PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S INN.
Colossians i. 24.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, for his body's sake which is the church.
We are now to enter into the handling of the doctrine of evangelical counsels; and these words have been ordinarily used by the writers of the Roman church, for the defence of a point in controversy between them and us; which is a preparatory to that which hereafter is to be more fully handled upon another text. Out of these words, they labour to establish works of supererogation, in which (they say) men do or suffer more than was necessary for their own salvation; and then the superfluity of those accrues to the ireasury of the church, and by the stewardship, and dispensation of the church may be applied to other men living here, or suffering in purgatory by way of satisfaction to God's justice; but this is a doctrine which I have had occasion heretofore in this place to handle; and a doctrine which indeed deserves not the dignity to be too diligently disputed against; and as we will not stop upon the disproving of the doctrine, so we need not stay long, nor insist upon the vindicating of these words, from that wresting and detortion of theirs, in using them for the proof of that doctrine. Because though at first, they presented them with great eagerness and vehemence, and assurance, Quicquid hwretici obstrepunt, illiistris hic locus1, say the heretics what they can, this is a clear and evident place for that doctrine, yet another after him is a little more cautious and reserved, Negari non potest quin ita exponipossint*, It cannot be denied, but that these words may admit such an exposition; and then another more modified than both says, Primo et proprie non id intendit apostolus3; The apostle had no such purpose in his first and proper intention to prove that doctrine in these words. Sed innuitur ille sensus; qui et si non genuinus, tamen a pari
1 Greg, de Valent. s Bellannine. 3 Cornel a Lapide.
deduct potest: Some such sense (says that author) maybe implied and intimated, because, though it be not the true and natural sense, yet by way of comparison, and convenience, such a meaning may be deduced. Generally their difference in having any patronage for that corrupt doctrine out of these words, appears best in this, that if we consider their authors wHb have written in controversies, we shall see that most of them have laid hold upon these words for this doctrine; because they are destitute of all Scriptures, and glad of any, that appear to any, any whit that way inclinable; but if we consider those authors, who by way of commentary and exposition (either before, or since the controversies have been stirred) have handled these words, we shall find none of their own authors of that kind, which by way of exposition of these words doth deliver this to be the meaning of them, that satisfaction may be made to the justice of God by the works of supererogation one man for another.
To come then to the words themselves in their true sense, and interpretation, we shall find in them two general considerations. First, that to him that is become a new creature, a true Christian, all old things are done away, and all things are made new: as he hath a new birth, as he hath put on a new man, as he is going towards a new Jerusalem, so hath he a new philosophy, a new production, and generation of effects out of other causes than before, he finds light out of darkness, fire out of water, life out of death, joy out of afflictions; Nunc gaudeo, now I rejoice in my sufferings, &c. And then in a second consideration he finds that this is not by miracle, that he should hope for it but once, but he finds an express, and certain, and constant reason why it must necessarily be so, because I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, &c. It is strange that I should conceive joy out of affliction, but when I come to see the reason that by that affliction, /fill up the sufferings of Christ, &c, it is not strange, it cannot choose but be so. The parts then will be but two, a proposition, and a reason; but in the first part it will be fit to consider first, the person, not merely who it is, but in what capacity, the apostle conceives this joy; and secondly, the season, now; for joy is not always seasonable, there is a time of mourning, but now rejoicing; and then in a third place we shall come to the affection itself, joy, which when it is true, and truly placed, is the nearest representation of heaven itself to this world. From thence we shall descend to the production of this joy, from whence it is derived, and that is out of sufferings, for this phrase in passionibus, in my sufferings, is not in the midst of my sufferings, it is not that I have joy and comfort, though I suffer, but in passionibus, is so in suffering, as that the very suffering is the subject of my joy, I had no joy, no occasion of joy, if I did not suffer. But then these sufferings which must occasion this joy, are thus conditioned, thus qualified in our text; that, first, it be passio mea, my suffering, and not a suffering cast by my occasion upon the whole church, or upon other men; mea, it is determined and limited in myself, and mea, but not pro me, not for myself, not for mine own transgressions, and violating of the law, but it is for others, pro vobis, says the apostle, for out of that root springs the whole second part, why there appertains a joy to such sufferings, which is that the suffering of Christ being yet, not imperfect, but unperfected, Christ having not yet suffered all, which he is to suffer to this purpose, for the gathering of his church, I fill up that which remains undone; and that in carne, not only in spirit and disposition, but really in my flesh; and all this not only for making sure of mine own salvation, but for the establishing and edifying a church, but yet, his church; for men seduced, and seducers of men have their churches too, and suffer for those churches; but this is for his church, and that church of his which is properly his body, and that is the visible church: and these will be the particular branches of our two general parts, the proposition, Gaudeo in afflictionibus, &c. And the reason, Quia adimpleo, &c.
