PREACHED AT ST. PAUL'S CROSS, NOVEMBER 22, 1629.
Matthew xi. 6.
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me'.
These are words spoken by our blessed Saviour, to two disciples, sent by John Baptist, then a prisoner, to inform themselves of some particulars concerning Christ. Christ, who read hearts, better than we do faces, and heard thoughts clearer than we do words, saw in the thoughts, and hearts of these men, a certain perverseness, an obliquity, an irregularity towards him, a jealousy and suspicion of him, and according to that indisposition of theirs he speaks to them, and tells them, This, and this only is true blessedness, not to be scandalized in me, not to be offended in me; I see you are; but, as you love blessedness, (and there is no other object of true love, but blessedness) establish yourselves in me, maintain in yourselves a submission, and an acquiescence to me, in my Gospel, suspect not me, be not jealous of me, nor press farther upon me, than I open and declare myself unto you, for, blessed is he, whosoever is not scandalized, not offended in me.
The words have in them an injunction, and a remuneration; a precept, and a promise; the way, and the end of a Christian. The injunction, the precept, the way is, As you love blessedness, be not offended in me, be satisfied with me, and mine ordinances; it is an acquiescence in the Gospel of Christ Jesus: and the remuneration, the promise, the end, is blessedness; that, which, in itself, hath no end, that, in respect of which, all other things are to no end, blessedness, everlasting blessedness, blessed is he, whosoever is not scandalized, not offended in me. In the first, Christ gives them first, if not an increpation, yet an intimation of our facility in falling into the passive scandal, the mis-interpreting of the words or actions of other men, which is that which our Saviour intends, by being offended in another; and blessed are they, in general, who are not apt to fall into this passive scandal, not subject to this facility of mis-interpreting other men. In a second branch in this first part, Christ appropriates this to himself, Blessed is he, whosoever is not scandalized, not offended in me; in which branch, we shall see, that the general scandal, and offence that the world took at Christ, and his Gospel, was, that he induced a religion that opposed the honours, and the pleasures, and the profit of this world: and these three being the triangle within our circle, the three corners, into which Satan, that compasses the world, leads us, (all is honour, or pleasure, or profit) because the Christian religion seemed to the world to withdraw men's affections from these, the world was scandalized, offended in Christ. But then, in a third consideration, we shall see, that Christ discerned in these two persons, these disciples of John, a passive scandal of another kind; not that Christ's Gospel, and the religion that he induced, was too low, too base, too contemptible, as the world thought, but that it was not low enough, not humble enough, and therefore John's disciples would do more than Christ's disciples, and bind themselves to a greater strictness and austerity of life, than Christ in his Gospel .required. In which third branch, we shall take knowledge of some disciples of John's disciples, in the world yet; and, (as for the most part it falls out in sectaries) of divers kinds and ways; for, we shall find some, who in an over-valuation of their own purity, condemn, and contemn other men, as unpardonable reprobates; and these are scandalized, and offended in Christ, that is, not satisfied with his Gospel, in that they will not see, that it is as well a part of the Gospel of Christ, to rely upon his mercy, if I have departed from that purity, which his Gospel enjoined me, as it is, to have endeavoured to have preserved that purity; and a part of his Gospel, as well to assist with my prayers, and my counsel, and with all mildness, that poor soul that hath strayed from that purity, as it is to love the communion of those saints, that have in a better measure preserved it; not to believe the mercy of God in Christ, after a sin, to be a part of the Gospel, as well as the grace of God for prevention before, not to give favourable constructions, and conceive charitable hopes of him, who is fallen into some sin, which I may have escaped, this is to be scandalized, to be offended in Christ, not to be satisfied with his Gospel; and this is one sect of the offspring of John's disciples. And the other is this, that other men thinking the Gospel of Christ to be too large a Gospel, a religion of too much liberty, will needs undertake to do more, than Christ, or his disciples practised, or his Gospel prescribed: for, this is to be offended in Christ, not to believe the means of salvation ordained by him, to be sufficient for that end, which they were ordained to, that is, salvation. And then, after all this, in a fourth branch we shall see, the way, which our Saviour takes to reclaim them, and to divest them of this passive scandal, which hindered their blessedness, which was, to call them to the contemplation of his good works, and of good works in the highest kind, his miracles; for, in the verse immediately before the text, (which verse induces the text) he says to them, You see the blind receive their sight, the lame go, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life. Christ does not propose, at least, he does not put all, upon that external purity, and austerity of life, in which, these disciples of John pretended to exceed all others, but upon doing good to others, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk. Which miracles, and great works of his,
our blessed Saviour sums up with that, which therefore seems the greatest of all, Pauper es evangelizantur, The poor have the Gospel preached unto them. Beloved, the greatest good that we, (we to whom the dispensation of the word of reconciliation is committed) can do, is, to preach the Gospel to tho poor, to assist the poor, to apply ourselves by all ways, to them, whether they bo poor in estate, and fortune, or poor in understanding and capacity, or poor in their accounts and dis-estimation of themselves, poor and dejected in spirit. And all these considerations, which, as you see, are many, and important, (first our general easiness to fall into the passive scandal, to be offended in others, to misinterpret others; and then the general passive scandal and offence that the world took at Christ, that ho induced a religion incapable of the honours, or the pleasures, or profits of this world; and thirdly, the particular passive scandal that disaffected these disciples of John towards Christ, which was, that his Gospel enjoined not enough, and therefore they would do more, in which kind, wo find two sects in the world yet, the offspring, and disciples of thoso disciples; and then lastly, the way that Christ took to reclaim and satisfy them, which was, by good works, and the best works that they that did them, could do, (for in himself it was by doing miracles, for the good of others, and preferring in his good and great works, the assisting of the poor) all these considerations, I say, will fall into our first part, as you love blessedness, be not scandalized, be not offended in me, which is the injunction, the precopt, the way. And, when in our due order, we shall come to our second part, the remuneration, the promise, the end, blessedness, everlasting blessedness, I may be glad, that the time will give me some colour, some excuse of saying little of that, as I can foresee already, by this distribution, that we shall be forced to thrust that part into a narrow conclusion. For, if I had Methusalem's years, and his years multiplied by the minutes of his years, (which were a fair term) if I could speak till the angels' trumpets blew, and you had the patience of martyrs, and could be content to hear me, till you heard the surgite mortui, till you were called to meet the Lord Jesus in the clouds, all that time would not make up one minute, all those words would not make up one syllable, towards this eternity, the period of this blessedness. Reserving ourselves therefore for that, to those few minutes which may be left, or borrowed, when we come to the handling thereof, pursue we first, those considerations which fall more naturally into our comprehension, the several branches of our first part; As you love blessedness, be not scandalized, be not offended in me.
