PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S INN, PREPARING THEM TO BUILD THEIR CHAPEL.
Genesis xxviii. 16, 17.
Then Jacob awoke out of his sleep, and said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware. And he was afraid, and said, How fearful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
In these verses Jacob is a surveyor; he considers a fit place for the house of God; and in the very next verse, he is a builder, he erects Bethel, the house of God itself. All was but a drowsi
ness, but a sleep, till he came to this consideration; as soon as he awoke, he took knowledge of a fit place; as soon as he found the place, he went about the work. But to that we shall not come yet. But this text, being a preparation for the building of a house to God, though such a house as Jacob built then, require no contribution, yet because such churches, as we build now, do, we shall first say a little of that great virtue of charity; and then somewhat of that virtue, as it is exercised by advancing the house of God, and his outward worship; and thirdly we shall consider Jacob's steps, and proceedings, in this action of his.
This virtue then, charity, is it, that conducts us in this life, and accompanies us in the next. In heaven, where we shall know God, there may be no use of faith; in heaven, where we shall see God, there may be no use of hope; but in heaven, where God the Father, and the Son, love one another in the Holy Ghost, the bond of charity shall everlastingly unite us together. But charitas in patria, and charitas in via, differ in this, that there we shall love one another because we shall not need one another, for we shall all be full; here the exercise of our charity is, because we do stand in need of one another. Dives et pauper duo sunt sibi contraria; sed iterum duo sunt sibi necessaria1 ,- Rich, and poor are contrary to one another, but yet both necessary to one another; they are both necessary to one another; but the poor man is the more necessary; because though one man might be rich, though no man were poor, yet he could have no exercise of his charity, he could send none of his riches to heaven, to help him there, except there were some poor here.
He that is too fat, would fain divest some of that, though he could give that to no other man, that lacked it; and shall not he that is wantonly pampered, nay, who is heavily laden, and incumbered with temporal abundances, be content to discharge himself of some of that, wherewith he is over-freighted, upon those poor souls, whom God hath not made poor for any sin of theirs, or of their fathers, but only to present rich men exercise of their charity, and occasions of testifying their love to Christ; who having given himself, to convey salvation upon thee, if that conveyance may be sealed to thee, by giving a little of thine
own, is it not an easy purchase? When a poor wretch begs of thee, and thou givest, thou dost but justice, it is his. But when he begs of God for thee, and God gives thee, this is mercy; this was none of thine.
When we shall come to our redde rationem villicationis, to give an account of our stewardship, when we shall not measure our inheritance by acres, but all heaven shall be ours, and we shall follow the Lamb, wheresoever he goes, when our estate, and term shall not be limited by years, and lives, but, as we shall be in the presence of the Ancient of Days, so our days shall be so far equal to his, as that they shall be without end; then will our great merchants, great practisers, great purchasers, great contractors, find another language, another style, than they have been accustomed to here. There no man shall be called a prodigal, but only the covetous man; only ho that hath been too diligent a keeper, shall appear to have been an unthrift, and to have wasted his best treasure, the price of the blood of Christ Jesus, his own soul. There no man shall be called good security, but he that hath made sure his salvation. No man shall be called a subsidy man, but he that hath relieved Christ Jesus, in his sick, and hungry members. No man shall be called a wise steward, but he that hath made friends of the wicked mammon; nor provident merchant, but he that sold all to buy the pearl; nor a great officer, but he that desires to be a door-keeper in the kingdom of heaven.
Now every man hath a key to this door of heaven: every man hath some means to open it; every man hath an oil to anoint this key, and make it turn easily; he may go with more ease to heaven, than he doth to hell. Every man hath some means to pour this oil of gladness and comfort into another's heart; no man can say, Quid retribuam tibi Domine; Lord what have I to give thee? for every man hath something to give God: money, or labour, or counsel, or prayers: every man can give; and he gives to God, who gives to them that need it, for his sake. Come not to that expostulation, when did we see thee hungry, or sick, or imprisoned, and did not minister? Nor to that, Quid retribuam, What can I give, that lack myself? lest God come also to that silence, and weariness of asking at thy hands, to say, as he
says in the Psalm, If I be hungry, I will not tell thee; that though he have given thee abundance, though he lack himself in his children, yet he will not tell thee, he will not ask at thy hands, he will not enlighten thine understanding, he will not awaken thy charity, he will not give thee any occasion of doing good, with that which he hath given thee.
But God hath given thee a key: yea as he says to the church of Philadelphia, Behold I set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it*. Thou hast a gate into heaven in thyself; if thou beest not sensible of other men's poverties, and distresses, yet Miserere animw tuw, Have mercy on thine own soul; thou hast a poor guest, an inmate, a sojourner, within these mud walls, this corrupt body of thine; be merciful and compassionate to that soul; clothe that soul, which is striped and left naked of all her original righteousness; feed that soul, which thou hast starved; purge that soul, which thou hast infected; warm, and thaw that soul, which thou hast frozen with indevotion; cool, and quench that soul, which thou hast inflamed with licentiousness; miserere animw tuw, begin with thine own soul; be charitable to thyself first, and thou wilt remember, that God hath made of one blood, all mankind, and thou wilt find out thyself, in every other poor man, and thou wilt find Christ Jesus himself in them all.
