PREACHED TO THE EARL OF EXETER, AND HIS COMPANY, IN HIS CHAPEL AT ST. JOHN'S, 13tii JUNE, 1624.
Revelation, vii. 9.
After this, I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
We shall have occasion by and by, to say something of the danger of curiosity, and something of the danger of the broad way, in which, too many walk: we will not therefore fall into either of these faults, at first, we will not be over curious, nor we will not stray, nor cast ourselves into that broad, and boundless way, by entering into those various, and manifold senses, which expositors have multiplied, in the handling of this place, and this part of this book; but we take the plainest way, and that in which, the best meet, and concur, that these words are spoken of the joys, and glory, reserved for them, who overcome the fraud, and the fury, the allurements, and the violences of antichrist; in whom, in that name, and person of antichrist, we consider all supplanters, and all seducers, all opposers of the kingdom of Christ, in us; for, as every man hath spontaneum dwmonem, (as St. Chrysostom speaks) a devil of his own making, (which is, some customary, and habitual sin in him) so every man hath spontaneum antichristum, an antichrist of his own making, some objections in the weakness of his faith, some oppositions in the
pervevseness of his manners, against the kingdom of Christ in himself; and as, if God would suspend the devil, or slumber the devil a day, I am afraid we should be as ill that day, as if the devil were awake, and in action, so if those disputed, and problematical antichrists, eastern and western antichrist, antichrist of Rome, and antichrist of Constantinople, Turk and Pope, were removed out of the world, we should not for all that be delivered of antichrist, that is, of that opposition to the kingdom of Christ, which is in ourselves. This part of the book of the Revelation, is literally, and primarily, the glorious victory of them, who, in the latter end of the world, having stood out the persecutions of the antichrist, enter into the triumph of heaven: and it extends itself to all, by way of fair accommodation, who after a battle with their own antichrists, and victory over their own enemies, are also made partakers of those triumphs, those joys, those glories, of which St. John, in this prophetical glass, in this perspective of visions, saw A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, &c.
We are then upon the contemplation of the joys of heaven, which are everlasting, and must we wring them into the discourse of an hour? of the glory of heaven which is entire, and must we divide it into parts? We must; we will; we do; into two parts; first, the number, the great number of those that shall be saved; and then, the glorious qualities, which shall be imprinted on them, who are saved: first, that salvation is a more extensive thing, and more communicable, than sullen cloistral, that have walled salvation in a monastery, or in a hermitage, take it to be; or than the over-valuers of their own purity, and righteousness, which have determined salvation in themselves, take it to be; for, It is a great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, &c. And then, in the second place, salvation is the possession of such endowments, as naturally invite all, to the prosecution of that, which is exposed and offered to all; that we all labour here, that we may all stand hereafter, Before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, &c.
In the first of these, we shall pass by these steps; first, we shall consider the sociableness, the communicableness of God himself, who gives us the earth, and offers us heaven, and desires to have his kingdom well peopled; he would have many, he would have all, he would have every one of them have all. And then, the first word of the text, (After this) will carry us to the consideration of that which was done before; which was, first, that they which were of this number, were sealed, and then they which were so sealed before, were a great number, one hundred and forty-four thousand; but they who were made partakers of all this after, were innumerable, After this I beheld a great multitude, which no man could number; and therefore we shall shut up that first part with this consideration, what sense, what interpretation may belong unto those places, where Christ says, That the way to heaven is narrow, and the gate strait , of these pieces we shall make up our first part; and for the particulars belonging to the second, we shall fitliest open them, then, when we come to the handling of them.
Our first step then in this first part, is, the sociableness, the communicableness of God; he loves holy meetings, he loves the communion of saints, the household of the faithful: Deliciw ejus, says Solomon, His delight is to be with the sons of men, and that the sons of men should be with him: religion is not a melancholy; the Spirit of God is not a damp; the church is not a grave: it is a fold, it is an ark, it is a net, it is a city, it is a kingdom, not only a house, but a house that hath many mansions in it: still it is a plural thing, consisting of many: and very good grammarians amongst the Hebrews, have thought, and said, that that name, by which God notifies himself to the world, in the very beginning of Genesis, which is Elohim, as it is a plural word there, so it hath no singular: they say we cannot name God, but plurally: so sociable, so communicable, so extensive, so derivative of himself, is God, and so manifold are the beams, and the emanations that flow out from him.
