens us, it wearies us; and those are the two first inconveniences.
And then a third is retardat. Though a man can stand under a burden, that he do not sink, but be able to make some steps, yet his burden slackens his pace, and he goes not so fast, as without that burden he could have gone. So it is in habitual sins; though we do not sink into desperation, and stupefaction, though we do como to the participation of outward means, and have some sense, some feeling thereof, yet, as long as any one beloved and habitual sin hangs upon us, it slackens our pace in all the ways of godliness. And we come not to such an appropriation of the promises of the Gospel, in hearing sermons, nor to such a re-incarnation, and invisceration of Christ and his merits into ourselves, in the sacrament, as if we were altogether divested of that sin, and not only at that time, we should do. Quis ascendet, says David; Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord6? It is a painful clambering; up a hill. And St. Augustine makes use of the answer, Innocens manibus, He that hath clean hands; first, he must have hands, as well as feet; he must do something for himself.; and then, innocent hands; such as do no harm to others; such as hold, and carry no hurtful thing to himself; , either he must have the first innocence, abstinence from ill getting, or the second innocence, restitution of that which was ill gotten, or ho shall never get up that hill; for, it is a steep hill; and there is no walking up; but he must crawl, hand and foot. Therefore, says the apostle, Deponamus pondus, Let us lay aside every weight; he does not say, sin in general, but every weight, every circumstance that may aggravate our sin, every
5 Lam. v. 5. 8 Psalm xxiv. 3.
conversation that may occasion our sin; and, (as he adds, particularly and emphatically) The sin, that does so easily beset us; easily, because customarily, habitually; and then, says that apostle, in that place, Let us run; when we have laid down the sin, that does so easily beset us, our beloved and habitual sin, and laid down every weight, every circumstance that aggravates that sin; then we may be able to run, to proceed with a holy cheerfulness and proficiency in the ways of sanctification; but till that we cannot, how due observers soever we be of all outward means; for, sin is a burden, in perverting us, in tiring us, in retarding us.
And last of all, it is a burden, quatenus prwcipitat, as it gives him ever new occasion of stumbling; he that hath not been accustomed to a sin, but exercised in resisting it, will find many temptations, but as a wash-way that he can trot through, and go forward religiously in his calling for all them; (for though there be coluber in via, a snake in every way, temptations in every calling, yet, in Christo omnia postumus, in Christ we can do all things, and therefore in him we can bruise the serpents head) and spurn a temptation out of his way. But he that hath been long under the custom of a sin, evermore meets with stones to stumble at, and bogs to plunge in. It is St. ChrysostonVs application; he that hath had a fever, though he have cast it off, yet he walks weakly, and he hath an inclination to the bed's side, or to a chair, at every turn that he makes about his chamber. So hath he to relapses, that hath been under the custom of an habitual sin, though he have discontinued the practice of that sin. And these be the inconveniences, the mischiefs, represented to us in this metaphor, a burden, Mine iniquities are as a burden too heavy for me, because they sink me down, from the Creator to the creature: because they tire and weary me, and yet I must bear them; because when they do not absolutely tire me, yet they slacken my pace; and because, though I could lay off that burden, leave off that sin, for the present practice, yet the former habit hath so weakened me, that I am always apt to stumble, and fall into relapses.
Thus have you the mischievous inconveniences of habitual sin laid open to you, in these two elegancies of the Holy Ghost, Supergressw, Mine iniquities are gone over my head, and the Gravatw, As a burden they are too heavy for me. But as a good emperor received that commendation, that no man went ever out of his presence discontented, so our gracious God never admits us to his presence in this his ordinance, but with a purpose to dismiss us in heart, and in comfort; for, his almoner, he that distributeth his mercies to congregations, is the God of comfort, of all comfort, the Holy Ghost himself. Nay, they whom he admits to his presence here, go not out of his presence, when they go from hence; he is with them, whilst they stay here, and he goes home with them, when they go home. Princes out of their royal care call parliaments, and graciously deliver themselves over to that representative body; God out of his fatherly love calls congregations, and does not only deliver himself over, in his ordinance, to that representative body, the whole church there, but when every man is become a private man again, when the congregation is dissolved, and every man restored to his own house, God, in his Spirit, is within the doors, within the bosoms of every man that received him here. Therefore we have reserved for the conclusion of all, the application of this text to our blessed Saviour; for so our most ancient expositors direct our meditations, first, historically, and literally, upon David, and that we did at first; then morally, and by just application to ourselves, and that we have most particularly insisted upon; and lastly, upon our Saviour Christ Jesus himself; and that remains for our conclusion and consolation; for, even from him, groaning under our burden, we may hear these words, Mine iniquities are gone over my head, and, &c.
