PREACHED AT ST. DUNSTAfTS, UPON TRINITY SUNDAY, 1624.
Matthew iii. 17.
And lo, a voice came from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in -whom I am well pleased.
It hath been the custom of the Christian church to appropriate certain Scriptures to certain days, for the celebrating of certain mysteries of God, or the commemorating of certain benefits from God: they who consider the age of the Christian church, too high or too low, too soon or too late, either in the cradle, as it is exhibited in the Acts of the Apostles, or bedrid in the corruptions of Rome, either before it was come to any growth, when persecutions nipped it, or when it was so overgrown, as that prosperity and outward splendour swelled it, they that consider the church so, will never find a good measure to direct our religious worship of God by, for the outward liturgies, and ceremonies of the church. But as soon as the Christian church had a constant establishment under Christian emperors, and before the church had her tympany of worldly prosperity under usurping bishops, in this outward service of God, there were particular Scriptures appropriated to particular days. Particular men have not liked this that it should be so : and yet that church which they use to take for their pattern, (I mean Geneva) as soon as it came to have any convenient establishment by the labours of that reverend man, who did so much in the rectifying thereof, admitted this custom of celebrating certain times, by the reading of certain Scriptures. So that in the pure times of the church, without any question, and in the corrupter times of the church, without any infection, and in the reformed times of the church, without any suspicion of backsliding, this custom hath been retained, which our church hath retained; and according to which custom, these words have been appropriated to this day, for the celebrating thereof, And lo, a voice came, &c.
In which words we have pregnant and just occasion to consider, first, the necessity of the doctrine of the Trinity; secondly, the way and means by which we are to receive our knowledge and understanding of this mystery; and thirdly, the measure of this knowledge, how much we are to know, or to inquire, in that unsearchable mystery: the quid, what it is; the quomodo, how we are to learn it; and the quantum, how far we are to search into it, will be our three parts. We consider the first of these, the necessity of that knowledge to a Christian, by occasion of the first particle, in the text, and; a particle of connexion, and dependance; and we see by this connexion, and dependance, that this revealing, this manifestation of the Trinity, in the text, was made presently after the baptism of Christ; and that intimates, and infers, that the first, and principal duty of him, who hath engrafted himself into the body of the Christian church, by baptism, is to inform himself of the Trinity, in whose name he is baptized. Secondly, in the means, by which this knowledge of the Trinity is to be derived to us, in those words, (Lo, a voice came from heaven, saying) we note the first word, to be a word of correction, and of direction; Ecce, behold, leave your blindness, look up, shake off your stupidity, look one way or other; a Christian must not go on implicitly, inconsiderately, indifferently, he must look up, he must intend a calling: and then, ecce again, behold, that is, behold the true way; a Christian must not think he hath done enough, if he have been studious, and diligent in finding the mysteries of religion, if he^have not sought them the right way: first, there is an ecce oorrigentis, we are chidden, if we be lazy; and then, there is an eoce dirigentis, we are guided if we be doubtful. And from this, we fall into the way itself; which is, first, a voice, there must be something heard; for, take the largest sphere, and compass of all other kinds of proofs, for the mysteries of religion, which can be proposed, take it first, at the first, and weakest kind of proof, at the book of creatures, (which is but a faint knowledge of God, in respect of that knowledge, with which we must know him) and then, continue this first way of knowledge, to the last, and powerfullest proof of all, which is the power of miracles, not this weak beginning, not this powerful end, not this alpha of creatures, not this omega of miracles, can imprint in us that knowledge, which is our saving knowledge, nor any other means than a voice; for this knowing is believing, and, How should they believe, except they hear ? says the apostle. It must be vox, a voice, and vox de ccelis, a voice from heaven: for, we have had voces de terra, voices of men, who have indeed but diminished the dignity of the doctrine of the Trinity, by going about to prove it by human reason, or to illustrate it by weak and low comparisons; and we have had voces de inferis, voices from the devil himself, in the mouths of many heretics, blasphemously impugning this doctrine; we have had voces de profundis, voices fetched from the depth of the malice of the devil, heretics; and voces de medio, voices taken from the ordinary strength of moral men, philosophers; but this is vox de excelsis, only that voice that comes from heaven, belongs to us in this mystery: and then lastly, it is vox dicens, a voice saying, speaking, which is proper to man, for nothing speaks but man; it is God's voice, but presented to us in the ministry of man; aud this is our way; to behold, that is, to depart from our own blindness, and to behold a way, that is showed us ; but showed us in the word, and in the word of God, and in that word of God, preached by man. And after all this, we shall consider the measure of this knowledge, in those last words, This is my Moved Son, in whom I am well pleased; for, in that word, meus, my, there is the person of the Father; in the Filius, there is the person of the Son; and in the hie est, this is, there is the person of the Holy Ghost, for that is the action of the Holy Ghost, in that word, he is pointed at, who was newly baptized, and upon whom the Holy Ghost, in the Dove, was descended, and had tarried. But we shall take those words in their order, when we come to them.
