PREACHED ON CANDLEMAS DAY.'
Matt. V. 2.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
The church, which is the daughter of God, and spouse of Christ, celebrates this day, the purification of the blessed Virgin, the mother of God: and she celebrates this day by the name, vulgarly, of Candlemas-day. It is the clay of lights; the church took the occasion of doing so from the Gentiles; at this time of the year, about the beginning of February, they celebrated the feast of Februus, which is their Pluto; and, because that was the god of darkness, they solemnized it with a multiplicity of lights. The church of God, in the outward and ceremonial part of his worship, did not disdain the ceremonies of the Gentiles; men who are so severe as to condemn, and to remove from the church, whatsoever was in use amongst the Gentiles before, may, before they are aware, become surveyors, and controllers upon Christ himself, in the institution of his greatest seals: for baptism, which is the sacrament of purification by washing in water, and the very sacrament of the supper itself, religious eating, and drinking in the temple, were in use amongst the Gentiles too. It is a perverse way, rather to abolish things and names, (for vehement zeal will work upon names as well as things) because they have been abused, than to reduce them to their right use. We dealt in the reformation of religion, as Christ did in the institution thereof; he found ceremonies amongst the Gentiles, and he took them in, not because he found them there, but because the Gentiles had received them from the Jews, as they had their washings, and their religious meetings to eat and drink in the temple, from the Jew's Passover. Christ borrowed nothing of the Gentiles, but he took his own where he found it: those ceremonies, which himself had instituted in the first church of the Jews, and the Gentiles had purloined, and profaned and corrupted after, he returned to a good use again. And so did we in the Reformation, in some ceremonies which had been of use in the primitive church, and depraved and corrupted in the Roman. For the solemnizing of this day, Candlemas-day, when the church did admit candles into the church, as the Gentiles did, it was not upon the reason of the Gentiles, who worshipped therein the god of darkness, Februus, Pluto; but because he who was the light of the world, was this day presented and brought into the temple, the church admitted lights. The church would signify, that as we are to walk in the light, so we are to receive our light from the church, and to receive Christ, and our knowledge of him, so as Christ hath notified himself to us. So it is a day . of purification to us, and a day of lights, and so our text fits the day, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
In these words we shall consider first, Avho they are, that are brought into consideration, that are put into the balance, and they are, such as are pure of heart; and secondly, what they come to be, and that is, blessed; blessed are the pure in heart; and lastly, from whence this blessedness accrues and arises unto them, and in what it consists, and that is, they shall see God; blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Ask me wherein these men differ from other men, and it is in this main difference, that whereas every imagination of the thought of man's heart, is only evil continually1, they are pure of heart. Ask me what they get by that, they get this main purchase, that which all the books of all the philosophers could never teach them so much as what it was, that is true blessedness; that, their pocketbook, their manual, their bosom book, their conscience, doth not only show them, but give them, not only declare it to them, but possess them of it. Ask me how long this blessedness shall last, because all those blessednesses which philosophers have imagined, as honour, and health, and profit, and pleasure, and the like, have evaporated and vanished away, this shall last for ever; they shall see God, and they shall no more see an end of their seeing God, than an end of his being God: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
These then are our three parts; first the price, cleanness, and
1 Gen. vi. 5.
cleanness of heart; secondly, the purchase, blessedness, the present possession of blessedness, blessed are they; and then thirdly, the term, everlastingness, because it consists in the enjoying of him who is everlasting, they shall see God. These arise out of the text; but from whence arises the text itself? The text itself is a piece of a sermon, of that blessed sermon of our Saviour's, which is called the Sermon of Beatitudes. So that we shall make it a part apart, to consider the sermon from which this text is taken, before we dilate the text itself into a sermon: for there will arise some useful observations, out of these three doubts, first, what this sermon itself was; and then, to what auditory it was preached; and lastly, in what manner Christ preached this sermon: and these three, the sermon, the auditory, the disposition of the preacher, will also be three branches of this, which we shall make our first part, before we come to the other three of the text itself.
First then, there is this doubt made of this sermon altogether, whether this sermon which St. Matthew records here, be the same sermon which St. Luke mentions in his sixth chapter, or whether they were preached at several times; the greater part of the ancients (but yet not all) take them to be several sermons; the greater part of the later men (and yet not all neither) take them to be but one and the same sermon. If it be so, if both be but one sermon, this may be but justly considered, that since St. Luke remembers but a few passages,- and a few parts of that sermon, in respect of St. Matthew, (for St. Matthew's relation is large and particular, and St. Luke's more brief and summary) they that come to hear sermons, and would make benefit by them, by a subsequent meditation, must not think themselves frustrated of their purposes, if they do not understand all, or not remember all the sermon. Scarce any sermon is so preached, or so intended, as that all works upon all, or all belongs unto all. The Lord and his Spirit puts into the preacher's mouth, a judgment against oppression, against extortion, against usury, and he utters that judgment. But perchance thou hast no lands to rack tenants, no office to grind suitors, no money to devour a debtor by usury, and so that passage of the sermon, bent against oppression, or extortion, or usury, concerns not thee, affects not thee. But next to thee there may sit an oppressor, or extortioner, or usurer,, and he needed that, and by God's grace receives benefit by that, which found nothing to work upon in thee. And then thy turn comes after, and God speaks to thy soul, in a discovery of those sins to which thou art inclined; and then he gives thy neighbour (who was pinched, and brought to a remorse before) that refreshing which thou hadst before, that is, a thankful acknowledgment, that though he be subject to other sins, yet God hath preserved him from that particular.
