PREACHED AT ESSEX-HOUSE, AT THE CHURCHING OF
Canticles V. 3.
I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?
All things desire to go to their own place, and that is but the effect of nature; but if man desires to go the right way, that is an effect of grace, and of religion. A stone will fall to the bottom naturally, and a flame will go upwards naturally; but a stone cares not whether it fall through clean water, or through mud; a flame cares not whether it pass through pure air, or cloudy; but a Christian, whose end is heaven, will put himself into a fair way towards it, and according to this measure, be pure as his Father in heaven is pure. That which is our end, salvation, we use to express in schools by these two terms, we call it visionem Dei, the sight of God, and we call it unionem, an union with God; we shall see God, and we shall be united to God: for our seeing, we shall see him sicuti est, as he is1; which we cannot express, till we see him; Cognoscam ut cognitus, I shall know as I am known*, which is a knowledge reserved for that school, and a degree for that commencement, and not to be had before. Moses obtained a sight of God here, that he might see posteriora, God's hinder parts8; and if we consider God in posterior-ibus, in his later works, in the fulfilling of all his prophecies concerning our redemption, how he hath accomplished in novissimis, in the later times, all that which he spake ab initio, by the mouth of his prophets, which have been since the world began, if we see God in them, it is a great beam of that visio beatifica, that beatifical sight of God in heaven; for herein we see the whole way of our salvation, to be in Christ Jesus; all promise, all performance, all prophecy; all history concern us, in and by him. And then for that union with God, which is also our salvation (as this vision is) when we shall be so united, as that we shall follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, though that union be unexpressible here, yet here there is an union with God, which represents that too. Such an union, as that the church of which we are parts, is his spouse, and that is eadem caro, the same body with him; and such an union, as that the obedient children of the church are idem spiritus cum domino, we are the same body, and the same spirit: so united, as that by being sowed in the visible church, we are semen Dei, the seed of God*, and by growing up there in godliness and holiness, we are participes divinw natwrw, partakers of the divine nature itself. Now these two unions, which represent our eternal union with God (that is, the union of the church to him, and the union of every good soul in the church to him) is the subject of this song of songs, this heavenly poem, of Solomon's; and our baptism, at our entrance into this world, is a seal of this union; our marriage, in the passage of this world, is a sacrament of this union; and that which seems to be our dissolution, (our death) is the strongest band of this union, when
1 John iii. 2.
3 Exod. xxxiii, 23.
* 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 41 John iii. 9.
we are so united, as nothing can disunite us more. Now, for uniting things in this world, we are always put to employ baser, and coarser stuff, to unite them together, than they themselves; if we lay marble upon marble, how wall soever we polish the marble, yet we must unite them with mortar: if we unite riches to riches, we temper a mortar (for the most part) of our own covetousness, and the loss, and oppressing of some other men; if we unite honours to honours, titles to titles, we temper a mortar, (for the most part) of our own ambition, and the supplanting, or excluding of some other men; but in the uniting of a Christian soul to Christ Jesus, here is no mortar, all of one nature; nothing but spirit, and spirit, and spirit, the soul of man to the Lord Jesus, by the Holy Ghost. Worldly unions have some corrupt foulness in them, but for this spiritual union, Lavi pedes, I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?
