PREACHED AT ST. DUNSTAN'S, UPON TRINITY SUNDAY, 1627. /- *""~~TM
Revelations iv. 8.
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him, and they were full of eyes within ; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
These words are part of that Scripture, which our church hath appointed to be read for the Epistle of this day. This day, which besides that it is the Lord's day, the Sabbath day, is also especially consecrated to the memory, and honour of the whole Trinity. The feast of the nativity of Christ, Christmas day, which St. Chrysostom calls Metropolin omnium festorum, The metropolitan festival of the church, is intended principally to the honour of the Father, who was glorified in that humiliation of that Son, that day, because in that, was laid the foundation, and first stone of that house and kingdom, in which God intended to glorify himself in this world, that is, the Christian church. The feast of Easter is intended principally to the honour of the Son himself, who upon that day, began to lift up his head above all those waters which had surrounded him, and to shake oft' the chains of death, and the grave, and hell, in a glorious resurrection. And then, the feast of Pentecost was appropriated to the honour of the honour of the Holy Ghost, who by a personal falling upon the apostles, that day, enabled them te propagate this glory of the Father, and this death, and resurrection of the Son, to the ends
of the world, to the ends in extension, to all places, to the ends in duration, to all times.
Now, as St. Augustine says, Nnllus eorum extra quemlibet eorum est, Every Person of the Trinity is so in every other person, as that you cannot think of a father, (as a father) but that there falls a son into the same thought, nor think of a person that proceeds from others, but that they, from whom he, whom ye think of, proceeds, falls into the same thought, as every person is in every person ; and as these three Persons are contracted in their essence into one Godhead, so the church hath also contracted the honour belonging to them, in this kind of worship, to one day, in which the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as they are severally, in those three several days, might be celebrated jointly, and altogether. It was long before the church did institute a particular festival, to this purpose. For, before, they made account that that verse, which was upon so many occasions repeated in the Liturgy, and church service, (Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost) had a convenient sufficiency in it, to keep men in a continual remembrance of the Trinity. But when by that extreme inundation, and increase of Arians, these notions of distinct Persons in the Trinity, came to be obliterated, and discontinued, the church began to refresh herself, .in admitting into the forms of Common Prayer, some more particular notifications, and remembrances of the Trinity; and at last, (though it were very long first, for this festival of this Trinity Sunday, was not instituted above four hundred years since) they came to ordain this day. Which day, our church, according to that peaceful wisdom, wherewithal the God of peace, of unity, and concord, had inspired her, did, in the Reformation, retain, and continue, out of her general religious tenderness, and holy loathness, to innovate anything in those matters which might be safely, and without superstition continued and entertained. For our church, in the Reformation, proposed not that for her end, how she might go from Home, but how she might come to the truth; nor to cast away all such things as Rome had depraved, but to purge away those depravations, and conserve the things themselves, so restored to their first good use.
For this day then, were these words appointed by our church; and therefore we are sure, that in the notion, and apprehension, and construction of our church, these words appertain to the Trinity. In them therefore we shall consider, first what, these four creatures were, which are notified, and designed to us, in the names, and figures of four beasts; and then, what these four creatures did; Their persons, and their action will be our two parts of this text. In each of which we shall have three branches; in the first these, first, simply who they were; and then, their qualification as they are furnished with wings, Each of them had sir wings; and then lastly, in that first part, what is intended in their eyes, for, They were full of eyes w ithin; and in these three, we shall determine that first part, the Persons. And then in the second, our first branch will be, their alacrity, their ingenuity, their free and open profession of their zeal to God's service; They did it, says the text, Dicentes, Saying, publishing, declaring, without disguises or modifications. And our second branch, Their assiduity, that which they did, they did incessantly, They ceased not day nor night, says our text; no occasional emergencies, no loss, no trouble interrupted their zeal to God's service. And then the last is, that that which they did, first with so much ingenuity, and then with so much assiduity, first so openly, and then so constantly, was the celebration of the Trinity, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come; which is the entire body of the Christian religion; that they professed openly, and constantly, all the parts of their religion, are also the three branches, in which we shall determine our second part, their action.
First then, for our first branch, in our first part, the persons intended in these four creatures, the apostle says, Whatsoever things are written aforetime, are written for our learning1; but yet, not so for our learning, as that we should think always to learn, or always to have a clear understanding of all that is written ; for it is added there, That we, through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope; which may well admit this exposition, that those things which we understand not yet, we may hope that we shall, and we must have patience till we do. For there may be many places in Scripture, (especially
1 Rom. xv, 4.
in prophetical Scripture) which, perchance, the church of God herself shall not understand, till those prophecies be fulfilled, and accomplished. In the understanding of this place, what, or who these four creatures are, there is so much difficulty, so much perplexity, as that amongst the interpretations of very learned, and very reverend, and very pertinent expositors, it is easy to collect thirty several opinions, thirty several significations of these four creatures.
The multiplicity of these interpretations intimates thus much, that that man that believes the Trinity, can scarce turn upon anything, but it assists, and advances, and illustrates that belief; as diverse from one another as their thirty expositions are, they all agree, that be our four creatures what they will, that which they do, is to celebrate the Trinity; he that seeks proof for every mystery of religion, shall meet with much darkness; but he that believes first, shall find everything to illustrate his faith. And then, this multiplicity of interpretations intimates thus much more, that since we cannot give sensum adcequatum, any such interpretation of these four creatures, but that another, as probable as it, may be given, it may be sufficient, and it is best, (as in all cases of like intricacy) to choose such a sense, as may most advance the general purpose, and intention of the place, which is, in this place, the celebration of the Trinity.
