PREACHED FEBRUARY 21, 1611.
Matthew xxi. 44.
Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Almighty God made us for his glory, and his glory is not the glory of a tyrant, to destroy us, but his glory is in our happiness. He put us in a fair way towards that happiness in nature, in our creation, that way would have brought us to heaven, but then we fell, and (if we consider ourselves only) irrecoverably. He put us after into another way, over thorny hedges and ploughed lands, through the difficulties and encumbrances of all the ceremonial law; there was no way to heaven then, but that; after that, he brought us a cross way, by the cross of Jesus Christ, and the application of his Gospel, and that is our way now. If we compare the way of nature, and our way, we went out of the way at the town's end, as soon as we were in it, we were out of it. Adam died as soon as he lived, and fell as soon as he was set on foot; if we compare the way of the law, and ours, the Jews and the Christians, their synagogue was but as God's farm, our church is as his dwelling-house; to them locavit vineam, he let out his vine to husbandmen, and then peregre profectus, he went into a far country, he promised a Messias, but deferred his coming a long time: but to us dabitur regnum, a kingdom is given; the vineyard is changed into a kingdom, here is a good improvement, and the lease into an absolute deed of gift, here is a good enlargement of the term. He gives, therefore he will not take away again. He gives a kingdom, therefore there is a fulness and allsufficiency in the gift; and he does not go into any far country, but stays with us, to govern us, usque ad consummationem, till the end of the world; here therefore God takes all into his own hands, and he comes to dwell upon us himself, to which purpose he ploughs up our hearts, and he builds upon us; Vos Dei agriculturan et Dei wdificium, Ye are God's husbandry, and God^s building1: now of this, this husbandry God speaks familiarly and parabolically many times in Scriptures: of this building particucularly and principally in this place, where having intimated unto us the several benefits we have received from Christ Jesus in that appellation, as he is a stone; he tells us also our dangers in mis-behaving ourselves towards it, Whosoever shall fall on this, &c.
Christ then is a stone, and we may run into two dangers: first, we may fall upon this stone, and then this stone may fall upon us; but yet we have a great deal of comfort presented to us, in that Christ is presented to us as a stone, for there we shall find him, first, to be the foundation-stone, nothing can stand which is not built upon Christ; secondly, to be lapis angularis, a corner stone, that unites things most disunited; and then to be lapis Jacob, the stone that Jacob slept upon; fourthly, to be lapis Davidis, the stone that David slew Goliah withal; and lastly to be lapis Petra, such a stone as is a rock, and such a rock as no waters nor storms can remove or shake, these are benefits: Christ Jesus is a stone, no firmness but in him; a fundamental stone, no building but on him; a corner stone, no piecing nor reconciliation, but in him; and Jacob's stone, no rest, no tranquillity, but in him; and David's stone, no anger, no revenge, but in him; and a rocky stone, no defence against troubles and tribulations, but in him; and upon this stone we fall and are broken, and this stone may fall on us, and grind us to powder.
.1 1 Cor. iii. 9.
First in the metaphor, that Christ is called a stone, the firmness is expressed: forasmuch as he loved his own that were in the world, In finem dilexit eos, says St. John, He loved them to the end*; and not to any particular end, for any use of his own, but to their end; Qui erant in munch, says Cyril, ad distinotionem angelorum, He loved them in the world, and not angels; he loved not only them who were in a confirmed estate of mutual loving him too, but even them who were themselves conceived in sin, and then conceived all their purposes in sin too, them who could have no cleansing but in his blood, and when they were cleansed in his blood, their own clothes would defile them again, them who by nature are not able to love him at all, and when by grace they are brought to love him, can express their love no other way, but to be glad that he was betrayed, and scourged, and scorned, and nailed, and crucified; and to be glad, that if all this were not already done, it might be done yet, to long, and wish, that if Christ were not crucified, he might be crucified now, (which is a strange manner of expressing love) those men he loved, and loved unto the end; men and not angels; and then men, Ad distinctionem mortuorum, says Chrysostom, Not only the patriarchs, who were departed out of the world, who had loved him so well, as to take his word for their salvation, and had lived and died in the faithful contemplation of a future promise, which they never saw performed; but those who were partakers of tha performance of all those promises, those into the midst of whom he came in person, those upon he wrought with his piercing doctrine, and his powerful miracles, those who for all this loved not him, he loved; et in finem, he loved them to the end: it is much that he should love them in fine, at their end, that he should look graciously on them at last, that when their sun sets, their eyes faint, his sun of grace should arise, and his East be brought to their West, that then in the shadow of death, the Lord of life should quicken and inanimate their hearts: that when their last bell tolls, and calls them to their first judgment, (and first and last judgment to this purpose is all one) the passing bell, and angel's trump sound all but one note, Surgite qui dormitis in pulvere, Arise ye that sleep in the dust, which is the voice of the
