Two Sermons, To The Prince And Princess Palatine, The Lady Elizabeth, At Heidelberg, When I Was Commanded By The King To Wait Upon My Lord Op Doncaster In His Embassage To Germany.
FIRST SERMON AS WE WENT OUT, JUNE 16, 1619*.
Romans xiii. 11.
For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
There is not a more comprehensive, a more embracing word in all religion, than the first word of this text, now; for the word before that, for, is but a word of connexion, and rather appertains to that which was said before the text, than to the text itself: the text begins with that important and considerable particle, Now, now is salvation nearer, &c. This present word, now, denotes an advent, a new coming, or a new operation, otherwise than it was before: and therefore doth the church appropriate this Scripture to the celebration of the advent, before the feast of the birth of our Saviour. It is an extensive word, notr; for though we dispute whether this now, that is, whether an instant be any part of time or no, yet in truth it is all time; for whatsoever is past, was, and whatsoever is future, shall be an instant;
* I have retained the title as it stands in the folio edition; there is, however, but one sermon, nor can I find any trace of another.—Ed.
VOL. VI. D
and did and shall fall within this now. We consider in the church four advents or comings of Christ, of every one of which we may say now, now it is otherwise than before: for first there is verbum in carne, the word came in the flesh, in the incarnation; and then there is caro in verbo, he that is made flesh comes in the word, that js, Christ comes in the preaching thereof; and he comes again in came saluta, when at our dissolution and transmigration; at our death he comes by his spirit, and testifies to our spirit that we die the children of God: and lastly he comes in carne reddita, when he shall come at the Resurrection, to redeliver our bodies to our souls, and to deliver everlasting glory to both. The ancients for the most part understand the word of our text, of Christ's first coming in the flesh to us in this world; the latter exposition understand them rather of his coming in glory: but the apostle could not properly use this present word now, with relation to that which is not now, that is, to future glory, otherwise than as that future glory hath a preparation and an inchoation in present grace; for so even tho future glory of heaven hath a now, now the elect children of God have by his powerful grace a present possession of glory. So then it will not be impertinent to suffer this flowing and extensive word now to spread itself into all three: for the whole duty of Christianity consists in these three things; first, in pietate erga Deam, in religion towards God; in which the apostle had enlarged himself from the beginning to the twelfth chapter of his epistle: and secondly in charitate erga proximum, in our mutual duties of society towards our equals and inferiors, and of subjection towards our superiors, in which that twelfth chapter, and this to the eighth verse is especially conversant: and then thirdly, in sanctimonia propria, in the works of sanctification and holiness in ourselves: and this text the apostle presents as a forcible reason to induce us to that, to those works of sanctification, because Now our salvation is nearer us than when we believed. Take then this now, the first way of the coming of Christ in person, in the flesh into this world; and then the apostle of Christ directs himself principally to the Jews converted to the faith of Christ, and he tells them, that their salvation is nearer them now, now they had seen him come, than when they did only believe that he would come: take the words the second way, of his coming in grace into our hearts; and so the apostle directs himself to all Christians; now, now that you have been bred in the Christian church, now that you are grown from grace to grace, from faith to faith, now that God by his spirit strengthens and confirms you; Now is your salvation nearer than when ye believed, that is, when you began to believe, either by the faith of your parents, or the faith of the church, or the faith of your sureties at your baptism; or when you began to have some notions, and impressions, and apprehensions of faith in yourself, when you came to some degrees of understanding and discretion; take the word of Christ's coming to us at the hour of death, or of his coming to us at the day of judgment (for those two are all one to our present purpose, because God never reverses any particular judgment given at a man's death, at the day of the general judgment:) take the word so, and this is the apostle's argument, you have believed, and you have lived accordingly, and that faith, and that good life hath brought salvation nearer you, that is, given you a fair and modest infallibility of salvation, in the nature of reversion; but now, now that you are come to the approaches of death, which shall make your reversion a possession, Now is salvation nearer you than when you believed. Summarily, the text is a reason why we ought to proceed in good and holy ways; and it works in all the three acceptations of the word; for whether salvation be said to be near us, because we are Christians, and so have advantage of the Jews, or near us, because we have made some proficiency in holiness and sanctimony; or near us, because we are near our end, and thereby near a possession of our endless joy and glory: still from all these acceptations of the word arise religious provocations to perseverance in holiness of life; and therefore we shall pursue the words in all three acceptations.
