PREACHED AT A CHRISTENING.
1 John V. 7, 8.
For there are three which bear record in heaven ; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one: and there are three which bear record in the earth; the spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one.
In great and enormous offences, we find that the law, in a wellgoverned state, expressed the punishment upon such a delinquent in that form, in that curse, Igni et aqua interdicitor; Let him have no use of fire, and water, that is, no use of anything, necessary for the sustentation of life. Beloved, such is the miserable con
"John xv. 3.
dition of wretched man, as that we come all into the world under the burden of that curse; Aqua, et igni interdicimur; We have nothing to do, naturally, with the spiritual water of life, with the fiery beams of the Holy Ghost, till he that hath wrought our restitution from this banishment, restore us to this water, by pouring out his own blood, and to this lively fire, by laying himself a cold, and bloodless carcass in the bowels of the earth: till he who baptized none with water, direct his church to do that office towards us; and he without whom, none was baptized with fire, perfect that ministerial work of his church with the effectual seals of his grace; for this is his testimony, the witness of his love.
Yea, that law, in cases of such great offences, expressed itself in another malediction, upon such offenders, appliable also to us, intestabiles sunto, let them be intestable. Now, this was a sentence, a condemnation so pregnant, so full of so many heavy afflictions, as that he, who by the law was made intestable, was all these ways intestable: first, he was able to make no testament of his own, he had lost all his interest in his own estate, and in his own will; secondly, he could receive no profit by any testament of any other man, he had lost all the effects of the love, and good disposition of other men to him; thirdly, he was intestable, so, as that he could not testify, he should not be believed in the behalf of another; and lastly the testimony of another could do him no good, no man could be admitted to speak for him. After that first, and heavy curse of Almighty God upon man, Morte morieris, If thou eat, thou shalt die, and die twice, thou shall die a bodily, thou shalt die a spiritual death (a punishment which no sentence of any law, or law-maker could ever equal, to deter men from offending, by threatening to take away their lives twice, and by inflicting a spiritual death eternally upon the soul,) after we have all incurred that malediction, Morte moriemur, we shall die both deaths, we cannot think to escape any less malediction of any law, and therefore we are all intestabiles, we are all intestable, in all these senses, and apprehensions, which we have touched upon.
We can make no testament of our own; we have no good thing in us to dispose; we have no good inclination, no good dis
VOL. IV. G
position, in our will; we can make no use of another's testament; not of the double testaments of Almighty God; for in the Old Testament, he gives promises of a Messiah, but we bring into the world no faith, to apprehend those promises; and in the New Testament, he gives a performance, the Messiah is come, but he is communicable to us no way but by baptism, and we cannot baptize ourselves; we can profit nobody else by our testimony, we are not able to endure persecution, for the testimony of Christ, to the edification of others, we are not able to do such works, as may shine before men, to the glorifying of our God. Neither doth the testimony of others do us any good; for neither the martyrdom of so many millions in the primitive church, nor the execution of so many judgments of God in our own times, do testify anything to our consciences; neither at the last day, when those saints of God, whom we have accompanied in the outward worship of God here in the visible church, shall be called to the right hand, and we detruded to the left, shall they dare to open their mouths for us, or to testify of us, or to say, Why Lord, these men, when they were in the world, did as we did, appeared, and served thee in thy house, as we did, they seemed to go the same way that we did upon earth, why go they a sinister way now in heaven? We are utterly intestable; we can give nothing; we can take nothing; nothing will be believed from us, who are all falsehood itself; nor can we be relieved by anything, that any other will say for us. As long as we are considered under the penalty of that law, this is our case; Interdict^ intestabiles, we are accursed, and so, as that we are intestable.
Now as this great malediction, Morte ntorieris, involves all other punishments, (upon whom that falls, all fall) so when our Saviour Christ Jesus hath a purpose to take away that, or the most dangerous part of that, the spiritual death, when he will reverse that judgment, Aqua et igni interdicitor, to make us capable of his water, and his fire; when he will reverse the intestabilei, the intestability, and make us able to receive his graces by faith, and declare them by works; then, as he that will re-edify a demolished house, begins not at the top but at the bottom, so Christ Jesus, when he will make this great preparation, this great re-edification of mankind, he begins at the lowest step, which is, that we may have use of the testimony of others, in our behalf: and he proceeds strongly, and effectually; he produces three witnesses from heaven, so powerful, that they will be heard, they will be believed; and three witnesses on earth, so near us, so familiar, so domestic as that they will not be denied, they will not be discredited; there are three that bear record in heaven, and three that bear record in earth.
