PREACHED AT A CHRISTENING.
Revelations vii. 17.
For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall govern them, and shall lead them unto the lively fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
If our conversation be in heaven^, as the apostle says his was, and if that conversation be, (as Tertullian reads that place) municipatus noster, our city, our dwelling, the place from whence only we receive our laws, to which only we direct our services, in which only we are capable of honours, and offices, where even the office
1 Phil. iii. 20.
of a door-keeper was the subject of a great king's ambition: if our conversation be there, even there, there cannot be better company met, than we may see and converse withal in this chapter. Upon those words, Doth the eagle mount up at thy commandment, or make his nest on high*; St. Gregory says, Videamus aquilam, nidum sibi in arduis construentem*; Then we saw an eagle make his nest on high, when we heard St. Peter say so, Our conversation is in heaven; and then doth an eagle mount up at our commandment, when our sold, our devotion, by such a conversation in heaven, associates itself with all this blessed company that are met in this chapter, that our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ4, and with all the court and choir of the triumphant church. If you go to feasts, if you go to comedies, sometimes only to meet company, nay if you come to church sometimes only upon that errand, to meet company, (as though the house of God, were but as the presence of an earthly prince, which upon solemn festival-days must be filled and furnished, though they that come, come to do no service there) command your eagle to mount up, and to build his nest on high, command your souls to have their conversation in heaven by meditation of this Scripture, and you shall meet company, which no stranger shall interrupt, for they are all of a knot, and such a knot as nothing shall untie, as inseparably united to one another, as that God, with whom they are made one spirit, is inseparable in himself.
Here you shall see the angel that comes from the east5, (yea, that angel which is the east, from whence all beams of grace and glory arise, for so the prophet calls Christ Jesus himself, (as St. Hierome reads that place) Ecce vir, Oriens nomen ejus*, Behold him, whose name is the East) you shall see him come with the seal of the living God, and hold back those angels which had power given them to hurt the sea, and the earth, and you shall hear him say, Hurt not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in the foreheads1. And as you shall see him forward, so you shall see him large, and bountiful in imprinting that seal, you shall see an hundred and forty-four thousand of the tribes of the children of Israel, and you shall see a
* Job xxxix. 27. * Greg. Moral, xxxi. 34. * I John i. 3.
5 Rev. vii. 2. 6 Zech. vi. 12. 1 Rev. vii. 3.
great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, and cry out, and say, Salvation cometh of our God, that sitteth upon them, and of the Lamb: and you shall see all the angels stand round about the throne, and about the elders, and the four beasts, all falling upon their faces, and worshipping God, saying, Amen, praise, and glory, and wisdom, and thanks, and honour, and power, and might be unto our God, for evermore, Amen. And this is good company, and good music.
And lest you should lose any of the joy of this conversation, of this society, by ignorance what they were, one of the elders prevents you; and (as the text says) answers you, saying, What are these that are arrayed in white? he answers by a question, which is somewhat strange; but he answers before any question, which is more strange: but God sees questions in our hearts before he hears them from our lips; and as soon as our hearts conceive a desire to be informed, he gives a full and a present satisfaction; he answers before we ask; but yet he answers by a question, that thereby he may give us occasion of further discourse, of further questioning with him. There, this elder shall tell thee, that those are they which are come out of the tribulations of this world, and have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb; that therefore they are in the presence of the throne of God, that they serve him day and night in the temple, that they shall hunger no more, thirst no more, nor be offended with heat, or sun; that is, as many as are appointed to receive this seal of the living God upon their foreheads, though they be not actually delivered from all the incommodities of this life, yet nothing in this life shall deprive them of the next. For as you see the seal given in this chapter, and the promise of all these blessings annexed to it, so you see in this text the reason of all this, for Tamb which is in the midst of the throne shall govern them, and shall lead them unto the lively fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
In which words, we shall consider for order and distinction, first the matter, and then the form: by the matter we mean the purpose and intention of the Holy Ghost in these words; and by the form, the declaring, the proving, the illustrating, and the heightening of that purpose of his. For the matter, we take this imprinting of the seal of the living God in the forehead of the elect, and this washing in the blood of the Lamb, to be intended of the sacrament of baptism: in that which we call the form, which is the illustrating of this, we shall first look upon the great benefits and blessings which these servants of God so sealed, and so washed, are made partakers of; for those blessings which are mentioned in the verses before, are rooted and enwrapped in this particular of this text, quoniam, for; they arc blessed; for the Lamb shall do this and this for them; and then we shall consider what that is which this Lamb will do for them; first, Reget illos, He shall govern them, take them into his care, make them heirs of the covenant, breed them in a visible church: secondly, Deducet eos, He shall lead them to the lively fountains of waters; give them outward and visible means of sanctification: thirdly, Absterget omnem lachrymam, He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; even in this life he shall settle and establish a heavenly joy in the faithful apprehension of the joys of heaven here.
