PREACHED ON CANDLEMAS DAY.
Romans xiii. 7.
Render therefore to all men their dues.
[The text being part of the Epistle of that day, that year J]
The largeness of this short text consists in that word, therefore; therefore because you have been so particularly taught your particular duties, therefore perform them, therefore practise them, Reddite omnibus debita, Render therefore to every man his due. The philosopher might seem to have contracted as large a law, into a few words, in his suum cuique, as the Holy Ghost had done in his reddite omnibus, if it were not for this, therefore; for that carries our consideration over the whole epistle. This epistle particularizing all duties, which appertain to our religious worship of God, to charitable offices towards one another, and to a sanctification and holiness of life in ourselves. You have seen a list of your debts, says the apostle, and (that which men deeply indebted are loath to do) you have seen what you owe God, what you owe yourselves, and what you owe the world, be therefore behindhand with none of these, but render unto all their dues: for our debts here are not restrained to those that are mentioned in the following part of this verse, tribute, and custom, and fear, and honour, but it is the knot that ties up all, and this text in this verse, is the same that begins the next verse also; Render to all men their dues, and owe nothing to any man, is all one: it is farther than many use to come, to know what they owe; since I have brought you so far, says our apostle, Render to all men their dues.
It is one degree of thrift, (but for the most part it comes late) to bring our debts into as few hands as we can. Our debt here we cannot bring into fewer than these three, to God, to our neighbour, to ourselves. Consider our debts to God to be our sins, and so we dare not come to a reckoning with him, but we discharge ourselves entirely upon our surety, our Saviour Christ Jesus: but yet of that debt we must pay an acknowledgment, an interest (as it were) of praise for all that we have, and of prayer for all that we would have, and these are our debts to God. Consider our debts to man, and our creditors are persons above us, and persons below us, superiors, and inferiors; and to superiors (who are the persons of whom this text, or this verse, is most literally intended) we are debtors first in matter of substance, expressed here, in those words tribute, and custom; and in matter of ceremony, expressed here, in those words, fear, and honour. And to our inferiors, we are debtors for counsel to direct them, and for relief in compassion of their sufferings. And then to come to our third sort of creditors, to ourselves, we owe ourselves some debts which are to be tendered at noon, which are to be paid in our best strength and prosperity, in the course of our lives; and some which are to be tendered at night, at our sunset, at our deaths: Render therefore to all their dues. For your first debt, to God, we bring you to church; this is no place to arrest in: but yet the Spirit of God calls upon you for those
debts, praise him in his holy place, and pray to him in his house, which is the house of prayer. For your debts of the second kind, to other men, for those to superiors, we send you to court; for those to inferiors, we send you to hospitals, and prisons; and though courts and prisons be ill paying places, yet pay you your debts of substance, and of ceremony, of tribute, and of honour, at court; and your debt of counsel and relief to those that need them, in the darkest corners. And for your third kind of debts, debts to yourselves, make even with yourselves all the way in your lives, lest your payment prove too heavy, and you break, and your hearts break, when you come to see that you cannot do that upon your death-bed: Render to all, to God, to man, to yourselves, their dues.
To begin then with our beginning, our debts to God; if we take that definition of debts, which arises out of the sound of the word, debere est de alio habere, a man owes all that which he hath received of another, we are debtors of all that we have, and all that we are, to God; our well being, and our very being is from him. If we take that definition of debt, Debere est jure aliquo teneri ad dandum aut faciendum aliquid, To owe, is to be bound by some law, to give something, or to do something to some person; the law of nature in our hearts, the law of the creature in our eyes, the law of the word in our ears, provokes us to give and to do something to that God, who hath given and done all to us; and more than giving or doing, hath suffered so much for us. "What then is the payment which we are to make? First, glory, praise: for, in all his works, God still proposed to himself, his glory. Those men who will needs be of God's cabinetcouncil and pronounce what God did first, what was his first decree, and the first clause in that decree, those men who will needs know, and then publish God's secrets, (and, by the way, that, which sometimes it may concern us to know, yet it may be a libel to publish it; those mysteries, which, for the opposing and countermining stubborn, and perverse heresies, it may concern us, in councils and synods, and other fit places, to argue, and to clear, it may be an injury to God, and against his crown, and dignity, in breaking the peace of the church, to publish and divulge to every popular auditory, and every itching ear, and thereby perplex the consciences of weak men, or offer contentious men, that which is their food, and delight, disputation;) these men, I say, though they differ, in their order, whether God's decree of reprobation and salvation, were before his decree of creation, (for some place it before, and some after) yet all, on all sides agree in this, that God's first purpose was his own glory; that was his first decree, by what degrees soever he proceeded to the execution of that decree. And so in the great and incomprehensible work of our salvation, when that was uttered in the mouth of angels to the shepherds, that ambassage began with a Gloria in excelsis, there was peace upon earth, and there was good will towards men, but first there was glory to God on high. And though to correct heretical and