PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S.
2 Corinthians V. 20.
We pray ye in Christ's stead, Be ye reconciled to God.
In bestowing of benefits, tbere are some circumstances, that vitiate and deprave the nature of the benefit, as when a man gives only in contemplation of retribution, for then he is not dator, but mercator, this is not a giving, but a merchandising, a permutation, or when he is cyminibilis dator, (as our canons speak) one that gives mint and cumin, so small things, and in so small proportions, as only keeps him alive that receives, and so Jpsum quod dat, perit, et vitam producit ad miseriam, that that is given is lost, and he that receives it, is but continued in misery, and so the benefit, hath almost the nature of an injury, because but for that poor benefit, he might have got out of this life. And then there are circumstances, that do absolutely annihilate a benefit, amongst which, one is, if the giver take so express, so direct, so public knowledge of the wants of the receiver, as that he shall be more ashamed by it, than refreshed with it; for in many .courses of life, it does more deject a man, in his own heart, and in the opinion of others too, and more retard him in any preferment, to be known to be poor, than to be so indeed; and he that gives so, does not only make him that receives, his debtor, but his prisoner, for he takes away his liberty of applying himself _ to others, who might be more beneficial to him, than he that captivated, and ensnared him, with that small benefit. And therefore many times in the Scripture, the phrase is such in I doing a courtesy, as though the receiver had done it, in accepting I it; so when Jacob made a present to his brother Esau, / beseech thee, says he, to take my blessing that / may find favour in thy sight1; so he compelled him to take it. So when Christ recommends here to his people, the great, and inestimable benefit in our text, reconciliation to God, he delivers that benefit of all
1 Gen. xxxiii. 10.
those accidents, or circumstances, that might vitiate it; and amongst those, of this, that we should not be confounded with the notice taken of our poverty, and indigence; for he proceeds with man, as though man might be of some use to him, and with whom it were fit for him to hold good correspondence, he sends to him by ambassadors, (as it is in the words immediately before the text) and by those ambassadors he prays him, that he would accept the benefit of reconciliation. To us, who are his creatures, and therefore might be turned and wound by his general providence, without employment of any particular messengers, he sends particular messengers; to us that are his enemies, and fitter to receive denunciations of a war, by a herald, than a message by ambassadors, he sends ambassadors; to us, who are indeed rebels, and not enemies, and therefore rather to be reduced and reclaimed by executioners, than by commissioners, he sends commissioners, not to article, not to capitulate, but to pray, and to entreat, and not to entreat us to accept God's reconciliation to us, but, as though God needed us, to entreat us to be reconciled to him; We pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
In these words, our parts will be three: our office towards you; yours towards us; and the negotiation itself, reconciliation to God. In each of these three, there is a rederivation into three branches: for, in the two first (besides the matter) there are two kinds of persons, we and you, the priest and the people (we pray you). And in the last there are two kinds of persons too, you and God; Be ye reconciled to God. But because all these kinds of persons, God, and we, and you, fall frequently into our consideration, there is the less necessity laid upou us to handle them, as distinct branches, otherwise than as they fall into the negotiation itself. Therefore we shall determine ourselves in these three: first, our office towards you, and our stipulation and contract with you, we pray you; we come not as lords or commanders over you, but in humble, in submissive manner, we pray you. And then your respect to us, because in what manner soever we come, we come in Christ's stead, and though dimly, yet represent him. And lastly, the blessed effect of this our humility to you, and this your respect to us, reconciliation to IGod. Humility in us, because we are sent to the poorest soul; respect in you, because we are sent to represent the highest king, work in you this reconciliation to God, and it is a text well jj handled; practice makes any sermon a good sermon.
(First, then, for our office towards you, because you may be apt to say, You take too much upon you, you sons of Levi; we the sons of Levi, open unto you our commission, and we pursue but that we profess, that we are sent but to pray, but to entreat you; and we accompany it with an outward declaration, we stand bare, and you sit covered. When greater power seems to be given us, of treading upon dragons and scorpions, of binding and loosing, * of casting out devils, and the like, we confess these are powers over sins, over devils that do, or endeavour to possess you, not over you, for to you we are sent to pray and entreat you. Though God sent Jeremy with that large commission, Behold this day, I have set thee over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to pluck up, and to root out, to destroy and to throw down*; and though many of the prophets had their commissions drawn by that precedent, we claim not that, we distinguish between the extraordinary commission of the prophet, and the ordinary commission of the priest, we admit a great difference between them, and are far from taking upon us, all that the prophet might have done; which is an error, of which the church of Rome, and some other over-zealous congregations have been equally guilty, and equally opposed monarchy and sovereignty, by assuming to themselves, in an ordinary power, whatsoever God, upon extraordinary occasions, was pleased to give for the present, to his extraordinary instruments the prophets; our commission is to pray, and to entreat you. Though upon those words, Ascendunt Salvatores in Montem Sion3, There shall arise Saviours in Mount Sion, in the church of God, St. Hierome saith, That as Christ being the light of the world, called his apostles the light of the world too; so, Ipse Salmtor apostolos voluit esse Salvatores, The Saviour of the world communicates to us the name of Saviours of the world too, yet howsoever instrumentally and ministerially that glorious name of Saviour may be afforded to us, though to a high hill, though to that Mount Sion, we are led by a low way, by the