First then, we noted the necessity of knowing the Trinity, to be pregnantly intimated in the first word, et, and: this connects it to the former part of the history, which is Christ's baptism, and presently upon that baptism, this manifestation of the holy Trinity. Consider a man, as a Christian, his first element is baptism, and his next is catechism; and in his catechism, the first is, to believe a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There are in this man, this Christian, tres nativitates, says St. Gregory, three births; one, per generationem, so we are born of our natural mother; one, per regenerationem, so we are born of our spiritual mother, the church, by baptism;' and a third, per resurrectionem, and so we are born of the general mother of us all, when the earth shall be delivered, not of twins, but of millions, when she shall empty herself of all her children, in the resurrection. And these three nativities our Saviour Christ Jesus had; of which three, Hodie alter Salvatoris natalia, says St. Augustine, This day is the day of Christ's second birth, that is, of his baptism. Not that Christ needed any regeneration; but that it was his abundant goodness, to sanctify in his person, and iu his exemplar action, that element, which should be an instrument of our regeneration in baptism, the water, for ever. Even in Christ himself, Honoratior secunda, says that father, The second birth, which he had at his baptism, was the more honourable birth; for, Ab illa se, pater qui putabatur, Joseph excusat, At his first birth, Joseph, his reputed father, did not avow him for his son; In hac se, Pater qui non putabatur, insinuat, At this his second birth, God, who was not known to be his Father before, declares that now: Ibi laborabat suspicionibus mater, quia professions deerat pater, There the mother's honour was in question, because Joseph could not profess himself the father of the child ; Hie honoratur genetrix, quia Filium Divinitas protestatur, Here her honour is repaired, and magnified, because the Godhead itself, proclaims itself to be the Father.
If then, Christ himself chose to admit an addition of dignity at his baptism, who had an eternal generation in heaven, and an innocent conception without sin, upon earth, let us not undervalue that dignity, which is afforded us by baptism, though our children be born within the covenant, by being born of Christian parents; for the covenant gives them juts ad rem, a right to baptism; children of Christian parents may claim baptism, which aliens to Christ cannot do; but yet they may not leave out baptism : a man may be within a general pardon, and yet have no benefit by it, if he sue it not out, if ho plead it not; a child may have right to baptism, and yet be without the benefit of it, if it be neglected.
Christ began at baptism; natural things he did before; he fled into Egypt, to preserve his life from Herod's persecution, before: and a miraculous thing he did before; he overcame in disputation, the doctors in the temple, at twelve years old; but yet, neither of these, neither, before his circumcision, which was equivalent to baptism, to this purpose; but before he accepted, or instituted baptism, he did some natural, and some miraculous things. But his ordinary work which he came for, his preaching the Gospel, and thereby raising the frame for our salvation, in his church, he began not, but after his baptism : and then, after that, it is expressly and immediately recorded, that when he came out of the waters, he prayed ; and then, the next thing in the history is, that he fasted, and upon that, his temptation in the wilderness. I mean no more in this, but this, That no man hath any interest in God, to direct a prayer unto him, how devoutly soever, no man hath any assurance of any effect of his endeavours in a good life, how morally holy soever, but in relation to his baptism, in that seal of the covenant, by which he is a Christian: Christ took this sacrament, his baptism, before he did any other thing; and he took this, three years before the institution of the other sacrament of his body and blood : so that the Anabaptists obtrude a false necessity upon us, that we may not take the first sacrament, baptism, till we be capable of the other sacrament too; for, first in nature, Prius nascimur, quam pascimur, We are born before we are fed; and so, in religion, we are first born into the church, (which is done by baptism) before we are ready for that other food, which is not indeed milk for babes, but solid meat for stronger digestions.
