PREACHED AT THE CHURCHING OF THE COUNTESS OF
Micah ii. 10. [Second Sermon.]
Thus far we have proceeded in the first acceptation of these words, according to their principal, and literal sense, as they appertained to the Jews, and their state; so they were a commination; as they appertain to all succeeding ages, and to us, so
18 Psalm xxxvii. 3.
they are a commonition, an alarm, to raise us from the sleep, and death of sin; and then in a third acceptation,they are a consolation, that at last we shall have a rising, and a departing into such a state, in the resurrection, as we shall no more need this voice, Arise, and depart, because we shall be no more in danger of falling, no more in danger of departing from the presence, and contemplation, and service, and fruition of God; and in both these latter senses, the words admit a just accommodation to this present occasion, God having raised his honourable servant, and handmaid here present, to a sense of the curse, that lies upon women, for the transgression of the first woman, which is painful, and dangerous child-birth; and given her also a sense of the last glorious resurrection, in having raised her from that bed of weakness, to the ability of coming into his presence, here in his house.
First then to consider them, in the first of these two latter senses, as a commonition to them, that are in the state of sin, first there is an increpation implied in this word arise; when we are bid arise, we are told, that we are fallen: sin is an unworthy descent, and an ignoble fall; secondly, we are bid to do something, and therefore we are able to do something; God commands nothing impossible so, as that that degree of performance, which he will accept, should be impossible, to the man whom his grace hath affected; that which God will accept, is possible to the godly; and thirdly, that which he commands here, is derived into two branches; we are bidden to rise, that is, to leave our bed, our habit of sin; and then not to be idle, when we are up, but to depart; not only to depart from the custom, but from temptations of recidivation; and not only that, but to depart into another way, a habit of actions, contrary to our former sins. And then, all this is pressed, and urged upon us, by a reason; the Holy Ghost appears not like a ghost in one sudden glance, or glimmering, but he testifies his presence, and he presses the business, that he comes for; and the reason that he uses here, is, quia non requies, because otherwise we lose the pondus an imw, the weight, the ballast of our soul, rest, and peace of conscience: for howsoever there may be some rest, some such show of rest as may serve a carnal man a little while, yet, says our text, it is not your rest, it conduces not to that rest, which God hath ordained for you, whom he would direct to a better rest. That rest, (your rest) is not here; not in that, which is spoken of here; not in your lying still, you must rise from it; not in your standing still, you must depart from it; your rest is not here: but yet, since God sends us away, because our rest is not here, he does tacitly direct us thereby, where there is rest; and that will be the third acceptation of these words; to which we shall come anon.
For that then which rises first, the increpation of our fall implied in the word, arise, there is nothing in which that which is the mother of all virtues, discretion, is more tried, than in the conveying, and imprinting profitably a rebuke, an increpation, a knowledge, and sense of sin, in the conscience of another. The rebuke of sin, is like the fishing of whales; the mark is great enough; one can scarce miss hitting; but if there be not sea-room and line enough, and a dexterity in letting out that line, he that hath fixed his harping-iron, in the whale, endangers himself and his boat; God hath made us fishers of men; and when we have struck a whale, touched the conscience of any person, which thought himself above rebuke, and increpation, it struggles, and strives, and as much as it can, endeavours to draw fishers and boat, the man and his fortune, into contempt, and danger. But if God tye a sickness, or any other calamity, to the end of the line, that will wind up this whale again to the boat, bring back this rebellious sinner better advised, to the mouth of the minister, for more counsel, and to a better suppleness, and inclinableness, to conform himself to that which he shall after receive from him; only calamity makes way for a rebuke to enter. There was such a tenderness, amongst the orators, which were used to speak in the presence of the people, to the Roman emperors, (which was a way of civil 'preaching) that they durst not tell them then their duties, nor instruct them, what they should do, any other way than by saying, that they had done so before; they had no way to make the prince wise, and just and temperate, but by a false praising him, for his former acts of wisdom, and justice, and temperance, which he had never done; and that served to make the people believe