So therefore we shall do. And considering that amongst these manifold expositors, some bind themselves exactly, rigidly, superciliously, yea superstitiously to the number of four, and that therefore these four creatures must necessarily signify something, that is limited in the number of four, no more, no less, (either the four monarchies, or the four patriarchs, or the four doctors of the church, or the four cardinal virtues, or the four elements, or the four quarters of the world, into all which, and many more such, rather allusions, than interpretations, these various expositors have scattered themselves) and then considering also that divers others of these expositors out of a just observation, That nothing is more ordinary in this Book of the Revelation, than by a certain and finite number, to design and signify an uncertain and infinite, (for, otherwise when we are told, That there were twelve thousand sealed of every tribe, we should know the certain number of all the Jews that were saved, which certainly is not St. John's purpose in that place; but in the greatness of that number, to declare the largeness of God's goodness to that people) considering I say, that divers of these expositors, have extended their interpretation beyond the number of four, we make account that we do best, if we do both ; if wo stop upon the number of four, and yet pass on to a greater number too. And so we shall well do, if we interpret these four creatures, to be first and principally the four evangelists, (and that is the most common interpretation of the ancients) and then enlarge it to all the ministers of the Gospel, which is (for the most part) the interpretation of the later men. So then, the action being an open and a continual profession of the whole Christian religion, in the celebration of the Trinity, which is the distinctive character of a Christian, the persons that do this, are all they that constitute the hierarchy, and order of the church; all they that execute the ministry, and dispensation of the Gospel; which Gospel is laid down, and settled and established radically in the four evangelists ; all they are these four creatures. And farther we need not carry this first branch, which is the notification of these persons; for their qualification is the larger consideration.
And before we come to their qualification, in the text, first, as they are said to have six wings, and then as they are said to be full of eyes, we look upon them, as they are formed, and designed to us, in the verse immediately before the text; where, the first of these four creatures hath the face of a lion, the second of a calf, or an ox, the third of a man, and the fourth of an eagle. Now, Quatuor animalia sunt ecdesice doctores, says St. Ambrose ; These four creatures are the preachers of the Gospel; that we had established afore; but then, we add with St. Ambrose, Eandem significationem habet primum animal, quod secundum, quod tertium, quod quartum; All these four creatures make up but one creature ; all their qualities concur to the qualification of a minister; every minister of God is to have all, that all four had ; the courage of a lion, the laboriousness of an ox, the perspicuity and clear sight of the eagle, and the humanity, the discourse, the reason, the affability, the appliableness of a man. St. Dionys the Areopagite had the same consideration as St. Ambrose had, before him. He imprints it, he expresses it, and extends it thus; In leone vis indomabilis; In every minister, I look for such an invincible courage, as should be of proof, against persecution, which is a great, and against preferment, which' is a greater temptation ; that neither fears, nor hopes shake his constancy; neither his Christian constancy, to stagger him, nor his ministerial constancy, to silence him; for this is vis indomabilis, the courage required in the minister as he is a lion. And then says that father; In bove vis salutaris, In every minister, as he is said to be an ox, I look for labour; that he be not so over-grown, nor stall-fed, that he be thereby lazy; he must labour; and then, as the labour of the ox is, his labour must be employed upon useful and profitable things, things that conduce to the clearing, not the perplexing of the understanding; and to the collecting, the uniting, the fixing, and not the scattering, the dissolving, the pouring out of a'fluid, an unstable, an irresolved conscience; things of edification, not speculation; for this is that vis salutaris, which we require in every minister; that he labour at the plough, and plough the right ground; that he preach for the saving of souls, and not for the sharpening of wits. And then again, in aquila vis speculatrix; as the minister is presented in the notion and quality of an eagle, we require both an open eye, and a piercing eye; first, that he dare look upon other men's sins, and be not fain to wink at their faults, because he is guilty of the same himself, and so, for fear of a recrimination, incur a prevarication ; and then, that he be not so dim-sighted, that he must be fain to see all through other men's spectacles, and so preach the purposes of great men, in a factious popularity, or the fancies of new men, in a schismatical singularity; but, with the eagle, be able to look to the sun ; to look upon the constant truth of God in his Scriptures, through his church ; for this is vis speculatrix, the open and the piercing eye of the eagle. And then lastly, in homine vis ratiocinatrix; as the minister is represented in the notion and quality of a man, we require a gentle, a supple, an appliable disposition, a reasoning, a persuasive disposition ; that he do not always press all things with authority, with censures, with excommunications; that he put not all points of religon, always upon that one issue, Quicunque wdt salv-its esse, If you will be saved, you must believe this, all this, and qui non crediderit, damnabitur, if you doubt of this, any of this, you are infallibly, necessarily damned; but, that he be also content to descend to men's reason, and to work upon their understanding, and their natural faculties, as well as their faith, and to give them satisfaction, and reason (as far as it may be had) in that which they are to believe ; that so as the apostle, though he had authority to command, yet did Pray them in Chrisfs stead to be reconciled to God, so the minister of God, though (as he is bound to do) he do tell them what they are bound to believe, yet he also tells them, why they are to believe it; for this is vis ratiocinatrix, the holy gentleness and appliableness, implied in that form of a man.
And so you have this man composed of his four elements; this creature made of these four creatures; this minister made of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a man; for no one of these, nor all these but one, will serve; the lion alone, without the eagle, is not enough ; it is not enough to have courage and zeal, without clear sight and knowledge; nor enough to labour, except we apply ourselves to the capacity of the hearer; all must have all, or else all is disordered; zeal, labour, knowledge, gentleness.