schismatical men, amongst whom, some would express themselves in God's service, in one manner, and some in another, to the endangering of doctrine, and to the confusion of order, and thereupon some would say, in the church service, Gloria Patri, in Filio, per Spiritum Sanctum, Glory be to the Father, in the Son, by the Holy Ghost; and some Gloria Patri per Filium, Glory be to the Father by the Son; and some Gloria Patri, et Filio, per Spiritum Sanctum, Glory be to the Father, and the Son, by the Holy Ghost; though to prevent the danger of these divers forms of service, the church came to determine all, in that one, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, yet we see out of the forms of the heretics themselves, still so far as they conceived the Godhead to extend, so far they extended glory, in that holy acclamation; those who believed not the Son to be God, or the Holy Ghost not to be God, left out glory, when they came to their persons; but to him that is God, in all confessions, glory appertains. Now glory is, Clara cum laude notitia, says St. Ambrose: It is an evident knowledge, and acknowledgment of God, by which, others come to know him too; which acknowledgment is well called a recognition, for it is a second, a ruminated, a reflected knowledge: beasts do remember, but they do not remember that they remember; they do not reflect upon it, which is that that constitutes memory: every carnal and natural man knows God, but the acknowledgment, the recognition, the manifestation of the greatness and goodness of God, accompanied with praise of him for that, this appertains to the godly man, and this constitues glory. If God have delivered me from a sickness, and I do not glorify him for that, that is, make others know his goodness to me, my sickness is but changed to a spiritual apoplexy, to a lethargy, to a stupefaction. If God have delivered us from destruction in the bowels of the sea, in an invasion, and from destruction in the bowels of the earth, in the powder-treason, and we grow faint in the publication of our thanks for this deliverance, our punishment is but aggravated, for we shall be destroyed both for those old sins which induced those attempts of those destructions, and for this later and greater sin, of forgetting those deliverances; God requires nothing else; but he requires that, glory and praise. And that book of the Scriptures, of which St. Basil says, That if all the other parts of Scripture could perish, yet out of that book alone we might have enough for all uses, for catechising, for preaching, for disputing; that whole book, which contains all subjects that appertain to religion, is called altogether, Sepher Tehillim, The Book of Praises, for all our religion is praise. And of that book every particular Psalm is appointed by the church, and continued at least for a thousand and two hundred years, to be shut up with that humble and glorious acclamation, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; 0 that men would therefore praise the Lord, and declare the wonderful works that he doth for the sons of men! Nilquisquam debet nisi quod turpe est, non reddere, says the law: it is turpe, an infamous and ignominious thing, not to pay debt; and, infamous and ignominious, are heavy and reproachful words in the law; and the Gospel would add to that turpe, impium: it is not only an infamous, but an impious, an irreligious thing, not to pay debts. As in debts the state and the judge is my security, they undertake I shall be paid, or they execute judgment; so, consider ourselves as Christians, God is my security, and he will punish where I am defrauded. Either thou owest God nothing, (and then, if thou owe him nothing, from whom, or from what hath she stolen that face, that is fair; or he that estate, that is rich; or that office, that commands others; or that learning, and those orders and commission, that preaches to others; or they their souls, that understand me now? If you owe nothing, from whom had you all these, all this ?) Or if thou dost owe, it is an unworthy, it is a dishonest, it is an irreligious thing, not to pay him, in that money, which his own Spirit mints, and coins in thee, and of his own bullion too, praise and thanksgiving. Not to pay him then, when he himself gives thee the money that must pay him, the spirit of thankfulness, falls under all the reproaches, that law or Gospel can inflict in any names. How many men have we seen moulder and crumble away great estates, and yet pay no debts I It is all our cases: What poems, and what orations we make, how industrious and witty we are, to over-praise men, and never give God his due praise? Nay how often is the pulpit itself made the shop, and the theatre of praise upon present men, and God left out? How often is that called a sermon, that speaks more of great men, than of our great God? David calls upon the angels, and all the host of heaven, to praise God, and in the Roman church, they will employ willingly all their praise upon the angels, and the host of heaven itself; and this is not reddm debitum; here is money enough spent, but no debt paid; praise enough given, but not to the true God. David calls upon fruits, and fowl, and cattle to praise God, and we praise, and set forth our lands, and fruits, and fowl, and cattle, with all hyperbolical praises; and this is no payment of a debt, where it is due. He calls upon old men, and young men, and virgins, to praise the Lord, and we spend all our praises, upon young men, which are growing up in favour, or upon old men, who have the government in their hands, or upon maidens, towards whom our affections have transported us, and all this is no payment of the debt of praise1. He calls upon kings, and judges, and magistrates to praise God, and we employ all our praise upon the actions of those persons themselves. Beloved, God cannot be flattered, he cannot be over-praised, we can speak nothing hyperbolically of God: but he cannot be mocked neither; he will not be told, I have praised thee, in praising thy creature, which is thine image; would that discharge any of my debt to a merchant, to tell him, that I had bestowed as much, or more money than my debt, upon his picture? Though princes, and judges, and magistrates be