that the princes were so; and it served to teach the prince that he ought to be so. And so, though this were an express, and a direct flattery, yet it was a collateral increpation too; and on the other side, our later times have seen another art, another invention, another workmanship, that when a great person hath so abused the favour of his prince, that he hath grown subject to great, and weighty increpations, his own friends have made libels against him, thereby to lay some light aspersions upon him, that tho prince might think, that this coming with the malice of a libel, was the worst that could be said of him: and so, as the first way to the emperors, though it were a direct flattery, yet it was a collateral increpation too, so this way, though it were a direct increpation, yet it was a collateral flattery too. If I should say of such a congregation as this, with acclamations and shows of much joy, blessed company, holy congregation, in which there is no pride at all, no vanity at all, no prevarication at all, I could be thought in that, but to convey an increpation, and a rebuke mannerly, in a wish that it wero so altogether. If I should say of such a congregation as this, with exclamations and show of much bitterness, that they were sometimes somewhat too worldly in their own business, sometimes somewhat too remiss, in the businesses of the next world, and add no more to it, this were but as a plot, and a faint libelling, a publishing of small sins to keep greater from being talked of: slight increpations are but as whisperings, and work no farther, but to bring men to say, Tush, nobody hears it, nobody heeds it, we are never the worse, nor never the worse thought of for all that he says. And loud and bitter increpations, are as a trumpet, and work no otherwise, but to bring them to say, Since he hath published all to the world already, since all the world knows of it, the shame is past, and we may go forward in our ways again: Is there no way to convey an increpation profitably? David could find no way; Vidi prwvaricatores et tabescebam, says he, i" saw the transgressors, but I languished and consumed away with grief, because they would not keep the law1; he could not mend them, and so impaired himself with his compassion: but God hath provided a way here, to convey, to imprint this increpation, this rebuke, sweetly, and successfully; that is, by way of counsel: by bidding them arise, he chides them for falling, by presenting the exaltation and exultation of a peaceful conscience, he brings them to a foresight, to what miserable dis
1 Psalm cxix. 158.
tractions, and distortions of the soul, a habit of sin will bring them to. If you will take knowledge of God's fearful judgments no other way, but by hearing his mercies preached, his mercy is new every morning, and his dew falls every evening; and morning and evening we will preach his mercies unto you. If you will believe a hell no other way, but by hearing the joys of heaven presented to you, you shall hear enough of that; we will receive you in the morning, and dismiss you in the evening, in a religious assurance, in a present inchoation of the joys of heaven. It is God's way, and we are willing to pursue it; to show you that you are enemies to Christ, we pray you in Christ's stead, that you would be reconciled to him; to show you that you are fallen, we pray you to arise, and si audieritis, if you hear us so, if any way, any means, convey this rebuke, this sense into you, si audieritis, literati summs fratrem, If you hear, we have gained a brother*; and that is the richest gain that we can get, if you may get salvation by us.
God's rebukes and increpations then are sweet, and gentle, to the binding up, not to the scattering of a conscience; and the particular rebuke in this place, conveyed by way of counsel, is, that they were fallen; and worse could not be said, how mild, and easy soever the word be. The ruin of the angels in heaven, the ruin of Adam in paradise, is still called by that word, it is but the fall of angels, and the fall of Adam; and yet this fall of Adam cost the blood "of Christ, and this blood of Christ, did not rectify the angels after their fall. Inter abjectos, abjectissimus peccator3; Amongst them that are fallen, he falls lowest, that continues in sin: for (says the same father,) man is a king in his creation; he hath commission, subjicite, et dominamini; the world, and himself, (which is a less world, but a greater dominion) are within his jurisdiction; and then servilely, he submits himself, and all, to that, quo nihil magis barbarum, than which nothing is more tyrannous, more barbarous. All persons have naturally, all nations ever had, a detestation of falling into their hands who were more barbarous, more uncivil than themselves, et peccato nihil magis barbarum, says that father; sin doth not govern us by a rule, by a law, but tyrannically, impetuously, and tempestuously; it hath been said of Rome, Romw regulariter male agitur; there a man
* Matt, xviii. 15. 'Chrysostom.
