A SERMON OF COMMEMORATION OF THE LADY DANVERS, LATE WIFE OF SIR JOHN DANVERS*. PREACHED AT CHILSEY, WHERE SHE WAS BURIED, JULY I, 1627.
The Prayer Before The Sermon.
O Eternal and most glorious God, who sometimes in thy justice dost give the dead bodies of the saints to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth, so that their blood is shed like water, and there is none to bury them1: who sometimes sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price8: and yet never leavest us without that knowledge, that precious in thy sight is the death of thy saints8; enable us, in life and death, seriously to consider the value, the price, of a soul. It is precious, O Lord, because thine image is stamped, and imprinted upon it; precious, because the blood of thy Son was paid for it; precious, because thy blessed Spirit, the Holy Ghost, works upon it, and tries it, by his divers fires; and precious, because it is entered into thy revenue, and made a part of thy treasure. Suffer us not therefore, O Lord, so to undervalue ourselves, nay, so to impoverish thee, as to give away those souls, thy souls, thy dear and precious souls, for nothing; and all the world is nothing, if the soul must be given for it. We know, O Lord, that our rent, due to thee, is our soul: and the day of our death is the day, and our deathbed the place, where this rent is to be paid. And we know too that he that hath sold his soul before, for unjust gain, or given away his soul before, in the society and fellowship of sin, or lent away his soul, for a time, by a lukewarmness, and temporizing, to the dishonour of thy name, to the weakening of thy cause, to the discouraging of thy servants, he comes to that day, and to that place, his death, and death-bed, without any rent in his haud, without any soul to this purpose, to surrender it unto thee. Let therefore, O Lord, the same hand which is to
* Mother of George Herbert. Vide Walton's Life of Herbert.
1 Psalm lxxix. 3. * Psalm xUv. 12. * Psalm cxvi. 15.
receive them then, preserve these souls till then: let that mouth, that breathed them into us at first, breathe always upon them, whilst they aro in us, and suck them into itself, when they depart from us. Preserve our souls, 0 Lord, becauso they belong to thee; and preserve our bodies, because they belong to thoso souls. Thou alone, dost steer our boat through all our voyage, but hast a more especial care of it, a moro watchful eye upon it, when it comes to a narrow current, or to a dangerous fall of waters. Thou hast a care of the preservation of these bodies, in all the ways of our life: but in the straits of death open thine eyes wider, and enlarge thy providenco towards us, so far, that no fever in the body may shake the soul, no apoplexy in the body damp or benumb the soul, nor any pain or agony of the body presage future torments to the soul. But so make thou our bed in all our sickness, that being used to thy hand, we may be content with any bed of thy making; whether thou be pleased to change our feathers into flocks, by withdrawing the conveniences of this life, or to change our flocks into dust, even the dust of the grave, by withdrawing us out of this life. And though thou divide man and wife, mother and child, friend and friend, by the hand of death, yet stay them that stay, and send them away that go, with this consolation, that though we part at divers days, and by divers ways, here, yet we shall all meet at one place, and at one day, a day that no night shall determine, the day of the glorious resurrection. Hasten that day, 0 Lord, for their sakes that beg it at thy hands, from under the altar in heaven: hasten it for our sakes, that groan under the manifold encumbrances of these mortal bodies: hasten it for her sake, whom we have lately laid down in this thy holy ground: and hasten it for thy Son Jesus Christ's sake, to whom then, and not till then, all things shall be absolutely subdued. Seal to our souls now an assurance of thy gracious purpose towards us on that day, by accepting this day's service at our hands. Accept our humble thanks, for all thy benefits, spiritual, and temporal, already bestowed upon us, and accept our humble prayer for the continuance and enlargement of them; continue and enlarge them, O God, upon thine universal church, dispersed, &c.
2 Peter iii. 13.
Nevertheless we, according to his promises, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
I Propose to myself, and to this congregation, two works for this day: that we may walk together two miles, in this Sabbath day's journey. First, to instruct the living, and then, to commemorate the dead; which office, as I ought, so I should have performed sooner, but that this sad occasion surprised me under other preobligations, and pre-contracts, in the services of mine own profession, which could not be excused nor avoided. And being come now to this double work, whether I look up to the throne of heaven, and that firmament, for any first work, the instruction of the living, or down to the stones of the grave, and that pavement, for my second work, the commemoration of the dead, I need no other words than those which I have read to you, for both purposes: for, to assist the resurrection of your souls, I say, and to assure the resurrection of your bodies, she says, Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. But first let us do our first work, and pursue the literal purpose of the apostle, in these words. Which words, out of their connexion and coherence, be pleased to receive, thus spread and dilated into this paraphrase; Nevertheless, that is, though there be scoffers and jesters that deride and laugh at the second coming of Christ, (as the apostle had said, ver. 3,) and nevertheless again, though this day of the Lord will certainly come, and come as a thief, and as a thief in the night, and when it comes, the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up, (as he had also said, ver. 10,) though there be such a scorn put upon it, by scoffers and jesters, and though there be such a horror in the truth of the thing itself, yet, nevertheless, for all that, for all that scorn, and for all that horror, we, we, says the text, wo that are fixed in God, we that are not ignorant of this one thing, (as ho says ver. 8,) that one day is with the Lord as a thousand gears, and a thousand years as one day, we that know, that the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, though he be long-suffering to usward, (as ho also says ver. 9,) we, according to his promises, that is, building upon that foundation, his Scriptures, presuming upon nothing that is not in that evidence, and doubting of nothing that is there, we expect, we look for something, says our text, which wo have not yet: we determine not ourselves, nor our contentment, in those things which God gives us here; not in his temporal, not in his spiritual blessings, in this life: but we expect future things, greater than we are capable of here; for, we look for new heavens, and new earth, in which, that which is not at all to be had here, or is but an obscure inmate, a short sojourner, a transitory passenger in this world, that is, righteousness, shall not only be, but dwell for ever: Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. So then, in this our voyage through this sea, which is truly a Mediterranean Sea, a sea betwixt two lands, the land of possession, which we have, and the land of promise, which we expect, this old and that new earth; that our days may be the better in the land which the Lord our God hath given us, and the surer in that land which the Lord our God will give us; in this sea voyage be these our landmarks, by which we shall steer our whole courso: first the day of judgment is subject to scorn, some laugh at it; and then (in a second consideration) it induces horror: the best man, that is but man, trembles at it: but we, (which is a third branch) those that have laid hold upon God, and (in a fourth place) have laid hold upon God by the right handle, according to his promises, we, (which will constitute a fifth point,) we expect; we bless God for our possession, but we look for a greater reversion; which reversion (in the next room) is, new heavens, and new earth; and (lastly) such heavens, and such earth, as may be an everlasting dwelling, for righteousness. And through all these particulars we shall pass, with as much clearness and shortness, as the weight and number thereof will admit.
