A LENT SERMON PREACHED BEFORE THE KING, AT WHITEHALL, FEBRUARY 16, 1620.
1 Timothy iii. 16.
And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
I This is no text for an hour-glass: if God would afford me Hezekiah's sign, Ut revertatur umbra1, that the shadow might go backward upon the dial; or Joshua's sign, Ut sistat sol*, that the sun might stand still all the day, this were text enough to employ all the day, and all the days of our life. The Lent, which we begin now, is a full tithe of the year; but the hour which we begin now, is not a full tithe of this day, and therefore we should not grudge all that: but payment of tithes is grown matter of controversy; and we, by our text, are directed only upon matter without controversy: And without controversy, &c.
Here is the compass, that the essential Word of God, the Son of God Christ Jesus, went: he was God, humbled in the flesh; he was Man, received into glory. Here is the compass that the written Word of God, went, the Bible; that begun in Moses, in darkness, in the chaos; and it ends in St. John, in clearness, in a revelation. Here is the compass of all time, as time was distributed in the creation, Vespere et mane; Darkness, and then light: the evening and morning made the day; mystery and manifestation made the text.
The doctrine of the present season, is mortification, humiliation; and the experience of the present place, where we stand now in court, is, that the glory of the persons, in whose presence we stand, occasions humility in us; the more glorious they are, the humbler we are; and therefore to consider Christ, as he is received into glory, is as much the way of our humiliation and mortification, as to consider him in his passion, in his exinanition; at least, how small account should we make of those things
1 2 Kings xx. 0. 8 Josh. x. 11.
which we suffer for Christ in this world, when we see in this text, that in the describing the history of Christ from his incarnation to his ascension, the Holy Ghost pretermits, never mentions, never seems to consider the passion of Christ; as though all that he had suffered for man, were nothing in respect of that he would suffer, if the justice of God had required any heavier satisfaction. The text then is a sufficient instruction to Timothy, to whom this epistle is sent, and to us, to whom it is sent too, that thereby we might know how to behave ourselves in the house of God, which is the church of God, the pillar and ground of truth; as is said in the verse immediately before the text, to which the text hath relation: we know how to behave ourselves in the church, if we know in the text that such a mystery of godliness there is, and know what it is. Our parts, therefore, are but two; mystery and manifestation. In the first, the apostle proceeds thus: first, he recommends to us such doctrine as is without controversy: and truly there is enough of that to save any soul, that hath not a mind to wrangle itself into hell. And then he says, that this godliness, though it be without controversy, yet it is a mystery, a secret; not present, not obvious, not discernible with every eye: it is a mystery, and a great mystery; not the greatest, but yet great, that is, great enough; he that knows that, needs no more. And then, for the second part, which is 'the manifestation of the mystery, we shall look upon that by all those beams, which shine out in this text, ab ortu ad meridiem, from Christ's east to his noon, from his first manifesting in the flesh, to his receiving into glory.
First then, he proposes doctrine without controversy: for, Quod simpliciter predicatur, credendwm; quod subtilitur disputatur, intelligendum est3. That which Christ hath plainly delivered, is the exercise of my faith; that which other men have curiously disputed, is the exercise of my understanding: if I understand not their curious disputations, perchance I shall not be esteemed in this world; but if I believe not Christ's plain doctrine, I am sure I shall not be saved in the next. It is true, that Christ reprehends them often, Quia non intellexerunt, but what? Scripturas, legem: because they understood not the
Scriptures, which they were bound to believe. It is some negligence not to read a proclamation from the king; it is a contempt, to transgress it; but to deny the power from which it is derived, is treason. Not to labour to understand the Scriptures, is to slight God; but not to believe them, is to give God the lie: he makes God a liar, if he believe not the record that God gave of his Son4. When I come to heaven, I shall not need to ask of St. John's angel, nor of his elders, Ubi prophetw, ubi apostoli, ubi ewmgelistw? Where are the prophets, where are the evangelists, where are the apostles? for, I am sure I shall see them there: but perchance I may be put to ask St. Paul's question, Ubi scribw? ubi sapientes*? Where are the scribes, where are the wise men, where are the disputers of the world? perchance I may miss a great many of them there. It is the text that saves us; the interlineary glosses, and the marginal notes, and the variw lectiones, controversies and perplexities, undo us: the will, the testament of God, enriches us; the schedules, the codicils of men, beggar us: because the serpent was subtiler than any", he would dispute and comment upon God's law, and so deceived by his subtilty7. The word of God is biblia, it is not bibliotheca; a a book, a bible, not a library. And all that book is not written in Balthazar's character, in a mene, tekel, upharsin, that we must call in astrologers, and Chaldeans, and soothsayers, to interpret it. That which was written so, as that it could not be understood, was written, says the text there, with the fingers of man's hand; it is the hand of man that induces obscurities; the hand of God hath written so, as man may run, and read; walk in the duties of his calling here, and attend the salvation of his soul too. He that believes Christ, and Mahomet, indifferently, hath not proposed the right end: he that believes the word of God, and traditions, indifferently, hath not proposed the right way. In any conveyance, if anything be interlined, the interlining must be as well testified, and have the same witnesses upon the endowment, as the conveyance itself had. When there are traditions in the church (as declaratory traditions there are) they must have the same witnesses, they must be grounded upon the word of
