PREACHED TO THE HOUSEHOLD AT WHITEHALL, APRILS), 1626.
Matthew ix. 13.
I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Some things the several evangelists record severally, one, and no more. St. Matthew, and none but St. Matthew, records Joseph's jealousy and suspicion1, that his wife Mary had been in a fault, before her marriage; and then his temper withal, not frequent in that distemper of jealousy, not to exhibit her to open infamy for that fault; and yet his holy discretion too, not to live with a woman faulty that way, but to take some other occasion, and to put her away privily: in which, we have three elements of a wise husband; first, not to be utterly without all jealousy and providence, and so expose his wife to all trials, and temptations, and yet not to be too apprehensive and credulous, and so expose her to dishonour and infamy; but yet not to be so indulgent to her faults, when they were true faults, as by his connivance, and living with her, to make her faults, his: and all this we have out of that which St. Matthew records, and none but he. St. Mark, and none but St. Mark records8, that story, of Christ's recovering a dumb man, and almost deaf, of both infirmities: in which, when we see, that our Saviour Christ, though he could have recovered that man with a word, with a touch, with a thought, yet was pleased to enlarge himself in all those ceremonial circumstances, of imposition of hands, of piercing his ears with his I fingers, of wetting his tongue with spittle, and some others, we might thereby be instructed, not to under-value such ceremonies as have been instituted in the church, for the awakening of men's consideration, and the exalting of their devotion; though those ceremonies, primarily, naturally, originally, fundamentally, and merely in themselves, be not absolutely and essentially necessary: and this we have from that which is recorded by St. Mark, and none but him. St. Luke, and none but St. Luke, records the
history of Mary and Joseph's losing of Christ3: in which we see, how good and holy persons may lose Christ; and how long! They had lost him, and were a whole day without missing him: .0.' a man may be without Christ, and his Spirit, and lie long m an .V ignorance and senselessness of that loss: and then, where did they lose him? Even in Jerusalem, in the holy city: even in 7 this holy place, and now in this holy exercise, you lose Christ, if either any other respect than his glory, brought you hither; or your minds stray out of these walls, now you are here. Butf .when they sought him, and sought him sorrowing, and sought him in the temple, then they found him: if in a holy sadness and *' penitence, you seek him here, in his house, in his ordinance, here he is always at home, here you may always find him. And this 1^ we have out of that which St. Luke reports, and none but he. St. John, and none but St. John *, records the story of Christ's miraculous changing of water into wine, at the marriage in Cana: in which, we see, both that Christ honoured the state of marriage, with his personal presence, and also that he afforded his servants so plentiful a use of his creatures, as that he was pleased to come to a miraculous supply of wine, rather than they should want it. Some things are severally recorded by the several evangelists, as all these; and then some things are recorded by all four; as John Baptist's humility, and low valuation of himself, in respect of Christ; which he expresses in that phrase, That he was not worthy to carry his shoes. The Holy Ghost had a care, that this should be repeated to us by all four, that the best endeavours of God's best servants, are unprofitable, unavailable in themselves, otherwise than as God's gracious acceptation inanimates themand as he puts his hand to that plough which they drive or draw, Now our text hath neither this singularity, nor this universality; it is neither in one only, nor in all the evangelists: but it hath (as they speak in the law) an interpretative universality, a presumptive universality: for that which hath a plurality of voices, is said to have all; and this text hath so; for three of the four evangelists have recorded this text: only St. John, who doth especially extend himself about the divine nature of Christ, pretermits it; but all the rest, who insist more upon his assuming
3 Luke ii. 43.
4 Johnii. 11.
our nature, and working our salvation in that, the Holy Ghost hath recorded, and repeated this protestation of our Saviour's, / came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Which words, being spoken by Christ, upon occasion of the Pharisees murmuring at his admitting of publicans and sinners to the table with him, at that feast which St. Matthew made him, at his house, soon after his calling to the apostleship, direct our consideration upon the whole story, and do, not afford but re| quire, not admit but invite this distribution; that, first, we consider the occasion of the words, and then the words themselves: for of these twins is this text pregnant, and quick, and easily delivered. In the first, we shall see the pertinency of Christ's answer; and in the second, the doctrine thereof: in the first, how fit it was for them; in the other, how necessary for us: first, the historical part, which was occasional; and then the catechistical part, which is doctrinal. And in the first of these, the historical and occasional part, we shall see, first, that Christ by his personal presence justified feasting, somewhat more than was merely necessary, for society, and cheerful conversation: he justified feasting, and feasting in an apostle's house: though a churchman, and an exemplar man, he was not deprived of a plentiful use of God's creatures, nor of the cheerfulness of conversation. And then he justified feasting in the company of publicans and sinners; intimating therein, that we must not be in things of ordinary conversation, over-curious, over-inquisitive of other men's manners: for whatsoever their manners be, a good man need not take harm by them, and he may do good amongst them. And then lastly, we shall see the calumny that the Pharisees cast upon Christ for this, and the iniquity of that calumny, both in the manner, and in the matter thereof. And in these branches we shall determine that first, the historical, the occasional part: and in the second, the catechistical and doctrinal, (/ came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance) we shall pass by these steps: first, we shall see the actions; venit, he came; that is, first, venit actu: whereas he came by promise, even in Paradise; and by frequent ratification, in all the prophets; now he is really, actually come; venit, he is come, we look for no other after him; we join no other, angels nor saints, with him: venit, he is actuIally come; and then, venit sponte, he is come freely, and of his goodwill; we assign, we imagine no cause in us, that should invite him to come, but humbly acknowledge all to have proceeded from his own goodness: and that is the action, he came. And then the errand, and purpose for which he came, is vocare, he came to call: it is not, occurrere, that he came to meet them, who were upon the way before; for no man had either disposition in himself, or faculty in himself, neither will nor power to rise and meet him, no nor so much as to wish that Christ would call him, till he did call him: he came not occurrere, to meet us; but yet he came not cogere, to compel us, to force us, but only vocare, to call us, by his word, and sacraments, and ordinances, 'and lead us so; and that is his errand, and purpose in coming.