First then, to shake the constancy of a Christian, there will always be scorners, jesters, scoffers, and mockers at religion; the period and consummation of the Christian religion, the judgment day, the second coming of Christ, will always be subject to scorns. And many times a scorn cuts deeper than a sword. Lucian wounded religion more by making jests at it, than Arius, or Pelagius, or Nestorius, with making arguments against it. For, against those professed heretics, and against their studied arguments, which might seem to have some weight, it well beseemed those grave and reverend fathers of the church, to call their councils, and to take into their serious consideration those arguments, and solemnly conclude, and determine, and decree in the point. But it would ill have become those reverend persons, to have called their councils, or taken into their so serious considerations, epigrams, and satires, and libels, and scurril and scornful if jests, against any point of religion; scorns and jests are easilier apprehended, and understood by vulgar and ordinary capacities, than arguments are; and then learned men are not so earnest, nor so diligent to overthrow, and confute a jest or scorn, as they are in argument; and so they pass more uncontrolled, and prevail further, and live longer than arguments do. It is the height of Job's complaint, that contemptible persons made jests upon him. And it is the depth of Samson's calamity, that when the Philistines' hearts were merry, then they called for Samson, to make them sport4. So to the Israelites in Babylon, when they were in that heaviness, that every breath they breathed was a sigh, their enemies called, to sing them a song'. And so they proceeded with him, who fulfilled in himself alone, all types, and images, and prophecies of sorrows, who was, (as the prophet calls him) Vir dolorwn, A man composed and elemented of sorrows*, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; for, they platted a crown of thorns upon his head, and they put a reed into his hand, and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him7. Truly, the conniving at several religions, (as dangerous as it is) is not so dishonourable to God, as the suffering of jesters at religion: that may induce heresy; but this does establish atheism; and as that is the public mischief, so, for the private there lies some danger in this, that he that gives himself the liberty of jesting at religion, shall find it hard to take up at last; as, when Julian the apostate had received his death's wound, and could not chooso
but confess, that that wound came from tho hand, and power of Christ, yet he confessed it in a phrase of scorn, Vicisti Galilove, The day is thine, 0 Galilean, and no more: it is not, Thou hast accomplished thy purpose, 0 my God-, nor 0 my Maker, nor 0 my Redeemer, but, in a style of contempt, Vicisti Galilcce, and no more. And therefore, as David begins his Psalms with blessedness, so he begins blessedness with that, Blessed is he, which sitteth not in the seat of the scornful: David speaks there of walking with the ungodly, but walking is a laborious motion; and he speaks of standing with the sinner, but standing is a painful posture; in these two, walking and standing, there is some intimation of a possibility of weariness, and so of desisting at last. But in sitting in the seat of the scornful, there is denoted a sinning at ease: and in the Vulgate edition, at more than ease; with authority, and glory; for it is in cathedra, in the chair of tho scornful; which implies a magisterial, a doctoral kind of sinning; that is, to sin, and provoke others, by example, to sin too; and promises no return from that position. For as we have had divers examples, that men who have used and accustomed their mouths to oaths and blasphemies all their lives, have made it their last syllable, and their last gasp, to swear they shall die, so they that enlarge, and ungirt their wits, in this jesting at religion, shall pass away at last, in a negligence of all spiritual assistances, and not find half a minute, between their last jest, and their everlasting earnest. Vw vobis qui ridetis: Woe be unto you that laugh so, for you shall weep, and weep eternally.
St. Paul preached of the resurrection of the dead, and they mocke*d him8. And here St. Peter says, There will be (that is, there will be always), scoffers that will say, Where is the promise of Chrisfs coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were, from the beginning of the creation. But do they so? says this apostle; Was not the world that then was, overfiotced with water, and perished? If that were done in earnest, why do ye make a jest of this? says he, That the heavens and the earth which are now, are reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment*. The apostle says, that in the last days perilous times shall come; and he reckons there, divers kinds of perilous men;
'Acts xvii. 32.
* 2 Tim. iii. 1.
but yet, these jesters are not among them. And then, the apostle names more perilous men; seducing spirits, and seducing by the doctrine of devils, forbidding meats and marriage1*; and we know who these men are. Our Saviour tells us, they shall proceed a great way; they shall show great signs and wonders"; they shall pretend miracles; and they shall exhibit false Christs, Christs kneaded into pieces of bread; and we know who these are, and can beware of these proceedings. But St. Jude remembers us of the greatest dangers of all, Remember the words which were spoken before, of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there should be mockers, in the last time1S. For, against all the rest, the church of God is better armed; but perniciosissimum humano generi, says St. Augustine, This is the ruin and overthrow of mankind, (that is, of religion, which is the life and soul of mankind,) Cum vera et salubris sententia imperitorum populorum irrisione sordescit; When true, and sincere religion, shall bo cried down, and laughed out of countenance, by the scorns and jestsof ignorant people: when to all our sober preaching, and serious writing, a scornful ignorant shall think it enough to oppose that one question of contempt, Where was your church before Luther? Whereas if we had had anything from Luther, which we had not had before, yet even that, were elder than those articles, which they had from the council of Trent, and had not (as articles) before; for Luther's declarations were before the constitutions of the council: so that we could play with them at their own game, and retort their own scorns upon themselves, but that matters of religion should move in a higher sphere, and not be depressed and submitted to jests. But though our apostle's prophecy must be fulfilled, there will be, and will always be, some scoffers, some jesters; nevertheless, says the text, there is a religious constancy upheld, and maintained by others. And further we extend not the first consideration of our danger.
But, though I can stand out these scorns and jests, there is a tentation, that is real; there are true terrors, sad apprehensions, substantial circumstances, that accompany the consideration of Christ's second coming, and the day of judgment. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hauds of the living God, if I do but fall into
10 1 Tim. iv. 1—3. 11 Matt. xxiv. 24. 1» Jude 17, 18.
his hands, in a fever in my bed, or in a tempest at sea, or in a discontent at home; but, to fall into the hands of the living God, so as that that living God enters into judgment with me, and passes a final, and irrevocable judgment upon mo; this is a consternation of all my spirits, an extermination of all my succours. I consider, what God did with one word, with one fiat he made all; and, I know, he can do as much with another word; with one pereat, he can destroy all; as he spake, and it was dono, he commanded, and all stood fast1*: so he can speak, and all shall be undone; command, and all shall fall in pieces. I consider, that I may be surprised by that day, the day of judgment. Here St. Peter says, The day of the Lord will come as a thief. And St. Paul says, We cannot be ignorant of it, yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief". And as the judgment itself, so the Judgo himself says of himself, I will como upon thee as a thief". He says he will, and he does it. For it is not, Behold, I do come upon theo as a thief; there, tho future, which might imply a dilatoriness, is reduced to an infallible present; it is so sure that he will do it, that he is said to have done it already. I consider, he will come as a thief, and then, as a thief in tho night; and I do not only not know when that night shall be, (for, himself, as he is tho Son of man, knows not (/ that) but I do not only not know what night, that is, which night, but not what night, that is what kind of night he means. It is said so often, so often repeated, that he will come as a thief in the night, as that he may mean all kinds of nights. In my night of ignorance he may come: and he may come in my night of wantonness; in my night of inordinate and sinful melancholy, and suspicion of his mercy, he may come: and ho may come in the night of so stupid, or so raging a sickness, as that he shall not ! come by communing; not como so, as that I shall receive him in the absolution of his minister, or receive him in the participation of his body and his blood in the sacrament. So he may come upon me, as such a thief, in such a night; nay, when all these nights of ignorance, of wantonness, of desperation, of sickness, of stupidity, of rage may be upon me all at once. I consider, that the Holy Ghost meant to make a deep impression of a great
terror in me, when he came to that expression, that the heavens should pass away, Cum stridore, 'with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up; and when he adds in Esay, The Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger, with fury; for by fire, and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh". So when he proceeds in Joel, A day of darkness, and gloominess, and yet a fire devoureth before them, and a flame burnetii behind them17. And so in Daniel also, His throne a fiery flame, and his wheels a burning fire, and a fiery stream issuing from him18. I consider too, that with this stream of fire, from him, there shall be a stream, a deluge, a flood of tears, from us; and all that flood, and deluge of tears, shall not put out one coal, nor quench one spark of that fire. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him". And, plangent omnes, all the kindred of the earth shall wail and lament, and weep and howl because of him. I consider that I shall look upon him then, and see all my sins, substance, and circumstance of sin, weight, and measure of sin, heinousness, and continuance of sin, all my sins imprinted in his wounds; and how shall I be affected then, confounded then, to see him so mangled with my sins! But then I consider again, that I shall look upon him again, and not see all my sins in his wounds: my forgotten sins, mine unconsidered, unconfessed, unrepented sins, I shall not see there: and how shall I be affected then, when I shall stand in judgment, under the guiltiness of some sins, not buried in the wounds, not drowned in the blood of my Saviour? Many, and many, and very many, infinite, and infinitely infinite, are the terrors of that day. Nevertheless, my soul, why art thou so sad, why art thou disquieted within me? Thou hast a Goshen to rest in, for all this Egypt; a Zoar to fly to, for all this Sodom; a sanctuary, and horns of the altar, to hold by, for all this storm. Nevertheless, says our text, though there be these scornful jests, though there be these real terrors, nevertheless, there are a We, certain privileged persons; and the consideration of those persons, is our third and next circumstance.