Which words, though in the rigour of the coherence, and connexion of this Scripture, they imply a delay in the spouse of Christ, and so in every soul too, that when Christ called her, the soul was not ready to come forth to him, but made her excuses, that she had put off her coat, and was loath to rise to put it on, that she had washed her feet, and was loath to rise, and foul them again, yet because the excuse itself, (if it were an excuse) hath a piety, and a religious care in it, the fathers for the most part, pretermit that weakness that produced an excuse, and consider in expositions, the care that the soul had, not to defile herself again, being once washed. St. Gregory says, that the soul had laid off, Omnia externa, quw non tam ornant quam onerant, all outward ornaments, which are rather incumbrances, than ornaments; and St. Ambrose says, Pedes lavi, dum egrederer de corporis contubernio, When I departed from the conferation of my body, and the pampering of that, 2" washed my feet, Quomodo in tenebrosum carcerem reverterer? And why should I return into that dark, and dirty prison, again, the love of mine own body? Pursuing therefore their pious acceptation of these words, we have in them two festivals of the soul, a resurrection, and an asscension of it; this soul hath raised itself from the dirt and mud of this world, lavit pedes, she hath washed her feet, and then she hath ascended to a resolution of keeping herself in that state, Quomodo inquinabo eos, How shall I defile them? Call these two parts a gratulation of the soul, and an indignation; first she congratulates with her good, and gracious God, that she is cleansed from worldly corruptions, Lavi pedes, I have washed my feet; and then she conceives a religious scorn and indignation of setting her foot in the same foul way again. Quomodo, how, how is it possible that I should descend to so low a disposition, as to foul them again? This resurrection then of the soul, and gratulation, and this ascension of the soul and indignation, will be our two parts. And in the first, we shall stop a little upoil every one of these five branches; there is ablutio necessaria; there is a washing, that is necessary to all; for we enter in foulness, and corruption into this world; and that we have in baptism for original sin: secondly, there is ablutio pedum, a washing of our feet, of our steps, and walks in this world, and that is by repentance, sealed in the other sacrament, and properly, that is for actual sins; thirdly, in this ablution, there is an ego lavi, there is a washing, and I myself do something towards this cleansing of myself; and fourthly, it is lavi, it is, I have washed, not lavabo, it is not, I will wash; it is already done, It is not put off" to mine age, nor to my death-bed, but lavi, I have washed; and lastly, it is pedes meos, I have washed my own feet; for if by my teaching, I cleanse others, and remain, by my bad life, in foul ways myself, I am not within this text, lavi pedes meos; I have not washed my feet; but if we have sincerely performed the first part, we shall perform the other too, Quomodo, we shall come into a religious detestation, and indignation of falling into the same foulness again.
To pass then through all these (for of all these that is true which St. Basil says of all words in the Scriptures, Habent minutissimw particular sua mysteria, Every word hath force and use; as in pearl, every seed pearl is as medicinal as the greatest, so there is a restorative nature in every word of the Scriptures, and in every word, the soul finds a rise and help for her devotion,) to begin with the first, the necessity of washing, consider us in our first beginning, Concepti in peccatis, Our mothers conceived us in sin5; and being wrapped up in uncleanness there, can any man
bring a clean thing Out of flthiness*? There is not one; for as we were planted, in our mother's womb, in conception, so we were transplanted from thence into this world, in our baptism, Nascimur filii irw, for we are by nature the children of wrath, as well as others7. And as in the bringing forth, and bringing up, of the best and most precious, and most delicate plants, men employ most dung, so the greatest persons, where the spirit and grace of God doth not allay that intemperance, which naturally arises out of abundance, and provocation, and out of vanity, and ambitious glory, in outward ostentations; there is more dung, more uncleanness, more sin in the conception, and birth of their children, than of meaner and poorer parents; it is a degree of uncleanness, to fix our thoughts too earnestly upon the uncleanness of our conception, and of our birth: when we call that a testimony of a right coming, if we come into the world with our head forward, in a headlong precipitation; and when we take no other testimony of our being alive, but that we were heard cry; and for an earnest, and a prophecy, that we shall be viri sanguinum, et dolosi, bloody, and deceitful men, false and treacherous, to the murdering of our own souls we come into this world, as the Egyptians went out of it, swallowed, and smothered in the Red Sea, pueri sanguinum, et infirmi, weak and bloody infants at our birth. But to carry our thoughts from material to spiritual uncleannesses, in peccato concepti, we were conceived in sin, but who can tell us how? That flesh in our mother's womb, which we are, having no sin in itself, (for that mass of flesh could not be damned, if there never came a soul into it) and that soul, which comes into that flesh from God, having no sin in it neither, (for God creates nothing infected with sin, neither should that soul be damned, if it came not into that body) the body being without sin, and the soul being without sin, yet in the first minute that this body and soul meet and are united, we become in that instant guilty of Adam's sin, committed six thousand years before. Such is our sin and uncleanness, in original sin, as the subtlest man in the schools is never able to tell us how or when we contracted that sin, but all have it; and therefore if there be any, any anywhere, of that generation that are pure in their own eyes,
6 Job xiv. 4. J Eph. ii. 3.
and yet are not washed from their filthinm, as Solomon speaks8, Erubesce vas stercorum, says good St. Bernard, if it be a vessel of gold, it is but a vessel of excrements, if it be a bed of curious plants, it is but a bed of dung; as their tombs hereafter shall be but glorious covers of rotten carcasses, so their bodies are now but pampered covers of rotten souls; Erubescat vas stercorum, let that vessel of uncleanness, that barrel of dung, confess a necessity of washing, and seek that, and rejoice in that, for thus far, (that is, to the pollution of original sin,) in peccato concepti, and nascimur filii irw, we are conceived in sin first, and then we are born the children of wrath.