And from that, we shall come to the persons upon whom his til coming work: where we have first a negative, a fearful thing in HI Christ's lips; and then an affirmative, a blessed seal in his til mouth: first, an exclusive, a fearful banishment out of his ark; lii and then an inclusive, a blessed naturalization in his kingdom: Non justos, I came to call, not the righteous, but sinners. And then lastly, we have, not as before, his general intention and purpose, to call; but the particular effect and operation of this calling upon the godly, it brings them to repentance. Christ does I not call us to a satisfaction of God's justice, by ourselves; that is impossible to us: it is not ad satisfactionem; but then it is not ad gloriam, he does not call us to an immediate possession of glory, without doing any thing before; but it is Ad resipiscentiam; I came to call, not the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. And so have you the whole frame marked out, which we shall set up; and the whole compass designed, which we shall walk in: in which, though the pieces may seem many, yet they do so naturally flow out of one another, that they may easily enter into your understanding; and so naturally depend upon one another, that they may easily lay hold upon your memory.
First then, our first branch in the first part, is, that Christ justi|j fied feasting, festival and cheerful conversation. For, as St. Ambrose says, frustra fecisset, God, who made the world primarily for his own glory, had made light in vain, if he had made no creatures to see, and to be seen by that light, wherein he might receive glory: so, frustra fecisset, God, who intended secondarily man's good in the creation, had made creatures to no purpose, if he had not allowed man a use, and an enjoying of those creatures. Our mythologists, who think they have conveyed a great deal of moral doctrine in their poetical fables, (and so indeed they have) had mistaken the matter much, when they make it one of the torments of hell, to stand in a fresh river, and not be permitted to drink; and amongst pleasant fruits, and not to be suffered to eat; as if God required such a forbearing, such an abstemiousness in man, as that being set to rule and govern the creatures, he might not use and enjoy them: privileges are lost, by abusing; but so they are, by not using too. Of those three opinions, which have all passed through good authors, whether, before the flood had impaired and corrupted the herbs and fruits of the earth, men did eat flesh or no; of which, the first is absolutely negative, both in matter of law, and in matter of fact, no man might, no man did; and the second is directly contrary to this, affirmative in both, all men might, all men did; and the third goes a middle way, it was always lawful, and all men might, but sober and temperate men did forbear, and not do it: of these three, though the latter have prevailed with those authors, and be the common opinion; yet the latter part of that latter opinion, would very hardly fall into proof, that all their sober and temperate men did forbear this eating of flesh, or any lawful use of God's creatures. God himself took his portion in this world so, in meat and drink, in his manifold sacrifices; and God himself gave himself in this world so, in bread and wine, in the blessed sacrament' of his body and his blood: and the very joys of heaven after the resurrection, are conveyed to us also, in the marriage-supper of the Lamb. That mensa laqueus, which is in the Psalm5, is a curse: Let their table be made a snare, let their plenty and prosperity be an occasion of sin to them, that is a malediction: but for that mensa propositionum*, the table of shewbread, where those blessings which God had given to man, were brought again, and presented in his sight, upon that table; the loaves were great in quantity, and many in number, and often renewed: God gives plentifully, richly, and will be served so himself. In all those
• Psalm i.xix. 22. 6 Numb. iv. 7.
festivals, amongst the Jews, which were of God's immediate institution, as the passover, and Pentecost, and the trumpets, and tabernacles, and the rest, you shall often meet in the Scriptures, these two phrases, Humiliabitis animas; and then, Lwtaberis coram Domino: first, upon that day, You shall humble your souls, (that you have, Levit. xvi. 29, and very often) and then, upon that day, You shall rejoice before the Lord; (and that you have, Deut. xvi. 11, and very often besides.) Now some interpreters have applied these two phrases to the two days; That upon the eve we should humble our souls in fasting, and upon the day rejoice before the Lord in a festival cheerfulness: but both belong to the day itself; that first we should humble our souls, as we do now, in these holy convocations; and then return, and rejoice before the Lord, in a cheerful use of his creatures, ourselves, and I then send out a portion to them that want, as it is expressly I enjoined in that feast, Neh. viii. 10, and in that, Esther ix. 22, where their feasting is as literally commanded, as their giving to the poor. And besides those stationary and anniversary feastings, which were of God's immediate institution, and that feast which was of the church's institution after, in the time of the Maccabees, which was the Encomia, The dedication of the temple; the Jews at this day, in their dispersion, observe a yearly feast, which they call Festum Iwtitiw, The feast of rejoicing, in a festival of thankfulness to God, that he hath brought the year about, and afforded them the use of the law, another year. When Christ came to Jairus' house, and commanded away the music, and all the funeral solemnities, it was not because he disallowed those solemnities, but because he knew there was no funeral to be solemnized in that place, to which he came with an infallible purpose to raise that maid which was dead. Civil recreations, 'offices of society and mutual entertainment, and cheerful conversation; and such a use of God's creatures, as may testify him to be a God, not of the valleys only, but of the mountains too, not a God of necessity only, but of plenty too; Christ justified by his personal presence at a feast; which was our first: and then, at a feast in an apostle's house; which is our second circumstance.