"Isaiah lxvi. 15. "Joel ii. 2, 3. Dan. vii. 9. "Rev. i. 7.
To those who pretended an intended in Christ, and had none, to those who would exorcise possest persons, and cast out devils, in the name of Jesus, without any commission from Jesus, to those sons of Sceva the devil himself could say, Qui vos? Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you "? To those who live in an outward conformity to Christ, but yet seek their salvation in the light of nature, and their power of resisting temptations, in their moral constancy, the devil may boldly say, Qui vos? Jesus I know, and the church I know; but who are you? I would I had no worse enemies than you. Nevertheless, we, for all his scorns, for all these terrors, shall have an answer to his Qui vos? and be able to tell him, that we are that Gens sancta, and that Regale sacerdotium, that this apostle speaks of"1; that holy people: made holy by his covenant and ordinances: and that royal priesthood; which, as priests, have an interest in his sacrifice, his Son: and as kings, have an interest in that crown, which, for his Son's sake, he hath ordained for us. We are they, who have seen the marks of his election, in their first edition, in the Scriptures; and seen them again, in their second edition, as they are imprinted in our consciences, in our faith, in our manners; and so we cannot mistake, nor be deceived in them. We are that semen Dei that Malachi speaks of": the seed of God' which he hath sowed in his church; and by that extraction, we are Consortes divinw naturw, Partakers of the divine nature itself": and so grow to be filii Dei, the sons of God; and by that title, cohcvredes Christi, joint-heirs with Christ": and so to be Christii ipsi, Christs ourselves: as God calls all his faithful, his anointed, his Christs ": and from thence, we grow to that height, to be of the quorum, in that commission, Dii estis, I have said, you are gods: and not only gods, by representation, but Idem spiritus cum Domino, Became the same spirit with the Lord, that, as a spirit cannot be divided in itself, so we are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor any creature, shall be able to separate us from God". If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant still". If he will not study his own case, let him be
*0 Acts xix. 15. "1 Pet. ii. 9. "Mai. ii. 15.
"2 Pet. i. 4. 14 Rom. viii. 17. "Psalm cv. 15.
"Rom. viii. 38. *7 1 Cor. xiv. 38.
subject to those scorns, and these terrors, still. But, Christianus idiotapersuasissimum habet", The unleamedest Christian that is, (be he a true Christian) hath learning enough to establish himself so, that neither scorns nor terrors can shake his foundations. So then you see, what fellowship of the faithful, what household of the righteous, what communion of saints it is, that falls under this denomination, We: we that have laid our foundations in faith, and made our super-edifications in sanctimony and holiness of life; we that have learnt, and learnt by the right rule, the rule of Christianity, how to put a right value upon this world, and those things which can but concern our body in this world. For, Multis serviet, qui corpori servit, says the oracle of moral men "; That man is a common slave to everybody, that is a slave to his own body; that man dares displease no man, that dares not displease himself: that man will grovel, and prostrate, and prostitute himself, at every great man's threshold, that is afraid to lose a dish from his table, or a pillow from his bed, at home; Multis serviet, qui corpori servit, et qui pro illo nimium trinet; He is the true coward, that is afraid of every inconvenience, which another may cast upon his person, or fortune. Honestum ei vile est, cui corpus nimis carum est; He that hath set too high a price upon his body, will sell his soul cheap. But if we can say of the fires of tribulation, as Origen says, (whether he speak of the fires of conflagration at the last day, or these fires of purification in our way to it) Indigemus sacramento ignis, baptismo ignis, That all our fiery tribulations fall under the nature and definition of sacraments, that they are so many visible signs of invisible grace, that every correction from God's hand, is a rebaptization to me; and that I can see, that I should not have been so sure of salvation, without this sacrament, without this baptism, without this firo of tribulation; if I can bring this fire to that temper, which Lactantius speaks of, that it be Ignis qui obtemperabit justis, A fire that shall conform itself to me, and do as I would have it; that is, concoct, and purge, and purify, and prepare mo for God: if my Christianity make that impression in me which Socrates's philosophy did in him, who (as Gregory Nazianzen testifies of him) In carcere damnatus, egit cum discipulis, de corpore, sicut
m Origen. "Seneca.
de alio ergasttdo, Who, when he lay a condemned man in prison, then, in that prison, taught his disciples, that the body of man was a worse prison than that he lay condemned in; if I can bring these fires to this compass, and to this temper, I shall find, that as the ark was in the midst of the waters, and yet safe from the waters, and the bush in the midst of the fire, and yet safe from the fire, so, though St. Jerome say (and upon good grounds) Grandis audaciw est, purwque comcientiw, It is an act of greater boldness than any man, as man, can avow, and a testimony of a clearer conscience, than any man, as man, can pretend to have, Eegnum Dei postulare, et judicium non timere, To press God for the day of judgment, and not to fear that day, (for upon all men, considered but as men, falls that severe expostulation of the prophet Amos, Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord; to what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light":) yet I shall find, that such a family, such a society, such a communion there is, and that I am of that quorum, that can say, Come what scorns can come, in Christo omnia possumus, though we can do nothing of ourselves, yet as we are in Christ, wo can do all things, because we are fixed in him, secundum promissa; which is our fourth and next branch, according to his promises.
I have nothing to plead with God, but only his own promises. I cannot plead birthright; the Jews were elder brothers, and yet were disinherited. I cannot plead descent; my mother was a Hittite, (as the prophet Ezekiel speaks,) I am but of the half blood, at best; more of the first, than of the second Adam; more corporal, than spiritual. I cannot plead my purchase; if I have given anything, for God's sake, if I have done anything, suffered anything, for God's sake, all that, is so far from merit, as that it is not the interest of my principal debt. Nay, I cannot plead mercy; for, I am by nature the child of wrath too ". All my plea is, that, to which he carries me so often, in his word, Quia fidelis Dominus; Because the Lord is a faithful God. So this apostle calls him, Fidelem creator em, A faithful creator; God had gracious purposes upon me, when he created me, and will be faithful to those purposes; so St. Paul calls Christ Fidelem pontificem, A faithful high-priesta*; graciously ho