8 Jer. i. 10, 3 Obad. 21.
example of our blessed Saviour himself; and since there was an oportuit pati, laid upon him, there may well be an oportet obsecrare laid upon us; since his way was to be dumb, ours may well be to utter no other voice but prayers; since he bled, we may well sweat in his service, for the salvation of your souls. If therefore ourselves, who are sent, be under contempt, or under persecution, if the sword of the tongue, or the sword of the tyrant be drawn against us, against all these, arma nostra, preces et fletus4, we defend with no other shield, we return with no other sword, but tears and prayers, and blessing of them that curse us. Yea, if he that sent us suffer in us, if we see you denounce a war against him, nay, triumph over him, and provoke him to anger, and because he shows no anger, conclude out of his patience, an impotency, that because he doth not, he cannot, when you scourge him, and scoff him, and spit in his face, and crucify him, and practice every day all the Jews did to him once, as though that were your pattern, and your business were to exceed your pattern, and crucify your Saviour worse than they did, by tearing and mangling his body, now glorified, by your blasphemous oaths, and execrable imprecations, when we see all this, arma nostra preces et fletus, we can defend ourselves, nor him, no other way, we present to you our tears, and our prayers, his tears, and his prayers that sent us, and if you will not be reduced with these, our commission is at an end. I bring not a star-chamber with me up into the pulpit, to punish a forgery, if you counterfeit a zeal in coming hither now; nor an exchequer, to punish usurious contracts, though made in the church; nor a high commission, to punish incontinences, if they be promoted by wanton interchange of looks, in this place. Only by my prayers, which he hath promised to accompany and prosper in his service, I can diffuse his overshadowing Spirit over all the corners of this congregation, and pray that publican, that stands below afar off, and dares not lift up his eyes to heaven, to receive a cheerful confidence, that his sins are forgiven him; and pray that Pharisee, that stands above, and only thanks God, that he is not like other men, to believe himself to be, if not a rebellious, yet an unprofitable servant. I can only tell them, that neither of them is in the
right way of reconciliation to God, Nec qui impugnant gratiam, nec qui superbe gratias agunt', neither he who by a diffidence hinders the working of God's grace, nor he that thanks God in such a fashion, as though all that he had received, were not of mere mercy, but between a debt and a benefit, and that he had either merited before, or paid God after, in pious works, for all, and for more than he hath received at God's hand.
Scarce anywhere hath the Holy Ghost taken a word of larger signification, than here; for, as though it were hard, even to him, to express the humility which we are to use, rather than lose any soul for which Christ hath dyed, he hath taught us this obsecration, this praying, this entreating in our text, in a word, by which the Septuagint, the first translators into Greek, express divers affections, and all within the compass of this obsecramus, we pray you. Some of them we shall present to you.
Those translators use that word for napal. Napal is mere, postrare, to throw down, to deject ourselves, to admit any undervalue, any exinanition, any evacuation of ourselves, so we may advance this great work. I fell down before the Lord, says Moses of himself; and Abraham fell upon his face, says Moses of him, |j and in no sense is this word oftener used, by them, than in this I humiliation. But yet, as it signifies to need the favour of another, so does it also to be favourable, and merciful to another; j for so also, the same translators use this word for chanan, which 'is to oblige and bind a man by benefits, or to have compassion upon him; Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me"; there is our word repeated. So that, whether we profess to you, that as physicians must consider excrements, so we must consider sin, the leprosy, the pestilence, the ordure of the soul, there is our dejection of ourselves, or make you see your poverty and indigence, and that that can be no way supplied, but by those means, which God conveys by us, both ways we are within our word, obsecramus, we pray you, we entreat you.
They use this word also for calah, and calah is dolere, to grieve i within ourselves, for the affliction of another; but it signifies also vulnerare, to wound, and afflict another; for so it is said in this
'Augustine. 8 Job xix. 21.
word, Saul was sore wounded1. So that, whether we express our grief, in the behalf of Christ, that you will not be reconciled to God, or whether we wound your consciences, with a sense of your sins, and his judgments, we are still within the word of our commission, obsecramus, we pray, we entreat.
To contract this consideration, they use this word for cruciare, to vex, and for placare too, to appease, to restore to rest and quiet. Therefore will I make thee sick in smiting thee'; there it is vexation; and then, They sent unto the house of the Lord, Placare Dominum', to appease the Lord, as we translate it, and well, to pray. And therefore, if from our words proceed any vexation to your consciences, you must not say, Transeat calix, Let that cup pass, no more of that matter, for it is the physic that must first stir the humour, before it can purge it; and if our words apply to your consciences, the sovereign balm of the merits of your Saviour, and that thereupon your troubled consciences find some rest, be not too soon secure, but proceed in your good beginnings, and continue in hearing, as we shall continue in all these manners of praying and entreating, which fall into the word of our text, obsecramus, by being beholden to you for your application, or making you beholden to us, for our ministration, which was the first use of the word, of grieving for you, or grieving you for your sins, which was the second, of troubling your consciences, and then of settling them again, in a calm reposedness, which was the third signification of the word in their translation.