The apostle then had a house, and means to keep a house, and to make occasional feasts in his house, though he had bound himself to serve Christ in so near a place as an apostle. The profession of Christ's service, in the ministry, does not take from any man, the use of God's creatures, nor cheerfulness of conversation. As some of the other apostles are said to have followed Christ, Belictis retibus, They left their nets, and followed him; and yet upon occasion, they did at times return to their nets and fishing after that; for Christ found them at their nets, after his resurrection: so St. Matthew followed Christ, as St. Luke expresses it; Relictis omnibus, He left all, and followed Christ1; but not so absolutely all, as St. Basil seems to take it, A deo ut non solum litcra, sed et ipsa pericula contempserit, That he did not only neglect the gain of his place, but the danger of displeasure by such a leaving of his place: for St. Matthew was a publican, and so a public officer, and an accountant to the state: but though he did so far leave all, as that nothing retarded him from an immediate following of Christ; yet, no doubt but he returned after, to the settling of his office, and the rectifying of his accounts. When God sees it necessary or behoveful for a man to leave all his worldly state, that he may follow him, God tells him so; he gives him such a measure of light by his Spirit, as lets him see, it is God's will; and then, to that man, that is a full commandment, and binds him to do it, and not only an evangelical counsel, as they call it, which leaves him at liberty, to do it, or leave it undone: Christ saw how much was necessary to that young man in the Gospel, and therefore to him he said, Vade et vende, Go and sell all that thou hast, and then follow me: and this was a commandment to that man, though it be not a general commandment to all; upon Matthew Christ laid no such commandment, but only said to him, Sequere me, Follow me; and he did so; but yet not so divest himself of his worldly estate, as that he had not a house, and means to keep a house, and that plentifully, after this. When Elijah used that holy fascination upon Elisha8, (we may not, I think, call it a fascination; fascination, I think, hath never a good sense) but when Elijah used that holy charm and incantation upon him, to spread his mantle over him, and to draw him with that, as with a net, after him; yet after Elisha had thus received a character of orders, after this
7 Luke v. 28. 8 1 Kings xix. 19.
imposition of hands in the spreading of the mantle, after he had this new filiation, by which he was the son of the prophet, yet Elisha went home, and feasted his friends after this. So Matthew begun his apostleship with a feast; and though he in modesty forbear saying so, St. Luke, who reports the story, says that it was a great feast9. He begun with a great, but ended with a greater: for, (if we have St. Matthew's history rightly delivered to us) when he was at the greatest feast which this world can present, when he was receiving and administering the blessed sacrament, in that action, was he himself served up as a dish to the table of the Lamb, and added to the number of the martyrs then; and died for that Saviour of his, whose death for him, he did then celebrate. This then was festum ablactationis; Abraham made a great feast, that day that Isaac was weaned'0: Here was St. Matthew weaned ab uteribus mundi, from the breasts of this world; and he made a feast, a feast that was a type of a type, a prevision of a vision, of that vision which St. Peter had after11, of a sheet, with all kind of meats clean and unclean in it: for at this table was the clean and unspotted Lamb, Christ Jesus himself; and at the same table, those spotted and unclean goats, the publicans and sinners; which is our third, and next circumstance, he justified feasting, feasting in an apostle's house, feasting with publicans and sinners.
Is there then any conversation with notorious sinners justifiable, excusable? We see when St. Paul came to be of that high commission, to judge of notorious sinners, how he proceeded: he delivered Alexander and Hymenseus to Satan12; and there, surely, he did not mean that any man should keep them company. What was their fault? It was but one heretical point; a great one indeed; for they denied the resurrection; and for this, the apsstle (as it is also said there) sends them to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme: and may there not be thus much intimated in that, that a man may learn more blasphemy with some men, than with Satan himself? That may be true: but the sending and delivering to Satan, is the excluding of that man from the kingdom, that is, from the visible church of Christ, by
9 Luke v. 29.
11 Acts x.
a just excommunication: for, all without the church, is Satan's jurisdiction. Of which fearful state, Gregory Nyssen speaks pathetically; 8i haberet oculos anima, If thy soul had eyes, to see souls, Ostenderem tibi, tibi segregate, I would show thee, thee who hast wilfully incurred, and dost rebelliously continue under an excommunication rightly grounded, duly proceeded in, and justly denounced; I would show thee the picture of a man burning in hell, for that is thy picture, says that father, to that man; Non episcopalis arrogantiw existimes, says he, Think it not a passionate act of an insolent bishop; Cwpit in lege, confirmatur in gratia, God began it in the law, and confirmed it in the Gospel; and where it is justly grounded, and duly proceeded in, it is a fearful thing to be delivered over to Satan by excommunication; and St. Paul is so far from conversing with an heretic in one point, as that he proceeds so far with him, as to deliver him to Satan.
Nay, for a fault much less than this, not opposed against God, as heresy, but against natural honesty, the apostle proceeds as far, in incest; Gather you, says he, with my spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus, to deliver that incestuous man to Satan Nay, in less faults than that, he forbids conversation; If a fornicator, if a drunkard, if a covetous person, with him eat notu. Nay; for that which is less than these, he is as severe; We command ye, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly". Where Calvin thinks, (and, I think, aright, and many others must think so too; for a Jesuit18 thinks so, as well as Calvin) that the apostle by the word disorderly, does not mean persons that live in any course of notorious sin; but by disorderly, he means ignavos, inutiles, idle and unprofitable persons; persons of no use to the church, or to the state: that whereas this is ordo divinus, the order that God hath established in this world, that every man should embrace a calling, and walk therein; they who do not so, pervert God's order: and they are St. Paul's disorderly persons.
This then being so, that the Holy Ghost by St. Paul separates
1a 1 Cor. v. 5.
15 2 Thes. iii. 6.