Now besides these general qualifications, laid down as the foundation of the text, in the verse before it, in the text itself these four creatures, being first the four evangelists, and consequently, or by a just and fair accommodation, all the preachers of the.Gospel, which limit themselves in the doctrine laid down in the four evangelists, have also wings added unto them; wings, first for their own behoof and benefit, and then, wings for the benefit and behoof of others. They have wings to raise themselves from the earth; that they do not entangle themselves in the business of this world; but still to keep themselves upon the wing, in a heavenly conversation, ever remembering that they have another element than sea or land, as men whom Christ Jesus hath set apart, and in some measure made mediators between him and other men, as his instruments of their salvation. And then as for themselves, so have they wings for others too, that they may be always ready to succour all, in all their spiritual necessities. For as those words are well understood by many of
the ancients, To the woman were given two wings of an eagle*, that is, to the church were given able and sufficient ministers, to carry and convey her over the nations: so are those words which are spoken of God himself, appliable to his ministers, that first, The eagle stirreth up her neet* the preacher stirs and moves, and agitates the holy affections of the congregation, that they slumber not in a senselessness of that which is said, The eagle stirreth up her nest, and then as it is added there, She flutter eth over her young; the preacher makes a holy noise in the conscience of the congregation, and when he hath awakened them, by stirring the nest, he casts some claps of thunder, some intimidations, in denouncing the judgments of God, and he flings open the gates of heaven, that they may hear, and look up, and see a man sent by God, with power to infuse his fear upon them; So she fluttereth over her young; but then, as it follows there, She spreadeth abroad her wings; she over-shadows them, she enwraps them, she arms them with her wings, so as that no other terror, no other fluttering but that which comes from her, can come upon them ; the preacher doth so infuse the fear of God into his auditory, that first, they shall fear nothing but God, and then they shall fear God, but so, as he is God ; and God is mercy; God is love ; and his minister shall so spread his wings over his people, as to defend them from all inordinate fear, from all suspicion and jealousy, from all diffidence and distrust in the mercy of God; which is farther expressed in that clause, which follows in the same place, She taketh them and beareth them upon her wings; when the minister hath awakened his flock by the stirring of the nest, and put them in this holy fear, by this which the Holy Ghost calls a fluttering; and then provided, by spreading his wings, that upon this fear there follow not a desperation; then he sets them upon the top of his best wings, and shows them the best treasure that is committed to his stewardship, he shows them heaven, and God in heaven, sanctifying all their crosses in this world, inanimating all their worldly blessings, raining down his blood into their emptiness, and his balm into their wounds, making their bed in all their sickness, and preparing their seat, where he stands soliciting
* Rev. xii. 14. 8 Deut. xxxii. 13.
their cause, at the right hand of his Father. Aud so the minister hath the wings of an eagle, that every soul in the congregation may sec as much as he sees, that is, a particular interest in all the mercies of God, and the merits of Christ.
So then, these ministers of God have that double use of their eagle's wings; first, Ut volent ad escam*, (as it is in Job) That they may fly up to receive their owu food, their instructions at the mouth and word of God; and then, Ut ubi cadaver sit, ibi ,tatim adsit*, (as it is in Job also) where the dead are, they also may be; that where any lie, Pro mortuis*, (as St. Paul speaks) For dead, as good as dead, ready to die, upon their deathbed, they may be ready to assist them, and to minister spiritual physic, opportunely, seasonably, proportionably to their spiritual necessities; that they may pour out upon such sick souls, that name of Jesus, which is oleum effitsum, an oil, and a balm, always pouring, and always spreading itself upon all green wounds, and upon all old sores; that they may minister to one in his hot and pestilent presumptions, an opiate, of Christ's tristia anima, a remembrance, that even Christ himself had a sad soul towards his death, and a quare dereliquisti, some apprehension, that God, though his God, had forsaken him. And that therefore, no man, how righteous soever, may presume, or pass away without fear and trembling; and then, to minister to another, in his lethargies, and apoplexies, and damps, and inordinate dejections of spirit, Christ's cordials, and restoratives, in his clarifiea me Pater, in an assurance, that his Father, though he have laid him down here, whether in an inglorious fortune, or in a disconsolate bed of sickness, will raise him, in his time, to everlasting glory. So these eagles are to have wings, to fly ad cadaver, to the dead, to those who are so dying a bodily death, and also, where any lie dead in the practice and custom of sin, to be industrious and earnest in calling them to life again, so as Christ did Lazarus, by calling aloud; not aloud in the ears of other men, so to expose a sinner to shame, and confusion of face, but aloud in his own ears, to put home the judgments of God, thereby to plough and harrow that stubborn heart, which will not be kneaded, nor otherwise reduced to an
4 Job ix. 26. 5 Job xxxix. 33. 0 1 Cor. xv. 29.
uprightness. For these uses, to raise themselves to heavenly contemplations, and to make haste to them that need their assistance, the ministers of God have wings; wings of great use; especially now, when there is coluber in via, a snake in every path, a seducer in every house; when as the devil is busy, because he knows his time is short, so his instruments are busy, because they think their time is beginning again ; therefore the minister of God hath wings.