may know the price of a sin, before he do it; and he knows what his dispensation will cost; whether he be able to sin at that rate, whether he have wherewithal, that if not, he may take a cheap sin. Thou canst never say that of thy soul, Intus regulariter male agitur; thou canst never promise thyself to sin safely, and so to elude the law, for the law is thy heart; nor to sin wisely, and to escape witnesses, for the testimony is in thy conscience; nor to sin providently, and thriftly, and cheaply, and compound for the penalty, and stall the fine; for thy soul, that is the price, is indivisible, and perishes entirely; and eternally at one payment, and yet ten thousand thousand times over and over. Thou canst not say, Thou wilt sin that sin, and no more; or so far in that sin, and no farther; if thou fall from an high place, thou mayest fall through thick clouds, and through moist clouds, but yet through nothing that can sustain thee, but thou fallest to the earth; if thou fall from the grace of God, thou mayest pass through dark clouds, oppression of heart, and through moist clouds, some compunction, some remorseful tears; but yet, (of thyself) thou hast nothing to take hold of, till thou come to that bottom, which will embrace thee cruelly, to the bottomless bottom of hell itself. Our dignity, and our greatest height, is in our interest in God, and in the world, and in ourselves; and we fall from all, either non utendo, or abutendo; either by neglecting God, or by overvaluing the world; our greatest fall of all is, into idolatry; and yet idolatry is an ordinary fall; for tot habemus Deos recentes, quot habemus vitia*, as many habitual sins as we embrace, so many idols we worship: if all sins could not be called so, idols, yet for those sins, which possess us most ordinarily, and most strongly, we have good warrant to call them so; which sins are licentiousness in our youth, and covetousness in our age, and voluptuousness in our middle time. For, for licentiousness, idolatry and that are so often called by one another's names in the Scriptures, as (many times) we cannot tell when the prophets mean spiritual adultery, and when carnal: when they mean idolatry, and when fornication. For covetousness, that is expressly called idolatry by the apostle: and so is voluptuousness too, in those men, whose belly is their god. We fall then into that desperate precipitation of idolatry by lust,
when by fornication we profane the temple of the Holy Ghost, and make even his temple, our bodies, a stew: and we fall into idolatry by covetousness, when we come to be, tarn putidi minutique animi', of so narrow and contracted a soul, and of so sick, and dead, and buried, and putrified a soul, as to lock up our soul in a cabinet where we lock up our money, to tye our soul in the corner of a handkerchief, where we tye our money, to imprison our soul, in the imprisonment of those things, quay te ad gloriam subvecturw, the dispensation, and distribution whereof, would carry thy soul to eternal glory. And when, by our voluptuousness, we raise the prices of necessary things, et eorum vulnera, qui a Deo flagris cwduntur, adaugemus; and thereby scourge them with deeper lashes of famine, whom God had scourged with poverty before, we fall into idolatry by voluptuousness; numismatis inscriptiones inspicitis, et non Christi in fratre, thou takest a pleasure, to look upon the figures, and images of kings in their several coins, and thou despisest thine own image in thy poor brother, and God's image in thy ruinous, and defaced soul, and in his temple, thy body, demolished by thy licentiousness, and by all these idolatries. This is the fall, when we fall so far into those sins, which have naturally a tyranny in them, and that that sin becomes an idol to us; which fall of ours, God intimates unto us, and rebukes us for, by so mild a way, as to bid us rise from it.
Now when God bids us rise, as the apostle says, Be not deceived, non irredetur Deus, God cannot be mocked* by any man, so we may boldly say, Be not afraid, non irridet Deus; God mocks no man; God comes not to a miserable bedrid man, as a man would come in scorn to a prisoner, and bid him shake off his fetters, or to a man in a consumption, and bid him grow strong: when God bids us arise, he tells us, we are able to rise; God bade Moses go to Pharaoh; Moses said he was incircumcisus labiis7, heavy and slow of tongue; but he did not deny, but he had a tongue: God bade him go, and I will be with thy mouth, says he; he does not say, I will be thy mouth; but, thou hast a mouth, and I will be with thy mouth. It was God's presence, that made that mouth serviceable and useful but it was Moses' mouth; Moses had a mouth of his own; we have faculties and powers of our own, to
5 Basil. 6 Gal. vi. 7. 7 Exod. iv. 10.
be employed in God's service. So when God employed Jeremy, the prophet says, 0 Lord God, behold, I cannot speak, for I am a child*; but God replies, say not thou, lama child; for whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak. When God bids thee rise from thy sin, say not thou it is too late, or that thou art bedrid in the custom of thy sin, and so canst not rise: when he bids thee rise, he enables thee to rise; and thou mayest rise, by the power of that will which only his mercy, and his grace, hath created in thee: for as God conveys a rebuke in that counsel, surgite, arise, so he conveys a power in it too; when he bids thee rise, he enables thee to rise.
That which we are to do then, is to rise; to leave our bed, our sleep of sin. St. Augustine takes knowledge of three ways, by which he escaped sins; first, occasionis subtractione;. and that is the safest way, not to come within distance of a tentation; secondly, resistendi data virtute, that the love and fear of God, imprinted in him, made him strong enough for the sin: Can I love God, and love this person thus? thus, that my love to it should draw away my love from God? Can I fear God, and fear any man, (who can have power but over my body) so, as for fear of him, to renounce my God, or the truth, or my religion? or qffectionis sanitate, that his affections had, by a good diet, by a continual feeding upon the contemplation of God, such a degree of health, and good temper, as that some sins he.did naturally detest, and though he had not wanted opportunity, and had wanted particular grace, yet he had been safe enough from them. But for this help, this detestation, of some particular sins, that will not hold out; we have seen men infinitely prodigal grow infinitely covetous at last. For the other way, (the assistance of particular grace) that we must not presume upon; for he that opens himself to a tentation, upon presumption of grace to preserve him, forfeits by that, even that grace which he had. And therefore there is no safe way, but occasionis subtractio, the forbearing of those places, and that conversation, which ministers occasion of tentation to us. First therefore, let us find, that we are in our bed, that we are naturally unable to rise; we are not born noble: St. Paul considers himself, and his birth, and his title to grace,
