PREACHED ON THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL, 1629.
Acts xxiii. 6, 7.
Bnt when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cricd out in the couucil, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee ; of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude was divided.
We consider ordinarily in the Old Testament, God the Father; and in the Gospels, God the Son; and in this book, the Acts, and in the Epistles, and the rest, God the Holy Ghost, that is, God in the government and administration of his church, as well in the ordinary ministry and constant callings therein, as in the extraordinary use of general councils; of which, we have the model, and platform, and precedent in the fifteenth chapter of this book. The book is noted to have above twenty sermons of the
apostles; and yet the book is not called the sermons, the preaching of the apostles, but the practice, the Acts of the Apostles. Our actions, if they be good, speak louder than our sermons. Our preaching is our speech, our good life is our eloquence. Preaching celebrates the Sabbath, but a good life makes the whole week a Sabbath, that is, a savour of rest in the nostrils of God, as it is said of Noah's sacrifice1, when he came out of the Ark. The book is called the Acts of the Apostles; but says St. Chrysostom, and St. Hierome too, it might be called the Acts of St. Paul, so much more is it conversant about him, than all the rest. In which respect, at this time of the year, and in these days, when the church commemorates the conversion of St. Paul, I have, for divers years successively, in this place, determined myself upon this book. Once upon the very act of his conversion, in those words, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Once upon his valediction to his Ephesians at Miletus, in those words, Now I know that all ye shall see my face no more; and once upon the escape from the viper's teeth, and the viperous tongues of those inconstant and clamorous beholders, who first rashly cried out, He is a murderer, and then changed their minds, and said, He is a god. And now, for the service of your devotions, and the advancement of your edification, I have laid my meditations upon this his stratagem, and just avoiding of an unjust judgment, When Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, &c.
In handling of which words, because they have occasioned a disputation, and a problem, whether this that Paul did, were well done, to raise a dissension amongst his judges, we shall stop first upon that consideration, that all the actions of holy men, of apostles in the New Testament, of patriarchs in the Old, are not to be drawn into example and consequence for others, no nor always to be excused and justified in them that did them; all actions of holy men, are not holy; that is first. And secondly, we shall consider this action of St. Paul, in some circumstances that invest it, and in some effects that it produced in our text, as dissension amongst his judges, and so a reprieving, or rather a putting off of the trial for that time ; and these will determine
1 Gen. viii.
our second consideration. And in a third, we shall lodge all these in ourselves, and make it our own case, and find that we have all Sadducees and Pharisees in our own bosoms, (contrary affections in our own hearts) and find an advantage in putting these home-Sadducees, and home-Pharisees, these contrary affections in our own bosoms, in colluctation, and opposition against one another, that they do not combine, and unite themselves to our farther disadvantage ; a civil war, is, in this case, our way to peace; when one sinful affection crosses another, we scape better, than when all join, without any resistance. And in these three, first the general, how we are to estimate all actions, and then the particular, what we are to think of St. Paul's action, and lastly, the individual, how we are to direct and regulate our own actions, we shall determine all.
First then, though it be a safer way, to suspect an action to be ein that is not, than to presume an action to be no sin, that is so, yet that rule holds better in ourselves, than in other men ; for, in judging the actions of other men, our suspicion may soon stray into an uncharitable misinterpretation, and we may sin in condemning that in another, which was no sin in him that did it. But, in truth, Transilire lineam, To depart from the direct and straight line, is sin, as well on the right hand, as on the left; and the devil makes his advantages upon the over-tender, and scrupulous conscience, as well as upon the over-confident, and obdurate ; and many men have erred as much, in justifying some actions of holy men, as in calumniating, or miscondemning of others. If we had not evidence in Scripture, that Abraham received that commandment from God, who could justify Abraham's proceeding with his son Isaac ? And therefore who shall be afraid to call Noah's drunkenness, and his indecent lying in his tent, or Lot's drunkenness, and his iterated incest with his daughters, or his inconsiderate offer to prostitute his daughters to the Sodomites, or to call David's complicated and multiplied sin, a sin ? When the church celebrates Samson's death, though he killed himself, it is upon a tender and holy supposition, that he might do this not without some instinct and inspiration from the Spirit of God. But howsoever the church interprets such actions, it is a dangerous and a fallacious way, for any private man to argue so, the Spirit of God directed this man in many actions, therefore in all; and dangerous to conclude an action to be good, either because he that did it, had a good purpose in doing it, or because some good effects proceeded from it. . Bonum bene, are the two horses that must carry us to heaven ; to do good things, and to do them well; to propose good ends, and to go by good ways to those good ends. The midwives' lie, in the behalf of the Israelites' children, was a lie, and a sin, howsoever God, out of his own goodness, found something in their piety, to reward. I should not venture to say, as he said, nor to say that he said well, when Moses said, Dele me, Forgive their sin, or blot me out of thy Book*; nor when St. Paul said, Anathema pro fratribus, I could wish that myself were separated from Christ for my brethren*. I would not, I could not without sin, be content that my name should be blotted out of the Book of Life, or that I should be separated from Christ, though all the world beside were to be blotted out, and separated, if I stayed in.