It is a garden worthy of your walking in; come into it, but by the gate of nature: the natural man had much to do, to conceive God: a God that should be but one God: and therefore scattered his thoughts upon a multiplicity of gods: and he found it, (as he thought) reasonable, to think, that there should be a god of justice, a god of wisdom, a god of power, and so made the several attributes of God, several gods, and thought that one god might have enough to do, with the matters of justice, another with the causes that belonged to power, and so also, with the courts of wisdom: the natural man, as he cannot conceive a vacuity, that any thing should be empty, so he cannot conceive that any one thing, though that be a God, should fill all things: and therefore strays upon a plurality of gods, upon many gods, though, in truth, (as Athanasius expresses it) Ex multitudine numinum, nullitas numinum, He that constitutes many gods destroys all God; for no god can be God, if he be not all-sufficient; yet naturally, (I mean in such nature, as our nature is) a man does not easily conceive God to be alone, to be but one; he thinks there should be company in the Godhead.
Bring it farther than so. A man that lies in the dregs of obscured, and vitiated nature, does not easily discern, unicum Deum, a God that should be alone, a God that should be but one God. Reason rectified, (rectified by the word of God) can discern this, this one God. But when by that means of the Scripture, he does apprehend Deum unicum, one God, does he find that God alone? are there not three persons, though there be but one God \ It is true the Romans mistook infinitely, in making three hundred Jupiters; Varro mistook infinitely, in making deos terrestres, and deos cwlestes, sublunary, and superlunary, heavenly, and earthly gods, and deos marinos, and fiuviatiles, sea gods, and river gods, salt, and freshwater gods, and deos mares, and fwminas, he gods, and she gods, and (that he might be sure to take in all) deos certos et incertos, gods, which they were sure were gods, and gods which might be gods, for any thing they knew to the contrary. There is but one God; but yet was that one God ever alone? There were more generations (infinitely infinite) before the world was made, than there have been minutes, since it was made: all that while, there were no creatures; but yet was God alone, any one minute of all this? was there not always a Father and a Son, and a Holy Ghost? And had not they always an acquiescence in one another, an exercise of affection, (as we may so say) a love, a delight, and a complacency towards one another? So, as that the Father could not be without the Son and the Holy Ghost, so as neither Son, nor Holy Ghost could be without the Father, nor without one another; God was from all eternity collected into one God, yet from all eternity he derived himself into three persons: God could not be so alone, but that there have been three persons, as long as there hath been one God.
Had God company enough of himself; was he satisfied in the three persons? We see he proceeded further; he came to a creation; and as soon as he had made light, (which was his first creature) he took a pleasure in it; he said it was good; he was glad of it; glad of the sea, glad of the earth, glad of the sun, and moon, and stars, and he said of every one, it is good; but when he had made all, peopled the whole world, brought all creatures together, then he was very glad, and then he said, not only that it was good, but that it was very good: God was so far from being alone, as that he found not the fulness of being well, till all was made, till all creatures met together, in an host, as Moses calls it; then the good was extended into very good.
Did God satisfy himself with this visible and discernible world; with all on earth, and all between that, and him I Were those four monarchies, the four elements, and all the subjects of those four monarchies, (if all the four elements have creatures) company enough for God? Was that heptarchy, the seven kingdoms of the seven planets, conversation enough for him? Let every star in the firmament, be (so some take them to be) a several world, was all this enough I We see, God drew persons nearer to him, than sun, or moon, or stars, or anything, which is visible, and discernible to us, he created angels; How many, how great I Arithmetic lacks numbers to express them, proportion lacks dimensions to figure them; so far was God from being alone.
And yet God had not shed himself far enough; he had the leviathan, the whale in the sea, and behemoth and the elephant upon the land; and all these great heavenly bodies in the way, and angels in their infinite numbers, and manifold offices, in heaven; but, because angels could not propagate, nor make more angels, he enlarged his love, in making man, that so he might enjoy all natures at once, and have the nature of angels, and the nature of earthly creatures, in one person. God would not be without man, nor he would not come single, not alone to the making of man; but it is Faciamus hominem, Let us, us make man; God, in his whole council, in his whole college, in his whole society, in the whole Trinity, makes man, in whom the whole nature of all the world should meet.
