PREACHED AT WHITEHALL, APRIL 19, 1618.
1 Timothy i. 15.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of which I am the chiefest.
The greatest part of the body of the Old Testament is prophecy, and that is especially of future things: the greatest part of the New Testament, if we number the pieces, is epistles, relations of things past, for instruction of the present. They err not much, that call the whole New Testament Epistle: for even the Gospels are evangelia, good messages, and that is proper to an epistle, and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is superscribed, by St. Luke, to one person, to Theophilus, and that is proper to an epistle; and so is the last book, the Book of Revelation, to the several churches; and of the rest there is no question. An epistle is collocutio scripta, says St. Ambrose, though it be written far off, and sent, yet it is a conference, and separalos copulat, says he; by this means we overcome distances, we deceive absences, and we are together even then when we are asunder: and therefore, in this kind of conveying spiritual comfort to their friends, have the ancient fathers been more exercised than in any other form, almost all of them have written epistles: one of them, Isidorus, him whom we call Pelusiotes, St. Chrysostom's scholar, is noted1 to have written myriads, and in those epistles, to have interpreted the whole Scriptures: St. Paul gave them the example, he writ nothing but in tbis kind, and in this exceeded all his fellow apostles, et pateretur Paulus, quod Saulus fecerit, says St. Austin, that as he had asked letters of commission of the state to persecute Christians, so by these letters of consolation, he might recompense that church again, which he had so much damnified before: as the Hebrew rabbins say, That Rahab did let down Joshua's spies, out of her house, with the same cord, with which she had used formerly to draw up her adulterous lovers, into her house. Now the Holy Ghost was in all the authors, of all the books of the Bible, but in St. Paul's Epistles, there is, says Irenseus, Impetus Spiritus Sancti, The vehemence, the force of the Holy Ghost; and as that vehemence is in all his epistles, so Amplius habent, quai e vinculis, (as St. Chrysostom makes the observation) those epistles which were written in prison, have most of his holy vehemence, and this (as that father notes also) is one of them; and of all them, we may justly conceive this to be the most vehement and forcible, in which he undertakes to instruct a bishop in his episcopal function, which is, to propagate the Gospel; for, he is but an ill bishop that leaves Christ where he found him, in whose time the Gospel is yet no farther than it was; how much worse is he, in whose time the Gospel loses ground; who leaves not the Gospel in so good state as he found it. Now of this Gospel, here recommended by Paul to Timothy, this is the sum; That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, &c.
Here then we shall have these three parts; first radicem, the root of the Gospel, from whence it springs; it is, fidelis sermo a faithful word, which cannot err: and secondly, we have arborem, corpus; the tree, the body, the substance of the Gospel, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and then lastly, fructum Evangelii, the fruit of the Gospel, humility, that it brings them who embrace it, to acknowledge themselves to be the greatest sinners. And in the first of these, the root itself, we shall pass by these steps: first, that it is sermo, the word; that the Gospel hath as good a ground as the law; the New Testament,
as well founded as the Old; it is the word of God: and then it is fidelis senno, a faithful word: now both Old and New are so, and equally so; but in this, the Gospel is fidelior, tho more faithful, and the more sure, because that word, the law, hath had a determination, an expiration, but the Gospel shall never have that. And again, it is sermo omni acceptatione digitus, worthy of all acceptation; not only worthy to be received by our faith, but even by our reason too; our reason cannot hold out against tho proofs of Christians for their Gospel: and as the word imports it deserves omnem acceptationem, and omnem approbationem, all approbation, and therefore, as we should not dispute against it, and so are bound to accept it, to receive it, not to speak against it; so neither should we do any thing against it; as we aro bound to receive it by acknowledgment, so we aro bound to approve it, by conforming ourselves unto it; our consent to it shows our acceptation, our life our approbation; and so much is in the first part, the root; This is a faithful word, and worthy of all acceptation. And in the second, tho tree, the body, the substance of the Gospel; that Jesus Christ is come into the world to save sinners; first, here is an advent, a coming of a new person into the world who was not here before, venit in mundum, he came into the world; and secondly, he that came, is first Christ, a mixed person, God and man, and thereby capable of that office, able to reconcile God and man; and Christus so too, a person anointed, appointed, and sent for that purpose, to reconcile God and man; and then ho is Jesus, one who did actually and really do the office of a Saviour, he did reconcile God and man; for there we see also the reason why he came; he came to save, and whom he came to save; to save sinners: and these will be the branches and limbs of this body. And then lastly, when we come to consider the fruit, which is indeed the seed, and kernel, and soul of all virtues, humility; then we shall meet the apostle confessing himself to be the greatest sinner, not only with a fui, that he was so whilst he was a persecutor, but with a present sum, that even now, after he had received the faithful word, the light of the Gospel, yet he was still the greatest sinner ; of which (sinners) I (though an apostle) am (am still) the chiefest.