The benefit that we are to make of the errors of holy men, is not that, that man did this, therefore I may do it: but this, God suffered that holy man to fall, and yet loved that good soul well, God hath not therefore cast me away, though he have suffered me to fall too. Bread is man's best sustenance, yet there may be a dangerous surfeit of bread; charity is the bread that the soul lives by; yet there may be a surfeit of charity ; I may mislead myself shrewdly, if I say, Surely my father is a good man, my master a good man, my pastor a good man, men that have the testimony of God's love, by his manifold blessings upon them; and therefore I may be bold to do whatsoever I see them do. Be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven, is perfect*, is the example that Christ gives you. Be ye followers of me, as I am of Christ1', is the example that the apostle gives you. Good examples are good assistances; but no example of man is sufficient to constitute a certain and constant rule ; all the actions of the holiest man are not holy.
Hence appears the vanity and impertinency of that calumny, with which our adversaries of the Roman persuasion labour to
* Exod. x\.\ii. 32. * Rom. ix. 3.
4 Matt. v. 48. ' 1 Cor. xi. 1.
oppress us, that those points in which we depart from them, cannot be well established, because therein we depart from the fathers; as though there were no condemnation to them, that pretended a perpetual adhering to the fathers, nor salvation to them, who suspected any father of any mistaking. And they have thought that one thing enough, to discredit, and blast, and annihilate that great and useful labour, which the centuriators, the Magdeburgenses, took in compiling the ecclesiastical story, that in every age as they pass, those authors have laid out a particular section, a particular chapter, De ncevis patrum, to note the mistakings of the fathers in every age; this they think a criminal and a heinous thing, enough to discredit the whole work; as though there were ever in any age, any father, that mistook nothing, or that it were blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, to note such a mistaking. And yet, if those blessed fathers, now in possession of heaven, be well affected with our celebrating, or ill, with our neglecting their works, certainly they find much more cause to complain of our adversaries, than of us. Never any in the Reformation hath spoken so lightly, nay, so heavily; so negligently, nay, so diligently, so studiously in diminution of the fathers, as they have done. One of the first Jesuits proceeds with modesty and ingenuity, and yet says, Qucelibet cetas antiquitati detulit*, Every age hath been apt to ascribe much to the ancient fathers; Hoc autem asserimus, says he, Juniores doctores perspicaciores, This we must necessarily acknowledge, that our later men have seen farther than the elder fathers did. His fellowJesuit goes farther; Hoc omnes dicunt, sed non probant1, says he, speaking of one person in the genealogy of Christ, this the fathers say, says he, and later men too; Catholics, and heretics; all: but none of them prove it; he will not take their words, not the whole churchX though they all agree. But a bishop of as much estimation and authority in the Council of Trent, as any6, goes much farther; being pressed with St. A ugustine's opinion, he says, Nee nos tantillum moveat Augustinus, Let it never trouble us, which way St. Augustine goes; Hoc enim i Hi peculiar e, says he, ut alium errorem expugnans, alteri ansam prcebeat, for this is inseparable from St. Augustine, That out of an earnestness to destroy one error, he will establish another. Nor doth that bishop impute that distemper only to St. Augustine, but to St. Hierome too; of him he says, In medio positus certamine, ardore feriendi adversaries, premit et socios, St. Hierome lays about him, and rather than miss his enemy, he wounds his friends also. But all that might better be borne than this, Turpiter errarunt patres, The fathers fell foully into errors; and this, better than that, Eorum opinio, opinio hcereticorum, The fathers differ not from the heretics, concur with the heretics. Who in the Reformation hath charged the fathers so far ? And yet Baronius hath.