God directs the tongue of his ministers, as he doth his showers of rain: they fall upon the face of a large compass of earth, when all that earth did not need that rain. The whole congregation is, oftentimes, in common intendment, conformable, and well settled in all matters of doctrine, and all matters of discipline. And yet God directs us sometimes to extend our discourse (perchance with a zeal and a vehemence, which may seem unnecessary, and impertinent, because all in the church are presumed to be of one mind) in the proof of our doctrine against papists, or of our discipline against nonconformists. For God's eye sees, in what seat there sits, or in what corner there stands, some one man that wavers in matters of doctrine, and inclines to hearken after a seducer, a jesuit, or a semi-jesuit, a practising papist, or a sesquijesuit, a jesuited lady; and God's eye sees in what seat there sits, or in what corner there stands, some weak soul that is scandalized with some ceremony, or part of our discipline, and] in danger of falling from the unity of the church: and for the refreshing of that one span of ground, God lets fall a whole shower of rain; for the rectifying of that one soul, God pours out the meditations of the preacher, into such a subject, as perchance doth little concern the rest of the congregation. St. Matthew relates Christ's sermon at large, and St. Luke but briefly, and yet St. Luke remembers some things that St. Matthew had left out. If thou remember not all that was presented to thy faith, all the citations of places of Scriptures, nor all that was presented to thy reason, all the deducements, and inferences of the schools, nor all that was presented to thy spiritual delight, all the sentences of ornament produced out of the fathers, yet if thou remember that which concerned thy sin, and thy soul, if thou meditate upon
VOL. I. O
that, apply that, thou hast brought away all the sermon, all that was intended by the Holy Ghost to be preached to thee. And if thou have done so, as at a donative at a coronation, or other solemnity, when money is thrown among the people, though thou light but upon one shilling of that money, thou canst not think that all the rest is lost, but that some others are the richer for it, though thou beest not; so if thou remember, or apply, or understand but one part of the sermon, do not think all the rest to have been idly, or unnecessarily, or impertinently spoken, for thou broughtest a fever, and hast had thy juleps, another brought a fainting, and a diffident spirit, and must have his cordials.
Thus then, if St. Luke's sermon be the same that St. Matthew's was, we see by St. Luke's manner of repeating it, that a sermon may be well remembered, and well applied, though all the parts thereof be not so. And then, if these were divers sermons, and so preached by Christ at several times, there arises also this consideration, that Christ did not, and therefore we need not, forbear to preach the same particular doctrines, or to handle the same particular points, which we, or others in that place have handled before: a preacher's end is not a gathering of fame to himself, but a gathering of souls to (rod; and his way is not novelty, but edification. If we consider the sermon in St. Matthew, and the sermon in St. Luke, the purpose and the scope of both, the matter and the form of both, the body and the parts of both, the phrase and the language of both, is for the most part the same, and yet Christ forbore not to preach it twice.
This excuses no man's ignorance, that is not able to preach seasonably, and to break, and distribute the bread of life according to the emergent necessities of that congregation, at that time; nor it excuses no man's laziness, that will not employ his whole time upon his calling; nor any man's vain glory, and ostentation, who, having made an oration of flowers, and figures, and phrases without strength, sings it over in every pulpit: it excuses no man's ignorance, nor laziness, nor vain glory, but yet it reproaches their itching and curious ears, to whom any repetition of the same things is irksome and fastidious. You may have heard an answer of an epigrammatist appliable to this purpose; when he read his epigrams in. an auditory, one of the hearers stopped him, and said, Did not I hear an epigram to this purpose from you last year I Yes, says he, it is like you did; but is not that vice still in you this year, which last year's epigram repre^ hended? If your curiosity bring you to say to any preacher, Did not I hear this point thus handled in your sermon last year? Yes, must he say, and so you must next year again, till it appear in your amendment, that you did hear it. The devil maintains a war good cheap, if he may fight with the same sword, and we may not defend with the same buckler; if he can tempt a son with his father's covetousness, and a daughter with her mother's wantonness, if he need not vary the sin, nor the temptation, must we vary our doctrine 2 This is indeed to put new wine into old vessels, new doctrine into ears, and hearts not disburdened of old sins. We say, as the spouse saysa, We prepare old and new, all that may any way serve your holy taste, and conduce to your spiritual nourishment; and he is not a preacher sufficiently learned, that must of necessity preach the same things again, but he is not a preacher sufficiently discreet neither, that forbears anything therefore, because himself or another in that place, hath handled that before. Christ himself varied his sermon very little, if this in St. Matthew, and that in St. Luke, wrere divers sermons.
The second doubt which is made about this sermon, and which ministers to us occasion of another kind of observations, is the auditory, to whom Christ preached this sermon. For first, as this evangelist reports it, it seems to have been concio ad clerum, a sermon preached to them who had taken degrees in Christ's School, and followed him, and not ad populum, to the promiscuous, and vulgar people; for, he says, that Christ seeing the multitude, went up into a mountain, and thither his disciples came, and to them he preached: and then, as St. Luke reports, though the sermon seem principally to be directed to the disciples, yet it was in the presence and hearing of all; for he says, Christ came down, and stood in the plain, and a great multitude of people about him3. Both must be done; we must preach in the mountain, and preach in the plain too; preach to the learned, and preach to the simple too; preach to the court, and preach to the country
2 Cant. vii. 13." Luke vi. 17.
too. Only when we preach in the mountain, they in the plain must not calumniate us, and say, This man goes up to Jerusalem, he will be heard by none but princes, and great persons, as though it were not of affectation, and not in discharge of our duty, that we do preach there : and when we preach on the plain, they of the mountain must not say, This man may serve for a mean auditory, for a simple congregation, for a country church, as though the fitting of ourselves to the capacity, and the edification of such persons, were out of ignorance, or laziness, and not a performance of our duties, as well as the other. Christ preached on the mountain, and he preached in the plain; he hath his church in both; and they that preach in both, or either, for his glory, and not their own vain glory, have his example for their action.
