PREACHED AT WHITEHALL, FEBRUARY 29, 1627.
Acts vii. 60.
And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
He that will die with Christ upon Good Friday, must hear his own bell toll all Lent; he that will be partaker of his passion at last, must conform himself to his discipline of prayer and fasting before. Is there any man, that in his chamber hears a bell toll for another man, and does not kneel down to pray for that dying man i and then when his charity breathes out upon another man, does he not also reflect upon himself, and dispose himself as if he were in the state of that dying man? We begin to hear Christ's bell toll now, and is not our bell in the chime? We must be in his grave, before we come to his resurrection, and we must be in his death-bed before we come to his grave: we must do as he did, fast and pray, before we can say as he said, that In manus tuas, Into thy hands O Lord I commend my Spirit. You would not go into a medicinal bath without some preparatives; presume not upon that bath, the blood of Christ Jesus, in the sacrament then, without preparatives neither. Neither say to yourselves, we shall have preparatives enough, warnings enough, many more sermons before it come to that, and so it is too soon yet; you are not sure you shall have more; not sure you shall have all this; not sure you shall be affected with any. If you be, when you are, remember that as in that good custom in these cities, you hear cheerful street-music in the winter mornings, but yet there was a sad and doleful bellman, that waked you, and called upon you two or three hours before that music came; so for all that blessed music which the servants of God shall present to you in this place, it may be of use, that a poor bellman waked you before, and though but by his noise, prepared you for their music. And for this early office I take Christ's earliest witness, his proto-martyr, his first witness St. Stephen, and in him that which especially made him his witness, and our example, is his death, and our preparation to death, what he suffered, what he did, what he said, so far as is knit up in those words, When he had said this, he fell asleep.
From which example, I humbly offer to you these two general considerations; first, that every man is bound to do something before he die; and then to that man who hath done those things which the duties of his calling bind him to, death is but a sleep. In the first, we shall stop upon each of those steps; first there is a sis aliquid, every man is bound to be something, to take some calling upon him. Secondly there is a hoc age; every man is bound to do seriously and sedulously, and sincerely the duties of that calling. And thirdly there is a sis aliquis; the better to perform those duties, every man shall do well to propose to himself some person, some pattern, some example whom he will follow and imitate in that calling. In which third branch of this first part, we shall have just occasion to consider some particulars in him who is here proposed for our example, St. Stephen; and in these three, lis aliquid, be something, profess something; and then hoc age, do truly the duties of that profession; and lastly, sis aliquis, propose some good man, in that profession to follow, and in the things intended in this text, propose St. Stephen, we shall determine our first part. And in the other we shall see that to them that do not this, that do not settle their consciences so, death is a bloody conflict, and no victory at last, a tempestuous sea, and no harbour at last, a slippery height, and no footing, a desperate fall and no bottom. But then to them that have done it, their pill is gilded, and the body of the pill honey too; mors lucrum, death is a gain, a treasure, and this treasure brought some in a calm too; they do not only go to heaven by death, but heaven conies to them in death; their very manner of dying is an inchoative act of their glorified state: therefore it is not called a dying but a sleeping; which one metaphor intimates two blessings, that because it is a sleep it gives a present rest, and because it is a sleep, it promises a future waking in the resurrection.