First then, the Gospel is founded and rooted in sermone, in verbo, in the word; it cannot deserve omnem acceptationem, if it be not Gospel, and it is not Gospel, if it be not in sermone, rooted in the word: Christ himself, as he hath an eternal generation, is verbum Dei, himself is the word of God; and as he hath a human generation, he is subjectum verbi Dei, the subject of the word of God, of all the Scriptures, of all that was shadowed in the types, and figured in the ceremonies, and prepared in the preventions of the law of all that was foretold by the prophets, of all that the soul of man rejoiced in, and congratulated with the Spirit of God, in the Psalms, and in the Canticles, and in the cheerful parts of spiritual joy and exultation, which wc have in the Scriptures; Christ is the foundation of all those Scriptures Christ is the burden of all those songs; Christ was in sermone then, then he was in the word. The joy of those holy persons which are noted in the Scriptures, to have expressed their joy at the birth of Christ, in such spiritual hymns and songs, is expressed so, as that we may see their joy was in this; that that was now in actn, that was performed, that was done which was before in sermone, in the promise, in the word, in the covenant of God. They rejoiced that Christ was born; but principally that all was done so, sicut locutus, as God had spoken before, that all should be done; done of the seed of a woman, as God had said in Paradise, done by a Virgin, as God had said by Esay, done at Bethlehem, as he had said by Micah; and done at that time, as he had said by Daniel; Sicut locutus est, says Zachary, in his exultation, All is performed as he hath spoke by the mouth of the prophets, which have been since the world began. There in the word, the Gospel begins, and there, and there only, it shall continue for ever, as long as there is any spiritual seed of Abraham, any men willing to embrace it, and apply it, as the blessed Virgin expresses it, when her soul magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoices in God her Saviour; sicut locutus, as God hath spoken to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever: so then there never was, there never must be any other Gospel than is in sermone, in the written word of God in the Scriptures. The particular comfort that a Christian conceives, as it is determined and contracted in himself, is principally in this, that Christ is come; his comfort is in this, that he is now saved by him; and he might have this comfort, though Christ had never been in sermone, though he had never been prophesied, never spoken of before: but yet the proof and ground of this comfort to himself, that is, the assurance that he hath, that this was that Christ that was to save us; and then, the munition and artillery by which he is to overthrow the forces of the enemy, the arguments and objections of Jews, Gentiles, and heretics, who deny this Christ in whose salvation he trusts, to have then any such Saviour : and then the band of the church, the communion of saints, by which we should prove, that the patriarchs and the apostles, our fathers in the Old and New Testament, do belong all to one church; this assurance in ourself; this ability to prove it to others; this joining of these two walls, to make up the household of the faithful: this is not only that, that the sun of the Gospel is risen, in that Christ is come, but in this, that he is come sicut locutus est, as God had spoken of him, and promised him by the mouth of his prophets from the beginning, as he was in sermone, in the word.