In all three acceptations we must consider three terms in the text; first, Quid salus, what this salvation is that is intended here; and then, Quid prope, what this distance, this nearness is; and lastly, Quid credere, what belief this is. So then, taking the words first the first way, as spoken by the apostles, to the Jews newly converted to the Christian faith, salvation is the outward means of salvation, which are more and more manifest to the Christians, than they were to the Jews. And then the second term, nearness (salvation is nearer) is in this, that salvation to the Christian is in things present or past, in things already done, and of which we are experimentally sure; but to the Jews it was of future things, of which, howsoever they might assure themselves that they would be, yet they had no assurance when: and therefore (in the third place) their believing was but a confident expectation, and faithful assenting to their prophets; quando credidistis, when you believed, that is, when you did only believe, and saw nothing.
First then, the first term in the first acceptation, salvation, is the outward means of salvation. Outward and visible means of knowing God, God hath given to all nations in the book of creatures, from the first leaf of that book, the firmament above, to the last leaf, the mines under our feet; there is enough of that. There they have a book which they read; and they have a sentence of condemnation, if they do not, porro inexcusabilis, Therefore art thou inexctuable 0 man1. The invisible God was presented in visible things, and thou mightest, and wouldest not see him: but this is only such a knowledge of God as philosophers, moral and natural men may have, and yet be very far from making this knowledge any means of salvation. A man that hath often travelled by that way where there stands a fair house, will say, and say truly, that he knows that house; but yet he knows not the ways that lead nearest and fairest to it, nor he knows not the lodgings and conveniencies of that house as he doth that hath been often and welcome guest to it, or a continual dweller in it. Natural men by passing often through the contemplation of nature have such a knowledge of God; but the knowledge which is to salvation, is by being in God's house, in the household of the faithful, in the communion of saints, and by having such a conversation in heaven in this life. That which our Saviour Christ says, In domo Patris, In my Father's house there are many mansions, as it is intended principally of our state of glory, and diversity of degrees of that in heaven; so is it true also of God's house at large, Multw mansiones. In God's house, which is all (all this world, and the next too, is God's house) there are out
1 Rom. ii. 1.
houses, rooms without the house; so considered in this world on the Gentiles, and the heathen, which are without the church, and yet amongst them God hath some servants: so in his house there are women below stairs, that is, in his visible church here upon earth; and women above stairs, that is, degrees of glory in the triumphant church. To them that are lodged in those outhouses, out of the covenant out of the church, salvation comes sometimes, God doth save some of them: but yet is not near them, that is, they have no ordinary nor established way of attaining to it, because Christ is not manifested to them in an ordinary preaching of the Word, and an ordinary administration of the sacraments. And then to them who are above stairs, that is in possession of salvation in heaven, we cannot say salvation is nearer and nearer to them, because they are already in an actual possession thereof. But to them who are in God's house, and yet below stairs; to them who have salvation presented unto them by sensible and visible means; to them their salvation is properly said to be near. And such a people God had from the beginning, and shall have to the end; and that people the Jews were; and therefore their glory was just and true glory, when they glorified themselves in that, What nation is so great*? wherein consisted their greatness? that follows; Unto whom is the Lord so nigh as he is to us? and in what consisted this nearness? in this; What nation hath ordinances and laws so righteous as we have? Here then was their salvation; first God withdrew them from the nations; he naturalized them; he denizened them into his own kingdom, sub sigillo circumcisionis, in the seal of their blood in circumcision, he gave them an interest in his blood to be shed in his passion: and then, this was their further salvation, that when he had thus taken them into his service, and put them into his livery, a livery of his own colour, of blood in their circumcision, then he gave them a particular law for all their actions, how they should live in his favour; and he gave them a particular form of outward religious worship, which should be acceptable to him; the law, which was a sensible rule of their life, and their sacrifices, which were the sensible rule of their religion, was salvation: Non taliter, says David*, God hath not dealt so with
2 Deut. xu. 7. 8 Psalm cxlvii. 9.
other nations; for though God from other nations do here and there pick out a servant, yet he hath not given other nations salvation, that is, settled an ordinary means of salvation amongst them. That was true of the Jews, and will always be true of the whole church of God, which Calvin says, Quia nec oculis perspicitur, nec manibus palpatur spiritualis gratia, because the grace of God itself cannot be discerned by the eye, nor distinguished by the touch, Non possumus nisi externis signis adjuti, statuere Deum nobis esse propiti um, we could not assure ourselves of the mercies of God, if we had not outward and sensible signs and seals of those mercies; and therefore God never left his church without such external and visible means and seals of grace. And though all those means were not properly seals, (for that is proper to sacraments, as a sacrament is strictly taken to be a seal of grace) yet the fathers did often call many of these things by that name Sacraments, because they had so much of the nature of a true sacrament, as that they advanced and furthered the working of grace. How a visible sign, water or wine, (even in a true and proper sacrament) should confer grace, Fateor me non posse caper e, says a learned bishop in the Roman church4, as easy a matter as they make it, he professes that he cannot understand it: he argues it subtilly, but he concludes it modestly; . Omnia brevi sententia dicenda sunt, consistere in pactis; this must says he be the end of all, that these things are not to be considered in the reason of man, but in the covenant of God: God hath covenanted with his people, to be present with them in certain places, in the church at certain times, when they make their congregation, in certain actions, when they meet to pray; and though he be not bound in the nature of the action, yet he is bound in his covenant to exhibit grace, and to strengthen grace, in certain sacrifices, and certain sacraments; and so other sacramental, and ritual and ceremonial things ordained by God in tho voice of hia church, because they further salvation, are called salvation in this sense, and acceptation of the word, the first way.