First, then for our first branch of our first part, we begin with our beginning, our birth; Man is bor n to trouble; so we read it, to trouble. The original is a little milder than so ; yet there it is, Man is born unto labour', God never meant less than labour to any man. Put us upon that which we esteem the honourablest of labours, the duties of martial discipline, yet where it is said, that man is appointed to a warfare upon earth, it is seconded with that, His days are like the days of an hireling*. How honourable soever his station be, he must do his day's labour in the day, the duties of the place in the place. How far is he from doing so, that never so much as considers why he was sent into this world; who is so far from having done his errand here, that he knows not, considers not, what his errand was; nay knows not, considers not, whether he had any errand hither or no. But as though that God, who for infinite millions of millions of generations, before any creation, any world, contented himself with himself, satisfied, delighted himself with himself in heaven, without any creatures, yet at last did bestow six days' labour upon the creation and accommodation of man, as though that God who when man was soured in the whole lump, poisoned in the fountain, perished at the core, withered in the root, in the fall of Adam, would then in that dejection, that exinanition, that evacuation of the dignity of man, and not in his former better estate, engage his
own Son, his only, his beloved Son, to become man by a temporary life, and then to become no man by a violent, and yet a voluntary death; as though that God when he was pleased to come to a creation, might yet have left thee where thou wast before, amongst privations, a nothing; or if he would have made thee something, a creature, yet he might have shut thee up in the close prison of a bare being and no more, without life or sense, as he hath done earth and stones; or if he would have given thee life and sense, he might have left thee a toad, without the comeliness of shape, without that reasonable and immortal soul, which makes thee a man ; or if he had made thee a man, yet he might have lost thee upon the common amongst the heathen, and not have taken thee into his inclosures, by giving thee a particular form of religion; or if he would have given thee a religion, he might have left thee a Jew; or if he would have given thee Christianity, he might have left thee a papist, as though this God who had done so much for thee, by breeding thee in a true church, had done all this for nothing; thou passest through this world as a flash, as a lightning of which no man knows the beginning or the ending, as an ignis fatuus, in the air, which does not only not give light for any use, but does not so much as portend or signify anything; and thou passest out of the world, as a hand passes out of a bason, or a body out of a bath, where the water may be the fouler for thy having washed in it, else the water retains no impression of thy hand or body, so the world may be the worse for thy having lived in it, else the world retains no marks of thy having been there. When God placed Adam in the world, God enjoined Adam to fill the world, to subdue the world, and to rule the world; when God placed him in paradise, he commanded him to dress paradise, and to keep paradise; when God placed his children in the land of promise, he enjoined them to fight his battles against idolatry, and to destroy idolators; to every body some errand, some task for his glory; and thou comest from him into this world, as though he had said nothing to thee at parting, but go and do as thou shalt see cause, go and do as thou seest other men do, and serve me so far, and save thine own soul so far, as the times, and the places, and the persons, with whom thou dost converse, will conveniently admit. God's way is positive, and thine is privative: God made every thing something, and thou makest the best of things, man, nothing; and because thou canst not annihilate the world altogether, as though thou hadst God at an advantage, in having made an abridgment of the world in man, there in that abridgment thou wilt undermine him, and make man, man, as far as thou canst, man in thyself nothing. He that qualifies himself for nothing, does so; he whom we can call nothing, is nothing: this whole world is one entire creature, one body; and he that is nothing may be excremental nails, to scratch and gripe others, he may be excremental hairs for ornament, or pleasurableness of meeting; but he is no limb of this entire body, no part of God's uersal creature, the world. God's own name is I am: Being, is God's name, and nothing is so contrary to God as to be nothing. Be something, or else thou canst do nothing; and till thou have said this, says our text, that is, done something in a lawful calling, thou canst not sleep Stephen's sleep, not die in peace. Sis aliquid, propose something, determine thyself upon something, be, profess something, that was our first; and then our second consideration is, hoc age, do seriously, do sedulously, do sincerely the duties of that calling.
He that stands in a place and does not the duty of that place, is but a statue in that place; and but a statue without an inscription; posterity shall not know him, nor read who he was. In nature the body frames and forms the place; for the place of the natural body is that proxima ae'ris superficies, that inward superficies of the air, that invests and clothes, and apparels that body, and obeys, and follows, and succeeds to the dimensions thereof. In nature tho body makes the place, but in grace the place makes the body: the person must actuate itself, dilate, extend and propagate itself according to the dimensions of the place, by filling it in the execution of the duties of it. Pliny delivers us the history of all the great masters in the art of painting3: he tells us who began with the extremities and the outlines at first, who induced colours after that, and who after superinduced shadows; who brought in argutias vultus, as he calls them; not only the countenance, but the