First then, that that lay upon Christ, was sin, properly sin. Nothing could estrange God from man, but sin; and even from this Son of man, though he were the Son of God too, was God far estranged; therefore God saw sin in him. Non novit peccatum, He knew no sin1; not by any experimental knowledge, not by any perpetration; for, Non fecit peccatum, He did no sin*, he committed no sin. What though? we have sin upon us, sin to condemnation, original sin before we know sin, before we have committed any sin. They esteemed him stricken, and smitten of
7 2 Cor. v. 21. 8 1 Pet. ii. 22.
God'; and they mistook not in that; he was stricken and smitten of God; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief; and the Lord proceeds not thus, where he sees no sin. Therefore the apostle carries it to a very high expression, God made him to be sin for our sakes; not only sinful, but sin itself. And as one cruel emperor wished all mankind in one man, that he might have beheaded mankind at one blow, so God gathered the whole nature of sin into one Christ, that by one action, one passion, sin, all sin, the whole nature of sin might be overcome. It was sin that was upon Christ, else God could not have been angry with him, nor pleased with us.
It was sin, and his own sin; mine iniquities, says Christ, in his type, and figure, David; and in his body, the church; and, (we may be bold to add) in his very person; mine iniquities. Many heretics denied his body to be his body, they said it was but an airy, an imaginary, an illusory body; and denied his soul to be his soul, they said he had no human soul, but that his divine nature supplied that, and wrought all the operations of the soul. But we that have learnt Christ better know, that he could not have redeemed man, by that way that was contracted between him and his Father, that is, by way of satisfaction, except he had taken the very body, and the very soul of man: and as verily as his human nature, his body and soul were his, his sins were his too. As my mortality, and my hunger, and thirst, and weariness, and all my natural infirmities are his, so my sins are his sins. And now when my sins are by him thus made his sins, no hell-devil, not Satan, no earth-devil, no calumniator, can any more make those sins my sins, than he can make his divinity mine. As by the spirit of adoption, I am made the child of God, the seed of God, the same spirit with God, but yet I am not made God, so by Christ having taken my sins, I am made a servant of my God, a beadsman of my God, a vassal, a tributary debtor to God, but I am no sinner in the sight of God, no sinner so, as that man or the devil can impute that sin unto me, then when my Saviour hath made my sins his. As a soldier would not part with his scars, Christ would not.
They were sins, that lay upon him, part with our sins; and
./ - \
* Isaiah liii. 4.
/-V/' . his sins; and, as it follows in his type, David, sins in a plurality, many sins. I know nothing in the world so manifold, so plural, so numerous, as my sins; and my Saviour had all those. But, if every other man have not so many sins as I, he owes that to God's grace, and not to the devil's forbearance, for the devil saw no such parts, nor no such power in me to advance or hinder his kingdom, no such birth, no such education, no such place in the state or church, as that he should be gladder of me than of other men. He ministers temptations to all; and all are overcome by his temptations; and all these sins, in all men, were upon Christ at once. All twice over; in the root, and in the fruit too; in the bullion, and in the coin too; in gross, and in retail; in original, and in actual sin. And, howsoever the sins of former ages, the sins of all men for four thousand years before, which were all upon him, when he was upon the cross, might possibly be numbered, (as things that are past, may easilier fall within a possibility of such an imagination) yet all those sins, which were to come after, he himself could not number; for he, as the son of man, though he know how long the world hath lasted, knows not how long this sinful world shall last, and when the day of judgment shall be; and all those future sins, were his sins before they were committed; they were his before they were theirs that do them. And lest this world should not afford him sins enough, he took upon him the sins of heaven itself; not their sins, who were fallen from heaven, and fallen into an absolute incapacity of reconciliation, but their sins, which remained in heaven; those sins, which the angels that stand, would fall into, if they had not received a confirmation, given them in contemplation of the death and merits of Christ, Christ took upon him, for all things, in earth, and heaven too, were reconciled to God by him: for, if there had been as many worlds as there are men in this, (which is a large multiplication) or as many worlds as there are sins in this, (which is an infinite multiplication) his merit had been sufficient to all.
