PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S INN.
Psalm xxxviii. 4>.
For mine iniquities are gone over my head, as a heavy burden, they are too
heavy for me.
David having in the former verses of this Psalm assigned a reason, why he was bound to pray, because he was in misery, (0 Lord rebuke me not in thine anger, for thine arrows stick fast in me) and a reason why he should be in misery, because God was angry, (Thy handpresseth me sore, V. 2. And, There is no soundness in my flesh, because of thine anger, V. 3). And a reason, why God should be angry, because he had sinned, (There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin, in the same verse). He proceeds to a reason, why this prayer of his must be vehement, why these miseries of his are so violent, and why God's anger is permanent, and he finds all this to be, because in his sins, all these venomous qualities, vehemence, violence, and continuance, were complicated, and enwrapped; for, he had .sinned vehemently, in the rage of lust, and violently, in the effusion of blood, and permanently, in a long, and senseless security. They are all contracted in this text, into two kinds, which will be our two parts, in handling these words; first, the Bupergressw super, Mine iniquities are gone over my head, there is the multiplicity, the number, the succession, and so the continuation of his sin: and then, the Gravatw super, My sins are as a heavy burden, too heavy for me, there is the greatness, the weight, the insupportableness of his sin. St. Augustine calls these two distinctions, or considerations of sin, igorantiam, et difficultatem; first, that David was ignorant, that he saw not the tide, as it swelled up upon him, abyssus abyssum, depth called upon depth; and, all thy waters, and all thy billows are gone over me, (says he, in another place1) he perceived them not coming till they were over him, he discerned not his particular sins, then when he committed them, till they came
1 Psalm xi.ii. 7
to the supergressw super, to that height, that he was overflowed, surrounded, his iniquities were gone over his head, and in that St. Augustine notes ignorantiam, his unobservance, his inconsideration of his own case; and then he notes difficultatem, the hardness of recovering, because he that is under water, hath no air to see by, no air to hear by, he hath nothing to reach to, he touches not ground, to push him up, he feels no bough to pull him up, and therein that father notes difficultatem, the hardness of recovering. Now Moses expresses these two miseries together, in the destruction of the Egyptians, in his song, after Israel's deliverance, and the Egyptians' submersion, The depths have covered them*, (there is the supergressw super, their iniquities, in that punishment of their iniquities, were gone over their heads) and then, they sank into the bottom as a stone (says Moses) there is the gravatw super, they depressed them, suppressed them, oppressed them, they were under them, and there they must lie.
The Egyptians had, David had, we have too many sins, to swim above water, and too great sins to get above water again, when we are sunk; the numberof sins then, and the greatness of sin, will be our two parts; the dangers are equal, to multiply many lesser sins, or to commit a few, more heinous: except the danger be greater, (as indeed it may justly seem to be) in the multiplication, and custom, and habit of lesser sins ; but how great is the danger, then, how desperate is our state, when our sins are great in themselves, and multiplied too?
In his many sins, we shall touch thus many circumstances: first, they werepeccata, sins, iniquities; and thenpeccata sua, his sins, his iniquities, which intimates actual sins; for though God inflict miseries for original sin (death, and that, that induces it, sickness, and the like) yet those are miseries common to all, because the sin is so too; but these, are his punishments, personal calamities, and the sins are his own sins; and then, (which is a third circumstance) they are sins in the plural, God is not thus angry for one sin; and again, they are such sins, as have been long in going, and are now got over, supergressw sunt, they are gone, gone over; and then lastly, for that first part, supergressa? caput, they are gone over my head, in which exaltation, is inti
! Exod. xv. 5.
mated all this; first, sicut tectum, sicut fornix, they are over his head, as a roof, as a ceiling, as an arch, they have made a wall of separation, betwixt God and us, so they are above our head; and then sicut clamor, they are ascended as a noise, they are got up to heaven, and cry to God for vengeance, so they are above our head; and again sicut aquw, they are risen and swollen as waters, they compass us, they smother us, they blind us, they stupify us, so they are above our head; but lastly and principally, sicut dominus, they are got above us, as a tyrant, and an usurper, for so they are above our head too: and in these we shall determine our first part. When from thence we come to our second part, in which, (as in this we shall have done their number) we shall consider their greatness, we find them first heavy, sin is no light matter; and then, they are too heavy, a little weight would but ballast us, this sinks us; too heavy for me, even for a man equal to David; and where is he? when is that man? for, says our text, they are as heavy, as a heavy burden; and the nature, and inconvenience of a burden is, first to crooken, and bend us downward from our natural posture, which is erect, for this incurvation implies a declination in the inordinate love of the creature, incurvat. And then the nature of a burden is, to tire us; our very sin becomes fulsome, and wearisome to us, fatigat; and it hath this inconvenience too, ut retardet, it slackens our pace, in our right course, though we be not tired, yet we cannot go so fast, as we should in any way towards godliness; and lastly, this is the inconvenience of a burden too, ut prwcipitet, it makes us still apt and ready to stumble, and to fall under it: it crookens us, it deprives us of our rectitude; it tires us, extinguishes our alacrity; it slackens us, enfeebles and intepidates our zeal; it occasions our stumbling, opens and submits us, to every emergent temptation. And these be the dangers, and the mischievous inconveniences, notified to us, in those two elegancies of the Holy Ghost, the supergressw, the multiplicity of sins, They are gone over my head, and the gravatw, they are a heavy burden, too heavy for me.