meaning of the countenance, and all that so exquisitely, that (as he says there) Divinantes diem mortis dixerunt, Physiognomers would tell a man's fortune as well by the picture as by the life; he tells us. Qttis pinxit quw pingi non possunt, Who first adventured to express inexpressible things; Tonitrua, perturbationes, animas; They would paint thunder which was not to be seen, but heard: and affections, and the mind, the soul which produced those affections. But for the most part he tells us all the way, in what places there remained some of their pieces to be seen, and copied in his time. This is still that that dignifies all their works, that they wrought so, as that posterity was not only delighted, but improved and bettered in that art by their works: for truly that is one great benefit that arises Out of our doing the duties of our own places, in our own time, that as a perfume intended only for that room, where the entertainment is to be made, breathes upward and downward, and round about it; so the doing of the duties of the place, by men that move in middle spheres, breathe upwards and downwards, and about too, that is, cast a little shame upon inferiors if they do not so, and a little remembrance upon superiors that they should do so, arid a thanksgiving to Almighty God for them that do so: and so it is an improvement of the present, and an instruction and a cathechism to future times. The duty in this text is expressed and limited in speaking. Cum dixisset, When he had said this he fell asleep, and truly so, literally so, in speaking, and no more, it stretches far: many duties, in many great places consist in speaking; ours do so: and therefore, when vices abound in matter of manners, and schisms abound in matter of opinions, antequam dizerimus hoc, till we have said this, that is, that that belongeth to that duty, we cannot sleep Stephen's sleep, we cannot die in peace. The judge's duty lies much in this too, for he is bound not only to give a hearing to a cause, but to give an end, a judgment in the cause too: and so, for all them whose duty lies in speaking, from him who is to counsel his friend, to him who is to counsel his master in the family (for Job professes that he never refused the counsel of his servant) Antequam dixerint, Till they have said this, that is still, that that belongs to that duty, they cannot sleep Stephen's sleep, they Vol. v 2 B
cannot die in peace: and when we ascend to the consideration of higher persons, they and we speak not one language, for our speaking is but speaking but with great persons, acta apothegmata, their apothegms are their actions, and we hear their words in their deeds. God, whose image and name they bear does so: if we consider God; as a second person in the Godhead, the Son of God, God of God, so God is logos, sermo, verbum, oratio; the word, saying, speaking; but God considered primarily and in himself so, is actus pur us, all action, all doing. In the creation there is a dixit in God's mouth, still God says something; but evermore the dixit is accompanied with a fiat, something was to be done, as well as said. The apostles are apostles in that capacity as they were sent to preach, that is speaking; but, when we come to see their proceeding, it is in praxi, in the Acts of the Apostles. In those persons whose duty lies in speaking, there is an antequam dixerint; in those where it lies in action, there is an antequam fecerint; till that be said, and done, which belongs to their particular callings, they cannot sleep Stephen's sleep, they cannot die in peace; and therefore, Non dicas de Deo tuo gravis mihi est4, Say not of thy God, that he lies heavy upon thee, if he exact the duties of thy place at thy hands; Nec dicas de loco tuo, inutilis mihi est, Say not of thy place, that it is good for nothing, if thou must be put to do the duties of the place, in the place; for it is good for this, that when thou hast done that thou mayest sleep Stephen's sleep, die in peace. Sis aliquid, be something that was our first, and then hoc age, do truly the duties of that place without pretermitting thine own, without intermeddling with others, which was our second; and then our third consideration is, sis aliquis, be somebody, be like somebody, propose some good example in thy calling and profession to imitate.
It was the counsel of that great little philosopher Epictetus, whensoever thou undertakest any action, to consider what a Socrates, or a Plato; what a good and a wise man would do in that case, and to do conformably to that. One great orator, Latinus Rufus, proposed to himself Cicero for his example, and Cicero propounded Demosthenes, and he Pericles, and Pericles Pisistratus; and so there was a concatenation, a genealogy, a
4 Ambrose's xvii. Ep.
pedigree of a good orator; Habet unumquodque propositum principes suos*: In every calling, in every profession, a man may find some exemplar, some leading men to follow. The king hath a Josias, and the beggar hath a Job, and every man hath some: but here we must not pursue particulars, but propose to all, him whom our text proposes, St. Stephen; and in him we offer you first his name, Stephen. Stephen, Stephanos is a leading, an exemplar name, a significative, a prophetical, a sacramental, a catechistical name; a name that carries much instruction with it. Our countryman Bede takes it to be an Hebrew name, and it signifies (saith he) Normam vestram, Your rule, your law: to obey the law, to follow, to embrace the law is an acceptable service to God, especially the invariable law, the law of God himself: but we are sure that this name Stephen, Stephanos signifies a crown; to obey the crown, to follow, to serve the crown, is an acceptable service to God, especially the immarcessible crown, the crown of glory. Nomen omen; scarce any man hath a name, but that name is legal and historical to him: his very name remembers him of some rules, and laws of his actions; so his name is legal, and his name remembers him of some good men of the same name; and so his name is historical. Nomina debita: in the old formularies of the civil law, if a man left so many names to his executors, they were so many specialties for debts. Our names are debts, every man owes the world the signification of his name, and of all his names; every addition of honour, or of office, lays a new debt, a new obligation upon him; and his first name, his Christian name above all. For, when new names are given to men in the Scriptures, that doth not abolish or extinguish the old: Jacob was called Jacob after God had called him Israel; and Gedeon Gedeon after he was called Jerubbaal, and Simon when he was Peter too, was called Simon. Changes of office and additions of honour must not extinguish our Christian-name; the duties of our Christianity, and our religion must preponderate and weigh down the duties of all other places, and for all together. St. Gregory presents us a good use of this diligence to answer our names, Quo quis timet magis, ne quod dicitur non esset, eo plus quam dicitur erit; The
more a man is afraid that he is not worthy of the name he bears, whether the name of office or his Christian-name, the better officer and the better Christian he will be for that fear, and that solicitude; and therefore it is an useful and an appliable prayer for great persons, which that father makes in their behalf, Prwsta, quwsumus Domine, ut quod in ore hominum sumus, in conspectu tuo esse valeamus: Grant, 0 Lord, that we may always be such in thine eyes, as we are in their tongues that depend upon us, and justify their acclamations with thy approbations. And so far Stephen's name, as his name signifies the law, and as his name signifies the reward of fulfilling the law; a crown hath carried us to the consideration of the duty of answering the signification of our names; but then there are other passages in his history and actions that carry us farther.