But where's our remedy? Why for this, for this original uncleanness, is the water of baptism. Oportet nos renasci; we must be born again; we must; there is a necessity of baptism: as we are the children of Christian parents, we have jus ad rem, a right to the covenant, we may claim baptism, the church cannot deny it us; and as we are baptized in the Christian church, we have jus in re, a right in the covenant, and all the benefits thereof, all the promises of the gospel: we are sure that we are conceived in. sin, and sure that we are born children of wrath, but not sure that we are cleansed, or reconciled to God by any other means than Jthat which he hath ordained, baptism. The spirit of God moved first .upon the water; and the spirit of life grew first in the water; Primus liquor quod viveret edidet': the first living creatures in the first creation, were in the waters; and the first breath of spiritual life, came to us, from the water of baptism. In the temple there was Mare wneum, a brazen sea10; in the church there is Mare aureum, a golden sea, which is baptisterium, the font, in which we discharge ourselves of all our first uncleannesses, of all the guiltiness of original sin ; but because we contract new uncleannesses, by our unclean ways here; therefore there must be ablutio pedum, a washing of our feet, of our ways, of our actions, which is our second branch.
Cecidimus in latum, et super acervum lapidum, says St. Bernard; we fell by Adam's fall, into the dirt; but from that, we are washed in baptism; but we fell upon a heap of sharp stones
8 Prov. xxx. 12. 'Tertullian. 10 1 Kings vii. 24.
too; and we feel those wounds, and those bruises, all our lives after; Impingimus meridie, we stumble at noon-day"; in the brightest light of the gospel, in the brightest light of grace, in the best strength of repentance, and our resolutions to the contrary, yet we stumble, and fall again. Duo nobis pedes, says that father, Natura, et consuetudo; we stand, says he, upon two feet, nature, and custom; and we are lame of one foot hereditarily, we draw a corrupt nature from our parents; and we have lamed the other foot, by crooked and perverse customs. Now, as God provided a liquor in his church, for original sin, the water of baptism, so hath he provided another for those actual sins; that is, the blood of his own body, in the other sacrament. In which sacrament, besides the natural union, (that Christ hath taken our nature) and the mystical union, (that Christ hath taken us into the body of his church) by a spiritual union, when we apply faithfully his merits to our souls, and by a sacramental union, when we receive the visible seals thereof, worthily, we are so washed in his blood, as that we stand in the sight of his father, as clean, and innocent, as himself, both because he and we are thereby become one body, and because the garment of his righteousness covers us all. But, for a preparation of this washing in the blood of Christ, in that sacrament, Christ commended to his apostles, and in them, to all the world, by his practice, and by his precept too, ablutionem pedum, a washing of their feet; before they came to that sacrament he washed their feet; and in that exemplary action of his, his washing of their feet, he poured water into a basin, says the text: Aqua spiritus sanctus, pelvis ecclesia"; these preparatory waters are the gift of the Holy Ghost, the working of his grace in repentance; but pelvis ecclesia, the basin is the church; that is, these graces are distributed, and dispensed to us, in his institution, and ordinance in the church: no man can wash himself at first, by baptism; no man can baptize himself; no man can wash in the second liquor, no man, (that is but a man) can administer the other sacrament to himself: pelvis ecclesia, the church is the basin, and God's minister in the church washes in both these cases. And, in»this ablutione pedum, in the preparatory washing of our feet, by a
11 Isaiah Liz. 10. "Bernard.
survey of all our sinful actions and repentance of them, no man can absolve himself, but pelvis ecclesia, the basin of this water of absolution, is in the church and in the minister thereof.