First then our Saviour's answer to these disciples of John, gives us occasion to consider our inclination, our propenseness to the passive scandal, to be offended in others, to misinterpret the words and actions of others, and to lament that our infirmity, or perverseness, in the words of our Saviour, Vw mundo a scandalis1, Woe to the world by reason of scandals, of offences: for, that is both a vw dolentis, the voice of our Saviour lamenting that perverseness of ours, and vw minantis, his voice threatening punishments for that perverseness. For, Parum distat scandalizare, et scandalizari, says St. Hierome excellently; It is almost all one to be scandalized by another, as to scandalize another; almost as great a sin, to be shaked in our constancy, in ourselves, or in our charity towards others, as to offer a scandal to others. For, this vw, this intermination of woe from our Saviour, is bent upon us, from three batteries; for, it is Vw quia illusiones fortes, Woe, because scandals are so strong in their nature, as that they shall seduce, if it be possible, the elect"; and then, Vw quia infirmi vos, Woe, because you are so weak in your nature, as that, though you receive the word, and receive it with joy, yet temporales estis, you may be but time-servers for all that, for, as soon as persecution comes3, Ilico, continuo, scandalizamini, Instantly, presently, you are scandalized, offended; but especially, Vw quia prwvaricatores, Woe be unto you, not because the scandals are so strong, not because you are so weak, but because you prevaricate against your own souls, because you betray yourselves, and make yourselves weaker than you are, you open yourselves too easily to a scandal, you assist a scandal, create a scandal, by your aptness to misinterpret other men's proceedings. Great peace have they that love thy law, says David4: wherein consists this great peace? In this, non est illis scandalum, nothing scandalizes, nothing offends
1 Matt- xviii. 7-
8 Matt. xiii. 21.
them, nothing puts them off from their kings, their constancy in themselves, their charity towards others. And therefore upon that prayer of David, Liberet te Dew, ab homine malo, The Lord deliver thee from the evil man, St. Augustine retires himself into himself, he sends every man home into himself, and says, Liberet te Deus a te, ne sis tibi homo maIns, The Lord deliver thee from thyself, that thou be not that evil man to thyself; God bless me from myself, that I lead not myself into temptation, by a wilful misinterpreting of other men, especially my superiors; that I cast not aspersions or imputations upon the church, or the state, by my mistakings. And thus much being said of this general facility of falling into the passive scandal, and being offended in others, (which is a great interruption of blessedness, for blessed is he, and he only, that is not so scandalized, offended so) pass we now to the second branch of this first part, our Saviour's appropriating of this more particularly to himself, Blessed is he, whosoever is not scandalized, not offended in me.
Christ crucified, that is, the Gospel of Christ, is said by the apostle, to be scandalum Judwis, a scandal, a stumbling-block to the Jews, but Grwcis stultitia5, to the Grecians, to the Gentiles, mere foolishness. So that one scandal and offence that was taken at Christ, and his Gospel, was by the wise men, the learned, the philosophers of the world; they thought that Christ induced a religion improbable to reason, a silly and foolish religion. But these learned men, these philosophers, were sooner convinced and satisfied, than others. For, when we have considered Justin Martyr, and Minutius Felix, and Arnobius, and Origen, and Lactantius, and some tbings of Theodoret, and perchance one or two more, we have done with those fathers, that did anything against the Gentiles, and their philosophers, and may soon come to that question of the apostle, Ubi sapiens, Where is the wise man, where is the philosopher, where is the disputer of the world8 I Indeed, all that the fathers writ against them, would not amount to so much, as may be found at one mart, of Papists against Protestants, or of Protestants, Lutherans and Calvinists, against one another. The reason is, reason will be satisfied, passion will not. And therefore, when it came to that issue
5 1 Cor. i. 23. 6 1 Cor. i. 20.