First then we receive St. Stephen to have been St. Paul's kinsman in the flesh, and to have been his fellow-pupil under Gamaliel, and to have been equal to him, at least in the foundations, in natural faculties, and in the superedifications too, in learnings of acquisition and study; and then to have had this great advantage above him, that he applied himself as a disciple to Christ before St. Paul did; and in that profession became so eminent (for all the sects, and libertines themselves taking the liberty to dispute against him, they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake6) as that his cousin Paul, then but Saul, envied him most, promoved and assisted at his execution: for upon those words but two verses before our text, that they that stoned Stephen, laid down their clothes at SauTsfeef, St. Augustine says, In manu omnium cum lapidavit, That it was Saul that stoned Stephen, though by the hands of other executioners. Men of the best extraction and families, men of the best parts and faculties, men of the best education and proficiencies, owe themselves to God by most obligations. Him that dies to-day, God shall not only ask, Where is that soul? Is it as clean as I made it at first I No stain of sin? or is it as clean as I washed it in baptism? No sting? No venom of original sin in it? or is it as clean as I left it when we met last at the sacrament? No guiltiness of actual sin in it? God
shall not only ask this, Where is that soul? Nor only ask where is that body I Is it come back in that virginal integrity in which I made it? or is it no farther departed from that, than marriage, which I made for it, hath made it? Are those maritales ineptiw (that we may put Luther's words into God's mouth) the worst that is fallen upon that body? God shall not only ask for that soul and that body, but ask also, Where is that wit, that learning, those arts, those languages which by so good education I afforded thee? Truly when a weak and ignorant man departs into any vicious way, though in that case he do adhere to the enemy, and do serve the devil against God, yet he carries away but a single man, and serves but as a common soldier: but he that hath good parts, and good education, carries a regiment in his person, and armies and amunition for a thousand in himself. Though then thy kinsmen in the flesh, and thy fellow-pupils under Gamaliel, men whom thou hast accompanied heretofore in other ways, think thy present fear of God, but a childishness and pusilanimity, and thy present zeal to his service but an infatuation, and a melancholy, and thy present application of thyself to God in prayer, but an argument of thy court-despair, and of thy falling from former hopes there; yet come thou early, if it be early yet; and if it be not early, come apace to Christ Jesus: how learned soever thou art yet to learn thy first letters, if thou know not that Christ Jesus is Alpha and Omega, he in whom thou must begin and determine every purpose: thou hast studied thyself but into a dark and damnable ignorance, if thou have laboured for much learning only to prove that thou canst not be saved, only to dispute against the person and the Gospel of Christ Jesus. But propose to thine imitation Stephen, who though enriched with great parts, and formerly accustomed to the conversation of others of a different persuasion, applied himself early to Christ as a disciple, and more than in that general application, in a particular function and office as a deacon, as is expressed in the former chapter8.