In the first creation, when God made heaven and earth, that making was not in sermone, for that could not be prophesied before, because there was no being before; neither is it said, that at that creation God said any thing, but only creavit, God made heaven and earth, and no men; so that that which was made sine sermone, without speaking, was only matter without form, heaven without light, and earth without any productive virtue or disposition, to bring forth, and to nourish creatures. But when God came to those specific forms, and to those creatures wherein he would be sensibly glorified after, they were made in sermone, by his word: Dixit et facta sunt, God spake, and so all things were made; light and firmament, land and sea, plants and beasts, and fishes and fowls were made all in sermone, by his word. But when God came to the best of his creatures, to man, man was not only made in verbo, as the rest were, by speaking a word, but by a consultation, by a conference, by a counsel, Faciavyius hominem, Let us make man; there is a more express manifestation of divers persons speaking together, of a concurrence of the Trinity; and not of a saying only, but a mutual saying; not of a proposition only, but of a dialogue in the making of man: the making of matter alone was sine verbo, without any word at all; the making of lesser creatures was in verbo, by saying, by speaking; the making of man was in sermone, in a consultation. In this first creation thus presented there is a shadow, a representation of our second creation, our regeneration in Christ, and of the saving knowledge of God; for first there is in man a knowledge of God, sine sermone, without his word, in the book of creatures: Non sunt loquelw, says David, They have no language, they have no speech, and yet they declare the glory of God*. The correspondence and relation of all parts of nature to one Author, the consinuity and dependance of every piece and joint of this frame of the world, the admirable order, the immutable succession, the lively and certain generation, and birth of effects from their parents, the causes: in all these, though there be no sound, no voice, yet we may even see that it is an excellent song, an admirable piece of music and harmony; and that God does (as it were) play upon this organ in his administration and providence by natural means and instruments; and so there is some kind of creation in us, some knowledge of God imprinted, sine sermone, without any relation to his word. But this is a creation as of heaven and earth, which were dark and empty, and without form, till the Spirit of God moved, and till God spoke: till there came the Spirit, the breath of God's mouth, the word of God, it is but a faint twilight, it is but an uncertain glimmering which we have of God in the creature: but in sermone, in his word, when we come to him in his Scriptures, we find better and nobler creatures produced in us, clearer notions of God, and more evident manifestations of his power, and of his goodness towards us: for if we consider him in his first word, sicut locutus ab initio, as he spoke from the beginning in the Old Testament, from thence we cannot only see, but feel and apply a Dixit, fiat lux, that God had said, Let there be light; and that there is a light produced in us, by which we see, that this world was not made by chance, for then it could not consist in this order and regularity; and we see that it was not eternal, for if it were eternal as God, and so no creature, then it must be God too; we see it had a beginning, a beginning of nothing, and all from God. So we find in ourself a fiat lux, that there is such a light produced: and there
* Psalm xix. 3.
we may find a fiat firmamentum, that there is a kind of firmament produced in us, a knowledge of a difference between heaven and earth; and that there is in our constitutions an earthly part, a body, and a heavenly part, a soul, and an understanding as a firmament, to separate, distinguish and discern between these. So also may we find a congregentur aquw, that God hath said, Let there be a sea, a gathering, a confluence of all such means as are necessary for the attaining of salvation; that is, that God from the beginning settled and established a church, in which he was always careful to minister to man means of eternal happiness: the church is that sea, and into that sea we launched the water of baptism. To contract this sine sermone, till God spake, in his creatures only, we have but a faint and uncertain, and general knowledge of God: in sermone, when God comes to speak at first in the Old Testament, though he come to more particulars, yet it was in dark speeches, and in veils, and to them who understood best, and saw clearest into God's word; still it was but de futuro, by way of promise, and of a future thing. But when God comes to his last work, to make man, to make up man, that is, to make man a Christian by the Gospel, when he comes not to a fiat homo, let there be a man (as he proceeded in the rest) but to a faciamus hominem, let us make man: then he calls his son to him, and sends him into the world to suffer death, the death of the cross for our salvation: and he calls the Holy Ghost to him, and sends him to teach us all truth, and apply that which Christ suffered for our souls, to our souls. God leaves the nations, the Gentiles, under the non locutus est; he speaks not at all to them, but in the speechless creatures: he leaves the Jews under the locutus est, under the killing letter of the law, and their stubborn perverting thereof: and he comes to us, sicut locutus est, in manifesting to us that our Messias, Christ Jesus, is come, and come according to the promise of God, and the foretelling of all his prophets; for that is our safe anchorage in all storms, that our Gospel is in sermone, that all things are done, so as God had foretold they should be done; that we have infallible marks given us before, by which we may try all that is done after.