This was tho first branch, in the first sense of these words; salu s adminicula salutis, salvation is means of salvation; and the next is the prope, wherein these means and helps were nearer to
* Catarin. Ep. 5.
the Jews, after they were converted to the Christian religion, than before: and we consider them justly, to have been nearer, that is, more discernible; first, quia plura, because the helps of the Christians are more; and then, quia potiora, because in their nature they are better; and lastly, quia manifestiora, because they have a better evidence towards us; for so as the more bodies are together, the greater the object is, and so made the more visible; so they are nearer, quia plura, because they are more; and so, as the more beautiful, and better proportioned a body is, the more it draws the eye to look upon it; so they are nearer, quia potiora, because they are better: and so as the more evidence, and light and lustre they have in themselves, the easier things are discerned, so they are nearer, quia manifestiora, because they are more visible. First, how there should be more helps in the Christian religion, than in the Jewish, is not so evident at first: for first, if we consider the law to be salvation, they had a vast multiplicity of laws, scarce less than six hundred several laws; whereas the honour of the Christian religion is, that it is verlum abbreviatum, an abridgment of all into ten words, as Moses calls the commandments; and then a re-abridgment of that abridgment into two, love God, and love thy neighbour, that is, faith and works. If we consider their laws to be their salvation, they had more; and if we consider their sacrifices to be their salvation, they had more too; for their rabbins observe at least fifty several kinds of contracting uncleanness, to which there were appropriated several expiations and sacrifices; whereas we have only the sacrifices of prayer, and of praise, and of Christ in the sacrament; for so it is the ordinary phrase and manner of speech in the fathers, to call that sacrifice; not only as it is a commemorative sacrifice, (for that is amongst ourselves, and so every person in the congregation may sacrifice, that is, do that in remembrance of Christ,) but as it is a real sacrifice, in which the priest doth that, which none but he does; that is, really to offer up Christ Jesus crucified to Almighty God for the sins of the people, so, as that that very body of Christ, which offered himself for a propitiatory sacrifice upon the cross, once for all, that body, and all that that body suffered, is offered again, and presented to the Father, and the Father is entreated, that for the merits of that Person, so presented and offered unto him, and in contemplation thereof, he will be merciful to that congregation, and apply those merits of his, to their particular souls. These are our sacrifices, prayer and praise, and Christ thus offered; and how are these more than the Jews had? they had more laws, and more sacrifices, and as many sacraments as we; and if nearness of salvation consist in the plurality of these, how is salvation nearer to us than to them? Quatenus plura, in that first respects as the means are more, as it is truly and properly said, that there are more ingredients, more simples, more means of restoring in our dram of triacle or mithridate*, than in an ounce of any particular syrup, in which there may be three or four in the other, perchance so many hundred; so in that receipt of our Saviour Christ, quicquid ligaveris, in the absolution of the minister, that whatsoever he shall bind or loose upon earth, shall be bound or loosed in heaven; there is more physic, than in all the expiations and sacrifices of the old law. There an expiation would serve to-day, which would not serve to-morrow; if it were omitted till the sun were set upon it, it required a more severe expiation: and so also an expiation would serve for one transgression, which would not serve for another; but here, in the absolution of the minister, there is a concurrence, a confluence of medicines of all qualities; purgative in confession, and restorative in absolution; corrosive in the preaching of judgments, and cordial in the balm of the sacrament: here is no limitation of time, at what time soever a sinner repenteth, nor limitation of sins, whatsoever is forgiven in earth is forgiven in heaven: salvation is nearer us in this respect, that we have plura adminicula, more outward and visible means than the Jews had, because we may receive more in one action, than they could in all theirs.