between the Christian and the natural man, which religion was most conformable* to reason, it soon resolved into these two, whether it were more conformable to reason to believe one God, as the Christian does, or many, as the Gentiles; and then, being brought to the belief of one God, whether it were more conformable to reason, to believe three persons in that one God, as we, or but one, as they do. Now, for the first of these, the multiplicity of gods, it involved so many, so evident, so ridiculous absurdities, as not only those few fathers soon disputed them, but some of themselves, such as Lucian, soon laughed them, out of it; and so reason prevailed soon for the unity of the Godhead, that there is but one God, and that question was not long in suspense, nor agitation. And for the other, three persons in this one God, the Trinity, though we cannot so immediately prove that by reason, nor so entirely, altogether, yet, by these steps we can; first, that there is nothing in the doctrine of the Trinity against reason; the doctrine of the Trinity implies no contradiction; it may be so; and then, that it is so, if we have the word of God, for it, reason itself will conclude, that we have reason on our side; and that we have the word of God for it, we proceed thus, that for this book, which we call the Bible, which book delivers us the doctrine of the Trinity, we have far better reasons, and stronger arguments to satisfy any natural man, that this book is the word of God, than the Turk, or any professors of any other religion have, that those books which they pretend to be so, are so. So that positively for the first, that there is but one God, and comparatively for the other, that there are three persons, reason itself, (if we were bound to submit all religion to reason) may receive a satisfaction, a calm, and peaceable acquiescence. And so, the scandal that the philosophers took, was, with no great difficulty, overcome. But then the scandals that worldly and carnal men took, lasted longer. They were offended in Christ, that he induced an inglorious, a contemptible religion, a religion that opposed the honours of this world; and a sooty, and melancholic religion, a religion that opposed the pleasures, and delights of this world; and a sordid, and beggarly religion, a religion that opposed the gain, and the profit of this world. But were this
"Folio edition, "comfortable."
enough to condemn the Christian religion, if it did oppose worldly honour, or pleasure, or profit? Or does our religion do that? Be pleased to stop a little upon both these problems; whether that were enough to their ends, if it were so, and then, whether there be any such thing in our religion; and begin we with their first offence at Christ, the point of honour.
The apostle speaks of an eternal weight of glory7, glory, a weight of glory, an eternal weight of glory; but where? In heaven, not in this world. The honours of this world, are far from being weights, or freights, or ballast to carry us steady; they are but light froths, but leaven, but fermentation, that puffs and swells us up. And they are as far from being eternal; for, in every family, we know, in which father, or grandfather the honour began, and we know not how soon, or how ignominiously it may end; but such ends of worldly honours, we see every day. When a lord meets a man that honours him, makes him courtesy, and curses him withal, what hath his lordship got by that honour? When popular acclamations cast him into insolent actions, and into the net of the law, where is the ease, the benefit, the consolation of his honour? But especially, if worldly honour must be had upon those conditions here, as shall hinder my eternal weight of glory hereafter, I should honour any dishonour, glorify any inglorious state, embrace any dunghill, call any poverty treasure, rather than bring the honours of this world into the balance, into competition, into comparison with that eternal weight of glory in heaven. So that if the Christian religion did oppose worldly honour, it were not to be opposed for that: but it is far from that; for, as no religion imprints more honour, more reverence, more subjection in the hearts of men, towards their superiors of all sorts, natural, or civil, or ecclesiastical, parents, or magistrates, or prelates, than the Christian religion does (for, we bind even the conscience itself) so never was there any form of religion upon the face of the earth, in which persons were capable of greater titles, and styles of dignity, than in the Christian church. Never any Moscovite, any Turk, received such titles, as the world hath, and does give to the bishop of Rome; so great, as that some of the greatest later emperors,
7 2 Cor. iv. 17.
have had an ambition of that dignity, and endeavoured to have been elected popes too, being emperors. If religion opposed honour, that should not diminish it; but it does not that, nor pleasure neither, which was another thing, in which, the world was offended in Christ.
As when we compared the honour of this world, with the glory of heaven, we found it nothing, so should we do the pleasures of this world, if we compared them with the joys of heaven. And therefore if my religion did enwrap me in a continual cloud, damp me in a continual vapour, smoke me in a continual sourness, and joylessness in this life, yet I have an abundant recompense in that reversion, which the Lord, the righteous Judge hath laid up for me, that I shall drink etorrente voluptatis, of the rivers of his pleasures*; pleasures, his pleasures, rivers, everflowing, overflowing rivers of his pleasures. So that if my religion denied me pleasure here, I would not deny my religion, nor be displeased with my religion for that; but it does not that; for what Christian is denied a care of his health, or of a good habitude of body, or the use of those things, which may give a cheerfulness to his heart, or a cheerfulness to his countenance? What Christian is denied such garments, or such ornaments, as his own rank, and condition, in particular requires, or as the national and general custom of his times hath induced and authorized? What Christian is denied conversation, or recreation, or honest relaxation of body or spirit? Excess of these pleasures, as well as in the heathen, as in the Christian, falls under Solomon's vanity, and vexation of spirit. But with the right use of these pleasures, the Christian hath that, which none but he hath, that the Lord puts gladness into my heart, that the Lord enables me to lay me down in peace, and sleep, that the Lord assures me that he will keep me in safety0. If religion excluded worldly pleasure, that were no cause of scandal or offence; but it does not that; no nor profit neither, which is a third consideration.