Since then Christ Jesus makes us all our own jury, able to conceive, and judge upon the evidence, and testimony of these three heavenly, and three earthly witnesses, let us draw near, and hearken to the evidence, and consider three things; testimonium esse, quid sit, and qui testes. That God descends to means proportionable to man; he affords him witness; and secondly, the matter of the proof, what all these six witnesses testify, what they establish; thirdly, the quality, and value of the witnesses, and whether the matter be to be believed, for their sakes, and for their reasons. God requires nothing of us, but testimony: for martyrdom is but that; a martyr is but a witness. God offers us nothing without testimony: for his Testament is but a witness. Teste ipso, is shrewd evidence; when God says, / will speak, and I will testify against thee; I am God, even thy God1: when the voice of God testifies against me in mine own conscience. It is more pregnant evidence than this, when his voice testifies against me in his word, in his Scriptures: The Lord testified against Israel, by all the prophets and by all the seers*. When I can never be alone,(but that God speaks in me, but speaks against me; when I can never open his book, but the first sentence mine eye is upon, is a witness against me, this is fearful evidence. But in this text, we are not in that storm, for he hath made us testabiles, that is, ready to testify for him, to the effusion of our blood; and testabiles, that is, fit to take benefit by the testament, that he hath made for us, the effusion of his blood; which is our second branch: what is testified for us, what these witnesses establish.
First then, that which a sinner must be brought to understand, and believe, by the strength of these witnesses, is integritas Christi; not the integrity, as it signifies the innocency of Christ;
1 Psalm L. 7. s 2 Kings xvii. 13.
but integrity, as it signifies entireness, not as it is integer vitw, but Integra vita; not as he kept an integrity in his life, but as he only, is entirely our life. That Christ was a person composed of those two natures, divine and human, whereby he was a fit, and a full satisfaction for all our sins, and by death could be our life: for when the apostle writ this epistle, it seems there had been a schism, not about the mystical body of Christ, the church, but even about the natural; that is to say, in the person of Christ, there had been a schism, a separation of his two natures: for as we see certainly before the death of this apostle, that the heresy of Ebion and of Cerinthus, (which denied the divine nature of Christ) was set on foot, (for against them purposely was the Gospel of St. John written) so by Epiphanius's ranking of the heresies, as they arose, where he makes Basilides's heresy, (which denied that Christ had any natural body) to be the fourth heresy, and Ebion's to be the tenth, it seems, that they denied his humanity, before they denied his divinity. And therefore it is well collected, that this epistle of St. John, being written long before his gospel, was written principally, and purposely against the opposers of Christ's humanity, but occasionally also, in defence of his divine nature too. Because there is solutio Jesu, a dissolving of Jesus, a taking of Jesus in pieces, a dividing of his natures, or of his offices, which overthrows all the testimonies of these six great witnesses, when Christ said, Solvite templum hoc, Destroy, dissolve this temple, and in three days I will raise it, he spoke that but of his natural body; there was solutio corporis, Christ's body and soul were parted, but there was not solutio Jesu; the divine nature parted not from the human, no not in death, but adhered to, and accompanied the soul, even in hell, and accompanied the body in the grave.
And therefore, says the apostle, Omnis spiritus qui solvit Jesum, ex Deo non est', (for so Ireneeus, and St. Augustine, and St. Cyril with the Grecians, read those words) That spirit which receives not Jesus entirely, which dissolves Jesus and breaks him in pieces, that spirit is not of God. All this then is the subject of this testimony; first that Christ Jesus is come in the flesh4; (there is a recognition of his human nature) and then that this
Jesus is the Son of God5; (there is a subscription to his divine nature:) he that separates these, and thereby makes him not able, or not willing to satisfy for man, he that separates his nature, or he that separates the work of the redemption, and says, Christ suffered for us only as man, and not as God, or he that separates the manner of the work, and says, that the passive obedience of Christ only redeemed us, without any respect at all to his active obedience, only as he died, and nothing as he died innocently, or he that separates the perfection, and consummation of the work, from his work, and finds something to be done by man himself, meritorious to salvation, or he that separates the prince, and the subject, Christ and his members, by nourishing controversies in religion, when they might be well reconciled, or he that separates himself from the body of the church, and from the communion of saints, for the fashion of the garments, for the variety of indifferent ceremonies, all these do solvere Jesum, they slacken, they dissolve that Jesus, whose bones God provided for, that they should not be broken, whose flesh God provided for, that it should not see corruption, and whose garments God provided, that they should not be divided.
There are other luxations, other dislocations, of Jesus, when we displace him for any worldly respect, and prefer preferment before him; there are other woundings of Jesus, in blasphemous oaths, and execrations; there are other maimings of Jesus, in pretending to serve him entirely, and yet retain one particular beloved sin still; there are other rackings, and extendings of Jesus when we delay him and his patience to our deathbed, when we stretch the string so far, that it cracks there, that is, appoint him to come then, and he comes not; there are other dissolutions of Jesus, when men will melt him, and pour him out, and mould him up in a wafer-cake, or a piece of bread; there are other annihilations of Jesus when men will make him, and his sacraments, to be nothing but bare signs; but all these will be avoided by us, if we be gained by the testimony of these six witnesses, to hold fast that integrity, that entireness of Jesus, which is here delivered to us by this apostle.