First then to speak of the matter, that is, of the purpose and intention of these words, it is true, they are diversely understood: they have been understood of the state of the martyrs, which are now come to the possession of their crown in heaven, because they are said to have made their long robes white in the blood of the Lamb; and so St. Augustine and St. Gregory (when, by occasion of the subject which they were then in hand with, they were full of the contemplation of martyrdom, and encouragements to that) do seem to understand these words, of martyrs. But since it is not said that they washed their robes in their own blood, which is proper to martyrs, but in the blood of the Lamb, which is communicated to all that participate of the merit of Christ, the words seem larger than so, and not to be restrained only to martyrs. Others have enlarged them further than so, beyond martyrs: r>n+ yet limit them to the triumphant church; that because it is saiu, that they are come out of great tribulation, and that they are in the presence of the throne of God, and that they shall hunger no more, they see no way of admitting these perfections, in this life. But St. Paul saw a way, when he said of the elect, even in this life, God which is rich in mercy, Convivificavit, conresuscitavit; considere fecit; he hath quickened us, he hath raised us, he hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus': that is, as he is our head, and is there himself, and we with Christ Jesus, as we are his members; we are with him there too. In the same place where the apostle says, that we look for our Saviour from heaven', (there is our future, our expectation) he says also, our conversation is in heaven, there is our present, our actual possession. That is it which St. Augustine intends, Dilexisti me Domine plusquam te; Lord thou hast loved me more than thou hast loved thyself: Not only that thou gavest thyself for me, that thou didst neglect thyself to consider me, but whereas thou hadst a glory with the Father, before the world was made, thou didst admit a cloud, and a slumber upon that glory, and stayedst for thy glory till thy death, yet thou givest us, (naturally inglorious, and miserable creatures) a real possession of glory, and of inseparableness from thee, in this life. This is that copiosa redemptio, there is with the Lord plentiful redemption1*; though that were matura redemptio, a seasonable redemption, if it should meet me upon my deathbed, and that the angels then should receive my soul, to lay it in Abraham's bosom, yet tliis is my Saviour's plentiful redemption, that my soul is in Abraham's bosom now whilst it is in this body, and that I am already in the presence of his throne, now when I am in your sight, and that I serve him already day and night in his temple, now when I meditate, or execute his commission, in this service, in this particular congregation.
Those words are not then necessarily restrained to martyrs, they are not restrained to the state of the triumphant church, they are spoken to all the children of righteousness; and of godliness; and godliness hath the promises of the life present, and that, that is to come". That which involves all these promises, that which is the kernel, and seed, and marrow of all, the last clause of the text, God shall wipe all tears from their eyes, those words, that clause, is thrice repeated in the Scriptures: when it is spoken here, when it is spoken in the one-and-twentieth chapter of the Revelation, and at the fourth verse, in both places, it is derived from the prophet Isaiah", which is an Eucha
8 Ephes. ii. 4, 5. * Phil. iii. 20. 10 Psalm cxxx. 7.
"1 Tim. iv. 8. "Isaiah xxv. 8.
ristical chapter, a chapter of thanksgiving for God's deliverance of his children, even in this world, from the afflictions and tribulations thereof, and therefore this text belongs also to this world.