6 Salmeron. 7 Maldon. 8 Cornel. Mussus.
If they did not oppress us with this calumny of neglecting, or undervaluing the fathers, we should not make our recourse to this way of recrimination; for, God knows, if it be modestly done, and with the reverence, in many respects, due to them, it is no fault to say the fathers fell into some faults. Yet, it is rather our adversaries' observation than ours, That all the ancient fathers were Chiliasts, Millenarians, and maintained that error of a thousand years' temporal happiness upon this earth, between the resurrection, and our actual and eternal possession of heaven ; it is their observation rather than ours, That all the ancient fathers denied the dead a fruition of the sight of God, till the day of judgment; it is theirs rather than ours, That all the Greek fathers, and some of the Latin, assigned God's foreknowledge of man's works, to be the cause of his predestination. It is their note, That for the first six hundred years, the general opinion, and general practice of the church was, to give the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, to infants newly baptized, as a thing necessary to their salvation. They have noted, that the opinion of the ancient fathers was contrary to the present opinion in the church of Rome, concerning the conception of the blessed Virgin without original sin. These notes and imputations arise from their authors, and not from ours, and they have told it us, rather than we them.
Indeed neither we nor they can dissemble the mistakings of the fathers. The fathers themselves would not have them dissembled. De me, says St. Hierome, ubicunque de meo sensu loquor, arguat me quilibet, For my part, wheresoever I deliver but mine own opinion, every man hath his liberty to correct me. It is true, St. Augustine does call Julian the Pelagian to the fathers; hut it is to vindicate and redeem the fathers from those calumnies which Julian had laid upon them, that they were Multitude ccecoruiH, a herd, a swarm of blind guides, and followers of one another, and that they were Conspiratio perditorum, damned conspirators against the truth. To set the fathers in their true light, and to restore them to their lustre and dignity, and to make Julian confess what reverend persons they were, St. Augustine calls him to the consideration of the fathers, but not to try matters of faith by them alone. For, Sapientiam sibi adimit, qul sinejudicio majorum inventa probat*, that man divests himself of all discretion, who, without examination, captivates his understanding to the fathers.
It is ingenuously said by one of their later writers, (if he would but give us leave to say so too) Sequamur patree, tanquam duces, non tanquam dominoslc, Let us follow the fathers as guides, not as lords over our understandings, as counsellors, not as commanders. It is too much to say of any father that which Nicephorus says of St. Chrysostom, In illius perinde atque in Dei verbis quiesco, I am as safe in Chrysostom's words, as in the word of God ; that is too much. It is too much to say of any father that which Sophronius says of Leo, that his epistles were Dveina Scriptura, tanquam ex ore Petri prolata, et fundamentum fidei, That he received the epistles that Leo writ, as holy writ, as written by St. Peter himself, and as the foundation of his faith; that is too much. It is too much to say of St. Peter himself that which Chrysologus says, That he is Immobile fundamentum salutis, The immovable foundation of our salvation, et mediator noster apud Deum, the mediator of man to God. Their Jesuit Axorius gives us a good caution herein; he says It is a good and safe way, in all emergent doubts, to govern ourselves per communem opinionem, by the common opinion, by that, in which most authors agree; but says he, how shall we know which is the common opinion ? Since, not only that is the common opinion in one age, that is not so in another, (the common opinion was in the primitive church, that the blessed Virgin was con
* Lactantius. w Cajetan.
ceived in original sin, the common opinion now, is that she was not) but if we consider the same age, that is the common opinion in one place, in one country, which is not so in another place, at the same time; that Jesuit puts his example in the worship of the cross of Christ, and says, That, at this day, in Germany and in France it is the common opinion, and Catholic divinity, that \arpela, Divine worship, is not due to the cross of Christ; in Italy and in Spain it is the common opinion, and Catholic divinity, that it is due. Now, how shall he govern himself, that is unlearned, and not able to try, which is the common opinion ? Or how shall the learnedest of all govern himself if he have occasion to travel, but to change his divinity, as often as he changes his coin, and when he turns his Dutch dollars into pistolets, to go out of Germany, into Spain, turn his devotion, and his religious worship according to the clime ? To end this consideration, the holy patriarchs in the Old Testament, were holy men, though they strayed into some sinful actions; the holy fathers in the primitive church, were holy men, though they strayed into some erroneous opinions; but neither are the holiest men's actions always holy, nor the soundest father's opinions always sound. And therefore the question hath been not impertinently moved, whether this that St. Paul did here, were justifiably done, Who, when he perceived that one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, &c. And so we are come to our second part, from the consideration of actions in general, to this particular action of St. Paul.