In which wo believe first Jesum, a Saviour: which implies his love, and his will to save us; and then we believe Christum, the Anointed, that is, God and man, able, and willing to do this great work, and that ho is anointed, and sealed for that purpose; and this implies the the decree, contract, and bargain, of acceptation by the Father, that pactum salis, that eternal covenant which seasons all, by which, that which he meant to do, as he was Jesus, should be done, as he was Christ. And then as the entireness of Jesus is expressed, in the verse before the text, we believe, quod venit, that as all this might be done, if the Father and Son would agree, as all this must be done, because they had agreed it, so all this was done, quia venit, because this Jesus was already come; and that, for the further entireness, for the perfection, and consummation, and declaration of all, Venit per aquam et sanguinem, He came by water, and blood.
Which words St. Bernard understands to imply but a difference between the coming of Christ, and the coming of Moses; who was drawn out of the water, and therefore called by that name of Moses. But before Moses came to be a leader of the people, he passed through blood too, through the blood of the Egyptian, whom he slew; and much more when he established all their bloody sacrifices, so that Moses came not only by water. Neither was the first Testament ordained without blood6. Others understand the words only to put a difference between John Baptist, and Christ: because John Baptist is still said to baptize with water. Because he should be declared to Israel; therefore am I come, baptizing with water1: but yet John Baptist's baptism had not only a relation to blood, but a demonstration of it, when still he pointed to the Lamb, ecce agnus, for that Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world. So that Christ, which was this Lamb, came by water, and blood, when he came, in the ritual types, and figures of Moses; and when he came in the baptism of John: for in the law of Moses, there was so frequent use of water, as that we reckon above fifty several immunditias, uncleannesses, which might receive their expiation by washing, without being put to their bloody sacrifices for them: and then
eHeb.ix. 18. 7 John i. 31.
there was so frequent use of blood, that almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without shedding of blood, is no remission*. But this was such water, and such blood, as could not perfect the work, but therefore was to be renewed every day. The water that Jesus comes by, is such a water, as he that drinketh of it, shall thirst no more; nay there shall spring up in him a well of water; that is, his example shall work to the satisfaction of others; (we do not say to a satisfaction for others). And then this is that blood, that perfected the whole work at once, By his own blood entered he once into the holy place, and obtained eternal redemption for us'. So that Christ came by water, and blood, (according to the old ablutions, and old sacrifices) when he wept, when he sweat, when he poured out blood; precious, incorruptible, inestimable blood, at so many channels, as he did, all the while that he was upon the altar, sacrificing himself in his passion. But after the immolation of this sacrifice, after his consummatum est, when Christ was come and gone for so much as belonged to the accomplishing of the types of the old law, then Christ came again to us by water and blood, in that wound, which he received upon his side, from which there flowed out miraculously true water, and true blood. This wound St. Augustine calls Januam utriusque sacramenti, The door of both sacraments; where we see he acknowledges but two, and both presented in this water and blood: and so certainly do most of the fathers, make this wound if not the foundation, yet at least a sacrament of both the sacraments. And to this water, and blood doth the apostle here, without doubt, aim principally; which he only of all the evangelists hath recorded; and with so great asseveration, and assuredness in the recording thereof, He that saw it bare record, and his record is true, and he knoweth that he saith truth, that ye might believe it10. Here then is the matter which these six witnesses must be believed in, here is integritas Jesu, quw non solvenda, the entireness of Christ Jesus, which must not be broken, that a Saviour, which is Jesus, appointed to that office, that is, Christ, figured in the law, by ablutions of water, and sacrifices of blood, is come, and hath perfected all
a Heb. ix. 22. 9 Heb. ix. 12. 10 John xix. 35.
those figures in water, and blood too; and then, that he remains still with us in water, and blood, by means instituted in his church, to wash away our uncleannesses, and to purge away our iniquities, and to apply his work unto our souls; this is integritas Jesu, Jesus the Son of God in heaven, Jesus the Redeemer of man, upon earth, Jesus the head of a church to apply that to the end, this is integritas Jesu; all that is to be believed of him.
Take thus much more, that when thou comest to hearken what these witnesses shall say to this purpose, thou must find something in their testimony, to prove him to be come not only into the world, but into thee; he is a mighty prince, and hath a great train; millions of ministering spirits attend him, and the whole army of martyrs follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes: though the whole world be his court, thy soul is his bedchamber; there thou mayest contract him, there thou mayest lodge, and entertain integrum Jesum, thy whole Saviour. And never trouble thyself, how another shall have him, if thou have him all; leave him, and his church to that; make thou sure thine own salvation. When he comes to thee, he comes by water and by blood; if thy heart, and bowels have not yet melted in compassion of his passion for thy soul, if thine eyes have not yet melted, in tears of repentance and contrition, he is not yet come by water into thee; if thou have suffered nothing for sin, nor found in thyself a cheerful disposition to suffer; if thou have found no wrestling in thyself, no resistance of concupiscences, he that comes not to set peace, but to kindle this war, is not yet come into thee, by blood. Christ can come by land, by purchases, by revenues, by temporal blessings, for so he did still convey himself to the Jews, by the blessing of the land of promise, but here he comes by water, by his own passion, by his sacraments, by thy tears: Christ can come in a marriage and in music, for so he delivers himself to the spouse in the Canticles; but here he comes in blood; which coming in water, and blood (that is, in means for the salvation of our souls, here in the militant church) is the coming that he stands upon and which includes all the Christian religion; and therefore he proves that coming to them, by these three great witnesses in heaven, and three in earth. For there are three which bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and time three are one. And there are three which bear record in the earth; the spirit, and the tcater, and the blood, and these three agree in one.