This imprinting then of the seal in the forehead, this washing of the robes in the blood of the Lamb, St. Ambrose places conveniently to be accomplished in the sacrament of baptism: for this is copiosissima redemption this is the most plentiful redemption, that can be applied to us, not only at last in heaven, nor at my last step towards heaven, at my death, nor in all the steps that I make in the course of my life, but in my first step into the church, nay before I can make any step, when I was carried in another's arms thither, even in the beginning of this life; and so do divers of the later men, and of those whom we call ours, understand all this, of baptism; because if we consider this washing away of tears, as St. Cyprian says, Young children do most of all need this mercy of God and this assistance of man, because as soon as they come into this world plorantes, ac flentes, nihil aliud faciunt, quam deprecantur, they beg with tears something at our hands, and therefore need this abstersion, this wiping. For though they cannot tell us, what they ail, though (if we will enter into curiosities) we cannot tell them what they ail, that is, we cannot tell them what properly, and exactly original sin is, yet they ail something, which naturally disposes them to weep, and beg, that something might be done, for the wiping away of tears from their eyes. And therefore though the other errors of the Anabaptist be ancient, a thousand years' old, yet the denying of baptism to children, was never heard of till within a hundred years, and less. The Arians, and the Donatists did re-baptize those who were baptized by the true Christians, whom they counted heretics; but yet they refused not to baptize children: the Pelagians denied original sin in children; but yet they baptized them. All churches, Greek, and Russian, and Ethiopic, howsoever they differ in the body of the church, yet they meet, they agree in the porch, in limine ecclesia?, in the sacrament of baptism, and acknowledge that it is communicable to all children, and to all men; from the child new born to the decrepit old man, from him that is come out of one mother's womb, to him that is going into another, into his grave, Sicut nullus prohibendus a baptismo, ita nullus est qui non peccato moritur in baptismo, As baptism is to be denied to none, so neither is it to be denied, that all, that are rightly baptized, are washed from sin u. Let him that will contentiously say, That there are some children, that take no profit by baptism, show me which is one of them, and qui testatur de scientia, testetur de modo scientiw; if he say he knows it, let him tell us how he knows that which the church of God doth not know.
We come now to the second part; in which we consider first, this firsl; word, quoniam, for, which is verbum prwgnans, a word that includes all those great blessings, which God hath ordained for them, whom in his eternal decree, he hath prepared for this sealing and this washing. Those blessings, which are immediately before the text, are, that in God's purpose, they are already come out of great tribulation, they have already received a whiteness by the blood of the Lamb, they are already in the presence of the throne of the Lamb, they have already overcome all hunger, and thirst, and heat. Those particular blessings we cannot insist upon; that requires rather a comment upon the chapter, than a sermon upon the text. But in this word of inference, for, we only will observe this: that though all the promises of God in him, are Yea, and Amen1*, certain, and infallible in themselves, though his name, that makes them be amen, (thus saith Amen, the faithful and true witness1') and therefore there needs no better security, than his word, for all those blessings, yet God is pleased to give that abundant satisfaction to man, as that his reason shall have something to build upon, as well as his faith, he shall know why he should believe all these blessings to belong to them who are to have these seals, and this washing. For God requires no such faith, nay he accepts, nay he excuses no such faith, as believes without reason; believes he knows not why. As faith without fruit, without works, is no faith; so faith without a root, without reason, is no faith, but an opinion. All those blessings by the sacrament of baptism, and all God's other promises to his children, and all the mysteries of Christian religion, are therefore believed by us, because they are grounded in
13 Augustine. 14 2 Cor. 1. 20. 15 Rev. iii. 14.
the Scriptures of God; we believe them for that reason; and then it is not a work of my faith primarily, but it is a work of my reason, that assures me, that these are the Scriptures, that these Scriptures are the word of God. I can answer other men's reasons, that argue against it, I can convince other men by reason, that my reasons are true: and therefore it is a work of reason, that I believe these to be Scriptures.
