A SERMON PREACHED AT GREENWICH, APRIL 30, 1615.
Isaiah Lii. 3.
Ye have sold yourselves for nought, and ye shall he redeemed without money.
It is evident in itself, aud agreed by all, that this is a prophecy of a deliverance; but from what calamity it is a deliverance, or when this prophecy was accomplished, is not so evident, nor so constantly agreed upon. All the expositions may well be reduced to three; first, that it is a deliverance from the captivity of Babylon, and then the benefit appertains only to the Jews, and their deliverer, and redeemer is Cyrus; secondly, that it is a deliverance from persecutions in the primitive church, and so it appertains only to Christians, and their Redeemer, from those persecutions, is Constantine; and thirdly that it is a deliverance from the sting and bondage of death by sin; and so it appertains to the whole world, and the Redeemer of the whole world is Christ Jesus: for the first, since both the Chaldee paraphrase, and the Jewish rabbins themselves, do interpret this to be a prophecy of the Messias, because they labour evermore, as strongly as they can, to wring our weapons out of our hands, and to take from us, many of those arguments, which we take from the prophets, for the proof of the Messias: it concerns us therefore to hold fast, as much as they grant us, and not to interpret this place of a temporal deliverance from Babylon, but of the deliverance by the Messias. And for the second, which is the deliverance of the Christians, from the persecutions in the
primitive times, though the Christians did then with a holy cheerfulness suffer those persecutions, when they could not avoid them, without prevaricating, and betraying the hour of Christ Jesus, yet they did not wilfully thrust themselves into those dangers, they did not provoke the magistrate; and the word which is here translated, ye sold yourselves, vendidistis vos, implies actionem spontaneam, a free and voluntary action, done by themselves, and therefore cannot well be understood of the persecutions in the primitive church. The third therefore, as yet is the most useful and most received, so it is the most proper acceptation of the word, that it is a deliverance from the bondage of sin, to be wrought by Christ: for as St. Hierome says, This prophet Esay, is rather an evangelist, than a prophet, because almost all that Christ did, and said, and suffered, is foretold, and prophetically antedated in his prophecy, and almost all his prophecy hath some relation (at least in a secondary sense of accommodation, where it is not so primarily, and literally) to the words and actions, and passions of Christ.
Following then this interpretation in general of the word, that it is a deliverance from the wages of sin, death by Christ we may take, in passing a short view, of the miserable condition of mah, wherein he enwrapped himself, and of the abundant mercy of Christ Jesus in withdrawing him from that uersal calamity, by considering only the sense, and largeness, and extension of those words, in which the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to express both these in this text. For first, the word in which our action is expressed, which is machar1, vendidistis, ye have sold, signifies in many places of Scripture, dare pro re atia, a permutation, an exchange of one thing for another; and in other places it signifies dedere, upon any little attempt to forsake and abandon our defences, ahd to suffer the enemy easily to prevail upon us; so also it signifies tradere, not only to forsake ourselves, but to concur actually to the delivering up of ourselves; and lastly, it signifies repellere, to join with our enemies in beating back any that should come to our relief, and rescue. And then, as we have so sold ourselves, for the substance of the aet, as is expressed in that word machar, we have exchanged
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ourselves at an undervalue, and worse than that, we have yielded up ourselves upon easy temptations, and worse than that, we have offered ourselves, exposed ourselves, invited the devil, and tempted temptations, and worse than that, we have rejected the succours and the supplies which have been offered us in the means and conduits, and seals of his graces. As it stands thus with us, for the matter, so for the manner, how we have done this, that is expressed iu that other word, kinnam, which signifies fecit, as it is here, gratis, for nought. And in another place, frustra, to no purpose; for it is a void bargain, because we had no title, no interest in ourselves, when we sold ourselves; and it signifies, temere, rashly, without consideration of our own value, upon whom God had stamped his image; and then again it signifies, immerito, undeservedly, before God, in whose jurisdiction we were by many titles, had forsaken us, or done anything to make us forsake him. So that our action in selling ourselves for nothing, hath this latitude, that man whom God hath dignified so much, as that in the creation he imprinted his image in him, and in the redemption he assumed not the image, but the very nature of man, that man whom God still preserved as the apple of his eye, and (as he expresses himself often in the prophets) is content to reason, and to dispute with man, and td submit himself to any trial whether he have not been a gracious God unto him: that this man should thus abandon this God, and exchange his soul for anything in this world, when as it can profit nothing, to gain the whole world and lose our own soul, and not exchange it, but give it away, thrust it off, and be a devil to the devil, to tempt the tempter himself to take it. But then, as the word aggravates our condemnation, so it implies a consolation too; for it is frustra, that is unprovidently, unthriftily, inconsiderately, vainly, and that multiplies our fault, but then it is invalidly, and uneffectually too; that is, it is a void bargain; and when our powerful Redeemer, is pleased to come, and claim his right, and set on foot his title, all this improvident bargain of ours is voided, and reversed, and not though, but because we have sold ourselves, for nought, we shall be redeemed without money.