By the mouth of two, or three witnesses every word shall be confirmed", says Christ out of the law. That is as much as can be required, if any civil, or criminal business; and yet Christ gives more testimony of himself, for here he produces not duos testes, but duas classes; two ranks of witnesses; and the fullest number of each, not two, but three in heaven, and three in earth. And such witnesses upon earth, as are omni exceptione majores, without all exception. It is not the testimony of earthly men; for when St. Paul produces them in abundance, (the patriarch, the judges, the prophets, the elders of the old times; of whom he exhibits an exact catalogue,) yet he calls all them but nubes testium, clouds of witnesses; for though they be clouds in St. Chrysostom's sense, that they invest us, and enwrap us, and so defend us from all diffidence in God, (we have their witness ,what God did for them, why should we doubt of the like?) though they be clouds in Athanasius' sense, they being in heaven, shower down by their prayers, the dew of God's grace upon the church; though they be clouds, they are but clouds; some darkness mingled in them, some controversies arising from them; but his witnesses here, are lux inaccessibilis, that light, that no eye can attain to, and pater luminum, the father of lights, from whom all these testimonies are derived. When God employed a man to be the witness of Christ, because men might doubt of his testimony, God was content to assign him his compurgators; when John Baptist must preach, that the kingdom of God was at hand, God fortifies the testimony of his witness, then, Hic enim est, for this is he of whom that is spoken by the prophet Esay1'; and lest one were not enough, he multiplies them, as it is written in the prophets13. John Baptist might be thought to testify as a man, and therefore men must testify for him; but these witnesses are of a higher nature; these of heaven are the Trinity; and those of earth, are the sacraments and seals of the church. The prophets were full of favour with God, Abraham full of
11 Matt, xviii. 16. 18 Matt. Hi. 3. 13 Matt. i. 2.
faith, Stephen full of the Holy Ghost, many full of grace, and John Baptist a prophet, and more than a prophet, yet never any prophet, never any man, how much soever interested in the favour of Almighty God, was such an instrument of grace, as a sacrament or as God's seals and institutions in his church: and the least of these six witnesses, is of that nature, and therefore might be believed without more witnesses.
To speak then first of the three first, the Father, the word, and the Holy Ghost, it was but a poor plot of the devil, to go about to rob us of their testimony; for as long as we have the three last, the Spirit, the water, and blood, we have testimony enough of Christ, because God is involved in his ordinance; and though he be not tied to the work of the sacrament, yet he is always present in it. Yet this plot the devil had upon the church: and whereas this first Epistle of St. John was never doubted to be canonical, (whereas both the other have been called into some question) yet in this first epistle, the first verse of this text, was for a long time removed, or expunged, whether by malice of heretics, or negligence of transcribers. The first translation of the New Testament, (which was into Syriac) hath not this verse; that which was first called Vulgata editio, had it not, neither hath Luther it in his German translation: very many of the Latin fathers have it not; and some very ancient Greek fathers want it, though more ancient than they, have it; for Athanasius in the Council of Nice cites it, and makes use of it; and Cyprian, beheaded before that council, hath it too. But now, he that is one of the witnesses himself, the Holy Ghost, hath assured the church, that this verse belongs to the Scripture; and therefore it becomes us to consider thankfully, and reverently, this first rank of witnesses, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.
The Father then hath testified He integritate Christi, of this entireness, that Christ should be all this and do all this, which we have spoken of, abundantly: he began before Christ was born; in giving his name, Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from sin14. Well; how shall this person be capable to do this office of saving his people from sin? Why, in him, says God the Father, (in the representation of an angel)
14 Matt. i. 21.
shall be fulfilled that prophecy, A virgin shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Emanuel, which is by interpretation God with us: this seems somewhat an uncertain testimony, of a man, with an alias dictus, with two names. God says he shall be called Jesus, that the prophecy may be fulfilled which says he shall be called Emanuel: but therein consists integritas Christi, this entireness; he could not be J esus, not a Saviour, except he were Emanuel, God with us, God in our nature. Here then is Jesus, a Saviour, a Saviour that is God, and man, but where is the testimony de Christo; that he was anointed, and prepared for this sacrifice; that this work of his was contracted between the Father, and him, and acceptable to him? It is twice testified by the Father; both in Christ's act of humiliation, when he would be baptized by John; when he would accept an ablution, who had no uncleanness, then God says, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased15, he was well pleased in his person, and he was well pleased, in his act, in his office. And he testifies it again in his first act of glory, in his transfiguration; where the Father repeats the same words with an addition, hear himTM: God is pleased in him, and would have men pleased in him too. He testified first, only for Joseph's sake, that had entertained, and lodged some scrupulous suspicion against his wife, the blessed virgin; his second testimony at the baptism, had a farther extent; for that was for the confirmation of John Baptist, of the preacher himself, who was to convey his doctrine to many others; his third testimony in the transfiguration, was larger than the baptism; for that satisfied three, and three such as were to carry it far, Peter, and James, and John: all which no doubt made the same use of his testimony, as we see Peter did, who preached out of the strength of his manifestation, we followed not deceivable fables, but with our own eyes we saw his majesty; for he received of God the Father, honour, and glory, when there came such a voice to him, from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased11. But yet the Father gave a more free, a more liberal testimony of him, than this, at his conception, or baptism, or transfiguration: when upon Christ's