8 Jer. i. 6.
at best: that he was a Jew, and of the tribe of Benjamin, and of holy parents, and within the covenant; yet all this raised him not out of his bed, for, says he, We were by nature the children of wrath, as well as others*. But where then was the rising? that is in the true receiving of Christ. To as many as received him, he gane, potestatem prwrogativw, to be the sons of God1*; yea, power to become the sons of God, as it is in our last translation. Christianus non de Christiano nascitur, nec facit generatio, sed generatio Christienum"; A Christian mother does not conceive a Christian; only the Christian church conceives Christian children. Judwus circumcisusgenerat filium incircumcisum^', A Jew is circumcised, but his child is born uncircumcised: the parents may be up, and ready, but their issue abed, and in their blood, till baptism have washed them, and till the spirit of regeneration have raised them, from that bed, which the sins of their first parents have laid them in, and their own continuing sins continued them in. This rising is first from original sin, by baptism, and then from actual sin, best, by withdrawing from the occasions of tentation to future sins, after repentance of former.
But it is not, arise, and stand still: but surgite, et ite, arise, and depart; but whither? Into actions, contrary to those sinful actions, and habits contrary to those habits. Let him that is righteous, be righteous still, and him that is holy, be holy still13 and that cannot be, without this; for it is but a small degree of convalescence, and reparation of health, to be able to rise out of our bed, to be able to forbear sin: Quifebri laborat,post morbum infirmior est; though the fever be off, we are weak after it; though we have left a sin, there is a weakness upon us, that makes us reel, and lean towards that bed, at every turn; decline towards that sin, upon every occasion. And therefore according to that example, and pattern, of God's proceeding at the creation, who first made all, and then digested, and then perfected them; Primo faciamus, deinde venustemus, says St. Ambrose; first let us make up a good body, a good habitude, a good constitution, by leaving our beds, our occasions of tentations; and then venustemus, let us dress ourselves, adorn ourselves, yea, arm ourselves, with the whole armour of God, which is faith
'Euhes. ii. 3.
10 John i. 12. 11 Tertullian.
13 Rev. xxii. 11.
in Christ Jesus, and a holy and sanctified conversation. Memento peregisse te aliquid, restore aliquid1*: Remember, (and do not deceive thyself, to remember that, which was never done) but remember truly, that thou hast done something, towards making sure thy salvation already, and that thou hast much more to do, divertisse te ad refectionem, non ad defeclionem, that God hath given thee a baiting place, a resting place; peace in conscience) for all thy past sins, in thy present repentance; but it is, to refresh thyself with that peace; it is not to take new courage, and strength to sin again. Let not the ease which thou hast found in the remission of sins now embolden thee to commit them again; nor to trust to that strength which thou hast already recovered; but arise and depart; avoid old tentations, and apply thyself to a new course iu the world, and in a calling; for there may be as as much sin to leave the world, as to cleave to the world: and he may be as inexcusable at the last day, that hath done nothing in world, as he that hath done some ill.
Now, we noted it to be a particular degree of God's mercy, that ho insisted upon it, that he pressed it, that he urged it with a reason; Do thus, says God, for it stands thus with you. It is always a boldness, to ask a reason of those decrees of God, which were founded, and established only in his own gracious will, and pleasure; in those cases, exitiales voculw, cur et quomodo*5; to ask, why God elected some, and how it can consist with his goodness, to leave out others, there the how and why are dangerous, and deadly monosyllables. But of God's particular purposes upon us, and revealed to us, which are so to be wrought and executed upon us, as that we ourselves have a fellow-working, and co-operation with God, of those, it becomes us to ask, and to know the reason. When the angel Gabriel promised such unexpected blessings to Zachary, Zachary asks, Whereby shall I know this,e? and the angel does not leave him unsatisfied. When that angel promises a greater miracle to the blessed Virgin Mary, she says also, Quomodo, How shall this be? and the angel settles, and establishes the assurance in her: whatsoever we are bid to believe, whatsoever we are bid to do, God affords us a reason for it, and we may try it by reason, but because that sinner, whom in this text
14 Augustine. 15 Luther. "Luke i. 18.
he speaks tc-7 to arise and depart, is likely to stand upon false reasons, against his rising, to murmur, and to ask Cur or quomodo, Why should I arise, since methinks I lie at my ease, how shall I arise, that am already at the top of my wishes? God who is loath to lose any soul, that he undertakes, follows him with this reason, Quia non requies, Arise, and depart, for here is not your rest.