And then, their wings are numbered in our text; they have six wings. For by the consent of most expositors, those whom St. John presents in the figure of these four creatures here, and those whom the prophet Isaiah calls Seraphim~1', are the same persons ; the same office, and the same voice is attributed unto those seraphim there, as unto these four creatures here ; those as well as these, spend their time in celebrating the Trinity, and in crying, Holy, holy, holy. The Holy Ghost sometimes presents the ministers of the Gospel, as seraphim in glory, that they might be known to be the ministers and dispensers of the mysteries and secrets of God, and to come a latere, from his counsel, his cabinet, his bosom. And then on the other side, that you might know, that the dispensation of these mysteries of your salvation, is by the hand and means of men, taken from amongst yourselves, and that therefore you are not to look for revelations, nor ecstasies, nor visions, nor transportations, but to rest in God's ordinary means, he brings those persons down again from that glorious representation, as the seraphim, to creatures of an inferior, of an earthly nature. For, though it be by the sight, and in the quality and capacity of those glorious seraphim, that the minister of God receives his commission, and instructions, his orders, and his faculties, yet the execution of his commission, and the pursuing of his instructions towards you, and in your behalf, is in that nature, and in that capacity, as they have the courage of the lion, the laboriousness of the ox, the perspicuity of the eagle, and the affability of man.
These winged persons then, (winged for their own sakes, and winged for yours) these ministers of God, (thus designed by Esay, as heavenly seraphim, to procure them reverence from you,
1Isaiah vi. 3.
and by St. John, as earthly creatures, to teach you, how near to yourselves God hath brought the means of your salvation, in his visible, and sensible, in his appliable, and apprehensible ordinances) are, in both places, (that of Esay, and this in our text) said to have .--/./- wings; and six, to this use, in Esay, with two they cover their face, with two their feet, and with two they fly. They cover their face; not all over ; for then, neither the prophet there, nor the evangelist here, could have known them to have had these likenesses, and these proportions. The ministers of God are not so covered, so removed from us, as that we have not means to know them. We know them by their face; that is, by that declaration which the church hath given of them to us, in giving them their orders, and their power over us; and we know them by their voice ; that is, by their preaching of such doctrine, as is agreeable to those articles which we have sucked in from our infancy. The minister's face is not so covered with these wings, as that the people have no means to know him ; for his calling is manifest, and his doctrine is open to proof and trial: but they are said to cover their face, because they dare not look confidently, they cannot look fully upon the majesty of the mysteries of God. The evangelists themselves, and they that ground their doctrine upon them, (all which together, as we have often said, make up these four persons, whom Esay calls seraphim, and St. John inferior creatures) have not seen all that belongs to the nature and essence of God, not all in the attributes and properties of God, not all in the decrees and purposes of God, no, not in all the execution of those purposes and decrees ; we do not know all that God intends to do : we do not know all that God intends in that which he hath done. Our faces are covered from having seen the manner of the eternal generation of the Son, or of the eternal proceeding of the Holy Ghost, or the manner of the presence of Christ in the sacrament. The ministers of God are so far open-faced towards you, as that you may know them, and try them by due means to be such; and so far open-faced towards God, as that they have seen in him and received from him, all things necessary for the salvation of your souls ; but yet, their faces are covered too; some things concerning God, they
VOL. II. s
have not seen themselves, nor should go about to reveal, or teach to you.
And it is not only their faces that are covered, but their feet too. Their covered faces are especially directed to God; denoting their modesty in forbearing unrevealed mysteries: their covered feet are especially directed to you; they should not be curious in searching into all God's actions, nor you in searching into all theirs; their ways, their actions, their lives, their conversations should not be too curiously searched, too narrowly pryed into, too severely interpreted by private men, as they are but such, because, in so doing, the danger and the detriment is thus far likely to fall upon yourselves, that when the infirmities of the minister, and your infirmities, that is, their faults, and your uncharitable censures of their faults, meet together, that may produce this ill effect, that personal matters may be cast upon the ministerial function, and so the faults of a minister be imputed to the ministry; and by such a prejudice, and conceit of one man's ill life, you may lose the taste and comfort of his, and perchance of others' good doctrine too. All that -is covered shall be made manifest, says Christ; you shall know all their faults, and you shall know them then, when it shall most confound them, and least endanger you, when it shall aggravate their torment, and do you no harm : that is, at the day of judgment. In the mean time, because it might hurt you to know their faults, God hath covered their feet so far, as that he would not have you looking upon their feet, divert you from depending upon their mouths, as long as by his permission they sit in Moses' chair, and execute God's commission. If they employ their middle wings, which were ordained for them to fly withal, if they do their duties in breaking the bread of life, and dispensing the word and sacraments, and assisting the sick in body, and sick in soul, though God have, in part, covered their faces, that is, not imparted to them such gifts, or such an open sight into deep points, as perchance you desire, yet he hath covered their feet too; he hath for your sakes removed their faults from your survey, as you are but private men. Take the benefit of their two middle wings, their willingness to assist you with their
labours, and in their other four wings, be not too curious, too censorious, too severe, either their face-wings, that is, the depth of their learning, or their feet-wings, that is, the holiness of their lives.
They have six wings to these several purposes; and Singuli senas, says our text, Every one of them hath six wings. For, for the first couple, the face-wings, howsoever some of the ministers of God have gifts above their fellows, howsoever they have gained the names ofDoctores Seraphici, and Doctores Illuminati, (with which titles they abound in the Roman church) yet their faces are in part covered, they must not think they see all, understand all; the learnedest of all hath defects, even in matter of learning. And for the second couple, the feet-wings, howsoever some may make shift for the reputation of being more pure, more sanctified than their fellows, yet the best of them all need a covering for their feet too ; all their steps, all their actions will not endure examination. But for the last couple, however there may be some intimation given of a great degree of perfection in matter of knowledge, and in matter of manners, (for in those creatures which are mentioned in the first of Ezekiel (which also signify the ministers of God) there are but four wings spoken of, so that there are no face-wings, they have an abundant measure of learning and knowledge, and the cherubim (which may also signify the same persons) have but two wings, no covering upon face or feet; to denote, that some may be without any remarkable exception in their doctrine, and in their manners too) yet for the last couple, the two middle wings, by which they fly, and address themselves to every particular soul that needs their spiritual assistance, the ministers of God are never in any figure but represented. Better they wanted face-wings, and feet-wings, (discretion to cover either their insufficiency in knowledge, or their infirmity in manners (than that they should want their middlewings, that is, a disposition to apply themselves to their flock, and to be always ready to distribute the promises of God, and the seals of his promises, the word and sacraments, amongst them. And this may be conveniently intended in their wings.