Now of those divers gates, which God opens in this life, those divers exercises of charity, the particular which we are occasioned to speak of here, is not the clothing, nor feeding of Christ, but the housing of him, the providing Christ a house, a dwelling; whether this were the very place, where Solomon's temple was after built, is perplexedly, and perchance, impertinently controverted by many; but howsoever, here was the house of God, and here was the gate of heaven. It is true, God may be devoutly worshipped anywhere; In omni loco dominations ejus benedic anima mea Domino; In all places of his dominion, my soul shall praise the Lord, says David. It is not only a concurring of men, a meeting of so many bodies, that makes a church; if thy soul and body be met together, an humble preparation of the mind, and a reverent disposition of the body, if
8 Rev. iii. 8.
thy knees be bent to the earth, thy hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, if thy tongue pray, and praise, and thine ears hearken to his answer, if all thy senses, and powers, and faculties, be met with one unanime purpose to worship thy God, thou art, to this intendment, a church, thou art a congregation, here are two or three met together in his name, and he is in the midst of them, though thou be alone in thy chamber. The church of God should be built upon a rock, and yet Job had his church upon a dunghill; the bed is a scene, and an emblem of wantonness, and yet Hezekiah had his church in his bed; the church is to be placed upon the top of a hill, and yet the prophet Jeremy had his church in luto, in a miry dungeon; constancy, and settledness belongs to the church, and yet Jonah had his church in the whale's belly; the lion that roars, and seeks whom he may devour, is an enemy to this church, and yet Daniel had his church in the lions' den; aquw quietudinum, the waters of rest in the Psalm, were a figure of the church, and yet the three children had their church in the fiery furnace; liberty and life appertain to the church, and yet Peter and Paul had their church in prison, and the thief had his church upon the cross. Every particular man is himself templum Spiritus sancti, a temple of the Holy Ghost; yea, solvite templum hoc, destroy this body by death, and corruption in the grave, and yet there shall be festum enccvniorum, a renewing, a re-edifying of all those temples, in the general resurrection: when we shall rise again, not only as so many Christians, but as so many Christian churches, to glorify the apostle, and high-priest of our profession, Christ Jesus3, in that eternal Sabbath. In omni loco dominationis ejus, Every person, every place is fit to glorify God in.
God is not tied to any place; not by essence; Implet, et continendo implet*, God fills every place, and fills it by containing that place in himself; but he is tied by his promise to a manifestation of himself, by working in some certain places. Though God were long before he required, or admitted a sumptuous temple, (for Solomon's temple was not built, in almost five hundred years after their return out of Egypt) though God were content to accept their worship, and their sacrifices, at the tabernacle, (which was
8 Heb. iii. 1. 4 Augustine.
a transitory, and moveable temple) yet at last he was so careful of his house, as that himself gave the model, and platform of it; and when it was built, and after repaired again, he was so jealous of appropriating, and confining all. his solemn worship to that particular place, as that he permitted that long schism, and dissension, between the Samaritans, and the Jews, only about the place of the worship of God; they differed not in other things: but whether in Mount Sion or in Mount Gerizim. And the feast of the dedication of this temple, which was yearly celebrated, received so much honour, as that Christ himself vouchsafed to be personally present at that solemnity; though it were a feast of the institution of the church, and not of God immediately, as their other festivals were, yet Christ forbore not to observe it, upon that pretence, that it was but the church that had appointed it to be observed. So that, as in all times, God had manifested, and exhibited himself in some particular places, more than other, (in the pillar in the wilderness, and in the tabernacle, and in the pool, which the angel troubled) so did Christ himself, by his own presence, ceremoniously, justify, and authorise this dedication of places consecrated to God's outward worship, not only once, but anniversarily by a yearly celebration thereof.
To descend from this great temple at Jerusalem, to which God had annexed his solemn, and public worship, the lesser synagogues, and chapels of the Jews, in other places, were ever esteemed great testimonies of the sanctity and piety of the founders, for Christ accepts of that reason which was presented to him, in the behalf of the centurion, he is worthy that thou shouldest do this for him, for he loveth our nation; and how hath he testified it? He hath built us a synagogue*. He was but a stranger to them, and yet he furthered, and advanced the service of God amongst them, of whose body he was no member. This was that centurion's commendation; Et quanto commendatior qui wdificat ecclesiam*, how much more commendation deserve they, that build a church for Christian service? And therefore the first Christians made so much haste to the expressing of their devotion, that even in the apostle's time, for all their poverty, and persecution, they were come to have churches: as most of the fathers, and some
5 Luke vii. 5.
of our later expositors, understand these words, (Have ye not houses to eat and drink, or do ye despise the church of God7?) to be spoken, not of the church as it is a congregation, but of the church as it is a material building. Yea, if we may believe some authors, that are pretended to be very ancient, there was one church dedicated to the memory of Saint John, and another by Saint Mark, to the memory of Saint Peter, whilst yet both Saint John, and Saint Peter were alive. Howsoever, it is certain, that the purest and most innocent times, even the infancy of the primitive church, found this double way of expressing their devotion, in this particular of building churches, first that they built them only to the honour, and glory of God, without giving him any partner, and then they built them for the conserving of the memory of those blessed servants of God, who had sealed their profession with their blood, and at whose tombs God had done such miracles as these times needed, for the propagation of his church. They built their churches principally for the glory of God, but yet they added the names of some of his blessed servants and martyrs; for so says he8, (who as he was Peter's successor, so he is the most sensible feeler, and most earnest, and powerful promover and expresser, of the dignities of Saint Peter, of all the fathers) speaking of Saint Peter's church, Beati Petri Basilica, quw uni Deo vero et vivo dicata est, Saint Peter's church is dedicated to the only living God; they are things compatible enough to bear the name of a saint, and yet to be dedicated to God. There the bodies of the blessed martyrs did peacefully attend their glorification; there the histories of the martyrs were recited and proposed to the congregation, for their example, and imitation; there the names of the martyrs were inserted into the public prayers, and liturgies, by way of presenting the thanks of the congregation to God, for having raised so profitable men in the church; and there the church did present their prayers to God, for those martyrs, that God would hasten their glory, and final consummation, in reuniting their bodies, and souls, in a joyful resurrection. But yet though this divers mention were made of the saints of God, in the house of God, Non martyres
7 1 Cor. xi. 22. Abdias Anaclet. Durant. drit. 1. 1. c. 2. 8 Leo.