First then this washing of the feet, which prepares us for the great washing, in the blood of Christ, requires a stripping of them, a laying of them naked; covering of the feet in the Scriptures, is a phrase, that denotes a foul, and an unclean action: Saul was said to cover his feet, in the cave, and Eglon was said to cover his feet in his parlour13; and we know the unclean action, that is intended here: but for this clean action, for washing our feet, we must discover all our sinful steps, in a free and open confession to Almighty God. This may be that which Solomon calls sound wisdom: My son keep sound wisdom, and discretion1*. There is not a more silly folly, than to think to hide any sinful action from God. Nor sounder wisdom than to discover them to him, by an humble, and penitent confession; this is sound wisdom, and then, discretion is, to wash, and discern, and debate, and examine all our future actions, and all the circumstances, that by this spirit of discretion we may see where the sting, and venom of every particular action lies: My son, keep sound wisdom and discretion, says he, and then shalt thou walk in thy way safelyy and thy foot shall not stumble; if thy discretion be not strong enough, if thou canst not always discern, what is, and what ia not sin) he shall give his angels charge over thee, that thou dash not thy foot against a stone"; and that is good security; and if all these fail, though thou do fall, thou shalt not be utterly cast down, for the Lord shall uphold thee with his hand, says David18; God shall give that man, that loves this sound wisdom, (humble confession of sins past) this spiritual discretion, the spirit of discerning spirits, that is, power to discern a temptation, and to overcome it; confess that which is past with true sorrow, that's sound wisdom, and God shall enlighten thee for the future, and that is holy discretion.
The washing of our feet then, being a cle an and pure and sincere examination of all our actions, we are to wash all the instruments of our actions, in repentance; Lavanda fades, wo
are to wash our face, as Joseph did after he had wept17, before he looked upon his brethren again; if we have murmured and mourned, for any cross that God hath laid upon us, we must return to a cheerful countenance towards him, in embracing whatsoever he found best for us; we must wash our intestina, our bowels, (as it is after commanded in the law18) when our bowels, which should melt at the relation, and contemplation, and application of the passion of our Saviour, do melt at the apprehension, or expectation, or fruition of any sinful delight, Lamnda intestina, we must wash those bowels; Lamnda vestimenta, we must wash our clothes19; when we apparel and palliate our sins with excuses, of our own infirmity, or of the example of greater men, these clothes must be washed, these excuses; Lamnda currus et arma, as Ahab's chariot and armour were washed*0; if the power of our birth or of our place, or of our favour, have armed us against the power of the law, or against the clamour of men justly incensed, Lavandi currus, these chariots, and arms, this greatness must be washed; Lamnda retia; what nets soever we have fished with81, by what means soever we raise, or sustain our fortune, Lamnda retia, these nets must be washed. St. Bernard hath drawn a great deal of this heavenly water together, for the washing of all, when he presents, (as he calls it) Martyrium, sine sanguine, triplex, a threefold martyrdom, and all without blood; and that is, Largitas in paupertate, a bountiful disposition, even in a low fortune; Parcitas in ubertate, a frugal disposition in a full fortune; and Castitas in juventute, a pure and chaste disposition, in the years, and places of temptation. These are martyrdoms, without blood, but not without the water that washes our feet; this is sound wisdom, and discretion, to strip, and lay open our feet, our sinful actions, by confession; to cover them, and wrap them up by precaution, from new uncleanness; and then to tie and bind up all safe, by participation of the blood of Christ Jesus, in the Sacrament; for that is the seal of all; and Christ in the washing of his disciples' feet, took a towel to dry them, as well as water to wash them;
17 Gen. xLiii. 31. 18 Exod. xxix. 17. "Exod. six. 10.
s0 1 Kings xxii. 38. al Luke v. 2.
so when he hath brought us to this washing of our feet, to a serious consideration of our actions, and to repentant tears, for them, Absterget omnem lachrymam, he will wipe all tears from our eyes; all tears of confusion towards men, or of diffidence towards him; Absterget omnem lachrymam, and deliver us over to a settled peace of conscience.
There is a washing then, absolutely, generally necessary, the water of baptism; and a washing occasionally necessary, because we fall into actual sins, the blood of our Saviour in the sacrament; and there is a washing between these, preparatory to the last washing, the water of contrite, and repentant tears, in opening ourselves to God, and shutting up of ourselves against future temptations: of the two first, the two sacraments, fons in ecclesia, the whole spring and river is in the church, there is no baptism, no blood of Christ, but in the church; and of this later, which is most properly ablutio pedum, the washing of the feet, that is, tears shed in repentance of our sinful lives, of this water, there is pelvis in ecclesia, the basin is in the church; for our best repentance (though this repentance be at home in our own hearts) doth yet receive a seal, from the absolution of God's ministers in the church. But yet though there be no cleansing, but from the spirit of God, no ordinary working of God's spirit, but in the church, and his ordinances there, yet we ourselves are not so left out, in this work, but that the spouse here, and every careful soul here, says, truly, ego lavi, I myself have washed my feet; which is our third branch.