41 John v. 10. * 1 Cor. i. 20.
"Gen. iii. 1. 7 2 Cor. ii. 3.
God: for there only is truth without controversy. Pilate asked Christ, Quid Veritas? What was truth8? and he might have known, if he would have stayed; but, Eximt, says the text there, He went out, out to the Jews; and there he could not find it, there he never thought of it more. Ask of Christ speaking in his word, there you shall know; produce the record, the Scripture, and there is communis salus; I wrote unto you of the common salvation": What is that? Semel tradita fides, says that apostle there: The faith which was once delivered to the saints: where semel is not aliquando; once, is not once upon a time, I cannot tell when; but semel is simul, once is at once: the Gospel was delivered altogether, and not by postscripts. Thus it is, if we go to the record, to the Scripture: and thus it is, if we ask a judge (I do not say, the judge, but a judge) for, the fathers are a judge; a judge is a judge, though there lie an appeal from him. And will not the fathers say so too? Quod ubique, quod semper; that is common salvation, which hath bound the communion of saints; that which all churches always have thought and taught to be necessary to salvation. Ask the record, ask that judge, and it will be so; and it will be so, if you ask the counsel on the other side. Ask the council of Trent itself, and the idolaters of that council will not say, that our church affirms any error; neither can they say, that we leave any truth unaffirmed, which the primitive church affirmed to be necessary to salvation. For those things which the School hath drawn into disputation since, as their form is, in the beginning of every question, to say, Videtur quod non, one would think it were otherwise; if when they have said all, I return to the beginning again, Videtur quod non, I think it is otherwise still. Must I be damned? The evidence for my salvation is my credo, not their probo; and if I must get heaven by a syllogism, my major is Credo in Deum Patrem, I believe in God the Father; for Pater major, the Father is greater than all10: and my minor shall be, Credo in Deum Filium, I believe in God the Son, Qui exivit de patre, He came from God; and my conclusion, which must proceed from major et minor, shall be Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, I believe in
the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from Father and Sou: and this syllogism brought me into the Militant church in my baptism, and this will carry me iuto the Triumphant, in my transmigration; for doctrine of salvation is matter without controversy.
But yet, as clear as it is, it is a mystery, a secret; not that I cannot see it, but that I cannot see it with any eyes that I can bring: not with the eye of nature: Flesh and blood hath not revealed thisu7ito thee, says Christ to Peter": not with the eye of learning; Thou hast hid these things from the wise, says Christ to his Father: not with the eye of state, that wheresoever I see a good government, I should presume a good religion; for, we do not admit the church of Rome, and yet we do admire the court of Rome; nor with the eye of a private sense; for no prophecy of Scripture; for, quod non nisi instinctu Dei scitur, prophetia est; that which I cannot understand by reason, but by especial assistance from God, all that is prophecy. No Scripture is of private interpretation I see not this mystery by the eye of nature, of learning, of state, of mine own private sense; but I see it by the eye of the church, by the light of faith, that is true; but yet organically, instrumentally, by the eye of the church. And this church is that which proposes to me all that is necessary to my salvation, in the Word, and seals all to me in the sacraments. If another man see, or think he sees more than I; if by the help of his optic-glasses, or perchance but by his imagination, he sees a star or two more in any constellation than I do; yet that star becomes none of the constellation; it adds no limb, no member to the constellation, that was perfect before: so, if other men see that some additional and traditional things may add to the dignity of the church, let them say it conduces to the well-being, not to the very being; to the existence, not to the essenoe of the church; for that is only things necessary to salvation. And this mystery is, faith in a pure conscience18: for that is the same thing that is called godliness in this text: and it is to profess the Gospel of Christ Jesus sincerely, and entirely; to have a conscience testifying to himself, that he hath contributed nothing to the diminution of it, that he labours to live by it, that he hopes to die