Now as they were alati, they were oculati in our text; they have eyes as well as wings; they fly, but they know whither they fly. In the doctrine of implicit obedience in the Roman church, to believe as the church believes, or as that confessor which understands not what the church believes, makes you believe the church believes, in their doctrine of that which they call Blind Obedience, that is, to pursue and execute any commandment of any superior, without any consideration; in both these there are wings enough, but there are no eyes: they fly from hence to Rome, and Roman jurisdictions, and they fly over hither again, after statutes, after proclamations, after banishments iterated upon them; so that here are wings enow, but they lack those eyes by which they should discern between religion and rebellion, between a traitor and a martyr. And to take our consideration from them, and reflect upon ourselves, they that fly high at matter of mystery, and leave out matter of edification, they that fly over sea for platforms of discipline, and leave out that church that bred them, they that fly close to the service of great men's affections and purposes, and do the work of God coldly, and faintly, they may be alati, but they are not oculati, they may fly high, and fly fast, and fly far, and fly close in the ways of preferment, but they see not their end; not only not the end that they shall come to, but not the end that they are put upon; not only not their own ends, but not their ends whose instruments they are. Those birds whose eyes are sealed, and sewed up, fly highest; but they are made a prey: God exposes not his servants to such dangers; he gives them wings, that is, means to do their office; but eyes too, that is, discretion and religious wisdom how to do it.
And this is that which they seem to need most, for their wings are limited, but their eyes are not; Six wings, but full of eyes, says our text. They must have eyes in their tongues ; they must see, that they apply not blindly and inconsiderately God's gracious promises to the presumptuous, nor his heavy judgments to the broken-hearted. They must have eyes in their ears; they must see that they hearken neither to a superstitious sense from Rome, nor to a seditious sense of Scriptures from the separation. They must have eyes in their hands; they must see that they touch not upon any such benefits or rewards, as might bind them to any other master than to God himself. They must have eyes in their eyes; spiritual eyes in their bodily eyes; they must see that they make a charitable construction of such things as they see other men do, and this is that fulness of eyes which our text speaks of.
But then especially, says our text, They were full ofeyes within; the fulness, the abundance of eyes, that is, of providence and discretion in the ministers of God, was intimated before : in the sixth verse it was said, That they were full of eyes before and behind: that is, circumspect and provident for all that were about them, and committed to them. But all is determined and summed up in this, that They were full of eyes within. For as there is no profit at all (none to me, none to God) if I get all the world and lose mine own soul, so there is no profit to me, if I win other men's souls to God, and lose mine own. All my wings shall do me no good, all mine eyes before and behind shall do me no good, if I have no prospect inward, no eyes within, no care of my particular and personal safety.
And so we have done with our first general part, the persons denoted in these four creatures, and the duties of their ministry; in which we have therefore insisted thus long, that having so declared and notified to you our duties, you also might be the more willing to hear of your own duties, as well as ours, and to join with us in this open, and incessant, and total profession of your religion, which is the celebration of the Trinity in this acclamation, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which is, which was, and which is to come.
To come therefore now to the second part, and taking the four evangelists to be principally intended here, but secondarily the preachers of the Gospel too, and not only they, but in a fair extension and accommodation the whole church of God, first we noted their ingenuity and openness in the profession of their religion, they did it dicmtes, saying, declaring, publishing, manifesting their devotion, without any disguise, any modification.
In that song of the three children in the furnace, 0 all ye works of the Lord, &c., there is nothing presented speechless: to every thing that is there, there is given a tongue; not only all those creatures which have all a being, but even privations, privations that have no being, that are nothing in themselves, (as the night, and darkness) are there called upon to bless the Lord, to praise him, and magnify him for ever. But towards the end of that song, you may see that service drawn into a narrower compass; you may see to whom this speech, and declaration doth principally appertain; for after he had called upon sun, and moon, and earth, and sea, &nd fowls, and fishes, and plants, and night, and darkness, to praise the Lord, to bless him, and magnify him for ever, then he comes to 0 ye children of men, primogeniti Dei, God's beloved creatures, his eldest sons, and first-born, in his intention; and then, Domus Israel, 0 ye house of Israel, you whom God hath not only made men, but Christian men, not only planted in the world, but in the church, not only endued with reason, but inspired with religion: and then again, 0 ye priests of the Lord, 0 ye servants of the Lord, those of God's portion, not only in the church, but of the church, and appointed by him to deal between him and other men : and then also, 0 ye spirits and souls of the righteous, those whom those instruments of God had powerfully and effectually wrought upon, upon those especially, those men, those Christian men, those priests, those sanctified men, upon those he calls to bless the Lord, to praise him, and magnify him for ever. This obligation the Holy Ghost lays upon us all, that the more God does for us, the more we should declare it to other men ; God would have us tell him our sins ; God would have us tell other men his mercies ; it was no excuse for Moses that he was of uncircumcised lips*; no excuse for Jeremy to say, 0 Lord God, behold I cannot speak, for I am a child*, Credidi, propterea locutus sum, is David's form of argument, / believed, and therefore I spake. If thou dost not love to speak of God, and of his benefits, thou dost not believe in God, nor that those benefits came from him.