It is said often in philosophy, Nihil in intellectu, quod non prius in sensu; Till some sense apprehend a thing, the judgment cannot debate it, nor discourse it; it may well be said in divinity too, Nihil in gratia, quod non prius in natura, There is nothing in grace, that was not first in nature, so far, as that grace always finds nature, and natural faculties to work on; though that nature be not disposed to the receiving of grace, when it comes, yet that nature, and those faculties, which may be so disposed by grace, are there, before that grace comes. And the grace of God doth not work this cleansing, but where there is a sweet, and supple, and tractable, and ductile disposition wrought in that soul. This disposition is no cause why God gives his grace; for there is no cause, but his own mere, and unmeasurable goodness; but yet, without such a disposition, God would not give that; and therefore let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, says the apostle"; there is something, which we ourselves may do. A man that had poured out himself in a vehement, and corrupt solicitation of the chastity of any woman, if he found himself surprised by the presence of a husband, or a father, he could give over in the midst of a protestation; a man that had set one foot into a house of dangerous provocations, if he saw a bill of the plague, upon the door, he could go back; a man that had drawn his sword to rob a passenger, if he saw a hue and cry come, could give over that; and all this is upon the Ego lavi, I have washed; without use of grace, his own natural reason declines him from that sin then. How long shall we make this bad use of this true doctrine, that, because we cannot do enough, for our salvation, therefore we will do nothing I Shall I see any man shut out of heaven, that did what he could upon earth I Thou that canst mourn for any worldly loss, mourn for thy sin; thou that lovest meetings of company for society, and conversation, love the meeting of the saints of God, in the congregation, and communion of saints; thou that lovest the rhetoric, the music, the wit, the sharpness, the eloquence, the elegancy, of other authors, love even those things in the Scriptures, in the word of God, where they abound more, than in other authors. Put but thy affections out of their ordinary sinful way, and then Lavasti pedes, Thou hast washed thy feet; and God will take thy work in hand, and raise a building far beyond the compass, and comprehension of thy foundation; that which the soul began but in good nature, shall be perfected in grace.
But do it quickly; for the glory of this soul here was in the lavi; it is not lavabo; that she had already; not that she would wash her feet; since thou art come to know thy natural uncleanness, and baptism for that, and thine actual uncleanness, and that for that, there is a river, that brings thee into the main sea, (the water of repentance leads thee to the bottomless sea of the blood of thy Saviour, in the sacrament) continue not in thy foulness, in confidence that all shall be drowned in that at last, whensoever
"2 Cor. vii. 1.
thou wilt come to it. It was a common, but an erroneous practice, even in the primitive church, to defer their baptism, tiH they were old; because an opinion prevailed upon them, that baptism discharged them of all sins, they used to be baptized then, when they were past sinning, that so they might pass out of this world, in that innocency, which their baptism imprinted in them: and out of this custom, men grew to be the more careless all their lives, because all was done at once in baptism. But says St. Augustine in that case, (and it was his own case) it were uncharitably said, Vulneretur amplius, that if we saw a man welter in his blood, and wounded in divers places, it were uncharitably said, Vulneretur amplius, give him two or three wounds more, for the surgeon is not come yet; it is uncharitably said to thine own soul, Vulneretur amplius, take thy pleasure in sin yet, when I come to receive the sacrament, I will repent altogether, do not think to put off all to the washing week; all thy sins, all thy repentance, to Easter, and the sacrament then; there may be a washing then, and no drying; thou mayest come to weep the tears of desperation, to seek mercy with tears, and not find it; tears for worldly losses, tears for sin, tears for bodily anguish, may overflow thee then; and whereas God's goodness to those, that are his, is, Ut abstergat omnem lachrymam, to wipe all tears from their eyes; Absterget nullam lachrymam, he may leave all unwiped upon thee, he may leave thy soul to sink, and to shipwreck, under this tempest, and inundation, and current of divers tides, tears of all kinds, and ease of none: for those of whom it is said, Deus absterget omnem lachrymam, God shall wipe all tears from their eyes, are they Qui laverunt stolas (as we see there) who have already washed their long robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: who have already by tears of repentance, become worthy receivers of the seal of reconciliation, in the sacrament of his body, and blood; to them, God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; but to the unrepentant sinner, he shall multiply tears; from tears for the loss of a horse or of a house, to tears for the loss of a soul, and wipe no tear from his eyes.