Yet does the Holy Ghost carry our office, (I speak of the manner of the execution of our office, for, for the office itself, nothing can be more glorious, than the ministration of the Gospel), into lower terms than these. He suffered his apostles to be thought to be drunk10; they were full of the Holy Ghost, and they were thought full of new wine. A drachm of zeal more than ordinary, against a patron, or against a great parishioner, makes us presently scandalous ministers. Truly, beloved, we confess, one sign of drunkenness is, not to remember what we said. If we do not in our practice, remember what we preached, and live as we teach, we are dead all the week, and we are drunk upon
7 1 Sam. xxxi. 3.
9 Zech. vii. 12.
8 Micah vi. 3. 10 Acts ii. 15.
the Sunday. But Hannah prayed, and was thought drunk, and this grieved her heart"; so must it us, when you ascribe our zeal for the glory of God, and the good of your souls, to any inordinate passion, or sinister purpose in us.
And yet hath the Holy Ghost laid us lower than this. To be drunk is an alienation of the mind, but it is but a short one; but St. Paul was under the imputation of madness. Nay, our blessed Saviour himself did some such act of vehement zeal, as that his very friends thought him mad". St. Paul, because his madness was imputed to a false cause, to a pride in his much learning, disavowed his madness, / am not mad, O noble Festus. But when the cause was justifiable, he thought his madness justifiable too; If we be beside ourselves, it is for God13; and so long well enough. Insaniebat amatoriam insaniam Paulus1', St. Paul was mad for love; St. Paul did, and we do take into our contemplation, the beauty of a Christian soul; through the ragged apparel of the afflictions of this life; through the scars, and wounds, and paleness, and morphews of sin, and corruption, we can look upon the soul itself, and there see that incorruptible beauty, that white and red, which the innocency and the blood of Christ hath given it, and we are mad for love of this soul, and ready to do any act of danger, in the ways of persecution, any act of diminution of ourselves in the ways of humiliation, to stand at her door, and pray, and beg, that she would be reconciled to God.
And yet does the Holy Ghost lay us lower than this too. Madmen have some flashes, some twilights, some returns of sense and reason, but the fool hath none; and, we are fools for Christ, says the apostle15; and not only we, the persons, but the ministration itself, the function itself is foolishness; it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Anger will bear an action, and racah will bear an action, but to say fool, was the heaviest imputation; and we are fools for Christ, and pretend nothing to work by, but the foolishness of preaching. Lower than this, we cannot be cast, and higher than this we offer not to climb; obsecramus, we have no other commission but to pray,
11 1 Sam. i. xv. 18 Mark iii. 21. 13 2 Cor. v. 13.
14 Theophilus. 15 1 Cor. iv. x.
and to entreat, and that we do, in his words, in his tears, in his blood, and in his bowels who sent us, we pray you in Chrisfs stead, which is that that constitutes our second part, with what respect you should receive us.
In mittendariis servanda dignitas mittentis. To diminish the honour of his master, is not an humility, but a prevarication in any ambassador; and that is our quality, expressed in this verse. God is the Lord of Hosts, and he is the Prince of Peace; he needs neither the armies of princes, nor the wisdom of council tables, to come to his ends. He is the proprietary and owner of all the treasures in the world; Ye have taken my silver and my gold"; and, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine1'1. All that you call yours, all that you can call yours, is his; yourselves are but the furniture of his house, and your great hearts are but little boxes in his cabinet, and he can fill them with dejection, and sadness, when he will. And does any prince govern at home, by an ambassador? He sends pursuivants, and Serjeants; he sends not ambassadors; God does, and we are they; and we look to be received by you, but as we perform those two laws which bind ambassadors, first, Rei suw ne quis legatus esto, Let no man be received as an ambassador, that hath that title, only to negotiate for himself, and do his own business in that country; and then, Nemini credatur sine principali mandato, Let no man be received for an ambassador, without his letters of credence, and his master's commission. To these two we submit ourselves.
First, we are not Rei nostrw legati, we come not to do our own business; what business of ours is it, what is it to us, that you be reconciled to God? Vw mihi si non, Necessity is laid upon me, and woe unto me, if I preach not the Gospel"; but if I do, I have nothing to glory in; nay, I may be a reprobate myself. I can claim no more at God's hand, for this service, than the sun can, for shining upon the earth, or the earth for producing flowers, and fruits; and therefore we are not Rei nostrw legati, Ambassadors in our own behalfs, and to do our own business.