To prove a beginning of the world, I need not the Scriptures; reason will evict it forcibly enough against all the world; but, when I come beyond all philosophy, that for Adam's fault six thousand years ago, I should be condemned now, because that fault is naturally in me, I must find reason, before I believe this, and my reason is, because I find it in the Scriptures; Nascimur filii trw, and therefore, Nisi renatus, We are born children of wrath, and therefore must be born again. That a Messiah should come to deliver mankind from this sin, and all other sins, my reason is, the semen mulieris, the seed of the woman, for the promise, and the ecce agnus Dei, behold the Lamb of God, for the performance. That he should come, I rest in that, The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head; and that he is come, I rest in this, that John Baptist showed the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. That this merit of his should be applied to certain men, my reason is in the semini tuo, God's covenant, to Abraham, and to his seed; that we are of that number, included in that covenant to Abraham, my reason is, in spiritu adoptionis, the Spirit of adoption hath engrafted us, inserted us into the same covenant. When my reason tells me that the seal of that covenant, circumcision, is gone, (I am not circumcised, and therefore might doubt) my reason tells me too, that in the Scriptures, there is a new seal, baptism: when my reason tells me, that after that regeneration, I have degenerated again, I have fallen from those graces which I received in baptism, my reason leads me again to those places of Scripture, where God hath established a church for the remission and absolution of sins. If I have been negligent of all these helps, and now my reason begins to work to my prejudice, that I begin to gather and heap up all those places of the law, and prophets, and Gospel, which threaten certain condemnation unto such sinners, as I find myself to be, yet if my reason can see light at the nolo mortem peccatoris, at the quandocunque resipiscet; that God would not the death of any sinner, that no time is unseasonable for repentance: that scatters the clouds of witnesses again; and so till my reason can tell me, (which it can never do) that it hath found places in Scripture, of a measure, and finiteness in God, (that his mercy can go no farther) and then of an infiniteness in man (that his sin can go beyond God) my reason will defend me from desperation; I mean the reason, that is grounded upon the Scripture; still I shall find there, that quia, which David delighted in so much, as that he repeats it almost thirty times, in one Psalm, For his mercy endureth for ever.
God leaves no way of satisfaction unperformed unto us; sometimes he works upon the phantasy of man; as in those often visions, which he presented to his prophets in dreams; sometimes he works upon the senses, by preparing objects for them; so he filled the mountain round about with horses, and chariots, in defence of Elisha"; but always he works upon our reason; he bids us fear no judgment, he bids us hope for no mercy, except it have a quia, a reason, a foundation, in the Scriptures. For God is logos, speech and reason: he declares his will by his word, and he proves it, he confirms it; he is Logos, and he proceeds logically. It is true, that we have a sophistry, which as far as concerns our own destruction, frustrates his logic; if Peter make a quia, a reason why his fellows could not be drunk, because it was but nine o'clock", we can find men that can overthrow that reason, and rise drunk out of their beds; if Christ make a quia, a reason against fashionable and circumstantial Christians, that do sometimes some offices of religion, out of custom, or company, or neighbourhood, or necessity, because no man pieceth an old garment with new cloth, nor puts new wine into old vesselsTM, yet since St. Augustine says well, Carnalitas vetustas, gratia novitas, Our carnal delights, are our old garments, and those degrees and beams of grace, which are shed upon us, are the new, we do piece this old with this new, that is, long habits of sin, with short repentances, flames of concupiscence, with little sparks of
"2 Kings vi. 17.