To make the like use of the other difficulty, arising out of the several relation of this sermon, which is, in what manner, in what position of body Christ preached this sermon, by this evangelist it seems that Christ preached sitting4, and by the other, that he preached standing5. Now, for the most part, Christ did preach sitting. When he preached in the synagogue of Nazareth, and took that text, out of Esay, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, fyc. He stood up to read, (says the story) and then he closed the book, and sat down to preach*. So also when he came down from the Mount of Olives into the temple, he sat down there and taught them1. And so Christ himself professes, that it was his ordinary custom to do; for, when they came to apprehend him, he said, Are ye come out, as against a thief? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me". And according to this custom of his, they who came to great place, and dignity in the church, did ordinarily preach sitting too; and therefore their churches were called cathedral, because they preached sitting in chairs.
Why then will such men, as in all actions of divine service, pretend to limit everything precisely to the pattern of Christ himself, to do just as he did, and no otherwise, why will they admit any other position of the body, in preaching, than sitting,
4 Ver. 1. 5 Lake vi. 17. 6 Luke iv. 16. 7 John viii. 2.
"Matt. xxvi. 55.
since, at least for the most part, Christ did preach sitting? Or if Christ did both sit, and stand, why will they not acknowledge, that all positions of the body, that are reverent, are indifferent in themselves, in the service of God; and being so, why will they not admit that position of the body, which being indifferent in itself, is by the just command of lawful authority, made necessary to them, that is, kneeling at the sacrament? They who refuse it, pretend but two reasons; first, because Christ at the institution thereof, did not use that position of kneeling, but sitting; secondly, because they might scandalize others, or enter a false belief into others, who should see them kneel, that they kneeled in such adoration thereof, as the papists do.
But for the first, who refer all (in their desire) to the practice of Christ himself herein, it cannot be a clear case, in what position of body Christ did institute this sacrament. There was at that time, a civil supper, the ordinary houshold supper, and there was a legal supper, the eating of the passover, and then this sacramental supper, of a new institution; and it is clear, that Christ did not continue one position all this while, but he arose and did some actions between; neither could that position of body, which they used at the table, for their civil supper, and natural refection, be properly called a sitting, for it was rather a lying, a reclining, a leaning upon a bed; and let it be exactly a sitting, and let that sitting run through all the three suppers, yet how will that position of sitting, justify that canon, which hath pased in a synod amongst our neighbours, Liberum est stando, sedendo, eundo, cwnam celebrare, non autem geniculando* ?- How will standing, or walking, be any more maintainable than kneeling, by Christ's example? and yet they say, sitting, or walking, or standing, they may receive, but kneeling they must not; but this I presume that particular synod did not declare by way of doctrine, to bind other churches, but enjoined a discipline for their own.
Now, for the danger of scandalizing others, all that come to church, and are of our profession in religion, are sufficiently catechized, and informed of the reason of our kneeling, and that we are therein far from the adoration of the Roman practice. It
9 Harmonia Synod. Belg. de Ccena, .Art. 8.
is a complaint often made, and often to be repeated, that one of the greatest illusions, and impostures of the Roman church, is, that the book-doctrine of their learned men, and the ordinary practice of their people agree not. They know the people do commit idolatry, in their manner of adoring the broad in the sacrament, and they never preach against this error of the people, nor tell them wherein that idolatry lies; it is true, that in their books of controversies, which the people could not understand, if they might read them, nor may read them, if they could understand them, in those books they proceed upon safer grounds; thero they say, that when a man adores the sacrament, he must be sure, that he carry not his thoughts upon anything that he sees, not only not upon bread and wine, (for that they must not believe to be there, whatsoever they see or taste) but not upon those species and appearances of bread and wine, which they seem to see, but he must carry all his thoughts upon the person of Christ, who is there, though he see him not; for, otherwise, say they, if he should adore that which he sees, he should commit idolatry. Now, if the people were acquainted with this doctrine, and could possibly observe it, the danger were not so great, in that adoration of the sacrament. Much less is there in our kneeling, who, as we acknowledge, that God is present everywhere, yet otherwise present to us, when we throw ourselves down before him in devotion, and prayer in our chamber, than he is in the markot, or in the street, and otherwise in the congregation, at public prayer, than at private prayer in our chamber; so we acknowledge, that he is otherwise present at the sacrament, than at any other act of Divine service. That which Christ's example left indifferent, the authority of that church, in which God hath given thee thy station, may make necessary to thee; though not absolutely necessary, and that none can be saved that do not kneel at the sacrament, therefore because they do not kneel, yet necessary as it is enjoined by lawful authority, and to resist lawful authority, is a disobedience, that may endanger any man's salvation.
Now from this sermon, which gave us our text, we pass to the text, which must give us our sermon, the particular branches of the text itself, which we proposed at first, for our second part. And there, our first is, Qui sint, who they be, that are brought into consideration, Those that are pure of heart; first pure, and then, pure of heart. In the purest times of the primitive church, there crept in false opinions of purity; we find two sorts of puritans then; the Catharists, and the Cathari; the Catharists were purifying Puritans, and the Cathari were purified Puritans: the first thought no creatures pure for man's use, till they were sanctified by them; and thereupon they induced certain charms, and forms of purification, too detestable to be named amongst Christians. And then the Cathari, the purified Puritans, thought no men pure but themselves, and themselves so pure, as that they left out that petition out of the Lord's prayer, forgive us our trespasses, for they thought they had trespassed in nothing.