First then, all these things are literally spoken of David; by application, of us; and by figure, of Christ. Historically, David; morally, we; typically, Christ is the subject of this te;xt. In David's person, we shall insist no longer upon them, but only to look upon the two general parts, the multiplicity of his sin, and the weight and greatness thereof: and that only in the matter of Uriah, as the Holy Ghost3, (without reproaching the adultery or the murder, after David's repentance) vouchsafes to mollify his manifold, and his heinous sin. First, he did wrong to a loyal and a faithful servant; and who can hope to be well served, that does so? He corrupted that woman, who for aught appearing to the contrary, had otherwise preserved her honour, and her conscience entire; it is a sin, to run with a thief when thou seest him, or to have thy portion with them that are adulterers already4; to accompany them in their sin, who have an inclination to that sin before, is a sin; but to solicit them, who have no such inclination, nor, but for thy solicitation, would have had, is much more inexcusable. In David's sin, there was thus much more, he defrauded some, to whom his love was due, in dividing himself with a strange woman. To steal from another man, though it be to give to the poor, and to such poor, as would otherwise starve, if that had not been stolen, is injustice, is a sin. To divide that heart, which is entirely given to a wife, in marriage, with another woman, is a sin, though she, to whom it is so given, pretend, or might truly suffer much torment and anguish if it were not done. David's sin flew up to a higher sphere; he drew the enemy to blaspheme the name of God, in the victory over Israel, where Uriah was slain: God hates nothing more in great persons, than that prevarication, to pretend to assist his cause, and promove his religion, and yet underhand give the enemies of that religion way to grow greater. His sins, indeed, were too many to be numbered; too great too, to be weighed in comparison with others. Uriah was innocent towards him, and faithful in his employment, and, at that time, in an actual, and in a dangerous service, for his person, for the state, for the church. Him David betrays in his letter to Joab; him David makes the instrument of his own death, by carrying those letters, the warrants of his own execution; and he makes Joab, a man of honour, his instrument for a murder to cover an adultery. Thus many sins, and these heavy degrees of sin, were in this one; and how many, and how weighty, were in that, of numbering of his people3,
we know not. We know, that Satan provoked him to do it; and we know, that Joan, who seconded and accomplished his desire in the murder of Uriah, did yet dissuade, and dis-counsel this numbering of the people, and not out of reason of state, but as an express sin. Put all together, and less than all, we are sure David belied not himself, His iniquities were gone over his head, and as a heavy burden, they were too heavy for him; though this will be a good rule, for the most part, in all David's confessions and lamentations, that though that be always literally true of himself, for the sin, or for the punishment, which he says, personally David did suffer, that which he complains of in the Psalms, in a great measure, yet David speaks prophetically, as well as personally, and to us, who exceed him in his sins, the exaltation of those miseries, which we find so often in this book, are especially intended; that which David relates to have been his own case, he foresees will be ours too, in a higher degree. And that is our second, and our principal object of all those circumstances, in the multiplicity, and in the heinousness of sin; and therefore, to that second part, these considerations in ourselves, we make thus much haste.
First then, they were peccata, sins, iniquities. And we must not think to ease ourselves in that subtilty of the School, peccatum nihil; that sin is nothing, because sin had had no creation, sin hath no reality, sin is but a deflection from, but a privation of the rectitude required in our actions; that is true; it is true, that is said by Catarinus, Let wives be subject to their husbands in omnibus*, in every thing; omnium appellatione, in Scripturis, nunquam venit malum, wheresoever the Scripture says all things, it never means any ill thing, quia malum, ut malum, defectio est, nihil est, because, says he, ill things, are no things, ill, considered as ill, is nothing; for, whatsoever is any thing, was made by God, and ill, sin, i3 no creature of his making. This is true; but that will not ease my soul, no more than it will ease my body, that sickness is nothing, and death is nothing: for death hath no reality, no creation, death is but a privation, and damnation, as it is the everlasting loss of the sight and presence of God, is but a priva
tion. And therefore as we fear death, and fear damnation, though in discourse, and in disputation, we can make a school-shift, to call them nothing, and but privations, so let us fear sin too, for all this imaginary nothingness, which the heat of the School hath smoked it withal.
Sin is so far from being nothing, as that there is nothing else but sin in us: sin hath not only a place, but a palace, a throne, not only a being, but a dominion, even in our best actions: and if every action of ours must needs be denominated from the degrees of good, or of bad, that are in it, howsoever there may be some tincture of some moral goodness, in some actions, every action will prove a sin, that is, vitiated and depraved with more ill, than rectified with good conditions. And then, every sin will prove lwsio Dei, a violence, a wound inflicted upon God himself, and therefore it is not nothing.
It is strangely said in the Roman church7, for the establishing of their kind of venial sin, that every sin is not Iwsio Dei, a violation, and a wounding of God, because God is charity, and charity is not extinguished by every sin.
The priest a"nd the Levite neglected the man, that lay in his blood, in the way to Jericho; but they did not argue so, Tush this man is not hurt, for we see him breathe, and move. Out of the civil law, we assign divers diminutiones capitis, many things, that are called capital, and yet do not take away man's life; and it were strangely concluded, that a man were not hurt in his head, because he was not beheaded. Yet so they conclude, that say, a venial sin is not Iwsio Dei, not a violation of God, who is charity, because it does not extinguish charity: so that, at the last, nothing shall be sin with them, except it kill God; that is, nothing. And indeed they have brought it too near to that, when they have left no sin, which may not be bought out after, no sin, to which, by some just consequence, and inference upon some points of their doctrine, a man may not be encouraged before. Turpis omnis pars suo universo non consentiens*; Every limb that is not proportionable to the whole body, deforms the body. God made a body of goodness; all good; and he that enters an ill action, a sin, deforms this body of God, defaces this work of his
7 Coster. 8 Augustine.
making. Mentis principatu s in peccato obliviscimur'; We resign, we disavow that sovereignty, which God hath given us, when we sin.
God spake not only of the beasts of the forest, but of those beasts, that is, those brutish affections, that are in us, when he said, Subjicite et dominamini, Subdue, and govern the world; and in sinning we lose this dominion over ourselves, and forfeit our dominion over the creature too. Qui peccat, quatenus peccat, seipso deterior; Every sin leaves us worse than it found us, and we rise poorer, ignobler, weaker, for every night's sin than we lay down. Plerumque non implemus bonum propositum, ne offendamus eos quibuscum vidimus10; If any good purpose arise in us, we dare not pursue it, for fear of displeasing those, with whom we live, and to whom we have a relation, and a dependence upon them. We sin, and sin, and sin, lest our abstinence from sin should work as an increpation, as a rebuke upon them that do sin; for this they will call an ambition in us that being their inferiors, we go about to be their betters, if we will needs be better, that is, less vicious than they. First then, personally in himself, prophetically in us, David laments our state, quia peccata, because we are under sin, sin which is a depravation of man in himself, and a deprivation of God from man. And then our next cause of lamentation is, the propriety in sin, that they are nostra, our own, Iniquitates mew, says David, My sins, mine iniquities are gone over my head.