But yet, though this lavi, exclude the lavabo, as it is dilatory, that is, I will wash, but not yet, yet it excludes not the lambo, I will wash, as it is an often washing; I must come to that, lavi, I have washed, but yet I will wash again: for till our feet be so washed, as that they be wrapped up in our last linen, and scraised from the ground, as that they be laid upon other men's shoulders, our feet will touch the ground again and need new washing. When Christ washed his disciples' feet, there is a great difference amongst the fathers, where he began, whose feet he washed first: St. Augustine, and St. Bernard think he began with Peter; they think Christ respected the dignity of his person: Origen, and Chrysostom think he began with Judas; they think Christ respected the necessity of the patient, and applied the physic soonest, where the disease was most malignant, and venomous. None of them say he began with John, whom it is clear he loved most. If any soul have apprehended that Christ came late to her washing, not till now, let her not argue, to her own danger, that he loved her the less for that: if he have suffered sin to abound, that grace might abound, what patient shall dare to appoint that physician his dosis, or his times; whomsoever he washed first of his apostles, he washed them all; and to him that was forwardest ever in his own strength, to Peter, he said, Non habebis partem, If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me; if we come not to this washing of our feet, this preparatory washing by tears of repentance, we can have no part in him, that is, in the participation of his body, and his blood; but when he hath brought us to this Jordan, which is Fluvius judicii, The water of judgment, and that we have judged, and condemned ourselves of this leprosy of sin, Lweemur septies, let us often call ourselves to account, implore the counsel often, often accept the absolution of God's minister, and often settle our souls, in a true peace, by a worthy receiving of the seal thereof, in the sacrament: and as in that we come to the lavi, (a peaceful testimony, that we have washed our consciences) so let us pursue it with a lavabo, with an humble acknowledgment, that wo fall every day, and every day need a new washing; for as from poor tenants, landlords are not content to receive their rent at the year's end, but quarterly, or in shorter terms, so from such beggarly and bankrupt souls as ours are, God is not content with an anniversary repentance once a year, at Easter; but we shall find
our rent, our payment heavy enough, if we pay every day, and wash our feet every night, for the uncleannesses of that one day.
To shut up this part then; this washing of the feet, is the spirit of discerning, and censuring particular actions: but it is pedes meos, a discerning, and censuring of my actions, not only, or not principally the actions of other men; Quam speciosi pedes evangelizantium, How beautiful are the feet of them, that preach peace*3, says St. Paul, out of the mouth of two witnesses, two prophets, that had said so before. If we will preach peace, that is, relieve the consciences of others, by presenting them their sins, we must have speciosos pedes, clean ways, and a clean life of our own; so it is with us, and our profession; but Gens sancta, regale sacerdotium, as the apostle joins them, If you be a holy people, you are also a royal priesthood"; if you be all God's saints, you are all God's priests; and if you be his priests, it is your office to preach too; as wo by words, you by your holy works; as wo by contemplation, you by conversation; as we by our doctrine, so you by your lives, are appointed by God to preach to one another: and therefore every particular man must wash his own feet, look that he have speciosos pedes, that his example may preach to others, for this is truly regale sacerdotium, a regal priesthood, not to work upon others by words, but by actions. If we love one another, as Christ loved us, we must wash one another's feet, as he commanded his apostles; there is a priestly duty lies upon every man, brotherly to reprehend a brother, whom he sees trampling in foul ways, wallowing in foul sins; but I may preach to others and be myself a reprobate*', (as St. Paul speaks with terror to men of our coat) in his own person, I may bring others to heaven, and be shut out myself; and thou mayest preach that a man should not steal, and steal, that a man should not commit adultery, and commit it"; and in these cases, non speciosi pedes, here are no clean, no fair feet, and therefore no edifying. Nay if, in either kind, we, or you, abhor idols, and yet commit sacrilege, that is, reprehend a sin in another, which we are free from ourselves, but yet are guilty
ourselves, of another sin as great, here's no clean feet, no profitable preaching; and therefore the only way to do God service, is, to wash and to censure the feet, (that is, particular actions) but principally, our own feet, that which we do ourselves.