14 1 Cor. v. 11. 16 Cornelius a Lapide.
not only from all spiritual communion, but from all civil conversation, all notorious sinners, and disorderly persons, how descends Christ to this facility, and easiness of conversation with publicans and sinners 2 For, (to speak a word by the way, of the office of a publican) though customs, and tributes, and impositions were due to the kings of Jewry, due in natural right, and due in legal right, fixed and established by that law in Samuel17; and so the farmers of those customs, and collectors of those tributes, in that respect not to be blamed, or ill thought of; and though in the Roman state, (under whose government, at this time the Jews were) the office of a publican were an honourable office, for so that great statesman and orator tells us, Flos equitum Romanorum, ornamentum civitatis, firmamentum reipublicw1*. Men of the best families and extraction in the state, men of the best credit and reputation in the state, men of the best revenues and possession in the state, were publicans; yet when the Romans governed Jewry as a province, and that these honourable Roman publicans forbore to execute that office in those remote parts, and making under-farmers there, for the better advancing of that service, employed the Jews themselves, who best understood the ways and the persons: these Jews became more cruel and heavy to their brethren, in these exactions, than any strangers: and so, and justly, the most odious persons amongst them: and then why would Christ afford this conversation to these, and such as these, to publicans and sinners? Christ was in himself a dispensation upon any law, because he was the law-maker. But here he proceeded not in that capacity; he took no benefit of any dispensation; he fulfilled the intention and purpose of the law; for the laws therefore forbade conversation with sinners, lest a man should take infection by such conversation: so the Jews were forbidden to eat with the Gentiles19; but it was, lest in eating with the Gentiles, they might eat of things sacrificed to idols: so they were forbidden conversation with leprous persons, lest by such conversation the disease should be propagated80; but where the danger of infection ceased, all conversation might be open; and Christ was always far enough from taking any infection, by
any conversation with any sinner. He might apply himself to them, because he could take no harm by them; but he did it especially, that he might do good upon them. Some forbear the company of sinners, out of a singularity, and pride in their own purity, and say, with those in Esay, Stand by thyself, come not near me, for I am holier than thou'11. But, Bonus non est, qui malos tolerare non potest, says St. Augustine upon those words, Lilium inter spinasTM, That Christ was a lily, though he grew amongst thorns. A lily is not the less a lily, nor the worse, nor the darker a lily, because it grows amongst thorns. That man is not so good as he should be, that cannot maintain his own integrity, and continue good; or that cannot maintain his charity, though others continue bad. It was St. Paul's way, / am made all things to all men, that I might save some*3. And in that place, which we mentioned before, where the apostle names the persons, whom we are to forbear, amongst them, he names idolators"; and, as he does the rest, he calls even those idolators, brethren; If any that is called a brother, be an idolator, &c. In cases where we are safe from danger of infection, (and it lies much in ourselves, to save ourselves from infection) even some kind of idolators, are left by St. Paul under the name of brethren; and some brotherly, and neighbourly, and pious offices, belong to them, for all that. These faults must arm me to avoid all danger from them, but not extinguish all charity towards them. And therefore it was an unjust calumny in the Pharisees, to impute this for a fault to Christ, that he applied himself to these men; which is the next and last circumstance in this first part, the calumny of these Pharisees.
Now in the manner of this calumny, there was a great deal of iniquity, and a great deal in the matter: for, for the manner; that which they say of Christ, they say not to Christ himself, but they whisper it to his servants, to his disciples. A legal and juridical accusation, is justifiable, maintainable, because it is the proper way for remedy: a private reprehension done with discretion, and moderation, should be acceptable too; but a privy whispering is always pharisaical. The devil himself, though
he be a lion, yet he is a roaring lion; a man may hear him: but for a privy whisper, we shall only hear of him. And in their plot there was more mischief; for, when Christ's disciples plucked ears of corn, upon the Sabbath", the Pharisees said nothing to those disciples, but they come to their master, to Christ, and they tell him of it: here, when Christ eats and drinks with these sinners, they never say anything to Christ himself, but they go to his servants, and they tell them of it. By privy whisperings and calumnies, they would aliene Christ from his disciples, and his disciples from him; the king from his subjects by some tales, and the subject from the king by other: and they took this for the shortest way to disgrace both their preaching, to discredit both their lives; to defame Christ for a winebibber, and a loose companion, and to defame his disciples for profane men, and Sabbath-breakers: for, Cujus vita despicitur, restat at ejus predicatio contemnatur, is an infallible inference and consequence made by St. Gregory; discredit a man's life, and you disgrace his preaching: lay imputations upon the person, and that will evacuate and frustrate all his preaching; for whether it be in the corruption of our nature, or whether it be in the nature of the thing itself, so it is, if I believe the preacher to be an ill man, I shall not be much the better for his good sermons.
Thus they were injurious in the manner of their calumny; they were so too in the matter, to calumniate him therefore, because he applied himself to sinners. The wise man in Ecclesiasticus institutes his mediation thus": There is one that hath great need of help, full of poverty, yet the eye of the Lord looked upon him for good, and set him up from his low estate, so that many that saw it, marvelled at it. Many marvelled, but none reproached the Lord, chid the Lord, calumniated the Lord, for doing so. And if the Lord will look upon a sinner, and raise that bedrid man; if he will look with that eye, that pierces deeper than the eye of heaven, the sun, (and yet with a look of that eye, the womb of the earth conceives) if he will look with that eye, that conveys more warmth than the eye of the ostrich, (and yet with a look of that eye, that bird is said to hatch her
"Matt. xii. "Ecclus. xi. 12.