We are not all Davids, amabiles, lovely and beloved in that measure that David was, men according to God's heart: but we are all Adams, terrestres, and lutosi, earth, and dirty earth, red, and bloody earth, and therefore in ourselves, as derived from him, let us find, and lament all these numbers, and all these weights of sin. Here we are all born to a patrimony, to an inheritance; an inheritance, a patrimony of sin; and we are all good husbands, and thrive too fast upon that stock, upon the increase of sin, even to the treasuring up of sin, and the wrath of God for sin. How naked soever we came out of our mother's womb, otherwise, thus we came all apparelled, apparelled and invested in sin; and we multiply this wardrobe with new habits, habits
9 Leo. 10 Augustine.
of customary sins, every day. Every man hath an answer to that question of the apostle, What hast thou, that thou hast not received from God? Every man must say, I have pride in my heart, wantonness in mine eyes, oppression in my hands; and that I never received from God. Our sins are our own; and we have a covetousness of more; a way, to make other men's sins ours too, by drawing them to a fellowship in our sins. I must be beholden to the loyalty and honesty of my wife, whether my children be mine own, or no; for he whose eye waiteth for the evening, the adulterer, may rob me of that propriety. I must be beholden to the protection of the law, whether my goods shall be mine, or no; a potent adversary, a corrupt judge may rob me of that propriety. I must be beholden to my physician, whether my health, and strength shall be mine, or no; a garment negligently left off, a disorderly meal may rob me of that propriety. But without asking any man leave, my sins will be mine own. When the presumptuous men say, Our lips are our own, and our tongues are our otcn11, the Lord threatens to cut off those lips, and those tongues. But except we do come to say, our sins are our own, God will never cut up that root in us, God will never blot out the memory in himself, of those sins. Nothing can make them none of ours, but the avowing of them, the confessing of them to be ours. Only in this way, I am a holy liar, and in this the God of truth will reward my lie; for, if I say my sins are mine own, they are none of mine, but by that confessing and appropriating of those sins to myself, they are made the sins of him, who hath suffered enough for all, my blessed Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. Therefore that servant of God, St. Augustine, confesses those sins which he never did, to be his sins, and to have been forgiven him: Peccata mihi dimissa fateor, et quw mea sponte feci, et quw te duee non feci; Those sins which I have done, and those which, but for thy grace, I should have done, are all my sins. Alas, I may die here, and die under an everlasting condemnation of fornication with that woman, that lives, and dies a virgin, and be damned for a murderer of that man, that out-lives me, and for a robbery, and oppression, where no man is damnified, nor any penny lost.
"Psalm xii. 4.
The sin that I have done, the sin that I would have done, is ray sin. We must not therefore transfer our sins upon any other. We must not think to discharge ourselves upon a peccata- patris; to come to say, My father thrived well in this course, why should not I proceed in it? My father was of this religion, why should not I continue in it? How often is it said in the Scriptures, of evil kings, he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in via patris, in the way of his father? father in the singular; it is never said plurally, in via patrum; in the way of his fathers. God's blessings in this world, are expressed so, in the plural, thou gavest this land patribus, to their fathers, says Solomonin the dedication of the temple; and, thou broughtest patres, our fathers out of Egypt; and again, Be with us, Lord, as thou wast with our fathers; so, in Ezekiel13, Where your fathers dwelt, you, their children, shall dwell too, and your children, and their children's children for ever. His blessings upon his saints, his holy ones in this world, are expressed so, plurally, and so is the transmigration of his saints out of this world also; Thou shalt sleep cum patribus, with thy fathers, says God to Moses14; and David slept cum patribus, with his fathers15; and Jacob had that care of himself, as of that in which consisted, or in which was testified the blessing of God, I will lie cum patribus, with my fathers, and be buried in their burying-place, says Jacob to his son Joseph1": good ways and good ends are in the plural, and have many examples; else they are not good; but sins are in the singular, he walked in the way of his father, is in an ill way: but carry our manners, or carry our religion high enough, and we shall find a good rule in our fathers: Stand in the way, says God in Jeremy, and ask for the old way, which is the good way11. We must put off veterem hominem, but not antiquum; we may put off that religion, which we think old, because it is a little elder than ourselves, and not rely upon that, it was the religion of my father. But antiquissimum dierum, him, whose name is, He that is, and was, and is for ever, and so involves, and enwraps in himself all the fathers, him we must put on. Be that our issue with our adversaries at Home, by the fathers, the fathers in the
12 1 Kings viii. 48. 13 Ezek. xxxvii. 25. "Deut. xxxi. 13.
15 1 Kings ii. 10. 10 Gen. xLvii. 30. 17 Jer. vi. 16.
plural, when those fathers unanimely deliver anything dogmatically, for matter of faith, we are content to be tried by the fathers, the fathers in that plural. But by that one father, who begets his children, not upon the true mother, the church, but upon the court, and so produces articles of faith, according as state businesses, and civil occasions invite him, by that father we must refuse to be tried: for, to limit it in particular, to my father, we must say with Neherniah, Ego et domus patris meiTM, If I make my father's house my church, my father my bishop, I, and my fathers house have sinned, says he; and with Mordecai to Esther19, Thou, and thy father's house shall be destroyed.
They are not peccata patris, I cannot excuse my sins, upon the example of my father: nor are they peccata temporis, I cannot discharge my sins upon the times, and upon the present ill disposition that reigns in men now, and do ill, because everybody else does so. To say, There is a rot, and therefore the sheep must perish; corruptions in religion are crept in, and work in every corner, and therefore God's sheep, simple souls, must be content to admit the infection of this rot. That there is a murrain, and therefore cattle must die; superstition practised in many places, and therefore the strong servants of God, must come to sacrifice their obedience to it, or their blood for it. There is80 no such rot, no such murrain, no such corruption of times, as can lay a necessity, or can afford an excuse to them who are corrupted with the times. As it is not pax temporis, such a state-peace, as takes away honour, that secures a nation, nor such a church-peace, as takes away zeal, that secures a conscience, so neither is it peccatum temporis, an observation what other men incline to, but what truth, what integrity thou declinest from, that appertains to thy consideration.