It is so also, not only quia plura, because we have more means, but quia potiora, because those means which we have are in their nature, better, more attractive, and more winning. The means, (as we have said before) were their laws, and their sacrifices, and their sacraments, and for their law, it was Lex interficiens, non perficiens*; It was a law, that punished unrighteousness, but it
• Universal medicines, compounded of a variety of ingredients. See Vol. IV. p. 343, note *. 5 Augustine.
did not confer righteousness: and their sacrifices, being in blood, (if we remove from them their typical signification, and what they prefigured, which was the shedding of the blood of the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world) must necessarily create and excite a natural horror in man, and an averseness from them. Take their sacraments into comparison, and then one of their sacraments, circumcision, was limited to one sex, it reached not to women; and their other sacrament, the passover, was in the primary signification and institution thereof, only a gratulatory commemoration of a temporal benefit of their deliverance from Egypt. And therefore to constitute a judgment proportionably by the effects, we see the law, and the sacrifice, and the sacraments of the Jews, did not much work upon foreign nations; it was salvation, but salvation shut up amongst themselves; whereas we see that the law of the Christians, which is, to conform ourselves to our great example and pattern, Christ Jesus, who, (if we would consider him merely as man) was the most exemplar man, for all theological virtues, and moral too, that ever any history presented; and the sacrifices of Christians, which aro all spiritual, and therein more proportional to God who is all Spirit; and the sacraments of Christians, in which, though not ex opere operator, not because that action is performed, not because that sacrament is administered, yet ex pacto, and quando opus operamur: by God's covenant, whensoever that action is performed, whensoever that sacrament is administered, the grace of God is exhibited and offered; Nec fallaciter, as Calvin says well, It is offered with a purpose on God's part, that that grace should be accepted, we see, I say that these laws, and these sacrifices, and these sacraments have gained upon the whole world; for in their nature, and in their attractiveness, and in their appliableness, and so in their effect, they are potior a, better, and in that respect, salvation is nearer us than it was to the Jews.
And so it is, lastly, quia manifestiora, because they have an evidence and manifestation of themselves in themselves. Now, this is especially true in the sacraments, because the sacraments exhibit and convey grace ; and grace is such a light, such a torch, such a beacon, as where it is, it is easily seen. As there is a lustre in a precious atone, which no man's eye or finger can limit to a certain place or point in that stone, so though we do not assign in the sacrament, where, that is, in what circumstance or part of that holy action grace is: or when, or how it enters, (for though the word of consecration alter the bread, not to another thing, but to another use: and though they leave it bread, yet they make it other bread, yet the enunciation of those words doth not infuse nor imprint this grace, which we speak of, into that bread) yet whosoever receives this sacrament worthily, sees evidently an entrance, and a growth of grace in himself. But this evidence which we speak of this manifestation, is not only, (though especially) in the sacraments, but in other sacramental and ceremonial things, which God (as he speaks by his church) hath ordained, as the cross in baptism, and adoration at the sacrament (I do not say, I am far from saying, adoration of the sacrament; there is a fair distance and a spacious latitude between those two, an adoring of God in a devout humiliation of the body in that holy action, and an adoring the bread, out of a false imagination that that bread is God : a rectified man may be very humble and devout in that action, and yet a great way on this side the superstition and idolatry in the practice of the Roman church) in these sacramental and ritual, and ceremonial things, which are the bellows of devotion, and the subsidies of religion, and which were always in all churches, there is a more evident manifestation and clearness in these things in the Christian church, than was amongst the Jews in the ceremonial parts of their religion, because almost all ours have reference to that which is already done and accomplished, and not to things of a future expectation, as those of the Jews were: so you know tho passover of the Jews, had a relation to their coming out of Egypt; that waa past, and thereby obvious to every man's apprehension; every man that eat the passover, remembered their deliverance out of Egypt; but then the passover had also relation to that Lamb which was to redeem that world; and this was a future thing; and this certainly very few amongst them understood, or considered upon that occasion, that as thy lamb is killed here, so there shall be a Lamb killed for all the world hereafter. Now, our actions in the church, do most respect things formerly done, and so they awaken, and work upon our memory, which is an easier faculty to work upon, than the understanding ortho will. Salvation is nearer us, in these outward helps, because their signification is clearer to us, and more apprehensible by us, being of things past, and accomplished already. So then the apostle might well say that salvation, that is, outward means of salvation, was nearer, that is, more in number, better in use, clearer in evidence than it was • before; quando credidwunt, when they believed, which is the third and last term, in this first acceptation of the word. Salvation was brought into the world, in the first promise of a Messias in the semen contract, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head; and it was brought nearer, when this Messias was fixed in Abraham's race, In semine tuo, In thy seed shall all nations be blessed; it was brought nearer than that, when it was brought from Abraham's race to David's family, In solio tuo, The sceptre shall not depart from thee, till he come; and still nearer, in Isaiah's virgo concipiet, when so particular mark was set upon the Messias, as that he should be the son of a virgin; and yet nearer in Micah's et tu Bethlem, that Bethlem was designed for the place of his birth; and nearer in Daniel's seventy weeks, when the time was manifested. And though it were nearer than all this, when John Baptist came to say, Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand*, yet it was truly very near, nearest of all, when Christ came to say, Behold the kingdom of God is amongst you1; for all the rest were in the crediderunt, he was nearer them because they believed he would come; but then it was brought to the viderunt, they saw he was come. Beati, says Christ: Blessed are they that have believed, and have not seen*: they had salvation brought nearer unto them by their believing; but yet Christ speaks of another manner of blessedness conferred upon his disciples, Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear*; for, verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men, have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them. To end this, the belief of the patriarchs was blessedness; and it was a kind of seeing too; for so Christ says, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it1*: but this was a
* Matt. iii. 2. 7 Luke xvii. 21. * John xx. 29.