Remember that when thou wast a child, and presented to God in baptism, God gave thee a tongue in other men's mouths, and enabled thee, by them, to establish a covenant, a contract between thy soul, and him then. And therefore since God spake to thee, when thou couldst not hear him, in the faith of the church; since God heard thee when thou couldst not speak to him, in the mouth of thy sureties; since that God that created thee was Verbum, the Word, (for, Dixit, 6t faeta sunt, God spake, and all things were made) since that God that redeemed thee was bum, the Word, (for the Word was made flesh) since that God that sanctified thee is Verbum, the Word, (for therefore St. Basil calls the Holy Ghost Verbum Dei, quia interpres Filii, He calls the Holy Ghost the Word of God, because as the Son is the Word, because he manifests the Father unto us, so the Holy Ghost is the Word, because he manifests the Son unto us, and enables us to apprehend, and apply to ourselves, the promises of God in him) since God, in all the three Persons, is Verbum, the Word to thee, all of them working upon thee, by speaking to thee, Be thou Verbum too, a Word, as God was ; a speaking, ,and a doing word, to his glory, and the edification of others. If the Lord open thy lips, (and except the Lord open them, it were better they were luted with the clay of the grave) let it be to show forth his praise, and not in blasphemous, not in scurrile, not in profane language. If the Lord open thy hand, (and if the Lord open it not, better it were manacled with thy winding-sheet) let it be, as well to distribute his blessings, as to receive them. Let thy mouth, let thy hand, let all the organs of thy body, all the faculties of thy soul, concur in the performance of this duty, intimated here, and required of all God's saints, Ut dicant, That they speak, utter, declare, publish the glory of God. For this is that ingenuity, that alacrity, which constitutes our first branch. And then the second is the assiduity, the constancy, the incessantness, They rest not day nor night.
0 Exod. v. 12. * Jer. i. 6.
But have the saints of God no vacation ? Do they never cease? nay, as the word imports, requiem non habent, they have no rest. Beloved, God himself rested not, till the seventh day ; be thou content to stay for thy Sabbath, till thou mayest have an eternal one. If we understand this, of rest merely, of bodily rest, the saints of God are least likely to have it, in this life ; for, this life, is to them especially, above others, a business, and a perplexed business, a warfare, and a bloody warfare, a voyage, and a tempestuous voyage. If we understand this rest to be cessation, intermission, the saints in heaven have none of that, in this service. It is a labour that never wearies, to serve God there. As the sun is no wearier now, than when he first set out, six
thousand years since; as that angel, which God hath given to protect thee, is not weary of his office, for all thy perversenesses, so, howsoever God deal with thee, be not thou weary of bearing thy part, in his choir here in the militant church. God will have low voices, as well as high; God will be glorified de profundis, as well as in excelsis; God will have his tribute of praise, out of our adversity, as well as out of our prosperity. And that is it which is intimated, and especially intended in the phrase which follows, Day and night. For, it is not only that those saints of God who have their heaven upon earth, do praise him in the night; according to that of St. Jerome, Sanctis ipse somntts, oratio; and that of St. Basil, Etiam somnia sanctorum preces aunt; That holy men do praise God, and pray to God in their sleep, and in their dreams; nor only that which David speaks of, of rising in the night, and fixing stationary hours for prayer; but even in the depth of any spiritual night, in the shadow of death, in the midnight of afflictions and tribulations, God brings light out of darkness, and gives his saints occasion of glorifying him, not only in the dark, (though it be dark) but from the dark, (because it is dark.) This is a way inconceivable by any, inexpressible to any, but those that have felt that manner of God's proceeding in themselves, that be the night what night it will, be the oppression of what extension, or of what duration it can, all this retards not their zeal to God's service; nay, they see God better in the dark, than they did in the light; their tribulation hath brought them to a nearer distance to God, and God to a clearer manifestation to them. And so, to their ingenuity, that they profess God, and their religion openly, is added an assiduity, that they do it incessantly; and then also, an integrity, a totality, that they do not depart with, nor modify in any article of their religion ; which is entirely, and totally enwrapped in this acclamation of the Trinity, (which is our third, and last branch in this last part) Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
For the Trinity itself, it is lux, but lux inaccessibilis; it is light, for a child at baptism professes to see it; but then, it is so inaccessible a light, as that if we will make natural reason our medium, to discern it by, it will fall within that of David, Posuit tenebras latibulum suumTM, God hath made darkness his secret places; God, as God, will be seen in the creature; there, in the creature he is light; light accessible to our reason; but God, in the Trinity, is open to no other light, than the light of faith. To make representations of men, or of other creatures, we find two ways; statuaries have one way, and painters have another : statuaries do it by subtraction; they take away, they pare off some parts of that stone, or that timber, which they work upon, and then that which they leave, becomes like that man, whom they would represent: painters do it by addition ; whereas the cloth, or table presented nothing before, they add colours, and lights, and shadows, and so there arises a representation. Sometimes we represent God by subtraction, by negation, by saying, God is that, which is not mortal, not passible, nor moveable: sometimes we present him by addition; by adding our bodily lineaments to him, and saying, That God hath hands, and feet, and ears, and eyes; and adding our affections, and passions to him, saying, That God is glad, or sorry, angry, or reconciled, as we are. Some such things may be done towards the representing of God, as God; but towards the expressing of the distinction of the Persons in the Trinity, nothing.