They that have told us, that the baptism, that Christ took of John, was not the. same baptism, which we Christians take in the church, speak impertinently; for John was sent by God to baptize1; and there is but one baptism in him. It is true, that St. Augustine calls John's baptism, Prcecursorium ministerium, As he was a fore-runner of Christ, his baptism was a fore-running baptism; it is true, that Justin Martyr calls John's baptism, Evangelicce gratia} prceludium, A prologue to the grace of the Gospel; it is true, that more of the fathers have more phrases of expressing a difference between the baptism of John, and the baptism of Christ: but all this is not de essentia, but de modo, not of the substance of the sacrament, which is the washing of our souls in the blood of Christ, but the difference was in the relation ; John baptized in Christum morituturum, into Christ, who was to die, and we are baptized in Chriatum mortuum, into Christ who is already dead for us. Damascene expresses it fully, Christus baptizatur suo baptismo: Christ was baptized with his own baptism; it was John's baptism, and yet it was Christ's too. And so we are baptized with his baptism, and there neither is, nor was any other ; and that baptism is to us, Janua ecclesice, as St. Augustine calls it, The door of the church, at that we enter, and Investitura Christianismi, The investing of Christianity, as St. Bernard calls it, there we put on Christ Jesus; and, (as he, whom we may be bold to match with these two floods of
1 John i. 6.
spiritual eloquence, for his eloquence, that is Luther, expresses it) Puerpera regni ccelorum, The church in baptism, is as a woman delivered of child, and her child is the kingdom of heaven, and that kingdom she delivers into his arms who is truly baptized. This sacrament makes us Christians; this denominates us, both civilly, and spiritually; there we receive our particular names, which distinguish us from one another, and there we receive that name, which shall distinguish us from the nations, in the next world; at baptism we receive the name of Christians, and there we receive our Christian names.
When the disciples of Christ, in general, came to be called Christians*, we find. It was a name given upon great deliberation; Barnabas had preached there, who was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith, himself. But he went to fetch Paul too, a man of great gifts, and power in preaching; and both they continued a year preaching in Antioch, and there, first of all, the disciples were called Christians; before they were called fideles, andfratres, and discipuli; the faithful, and the brethren, and the disciples, and (as St. Chrysostom says) De via, Men that were in the-way; for all the world besides, were beside him, who was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But (by the way) we may wonder, what gave St. Chrysostom occasion of that opinion or that conjecture, since in the Ecclesiastic Story (I think) there is no mention of that name, attributed to the Christians: and in the Acts of the Apostles, it is named but once; when Saul desired letters to Damascus, to punish them, whom he found to be of that way*. Where we may note also, the zeal of St. Paul, (though then in a wrong cause) against them, who were of that way, that is, that way inclined; and our stupidity, who startle not at those men, who are not only inclined another way, a cross way, but labour pestilently to incline others, and hope confidently to see all incline that way again. Here then at Antioch, they began to be called Christians; not only out of custom, but, as it may seem, out of decree. For, if there belong any credit to that council, which the apostles are said to have held at Antioch4, (of which council there was a copy, whether true or false, in Origen's
2 Acts xi. 26. * Acts ix. 2. 4 Lorinns in Act. xi. 20.
library, within two hundred years after Christ) one canon in that council is, Ut credentes in Jesum, quos tune rocabant Galilceos, vocarentur Christiani, That the followers of Christ, who, till then, were called Galileans, should then be called Christians. There, in general, we were all called Christians; but, in particular, I am called a Christian, because I have put on Christ, in baptism. Now, in considering the infinite treasure which we receive in baptism, insinuated before the text, That the heavens opened, that is, the mysteries of religion are made accessible to us, we may attain to them; and then, the Holy Ghost descends, (and he is a Comforter, whilst we are in ignorance, and he is a Schoolmaster to teach us all truths) and he comes as a dove, that is, brings peace of conscience with him, and he rests upon us as a dove, that is, requires simplicity, and an humble disposition in us, that not only as Elias opened and shut heaven, Ut plumam aut emitteret, aut teneret, That he might pour out or withhold the rain ; but (as that father, St. Chrysostom, pursues it) Ita apertum, ut ipse conscendas, et alios, si velles, tecum levares, Heaven is so opened to us in baptism, as that we ourselves may enter into it, and by our good life, lead others into it too: as we consider, I say, what we have received in baptism, so if we be not only Dealbati Christiani, (as St. Augustine speaks) White-limed Christians, Christians on the outside, we must consider what we are to do upon all this. We are baptized, In plena et adulta Trinitate, says St. Cyprian, Not in a Father without a Son, nor in either, or both, without a Holy Ghost, but in the fulness of the Trinity: and this mystery of the Trinity, is Regula fidei, says St. Hierome, It is the rule of our faith, this only regulates our faith, that we believe aright of the Trinity; it is Dogma nostrce reliffionis, says St. Basil, as though there were but this one article'; It is, says he, the foundation, the sum, it is all the Christian religion, to believe aright of the Trinity. By this we are distinguished from the Jews, who accept no plurality of Persons; and by this we are distinguished from the Gentiles, who make as many several persons, as there are several powers, and attributes belonging to God. Our religion, our holy philosophy, our learning, as it is rooted in Christ, so it is not limited, not determined in Christ alone; we are not baptized in his name alone, but our study must be the whole Trinity; for, he that believes not in the Holy Ghost, as well as in Christ, is no Christian : and, as that is true which St. Augustine says, Nee laboriosius aliquid quceritur, nee periculosius alicubi erratur, As there is not so steepy a place to clamber up, nor so slippery a place to fall upon, as the doctrine of the Trinity; so is that also true which he adds, Necfructuosiusinvenitur, There is not so fulfilling, so accomplishing, so abundant an article as that of the Trinity, for it is all Christianity. And therefore let us keep ourselves to that way, of the manifestation of the Trinity, which is revealed in this text; and that way is our second part.