ipsi, sed Deus eorum, nobis est Deus*, only God, and not those martyrs, is our God; we and they serve all one master; we dwell all in one house; in which God hath appointed us several services; Those who have done their day's work, God hath given them their wages, and hath given them leave to go to bed; they have laid down their bodies in peace to sleep there, till the Sun rise again; till the Sun of grace and glory, Christ Jesus, appear in judgment; we that are yet left to work, and to watch, we must go forward in the services of God in his house, with that moderation, and that equality, as that we worship only our master, but yet despise not our fellow-servants, that are gone before us: that we give to no person the glory of God, but that we give God the more glory, for having raised such servants: that we acknowledge the church to be the house only of God, and that we admit no saint, no martyr, to be a joint-tenant with him; but yet that their memory may be an encouragement, yea and a seal to us, that that peace, and glory, which they ppssess, belongs also unto us in reversion, and that therefore we may cheerfully gratulate their present happiness, by a devout commemoration of them, with such a temper, and evenness, as that we neither dishonour God, by attributing to them, that which is inseparably his, nor dishonour them in taking away that which is theirs, in removing their names out of the collects, and prayers of the church, or their monuments and memorials out of the body of the church: for those respects to them the first Christian founders of churches did admit in those pure times, when Illa obsequia, ornamenta memoriarum, non sacrificia mortuorum10, when those devotions in their names, were only commemorations of the dead, not sacrifices to the dead, as they are made now in the Roman church: when Bellarmine will needs falsify Chrysostom, to read adoramus monumenta, instead of adornamus; and to make that which was but an adorning, an adoring of the tombs of the martyrs.
This then was in all times a religious work, an acceptable testimony of devotion, to build God a house; to contribute something to his outward glory. The goodness, and greatness of which work, appears evidently, and shines gloriously, even in those
9 Augustine. 10 Damascen.
several names, by which the church was called, and styled, in the writings, and monuments of the ancient fathers, and the ecclesiastic story. It may serve to our edification (at least) and to the exalting of our devotion, to consider some few of them: first then the church was called ecclesia, that is a company, a congregation; that whereas from the time of John Baptist, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and every violent man, that is, every earnest, and zealous, and spiritually valiant man, may take hold of it, we may be much more sure of doing so, in the congregation, Quando agmine facto Deum obsidemus11, when in the whole body, we muster our forces, and besiege God. For here in the congregation, not only the kingdom of heaven is fallen into our hands, The kingdom of heaven is amongst you, (as Christ says) but the King of heaven is fallen into our hands; When two or three are gathered together in my name I will be in the midst of you; not only in the midst of us, to encourage us, but in the midst of us, to be taken by us, to be bound by us, by those bands, those covenants, those contracts, those rich and sweet promises, which he hath made, and ratified unto us in his Gospel.
A second name of the church then in use was dominicum: the Lord's possession; it is absolutely, it is entirely his; and therefore, as to shorten, and contract the possession and inheritance of God, the church, so much as to confine the church only within the obedience of Rome, (as the Donatists imprisoned it in Africa) or to change the landmarks of God's possession, and inheritance, which is the church; either to set up new works, of outward prosperity, or of personal, and local succession of bishops, or to remove the old, and true marks, which are the word, and sacraments, as this is injuria dominico mystico, a wrong to the mystical body of Christ, the church, so is it injuria dominico materiali, an injury to the material body of Christ sacrilegiously to dilapidate, to despoil, or to demolish the possession of the church, and so far to remove the marks of God's inheritance, as to mingle that amongst your temporal revenues, that God may never have, nor ever distinguish his own part again.
And then (to pass faster over these names) it is called domus Dei, God's dwelling-house. Now his most glorious creatures are
but vehicula Dei; they are but chariots, which convey God, and bring him to our sight; the Tabernacle itself was but mobilis domus, and ecclesia portabilis, a house without a foundation; a running, a progress house: but the church is his standing house; there are his offices fixed: there are his provisions, which fat the soul of man, as with marrow and with fatness, his precious blood, and body: there work his seals; there beats his mint; there is absolution, and pardon for past sins, there is grace for prevention of future in his sacraments. But the church is not only domus Dei, but basilica; not only his house, but his court: he doth not only dwell there, but reign there: which multiplies the joy of his household servants: The Lord reigneth, let all the earth rejoice, yea let the multitude of the Islands be glad thereof. That the church was usually called Martyrium, that is, a place of confession, where we open our wounds and receive our remedy, that it was called Oratorium, where we might come, and ask necessary things at God's hands, all these teach us our several duties in that place, and they add to their spiritual comfort, who have been God's instruments, for providing such places, as God may be glorified in, and the godly benefited in all these ways.