17 Acts ii. 15.
18 Matt. ix. 16, 17.
remorse; and into old vessels, (our sin-worn bodies) we put in once a-year, some drops, of new wine, of the blood of our Saviour Christ Jesus, in the Sacrament, (when we come to his table, as to a vintage, because of the season, and we receive by the almanack, because it is Easter) and this new wine so taken in, breaks the vessels, (as Christ speaks in that similitude) and his breaking shall be, as the breaking of a potters pot, which is broken without pity, and in the breaking thereof is not found a sherd, to take fire at the hearth, nor to take water out of the pit1*; no way in the church of God, to repair that man, because he hath made either a mockery, or at best, but a civil action of God's institution in the church. To conclude this, all sin is but fallacy and sophistry; religion is reason and logic; the devil hides, and deludes, Almighty God demonstrates and proves: that fashion of his goes through all his precepts, through all his promises, which is in Isaiah, Come now, and let us reason together**; that which was in Job, is abundantly in God, That he did not contemn the judgment of his servant, nor of his maid, when they did contend with him". Nec decet Dei judicium quicquid habere affine tyrannidi**, we may not think that there is anything in God, like a Tyrant; and it is a tyrannical proceeding, as to give no reason of his cruelties, so to give no assurance of his benefits; and therefore God seals his promises with a quia, a reason, an assurance.
Now much of the strength of the assurance, consists in the person, whose seal it is; and therefore as Christ did, we ask next, Gujus inscriptio, whose image, whose inscription is upon his seal, who gives this assurance? And it is the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne; if it were the lion, the lion of the tribe of Juda, is able to perform his promises: but there are more than Christ, out of this world, that bear the lion; the devil is a lion too, that seeketh whom he may devour: but he never seals with that Lamb, with any impression of humility; to a lamb he is never compared; in the likeness of a lamb he is never noted to have appeared, in all the legends.
It is the Lamb, that is in the midst, thereby disposed to shed, and dispense his spiritual benefits on all sides; the Lamb is not
19 Isaiah xxx. 14. *> Isaiah i. 18.
*1 Job xxxi. 13. Basil.
immured in Rome, not coffined up in the ruins, and rubbish of old walls, nor thrust into a corner in conventicles. The Lamb is in the midst; and he is in the midst of the throne; though all his great, and glorious company be round about him, one hundred and forty-four thousand Israelites, innumerable multitudes of all nations, angels, and elders, yet it is the Lamb, that is in the midst of them, and not they that are about him, that sheds down these blessings upon us; and it is the Lamb, that is there still, in the midst of the throne; not kneaded into an Agnus Dei, of wax, or wafer here, not called down from heaven, to an altar, by every priest's charm, to be a witness of secrecy in the Sacrament, for every bloody and seditious enterprise, that they undertake; it is Agnus qui est in medio throni, the Lamb that is there, and shall be so, till he come at last, as a lion also, to devour them, who have made false opinions of him to serve their mischievous purposes here.
This is the person then, that gives the assurance, that all these blessings belong to them who are ordained to be so sealed, and so washed; this is he that assures us, and approves to us, that all this shall be first, Quia reget, because he shall govern them; secondly, Quia deducet, because he shall lead them to the fountains of waters; thirdly, Quia absterget, because he shall wipe all tears from their eyes.
First, he shall govern them; he shall establish a spiritual kingdom for them in this world; for to govern, which is the word, of the first translation, and to feed, which is in the second, is all one in Scriptures. Dominabitur gentium, He shall be the lord of the Gentiles; but Bex Israelis, He shall govern his people Israel, as a king, by a certain, and a clear law; so that, as we shall have interest in the covenant, as well as the Israelites, so we shall have interest in that glorious acclamation of theirs; Unto what nation are their gods come so near unto them, as the Lord our God is come near unto us; what nation hath laws, and ordinances so righteous as we have? for in that St. Paul and Barnabas express the heaviest indignation of God upon the Gentiles, that God suffered the Gentiles to walk in their own ways33; he showed them not his ways, he settled no church, no kingdom, amongst them, he did not govern them. Except one of those eight persons
Acts xiv. 16.
whom God preserved in the ark, were here to tell us the inexpressible comfort, that he conceived in his safety, when he saw that flood wash away princes from their thrones, misers from their bags, lovers from their embracements, courtiers from their wardrobes, no man is able to express that true comfort, which a Christian is to take, even in this, that God hath taken him into his church, and not left him in that desperate, and irremediable inundation of idolatry, and paganism, that overflows all the world beside. For, beloved, who can express, who can conceive that strange confusion, which shall overtake and oppress those infinite multitudes of souls, which shall be changed at the last day, and shall meet Christ Jesus in the clouds, and shall receive an irrevocable judgment, of everlasting condemnation, out of his mouth, whose name they never heard of before; that must be condemned by a judge, of whom they knew nothing before, and who never had before any apprehension of torments of hell, till by that lamentable experience they began to learn it? What blessed means of preparation against that fearful day doth he afford us, even in this, that he governs us by his law, delivered in his church.