For the other word, in which the action of our Redeemer is expressed though it have somewhat different uses in the Scriptures, yet it is evermore spoken of him, Qui habet jus redimendi, No man, by the law, could redeem a thing, but he who had a title to that thing. So the word is used, where there are given cities of refuge from the avenger. There the word is, a redemptor, from him that hath right to redeem his kinsman's blood, to bring an appeal, and to prosecute for the death of his kinsman, who was slain. So is the word used also, where that law is given, &c. If thy brother be impoverished, and he sell his possession then his redeemer, &c, that is, he that is next to that land; and so also, when a man died without issue, he who had the right, and the obligation, to raise seed to the dead man, he was the redeemer: / am thy kinsman, saith Boaz to Ruth, but saith he, Alius redemptor tnagis propinquos, Thou hast another redeemer, nearer in blood than I am. How ill a bargain soever we made for ourselves, Christ Jesus hath not lost his right in us, but is our Redeemer in all these acceptations of the word: he is our sanctuary and refuge; when we have committed spiritual murder upon our own souls, he preserves us, and delivers us to the redemption ordained for us: when we have sold our possessions, our natural faculties, he supplies us with grace, and feeds us with his word, and clothes us with his sacraments, and warms us with his absolutions, against all diffidence, which had formerly frozen us up: and in our barrenness, he raises up seed unto our dead souls, thoughts, and works, worthy of repentance. All this, thy Redeemer hath right to do; and, when it pleases him to do it he does it, sine argento, without money; when the word casaph*, signifies not only money, but, omne appetibile, anything that we can place our desires, or cast our thoughts, upon. This redemption of ours, is wrought by such means, as the desire of man could never have fortuned upon; the incarnation of God, and then the death and crucifying of that God, so incarnate, could never have fallen within the desire, nor wish of any man; neither would any man of himself ever have conceived, that the sacraments of the church, poor and naked things of themselves, (for all that the wit of man could imagine in them, or allow to them) should be such means to seal, and convey the graces, which accompany this redemption of our souls, to our souls.
So then, having thus represented unto you, a model, and design, of the miserable condition of man, and the abundant mercy of our Redeemer, so far, as those words which the Holy Ghost hath chosen in this text, hath invited and led us, that we may look better upon some pieces of it, that we may take such a sight of this Redeemer here, as that we may know him, when we meet him at home, at our house, in our private meditations, at his house, in the last judgment. I shall only offer you two considerations; exprobationem, and consolationem; first, an exprobration, or increpation from God to us. And then a consolation, or consolidation of the same God upon us; and in the exprobration, God reproaches to us, first, our prodigality, that we would sell a reversion, our possibility, our expectance of an inheritance in heaven; and then, our cheapness, that we would sell that, for nothing.
First then, prodigality is a sin, that destroys even the means of liberality. If a man waste so, as that he becomes unable to relieve others, by this waste, this is a sinful prodigality; but much more if he waste so as that he is not able to subsist, and maintain himself; and this is our case, who have even annihilated ourselves, by our profuseness; for it is his mercy that we are not consumed. It is a sin, and a viperous sin; it eats out his own womb; the prodigal consumes that that should maintain his prodigality: it ispeecatum biathanaton, a sin that murders itself.