It is not peccatum wtatis; not the sin of thy father, not the sin of the times, not the sin of thine own years. That thou shouldest say in thy old age, in excuse of thy covetousness, All these things have I observed from my youth, I have lived temperately, continently all my life, and therefore may be allowed one sin for mine ease in mine age. Or, that thou shouldest say
18 Neh. i. 6. 19 Esther iv. 14.
80 Folio edition, "Then no such rot," &e.
in thy youth, I will retire myself in mine age, and live contentedly with a little then, but now, how vain were it to go about to keep out a tide, or to quench the heats, and impetuous violence of youth? But Fuge juvenilia desideria, Fly also youthful lusts"; and lest God hear not thee at last, when thou comest with that petition, Remember not the sins of my youth"; Remember thou thy Creator now in the days of thy youth'3: for, if thou think it enough to say, I have but lived, as other men have lived, wantonly, thou wilt find some examples to die by too; and die, as other old men, old in years, and old in sins, have died too, negligently, or fearfully; without any sense at all, or all their sense turned into fearful apprehensions, and desperation.
They are not peccata wtatis, such sins, as men of that age must needs commit, nor peccata artis, such sins as men of thy calling, or thy profession, cannot avoid; that thou shouldest say, I shall not be believed to understand my profession, as well as other men, if I live not by it, as well as other men do. Is there no being a carpenter, but that after he hath warmed him by the chips, and baked, and roasted by it, he must needs make an idol of his wood, and worship it"? Is there no being a silversmith, but he must needs make shrines for Diana of the Ephesians, as Demetrius did*5? No being a lawyer, without serving the passion of the client? No being a divine, without sewing pillows under great men's elbows? It is not the sin of thy calling that oppresses thee; as a man may commit a massacre, in a single murder, and kill many in one man, if he kill one, upon whom many depended, so is that man a general libeller, that defames a lawful calling, by his abusing thereof; that lives so scandalously in the ministery, as to defame the ministery itself, or so imperiously in the magistracy, as to defame the magistracy itself, as though it were but an engine, an instrument of oppression, or so unjustly in any calling, as his abuse dishonours the calling itself. God hath instituted callings, for the conservation of order in general, not for the justification of disorders in any particular. For he that justifies his faults by his calling, hath not yet received that calling from above, whereby he must be justified, and sanc
tified in the way, and glorified in the end. There is no lawful calling, in which a man may not be an honest man.
It is not peccatum magistrates, thou canst not excuse thyself upon the unjust command of thy superior; that is the blind and implicit obedience practised in the church of Rome; nor peccatum pastoris, the ill example of thy pastor, whose life counterpreaches his doctrine, for, that shall aggravate his, but not excuse thy sin; nor peccata coeli, the influence of stars, concluding a fatality, amongst the Gentiles, or such a working of a necessary, and inevitable, and unconditioned decree of God, as may shut up the ways of a religious walking in this life, or a happy resting in the life to come; it is none of these, not the sin of thy father, not the sin of the present times, not the sin of thy years, and age, nor of thy calling, nor of the magistrate, nor of thy pastor, nor of destiny, nor of decrees, but it is peccatum tuum, thy sin, thy own sin. And not only thy sin so, as Adam's sin is communicated to thee, by propagation of original sin; for so thou mightest have some colour to discharge thyself upon him, as he did upon Eve, and Eve upon the serpent; though in truth it make no difference, in this spritual debt, of that sin, who is first in the bond: Adam may stand first, but yet thou art no surety but a principal, and for thyself; and he, and thou are equally subject to the penalty. For though St. Augustine confess, that there are many things concerning original sin, of which he is utterly ignorant, yet of this he would have no man ignorant, that to the guiltiness of original sin, our own wills concur as well as to any actual sin: an involuntary act cannot be a sinful act; and though our will work not now, in the admitting of original sin, which enters with our soul in our conception, or in our inanimation and quickening, yet, at first, Sicut omnium natura, ita omnium voluntates erant in Adam, As every man was in Adam, so every faculty of every man, and consequently the will of every man concurred to that sin, which therefore lies upon every man now; so that that debt, original sin, is as much thine as his; and for the other debts, which grow out of this debt, (as nothing is so generative, so multiplying, as debts are, especially spiritual debts, sins) for actual sins, they are thine, out of thine own choice; thou mightest have left them undone, and wouldest needs do them; for God never induces any man into a perplexity, that is, into a necessity of doing any particular sin. Thou couldest have dissuaded a son, or a friend, or a servant, from that sin, which thou hast embraced thyself: thou hast been so far from having been forced to those sins, which thou hast done, as that thou hast been sorry, thou couldest not do them in a greater measure. They are thine, thine own, so, as that thou canst not discharge thyself upon the devil; but art, by the habit of sin, become spontaneus dwmonTM, a devil to thyself, and wouldest minister temptations to thyself, though there were no other devil. And this is our propriety in sin; they are our own.
This is the propriety of thy sin; the next is the plurality, the multiplicity, iniquitates; not only the committing of one sin often; and yet he deceives himself in his account dangerously, that reckons but upon one sin, because he is guilty but of one kind of sin. Would a man say he had but one wound, if he were shot seven times in the same place I Could the Jews deny, that they flayed Christ with their second, or third, or twentieth blow, because they had torn skin and flesh with their former scourges, and had left nothing but bones to wound? But it is not only that, the repeating of the same sin often, but it is the multiplicity of divers kinds of sins, that is here lamented in all our behalfs. It is not when the conscience is tender, and afraid of every sin, and every appearance of sin. When Naaman desired pardon of God by the prophet, for sustaining the king upon his knees, in the house of Rimmon, the idol, and the prophet bad him go in peace", it is not that he allows him any peace under the conscience, and guiltiness of a sin; that was indispensable8B. Neither is there any dispensation in Naaman's case, but only a rectifying of a tender and timorous conscience, that thought that to be a sin, which was not, if it went no further, but to the exhibiting of a civil duty to his master, in what place soever, religious, or prophane, that service of kneeling were to be done. Naaman's service was truly no sin; but it had been a sin in him to have done it, when he thought it to be a sin. And therefore the
86 Chrysostom. M 2 Kings v. 19.
^ i.e., Not within the power of a dispensation.
