ABRAHAMS TRYALL: A Sermon preached at the Spittle, in Easter weeke Anno Domini 1602.

By George Downame Doctor of Diuinity.

LONDON Printed for Humfrey Lownes. 1602▪

To the Right VVorshipfull Sir Henry Killigrew Knight, Grace in this life, and glory in the life to come.

AMong all the worthy histories of the Saincts which are registred in the booke of God, there is not any one example of faith and o­bedience comparable (as I suppose) to A­braham: who as he was the father of all the faithfull Rom. 4.11. so he is propoun­ded to all the heires of promise, as a most worthie patterne for imitation. And to this end the Lord as he had indued him with an excellent measure of his grace, so by a cor­respondencie of trials proportionable to his faith, he hath manifested the same to the world: that all those which professe them­selues to be the sonnes of Abraham, might either imitate his faith and obedience, or else know themselues to be none of his children. For which cause the holy Apostles Paule [Page] and Iames, the one intreating of the causes whereby a man is iustified, the other of the effects and signes whereby a man is knowne to be iust: the one prouing that we are iusti­fied by faith alone without works, the other concluding that we are iustified by such a faith as is not alone, or without works: both propound the example of Abraham as a rule, the one of that iustification whereby we are made iust, to wit, by imputatiō of Christs righteousnes apprehended by faith, the other of that whereby we are declared to be iust, namely by the fruits of faith, which are good works. Paule therefore prouing that we are iustified by faith without works, that is, by imputation of Christs righteousnes alone, which is apprehended by faith, argueth from the example of Abraham to this effect: that as he was iustified, so are we, Rom. 4.23.24. he was iustified by faith without works, that is, by imputation of Christs righteousnes ap­prehended by faith, without respect of anie righteousnes inherent in himselfe, therefore wee are iustified by faith, without works. Iames disputing against vaine mē Chap. 2. ver. 20. who thought to be iustified by an idle or counterfeit faith, proueth from the [Page] example of Abraham, that wee must be iustified by such a faith as is not without works. For by such a faith as Abraham was iustified, must we be iustified: Abraham was iustified not by an idle or dead faith, but by a liuely faith working by loue, as apeareth especiallie by that example recorded, Gen. 22. Therefore howsoeuer we are iustified by faith alone, yet we are not iustified by such a faith as is alone: but as we are iustified by faith alone, that is, made iust by imputation of Christs righteousnes, which is apprehen­ded by faith alone: so we are iustified, that is, declared and knowne to be iust by good works, which are the fruits of faith. Abra­ham therefore as you see, is propounded to all the faithfull as a patterne in both re­spects. So that if we would be esteemed the sonnes of Abraham (as all the faithfull are) we must looke to be iustified as he was, and by such a faith. The Papists therefore, who seeke Iustification by works, that is, inherent righteousnes, are not the sonnes of Abra­ham. For those who are of faith, that is, who seeke iustification by faith and not by workes, are the children of Abraham, Gal. 3.7. No more is the carnall Gospeller▪ [Page] [...] by such a faith as [...] and voide of righteousnes [...] our Sauiour saith Iohn. 8. [...] the sonnes of Abraham, [...] do the works of Abraham. [...] Abraham though he were iustified by faith alone, yet he was not iustified by such a faith as is alone. But howsoeuer the no­table faith of Abraham whereby he was iustified before God, and his dutifull obedi­ence whereby he was knowne and declared to be iust, appeareth in many particulars re­corded by Moses, yet then especially he ap­proued both his faith and obedience, when he was enioyned by a commaundement of tryall, to sacrifice his owne and onely sonne Isaac. For by this greatest tryall the Lords purpose was to manifest to the world his greatest faith and rarest obedience: and in respect of both to commend him to all suc­ceeding generations, as a most liuely patterne to be followed of all the heires of promise. For which cause as I thought this notable story of Abrahams tryall most worthie to be handled in this Easters solemnitie: so others haue desired, and I haue yeelded, that the Sermon wherein it was handled, should be [Page] made more publike for the benefit of more then did heare me. Being therefore to pub­lish this Sermon as the first fruits of mine english labours, I thought good to dedicate the same to your Worship, to whome with your louing brother, and the vertuous Lady your wife, I am for great benefits excee­dingly bound: that there might remaine some memoriall both of your bountifulnes, and of my thankefulnesse. Accept there­fore (I pray you) according to your accu­stomed fauour this commendation of Abra­hams faith and obedience. And as hitherto you haue (to Gods glory be it spoken, and to the good example of others) shewed your selfe to be one of the sonnes of Abraham: so my desire is, that this example of Abra­ham commended vnto you, may be some in­couragement for you, to continue to the end in that course wherein you haue long wal­ked. That imitating still the faith of Abra­ham, and treading in the steps of his obe­dience vnto the end, you may be sure after the labours of this life to rest in Abrahams bosome, Luk. 16.22. where you shall receiue the end of your faith, 1. Pet. 1.9. which is the saluation of your soule by the precious merits of Iesus Christ, [Page] [...].