And still our large, and our communicable God, affected this association so, as that having three persons in himself, and having creatures of divers natures, and having collected all natures in man, who consisted of a spiritual nature, as well as a bodily, he would have one liker himself, than man was; and therefore he made Christ, God and man, in one person, creature and creator together; one greater than the Seraphim, and yet less than a worm; sovereign to all nature, and yet subject to natural infirmities; Lord of life, life itself, and yet prisoner to death; before, and beyond all measures of time, and born at so many months, yet circumcised at so many days, crucified at so many years, rose again at so many hours; how sure did God make himself of a companion in Christ, who united himself, in his Godhead, so inseparably to him, as that that Godhead left not that body, then when it lay dead in the grave, but stayed with it then, as closely, as when he wrought his greatest miracles.
Beyond all this, God having thus married soul and body in one man, and man and God, in one Christ, he marries this Christ to the church. Now, consider this church in the type and figure of the church, the ark; in the ark, there were more of every sort of clean creatures reserved, than of the unclean; seven of those, for two of these1: why should we fear, but that in the church, there are more reserved for salvation than for destruction? And into that room (which was not a type of the church, but the very church itself) in which they all met upon Whitsunday, the Holy Ghost came so as that they were enabled, by the gift of tongues, to convey, and propagate, and derive God, (as they did) to every nation under heaven: so much does God delight in man, so much does God desire to unite and associate man unto him; and then, what shall disappoint, or frustrate God's desires and intentions so far, as that they should come to him, but singly, one by one, whom he calls, and wooes, and draws by thousands, and by whole congregations?
Be pleased to carry your considerations, upon another testimony of God's love to the society of man, which is, his despatch
1 Gen. vii. 2.
VOL. IV. 2 P
in making this match, his speed in gathering and establishing this church; for, forwardness is the best argument of love, and dilatory interruptions by the way, arguo no great desire to the end; disguises before, are shrewd prophecies of jealousies after: but God made haste to the consummation of this marriage, between Christ and the church. Such words as those to the Colossians*, (and such words, that is, words to such purpose, there are divers) The Gospel is come unto you, as it is into all the world; and again; It bringeth forth fruit, as it doth in you also; and so likewise, The Gospel which is preached to every creature which is under heaven; such words, I say, a very great part of the ancients have taken so literally, as thereupon to conclude, that in the life of the apostles themselves, the Gospel was preached, and the church established over all the world.
Now will you consider also, who did this, what persons? Cunning and crafty persons are not the best instruments in great businesses, if those businesses be good, as well as great. Here God employed such persons, as would not have persuaded a man, that grass was green, that blood was red, if it had been denied unto them: persons that could not have bound up your understanding, with a syllogism, nor have entendered, or mollified it with a verse: persons that had nothing but that which God himself calls the foolishness of preaching, to bring philosophers that argued, heretics that wrangled, Lucians, and Julians, men that whet their tongues, and men that whet their swords against God, to God.
Unbend not this bow, slacken not these holy thoughts, till you have considered, as well as how soon, and by what persons, so to what doctrine, God brought them. We ask but St. Augustine's question, Quis tantam multitudinem, ad legem, carni et sanguini contrariam, induceret, nisi Deus? Who but God himself, would have drawn the world to a religion so contrary to flesh and blood? Take but one piece of the Christian religion, but one article of our faith, in the same father's mouth; Res incredibilis resurrectio; That this body should be eaten by fishes in the sea, and then those fishes eaten by other men, or that one man should be eaten by another man, and so become both one man, and then
that for all this assimilation, and union, there should arise two men, at the resurrection, lies incredibilis, says he, this resurrection is an incredible thing, Sed magis incredibile, totum mundum credidisse rem tam incredibilem, That all the world should so soon believe a thing so incredible, is more incredible, than the thing itself. That any should believe any, is strange, but more that all such believe all, that appertains to Christianity. The Valentinians, and the Marcionites, pestilent heretics, grew to a great number, Bed vix duo vel tres, de iisdem, eadem docebant, says Irenaeus, Scarce any two or three amongst them, were of one opinion. The Acatians, the Eunomians, and the Macedonians, Omnes Arium parentem agnoscunt, says the same father, They all call themselves Arians, but they had as many opinions, not only as names, but as persons. And that one sect of Mahomet, was quickly divided, and sub-divided, into seventy sects. But so God loved the world, the society and company of good souls, ut quasi una Domus mundus, the whole world was as one well-governod house; similiter credunt quasi una anima, all believed the same things, as though they had all but one soul; constanter prwdicabant, quasi unum os, at the same hour there was a sermon at Jerusalem, and a sermon at Rome, and both so like, for fundamental things, as if they had been preached out of one mouth.