They have a third state of Puritans above these, in the Roman church ; where they say that a man come to such a state of purity in this life, as that he shall be abstracted, not only from all inordinateness of affections and passions, but from apprehending anything by those lazy degrees of the senses, and the phantasy, and discourse, and reading, and meditation, and conversation, but they shall come to such a familiarity with God, as that they shall know all by immediate revelation; they mean, (and, indeed, some of them say) that a man come to that purity in this life, as that in this life, he shall be in possession of that very beatifical vision, which is the state of glory in heaven; in which purity, they say also, that a man may not only be empty of all sin, but he may be too full of God's presence, overfreighted with his grace, so far that (as they make Philip Nerius10, the founder of their last order, their example) they shall be put to that exclamation, Recede a me Domine, O Lord depart farther from me, and withdraw some of this grace, which thou pourest upon me.
And then besides these three imaginary and illusory purities, the Catharists that think no things pure, the Cathari that think no men pure but themselves, and the Super-Cathari, in the Roman church, that think these men as pure as the saints, who are in
10 St. Philip de Neri, founder of the Order of the Priests of the Oratory in Italy, was bom at Florence in 1515. IVom his ordination to his death (fiftyfour years) he never passed a single day without celebrating mass, or communicating. He was canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622.
possession of the sight of God in heaven, there is a true purity, which will not serve our turns, which is a partial purity; that pureness, that cleanness, that innocency, to which David so often refers himself in his religious and humble expostulations with God, Judge me, and deal with me, according to my righteousness, and mine innocency, and cleanness of heart, and hands, says David; that is, as I am innocent, and guiltless, in that particular, which Saul imputes to me, and persecutes me for. For this pureness, which is this mark of the saints of God, is not partial, but universal; it is not a fig-leaf, that covers one spot of nakedness, but an entire garment, a cleanness in all our actions.
We say sometimes, and not altogether improperly, that a man walks clean, if in a foul way he contract but a few spots of dirt; but yet this is not an absolute cleanness. A house is not clean, except cobwebs be swept down; a man is not clean, except he remove the lightest and slightest occasions of provocation. It is the speech of the greatest to the greatest, of Christ to the church, Take us the little foxes, for they devour the vine. It is not a cropping, a pilling, a retarding of the growth of the vine that is threatened, but a devouring, though but from little foxes. It is not so desperate a state, to have thy soul attempted by that lion, that seeks whom he may devour, (for then, in great and apparent sins, thou wilt be occasioned to call upon the lion of the tribe of Juda, to thine assistance) as it is to have thy soul eaten up by vermin, by the custom and habit of small sins. God punished the Egyptians with little things, with hailstones, and frogs, and grasshoppers; and Pharaoh's conjurers, that coi^iterfeited all Moses' greater works, failed in the least, in the making of lice. A man may stand a great temptation, and satisfy himself in that, and think he hath done enough in the way of spiritual valour, and then fall as irrecoverably under the custom of small. I were as good lie under a millstone, as under a hill of sand; for howsoever I might have blown away every grain of sand, if I had watched it as it fell, yet when it is a hill, I cannot blow it, nor shove it away: and when I shall think to say to God, I have done no great sins, God shall not proceed with me by weight, but by measure, nor ask how much, but how long I have sinned.
And though I may have done thus much towards this purity,
as that for a good time I have discontinued my sin, yet if my heart he still set upon the delight, and enjoining of that which was got by my former sins, though I be not that dog that returns to his vomit, yet I am still that sow, that wallows in her mire; though I do not thrust my hands into new dirt, yet the old is still upon my hands; though mine own clothes do not defile me again, as Job speaks", (though I do not relapse to the practice of mine old sin) yet I have none of Jeremy's nitre, and soap, none of Job's snow-water, to wash me clean, except I come to restitution. As long as the heart is set upon things sinfully got, thou sinnest over those year's sins every day: thou art not come to the purity of this text, for it is pure, and pure in heart.
But can any man come to that pureness? to have a heart pure from all foulness I Can a man be born so? Who can bring a clean thing out of filthiness1", is Job's unanswerable question. Can any man make it clean, of himself? Who can say, I have made clean my heart13? is Solomon's unanswerable question. Beloved, when such questions as these, are asked in the Scriptures, How can? who can do this? sometimes they import an absolute impossibility, it cannot be done by any means; and sometimes they import but a difficulty, it can hardly be done, it can be done but some one way. When the prophet says, What good can an idol, or an idolatrous religion do us1*? It shall not help us in soul, in reputation, in preferment, it will deceive us every way, it is absolutely impossible, that an idol, or an idolatrous religion should do us any good. But then when David says, Lord who shall ascend to thy tabernacle, and dwell in thy holy hilP"? David does not mean that there is no possibility of ascending thither, or dwelling there, though it be hard clambering thither, and hard holding there; and therefore when the prophet says, Who is so wise as to find out this wayTM, he places this cleanness, which we inquire after, in wisdom. What is wisdom I we may content ourselves with that old definition of wisdom, that it is rerum humanarum, et divinarum scientia; the wisdom that accomplishes this cleanness, is the knowledge, the right valuation of this world, and of the next; to be able to compare the joys of
heaven, and the pleasures of this world, and the gain of the one, with the loss of the other, this is the way to this cleanness of the heart; because that heart that considers, and examines, what it takes in, will take in no foul, no infectious thing. God hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness11, says the apostle. If we be in the ways of uncleanness, God hath not called us thither: we may slip into them, by the infirmity of our nature; or we may run into them by a custom of sin; we may be drawn into them, by the inordinateness of our affections; or we may be driven into them, by fear of losing the favour of those great persons, upon whom we depend, and so accompany, or assist them in their sins.