88 Amos v. 18. "Eph. ii. 3. ** Hcb. ii. 17.
meant to sacrifice himself for the world, and faithfully he did it. So St. John calls him Fidelem testem, A faithful witness"; of his mercy he did die for me, and his spirit bears witness with my spirit that he did so. And in the same book his very denomination, his very name is Faithful". For this faithfulness in God, which is so often recommended to mo, must necessarily imply a former promise; if God bo faithful, he is faithful to some contract, to some promise that he hath made; and that promise is my evidence. But then, to any promise, that is pretended, and not deduced from his Scriptures, he may justly plead nan est factum; he made no such promise. For, as in cases of diffidence, and distrust in his mercy, God puts us upon that issue, Ubi libellus, Produce your evidence; why are you jealous of me? Where is the bill of your mother's divorce whom I have put away; or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you"? So in cases of presumption in ourselves, or pressing God with his promises, (and so also, in cases of innovation of matter of doctrine in tho church) God puts us to the same issue, Ubi libellus, Produce your evidence; where in my Scripture have I made any such contract, any such covenant, any such promise to you? My witness is in heaven, says Job**; but yet, my evidence is upon earth; God is that witness, but that witness hath been pleased to be examined ad perpetuam rei memoriam; and his testimony remains of record, in the church, and there, from his Scriptures, exemplified to me, by his public notary, the church. I may lawfully charge him with his promise, his contract, his covenant; and else not. There is a general and a useful observation, made by St. Augustine, Omnium hwreticorum qiiasi regularis est ista temeritas, This is a regular irregularity, this is a fixed and constant levity, amongst all heretics, Auctoritatem stabilissimam fundatissimw ecclesiw quasi rationis nomine et pollicitatione superare: To overthrow the foundations of the church upon the appearance, and pretence, and colour of reason; God cannot have proceeded thus or thus, because there is this and this reason against it. Now tho foundations of the church are the Scriptures; and when men present reasons of probability, of verisimilitude, of pious credulity, not deduced out of the Scriptures,
"Rev. i. 5. M Rev. xix. 11. "Isaiah L. 1. 8« Job xvi. 19
they fall into the regular irregularity, and into that constant levity, which St. Augustine justly makes the character, and specification of an heretic, to seem to proceed upon reasons, and not deduce those reasons from the Scriptures. When therefore they reason thus (as Bellarmine does), Non discretus Dominus, That God had not dealt discreetly, if he had not established a church: a certain, a visible, and infallible church; a church endowed with these and these, with those and those, and such and such, and more and more immunities and privileges, by which that particular church must be super-catholic and super-universal, above all the churches in the world: we join not with them in that boldness, to call God's discretion in question, but we join with them in that issue, Ubi libellus, Where is your evidence: which is your Scripture, which you will rely upon for that, for such a church? For we content not ourselves with such places of Scripture, as may serve to illustrate that doctrine, to them, that believe it aforehand, without Scripture, but we ask such places of Scripture, as may prove it to them, who, till they see such Scriptures, believe, and believe truly, that they are not bound to believe it; if I may plead it, it is a promise; and if it be an issuable promise, it is in the Scriptures. If any distresses in my fortune and estate, in my body and in my health, oppress me, I always find some receipts, some medicines, some words of consolation, in a Seneca, in a Plutarch, in a Petrarch. But I proceed in a safer way, and deal upon better cordials, if I make David, and the other prophets of God, my physicians, and see what they prescribe me, in the Scriptures; and look how my fellow patient Job applied that physic, by his patience. And if anything heavier than that which fell upon Job, fall upon me, yet I may propose one to myself, upon whom there fell more than can fall upon any man; for all mankind fell upon him, and all the sins of all mankind, and God's justice, God's anger, for all the sins of all mankind fell upon him, and yet he had a glorious eluctation, a victory, a triumph over all that. And he is not only my rule and my example, but my surety, and my promise, that where he is, I shall be also*7; not only where he is, in glory now, but in every step, that he made in
"John xiv. 3.
VOL VI. 8
this world; if I be with him in his afflictions, I shall be with him in his eluctations, in his victory, in his triumph. St. Chrysostom, falling upon such a meditation as this, is loth to depart from it; he insists upon it thus; Illine, qui a dextrin Dei sedet, conforme fiet hoc corpus? Will God make this body of mine, like that, that sits now at his right-hand: yes; he will. llli, quem adorant angeli? Like him, whom all the angels worship? yes; like him. Illi, cui adjutant incorporales virtutes? Like him, to whom the thrones, and powers, and dominations, and cherubims, and seraphims minister? Yes, he will do all that, says that father. But allow me the boldness to add thus much, Cum illo, I shall be with him, before; with him, wheresoever he was in this world. I shall be with him in his agonies, and sadness of soul; but in those agonies and sadnesses, I shall be with him still in his veruntamen, in his surrender of himself; Not my will, but thine, 0 Father, be done. I shall be with him upon his cross; but in all my crosses, and in all my jealousies and suspicions of that Dereliquisti, that God, my God hath forsaken me, I shall be with him still, in his in mamts, in a confidence, and assurance, that I may commit my spirit into his hands. For all this I do according to his promise, that where he is, I shall be also. Si tot us mundus lachrymis sumptis dejiesset (says the same father), If men were made of tears, as they are made of tho elements of tears, (of miseries), and if all men were resolved to tears, as they must resolve to dust, all were not enough to lament their miserable condition, who lay hold upon the miserable comforters of this world, upon their own merits, or upon the supererogations of other men, of which there are no promises, and cannot find that true promise, which is implied in those examples of Job and Christ, appliable to themselves. Nevertheless we, we that can do so, we, that can read that promise, that Where they are, we shall be; that what he hath done for them, he will also do for us, We, according to his promise, declared in his Scriptures, in the midst of scoffers, and in the midst of terrors, expect, and look for more, than we have yet; which is another, and our fifth consideration. As God hath provided us an endlessness, in the world to come, so, to give us an inchoation, a representation of the next world, in this, God hath instituted an endlessness in this world too; God hath imprinted in every natural man, and doth exalt in the supernatural and regenerate man, an endless, and undeterminable desire of more than this life can minister unto him. Still God leaves man in expectation. And truly, that man can scarce prove the immortality of the soul to himself, that feels not a desire in his soul of something beyond this life. Creatures of an inferior nature, are possessed with the present; man is a future creature. In a holy and useful sense, we may say, that God is a future God; to man especially he is so; man's consideration of God is specially for the future. It is plain, it is evident, that that name which God hath taken in Exodus", signifies, essence, being. Verum nomen Dei semper esse", God's proper name is always, Being. That can be said of no creature, that it always was; that which the Arians said blasphemously of Christ, Erat, quando non erat^ is true of all creatures. There was a time, when that thing was nothing. But of God, more than this may be said; so much more, as that when we have said all that we can, more than so much more remains unsaid. For, Totum Dewn, nemo uno nomine exprimit, sicut nec totum aerem haurit**: A man may as well draw in all the air, at one breath, as express all God, God entirely, in one name. But the name that reaches farthest towards him, is that name which be hath taken in Exodus, Deo si conjungimur, sumus; In being derived from God, we have a being, we are something; in him we live and move and have our being; but Deo si comparemur, net sumus; If we be compared with God, our being with his being, we have no being at all, wo are nothing. For Being is the peculiar and proper name of God. But though it be so clear, that that name of God in Exodus is Being, yet it is not so clear, whether it be a present, or a future Being. For, though most of the fathers expressed, and our translators rendered in the present, Sum qui sum, I am that I am, and, Go, and tell Pharaoii that he whose name is I am, hath sent thee; yet in the original, it is plain, and plain in the Chaldee paraphrase, that that name is delivered in the future, Ero, qui ero, I shall be that I shall be, and, Go, and tell Pharaoh that he whose name is I shall be, hath sent thee. God calls upon man, even in the consideration
"Exod. iii. 14. *9 Ambrose. 48 Nazianzen.