To begin then with the first branch of the first part, the person; we are sure it was St. Paul, who we are sure was an apostle, for so he tells the Colossians in the beginning of the Epistle; Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, but yet he was not properly, peculiarly their apostle, he was theirs as he was the apostle of the Gentiles4; but he was not theirs, as he was the apostle of the Corinthians; If I be not an apostle to others (says he) yet doubtless I am to you5; for amongst the,
4 Rom. xi. 13. 5 1 Cor. ix. 2.
Corinthians he had the foundations of a church, Are ye not my work in the Lord? (say he there) but for the Colossians, he had never preached to them, never seen them; Epaphras had laid the foundation amongst them; and Archippus was working, now at the writing of this epistle, upon the upper buildings, as we may see in the epistle itself; Epaphras had planted, and Archippus watered*; how entered Paul? first as an apostle, he had a general jurisdiction, and superintendency over them, and over all the Gentiles, and over all the church; and then, as a man whose miraculous conversion, and religious conversation, whose incessant preaching, and whose constant suffering, had made famous, and reverend over the whole church of God, all that proceeded from him had much authority, and power, in all places to which it was directed; as himself says of Andronicus and Junia his kinsmen; that they were nobiles in apostolis1, nobly spoken of amongst the apostles, so St. Paul himself was nobilis apostolus in discipulis, reverendly esteemed amongst all the disciples, for a laborious apostle; St. Augustine joined his desire to have heard St. Paul preach, with his other two wishes, to have seen Christ in the flesh, and to have seen Rome in her glory; and St. Chrysostom admires Rome, so much admired for other things, for this principally, that she had heard St. Paul preach; and that, sicut corpus magnum et validum, ita duos haberet illustres oculos, as she was a great and glorious body, so she had two great and glorious eyes; the presence and the memories of St. Peter, and St. Paul; he writes not to them then merely as an apostle not in that capacity, for he joins Timothy with himself at the beginning of the epistle, who was no apostle, properly; though upon that occasion of Paul's writing in his own, and in Timothy's name, St. Chrysostom say, in a larger sense, Ergo Timotheus apostolus, if Timothy be in commission with Paul, Timothy is an apostle too: but St. Paul by his fame and estimation, having justly got a power and interest in them, he cherishes that by this salutation, and he binds them the more to accept his instructions, by giving them a part in all his persecutions, and by letting them see, how much they were in his care, even in that distance; a servile application of hiin
6 Col. i. 7; iv. 17. 1 Rom. xvi.
self to the humours of others, becomes not the ministers of God; it becomes him not to depart from his ingenuity, and freedom, to a servile humouring, but to be negligent of their opinion of him, with whom he is to converse, and upon whose conscience he is to work, becomes him not neither. It is his doctrine that must bear him out; but if his discretion do not make him acceptible too, his doctrine will have the weaker root; when St. Paul and the Colossians thought well of one another, the work of God was likely to go forward amongst them; and where it is not so, the work prospers not.
This was then the person; Paul, as he had a calling, and an authority by the apostleship, and Paul as he had made his calling, and authority, and apostleship acceptable to them, by his wisdom and discreet behaviour towards them, and the whole church. The season follows next, when he presents this doctrine to them, nunc gaudeo, now I rejoice, and there is a nunc UK, and a nunc illis to be considered, one time it hath relation to St. Paul himself, and another that hath relation to the Colossians.