* Matt. xiii. 16. 10 John viii. 56.
seeing with the eye of faith which discovers future things; but Christ prefers the blessedness of the disciples, because they saw tilings present and already done. All our life is a passing bell, but then was Simeon content his bell should ring out, when his eyes had seen his salvation. In that especially doth St. John • exalt the force of his argument; Quw vidimus: That which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the word of life, that declare we unto you11. Here is then the inestimable prerogative of the Christian religion, it is grounded so far upon things which were seen to be done; it is brought so far from matter of faith, to matter of fact; from prophecy to history; from what the Messias should do, to what he hath done; and that was their case to whom this apostle spake these words, as we take them in the first acceptation; salvation, that is, outward means of salvation in the church is nearer, that is, more and better and clearer to you now, that is, when you have seen Christ in the flesh, than wben you prefigured him in your law, or sacrifices, or sacraments, or believed him in your prophets.
In a second sense we took these words, of Christ's second advent, or coming, his coming to our heart, in the working of his grace; and so the apostle's words are directed to all Christians, and not only to the new convertites of that nation; and so these three terms, salvation, nearness, and believing, (which we proposed to be considered in all the three acceptations of the words) will have this signification. Salvation is the inward means of salvation, the working of the spirit, that sets a seal to the eternal means : the prope, the nearness lies in this, that this grace which is this salvation in this sense, grows out of that which is in you already; not out of any thing which is in you naturally, but God's first graces that are in you, grows into more and more grace. Grace does not grow out of nature; for nature in the highest exaltation and rectifying thereof cannot produce grace. Corn does not grow out of the earth, it must be sowed; but corn grows only in the earth; nature, and natural reason do not produce grace, but yet grace can take root in no other thing but in the nature and reason of man; whether we consider God's subsequent
» 1 John. 1.
graces, which grow out of his first grace, formerly given to us, and well employed by us, or his first grace, which works upon our natural faculties, and grows there; still this salvation, that is, this grace is near us, for it is within us; and then the third term believing, is either, quando credidistis primum, when you began to believe, either in an imputative belief of others in your baptism, or a faint belief, upon your first catechisings and instructions; or quando credidistis tantum, when you only professed a belief, or faith, and did nothing in declaration of that faith, to the edification of others.
First then salvation in this second sense, is the internal operation of the Holy Ghost, in infusing grace; for therefore doth St. Basil call the Holy Ghost verbuin Dei, the word of God, (which is the name properly peculiar to the Son) quia interpres Filii, sicut Filius Patris; that as the Father had revealed his will in the prophets, and then the Son comes and interprets all that actually; this prophecy is meant of my coming, this of my dying, and so makes a real comment, and an actual interpretation of all the prophecies; for he does come, and he does die accordingly; so the Holy Ghost comes, and comments upon this comment, interprets this interpretation, and tells thy soul that all this that the Father had promised, and the Son had performed, was intended by them, and by the working of their spirit, is now appropriated to thy particular soul. In the constitution and making of a natural man, the body is not the man, nor the soul is not the man, but the union of these two makes up the man; the spirits in a man which are the thin and active part of the blood, and so are of a kind of middle nature, between soul and body, those spirits are able to do, and they do the office, to unite and apply the faculties of the soul to the organs of the body, and so there is a man: so in a regenerate man, a Christian man, his being born of Christian parents, that gives him a body, that makes him of the body of the covenant, it gives him a title, an interest in the covenant, which is jus ad rem; thereby he may make his claim to the seal of the covenant, to baptism, and it cannot be denied him: and then in his baptism, that sacrament gives him a soul, a spiritual seal, jus in re, an actual possession of grace; but yet, as there are spirits in us, which unite body and soul, so there must be subsequent acts, and works of the blessed Spirit, that must unite and confirm all, and make up this spiritual man in the ways of sanctification; for without that, his body, that is, his being born within the covenant, and his soul, that is, his having received grace in baptism, do not make him up. This grace is this salvation; and when this grace works powerfully in thee, in the ways of sanctification, then is this salvation near thee; which is our second term in this second acceptation, prope near.