1 Ver. 11.
pictures, and images of God, though beauty, and riches, and honour, and power, and favour, be, in a proportion, so too, yet, as I bought not that merchant's picture, because it was his, or for love of him, but because it was a good piece, and of a good master's hand, and a good house ornament; so though I spend my nights, and days, and thoughts, and spirits, and words, and preaching, and writing, upon princes, and judges, and magistrates, and persons of estimation, and their praise, yet my intention determines in that use which I have of their favour, and respects not the glory of God in them; and when I have spent myself to the last farthing,, my lungs to the last breath, my wit to the last metaphor, my tongue to the last syllable, I have not paid a farthing of my debt to God; I have not praised him, but I have praised them, till not only myself, but even they, whom I have so mispraised, are the worse in the sight of God, for my overpraising; I have flattered them, and they have taken occasion by that, to think that their faults are not discerned, and so they have proceeded in them.
This is then our first debt to God, glory and praise, which is, (as we said out of St. Ambrose) a manifestation of God's blessing to us: for it is not towards God as it is towards great persons, under whom we have risen, that we should be afraid to let the world know, how rich we are, lest they that raised us, should borrow of us, or draw us into bands for them: God requires nothing but the glory, the manifestation, that by knowing what he hath done for thee, others may know what to hope, and what to pray for, at his hands: in our debts to God, the noverint universi, is the quietus est, our publishing of them, to his praise and glory, is his acquittance and discharge for them.
Our other debt to God is prayer, for that also is due to him, and him only; for, Si quod petendum, est petis, sed non a quo petendum est, impius es*: If we direct our prayers to any, even for temporal things, as to the authors of those benefits, we may pour out as many prayers, as would have paid that debt, if they had been rightly placed, but yet by such a payment, our debt is grown a debt of a higher nature, a sin. This is a circumstance,
nay, an essential difference peculiar to our debts to God, that we do not pay them, except we contract more; we grow best out of debt, by growing farther in debt; by praying for more, we pay our former debt. My house, says God, is a house of prayer; for this use, and purpose, he built himself a house upon' earth; he had praise and glory in heaven before, but for prayer he erected a house here, his church. All the world is his exchequer, he gives in all; from every creature, from heaven, and sea, and land, and all the inhabitants of all them, we receive benefits; but the church is his court of requests, there he receives our petitions, there we receive his answers.
It is true that neither is that house only for prayer, nor prayer only for that house: Christ, in his person, consecrated that place, the temple, by preaching too: and for prayer elsewhere, Christ did much accustom himself to private prayer: but in him, who was truly head of the church, the whole church was; Christ alone, was a congregation, he was the Catholic Church. But when we meet in God's house, though, by occasion, there be no sermon, yet if we meet to pray, we pay our debt, we do our duty; so do we not, if we meet at a sermon, without prayer. The church is the house of prayer, so, as that upon occasion, preaching may be left out, but never a house of preaching, so, as that prayer may be left out. And for the debt of psayer, God will not be paid, with money of our own coining, (with sudden, extemporal, inconsiderate prayer) but with current money, that bears the king's image, and inscription; the church of God, by his ordinance, hath set his stamp upon a liturgy and service, for his house. Audit Deu s in corde copitantis, quod nec ipse auditqui cogitat, says St. Bernard: God hears the very first motions of a man's heart, which, that man, till he proceed to a farther consideration, doth not hear, not feel, not deprehend in himself.
That soul, that is accustomed to direct herself to God, upon every occasion, that, as a flower at sun-rising, conceives a sense of God, in every beam of his, and spreads and dilates itself towards him, in a thankfulness, in every small blessing that he sheds upon her; that soul, that as a flower at the sun's declining, contracts and gathers in, and shuts up herself,* as though she had received a blow, whensoever she hears her Saviour wounded by an oath, or blasphemy, or execration; that soul, who, whatsoever string be struck in her, base or treble, her high or her low estate, is ever tuned toward God, that soul prays sometimes when it does not know that it prays. I hear that man name God, and ask him what said you, and perchance he cannot tell; but I remember, that he casts forth some of those darts of a devout soul3, which, though they have not particular deliberations, and be not formal prayers, yet they are the pregnant evidences and blessed fruits of a religious custom; much more is it true, which St. Bernard says of them, God hears that voice of the heart, which the heart itself hears not, that is, at first considers not. Those occasional and transitory prayers, and those fixed and stationary prayers, for which, many times, we bind ourselves to private prayer at such a time, are payments of this debt, in such pieces, and in such sums, as God, no doubt, accepts at our hands. But yet the solemn days of payment are the Sabbaths of the Lord, and the place of this payment is the house of the Lord, where, as Tertullian expresses it, Agmine facto, we muster our forces together, and besiege God; that is, not taking up every tattered fellow, every sudden rag or fragment of speech that rises from our tongue, or our affections, but mustering up those words, which the church hath levied for that service, in the confessions, and absolutions, and collects, and litanies of the church, we pay this debt, and we receive our acquittance. First, we must be sure to pray, where we may be sure to speed, and only God can give. It is a strange thing, says Justin Martyr, to pray to Esculapius, or to Apollo for health, as gods thereof, when they who pray to them, may know, to whom those gods were beholden for all their medicines, and of whom they learned all their physic: "Why should they not rather pray to their masters, than to them I Why should Apollo, Chiro's scholar, and not Chiro, Apollo's master, be the god of physic? Why should I pray to St. George for victory, when I may go to the Lord of Hosts, Almighty God himself; or consult with a serjeant, or corporal, when I may go the general? Or to another saint for peace, when I may go to the Prince of peace, Christ Jesus?