Now, as in civil prodigalities, in a wastefulness of our temporal estate, the law inflicts three kinds of punishment, three incommodities upon him that is a prodigal, so have the same punishments a proportion, and some things that answer them, in this spiritual prodigality of the soul by sin. The first is, Bonis suin interdicitur; He that is a prodigal, in the law, cannot dispose of his own estate; whatsoever he gives, or sells, or leases, all is void, as of a madman, or of an infant. And such is the condition of a man in sin; he hath no interest in his own natural faculties; he cannot think, he cannot wish, he cannot do anything of himself; the venom and the malignity of his sin goes through all his actions, and he cannot purge it.
The second incommodity is, Testamentum non facit, The prodigal person hath no power allowed him by the law, to make a will, at his death: and this also doth an habitual sinner suffer: for, when he comes to this end, he may dictate to a notary, and he may bid him write, imprimis, I give my soul to God, my body to such a church, my goods to such, and such persons: but if those goods be liable to other debts, the legataries shall have no profit; if the person be under excommunication, he shall not lie in that church; if his soul be under the weight of unrepented sins, God will do the devil no wrong, he will not take a soul, that is sold to him before.
The third incommodity that a prodigal incurs by the law, is, Exhwredatus creditur, He is presumed to be disinherited by his father; that whereas, by that law, if the father, in his will, leave out any of his children's names, and never mention him, yet that child which is pretermitted, shall come in for a child's part, except the father have assigned a particular reason why he left him out; if this child were a prodigal, there needs no other reason to be assigned, but Exhwredatus creditur, He is presumed to be disinherited. And so also, if we have seen a man prodigal of his own soul, and run on in a course of sin, all his life, except there appear very evident signs of resumption into God's grace, at his end, exhoeredatu s creditur, we have just reason to be afraid, that he is disinherited. If any such sinner seem to thee to repent at his end, Fateor vobis non negamm, quod petit, saith St. Augustine: I confess, we ought not to deny him any help that he desires in that late extremity; Sed non prwsumimus quia bene exit, I dare not assure you, that that man dies in a good state; he adds that vehemence, non prwsumo, non vos /allo, non prwsumo: I should but deceive you, if I should assure you, that such a man died well. There was one good and happy thief, that stole a salvation, at the crucifying of Christ; but in him, that was thoroughly true, which is proverbially spoken, Occasio facit furem, The opportunity made him a thief: and when there is such another opportunity, there may be such another thief; when Christ is to die again, we may presume of mercy, upon such a late repentance at our death. The preventing grace of God, made him lay violent hands upon heaven. But when thou art a prodigal of thy soul, will God be a prodigal too, for thy sake, and betray and prostitute the kingdom of heaven, for a sigh, or a groan, in which thy pain may have a greater part than thy repentance. God can raise up children out of the stones of the street, and therefore he might be as liberal as he would of his people, and suffer them to be sold for old shoes; but Christ will not sell his birth-right for a mess of pottage, the kingdom of heaven, for the dole at a funeral. Heaven is not to be had in exchange for an hospital, or a chantry, or a college erected in thy last will: it is not only the selling all we have, that must buy that pearl, which represents the kingdom of heaven; the giving of all that we have to the poor, at our death, will not do it; the pearl must be sought, and found before, in an even, and constant course of sanctification; we must be thrifty all our life, or wo shall be too poor for that purchase.
It is then an unthrifty, a perplexed bargain, when both the buyer, and the seller lose; our loss is plain enough, for we lose our souls: and certainly, howsoever the devil be expressed to take some joy at the winning of a sinner, howsoever his kingdom be thereby enlarged, yet Almighty God suffers not his treason, his undermining of man, to be unpunished, but afflicts him with more and more accidental torments, even for that; as a licentious man takes pleasure in the victory of having corrupted a woman, by his solicitation, but yet insensibly overthrows his con- . stitution, by his sin; so the withdrawing of God's subjects, from his allegiance, induces an addition of punishment upon the devil himself.
Consider a little farther, our wretchedness, in this prodigality; we think those laws barbarous and inhuman, which permit the suit of men in debt, for the satisfaction of creditors; but we sell ourselves, and grow the farther in debt, by being sold; we are sold, and to even rate our debts*, and to aggravate our condemnation. We find in the history of the Muscovites, that it is an ordinary detainer amongst them, to sell themselves, and their
• There seems to be something corrupt here in the text. Is the first "and" to be understood as " both?" This sermon, and one or two besides, are in coarser type than the rest of the third folio volume, and very inaccurately printed.—Ed.
posteri ty, into everlasting bondage, for hot drink: in one winter, a wretched man will drink himself, and his posterity, into perpetual slavery. But we sell ourselves, not for drink, but for thirst: we are sorry when our appetite too soon decays, and we would fain sin more than we do. At what a high rate did the blessed martyrs sell their bodies; they built up God's church with their blood: they sowed his field, and prepared his harvest with their blood: they got heaven for their bodies, and we give bodies, and souls for hell.