The Roman church that delights in irresolutions, and gains, and makes profit in holding things in suspense, holds up this question undetermined, whether that office and function which
8 Acts vi. 5.
Stephen took of deacon, be so e sacris, a part of holy orders, as that it is a sacrament, or any part of the sacrament of orders. Durand, a man great in matter of ceremony, Cajetan, a man great in matter of substance, do both deny it; and divers, many, very many besides them; and they are let alone, and their church says nothing against them, or in determination of the opinion. But yet howsoever the stronger opinion even in that church lead the other way, and the form of giving that office by imposition of hands, and the many and great capacities that they receive, that they receive it, carry it to a great height, yet the use that we make of it here shall be but this, that even Stephen, who might have been inter doctores, doctor, (as Chrysologus says of him) a doctor to teach doctors; and inter apostolos apostolus, an apostle to lead apostles, contented himself with a lower degree in the service of Christ in his church, the service of a deacon, which very name signifies service, and ministration. It is a diminution of regal dignity, that the Roman church accounts the greatest kings, but as deacons, and assigns them that rank and place in all their ecclesiastical solemnities, in their ceremonials. But Constantine knew his own place without their marshalling: in the midst of bishops, and bishops met in council, he calls himself bishop, and bishop of bishops: and the greatest bishop of this land, in his time", professed his master the king, to be pastor pastorum, a shepherd of shepherds. It is a name due to the king, for it signifies inspection and superintendency; as the name of priest is also given to secular magistrates that had no part in ecclesiastical function in the Scriptures; particularly, in Potiphar10, and to divers others in divers other places. But yet though that name of superintendency be due unto him, let him who is crowned in his office as Stephen was in his name, accept this name and office of ministration of deacon, since the Holy Ghost himself hath given him that name, The minister of God for goodu, (there is the word of ministration, the name Diaconus imprinted upon the king) and since our super-supreme ordinary, our super-sovereign head of the church, Christ Jesus himself calls himself, by that name, The Son of man not to be ministered unto,
but to minister1*; there is this word of ministration, the office, the name of deacon imprinted upon Christ himself. And though in our interest, in him who is also a king and a priest; we are all regale sacerdotium13, kings and priests too, yet let us accept the name, and execute the office of deacon, of ministration, especially upon ourselves: for as every man is a world in himself, so every man is a church in himself too: and in the ancient ohurch, it was a part of the deacon's office, to call out to the church, to the congregation, Nequis contra aliquem, nequis in hypocrisi; Let no man come hither to church, (indeed no whether, for every place, because God is present in every place, is a church,) either in uncharitableness towards others, or in hypocrisy and in dissimulation in himself: bring always a charitable opinion towards other men, and sincere affections in thyself, and thou hast done the right office of a deacon, upon the right subject thou hadst ministered to thine own soul. But the height of Stephen's exemplariness, (which is the consideration that we pursue in this branch of this first part) is not so much in his active as in his passive part; not so much in that he did, as in that he suffered; not as he answered and discharged the duties of his name; so we have proposed him to you; nor as he was an early disciple; and came to Christ betimes, we have proposed him so too; nor as he made his ambition only to serve Christ, and not to serve him in a high place, but only as a deacon; for in that line also we have proposed him to you; but as he was a constant and cheerful martyr, and laid down his life for Christ, and in that qualification propose him to yourselves, and follow as a martyr.
Eusebius the bishop of Csesarea, was so in love with Pamphilus the martyr, as a martyr, that he would needs take his name, before he could get his addition; and though he could not be called martyr then, yet he would be called Pamphilus and not Eusebius. The name of Stephen hath enough in it to serve not only the vehementest affection, but the highest ambition; for there is a coronation in the name as we told you before. And therefore in the ecclesiastical story and martyrologies of the church, there are (I think) more martyrs of this name, Stephen,
'» Mark x. 45. 13 1 Pet. ii. 9.