Indeed where men are sent out, to vent and utter the ware and merchandises of the church and court of Rome, to proclaim,
and advance the value, and efficacy of uncertain relics, and superstitious charms, and incantations, when they are sent to sell particular sins at a certain price, and to take so much for an incest, so much for a murder, when they are sent with many sums of indulgences at once, as they are now to the Indies, and were heretofore to us, when these indulgences are accompanied with this doctrine, that if the indulgence require a certain piece of money to be given for it, (as for the most part they do) if all the spiritual parts of the indulgence be performed by the poor sinner, yet if he give not that money, though he be not worth that money, though that merchant of those indulgences, do out of his charity give him one of those indulgences, yet all this doth that man no good, in these cases, they are indeed rei suw legati, ambassadors to serve their own turns, and do their own business. When that bishop sends out his legatos a latere, ambassadors from his own chair and bosom into foreign nations, to exhaust their treasures, to alien their subjects, to infect their religion; these are rei suw legati, ambassadors that have businesses depending in those places, and therefore come upon their own errand. Nor can that church excuse itself, (though it use to do so) upon the misbehaviour of those officers, when they are employed; for they are employed to that purpose: and, Tibi imputa quicquid pateris ab eo, qui sine te, nihil potest facere1': Since he might mend the fault, it is his fault, that it is done; he cannot excuse himself, if they be guilty, and with his privity: for, as the same devout man saith, to Eugenius, then pope, Ne te dixeris sanum dolentem latera; If thy sides ache, (if thy legates a latere, be corrupt) call not thyself well, Nec bonum malts innitentem, nor call thyself good, if thou rely upon the counsel of those that are ill; they, those legates a latere, are, (as they use to express it) incorporated in the pope, and therefore they are rei sui legati, ambassadors that lie to do their own business. But when we seek to raise no other war in you, but to arm the spirit against the flesh, when we present to you no other holy water, but the tears of Christ Jesus, no other relics, but the commemoration of his passion in the sacrament, no other indulgences, and acquittances, but the application of his merits to your souls, when we offer all this without silver, and without
gold, when we offer you that seal which he hath committed to us, in absolution, without extortion or fees, wherein are we rei nostras legati, ambassadors in our own behalfs, or advancers of our own ends?
And as we are not so, so neither are we in the second danger, to come sine principali mandato, without commission from our Master. Christ himself would not come of himself, but acknowledged and testified his mission, The Father which sent me, he gave me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak*0. Those whom he employed produced their commissions, Neither received I it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ*1. How should they preach except they be sent? is a question which St. Paul intended for a conclusive question, that none could answer, till in the Roman church they excepted cardinals, Quibus sine Uteris creditur, propter personarum solennitatem, who for the dignity inherent in their persons, must be received, though they have no commission.
When our adversaries do so violently, so impetuously cry out, that we have no church, no sacrament, no priesthood, because none are sent, that is, none have a right calling, for internal calling, who are called by the Spirit of God, they can be no judges, and for external calling, we admit them for judges, and are content to be tried by their own canons, and their own evidences, for our mission and vocation, or sending and our calling to the ministry. If they require a necessity of lawful ministers to the constitution of a church, we require it with as much earnestness as they; Bcclesia non est quw non habet sacerdotem, we profess with St. Hierome, It is no church that hath no priest. If they require, that this spiritual power be received from them, who have the same power in themselves, we profess it too, Nemo dat'quod non habet, No man can confer other power upon another, than he hath himself. If they require imposition of hands, in conferring orders, we join hands with them. If they will have it a sacrament; men may be content to let us be as liberal of that name of sacrament, as Calvin is; and he says of it2', Non invitus patior vocari sacramentum, ita inter ordinaria sacramenta non
m John xii. 49.
11 Gal. i. 12.
Institut. 1. iv. c. 14. § 20.
numero, I am not loth, it should be called a sacrament, so it be not made an ordinary, that is, a general sacrament; and how ill hath this been taken at some of our men's hands, to speak of more such sacraments, when indeed they have learnt this manner of speech, and difference of sacraments, not only from the ancient fathers, but from Calvin himself, who always spoke with a holy wariness, and discretion. Whatsoever their own authors, their own schools, their own canons do require to be essentially and necessarily requisite in this mission in this function, we, for our parts, and as much as concerns our church of England, admit it too, and profess to have it. And whatsoever they can say for their church, that from their first conversion, they have had an orderly derivation of power from one to another, we can as justly and truly say of our church, that ever since her first being of such a church, to this day, she hath conserved the same order, and ever hath had, and hath now, those ambassadors sent, with the same commission, and by the same means, that they pretend to have in their church. And being herein convinced, by the evidence of undeniable record, which have been therefore showed to some of their priests, not being able to deny that such a succession and ordination, we have had, from the hands of such as were 'made bishops according to their canons, now they pursue their common beaten way, that as in our doctrine, they confess we affirm no heresy, but that we deny some truths, so in our ordination, and sending, and calling, when they cannot deny, but that from such a person, who is, by their own canons, able to confer orders, we, in taking our orders, (after their own manner) receive the Holy Ghost, and the power of binding and loosing, yet, say they, we receive not the full power of priests, for, we receive only a power in corpus mysticum, upon the mystical body of Christ, that is, the persons that constitute the visible church, but we should receive it in corpus verum, a power upon the very natural body, a power of consecration, by way of transubstantiation. They may be pleased to pardon, this, rather modesty, than defect, in us, who, so we may work fruitfully, and effectually upon the mystical body of Christ, can be content that his real, and true body work upon us. Not that we have no interest to work upon the real body of Christ, since he hath made us dispensers even of that, to the faithful, in the sacrament; but for such a power, as exceeds the Holy Ghost, who in the incarnation of Christ, when he overshadowed the blessed Virgin, did but make man of the woman, who was one part disposed by nature thereunto, whereas these men make man, and God too of bread, naturally wholly indisposed to any such change, for this power we confess it is not in our commission; and their commission, and ours was all one; and the commission is manifest in the Gospel; and, since they can charge us with no erasures, no expunctions, we must charge them with interlinings, and additions, to the first commission. But for that power, which is to work upon you, to whom we are sent, we are defective in nothing, which they call necessary thereunto.