11 Matt. xvi. 16. a 2 Pet. i. 20. » 1 Tim. iii. 9.
in it, that he fears not to die for it. This is Mysterium, opertum, et apertum, hid from those that are lost", but manifested to his saints": it is a mystery, and a great mystery; that is next: not that there is not a greater; for the mystery of iniquity is greater than the mystery of godliness: compare creeds to creeds, and the new creed of the Trent Council, is greater by many articles than the apostles' creed is. Compare oaths to oaths; and Berengarian's old oath in the Roman church, that he must swear to the frangitur et teritur, that he broke the flesh of Christ with his teeth, and ground it with his jaws; and the new oath of the Council of Trent, that he must swear that all those subtle schoolpoints, determined there, in which a man might have believed the contrary a few days before, and yet have been a good Roman Catholic too, are true, and true de fide; so true, as that he cannot be saved now, except he believe them to be so: the Berengarian's oath, and the Trent oath, have much more difficulty in them, than to swear, that King James is lawful king in all his dominions, and therefore exempt from all foreign jurisdiction over him. There is a mystery of iniquity, declared in a creed of iniquity, and in an oath of iniquity, greater than the mystery of godliness: but yet this is great, that is, great enough; he needs no more, that hath this, faith with a pure conscience: he need not go up to heaven16 for more, not to a vice-god, to an infallible bishop of Rome; He need not go over sea for more, says Moses there; not to the hills, beyond sea, nor to the lake beyond sea: for God hath given him his station in a church, where this mystery is sufficiently declared and explicated. The mystery of iniquity may be great, for it hath wrought a great while17. Jam operator, says the apostle in his time; The mystery of iniquity doth already work, and it is likely to work still: it is but a little while since we saw it work under ground, in the vault. But if (as hath been lately, royally, and religiously intimated to us all) their insolency have so far infatuated them, as to think themselves at an end of their work, and promise themselves a holiday, our assurance is in this, Pater operatur adhuc, et ego operor, says Christ18; My Father works yet, and I work: and if amongst us
11 2 Cor. iv. 3. 15 Col. i. 26. 16 Deut. xxx. 12.
17 2 Thess. ii. 7. 18 John v. 17.
the Father work, and the Son work; for all the vain hopes of some, and the vain fears of others, the mystery of godliness will stand and grow.
Now, how far this mystery, this great mystery, this mystery without controversy is revealed in this text, we are to look by the several beams thereof; of which, the first is, manifestatus in carne, God was manifested in the flesh. Coeli enarrant, says David, The heavens declare the glory of God1*; and that should be the harmony of the spheres. Invisibilia conspiciuntur, says St. Paul, Invisible things of God are seen in the visibleTM; and that should be the prospect of this world. The knowledge of God was manifested often in the prophets; he foretold, therefore he foresaw. His wisdom was manifested often, in frustrating all councils of all Achitophels against him. And his power was manifested often: in the water; consider it at least in the Red Sea, and in Pharaoh, if you will bring it no nearer home; and in the fire, consider it at least in the fiery furnace, if you will bring it no nearer home. His knowledge, his wisdom, his power, his mercy, his justice, all his attributes are always manifested in all his works. But, Deus in carne, that the person of God, God himself, should be manifested, and manifested in our flesh, Ineffabile omni sermoni, omni ignotum intelligentiw, ipse angelorum primati non agnitum". And if the primate of the angels, the highest order of them that stand in God's sight, know it not; if no understanding were able to conceive it, that had all the refinings and concoction, that study, and speculation, and zeal to be vir desideriorum (as the angel said to Daniel) a man that desired to dwell upon the meditation of his God, could give; must not I, who always come with Moses1 uncircumcised lips, not to speak persuasively; and always with Jeremy's defect, Piter sum, nescio loqui, Not to speak plainly; come now with Zachary's dumbness, not to speak at all in this mystery? But hearkening to that which he who only knew this i mystery, hath said, Verbum caro factum est, The Word was made flesh; and Deus manifestatus in carne, God was manifested in the flesh; rest myself in his Word, and pray you in Christ's stead to do so too, in this, and all mysteries of your religion, to rest upon
the only Word of God: for in this particular, it is not misgrounded, nor mis-collected by him that says, Omnespene errores, Almost all errors have proceeded out of this, that this great mystery, that God was manifested in the flesh, Aut non omnino, aut non sicuti est creditiim"; is either not all, or not aright believed. The Jews believe not at all; and to them Tertullian says enough: Since out of their prophets they confess, that when the Messias shall be manifested, they must for a time suffer many calamities in this world; If their Messias should be manifested now (says he) what could they suffer? They say they must suffer banishment; Et ubi dispersio gentis, quw jam extorris; Whither shall that nation be banished, which is already in banishment and. dispersion? Redde statum Judwis, let the Jews show me a state, a kingdom, a commonwealth, a government, magistrates, judicatures, merchandise, and armies; let them show something to lose for a Messias, and then let them look for a Messias. The Jews are within the non ornnino, they believe not this mystery at all: and then, for the non sicut est, for the not believing it aright, as the old Valentinians are renewed in the Anabaptists (for both deny that Christ took flesh of the Virgin) so the old Manichseans are not renewed, but exceeded in the Transubstantiators: for they said the body of Christ was left in one place, in the sun; these say, It is upon as many tables, and in as many boxes as they will. But whether the manifestation of God in the flesh were referred to the incarnation of Christ; or to his declaration, when the wise men of the East came to see him at Bethlehem; whether when it was done, or when it was declared to be done, hath admitted a question, because the Western church hath called that day of their coming to him, the Epiphany; and epiphany is manifestation. Then therefore is God manifested to us, when, as these wise men offered their'myrrh and frankincense, we offer the sacrifice of prayer; and as they offered their gold, we offer our temporal wealth for the glory of Christ Jesus: and when the love of him corrects in thee the intemperances of adorning thy flesh, of pampering thy flesh, of obeying thy flesh, then especially is this epiphany, God is manifested in the flesh, in thy flesh.