In a right inventory, every man that ascends to a true value of himself, considers it thus: first, his soul, then his life; after his fame and good name: and lastly, his goods and estate; for thus their own nature hath ranked them, and thus they are (as in nature) so ordinarily in legal consideration preferred before one another. But for our souls, because we know not, how they came into us, we care not how they go out; because, if I ask a philosopher, whither my soul came in, by propagation from my parents, or by an immediate infusion from God, perchance he cannot tell, so I think, a divine can no more tell me, whether, when my soul goes out of me, it be likely to turn on the right, or on the left hand, if I continue in this course of sin. And then, for the second thing in this inventory, life; the devil himself said true, Skin for skin, and all that a man hath, will he give for his life; indeed we do not easily give away our lives expressly, and at once; but we do very easily suffer ourselves to be cosened of our lives: we pour in death in drink, and we call that health, we know our life to be but a span, and yet we can wash away one inch in riot, we can burn away one inch in lust, we can bleed away one inch in quarrels, we have not an inch for every sin; and if we do not pour out our lives yet we drop them away. For the third piece of ourself, our fame and reputation, who had not rather be thought an usurer, than a beggar? Who had not rather be the object of envy, by being great, than of scorn and contempt, by being poor, upon any conditions? And for the last of all, which is our goods, though our covetousness appears most, in the love of them, in that lowest thing of all (Adeo omnia homini cariora seipso3, so much does every man
think every inferior thing better than himself, than his fame, than his body, than his soul; which is a most perverse undervaluing of himself, and a damnable humility) yet even with these goods also, (as highly as he values them) a man will part, if to fuel, and foment, and maintain that sin, that he delights in: that which is the most precious, our souls, we undervalue most; and that which we do esteem most, (though naturally it should be lowest) our estate, we are content to waste, and dissipate for our sins: and whereas the heathens needed laws to restrain them, from an expensive, and wasteful worship of their gods, every man was so apt to exceed in sacrifices and such other religious duties, till that law, Deos frugi colunto, Let men be thrifty and moderate in religious expenses, was enacted, (which law was a kind of mortmain, and inhibition, that every man might not bestow what he would, upon the service of those gods) we have turned our prodigality the other way, upon the devil, whom we have made hwredem in esse and our sole executor, and sacrificed soul, and life, and fame, and fortune, all the gifts of God, and God himself, by making his religion, and his sacraments, and the profession of his name, in an hypocritical use, of them, to be the devil's instruments, to draw us the easilier, and hold us the faster; and what prodigality can be conceived to exceed this, in which we do not only mispend ourselves, but mispend our God.
The other point in this exprobration is, that, as we have prodigally sold ourselves, so we have inconsiderately sold ourselves for nothing; we have in our bargain diseases, and we have poverty, and we have uusensibleness of our miseries; but diseases are but privations of health, and poverty but a privation of wealth, and unsensibleness but a privation of tenderness of conscience; all are privations, and privations are nothing. If a man had got nothing by a bargain but repentance, he would think, and justly, he had got little: but if thou hadst repentance in this bargain, thy bargain were the better; if thou couldst come to think thy bargain bad, it were a good bargain; but the height of the misery is in this, that one of those nothings, for which we have sold ourselves is a stupidity, an unsensibleness of our own wretchedness.
The laws do annul, and make void fraudulent conveyances; and then the laws presume fraud in the conveyance, if at least half the value of the thing be not given: now if the whole world be not worth one soul, who can say, that he hath half his value? It were not merely nothing, if (considering that inventory, which we spoke of before) we had the worse for the better; that were but an ill exchange, but yet it were not nothing. If we had bodies for our souls, it were not merely nothing; but we find, that sin that sells our souls, decays and withers our bodies; our bodies grow incapable of that sin, unable to commit that sin, which we sold our souls for. If we had fame and reputation for our bodies, it were not nothing: but we see, that heretics, that give their bodies to the fire, are by the very law, infamous, and they are infamous in every man's apprehension. If we had worldly goods for loss of fame, and of our good name, yet still it were not nothing; but we see that witches, who are infamous persons, for the most part, live in extreme beggary too. So that the exprobration is just, we have sold ourselves for nothing; and however the ordinary murmuring may be true, in other things, that all things are grown dearer, our souls are still cheap enough, which at first were all sold in gross, for (perchance) an apple, and are now retailed every day for nothing.