Your Worships in the Lord George Downame.

AΣYNOΨIS OR BRIEFE VIEW of the particulars contayned in this Sermon.


  • Explicati­on of the text, diui­ded into a
    • Proposition, where three questions are discussed.
      • 1. Whether God tempteth any to euill.
      • 2. In what sense he is said to haue temp­ted Abraham.
      • 3. To what end he tempted him.
    • Narration, declaring the acti­on of
      • God prouing Abrahā, which is two fold, his
        • Vocation or call, preparing Abraham, to the triall.
        • Comman­dement, containing the triall, which ap­peareth to be great, both by the
          • Deerenes of that which he was to forgo, amplified by the Lord in foure de­grees, commanding him to sacrifice
            • 1. His sonne.
            • 2. His only sonne.
            • 3. Whom he loued.
            • 4. Euen Isaac.
          • Hardnes of that which he was to vndergo, shewed by the
            • Circum­stāces of
              • Time whē this com­mandemēt
                • Was giuen.
                • Was to bee performed.
              • Place in
                • Generall, noted to be a hill in the countrie of Moriah.
                • Patricular, lest indefinit.
            • Substance of the worke, that he was to offer I­saac for a burnt sa­crifice, which was very hard in respect of his
              • Affection to his son whom it had bin
                • Hard onely to forgo, but more hard by death, and that a vio­lent death.
                • Harder to
                  • Consent to his death.
                  • Deliuer him to be killed.
                  • Bee present at his slaughter.
                • Hardest to kill him with his owne hands, and that as a burnt sa­crifice.
              • Allegeance to God, viz. his
                • Obedience with which how could it stād to do an act so
                  • Vnlawfull?
                  • Vnnaturall?
                  • Dishonorable to God?
                  • Scandalous to man?
                • Faith: for how could he be­leeue in the promises con­cerning Isaacs seede, and yet himselfe kill him, and con­sume him to ashes, before he had any seede?
      • Abraham approuing his
        • Obedience, which was
          • 1. Absolute & simple.
          • 2. Resolute & serious
          • 3. Speedy and ready.
          • 4. Not headie or for a brunt, but discreet, temperate, constant, and couragious.
        • Faith being assured that although Isaac were consumed to ashes, yet the promise of God concerning Isaac should be fulfilled.
  • Applicati­on in re­spect of
    • Gods prouing Abraham, that he vseth to try men▪ and that diuersly: but his trials may be distinguished by the
      • Obiects, that is, the things wherein we are tried, and thus trials are of the
        • Right hand, by tem­porall benefites.
          • Offered.
          • Conferred.
        • Left hand, by crosses.
          • Temporall.
          • Spirituall.
      • Subiects, that is, the men who are tried, viz.
        • Hypocrites.
        • Sound Christians.
    • Abrahams approuing himselfe, that if we would be esteemed his chil­dren (as all the faithfull are) wee must imitate both his
      • Obedience, and to that end we must as he did
        • Deny our selues.
        • Thinke nothing too deere for God.
        • Resolue beforehād to do what soeuer God shall commaund.
      • Faith in
        • Beleeuing the promises of God.
        • Working by loue.


[...]. Gen. 22.1. to the 13.

1 After these things it came to passe that God himselfe tempted Abraham, and said vnto him, Abraham: who answered, Here am I.

2 And he said, Take now thy sonne, thine only sonne, whom thou louest, euen Isaac, and go thy waies vnto the land of Moriah, and offer him vp there for a whole burnt offring vpon one of the mountaines, which I will tell thee.