young ones, without sitting) that eye that melted Peter into water, and made him flow towards Christ; and rarefied Matthew into air, and made him flee towards Christ; if that eye vouchsafe to look upon a publican, and redeem a Goshen out of an Egypt, hatch a soul out of a carnal man, produce a saint out of a sinner, shall we marvel at the matter! marvel so, as to doubt God's power? shall anything be impossible to God? or shall we marvel at the manner, at any way by which Christ shall be pleased to convey his mercy? Miraris eum peccatorum mnum bibere, qui pro peccatoribus sanguinem fudit"? Shall we wonder that Christ would live with sinners, who was content to die for sinners? Wonder that he would eat the bread and wine of sinners, that gave sinners his own flesh to eat, and his own blood to drink? Or if we do wonder at this, (as, indeed, nothing is more wonderful) yet let us not calumniate, let us not misinterpret any way, that he shall be pleased to take, to derive his mercy to any man: but (to use Clement of Alexandria's comparison) as we tread upon many herbs negligently in the field, but when we see them in an apothecary's shop, we begin to think that there is some virtue in them; so howsoever we have a perfect hatred, and a religious despite against a sinner, as a sinner; yet if Christ Jesus shall have been pleased to have come to his door, and to have stood, and knocked, and entered, and supped, and brought his dish, and made himself that dish, and sealed a reconciliation to that sinner, in admitting him to that table, to that communion, let us forget the name of publican, the vices of any particular profession; and forget the name of sinner, the history of any man's former life; and be glad to meet that man now in the arms, and to grow up with that man now in the bowels of Christ Jesus; since Christ doth now begin to make that man his, but now declares to us, that he hath been his, from all eternity: for in the book of life, the name of Mary Magdalene was as soon recorded, for all her incontinency, as the name of the blessed Virgin, for all her integrity; and the name of St. Paul who drew his sword against Christ, as soon as St. Peter, who drew his in defence of him: for the book of life was not written successively, word after word, line after line, but deli
vered as a print, altogether. There the greatest sinners were as soon recorded, as the most righteous; and here Christ conies to call, not the righteous at all, but only sinners to repentance. And so we have done with those pieces which constitute our first part; Christ by his personal presence justified feasting, and feasting in an apostle's house, and feasting with publicans and sinners, though the Pharisees calumniated him, maliciously in the manner, injuriously in the matter; and we pass to our other part; from the historical and occasional, to the catechistical, the doctrinal part.
The other part, the occasion, the connexion was of the text; and we cannot say properly that this part, the answer is in the text; for, indeed, the text is in it: the text itself is but a piece of that answer, which Christ gives to these calumniators. First, Christ does afford an answer even to calumniators; for that is very often necessary: not only because otherwise a calumniator would triumph, but because otherwise a calumny would not appear to be a calumny. A calumny is fixed upon the fame of a good man; he in a holy scorn, and religious negligence, pretermits it; and after, long after, the generation of those vipers come to say, In all this time, who ever denied it? A seasonable and a sober answer interrupts the prescription of a calumny, discontinues the continual claim of a calumny, disappoints and avoids that fine which the calumny levied, to bar all posterity, if no man arise to make an answer. Truly, there are some passages in the legend of Pope Joan, which I am not very apt to believe; yet, it is showed evidence, that in so many hundreds of years, six or seven, no man in that church should say anything against it: I would they had been pleased to have said something, somewhat sooner: for if there were slander mingled in the story, (and if there be, it must be their own authors that have mingled it) yet slander itself should not be neglected. Christ does not neglect it; he justifies his conversation with these sinners: and he gives answers proportionable to the men, with whom he dealt. First, because the Pharisees pretended a knowledge and zeal to the Scriptures, he answers out of the Scriptures, out of the prophet, Misericordiam volo, Mercy is better than sacrifice*'; and an
evangelical desire to do good upon sinners, better than a legal inhibition to come near them. And Christ seems to have been so full of this saying of Hosea, as that he says it here, where the Pharisees calumniate him to his disciples; and when they calumniate the disciples about the Sabbath, he says it there too. He answers out of Scriptures, because they pretend a zeal to them; and then because the Pharisees were learned, and rational men, he answers out of reason too, The whole have no need of the physician: I come in the quality of a physician, and therefore apply myself to the sick. For, we read of many blind and lame, and deaf and dumb, and dead persons, that came or were brought to Christ to be recovered; but we never read of any man, who being then in a good state of health, came to Christ to desire that he might be preserved in that state: the whole never think of a physician; and therefore Christ, who came in that quality, applied himself to them that needed. And that he might give full satisfaction, even to calumniators, every way, as he answered them out of Scriptures, and out of reason; so because the Pharisees were statesmen too, and led by precedents and records, he answers out of the tenour and letter of his commission and instructions, (which is that part of his answer that falls most directly into our text) Veni vocare, I came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
First then, venit, he came, he is come: venit actu; he came in promise, often ratified before: now there is no more room for John Baptist's question, Tune ille, Art thou he that should come, or must we look for another? For another coming of the same Messias, we do look, but not for another Messias; we look for none after him, no post-Messias; we join none, saints nor angels, with him, no sub-Messias, no vice-Messias. The Jews may as well call the history of the flood prophetical, and ask when the world shall be drowned according to that prophecy; or the history of their deliverance from Babylon prophetical, and ask when they shall return from thence to Jerusalem, according to that prophecy, as seek for a Messias now amongst their prophets, so long after all things being performed in Christ, which were prophesied of the Messias; Christ hath so fully made prophecy history.