Joseph was sold underfoot by his brethren; but it is hard to say, for how much; some copies have that he was sold for twenty pieces, and some for twenty-five, and some for thirty: and St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, collect arguments, at least, allusions, from this variety of copies: but all these say, it was but so many pieces of silver. The Septuagint, in their translation, extend them to gold, to so many crowns, or such: Josephus multiplies them to pounds, so many pounds: all think it too low a price for Joseph, to be sold for twenty pieces of silver. But yet if it were so, this was not for nothing; and for this selling, his brethren had some pretence of excuse ne polluantur manus, they would but sell him, lest their hands should be defiled with blood: but we sell ourselves, ut polluantur manus, therefore, that our hands may be defiled with blood, even with our own blood, with the loss of our bodies, which we consume by sin, and of our souls, which perish eternally by it.
Our Saviour Christ, every drop of whose blood was of infinite value (for one of our souls is more worth than the whole world, and one drop of his blood had been sufficient for all the souls of a thousand worlds, if it had been applied unto them) was sold scornfully and basely, at a low price; at most, not above six pounds of our money; but we sell ourselves, and him too, we crucify him again every day, for nothing: and when our sin is the very crucifying of him, that should save us, who shall save us? Earthly princes have been so jealous of their honours, as that they have made it treason, to carry their pictures into any low office, or into any irreverend place. Beloved, whensoever we commit any sin, upon discourse, upon consideration, upon purpose, and plot, the image of God which is engraved and imprinted in us, and lodged in our understanding, and in that reason which we employ in that sin, is mingled with that sin; we draw the image of God into all our incontinencies, into all our oppressions, into all our extortions, and supplantations: we carry his image, into all foul places, which we haunt upon earth; yea we carry his image down with us, to eternal condemnation: for, even in hell, Uri potest, non exuri imago Dei, says St. Bernard; The image of God burns in us in hell, but can never be burnt out of us: as long as the understanding soul remains, the image of God remains in it, and so we have used the image of God, as witches are said to do the images of men; by wounding or melting the image, they destroy the person: and we by defacing the image of God in ourselves by sin, to the painful and shameful death of the cross.
Rachel and Leah complained of their father Laban, thus, He hath sold us, and hath eat, and consumed the money; they lamented it much, to see themselves sold, and by their father, and their father never the better for the bargain. But still our case is worse than any; the devil hath bought us, and he, he who hath bought us, hath eaten and consumed the money: he pretends to buy us, by giving us pleasure, or profit for ourselves, and then those very pleasures, and those riches, which he pretends to give us, are his food, and his instruments, to effect his mischievous and tyrannous purposes upon us. And therefore let no man think himself exempt from this challenge, that he hath sold himself for nothing. Let no man present his dutals, his courtrolls, his bacus*, his good debts, his titles of honour, his maces, or his staves, or his ensigns of power and office, and say, Call you all this nothing? Compare all these with thy soul, and they are nothing. Now, whilst thou wallowest in all these here, thou mayest hear God say, Quid habes, quod non accepisti, What hast thou of all this, which thou hast not received? But when the bell tolls, then he shall say, in the voice of that bell, Quid habes quod accepisti, What hast thou of all that thou hast received? Is not all that come to nothing I And then thou that thoughtest thyself strong enough in purse, in power, in favour, to compass anything, and to embrace many things, shalt not find thyself able to attain to a door-keeper's place in the kingdom of heaven.