Now this rest is in itself so grateful, so acceptable a thing, as all the service, which David, and Solomon, could express towards God, in the dedication of the Temple, (which was then in intention, and project) is described in that phrase, Arise 0 Lord, and come into thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength11; God himself hath a Sabbath, in our Sabbaths; it is welcome to God, and it,is so welcome to man, as that St. Augustine preaching upon those words, Qui posuit fines tuos pacem, He that maketh peace in thy borders1', (as we translate it) he observed such a passion, such an alteration in his auditory, as that he took knowledge of it in his sermon; Nihil dixeram, nihil exposueram, verbumpronunciavi et exclamastis, says he; I have entered into no part of my text; I have scarce read my text; I did but name the word, rest, and peace of conscience, and you are all transported, affected, with an exultation, with an acclamation, in the hunger, and ambition of it; that that the natural, that that the supernatural man affects, is rest; Inquire pacem, et persequere eam; it is not only sequere, but persequere; seek peace and ensue it1*; follow this rest, this peace so, as if it fly from you, if any interruption, any heaviness of heart, any warfare of this world, come between you and it, yet you never give over the pursuit of it, till you overtake it. Persequere, follow it; but first inquire, says David, seek after it, find where it is, for here is not your rest.
Unaquwque res in sua patria fortior*0; If a star were upon the earth, it would give no light; if a tree were in the sea, it would give no fruit; every tree is fastest rooted, and produces the best fruit, in the soil, that is proper for it. Now, here we have no continuing city, but we seek one11; when we find that, we shall find rest. Here how shall we hope for it? for ourselves,
17 Psalm cxxxii. 8. 18 Psalm cxlvii. 14. 19 Psalm xxxiv. 14.
80 Chrysostom. "Heb. xiii. 14.
Intus pugnw, for is timores"; we feel a war of concupiscencies within, and we fear a battery of temptations without: Si dissentiunt in domouxor et maritus, periculosa molestia, says St. Augustine; If the husband, and wife agree not at home, it is a troublesomo danger; and that's every man's case; for caro conjux, our flesh is the wife, and the spirit is the husband, and they two will never agree. But Si dominetur uxor, perversa pax, says he, and that's a more ordinary case than we are aware of, that the wife hath got the mastery, that the weaker vessel, the flesh, hath got the'victory; and then, there is a show of peace, but it is a stupidity, a security, it is not peace. Let us depart out of ourselves, and look upon that, in which most ordinarily we place an opinion of rest, upon worldly riches; They that will be rich, fall into temptations, and snares, and into many foolish, and noisome lusts*3, which drown men in perdition, and in destruction, for the desire of money is the root of evil; not the having of money, but the desire of it; for it is Theophylact's observation, that the apostle does not say this of them that are rich, but of them, that will be made rich; that set their heart upon the desire of riches, and will be rich, what way soever. As the partridge gathereth the young, which she hath not brought forth**, so he that gathereth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool; (he shall not make a wise will) but shall his folly end, at his end, or the punishment of his folly? We see what a restless fool he is, all the way; first, because he wants room,' he says, he will pull down his barns, and build new"; (thus far there's no rest; in the diruit, and wdificat, in pulling down, and building up ;) then he says to his soul, live at ease; he says it, but he gives no ease; he says it as he shall say to the hills, Fall down, a?)d cover us; but they shall stand still; and his soul shall hear God say, whilst he promises himself this ease, 0 fool, this night, they shall fetch away thy soul; God does not only not tell him, who shall have his riches, but he does not tell him, who shall have his soul. He leaves him no assurance, no ease, no peace, no rest, here.