And as this doctrine, so incredible in reason, was thus soon, and by these persons, thus uniformly preached over all the world, so shall it, as it doth, continue to the world's end; which is another argument of God's love to our company, and of his loathness to lose us. All heresies, and the very names of the heretics, are so utterly perished in the world, as that, if their memories were not preserved in those fathers which have written against them, we could find their names nowhere. Irenaeus, about one hundred and eighty years after Christ, may reckon about twenty heresies; Tertullian, twenty or thirty years after him, perchance twenty-seven; and Epiphanius, some a hundred and fifty after him, sixty; and fifty years after that St. Augustine some ninety: yet after all these, (and but a very few years, after Augustine) Theodoret says, that in his time, there was no one man alive, that held any of those heresies: that all those heresies should rot, being upheld by the sword, and that only the Christian religion should grow up, being mowed down by the sword, that one grain of corn should be cast away, and many ears grow out of that, (as Leo makes the comparison) that one man should be executed, because he was a Christian, and all that saw him executed, and the executioner himself, should thereupon become Christians, (a case that fell out more than once, in the Primitive church) that as the flood threw down the courts of princes, and lifted up the ark of God, so the effusion of Christian blood, should destroy heresies, and advance Christianity itself; this is argument abundantly enough, that God had a love to man, and a desire to draw man to his society, and in great numbers to bring them to salvation.
I will not dismiss you from this consideration, till you have brought it thus much nearer, as to remember a later testimony of God's love to our company, in the reformation of religion; a miracle scarce less, than the first propagation thereof, in the Primitive church. In how few years, did God make the number of learned writers, the number of persons of all qualities, the number of kings, in whose dominions the reformed religion was exercised, equal to the number of them, who adhered to the Roman church?
And yet, thou must not depart from this contemplation till thou have made thyself an argument of all this; till thou have concluded out of this, that God hath made love to thy soul, thy weak soul, thy sick, and foul, and sinful soul, that he hath written to thee, in all his Scriptures, sent ambassage to thee, in all his preachers, presented thee, in all his temporal, and spiritual blessings, that he hath come to thee, even in actions of uncleanness, in actions of unfaithfulness towards men, in actions of distrustfulness towards God, and hath checked thy conscience, and delivered thee from some sins, even then when thou wast ready to commit them, as all the rest, (that that God, who is but one in himself, is yet three persons, that those three, who were all-sufficient to themselves, would yet make more, make angels, make man, make a Christ, make him a spouse, a church, and first propagate that, by so weak men, in so hard a doctrine, and in so short a space, over all the world, and then reform that church again, so soon, to such a height) as these, I say, are to all the world, so be thou thyself, and God's exceeding goodness to thee, an argument, that that God who hath showed himself so loath to lose thee, is certainly loath to lose any other soul: but as he communicates himself to us all here, so he would have us all partake of his joy, and glory hereafter; he that fills his Militant church thus, would not have his Triumphant church empty.