8 John xiii. 1.
angels, and Surgite qui vigilatis in plwmis, Arise ye that cannot sleep in feathers, for the pangs of death, which is the voice of the bell, is but one voice; for God at the general judgment, shall never reverse any particular judgment, formerly given; that God should then come to the bed's side, Ad sibilandum populum mum, as the prophet Ezekiel speaks, to hiss softly for his child, to speak comfortably in his ear, to whisper gently to his departing soul, and to drown and overcome with this soft music of his, all the danger of the angels' trumpets, all the horror of the ringing bell, all the cries, and vociferations of a distressed, and distracted, and scattering family, yea all the accusations of his own conscience, and all the triumphant acclamations of the devil himself; that God should love a man thus in fine, at his end, and ret urn to him then, though he had suffered him to go astray from him before, it is a great testimony of an unspeakable love: but his love is not only in fine, at the end, but in finem, to the end, all the way to the end. He leaves them not uncalled at first, he leaves them not unaccompanied in the way, he leaves them not unrecompensed at the last, that God who is Almighty, Alpha and Omega, first and last, that God is also love itself, and therefore this love is Alpha and Omega, first and last too; consider Christ's proceeding with Peter in the ship, in the storm; first he suffered him to be in some danger, but then he visits him with that strong assurance, Noli timere, Be not afraid, it is I3, any testimony of his presence rectifies all. This puts Peter into that spiritual knowledge and confidence, Jube me venire, Lord bid me come to thee; he hath a desire to be with Christ, but yet stays his bidding; he puts not himself into an unnecessary danger, without a commandment; Christ bids him, and Peter comes, but yet, though Christ were in his sight, and even in the actual exercise of his love to him, yet as soon as he saw a gust, a storm, timuit, he was afraid, and Christ letteth him fear, and letteth him sink, and letteth him cry; but he directed his fear, and his cry to the right end, Domine salvum me fac, Lord save me, and thereupon he stretcheth out his hand and saved him: God doth not raise his children to honour, and great estates, and then leave them, and expose them to be subjects, and exercises of the malice
3 Matt. xiv. 27.
of others, nor he doth not make them mighty, and then leave them, ut glorietur in malo qui potens est, that he should think it a glory to be able to do harm. He doth not impoverish and dishonour his children, and then leave them; leave them insensible of that doctrine, that patience is as great a blessing as abundance; God giveth not his children health, and then leaveth them to a boldness in surfeiting; nor beauty, and leave them to a confidence of opening themselves to all solicitations; nor valour, and then leaveth them to a spirit of quarrelsomeness; God maketh no patterns of his works, no models of his houses, he maketh whole pieces, he maketh perfect houses, he putteth his children into good ways, and he directeth and protecteth them in those ways: for this is the constancy and the perseverance of the love of Christ Jesus, as he is called in this text a stone. To come to the particular benefits; the first is that he is lapis fundamentalis, a foundation-stone; for other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. Now where St. Augustine saith, (as he doth in two or three places) that this place of St. Paul's to the Corinthians4, is one of these places of which St. Peter saith, Quwdam difficilia, There are some things in St. Paul hard to be understood: St. Augustine's meaning is, that the difficulty is in the next words, How any man should build hay or stubble upon so good a foundation as Christ, how any man that pretendeth to live in Christ, should live ill, for in the other there can be no difficulty, How Christ Jesus to a Christian, should be the only foundation: and therefore to place salvation or damnation in such an absolute decree of God, as should have no relation to the fall of man, or reparation in a Redeemer; this is to remove this stone out of the foundation, for a Christian may be well content to begin at Christ: if any man therefore have laid any other foundation to his faith, or any other foundation to his actions, possession of great places, alliance in great families, strong parties in courts, obligation upon dependants, acclamations of people; if he have laid any other foundations for pleasure, and contentment, care of health, and complexion, appliableness in conversation, delightfulness in discourses, cheerfulness in disportings, interchanging of secrets, and such other small wares of
* 1 Cor. iii.