His time, the nunc Mi, was nunc in vinculis, now when he was in prison at Rome, for from thence he writ this epistle; ordinarily a prisoner is the less to be believed for his being in prison and in fetters, if he speak such things as conduce to his discharge of those fetters, or his deliverance from that imprisonment, it is likely enough that a prisoner will lie for such an advantage; but when St. Paul, being now a prisoner for the preaching of the Gospel, speaks still for the advancement of the Gospel, that he suffers for, and finds out another way of preaching it by letters and by epistles, when he opens himself to more danger, to open to them more doctrine, than that was very credible which he spake, though in prison; there is in all his epistles impetus Spiritus Christi, as Irenaeus says, a vehemence of the Holy Ghost, but yet Amplius habent quw e vinculis, says Chrysostom, Those epistles which St. Paul writ in prison, have more of this vehemency in them: a sentence written with a coal upon a wall by a close prisoner, affects us when we come to read it; stolen letters, by which a prisoner adventures the loss of that liberty which he had, come therefore the more welcome, if they come; it is not always a bold and vehement reprehension of great persons, that is argument enough of a good and a rectified zeal, for an intemperate use of the liberty of the Gospel, and sometimes the impotency of a satirical humour, makes men preach freely, and over-freely, offensively, scandalously; and so exasperate the magistrate; God forbid that a man should build a, reputation of zeal, for having been called in question for preaching of a sermon; and then to think it wisdom, redimere se quo queat minimo, to sink again and get off as good cheap as he can; but when the malignity of others hath slandered his doctrine, or their galled consciences make them kick at his doctrine, then to proceed with a Christian magnanimity, and a spiritual nobility in the maintenance of that doctrine, to prefer then before the greatness of their persons, and the greatness of his own danger, the greatness of the glory of God, and the greatness of the loss which God's church should suffer by his lenity and prevarication: to edify others by his constancy, then when this building in appearance and liklihood must be raised upon his own ruin, then was St. Paul's nunc, concerning himself, then was his season to plant and convey this doctrine to these Colossians, when it was most dangerous for him to do so.
Now to consider this season and fitness as it concerned them; the nunc illis, it was then, when Epaphras had declared unto him their love, and when upon so good testimony of their disposition, he had a desire that they might be fulfilled with knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, as he says (verse 9,) when he knew how far they had proceeded in mysteries of the Christian religion, and that they had a spiritual hunger of more, then it was seasonable to present to them this great point, that Christ had suffered thoroughly, sufficiently, abundantly, for the reconciliation of the whole world, and yet that there remained some sufferings, (and those of Christ too) to be fulfilled by us; that all was done; and yet there remained more to be done, that after Christ's consummatum est, which was all the text, there should be an adimplendum est, interlined, that after Christ had fulfilled the law, and the prophets by his sufferings, St. Paul must fulfil the residue of Christ's sufferings, was a doctrine unseasonably taught, till they had learnt much, and showed a desire to learn more; in the Primitive church men of ripe understandings were content to think two or three years well spent in learning of catechisms and rudiments of Christian religion; and the greatest bishops were content to think that they discharged their duties well, if they catechized ignorant men in such rudiments, for we know from Gennadius an ecclesiastical author, that the bishops of Greece, and of the Eastern church, did use to con St. Cyrils' sermons (made at Easter and some other festivals) without book, and preached over those sermons of his making, to congregations of strong understandings, and so had more time for their catechizing of others; Optatus thinks, that when St. Paul says, Ego plantavi, Apollos rigavit, I planted the faith, and Apollos watered, he intended in those words, Ego de pagano feci catechumenum, Me de catechumeno Christianum, that St. Paul took ignorant persons into his charge, to catechize them at first, and when they were instructed by him, Apollos watered them with the water of baptism; Tertullian thought he did young beginners in Christianity no wrong, when he called them Catulos infantiw recentis, nec perfectis luminibus reptantes, Young whelps which are not yet come to a perfect use of their eyes, in the mysteries of religion. Now God hath delivered us in a great measure from this weakness in seeing, because we are catechized from our cradles, and from this penury in preaching, we need not preach other's sermons, nor feed upon cold meat, in homilies, but we are fallen upon such times too, as that men do not think themselves Christians, except they can tell what God meant to do with them before he meant they should be Christians; for we can be intended to be Christians, but from Christ; and we must needs seek a predestination, without any relation to Christ; a decree in God for salvation, and damnation, before any decree for the reparation of mankind, by Christ, every commonplacer will adventure to teach, and every artificer will pretend to understand the purpose, yea, and the order too, and method of God's eternal and unrevealed decree; St. Paul required a great deal more knowledge than these men use to bring, before he presented to them a great deal a less point of doctrine than these men use to ask.