of the name of God, to consider his future state. For, if we consider God in the present, to-day, now, God hath had as long a forenoon, as he shall have an afternoon; God hath been God, as many millions of millions of generations, already, as he shall be hereafter; but if we consider man in the present, to-day, now, how short a forenoon hath any man had! if sixty, if eighty years, yet few and evil have his days been. Nay, if we take man collectively, entirely, altogether, all mankind, how short a forenoon hath man had! It is not yet six thousand years since man had his first being. But if we consider him in his afternoon, in his future state, in his life after death, if every minute of his six thousand years were multiplied by so many millions of ages, all would amount to nothing, merely nothing, in respect to that eternity, which he is to dwell in. We can express man's afternoon, his future perpetuity, his everlastingness, but one way; but it is a fair way, a noble way; this: that how late a beginning soever God gave man, man shall no morejsee an end, no more die, than God himself that gave him life. Therefore, says the apostle here, we, we that consider God according to his promise, expect future things, look for more at God's hand hereafter, than we have received heretofore: For his mercies are new every morning: and his later mercies are his largest mercies. How many, how great nations perish, without ever hearing the name of Christ! but God wrapt me up in his covenant, and derived me from Christian parents: I sucked Christian blood in my mothers womb, and Christian milk at my nurse's breast. The first sound that I heard, in the world, was the voice of Christians; and the first character that I was taught to know, was the cross of Christ Jesus. How many children that are born so, born within the covenant, born of Christian parents, do yet die before they be baptized, though they were born heirs to baptism! but God hath afforded me the seal of that sacrament. And then, how many that are baptized, and so eased in original sin, do yet proceed to actual sins, and are surprised by death, before they receive the seal of their reconciliation to Christ, in the sacrament of his body and blood; but God hath afforded me the seal of that sacrament too. What sins soever God forgave me this morning, yet since the best (and I am none of them) fall seven times a day, God forgives me seven more sins to-morrow, than he did to-day; and seven, in his arithmetic, is infinite. God's temporal, God's spiritual blessings, are inexhaustible. What have we, that we have not received? And what have we received, in respect of that which is laid up for us? And therefore, expectamus, we determine ourselves in God so, as that we look for nothing, but from him; but not so, as that we hope for no more from him, than we have had; for that were to circumscribe God, to make God finite. Therefore we bless God for our possession, but yet we expect a larger reversion. And the day intended in this text, shall make that reversion our possession; which is the day of judgment.
Therefore, in the verse immediately before the text, the apostle accompanies this expectantes, with another word; it is expectantes, et properantes, Looking for, and hasting to, the coming of the day of God. We must have such an expectation of that day, as may imply, and testify a love to it, a desire of it, a longing for it. When these things begin to come to pass", (says Christ, speaking of the signs preceding the last day), then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth near. All our dejections of spirit should receive an exaltation, in that one consolation, that that day draweth near. Seu velimus, seu nolimus, says Augustine, Whether we will or no, that day will come; but, says that father, in that short prayer of his, the Lord hath given thee an entire petition, for accelerating and hasting that day of the Lord; when ho bid thee say, Thy kingdom come, he means, that thou shouldest mean, the kingdom of glory at the judgment, as well as the kingdom of grace in the church. Christ says, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, you may be also**. Now beloved, hath Christ done one half of this for us, and would not we have him do the other half too? Is he gone to prepare the place, and would we not have him come to fetch us to it? Certainly, Christ speaks that in favour, he intends it for a favour, when he says, Behold, I come quickly". It is one favour that he will come, and seconded with another, that he will make speed to save us, that he will make haste to help us; and to establish us in that assurance, he adds in that place, Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is
41 Luke xxi. 28. "John xiv. 3. ** Rev. xxii. 12.
with me; if the coming do not, if the speed do not, yet let the reward work in you a desire of that day. The last words that Christ speaks in the Bible (and amongst us, last words make deepest impressions) are, Surely, I come quickly: and the last answer that is made in our behalf, there, is, Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus. There is scarce any amongst us, but does expect this coming. They that fear it, expect it; but that crown that the apostle speaks of", is laid up for them, that love the appearing of the Lord; not only expect it, but love it; and no man can do so, that hath not a confidence in his cause: Adventum judicis non diligit". No prisoner longs for the sessions, no client longs for the day of hearing, nisi qui in causa sua se sciat habere justitiw meritum, except he know his cause to be good, and assure himself that he shall stand upright in judgment. But can we have that assurance? Assuredly we may. He that hath seen the marks of election, in both editions, in the Scripture first, and then in his conscience, he that does not flatter, and abuse his own soul, nor tempt, and presume upon God, he that in a sober and rectified conscience, finds himself truly incorporated in Christ, truly interested in his merits, may be sure, that if the day of judgment came now, now he should be able to stand upright in judgment. And therefore, let schoolboys look after holidays, and worldly men after rent-days, and travellers after fair-days, and chapmen after market-days, Nevertheless, ice, we that have laid hold upon God, and laid hold upon him by the right handle, according to his promises, expectamus, we look for this day of the Lord, and properamus, we are glad that it is so near, and we desire the further hasting of it.
But then, beloved, the day of our death is the eve of this day of the Lord: the day of our death is the Saturday of this Sunday; the next day after my death is the day of judgment: for between these, these eyes shall see no more days. And then, are we bound, nay, may we lawfully wish, and desire the day of our death, as we have said we are bound to do the day of judgment? The souls of the martyrs under the altar in heaven, cry unto God there, Usque quo Doming, How long, 0 Lord holy and true, dost thou not judge, and avenge our blood**? That which those martyrs
u 2 Tim. iv. 0. 44 Gregory. *» Rev. vi . 10.
solicit there, is the day of judgment: and though that which they ask, was not presently granted, but the day of judgment put off for a time, yet God was not displeased with their solicitation; for, for all that, he gave them their white robes, testimony enough of their innocency. If we could wish our own death, as innocently, as harmlessly, as they did the day of judgment, if no ill circumstances in us, did vitiate our desire of death, if there were no dead flies in this ointment (as Solomon speaks"), if we had not, at least, a collateral respect (if not a direct, a principal) to our own ease, from the encumbrances, and grievances, and annoyances of this world, certainly we might safely desire, piously wish, religiously pray for our own death. But it is hard, very hard to divest those circumstances, that infect it. For if I pretend to desire death, merely for the fruition of the glory, of the sight of God: I must remember, that my Saviour desired that glory, and yet stayed his time for it. If I pretend to desire death, that I might see no more sin, hear no more blasphemies from others, it may be I may do more good to others, than I shall take harm by others, if I live. If I would die, that I might be at an end of temptations, in myself, yet I might lose some of that glory, which I shall have in heaven by resisting another year's temptation, if I died now. To end this consideration, as this looking for the day of the Lord (which is the word of our text) implies a joy, and a gladness of it, when it shall come, (whether we consider that, as the day itself, the day of judgment, or the eve of the clay, the day of our death) so doth this looking for it imply a patient attending of GodY leisure. For our example, the apostle says", The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God; it is an earnest expectation, and yet it waits; and for our nearer example, we ourselves, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves; but yet he adds, we wait for the adoption, the redemption of the body. Though we I have some ears, we wait for the whole sheaves. And we may be content to do so, for we shall not wait long. This is the last time, says St. John", speaking of kthe present time of the Gospel; in the time of nature, they were a great way off from the resurrection; for then, the time of the law was to come in. And in the
41 Eccles. x. 1. 48 Bom. viii. 19. "1 John ii. 18.
time of the law they were a great way off; for then the time of the Gospel was to come in. But this is the last time; there shall be no more changes after the Gospel; the present state of the Gospel shall land us upon the judgment. And (as the Vulgate reads that place), Nozissima hora est, If God will have us stay a little longer, it is but for a few minutes; for this is our last hour. We feel scorns, we apprehend terrors, nevertheless we, we rooted in his promises, do expect, we are not at an end of our desires, and with an holy impatience that he would give us, and yet with a holy patience till he be pleased to give us new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; which are the two branches, which remain yet to be considered.