So far we consider the accessibleness, the communicableness, the conversation of our good, and gracious God to us, in the general. There is a more special manner intimated, even in the first word of our text, After this; After what? After he had seen the servants of God sealed; sealed: this seal seals the contract between God and man; and then consider how general this seal is: first, God sealed us, in imprinting his image in our souls, and in the powers thereof, at our creation; and so, every man hath this seal, and he hath it, as soon as he hath a soul: the wax, the matter, is in his conception; the seal, the form, is in his quickening, in his inanimation; as, in Adam, the wax was that red earth, which he was made of, the seal was that soul, that breath of life, which God breathed into him. Where the organs of the body are so indisposed, as that this soul cannot exercise her faculties in that man, (as in natural idiots, or otherwise) there, there is a curtain drawn over this image, but yet there this image is, the image of God, is in the most natural idiot, as well as in the wisest of men: worldly men draw other pictures over this picture, other images over this image: the wanton man may paint beauty, the ambitious may paint honour, the covetous wealth, and so deface this image, but yet there this image is, and even in hell itself it will be, in him that goes down into hell: Uri potest in Gehenna, non exuri, says St. Bernard, the image of God may burn in hell, but as long as the soul remains, that image remains there too; and then, thou who wouldest not burn their picture, that loved thee, wilt thou betray the picture of thy Maker, thy Saviour, thy Sanctifier, to the torments of hell? Amongst the manifold and perpetual interpretations of that article, He descended into hell, this is a new one, that thou sentest him to hell in thy soul: Christ had his consummatum est, from the Jews; he was able to say at last, All is finished, concerning them; Shall he never have a consummatum est from thee; never be at an end with thee? Never, if his image must burn eternally in thy soul, when thou art dead, for everlasting generations.
Thus then we were sealed; all sealed; all had his image in our creation, in the faculties of our souls: but then we were all sealed again, sealed in our very flesh, our mortal flesh, when the image of the invisible God, Christ Jesus, the only Son of God, took our nature: for, as the tyrant wished, that all mankind were but one body, that he might behead all mankind at a blow, so God took into his mercy, all mankind in one person: as entirely, as all mankind was in Adam, all mankind was in Christ; and as the seal of the serpent is in all, by original sin, so the seal of God, Christ Jesus, is on us all, by his assuming our natures Christ Jesus took our souls, and our bodies, our whole nature; and as no leper, no person, how infectiously soever he be diseased in his body, can say, Surely Christ never took this body, this leprosy, this pestilence, this rottenness, so no leprous soul may say, Christ never took this pride, this adultery, this murder upon himself; he sealed us all in soul and body, when he took both, and though both die, the soul in sin daily, the body in sickness, perchance this day, yet he shall afford a resurrection to both, to the soul here, to the body hereafter, for his seal is upon both.
These two seals then hath God set upon us all, his image in our souls, at our making, his image, that is his Son, upon our bodies and souls, in his incarnation; and both these seals he hath set upon us, then when neither we ourselves, nor any body else knew of it: he sets another seal upon us, when, though we know not of it, yet the world, the congregation does, in the sacrament of baptism, when the seal of his cross, is a testimony, not that Christ was born, (as the former seal was) but that also he died for us; there we receive that seal upon the forehead, that we should conform ourselves to him, who is so sealed to us. And after all these seals, he offers us another, and another seal, Set me as a seal upon thy heart, and as a seal upon thine arm3, says Christ to all us, in the person of the spouse; in the heart, by a constant faith, in the arm, by a declaratory work; for then we are sealed, and delivered, and witnessed; that is our full evidence, then have
8 Cant. viii. 6
wo made sure our Balvation, when the works of a holy life, do daily refresh the contract made with God there, at our baptism, and testify to the church, that we do carefully remember, what the church promised in our behalf, at that time: for, otherwise beloved, without this seal upon the arm, that is, a steadfast proceeding in the works of a holy life, we may have received many of the other seals, and yet deface them all. Grieve not the Holy Ghost, whereby you are sealed, unto the day of redemption*, says the apostle: they were sealed, and yet might resist the Spirit, and grieve the Spirit, and quench the Spirit, if by a continual watchfulness over their particular actions, they did not refresh those seals (formerly received in their creation, in Christ's incarnation, in their baptism, and in their beginnings of faith) to themselves, and plead them to the church, and to the world, by such a declaration of a holy life. But these seals being so many, and so universal, that argues still, that which we especially seek to establish, that is, the accessiblcness, the communicableness, the sociableness, the affection, (shall I say) the ambition, that God hath, to have us all.