than any other name; indeed they have all that name, for the name is a coronation. And therefore the kingdom of heaven, which is expressed by many precious metaphors in the Gospel, is never called a crown, till after Stephen's death, till our coronation was begun in his martyrdom, but after in the Epistles often, and in the Revelation very often. For to suffer for God, man to suffer for God, I to suffer for my Maker, for my Redeemer, is such a thing, as no such thing, excepting only God's sufferings for man can fall into the consideration of man. God's suffering for man was the nadir the lowest point of God's humilitation, man's suffering for God is the zenith, the highest point of man's exaltation: that as man needed God, and God would suffer for man, so God should need man, and man should suffer for God; that after God's general commission, Fac hoc et vives, Do this and thou shalt live, I should receive and execute a new commission, Patere hoc et vives abundantius, Suffer this and you shall have life and life more abundantly14; as our Saviour speaks in the Gospel, that when I shall ask my soul David's question, Quid retribuam", What shall I render to the Lord, I shall not rest in David's answer, Accipiam calicem, I will take the cup of salvation, in applying his blood to my soul, but proceed to an effundam calicem, I will give God a cup, a cup of my blood, that whereas to me the meanest of God's servants it is honour enough to be believed for God's sake: God should be believed for my sake, and his Gospel the better accepted, because the seal of my blood is set to it; that that dew which should water his plants, the plants of his paradise, his church, should drop from my veins, and that sea, that red sea, which should carry up his bark, his ark, to the heavenly Jerusalem, should flow from me; this is that that pours joy even into my gladness, and glory even into mine honour, and peace even into my security; that exalts and improves every good thing, every blessing that was in me before, and makes even my creation glorious, and my redemption precious; and puts a farther value upon things inestimable before, that I shall fulfil the sufferings of Christ in my flesh16, and that I shall be offered up for his church17, though not for the pur
chasing of it, yet for the fencing of it, though not by way of satisfaction as he was, but by way of example18 and imitation as he was too. Whether that be absolutely true or no, which an author of much curiosity in the Roman church says, that Inter tot millia millium, Amongst so many thousand thousands of martyrs in the Primitive church, it cannot be said that ever one lacked burial, (I know not whence he raises that) certainly no martyr ever lacked a grave in the wounds of his Saviour, no nor a tomb, a monument, a memorial in this life, in that sense wherein our Saviour speaks in the Gospel19, That no man shall leave house, or brother, or wife for him, but he shall receive an hundredfold in this life; Christ does not mean he shall have a hundred houses, or a hundred wives, or a hundred brethren; but that that comfort which he lost in losing those things shall be multiplied to him in that proportion even in this life. In which words of our Saviour, as we see the dignity and reward of martyrdom, so we see the extent and latitude, and compass of martyrdom too; that not only loss of life, but loss of that which we love in this life; not only the suffering of death, but the suffering of crosses in our life, contracts the name, and entitles us to the reward of martyrdom. All martyrdom is not a Smithfield martyrdom, to burn for religion. To suffer injuries, and upon advantages offered, not to revenge those injuries, is a court martyrdom. To resist outward temptations from power, and inward temptations from affections; in matter of judicature, between party and party, is a Westminster martyrdom. To seem no richer than they are, not to make their states better, when they make their private bargains with one another, and to seem so rich, as they are, and not to make their states worse, when they are called upon to contribute to public services, this is an exchange martyrdom. And there is a chamber martyrdom, a bosom martyrdom too; Habet pudicitia servata martyrium suumTM, Chastity is a daily martyrdom; and so all fighting of the Lord's battles, all victory over the Lord's enemies, in our own bowels, all cheerful bearing of God's crosses, and all watchful crossing of our own immoderate desires is a martyrdom accept
able to God, and a true copy of our pattern Stephen, so it be inanimated with that which was even the life and soul and price of all Stephen's actions and passions, that is, fervent charity, which is the last contemplation; in which we propose him for your example; that as he, you also may be just paymasters in discharging the debt, which you owe the world in the signification of your names; and early disciples and appliers of yourselves to Christ Jesus, and humble servants of his, without inordinate ambition of high places; and constant martyrs, in dying every day, as the apostle speaks81, and charitable intercessors, and advocates and mediators to God, even for your heaviest enemies.
We have a story in the ecclesiastical story of Nicephorus and Sapricius, formerly great friends, and after as great enemies: Nicephorus relented first, and sued often for reconciliation to Sapricius, but was still refused: he was refused even upon that day, when Sapricius being led out to execution, as a martyr for the Christian religion, Nicephorus upon the way, put himself in his way, and upon his knees begged a reconciliation, and obtained it not. The effect of his uncharitableness was this, Sapricius, when he came to the stake, recanted, and renounced the Christian religion, and lost the crown of martyrdom, and Nicephorus who came forth upon another occasion professed Christ, and was received to the coronation of martyrdom. Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing, says the apostle"; but if I have not charity I shall not be admitted to that sacrifice, to give my body to be burnt. St. Augustine seems to have delighted himself with that saying (for he says it more than once) Si Stephanies non orasset, If St. Stephen had not prayed for Saul, the church had had no Paul: and may we not justly add to that, If Stephen had not prayed for Saul, heaven had had no Stephen, or Stephen had had no heaven: suffering itself is but a stubbornness, and a rigid and stupid standing under an affliction; it is not a humiliation, a bending under God's hand, if it be not done in charity. Stephen had a pattern, and he is a pattern; Christ was his, and he is our example; Ut hoc dioam tibi, a teprimo audivi, says St. Augustine
"1 Cor. xv. 31. «* 1 Cor. xv. 3.