All the word of God then conduces to the Gospel; the Old Testament is a preparation and a psedagogy to the New. All the word belongs to the Gospel, and all the Gospel is in the word; nothing is to be obtruded to our faith as necessary to our salvation, except it be rooted in the word. And as the locutus est, that is, the promises that God hath made to us in the Old Testament; and the sicut locutus est, that is, the accomplishing of those promises to us in the New Testament, are thus appliable to us; so is this especially, Quod adhue loquitur, that God continues his speech, and speaks to us every day; still we must hear evangelium in sermone, the Gospel in the word, in the word so as we may hear it, that is, the word preached; for howsoever it be Gospel in itself, it is not Gospel to us if it be not preached in the congregation; neither, though it be preached to the congregation, is it Gospel to me, except 1 find it work upon my understanding and my faith, and my conscience: a man may believe that there shall be a Redeemer, and he may give an historical assent, that there hath been a Redeemer, that that Redeemer is come, he may have heard utrumque sermonem, both God's ways of speaking, both his voices, both his languages; his promises in the Old Testament, his performances in the New Testament, and yet not hear him speak to his own soul: Ferine apostoli plus laborarunt, says St. Chrysostom,Tt cost the apostles, and their successors, the preachers of the Gospel, more. pains and more labour, ut persuaderent hominibus, dona Dei Us indulta, to persuade men that this mercy of God, and these merits of Christ Jesus were intended to them, and directed upon them, in particular, than to persuade them that such things were done: they can believe the promise, and the performance in the general, but they cannot find the application thereof in particular; the voice that is nearest us we least hear, not because God speaks not loud enough, but because we stop our ears; nor that neither; for wo do hear, but because we do not hearken then, nor consider; no nor that neither, but because we do not answer, nor co-operate, nor assist God, in doing that which ho hath made us able to do, by his grace towards our own salvation. For (not to judge de iis qui foris sunt) of those whom God hath left (for anything we know) in the dark, and without means of salvation, because without manifestation of Christ; we are Christians incorporated in Christ
in his church; and thereby, by that title, we have a new creation, and are new creatures; and as we shall have a new Jerusalem hereafter, so we have a new paradise already, which is the Christian church. In this paradise, saith St. Augustine, Qmtuor Evangelia ligna fructifera; In the books of the Gospel, as they grow, and as they are supplicated in the church, grows every tree pleasant for the sight, and good for meat: and there, says that father, Lignum vitw Christus, Christ Jesus himself (as he is taught he that gives life to all our actions; and even so our faith itself, which faith qualities and dignifies those actions: and then, says from the Scriptures, in the church) is the Tree of life, for it is he, as Christ alone, in this paradise, that is, the Christian church, is this Tree of life, so lignum scientiw boni et mali, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is proprium voluntatis arbitrium, the good use of our own will, after God hath enlightened us in this paradise, in the Christian church, and so restored our dead will again, by his grace precedent and subsequent, and concomitant: for, without such grace and such succession of grace, our will is so far unable to pre-dispose itself to any good, as that nec seipso homo, nisi perniciose, uti potest (says he still) We have no interest in ourselves no power to do anything of, or with ourselves, but to our destruction. Miserable man! a toad is a bag of poison, and a spider is a blister of poison, and yet a toad and a spider cannot poison themselves; man hath a drachm of poison, original sin, in an invisible corner, we know not where, and he cannot choose but poison himself and all his actions with that; we are so far from being able to begin without grace, as then where we have the first grace, we cannot proceed to the use of that, without more. But yet, says St. Augustine, the will of a Christian, so rectified and so assisted, is lignum scientiw, the tree of knowledge, and he shall be the worse for knowing, if he live not according to that knowledge; we were all wrapped up in the first Adam, all mankind; and we are wrapped up in the second Adam, in Christ, all mankind too; but not in both alike; for we are so in the first Adam, as that we inherit death from him, and incur death whether we will or no; before any consent of ours be actually given to any sin, we are the children of wrath, and of death; but we are not so in the second Adam, as that we Vol. v. 2 P
are made possessors of eternal life, without the concurrence of our own will; not that our will pays one penny towards this purchase, but our will may forfeit it; it cannot adopt us, but it may disinherit us. Now, by being planted in this paradise, and received into the Christian church, we are the adopted sons of God, and therefore, as it is in Christ, who is the natural Son of God, Qui non nascitur et desinit, as Origen expresses it, He was not born once and no more, but hath a continual, because an eternal generation, and is as much begotten to-day, as he was an hundred thousand thousand millions of generations passed; so since we are the generation and offspring of God, since grace is our father, that parent that begets all goodness in us, In similitudine ejus, says Origen, Conformable to the pattern Christ himself, qui non nascitur et desinit, who hath a continual generation, generemur Domino per singulos intellectus, et singula opera, in all the acts of our understanding, and in a ready concurrence of our will, let us every day, every minute feel this new generation of spiritual children; for it is a miserable short life, to have been born when the glass was turned, and died before it was run out: to have conceived some good motions at the beginning, and to have given over all purpose of practice at the end of a sermon. Let us present our own will as a mother to the Father of light, and the Father of life, and the Father of love, that we may be willing to conceive by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and not resist his working upon our souls; but with the obedience of the blessed Virgin, may say, Ecce ancilla, Behold the servant of the Lord, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum, be it done unto me according to thy word; I will not stop mine ears to thy word, my heart shall not doubt of thy word, my life shall express my having heard and hearkened to thy word, that word which is the Gospel, that Gospel which is peace to my conscience, and reconciliation to my God, and salvation to my soul; for, hearing is but the conception, meditation is but the quickening, purposing is but the birth, but practising is the growth of this blessed child.