Now, when he was manifested in the flesh, it behoved him to be justified in the Spirit; for he came in similitudinem carnis peccati*3: they took him for a sinner, and they saw him converse with sinners: for anything they could see, it might have been caro peccati, sinful flesh; and they saw enough to make them sure that it was caro mortis, mortal flesh. Though he were panis de cwlo, bread from heaven, yet himself was hungry; and though he were fons perennis, an everlasting spring, yet himself was thirsty; though he were Deus totius consolationis, the God of all comfort'1, yet his soul was heavy unto death; and though he were Dominus vitw, the Lord of life, yet death had dominion over him. When therefore Christ was manifested in the flesh, flesh subject to death, death, which was the reward of sin; and would take upon him to forgive sins; it behoved him to be extraordinarily justified, extraordinarily declared to the world: and so he was; he was justified in Spiritu, in the Spirit; first, in Spiritu Sancto, in the Spirit, in the Holy Ghost; both when the Holy Ghost was sent to him, and when the Holy Ghost was sent by him, from him. The Holy Ghost was sent to him in his baptism, and he tarried upon him: Christ was not, a Christian is not justified by one access, one visitation, one approach of the Holy Ghost; not by one religious act: it is a permanency, a perseverance that justifies: that foolishness, and that fascination (as the apostle calls it) that witchcraft which he imputes to the Galatians, is not so worn out, but that there are foolish and bewitched Galatians still, that begun in the spirit, and will be made perfect in the flesh; that received their Christianity in one church, and attend a confirmation, a better state, in a worse. Christ was justified by the Holy Ghost, when the Holy Ghost came to him: so he was, when he came from him, at Pentecost, upon his apostles; and then he came in tongues, and fiery tongues. Christ was not, a Christian is not justified in silence, but in declarations and open professions; in tongues: and not in dark and ambiguous speeches, not infinite and retractable speeches, but in fiery tongues; fiery, that is, fervent; fiery, that is, clear. He was justified so, a Spiritu Sancto; and so he was, a Spiritu suo, by his own Spirit: not only in that protestation of his, Who can accuse me of any
sin? for St. Paul could say that he was unreproachable in the sight of men, and yet he could not choose but say, Quorum ego maximus; that he was the greatest sinner of all men. I were a miserable man, if I could accuse Christ of no sin; if I could not prove all my sins his, I were under a heavy condemnation. But that which we intend by his being justified, a Spiritu suo, by his own Spirit, is, not by the testimony that he gave of himself; but by that Spirit, that Godhead, that dwelt bodily in him, and declared him, and justified him in that high power and practice of miracles. When Christ came into this world, as if he had come a day before any day, a day before Moses' in principio, before there was any creature (for when Christ came, there was creatures that could exercise any natural faculty in opposition to his purposes) when nature his vicegerent gave up her sword to his hands; when the sea shut up herself like marble, and bore him; and the earth opened herself like a book, to deliver out her dead, to wait upon him; when the winds, in the midst of their own roaring, could hear his voice; and death itself, in putrid and corrupt carcases, could hear his voice; and when his own body, whom his own soul had left and abandoned, was not abandoned by this Spirit, by this Godhead (for the Deity departed not from the dead body of Christ) then was Christ especially justified by this Spirit, in whose power he raised himself from the dead; he was justified in Spiritu Sancto, and in spiritu suo; two witnesses were enough for him. Add a third for thyself, et justificetur in spiritu tuo, let him be justified in thy spirit: God is safe enough in himself, and yet it was a good declaratory addition, that the Publicans justified God: Wisdom is safe enough of herself, and yet Wisdom is justified of her children85: Christ is sufficiently justified; but justificetur in spiritu tuo, in thy spirit. To say, If I consider the Talmud, Christ may as well be the Messias, as any whom the Jews place their marks upon; if I consider the Alchoran, Christ is like enough to be a better prophet than Mahomet; if I consider the arguments of the Arians, Christ may be the Son of God for all that; if I consider the church of Rome, and ours, he is as likely to manifest himself in his own Word here, as there in their word; to say but so, Christ may be
"Luke vii. 29. Matt. ii. 19.