courts and cities as these are: whosoever hath laid such foundations as these, must proceed as that general did, who when he received a besieged town to mercy, upon condition that in sign of subjection they should suffer him to take off one row of stones from their walls, he took away the lowest row, the foundation, and so ruined and demolished the whole walls of the city; so must he that hath these false foundations (that is, these habits) divest the habit, root out the lowest stone, that is, the general, and radical inclination to these disorders: for ho shall never be able to watch and resist every particular temptation, if he trust only to his moral constancy; no, nor if he place Christ for the roof to cover all his sins, when he hath done them; his mercy worketh by way of pardon after, not by way of non obstante, and privilege to do a sin beforehand; but beforehand we must have the foundation in our eye; when we undertake any particular action, in the beginning, we must look how that will suit with the foundation, with Christ; for there is his first place, to be lapis fundamentalis.
And then, after we have considered him, first, in the foundation (as we are all Christians) he grows to be lapis angularis, the corner-stone, to unite those Christians, which seem to be of divers ways, divers aspects, divers professions together; as we consider him in the foundation, there he is the root of faith, as we consider him in the corner, there he is the root of charity, in Esay he is both together, a sure foundation and a corner-stone', as he was in the place of Esay, lapis probatus, I will lay in Sion a tried stone, and in the Psalm", lapis reprobatus, a stone that the builders refused, in this consideration, he is lapis approbatus, a stone approved by all sides, that unites all things together: consider first, what divers things he unites in his own person; that he should be the son of a woman, and yet no son of man, that the son of a woman should be the son of God, that man's sinful nature, and innocency should meet together, a man that should not sin, that God's nature and mortality should meet together, a God that must die; briefly, that he should do and suffer so many things impossible as man, impossible as God. Thus he was a corner-stone, that brought together natures,
5 Isaiah xxviii. 10. 6 Psalm cxviii. 22.
VOL. V. U
naturally incompatible. Thus he was lapis angularis, a cornerstone in his person, consider him in his offices, as a Redeemer, as a Mediator, and so he hath united God to man; yea, rebellious man to jealous God: he is such a corner stone has hath united heaven and earth, Jerusalem and Babylon together.
Thus in his person, and thus in his offices, consider him in his power, and he is such a corner-stone, as that he is the God of peace, and love, and union, and concord. Such a corner-stone as is able to unite, and reconcile (as it did in Abraham's house) a wife and a concubine in one bed, a covetous father and a wasteful son in one family, a severe magistrate and a licentious people in one city, an absolute prince and a jealous people in one kingdom, law and conscience in one government, Scripture and tradition in one church. If we would but make Christ Jesus and his peace, the life and soul of all our actions, and all our purposes; if we would mingle that sweetness and suppleness which he loves, and which he is, in all our undertakings; if in all controversies, book controversies, and sword controversies, we would fit them to him, and see how near they would meet in him, that is, how near we might come to be friends, and yet both sides be good Christians; then we placed this stone in his second right place, who as he is a corner-stone reconciling God and man in his own person, and a corner-stone in reconciling God and mankind in his office, so he desires to be a corner-stone in reconciling man and man, and settling peace among ourselves, not for worldly ends, but for this respect, that we might all meet in him to love one another, not because we made a stronger party by that love, not because we made a sweeter conversation by that love, but because we met closer in the bosom of Christ Jesus; where we must at last either rest altogether eternally, or be altogether eternally thrown out, or be eternally separated and divorced from one another.