As in the first discoveries of the unknown parts of the world, the maps and cards which were made thereof, were very uncertain, very imperfect, so in the discovery of these new heavens, the expositions of those who have undertaken that work, are very diverse. First Origen, citing for his opinion Clement, whom he calls the disciple of the apostles, takes those heavens and that earth, which our antipodes, (and generally those that inhabit the other hemisphere) inhabit, to be the new heavens and the new earth of this text. He says, Oceanus intramibilis ad reliquos mundos, There are worlds beyond these worlds, beyond that ocean which we cannot pass, nor discover, says Origen, but those worlds, and those heavens, and that earth shall be discovered before the last day, and the Gospel of Christ be preached in all those places; and this is our expectation, that which we look for, according to his promises, in the intention and exposition of Origen. Those that were infected with the heresy of the Chiliasts, or Millenarians (with which heresy divers great and learned men, whom we refuse not to call fathers in the primitive church, were infected), upon the mistaking of those words in the Apocalypse", of reigning with Christ a thousand years after the first resurrection, argued and concluded a happy temporal state, of God's saints here, upon earth, for so many years after that day. So that, though there should not be truly a new earth, and new heavens, but the same heavens, and the same earth as was before, for those future thousand years, yet, because those saints of God, which in
"Rev. xx. 4.
their whole former life, had been in misery, upon this earth, should now enjoy all earthly happiness, upon the same earth for a thousand years, before they ascended into heaven, these heavens, and this earth (because they are so to them) are called a new earth, and a new heavens, by those Millenarians. St. Jerome, and St. Augustine, and after them the whole stream run in another channel. They say, that these heavens and this earth shall be so purified, so refined, by the last fires of conflagration, as that all corruptible qualities shall be burnt out of them, but they in their substance remain still. So that, those words of St. Paul help to incline them, Perit figura, The fashion of this world passeth away"; the fashion, not the substance. For, it is Mglioratio, non interttus. The world shall be made better, but it shall not be made nothing, f But, to what end shall it be thus improved? in that St. Augustine declares himself: Mundus in melius immutatus apte accomodabitur hominibus in melius immutatis; When men are made better by the resurrection, this world being made better by those fires, shall be a fit habitation for those saints of God; and so even this world, and whatsoever is not hell, shall be heaven. And truly, some very good divines, of the Reformation", accompany those ancients in that exposition, that these heavens purified with those fires, and superinvested with new endowments, shall be the everlasting habitation of the blessed saints of God. But still, in these discoveries of these new heavens, and this new earth, our maps will be imperfect. But as it is said of old cosmographers, that when | they had said all that they knew of a country, and yet much more was to be said, they said that the rest of those countries were possessed with giants, or witches, or spirits, or wild beasts, so that they could pierce no farther into that country; so when we have travelled as far as we can, with safety, that is, as far as ancient or modern expositors lead us, in the discovery of these new heavens, and new earth, yet we must say at last, that it is a country inhabited with angels and archangels, with cherubims and seraphims, and that we can look no further into it, with these eyes. Where it is locally, we inquire not; we rest in this, that it is the habitation prepared for the blessed saints of God; heavens where the moon is more glorious than our sun, and the sun as
s1 1 Cor. vii. 31. M Polanus
glorious as he that made it; for it is he liimself, the Son of God, the sun of glory. A new earth, where all their waters are milk, and all their milk, honey; where all their grass is corn, and all their corn manna; where all their glebe, all their clods of earth are gold, and all their gold of innumerable carats; where all their minutes are ages, and all their ages, eternity; where every thing, is every minute, in the highest exaltation, as good as it can be, and yet super-exalted, and infinitely multiplied by every minute's addition; every minute, infinitely better, than ever it was before. Of these new heavens, and this new earth we must say at last, that we can say nothing; for, the eye of man hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived, the state of this place. We limit, and determine our consideration with that horizon, with which the Holy Ghost hath limited us, that it is these new heavens, and that new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Here then the Holy Ghost intends the same new heavens, and new earth, which he does in the Apoealypse", and describes there by another name, the new Jerusalem. But here the Holy Ghost does not proceed, as there, to enamour us of the place, by a promise of improvement of those things, which we have, and love here; but by a promise of that, which here we have not at all. There, and elsewhere, the Holy Ghost applies himself, to the natural affections of men. To those that are affected with riches he says, that that new city shall be all of gold, and in the foundations all manner of precious stones; to those that are affected with beauty, ho promises an everlasting association, with that beautiful couple, that fair pair, which spend their time, in that contemplation, and that protestation, Ecce tit pulchra dilecta mea: Ecce, tupulcher; Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, says he5*; and then, she replies, Behold, thou art fair too; noting the mutual complacency between Christ and his church here. To those which delight in music, he promises continual singing, and every minute a new song: to those whose thoughts are exercised upon honour, and titles civil and ecclesiastical, he promises priesthood, and if that be not honour enough, a royal priesthood; and to those who look after military honour, triumph after their victory, in the militant church; and to those, that are carried with sumptuous
51 Rev. xxi. 1. M Cant. i. 15, 16.
and magnific feasts, a marriage supper of the Lamb, where not
! only all the rarities of the whole world, but the whole world itself shall be served in; the whole world shall be brought to that
^ fire, and served at that table. But here the Holy Ghost proceeds not that way; by improvement of things, which we have and love here; riches or beauty, or music or honour, or feasts; but by an everlasting possession of that, which we hunger, and thirst, and pant after, here, and cannot compass, that is, justice or righteousness; for both those, our present word denotes, and both those we want here, and shall have both, for ever in these new heavens, and new earth. / What would a worn and macerated suitor, oppressed by the bribery of the rich, or by the might of a potent adversary, give, or do, or suffer, that he might have justice? What would a dejected spirit, a disconsolate soul, oppressed with the weight of heavy, and habitual sin, that stands naked in a frosty winter of desperation, and cannot compass one fig-leaf, one colour, one ex
i cuse for any circumstance of any sin, give for the garment of righteousness? here there is none that does right, none that executes justice, or not for justice's sake. He that does justice, does it not at first; and Christ does not thank that judge", that did justice upon the woman's importunity. Justice is no justice,
I that is done for fear of an appeal, or a commission. There may be found that may do justice at first; at their first entrance into a place, to make good impressions, to establish good opinions, they may do some acts of justice; but after, either an uxoriousness towards the wife, or a solicitude for children, or a facility towards servants, or a vastness of expense, quenches, and overcomes the love of justice in them; non habitat, in most it is not: but it dwells not in any. In our new heavens, and new earth, dwelleth justice. And that is my comfort, that when I come thither, I shall have justice at God's hands. It was an act of mercy, merely, that God decreed a means of salvation: but to give salvation to them for whom Christ gave that full satisfaction, is but an act of justice. It is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you, and to you icho are troubled, rest with us", says the apostle. It is an act of the same justice, to save the
** Luke xviii. 2. M 2 These. i . 6,7.
true believer, as to damn him, who by unbelief hath made himself a reprobate.
Justice dwells there, and there dwells righteousness; of which there is none in this world; none that grows in this world; none that is mine own; for, howsoever we do dispute, or will conclude of inherent righteousness, it is, indeed, rather adherent, than inherent; rather extrinsical, than intrinsical. Not that it is not in myself: in my will; but it is not of myself, nor of my will: my will was never able to rectify, to justify itself. But the power of God's grace calls in a foreign righteousness to my succour, the righteousness of my Saviour, and calls his, and makes his, my righteousness. But yet, rum habitat, this righteousness dwells not unremoveable in me, here. Though I have put on that garment, in baptism, and girt it to me closer in the other sacrament, and in some acts of holiness: yet my sins of infirmity slacken this garment, and it falls from me, before I am aware, and in my sins of contempt and rebellion, I tear it off, and throw it away myself. But in this new state, these new heavens, and new earth, justitia habitat, this righteousness shall dwell; I shall have an innocence, and a constant innocence: a present impeccancy, and an impeccability for the future. But in this especially is righteousness said to dwell there, because this righteousness is the very Son of God, the sun of righteousness himself. And this day, the day of his second coming, is the last day of his progress; for, ever after that day, these new heavens, and new earth, shall be his standing house, where he shall dwell, and we with him: as himself hath said", The righteous shall shine forth as the sun itself, as the Son of God himself, as the sun of glory, as the sun of righteousness himself. For God shall impart to us all, a mysterious gavelkind", a mysterious equality of fulness of glory, to us all: God shall not whisper to his own Son, a Sede a dextris, Sit thou at my right hand; nor a Hodie genui te, This day have I begotten thee; nor a Ponam inimicos tuos, I will make thine enemies thy footstool, and no more; but, as it is said of the armies of Israel, that they went forth as one
57 Matt. xiv. 33.
SB Gavelkind, the custom of equal division of estates among children, or brothers.—Ed.
man, so the whole host of God's saints, incorporated in Christ Jesus, shall be as one man, and as that one man, who was so the Son of Man, as that he was the Son of God too. And God I shall say to us all, Sedete a dextris, Sit ye all on my right hand; for from the left hand there is no prospect to the face of God; and to us all, Hodie genui Vos, This day I have begotten you all; begotten you in the confirmation of my first baptism, in the ratification of my first election; and to us all, Ponam inimicos tuos, I will make all your enemies your footstool; for God shall establish us there, Ubi non intrat inimicus, nec amicus exit", Where j no man shall come in, that troubles the company, nor any whom any of the company loves, go out; but we shall all, not only have, but be a part of that righteousness which dwells in these new heavens and new earth, which we, according to his promise, look for.