Why should I pray to St. Nicolas for a fair passage at sea, when he that rebuked the storm, is nearer me than 'St. Nicolas? Why should I pray to St. Antony for my hogs, when he that gave the devil leave to drown the Gergesene's whole herd of hogs, did not do that by St. Antony's leave, nor by putting a caveat, or prw-non-obitante, in his monopoly of preserving hogs I I know not where to find St. Petronilla when I have an ague, nor St. Apollonia, when I have the tooth-ache, nor St. Liberius, when I have the stone: I know not whether they can hear me in heaven, or no; our adversaries will not say, that all saints in heaven hear all that is said on earth: I know not whether they be in heaven, or no: our adversaries will not say, that the pope may not err in a matter of fact, and so may canonize a traitor for a saint: I know not whether those saints were ever upon earth or no ; • our adversaries will not say, that all their legends were really, historically true, but that many of them are holy, but yet symbolical inventions, to figure out not what was truly done before, but what we should endeavour to do now. I know my Redeemer liveth, and I know where he is; and no man knows where he is not. He is our creditor, to him we must pray. But for what? we may find in some respects a better model of prayer in heathen and unchristian Rome, than in superstitious Rome. There we find their prayer to have been, Aut innocentiam des nobis, aut maturam pwnitentiam; Preserve us O Lord, in an innocency, or afford us a speedy repentance: and as we find that there was in that state a public officer, conditor precum, that made their collects,- and prayers for public use, so we find in their prayers, that which may make us ashamed; at first, for many years, their prayer was. Ut res popull Romani ampliores facerent, That their gods would enlarge their state; after that, it was, Ut res perpetuo incolumes servarent, That their gods would preserve, and establish them in that state; and after, Vota nuncupata, si res eo stetissent statu; They vowed their service, and their sacrifice to God, upon condition that he should keep them always in that state, and not otherwise. So far therefore they may be our example, that they contented themselves with a competency, but not that they made themselves judges of that competency. We come to God's house to pay a debt, and our debt is, to confess that we can have from none but him, nor desire from him any more, than he is pleased to give.
We come now to our second sort of creditors, to whom we are commanded to render their dues; to men: and of them, to our superiors first, and then to our inferiors. For that with which the apostle enters into this chapter, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers, St. Chrysostom applies ad prophetam, et evangelhtam, though he were a prophet, or an evangelist; St. Bernard, ad episcopum, et archiepiscopum, though a bishop, or archbishop, (for, though they be as spiritual meteors between heaven and earth, and stand between God and us, yet they are subject to that jurisdiction, which God hath given man over man, though they were in an extraordinary calling, (the prophets were so) yet they were subject to an ordinary jurisdiction;) and Theophylact, and Theodoret both, apply it ad monachum et fratrem, to monks and friars; though they seem to be gone out of the world, yet to this intendment of being subject to higher powers, they are all within the world; no cloister, no cathedral church, no profession, no dignity is a sanctuary, a privileged place, from the payment of this debt. Here is a quo warratito to be brought against all, and what exception can be pleaded to this, let every soul be subject? The Anabaptist would not pay this debt, he acknowledges no magistrate, and yet John Baptist did, who submitted himself to Herod; the Jesuit will not pay this debt, he acknowledges no secular magistrate, and yet Christ Jesus did, who submitted himself to Pilate; Nemo secularior Pilato, cui adstitit Dominus judicandius, says St. Bernard, There was never a more secular judge than Pilate, and yet the Lord of life was judged to death by him.