VOL. IV. 2 B
prophet's phrase, G o in peace, may well be interpreted so, Set thy mind at rest; for all that, that thou requirest, may be done without sin. Now that tenderness is not in our case in the text. He that proceeds so, to examine all his actions, may meet scruples all the way, that may give him some anxiety, and vexation, but he shall never come to that overflowing of sin, intended in this plurality, and multiplicity here. For this plurality, this multiplicity of sin, hath found first a sponginess in the soul, an aptness to receive any liquor, to embrace any sin, that is offered to it; and after awhile, a hunger and thirst in the soul, to hunt, and pant, and draw after a temptation, and not to be able to endure any vacuum, any discontinuance, or intermission of sin: and he will come to think it a melancholic thing, still to stand in fear of hell; a sordid, a yeomanly thing, still to be ploughing, and weeding, and worming a conscience; a mechanical thing, still to be removing logs, or filing iron, still to be busied in removing occasions of temptation, or filing and clearing particular actions: and at last he will come to that case, which St. Augustine out of an abundant ingenuity, and tenderness, and compunction, confesses of himself, Ne vituperarer, vitiosior fiebam, I was fain to sin, lest I should lose my credit, and be undervalued; Et ubi non suberat, quo admisso, wquarer perditis, When I had no means to do some sins, whereby I might be equal to my fellow, Fingebam me fecisse quod non feceram, ne viderer abjectior, quo innocentior, I would belie myself, and say I had done that which I never did, lest I should be undervalued for not having done it. Audiebam eos exaltantes flagitia, says that tender blessed father, I saw it was thought wit, to make sonnets of their own sins, Et libebat facere, non Ubidine facti, sed Ubidine laudis, I sinned, not for the pleasure I had in the sin, but for the pride that I had to write feelingly of it. O what a leviathan is sin, how vast, how immense a body! And then, what a spawner, how numerous! Between these two, the denying of sins, which we have done, and the bragging of sins, which we have not done, what a space, what a compass is there, for millions of millions of sins! And so have you the nature of sin, which was our first; the propriety of sin, which was our second; and the plurality, the multiplicity of sin, which was our third branch; and follows next, the exaltation thereof; Supergressw sunt, My sins are gone over my head.
They are, that is, they are already got above us; for in that case we consider this plural, this manifold sinner, that he hath slipped his time of preventing, or resisting his sins; his habits of sins are got, already got above him. Elisha bids his man look towards the sea, and he saw nothing; he bids him look again, and again to a seventh time, and he saw nothing". After all, he sees but a little cloud, like a man's hand; and yet, upon that little appearance, the prophet warns the king, to get him into his chariot, and make good haste away, lest the rain stopped his passage, for instantly the heaven was black with clouds and rain. The sinner will see nothing, till he can see nothing; and, when he sees anything, (as to the blindest conscience something will appear) he thinks it but a little cloud, but a melancholic fit, and, in an instant, (for seven years make but an instant to that man, that thinks of himself but once in seven years) supergressm sunt, his sins are got above him, and his way out is stopped. The sun is got over us now, though we saw none of his motions, and so are our sins, though we saw not their steps. You know how confident our adversaries are in that argument, Why do ye oppugn our doctrine of prayer for the dead, or of invocation of saints, or of the fire of purgatory, since you cannot assign us a time, when these doctrines came into the church, or that they were opposed or contradicted, when they entered I When a conscience comes to that inquisition, to an iniquitates supergressw, to consider that our sins are gone over our head in any of those ways, which we have spoken of, if we offer to awaken that conscience farther, it startles, and it answers us drowsily, or frowardly, like a new waked man, Can you remember when you sinned this sin first, or did you resist it then, or since? Whence comes this troublesome singularity now I Pray let me sleep still, says this startled conscience. Beloved, if we fear not the wetting of our foot in sin, it will be too late, when we are over head and ears. God's deliverance of his children, was sicco pede, he made the sea dry land, and they wet not their foot30. At first, in the creation, Subjecit omnia sub pedibus, God put all things under
*9 1 Kings xviii. 41. 30 Exod. xiv. 22.
their feet31; in man's ways, in this world, his angels bear us up in their hands; why I Ne impingamus pedem, That we should not hurt our foot against a stone, but have a care of every step we make. If thou have defiled thy feet, (strayed into any unclean ways) wash them again, and stop there, and that will bring thee to the consideration of the spouse, / have washed my feet, how shall I then defile them againTM? I have found mercy for my former sins, how shall I dare to provoke God with more? Still God appoints us a permanent means to tread sin under our feet here, in this life; the woman, that is, the church, hath the moon, that is, all transitory things, (and so, all temptations) under her feet33; as Christ himself expressed his care of Peter, to consist in that, that if his feet were washed, all was clean; and as in his own person he admitted nails in his feet, as well as in his hands, so crucify thy hands, abstain from unjust actions, but crucify thy feet too, make not one step towards the way of idolaters, or other sinners. If we watch not the ingressus sum, we shall be insensible of the supergressw sunt; if we look not to a sin, when it comes towards us, we shall not be able to look towards it, when it is got over us: for, if a man come to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, he will come to sit in the seat of the scornful; for that is the sinner's progress, in the first warning that David gives in the beginning of his first psalm. If he give himself leave to enter into sinful ways, he will sit and sin at ease, and make a jest of sin; and he that loveth danger, shall perish therein. So have you then the nature of sin; it was sin that oppressed him; and the propriety of sin, it was his sin, actual sin; and the plurality of sin, habitual, customary sin; and the victory of sin, they had been long climbing, and were now got up to a height; and this height and exaltation of theirs is expressed thus, Super caput, Mine iniquities are got above my head.