Now how is this extensivencss declared here, in our text? It is declared in the great number of those who were sealed, both before, and after; to the consideration of both which, we are invited, by this phrase, which begins the text, After this: for, before that John saw this, there were one hundred forty four thousand sealed; Is that then, (that one hundred forty four thousand) intended for a small number? If it had been so, it would rather have been said, of such a tribe but twelve thousand, and but twelve thousand of such a tribe; but God as expressing a joy, that there were so many, repeats his number of twelve thousand, twelve times over, of Judah twelve thousand, of Levi twelve thousand, and twelve thousand of every tribe. So that then, we may justly take this number of twelve and twelve thousand, for an indefinite, and uncertain number; and as St. Augustine does, wheresoever he finds that number of twelve, (as the twelve thrones, where the saints shall judge the world, and divers such) we may take that number of twelve, and twelve, pro universitate salvandorum, that that number signifies, all those who shall be
saved. If we should take the number to be a certain and exact number, so many, and no more, yet this number hath relation to the Jews only; and of the Jews, it is true, that there is so long a time of their exclusion, so few of them do come in, since Christ came into the world, as that we may, with St. Augustine, interpret that place of Genesis5, where Abraham's seed is compared both to the stars of heaven, and to the dust of the earth, that the stars of heaven signify those that shall be saved in heaven, and the dust of the earth, those that perish; and the dust of the earth may be more than the stars of heaven; though (by the way) there are an infinite number of stars more than we can distinguish, and so, by God's grace, there may be an infinite number of souls saved, more than those, of whose salvation we discern the ways, and the means. Let us embrace the way which God hath given us, which is, the knowledge of his Son, Christ Jesus: what other way God may take with others, how he wrought upon Job, and Naaman, and such others as were not in the covenant, let us not inquire too curiously, determine too peremptorily, pronounce too uncharitably: God be blessed, for his declaring his good-will towards us, and his will be done his way upon others. Truly, even those places, which are ordinarily understood of the paucity of the Jews, that shall be saved, will receive a charitable interpretation, and extension. God says, in Jeremy6, I will take you, one out of a city, and two out of a family; yet he says, he will do this therefore, because he is married to them; so that this seems to be an act of his love; and therefore, I had rather take it, that God would take a particular care of them, one by one, than that he would take in but one and one: as it is in that place of Esay1, In that day ye shall be gathered one by one, 0 ye children of Israel; that is, in the day of Christ, of his coming to and toward judgment; howsoever they come in but thinly yet, by the way, yet the apostle pleads in their behalf thus, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid*. At this present, says he, there is a remnant; then when they had newly crucified Christ, God had a care of them. God hath given them the spirit of slumber, says he also; it is but a slumber, not a death, not a dead sleep.
Have they stumbled that they should fall? Fall utterly! God forbid. But says he, As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies, for your sakes,- (that is, that room might be made for you the Gentiles) but, as touching election, they are beloved for their fathers' sakes; that is, they have interest by an ancient title, which God will never disannul. And therefore a great part, of the ancient, and later men too, do interpret divers passages of St. Paul, of a general salvation of the Jews, that all shall be effectually wrought upon, to salvation, before the second coming of Christ. I end this, concerning the Jews, with this note, that in all these tribes, which yielded to this sealing, twelve thousand a-piece, the tribe of Dan is left out, it is not said, that any were sealed of the tribe of Dan; many have inquired the reason, and satisfied themselves over-easily with this, that because antichrist was to come of that tribe, that tribe is forsaken. It is true, that very many of the fathers, Ireneeus, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory, (and more than these) have thought so, that antichrist must be of that tribe; but yet, for all that profession, which they make in the Roman church, of adhering to the fathers, one amongst them9, says, Incertum, be the fathers as clear, and as unanimous as they will in it, it is a very uncertain, and a very disputable thing; and another says10, Fabulosum est, be the fathers as earnest, as they will, it is but a poetical and a fabulous thing, that antichrist must come of the tribe of Dan. But he that hath most of the marks of antichrist upon him, of any person in the world now, is thus far of the tribe of Dan; Dan signifies judgment; and he will needs be the judge of all faith, and of all actions too; and so severe a judge, as to give an irrevocable judgment of damnation, upon all that agree not with them, in all points. Certainly, this tribe of Dan, that is, of such uncharitable judges of all other men, that will afford no salvation to any but themselves, are in the greatest danger to be left out, at this general seal; nothing hinders our own salvation more, than to deny salvation to all but ourselves.