Then when Abraham went up to the great sacrifice of his son11, he left his servants, and his ass below: though our natural reason, and human arts, serve to carry us to the hill, to the entrance of the mysteries of religion, yet to possess us of the hill itself, and to come to such a knowledge of the mysteries of religion, as must save us, we must leave our natural reason, and human arts at the bottom of the hill, and climb up only by the light, and strength of faith. Dimitte me quia lucescit, says that angel that wrestled with Jacob; Let me go,for it grows lightTM. If thou think to see me by day-light, says that angel, thou wilt be deceived ; if we think to see this mystery of the Trinity, by the light of reason, dimittemus, we shall lose that hold which we had before, our natural faculties, our reason will be perplexed, and enfeebled, and our supernatural, our faith not strengthened that way.
10 Psal. xviii. 11. " Gen. xxii. 5. " Gen. xxxii. 26.
Those testimonies, and proofs of the Trinity, which are in the Old Testament, are many, and powerful in their direct line; but they are truly, for the most part, of that nature, as that they are rather illustrations, and confirmations to him that believed the Trinity before, than arguments of themselves, able to convince him that hath no such pre-conception. We that have been catechized, and brought up in the knowledge of the Trinity, find much strength, and much comfort, in that we find, in the first line of the Bible, that Sara Elohim, creamt Dii, Gods created heaven and earth; in this, that there is the name of God in the plural, joined to a verb of the singular number, we apprehend an intimation of uivers persons in one God; we that believe the Trinity before, find this, in that phrase, and form of speech; the Jews, which believe not the Trinity, find no such thing. So when we find that plural phrase, Faeiamus hominem, that God says, Let us, us in the plural, make man, we are glad to find such a plural manner of expressing God, by the Holy Ghost, as may concur with that, which we believed before; that is, divers persons in one God. To the same purpose also is that of the prophet Esay, where God says, Whom shall I send, or who shall go for us"? There we discern a singularity, one God, Whom shall I send? and a plurality of Persons too, Who shall yo for us? But what man, that had not been catechised in that doctrine before, would have conceived an opinion, or established a faith in the Trinity, upon those phrases in Moses, or in Esay, without other evidence ? Certainly, it was the divine purpose of God, to reserve and keep this mystery of the Trinity, unrevealed for a long time, even from those, who were, generally, to have their light, and instruction from his word ; they had the law and the prophets, and yet they had no very clear notions of the Trinity. For, this is evident, that in Trismegistus, and in Zoroaster, and in Plato, and some other authors of that air, there seem to be clearer, and more literal expressings of the Trinity, than are in all the prophets of the Old Testament. We take the reason to be, that God reserved the full manifestation of this mystery, for the dignifying, and glorifying of his Gospel. And therefore it is enough that we know, that they of the Old Testament, were
" Isaiah vi. 8
saved by the same faith in the Trinity, that we are ; how God wrought that faith in them, amongst whom he had established no outward means for the imprinting of such a faith, let us not too curiously inquire. Let us be content, to receive our light there, where God hath been pleased to give i t; that is, in those places of the New Testament, which admit no contradiction, nor disputation. As where Christ says, Go, and teach all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost1*. And where it is said, There are three that bear witness in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one". There are obumbrations of the Trinity, in nature, and illustrations of the Trinity, in the Old Testament; but the declaration, the manifestation thereof, was reserved for the Gospel.
Now, this place, this text, is in both, it is in the Old, and it is in the New Testament; here, and in Esay; and in both places, agreed by all expositors, to be a confession of the Trinity, in that threefold repetition, Holy, holy, holy. Where (by the way) you may have use of this note; that in the first place (in the Prophet Esay) we have a fair intimation, that that use of subalternation in the service of God, of that, which we have called antiphones, and responsaries in the church of God, (when in that service, somethings are said or sung by one side of the congregation,*and then answered by the other, or said by one man, and then answered by the whole congregation) that this manner of serving God, hath a pattern from the practice of the triumphant church. For there, the seraphim cried to one another, or (as it is in the original) this seraphim to this, Holy, holy, holy; so that there was a voice given, and an answer made, and a reply returned in this service of God. And as the pattern is in the triumphant church for this holy manner of praising God, so in the practice thereof, the militant prescribes; for it hath been always in use. And therefore, that religious vehemence of Damascene, (speaking of this kind of service in the church in his time) may be allowed us, Hymnum dicemus, etsi dcemones disrumpantur; How much soever it aiiger the devil, or his devilish instruments of schism and sedition,' 'we will serve God in this manner, with holy cheer
14 Matt. xxviiiL 19. " 1 John v. 7.
fulness, with music, with antiphones, with responsaries, of which we have the pattern from the triumphant, and the practice from the primitive church.
Now as this totality, and integrity of their religion which they profess, first, with an ingenuity (openly) and then, with an assiduity, (incessantly) hath (as it were) this dilatation, this extension of God into three Persons, (which is the character and specification of the Christian religion; for no religion, but the Christian, ever inclined to a plurality of Persons in one God) so hath it also such a contracting of this infinite power into that one God, as could not agree with any other religion than the Christian, in either of those two essential circumstances ; first, that that God should be omnipotent, and then, that he should be eternal; The Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
All the heathen gods were ever subordinate to one another ; that which one god could not, or would not do, another would, and could; and this oftentimes, rather to anger another god, than to please the party. And then there was a surveyor, a controller over them all, which none of them could resist, nor entreat, which was their fatum, their destiny. And so, in these subsidiary gods, these occasional gods, there could be no omnipotence, no almightiness. Our God is so omnipotent, almighty so, as that his power hath no limitation but his own will. Nihil impossibile nisi quod non vult", He can do whatsoever he will do; and he can do more than that; for he could have raised sons to Abraham, out of stones in the street.