Having then received Christ for the foundation-stone, (wo believe aright) and for the corner-stone (we interpret charitably the opinions and actions of other men) the next is, that he be lapis Jacob, a stone of rest and security to ourselves. When Jacob was in his journey he took a stone, and that stone was his pillow, upon that he slept all night, &c., resting upon that stone, he saw the ladder that reached from heaven to earth; it is much to have this egress and regress to God, to have a sense of being gone from him, and a desire and means of returning to him; when we do fall into particular sins, it is well if we can take hold of the first step of this ladder, with that hand of David-, Domine respice in testamentum, O Lord, consider thy covenant7, if we can remember God of his covenant, to his people, and to their seed, it is well; it is more, if we can clamber a step higher on this ladder to a Domine labia mea aperies, if we come to open our lips in a true confession of our wretched condition and of those sins by which we have forfeited our interest in that covenant, it is more; and more than that too, if we come to that inebriabo me lacrymis*, if we overflow and make ourselves drunk with tears, in a true sense, and sorrow for those sins, still it is more; and more than all this, if we can expostulate with God in an Usque quo Domine, How long, O Lord, shall I take counsel in myself, having weariness in my heart'? These steps, these gradations towards God, do well; war is a degree of peace, as it is the way of peace; and these colluctations and wrestlings with God, bring a man to peace with him; but then is a man upon this stone of Jacob, when in a fair, and even, and constant religious course of life, he enters into his sheets every night, as though his neighbours next day were to shroud and wind him in those sheets; he shuts up his eyes every night, as though his executors had closed them; and lies down every night, not as though his man were to call him up next morning, or to the next day's sport, or business, but as though the angels were to call him to the resurrection; and this is our third benefit, as Christ is a stone, we have security and peace of conscience in him.
The next is, that he is lapis David, the stone with which David slew Goliah, and with which we may overcome all our enemies; Sicut.baculus cruris, ita lapis Christi habuit typum'0; David's sling was a type of the cross, and the stone was a type of Christ, we will choose to insist upon spiritual enemies, sins; and this is that stone that enables the weakest man to overthrow the strongest sin, if he proceed as David did: David says to Goliah,
} Psalm i.xxiv. 20. 8 Isaiah xvi. 9.
9 Psalm xiii. 2. 10 Augustine.
Thou contest to me with a spear and a shield, but I come to thee in the name of the God of the hosts of Israel, whom thou hast railed upon11, if thou watch the approach of any sin, any giant sin that transports thee most; if thou apprehend it to rail against the Lord of hosts, (that is, that there is a loud and active blasphemy against God in every sin) if thou discern it to come with a sword, or a spear, (that is, persuasions of advancement if thou do it, or threatenings of dishonour, if thou do it not,) if it come with a shield, (that is, with promises to cover and palliate it, though thou do it,) if then this David, (thy attempted soul) can put his hand into his bag (as David did) (for Quid cor hominis nisi sacculus Dei"? A man's heart is that bag in which God lays up all good directions) if he can but take into his consideration his Jesus, his Christ, and sling one of his works, his words, his commandments, his merits, this Goliah, this giant sin, will fall to the ground; and then, as it is said of David, that he slew him when he had no sword in his hand, and yet in the next verse, that he took his sword and slew him with that: so even by the consideration of what my Lord hath done for me, I shall give that sin the first death's wound, and then I shall kill him with his own sword, that is, his own abomination, his own foulness shall make me detest him. If I dare but look my sin in the face, if I dare tell him, I come in the name of the Lord, if I consider my sin, I shall triumph over it, Et dabit certanti victoriam qui dedit certandi audaciam13, That God that gave me courage to fight, will give me strength to overcome.
The last benefit which we consider in Christ, as he is a stone, is, that he is petra, a rock; the rock gave water to the Israelites in the wilderness14; and he gave them honey out of the stone, and oil out of the hard rock15: now when St. Paul says, That our fathers drank of the same Rock as we, he adds that the same Rock was Christ16; so that all temporal, and all spiritual blessings to us, and to the fathers, Were all conferred upon us in Christ; but we consider not now any miraculous production from the rock, but that which is natural to the rock; that it is a firm defence to us in all tempests, in all afflictions, in all tribulations;
11 1 Sam. xvii. 45. 11 Gregory. 13 Augustine.