But of all names, which were then usually given to the church, the name of Temple seems to be most large, and significant, as they derive it a tuendo; for tueri signifies both our beholding, and contemplating God in the church: and it signifies God's protecting, and defending those that are his, in his church: tueri embraces both; and therefore, though in the very beginning of the Primitive Church, to depart from the custom, and language; and phrase of the Jews, and Gentiles, as far as they could, they did much abstain from this name of Temple, and of Priest, so that till Irena3us's time, some hundred and eighty years after Christ, we shall not so often find those words, Temple, or Priest, yet when that danger was overcome, when the Christian church and doctrine was established, from that time downward, all the fathers did freely and safely call the church the Temple, and the ministers in the church, Priests, as names of a religious, and pious signification; where before out of a loathness to do, or say any thing like the Jews, or Gentiles, where a concurrence with them might have been misinterpretable, and of ill consequence, they had called the
VOL. iV. N
church by all those other names, which we passed through before; and they called their Priests by the name of Elders, Presbyteros: but after they resumed the use of the word Temple again, as the apostle had given a good pattern, who to express the principal holiness of the saints of God, he chooses to do it in that word, ye are the Temples of the Holy Ghost1*: which should incline us to that moderation, that when the danger of these ceremonies which corrupt times had corrupted, is taken away, we should return to a love of that antiquity, which did purely, and harmlessly induce them: when there is no danger of abuse, there should be no difference for tho use of things, (in themselves indifferent) made necessary by the just commandment of lawful authority.
Thus then you see, as far as the narrowness of the time will give us leave to express it, the general manner of the best times, to declare devotion towards God, to have been in appropriating certain places to his worship; and since it is so in this particular history of Jacob's proceeding in my text, I may be bold to invert these words of David, Nisi Deus wdificaverit domum, unless the Lord do build the house, in vain do the labourers work, thus much, as to say, Nisi Domino wdificaveritis domum, except thou build a house for the Lord, in vain dost thou go about any other buildings, or any other business in this world. I speak not merely literally of building material chapels; (yet I would speak also to further that;) but I speak principally of building such a church, as every man may build in himself: for whensoever we present our prayers, and devotions deliberately, and advisedly to God, there we consecrate that place, there we build a church. And therefore, beloved, since every master of a family, who is a bishop in his house, should call his family together, to humble and pour out their souls to God, let him consider, that when he comes to kneel at the side of his table, to pray, he comes to build a church there; and therefore should sanctify that place, with a due, and penitent consideration how voluptuously he hath formerly abused God's blessings at that place, how superstitiously and idolatrously he hath flattered and humoured some great and useful guests invited by him to that place, how expensively he hath served his own ostentation and vain-glory, by excessive feasts at that place, whilst Lazarus hath lien panting and gasping at the gate; and
a 2 Cor. vi. 10.
let him consider what a dangerous mockery this is to Christ Jesus, if he pretend by kneeling at that table, fashionally to build Christ a church by that solemnity at the table side, and then crucify Christ again, by these sins, when he is sat at the table. When thou kneelest down at thy bed-side, to shut up the day at night, or to begin it in the morning, thy servants, thy children, thy little flock about thee, there thou buildest a church too: and therefore sanctify that place; wash it with thy tears, and with a repentant consideration; that in that bed thy children were conceived in sin, that in that bed thou hast turned marriage which God afforded thee for remedy, and physic, to voluptuousness, and licentiousness; that thou hast made that bed which God gave thee for rest, and for reparation of thy weary body, to be as thy dwelling, and delight, and the bed of idleness, and stupidity. Briefly, you that are masters, continue in this building of churches, that is, in drawing your families to pray, and praise God, and sanctify those several places of bed, and board, with a right use of them; and for you that are servants, you have also foundations of churches in you, if you dedicate all your actions, consecrate all your services principally to God, and respectively to them, whom God hath placed over you. But principally, let all of all sorts, who present themselves at this table, consider, that in that receiving his body, and his blood, every one doth as it were conceive Christ Jesus anew; Christ Jesus hath in every one of them as it were a new incarnation, by uniting himself to them in these visible signs. And therefore let no man come hither, without a search, and a privy search, without a consideration, and re-consideration of his conscience. Let him that began to think of it, but this morning, stay till the next. When Moses pulled his hand first out of his bosom, it was white as snow, but it was leprous13; when he pulled it the second time, it was of the colour of flesh, but it was sound. When thou examinest thy conscience but once, but slightly, it may appear white as snow, innocent; but examine it again, and it will confess many fleshly infirmities, and then it is the sounder for that; though not for the infirmity, yet for the confession of the infirmity. Neither let that hand, that reaches out to this body, in a guiltiness of pollution, and uncleanness, or
in a guiltiness of extortion, or undeserved fees, ever hope to sign a conveyance, that shall fasten his inheritance upon his children, to the third generation, ever hope to assign a will that shall be observed after his death; ever hope to lift up itself for mercy to God, at his death; but his case shall be like the case of Judas, if the devil have put it in his heart, to betray Christ, to make the body and blood of Christ Jesus false witnesses to the congregation of his hypocritical sanctity, Satan shall enter into him, with this sop, and seal his condemnation. Beloved, in the bowels of that Jesus, who is coming into you, even in spiritual riches, it is an unthrifty thing, to anticipate your monies, to receive your rents, before they are due: and this treasure of the soul, the body, and blood of your Saviour, is not due to you yet, if you have not yet passed a mature, and a severe examination, of your conscience. It were better that your particular friends, or that the congregation, should observe in you an abstinence and forbearing to-day, and make what interpretation they would of that forbearing, than that the Holy Ghost should deprehend you in an unworthy receiving; lest, as the master of the feast said to him that came without his wedding garment, then when he was set, Amice quomodo intrasti, Friend how came you in? So Christ should say to thee, then when thou art upon thy knees, and hast taken him into thy hands, Amice quomodo intrabo, Friend how can I enter into thee, who hast not swept thy house, who hast made no preparation for me? But to those that have, he knocks and he enters, and he sups with them, and he is a supper to them. And so this consideration of making churches of our houses, and of our hearts, leads us to a third part, the particular circumstances, in Jacob's action.