This was then the nunc iUis, their season, when they had humbly received so much of the knowledge of the fundamental points of religion. St. Paul was willing to communicate more and more, stronger and stronger meat unto them; that which he presents here is, that which may seem least to appertain to a Christian, (that is joy) because a Christian is a person that hath surrendered himself over to a sad and serious, and a severe examination of all his^ actions, that all be done to the glory of God; but for all this, this joy, true joy is truly, properly, only belonging to a Christian; because this joy is the testimony of a good conscience, that we have received God, so as God hath manifested himself in Christ, and worshipped God, so God hath ordained: in a true church there are many tesserw externw, outward badges and marks, by which others may judge, and pronounce me to be a true Christian; but the tessera interna, the inward badge and mark, by which I know this in myself, is joy; the blessedness of heaven itself, salvation, and the fruits of Paradise, (that Paradise which cannot be expressed, cannot be comprehended) have yet got no other name in the subtilty of the schools, nor in the fulness of the Scriptures, but to be called the joys of heaven; essential blessedness is called so, Enter into thy Master's joy*, that is, into the kingdom of heaven; and accidental happiness added to that essential happiness is called so too: there is joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner9; and so in the Revelation, Rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down; there is now joy even in heaven, which was not there before; certainly as that man shall never see the Father of Lights after this, to whom the day never breaks in this life: as that man must never look to walk with the Lamb wheresoever he goes in heaven, that ran away from the Lamb whensoever he came towards him, in this life; so he shall never possess the joys of heaven hereafter, that feels no joy here; there must be joy here, which Tanquam cellulw mellis (as St. Bernard says in his mellifluous language) as the honey-comb walls in, and prepares, and preserves the honey, and is as a shell to that kernel; so there must be a joy here, which must prepare and preserve the joys of heaven itself, and be as a shell of those joys. For heaven and salvation is not a creation, but a multiplication; it begins not when we die, but it increases and dilates itself infinitely then;
8 Matt. xxv. 23. » Luke xv. ^, and 10. ii. 10.
Christ himself, when he was pleased to feed all that people in the wilderness, he asks first, Quot panes habetis, how many haves have you? and then multiplied them abundantly, as conduced most to his glory; but some there was before. When thou goest to eat that bread, of which whosoever eats shall never die, the bread of life in the land of life, Christ shall consider what joy thou broughtest with thee out of this world, and he shall extend and multiply that joy unexpressibly; but if thou carry none from hence, thou shalt find none there. He that were to travel into a far country, would study before somewhat the map, and the manners, and the language of the country; he that looks for the fulness of the joys of heaven hereafter, will have a taste, an insight in them before he go: and as it is not enough for him that would travel to study any language indifferently (were it not an impertinent thing for him that went to lie in France, to study Dutch ?) so if we pretend to make the joys of heaven our residence, it is a madness to study the joys of the world; the kingdom of heaven is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, says St. Paul10; and this kingdom of heaven is intra nos, says Christ, it is in us, and it is joy that is in us; but every joy is not this kingdom, and therefore says the same apostle, Rejoice in the Lord11; there is no other true joy, none tut that; but yet says he there, Rejoice, and again, I say rejoice; that is, both again we say it, again, and again we call upon you to have this spiritual joy, for without this joy, ye have not the earnest of the Spirit, and it is again rejoice, bring all the joys ye have, to a second examination, and see if you can rejoice in them again; have you rejoiced all day in feasts, in musics, in conversations? well, at night you must be alone, hand to hand with God. Again, i" say rejoice, sleep not till you have tried whether your joy will hold out there too. Have you rejoiced in the contemplation of those temporal blessings which God hath given you? 'tis well, for you may do so: but yet again I say rejoice; call that joy to an account, and see whether you can rejoice again, in such a use of those blessings, as he that gave them to you, requires of you. Have you rejoiced in your zeal of God's service? that's a true rejoicing in the Lord; but yet still rejoice again, see that this joy be accom
"Rom. xiv. 17- "Phil. iv. 4.
panied with another joy; that you have zeal with knowledge: rejoice, but rejoice again, refine your joy, purge away all dross, and lees from your joy, there is no false joy enters into heaven, but yet no sadness neither.