The first thing that the householder in the parable is noted to have done for his vineyard, was, Sepe circumdedit, He hedged it in**. That, God hath done for us, in making us his church; he hath inlaid us, he hath hedged us in. But he that breaketh the hedge, a serpent shall bite him"; he that breaketh this hedge, the peace of the church, by his schism, the old serpent hath bitten, and poisoned him, and shall bite worse hereafter: and if God, having thus severed us, and hedged us in, have expected grapes, and we bring none, though we break no hedge here amongst ourselves, that is, no papist breaks in upon us, no separatist breaks out from us, we enjoy security enough, yet even for our own barrenness, God will take away the hedge, and it shall be eaten up, he will break the wall, and it shall be trodden down*6. Surely, says the prophet there, the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant plant: surely we are the church, which God hath hedged in; but yet if we
answer not his expectation, certainly the confusion of the Gentiles, at the last day, (when they shall say to themselves of Christ, Nescivi te,dost thou condemn us, and we know thee not?) shall not be so great, as our confusion shall be, when we shall hear Christ say to us, whom he bred in his church, Nescio vos, I know not whence you are. Even this, that the ill use of this mercy of having been bred in his church, shall aggravate our condemnation then, shows the great benefit, which we may receive now by this quod regit nos, that he takes care of us in his church; for how many in the world would have lived ten times more Christianly than we do, if they had but half that knowledge of Christ, which we have?
When he hath then brought us into his kingdom, that we are his subjects, (for all the heathen are in the condition of slaves) he brings us nearer, into his service; he gives us outward distinctions, liveries, badges, names, visible marks in baptism: yea he incorporates us more inseparably to himself, than that which they imagine to be done in the church of Rome, where their canonists say, that a cardinal is so incorporated in the pope, he is so made one flesh and blood with him, as that he may not let blood without his leave, because he bleeds not his own, but the pope's blood; but of us it is true, that by this Sacrament we are so incorporated into Christ, that in all our afflictions after we fulfil the sufferings of Christ in our flesh, and in all afflictions, which we lay upon any of our Christian brethren, our consciences hear Christ crying unto us, Quid me persequeris? why persecutest thou me! Christ's body is wounded in us, when we suffer, Christ's body is wounded by us, when we violate the peace of the church, or offend the particular members thereof.
First then deducet, he shall lead them, it is not he shall force them, he shall thrust them, he shall compel them; it implies a gentle, and yet an effectual way, he shall lead them. Those which come to Christianity, from Judaism, or Gentilism, when they are of years of discretion, he shall lead them by instruction, by catechism, by preaching of his word, before they be baptized, for they are of years and are baptized, without the word, that is, without understanding, or considering the institution, and virtue of baptism, expressed in God's word, and so receive baptism only for temporal, and natural respects, they are not led to the waters, but they fall into them: and so, as a man may be drowned in a wholesome bath, so such a man may perish eternally in baptism, if he take it, for satisfaction of the state, or any other by respect to which that sacrament is not ordained, in the word of God. He shall lead men of years, by instruction: and he shall lead young children in good company, and with a strong guard, he shall lead them by the faith of his church, by the faith of their parents, by the faith of their sureties and undertakers.