We must necessarily pass faster through the branches of this part, than the dignity of the subject, or the fecundity of words will well admit; but the clearness of the order must recompense the speed and despatch. First then, in this way here is an ecce, an awaking, an alarum, a calling us up, ecce, behold. First, an ecce corrections, a voice of chiding, of rebuking. If thou lie still in thy first bed, as thou art merely a creature, and thinkest with thyself, that since the lily labours not, nor spins, and yet is gloriously clothed, since the fowls of the heavens sow not, nor reap, and yet are plentifully fed, thou mayest do so, and thou shalt be so; ecce animam, behold thou hast an immortal soul, which must have spiritual food, the bread of life, and a more durable garment, the garment of righteousness, and cannot be imprisoned and captivated to the comparison of a lily that spins not, or of a bird that sows not. If thou think thy soul sufficiently fed, and sufficiently clothed at first, in thy baptism, that that manna, and those clothes shall last thee all thy pilgrimage, all thy life, that since thou art once baptized, thou art well enough, ecce fermentum, take heed of that leaven of the Pharisees, take heed of them that put their confidence in the very act and character of the sacrament, and trust to that: for there is a confirmation belongs to every man's baptism ; not any such confirmation as should intimate an impotency, or insufficiency in the sacrament, but out of an obligation, that that sacrament lays upon thee, that thou art bound to live according to that stipulation and contract, made in thy behalf, at thy receiving of that sacrament, there belongs a confirmation to that sacrament, a holy life, to make sure that salvation, sealed to thee at first. So also, if thou think thyself safe, because thou hast left that leaven, that is, traditions of men, and livest in a reformed, and orthodox church, yet, ecce Paradisum, behold Paradise itself, even in Paradise, the bed of all ease, yet there was labour required ; so is there required diligence, and a laborious holiness, in the right church, and in the true religion. If thou think thou knowest all, because thou understandest all the articles of faith already, and all the duties of a Christian life already, yet ecce scalam, behold the life of a Christian is a Jacob's ladder, and till we come up to God, still there are more steps to be made, more way to be gone. Briefly, to the most learned, to him that knows most, to the most sanctified, to him that lives best, here is an ecce correctionis, there is a farther degree of knowledge, a farther degree of goodness, proposed to him, than he is yet attained unto.
So it is an ecce correctionis, an ecce iustar stimuli, God by calling us up to behold, rebukes us because we did not so, and provokes us to do so now : it is also an ecce directionis, an ecce instar lucernce, God by calling us to behold, gives us a light whereby we may do so, and may discern our way: whomsover God calls, to him he affords so much light, as that, if he proceed not by that light, he himself hath winked at that light, or blow out that light, or suffered that light to waste, and go out, by his long negligence. God does not call man with an Ecce, To behold him, and then hide himself from him; he does not bid him look, and then strike him blind. We are all born blind at first; in baptism God gives us that collyrium, that eye-salve, by which we may see, and actually by the power of that medicine, we do all see more than the Gentiles do. But yet, Ecce trabs in oculis*, says Christ; Behold there is a beam in our eye, that is, natural infirmities. But for all this beam, when Christ bids us behold, we are able to see, by Christ's light, our own imperfections ; though we have that beam, yet we are able to see that we have it. And when this light which Christ gives us, (which is his first grace) brings us to that, then Christ proceeds to that which follows there, Projice trabem, Cast out the beam that is in thine eye, and so we become able by that succeeding grace, to overcome our