This rest is not then in these things; not in their use; for
they are got with labour, and held with fear; and these, labour and fear, admit no rest; not in their nature; for they are fluid, and transitory, and moveable, and these are not attributes of rest. If that word do not reach to land, (the land is not moveable,) yet it reaches to thee; when thou makest thine inventory, put thyself amongst the moveables, for thou must remove from it, though it remove not from thee. So that, what rest soever may be imagined in these things, it is not your rest, for howsoever the things may seem to rest, yet you do not. It is not here at all: not in that here, which is intimated in this text; not in the falling, that is here; for sin is a stupidity, it is not a rest; not in the rising that is here, for this remorse, this repentance, is but as a surveying of a convenient ground, or an emptying of an inconvenient ground, to erect a building upon; not in the departing that is here, for in that is intimated a building of new habits, upon the ground so prepared, and so a continual and laborious travail, no rest; falling, and rising, and departing, and surveying, and building, are no words of rest, forgive these words their spiritual sense, that this sense of our fall, (which is remorse after sin) this rising from it, (which is repentance after sin) this departing into a safer station, (which is the building of habits contrary to the former) do bring an ease to the conscience, (as it doth that powerfully and plentifully) yet, as when we journey by coach, we have an ease in the way, but yet our rest is at home, so in the ways of a regenerate man, there is an unexpressible ease, and consolation here, but yet even this is not your rest; for, as the apostle says, If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am unto you, so what rest soever others may propose unto themselves, for you, whose conversation is in heaven, (for this world to the righteous is atrium templi, and heaven is that temple itself, the militant church, is the porch, the triumphant, is the sanctum sanctorum, this church and that church are all under one roof, Christ Jesus) for you, who appertain to this church, your rest is in heaven; and that consideration brings us to the last of the three interpretations of these words.
The first was a commination, a departing without any rest, proposed to the Jews; the second was a commonition, a departing into the way towards rest, proposed to repentant sinners; and
VOL. IV. M
this third is a consolation, a departing into rest itself, proposed to us, that believe a resurrection. It is a consolation, and yet it is a funeral; for to present this eternal rest, we must a little invert the words, to the departing out of this world, by death, and so to arise to judgment; depart, and arise; for, &c.
This departing then, is our last Exodus, our last passover, our last transmigration, our departing out of this life. And then, the consolation is placed in this, that we are willing, and ready for this departing; Qua gratia breve nobis tempus prwscripsit DeusTM! How mercifully hath God proceeded with man, in making his life short! For by that means he murmurs the less at the miseries of this life, and he is the less transported upon the pleasures of this life, because the end of both is short. It is a weakness, says St. Ambrose, to complain, De immaturitate mortis, Of dying before our time; for we were ripe for death at our birth; we were born mellow: Secundum aliquem modum, immortalis dic i posset homo, si esset tempus intra quod mori non posset, is excellently said by the same father; if there were any one minute in a man's life, in which he were safe from death, a man might in some sort be said to be immortal, for that minute; but man is never so; Nunquam ei vicinius est, posse vivere, quam posse mori: that proposition is never truer, This man may live to-morrow, than this proposition is, this man may die this minute. Though then shortness of life be a malediction to the wicked, (The bloody and deceitful men shall not live half their days*7) there is the sentence, the judgment, the rule, (And they were cut down before their timeTM) there is the execution, the example, God hath threatened, God hath inflicted, shortness of days to the wicked, yet the curse consists in their indisposition, in their overloving of this world, in their terrors concerning the next world, and not merely in the shortness of life; for this ite, depart out of this world, is part of the consolation. I have a reversion upon my friend, and (though I wish it not) yet I am glad, if he die; men that have inheritances after their fathers, are glad when they die; though not glad that they die, yet glad when they die: I have a greater, after the death of this body, and shall I be
loath to come to that? Yet, it is not so a consolation, as that we should by any means, be occasions to hasten our own death; Multi innocentes ab aliis occiduntur, a seipso nemo**; Many men get by the malice of others, if thereby, they die the sooner; for they are the sooner at home, and die innocently: but no man dies innocently, that dies by his own hand, or by his own haste. We may not do it, never; we may not wish it, always, nor easily. Before a perfect reconciliation with God, it is dangerous to wish death. David apprehended it so, / said, 0 my God, take me not away in the midst of my days30. In an over-tender sense, and impatience of our own calamities, it is dangerous to desire death too. Very holy men have transgressed on that hand: Elias in his persecution came inconsiderately to desire that he might die; It is enough, 0 Lord, take away my soul31; he would tell God how much was enough. And so says Job, My soul chooseth rather to be strangled and to die, than to be in my bones3*; he must have that that his soul chooses. But to omit many cases wherein it is not good, nor safe to wish death, certainly, when it is done primarily in respect of God, for his glory, and then, for the respect which is of ourselves, it is only to enjoy the sight, and union of God, and that also with a conditional submission to his will, and a tacit and humble reservation of all his purposes, we may think David's thought, and speak David's words, My soul thirsteth for God, even for the living God; when shall I come, and appear before the presence of my living God33? Saint Paul had David's example for it, when he comes to his cupio dissolvi3*, to desire to be dissolved; and St. Augustine had both their examples, when he says so affectionately, Eja Domine videam, ut hic moriar, O my God, let me see thee in this life, that I may die the death of the righteous, die to sin; et moriar ut te videam, let me die absolutely, that I may see thee essentially. Here we may be in his presence, we see his state; there we are in his bedchamber, and see his eternal and glorious rest. The rule is good, given by the same father, Non injustum est justo optare mortem, A righteous man may righteously desire death; Si Deus non dederit, injustum erit, non tolerare vitam amarissimam, But if God affords not that ease, he
** Augustine. 30 Psalm cii. 24. 81 1 Kings xix. 4.
8* Job vii. 15. 8) Psalm xiii. 2. 84 Phil i.