15 Matt. iii. 17.
18 Matt. xvii. 5.
17 2 Pet. i. 16.
prayer, Father glorify thy name, there came a voice from heaven, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again". For this all the people apprehended; some imputed it to thunder, some to an angel; but all heard it; and all heard Christ's comment upon it, That that voice came not for him, but for their sakes; so that when the Father had testified of a Jesus, a Saviour, and a Christ, a Saviour sent to that purpose, and a Son in whom he is pleased, and whom we must hear, when it is said of him, moreover, Gratificavit nos in dilecto10, He hath made us accepted in his beloved, this is his way of coming in water, and blood, that is, in the sacraments of the church, by which we have assurance of being accepted by him; and this is this Integritas Christi, the entireness of Christ, testified by our first witness, that bears record in heaven, the Father.
The second witness in heaven, is verbum, the word: and that is a welcome message, for it is Christ himself: it is not so when the Lord sends a word; The Lord sent a word unto Jacob, and it lighted upon Israel"; there the word is a judgment, and an execution of the judgment: for that word that signifies a word there, in the same letters exactly signifies a pestilence, a calamity; it is a word, and a blow; but the word here, is verbum caro, that word which for our sakes was made ourselves. The word then, in this place, is the second person in the Trinity, Christ Jesus, who in this court of heaven, where there is no corruption, no falsification, no passion, but fair and just proceeding, is admitted to be a witness in his own cause; it is Jesus, that testifies for Jesus now, when he was upon earth, and said, If I should bear witness of myself, my witness were not true, whether we take those words to be spoken, per conniventiam, by an allowance, and concession, (it is not true, that is, I am content that you should not believe my witness of myself to be true) as St. Cyril understood them, or whether we take them, humano more, that Christ as a man, acknowledged truly, and, and as he thought, that in legal proceeding a man's own testimony ought not to be believed in his own behalf, (as Athanasius and St. Ambrose understood them) yet Christ might safely say as he did, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true; why? because I know whence I
18 John xii. 28. "Ephes. i. 6, 80 Isaiah ix. 8.
come, and whither I go*\ Christ could not be singularis testis, a single witness: he was always more than one witness, because he had always more than one nature; God and man; and therefore Christ instructing Nicodemus, speaks plurally We speak, that we know, we testify that we have seen", and you receive not testimonium nostrum, our witness; he does not say my witness, but ours, because although a singular, yet he was a plural person too.
His testimony then was credible; but how did he testify integritatem, this entireness, all that belonged to our faith? All consists in this, that he was Jesus, capable in his nature, to be a Saviour; that he was Christus, ordained, and sent for that office, and then quod venit, that he was come, and come, in aqua et sanguine, in water and blood, in sacraments, which might apply him to us. That he was Jesus a person capable, his miracles testified aloud and frequently: that he was Christ, anointed, and sent for that, his reference of all his actions to his Father testified; both these were enwrapped in that, that he was the Son of God; and that he professed himself upon the earth to be so; for so it appears plainly, that he had plainly done: We have a law, say the Jews to Pilate, and by our law, he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of Godi3. And for the last part, that he came in aqua et sanguine, in water and blood, in such means, as were to continue in the church, for our spiritual reparation, and sustentation, he testified that, in preaching so piercing sermons, in instituting so powerful sacraments, in assuring us, that the love of God expressed to mankind in him, extended to all persons, and all times, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have life everlasting**. And so the words bear record, de integritate, of this entireness, of the whole work of our redemption: and therefore, Christ is not only truly called a martyr, in that sense, as martyr signifies a witness, but he is truly called a martyr, in that sense, as we use the word ordinarily; for he testified this truth and suffered for the testimony of it: and therefore he is called Jesus Christ, martyr, a faithful witness". And there is martyrium, a martyrdom attributed to him, where it is said, Jesus
81 John viii. 14. ** John iii. 11. 83 John xix. 7.
8* John iii. 16. ** Apoc. i. 5.
Christ under Pontius Pilate, witnessed a good confession"; so he was a speaking, and a doing, and a suffering witness.