So we may slip, and run, and be drawn, and be driven, but we are not called, not called by God, into any sin; not called by any decree of God, not by any profession or calling; not by any complexion, or constitution, to a necessity of committing any sin; all sin is from ourselves: but if we be in the ways of holiness, it is God that called us thither, we have not brought ourselves. God calls us by his ordinance, and ministry in the church; but when God hath called us thither, we may see, what he expects from us, by that which the apostle says, Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness18; that is, let us employ that faculty, that is in ourselves, let us be appliable and supple, easy and ductile, in those ways, to which God hath called us. Since God, by breeding us in the Christian church, and in the knowledge of his word, by putting that balance into our hand, to try heavenly, and earthly things, by which we may distinguish, lepram a non lepra, what is a leprous and sinful, what is an indifferent, and clean action, let us be content to put the ware, and the weights into the balance, that is, to bring all objects, and all actions to a consideration, and to an examination, by that trial, before we set our hearts upon them: for God leaves no man, with whom he hath proceeded so far, as to breed him in the Christian church, without a power to do that, to discern his own actions, if he do not wink.
Upon those words, Isaac digged the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham, and the Philistines had stopped", Origen extends this power far, though not very confidently;
17 1 Thess. iv. 7- 18 2 Cor. vii. 1. 18 Gen. xxvi. 18.
Forte in imiuacuiusqm nostrum anima*'', says he; Perchance in every one of our souls, there is this well of the water of life, and this power to open it: whether Origen's nostrum, our soul, be intended by him of us, as wo are men, or of us, as we are Christians, I pronounce not; but divide it; in all us, as we are natural men, there is this well of water of life, Abraham digged it at first, the Father of the faithful our heavenly Abraham, infused it into us all at first in Adam, from whom, as we have the image of God, though defaoed, so we have this well of water though stopped up; but then the Philistines having stopped this well, (Satan by sin having barred it up) the power of opening it again is not in the natural man; but Isaac digs them again, Isaac who is filius Iwtitiw, the Son of joy, our Isaac, our Jesus, he opens them again, to all that receive him according to his ordinanoe in his church, he hath given this power, of keeping open in themselves, this well of life, these means of salvation: Peccata tua alios inducunt colores, says Origen in the same jilace; Thy sins cover the image of God with other images, images of beauty, of honour, of pleasure, so that sometimes thou dost not discern the image of God, in thy soul, but yet there it is: sometimes thou fillest this well with other waters, with tears of hypocrisy, to deceive, or tears of lamentation for worldly crosses, but yet such a well, such a power to assist thine own salvation, there is in thee: the woman who had lost her piece of silver, found it not without doors, but within; it was when her house was made clean, but it was within the house, and within her own house. Make clean thy house, by the assistances, which Christ affords thee in his church, and thou shalt never fail finding of that within thee, which shall save thee: not that it grows in thee naturally, or that thou canst produce it of thyself, but that God hath bound himself by his holy covenant, to perfect his work, in every man, that works with him. So then in repenting of former sins, in breaking off the practice of those sins, in restoring whatsoever was gotten by those sins, in precluding all relapses, by a diligent survey and examination of particular actions, this is this cleanness, this purity of heart, which constitutes our first branch of
40 Homil. 13, in Gen.
this part; and the second is the purchase, what we get by it, which is blessedness, Blessed are the pure in heart.
In this, we make two steps, blessedness, and the present possession of this blessedness. Now, to this purpose, it is a good rule that St. Bernard gives, and a good way that he goes: Cui quwque res sapiunt prout sunt, is sapiens est, says he: He that tastes, and apprehends all things in their proper and natural taste, he that takes all things aright as they are, nothing distastes him, nothing alters him, he is wise. If he take the riches of this world to be in their nature, indifferent, neither good, nor bad in themselves, but to receive their denomination in their use. If he take long life to be naturally an effect of a good constitution, and temperament of the body, and a good husbanding of that temper by temperance, if he take sickness to be a declination and disorder thereof, and so other calamities to be the declination of their power, or their favour, in whose protection he trusted, then he takes all these things, prout sunt, as they are, in their right taste, and is sapiens est, he that takes things so, is morally wise. But thus far, St. Bernard does but tell us, Quis sapiens, Who is wise; but then, Cui ipsa sapientia sapit, prout est, is beatus, He that tastes this wisdom itself aright, he only is blessed. Now to taste this moral wisdom aright, to make the right use of that, is to direct all that knowledge upon heavenly things. To understand the wretchedness of this world, is to be wise, but to make this wisdom apprehend a happiness in the next world, that is to be blessed. If I can digest the want of riches, the want of health, the want of reputation, out of this consideration, that good men want these, as well as bad, this is moral wisdom, and a natural man may be as wise herein, as I. But if I can make this wisdom carry me to a higher contemplation, that God hath cast these wants upon me, to draw me the more easily to him, and to see, that in all likelihood, my disposition being considered, more wealth, more health, more preferment would have retarded me, and slackened my pace in his service, than this wisdom, that is, this use of this moral wisdom, hath made me blessed; and to this blessedness, a natural man cannot come.
This blessedness then, is a concurrence, a confluence, an accu
mulation of all that is good; and he that is pure of heart, safe in a rectified conscience, hath that. Not that everything, that hath any tincture, or name of good in it, as riches, and health, and honour, must necessarily fall upon every man, that is good and pure of heart; for, for the most part, such men want these more than any other men. But because even those things, which have in them, some tincture, and name of ill, as sickness of body, or vexation of spirit, shall be good to them, because they shall advance them in their way to God; therefore are they blessed, as blessedness is the accumulation of all that is good, because nothing can put on the nature of ill, to them. And though blessedness seem to be but an expectative, a reversion reserved to the next life, yet so blessed are they in this testimony of a rectified conscience, which is this purity of heart, as that they have this blessedness in a present possession, Blessed are the pure in heart; they are now, they are already blessed.