We cannot enlarge this consideration to all our creditors, in these debts, not to all superiors, natural, as parents, and civil, as magistrates, and ecclesiastical, as prelates, and that which is mixed of all, matrimonial, from the wife to the husband, and therefore we contract it to the root of all, the sovereign; and to him we consider first a real and substantial, and then a circumstantial and ceremonial debt. The substantial debt is paid in a faithful, in a ready and cheerful paying of those debts, those tributes, and customs, (as the apostle calls them here) which belong to the king, and he that makes no conscience in defrauding the public, he that withholds part of this debt, whensoever he can, he would pay that which he pays, in counterfeit money, if he durst: he that deceives, because he sees he can escape with that deceit, he would coin too, if he saw too, that he could escape for that coining. A principal reason that makes coining and adulterating of money capital in all states, is not so much because he that coins usurps the prince's authority, (for every coiner is not a pretender to the crown) nor because he diminishes the prince's majesty, (for what is the prince the worse in that his face is stamped by another in base metal, than when that is done by himself, or when his face is graved in any stone that is not precious ?) as because he that coins, injures the public: and no man injures the public more, than he, who defrauds him, who is God's steward for the public, the king. In matter of clothes and apparel, God wrought a miracle in private men's cases, in continuing and enlarging the children of Israel's clothes in the wilderness: in matter of meat he wrought a miracle in private men's behalf too, in feeding so many with so few loaves and fishes; and so he did for drink too, in a miraculous providing of wine at the marriage; for meat, and drink, and clothes, are things necessary for every man: but because money is not so, if these other things may otherwise be had, (as some nations have lived by permutation of commodities, without money) therefore God never wrought a miracle in matter of money, in any private man's case; but because money is the most necessary of all to the public, to the prince, therefore he wrought a miracle for that; and for that, only then, when that money was to be employed upon tribute to Caesar4; no miracle in matter of money but for tribute. As it is a sign of subjection to see a man stand bare-headed, so it may be a declination towards a worse condition, to see a state bare-headed, to see the prince, the head, kept bare, by being either defrauded of that which is ordinarily due to him, or denied that which becomes also due in the payment, though it were extraordinarily given in the grant. But I am not here to deal upon affections, but consciences, and but so far upon them, in this point, as they find themselves in a rectified, and well-examined conscience, to
J Matt. xvii. 27.
have been enemies to the public, by having defrauded that, by any means, of that which was truly due to it. And to bring that into consideration, which is little considered, that as it is a greater sin to defraud the public, than to defraud any private person, so doth the assisting of the public lay a greater obligation upon us, than the assisting of any other by private alms.
The other debt from us to men, and of them to superiors, and of them principally to the sovereign, we called ceremonial; and the apostle, in that which follows in this verse, refers chiefly to that, in those words, fear, and honour, for it consists especially in those things, wherein, by outward reverence, we contribute to the maintenance, and upholding of the dignity of the prince; and of these outward ceremonial things hath God always professed himself to be most jealous. And, (if I mistake not, as I may easily do, in things so far removed out of my way) when in your judicial proceedings in criminal causes, you make the greatest offences to be against the crown and dignity, in the first, (the crown) you intend the essential part, and in the other, (the dignity) the ceremonial, the honour, and reverence, and reputation of the prince. God gave his very essence to his Son, he was very God of very God; but when this Son of his became man, that which God says in general, my honour will I give to no man, reaches so far to the Son of God himself, as that the honour due to God, is not to be given to the body, not to the manhood, of Christ Jesus himself. How very great a part of the law of God was ceremonial! And how very heavy punishments were ordained for the breakers even of those ceremonies! The Sabbaths themselves, St. Paul puts amongst ceremonies5: and that man, who assisted the reformation of religion", with as much learning, and modesty, as any, defines the commandment of the Sabbath well, to be morale prwceptum, de ceremoniali, that though the commandment be moral, and bind all men for ever, yet that which is commanded in that moral commandment, is in itself ceremonial; for, indeed, all that which we call by the general name of religion, as it is the outward worship of God, is ceremonial, and there is nothing more moral, than that some ceremonial things there must be. Now, as these ceremonial things are due to God himself, so
6 Coloss. ii. 17. 6 Melancthon.
are they to them to whom God hath imparted his name, in saying they are God's. We shall not read in any secular or profane story, of greater humility and reverence in subjects to their princes, than in the book of God, to the kings there. What phrases of abjecting themselves, in respect of the prince, can exceed David's humble expressing of himself to Saul I Or Daniel's magnifying the king, when he calls him King of Kings? And certainly some of the best, and most religious of Christian emperors took to themselves so great titles, in their style, as can be excused no other way, but because their predecessors had done Bo, there lay a necessity upon them, to keep this ceremonial respect and dignity at the same height, because upon the ceremonial, much of the essential depends too. And therefore God pierces to the root, to the heart, when he forbids an irreverent, or unrespective thought of the prince, for, says he, Those that have wings, shall declare the matter1; God employs so many informers, as angels; it is not an office unworthy of the angels of heaven, much less of any other angels of the church, (no, not though it be delivered by way of confession) to discover any disloyal purposes; though in other cases, by our own canons, that seal of confession lay justly a strong obligation upon us, and God gives angels an ability, a faculty, which in their nature they have not, that is, to know thoughts, for this purpose, for the discovery of such irreverent and disloyal hearts. Angels do not know thoughts naturally, yet to this purpose they shall know thoughts, says God. Moral men should not discover the secrets of friends, we should not discover the things we receive in confession; but when it comes to matter of disloyalty, all moral seals, and all ecclesiastical seals lose their obligation.