Let no man therefore take too much joy, to apply to himself those words of the parable, Filii swculi, The children of this world (which grow rich) are wiser than the children of light; for it is but, in generatione sua, wiser in their generation; and how little a while that generation shall last, God knows; and what fools they shall appear to be, for all generations after, we know. They are called the wisest amongst men, as the serpent was called the wisest amongst beasts, that is, still, the fittest for the devil to work in, to make his instruments, and engines to desire a curse upon themselves, and their posterity. Let no man wrest God's example to his purpose, and say, if he do sell himself for nothing, he does but as God himself did, and as David told him he did, Thou sellest thy people without gain, and dost not increase their price*. That was not for nothing; God had his end in that: neither was it an absolute sale; but a short term: God sells us over to sickness, to tribulations, to afflictions, for some time; perchance for the whole term, of this short life; but all this is but to improve us, and that we may be the fitter for him when he takes us into his own hand again, in that surrender of ourself, in manus tuas, when we shall deliver up our souls: to him, that gave them: for here no propriety is destroyed, still here is meum et tuum between God and me; it is still my soul, and still his soul; and when God looked mercifully towards Job then Satan's lease expired. God doth not give his saints for
nothing; for Sanguis semen, The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church, and ye are bought with a price, says the apostle5; it is pretiore, ye are preciously bought, even with the precious blood, of the only Son of God. And for our temporal and secular value, in God's account, we see how God expressed his care of the people, when he diverted Sennacherib from afflicting them, by turning him upon other wars. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia, and Seba for thee, because thou wast precious in my sight, and thou wast honourable, and I loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy sake'. And this leads us into the second part, the consolation, that though, nay, Because we have sold ourselves for nothing, we shall be redeemed without money.
Into this part then, there is at first a strange entrance; therefore, that therefore, because we have sold ourselves we should be redeemed; therefore because we have been prodigal, we should be made rich. But, this therefore, this reason, relates to the price, not to the work of the redemption, because it was for nothing, that we were sold, it is without money, that we are redeemed: for, for that, there is reason in equity: but for the redemption itself, there is no therefore, no reason at all to be assigned, but only the eternal goodness of God himself, and the eternal purpose of his will: of which will of God, whosoever seeks a reason, Aliquid majus Deo quwrit, says St. Augustine, He that seeks what persuaded or inclined the will of God, seeks for something wiser, and greater than God himself.
In this redemption then God pursues the devil, in all those steps, by which he had made his profit, of a prodigality; for, first, as we gave away ourselves, so he restores us to ourselves again. It is well expressed in the parable of the prodigal; and his case is ours. The portion which he asked of his father, was the use of his free will. God gave it him; Adam's first immortality was, posse non mori, he needed not to have died: it was in his own power whether he would keep a free will, or no, and he spent that stock, he lost that free will. He spent not his free will so as Bellarmin understands this spending, that that man may be said to spend his life ill, that misemploys it, but yet he
5 1 Cor. vi. 20. 6 Isaiah XLiii. 3.
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hath this life in him still: but the prodigal, Adam, spent his utterly: he spent it so, that he and we have no free will at all left. But yet; even the prodigal said, that he would return to his father, and he came; he had not only some sudden thoughts of repentance, but he put himself actually in the way: Cum longe abesset, says that parable, when he was a great way off, yet because he was in the way, his father met him and kissed him, and put that robe upon him, which was not only dignitas, quam perdidit Adam, as St. Austin qualifies it, a restitution to the same integrity, which Adam had and had lost, but that was amictus sapientiw, (so St. Ambrose calls it) it was an ability to preserve himself in that integrity, to which he was restored. It was a robe that was put upon him; it was none of his own; but when it was put upon him, it rectified and restored those faculties, which were his own: as the eye sees in a man restored to life, though the soul enable the eye and not the eye itself, so the faculty of free will works in us as well as it did in Adam, though only the grace of God enable that faculty.
When God hath wrought that first cure (which he does by incorporating us in the church by baptism) that we are ourselves again, then (as in the case of prodigals in the law) as they had tutors, and curators appointed them, so he sends the Holy Ghost, to be our guardian, our curator: and as the office of that person, in that law, was double, first to reverse all contracts and bargains, which that prodigal person, in that state, had made, and secondly to inhibit, and hinder him, from making new contracts, so this blessed Spirit of consolation, by his sanctification, seals to our consciences a quietus est, a discharge of all former spiritual debts, he cancels all them, he nails them to the cross of Christ, and then he strengthens us against relapses into the same sins again.