8 Matt. vii. 4.
former impediments; if Christ bid us behold, he gives us light, if he bid us cast out the beam, he gives us strength. There is an Ecce mutus, cast upon Zachary, Behold thou shalt be dumb*, God punished Zachary's incredulity with dumbness; but there is never an Ecce ccecus, Behold thou shalt be blind, that God should call man to see, and then blow out the candle, or not show him a candle, if he were in utter darkness; for this is an ecce directionis, an ecce lucernce, God calls and he directs, and lightens our paths; never reproach God so impiously as to suspect, that when he calls, he does not mean that we should come.
Well then, with what doth he enlighten thee ? Why, Ecce vox, Behold a voice, saying. Now, for this voice in the text, by whom it was heard, as also by whom the Dove that descended was seen, is sometimes disputed, and with some perplexity amongst the fathers. Some think it was to Christ alone, because two of the evangelists, Mark and Luke, record the words in that phrase, Tu et Filius, not as we read it in our text, This is, but, Thou art my belaved Son: but so, there had been no use, neither of the Dove, nor of the voice; for Christ himself lacked no testimony, that he was that Son. Some think it was to Christ, and John Baptist, and not to the company ; because, say they, The mystery of the Trinity was not to be presented to them, till a farther and maturer preparation; and therefore they observe, that the next manifestation of Christ, and so of the Trinity, by a like voice, was almost three years after this, in his transfiguration7, after he had manifested this doctrine by a long preaching amongst them; and yet, even then, it was but to his apostles, and but to a few of them neither, and those two forbidden to publish too; and how long I till his resurrection ; when by that resurrection he had confirmed them, then it was time to acquaint them with the doctrine of the Trinity. But for the doctrine of the Trinity, as mysterious as it is, it is insinuated and conveyed unto us, even in the first verse of the Bible, in that extraordinary phrase, Creavit Dii, Gods, Gods in the plural, created heaven and earth; there is an unity in the action, it is but creavit, in the singular, and yet there is a plurality in the Persons, it is not Deus, God, but Dii, Gods. The doctrine of the Trinity is the
*Lukei. 20. - 7Matt. xvii.
first foundation of our religion, and no time is too early for our faith, the simplest may believe it; and all time is too early for our reason, the wisest cannot understand it. And therefore, as Chrysostom is well followed in his opinion, so he is well worthy to be followed, that both the Dove was seen, and the voice was heard by all the company: for neither was necessary to Christ himself; and the voice was not necessary to John Baptist, because the sign which was to govern him, was the Dove; He that sent me, said, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit come down, and tarry still, it is he that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. But to the company, both voice and Dove were necessary: for, if the voice had come alone, they might have thought, that that testimony had been given of John, of whom they had, as yet, a far more reverent opinion, than of Christ; and therefore God first points out the Person, and by the Dove declares him to all, which was he, and then, by that voice declares farther to them all, what he was. This benefit they had by being in that company, they saw, and they heard things conducing to their salvation; for though God work more effectually upon those particular persons in the congregation, who, by a good use of his former graces, are better disposed than others, yet to the most graceless man that is, if he be in the congregation, God vouchsafes to speak, and would be heard.
They that differ in the persons, who heard it, agree in the reason ; all they heard it, in all their opinions, to whom it was necessary to hear it; and it is necessary to all us, to have this means of understanding and believing, to hear. Therefore God gives to all that shall be saved, vocem, his voice. We consider two other ways of imprinting the knowledge of God in man; first, in a dark and weak way, the way of nature, and the book of creatures; and secondly, in that powerful way, the way of miracles. But these, and all between these, are ineffectual without the word. When David says of the creatures, There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard*, (the voice of the creature is heard over all) St. Paul commenting upon those words, says, They have heard, all the world hath heard*; but what ? The voice of the creature ; now that is true, so much
0 Psal . xix. 3. * Rom. x. 17.
all the world had heard then, and does hear still: but the hearing that St. Paul intends there, is such a hearing as begets/a/</j, and that the voice of creature reaches not too. The voice of the creature alone, is but a faint voice, a low voice; nor any voice till the voice of the word inanimate it; for then when the word of God hath taught us any mystery of our religion, then the book of creatures illustrates, and establishes, and cherishes that which we have received by faith, in hearing the word : as a stick bears up, and succours a vine, or any plant, more precious than itself, but yet gave it not life at first, nor gives any nourishment to the root now : so the assistance of reason, and the voice of the creature, in the preaching of nature, works upon our faith, but the root, and the life is in the faith itself; the light of nature gives a glimmering before, and it gives a reflection after faith, but the meridional noon is in faith.