In this second part we make three steps. First, we shall consider, what council, what court this was, before whom St. Paul was convented, (He cried out in the council, says the text) whether they were his competent judges, and so he bound to a clear, and direct proceeding with them ; and secondly, what his end and purpose was, that he proposed to himself; which was to divide the judges, and so to put off his trial to another day; for, when he had said that (says the text) that that he had to say, There arose a dissension, and the multitude, All, both judges, and spectators, and witnesses, were divided; and then lastly, by what way he went to this end; which was by a double protestation , first that, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee ; and then that, Of the hope and resurrection of the dead, I am called in quest ion,
First then, for the competency of his judges, whether a man be examined before a competent judge or no, he may not lie: we can put no case, in which it may be lawful for any man to lie to any man; not to a midnight, nor to a noon thief, that breaks my house, or assaults my person, I may not lie. And though many have put names of disguise, as equivocations, and reservations, yet they are all children of the same father, the father of lies, the devil, and of the same brood of vipers, they are lies. To an incompetent judge, if I be interrogated, I must speak truth, if I speak ; but to a competent judge, I must speak : with the incompetent I may not be false, but with the competent, I may not be silent. Certainly, that standing mute at the bar, which, of late times hath prevailed upon many distempered wretches, is, in itself, so particularly a sin, as that I should not venture to absolve any such person, nor to administer the sacrament to him, how earnestly soever he desired it at his death, how penitently soever he confessed all his other sins, except he repented in particular, that sin, of having stood mute and refused a just trial, and would be then content to submit himself to it, if that favour might possibly at that time be afforded him. To an incompetent judge I must not lie, but I may be silent, to a competent I must answer.
Consider- we then the competency of St. Paul's judges, what this council, this court was. It was that council, which is so often in the New Testament called avveSpiov, and in our translation, the council. The Jews speak much of their Lex oralis, their oral, their traditional law; that is, That exposition of the law, which, say they, Moses received from the mouth of God, without writing, in that forty days' conversation which he had with God, in the Mount; for, it is not probable, say they, that Moses should spend forty days in that, which another man would have done in one or two, that is, in receiving only that law which is written : but he received an exposition too, and delivered that to Joshua, and he to the principal men, and according to that exposition, they proceeded in judgment, in this council, in this their synedrion. Which council having had the first institution thereof, where God said to Moses, Gather me seventy men of the elders of Israel, officers over the people, and I will take of the spirit that is upon the*, and put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden"; that is, I will impart to them that exposition of the law, which I have imparted to thee, and by that they shall proceed in judgment, in this council, this synedrion of seventy, had continued (though with some variations) to this time, when St. Paul was now called before them. Of this council of seventy, this synedrion, our blessed Saviour speaks, when he says, He that says Raca, (that is, declares his anger by any opprobrious words of defamation,) shall be mbject to the council ". Of this council he speaks, when he says, For my sake, they will deliver you up to the council"; and from this council it is, not inconveniently, thought, that those messengers were sent, which were sent to examine John Baptist, whether he were the Messiah or no; for there it is said, That Priests and Leeites were sent 14; and this council, says Josephus, at first, (and for a long time) consisted of such persons, though, after, a third order was taken in, that is, some principal men of the other tribes. To this council belonged the cognizance of all causes, ecclesiastical and civil, and of all persons, no magistrate, no prophet was exempt from this court". Before this council was Herod himself called, for an execution done by his command, which, though it were done upon a notorious malefactor, yet was done without due proceedings in law, and therefore Herod was called before this council for it.