The Gospel then, that which is the Gospel to thee, that is, the assurance of the peace of conscience, is grounded in sermone, upon the word; not upon imaginations of thine own, not upon fancies of others, nor pretended inspirations, nor obtruded miracles, but upon the word; and not upon a suspicious and questionable, not upon an uncertain or variable word, but upon this, that is fidelis sermo, this is a faithful saying. It is true, that this apostle seems to use this phrase of speech, as an earnest asseveration, and a band for divers truths in other places: he says sometimes, This is a true saying, and this is a faithful saying, when he does not mean, that it is the word of God, but only intends to induce a moral certitude, when he would have good credit to be given to that which follows, he uses to say so, Fidelis sermo, It is a true, it is a faithful saying: but in all those other places where he uses this phrase, he speaks only of some particular duties, or of some particular point of religion; but here he speaks of the whole body of divinity, of the whole Gospel, that Christ is come to save sinners, and therefore more may be intended by this phrase here, than in other places: when he speaks of that particular point, the resurrection, he uses this phrase, It is a true saying; if we be dead with him, we shall also live wilh him3: when he would invite men to godliness, even by the rewards which accompany it in this life, he uses this addition, this confirmation, For this is a true saying, and worthy to be receiced*; when he gives a dignity to the function and office of the ministry, he proposes it so, It is a true saying, if any man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work': it is a work, not an occasion and opportunity of ease. And lastly, when he provokes men to glorify God, by good works, he labours to be believed, by the same phrase still, This is a true saying, and these things I would thou shouldest affirm, That they which have believed in God, might be careful to show forth good works". Till he have found faith, and belief in God, he never calls upon good works, he never calls them good; but when we have faith, he would not have us stop nor determine there, but proceed to works too. It is a phrase which the apostle does frequently, and almost proverbially use in these many places, but in all these places, upon particular and lesser occasions; but here, preparing the doctrine of the whole Gospel, this phrase admits a larger extent, That as it is grounded upon the word,
8 2 Tim. ii. 11. 4 1 Tim. iv. 9.
5 1 Tim. iii. 5. • Titus iii. 8.
that is, we must have something to show for it; so it is upon a faithful word, upon that which is clearly, and without the encumbrance of disputation, the infallible word of God; no traditional word, no apocryphal word, but the clear and faithful word. Now of all the attributes, of all the qualities that can be ascribed to the word of God, this is most proper to itself, and most available, and most comfortable to us, that it is fidelis, a faithful word; for, this being a word that hath principally respect and relation to the fidelity of God, it implies necessarily a covenant, a contract with us, which God hath bound himself faithfully to perform unto us; and therefore God calls his covenant with David by this name, Fideles miserecordias David, An everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David1. And when the prophet Jeremy apprehended a fear that God would break that covenant which he had made with that nation, which had broken with him, he expresses that passion in a word, contrary to this, and imputes out of his hasty fear, even infidelity to God, Why art thou unto me (says he there8) as a liar, et sicut aquw infideles, as unfaithful water, that I cannot trust to; or aqim mendaces, as it is in the original, lying waters, deceitful waters, that promise a continuance and do not perform it I Why dost thou pretend to make a covenant with thy people and wilt not perform it faithfully? Most of God's other attributes are accompanied with this in the Scriptures, whatsoever God is called besides, he is called fidelis, faithful too. In one place he is fortis et fidelis*, he is powerful; but if he turn his power vindictively upon me, I were better if he were less powerful; but he hath made a covenant with me, that he will turn his power upon those whom he hath called his enemies, because they are mine, and therein lies my comfort, that he is a powerful and a faithful God. In another place, he is fidelis et sanctus"; he is a holy God; but if he be so, and but so, How shall I, who am unholy, stand in his sight? He hath made a covenant with me, that as they who looked upon the serpent in the wilderness, shed and cast out the venom of that serpent who had stung them before; so when I looked faithfully upon my Saviour, all my unholiness falls off as rags, and I shall