St. Augustine, (who truly had either never true copy of the Bible, or else cited sometimes, as the words were in his memory, and not as they were in the text) he reads not these words so, supergressw super caput, but thus, sustulerunt caput; and so he interprets the words, not that his sins had got over his head, and
81 Psalm viii. 7. 3* Cant. v. 3. 33 Rev. xii. I.
depressed his head, subdued and subjugated his head, but that they had extolled his head, made him lift his head high, and say, Who is the Lord? Sursum tollitur, says he upon this place, cui erigitur caput contra Deum, His head is exalted, who is set against God. And certainly, that is a desperate state in sin, when a man thinks himself the wiser, or the better, or the more powerful for his sin; that he can the better stand upon his own legs, or the less needs the assistance of God, because he hath prospered in the world, by the ways of sin. St. Augustine's is an useful mistaking, but it is a mistaking. But to pursue the right word, and the true meaning of this metaphorical expressing, Supergressw caput, My sins are got over my head, sin may be got to our foot, and yet not to the eye. A man may stray into company of temptations, and yet not be tempted; a man may make a covenant with his eye, that he will not see a maid**. Sin may come to the eye, and yet the hand be above water; we may look, and lust, and yet, by God's watchful goodness, and studious mercy, escape action. But if it be above our head, then the brain is drowned, that is, our reason, and understanding, which should dispute against it, and make us ashamed of it, or afraid of it; and our memory is drowned, we have forgot that there belongs a repentance to our sins, perchance forgot that there is such a sin in us; forgot that those actions are sins, forgot that we have done those actions, and forgot that there is a law, even in our own hearts, by which we might try, whether our actions were sins, or no. If they be above our heads, they are so, in many dangerous acceptations. Of which, the first is, that they cover our heads sicut tectum, sicut fornix, as a roof, as an arch, as a separation between God and us.
Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, says the prophet35. A wall of separation between man and man, even in the service of God, there was always; a wall of God's making; that is, the ceremonial law, by which God inclosed the Jews from the Gentiles. But this was but a side wall, and Christ threw it down; He is our peace, says the apostle, and hath made of both one, and hath broken the stop of the partition wall3*; this he did when he opened the Gentiles a way into his religion.
34 Job xxi. 1. "Isaiah Lix. 2. 86 Eph. ii. 14.
This wall was the distinction between the Jew and Gentile, when the Jew called them ignominiously incircumcisos, uncircumcised, and they called the Jews, with as much scorn, recutitos, and apellas; when the Jew wondered at the Gentiles eating of unclean things, and the Gentiles wondered to hear them call things, of as good nourishment, as their clean meats, unclean; when the Jew placed his holiness in singularity, and ceremonies of distinction, and the Gentiles called that but a pride in them, and a scornful detestation of their neighbours. And truly it is a lamentable thing, when ceremonial things in matter of discipline, or problematical things in matter of doctrine, come so far, as to separate us from one another, in giving ill names to one another. Zeal is directed upon God, and charity upon our brethren; but God will not be seen, but by that spectacle; nor accept anything for an act of zeal to himself, that violates charity towards our brethren, by the way. Neither should we call any man Lutheran, or Calvinist, or by any other name, ignominiously, but for such things, as had been condemned in Luther, or Calvin, and condemned by such as are competent judges between them and us; that is, by the universal, or by our own church. This wall then, between the Jew and Gentile, (as it was the ceremony itself, and not the abuse of it) God built, and Christ threw down. There are outward things, ceremonial things, in the worship of God, that are temporary, and they did serve God that brought them in, and they do serve God also that have driven them out of the church, because their undeniable abuse had clogged them with an impossibility of being restored to that good use, which they were at first ordained for; of which the brazen serpent is evidence enough. God set up a wall, which God himself meant should be demolished again. Such another wall, (as well as the devil can imitate God's workmanship) the devil hath built now in the Christian church; and hath inortered it in the brains and blood of men, in the sharp and virulent contentions arisen, and fomented in matters of religion. But yet, says the spouse, My well beloved stands behind the wall31, showing himself through the grates: he may be seen on both sides. For all this separation, Christ Jesus is amongst us all, and in his time, will break
37 Cant. ii. 9.
down this wall too, these differences amongst Christians, and make us all glad of that name, the name of Christians, without affecting in ourselves, or inflicting upon others, other names of envy, and subdivision. But besides this wall of God's making, the ceremonial law, and this wall of the devil's making, dissension in Christian churches, there is a wall of our own making, a roof, an arch above our heads, by which our continual sins have separated God and us. God hath covered himself with a cloud, so that prayer could not pass through; that was the misery of Jerusalem38. But in the acts and habits of sin, we cover ourselves, with a roof, with an arch, which nothing can shake, nor remove, but thunder, and earthquakes, that is, the execution of God's fiercest judgments; and whether in that fall of the roof, that is, in the weight of God's judgments upon us, the stones shall not brain us, overwhelm, and smother, and bury us, God only knows. How his thunders, and his earthquakes, when we put him to that, will work upon us, he only knows, whether to our amendment, or to our destruction. But whilst we are in the consideration of this arch, this roof of separation, between God and us, by sin, there may be uso in imparting to you an observation, a passage of mine own. Lying at Aix, at Aquisgrane3*, a well-known town in Germany, and fixing there some time, for the benefit of those baths, I found myself in a house which was divided into many families, and indeed so large as it might have been a little parish, or at least, a great limb of a great one; but it was of no parish: for when I asked who lay over my head, they told me a family of Anabaptists; and who over theirs? another family of Anabaptists; and another family of Anabaptists over theirs; and the whole house was a nest of these boxes; several artificers, all Anabaptists; I asked in what room they met, for the exercise of their religion; I was told they never met: for, though they were all Anabaptists, yet for some collateral differences, they detested one another, and, though many of them were near in blood, and alliance to one another, yet the son would excommunicate the father, in the room above him, and the nephew the uncle. As St. John is said to have
38 Lam. iii. 44.
88 Aquisgranum is the ancient name of Aix-la-Chapelle.—Ed.
quitted that bath, into which Cerinthus the heretic came, so did I this house; I remember that Hezekiah in his sickness, turned himself" in his bed, to pray towards that wall that looked to Jerusalem; and that Daniel in Babylon, when he prayed in his chamber, opened those windows that looked towards Jerusalem; for, in the first dedication of the temple, at J erusalem, there is a promise annexed to the prayers made towards the temple: and I began to think, how many roofs, how floors of separation, were made between God and my prayers in that house. And such is this multiplicity of sins, which we consider to be got over us, as a roof, as an arch, many arches, many roofs: for, though these habitual sins be so of kin, as that they grow from one another, and yet for all this kindred excommunicate one another, (for covetousness will not be in the same room with prodigality) yet it is but going up another stair, and there is the other Anabaptist; it is but living a few years, and then the prodigal becomes covetous. All the way they separate us from God, as a roof, as an arch; and then an arch will bear any weight; an habitual sin got over our head as an arch, will stand under any sickness, any dishonour, any judgment of God, and never sink towards any humiliation.