He shall lead them; and then, when he hath taken them into his government; for first it is reget, he shall govern them, and then deducet, that is, he shall lead them, in his church; and therefore they that are led to baptism, any other way than by the church, they are misled; nay they are miscarried, misdriven, Spiritu vertiginis", With the spirit of giddiness. They that join any in commission with the Trinity, though but as an assistant, (for so they say in the church of Rome*8; baptism may be administered, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary) they follow not, as Christ led in his church, Non fuit sic ab initio, It was not so from the beginning; for quod extra hos tres est, totum conservum est, though much dignity belong to the memory of the saints of God, yet whosoever is none of the three persons, Conservus est", he is our fellow-servant: though his service lie above stairs, and ours below, his in the triumphant, ours in the militant church, conservus est, yet he, or she, is in that respect, but our fellow-servant, and not Christ's fellow-redeemer. So also, if we be led to Marah, to the waters of bitterness**, that we bring a bitter taste of those institutions of the church for the decency, and signification in sacramental things, things belonging to baptism, if we bring a misinterpretation of them, an indisposition to them, an averseness from them, and so nourish a bitterness, and uncharitableness towards one another, for these ceremonies, if we had rather cross one another, and cross the church, than cross the child, as God showed Moses a tree, which made those waters in the wilderness sweet, when it was cast in, so remember that there is the tree of life, the cross
of Christ Jesus, and his merits, in this water of baptism, and when we all agree in that, that all the virtue proceeds from the cross of Christ, the God of unity and peace and concord, let us admit any representation of Christ's cross, rather than admit the true cross of the devil, which is a bitter and schismatical crossing of Christ in his church: for it is there in his church, that he leads us to these waters.
Well then, they to whom these waters belong, have Christ in his church to lead them; and therefore they need not stay, till they can come alone; till they be of age and years of discretion, as the Anabaptists say: for it is deducet, and deducet eos; generally, universally; all that are of this government, all that are appointed for the seal, all the one hundred andforty-four thousand, all the innumerable multitudes of all nations, Christ leads them all. Be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; for the promise is made unto you, and your children31. Now all promises of God, are sealed in the Holy Ghost; to whomsoever any promise of God belongs, he hath the Holy Ghost; and therefore Numquid aquam quis prohibere potest? Can any man forbid water, that those should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost, as well as we? says St. Peter3*. And therefore the children of the covenant which have the promise, have the Holy Ghost, and all they are in this regiment, deducet eos, Christ shall lead them all.
But whither? Unto the lively, (says our first edition) unto the living, (says our last edition) fountains of waters; in the original, unto the fountains of the water of life: now in the Scriptures nothing is more ordinary, than by the name of waters to design and mean tribulations: so, amongst many other, God says of the city of Tyre, that he would make it a desolate city, and bring the deep upon it, and great waters should cover it33. But then there is some such addition, as leads to that sense; either they are called aquw multw, great waters, or profunda aquarum, deep waters, or absorbebit aqua, whirlpools of waters, or tempestas aquw, tempestuous waters, or aqua fellis, bitter water, (God hath mingled gall in our water3*:) but we shall never read
"Acts ii. 38. 35 Acts x. 47.
33 Ezek. xxvi. 19. 34 Jer. viii. 14.
fontes aquarum, fountains of waters, but it hath a gracious sense, and presents God's benefits. So, They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters"'; so, The water, that I shall give, shall be in him, a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life"; and so, everywhere else, when we are brought to the fountains, to this water, in the fountain, in the institution, howsoever we puddle it with impertinent questions in disputation, howsoever we foul it with our sins, and ill conversation, the fountain is pure; baptism presents, and offers grace, and remission of sins to all.
Nay, not only this fountain of water, but the greatest water of all, the flood itself, St. Basil understands, and applies to baptism, as the apostle himself does37; baptism was a figure of the flood, and the ark, for upon that place, The Lord sitteth upon the flood, and the Lord doth remain king for ever3*, he says, Baptismi gratiam diluvium nominat, nam delet et purgat; David calls baptism the flood, because it destroys all that was sinful in us; and so also he refers to baptism, those words, (when David had confessed his sins) / thought I would confess against myself my wickedness, unto the Lord; and when it is added, Surely in the flood of great waters, they shall not come near him, Peccato non appropinquabunt, says he, original sin shall not come near him, that is truly baptized; nay all the actual sins in his future life, shall be drowned in this baptism, as often, as he doth religiously, and repentantly consider, that in baptism, when the merit of Christ was communicated to him, he received an antidote against all poison, against all sin, if he applied them together, sin and the merit of Christ; for so also he says, of that place, God will subdue all our iniquities, and cast our sins into the bottom of the sea*'. Hoc est, in mare baptismi, says Basil, Into the sea of baptism: there was a brazen sea in the temple*0; and there is a golden sea in the church of Christ, which is baptisterium, the font, the sea, into which God flings all their sins, who rightly, and effectually receive that sacrament.