Now for the third witness in heaven, which is the Holy Ghost; we may contract ourselves in that; for the whole work was his; before Joseph and Mary came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost*1: which (if we take it, as St. Basil, and divers others of the fathers do) that Joseph found it, by the Holy Ghost, that is, the Holy Ghost informed him of it, then here the Holy Ghost was a witness to Joseph, of this conception: but we rather take it (as it is most ordinarily taken) that the angel intimated this to Joseph, that that which was conceived in her, was of the Holy Ghost; and then the Holy Ghost did so primarily testify this decree of God, to send a Jesus, and a Christ, for our redemption, that himself was a blessed and bountiful actor in that conception, he was conceived by him, by his overshadowing. So that the Holy Ghost did not only testify his coming, but he brought him: and then, for his coming in aqua et sunguine, in water and blood, that is, in sacraments, in means, by which he might be able to make his coming useful, and appliable to us, first the Holy Ghost was a pregnant witness of that, at his baptism; for the Holy Ghost had told John Baptist beforehand, That upon whomsoever he should descend, and tarry still, that should be he, that should baptize with the Holy Ghost": and then, according to those marks, he did descend, and tarry still upon Christ Jesus, in his baptism. And after this falling upon him, and tarrying upon him, (which testified his power) in all his life, expressed in his doctrine, and in his sermons, after his death, and resurrection, and ascension, the Holy Ghost gave a new testimony, when he fell upon the apostles in cloven tongues, and made them spiritual channels, in which this water and blood, the means of applying Christ to us, should be conveyed to all nations; and thus also the third witness in heaven, testified de integritate, of this entireness of Jesus.
Of these three witnesses then, which are of heaven, we shall need to add no more, but that which the text adds, that is, that these three are one; that is, not only one in consent, (they all
testify of one point, they all speak to one interrogatory; ad integritatem Christi, to prove this entireness of Christ;) but they are unum essentia, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all one godhead, and so meant and intended to be in this place. And therefore as St. Hierome complained, when some copies were without this seventh verse, that thereby we had lost a good argument for the unity of the three persons, because this verse said plainly that the three witnesses were all one, so I am sorry, when I see any of our later expositors deny, that in this place, there is any proof, of such an unity, but that this unum sunt, (they are one) is only an unity of consent, and not of essence. It is an unthrifty prodigality (howsover we be abundantly provided with arguments, from other places of Scriptures, to prove this unity in trinity) to cast away so strong an argument, against Jew, and Turk, as is in these words, for that, and for the consubstantiality of Christ, which was the tempest, and the earthquake of the primitive church, raised by Arius, and his followers then, and (God knows) not extinguished yet.
Thus much I add of these three witnesses, that though they be in heaven, their testimony is upon the earth; for they need not to testify to one another, this matter of Jesus: the Father hears of it every day, by the continual intercession of Christ Jesus: the Son feels it every day, in his new crucifying by our sins, and in the persecution of his mystical body here: the Holy Ghost hath a bitter sense of it, in our sins against the Holy Ghost, and he hath a loving sense of it, in those abundant seas of graces, which flow continually from him upon us; they need no witnesses in heaven; but these three witnesses testify all this, to our consciences. And therefore the first author, that is observed to have read, and made use of this seventh verse (which was one of the first bishops of Rome89) he reads the words thus, Tres in nobis, There are three in us, which bear witness in heaven; they testify for our sakes, and to establish our assurance, de integritate Jesu; that Jesus is come, and come with means, to save the world, and to save us. And therefore upon these words, St. Bernard collects thus much more, that there are other witnesses in heaven, which testify this work of our redemption,
angels, and saints, all the court, all the choir of heaven testify it; but cwtera nobis occulta, says he, What all they do we know not: but (according to the best dispositions here in this world) we acquaint ourselves, and we choose to keep company with the best, and so not only the poor church upon the earth, but every poor soul in the church, may hear all these three witnesses testifying to him, integrum Jesum suum, that all, which Christ Jesus hath done, and suffered, appertains to him: but yet, to bring it nearer him, in visible and sensible things, there are, tres de terra, three upon earth too.
The first of these three upon earth, is the Spirit: which St. Augustine understands of the spirit, the soul of Christ: for when Christ commended his spirit into the hands of his Father, this was a testimony, that he was verus homo, that he had a soul; and in that he laid down his spirit, his soul, (for no man could take it from him) and took it again at his pleasure, in his resurrection, this was a testimony, that he was verus Deus, true God; and so says St. Augustine, Spiritus, the Spirit, that is anima Christi, the soul of Christ, did testify de integritate Jesu, all that belonged to Jesus, as he was God, and as he was man. But this makes the witnesses in heaven, and the witnesses in earth all one; for the personal testimony of Christ's preaching, and living, and dying, the testimony which was given by these three Persons of the Trinity, was all involved in the first rank of witnesses: those three which are in heaven. Other later men understand by the spirit here, the spirit of every regenerate man; and that in the other heavenly witnesses, the Spirit is Spiritas sanctus, the Spirit that is holy in itself, the Holy Ghost, and here it is spiritus sanctificatus, that spirit of man, which is made holy by the Holy Ghost, according to that, The same Spirit, beareth witness, with our spirit, that we are the children of God3*. But in this sense, it is too particular a witness, too singular, to be intended here: for that speaks but to one man, at once; the spirit therefore here is, Spiritus oris, the word of God, the Gospel; and the preaching, and ministration thereof. We are made ministers of the New Testament of the Spirit, that giveth life": and if the ministration of death were glorious, how shall not the ministration of the