They are above our heads, sicut tectum, as a roof, as an arch, and they are so too, sicut clamor, as a voice ascending, and not stopping, till they come to God. 0 my God, I am confounded and ashamed to lift up mine eyes to thee, 0 my God**; Why not thine eyes? there is a cloud, a clamour in the way; for as it follows, Our iniquities are increased over our heads, and our trespass is grown up to the heaven. I think to retain a learned man of my counsel, and one that is sure to be heard in the court, and when I come to instruct him, I find mine adversary's name in his book before, and he is all ready for the other party. I think to find an advocate in heaven, when I will, and my sin is in heaven before me. The voice of Abel's blood, and so, of Cain's sin, was there: the voice of Sodom's transgression was there. Bring down that sin again from heaven to earth: bring that voice that cries in heaven, to speak to Christ here in his church, upon earth, by way of confession; bring that clamorous sin to
40 Ezra ix. 6.
his blood, to be washed in the sacrament, for, as long as thy sin cries in heaven, thy prayers cannot be heard there. Bring thy sin under Christ's feet there, when he walks amongst the candlesticks, in the light, and power of his ordinances in the church, and then thine absolution will be upon thy head, in those seals which he hath instituted, and ordained there, and thy cry will be silenced. Till then, supergressw caput, thine iniquities will be over thy head, as a roof, as a cry, and, in the next place, sicut aquw, as the overflowing of waters.
We consider this plurality, this multiplicity of habitual sins, to be got over our head, as waters, especially in this, that they have stupified us, and taken from us all sense of reparation of our sinful condition. The organ that God hath given the natural man, is the eye; he sees God in the creature. The organ that God hath given the Christian, is the ear; he hears God in his word. But when we are under water, both senses, both organs are vitiated, and depraved, if not defeated. The habitual, and manifold sinner, sees nothing aright; he sees a judgment, and calls it an accident. He hears nothing aright; he hears the ordinance of preaching for salvation in the next world, and he calls it an invention of the state, for subjection in this world. And as under water, everything seems distorted and crooked, to man, so does man himself to God, who sees not his own image in that man, in that form as he made it. When man hath drunk iniquity like water*1, then, the floods of wickedness shall make him afraid"; the water that he hath swum in, the sin that he hath delighted in, shall appear with horror unto him. As God threatens the pride of Tyrus, / shall bring the deep upon thee, and great waters shall cover thee"; that God will execute upon this sinner; and then, upon every drop of that water, upon every affliction, every tribulation, he shall come to that fearfulness, Waters flowed over my head"; then said I, I am cut off; either he shall see nothing, or see no remedy, no deliverance, from desperation. Keep low these waters, as waters signify sin, and God shall keep them low, as they signifiy punishments; and his dove shall return to the ark with an olive leaf, to show thee that the
41 Job xv. 16. "Psalm xviii. 4.
48 Ezek. xxvi. 19. ** Lam. iii. 54.
waters are abated45; he shall give thee a testimony of the return of his love, in his oil, and wine, and milk, and honey, in the temporal abundances of this life. And, si impleat hydrias aqua, if he do fill all your vessels with water, with water of bitterness, that is, fill and exercise all your patience, and all your faculties with his corrections, yet he shall do that, but to change your water into wine**, as he did there, he shall make his very judgments, sacraments, conveyances and seals of his mercy to you, though those manifold sins be got over your heads, as a roof, as a noise, as an overflowing of waters: and that, which is the heaviest of all; and our last consideration, sicut dominus, as a lord, as a tyrant, as an usurper.
Pretio redempti estis, nolite fieri servi, says the apostleyou are bought with a price, therefore glorify God. There he shows you, your own value; and then, Ne dominetur peccatum, Let not sin have dominion over you; there he shows you the insolency of that tyrant. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, says Christ to the Jews48. Well; they stood not much upon the truth; but for the freedom, We were Abraham's seed, and were never bound to any; but Christ replies, Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin; and, of whomsoever a man is overcome, to the same he is in bondage*'. Now we are slaves to sin, not only as we have been overcome by sin (for he that is said to be overcome by sin, is presumed to have made some resistance) but as we have sold ourselves to sin, which is a worse, and a more voluntary act. There was none like him, like Ahab50; (says the Holy Ghost) wherein was his singularity above all? He had sold himself, to work wickedness, in the sight of the Lord. Now, how are we sold to sin? By Adam I That is true; Ejus prwvaricatione, et ut ita dicam, negotiatione, damnoso, et fraudulento commercio venditi sumus": we were all sold under hand, fraudulently sold, and sold under foot, cheaply sold by Adam. But thus, we might seem to be sold by others; so Joseph was, and no fault in himself; but we have sold ourselves since. Did not Adam sell himself too? Did God sell him by any secret decree, or contract, between the devil and him I
« Gen. viii. 8. 46 John ii. 7. *1 1 Cor. vi. 20. 48 John viii. 32. "2 Pet. ii. 19. 50 1 Kings xxi. 20. 51 Cassian.