What is a man profited, says our Saviour, (he saw all the world was carried upon profit, and he goes along with them, that way) What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose
8 Psalm xxxvi. 28. 9 Psalm iv. 8.
his own soul"? If a man have an answer to that question, that question of confusion, and consternation, that Christ asks, Cujus erunt, Fool this night they shall fetch away thy soul1', and then, Cujus erunt, Whose shall all those things be, that thou hast provided? If a man can answer, Hwredis erunt, They shall be mine heir's, mine heir shall have them; besides that, though thy bell toll first, his may ring out first; though thou beest old and crazy, and sickly, Though they do fetch away thy soul this night, they may fetch away his before thine, thine heir may die before thee, and there is that assurance disappointed; if thine heir do enjoy all this, will all that distil one drop of cold water upon thy tongue in hell? And so is he, (says Christ, in the conclusion of that parable) that layeth up riches for himself, and is not rich towards God. So that if riches might not consist with religion, it would not hurt our cause; but they may, they do. Godliness hath the promise of this life, and of the next1!; of both, but of this first. The seed of the righteous, shall be mighty upon earth, and wealth and riches shall be in his house18. Many places of Scripture tell us that the wicked may be rich, and that they are rich; but in no place does God promise that they shall be rich. So says David's son, Solomon, too, The crown of the wise is their riches1*; we all know what men Solomon means by wise men; godly men, religious men; and their crown is riches. Beloved, there is an inward joy, there is an outward dignity and reverence, that accompanies riches, and the godly, the righteous man is not incapable of these; nay, they belong rather to him, than to the ungodly: Non decent stultum divitiw, (as the Vulgate reads that place) Miches do not become a fool1*. But because, for all that, though riches do not become a fool, yet fools do become rich; our translations read that place thus: joy, pleasure, delight, is not seemly for a fool; though the fool, the ungodly man, may be rich, yet a right joy, a holy delight in riches, belongs only to the wise, to the righteous. The patriarchs in the Old Testament, many examples in the New, are testimonies to us of the compatibility of riches, and righteousness; that they may, that they have often met in one person. For, is fraud, and circumvention
10 Matt. xvi. 26. 11 Luke xii. 10. "1 Tim. iv. 8.
13 Psalm cxii. 3. 14 Prov. xiv. 24. 15 Prov. xix. 10.
so sure a way, of attaining God's blessings, as industry, and conscientiousness is? Or is God so likely to concur with the fraudulent, the deceitful man, as with the laborious, and religious 1 Was not Ananias, with his disguises, more suddenly destroyed, than Job, and more irrecoverably? And cannot a Star-chamber, or an Exchequer, leave an ungodly man as poor, as a storm at sea, in a shipwreck, or a fire at land, in a lightning, can do the godly? Murmur not, be not scandalized, nor offended in him, if God, for reasons reserved to himself, keep them in poverty; but know, that God hath exposed the riches of this world, as well, rather to the godly, than the wicked. And so have you the second branch of this first part, the scandals which, for the most part, were taken at Christ, and his Gospel, by the philosophers, that it was a religion contrary to reason, by worldly, and carnal men, that it was a religion contrary to the honours, to the pleasures, to the profits of this world; which, if it were so, were no impeachment to it, but it is not: and so we are come to the third branch, the particular passive scandal, which our Saviour deprehended in these two disciples of John, diverse from the rest.
That, which misaffected them towards Christ, was not that he induced a religion too low, too sordid, too humble, but not low enough, not humble enough; and therefore they would outbid Christ, and undertake more, than his disciples practised, or himself prescribed. Their master, John Baptist, discerned this distemper in them, then when they said to him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, baptizes as fast aS thou, and all the world comes to him,B. John Baptist deals plainly with them, and he tells them, that they must not be offended in that, for so it must be, He must increase, and / must decrease. This troubled them; and because it did so, John sends them personally to Christ, to receive further satisfaction. When they come at first to him, they say, Sir, we fast, and, even the Pharisees fast, why do not you, and your disciples fast too11? And then our blessed Saviour enlarges himself to them, in that point of fasting, and they go home satisfied. Now they return again, and they continue their wonder, that Christ should continue his greatness, and his estimation in the world, they exceeding him so far in this out
18 John iii. 26, 30. 17 Matt. ix. 14.
ward austerity of life, which was so specious, and so winning a thing amongst the Jews. But duo discipuli fortasse duo populi", these two disciples of John may have their disciples in the world to this day; and therefore forbearing their persons, Wfl shall consider their offspring; those men, who in an over-valuation of their own purity, despise others, as men whom nothing can save; and those men, who in an over-valuation of their own merits, think to save themselves and others too, by their supererogations.
Begin we with the first, the over-pure despisers of others; men that will abridge, and contract the large mercies of God in Christ, and elude, and frustrate, in a great part, the general promises of God. Men that are loth, that God should speak so loud, as to say, he would have all men saved, and loth that Christ shotlld spread his arms, or shed his blood in such a compass, as might fall upon all. Men that think no sin can hurt them, because they are elect, and that every sin makes every other man a reprobate. But with the Lord there is copiosa redemption plentiful redemption18, and an overflowing cup of mercy. Aquw quw riott mentiuntur, as the Holy Ghost says more than once, more than many times, in the prophets, waters that will not lie, that will not dry, not deceive, not disappoint any man. The wisdom that is from above, is first pure, and then peaceable*". Purity, sincerity, integrity, holiness, is a skirt of Christ's garment; it is the very livery that he puts upon us; we cannot serve him without it, (we must serve him in holiness and pureness) we cannot see him without it, without holiness no man shall see God. But then to be pure, and not peaceable, to determine this purity iti ourselves, and condemn others, this is but an imaginary, but an illusory purity. Not to have relieved that poof wretch, that lay wounded, and weltering in his blood in the way td Jericho, was the uncharitableness of the Levite, and the priest, in that parable*'. But that parable presents no man so uncharitable, as would have hindered the Samaritan, from pouring his oil, and his wine into the wounds of that distressed wretch. To hinder the blood of Christ Jesus, not to suffer that blood to flow
13 Ambrose. 19 Psalm cxxx. 7
*» James iii. 17- "Luke x. 30.