in Stephen's person to Christ, Lord thou taughtest me this prayer upon the cross; receive it now from me, as the Father received it from thee then. He prayed for his enemies as for himself; and thus much more earnestly for them than for himself, that he prayed for himself standing, and kneeling for them. Stephen was the plaintiff, and when he comes to his nolo prosequi, and to release, what hath the judge to say to the defendant. If a potent adversary oppress thee to ruin, to death, if thou pass away uncharitably towards him, thou raisest an everlasting trophy for thine enemy, and preparest him a greater triumph than he proposed to himself; he meant to triumph over thy body, and thy fortune, and thou hast provided him a triumph over thy soul too by thy uncharitableness; and he may survive to repent, and to be pardoned at God's hands, and thou who art departed in uncharitableness canst not; he shall be saved that ruined thee unjustly, and thou who wast unjustly ruined by him, shalt perish irrecoverably. And so we have done with all those pieces which constitute our first part, sis aliquid, profess something, hoc age, do seriously the duties of that profession, and then sis aliquis, propose some good man in that profession for thine imitation; as we have proposed Stephen for general duties, falling upon all professions. And we shall pass now to our other part, which we must all play, and play in earnest, that conclusion in which we shall but begin our everlasting state, our death, When he had said this he fell asleep.
Here I shall only present to you two pictures, two pictures in little: two pictures of dying men; and every man is like one of these, and may know himself by it; he that dies in the bath of a peaceable, and he that dies upon the wreck of a distracted conscience. When the devil imprints in a man, emortuum me esse non euro, I care not though I were dead, it were but a candle blown out, and there were an end of all, where the devil imprints that imagination: God will imprint an emori nolo, a lothness to die, and fearful apprehension at his transmigration: as God expresses the bitterness of death, in an ingemination, morte morietur, in a conduplication of deaths, he shall die, and die, die twice over; so wgrotando wgrotabit, in sickness he shall be sick, twice sick, body-sick and soul-sick too, sense-sick and conscience
sick together; when, as the sins of his body have cast sicknesses and death upon his soul, so the inordinate sadness of his soul, shall aggravate and actuate the sickness of his body. His physician ministers, and wonders it works not; he imputes that to phlegm, and ministers against that, and wonders again that it works not: he goes over all the humours, and all his medicines, and nothing works, for there lies at his patient's heart a damp that hinders the concurrence of all his faculties, to the intention of the physician, or the virtue of the physic. Lose not, O blessed apostle, thy question upon this man. 0 death where is thy sting? 0 grave where is thy victory**? For the sting of death is in every limb of his body, and his very body is a victorious grave upon his soul: and as his carcase and his coffin shall lie equally insensible in his grave, so his soul, which is but a carcase, and his body, which is but a coffin of that carcase, shall be equally miserable upon his death-bed: and Satan's commissions upon him shall not be signed by succession, as upon Job, first against his goods, and then his servants, and then his children, and then himself; but not at all upon his life; but he shall apprehend all at once, ruin upon himself and all his, ruin upon himself and all him, even upon his life; both his lives, the life of this, and the life of the next world too. Yet a drop would redeem a shower, and a sigh now a storm then: yet a tear from the eye, would save the bleeding of the heart, and a word from the mouth now, a roaring, or (which may be worse) a silence of consternation, of stupefaction, of obduration at that last hour. Truly, if the death of the wicked ended in death, yet to escape that manner of death were worthy a religious life. To see the house fall, and yet be afraid to go out of it; to leave an injured world, and meet an incensed God; to see oppression and wrong in all thy professions, and to foresee ruin and wastefulness in all thy posterity; and lands gotten by one sin in the father, moulder away by another in the son; to see true figures of horror, and lie, and fancy worse; to begin to see thy sins but then, and find every sin (at first sight) in the proportion of a giant, able to crush thee into despair; to see the blood of Christ, imputed, not to thee, but to thy sins; to see Christ crucified, and not crucified for thee, but
crucified by thee; to hear this blood speak, not better things, than the blood of Abel, but louder for vengeance than the blood of Abel did; this is his picture that hath been nothing, that hath done nothing, that hath proposed no Stephen, no law to regulate, no example to certify his conscience: but to him that hath done this, death is but a sleep.