7 Isaiah iv. 3.
8 Deut. vii. 9.
be invested in his righteousness, in his holiness; and so in that lies my comfort, that he is a holy and a faithful God. Howsoever we consider God in the schools, in his other attributes, yet here is my university and my chair, here I must take my degree, in my heart, in my conscience; and this is that that brings God home, and applios him close to me, that he is fidelis, a faithful God; that in his mercy he hath made a covenant with us, and in his faithfulness he will perform it. And therefore consider God in his first great work, his creation, so he is fidelis Creator11, let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator. He had gracious purposes upon us in our creation, and he is faithful to his purposes; aud so this faithful God is God the Father. Consider God in his next great work, the redemption, and so he is fidelis pontifex, a faithful high-priest18, in things concerning God, that he might make reconciliation for the sins of the people; and so this faithful God is God the Son. Consider God in his continuance and dwelling in the church, usque ad consummationem, till the end of the world, so he is fidelis testis'3, he shall be evermore presenting to God, and testifying in our behalf, the covenant which he hath sealed to the church in his blood, and testifying to our spirit, that that seal belongs unto us; and so this faithful God is God the Holy Ghost; so that when we consider our creation, we are not to consider a creation to condemnation; God forbid: when we consider a redemption, we are not to consider it exclusively, as not intended to us; God forbid: and when we consider God's presence and government in the church, we are not to consider it in a church whose doors are shut up against any of us, so as that we can have no repentance, no absolution; God forbid, we are not to consider God in those decrees, wherein we cannot consider him as fidelem Deum; in those decrees, which are not revealed to us, we know not whether he be faithful, or no; for we know not what his promise, what his purpose was: but as he hath manifested himself in his word, as he hath made a conditional contract with us, so as that if we perform our part, he will perform his, and not otherwise; so we may be sure that
11 1 Pet. iv. 19. u Heb. ii. 17, 13 Rev. i. 5.
he is fidelis Deus, a God that will stand to his word, a God that will perform his promises faithfully; for, though it were merely his mercy, that made those promises, yet it is his fidelity, his truth, his faithfulness, that binds him to the performance of them. The faithful word of God hath said it, in the Old Testament, and in the New too; Let God be true, and every man a liar". The word of the man of sin, the God of Rome, is a lie; Pope Stephen abrogates all the decrees of Pope Formosus, and so gives that lie to him: next year Pope Romanus abrogates all his, and so gives that lie to him; and within seven years, Servius all his; and where was f i delis sermo, the faithful word all this while? When they send forth bulls and dispensations to take effect occasionally, and upon emergencies, that rebus sic stantibus, if you find matter in this state, this shall be catholic divinity; if not, then it shall be heresy; where is this fidelis sermo, this faithful word amongst them? If for the space of a fifteen hundred years, the twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed might have saved any man, but since as many more, Trent articles must be as necessary; still where is that fidelis sermo, that faithful word which we may rely upon? God hath not bound himself, and therefore neither hath he bound us to any word but his own; in that only, and in all that we shall be sure to find him, fidelem Deum, a faithful God.
Now the truth and faithfulness of the word, consists not only in this, quod verax, that it is true in itself, but in this also, quod testificatus, that it is established by good testimony to be so. It is therefore faithful because it is the word of God, and therefore also because it may be proved to be the word of God by human testimonies; which is that which is especially intended in this clause, Omni acceptatione dignus, It is worthy of all acceptation; worthy to be received by our faith, and by our reason too: our reason tells us, that God's will is revealed to man somewhere, else man could not know how God would be worshipped; and our reason tells us, that this is that word in which that will is revealed. And therefore the greatest part of the Latin fathers, particularly Ambrose and Augustine, read these words otherwise; not fideliter, no, but humanus sermo; and so many Greek copies