There is a necessary sadness in this life, but even in this life necessary only so, as physic is necessary, Tristitia data, ut peccata deleamus", it is data, a gift of God, a sadness and sorrow infused by him, and not assumed by ourselves upon the crosses of this world; and so it is physic, and it is morbi illius peccati, it is proper and peculiar physic for that disease, for sin; but, (as that father pathetically enlarges that consideration) Remedium lippitudinis non tollit alios morbos, water for sore eyes, will not cure the tooth-ache, sorrow and sadness which is prescribed for sin, will not cure, should not be applied to the other infirmities and diseases of our human condition; Pecunia mulctatus est, (says that father still) Doluit, non emendavit, a man hath a decree passed against him in a court of justice, or lost a ship by tempest, and he hath grieved for this, hath this reversed the decree, or repaired the shipwreck? Filium amisit, doluit, non resuscitavit. His son, his eldest son, his only son, his towardly son is dead, and he hath grieved for this; hath he raised his son to life again! Infirmatur ipse, doluit, abstulit morbum? Himself is fallen into a consumption, and languishes, and grieves, but doth it restore him? Why no, for sadness, and sorrow is not the physic against decrees, and shipwrecks, and consumption, and death: but then Peccavit quis (says he still) et doluit? peccata delevit; hath any man sinned against his God, and come to a true sorrow for that sin? peccata delevit, he that washed away that sin, from his soul; for sorrow is good for nothing else, intended for nothing else, but only for our sins, out of which sadness first arose: and then, considered so, this sadness is not truly, not properly sadness, because it is not so entirely; there is health in the bitterness of physic; there is joy in the depth of this sadness; St. Basil inforces those words of the apostle, 2 Cor. vi. 10. Quasi tristes, semper autem gandentes, usefully to this point; Tristitia nostra habet quasi, gaudium non habet, Our sorrow, says he, hath a limitation, a modification, it is but as it were sorrow, and we
cannot tell whether we may call it sorrow or no, but our joy is perfect joy, because it is rooted in an assurance: est in spe certa, our hope of deliverance is in him that never deceived any; for says he then, our sadness passes away as a dream, Et qui insomnium judicat, addit quasi, quasi dicebam, quasi equitabam, quasi cogitabam, he that tells his dream, tells it still in that phrase, methought I spoke, methought I went, and methought I thought, so all the sorrow of God's children is but a quasi tristes, because it determines in joy, and determines soon. To end this, because there is a difference inter delectationem et gaudium, between delight and joy (for delight is in sensual things, and in beasts, as well as in men, but joy is grounded in reason, and in reason rectified, which is, conscience) therefore we are called to rejoice again; to try whether our joy be true joy, and not only a delight, and when it is found to be a true joy, we say still rejoice, that is, continue your spiritual joy till it meet the eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven, and grow up into one joy, but because sadness and sorrow have but one use, and a determined and limited employment, only for sin, we do not say, be sorry, and again be sorry, but when you have been truly sorry for your sins, when you have taken that spiritual physic, believe yourself to be well, accept the seal of the Holy Ghost, for the remission of your sins, in Christ Jesus, and come to that health which that physic promises, peace of conscience.
This joy then which St. Paul found to be so essential, so necessary for man, he found that God placed within man's reach; so near him as that God afforded man this joy where he least looked for it, even in affliction; and of this joy in affliction, we may observe three steps, three degrees; one is indeed but half a joy; and that the philosophers had; a second is a true joy, and that all Christians have; but the third is an overflowing and abundant joy, to which the apostle was come, and to which by his example, he would rouse others, that joy, of which himself speaks again; / am filled with comfort and am exceeding joyful, in all our tribulations"; the first of these, which we call a half joy, is but an indolency, and a forced unsensibleness of those miseries which were upon them; a searing up, a stupe
13 1 Cor. vii. 4.