God for anything I know: this is but to bail him, not to justify him; not to quit him, but to put him over to the sessions, to the great sessions, where he shall justify himself; but none of them, who do not justify him, testify for him, in spiritu suo, sincerely in their souls: nay, that is not enough: to justify is an act of declaration; and no man knows what is in man, but the spirit of man": and therefore he that leaves any outward thing undone, that belongs to his calling, for Christ, is so far from having justified Christ, as that at the last day, he shall meet his voice with them that cried, Crucify him, and with theirs that cried, Not Christ, but Barabbas; if thou doubt in thy heart, if thou disguise in thine actions, non justificatur in spiritu tuo, Christ is not justified in thy spirit; and that is it which concerns thee most.
Christ had all this testimony more, Visits ab angelis, He was seen of angels: which is, not only visited by angels, served by angels; waited upon by angels: so he was, and he was so in every passage, in every step. An angel told his mother, that he should be born: and an angel told the shepherd, that he was born; and that which directed the wise men of the East where to find him, when he was born, is also believed by some of the ancients, to have been an angel in the likeness of a star. When he was tempted by the devil, angels came and ministered to himbut the devil had left him before; his own power, had dissipated his. In his agony in the garden, an angel came from heaven to strengthen him88; but he had recovered before, and was come to his veruntamen, Not my will, but thine be done. He told Peter, he could have more than twelve legions of angels to assist him89; but he would not have the assistance of his own sword: he denies not that which the devil says, that the angels had in charge, that he should not dash his foot against a stone30; but they had an easy service of it; for his foot never dashed, never stumbled, never tripped in any way. As soon as any stone lay in his way, an angel removed it: He rolled away the stone from the sepulchre31. There the angel testified to the women that sought him, not only that he was not there, (that was a poor
"1 Cor. ii . 2. *7 Matt. iv. 11. 88 Luke xxii. 43.
"Matt. xxvi. 53. 80 Matt. iv. 6. 81 Matt. xxviii. 2.
comfort) but where he was: He is gone into Galilee, and there you shall find him. There also the angel testified to the men of Galilee, that looked after him, not only that he was gone up (that was but a poor comfort) but that he should come again. The same Jesus shall so come as he wentTM. There in heaven, they perform that service, whilst he stays there, which they are called upon to do: Let all the angels of God worship him33; and in judgment, when the Son of man shall come in his glory, all the holy angels shall be with him; in every point of that great compass, in every arch, in every section of that great circle, of which no man knows the diameter, how long it shall be from Christ's first coming to his second, visus ab angelis, he was seen, he was visited, he was waited upon by the angels. But there is more intended in this, than so.
Christ was seen of the angels, otherwise now, than ever before: something was revealed to the angels themselves concerning Christ, which they knew not before; at least, not so as they knew it now. For, all the angels do not always know all things: if they had, there would have been no dissension, no strife, no difference between the two angels; the angel of Persia would not have withstood the other angel twenty-one days34; neither would have resisted God's purpose, if both had known it; St. Dionyse, who considers the names, and natures, and places, and apprehensions of angels, most of any, observes of the highest orders of angels, Ordines supremi ad Jesu aspectum hwsitabant; The highest of the highest orders of angels, were amazed at Christ's coming up in the flesh; it was a new and unexpected thing to see Christ come thither, in that manner. There they say with amazement, Quis iste? Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah35? And Christ answers there, Ego, It is I, I that speak in righteousness, I that am mighty to save. The angels reply, Wherefore are thy garments red like him that treadeth the wine-press? And Christ gives them satisfaction, Oalcavi; You mistake not the matter, / have trodden the wine-press; and Calcavi solus, I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me. The angels then knew
not this, not all this, not all the particulars of this, the mystery of Christ's incarnation for the redemption of man: the angels knew it in general; for, it was commune quoddam principium; it was the general mark, to which all their service, as they were ministering spirits, was directed. But for particulars, as amongst the prophets, some of the later understood more than the former (/ understand more than the ancients, says David86) and the apostles understood more than the prophets, even of those things which they had prophesied, (this mystery in other ages was not made known, as it is now revealed unto the holy apostles87;) so the angels are come to know some things of Christ, since Christ came, in another manner than before. And this may be that which St. Paul intends, when he says, that he was made a minister of the Gospel, To the intent, that now, unto principalities and powers, in heavenly places, might be known by the church, the manifold wisdom of God3". And St. Peter also, speaking of the administration of the church, expresses it so, That the angels desire to look into it3". Which is not only that which St. Augustine says, Innotuit a seculis per ecclesiam angelis, That the angels saw the mystery of the Christian religion, from before all beginnings, and that by the church, Quia ipsa ecclesia illis, in Deo apparuit; Because they saw in God the future church, from before all beginnings; but even in the propagation and administration of the church, they see many things now, which distinctly, effectually, experimentally, as they do now, they could not see before. And so, to this purpose, visus in nobis, Christ is seen by the angels, in us and our conversation now. Spectaculum sumus, says the apostle40; We are made a spectacle to men and angels. The word is there theatrum, and so St. Hierome reads it: and therefore let us be careful to play those parts well, which even the angels desire to see well acted. Let him that finds himself to be the honester man by thinking so, think in the name of God, that he hath a particular tutelar angel, that will do him no harm to think so: and let him that thinks not so, yet think, that so far as conduces to the support of God's children, and to the joy of the angels themselves, and to the glory of God; the