This then which was done before, though it concern but the Jews, was in a great number, and was a great argument, of God's sociable application of himself to man, but that which was after,
was more, A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, &c. God's mercy was not confined, nor determined upon the Jews; Other sheep have I, which are not of this fold, says Christ, them also I must bring in: I must; it is expressed, not only as an act of his good will, but of that eternal decree, to which, he had, at the making thereof, submitted himself: / must bring them; Who are they! Many shall come from the east, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven11; from the Eastern church, and from the Western church too, from the Greek church, and from the Latin too, and, (by God's grace) from them that pray not in Latin too, from every church, (so it be truly, and fundamentally a church) Many shall come; How many? a multitude that no man can number: for, the new Jerusalem, in the Revelation1*, (which is heaven) hath twelve gates, three to every corner of the world; so that no place can be a stranger, or lack access to it: nay, it hath (says that text) twelve foundations, Other foundation can no man lay, than that which is laid, Christ Jesu: but that first foundation-stone being kept, though it be not hewed, nor laid alike in every place, though Christ be not preached, nor presented in the same manner, for outward ceremonies, or for proble'matical opinions, yet the foundation may remain one, though it be, in such a sort, varied; and men may come in at one of the twelve gates, and rest upon any of the twelve foundations, for they are all gates, and foundations of one and the same Jerusalem; and they that enter, are a multitude that no man can number.
If then there be this sociable, this appliablo nature in God, this large and open entrance for man, Why does Christ call it a strait gate, and a narrow way13? Not that it is strait in itself, but that we think it so, and, indeed, we make it so. Christ is the gate, and every wound of his admits the whole world. The church is the gate; and In omnem terram, says David, she hath opened her mouth, and her voice is gone over all the world. His word is the gate; and, thy commandment is exceeding broad1*, says David too; his word and his light reaches to all cases, and all distresses. Lata porta diabolus; saith St. Chrysostom.
devil is a broad gate; but he tells us how he came to be so, Non magnitudine potestatis extensus, sed superbiw licentia dilatatus; not that God put such a power into his hands, at first, as that we might not have resisted him, but that he hath usurped upon us, and we have given way to his usurpations: so, says that father, Augusta porta Christus, Christ is a narrow gate, but he tells us also wherein, and in what respect, Non parvitate potestatis exiguus, sed humilitatis ratione collectus; Christ is not a narrow gate, so as that the greatest man may not come in, but called narrow, because he fits himself to the least child, to the simplest soul, that will come in: not so strait, as that all may not enter, but so strait, as that there come in but one at once, for he that will forsake father and mother, and wife, and children for him, cannot enter in. Therefore we call the devil's way broad, because men walk in that, with all their equipage, all thoir sumpters, all their state, all their sins; and therefore we call Christ's way strait, because a man may strip himself of all the inordinate affections, of all desires of ill getting, and of all possessions that are ill gotten. In a word, it is not strait to a man's self, but if a man will carry his sinful company, his sinful affections with him, and his sinful possessions, it is strait, for then he hath made himself a camel, and to a camel heaven-gate is as a needle's eye: But it is better coming into heaven with one eye, than into hell with two"; better coming into heaven without master, or mistress, than into hell for over-humouring of either. There, the gates are not shut all day; says the prophet16, and, there is no night there; and here, if we shut the door, yet Christ stands at the door and knocks11; be but content to open thy door, be but content to let him open it, and he will enter, and be but thou content to enter into his, content to be let in by his preaching, content to be drawn in by his benefits, content to be forced in by his corrections, and he will open his: since thy God would have died for thee, if there had been no man born but thou, never imagine, that he who lets in multitudes, which no man can number, of all nations, fyo., would ever shut out thee, but labour to enter there; ubi non intrat inimicus, ubi non exit amicus1*, where never any that
13 Matt, xviii. !). 16 Isaiah Lx, 11.
"Rev. iii. 20. 18 Augustine.
hates thee, shall get to thee, nor any that loves thee, part from thee.