Now, if we consider the other way, the way of power, miracles, no man may ground his belief upon that, which seems a miracle to him. Moses wrought miracles, and Pharaoh's instruments wrought the like: we know, theirs were no true miracles, and we know Mosea' were; but how do we know this? By another voice, by the word of God, who cannot lie : for, for those upon whom those miracles were to work on both sides, Moses, and they too, seemed to the beholders, diversly disposed to do miracles. One rule in discerning, and judging a miracle, is, to consider whether it be done in confirmation of a necessary truth : otherwise it is rather to be suspected for an illusion, than accepted for a miracle. The rule is intimated in Deuteronomy, where, though a prophet's prophecy do come to pass, yet, if his end be, to draw to other gods, he must be slain10. What miracles soever are pretended, in confirmation of the inventions of men, are to be neglected. God hath not carried us so low for our knowledge, as to creatures, to nature, nor so high, as to miracles, but by a middle way, by a voice.
But it is vox de ccelis, a voice from heaven. St. Basil applying (indeed with some wresting and detorting) those words in the Psal. 29. ver. 3, (The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory maketh it to thunder,) to this baptism of Christ, he says, Vox super aquas Joannes, The words of John at Christ's baptism, were this voice that David intends; and then that manifestation which God gave of the Trinity, (whatsoever it were) altogether, that was the thunder of his Majesty: so this thunder then, was vox de ccelis, a voice from heaven: and in this voice the Person of the Father was manifested, as he was in the same voice at his transfiguration. Since this voice then is from heaven, and is the Father's voice, we must look for all our knowledge of the Trinity from thence. For, (to speak of one of those Persons, of Christ) No man knoweth the Son, but the Father"; Who then, but he, can make us know him ? If any knew it, yet it is an inexpressible mystery, no man could reveal it; Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven1"; if any could reveal it to us, yet none could draw us to believe it; No man can come to me, except the Father draw him": so that all our voice of direction must be from thence, de ccelis, from heaven.
10 Deut. xiii.
We have had voces de inferis, voices from hell, in the blasphemies of heretics; that the Trinity was but cera extensa, but as a roll of wax spread, or a dough cake rolled out, and so divided unto persons: that the Trinity was but a nest of boxes, a lesser in a greater, and not equal to one another; and then, that the Trinity was not only three Persons, but three Gods too; so far from the truth, and .so far from one another have heretics gone, in the matter of the Trinity; and Cerinthus so far, in that one Person, in Christ, as to say, That Jesus, and Christ, were two distinct Persons; and that into Jesus, who, says he, was the son of Joseph, Christ, who was the Spirit of God, descended here at his baptism, and was not in him before, and withdrew himself from him again, at the time of his passion, and was not in him then; so that he was not born Christ, nor suffered not being Christ; but was only Christ in his preaching, and in his miracles ; and in all the rest, he was but Jesus, says Cerinthus.
We have had voces de inferis, de profundis, from the depth of hell, in the malice of heretics, and we have had voces de medio,
11 Matt. xL 27. " Matt. xvi. 17. " John vi. 44.
VOL. II. Jl
voices from amongst us, inventions of men, to express, and to make us understand the Trinity, in pictures, and in comparisons: all which (to contract this point) are apt to fall into that abuse, which we will only note in one; at first, they used ordinarily to express the Trinity in four letters, which had n0 ill-purpose in it at first, but was a religious ease for their memories, in Catechisms: the letters were II, and T, and A, aud JI; the IT was IlaTijp, and the ¥ was Tto?, and the two last belonged to the last Person, for A was Aytov, and IT was TTceO/ta, and so there was Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as if we should express it in F, and S, and H, and G. But this came quickly thus far into abuse, as that they thought, there could belong but three letters, in that picture, to the three Persons; and therefore allowing so many to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, they took the last letter P, for Petrus, and Bo made Peter head of the church, and equal to the Trinity. So that for our knowledge, in this mysterious doctrine of the Trinity, let us evermore rest, in voce de ccelis, in that voice which came from heaven.