Many have wondered at that note of St. Chrysostom's, That till Christ's time death was called death, plainly, literally death, but after Christ, death was called but sleep; for, indeed, in the Old Testament before Christ, I think there is no one metaphor so often used, as sleep for death, and that the dead are said to sleep: therefore we wonder sometimes, that St. Chrysostom should say so: but this may be that which that holy father intended in that note, that they in the Old Testament, who are said to have slept in death, are such as then, by faith, did apprehend, and were fixed upon Christ; such as were all the good men of the Old Testament, and so there will not be many instances against St. Chrysostom's note, That to those that die in Christ, death is but a sleep; to all others, death is death, literally death. Now of this dying man, that dies in Christ, that dies the death of the righteous, that embraces death as a sleep, must we give you a picture too.
There is not a minute left to do it; not a minute's sand; Is there a minute's patience \ Be pleased to remember that those pictures which are delivered in a minute, from a print upon a paper, had many days', weeks', months' time for the graving of those pictures in the copper; so this picture of that dying man, that dies in Christ, that dies the death of the righteous, that embraces death as a sleep, was graving all his life; all his public actions were the lights, and all his private the shadows of this picture. And when this picture comes to the press, this man to the straits and agonies of death, thus he lies, thus he looks, this he is. His understanding and his will is all one faculty; he understands God's purpose upon him, and he would not have God's purpose turned any other way; he sees God will dissolve him, and he would fain be dissolved, to be with Christ; his understanding and his will is all one faculty; his memory and his foresight are fixed, and concentred upon one object, upon goodness; he remembers that he hath proceeded in the sincerity of a good conscience in all the ways of his calling, and he foresees that his good name shall have the testimony, and his posterity the support of the good men of this world; his sickness shall be but a fomentation to supple and open his body for the issuing of his soul; and his soul shall go forth, not as one that gave over his house, but as one that travelled to see and learn better architecture, and meant to return and re-edify that house, according to those better rules: and as those thoughts which possess us most awake, meet us again when we are asleep; so his holy thoughts, having been always conversant upon the directing of his family, the education of his children, the discharge of his place, the safety of the state, the happiness of the king all his life; when he is fallen asleep in death, all his dreams in that blessed sleep, all his devotions in heaven shall be upon the same subjects, and he shall solicit him that sits upon the throne, and the Lamb, God for Christ Jesus' sake, to bless all these with his particular blessings: for so God giveth his beloved sleep **, so as that they enjoy the next world and assist this.
So then, the death of the righteous is a sleep; first, as it delivers them to a present rest. Now men sleep not well fasting; nor does a fasting conscience, a conscience that is not nourished with a testimony of having done well, come to this sleep; but Dulcis somnus operanti, The sleep of a labouring man is sweet85. To him that laboureth in his calling, even this sleep of death is welcome. When thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid, saith Solomon88; when the physician says, Sir, you must keep your bed, thou shalt not be afraid of that sick-bed; and then it follows, And thy sleep shall be sweet unto thee; thy sickness welcome, and thy death too; for, in those two David seems to involve all, ./ will lay me down in peace, and sleep*1; embrace patiently my death-bed and death itself.
So then this death is a sleep, as it delivers us to a present rest; and then, lastly, it is so also as it promises a future waiting in a glorious resurrection. To the wicked it is far from both: of them God says, / will make them drunk, and they shall sleep a
perpetual sleep and not awakeTM; they shall have no part in the second resurrection. But for them that have slept in Christ, as Christ said of Lazarus, Lazarus sleepeth, but I go that I may wake him out of sleep", he shall say to his Father; Let me go that I may wake them who have slept so long in expectation of my coming: and Those that sleep in Jesus Christ (saith the apostle) will God bring with him30; not only fetch them out of the dust when he comes, but bring them with him, that is, declare that they have been in his hands ever since they departed out of this world. They shall awake as Jacob did, and say as Jacob said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven, and into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell, where there shall be no cloud nor sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light, no noise nor silence, but one equal music, no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession, no foes nor friends, but an equal communion and identity, no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity. Keep us Lord so awake in the duties of our callings, that we may thus sleep in thy peace, and wake in thy glory, and change that infallibility which thou affordest us here, to an actual and undeterminable possession of that kingdom which thy Son our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen.
88 Jer. Li. 39, "John xi. 11. 30 1 Thess. iv. 14.
END OF THE FIFTH VOLUME.
JOHN W. PARKER, ST. MARTIN'S LANE.