14 Num. xx.. 15 Deut. xxxii. 13. 18 1 Cor. x. 4.
and therefore, Laudate Dominum habitatores petrw, says tlio prophet", You that are inhabitants of this rock, you that dwell in Christ, and Christ in you. you that dwell in this rock, Praise ye the Lord, bless him, and magnify him for ever. If a son should ask bread of his father, will he give him a stone, was Christ's question I Yes, O blessed Father, we ask no other answer to our petition, no better satisfaction to our necessity, than when we say, Da nobis panem, Give us this day our daily bread, that thou give us this stone, this rock, thyself in thy church, for our direction, thyself in the sacrament, for our refection; what hardness soever we find there, what corrections soever we receive there, all shall be easy of digestion, and good nourishment to us; thy holy spirit of patience shall command, That these stones be made bread; and we shall find more juice, more marrow in these stones, in these afflictions, than worldly men shall do in the softness of their oil, in the sweetness of their honey, in the cheerfulness of their wine; for as Christ is our foundation, we believe in him, and as he is our corner-stone, we are at peace with the world in him; as he is Jacob's stone, giving us peace in ourselves, and David's stone, giving us victory over our enemies, so he is a rock of stone, (no affliction, no tribulation shall shake us). And so we have passed through all the benefits proposed to be considered in this first part, as Christ is a stone.
It is some degree of thankfulness, to stand long in the contemplation of the benefit which we have received, and therefore we have insisted thus long upon the first part. But it is a degree of spiritual wisdom too, to make haste to the consideration of our dangers, and therefore we come now to them, we may fall upon this stone, and be broken. This stone may fall upon us, and grind us to powder, and in the first of these, we may consider, quid cadere, what the falling upon this stone is: and secondly, quid frangi, what it is to be broken upon it: and then thirdly, the latitude of this unusquisque, that whosoever falls so, is so broken; first then, because Christ loves us to the end, therefore will we never put him to it, never trouble him till then; as the wise man said of manna, That it had abundance of all pleasure in it, and was meat for all tastes18; that is, (as expositors interpret
» Isaiah xui. 11. 16 Wisd. xvi. 24.
it) that manna tasted to every one, like that which every one liked best: so this stone Christ Jesus, hath abundance of all qualities of stone in it, and is all the way such a stone to every man, as he desires it should be. Unto you that believe, saith St. Peter, it is a precious stone, but unto the disobedient, a stone to stumble at: for if a man walk in a gallery, where windows, and tables, and statues, are all of marble, yet if he walk in the dark, or blindfold, or carelessly, he may break his face as dangerously against that rich stone, as if it were but brick; so though a man walk in the true church of God, in that Jerusalem which is described in the Revelation, the foundation, the gates, the walls, all precious stone, yet if a man bring a misbelief, a misconceit, that all this religion is but a part of civil government and order; if a man be scandalized, at that humility, that patience, that poverty, that lowliness of spirit which the Christian religion inclines us unto; if he will say, Si rex Israel, If Christ will be king, let him come down from the cross, and then wo will believe in him, let him deliver his church from all crosses, first of doctrine, and then of persecution, and then we will believe him to be king; if we will say, Nolnmus hunc regnare, We will admit Christ, but we" will not admit him to reign over us, to be king; if he will be content with a consulship, with a colleagueship, that he and the world may join in the government, that we may give the week to the world, and the Sabbath to him, that we may give the day of the Sabbath to him and the night to our licentiousness, that of the day we may give the forenoon to him, and the afternoon to our pleasures, if this will serve Christ, we are content to admit him, but nolumns regnare, we will none of that absolute power, that whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we must be troubled to think on him, and respect his glory in every thing. If he will say, Prwcepit angelis, God hath given us in charge to his angels, and therefore we need not to look to our own ways, he hath locked us up safely, and lodged us softly under an eternal election, and therefore we are sure of salvation, if he will walk thus blindly, violently, wilfully, negligently in the true church, though he walk amongst the sapphires, and pearls, and chrysolites, which are mentioned there, that is, in the outward communion and fellowship of God's saints, yet he may bruise and break, and batter himself, as much against these stones, as against the stone gods of the heathen, or the stone idols of the papists; for first, the place of this falling upon this stone, is the true ohurch; Qui jacet in terra, Ho that is already upon the ground, in no church, can fall no lower, till he fall to hell; but he whom God hath brought into his true church, if he come to a confident security, that ho is safe enough in these outward acts of religion, ho falls, though it be upon this stone, he erreth, though in the true church. This is the place then, the true church; the falling itself (as far as will fall into our time of consideration now) is a falling into some particular sin, but not such as quenches our faith; we fall so, as we may rise again. St. Hierome expresseth it so, Qui cadit et tamen credit, He that falls, but yet believes, that falls and hath a sense of his fall, reservatur per pwnitentiam ad salutem, that man is reserved, by God's purpose, to come by