We have but ended our first part, the assurance which we have from God's manner of proceeding, that religion is not a sullen, but a cheerful philosophy, and salvation not cast into a corner, but displayed as the sun, over all. That which we called at first, our second part, must not be a part, admit it for a conclusion; it is that, and beyond that; it is beyond our conclusion, for it is our everlasting endowment in heaven: and if I had kept minutes enough for it, Who should have given me words for it? I will but paraphrase the words of the text, and so leave you in that, which, I hope, is your gallery to heaven, your own meditations: the words are, You shall stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed teith white robes, and palms in their hands.
First, stabitis, you shall stand; which is not, that you shall not sit, for the saints shall sit and judge the world; and they shall sit at the right hand of God; it is not, that you shall not sit, nor that you shall not lie, for you shall lie in Abraham's bosom: but yet you shall stand, that is, you shall stand sure, you shall never fall, you shall stand, but yet you shall but stand, that is, remain in a continual disposition and readiness to serve God, and to minister to him. And therefore account no abundance, no height, no birth, no place here, to exempt you from standing and labouring in the service of God, since even your glorious state in heaven is but a station, but a standing in readiness to do his will, and not a posture of idleness: you shall stand, that is, stand sure, but you shall but stand, that is, still be bound to the service of God.
Stabitis ante thronum; you shall stand, and stand before the throne; here in the Militant church, you stand, but you stand in the porch, there, in the Triumphant, you shall stand in sancto sanctorum, in the choir, and the altar. Here you stand, but you stand upon ice, perchance in high and therefore in slippery places; and at the judgment you shall stand, but stand at the bar; but when you stand before the throne, you stand, (as it is also added in this place) before the Lamb: who having not opened his mouth, to save his own fleece, when he was in the shearer's hand, nor to save his own life, when he was in the slaughterer's hand, will much less open his mouth to any repentant sinner's condemnation, or upbraid you with your former crucifyings of him, in this world, after he hath nailed those sins to that cross, to which those sins nailed him.
You shall stand amicti stolis, (for so it follows) covered with robes, that is, covered all over: not with Adam's fragmentary rags of fig-leaves, nor with the half-garments of David's servants: though you have often offered God half-confessions, and halfrepentances, yet if you come at last, to stand before the Lamb, his fleece covers all; he shall not cover the sins of your youth, and leave the sins of your age open to his justice, nor cover your sinful actions, and leave your sinful words and thoughts open to justice, nor cover your own personal sins, and leave the sins of your fathers before you, or the sins of others, whose sins your temptations produced and begot, open to justice; but as he hath enwrapped the whole world in one garment, the firmament, and so clothed that part of the earth, which is under our feet, as gloriously as this, which we live, and build upon: so those sins which we have hidden from the world, and from our own consciences, and utterly forgotten, either his grace shall enable us to recollect, and to repent in particular, or (we having used that holy diligence, to examine our consciences so) he shall wrap up even those sins which we have forgot, and cover all with that garment of his own righteousness, which leaves no foulness, no nakedness open.
You shall be covered with robes, all over; and with white robes; that as the angels wondered at Christ coming into heaven, in his ascension, Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth the wine fat1'? They wondered how innocence itself should become red, so shall those angels wonder at thy coming thither, and say, Wherefore art thou white in thine apparel? They shall wonder how sin itself shall be clothed in innocence.
And in thy hand shall be a palm, which is the last of the endowments specified-here. After the waters of bitterness30, they came to seventy (to innumerable) palms; even the bitter waters
were sweetened, with another wood cast in: the wood of the cross of Christ Jesus, refreshes all tears, and sweetens all bitterness, even in this life: but after these bitter waters, which God shall wipe from all our eyes, we come to the seventy, to the seventy thousand palms; infinite seals, infinite testimonies, infinite extensions, infinite durations of infinite glory: go in, beloved, and raise your own contemplations to a height worthy of this glory; and chide me for so lame an expressing of so perfect a state, and when the abundant Spirit of God hath given you some measure of conceiving that glory here, Almighty God give you, and me, and all, a real expressing of it, by making us actual possessors of that kingdom, which his Son, our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen.
END Of THE FOURTH VOLUME.
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