This I speak of this church, in which God hath planted us, that God hath afforded us all that might serve, even for the stopping of the adversary's mouth, and to confound them in their own way: which I speak, only to excite us to a thankfulness to God, for his abundant grace in affording us so much, and not to disparage, or draw in question any other of our neighbour churches, who, perchance, cannot derive, as we can, their power, and their mission, by the ways required, and practised in the Roman church, nor have had from the beginning a continuance of consecration by bishops, and such other concurrences, as those canons require, and as our church hath enjoined. They, no doubt, can justly plead for themselves, that ecclesiastical positive laws admit dispensation in cases of necessity; they may justly challenge a dispensation, but we need none; they did what was lawful in a case of necessity, but Almighty God preserved us from this necessity. As men therefore, Qui necjussi renuunt, nec non jussi affectantS3, which neither neglect God's calling, when we have it, nor counterfeit it, when we have it not, Qui quod verecunde excusant, obstinatius non recusant, who though we confess ourselves altogether unworthy, have yet the seals of God, and his church upon us, nec rei nostrw legati, not to promove our own ends, but your reconciliation to God, nec sine principali mandato, not without a direct and published commission, in the Gospel, we come to you in Christ's stead, and so should be received by you. As for our mission, that being in the quality of ambassa
dors, we submitted ourselves to those two obligations, which we noted to lie upon ambassadors, so here in our reception, we shall propose to you two things, that are, for the most part, practised by princes, in the reception of ambassadors. One is, that before they give audience, they endeavour, by some confident servant of theirs, to discern and understand the inclination of the ambassador, and the general scope, and purpose of his negotiation, and of the behaviour that he purposeth to use in delivering his message; lest for want of thus much light, the prince might either be unprepared in what manner to express himself, or be surprised with some such message, as might not well comport with his honour to hear. But in these ambassages from God to man, no man is so equal to God, as that he may refuse to give audience, except he know beforehand that the message be agreeable to his mind. Only he that will be more than man, that man of sin, who esteemeth himself to be joined in commission with God, only he hath a particular officer to know beforehand, what message God's ambassadors bringeth, and to peruse all sermons to be preached before him, and to expunge, correct, alter, all such things as may be disagreeable to him. It cannot therefore become you to come to these audiences upon conditions; to inform yourselves from others first, what kind of messages, such or such an ambassador useth to deliver; whether he preach mercy or judgment; that if he preach against usury, you will hear court-sermons, where there is less occasion to mention it; If he preach against incontinency, you will go; whither? Is there any place that doth not extort from us, reprehensions, exclamations against that sin? But if you believe us to come in Christ's stead, whatever our message be, you must hear us.
Do that, and for the second thing that princes practise in the reception of ambassadors, which is, to refer ambassadors to their council, we are well content to admit from you. Whosever is of your nearest counsel, and whose opinion you best trust in, we are content to submit it to. Let natural reason, let affections, let the profits or the pleasures of the world be the council-table, and can they tell you, that you are able to maintain a war against God, and subsist so, without being reconciled to him? Deceive not yourselves, no man hath so much pleasure in this life, as he that is at peace with God.
What an organ hath that man tuned, how hath he brought all things in the world to a concert, and what a blessed anthem doth he sing to that organ, that is at peace with God! His rye-bread is manna, and his beef is quails, his day-labours are thrustings at the narrow gate into heaven, and his night-watchings are ecstasies and evocations of his soul into the presence and communion of saints, his sweat is pearls, and his blood is rubies, it is at peace with God. No man that is at suit in himself, no man that carrieth a Westminster in his bosom, and is plaintiff and defendant too, no man that serveth himself with process out of his own conscience, for every night's pleasure that he taketh, in the morning, and for every day's pound that he getteth, in the evening, hath any of the pleasure, or profit, that may be had in this life; nor any that is not at peace with God. That peace we bring you; how will you receive us?