These fountains of waters then in the text, are the waters of baptism: and if we should take them also, in that sense, that
85Jer. ii. 13. 38 John iv. 14. "1 Pet. iii. 21.
38 Psalm xxix. 10. 39 Mic. vii. 19, 40 1 Kings vii. 23.
waters signify tribulations, and afflictions, it is true too, that in baptism, (that is, in the profession of Christ,) we are delivered over to many tribulations; the rule is general, Castigat omnes, He hastiseth all; the example, the precedent is peremptory, Oportuit pati, Christ ought to suffer*1, and so enter into glory: but howsoever waters be afflictions, they are waters of life too, says the text; though baptism imprint a cross upon us, that we should not be ashamed of Christ's cross, that we should not be afraid of our own crosses, yet by all these waters, by all these crossways, we go directly to the eternal life, the kingdom of heaven, for they are lively fountains, fountains of life.
And this is intended, and promised, in the last words, Absterget omnem lachrymam, God shall wipe all tears from our eyes; God shall give us a joyful apprehension of heaven, here in his church in this life. But is this a way to wipe tears from the child's face, to sprinkle water upon it? Is this a wiping away, to pour more on? It is the powerful, and wonderful way of his working; for as his red blood, makes our red souls, white, that his redness, gives our redness a candour, so his water, his baptism, and the powerful effect thereof, shall dry up, and wipe away Omnem lachrymam, All tears from our eyes, howsoever occasioned. This water shall dry them up; Christ had many occasions of tears; we have more; some of our own; which he had not: we must weep because we are not so good, as we should be: we cannot perform the law. We must weep, because we are not so good, as we could be; our freewill is lost; but yet every' man finds, he might be better, if he would: but the sharpest, and saltest, and smartest occasion of our tears, is from this, that we must not be so good, as we would be; that the profaneness of the libertine, the reproachful slanders, the contumelious scandals, the scornful names, that the wicked lay upon those, who in their measure desire to express their zeal to God's glory, make us afraid to profess ourselves so religious as we could find in our hearts to be, and could truly be if we might. Christ wept often in contemplation of others; foreseeing the calamities of Jerusalem, he wept over the city: coming to the grave of Lazarus,
he wept with them, but in his own agony in the garden, it is not said that he wept; if we could stop the flood of tears, in our afflictions, yet there belongs an excessive grief to this, that the ungodly disposition of other men, is a slacking of our godliness, of our sanctification too. Christ Jesus for the joy that was get before Mm endured the cross"; we for the joy of this promise, that God will wipe all tears from our eyes, must suffer all this; whether they be tears of compunction, or tears of compassion, tears for ourselves, or tears for others; whether they be Magdalen's tears, or Peter's tears; tears for sins of infirmity of the flesh, or tears for weakness of our faith; whether they be tears for thy parents, because they are improvident towards thee, or tears for thy children, because they are disobedient to thee, whether they be tears for the church, because our sermons, or our censures pinch you, or tears for the state, that penal laws, pecuniary, or bloody, lie heavy upon you, Deus absterget omnem lachrymam, here is your comfort, that as he hath promised inestimable blessings to them, that are sealed, and washed in him, so he hath given you security, that these blessings belong to you: for, if you find, that he hath governed you, (bred you in his visible church) and led you to his fountain of the water of life in baptism, you may be sure, that he will in his due time, wipe all tears from your eyes, establish the kingdom of heaven upon you, in this life, in a holy, and modest infallibility.