In which there is such a change, such a dependence, whether we consider the metal, or the fashion, the several doctrines, or the sweetness, and easiness, of raising them, as scarce in any other place, a fuller harmony. The first link is the tunc Jacob, then Jacob; which is a tunc consequent iw, rather than a tunc temporis; it is not so much, at what time Jacob did, or said this, as upon what occasion. The second link is, quid operatum, what this wrought upon Jacob; it awaked him out of his sleep; a third is quid ille, what he did, and that was, et dixit, he came to an open profession of that which he conceived, ho said; and a fourth is, quid dixit, what this profession was; and in that which is a branch with much fruit, a pregnant part, a part containing many parts, thus much is considerable, that he presently acknowledged, and assented to that light which was given him, the Lord is in this place; and he acknowledged his own darkness, till that light came upon him, Et ego nesciebam, I knew it not; and then upon this light received, he admitted no scruple, no hesitation, but came presently to a confident assurance, vere Dominus, surely, of a certainty, the Lord is in this place; and then another doctrine is, Et timuit, he was afraid; for all his confidence he had a reverential fear; not a distrust, but a reverent respect to that great Majesty; and upon this fear, there is a second, Et dixit, he spoke again; this fear did not stupify him, he recovers again and discerned the manifestation of God, in that particular place, quam terribilis, how fearful is this place; and then the last link of this chain is, quid inde, what was the effect of all this; and that is, that he might erect a monument and mark for the worship of God in this place, quia non nisi domits, because this is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven. Now I have no purpose to make you afraid of enlarging all these points: I shall only pass through some of them, paraphrastically, and trust them with the rest, (for they insinuate one another) and trust your christianly meditation with them all.
The first link then is, the tunc Jacob, the occasion, (then Jacob did this) which was, that God had revealed to Jacob that vision of the ladder, whose foot stood upon earth, and whose top reached to heaven, upon which ladder God stood, and angels went up and down. Now this ladder is for the most part, understood to be Christ himself; whose foot, that touched the earth, is his humanity, and his top that reached to heaven, his divinity; the ladder is Christ, and upon him the angels, (his ministers) labour for the edifying of the church; and in this labour, upon this ladder, God stands above it, governing, and ordering all things, according to his providence in his church. Now when this was revealed to Jacob, now when this is revealed to you, that God hath let fall a ladder, a bridge between heaven, and earth, that Christ, whose divinity departed not from heaven, came down to us into this world, that God the Father stands upon this ladder, as tho original hath it, nitzab, that he leans upon this ladder, as the vulgar hath it, innixus scalee, that he rests upon it, as the Holy Ghost did, upon the same ladder, that is, upon Christ, in his baptism, that upon this ladder, which stretches so far, and is provided so well, the angels labour, the ministers of God do their offices, when this was, when this is manifested, then it became Jacob, and now it becomes every Christian, to do something for the advancing of the outward glory and worship of God in his church: when Christ is content to be this ladder, when God is content to govern this ladder, when the angels are content to labour upon this ladder, which ladder is Christ, and the Christian church, shall any Christian man forbear his help to the necessary building, and to the sober and modest adorning of the material church of God? God studies the good of the church, angels labour for it; and shall man, who is to receive all the profit of this, do nothing? This is the tunc Jacob; when there is a free preaching of the Gospel, there should be a free, and liberal disposition, to advance his house.
Well; to make haste, the second link is quid operation, what this wrought upon Jacob: and it is, Jacob awoke out of his sleep. Now in this place, the Holy Ghost imputes no sinful sleep to Jacob; but it is a natural sleep of lassitude and weariness after his travel; there is an ill sleep, an indifferent, and a good sleep, which is that heavenly sleep, that tranquillity, which that soul, which is at peace with God, and divided from the storms, and distractions of this world, enjoys in itself. That peace, which made the blessed martyrs of Christ Jesus sleep upon the rack, upon the burning coals, upon the points of swords, when the persecutors were more troubled to invent torments, than the Christians to suffer. That sleep, from which ambition, nor danger, no nor when their own house is on fire, (that is, their own concupiscencies) cannot awaken them; not so awaken them, that it can put them out of their own constancy, and peaceful confidence in God. That sleep, which is the sleep of the spouse, Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat, I sleep, but my heart is awake1*; it was no dead sleep when she was able to speak advisedly in it, and say she was asleep, and what sleep it was: it was no stupid sleep, when her heart was awake. This is the sleep of the saints of God, which St. Gregory describes, Sancti non torpore, sed vir
14 Cant. v. 2.
tute sopiuntur; it is not sluggishness, but innocence, and a good conscience, that casts them asleep. Laboriosiu s dormiunt, they are busier in their sleep; nay, vigilantius dormiunt, they aro more awake in their sleep, than the watchful men of this world; for when they close their eyes in meditation of God, even their dreams are services to him, somniant se dicere Psalmos, says St. Ambrose; They dream that they sing Psalms; and they do more than dream it, they do sing.