That vehemence of zeal which the apostle found, we hope not for; You received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. And, if it had been possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me*4. Consider the zeal of any church to their pastor, it will come short of the pastor to the church. All that St. Paul saith of the Galatians towards him, is far short of that which he said to the Romans, that he could wish himself separated from Christ, for his brethren; or that of Moses, that he would be blotted out of the book of life, rather than his charge should. When we consider the manner of hearing sermons, in the Primitive church, though we do not wish that manner to be renewed, yet we cannot deny, but that though it were accompanied with many inconveniences, it testified a vehement devotion, and sense of that that was said, by the preacher, in the hearer; for, all that had been formerly used in theatres, acclamations and plaudits, was brought into the church, and not Only the vulgar people, but learned hearers were as loud, and as profuse in those declarations, those vocal acclamations, and those plaudits in the passages, and transitions, in sermons, as ever they
21 Gal. iv. 14.
had been at the stage, or other recitations of their poets, or orators. St. Hierome charges Vigilantius, that howsoever he differed from him in opinion after, yet when he had heard him preach of the resurrection before, he had received that doctrine with acclamation and plaudits. And as St. Hierome saith of himself, that he was thus applauded in his preaching; he saith it also of him whom he called his master, Gregory Nazianzen, a grave and yet a facetious man, of him he telleth us this story; That he having intreated Nazianzen, to tell him the meaning of that place, what that second Sabbath after the first was"? he played with me, he jested at me, saith he, Eleganter lusit, and he bade me be at church next time he preached, and he would preach upon that text, Et toto acclamante populo, cogeris invitus scire quod nescis, And when you see all the congregation applaud me, and cry out that they are satisfied, you will make yourself believe you understand the place, as they do, though you do not; Et si solus tacueris, solus ab omnibus stultitiw condemnaberis, And if you do not join with the congregation in those plaudits, the whole congregation will think you the only ignorant person in the congregation; for, as we may see in St. Augustine, the manner was, that when the people were satisfied in any point which the preacher handled, they would almost tell him so, by an acclamation, and give him leave to pass to another point; for, so saith that father, Vidi in voce intelligentes, plures video in silentio requirentes, I hear many, to whom, by this acclamation, I see, enough hath been said, but I see more that are silent, and therefore, for their sakes, I will say more of it. St. Augustine accepted these acclamations more willingly, at least more patiently, than some of the fathers before had done; Audistis, laudastis; Deo gratias; You have heard that that hath been said, and you have approved it with your praise; God be thanked for both; Et laudes vestrw folia sunt arborum> sed fructus quwro; Though I look for fruit from you, yet even these acclamations are leaves, and leaves are evidences that the tree is alive. St. Chrysostom was more impatient of them, yet could never overcome them. To him, they came a little closer; for it was ordinary, that when he began to speak, the people would cry out, Audiamus tertiumdecimum apostolum; Let us hearken to the
"Luke vi. 1.
thirteenth apostle. And he saith, Si placet, hanc nunc legem firmabimusM, I pray let us now establish this for a law, between you and me, Ne quis auditor plaudat, quamdiu nos loquimur; That whilst I am speaking, I may hear no plaudite; yet he saith in a sermon preached after this, Animo cogitavi legem ponere*1, I have often purposed to establish such a law, Ut decore, et cum silentio audiatis, That you would be pleased to hear with silence, but he could never prevail.
Sidonius Apollinaris, (a bishop himself, but whether then or no, I know not) saith of another bishop, That hearing even prwdicationes repentinas, his extemporal sermons, raucus plausor audivi, I poured myself out in loud acclamations, till I was hoarse : and, to contract this consideration, we see evidently, that this fashion continued in the church, even to St. Bernard's time. Neither is it left yet in some places, beyond the seas, where the people do yet answer the preacher, if his questions be appliable to them, and may induce an answer, with these vocal acclamations, Sir, we will, Sir, we will not. And truly we come too near re-inducing this vain glorious fashion, in those often periodical murmurings, and noises, which you make, when the preacher concludeth any point; for those impertinent interjections swallow up one quarter of his hour, and many that were not within distance of hearing the sermon, will give a censure upon it, according to the frequency, or paucity of these acclamations.
These fashions then, howsoever, in those times they might be testimonies of zeal, yet because they occasioned vain glory, and many times, faction, (as those fathers have noted) we desire not, willingly we admit not. We come in Christ's stead; Christ at his coming met hosannas and crucifiges; a preacher may be applauded in his pulpit, and crucified in his barn: but there is a worse crucifying than that, a piercing of our hearts, Because we are as a very lovely song, of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument, and you hear our words, and do them notTM. Having therefore said thus much to you, first of our manner of proceeding with you, obsecramus, of all those ways of humiliation, which we insisted upon, and engaged ourselves in, we pray, and entreat you, and the respect which should come
"Horn. 30, in Act. ^ Horn. 31. 28 Ezek. xxxiii. 32.
from you, because we come in Christ's stead, if, as the eunuch said to Philip, Here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized"? so you say to us, We acknowledge that you do your duties, and we do receive you in Christ's stead; what is it that you would have us do? It is but this, We pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God; which is our third, and last part, and that to which all that we have said of a good pastor and a good people, (which is the blessedest union of this world) bendeth, and driveth, what, and how blessed a thing it is to be reconciled to God.
Reconciliation is a redintegration, a renewing of a former friendship, that hath been interrupted and broken. So that this implieth a present enmity, and hostility with God; and then a former friendship with God, and also a possibility of returning to that former friendship; stop a little upon each of these, and we have done.