3 Then Abraham rose vp earely in the same morning, and sadled his asse, and tooke two of his seruants with him, and Isaac his sonne, and cloue wood for the burnt offring, and rose vp and went to the place which God had told him.

4 The third day Abraham lift vp his eyes, and saw the place a farre off.

5 And Abraham said to his seruants, Stay here with the asse: for I and this youth [Page 2] will goe yonder and worship, and come again vnto you.

6 Then Abraham tooke the wood for the burnt offring, and laid it vpon Isaac his sonne, and he tooke the sire in his hand and the knife, and they both went together.

7 And Isaac spake to his father & said, My father. And he answered, Here am I, my sonne. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lambe for the burnt offring?

8 Then Abraham answered, God will prouide him a lambe for a burnt offring, my sonne: and so they two went toge­ther.

9 And whē they came to the place which God had told him, Abraham builded an al­tar there, and couched the wood, and bound Isaac his sonne, and laid him on the altar vpon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretching forth his hand, tooke the knife to kill his sonne.

11 But the Angell of the Lord cal­led vnto him from heauen, saying, Abra­ham, Abraham. And he answered, Here am I.

12 Then he said, Lay not thine hand vpon the young man, neither doe any thing [Page 3] to him: for now I know thou fearest God, seeing for my sake thou hast not spared thine only sonne.

IN this chapter the Holie ghost hath recorded the memorable historie of Abrahams temptation by God himself concer­ning the immolation of Isaac, pretended by God, and intended by Abraham, vnto the 11. verse: and the euents thereupon ensuing, in the rest of the chapter.

The storie of the temptation consi­steth on two parts: the proposition in the first words, containing both the ar­gument of the storie, and the scope and purpose of God in this busines, viz. that God tempted Abraham: and the nar­ration in the rest of the words, vnto the 11. verse. Wherein is declared both the action of God tempting, and the beha­uiour of Abraham when he was temp­ted. In the proposition the Holie ghost giueth vs, and all that shall reade or heare this storie, an item, or watch­word, that howsoeuer Abraham was to [Page 4] vnderstand the commaundement fol­lowing, concerning the killing and sa­crificing of his owne sonne, as a serious precept, the omission whereof had been sinne vnto him, and an honouring of his sonne more then God: yet notwith­standing the Lord bad him offer his sonne, not because he would haue Isaac sacrificed, but Abrahams faith and obe­dience tried. Which also appeareth by the euent, vers. 11.12. where the Lord, who is not chaunged, by a contrarie commandement signifieth that hee did inquire (as Ambrose saith) his affection,Affectum tuum inqui­siui, non fa­ctum exegi. Ambros. In voto pro­baui quod in facto re­nui. August. de tempore Serm 73. and not require the fact: and as ano­ther, he did approoue in the intent and desire, which he disprooued in the per­formance. Now this warning that God did but tempt Abraham was necessarily to be giuen, lest men vnderstanding the commandement following, as a serious precept which God would haue fulfil­led, might imagine that God is pleased with sacrificing of men, or might iustly ground their diuellish practise of sacri­ficing their children vpon this com­mandement of God.

This admonition therefore teacheth [Page 5] vs to vnderstand the commaundement following, as the question which our Sauiour propounded to Philip concer­ning the feeding of fiue thousand men, Ioh. 6.5, 6. Whence shall we buy bread that all these may eate: this he said tempting him, for himselfe knew what he was purpo­sed to doe. So in this place God saith to Abraham, Goe offer thy sonne to me for a burnt sacrifice. This he said temp­ting him, for himself knew what he was purposed to doe, viz. to trie, and by trial to manifest Abrahams faith and obe­dience, and to propound the same to all ages following as a most worthie pat­terne to be followed. But whereas it is said that God tempted Abraham, for so the words are (haelohim nissah) and the Apostle speaking of this matter, Hebr. 11.17. By faith (saith he) Abraham [...], when he was tempted, offered Isaac, diuers questions may not vnprofitablie be moued: and first whether God temp­teth any man or not. For Iames saith, chap. 1.13. that God tempteth no man, and therefore that no man [...] when he is tempted, may say that he is tempted of God. And yet Moses here [Page 6] saith that he tempted, and as the seuen­tie Interpreters read [...], and accordingly the Apostle Hebr. 11.17. meaneth that Abraham [...], whē he was tempted, was tempted of God.