This nearness, which is the effectual working of grace, the apostle expresses fully, that it pierceth to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit1*; for, though properly the soul and spirit of a man be all one, yet divers faculties and operations give them sometimes divers names in the Scriptures; Anima quia animat, says St. Ambrose, and spiritus quia spirat: The quickening of the body, is the soul; but the quickening of the soul, is the spirit. If this salvation be brought to this nearness, that is, this grace to this powerfulness, thou shalt find it in anima, in thy soul; in those organs wherein thy soul uses thy body, in thy senses, and in the sensible things ordained by God in his church, sacraments and ceremonies; and thou shalt find it nearer, in spiritu, as the Spirit of God hath sealed it to thy spirit invisibly, inexpressibly: it shall be near to thee, so as that thy reason shall apprehend it; and nearer than that, thy faith shall establish it; and nearer than all this, it shall create in thee a modest and sober, but yet an infallible assurance, that thy salvation shall never depart from thee: Magnificabit anima tua Dominum, as the blessed Virgin speaks, Thy soul shall magnify the Lord; all thy natural faculties shall be employed upon an assent to the Gospel, thou shalt be able to prove it to thyself, and to prove it to others, to be the Gospel of salvation: and then exultabit spiritus, thy spirit shall rejoice in God thy Saviour, because by the farther seal of sanctification, thy spirit shall receive testimony from the Spirit; that as Christ is idem homo cum te, the same man that thou art, so thou art idem spiritus cum Domino, the same spirit that he is; so far, as that as a spirit cannot be separated in itself, so neither canst thou be separated from God in Christ; and this, this exaltation of grace, when it thus grows up
18 Heb. iv. 12.
to this height of sanctification, is that nearness, which brings salvation farther than our believing does? and that is the last term in this part; believing.
Now, nearer than believing, nearer than faith, a man might well think nothing can bring salvation; for faith is the hand that reaches it, and takes hold of it. But yet, as though our bodily hand reach to our temporal food, yet the mouth and the stomach must do their office too; and so that meat must be distributed into all parts of the body, and assimilated to them; so though our faith draw this salvation near us, yet when our mouth is employed, that we have a delight to glorify God in our discourses, and to declare his wonderful works to the sons of men, in our thankfulness: and when this faith of ours is distributed over all the body, that the body of Christ's church is edified, and alienated u by our good life and sanctification, then is this salvation nearer us, that is, safelier sealed to us, than when we believed only.
Either then, this quando credidistis, when you believed, may be referred to infants, or to the first faith, and the first degrees thereof in men. In infants, when that seminal faith, or potential faith, which is by some conceived to be in the infants of Christian parents at their baptism; or that actual faith, which from their parents, or from the church, is thought to be applied to them, accepted in their behalf, in that sacrament, when this faith grows up after, by this new coming of Christ in the power of his grace and his Spirit, to be a lively faith, expressed in charity; then sahu propior, then is salvation nearer than when they believed; whether this belief were their own, or their parents' or the church's, we have no ground to deny, that salvation is near, and present to all children rightly baptized; but, for those who have made sure their salvation by a good use of God's graces after, we have another fair piece of evidence, that salvation is nearer them. It is so too, if this believing be referred to our first elements and beginnings of faith: a man believes the
11 The word alienated seems to be without sense in this passage. Livy (lib. iii. c. 46) has the expression alienattu ad libidinem animus: Donne can hardly mean that the church is to be thus alienated to the contemplation of our good life and sanctification. Probably the word is corrupt.—Ed.