He proceeds farther than this; beyond restoring us, beyond preserving us; for he betters us, he improves us, to a better condition, than we were in, at first. And this he does, first, by purging and purifying us, and then by changing, and transmuting us. He purges us by his sunshine, by his temporal blessings; for, as the greatest globes of gold lie nearest the face and top of the earth, where they have received the best concoction from the heat of the sun; so certainly, in reason, they who have had God's continual sunshine upon them, in a prosperous fortune, should have received the best concoction, the best digestion of the testimonies of his love, and consequently be the purer, and the more refined metal. If this purging prevail not, then he comes to purge those whom he means to lay up in his treasure, with tribulation; he carries them from the sunshine into the fire, and therefore, if those tribulations fall upon thee in a great and heavy measure, think thy dross needed this vehemence, and do not make afflictions, arguments of God neglecting thee, for he that is presented to have suffered very much, is also presented to have been very righteous, that is Job; and he that was the most innocent of all, suffered most of all, Christ Jesus thy Saviour.
From this purifying comes our transmutation, that we are changed in semen Dei, made the seed of God: for, so God calls children that are derived from honest, and godly parents, The seed of God, in the prophet7: but more fully in the apostle, whosoever is born of God sinneth not, for his seed remaineth in him': for this generation, is our regeneration, of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth*: this grace makes us as properly the seed of God, as sin makes us the seed of the devil, of the serpent, and so we are expressly called in Genesis1", and so also in the apostle's, You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father, you will do11. So we are changed in naturam Dei, as St Peter expresses it": by his precious promises we are made partakers of the divine nature: not Ab anteriori, nor d posteriori; not that we are so derived from the nature and essence of God, as that our souls should be of his very substance, as the Manichees imagined, nor, as Origen mistook, upon misinterpreting these words to the Corinthians, Ut Deus sit omnia in omnibus13, That God should be all in all, so as that at last, the whole nature of mankind, and indeed, all other natures and substances (if Origen have been rightly understood by some men near his own times) should be swallowed up, and drowned in the very substance of God himself. But this transmutation is a glorious restoring of God's image in us, and it is our conformity to him; and when
7 Mai. ii. 15. 8 1 John iii. 9.
. 9 James i. 18. 10 Gen. iii. 15. 11 John viii. 44.
18 2 Pet. i. 4. 13 1 Cor. xv. 28.
either his temporal blessings, or his afflictions, his sun, or his fire, hath tried us up to that height, to a conformity to him, then come we to that transmutation, which admits no re-transmutation, which is a modest, but infallible assurance of a final perseverance, so to be joined to the Lord, as to be one spirit with him; for as a spirit cannot be divided, so they who are thus changed into him, are so much his, so much He, as that nothing can separate them from him; and this is the ladder, by which we may try, how far we are in the way to heaven.
And when we are come to this, then we are able to see, and to consider, the poverty, and the value of him, who had before bought us, for nothing, and enthralled us. The devil is called the Lord of the world14; but that is, in the person of infidels; and we are none of that world. Though we have to do with principalities, and spiritual wickedness, yet St. Paul motions it thus much, Est nobis colluctatio, He arms us at all points, in that chapter15, fit to endure any violent, or any long attempt, and yet he tells us, that all that we have to do with the devil, is but colluctatio, but a wrestling; we may be thrown, but we cannot be slain. So also is the same state of the saints of God's described, That the devil labours to devour, that he walks about, and seeks, those who are without the pale, without the church, and these that are rebellious and refractory within it, these he may devour without any resistance: they fall into his mouth; but for us, who are embraced by thy redemption, he is put to his labour, and to lose his labour too; he is put to seek, and put to miss too. He was put to sue out a commission, for Job's good; till then he confessed to God, thou hast put a hedge about him. He was put to renew this commission, for his person; touch his bones; but further he durst not ask. He hath a kingdom, but nobody knows where: I would we might still dispute, whether it were in the earth, or in the air, and not find this kingdom in our own hearts. Expel him thence; and God's spirit is as the air, that admits no vacuity, no emptiness: destroy this kingdom of Satan in yourselves, and God will establish his, God will be content with his place. Himself you cannot see; that is one degree of his tyranny, to reserve himself, and not be
seen; for his deformities would make ye hate him: but in his glasses in the riches, and in the vanities of this world, you see him and know him not; you see him, and know him, and embrace him, St. Chrysostom hath convinced you, in all that can be said, for the love of this world; If thou wilt (says he) that I must therefore look after worldly things, because they are necessary, E regione respondeo, says he : therefore thou needest not look after them, because they are necessary: Si essent superflua, non deberes confidere; quia sunt necessaria, non debes ambigere: for that which is more than necessary, thou shouldest not labour, and for that which is necessary thou shouldest not doubt, for, whatsoever God does not give thee, he knows was not necessary for thee, for he can make thee happy without these temporal things, as his way in this text is, to redeem without money, which is our last circumstance.