repentance, to salvation; for this man that falls there, falls not so desperately, as that he feels nothing between hell and him, nothing to stop at, nothing to check him by the way, cadit super, ho falls upon something; nor he falls not upon flowers, to wallow and tumble in his sin, nor upon feathers, to rest and sleep in his sin, nor into a cooling river, to disport, and refresh, and strengthen himself in his sin; but ho falls upon a stone, where he may receive a bruise, a pain upon his fall, a remorse of that sin he is fallen into: and in this fall, our infirmity appears three ways: the first is Impingere in lapidem, to stumble, for though he be upon the right stone in the true religion, and have light enough, yet Impingimus meridie, as the prophet saith", even at noon we stumble; wo have much more li<dit, by Christ being come, than the Jews had, but we are sorry we have it: when Christ hath said to us for our better understanding of the law, He that looketh and lusteth hath committed adultery, he that coveteth hath stolen, he that is angry hath murdered, we stumble at this, and we are scandalized with it: and we think that other religions are gentler, and that Christ hath dealt hardly with us, and we had rather Christ had not said so, we had rather he had left us to our liberty and discretion, to look, and court, and to give a way to our passions, as we should find it
19 Isaiah L. 10.
most conduce to our ease, and to our ends. And this is impingere, to stumble, not to go on in an equal and even pace, not to do the will of God cheerfully. And a second degree is calcitrare, to kick, to spur at this stone; that is, to bring some particular sin, and some particular law into comparison: to debate thus, if I do not this now, I shall never have such a time; if I slip this, I shall never have the like opportunity; if I will be a fool now, I shall be a beggar all my life: and for the law of God that is against it, there is but a little evil for a great deal of good; and there is a great deal of time to recover and repent that little evil. Now to remove a stone which was a landmark, and to hide and cover that stone, was all one fault in the law; to hide the will of God from our own consciences with excuses and extenuations, this is, calcitrare, as much as we can to spurn the stone, the landmark out of the way; but the fulness and accomplishment of this is in the third word of the text, cadere, to fall; he falls as a piece of money falls into a river; we hear it fall, and we see it sink, and by and by we see it deeper, and at last we see it not at all: so no man falleth at first into any sin, but he hears his own fall. There is a tenderness in every conscience at the beginning, at the entrance into a sin, and he discerneth awhile the degrees of sinking to: but at last he is out of his own sight, till he meet this stone; (this stone is Christ) that is, till he meet some hard reprehension, some hard passage of a sermon, some hard judgment in a prophet, some cross in the world, something from the mouth, or something from the hand of God, that breaks him: He falls upon the stone and is broken.
So that to be broken upon this stone, is to come to this sense, that though our integrity be lost, that we be no more whole and entire vessels, yet there are means of piecing us again: though we be not vessels of innocency, (for who is so ?) (and for that enter not into judgment with thy servants O Lord) yet we may be vessels of repentance acceptable to God, and useful to his service; for when anything falls upon a stone, the harm that it suffereth, is not always (or not only) according to the proportion of the hardness of that which it fell upon, but according to the height that it falleth from, and according to that violence that it is thrown with: if their fall who fall by sins of infirmity, should refer only to the stone they fall upon, (the majesty of God being wounded and violated in every sin) every sinner would be broken to pieces, and ground to powder: but if they fall not from too far a distance, if they have lived within any nearness, any consideration of God, if they have not fallen with violence, taken heart and force in the way, grown perfect in the practice of their sin, if they fall upon this stone, that is, sin, and yet stop at Christ, after the sin, this stone shall break them; that is, break their force and confidence, break their presumption and security, but yet it shall leave enough in them, for the Holy Ghost to unite to his service; yea, even the sin itself, Co-operabitur in bonum, as the apostle saith*0, the very fall itself shall be an occasion of his rising: and therefore, though St. Augustine seem to venture far, it is not too far, when he saith, Audeo dicere, It is boldly said, and yet I must say it, Utile est ut caderem in aliquod manifestum peccatum; A sinner falleth to his advantage, that falleth into some such sin, as by being manifested to the world, manifesteth his own sinful state, to his own sinful conscience too: it is well for that man that falleth so, as that he may thereby look the better to his footing ever after; Dicit Domino susceptor meus es tu, says St. Bernard, That man hath a new title to God, a new name for God; all creatures (as St. Bernard enlarges this meditation) can say, Creator meus es tu, Lord thou art my Creator; all living creatures can say, Pastor mens es tu, Thou art my Shepherd, thou givest me meat in due season; all men can say, Redemptor meus es tu, Thou art my Redeemer; but only he which is fallen, and fallen upon this stone, can say, Susceptor meus es tu, Only he which hath been overcome by a temptation, and is restored, can say, Lord thou hast supported me, thou hast recollected my shivers, and reunited me; only to him hath this stone expressed, both abilities of stone; first to break him with a sense of his sin, and then to give him peace and rest upon it.