history of Christ, because it is matter of fact, and a story probable, and well testified: a man may believe the Christian religion, or the reformed religion for his ease, either because he cannot or will not debate controversies, and reconcile differences, or because he sees it best for order and quiet, and civil ends, which he hath in that state where he lives. These be kinds of faith and moral assents: and sometimes when a man is come thus far, to a historical and a moral faith, God superiufuses true faith; for howsoever he wrought by reason, and natural faculties, and moral, and civil ways, yet it was God that wrought from the beginning, and produced this faith, though but historical or moral. And then, if God do exalt this moral or historical faith farther than so, to believe not only the history, but the Gospel: not only that such a Christ lived, and did those miracles, and died, but that he was the Son of God, and died for the redemption of the world; this brings salvation nearer him, than when he believed; but then, when this grace comes to appropriate Christ to him, and more than that, to annunciate Christ by him, when it makes him (as John Baptist was) a burning and a shining lamp; that Christ is showed to him, and by him to others in a holy life, then is salvation nearer him than when ho believed, either as it is credidit primum, when he began to believe, but had some scruples, or credidit tantum, that he laid all upon faith, but had no care of works. To end this, this nearness of salvation, is that union with God, which may be had in this life: it.is the peace of conscience, the undoubting trust and assurance of salvation. This assurance (so far as they will confess it may be had) the Roman church places in faith, and so far, well; but then, in fide formata; and so far well enough too; in those works which declare and testify that faith; for, though this good work do nothing toward my salvation, it does much towards this nearness, that is, towards my assurance of this salvation; but herein they lead us out of the way, that they call these works the soul, the form of faith : for, though a good tree cannot be without good fruits, yet it were a strange manner of speech to call that good fruit, the life or the soul, or the form of that tree; so is it, to call works which are the fruits of faith, the life or soul, or form of faith; for that is proper to grace only which infuses faith. They would acknowledge this nearness of salvation, this assurance in good works; but say they, man cannot be sure, that their works is good, and therefore they can have no such assurance. They who undertook the reformation of religion in our fathers' days, observing that there was no peace without this assurance, expressed this assurance thus, That when a man is sure that he believes aright, that he hath no scruples of God, no diffidence in God, and uses all endeavours to continue it, and to express it in his life, as long as he continues so, he is sure of salvation; and farther they went not: and then there arose men, which would reform the reformers, and refine salvation and bring it into a less room; they would take away the condition, if you hold fast, if you express it; and so came up roundly and presently to that; if ever you did believe, if ever you had faith, you are safe for ever, and upon that assurance you may rest. Now I make no doubt, but that both these sought the truth, that truth which concerns us, peace and assurance; and I dispute not their resolutions now; only I say, for these words which we have in hand now there is a conditional assurance implied in them; for when it is said now, now that you are iu this state, salvation is near you: thus much is pregnantly14 intimated, that if you were not in this state, salvation were farther removed from you howsoever you pretend to believe.
Now this hath brought us to our third and last sense and acceptation of these words, as they are spoken of Christ's last coming, his coming in glory; which is to us at our deaths, and that judgment which we receive then. And in this acceptation of the word, these three terms, salvation, nearness and believing, are thus to be understood: salvation is salvation perfected, consummated; salvation which was brought near baptism, and nearer in outward holiness, must be brought nearer than that: and this prope, this nearness is, that now being near death, you are near the last seal of your perseverance; and so the credidistin, the believing amounts to this: though you have believed and lived accordingly, believed with the belief of a Jew, believed all the prophets, and with the belief of a Christian, believed all the Gospel, believed with a seminal belief of your own, or an
14 Folio edition, " pugnantly."
VOL. VI. E actual belief of others at your baptism, with a historical belief, and with an evangelical belief too, with a belief in your root, in the heart, and a belief in the fruits, expressed in a good life too, yet there is a continuance and a perseverance that must crown all this; and because that cannot be discerned till thine end, then only is it safely pronounced, Now is salvation nearer you than when you believed.
Here then salvation is eternal salvation; not the outward seals of the church upon the person, not visible sacraments, nor the outward seal of the person, to the church, visible works, nor the inward seal of the Spirit, assurance here, but fruition, possession of glory, in the kingdom of heaven; where we shall be infinitely rich, and that without labour in getting, or care in keeping, or fear in losing; and fully wise, and that without ignorance of necessary, or study of unnecessary knowledge, where we shall not measure our portion by acres, for all heaven shall be all ours; nor our term by years, for it is life and everlasting life; nor our assurance by precedent, for we shall be safer than the angels themselves were in the creation; where our exaltation shall be to have a crown of righteousness, and our possession of that crown shall be, even the throwing it down at the feet of the Lamb; whore we shall leave off all those petitions of Adveniat regnum, Thy kingdom come, for it shall be come in abundant power; and the Da nobis hodie, Give us this day our daily bread, for wo shall have all that which wo can desire now, and shall have a power to desire more, and then have that desire so enlarged, satisfied; and the libera nos, we shall not pray to be delivered from evil, for no evil, culpw or poenw, either of sin to deserve punishment, or of punishment for our former sins shall offer at us: where we shall see God face to face, for we shall have such notions and apprehensions, as shall enable us to see him, and he shall afford such an imparting, such a manifestation of himself, as he shall be seen by us; and where we shall be as inseparably united to our Saviour, as his humanity and divinity are united together: this unspeakable, this unimaginable happiness is this salvation, and therefore let us be glad when this is brought near us.