Was God of counsel in that bargain? God forbid. Thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom I have put away1*? Or, which of my creditors is it, to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities you have sold yourselves, and for your transgressions, is your mother put away. In Adam we were sold in gross; in ourselves we are sold by retail; in the first, and general sale, we all passed, even the best of us. We know the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin, says the apostleM, even of himself. But when does the apostle say this? In what state was he, when he accuses himself of this mancipation, and sale under sin? Says he this only with relation to his former times, when he was a Jew, and under the law I Or, but then when he was newly come to the light of the Gospel, and not to a clear sight of it? It is true, that most of the Eastern fathers, and it is true, that St. Augustine himself was of that opinion, that St. Paul said of himself, that he was sold under sin, respecting himself before his regeneration. Non qui vult esse sapiens, statim sit sapiens, says Origen; A man is not presently learned, because he hath a good desire to be learned; nor hath he that hath begun a conversion, presently accomplished his regeneration; nor is he discharged of his bargain of being sold under sin, as soon as ho sees that he hath made an ill bargain. But when he grows up in grace, (say they) as St. Paul had done, when he said this, then he is discharged. But, as St. Augustine ingenuously retracts that opinion54, which, (as he says) he had held, when he was a young priest at Carthage, so is there nothing clearer, by the whole purpose of the apostle in that place, than that he in his best state, was still sold under sin. As David speaks of himself being then regenerated, In thy sight shall no man living be justified, so St. Paul speaks of himself in his best state, still he was sold under sin, because still, that concupiscence, under which he was sold in Adam, remains in him. And that concupiscence is sin, Quia inest ei inobedientia contra dominatum mentis", Because it is a rebellion against that sovereignty which God hath instituted in the soul of man, and an ambition of setting up another prince; so it is peccatum, sin in itself; and
lt is Poena peccati, says that father, quia reddita est meritis inobedientis; Because it is laid upon us for that disobedience, it hath also the nature of a punishment of sin, as well as of sin itself; and then it is causa peccati too, defectione consentientis, because man is so enfeebled by this inherence, and invisceration of original sin, as that thereby he is exposed to every emergent temptation, to any actual sin. So, original sin, is called by many of the ancients, the cause of sin, and the effect of sin, but not so, exclusively, as that it is not sin, really sin in itself too. Now, as original sin causes actual, in that consideration (as we sell ourselves over again in our acts of recognition, in ratifying our first sale, by our manifold sins here) so is sin gone over our heads, by this dominion, as a tyrant, as an usurper. Hoc lex posuit, non concupisces^; This is the law, thou shalt not covet: Non quod sic valeamus, sed ad quod perficiendo tendamus; Not that we can perform that law, but that that law might be a rule to direct our endeavours: Multum bonifacit, quifacit quod scriptum est, post concupiscentias tuas non eas; He does well, and well in a fair measure, that fulfils that commandment, Thou shalt not walk in the concupiscences of thine own heart; sed non perficit, quia non implet quod scriptum est, non concupisces, but yet, says he, he does not all that is commanded, because he is commanded not to covet at all: Ut sciat, quo debeat in hac mortalitate conari, That that commandment might teach him, what he should labour for in this life, Et quo possit in illa immortalitate pervenire, To what perfection we shall come in the life to come, but not till then. Though therefore we did our best, yet we were sold under sin, that is, sold by Adam; but because we do not, but consent to that first sale, in our sinful acts, and habits, we have sold ourselves too, and so sin is gone over our heads, in a dominion, and in a tyrannical exercise of that dominion. If we would go about to express, by what customs of sin this dominion is established, we should be put to a necessity of entering into every profession, and every conscience. And the moral man says usefully, Si tantum irasci vis sapientem, quantum exigit indignitas scelerumb1, (we will translate it in the church tongue, and make his morality divinity) if we would have a zealous preacher, cry out as fast, or
56 Augustine. 5? Seneca.
as loud, as sins are committed, Non irascendum, sed insaniendum, says he, you would not call that man an angry man, but a madman, you 'would not call that preacher, a zealous preacher, but a Puritan. Touch we but upon one of his reprehensions, because that may have the best use now; he considers the iniquities, and injustices, admitted, and committed in courts of justice; and he says, Turpes lites, turpiores advocati; 111 suits are set on foot, and worse advocates defend them. Delator est criminis qui manifestior reus, even in criminal matters, he informs against another, that should be but defendant in that crime; and (as he carries it higher) Judex damnaturus quw fecit, eligitur, The judge himself condemns a man for that, which himself is far more guilty of, than the prisoner. Nullus nisi ex alieno damno quwstus, And one man grows rich, by the impoverishing of many. But then it is so in all other professions too. And this tyranny, and dominion is justly permitted by God upon us, Ut qui noluit superiors obedire, nec ei obediat inferior caro, We have been rebellious to our sovereign, to God, and therefore our subject, the flesh, is first rebellious against us, and then tyrannical over us. But he that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivityTM; yea, Christ hath led captivity itself captive, and given gifts to men''; that is, he hath established his church, where by a good use of those means which God hath ordained for it, the most oppressed soul, may raise itself above those exaltations, and supergressions of sin; and so we have done with our first part, and with all that will enter into this time, where David in his humble spirit feels in himself, but much more in his prophetical spirit, foresees, and foretells in others, the infectious nature of sin; it is a mortal wound, and in a strange consideration; for, it is a wound upon God, and mortal upon man; and then the propriety of sin, that sin is not at all from God, nor it is not all from the devil, but our sin is our own; our sins in a plurality; our sins of one kind, determine not in one sin, we sin the same sin often, and then we determine not in one kind, but slide into many. And after this multiplication of sin, the continuation thereof, to an irrecoverableness, supergressw sunt, we think not of them, till it be too late to think of them, till they produce no thought but despair; for
58 Rev. xiii. 10. 89 Ephes. iv. 8.
supergressw caput, they are got above our heads, above our strongest faculties; above us, in the nature of an arched roof, they keep God's grace in a separation from us, and our prayers from him, so they have the nature of a roof, and then, they feel no weight, they bend not under any judgment, which he lays upon us, so they have the nature of an arch. Above us, as a voice, as a cry; their voice is in possession of God, and so prevents our prayers; above us as waters, they disable our eyes, and our ears, from right conceiving all apprehensions; and above us, as lords, and tyrants, that came in by conquest, and so put what laws they list upon us. And these instructions have arisen from this first, the multiplicity, Mine iniquities are gone over my head, and more will from the other, the weight and burden, They are as a heavy burden, too heavy for me.