But yet even from this holy, and religious sleep (which is a departing from the allurements of the world, and a retiring to the only contemplation of heaven, and heavenly things) Jacob may be conceived to have awaked, and we must awake; it is not enough to shut ourselves in a cloister, in a monastery, to sleep out the temptations of the world, but since the ladder is placed, the church established, since God, and the angels are awake in this business, in advancing the church, we also must labour, in our several vocations, and not content ourselves with our own spiritual sleep; the peace of conscience in ourselves; for we cannot have that long, if we do not some good to others. When the storm had almost drowned the ship, Christ was at his ease, in that storm, asleep upon a pillow15. Now Christ was in no danger himself; all the water of Noah's flood, multiplied over again by every drop, could not have drowned him. All the swords of an army could not have killed him, till the hour was come, when he was pleased to lay down his soul. But though he were safe, yet they awaked him, and said, Master carest thou not though we perish? So though a man may be in a good state, in a good peace of conscience, and sleep confidently in it, yet other men's necessities must awaken him, and though perchance he might pass more safely, if he might live a retired life, yet upon this ladder some angels ascended, some descended, but none stood still but God himself. Till we come to him, to sleep an eternal Sabbath in heaven, though this religious sleep of enjoying or retiring and contemplation of God, be a heavenly thing, yet we must awake even out of this sleep, and contribute our pains, to the building, or furnishing, or serving of God in his church.
Out of a sleep (conceive it what sleep soever) Jacob awaked;
15 Mark iv. 37, 38.
and then, quid ille? what did he? Dixit, he spoke, he entered presently into an open profession of his thoughts, he smothered nothing, he disguised nothing. God is light, and loves clearness; thunder, and wind, and tempests, and chariots, and roaring of lions, and falling of waters are the ordinary emblems of his messages, and his messengers, in the Scriptures. Christ who is Sapientia Dei, The wisdom of God, is •cerbum, sermo Dei, the word of God, he is the wisdom, and the uttering of the wisdom of God, as Christ is expressed to be the word, so a Christian's duty is to speak clearly, and profess his religion. With how much scorn and reproach St. Cyprian fastens the name of Libellaticos upon them, who in time of persecution durst not say they were Christians, but underhand compounded with the state, that they might live unquestioned, undiscovered, for though they kept their religion in their heart, yet Christ was defrauded of his honour. And such a reproach, and scorn belongs to them, who for fear of losing worldly preferments, and titles, and dignities, and rooms at great tables, dare not say, of what religion they are. Beloved, it is not enough to awake out of an ill sleep of sin, or of ignorance, or out of a good sleep, out of a reti redness, and take some profession, if you wink, or hide yourselves, when you are awake, you shall not see the ladder, not discern Christ, nor the working of his angels, that is, the ministry of the church, and the comforts therein; you shall not hear that harmony of the choir of heaven, if you will bear no part in it; an inward acknowledgment of Christ is not enough, if you forbear to profess him, where your testimony might glorify him. Si sufficeret fides cordis, non creasset tibi Deus os 16, If the heart were enough, God would never have made a mouth; and to that we may add, Si sufficeret os, non creasset manus, If the mouth were enough, God would never have made hands; for as the same father says, Omni tuba clarior est per opera demonstratio, No voice more audible, none more credible, than when thy hands speak as well as thy heart or thy tongue; thou art then perfectly awaked out of thy sleep, when thy words and works declare, and manifest it.
The next is, quid dixit; he spake, but what said he? first, he assented to that light which was given him. The Lord is in this
place. He resisted not this light, he went not about to blow it out, by admitting reason, or disputation against it. He imputed it not to witchcraft, to illusion of the devil; but Dominus est in loco isto, the Lord is in this place; 0 how many heavy sins, how many condemnations might we avoid, if we would but take knowledge of this, Dominus in loco isto, that the Lord is present, and sees us now, and shall judge hereafter, all that we do, or think. It keeps a man sometimes from corrupting, or soliciting a woman, to say, Pater, martins in loco, the father, or the husband is present; it keeps a man from an usurious contract to say, lex in loco, the law will take knowledge of it; it keeps a man from slandering or calumniating another to say, testis in loco, here is a witness by; but this is Catholica medicina, and omnimorbia, an universal medicine for all, to say, Dominus in loco, the Lord is in this place, and sees, and hears, and therefore I will say, and think, and do, as if I were now summoned by the last trumpet, to give an account of my thoughts, and words, and deeds to him.