And be this the end of our first text, as it is a text for instruction. Pass we now to our second, our text for commemoration. Close we here this book of life, from which we have had our first text, and, Surge, quidormis in pufoere, Arise, thou book of death; thou that sleepest in this consecrated dust, and hast been going into dust now almost a month of days, almost a lunary year, and dost reserve such anniversaries, such quick returns of periods, and a commemoration, in every such year, in every month; arise, thou, and be another commentary to us; and tell us, what this new heaven and new earth is, in which now thou dwellest, with that righteousness. But we do not invoke thee, as thou art a saint in heaven: appear to us, as thou didst appear to us a month ago; at least, appear in thy history; appear in our memory; that when every one of us have looked upon thee, by his own glass, and seen thee in his own interest, such, as thou wast to him, that when one shall have seen thee, the best wife, and a larger number, the best mother, and more than they, a whole town, the best neighbour, and more than a town, a large body of noble friends, the best friend; and more than all they, all the world, the best example: when thou hast received this testimony from the militant church, as thou hast the recompense of all this, in thy blessed soul, in the triumphant; yet, because thy body is
still within these walls, be still content to be one of this congregation, and to hear some parts of this text reapplied unto thee.
Our first word nevertheless puts us first upon this consideration, that she lived in a time wherein this prophecy of St. Peter, in this chapter, was over-abundantly performed, that there should be scoffers, jesters in divine things, and matters appertaining to God, and his religion. For, now in these our days, excellency of wit lies in profaneness; he is the good spirit that dares abuse God; and he good company, that makes his company the worse, or keeps them from goodness. This being the air and the complexion of the wit of her times, and her inclination and conversation naturally cheerful and merry, and loving facetiousness, and sharpness of wit, nevertheless who ever saw her, who ever heard her countenance a profane speech, how sharp soever, or take part with wit, to the prejudice of godliness? From this I testify her holy cheerfulness, and religious alacrity, (one of the best evidences of a good conscience,) that as she came to this place, God's house of prayer, duly, not only every Sabbath, when it is the house of other exercises, as well as of prayer, but even in those week-days, when it was only a house of prayer, as often as these doors were open for a holy convocation; and, as she ever hastened her family and her company hither, with that cheerful provocation: For God's sake let us go, for God's sake let us be there at the confession; so herself, with her whole family, (as a church in that elect lady's house, to whom John writ the second epistle) did, every Sabbath, shut up the day, at night, with a general, with a cheerful singing of psalms; this act of cheerfulness was still the last act of that family, united in itself, and with God. God loves a cheerful giver; much more, a cheerful giver of himself. Truly, he that can close his eyes, in a holy cheerfulness, every night shall meet no distempered, no inordinate, no irregular sadness, then, when God, by the hand of death, shall close his eyes at last.
But, return we again to our nevertheless; you may remember that this word, in our former part, put us first upon the consideration of scoffers at the day of judgment, and then, upon the consideration of terrors, and sad apprehensions at that day. And for her, some sicknesses, in the declination of her years, had opened her to an overflowing of melancholy; not that she ever lay under' that water, but yet had sometimes, some high tides of it; and, though this distemper would sometimes cast a cloud, and some half damps upon her natural cheerfulness aud sociableness, and sometimes induce dark and sad apprehensions; nevertheless, who ever heard, or saw in her, any such effect of melancholy as to murmur, or repine, or dispute upon any of God's proceedings, or to lodge a jealousy or suspicion of his mercy and goodness towards her, and all hers? The wit of our time is profaneness; nevertheless, she, that loved that, hated this; occasional melancholy had taken some hold in her; nevertheless, that never eclipsed, never interrupted her cheerful confidence and assurance in God.
Our second word denotes the person: we, nevertheless we; and, here in this consideration, nevertheless she. This may seem to promise some picture, some character of her person. But, she was no stranger to them that hear me now; nor scarce to any that may hear of this hereafter, which you hear now, and therefore much needs not, to that purpose. Yet to that purpose, of her person, and personal circumstances, thus much I may remember some, and inform others: that from that worthy family from which Bhe had her original extraction and birth60, she sucked that love of hospitality, (hospitality which hath celebrated that family in many generations successively) which dwelt in her, to her end. But in that ground, her father's family, she grew not many years. Transplanted young from thence, by marriage, into another family of honour61, as a flower that doubles and multiplies by transplantation, she multiplied into ten children, Job's number, and Job's distribution, (as she herself would very often remember) seven sons and three daughters. And in this ground she grew not many years more than were necessary for the providing of so many plants. And being then left to choose her own ground in her widowhood, having at home established and increased the estate with a fair and noble addition, proposing to herself, as her principal care, the education of her children: to advance that, she
60 Daughter of Sir Richard, sister of Sir Francis, aunt of Sir Richard Newport, of ArcoL
01 Richard Herbert, of Blachehall, in Montgomery, Esquire, lineally deacended from that great Sir Richard Herbert, in Edward IV.'s time, and father of Lord Edward Herbert, Baron of Castle Island, late ambassador in France, and now of his majesty's council of war.
came with them, and dwelt with them in the university; and recompensed to them the loss of a father, in giving them two mothers: her own personal care, and the advantage of that place; where she contracted a friendship with divers reverend persons of eminency and estimation there, which continued to their ends. And as this was her greatest business, so she made this state a 1 large period; for in this state of widowhood she continued twelve years. And then returning to a second marriage, that second marriage turns us to the consideration of another personal circumstance; that is, the natural endowments of her person: which were such, as that, though her virtues were his principal object, yet even these, her personal and natural endowments, had their part, in drawing and fixing the affections of such a person", as by his birth, and youth, and interest in great favours at court, and legal proximity to great possessions in the world, might justly have promised him acceptance, in what family soever, or upon what person soever he had directed and placed his affections. He placed them here, neither diverted then, nor repented i since. For, as the well-tuning of an instrument makes higher and lower strings of one sound, so the inequality of their years was thus reduced to an evenness, that she had a cheerfulness agreeable to his youth, and ho had a sober staidness conformable to her more advanced years. So that I would not consider her at so much more than forty, nor him at so much less than thirty, at that time; but, as their persons were made one, and their fortunes made one by marriage, so I would put their years into one number, and finding a sixty between them, think them thirty a-piece: for, as twins of one hour, they lived. God, who joined them then, having also separated them now, may make their years even, this other way too: by giving him as many years after her going out of this world, as he had given her, before his coming into it; and then, as many more as God may receive glory, and the world benefit, by that addition; that so, as at their first meeting she was, at their last meeting he may be, the elder person.
To this consideration of her person then belongs this, that God gave her such a comeliness as, though she were not proud
"Sir John Danvers, only brother to the Earl of Danby.
of it, yet she was so content with it, as not to go about to mend it by any art. And for her attire (which is another personal circumstance), it was never sumptuous, never sordid; but always agreeable to her quality, and agreeable to her company; such as she might, and such, as others such as she was, did wear. For in such things of indifferency in themselves, many times a singularity may be a little worse, than a fellowship in that which is not altogether so good. It may be worse, nay, it may be a worse pride, to wear worse things than others do. Her rule was mediocrity.