But (by the way) this was not done when Herod was king, as Baronius doth mischievously and seditiously infer and argue, as though this council were above the king. Herod at that time, was very far from any imagination of being king; his father, Antipater, who then was alive, having, at that time, no pretence to the kingdom. But Herod, though young, was then in a great place of government, and for a misdemeanor there, was called before this council, which had jurisdiction over all but the king. For so, in the Talmud itself, the difference is expressly put; Sacerdos magnus judicat et judicatur, The high priest, the greatest prelate in the clergy, may have place in this council, and may be called in question by this council, Judicat et
11 Numb. xi. 16. " Matt. v. 22. " John x. 17.
14 John i. 19. 1• Joseph. 1. xiv. c. 17.
judicatur; So, Testimoniitm dicit, et de eo dicitur, He may go from the bench, and be a witness against any man, and he may be put from the bench, and any man's witness be received against him. But then of the king, it is as expressly said, of this council, in that Talmud, Nee judicat, nee judieatur, The king sits in judgment upon no man, lest his presence should intimidate an accused person, or draw the other judges from their own opinion to his; much less can the king be judged by any; Nee testimonium dicit, nee de eo dicitur, The king descends not to be a witness against any man, neither can any man be a witness against him. It was therefore mischievously, and seditiously, and treacherously, and traitorously, and (in one comprehensive word) papistically argued by Baronius, that this council was above the king.
But above all other persons it was; in some cases, in the whole body of the council; for, matters of religion, innovations in points of doctrine, imputations upon great persons in the church, were not to be judged by any selected committee, but by the whole council, the entire body, the seventy; pecuniary matters, and matters of defamation, might be determined by a committee of any three; matters that induced bodily punishments, though it were but flagellation, but a whipping matter, not under a committee of twenty-three. But so were all persons, and all causes distributed, as that that court, that council had cognizance of all. So that then St. Paul was before a competent and a proper judge, and therefore bound to answer; did he that ? That is our next disquisition, and our second consideration in this part, his end, his purpose in proceeding as he did.
His end was to dissolve the council for the present. He saw a tumultuary proceeding; for, as the text says, he was fain to cry out in the council, before he could be heard. He saw the president of the council, Ananias the high priest, so ill-affected towards him, as that he commanded him extra-judicially to be smitten. He saw a great part of his judges, and spectators, amongst whom were the witnesses, to be his declared enemies. He saw that if he proceeded to a trial then, he perished infallibly, irrecoverably, and therefore desired to put off the trial for that time. He did not deny nor decline the jurisdiction of that court; he had no eye to any foreign prince, nor prelate: there are amongst us that do so; that deny that they can be traitors, though they commit treason, because they are subjects to a foreign bishop, and not to their natural king ; St. Paul did not do so. He did not calumniate nor traduce the proceedings of that court, nor put into the people ill opinions of their superiors, by laying aspersions upon them ; there are that do so ; St. Paul did not. But his end and purpose was only to put off the trial for that time, till he might be received to a more sober, and calm, and equitable hearing. And this certainly was no ill end, so his way were good. What was that ? That is our next, our third and last consideration in this part.
His way was by a two-fold protestation ; the first this, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a sect amongst the Jews, who are ordinarily conceived to have received their name from division, from separation, from departing from that liberty, which other men did take, to a stricter form of life. Of which, amongst many others, St. Hierome gives us this evidence, that the Pharisees would fringe their long robes with thorns, that so they might cut, and tear, and mangle their heels and legs as they went, in the sight of the people. Outward mortification and austerity was a specious thing, and of great estimation amongst the Jews: you may see that in John Baptist: who was as much followed, and admired for that, as Christ for his miracles, though John Baptist did no miracles. For extraordinary austerity is a continual miracle. As St. Hierome says of chastity, Habet servata pudicitia martyrium sun Hi. Chastity is a continual martyrdom; so to surrender a man's self to a continual hunger, and thirst, and cold, and watching, and forbearing all which all others enjoy, a continual mortification is a continual miracle. This made the Pharisees gracious and acceptable to the people: therefore St. Paul doth not make his protestation here only so, That he had been as touching the law, a Pharisee", nor as he makes it in this book, After the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee", that is, heretofore I did, but now, after his conversion, and after his apostolical commission, he makes it, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee.