But the Lord was there and Jacob knew it not. As he takes knowledge by the first light of God's presence, so he acknowledges that he had none of this light, of himself, ego nesciebam, Jacob a patriarch and dearly beloved of God, knew not that God was so near him. How much less shall a sinful man, that multiplies sins, like clouds between God and him, know, that God is near him? As St. Augustine said, when he came out of curiosity to hear St. Ambrose preach at Milan, without any desire of profiting thereby, Appropinquavi, et nesciebam, I came near God, but knew it not; so the customary and habitual sinners, may say, Elongam, et nesciebam, I have eloyn'd myself, I have gone farther, and farther from my God, and was never sensible of it; it is a desperate ignorance, not to be sensible of God's absence; but to acknowledge with Jacob, that we cannot see light, but by that light, that we cannot know God's presence but by his revealing of himself, is a religious, and a Christian humility. To know it by reason, by philosophy, is a dim and a faint knowledge, but only by the testimony of his own spirit, and his own revealing, we come to that confidence, vere Domine, surely the Lord is in this place.
Est apud malos, sed dissimulans11, God is with the wicked, but
he dissembles his being there, that is, conceals it; he will not be known of it; Et ibi, malorum dissimulatio quodammodo Veritas non est, when God winks at men's sins, when he dissembles, or disguises his knowledge, we may almost say, says St. Bernard, Veritas non est, Hero is not direct dealing, here is not entire truth, bis presence is scarce a true presence. And therefore as the same father proceeds, Si dicere licet, if we may be bold to express it so, Apud impios est, sed in dissimulatione, ho is with the wicked, but yet he dissembles, he disguises his presence, he is there to no purpose, to no profit of theirs; but est apud justos in veritate, with the righteous be is in truth, and in clearness. Est apud angelos in felicitate, with the angels and saints in heaven, he is in an established happiness; est apud inferos in feritate, he is in hell in his fury, in an irrevocable, and undeterminable execution of his severity: God was surely, and truly with Jacob, and with all them, who are sensible of his approaches, and of his gracious manifestation of himself. Vere non erat apud eos quibus dixit, quid vocatis me Dominum, et non facitis quw dixi vobis? God is not truly with them, whom he rebukes for saying; Why call ye me Lord, and do not my commandments? but ubi in ejus nomine angeli simul et homines congregantur, when angels and men, priest and people, the preacher and the congregation labour together upon this ladder, study tho advancing of his church (as by the working of God's gracious Spirit we do at this time) ibi vere est et ibi vert Dominus est, surely he is in this place, and surely he is Lord in this place, he possesses, he fills us all, he governs us all: and as, though we say to him, Our Father which art in heaven, yet we believe that he is within these walls, so though we say adveniat regnum tuum, thy kingdom come, we believe that his kingdom is come, and is amongst us in grace now, as it shall be in glory hereafter.
When he was now thoroughly awake, when he was come to an open profession, when he acknowledged himself to stand in the sight of God, when he confessed his own ignorance of God's presence, and when after all he was come to a settled confidence, vere Dominus, surely the Lord is here, yet it is added, et timuit, and he was afraid. No man may think himself to be come to that familiar acquaintance with God, as that it should take away that reverential fear which belongs to so high and supremo a majesty. When the angel appeared to the wife of Manoah, foretelling Samson's birth, she says to her husband, the fashion of him was like the fashion of the angel of God; what's that? Exceeding fearful". When God appears to thy soul, even in mercy, in the forgiveness of thy sins, yet there belongs a fear even to this apprehension of mercy: not a fearful diffidence, not a distrust, but a fearful consideration, of that height and depth; what a high majesty thou hast offended, what a desperate depth thou wast falling into, what a fearful thing it had been, to have fallen into the hands of the living God, and what an irrecoverable wretch thou hadst been, if God had not manifested himself, to have been in that place, with thee. And therefore though he have appeared unto thee in mercy, yet be afraid, lest he go away again; As Manoah prayed, and said, I beseech thee my Lord, let the man of God, whom thou sentest, come again unto us, and teach us, what we shall do with the child, when he is born, so when God hath once appeared to thy soul in mercy, pray him to come again, and tell thee what thou shouldest do with that mercy, how thou shouldest husband those first degrees of grace and of comfort, to the farther benefit of thy soul, and the farther glory of his name, and be afraid that thy dead flies may putrefy his ointment; those relics of sin, (though the body of sin, be crucified in thee) which are left in thee, may overcome his graces: for upon those words, Pavor tenuit me et tremor, et omnia ossa mea perterrita sunt, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake19, Saint Gregory says well, Quid per ossa nisi fortia acta designantur, our good deeds, our strongest works and those which were done in the best strength of grace, are meant by our bones, and yet ossa perterrita, our strongest works tremble at the presence and examination of God. And therefore to the like purpose (upon those words of the Psalm*0) the same father says, Omnia ossa mea dicent, Domine quis similis tibi, all my bones say, Lord who is like unto thee? Carnes mew, verba non habent, (my fleshly parts, my carnal affections) infirma mea funditus silent, my sins, or my infirmities dare not speak at all, not appear at all, Sed ossa mea, qua? fortia credidi, sua consideratione tremiscunt, my very
18 Judg. xiii. 6. 19 Job iv. 14. 80 Psalm xxxv. 10.
bones shake, there is no degree, no state neither of innocence, nor of repentance, nor of faith, nor of sanctification, above that fear of God: and he is least acquainted with God, who thinks that he is so familiar, that he need not stand in fear of him.