36 Psalm cxix. 100. 87 Eph. iii. 6. 38 Eph. iii. 10.
»» 1 Pet. i. 12. "1 Cor. iv. 9.
angels do see men's particular actions: and then, if thou wouldst not solicit a woman's chastity, if her servant were by to testify it; nor calumniate an absent person in the king's ear, if his friends were by to testify it; if thou canst slumber in thyself, that main consideration, that the eye of God is always open, and always upon thee; yet have a little religious civility, and holy respect, even to those angels that see thee: that those angels which see Christ Jesus now, sat down in glory at the right hand of his Father; all sweat wiped from his brows, and all tears from his eyes; all his stripes healed, all his blood stanched, all his wounds shut up, and all his beauty returned there; when they look down hither, to see the same Christ in thee, may not see him scourged again, wounded, torn and mangled again, in thy blasphemings, nor crucified again in thy irreligious conversation: visus ab angelis, he was seen of the angels, in himself, whilst he was here: and he is seen in his saints upon earth, by angels now; and shall be so to the end of the world: which saints he hath gathered from the Gentiles: which is the next branch; predicatus Gentibus, he was preached to the Gentiles.
Mercy and truth meet together, says David41: everywhere in God's proceedings; they meet together; but nowhere closer, than in calling the Gentiles. Jesus Christ was made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God4*: Wherein consisted that truth I To confirm the promises made unto the fathers, says the apostle there, and that is to the Jews: but was Christ a minister of the circumcision only for that, only for the truth I No: Truth and mercy meet together, as it follows there; and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. The Jews were a holy nation; that was their addition; gen s sancta; but the addition of the Gentiles, was peccatores, sinners: We are Jews by nature, and not of the Gentiles, sinners, says St. Paul43: He that touched the Jews, touched the apple of God's eye; and for their sakes, God rebuked kings, and said, Touch not mine anointed: but upon the Gentiles, not only dereliction, but indignation, and consternation, and devastation, and extermination, everywhere interminated, inflicted everywhere, and everywhere
multiplied: the Jews had all kind of assurance and ties upon God; both law, and custom; they both prescribed in God, and God had bound himself to them by particular conveyance; by a conveyance written in their flesh, in circumcision; and the counterpane written in his flesh; / have graven thy name in the palms of my hand"; but for the Gentiles, they had none of this assurance: When they were without Christ (says the apostle) having no hope (that is, no covenant to ground a hope upon) ye were without God in this world". To contemplate God himself, and not in Christ, is to be without God. And then, for Christ to be preached to such as these, to make this sun to set at noon to the Jews, and rise at midnight to the antipodes, to the Gentiles, this was such an abundant, such a superabundant mercy, as might seem almost to be above the bargain, above the contract, between Christ and his Father; more than was conditioned and decreed for the price of his blood, and the reward of his death: for when God said, I will declare my decree; that is, what I intended to give him, which is expressed thus, / will set him my king upon my holy hill of Sion"; which seems to concern the Jews only: God adds then, Postula a me, Petition to me, make a new suit to me; et dabo tibi Gentes: I will give thee not only the Jews, but the Gentiles for thine inheritance: and therefore Lwtentur Gentes, says David, Let the Gentiles rejoice*1; and we in them, that Christ hath asked us at his Father's hand, and received us: and Lwtentur insulw, says that prophet too, Let the islands rejoice; and we in them, that he hath raised us out of the sea, out of the ocean-sea, that overflowed all the world with ignorance; and out of the Mediterranean Sea, that hath flowed into so many other lands; the sea of Rome, the sea of superstition.