30 Rom. viii. 16. 2 Cor. iii. 6.
Spirit, be more glorious? It is not therefore the Gospel merely, but the preaching of the Gospel, that is this spirit. Spiritus sacerdotis vehiculum Spiritus Dei; the spirit of the minister, is not so pure, as the Spirit of God, but it is the chariot, the means, by which God will enter into you. The Gospel is the Gospel, at home, at your house; and there you do well to read it, and reverence it, as the Gospel; but yet it is not Spiritus, it is not this Spirit, this first witness upon earth, but only there, where God hath blessed it with his institution, and ordinance, that is, in the preaching thereof. The stewardship, and the dispensation of the graces of God, the directing of his threatenings against refractory, and wilful sinners, the directing of his promises to simple, and supple, and contrite penitents, the breaking of the bread, the applying of the Gospel according to their particular indigencies, in the preaching thereof, this is the first witness.
The second witness here is the water, and I know there are some men which will not have this to be understood of the water of baptism; but only of the natural effect of water; that as the ablutions of the old law. by water did purge us, so we have an inward testimony, that Christ doth likewise wash us clean; so the water here, must not be so much as water; but a metaphorical, and figurative water. These men will not allow water, in this place, to have any relation to the sacrament; and St. Ambrose was so far from doubting that water in this place belonged to the sacrament, that he applies all these three witnesses to the sacrament of baptism: Spiritus mentem renovat, all this is done in baptism, says he; The Spirit renews and disposes the mind; Aqua perficit ad lavacrum; The water is applied to cleanse the body; Sanguis spectat ad pretium; and the blood intimates the price, and ransom, which gives force, and virtue to this sacrament: and so also (says he in another place) In sanguine mors, In the blood there is a representation of death, in the water, of our burial, and in the spirit, of our own life. Some will have none of these witnesses on earth to belong to baptism, not the water; and St. Ambrose will have all, spirit, and water, and blood to belong to it.
Now both St. Ambrose, who applies all the three witnesses to Baptism, and those later men which deny any of the witnesses to belong to baptism, do both depart from the general acceptation of
VOL. IV. H
these words, that water here, and only that, signifies the sacrament of baptism. For as in the first creation, the first thing, that the Spirit of God, is noted to have moved upon, was the waters, so the first creature, that is sanctified by Christ's institution, to our salvation, is this element of water. The first thing that produced any living sensible creature was the water; Primus liquor quod viveretedidit; ne miruin sit quod in baptismo, aquw animare noveruntTM; Water brought forth the first creatures, says Tertullian; that we should not wonder, that water should bring forth Christians. The first of God's afflicting miracles in Egypt, was the changing of water into blood33; and the first miracle of grace, in the New Testament, was the changing of water into wine at the marriage. So that water had still been a subject, and instrument of God's conversation with man; so then aqua janua ecclesiw, we cannot come into the church, but by water, by baptism: for though the church have taken knowledge of other baptisms, (baptisma sanguinis, which is martyrdom, and baptisma Jkiminis, which is a religious desire to be baptized when no means can be got) yet there is no other sacrament of baptism, but baptisma fluminis, the baptism of water: for the rest, Conveniunt in causando, sed non in significando, says the school; that is, God doth afford a plentiful retribution to the other baptisms flaminis and sanguinis, but God hath not ordained them to be outward seals, and significations of his grace, and to be witnesses of Jesus's coming upon earth, as this water is. And therefore they that provide not duly to bring their children to this water of life, (not to speak of the essential necessity thereof) they take from them, one of the witnesses, that Jesus is come into them; and (as much as they can) they shut the church door against them, they leave them out of the ark, and for want of this water, cast them into that general water, which overflows all the rest of the world, which are not brought within the covenant, by this water of baptism. For, though in the first translation of the New Testament, into Syriac, that be said in the sixth verse, that Jesus is come per manus aquarum, by the power of waters, manywaters, and in this verse, this witness is delivered in the plural, spirit and waters, (and so, waters in that signification, which
signification they have often in the Scriptures, that is, affliction, and tribulation, be good testimonies that our Lord Jesus doth visit us) though the waters of contrition, and repentant tears be another good testimony of that too, yet that water, which testifies the presence of Jesus so, as that it doth always infallibly bring Jesus with it, (for the sacraments are never without grace) whether it be accepted or no, there it is, that water which is made equal with the preaching of the word, so far as to be a fellow-witness with the Spirit) that is only the sacrament of baptism, without which (in the ordinary dispensation of God) no soul can be surer that Jesus is come to him, than if he had never heard the word preached; he mistakes the Spirit, the first witness, if he refuse the water, the second.