as far, as it will, to deny the mercy of God in Christ, to any sinner, whatsoever, upon any pretence, whatsoever, this is to be offended in Christ, to be scandalized with his Gospel; for, that is his own precept, have salt in yourselves, (be it, purity, the best preservative of the soul) and then, Have peace with one anotherTM, deny no man the benefit of Christ; bless thou the Lord, praise him, and magnify him, for that which he hath done for thee, and believe, that he means as well to others, as to thee. And these are one sect of the disciples of John's disciples- that think there are men, whom Christ cannot save, and the other is of men that think they can save other men.
Ignatius, who is so ancient, as that we have letters jfroni him to St. John, and from him to the blessed Virgin, and (if the copies be true) from her to him, as ancient as he is, says, Monet quisquam antiquorum, One of the ancients hath given us this caution, Utnemo bonus, dicatur qui malum bono permiscuerit, That we call no man good, that is good to ill ends, nor believe any man to speak truth, that speaks truth at some times, to make his future lies the more credible. And much this way does the Roman church proceed with us, in this behalf. They magnify sanctification, and holiness of life well; well do they propose many good means, for the advancement, and exaltation thereof; fasting, and prayer, and alms, and other medicinal disciplines, and mortifications. But all this to a wrong end; not to make them the more accptable to God, but to make God the more beholden to them; to merit, and over-merit; to satisfy, and super-satisfy the justice of God for their own, and for others' sins. Now, God will be served with all our power; but, say they, we may serve God, with more than all our power. How? because I may have more power, more grace, more help, to-day, than I had yesterday? But does not the same commandment, of serving God, with all my power, lie upon me, to-day, as did yesterday I If yesterday, when I had less power, less grace, less help, all was but duty and service that could be done, is it the less a service and a duty now, because God hath enlarged my capacity with more grace, and more helps than before? Do I owe God the less, because he hath given me more? All that my Saviour hath
82 Mark ix. 50.
taught me, in this, to pray for, is but this, Dimitte debita, Lord forgive me the not endeavouring to keep thy commandments: but for not doing more than thy commandments, I ask no forgiveness, by any prayer, or precept recommended to me by him. Ad evangelii impletionem conscendat nostra religio, nec transcendat; says the learnedest nun, and the best matriarch, and mother of that church, I think, that ever writ, Heloyssa; I pray God, our order may get so far, as the Gospel enjoys, and not press beyond that; Nec quid amplius, quam ut Christianw simus, appetamus, That we desire to be no more, than good Christians. And further we extend not this third consideration, the particular passive scandal, which Christ found in these disciples of John, and which we have noted in their progeny, and offspring, but go on to the fourth, the way that Christ took to divest them thereof, by calling them to the contemplation of his works, Consider what you have seen done, the blind see, the lame go, the deaf hear, and then you will not endanger your blessedness, by being offended in me.
The evidence that Christ produces, and presses, is good works; for, if a man offer me the root of a tree to taste, I cannot say this is such a pear, or apple, or plum; but if I see the fruit, I can. If a man pretend faith to me, I must say to him, with St. James, Can his faith save him,3? Such a faith, as that the apostle declares himself to mean, a dead faith, as all faith is that is inoperative, and works not. But if I see his works, I proceed the right way in judicature, I judge secundum allegata et probata, according to my evidence: and if any man will say, Those works may be hypocritical, I may say of any witness, he may be perjured; but as long as I have no particular cause to think so, it is good evidence to me, as to hear that mans oath, so to see this man's works. Cum in coelis sedentem in crucem agere non possum**, Though I cannot crucify Christ, being now set at the right hand of his Father in heaven, yet there is Odium impietatis, saith that father, A crucifying by ungodliness ; an ungodly life in them that profess Christ, is a daily crucifying of Christ. Therefore here Christ refers to good works; and there is more in this than so: it is not only good works, but good works in the highest proportion, the best works, that he that doth them, can do: therefore,
83 James ii. 14. M Hilary.
in his own case he appeals to miracles. For if fasting were all, or wearing of camers hair, all, or to have done some good to some men, by baptizing them, were all, these disciples and their master might have had as much to plead as Christ. Therefore he calls them to the consideration of works of a higher nature, of miracles; for, God never subscribes nor testifies a forged deed; God never seals a falsehood with a miracle. Therefore, when the Jews say of Christ, He hath a devil, and is mad, why hear ye him"? some of the other Jews said, These are not the words of one that hath a devil: but though by that it appear, that some evidence, some argument may be raised in a man's behalf, from his words, from that he saith, from his preaching, yet Christ's friends who spoke in his favour, do not rest in that, That those are not the words of one that hath a devil, but proceed to that, Can the devil open the eyes of the blind 1 He doth more than the devil can do; they appeal to his works, to his good works, to his great works, to his miracles. But doth he put us to do miracles? No; though, in truth those sumptuous and magnificent buildings, and endowments, which some have given for the sustentation of the poor, are almost miracles, half-miracles, in respect of those penurious proportions, that mint and cumin, and those half-ounces of broken bread, which some as rich as they, have dropped and crumbled, out; truly, he that doth as much as he can, is almost a miracle; and when Christ appeals to his miracles he calls us therein, to the best works we can do. God will be loved with the whole heart, and God will have that love declared with our whole substance. J must not think I have done enough, if I have built an alms'house; as long as I am able to do more, I have done nothing. This Christ intimates in producing his greatest works, miracles; which miracles he closeth up with that, as with the greatest, Pauperes evangelizantur, The poor have the Gospel preached unto them.