10 Phil. iii. 5. " Acts «vi. 5.
Beloved, there are some things in which all religions agree; the worship of God, the holiness of life; and therefore, if when I study this holiness of life, and fast, and pray, and submit myself to discreet, and medicinal mortifications, for the subduing of my body, any man will say, this is papistical, Papists do this, it is a blessed protestation, and no man is the less a Protestant, nor the worse a Protestant for making it, men and brethren, I am a Papist, that is, I will fast and pray as much as any Papist, and enable myself for the service of my God, as seriously, as sedulously, as laboriously as any Papist. So, if when I startle and am affected at a blasphemous oath, as at a wound upon my Saviour, if when I avoid the conversation of those men, that profane the Lord's day, any other will say to me, This is puritanical, Puritans do this, it is a blessed protestation, and no man is the less a Protestant, nor the worse a Protestant for making it. Men and brethren, I am a Puritan, that is, I will endeavour to be pure, as my Father in heaven is pure, as far as any Puritan.
Now of these Pharisees, who were by these means so popular, the numbers were very great. The Sadducees, who also were of an exemplary holiness in some things, but in many and important things of different opinions, even in matters of religion, from all other men, were not so many in number, but they were men of better quality and place in the state, than, for the most part, the Pharisees were. And as they were more potent, and able to do more mischief, so had they more declared themselves to be bent against the apostles, than the Pharisees had done. In the fourth chapter of this book 1*, The Priests and the Sadducees, (no mention of Pharisees) came upon Peter and John, being grieved, that they preached, through Jesits, the resurrection of the dtad. And so again, The high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, which is (says that text expressly) the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignationTM. And some collect out of a place in Eusebius, that this Ananias, who was high priest at this time, and had declared his ill affection to St. Paul, (as you heard before) was a Sadducee: but I think those words of Eusebius will not bear, at least, not enforce that, nor be well applied to this Ananias. Howsoever, St. Paul had just cause to
" Ver. 2. 1* Acts v. 17.
come to this protestation, I am a Pharisee, and in so doing he can be obnoxious to nothing; if he be as safe in his other protestation, all is well, for the hope and resurrection of the dead, am I called in question ; consider we that.
It is true, that he was not, at this time, called in question, directly and expressly for the resurrection; you may see, where he was apprehended, that it was for teaching against that people, and against that law, and against that temple*0. So that, he was indicted upon pretence of sedition, and profanation of the temple. And therefore, when St. Paul says here, / am called in question for preaching the Resurrection, he means this, If I had not preached the resurrection, I should never have been called in question, nor should be, if I would forbear preaching the resurrection ; no man persecutes me, no man appears against me, but only they that deny the resurrection; the Sadducees did deny it; the Pharisees did believe it; and therefore this was a likely and a lawful way to divide them, and to gain time, with such a purpose, (so far) as David had, when he prayed, 0 Lord, divide their tongues". For it is not always unlawful to sow discord, and to kindle dissension among men; for men may agree too well, to ill purposes. So have ye then seen, that though it be not safe to conclude, St. Paul, or any holy man did this, therefore I may do it, (which was our first part) yet in this which St. Paul did here, there was nothing that may not be justified in him, and imitated by us, (which was our second part) remains only the third, which is the accommodation of this to our present times, and the appropriation thereof to ourselves, and making it our own case.
The world is full of Sadducees, and Pharisees, and the true church of God, arraigned by both. The Sadducees were the greater men, the Pharisees were the greater number; so they are still. The Sadducees denied the resurrection, and angels, and spirits; so they do still. For those Sadducees, whom we consider now, in this part, are mere carnal men ; men that have not only no spirit of God in them, but no soul, no spirit of their own ; mere atheists. And this carnality, this atheism, this Sadducism is seen in some countries to prevail most upon great
" Acts xxi. 28. " Psal. i.v. 9.
VOL. II. - B
persons, (the Sadducees were great persons) upon persons that abound in the possessions, and offices, and honours of this world; for they that have most of this world, for the most part, think least of the next.
These are our present Sadducees; and then the Pharisee hath his name from Pharas, which is division, separation; but Calvin derives the name (not inconveniently) from Pharash, which is exposition, explication. We embrace both extractions, and acceptations of the word, both separation and exposition ; for the Pharisee whom we consider now, in this part, is he that is separated from us, (there it is Pharas, separation) and separated by following private expositions, (there it is Pharash, exposition) with a contempt of all antiquity; and not only an under-valuation, but a detestation of all opinions but his own, and his, whom he hath set up for his idol. And as the Sadducee (our great and worldly man) is all carnal, all body, and believes no spirit: so our Pharisee is so super-spiritual, as that he believes, that is, considers nobody; he imagines such a purification, such an angelification, such a deification in this life, as though the heavenly Jerusalem were descended already, or that God had given man but that one commandment, Love God above all, and not a second to, Love thy neighbour as thyself. Our Sadducees will have all body, our Pharisees all soul, and God hath made us of both, and given us offices proper to each.