must not refuse a laborious life; so that this departing, is not a going before we be called: Christ himself stayed for his ascension, till he was taken up. But when there comes a Lazare veni foras, that God calls us from this putrefaction, which we think life, let us be not only obedient, but glad to depart.
For without such an ite, there is no such surgite, as is intended here; without this departing there is no good rising, without a joyful transmigration, no joyful resurrection; he that is loth to depart, is afraid to rise again; and he that is afraid of the resurrection, had rather there were none; and he that had rather there were none, aut cwcitate, aut animositate, says St. Augustine, either he will make himself believe that there is none, or if he cannot overcome his conscience so absolutely, he will make the world believe, that he believes there is none: and truly to lose our sense of the resurrection, is as heavy a loss, as of any one point of religion; it is the knot of all, and hath this privilege above all, that though those joys of heaven, which we shall possess immediately after our death, be infinite, yet even to these infinite joys, the resurrection gives an addition, and enlarges even that which was infinite. And therefore is Job so passionately desirous, that this doctrine of the resurrection, might be imparted to all, imprinted in all; Oh that my words were now written, oh that they were written in a book; and graven with an iron pen in lead, and stone for ever*1: what is all this, that Job recommends with so much devotion to all? i" am sure that my Redeemer liveth, and he shall stand the last on earth, and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet I shall see God in my flesh; whom I myself shall see; and mine eyes shall behold, and none other for me. This doctrine of the resurrection had Job so vehement, and so early a care of. Neither could the malicious and pestilent inventions of man, no nor of Satan himself, abolish this doctrine of the resurrection: for, as St. Hierome observes38, from Adrian's time, to Constantine's, for one hundred and eighty years, in the place of Christ's birth, they had set up an idol, a statue of Adonis; in the place of his crucifying, they had set up an idol of Venus; and in the place of his resurrection, they had erected a Jupiter: in opinion, that these idolatrous provisions of theirs,
"Job xix. 23, 24. 86 Hiero. Ep. xiii. ad Paulimim.
would have abolished the mysteries of our religion; but they have outlived all them, and shall outlive all the world, eternally beyond all generations. And therefore doth St. Ambrose apply well, and usefully to our death, and resurrection, to our departing, and rising, these words, Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors after thee; hide thyself for a very little while, until the indignation pass over thee31; that is, go quietly to your graves, attend your resurrection, till God have executed his purpose upon the wicked of this world; murmur not to admit the dissolution of body and soul, upon your deathbeds, nor the resolution and putrefaction of the body alone in your graves, till God be pleased to repair all, in a full consummation, and reuniting of body and soul, in a blessed resurrection. Ite et^ surgite, depart so, as you may desire to rise; depart with an in manus tuas, and with a veni Domini Jesu; with a willing surrendering of your souls, and a cheerful meeting of the Lord Jesus.
For else, all hope of profit, and permanent rest is lost: for, as St. Hierome interprets these very words; here we are taught that there is no rest, in this life ISed quasi a mortuis resurgences; ad sublime tendere, et ambulare post Dominum Jesum; we depart, when we depart from sin, and we rise, when we raise ourselves to a conformity with Christ: and not only after his example, but after his person, that is, to hasten thither, whither he is gone to prepare us a room. For this rest in the text, though it may be understood of the land of promise; and of the church, and of the ark, and of the Sabbath, (for, if we had time to pursue them, we might make good use of all these acceptations) yet we accept Chrysostom's acceptation best, Requies est ipse Christus, our rest is Christ himself. Not only that rest that is in Christ, (peace of conscience in him) but that rest, that Christ is in; eternal rest in his kingdom, There remaineth a rest to the people of God39; besides that inchoation of rest, which the godly have here, there remains a fuller rest. Jesus is entered into his rest, says the apostle there; his rest was not here, in this world; and, let us study to enter into that rest, says he; for no other can accomplish our peace. It is righteousness with God, to recompense tribulation
3? Isaiah xxvi. 20. 38 Heb. iv. 9.
to them, that trouble you, and, to you, which are troubled, rest3'; but when? in this world? no: when, the Lord Jesus shall show himself from heaven, with his mighty angels; then comes your rest; for, for the grave, the body lies still, but it is not a rest, because it is not sensible of that lying still; in heaven the body shall rest, rest in the sense of that glory.