The farthest that any of the philosophers went in the discovery of blessedness, was but to come to that, nemo ante obitum, to pronounce that no man could be called blessed before his death; not that they had found what kind of better blessedness they went to after their death, but that still till death they were sure every man was subject to new miseries, and interruptions of anything which they could have called blessedness. The Christian philosophy goes farther; it shows us a perfecter blessedness than they conceived for the next life, and it imparts that blessedness to this life also: the pure in heart are blessed already, not only comparatively, that they are in a better way of blessedness, than others are, but actually in a present possession of it: for this world and the next world, are not to the pure in heart two houses, but two rooms, a gallery to pass through, and a lodging to rest in, in the same house, which are both under one roof, Christ Jesus; the militant and the triumphant, are not two churches, but this the porch, and that the chancel of the same church, which are under one head, Christ Jesus; so the joy, and the sense of salvation, which the pure in heart have here, is not a joy severed from the joy of heaven, but a joy that begins in us here, and continues, and accompanies us thither, and there flows on, and dilates itself to an infinite expansion, (as, if you should touch one corn of powder in a train, and that train should carry fire into a whole city, from the beginning it was one and the same fire) though the fulness of the glory thereof be reserved to that which is expressed in the last branch, They shall see God »• for, as St. Bernard notes, When the church is highliest extolled for her beauty, yet it is but pulcherrima inter mulieres, the fairest amongst women, that is, says he, Inter animas terrenas, non autem inter angelicm beatitudines, She is not compared with her own state in heaven, she shall have a better state in that state, than she hath here; so when John Baptist's office is highliest extolled, that he is called the greatest prophet, it is but amongst the sons of women, he is not compared with the Son of God. So this blessedness appropriated to the pure in heart, gives a present assurance of future joy, and a present inchoation of that now, though the plenary consummation thereof be respited, till we see God.
And first videbunt et non contremiscent; this is a blessedness, they shall see God, and be glad to see him; see him in judgment, and be able to stand in judgment in his sight; they shall see him, and never trouble the hills to fall upon them, nor call the mountains to cover them; upon them he shall not steal as a thief in the night, but because he hath used to stand at their door, and knock, and enter, they shall look for his coming, and be glad of it. First they come to a true valuation of this world; / count all things bnt dung, but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord*1; when they have found the true value of worldly things, they will come to something worth the getting, they will come to St. Paul's way of gain, that to die is gain and advantageTM: when they know that, they will conceive a religious covetousness of that, and so come to St. Paul's desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ: when they have entertained that desire, they will declare it, make a petition, a suit for it, Come Lord Jesu, come quickly; and they shall have a holy and modest, but yet an infallible assurance of this answer to their petition; Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world*3; so by this acquainting themselves, and accustoming themselves to his presence, in all
u Phil. iii. 8. 88 Phil. i. 21. 83 Matt. xxvi. 34.
their actions, and meditations in this life, they shall see him, and be glad to see him, even in judgment, in the next.
But the seeing of God principally intended in this place, is that msio beatifica, to see God so, as that that very seeing makes the seer blessed, they are blessed therefore, because they see him; and that is to see the very essence and nature of God. For, that we shall see God in his essence, is evident enough by that place of the apostle, Note we are the sons of God", (that is, now by this purity of heart, and testimony of a rectified conscience, we are so) and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, (that is, there are degrees of glory reserved for us, that yet do not appear to our understanding, we cannot conceive them) but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, (that is, receive incorruption and glory in our bodies, as he hath done) and then the reason given there, of that, is, For we shall see him, as he is, in his essence; all our beatification, and glorification in our bodies consists in this, that we shall see him as he is, in his essence. Then says St. Paul, / shall know, even as I am known", essentially. But whether then, in the resurrection, and glorification of the body, God in his essence be to be seen with those eyes which the body shall then have, is yet, and hath been long a question. The Scripture goes no farther, than to St. John's, / shall see him as he is, and to St. Paul's, / shall know him as I am known; but with what eyes I shall see him, (without any perplexing curiosities) we will look a little into the fathers, and into the school, and conclude so, as may best advance our edification.
For the fathers, it may be sufficient to insist upon St. Augustine; not because he is always to be preferred before all, but because in this point, he hath best collected all that were before him, and is best followed of all that come after. St. Augustine had written against a bishop who was of the sect of the Anthropomorphites, whose heresy was that God had a body; and in opposition of him, St. Augustine had said, that God was so far from having a body, that our bodily eyes, howsoever glorified, should never see God. In that treatise St. Augustine had been very bitter against that bishop, and being warned of it, in another epistle to another bishop, Fortunatianus, he repents, and retracts
■ 1 John iii. 2. - '861 Cor. xiii. 12.
his bitterness, but his opinion, his doctrine, that our bodily eyes should never see God, St. Augustine never retracted. He professes ingenuously, that he could be more easily brought to attribute so much too much to the body of man, as to say that with these bodily eyes he should see God, than to derogate so much from God, as to say that he had a body that might be seen; but because he saw that one might follow on the other, he denied both, and did no more believe that man's eyes should see God, than that God had a body to be seen.