Now of both these, the present Sadducee, the carnal atheist, and the present Pharisee, the separatist, that overvalues himself, and bids us stand further off, there are two kinds. For, for the atheist, there is David's atheist, and St. Paul's atheist; David's, that ascribes all to nature, and says in his heart, There is no GodTM; that will call no sudden death, nor extraordinary punishment upon any enormous sinner, a judgment of God, nor any such deliverance of his servants, a miracle from God, but all is nature, or all is accident, and would have been so, though there had been no God: this is nature's Sadducee, David's atheist; and then St. Paul's atheist is he, who, though he do believe in God, yet doth not believe God in Christ; for so St. Paul says to the Ephesians, Absque Christo, absque Deo, If ye be
" Psal. xiv. 2.
without Christ, ye are without Godu. For as it is the same absurdity in nature, to say, There is no sun, and to say, This that you call the sun is not the sun, this that shines out upon you, this that produces your fruits, and distinguishes your seasons, is not the sun : so is it the same atheism, in these days of light, to say, There is no God, and to say, this Christ whom you call the Son of God, is not God, that he in whom God hath manifested himself, he whom God had made head of the church, and Judge of the world, is not God. This then is our double Sadducee, David's atheist that believes not God, St. Paul's atheist that believes not Christ. And as our Sadducee is, so is our Pharisee two-fold also.
There is a Pharisee, that by following private expositions, separates himself from our church, principally for matter of government and discipline, and imagines a church that shall be defective in nothing, and does not only think himself to be of that church, but sometimes to be that church, for none but himself is of that persuasion. And there is a Pharisee that dreams of such an union, such an identification with God in this life, as that he understands all things, not by benefit of the senses, and impressions in the fancy and imagination, or by discourse and ratiocination, as we poor souls do, but by immediate, and continual infusions and inspirations from God himself; that he loves God, not by participation of his successive grace, more and more, as he receives more and more grace, but by a communication of God himself to him, entirely and irrevocably; that he shall be without any need, and above all use of Scriptures, and that the Scriptures shall be no more to him, than a catechism to our greatest doctors; that all that God commands him to do in this . world, is but as an easy walk down a hill; that he can do all that easily, and as much more, as shall make God beholden to him, and bring God into his debt, and that he may assign any man to whom God shall pay the arrearages due to him, that is, appoint God upon what man he shall confer the benefit of his works of supererogation; for in such propositions as these, and in such paradoxes as these, do the authors in the Roman church delight
-' - Ephes. ii. 12.
to express and celebrate their Pharisaical purity, as we find it frequently, abundantly in them.
In a word, some of our home-Pharisees will say, that there are some, who by benefit of a certain election, cannot sin; that the adulteries and blasphemies of the elect, are not sins; but the Rome-Pharisee will say, that some of them are not only without sin in themselves, but that they can save others from sin, or the punishment of sin. by their works of supererogation; and that they are so united, so identified with God already, as that they are in possession of the beatifical vision of God, and see him essentially, and as he is, in this h'fe : (for that Ignatius the father of the Jesuits did so, some of his disciples say*4, it is at least probable, if not certain) and that they have done all that they had to do for their own salvation, long ago, and stay in the world now, only to gather treasure for others, and to work out their salvation. So that these men are in better state in this life, than the saints are in heaven; there, the saints may pray for others, but they cannot merit for others ; these men here can merit for other men, and work out the salvation of others. Nay, they may be said in some respect to exceed Christ himself; but Christ did save no man here, but by dying for him; these men save other men, with living well for them, and working out their salvation.