The third witness upon earth, is blood: and that is briefly the Communion of the body, and blood of Jesus, in the Lord's supper. But how is that blood upon earth? I am not ashamed to confess, that I know not how, but the blood of Christ is a witness upon earth, in the sacrament, and therefore, upon the earth it is. Now this witness being made equal with the other two, with preaching, and with baptism, it is as necessary, that he that will have an assurance, that Jesus is come into him, do receive this sacrament, as that he do hear sermons, and that he be baptized. An overvehement urging of this necessity, brought in an erroneous custom in the primitive church: that they would give the sacrament of the body of Christ to children, as soon as they were baptized; yea, and to dead men too. But because this sacrament is accompanied with precepts, which can belong only to men of understanding, (for they must do it in remembrance, and they must discern the Lord's body) therefore the necessity lies only upon such, as are come to those graces, and to that understanding. For they that take it, and do not discern it, (not know what they do) they take it dangerously. But else, for them, to whom this sacrament belongs, if they take it not, their hearing of sermons, and their baptism doth them no good; for what good can they have done them, if they have not prepared themselves for it? And therefore, as the religion of the church holds a stubborn recusant at the table, at the communion-board, as far from her, as a recusant at the pew, that is, a non-communicant as ill
as a not comer, or a not hearer, so I doubt not but the wisdom of the state weighs them in the same balance; For these three agree in o?ie, says the text: that is, first they meet in one man, and then they testify the same thing, that is, integritatem Jesu, that Jesus is come to him in outward means, to save his soul. If his conscience find not this testimony, all theso avail him nothing. If we remain vessels of anger, and of dishonour still, we are under the Vw vobis hypocritis: Woe unto you hypocrites, that make clean only the outside of your cups and platters**. That baptize, and wash your own, and your children's bodies, but not their minds with instructions. When we shall come to say Docuisti in plateis, We have heard thee preach in our streets", we have continued our hearing of thy word, when wo say Manducavimus coram te, We have eat in thy presence, at thy table, yea Manducavimus te, We have eaten thee thyself, yet for all this outward show of these three witnesses, of spirit, and water, and blood, preaching, and baptism and communion, we shall hear that fearful disclaiming from Christ Jesus, Nescio vos, I know not whence you are. But these witnesses ho will always hear, if they testify for us, that Jesus is come unto us; for the Gospel, and the preaching thereof, is as the deed that conveys Jesus unto us; the water, the baptism, is as the seal, that assures it; and the blood, the sacrament, is the delivery of Christ into us; and this is integritas Jesu, the entire, and full possession of him.
To this purpose therefore, as we have found a trinity in heaven, and a trinity in earth, so we must make it up a trinity of trinities, and find a third trinity in ourselves. God created one trinity in us; (the observation, and the enumeration is St. Bernard's) which are those three faculties of our soul, tho reason, the memory, the will; that trinity in us, by another trinity too, (by suggestion towards sin, by delight in sin, by consent to sin) is fallen into a third trinity; the memory into a weakness, that that comprehends not God, it glorifies him not for benefits received; the reason to a blindness, that that discerns not what is true; and the will to a perverseness, that that wishes not what is good; but the goodness of God by these three witnesses on earth regenerates, and re-establishes a new trinity in us, faith, and hope,
84 Matt. xxii. 25. 85 Luke xiii. 20.
and charity; thus far that devout man carries it; and if this new trinity, faith, hope, and charity, witness to us Integritatem Christi, all the work of Christ, if my faith testify to me, that Christ is sealed to my soul; and my hope testify, that at the resurrection I shall have a perfect fruition in soul, and body, of that glory which he purchased for every believer; and my charity testifies to the world, that I labour to make sure that salvation, by a good life, then there is a trinity of trinities, and the six are made nine witnesses: there are three in heaven that testify that this is done for all mankind, three in the church that testify, this may be done for me, and three in my soul, that testify, that all this is applied to me; and then the verdict, and the judgment must necessarily go for me. And beloved, this judgment will be grounded upon this entireness of Jesus, and therefore let me dismiss you with this note, that integritas is in continuitate, not in contignitate; it is not the touching upon a thing, nor the coming near to a thing, that makes it entire; a faggot, where the sticks touch, a piece of cloth, where the threads touch, is not entire; to come as near Christ as we can conveniently, to try how near we can bring two religions together, this is not to preserve integritatem Jesu: in a word, entireness excludes deficiency, and redundancy, and discontinuance; we preserve not entireness, if we preserve not the dignity of Christ, in his church, and in his discipline, and that excludes the defective Separatist; we do not preserve that entireness if we admit traditions, and additions of men, in an equality to the word of God, and that excludes the redundant papist; neither do we preserve the entireness, if we admit a discontinuance, a slumbering of our religion for a time, and that excludes the temporisers, the statist, the politician. And so, beloved, I recommend unto you integritatem Jesu, Jesus, and his truth, and his whole truth, and this whole truth, in your whole lives.