And as to the consideration of the house belongs the consideration of the furniture too, so in these personal circumstances, we consider her fortune, her estate, which was in a fair and noble proportion, derived from her first husband and family, and nobly dispensed, by herself, with the allowance of her second. In which she was one of God's true stewards, and almoners too. There are dispositions, which had rather give presents than pay debts; and rather do good to strangers, than to those that aro nearer to them. But she always thought the care of her family a debt, and upon that, for the provision, for the order, for the proportions in a good largeness, she placed her first thoughts of that kind. For, for our families, we are God's stewards; for those without, we are his almoners. In which office, she gave not at some great days or some solemn goings abroad, but, a3 God's true almoners, the sun and moon, that pass on, in a continual doing of good, as she received her daily bread from God, so, daily, she distributed and imparted it to others. In which office, though she never turned her face from those who, in a strict inquisition, might be called idle and vagrant beggars; yet she ever looked first upon them who laboured, and whose labours could not overcome the difficulties, nor bring in the necessities of this life; and to the sweat of their brows, she contributed even her wine, and her oil, and anything that was, and anything that might be, if it were not, prepared for her own table. And as her house was a court, in the conversation of the best, and an alms-house, in feeding the poor; so was it also an hospital, in ministering relief to the sick. And truly, the love of doing good in this kind, of ministering to the sick, was the
VOL. vi. T
honey that was spread over all her bread; tho air, the perfume that breathed over all her house; the disposition that dwelt in those her children, and those her kindred which dwelt with her, so bending this way, that the studies and knowledge of one, the hand of another, and purse of all, and a joint-faculty and openness, and accessibleness to persons of the meanest quality, concurred in this blessed act of charity, to minister relief to the sick. Of which, myself, who, at that time, had the favour to be admitted into that family, can, and must testify this, that when the late heavy visitation fell hotly upon this town, when every door was shut up, and lest death* should enter into the house, every house was made a sepulchre of them that were in it, then, then, in that time of infection divers persons visited with that infection, hath their relief, and relief applicable to that very infection, from this house.
Now when I have said thus much, (rather thus little) of her person, as of her house, that the ground upon which it was built, was the family where she was born, and then, where she was married, and then, the time of her widowhood, and lastly, her last marriage, and that the house itself, was those fair bodily endowments, which God had bestowed upon her, and the furniture of that house, the fortune, and the use of that fortune, of which God had made her steward and almoner, when I shall also have said, that the inhabitants of this house, (rather the servants, for they did but wait upon religion in her) were those married couples, of moral virtues, conversation married with a retiredness, facility married with a reservedness, alacrity married with a thoughtfulness, and largeness married with a providence, I may have leave to depart from this consideration of her person, and personal circumstances, lest by insisting longer upon them, I should seem to pretend, to say all the good, that might be said of her; but that is not in my purpose; yet, only therefore, because it is not in my power; for I would do her all right, and all you that good, if I could, to say all. But, I haste to an end, in consideration of some things, that appertain more expressly to me, than these personal, or civil, or moral things do.
In these the next is, the secundum promissa, that she governed herself, according to his promises; his promises, laid down in his Scriptures. For, as the rule of all her civil actions, was religion, so, the rule of her religion, was the Scripturo; and, her rule, for her particular understanding of the Scripture, was the church. She never diverted towards the papist, in undervaluing the Scripture; nor towards the separatist, in undervaluing the church. But in the doctrine, and discipline of that church, in which, God sealed her to himself in baptism, she brought up her children, she assisted her family, she dedicated her soul to God in her life, and surrendered it to him in her death; and, in that form of common prayer, which is ordained by that church, and to which she had accustomed herself, with her family, twice every day, she joined with that company, which was about her death-bed, in answering to every part thereof, which the congregation is directed to answer to, with a clear understanding, with a constant memory, with a distinct voice, not two hours before she died. According to this promise, that is, the will of God manifested in the Scriptures, she expected, she expected this, that she hath received, God's physic, and God's music; a Christianly death. For, death in the Old Testament was a communication; but in the New Testament, death is a promise. When there was a super-dying, a death upon the death, a morte upon the morieris, a spiritual death after the bodily, then we died according to God's threatening; now, when by the Gospel, that second death is taken off, though we die still, yet we die according to his promise, that is a part of his mercy, and his promise, which his apostle gives us from him, that we shall all be changed "; for, after that promise, that change, follows that triumphant acclamation, O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory? Consider us fallen in Adam, and we are miserable, that we must die; but consider us restored, and redintegrated in Christ, we were more miserable if we might not die; we lost the earthly paradise by death then; but we get not heaven but by death, now. This she expected till it came, and embraced it when it came. How may wo think, she was joyed to see that face, that angels delight to look upon, the face of her Saviour, that did not abhor the face of her faithfulest messenger, death? She showed no fear of his face, in any change of her
own; but died without any change of countenance, or posture; without any struggling, any disorder; but her death-bed was as quiet, as her grave. To another Magdalen, Christ said upon earth, Touch me not, for I am not ascended. Being ascended now, to his glory, and she being gone up to him, after she had awaited her leisure, so many years, as that more, would soon have grown to be vexation and sorrow, as her last words here, were, I submit my will to the will of God; so we doubt not, but the first word which she heard there, was that euge, from her Saviour, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into thy Master's joy.
She expected that; dissolution of body, and soul; and rest in both, from the incumbrances, and tentations of this world. But yet, she is in expectation still; still a reversionary; and a reversionary upon a long life; the whole world must die, before she come to a possession of this reversion; which is a glorified body in the resurrection. In which expectation, she returns to her former charity; she will not have that, till all wc shall have it, as well as she; she ate not her morsels alone, in her life, (as Job speaks") she looks not for the glory of the resurrection alone, after her death. But when all we shall have been mellowed in the earth, many years, or changed in the air, in the twinkling of an eye, (God knows which) that body upon which you tread now, that body which now, whilst I speak, is mouldering, and crumbling into less, and less dust, and so hath some motion, though no life, that body, which was the tabernacle of a holy soul, and a temple of the Holy Ghost, that body that was eyes to the blind, and hands and feet to the lame, whilst it lived, and being dead, is so still, by having been so lively an example, to teach others, to be so, that body at last, shall have her last expectation satisfied, and dwell bodily, with that righteousness, in these new heavens, and new earth, for ever, and ever, and ever, and infinite, and super-infinite evers. We end all, with the valediction of the spouse to Christ: His left hand is under my head, and his right embraces me65, was the spouse's valediction, and good night to Christ then, when she laid herself down to sleep in the strength of his mandrakes, and in the power of his
spices, as it is expressed there; that is, in the influence of his mercies. Beloved, every good soul is the spouse of Christ. And this good soul, being thus laid down to sleep in his peace, his left hand under her head, gathering, and composing, and preserving her dust for future glory; his right hand embracing her, assuming, and establishing her soul in present glory, in his name, and in her behalf, I say that, to all you, which Christ says there, in the behalf of that spouse, Adjuro vos, I adjure you, I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye wake her not, till she please. The words are directed to the daughters, rather than to the sons of Jerusalem, because for the most part, the aspersions that women receive, either in moral or religious actions, proceed from women themselves. Therefore, Adjuro vos, I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, wake her not, wake her not with any half calumnies, with any whisperings, but if you will wake her, wake her, and keep her awake with an active imitation of her moral, and her holy virtues. That so her example working upon you, and the number of God's saints, being the sooner, by this blessed example, fulfilled, we may all meet, and meet quickly in that kingdom, which hers, and our Saviour's, hath purchased for us all, with the inestimable price, of his incorruptible blood. To which glorious Son of God". &c.
60 At the end of this sermon in the old edition, 12mo, 1627, follows a collection of verses on the death of his mother, by George Herbert.