In delivering his people out of Egypt, he gave no money for them; nay, he made them get money and jewels at their coming away. In delivering them out of Babylon, he brought them away rich; here, in this redemption, it had been bribery to have given, in so good a cause: and it had been a new kind of simony, never heard of, to give money for the exercise of their own grace. He gave no money then; not because he had it not; for Domini est terra, The earth and all in it, is his: Ye have taken my silver, and my gold, says God in one prophet16; and he makes his continual claim, in another, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine17. But it was God and not the devil, that was to be satisfied. In devilish trading there is no passing without money: in the temple itself there were, in the church, and church affairs there are buyers, and sellers too; if there were no buyers there would be no sellers; but there was a third sort that was whipped out too; which were changers. But in our case it was God, that was to be satisfied; and therefore we were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ".
Now this blood of Christ Jesus was not within the compass of this word, which is here translated money: though, as I noted at
16 Joel iii. s.
17 Hagg. ii. 8.
18 1 Pet. i. 19.
the beginning, this word casaph includes all that the heart can wish, or desire: for though the application of the blood of Christ, now that is shed is to be wished by every sinner to his own soul, though the shedding of that blood might have been wished by the patriarchs, to whom God had revealed, that in the fulness of time it should be shed, at the second coming of Christ, and the Resurrection may be wished for, by us now, yet, if we take rem integrant, if we take the matter at first, without any such revealing of God's purpose as he in his Scripture hath afforded us; so no man might have wished, or prayed, without a greater sin in that wish and in that prayer than all his former sins, that the Son of God might come down and die for his sins: if it could possibly have fallen into his imagination, that this might have been a way for his redemption; yet he ought not to have wished that way: neither might it, neither certainly did it ever fall within the desire of any despairing sinner, that thought, that the death of Christ appertained not to him, to wish that, God the Father, or God the Holy Ghost, would come down, ""and become man and shed his blood for him. The blood of Christ by which we are redeemed was not this casaph it was not res appetibilis, a thing that a sinner might, or could desire to be shed for him, though being shed, he must desire, that it may be applied to him. And hence it is that some of the fathers argue, that when the devil began to tempt Christ, he knew him not to be the Son of God: for even to the devil himself, the blood of Christ could not be res appetibilis, a thing that deliberately he could have desired should have been shed. If the devil had considered, that the shedding of that blood, would have redeemed us, would he have hastened the shedding of that blood?
He redeemed us then without money; and as he bought so he sells: he paid no money, he asks no money: but he proclaims freely to all, Ho every one that thirsteth come to the waters, and ye that have no silver, come, buy, and eat; come, I say, buy wine, and milk, without silver, and without money1*. But you must come; and you must come to the market; to the magazine of his graces, his church; and you must buy, though you have no money: he paid obedience, and he asks obedience to himself, and his church,
at your hands. And then, as Joseph did to his brethren, he will give you your corn, and your money again; he will give you grace, and temporal blessings too: he will refresh and re-establish your natural faculties, and give you supernatural. He hath already done enough for all, even in his mercy, he was just; just to the devil himself: for as we had done, so he did; he gave himself; both to the first death, as long as it could hold him, and to the second death, as far as it could reach him. But though all this be already done, yet, to conclude, there is a particular circumstance of comfort, in this word, you shall be: that though the act of our 'redemption be past, the application is future: and in the elect and regenerate child of God, though his conscience tells him every day, that he sells away himself, yet his conscience shall tell him too, he shall be redeemed without money, he shall not perish finally: as we cannot carry our thoughts to so high a time, but that God elected us, before that, so we cannot continue our sins of infirmity so long, but that God will have mercy upon us after that: I cannot name a time, when God's love began; it is eternal: I cannot imagine a time, when his mercy will end: it is perpetual.