But this fear hath no ill effect. It brings him to a second profession, et dixit; and he spoke again. He waked, and then he spoke, as soon as he came out of ignorance; he was afraid, and then he spoke again that he might have an increase of grace. The earth stands still: and earthly men may be content to do so: but he whose conversation is in heaven, is as the heavens are in continual progress. For inter profectum, et defectum, medium in hac vita non datur". A Christian is always in a proficiency, or deficiency: if he go not forward, he goes backward. Nemo dicat, satis est, sic manere volo; Let no man say, I have done enough, I have made my profession already, I have been catechized, I have been thought fit to receive the communion, sufficit mihi esse sicut heri et nudiustertius; though he be in the way, in the church, yet he sleeps in the way, he is got no farther in the way, than his godfathers carried him in their arms, to engraff him in the church by baptism: for this man, says he, In via residet, in scala subsistit, quod nemo angelorum fecit, he stands still upon the 'ladder, and so did none of the angels. Christ himself increased in wisdom and in stature8*, and in favour with God and man; so must a Christian also labour to grow and to increase, by speaking and speaking again, by asking more, and more questions, and by farther, and farther informing his understanding, and enlightening his faith; pertransiit benefaciendo, et sanavit omnes, says St. Peter of Christ, He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil**; and it was prophesied of him, Exultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam, He went forth as a giant, to run a race"; if it be Christ's pace, it must be a Christian's pace too. Currentem non apprehendit, nisi qui etpariter currit"; There is no overtaking of him that runs, without running too. Quid prodest Christum sequi, si non consequamur? and to what purpose do we follow Christ, if not to overtake him, and lay hold upon him? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis, fige Christiane cursus
et profectus metam ubi Christus suum; run so as ye may obtain; and if thou beest a Christian, propose the same end of thy course, as Christ did; factus est obediens usque ad mortem; and the end of his course was, to be obedient unto death.
Speak then, and talk continually of the name, and the goodness of God; speak again, and again; it is no tautology, no babbling, to speak, and iterate his praises: who accuses St. Paul for repeating the sweet name of Jesus so very many times in his Epistles? Who accuses David for repeating the same phrase, the same sentence [for his mercy endureth for ever\ so many times, as he doth in his Psalms? nay, the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm is scarcely anything else, than an often repetition of the same thing. Thou spokest as soon as thou wast awake, as soon as thou wast born, thou spokest in baptism. So proceed to the farther knowledge of religion, and the mysteries of God's service in his house; and conceive a fearful reverence of them in their institution, and speak again, inquire what they mean, what they signify, what they exhibit to thee. Conceive a reverence of them, first, out of the authority that hath instituted them, and then speak, and inform thyself of them. God spent a whole week in speaking for thy good; Dixit Deus, God spake that there might be light; Dixit Deus, God spake that there might be a firmament; for immediatly upon God's speaking, the work followed: dixit et factum, he spake the word, and the world was created. As God did, a godly man shall do; if he delight to talk of God, to mention* often upon all occasions, the greatness, and goodness of God, to prefer that discourse, before obscene, and scurrile, and licentious, and profane, and defamatory, and ridiculous, and frivolous talk; if he delight in professing God with his tongue, out of the abundance of his heart, his works shall follow his words, he will do as he says. If God had given over, when he spake of light, and a firmament, and earth, and sea, and had not continued speaking till the last day, when he made thee, what hadst thou got by all that? what hadst thou been at all for all that? If thou canst speak when thou awakest, when thou beginnest to have an apprehension of God's presence, in a remorse, if then, that presence, and majesty of God, make thee afraid, with the horror and greatness of thy sins, if thou canst not speak again then, not go forward with thy repentance, thy former speech is forgotten by God, and unprofitable to thee. Jacob at first speaking confessed God to be in that place; but so he might be everywhere; but he conceived a reverential fear at his presence; and then he came to speak the second time, to profess, that that was none other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven; that thero was an entrance for him in particular, a fit place for him to testify and exercise his devotion; he camo to see, what it was fit for him to do, towards the advancing of God's house.
Now whensoever a man is proceeded so far with Jacob, first to sleep, to be at peace with God, and then to wake, to do something for the good of others, and then to speak, to make profession, to publish his sense of God's presonce, and then to attribute all this only to the light of God himself, by which light he grows from faith to faith, and from grace to grace, whosoever is in this disposition, he may say in all places, and in all his actions, This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. He shall see heaven open and dwell with him in all his undertakings: and particularly and principally in his expressing of a care, and respect, both to Christ's mystical, and to his material body; both to the sustentation of tho poor, and to the building up of God's house. In both which kinds of piety, and devotion, (Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam; Not unto us 0 Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be given the glory;) as to the confusion of those shameless slanderers, who place their salvation in works, and accuse us to avert men from good works, there have been in this kingdom, since the blessed reformation of religion, more public charitable works performed, more hospitals and colleges erected, and endowed in threescore, than in some hundreds of years of superstition before, so may God be pleased to add one example more amongst us, that here in this place, we may have some occasion to say, of a house erected, and dedicated to his service, This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven: and may he vouchsafe to accept at our hands, in our intention, and in our endeavour to consummate that purpose of ours, that thanksgiving, that acclamation which he received from his royal servant Solomon, at the consecration
of his great temple, when he said", Is it true indeed, that God will dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens are not able to contain thee, how much more unable shall this house be, that we intend to build? But have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, 0 Lord, my God, to hear the cry and the prayer that thy servant shall make before thee that day; that thine eye may be open towards that house night and day, that thou mayest hear the supplications of thy servants, and of thy people, which shall pray in that place, and that thou mayest hear them in the place of thy habitation even in heaven, and when thou hearest, mayest have mercy. Amen.