They were sins, his sins, many sins, the sins of the world; and then, as in his type, David, supergressw, his sins, these sins were got above him. And not as David's, or ours, by an insensible growth, and swelling of a tide in course of time, but this inundation of all the sins of all places, and times, and persons, was upon him in an instant, in a minute; in such a point as admits, and requires a subtile, and a serious consideration; for it is eternity; which though it do infinitely exceed all time, yet is in this consideration, less than any part of time, that it is indivisible, eternity is so; and though it last for ever, is all at once, eternity is so. And from this point, this timeless time, time that is all time, time that is no time, from all eternity, all the sins of the world were gone over him.
And, in that consideration, supergressw caput, they were gone over his head. Let his head be his divine nature, yet they were gone over his head: for, though there be nothing more voluntary than the love of God to man, (for he loves us, not only for his own sake, or for his own glory's sake, but he loves us for his love's sake, he loves us, and loves his love of us, and had rather want some of his glory, than we should not have, nay, than he should not have so much love towards us) though this love of his be an act simply voluntary, yet in that act of expressing this love in the sending a Saviour, there was a kind of necessity contracted on Christ's part; such a contract had passed between him and his Father, that as himself says, there was an oportuit pati, a necessity that he should suffer all that he suffered10, and so enter into glory, when he was come; so there was an oportuit venire, a necessity, (a necessity induced by that contract) that he should come in that humiliation, and smother, and suppress the glory of the divine nature, under a cloud of human, of passible, of inglorious flesh.
So, be his divine nature this head, his sins all our sins made his, were gone above his head; and over his head, all those ways, that we considered before, in ourselves ; sicut tectum, sicut fornix, as a roof, as an arch, that had separated between God, and him, in that he prayed, and was not heard; when in that transeat calix, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, the cup was not only not taken out of his hands, but filled up again as fast, as he, in obedience to his Father, drank of it, more and worse miseries succeeding, and exceeding those which he had borne before. They were above him in clamore, in that voice, in that clamour
10 Luke xxiv. 26.
which was got up to heaven, and in possession of his Father's ears, before his prayer came, Father, forgive them, for they are not forgiven that sin of crucifying the Lord of Life, yet. They were above his head, tanquam aquw, as an inundation of waters, then when he sweat water and blood, in the agony, when he, who had formerly passed his Israel through the Red Sea, as though that had not been love large enough, was now himself overflowed with a Red Sea of his own blood, for his Israel again. And they were over his head in dominio, in a lordship, in a tyranny, then when those marks of sovereign honour, a robe, and a sceptre, and a crown of thorns were added to his other afflictions. And so is our first part of this text, the supergressw sunt, the multiplicity of sin, appliable to Christ, as well as to his type, to David, and to us the members of his body.
And so is the last part, that which we handled to-day, too, the gravatw sunt, the weight and insupportableness of sin. They were heavy, they weighed him down from his Father's bosom, they made God man. That one sin could make an angel a devil, is a strange consideration; but that all the sins of the world, could make God man, is stranger. Yet sin was so heavy; too heavy, says the text. It did not only make God man, in investing our nature by his birth, but it made him no man, by divesting that body, by death; and, (but for the virtue, and benefit of a former decree) submitting that body, to the corruption, and putrefaction of the grave; but this was the peculiar, the miraculous glory of Christ Jesus. He had sin, all our sin, and yet never felt worm of conscience; he lay dead in the grave, and yet never felt worm of corruption. Sin was heavy; it made God man; too heavy; it made man no man; too heavy for him, even for him, who was God and man together; for, even that person, so composed, had certain velleitates, (as we say in the School) certain motions arising sometimes in him, which required a veruntamen, a review, a reconsideration, Not my will, 0 my Father, but thine be done; and such, as in us, who are pushed on by original sin, and drawn on by sinful concupiscences in ourselves, would become sins, though in Christ they were far from it. Sin was heavy, even upon him, in all those inconveniences, which we noted in a burden; incurmndo, when he was bowed down, and gave his back to their scourges; fatigando, when his soul was heavy unto death; retardando, when they brought him to think it long, Utquid dereliquisti, Why hast thou forsaken me? and then, prwcipitando, to make that haste to the consummatum est, to the finishing of all, as to die before his fellows that were crucified with him, died; to bow down his head, and to give up his soul, before they extorted it from him.