But yet it is vox dicens, a voice saying, speaking, a voice that man is capable of, and may be benefited by. It is not such a voice as that was, (which came from heaven too) when Christ prayed to God to glorify his name, that the people should say, some, That it was a thunder, some That it was an angel that spake14. They are the sons of thunder, and they are the ministerial angels of the church, from whom we must hear this voice of heaven : nothing can speak, but man : no voice is understood by man, but the voice of man; it is not vox dicens, that voice says nothing to me, that speaks not; and therefore howsoever the voice in the text were miraculously formed by God, to give this glory, and dignity to this first manifestation of the Trinity in the Person of Christ, yet because he hath left it for a permanent doctrine necessary to salvation, he hath left ordinary means for the conveying of it; that is, the same voice from heaven, the same word of God, but speaking in the ministry of man. And therefore for our measure of this knowledge, (which is our third and last part) we are to see, how Christian men, whose office it
14 John xii. 28.
hath been to interpret Scriptures, that is, how the Catholic church hath understood these words, Hie est Filius, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
How we are to receive the knowledge of the Trinity, Athanasius hath expressed as far as we can go; Whosoever will be saved, he must believe it; but the manner of it is not exposed so far as to his belief. That question of the prophet, Quis enarrabit? Who shall declare this ? carries the answer with it, Nemo enarrabit, No man shall declare it. But a manifestation of the Being of the Trinity, they have always apprehended in these words, Hie est Filius, This is my beloved Son. To that purpose therefore, we take, first, the words to be expressed by this evangelist St. Matthew, as the voice delivered them, rather than as they are expressed by St. Mark, and St. Luke; both which have it thus, Tu es, Thou art my beloved Son, and not Hie est, This is; they two being only careful of the sense, and not of the words, as it falls out often amongst the evangelists, who differ oftentimes in recording the words of Christ, and of other persons. But where the same voice spake the same words again, in the transfiguration, there all the evangelists express it so, Hie est, This is, and not Tu es, Thou art my beloved Son; and so it is, where St. Peter makes use by application of that history, it is Hie est, and not Tu es15. So that this Hie est, This man, designs him who hath that mark upon him, that the Holy Ghost was descended upon him, and tarried upon him; for so far went the sign of distinction given to John, the Holy Ghost was to descend and tarry; Manet, says St. Hierome, The Holy Ghost tarries upon him, because he never departs from him, Sed operatur quando Christus vult, et quomodo vult, The Holy Ghost works in Christ, when Christ will, and as Christ will; and so the Holy Ghost tarried not upon any of the prophets; they spoke what he would, but he wrought not when they would. St. Gregory objects to himself, that there was a perpetual residence of the Holy Ghos't upon the faithful, out of those words of Christ, The Comforter shall abide with you for ever; but as St. Gregory answers himself, This is not a plenary abiding, and Secundum omnia dona, In a full operation, according to all his gifts, as he tarried upon Christ: neither
15 2 Pet. i. 17.
indeed is that promise of Christ's to particular persons, but to the whole body of the church.
Now this residence of the Holy Ghost upon Christ, was his unction ; properly it was that, by which he was the Messiah, that he was anointed above his fellows; and therefore St. Hierome makes account, that Christ received his unction, and so his office of Messiah, at this baptism, and this descending of the Holy Ghost upon him: and he thinks it therefore, because presently after baptism, he went to preach in the synagogue, and he took for his text those words of the prophet Esay, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me, that I should preach the Gospel to the poor". And when he had read the text, he began his sermon thus, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears. But we may be bold to say, that this is mistaken by St. Hierome ; for the unction of Christ by the Holy Ghost, by which he was anointed, and sealed into the office of Messiah, was in the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost in his conception, in his assuming our nature : this descending now at his baptism, and this residence, were only to declare, that there was a Holy Ghost, and that Holy Ghost dwelt upon this person.
It is Hie, This Person ; and it is Hie est, This is my Son ; it is not only Fuit, He was my Son, when he was in my bosom, nor only Erit, He shall be so, when he shall return to my right hand again ; God does not only take knowledge of him in glory; but est, he is so now; now in the exinanition of his Person, now in the evacuation of his glory, now that he is preparing himself to suffer scorn, and scourges, and thorns, and nails, in the ignominious death of the cross, now he is the Son of the glorious God; Christ is not the less the Son of God for this eclipse.