And this negative opinion of his, St. Augustine builds upon St. Ambrose, and upon, St. Hierome too, who seem to deny that the angels themselves see the essence of God; and upon Athanasius, who, against the Arians' opinion, that God the Father only was invisible, but the Son, (who was not equal to the Father) and the Holy Ghost, (who was not equal to the Son) might be seen, argues and maintains, that the whole Trinity is equal in itself, and equally invisible to us. So doth he also assist himself with that of Nazianzen, Quando Deus visus, safoa sua invisibilitate visiis, Howsoever God be said to have been seen, it is said in some such sense, as that even then when he was seen, he was invisible. He might have added Chrysostom's testimony too, Ipsum quod Deus est, nee angeli viderunt, nec archangeli; Neither angel nor archangel did ever see that nature, which is the very essence of God: and he might have added Areopagita too, who expresses it with equal elegancy and vehemency, Dei nec sententia est, nec ratio, nec opinio, nec sensus, nec phantasm: If we bring the very nature and essence of God into question, we can give no judgment upon it, (non sententia) we can make no probable discourse of it, (non ratio) we can frame no likely opinion, or conjecture in it, (non opinio) we cannot prepare ourselves with anything which hath fallen under our senses, (non sensus) nor with anything which we can bring studiously, or which can fall casually into our fancy, or imagination, (non phantasia.) And upon the whole matter, and all the evidence, he joins in this verdict with St. Hierome, tunc cernitur, cum innsibilis creditur; God is best seen by us, when we confess that he cannot be seen of us. St. Augustine denies not, that our eyes shall be spiritual eyes, but in what proportion spiritual, or
to what particular use spiritual, he will not pretend to know: whether the body of man shall be so attenuated and rarified, as that the whole man shall become spirit, whether the body shall contribute and assist the faculties of the soul, as in this life it doth, says that blessed and sober father, I confess I never read any thing that I thought sufficient to rectify mine own judgment, much less to change another's: but to all those places of Scripture, which are to this purpose, That the angels see the face of God, and that we shall be like the angels, and see God face to face, he answers well, Facies Dei ea est, qua Deus innotescit nobis, That is the face of God to us all, by which God is known and manifested to us; in which sense, reason is the face of God to the natural man, the law to the Jew, and the gospel to us; and such a sight of God, doth no more put such a power of seeing in our bodily eyes, than it puts a face upon God: we shall see God face to face, and yet God shall have no face to be seen, nor we bodily eyes to see him by: for, that I have not read, says he; this, says he, I have read, Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisibleTM, &c. Neither dare I, says St. Augustine, sever those things which the spirit of God hath joined, I dare not say that God is immortal in this world, and in the next world too, but invisible in this world only, and visible in the next, for the Holy Ghost hath pronounced him invisible, as far as immortal.
If you press me, says he, cannot God then be seen? Yes, I confess he can. If you ask me, how? He may be seen when he will, and how he will. If you pursue it, can he not be seen in his essence? Yes, he can; if you proceed farther, and ask me how again? I can say no more, says he, than Christ says, We shall be like the angels, and we shall see God, so as the angels do, but they see him not with bodily eyes, nor as an object, which is that that St. Ambrose, and St. Hierome, and St. Chrysostom intend, when they deny that the angels see the essence of God, that is, they see him not otherwise than by understanding him. All agree in this resolution, solus Deus videt cor, et solum cor videt Deum, only God can see the heart of man, and only the heart of man can see God: for, in this world, our bodily eyes do not see bodies, they see but colours and dimensions, they see not bodies;
86 1 Tim. i. 17.
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much less shall our eyes, though spiritual, see spirits in heaven; least of all, that Spirit, in comparison of whom, angels, and our spirits are but gross bodies.
So far the fathers lead us towards a determination herein; and thus far the school; nulla visio naturalis in terris; here, in this life, neither the eyes, nor the mind of the most subtle, and most sanctified man can see the essence of God: nulla visio corporalis in coelis, the bodily eyes of no man, in the highest state of glorification in heaven, can see the essence of God: nulla visio comprehensiva omnino, that faculty of man, which shall see the essence qf God in heaven, yet shall not comprehend that essence; for to comprehend, is not to know a thing, as well as I can know it, but to know it as well as that thing can be known; and so only God himself can see, and know, that is, comprehend God.
To end all, in the whole body of the Scriptures we have no light, that our bodily eyes shall be so enlightened in the resurrection, as to see the essence of God; for, when Job says, In my flesh I shall see God81, and mine eyes shall see God, (if these words must necessarily be understood of the last resurrection, which some expositors deny,, and Calvin in particular, understands them of a particular resurrection from that calamity which lay upon Job at that time, and of his confidence that God would raise him again, even in this life) yet howsoever, and to which resurrection soever you refer them, the words must be understood thus, In my flesh, that is, when my soul shall re-assume this flesh in the resurrection, in that flesh I shall see God; he doth not say, that flesh shall, but he, in that flesh, shall. So when he adds, mine eyes shall do it, he intends those eyes, of which the apostle speaks, The eyes of your understanding being enlightened*3. So then, a faculty to see him so, in his essence, with bodily eyes, we find not in Scripture; but yet in the Scriptures we do find, that we shall see him as he is, in his essence; how? It is a safe answer which St. Augustine gives in all such questions, Melius affirmamus, de quibus [minime dubitamus, Only those things are safely affirmed, and resolved, which admit no doubt: this hath never admitted any doubt, but that our soul, and her faculties shall be so exalted in that state of glory, as that in those internal faculties of the
soul, so exalted, we shall see the very essence of God, which no measure of the light of grace, communicated to any, the most sanctified man here, doth effect, but only the light of glory there shall. And therefore this being clear, that in the faculties of our souls we shall see him, Restat ut de ilia visione secundum interiorem hominem certissimi simus, says that blessed and sober father, As our reason is satisfied that the saints in heaven shall see God so, so let our consciences be satisfied, that we have an interest in that state, and that we in particular shall come to that sight of God. Let us not abuse ourselves with false assurances, nor rest in any other, than this, that we have made clean, and pure our very hearts, for only such shall see God. Omnis meridies diluculum habuit, (as the same father continues this meditation) The brightest noon had a faint twilight, and break of day; the sight of God which we shall have in heaven, must have a diluculum, a break of day here ; if we will see his face there, we must see it in some beams here: and to that purpose, Visus per omnes sensus recurrit, (as St. Augustine hath collected out of several places of Scripture) Every sense is called sight, for there is odora et vide, and gusta et vide, taste- and see how sweet, and smell and see what a savour of life the Lord is; so, St. John turned about, to see a voiceTM, there hearing was sight; and so our Saviour Christ says, Handle and see3", and there feeling is seeing. All things concur to this seeing, and therefore in all the works of your senses, and in all your other faculties, see ye the Lord; hear him in his word, and so see him; speak to him in your prayers, and so see him; touch him in his sacrament, and so see him; present holy and religious actions unto him, and so see him.