In this our blessed Saviour doth not only give an instruction to John's disciples, but therein also derives and conveys a precept upon us, upon us, who as we have received mercy, have received the ministry, and indeed, upon all you, whom he hath made regale sacerdotium, a royal priesthood*6, and reges et sacerdotes,
kings and priests unto your God'7, and bound you thereby, as well as us, to preach the Gospel to the poor, you, by an exemplar lite, and a catechizing conversation, as well as us, by our words and meditations. Now beloved, there are poor, that are literally poor, poor in estate and fortune; and poor, that are naturally poor, poor in capacity, and understanding; and poor, that are spiritually poor, dejected in spirit, and insensible of the comforts, which the Holy Ghost offers unto them; and to all these poor, are we all bound to preach the Gospel. First then for them which are literally poor, poor in estate, how much do they want of this means of salvation, preaching, which the rich have! They cannot maintain chaplains in their houses; they cannot forbear the necessary labours of their calling, to hear extraordinary sermons; they cannot have seats in churches, whensoever they come; they must stay, they must stand, they must thrust, they must over, come that difficulty, which St. Augustine makes an impossibility, that is, for any man to receive benefit by that sermon, that he hears with pain: they must take pains to hear. To these poor therefore, the Lord and his Spirit hath sent me to preach the Gospel; that Gospel, The Lord knoweth thy poverty, but thou art rich8c; that Gospel, Be content with such things as thou hast, for the Lord hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee**; and that Gospel, God hath chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of that kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him30; and this is the Gospel of those poor, literally poor, poor in estate. To those that are naturally poor, poor in understanding, the Lord and his Spirit hath sent me to preach the Gospel too; that Gospel, If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God"; Solomon himself had none, till he asked it there. And that Gospel where John wept bitterly, because there was a book presented, but no man could open it **. It were a sad consideration, if now, when the book of God, the Scripture is afforded to us, we could not open that book, not understand those Scriptures. But there is the Gospel of those poor; that Lamb, which is spoken of there, that Lamb, which in the same place is called a. Lion too, that Lamb-Lion hath opened the book for us. The
'» Rev. v. 10. ** Rev. ii. 9. 89 Heb. xiii. 5.
30 James ii. 5. 81 James i. 6. M Rev. v. 4.
humility of the lamb gathereth the strength of the lion; come humbly to the reading and hearing of the Scriptures, and thou shalt have strength of understanding. The Scriptures were not written for a few, nor are to be reserved for a few; all they that were present at this Lamb-Lion's opening of the book, that is, all they that come with modesty and humility, to the search of the Scriptures, all they, (and they are no small number, for there they are said to be ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands) all they say there, We are all made kings and priests unto our God. Begin a lamb, and thou wilt become a lion; read the Scriptures modestly, humbly, and thou shalt understand them strongly, powerfully; for hence is it that St. Chrysostom, more than once83, and St. Gregory after him, meet in that expression, That the Scriptures are a sea, in which a lamb may wade, and an elephant may swim. And this is the Gospel of those poor, poor in understanding. To those that are spiritually poor, wrung in their souls, stung in their consciences, fretted, galled, exulcerated viscerally, even in the bowels of their spirit, insensible, inapprehensive of the mercies of God in Christ, the Lord and his Spirit hath sent me to preach the Gospel also, that Gospel, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven; and to recollect, and redintegrate that broken and scattered heart, by enabling him to expostulate, and chide his own soul, with those words of comfort, which the Holy Ghost offereth him, once, and again, and again, Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul, and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God; and, yet praise him for the light of his countenance*'. Words of inexpressible comfort, yet praise him for the light of his countenance; though thou sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, yet praise him for the light of his countenance. Whatsoever thy darkness be, put not out that candle, the light of his countenance. Maintain that light, discern that light, and whatsoever thy darkness seemed, it shall prove to be but an overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. And so beloved, if you have sufficiently considered, first, our general easiness of falling into the passive scandal, of being offended in others, by misinterpreting their proceedings, and then the general
33 Homily ii. in Gen. and iii in 2 Thess.
34 Psalm XLii. 5.11. Psalm xliii. 5.
scandals which the world took at Christ, and his Gospel, the philosophers- that it was an ignorant religion, (where you saw, that the learneder the adversary is, the sooner he is satisfied) and the worldly and carnal man, that it was a dishonourable, an unpleasurable, an unprofitable religion, (where you saw, that it were no diminution of our religion, if it were all that, but it is none of it) if you have also considered the particular passive scandal that Christ deprehended in those two disciples of John, that they would do more than Christ practised or prescribed, (where you saw also the distemper of those, that are derived from them, both those that think there are some sinners whom Christ cannot save, and those who think there are no sinners whom they cannot save, by their supererogations) and considered lastly, the way that Christ took, to divest these men of this offence, and passive scandal, which was to call them to the consideration of good works, and of the best works, which he that doth them, can do, (where you have also seen, that Christ makes that our best work, To preach the Gospel to the poor, both because the poor are destitute of other comforts, and because their very poverty hath suppled them, and mellowed them, and macerated, and matured, and disposed them, by corrections to instructions) if you have received all this, you have received all that we proposed for the first part, the injunction, the precept, the way, Be not scandalized, be not offended in me. And now, that which I suspected at first, is fallen upon me, that is to thrust our other part into a narrow conclusion, though it be blessedness itself, everlasting blessedness; so we must; so we shall; blessed is he, (there is the remuneration, the promise, the end) whosoever is not offended in me. Blessed.