Venit actu, He is really, personally, actually come; and then venit sponte, he is come freely, and of his own mere goodness: how freely? Come, and not sent? Yes, he was sent: God so loved the world, as that he gave his only begotten Son for it; there was enough done to magnify the mercy of the Father, in sending him. How freely then? Come and not brought? Yes, he was brought: The Holy Ghost overshadowed the blessed Virgin, and so he was conceived: there was enough done to magnify the goodness of the Holy Ghost in bringing him. He came to his prison, he abhorred not the Virgin's womb; and not without a mittimus; he was sent: he came to the execution; and not without a desire of reprieve, in his transeat calix, If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; and yet venit sponte, he came freely, voluntarily, of his own goodness. No more than he could have been left out at the creation, and the world made without him, could he have been sent into this world, without his own hand to the warrant, or have been left out at the decree of his sending. As when he was come, no man could have taken away his soul, if he had not laid it down; so, (if we might so speak) no God, no person in the Trinity, could have sent him, if he had not been willing to come. Venit actu, he is come; there is our comfort: venit sponte, he came freely; there is his goodness. A nd so you have the action, venit, he came.
The next is his errand, his purpose, what he came to do, Venit vocare, He came to call. It is not vocatus, that Christ came, when we called upon him to come: man had no power, no will, no not a faculty to wish that Christ would have come, till Christ did come, and call him. For, it is not veni occurrere, that Christ came to meet them who were upon the way before: man had no pre-disposition in nature, to invite God to come to him. Quid peto, ut venias in me, qui non essem si non esses in me"? How should I pray at first, that God would come into me, whereas I could not only not have the spirit of prayer, but not the spirit of life, and being, except God were in me already? Where was I, when Christ called me out of my rags, nay out of my ordure, and washed me in the sacramental water of baptism, and made me a Christian so? Where was I, when in the loins of my sinful
parents, and in the unclean act of generation, Christ called me into the covenant, and made me the child of Christian parents? Could I call upon him, to do either of these for me? Or if I may seem to have made any step towards baptism, because I was within the covenant; or towards the covenant, because I was of Christian parents: yet where was I, when God called me, when I was not, as though I had been, in the eternal decree of my election? What said I for myself, or what said any other for me then, when neither I, nor they had any being? God is found of them that sought him not: Non venit occurrere, He came not to meet them who were, of themselves, set out before.
But then, non venit cogere, he came not to force and compel them, who would not be brought into the way: Christ saves no man against his will. There is a word crept into the later school, that deludes many a man; they call it irresistibility; and they would have it mean, that when God would have a man, he will lay hold upon him, by such a power of grace, as no perverseness of that man, can possibly resist. There is some truth in the thing, soberly understood: for the grace of God is more powerful than any resistance of any man or devil. But leave the word, where it was hatched, in the school, and bring it not home, not into practice: for he that stays his conversion upon that, God, at one time or other, will lay hold upon me by such a power of grace, as I shall not be able to resist, may stay, till Christ come again, to preach to the spirits that are in prison3*. Christ beats his drum, but he does not press men; Christ is served with voluntaries. There is a compelle intrare", a forcing of men to come in, and fill the house, and furnish the supper: but that was an extraordinary commission, and in a case of necessity: our ordinary commission, is, Ite, predicate; Go, and preach the Gospel, and bring men in so: it is not, compelle intrare, force men to come in: it is not, draw the sword, kindle the fire, wind up the rack: for, when it was come to that, that men were forced to come in, (as that parabolical story is reported in this evangelist) The house was filled3*, and the supper was furnished, (the church was filled, and the communion-table frequented) but it was with
good and bad too: for men that are forced to come hither, they are not much the better in themselves, nor we much the better assured of their religion, for that: force and violence, pecuniary and bloody laws, are not the right way to bring men to religion, in cases where there is nothing in consideration, but religion merely. It is true, there is a compellite manere, that hath all justice in it; when men have been baptized, and bred in a church, and embraced the profession of a religion, so as that their allegiance is complicated with their religion, then it is proper by such laws to compel them to remain and continue in that religion; for in the apostacy, and defection of such men, the state hath a detriment, as well as the church; and therefore the temporal sword may be drawn as well as the spiritual; which is the case between those of the Romish persuasion, and us: their laws work directly upon our religion; they draw blood merely for that, ours work directly upon their allegiance, and punish only where pretence of religion colours a defection in allegiance. But Christ's end being merely spiritual, to constitute a church, non venit occurrere, as he came not to meet man, man was not so forward; so he came not to compel man, to deal upon any that was so backward ; for, venit vocare, he came to call.
Now, this calling, implies a voice, as well as a word; it is by the Word; but not by the Word read at home, though that be a pious exercise: nor by the Word submitted to private interpretation; but by the Word preached, according to his ordinance, and under the great seal, of his blessing upon his ordinance. So that preaching is this calling; and therefore, as if Christ do appear to any man, in the power of a miracle, or in a private inspiration, yet he appears but in weakness, as in an infancy, till he speak, till he bring a man to the hearing of his voice, in a settled church, and in the ordinance of preaching: so how long soever Christ have dwelt in any state, or any church, if he grow speechless, he is departing; if there be a discontinuing, or slackening of preaching, there is a danger of losing Christ. Adam was not made in paradise, but brought thither, called thither: the sons of Adam are not born in the church, but called thither by baptism; Non nascimur sed re-nascimur ChristianiTM; No man is born a
Christian, but called into that state by regeneration. And therefore, as the consummation of our happiness is in that, that we shall be called at last, into the kingdom of glory, in the Venite benedicti, Come ye blessed, and enter into your Master's joy: so is it a blessed inchoation of that happiness, that we are called into the kingdom of grace, and made partakers of his word and sacraments, and other ordinances by the way. And so you have his action, and errand, He came, and, came to call.