Now there is in this part this circumstance, Quicunque cadit, Whosoever falleth; where the quicunque is unusquisque, whosoever falls, that is, whosoever he be, he falls; Quomodo de coelo cecidisti Lucifer? says the prophet81, the prophet wonders how
'° Rom. viii. 28. a1 Isaiah xiv. 12.
Lucifer could fall, having nothing to tempt him (for so many of the ancients interpret that place of the fall of the angels, and when the angels fell, there were no other creatures made), but Quid est homo aut filius hominis? Since the father of man, Adam, could not, how shall the sons of him that inherit his weakness, and contract more, and contribute their temptations to one another, hope to stand 2 Adam fell, and he fell a longe, far off, for he could see no stone to fall upon, for when he fell there was no such Messias, no such means of reparation proposed, nor promised when he fell, as now to us; the Blessed Virgin, and the forerunner of Christ, John Baptist, fell too, but they fell prope, nearer hand, they fell but a little way, for they had this stone (Christ Jesus) in a personal presence, and their faith was always awake in them; but yet he, and she, and they all fell into some sin. Quicunque cadit is unusquisque cadit, whosoever falls, is, whosoever he be, he falls, and whosoever falls, (as we said before) is broken; if he fall upon something, and fall not to an infinite depth; if he fall not upon a soft place, to a delight in sin, but upon a stone, and this stone, (no harder, sharper, ruggeder than this, not into a diffidence, or distrust in God's mercy) he that falls so, and is broken so, that comes to a remorseful, to a broken, and a contrite heart, he is broken to his advantage, left to a possibility, yea brought to a nearness of being pieced again, by the word, by the sacraments, and other medicinal institutions of Christ in his church.
We must end only with touching upon the third part, Upon whom this stone falls, it will grind him to powder; where we shall only tell you first, Quid conteri, What this grinding is; and then, Quid cadere, What the falling of this stone is; and briefly this grinding to powder, is to be brought to that desperate and irrecoverable estate in sin, as that no medicinal correction from God, no breaking, no bowing, no melting, no moulding can bring him to any good fashion; when God can work no cure, do no good upon us by breaking us; not by breaking us in our health, for we will attribute that to weakness of stomach, to surfeit, to indigestion; not by breaking us in our states, for we will impute that to falsehood in servants, to oppression of great adversaries, to iniquity of judges; not by breaking us in our honour, for we will accuse for that, factions, and practices, and supplantation in court; when God cannot break us with his corrections, but that we will attribute them to some natural, to some accidental causes, and never think of God's judgments, which are the true cause of these afflictions; when God cannot break us by breaking our backs, by laying on heavy loads of calamities upon us, nor by breaking our hearts, by putting us into a sad, and heavy, and fruitless sorrow and melancholy for these worldly losses, then he comes to break us by breaking our necks, by casting us into the bottomless pit, and falling upon us there, in this wrath and indignation, Comminuam eos in pulverem, saith he, / will beat them as small as dust before the wind1*, and tread them as flat as clay in the streets, the breaking thereof shall be like the breaking of a potter's vessel", which is broken without any pity. (No pity from God, no mercy, neither shall any man pity them, no compassion, no sorrow:) and in the breaking thereof, saith tho prophet, there is not found a sheard to take fire at the hearth, nor to take water at the pit: that is, they shall be incapable of any beam of grace in themselves from heaven, or any spark of zeal in themselves, (not a sheard to fetch fire at the hearth) and incapable of any drop of Christ's blood from heaven, or of any tear of contrition in themselves, not a sheard to fetch water at the pit, I will break them as a potter's vessel, Quod non potest instaurari, says God in Jeremiahthere shall be no possible means (of those means which God hath ordained in his church) to recompact them again, no voice of God's word to draw them, no threatenings of God's judgments shall drive them, no censures of God's church shall fit them, no sacrament shall cement and glue them to Christ's body again; in temporal blessings, he shall be thankful, in temporal afflictions, he shall be obdurate: and these two shall serve, as the upper and nether stone of a mill, to grind this reprobate sinner to powder.