There was then a great mercy in that, predicatus Gentibus, that he was preached to the Gentiles; but the great power is in the next, creditus mundo, that he was believed in the world. We have a calling in our church; that makes us preachers: and we have canons in our church; that makes us preach: and we bring a duty, and find favour; that makes us preach here: there is a power here, that makes bills of preachers: but in whose
power is it to make bills of believers? Oportet accedentem credere, says St. Paul, He that comes hither should believe before he comes4": but, Benedictus sis egrediens, says Moses, God bless you with the power of believing, when you go from hence'": where St. James says, You deceive yourselves, if you be hearers, and not doers*"; How far do you deceive yourselves, if you come not halfway, if you be hearers, and not believers? Tiberius, who spoke all upon disguises, took it ill, if he were believed: he that was crucified under Tiberius, who always speaks clearly, takes it worse, if he be not believed; for, he hath reduced all to the tantummodo crede, only believe, and thou art safe: if we take it higher or lower; either above, in hearing only, or below, in working only, we may miss. It is not enough to hear sermons; it is not enough to live a moral honest life; but take it in the midst, and that extends to all; for there is no believing without hearing, nor working without believing. Be pleased to consider this great work of believing, in the matter, what it was that was to be believed: that that Jesus, whose age they knew, must be antedated so far, as that they must believe him to be elder than Abraham: that that Jesus, whose father and mother, and brothers and sisters, they knew, must be believed to be of another family, and to have a father in another place; and yet he to be as old as his father; and to have another proceeding from him, and yet he to be no older than that person who proceeded from him: that that Jesus, whom they knew to be that carpenter's son, and knew his work, must be believed to have set up a frame, that reached to heaven, out of which no man could, and in which any man might be saved: Was it not as easy to believe, that those tears which they saw upon his cheeks, were pearls; that those drops of blood, which they saw upon his back, were rubies; that that spittle, which they saw upon his face, was enamel: that those hands which they saw buffet him, were reached out to place him in a throne: and that that voice which they heard cry, Crueifige, Crucify him, was a Vivat Bex, Long live Jesus of Nazareth king of the Jews; as to believe, that from that man, that worm, and no man, ingloriously traduced as a conjurer,
48 Heb. xi. 6. 49 Deut. xxviii. 6. 50 James i. 22,
ingloriously apprehended as a thief, ingloriously executed as a traitor; they should look for glory, and all glory, and everlasting glory? And from that melancholic man, who was never seen to laugh in all his life, and whose soul was heavy unto death; they should look for joy, and all joy, and everlasting joy: and for salvation, and everlasting salvation from him, who could not save himself from the ignominy, from the torment, from the death of the cross? If any state, if any convocation, if any wise man had been to make a religion, a gospel; would he not have proposed a more probable, a more credible gospel, to man's reason, than this i Be pleased to consider it in the manner too: It must be believed by preaching, by the foolishness of preaching, says the apostle; by a few men, that could give no strength to it; by ignorant men, that could give no reason for it; by poor men, that could give no pensions, nor preferments in it: that this should be believed, and believed thus, and believed by the world, the world that knew him not; He was in the world, and the world knew him not": the world that hated them, who would make them know him; I have chosen you, says Christ, and therefore the world hateth you>*: that then when mundus totus in maligno positus53, the world, and all the world, not only was, but was laid in malignity and opposition against Christ; that then the world, and all the world, the world of ignorance, and the world of pride, should believe the Gospel; that then the Nicodemus, the learned and the powerful man of the world, should stand out no longer, but to that one problem, quomodo, how can a man be born again that is old; and presently believe, that a man might be born again even at the last gasp: that then they which followed him, should stand no longer upon their durus sermo, that it was a hard saying, that they must eat his flesh, and drink his blood, and presently believe that there was no salvation, except they did eat and drink that flesh and blood: that Mary Magdalene, who was not only tempted (is there any that is not so ?) but overcome with the temptations (and how many are so!) and possessed, and possessed with seven devils, should presently hearken after the powerful charm of the Gospel, and presently believe that she
should be welcome into his arms, after all her prostitutions: that the world, this world, all this world, should believe this, and believe it thus; this was the apostle's altitudo dimtiarum, the depth of the riches of God's wisdom54: and this is his longitudo, and latitudo, the breadth, and length, and heighth, and depth, which no man can comprehend". Theudas rose up, Dicens se esse aliquem, he said he was somebody; and he proved nobody. Simon Magus rose up, Dicens se esse aliquem magnum, saying, he was some great body56; and he proved as little. Christ Jesus rose up, and said himself not to be somebody, nor some great body; but that there was nobody else, no other name given under heaven, whereby we should be saved; and was believed. And therefore, if any man think to destroy this general, by making himself a woful instance to the contrary; Christ is not believed in all the world, for I never believed in Christ: so poor an objection, requires no more answer, but that that will still be true in the general; Man is a reasonable creature, though he be an unreasonable man.