faction, is not of the senses, yet of the affections; that resolution which some moral men had against misery, Non facies ut te dicam malam, no misery should draw them to do misery that honour, as to call it misery; and, in respect of that extreme anguish which out of an over-tenderness, ordinary men did suffer under the calamities of this life, even this poor indolency and privation of grief, was a joy, but yet but a half-joy; the second joy, which is a true joy, but common to all Christians, is that assurance, which they have in their tribulations, that God will give them the issue with the temptation; not that they pretend not to feel that calamity, so the philosophers did, but that it shall not swallow them, this is natural to a Christian, he is not a Christian without this; think it not strange, says the apostle, as though some strange thing were come unto you, (for we must accustom ourselves to the expectation of tribulation) but rejoice, says he, and when his glory shall appear, ye shall be made glad and rejoice; he bids us rejoice, and yet all that he promises, is but rejoicing at last, he bids us rejoice, all the way; though the consummate, and determinable joy come not till the end, yet God hath set bounds to our tribulations, as to the sea, and they shall not overflow us; but this perfect joy (to speak of such degrees of perfection, as may be had in this life) this third joy, the joy of this text, is not a collateral joy, that stands by us in the tribulation, and sustains us, but it is a fundamental joy, a radical joy, a visceral, a gremial joy, that arises out of the bosom and womb and bowels of the tribulation itself. It is not that I rejoice, though I be afflicted, but I rejoice because I am afflicted; it is not because I shall not sink in my calamity, and be buried in that valley, but because my calamity raises me, and makes my valley a hill, and gives me an eminency, and brings God and me nearer to one another, then without that calamity I should have been, when I can depart rejoicing, and that therefore, because I am worthy to suffer rebuke for the name of Christ, as the apostles did1*, when I can feel that pattern proposed to my joy, and to my tribulation, which Christ gives, Rejoice and be glad", for so persecuted they the prophets, when I can find that seal printed upon me, by my tribulation, if ye be railed on for the name of Christ, blessed are ye, for the spirit of
14 Acts v. 41.
15 Matt. v. 12.
God and of glory resteth on you", that is, that affliction fixes the Holy Ghost upon me, which in prosperity falls upon me but as sun-beams; briefly if my soul have had that conference, that discourse with God, that he hath declared to me his purpose in all my calamities, (as he told Ananias that he had done to Paul, he is a chosen vessel unto me, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for my sake") if the light of God's spirit » show us the number, the force, the intent of our tribulations, then is our soul come to that highest joy, which she is capable of in this life, when as cold and dead water, when it comes to the fire, hath a motion and dilatation and a bubbling and a kind of dancing in the vessel, so my soul, that lay asleep in prosperity, hath by this fire of tribulation, a motion, a joy, an exaltation.
This is the highest degree of suffering; but this suffering hath this condition here, that it be passio mea; and this too, that it be mea, and not pro me, but pro aliis: that it be mine, and nobody's else, by my occasion; that it be mine without any fault of mine, that I be no cause that it fell upon me, and that I be no occasion, that it fall upon others. And first, it is not mine, if I borrow it; I can have no joy in the sufferings of martyrs and other saints of God, by way of applying their sufferings to me; by way of imitation and example 1 may, by way of application and satisfaction I cannot, borrowed sufferings are not my sufferings: they are not mine neither, if I steal them, if I force them. If my intemperate, and scandalous zeal, or pretence of zeal, extort a chastisement from the State, if I exasperate the magistrate and draw an affliction upon myself, this stolen suffering, this forced suffering is not passio mea, it is not mine, if it should not be mine; Natura cujusque rei est, quam Deus indiditTM, that only is the nature of everything, which God hath imprinted in it: that affliction only is mine, which God hath appointed for me, and what he hath appointed we may see by his exclusions: let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy body in other men's matters1", (and that reaches far:) I am not possessor bonw fidei, I come not to this suffering by a good title, I cannot call it mine; I may find joy in it, that is, in
"1 Peter iv. 14. 17 Acts ix. 16.