14 Psalm xxxi. 4; Rom. iii. 9.
have it too, that it is a speech which iftan, not as he is a faithful man, but even as he is a reasonable man may comprehend, not as St. Hierome will needs understand those words: Si hwmanus et non divinus, non esset omni acceptatione dignus; for that is undeniably true, if it came merely from man, and not from God, it were not worthy to be received by faith; but as St. Augustine expresses that which himself and St. Ambrose meant, Sic humanus et divinus, quomodo Christies Deus et homo, As Christ is God too, so as that he is man too; so the Scriptures are from God so, as that they are from man too: the Gospel is a faithful word essentially, as it is the word of God, derived from him, and it is a faithful word too, declaratively, as it is presented by such light and evidence of reason, and such testimonies of the church, as even the reason of man cannot refuse it: so that the reason of man accepts the Gospel, first out of a general notion, that the will of God must be revealed somewhere, and then he receives this for that Gospel, rather than the Alcoran of the Turks, rather than the Talmud of the Jews, out of those infinite and clear arguments which even his reason presents to him for that. And then, as when he compares Scripture with the book of creatures and nature, he finds that evidence more forcible than the other; and when he finds this Scripture compared with other pretended scriptures, Alcoran or Talmud, he finds it to be of infinite power above them; so when he comes to the true Scriptures, and compares the New Testament with the Old, the Gospel with the law, he finds this to be a performance of those promises, a fulfilling of those prophecies, a revelation of those types and figures, and an accomplishment, and a possession of those hopes and those reversions; and when he comes to that argument which works most forcibly, and most worthily upon man's reason, which is Antiquistrum, That is best in matter of religion that was first, there he sees that the Gospel was before the law: This I say, says the apostle15, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul the covenant, which was confirmed of God in respect of Christ; so shall always in respect of faith and in respect of reason, It is worthy of acceptation; for, would thy soul expatiate in that large contemplation of God in general? It is
1' Gal. iii. 17.
Evangelium Dei, the Gospel of God18: Wouldst thou contract this God into a narrower and more discernible station? It is Evangelium Jem Christi, the Gospel of Jesus Christ17: Wouldst thou draw it nearer to the consideration of the effects? It is Evangelium pacis, the Gospel of peace18: Wouldst thou consider it here? Here it is Evangelium regni, the Gospel of the kingdom19: Wouldst thou consider it hereafter? It is Evangelium wternum, the eternal Gospel80: Wouldst thou see thy way by it? It is Evangelium gratiw, the Gospel of grace21: Wouldst thou see the end of it? It is Evangelium gloriw, the Gospel of glory22: It is worthy of all acceptation from thee, for the angels of heaven can preach no other Gospel, without being accursed themselves,23.
But the best and fullest acceptation is that which we called at first an approbation, to prove that thou hast accepted it by thy life and conversation: that as thy faith makes no staggering at it, nor thy reason no argument against it, so thy actions may be arguments for it to others, to convince them that do not, and confirm them that do believe in it; for this word, which signifies in our ordinary use, the Gospel, Evangelium, was verbum civile, verbum forense, a word of civil and secular use, before it was made ecclesiastical; and as it had before in civil use, so it retains still, three significations: first it signified bonum nuntium, a good and a gracious message: and so, in spiritual use, it is the message of God, who sent his Son; and it is the message of the Son, who sent the Holy Ghost. Secondly it signified donum offerenti datum, the reward that was given to him that brought the good news: and so in our spiritual use, it is that spiritual tenderness, that religious good nature of the soul, (as we may have leave to call it) that appliableness, that ductileness, that holy credulity which you bring to the hearing of the word, and that respect which you give to Christ, in his ministers, who brings this Gospel unto you. And then thirdly, it signifies sacrificium datori immolatum, the sacrifice which was offered to that God who sent his good message; which in our spiritual use, is that which the apostle exhorts the Romans to with the most earnest
16 Rom. i. I, "Mark i. 1. 18 Eph. vi. 15.
19 Mark i. 14. 20 Rev. xiv. 6.
21 Acts xx. 24, M \ Tim. i. 11. 23 Gal. i, 8.
ness, (and so do I you) / beseech you brethren by the mercies of God, that ye give up your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable serving of God: now a reasonable service is that which in reason we are bound to do, and which in reason we think would most glorify him, in contemplation of whom that service is done; and that is done especially, when by a holy and exemplar life, we draw others to the love and obedience of the same Gospel which we profess: for then have we declared this true and faithful saying, this Gospel to have been worthy of all acceptation, when we have looked upon it by our reason, embraced it by our faith, and declared it by our good works; and all these considerations arose out of that which at the beginning we called radicem, the root of this Gospel, the word, the Scripture, the tree itself, the body of the Gospel, that is the coming of Christ, and the reason of his coming, to save sinners; and then the fruit of this Gospel, that humility, by which the apostle confesseth himself to be the greatest sinner, we reserve for another exercise.