The foot of this account, the total sum of this ceremonial debt to superiors, is, that due respect be given to every man, in his place; for when young men think it the only argument of a good spirit, to behave themselves fellowly, and frowardly, to great persons, those greater persons in time take away their respect from princes, and at last, (for in the chain of order, every link depends upon one another) God loses the respect and honour due to him; private men lessen their respect of magistrates, and magistrates
'Eccles. x. 20.
of princes, and princes and all, of God. And therefore that which St. Chrysostom says of the highest rank, Non putes Christiana} philosophiw dignitatem Iwdi, reaches to all sorts, let no man think that he departs from the dignity of a Christian, in attributing to every man that which appertains to the dignity of his place. I speak not all this, as though a man should lose the substance for the ceremony; that that man, whose place it is to advise and counsel, should be so ceremonious with his superior, as to concur with him in the allowance of all his errors. Caput meum conquassatum est (it is an expostulation of St. Bernard's) my head is bruised, corrupted, putrified, (he speaks it of his head, his superior, a bishop) Et jam sanguine ebulliente, putaverim esse tegendum. Now my head runs down with blood, can I think to cover it? Quicquid apposuero, cruentabitur, Whatsoever I lay to it will be bloody too; if I dissemble, or cover his faults, his blood will fall upon me, and I shall have part of his sins. Every wife hath a superior at home, so hath every child, and every servant, and every man a superior somewhere, in some respect, that is, in a spiritual respect: for so, not only the king, but the highest spiritual person hath a superior for absolution. And to this superior respectively, every man owes a ceremonial respect, as a debt; though this debt be not so far, as to accompany him, or to encourage him in his ill purposes, for that is too high a ceremony, and too transcendant a compliment, to be damned for his sake, by concurring with my superior in his sins. And then they whose office it is to direct even their superiors by their counsel, (as that office may in cases belong to a wife, to a child, to a servant, as Job professes it was in his family) have also a ceremonial duty in that duty, which is, to do even that with sweetness, with respect, with reverence. It was a better rule in so high a business, than a man would look for at a friars hands, which St. Bernard hath, Absque prudentia et beneeolentia, non sunt perfecta consilia: No man is a good counsellor, for all his wisdom, and for all his liberty of speech, except he love the person whom he counsels: if he do not wish him well, as well as tell him his faults, he is rather a satirist, and a calumniator, and seeks to vent his own wisdom, and to exercise his authority, than a good counsellor. And therefore, says that Father, before Christ took Peter into that high place, he asked him, and asked him thrice, Lovest thou me? He would be sure of his love to him first, before he preferred him; Vix in multitudine hominum, unum reperio, in utraque gratia consummatum, says he still: not one man amongst a thousand, that is both able to give counsel to great persons, and then doth that office out of love to that person, but rather to let others see his ability in himself, or his authority and power over that person, and so upon pretence of counselling, opens his weaknesses to the knowledge, and to the contempt of other men; as David's wife, when he had danced (as she thought) indecently before the ark, spoke freely enough, with liberty enough, but it was with scorn, and contempt: and this is in no sort any payment of this ceremonial debt, which is, (the foundations, and the substance being preserved, that is, the glory of God, and moral, and religious truths being kept inviolate) to think, and say, and do, those things which may conduce to the estimation, and dignity of his superior.
Now this hath led us to our other list of human creditors, that is, our inferiors, and to render to them also their dues; for, to them we said at the beginning there was due counsel, if they were weak in understanding; and there was due relief, if they were weak in their fortunes. For the first, there are some persons in so high place in this world, as that they can owe nothing to any temporal superior, for they have none: but there is none so low in this world, but he hath some lower than he is, to pay this debt of counsel and advice to: at least the debt of prayer for him, if he will not receive the debt of counsel to him. But in this place (for haste) we contract ourselves to the debt of relief to the poor: amongst whom, we may consider one sort of poor whom we ourselves have made poor, and damnified, and then our debt is restitution, and another sort whom (rod, for reasons unknown to us, hath made poor, and there our debt is alms. For the first of these (those whom thou hast damnified and made poor) thou needst not come to the apostles' question of the blind man, Bid this man sin or his parents, that he is born blind? Did this man waste himself in housekeeping, or in play, or in wantonness, that he is become poor? Neither he sinned, nor his parents, says Christ; neither excess, nor play, nor wantonness hath undone this man, but thy prevarication in his cause, thy extortion, thy oppression: and now he starves, and thou huntest after a popular reputation of a good housekeeper with his meat; now he freezes in nakedness, and thy train shines in liveries out of his wardrobe; every constable is ready to lay hold upon him for a rogue, and thy son is knighted with his money. Sileat licetfama, non siletfames, says good and holy Bernard, Fame may be silent, but famine will not: perchance the world knows not this, or is weary of speaking of it, but those poor wretches that starve by thy oppression, know it, and cry out in his hearing, where thine own conscience accompanies them, and cries out with them against thee. Pay this debt, this debt of restitution, and pay it quickly; for nothing perishes, nothing decays an estate more, nothing consumes, nothing enfeebles a soul more, than to let a great debt run on long.