Lastly, this is to be done, by Christ's falling upon him, and what is that? I know some expositors take this to be but the falling of God's judgments upon him in this world; but in this world there is no grinding to power, all God's judgments here,
(for anything that we can know) have the nature of physic in them, and may, and are wont to cure; and no man is here so absolutely broken in pieces, but that he may be reunited: we choose therefore to follow the ancients in this, that the falling of this stone upon this reprobate, is Christ's last and irrecoverable falling upon him, in his last judgment; that when he shall wish that the hills might fall and cover him, this stone shall fall, and grind him to powder; He shall be broken, and be no more found, says the prophet, yea, he shall be broken and no more sought": no man shall consider him what he is now, nor remember him what he was before: for, that stone, which in Daniel2', was cut out without hands (which was a figure of Christ, who came without ordinary generation) when that great image was to be overthrown, broke not an arm or a leg, but brake the whole image in pieces, and it wrought not only upon the weak parts, but it brake all, the clay, the iron, the brass, the silver, the gold; so when this stone falls thus, when Christ comes to judgment, he shall not only condemn him for his clay, his earthly and covetous sins, nor for his iron, his revengeful oppressing, and rusty sins, nor for his brass, his shining, and glittering sins, which he hath filed and polished, but he shall fall upon his silver and gold, his religious and precious sins, his hypocritical hearing of sermons, his singular observing of sabbaths, his pharisaical giving of alms, and as well his subtle counterfeiting of religion, as his atheistical opposing of religion, this stone, Christ himself, shall fall upon him, and a shower of other stones shall oppress him too. Sicut pluit laqueos, says David", As God rained springs and snares upon them in this world (abundance of temporal blessings to be occasions of sin unto them): so pluet grandinem, he shall rain such hail-stones upon them, as shall grind them to powder; there shall fall upon him the natural law, which was written in his heart, and did rebuke him, then when he prepared for a sin; there shall fall upon him the written law, which cried out from the mouths of the prophets in these places, to avert him from sin; there shall fall upon him those sins which he hath done, and those sins which he hath not done, if nothing but want of
means and opportunity hindered him from doing them; there shall fall upon him those sins which he hath done after another's dehortation, and those, which others have done after his provocation; there the stones of Nineveh shall fall upon him, and of as many cities as have repented with less proportions of mercy and grace, than God afforded him; there the rubbage of Sodom and Gomorrah shall fall upon him, and as many cities as in their ruin might have been examples to him. All these stones shall fall upon him, and to add weight to all these, Christ Jesus himself shall fall upon his conscience, with unanswerable questions, and grind his soul to powder. But he that overcometh, shall not be hurt by the second death'', he that feels his own fall upon this stone, shall never feel this stone fall upon him, he that comes to a remorse, early, and earnestly after a sin, and seeks by ordinary means, his reconciliation to God in his church, is in the best state that man can be in now; for howsoever we cannot say that repentance is as happy an estate as innocency, yet certainly every particular man feels more comfort and spiritual joy, after a true repentance for a sin, than he had in that degree of innocence which he had before he committed that sin; and therefore in this case also we may safely repeat those words of Augustine, Audeo dicere, I dare be bold to say, that many a man hath been the better for some sin.
Almighty God, who gives that civil wisdom, to make use of other mens infirmities, give us also this heavenly wisdom, to make use of our own particular sins, that thereby our own wretched conditions in ourselves, and our means of reparation in Jesus Christ, may be the more manifested unto us; to whom with the blessed Spirit, &c.
88 Rev. ii. 11.