The next, is the persons upon whom he works, whom he calls; where we have first the negative, the exclusive, non justos, not the righteous. In which, Gregory Nyssene, is so tender, so compassionate, so loth, that this negative should fall upon any man, that any man should be excluded from possibility of salvation, as that he carries it wholly upon angels: Christ took not the nature of angels, Christ came not to call angels: but this exclusion falls upon men; What men? Upon the righteous: Who are they? We have two expositions, both of Jesuits, both good; I mean the expositions, not the Jesuits: they differ somewhat; for, though the J esuits agree well enough, too well, in state-business, in courts, (how kings shall be deposed, and how massacred; how kingdoms shall be deluded with dispensations, and how invaded with forces, they agree well enough) yet in schools, and in expositions, they differ, as well as others. The first, Maldonat, he says, that as in that parable, where Christ says, that the good shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep, that had kept their pastures, and went to seek that one, which was strayed34, he did not mean, that there is but one sheep of a hundred, that does go astray; but that if that were the case, he would go to seek that one: so when Christ says here, He came not to call the righteous, he does not mean that there were any righteous; but if the world were full of righteous men, so that he might make up the number of his elect, and fill up the rooms of the fallen angels, out of them; yet he would come to call sinners too. The other Jesuite Barradas, (not altogether Barrabas) he says, Christ said, Non justos, Not the righteous, because if there had been any righteous, he needed not to have come: according to that of St. Augustine, Si homo non periisset, Filius hominis non venisset; If man had not fallen, and
34 Matt, xviii. 12.
Iain irrecoverably under that fall, the Son of God had not come to suffer the shame, and the pain of the cross: so that they differ but in this; If there had been any righteous, Christ needed not to have come; and though there had been righteous men, yet he would have come; but in this, They, and all agree, that there were none righteous. None? Why, whom he predestinated, those he called35; and were not they whom he predestinated, and elected to salvation, righteous? Even the elect themselves have not a constant righteousness in this world: such a righteousness, as does always denominate them, so, as that they can always say to their own conscience, or so as the church can always say of them, This is a righteous man: No, nor so, as that God, who looks upon a sinner with the eyes of the church, and considers a sinner, with the heart and sense of the church, and speaks of him with the tongue of the church, can say of him, then, when he is under unrepented sin, This man is righteous: howsoever, if he look upon him, in that decree which lies in his bosom, and by which he hath infallibly ordained him to salvation, he may say so. No man here, though elect, hath an equal and constant righteousness; nay, no man hath any such righteousness of his own, as can save him, for howsoever it be made his, by that application, or imputation, yet the righteousness that saves him, is the very righteousness of Christ himself. St. Hilary's question then, hath a full answer, Erant quibus non erat necesse ut veniret? Were there any that needed not Christ's coming? No; there were none; Who then are these righteous? We answer with St. Chrysostom, and St. Hierome, and St. Ambrose, and all the stream of the fathers; they are justi sua justitia, those who thought themselves righteous; those who relied upon their own righteousness; those who mistook their righteousness, as the Laodiceans did their riches; they said, They were rich, and had need of nothing; and they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and nakedTM. So, these men, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish a righteousness of their own, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God37; that is, depend wholly upon the righteousness of Christ. He calls it suam, their
righteousness, because they thought they had a righteousness of their own; either in the faculties of nature, or in the exaltation of those faculties by the help of the law: and he calls it suam, their righteousness, because they thought none had it but they. And upon this Pelagian righteousness, it thought nature sufficient without grace; or upon this righteousness of the Cathari, the Puritans in the primitive church, that thought the grace which they had received sufficient, and that upon that stock they were safe, and become impeccable, and therefore left out of the Lord's Prayer, that petition, Dimitte nobis, Forgive us our trespasses; upon this Pelagian righteousness, and this Puritan righteousness, Christ does not work. He left out the righteous, not that there were any such, but such as thought themselves so; and he took in sinners, not all effectually, that were simply so, but such as the sense of their sins, and the miserable state that that occasioned, brought to an acknowledgment, that they were so; Non justos, sed peccatores.
Here then enters our affirmative, our inclusive, who are called; peccatores: for here no man asks the question of the former branch: there we asked, whether there were any righteous? and we found none; here we ask not whether there were any sinners, for we can find no others, no not one. He came to call sinners, and only sinners; that is, only in that capacity, in that contemplation, as they were sinners; for of that vain and frivolous opinion, that got in, and got hold in the later school, that Christ had come in the flesh, though Adam had stood in his innocence; that though man had not needed Christ as a Redeemer, yet he would have come to have given to man the greatest dignity that nature might possibly receive, which was to be united to the Divine Nature: of this opinion, one of those Jesuits whom we named before, Maldonat, who oftentimes making his use of whole sentences of Calvin's, says in the end, This is a good exposition, but that he is an heretic that makes it. He says also of this opinion, that Christ had come, though Adam had stood; This is an ill opinion, but that they are Catholics that have said it. He came for sinners; for sinners only; else he had not come: and then he came for all kind of sinners: for, upon those words of our Saviour's, to the high priests and Pharisees,'Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you*3, good expositors note, that in those two notations, publicans and harlots, many sorts of sinners are implied: in the name of publicans, all such, as by their very profession and calling, are led into temptations, and occasions of sin, to which some callings are naturally more exposed than other, such as can hardly be exercised without sin; and then in the name of harlots, and prostitute women, such as cannot at all be exercised without sin; whose very profession is sin: and yet for these, for the worst of these, for all these, there is a voice gone out, Christ is come to call sinners, only sinners, all sinners. Comes he then thus for sinners I What an advantage had St. Paul then, to be of this quorum, and the first of them; Quorum ego maximus, That when Christ came to save sinners, he should be the greatest sinner, the first in that election? If we should live to see that acted, which Christ speaks of at the last day, Two in the field, the one taken, the other left3', should we not wonder to see him that were left, lay hold upon him that were taken, and offer to go to heaven before him, therefore, because he had killed more men in the field, or robbed more men upon the highway, or supplanted more in the court, or oppressed more in the city? to make the multiplicity of his sins, his title to heaven? Or, two women grinding at the mill, one taken, the other left; to see her that was left, offer to precede the other into heaven, therefore, because she had prostituted herself to more men, than the other had done? Is this St. Paul's quorum, his dignity, his prudency; I must be saved, because I am the greatest sinner? God forbid: God forbid we should presume upon salvation, because we are sinners; or sin therefore, that we may be surer of salvation. St. Paul's title to heaven, was, not that he was primus peccator, but primus confessor, that he first accused himself, and came to a sense of his miserable estate; for that implies that which is our last word, and the effect of Christ's calling, that whomsoever he calls, or how, or whensoever, it is ad resipiscentiam, to repentance. It is not ad satisfactionem, Christ does not come to call us, to make satisfaction to the justice of God: he called us to a heavy, to an impossible account, if he called us to that. If the death of