Amongst natural creatures, because howsoever they differ in bigness, yet they have some proportion to one another, we consider that some very little creatures, contemptible in themselves, are yet called enemies to great creatures, as the mouse is to the elephant. (For the greatest creature is not infinite, nor the least is not nothing.) But shall man, between whom and nothing, there went but a word, Let us make man, that nothing, which is infinitely less than a mathematical point, than an imaginary atom, shall this man, this yesterday's nothing, this to-morrow worse than nothing, be capable of that honour, that dishonourable honour, that confounding honour, to be the enemy of God, of God who is not only a multiplied elephant, millions of elephants multiplied into one, but a multiplied world, a multiplied all, all that can be conceived by us, infinite many times over; nay, (if we may dare say so,) a multiplied God, a God that hath the millions of the heathens' gods in himself alone, shall this man be an enemy to this God? Man cannot be allowed so high a sin, as enmity with God. The devil himself is but a slave to God, and shall man be called his enemy? It is true, if we consider the infinite disproportion between them, he cannot; but to many sad purposes, and in many heavy applica
*» Acts viii . 36.
tions man is an enemy to God. Job could go no higher in expressing his misery, Why hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy*"? and again, Behold, he findeth occasions against me, and counteth me for his enemy31. So man is an enemy to God; and then to adhere to an enemy, is to become an enemy; for man to adhere to man, to ascribe anything to the power of his natural faculties, to think of any beam of clearness in his own understanding, or any line of rectitude in his own will, this is to accumulate and multiply enmities against God, and to assemble and muster up more, and more man, to fight against God.
A reconciliation is required, therefore there is an enmity; but it is but a reconciliation, therefore there was a friendship; there was a time when God and man were friends, God did not hate man from all eternity, God forbid. And this friendship God meant not to break; God had no purpose to fall out with man, for then he could never have admitted him to a friendship. Nec hominem amicum quisquam potest fideliter amare, cui se noverit futurtm inimicum**: No man can love another as a friend this year, and mean to be his enemy next. God's foreknowledge that man and he should fall out, was not a foreknowledge of anything that he meant to do to that purpose, but only that man himself would become incapable of the continuation of this friendship. Man might have persisted in that blessed amity; and, since if he had done so, the cause of his persisting had been his own will, I speak of the next and immediate cause, (as the cause why the angels that did persist, did persist, was Bona ipsorum angelorum voluntas"3; the good use of their own free-will) much more was the cause of their defection and breaking this friendship in their own will; God therefore having made man, that is mankind, in a state of love, and friendship, God having not by any purpose of his done anything toward the violation of this friendship, in man, in any man, God continueth his everlasting goodness towards man, towards mankind still, in inviting him to accept the means of reconciliation, and a return to the same state of friendship, which he had at first, by our ministry. Be ye reconciled unto God.
You see what you had, and how you lost it. If it might not
30 Job xiii. 24. 31 Job xxxiii. 10.
38 Augustine. 33 Polanus syntag., to. i. fol. 784.
be recovered, God would not call you to it. It was piously declared in a late synod, that in the offer of this reconciliation, God means, as the minister means; and I am sure I mean it, and desire it to you all; so does God. Nec Deus est qui inimicitias gerit, sed vos"*, It is not God, but you, that oppose this reconciliation; O my people what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I grieved thee, testify against me3>; testify if I did anything towards inducing an enmity, or do anything towards hindering this reconciliation; which reconciliation is, to be restored to as good an estate in the love of God, as you had in Adam, and our estate is not as good, if it be not as general, if the merit of Christ be not as large, as the sin of Adam; and if it be not as possible for you to be saved by him, as it is impossible for you to be saved without him.
It is therefore but praying you in Christ's stead, that you be reconciled to God. And, if you consider what God is, the Lord of hosts, and therefore hath means to destroy you, or what he is not, he is not man that he can repent, and therefore it belongs to you, to repent first, if you consider what the Lord doth, he that dwells in the heavens doth laugh them to scorn, and hath them in derision, or what he doth not, he doth not justify the wicked balance, nor the bag of deceitful weights3", if you consider what the Lord would do, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as the hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not, or what he would not do, As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the wicked31, if ye consider all this, any of this, dare you, or can you if you durst, or would you if you could, stand out in an irreconcilable war against God? Especially if you consider, that that is more to you, than what God is, and does, and would do, and can do, for you or against you, that is, what he hath done already; that he who was the party offended, hath not only descended so low, as to be reconciled first, and to pay so dear for that, as the blood of his own, and only Son, but knowing thy necessity better than thyself, he hath reconciled thee to him, though thou knewest it not; God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, as it