Hie est, This is he, who for all this lowness is still as high as ever he was, and that height is, est Filing, he is the Son. He is not servus, the servant of God; or not that only, for he is that also. Behold my servant, (says God of him, in the prophet) / will stay upon him, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles". But Christ is this Servant, and a Son too: and not a
" Isaiah Lxi. 1. " Isaiah xlii. I.
Son only; for so we observe divers filiations in the school; Filiationem vestigii, that by which all creatures, even in their very being, are the sons of God, as Job calls God, Pluvice Patrem, The Father of the rain; and so there are other filiations, other ways of being the sons of God. But hie est, this Person is, as the force of the article expresses it, and presses it, ille Filius, the Son, that Son, which no son else is, neither can any else declare how he is that which he is.
This Person then is still the Son, and Meus Filius, says God, My Son. He is the Son of Abraham, and so within the covenant ; as well provided by that inheritance, as the sou of man can be naturally. He is the Son of a Virgin, conceived without generation, and therefore ordained for some great use. He is the Son of David, and therefore royally descended; but his dignity is in the Filius meus, that God avows him to be his Son; for, Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my SonTM? But to Christ he says in the prophet, / have called thee by thy name: and what is his name? Meus es tu, Thou art mine. Quem a me non separat Deitas, says Leo, non dividit potestas, non discernit ceternitas: Mine so, as that mine infiniteness gives me no room nor space beyond him, he reaches as far as I, though I be infinite; My Almightiness gives me no power above him, he hath as much power as I, though I have all; my eternity gives me no being before him, though I were before all: in mine omnipotence, in mine omnipresence, in mine omniscience, he is equal partner with me, and hath all that is mine, or that is myself, and so he is mine.
My Son, and My beloved Son; but so we are all, who are his sons, Delicice ejits, says Solomon", His delight, and his contentment is to be with the sons of men. But here the article is extraordinarily repeated again, Ille dilectus, That beloved Son, by whom, those, who were neither beloved, nor sons, became the beloved sons of God; for, there is so much more added, in the last phrase, In quo complacui, In whom I am well pleased.
Now, these words are diversly read. St. Augustine says, some copies that he had seen, read them thus, Ego hodie aenui te, This is my beloved Son, Ms dai/have I begotten him: and with such copies, it seems, both Justin Martyr, and Irenceus met, for they read these words so, and interpret them accordingly: but these words are misplaced, and mistransferred out of the second Psalm, where they are. And as they change the words, and instead of In quo complacui, In whom I am well pleased, read, This day have I begotten thee; St. Cyprian adds other words, to the end of these, which are, Hunc audite, Hear him: which words, when these words were repeated at the transfiguration, were spoken, but here, at the baptism, they were not, what copy soever misled St. Cyprian, or whether it were the failing of his own memory. But St. Chrysostom gives an express reason, why those words were spoken at the transfiguration, and not here : because, says he, Here was only a purpose of a manifestation of the Trinity, Bo far, as to declare their Persons, who they were, and no more : at the transfiguration, where Moses and Elias appeared with Christ, there God had a purpose to prefer the Gospel above the law, and the prophets, and therefore in that place he adds that, Hunc audite, Hear him, who first fulfils all the law, and the prophets, and then preaches the Gospel. He was so well pleased in him, as that he was content to give all them, that received him, power to become the sons of God, too ; as the apostle says, By his grace, he hath made us accepted in his belovedTM.
10 Heb. i. 5. " Prov. viii. 31,
Beloved, that you may be so, come up from your baptism, as it is said that Christ did; rise, and ascend to that growth, which your baptism prepared you to: and the heavens shall open, as then, even cataractce cacli, all the windows of heaven shall open, and rain down blessings of all kinds, in abundance; and the Holy Ghost shall descend upon you, as a dove, in his peaceful coming, in your simple, and sincere receiving him ; and he shall rest upon you, to effect and accomplish his purposes in you. If he rebuke you, (as Christ when he promises the Holy Ghost, though he call him a Comforter, snys, That he shall rebuke the world of divers things") yet he shall dwell upon you as a dove, Quce si mordet, osculando mordet, says St. Augustine : If the dove bite, it bites with kissing, if the Holy Ghost rebuke, he rebukes with
" Eph. i. 6. » John xvi. 7.
comforting. And so baptized, and so pursuing the contract of your baptism, and so crowned with the residence of his blessed Spirit, in your holy conversation, he shall breathe a soul into your soul, by that voice of eternal life, You are my beloved sons, in whom I am well pleased.