And this is brought nearer and nearer unto us, as we come nearer and nearer to our end. As he that travels weary, and late towards a great city, is glad when he comes to a place of execution, because he knows that is near the town; so when thou comest to the gate of death, glad of that, for it is but one step from that to thy Jerusalem. Christ hath brought us in some nearness to salvation, as he is vere Salvator mundi, in that we know, that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world": and he hath brought it nearer than that, as he is Salvator corporis sut, in that we know, that Christ is the head of the church, and the Saviour of that body": and nearer than that, as he is Salvator tuus Sanctus, in that we know, he is the Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel, our Saviour": but nearest of all, in the Ecce Salvator tmis venit, Behold thy salvation cometh". It is not only promised in the prophets, nor only writ in the Gospel, nor only sealed in the sacraments, nor only prepared in the visitations of the Holy Ghost, but, ecce, behold it, now, when thou canst behold nothing else: the sun is setting to thee, and that for ever; thy houses and furnitures, thy gardens and orchards, thy titles and offices, thy wife and children are departing from thee, and that for ever; a cloud of faintness is come over thine eyes, and a cloud of sorrow over all theirs; when his hand that loves thee best hangs tremblingly over thee to close thine eyes, ecce Salvator tuus venit, behold then a new light, thy Saviour's hand shall open thine eyes, and in his light thou shalt see light; and thus shalt see, that though in the eyes of men thou lie upon that bed, as a statue on a tomb, yet in the eyes of God, thou standest as a colossus, one foot in one, another in another land; one foot in the grave, but the other in heaven; one hand in the womb of the earth, and the other in Abraham's bosom: and then vere prope, salvation is truly near thee, and nearer than when thou believedst, which is our last word.
Take this belief in the largest extent; a patient assent to all foretold of Christ and of salvation by the prophets; a historical assent to all that is written of Christ in the Gospel; an humble and supple, and appliable assent to the ordinances of the church; a faithful application of all this to thine own soul, a fruitful
declaration of all that to the whole world in thy life, yet all this (though this be inestimable riches) is but the earnest of the Holy Ghost; it is not the full payment, it is but the first fruits; it is not the harvest, it is but a truce; it is not an inviolable peace; There remaineth a rest to the people of God1*, says the apostle; they were the people of God before, and yet there remained a rest, which they had not yet; not that there is not a blessed degree of rest, ia the credidi, a happy assurance in the strength of faith here, but yet there remaineth a rest better than that; and therefore says that apostle there, Let us labour to enter into that rest; as though we have rest in our consciences all the six days of the week, if we do the works of our callings sincerely, yet all that while we labour; and there remains a sabbath, which we have not all the week; so though we have peace and rest in the testimony of our faith and obedience in this life, yet there remains a rest, a sabbath, for which we must labour; for the apostle in that place adds the danger; Labour to enter into that rest, says he, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief: he speaks of the people of God, and yet they might fall; he speaks of such as had believed, and yet they might fall, after the example of unbelief, as far as they that never believed, if they laboured not to the last and set the seal of final perseverance to their former faith. To conclude all with the force of the apostle's argument, in urging the words of this text, since God hath brought salvation nearer to you, than to them that believed; nearer to you in the Gospel, when you have seen Christ come there to the Jews in the prophets, where they only read that he should come, and nearer to you, than where you believed, either seminally and potentially, and imputatively at our baptism, or actually, and declaratorily in some parts of your life, by having persisted therein thus far; and since he is now bringing it nearer to you, than when you believed at best, because your end grows nearer, now, whilst the evil days come not, nor the year approach, wherein thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them**; before the grinders cease, because they are few, and they wax dark, that look out at the windows, before thou go to the house of thine age, and the mourners go about in the streets, prepare thyself by casting off
"Heb. iv. 0. "Eccles. xii.
thy sins, and all that is gotten by thy sins: for, as the plague is got as soon in linings, as in the outside of a garment, salvation is lost as far, by retaining ill gotten goods, as by ill getting; forget not thy past sins so far, as not to repent them; but remember not thy repeuted sins so far, as to delight in remembering them, or to doubt that God hath not fully forgiven them; and whether God have brought this salvation near thee, by sickness, or by age, or by general dangers, put off the consideration of the incommodies of that age, or that sickness, and that danger, and fill thyself with the consideration of the nearness of thy salvation, which that age, and sickness, and danger, minister to thee: that so, when the best instrument, and the best song shall meet together, thy bell shall toll, and thy soul shall hear that voice, Ecce Salvator, Behold thy Saviour cometh, thou mayest bear a part, and cheerfully make up that music, with a Veni Domine Jetu, Come, Lord Jesu, come quickly, come now.