Now when he was thus preached to the Gentiles, and thus believed in the world, that is, means thus established, for believing in him, he had done all that he had to do here, and therefore, Receptus in gloria, he was received into glory: he was received, assumed, taken; therefore he did not vanish away; he had no airy, no imaginary, no fantastical body; he was true man: and then he was received, re-assumed, taken again, and so was in glory before; and therefore was true God. This which we are fain to call glory, is an inexpressible thing, and an incommunicable: Surely I will not give my glory unto another, says God in Isaiah57, we find great titles attributed to, and assumed by princes, both spiritual and temporal: Celsitudo vestra, et vestra majestas, is daily given, and duly given amongst us: and Sanctitas vestra, et vestra beatitudo, is given amongst others. Aben-Ezra, and some other rabbins mistake this matter so much, as to deny that any person in the Old Testament ever speaks of himself in the plural number, Nos, we: that is mistaken by them; for there are examples58. But it is more mistaken in practice, by the generals, nay
54 Rom. xi. 33. 55 Eph. iii. 18. 56 Acts v. 36.
"Isaiah XLviii. 11. 58 1 Kings xii. 9, and xxii. 3; 2 Chron. x. 9.
provincials of some orders of friars, when they sign and subscribe in form and style of princes, iV<w frater, We friar N., &c. It is not hard to name some, that have taken to themselves the addition of Divus in their life-time; a style so high, as that Bellarmine denies that it appertains to any saint in heaven: and yet these men have canonized themselves, without the consent of Rome; and yet remained good sons of that mother too: we shall find in ancient styles, that high addition, Eternitas nostra, Our eternity: and not only in an ancient, but in our own days, another equal to that, given to a particular cardinal, Numen vestrum, Your godhead. We find a letter in Baronius, to a pope, from a king of Britain (and so Baronius leaves it, and does not tell us which Britain; he could have been content to have had it thought ours; but he that hath abridged his book", hath abridged his Britain too, there it is Britannia minor: but he was a king, and therefore had power, if he filled his place; and wisdom too, if he answered his name; for his name was Solomon) and this king we find reduced to this lowness, as that he writes to that bishop, Adrian II., in that style, Precor omnipotentiam dignitatis vestrw: he gives him the title of God, Almighty. But two or three years before, he was far from it; then, when he writ, he placed his own name above the pope's: but it is a slippery declination, if it be not a precipitation, to come at all under him: great titles have been taken, ambition goes far; and great given, flattery goes as far: greater than this in the text, perchance have; but it hath not fallen within my narrow reading, and observation, that ever prince took, that ever subject gave this title, Gloria nostra, or vestra; May it please your glory, or, It hath seemed good to our glory. Glory be to God on high; and glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, and no more. As long as that scurf, that leprosy sticks to everything in this world, Vanitas, vanitatem, that all is vanity: can any glory in anything of this world, be other than vain glory I What title of honour hath any man had in any state, in court, that some prison in that state hath not had men of that title in it? Nay, what title hath any herald's book, that Lucifer's book hath not? Or who can be so great in this world, but that as great as he have perished in the
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next? As it is not good for men to eat much honey**; so, for men to search their own glory, is not glory. Crowns are the emblems of glory; and kings out of their abundant greatness and goodness, derive and distribute crowns to persons of title; and by those crowns, and those titles, they are consanguinei regis, the king's cousins. Christ Jesus is crowned with glory in heaven, and he sheds down coronets upon you; honour, and blessings here, that you might be consanguinei regis; contract a spiritual kindred with that king, and be idem Spiritus cum Domino, as inseparable from his Father, as he himself is. The glory of God's saints in heaven, is not so much to have a crown, as to lay down that crown at the feet of the Lamb. The glory of good men here upon earth, is not so much to have honour, and favour, and fortune, as to employ those beams of glory, to his glory that gave them. In our poor calling, God hath given us grace; but grace for grace, as the apostle says, that is, grace to derive, and convey, and seal grace to you. To those of higher rank, God hath given glory; and glory for glory; glory therefore to glorify him, in a care of his glory. And because he dwells in luce inaccessibili, in a glorious light which you cannot see here; glorify him in that wherein you may see him, in that wherein he hath manifested himself; glorify him in his glorious Gospel: employ your beams of glory, honour, favour, fortune, in transmitting his Gospel in the same glory to your children, as you received it from your fathers: for in this consists this mystery of godliness, which is, faith with a pure conscience: and in this lies your best evidence, that you are already co-assumed with Christ Jesus into glory, by having so laid an unremovable hold upon that kingdom which he hath purchased for you, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. To which glorious Son of God, &c.