24 Chrysostom. 35 Mic. vi. 3.
3» Mic. vi. 11. 37 Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
is in the former verse; there the work is done, thy reconciliation is wrought; God is no longer angry so, as to withhold from thee the means; for there it follows, He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation; that we might tell you the instrument of reconciliation is drawn between God and you, and, as it is written in the history of the council of Nice38, that two bishops who died before the establishing of the canons, did yet subscribe and set their names to those canons, which to that purpose were left upon their graves all night, so though you were dead in your sin and enemies to God, and children of wrath, (as all by nature are) when this reconciliation was wrought, yet the Spirit of God may give you this strength, to dip your pens in the blood of the Lamb, and so subscribe your names, by acceptation of this offer of reconciliation. Do but that, subscribe, accept, and then, cwtera omnia, all the rest that concerns your holy history, your justification and sanctification, nonne scripta sunt, are they not written in the books of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, says the Holy Ghost, in another case; are they not written in the books of the chronicles of the God of Israel? Shalt thou not find an eternal decree, and a book of life in thy behalf, if thou look for it by this light, and reach to it with this hand, the acceptation of this reconciliation? They are written in those reverend and sacred records, and rolls, and parchments, even the skin and flesh of our blessed Saviour; written in those his stripes, and those his wounds, with that blood, that can admit no index expurgatorius, no expunction, no satisfaction; but the life of his death lies in thy acceptation, and though he be come to his, thou art not come to thy consummatum est, till that be done.
Do that, and then thou hast put on thy wedding garment. A. man might get into that feast, without his wedding garment; so a man may get into the church, to be a visible part of a Christian congregation, without this acceptation of reconciliation, that is the particular apprehension, and application of Christ; but he is still subject to a remove, and to that question of confusion, Quomodo intrasti, How came you in? That man in the Gospel could have answered to that question, directly, I came in by the invitation, and conduct of thy servants, I was called in, I was
33 Binius, to. i. fo. 320.
led in; so they that come hither without this wedding garment, they may answer to Christ's Quomodo intrasti, How camest thou in? I came in by faithful parents, to whom, and their seed, thou hast sealed a covenant; I was admitted by thy servants and ministers in baptism, and have been led along by them, by coming to hear them preach thy word, and doing the other external offices of a Christian. But there is more in this question; Quomodo intrasti, is not only How didst thou come in, but How durst thou come in I If thou camest to my feast, without any purpose to eat, and so to discredit, to accuse either my meat, or the dressing of it, to quarrel at the doctrine, or at the discipline of my church, Quomodi intrasti, How didst thou, how durst thou come in? If thou camest with a purpose to poison my meat, that it might infect others, with a determination to go forward in thy sin, whatsoever the preacher say, and so to encourage others by thy example, Quomodo intrasti, How durst thou come in I If thou camest in with thine own provision in thy pocket, and didst not rely upon mine, and think that thou canst be saved without sermons, or sacraments, Quomodo intrasti, How durst thou come in? Him that came in there, without this wedding garment, the master of the feast calls friend; but scornfully, Friend how earnest thou in? But he cast him out. God may call us friends, that is, admit, and allow us the estimation and credit of being of his church, but at one time or other, he shall minister that interrogatory, Friend, how came you in? and for want of that wedding garment, and for want of wearing it in the sight of men, (for it is not said that that man had no such wedding garment at home, in his wardrobe, but that he had none on) for want of sanctification in a holy life, God shall deliver us over to the execution of our own consciences, and eternal condemnation.
But be ye reconciled to God, embrace this reconciliation in making your use of those means, and this reconciliation shall work thus, it shall restore you to that state, that Adam had in paradise. What would a soul oppressed with the sense of sin give, that she were in that state of innocency, that she had in baptism? Be reconciled to God, and you have that, and an elder innocency than that, the innocency of paradise. Go home, and if you find an over-burden of children, negligence in servants, crosses in your tradings, narrowness, penury in your estate, yet this penurious, and this encumbered house shall be your paradise. Go forth, into the country, and if you find unseasonableness in the weather, rots in your sheep, murrains in your cattle, worms in your corn, backwardness in your rents, oppression in your landlord, yet this field of thorns and brambles shall be your paradise. Lock thyself up in thyself, in thine own bosom, and though thou find every room covered with the soot of former sins, and shaked with that devil whose name is Legion, some such sin as many sins depend upon, and are induced by, yet this prison, this rack, this hell in thine own conscience, shall be thy paradise. And as in paradise Adam at first needed no Saviour, so when by this reconciliation, in apprehending thy Saviour, thou art restored to this paradise, thou shalt need no sub-Saviour, no joint-Saviour, but cwtera adjicientur, no other angel, but the Angel of the great council, no other saint, but the Holy One of Israel, he who hath wrought this reconciliation for thee, and brought it to thee, shall establish it in thee; For, if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God, by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life3*. This is the sum and the end of all, that when God sends humble and laborious pastors, to supple and appliable congregations; that when we pray, and you receive us in Christ's stead, we shall not only find rest in God, but, (as it is said of Noah's sacrifice) God shall find the savour of rest in us; God shall find a Sabbath to himself in us, and rest from his jealousies, and anger towards us, and we shall have a sabbatary life here in the rest and peace of conscience, and a life of one everlasting Sabbath hereafter, where to our rest there shall be added joy, and to our joy glory, and this rest, and joy, and glory superinvested with that which crowns them all, eternity.