38 Matt. xxi. 31. 39 Matt. xxiv. 41.
Christ Jesus himself, be but a satisfaction for the punishment for my sins, (for nothing less than that could have made that satisfaction) what can a temporary purgatory of days or hours do towards a satisfaction? And if the torments of purgatory itself, sustained by myself, be nothing towards a satisfaction, what can an evening's fast, or an Ave Marie, from my executor, or my assignee, after I am dead, do towards such a satisfaction? Canst thou satisfy the justice of God, for all that blood which thou hast drawn from his Son, in thy blasphemous oaths and execrations; or for all that blood of his, which thou hast spilt upon the ground, upon the dunghill, in thy unworthy receiving the sacrament? Canst thou satisfy his justice, for having made his blessings the occasions, and the instruments of thy sins; or for dilapidations of his temple, in having destroyed thine own body by thine incontinency, and making that, the same flesh with a harlot? If he will contend with thee, thou canst not answer him one of a thousand": nay, a thousand men could not answer one sin of one man.
It is not then ad satisfactionem; but it is not ad gloriam neither. Christ does not call us to an immediate possession of glory, without doing anything between. Our glorification was in his intention, as soon as our election: in God who sees all things at once, both entered at once; but in the execution of his decrees here, God carries us by steps; he calls us to repentance. The farmers of this imaginary satisfaction, they that sell it at their own price, in their indulgences, have done well, to leave out this repentance, both in this text in St. Matthew, and where the same is related by St. Mark. In both places, they tell us, that Christ came to cast sinners, but they do not tell us to what; as though it might be enough to call them to their market, to buy their indulgences. The Holy Ghost tells us; it is to repentance: Are ye to learn now what that is? He that cannot define repentance, that he cannot spell it, may have it; and he that hath written whole books, great volumes of it, may be without it. In one word, (one word will not do it, but in two words) it is aversio, and conversio; it is a turning from our sins, and a returning to our God. It is both: for in our age, in our sickness, in any
impotency towards a sin, in any satiety of a sin, we turn from our sin, but we turn not to God; we turn to a sinful delight in the memory of our sins, and a sinful desire that we might continue in them. So also in a storm at sea, in any imminent calamity, at land, we turn to God, to a Lord, Lord; but at the next calm, and at the next deliverance, we turn to our sin again. He only is the true Israelite, the true penitent, that hath Nathaniel's mark, In quo non est dolus, In whom there is no deceit: for, to sin, and think God sees it not, because we confess it not; to confess it as sin, and yet continue the practice of it; to discontinue the practice of it, and continue the possession of that, which was got by that sin; all this is deceit, and destroys, evacuates, annihilates all repentance.
To recollect all, and to end all: Christ justifies feasting; he feasts you with himself: and feasting in an apostle's house, in his own house; he feasts you often here: and he admits publicans to this feast, men whose full and open life, in court, must necessarily expose them, to many hazards of sin: and the Pharisees, our adversaries, calumniate us for this; they say we admit men too easily to the sacrament; without confession, without contrition, without satisfaction. God in heaven knows we do not; less, much less than they. For confession, we require public confession in the congregation: and in time of sickness, upon the death-bed, we enjoin private and particular confession, if the conscience be oppressed: and if any man do think, that that which is necessary for him, upon his death-bed, is necessary, every time he comes to the communion, and so come to such a confession, if anything lie upon him, as often as he comes to the communion, we blame not, we dissuade not, we discounsel not, that tenderness of conscience, and that safe proceeding in that good soul. For contrition, we require such a contrition as amounts to a full detestation of the sin, and a full resolution, not to relapse into that sin: and this they do not in the Roman church, where they have suppled and mollified their contrition into an attrition. For satisfaction, we require such a satisfaction as man can make to man, in goods or fame: and for the satisfaction due to God, we require that every man, with a sober and modest, but yet with a confident and infallible assurance believe,
the satisfaction given to God, by Christ, for all mankind, to have been given and accepted for him in particular. This Christ, with joy and thanksgiving we acknowledge to be come; to be come actually; we expect no other after him, we join no other to him: and come freely, without any necessity imposed by any above him, and without any invitation from us here: come, not to meet us, who were not able to rise, without him; but yet not to force us, to save us against our wills, but come to call us, by his ordinances in his church; us, not as we pretend any righteousness of our own, but as we confess ourselves to be sinners, and sinners led by this call, to repentance; which repentance, is an everlasting divorce from our beloved sin, and an everlasting marriage and superinduction of our ever-living God.