The heathen, who saw by the light of nature, that they could have no being, if there were no God, (for it is from one of themselves, that St. Paul says, In him we live, and move, and have our being, and Genus ejus sumus"5, We are the offspring of God) sa also by the same light of nature, that they could have no wellbeing, if there were no blessedness. And therefore, as the heathen multiplied gods to themselves, so did they also multiply blessedness. They brought their Jupiters to three hundred, says Varro;
83 Acts xvii. 28.
and from the same author, from Varro, does St. Augustine collect almost three hundred several opinions of blessedness. But, in multitudine nullitas, says Tertullian excellently; as where there are many gods, there is no god, so where there are many blessednesses imagined, there is no blessedness possessed. Not but that, as the sun which moves only in his own sphere in heaven, does yet cast down beams and influences into this world, so that blessedness, which is truly, only in heaven, does also cast down beams and influences hither, and gild, and enamel, yea inanimate the blessings of God here, with the true name, the true nature of blessedness. For, though the Vulgate edition do read that place36, thus, Beatum dixerant pepulum, The world thought that people blessed that were so, that is temporally blessed, as though that were but an imaginary, and not a true blessedness; and howsoever it have seemed good to our translators, to insert into that verse a discretive particle, a particle of difference, Yea, (Blessed are the people that are so,) that is, temporally blessed, Yea, blessed are the people whose God is the Lord, yet, in truth, in the original, there is no such discretive particle, no word of difference, no yea, in the text, but both the clauses of that verse are carried in one and the same tenour, Blessed are the people that are so, Blessed are the people whose God is th'e Lord; that is, that people whom the Lord hath blessed so, with temporal blessings, is bound to believe those temporal blessings, to be seals and evidences to them that the Lord is their God. So then there is a viatory, a preparatory, an initiatory, an inchoative blessedness jn this life. What is that? All agree in this definition, that blessedness is that in quo quiescit animus, in which the mind, the heart, the desire of man hath settled, and rested, in which it found a centrical reposedness, an acquiescence, a contentment. Not that which might satisfy any particular man; for, so the object would be infinitely various; but that, beyond which no man could propose anything; and is there such a blessedness in this life? There is. Fecisti nos Domine ad te, et inquietum est cor nostrum, donee quiescat in te37; Lord thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart cannot rest, till it get to thee. But can we come to God here I We cannot. Where is then our
38 Psalm cxLiv. 45. 37 Augustine.
viatory, our preparatory, our initiatory, our inchoative blessedness? Beloved, though we cannot come to God here, here God comes to us; here, in the prayers of the congregation God comes to us; here, in his ordinance of preaching, God delivers himself to us; here in the administration of his sacraments, he seals, ratifies, confirms all unto us; and to rest in these his seals and means of reconciliation to him, this is not to be scandalized, not to be offended in him; and, not to be offended in him, not to suspect him or these means which he hath ordained, this is our viatory, our preparatory, our initiatory and inchoative blessedness, beyond which, nothing can be proposed in this life. And therefore, as the needle of a sea-compass, though it shake long, yet will rest at last, and though it do not look directly, exactly to the North Pole, but have some variation, yet, for all that variation, will rest, so, though thy heart have some variations, some deviations, some aberrations from that direct point, upon which it should be bent, which is an absolute conformity of thy will to the will of God, yet, though thou lack something of that, afford thy soul rest: settle thy soul in such an infallibility, as this present condition can admit, and believe, that God receives glory as well in thy repentance, as in thine innocence, and that the mercy of God in Christ, is as good a pillow to rest thy soul upon after a sin, as the grace of God in Christ is a shield, and protection for thy soul before. In a word, this is our viatory, our preparatory, our initiatory, and inchoative blessedness, beyond which there can be no blessedness proposed here, first to receive a satisfaction, an acquiescence, that there are certain and constant means ordained by Christ, for our reconciliation to God in him, in all cases, in which a Christian soul can be distressed, that such a treasure there is deposited by him, in the church, and then, the testimony of a rectified conscience, that thou hast sincerely applied those general helps to thy particular soul. Come so far, and then, as the suburbs touch the city, and the porch the church, and deliver thee into it, so shall this viatory, this preparatory, this initiatory and inchoative blessedness deliver thee over to the everlasting blessedness of the kingdom of heaven. Of which everlasting blessedness, I would ask leave, not so much of you; (yet of you too, for with you, I would not be over bold) but I would ask leave of the angels of heaven, leave of the Holy Ghost himself, to venture to say a little, of this everlasting blessedness: the tongues of angels cannot, the tongues of the Holy Ghost, the authors of the books of Scripture have not told us, wbat this blessedness is; and what then shall we say, but this?