But if they be poor of God's making, and not of thine (as they are to thee, if thou know not why, or how they are become poor; for though God have inflicted poverty upon them for their sins, that is a secret between God and them, that which God hath revealed to thee, is their poverty, and not their sins) then thou owest them a debt of alms, though not restitution: though thou have nothing in thy hands which was theirs, yet thou hast something which should be theirs; nothing perchance which thou hast taken from them, but something certainly which thou hast received from God for them; and in that sense St. Bernard says truly, in the behalf, and in the person of the poor, to wasteful men, Nostrum est quod effunditis, you are prodigal, there is one fault; but then you are prodigal of that which is not your own, but ours, and that is a greater; and then we whose goods you waste, are poor and miserable, and that is the greatest fault of all. Nobis crudeliter subtra/iitur, quod inaniter expenditis, Whatsoever you spend wantonly and vainly upon yourselves, or sinfully upon others, is cruelly and bloodily drawn out of our bowels, and worse than so, sacrilegiously too, because we are the temples of the Holy Ghost: if not properfy taken away, because we had it not, yet unjustly and cruelly withheld and kept away, because we should have it, say those poor souls to these wasteful prodigals in that devout and persuasive mouth of St. Bernard. Here is a double misery, of which you, you that are prodigals, are authors, Vos vanitando peritis, nos spoliando perimitis, In this prodigality you waste yourselves, even your souls, and you rob us; you leave us naked in the cold, and you cast yourselves into dark and tormenting fire. So that whether they be poor of God's making, or poor of your making, pay the debt you owe, to the one by alms, to the other by restitution.
We descend now to our last creditors, ourselves. It is a good rule of St. Bernard, Qui ad sui mensuram proximum diligit, seipsum diligere norit, Since we are commanded to love our neighbour, as ourselves, we must be sure to love ourselves so as we should do, or else we proceed by a wrong, and a crooked rule. So to give some guess of our ability and of our willingness to pay our debts to God, and our debts to man, we must consider what we owe, and how we pay, ourselves. Thou art a debtor (as St. Paul says of himself) to the Greek, and to the barbarian, to the wise, and to the unwise*; and thou thyself art amongst some of these; wise and learned in the best art, though thou know not a letter, rich and mighty in the best treasure, though thou possess not a penny, if thou pay these debts duly, (for as God tells us we may buy without money, so we may pay debts without money) and then ignorant and unlettered, in the midst of thy library and languages, and poor and beggarly in the midst of thy coffers and rentals, if thou call not thyself to this account; for his debt to himself alone, is debt enough to oppress any man. I am bishop (says St. Bernard,) over no man but myself, I have no larger diocese than mine own person, no man's debts to pay but mine own, nor any man to pay them to, but to myself, yet I am scandalized in myself, I have brought an ill name upon myself, to be an ill paymaster to mine own soul; though I have no creditor to disappoint but myself, yet I am grown a tedious, and dilatory man to myself, I have taken longer and longer days with myself, and still put off my repentances, from sickness to sickness, I am a burden to myself, I have over-burdened myself even with collateral security, with entering into new bands, with new vows upon my repentances, new contracts, new stipulations, new protestations to my God, which I have forfeited also; I am become
■ Rom. i. 14.
a dangerous man to myself, I dare not trust myself alone, though I abstain from my former sinful company, yet custom of sin hath made me a temptation to myself, and I sin where no temptation offers itself: I have nobody to [save, says St. Bernard, in his cloister, but myself, and I cannot do that, but I damn myself alone.