There remains yet a second part: and perchance but a little time for it; and I shall proportion, and fit myself to it. It is, that as this soul had a resurrection, she hath an ascension; as she had vocem gratulantis, a thanksgiving, that she hath washed her feet, so she hath vocem indignantis, a religious scorn, and indignation, to fall into those foul ways again. For this holy indignation, is one link in the apostle's chain of repentance, where, upon godly sorrow, depends care, and upon that, cleansing of ourselves, and upon that indignation, and so fear, and so desire, and so zeal, and so punishments of ourselves87: every link worthy of a longer consideration; but here we consider only this indignation ; when that soul that is washed, and thereby sees, to what a fair conformity with her Saviour she is come, is come also to a scorn, to a disdain to compare any beauty in this world, to that face, which angels desire to look upon; any nearness to great persons in this world, to the following of the Lamb wheresoever he goes; any riches of this world, to that riches wherewith the poverty of Christ Jesus hath made us rich; any length of life in this world, to that union which we shall have to the Ancient of Days; where even the everliving God, shall not overlive us, but carry out our days to the unmeasured measure of his own, to eternity. This indignation this soul expresses here, in this question, Quomodo, How shall I defile them? First then, this voice of indignation hath this force; Quomodo, How shall I defile them, is, how is it possible that I should defile them? I have washed my feet, repented my sins, and taken the seal of my reconciliation, the sacrament, and that hath this effect, ut sensum minuat in minimis, et tollat consensum in magnis peccatisTM, that grace, that God gives in the sacrament, makes us less sensible of small temptations, (they move us not) and it makes us resist, and not yield to the greatest temptations; since I am in this state, Quomodo inquinabo? How shall I defile them? The difference will be, of whom thou askest this question: if thou ask the
V 2 Cor. vii. 11. 88 Bernard.
world, the world will tell thee, well enough. Quomodo, How; it will tell thee, that it is a melancholy thing, to git thinking upon thy sins; that it is an unsociable thing, to seek him, who cannot be seen, an invisible God; that it is poor company, to pass thy time with a priest. Thou mayest defile thyself again by forgetting thy sins, and so doing them over again: and thou mayest defile thyself again, by remembering thy sins, and so sin over thy sins again, in a sinful delight of thy passed sins, and a desire that thou couldst commit them again. There are answers enough to this Quomodo, How, shall I defile them, if thou ask the world: but ask thy Saviour, and he shall tell thee, That whosoever hath this water, shall never thirst more, but that water shall be in him an everlasting spring"; that is, he shall find means to keep himself in that cleanness, to which he is come; and neither things present, nor things to come shall separate him from the love of God30.
Thus the voice this religious indignation, Quomodo, is, how is it possible, but it is also, Quomodo, How, that is, why should 11 The first is, how should I be so base, the other, how should I be so bold? Though I have my pardon, written in the blood of my Saviour, sealed to me in his sacrament, brought home to me in the testimony of the Holy Ghost, pleaded for me, at the tribunal of the Father, yet as princes' pardons have, so God's pardons have too, this clause, Ita quod se bene gerat; He that is pardoned must continue of good behaviour; for whensoever he breaks the peace, he forfeits his pardon; when I return to my repented sins again, I am under the burden of all my former sins, and my very repentance, contracts the nature of a sin: and therefore Quomodo, how should I, that is, why should I defile them? To restore you to your liberty, and to send you away with the meditation which concerns you most, consider, what an astonishment this would be, that when Christ Jesus shall lay open the great volumes of all your sins, to your sight, who had forgotten them, and to their sight, from whom you had disguised them, at the last judgment, when you shall hear all the wantonness of your youth, all the ambitions of your middle years, all the covetous desires of your age, published in that presence, and think then, this is the worst that can be said, or laid to my charge, this is the last
88 John iv. 14. 80 Rom. viii. 38, 39.
indictment, and the last evidence, there shall follow your very repentances in the list of your sins, and it shall be told you, and all the world then, here, and here you deluded that God, that forbore to inflict his judgments, upon new vows, new contracts, new promises, between you and him; even your repentances shall bind up that book, and tie your old sins and new relapses into one body. And let this meditation bring you ad vocem gratulantis, to rejoice once again in this lavi pedes, that you have now washed your feet, in a present sorrow, and ad vocem indignantis, to a stronger indignation, and faster resolution than heretofore you have had, never to defile them again.