David's heart was towards Absalon31, says that story: Joab saw that, and, as every man will be forward to further persons growing in favour, (for so it should be done to him, whom the king will honour) Joab plotted and effected Absalon's return, but yet Absalon saw not the king's face in two years. Beloved in Christ Jesus, the I heart of your gracious God is set upon you; and we his servants have told you so, and brought] you thus near him, into his court, into his house, into the church, but yet we cannot get you to see his face, to come to that tenderness of
89 Apoc. i. 12. »° Luke xxiv. 39. "2 Sam. xiv.
conscience, as to remember and consider, that all your most secret actions are done in his sight and his presence; Caesar's face and Caesar's inscription you can see; the face of the prince in his coin you can rise before the sun to see, and sit up till mid-night to see; but if you do not see the face of God upon every piece of that money too, all that money is counterfeit; if Christ have not brought that fish to the hook, that brings the money in the mouth, (as he did to Peter3") that money is ill fished for; if nourishing of suits, and love of contention amongst others, for your own] gain, have brought it, it is out of the way of that counsel, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see God33. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob3*; of innocent hands, and a pure heart; either such an innocence, as never fouled the hands, or such an innocency as hath washed them clean again, such an innocency as hath kept you from corrupt getting, or such an innocency as hath restored us, by restoring that, which was corruptly got. It is testified of Solomon, that he exceeded all the kings of the earth, for wisdom, and for riches, and all the earth sought the face of Solomon36; a greater than Solomon is here, for wisdom, and riches; your wisdom is foolishness, and your riches beggary, if you see not the face of this Solomon; if either you have studied or practised, or judged, when his back is towards you, that is, if you have not done all, as in his presence. You are in his presence now; go not out of it, when you go from hence. Amor rerum terrenarum, viscus pennarum spiritualium3"; God hath given you the wings of doves, and the eyes of eagles to see him now, in this place; if in returning from this place, you return to your former ways of pleasure or profit, this is a breaking of those doves' wings, and a sealing of those eagles' eyes. Coge cor tuwm cogitare divina, compelle, urge, says that father; Here, in the church, thou canst not choose but see God, and raise thy heart towards him: but when thou art returned to thy several distractions, that vanities shall pull thine eyes, and obtrectation, and libellous defamation of others shall pull thine ears, and profit shall pull thy hands, then coge, compelle, urge, force and compel thy heart, and press, even in that thrust of tentations, to see God.
38 Matt. xvii. 27. 33 Heb xii. 14. 34 Psalm xxiv. 3. 35 1 Kings x. 24.
What God is in his essence, or what our sight of the essence of God shall be in the next world, dispute not too curiously, determine not too peremptorily; Cogitans de Deo, si finivisti, Deus non est, is excellently said by St. Augustine: If thou begin to think, what the essence of God is, and canst bring that thought to an end, thou hast mistaken it; whensoever thou canst say, this is God, or God is this, that is not God, God is not that, for he is more, infinitely more than that. But if thou art not able to say, this is God, God is this; be able to say, this is not God, God is not this: the belly is not God; mammon is not God; Mauzzim, the god of forces, oppression, is not God; Belphegor, licentiousness, is not God: howsoever God sees me, to my confusion, yet I do not see God, when I am sacrificing to these, which are not gods.
Let us begin at that which is nearest us, within us, pureness of heart, and from thence receive the testimony of God's privy seal, the impression of his Spirit, that we are blessed; and that leads us to the great seal, the full fruition of all; we shall see God, there, where he shall make us drink of the rivers of his pleasures3,1; there is fulness, plenty; but least it should be a feast of one day, or of a few, as it is said, they are rivers, so it is added, with thee is the fountain of life; an abundant river, to convey, and a perpetual spring, to feed, and continue that river: and then, wherein appears all this? In this, for in thy light we shall see light; in seeing God, we shall see all that concerns us, and see it always; no night to determine that day, no cloud to overcast it. We end all, with St. Augustine's devout exclamation, Glorious God, what kind of eyes shall they be! how bright eyes, and how well set! how strong eyes, and how durable! What quality, what value, what name shall we give to those eyes? I would say something of the beauty and glory of these eyes, and can find no words, but such as I myself have misused in lower things. Our best expressing of it, is to express a desire to come to it, for there only we shall learn what to call it. That so we may go the apostle's way, to his end, That being made free from sin, and become servants to God, we may have our fruit unto holiness, and then the end, life everlastingTM.
3? Psalm xxxvi. 8. 38 Rom. vi. 22.