Blessedness itself, is God himself; our blessedness is our possession; our union with God. In what consists this? A great limb of the School with their Thomas, place this blessedness, this union with God, in visione, in this, That in heaven I shall see God, see God essentially, God face to face, God as he is. We do not see one another so, in this world; in this world we see but outsides; in heaven I shall see God, and God essentially. But then another great branch of the School, with their Scotus, place this blessedness, this union with God, in amore, in this, that in heaven, I shall love God. Now love presumes knowledge; for, Amari nisi nota non possunt33, We can love nothing, but that which we do, or think we do understand. There, in heaven, I shall know God, so, as that I shall be admitted, not only to an adoration of God, to an admiration of God, to a prosternation, and reverence before God, but to an affection, to an office, of more familiarity towards God, of more equality with God, I shall love God. But even love itself, as noble a passion as it is, is but a pain, except we enjoy that we love; and therefore another branch of the School, with their Aureolus, place this blessedness, this union of our souls with God, in gaudio, in our joy, that is, in our enjoying of God. In this world we enjoy nothing; enjoying presumes perpetuity; and here, all things are fluid, transitory: there I shall enjoy, and possess for ever, God himself. But yet, every one of these, to see God, or to love God, or to enjoy God, have seemed to some too narrow to comprehend this blessedness, beyond which, nothing can be proposed; and therefore another limb of the School, with their Bonaventure, place this blessedness in all these together. And truly, if any of those did exclude any of these, so, as that I might see God, and not love him, or
love God, and not enjoy him, it could not well be called blessedness; but he that hath any of these, hath every one, all: and therefore the greatest part concur, and safely, in visione, that vision is beatification, to see God, as he is, is that blessedness.
There then, in heaven, I shall have continuitatem intuendi; it is not only vision, but intuition, not only a seeing, but a beholding, a contemplating of God, and that in continuitate, I shall have an uninterrupted, an unintermitted, an undiscontinued sight of God; I shall look, and never look off; not look, and look again, as here, but look, and look still, for that is, continuitas intuendi. There my soul shall have inconcussam quietum; we need owe Plato nothing; but we may thank Plato for this expression, if he meant so much by this inconcussa quies, That in heaven my soul shall sleep, not only without trouble, and startling, but without rocking, without any other help, than that peace, which is in itself; my soul shall be thoroughly awake, and thoroughly asleep too; still busy, active, diligent, and yet still at rest. But the apostle will exceed the philosopher, St. Paul will exceed Plato, as he does when he says, / shall be unus spiritus cum DeoTM, I shall be still but the servant of my God, and yet I shall be the same spirit with that God. When? Dies quem tanquam supremum reformidas, wterni natalis est, says the moral mail's oracle, Seneca. Our last day is our first day, our Saturday is our Sunday, our eve is our holyday, our sun-setting is our morning, the day of our death, is the first day of our eternal life. The next day after that, which is the day of judgment, Veniet dies, quw me mihi revelabit, comes that day that shall show me to myself; here I never saw myself, but in disguises: there, then, I shall see myself, and see God too. Totam lucem, et totus lux aspiciam; I shall see the whole light; here I see some parts of the air enlightened by the sun, but I do not see the whole light of the sun; there I shall see God entirely, all God, totam lucem, and totus lux, I myself shall be all light to see that light by. Here, I have one faculty enlightened, and another left in darkness: mine understanding sometimes cleared, my will, at the same time perverted. There, I shall be all light,
88 1 Cor. vi. 17.
no shadow upon me; my soul invested in the light of joy, and my body in the light of glory. How glorious is God, as he looks down upon us, through the sun! How glorious is that glass of his! How glorious is God, as he looks out amongst us through the king! How glorious in that image of his! How glorious is God, as he calls up our eyes to him, in the beauty, and splendour, and service of the church! How glorious in that spouse of his! But how glorious shall I conceive this light to be, cum suo loco viderim, when I shall see it, in His own place. In that sphere, which though a sphere, is a centre too; in that place, which, though a place, is all, and everywhere. I shall see it, in the face of that God, who is all face, all manifestation, all innotescence to me, (for, Facies Dei est, qua Deus nobis innotescit", That is God's face to us, by which God manifests himself to us) I shall see this light in his face, who is all face, and yet all hand, all application, and communication, and delivery of all himself to all his saints. This is beatitudo in auge, blessedness in the meridional height, blessedness in the south point, in a perpetual summer solstice, beyond which nothing can be proposed, to see God so, then, there. And yet the farmers of heaven and hell, the merchants of souls, the Roman church, make this blessedness, but an under degree, but a kind of apprenticeship; after they have beatified, declared a man to be blessed in the fruition of God in heaven, if that man, in that inferior state do good service to that church, that they see much profit will rise, by the devotion, and concurrence of men, to the worship of that person, then they will proceed to a canonization; and so, he that in his novitiate, and years of probation was but blessed Ignatius, and blessed Xavier, is lately become St. Xavier, and St. Ignatius. And so they pervert the right order, and method, which is first to come to sanctification, and then to beatification, first to holiness, and then to blessedness. And in this method, our blessed God be pleased to proceed with us, by the operation of his Holy Spirit, to bring us to sanctification here, and by the merits and intercession of his glorious Son, to beatification hereafter. That so not being offended in him, but resting in those means and seals,
of reconciliation, which thou hast instituted in thy church, we may have life, and life more abundantly, life of grace here, and life of glory there, in that kingdom, which thy Son, our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. Amen.