This rest then is not here, not only not here, as this here was taken in the first interpretation, here in the earth; but not here in the second interpretation, not in repentance itself; for all the rest of this life, even the spiritual rest, is rather a truce, than a peace, rather a cessation", than an end of the war. For when these words, (/ will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians, every one shall fight against his brother, and every one against his neighbour, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom*'') may be interpreted, and are so interpreted of the time of the gospel of Christ Jesus, when Christ himself says, Nolite putare quod venerim mitterepacem in terra*1, Never think that I came to settle peace, or rest in this world; nay, when Christ says, None of them that were bidden shall come to his supper", and that may be verified of any congregation, none of us that are called now, shall come to that rest, a man may be at a security in an opinion of rest, and be far from it; a man may be nearer rest in a troubled conscience, than in a secure.
Here we have often resurrections, that is, purposes to depart from sin: but they are such resurrections, as were at the time of Christ's resurrection: when (as the strongest opinion is) Resurrexerunt iterum morituri, many of the dead rose, but they died again; we rise from our sins here, but here we fall again; Monumenta aperta sunt; (it is St. Hierome's note,) the graves were opened, presently upon Christ's death; but yet the bodies did not arise, till Christ's resurrection: the godly have an opening of their graves, they see some light, some of their weight, some of their earth is taken from them, but a resurrection to enter into the city, to follow the Lamb, to come into an established security, that they have not, till they be united to Christ in heaven. Here
we are still subject to relapses, and to looking back; Memento uxoris Lot, Ipsa in loco manet, transeuntes monet", she is fixed to a place, that she might settle those, that are not fixed; Ut quid in statuam salis conversa, si noil homines, ut sapiant, condiat? to teach us the danger of looking back, till we be fixed, she is fixed. When- the prophet Elijah was at the door of desperation, an angel touched him, and said, Up, and eat"; and there was bread, and water provided, and he did eat; but he slept again; and we have some of those excitations, and we come, and eat, and drink, even the body and blood of Christ, but we sleep again, we do not perfect the work. Our rest here then, is never without a fear of losing it: this is our best state, To fear lest at any time, by forsaking the promise of entering into his rest, we should seem to be deprived**. The apostle disputes not, (neither do I) whether we can be deprived or not; but he assures us, that we may fall back so far, as that to the church, and to our own consciences we may seem to be deprived; and that is argument enough, that here is no rest. To end all, though there be no rest in all this world, no not in our sanctification here, yet this being a consolation, there must be rest somewhere; and it is, In superna civitate, unde amicus non exit, qua inimicus non intrat*e, In that city, in that Jerusalem, where there shall never enter any man whom we do not love, nor any go from us whom we do love. Which though we have not yet, yet we shall have: for upon those words, (because I live, ye shall live also*1) St. Augustine says, that because his resurrection was to follow so soon, Christ takes the present word, because I do live. But because their life was not to be had here, he says, Vivetis, you shall live, in heaven; not vivitis; for here we do not live. So, as in Adam we all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive", says the apostle: all our deaths are here, present now; now we die; our quickening is reserved for heaven, that is future. And therefore let us attend that rest, as patiently as we do the things of this world, and not doubt of it therefore, because we see it not yet: even in this world we consider invisible things, more than visible; Vidimus
43 Augustine. 44 1 Kings xix. 5. 45 Hebr. iv. 1.
43 Augustine. 47 John xiv. 19. 48 1 Cor. xv. 22
pelagus, non autem mercedem*', The merchant sees the tempestuous sea, when he does not see the commodities, which he goes for: Videmus terram, non autem messem, The husbandman sees the earth, and his labour, when he sees no harvest; and for these hopes, that there will be a gain to the merchant, and a harvest to the labourer, Naturw fidimus, we rely upon creatures; for our resurrection, fidejussorem habemus coronatum; not nature, not sea, nor land, is our surety, but our surety is one, who is already crowned, with that resurrection. Num in hominibus terra degenerate quw omnia regenerat, says St. Ambrose, will the earth, that gives a new life to all creatures, fail in us, and hold us in an everlasting winter, without a spring, and a resurrection? Certainly no; but if we be content so to depart into the womb of the earth, our grave, as that we know that, to be but the entry into glory, as we depart contentedly, so we shall arise gloriously to that place, where our eternal rest shall be, though here there be not our rest; for he that shoots an arrow at a mark, yet means to put that arrow into his quiver again; and God that glorifies himself, in laying down our bodies in the grave, means also to glorify them, in reassuming them to himself, at the last day.