Thus we burdened him; and thus he unburdened us; et cum exonerat nos onerat, when he unburdens us, he burdens us even in that unburdening: onerat benejicio, cum exonerat peccato. He hath taken off the obligation of sin, but he hath laid upon us the obligation of thankfulness, and retribution. Quid retribuam? What shall I render to the Lord, for all his benefits to me11! is vox onerati, a voice that groans under the burden, though not of sin, yet of debt, to that Saviour, that hath taken away that sin. Exi a me Domine, that which St. Peter said to Christ, Lord depart from me, for I am a sinful man1*, is, says that father, vox onerati, the voice of one oppressed with the blessings and benefits of God, and desirous to spare, and to husband that treasure of God's benefits, as though he were better able to stand without the support of some of those benefits, then stand under the debt, which so many, so great benefits laid upon him: truly he that considers seriously, what his sins have put the Son of God to, cannot but say, Lord lay some of my sins upon me, rather than thy Son should bear all this; that devotion, that says after, Spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, would say before, Spare that Son, that must die, spare that precious blood, that must be shed to redeem us. And rather than Christ should truly, really bear the torments of hell, in his soul, (which torments cannot be severed from obduration, nor from everlastingness) I would, I should desire, that my sins might return to me, and those punishments for those sins; I should be ashamed to be so far exceeded in zeal, by Moses, who would have been blotted out of the book of life, or by Paul, who would have been separated from Christ for his brethren, as that I would not undertake as much, to redeem my Redeemer, and suffer the torments of hell myself, rather than he should; but it is an insupportable burden
11 Psalm cxvi. 12. 1* Luke v. 8.
of debt, that he hath laid upon me, by suffering that which he suffered, without the torments of hell. Those words, Vis sanus fieri, Hast thou a desire to be well, and a faith that I can make thee well? Sltovox exonerantis, the words of him that would take off our burden; but then, the Tolle grabatum et ambula, Take up thy bed and walk, this is vox onerantis, the voice of Christ, as he lays a new burden upon us; ut quod prius suave, jam onerosum sit, that bed which he had ease in before, must now be borne with pain; that sin which was forgotten with pleasure, must now be remembered with contrition, Christ speaks not with a vacuity nor of a levity; when he takes off one burden, he lays on another, nay, two for one. He takes off the burden, of irremediableness, of irrecoverableness, and he reaches out his hand, in his ordinances, in his word and sacraments, by which we may be disburdened of all our sins; but then he lays upon us, onus resipiscentiw, the burden of repentance for ourselves, and onus gratitudinis, the burden of retribution, and thankfulness to him, in them who are his, by our relieving of them, in whom he suffers. The end of all, (that we may end all in endless comfort) is, that our word in the original, in which the Holy Ghost spoke, is jikkebedu, which is not altogether, as we read them, graves sunt, but graves fieri: not that they are, but that they were as a burden, too heavy for me; till I could lay hold upon a Saviour to sustain me, they were too heavy for me: and by him I can run through a troop (through the multiplicity of my sins,) and by my God I can leap over a wall"; though mine iniquities be got over my head, as a wall of separation, yet in Christo omnia possum, in Christ I can do all things; mine iniquities are got over my head; but my head is Christ; and in him, I can do whatsoever he hath done, by applying his sufferings to my soul for all; my sins are his, and all his merit is mine: and all my sins shall no more hinder my ascending into heaven, nor my sitting at the right hand of God, in mine own person, than they hindered him, who bore them all in his person, mine only Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, blessed for ever.
13 Psalm xviii. 29.