And as their gods were not omnipotent, so neither were they eternal. They knew the history, the generation, the pedigree of all their gods; they knew where they were born, and where they went to school, (as Justin Martyr says, That Esculapius, and Apollo their gods of physic, learned their physic of Chiron ; so that the scholars were gods, and their masters none) and they knew where their gods were buried; they knew their parents, and their uncles, their wives and their children, yea their bastards, and their concubines; so far were they from being eternal gods; but if we remit and slacken this consideration of eternity (which is never to have had beginning) and consider
only perpetuity (which is never to have end) these gods were not capable of a perpetual honour, an honour that should never end. For we see that of those three hundred several Jupiters, which were worshipped in the world, before Christ came, though the world abound at this day with idolatry, yet there is not one of those idols, not one of those three hundred Jupiters celebrated with any solemnity, no, not known in any obscure corner of the world. They were mortal before they were gods ; they are dead in their persons: and they were mortal when they were gods; they are dead in their worship. In respect of eternity (which is necessary in a god) perpetuity is but Mobilis imago (as Plato calls it) A faint and transitory shadow of eternity; and Pindarus makes it less ; Idolum ceternitatis; Perpetuity is but an idol compared to eternity; and, An idol is nothing, says the apostle. Our souls have a blessed perpetuity, our souls shall no more see an end, than God, that hath no beginning; and yet our souls are very far from being eternal. But those gods are so far from being eternal, as that, considered as gods (that is, celebrated with divine worship) they are not perpetual. But God is our God for ever and ever"; ever, without beginning; and ever, without end. My days are like a shadow that fadeth, and I am withered like grass; but ihou 0 Lord dost remain for ever, and thy remembrance from generation to generationTM; it is a remaining, and it is a remembrance; which words denote a former being. So that God, and our God, only he, is eternal.
To conclude all, with that which must be the conclusion of all at last, this eternity of our God is expressed here in a phrase which designs and presents the last judgment, that is, which was, and is, and is to come. For though it be quifuit, which was, and qui est, which is, yet it is not qui futurus, which is to be; but qui venturus, which is to come; that is, to come to judgment; as it is in divers other places of this Book, qui venturus, which is to come. For though the last judiciary power, the final judgment of the world, be to be executed by Christ, as he is the Son of man, visibly apparently in that nature, yet Christ is therein as a delegate of the Trinity; it is in the virtue and power of that commission, Data est mihi omnis potestas; He hath all power,
" Psal. xLviii. U. " Psal. cii. 11.
but that power that he hath as the Son of man, is given him. For, as the creation of the world was, so the judgment of the world shall be the act of the whole Trinity. For if we consider the second Person in the Trinity, in both his natures, as he redeemed us, God and man, so it cannot be said of him, that He was; that is, that he was eternally ; for there was a time, when that God was not that man ; when that Person, Christ, was not constituted. And therefore this word, in our text, Which was, (which is also true of the rest) is not appropriated to Christ, but intended of the whole Trinity. So that it is the whole Trinity that is to come, to come to judgment.
And therefore, let us reverently embrace such provisions, and such assistances as the church of God hath ordained, for retaining and celebrating the Trinity, in this particular contemplation, as they are to come to judgment. And let us at least provide so far, to stand upright in that judgment, as not to deny, nor to dispute the power, or the Persons of those Judges. A man may make a petty larceny high treason so ; if being called in question for that lesser offence, he will deny that there is any such power, any such sovereign, any such king, as can call him in question for it, he may turn his whipping into a quartering. At that last judgment, we shall be arraigned for not clothing, not visiting, not harbouring the poor; for our not giving is a taking away; our withholding is a withdrawing; our keeping to ourselves, is a stealing from them. But yet all this is but a petty larceny, in respect of that high treason of infidelity, of denying or doubting of the distinct Persons of the holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity. To believe in God, one great, one universal, one infinite power, does but distinguish us from beasts; for there are no men that do not acknowledge such a power, or that do not believe in it, if they acknowledge it: even they that acknowledge the devil to be God, believe in the devil. But that which distinguishes man from man, that which only makes his immortality a blessing, (for even immortality is part of their damnation that are damned, because it were an ease, it were a kind of pardon to them to be mortal, to be capable of death, though after millions of generations) is, to conceive aright of the power of the Father, of the wisdom of the Son, of the goodness of the Holy Ghost; of the
mercy of the Father, of the merits of the Son, of the application of the Holy Ghost; of the creation of the Father, of the redemption of the Son, of the sanctification of the Holy Ghost. Without this, all notions of God are but confused, all worship of God is but idolatry, all confession of God is but atheism; for so the apostle argues, When you were without Christ, you were without God. Without this, all moral virtues are but diseases; liberality is but a popular bait, and not a benefit, not an alms ; chastity is but a castration, and an impotency, not a temperance, not mortification; active valour is but a fury, whatsoever we do, and passive valour is but a stupidity, whatsoever we suffer. Natural apprehensions of God, though those natural apprehensions may have much subtilty, voluntary elections of a religion, though those voluntary elections may have much singularity, moral directions for life, though those moral directions may have much severity, are all frivolous and lost, if all determine not in Christianity, in the notion of God, so as God hath manifested and conveyed himself to us; in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, whom this day we celebrate, in the ingenuity, and in the assiduity, and in the totality, recommended in this text, and in this acclamation of the text, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.