18 Augustine. "1 Peter iv. I5.
the midst of it, I may find comfort in the mercy of Christ, though I suffer as a malefactor; but there is no joy in the suffering itself, for it is not mine, it is not I, but my sin, my breach of the law, my disobedience that suffers. It is not mine again, if it be not mine in particular, mine, and limited in me. To those sufferings that fall upon me for my conscience, or for the discharge of my duty, there belongs a joy, but when the whole church is in persecution, and by my occasion especially, or at all, woe unto them, by whom the first offence comes, this is no joyful matter, and therefore vw illis per quos scandalum, they who by their ambition of preferment, or indulgence to their present ease, or iudifferency how things fall out, or presumptuous confidence in God's care, for looking well enough to his own, how little soever they do, give way to the beginnings of superstition, in the times of persecution; when persecutions come, either they shall have no sufferings, that is, God shall suffer them to fall away, and refuse their testimony in his cause, or they shall have no joy in their sufferings, because they shall see this persecution is not theirs, it is not limited in them, but induced by their prevarication upon the whole church; and lastly, this suffering is not mine, if I stretch it too far; if I overvalue it, it is not mine; a man forfeits his privilege, by exceeding it; there is no joy belongs to my suffering, if I place a merit in it; Meum non est cujus nomine nulla mihi superest actio, says the law; that is none of mine for which I can bring no action; and what action can I bring against God, for a reward of my merit? Have I given him anything of mine? Qtdd habeo quod non accept? what have I that I received not from him? Have I given him all his own? how came I to abound then, and see him starve in the streets in his distressed members? Hath he changed his blessings unto me in single money I Hath he made me rich by half-pence and farthings; and yet have 1 done so much as that for him! Have I suffered for his glory? Am not I vas figuli, a potter's vessel, and that potter's vessel; and whose hand soever he employs, the hand of sickness, the hand of poverty, the hand of justice, the hand of malice, still it is his hand that breaks the vessel, and this vessel which is his own; for, can any such vessel have a propriety in itself, or be any other body's primarily, than his, from whom it hath the being I To recollect these, if I will have joy in suffering it must be mine, mine, and not borrowed out of an imaginary treasure of the church; from the works of others supererogation: mine, and not stolen or enforced by exasperating the magistrate to a persecution: mine by good title, and not by suffering for breach of the law, mine in particular, and not a general persecution upon the church by my occasion; and mine by a stranger title than all this, mine by resignation, mine by disavowing it, mine by confessing that it is none of mine; till I acknowledge, that all my sufferings are even for God's glory, are his works, and none of mine, they are none of mine, and by that humility they become mine, and then I may rejoice in my sufferings.
Through all our sufferings then, there must pass an acknowledgment that we are unprofitable servants; towards God utterly unprofitable; so unprofitable to ourselves, as that we can merit nothing by our sufferings; but still we may and must have a purpose to profit others by our constancy; it is pro vobis, that St. Paul says he suffers for them, for their souls; i" will most gladly bestow, and be bestowed for your souls", (says he.) But numquid Paulus cruciftxus pro vobis, was Paul crucified for you"? is his own question, as he suffered for them here, so we may be bold to say he was crucified for them; that is, that by his crucifying and suffering, the benefit of Christ's sufferings, and crucifying might be the more cheerfully embraced by them, and the more effectually applied to them; Pro vobis, is pro vestro commodo, for your advantage, and to make you the more active in making sure your own salvation; We are afflicted (says he) for your consolationTM; that is first, that you might take comfort, and spiritual courage by our example, that God will no more forsake you, than he hath done us, and then, he adds salvation too; for your consolation and salvation; for our sufferings beget this consolation; and then, this consolation facilitates your salvation; and then, when St. Paul had that testimony in his own conscience, that his purpose in his sufferings, was pro Hlts, to advantage God's children, and then saw in his experience so good effect of it, as that it wrought, and begot faith in them, then the more his sufferings
8* 2 Cor. xii. 15. "I Cor. i. 13. ** 1 Cor. i. 13.
increased, the more his joys increased; though (says he) I be offered up, upon the service, and sacrifice of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all; and therefore he calls the Philippians, who were converted by him, gaudium, et coronam, his joy and his crown; not only a crown, in that sense, as an auditory, a congregation that compasses the preacher, was ordinarily called a crown, corona, (in which sense that martyr Cornelius answered the judge, when he was charged to have held intelligence, and to have received letters from St. Cyprian against the state, Ego de corona Domini, (says he from God's church, it is true, I have, but contra rempublicam, against the state, 1 have received no letters.) But not only in this sense, St. Paul calls those whom he had converted, his crown, his crown, that is, his church; but he calls them his crown in heaven, What is our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing, are not even you it? and where? even in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming, says the apostle; and therefore not to stand upon that contemplation of St. Gregory's, that at the resurrection Peter shall lead up his converted Jews, and Paul his converted nations, and every apostle his own church; since you, to whom God sends us, do as well make up our crown, as we do yours, since your being wrought upon, and our working upon you conduce to both our crowns, call you the labour, and diligence of your pastors, (for that is all the suffering they are called to, till our sins together call in a persecution) call you their painfulness your crown, and we shall call your appliableness to the gospel, which we preach, our crown, for both conduce to both; but especially children's children, are the crown of the elders, says Solomon: if when we have begot you in Christ, by our preaching, you also beget others by your holy life and conversation, you have added another generation unto us, and you have preached over our sermons again, as fruitfully as we ourselves; you shall be our crown, and they shall be your crowns, and Christ J esus a crown of everlasting glory to us all. Amen.