These are our double Sadducees, and our double Pharisees; and now, beloved, if we would go so far in St. Paul's way, as to set this two-fold Sadducee, David's atheist, without God, and St. Paul's atheist, without Christ, against our two-fold Pharisee, our home-Catharist, and our Rome-Catharist, if we would spend all our wit, and all our time, all our ink, and our gall, in showing them the deformities and iniquities of one another, by our preaching and writing against them, the truth, and the true church might (as St. Paul did in our text) scape the better. But when we (we that differ in no such points) tear, and wound, and mangle one another with opprobious contumelies, and odious names of subdivision in religion, our home-Pharisee, and our Rome-Pharisee, maligners of our discipline, and maligners of our doctrine, gain upon us, and make their advantages of our contentions, and
f 4 Sandaeus Theolog. par. i. fo. 760.
both the Sadducees, David's atheist that denies God, and St. Paul's atheist that denies Christ, join in a scornful asking us, Where is now your God ? Are not we as well that deny him absolutely, as you that profess him with wrangling ?
But stop we the floodgates of this consideration ; it would melt us into tears. End we all with this, that we have all, all these, Sadducees and Pharisees in our own bosoms: Sadducees that deny spirits; carnal apprehensions that are apt to say, Is your God all spirit, and hath bodily eyes to see sin ? All spirit, and hath bodily hands to strike for a sin I Is your soul all spirit, and hath a fleshly heart to fear ; All spirit, and hath sensible sinews to feel a material fire ? Was your God, who is all spirit, wounded when you quarrelled ? Or did your soul, which is all spirit, drink when you were drunk ? Sins of presumption, and carnal confidence are our Sadducees; and then our Pharisees are our sins of separation, of division, of diffidence and distrust in the mercies of our God; when we are apt to say, after a sin, Cares God, who is all spirit, for my eloquent prayers, or for my passionate tears ? Is the giving of my goods to the poor, or of my body to the fire, anything to God who is all spirit? My spirit, and nothing but my spirit, my soul, and nothing but my soul, must satisfy the justice, the anger of God, and be separated from him for ever. My Sadducee, my presumption, suggests, that there is no spirit, no soul to suffer for sin; and my Pharisee, my desperation, suggests, that my soul must perish irremediably, irrecoverably, for every sin that my body commits.
Now if I go St. Paul's way, to put a dissension between these my Sadducees, and my Pharisees, to put a jealousy between my presumption and my desperation, to make my presumption see, that my desperation lies in wait for her; and to consider seriously, that my presumption will end in desperation, I may, as St. Paul did in the text, scape the better for that. But if, without farther troubling these Sadducees and these Pharisees, I be content to let them agree, and to divide my life between them, so as that my presumption shall possess all my youth, and desperation mine age, I have heard my sentence already, The end of this man trill be worse than his beginning, how much soever God be incensed with me, for my presumption at first, he will be much more inexorable for my desperation at last. And therefore interrupt the prescription of sin ; break off the correspondence of sin; unjoint the dependency of sin upon sin. Bring every single sin, as soon as thou committeat it, into the presence of thy God, upon those two legs, confession, and detestation, and thou shalt see, that, as, though an entire island stand firm in the sea, yet a single clod of earth cast into the sea, is quickly washed into nothing; so, howsoever thine habitual, and customary, and concatenated sins, sin enwrapped and complicated in sin, sin entrenched and barricadoed in sin, sin screwed up, and rivetted with sin, may stand out, and wrestle even with the mercies of God, in the blood of Christ Jesus; yet if thou bring every single sin into the sight of God, it will be but as a clod of earth, but as a grain of dust in the ocean. Keep thy sins then from mutual intelligence ; that they do not second one another, induce occasion, and then support and disguise one another, and then, neither shall the body of sin ever oppress thee, nor the exhalations, and damps, and vapours of thy sad soul, hang between thee, and the mercies of thy God; but thou shalt live in the light and serenity of a peaceable conscience here, and die in a fair possibility of a present melioration and improvement of that light. \ All thy life thou shalt be preserved, in an oriental light, SrTeastern light, a rising and a growing light, the light of grace; and at thy death thou shalt be super-illustrated, with a meridional light, a south light, the light of glory. And be this enough for the explication, and application of these words, and their complication with the day; for the justifying of St. Paul's stratagem in himself, and the exemplifying, and imitation thereof in us. Amen.
That God that is the God of peace, grant us his peace, and one mind towards one another; that God that is the Lord of Hosts, maintain in us that war, which himself hath proclaimed, an enmity between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent, between the truth of God, and the inventions of men; that we may fight his battles against his enemies without, and fight his battles against our enemies within, our own corrupt affections; that we may be victorious here, in ourselves, and over ourselves, and triumph with him hereafter, in eternal glory.