Begin therefore to pay these debts to thyself betimes: for, as we told you at the beginning, some you are to tender at noon, some at evening. Even at your noon and warmest sunshine of prosperity, you owe yourselves a true information, how you came by that prosperity, who gave it you, and why he gave it". Let not the olive boast of her own fatness, nor the fig-tree of her own sweetness, nor the vine rof her own fruitfulness, for we were all but brambles. Let no man^say, I could not miss a fortune, for I have studied all my youth; how many men have studied more nights, than he hath done hours, and studied themselves blind, and mad in the mathematics, and yet wither in beggary in a corner? Let him never add, But I studied in a useful and gainful profession; how many have done so too, and yet never compassed the favour of a judge? and how many that have had all that, have struck upon a rock, even at full sea, and perished there? In their grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, in a few generations, whosoever is greatest now, must say, With this staff came I over Jordan; nay, without any staff came I over Jordan, for he had in them at first, a beginning of nothing. As for spiritual happiness, it is not in him that would run, nor in him that doth, but only in God that prospers his course; so for the things of this world, it is in vain to rise early, and to lie down late, and to eat the bread of sorrow, for, except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Come not therefore to say, I studied more than my fellows, and therefore am richer than my fellows, but say, God that gave me my contemplations at first, gave me my practice after, and hath given me his blessing now. How many men have worn their brains upon other studies, and spent their time and themselves therein? How many men have studied more in thine own profession, and yet, for diffidence in themselves, or some disfavour from others, have not had thy practice; How
9 Judg. ix. 7.
many men have been equal to thee, in study, in practice, and in getting too, and yet upon a wanton confidence, that that world would always last, or upon the burden of many children, and an expensive breeding of them, or for other reasons, which God hath found in his ways, are left upon the sand at last, in a low fortune? Whilst the sun shines upon thee in all these, pay thyself the debt, of knowing whence and why all this came, for else thou canst not know how much, or how little is thine, nor thou canst not come to restore that which is none of thine, but unjustly wrung from others. Pay therefore this debt of surveying thine estate, and then pay thyself thine own too, by a chearful enjoying and using that which is truly thine, and do not deny nor defraud thyself of those things which are thine, and so become a wretched debtor, to thy back, or to thy belly, as though the world had not enough, or God knew not what were enough for thee.
Pay this debt to thyself of looking into thy debts, of surveying, of severing, of serving thyself with that which is truly thine, at thy noon, in the best of thy fortune, and in the .strength of thine understanding; - that when thou comest to pay thy other, thy last debt to thyself, which is, to open a door out of this world, by the dissolution of body and soul, thou have not all thy money to tell over when the sun is ready to set, all the account to make of every bag of money, and of every quillet of land, whose it is, and whether it be his that looks for it from thee, or his from whom it was taken by thee; whether it belong to thine heir, that weeps joyful tears behind the curtain, or belong to him that weeps true, and bloody tears, in the hole in a prison. There will come a time, when that land that thou leavest shall not be his land, when it shall be nobody's land, when it shall be no land, for the earth must perish; there will be a time when there shall be no manors, no acres in the world, and yet there shall lie manors and acres upon thy soul, when land shall be no more, when time shall be no more, and thou passest away, not into the land of the living, but of eternal death. Then the accuser will be ready to interline the schedules of thy debts, thy sins, and insert false debts, by abusing an over tenderness, which may be in thy conscience then, in thy last sickness, in thy deathbed: then he will be ready to add a cypher more to thy debts, and make hundreds thousands, and abuse the faintness which may be in thy conscience then, in thy last sickness, in thy deathbed. Then he will be ready to abuse even thy confidence in God, and bring thee to think, that as a pirate ventures boldly home, though all that he hath be stolen, if he be rich enough to bribe for a pardon; so, howsoever those families perish whom thou hast ruined, and those whole parishes whom thou hast depopulated, thy soul may go confidently home too, if thou bribe God then, with an hospital or a fellowship in a college, or a legacy to any pious use in appearance, and in the eye of the world.
Pay thyself therefore this debt, that is, make up thine account all the way, for when that voice comes, Give up an account of thy stewardshipTM, it is not, go home now, and make up thy account perfect; but now, now deliver up thine account; if it be perfect, it is well, if it be not, here is no longer day, for now thou canst.be no longer steward, now thou hast no more to do with thyself. Here the voice is not in the word to Hezekiah, Put thy house in order, for thou shalt die" ; for there God had a gracious purpose, to give him a longer term; but here it is, Fool, this night, not they shall, but they do fetch away thy soul, and then what is become of that to-morrow, which thou hadst imagined and promised to thyself, for the payment of this debt, of this repent, ance I Be just therefore to thyself all the way, pay thyself, and take acquittances of thyself, all the way, which is only done under the seal and in the testimony of a rectified conscience. Let thine own conscience be thine evidence, and thy rolls, and not the opinion of others. It is not providently done, says St. Bernard, to lock thy treasure in a chest, of which thou hast no key, and to which thou hast no access. If thou build thy reputation upon my report, it is now in my power, not in thine, whether thou shalt be good or bad, honourable or infamous. A good conscience is a sweet vessel, and a strong; whatsoever thou layest up in that, shall serve thee all thy life, and after; and that shall be thine acquittance, and discharge, at thy last payment, when thou returnest thy spirit, into his hands that gave it: and then thou shalt have rendered to all their dues, when thou hast given the king, honour; the poor, alms; thyself, peace; and God, thy soul.
'? Lukexvi. 2. 11 Isaiah xxxviii. 1.