I answere by distinction, that temp­tations are either prouocations to euill, or probations and trials. Of tempta­tions as they are prouocations to euill, God is not the author; neither doth he tempt any vnto sinne, as Iames saith, but the diuell as the principall, who is therfore called the tempter, [...], the world and the flesh as his seruitours. For from the flesh,1. Pet. 2.11. Iam. 1.14. that is our owne corrup­tion, arise euill and noysome concupis­cences which fight against our soule, whereby we are tempted and stirred vp to euill.

The world is said to tempt in respect of men in the world, or worldly things. Men tempt either by words counsel­ling, alluring, incensing and prouoking to sin, or by deed and example. World­ly things whereby men are tempted are either the desires of the world drawing to euill, or the terrors of the world with­drawing from good.

[Page 7]The diuell tempteth either immediat­ly by casting bad motions as it were fi­rie darts into mens hearts,Ephes. 6.16 which are called his suggestions: or mediately by meanes, vsing either as his instru­ments sometimes the flesh, that is our own corruption, which is as it were the diuels bawd prostituting the soule to his temptations, or the mediation of o­ther men sometimes friends sometimes foes, who are as it were the diuels bro­kers: or else as obiects and occasions either the desires of the world which he vseth in respect of the [...], that is get­ting as baites of sinne, and in regard of [...], that is the vsing, as the snares of sinne, or the terrors of the world, which are as it were the diuels bugbeares to scarre vs from weldoing. As touching these temptations therefore which are prouocations to euill, wee conclude with Iames 1.13. Let no man when he is tempted say I am tempted of God: for God as he is [...] one that cannot be tempted to euill, so he tempteth no man, namely to euill.

But you will say, God tempteth A­braham to kill his own sonne which is a [Page 8] sinne, and elsewhere he is said to harden mens hearts, to leade them into temp­tation, &c.

Ans. Whether this particular where­unto Abraham was tempted were a sin or not, I will anon discusse in the person of Abraham. In the meane time this ge­nerall assertion is to bee retained, that God tempteth, that is, prouoketh no man vnto sinne.

Ob. Why then doe we pray that he would not leade vs, or as the word [...] signifieth, that he would not carrie or bring vs into temptation?

Answ. It is one thing to tempt, and another to leade into temptation: as it is one thing to execute punishment on a malefactor, and another to deliuer him ouer to the executioner; the one is the act of the hangman, the other is the act of the Iudge. So the diuell tempteth and God leadeth into temptation. For the better vnderstanding whereof wee are to know that there be three degrees of the Lords dealing in this case. For first the Lord sometimes bringeth his seruants to be tempted, as it were his champions into the lists of the combat [Page 9] to be encountred and tried, that his graces in them may appeare, but not to be foyled, and much lesse ouercome or vtterly vanquished. Thus our Sauiour Christ was carried of the spirit into the wildernes to be tempted of the diuell, Matth. 4.1. Thus Iob was permitted, yea and committed into the hands of Satan to be tempted.

Secondly, the Lord sometimes deli­uereth men to be tempted, and leaueth them for the instant to take a foyle, ei­ther for a chastisement or a triall, that they might be humbled at the sight of their owne weakenes, and bee made more circumspect for the time to come. Thus the Lord left Ezechias when the Embassadours of Babylon came vnto him that he might tempt, that is, prooue him, and know, that is, make knowne all that was in his heart, 2. Chro. 32.31. The like may be said of Dauid and Pe­ter when they fell.

Thirdly, the Lord sometimes deliue­reth men ouer to the diuell as his exe­cutioner, or to their owne lusts, not on­ly to be tempted, but to be ouercome and to be carried headlong into sinne, [Page 10] as a iust punishment of their former sinnes. For howsoeuer men thus giuen ouer do as it were take a felicitie in sin­ning, yet of all punishments that can befall a man in this life,Rom. this is the most dreadfull iudgement. In this sense ther­fore God is said to lead men into temp­tation, as also to harden mens hearts, not that he tempteth, that is, prouoketh any to sinne, or infuseth sin into them, nor that hee hardeneth, that is, of soft maketh hard, but that they being hard and in the slauerie of sinne and Satan alreadie, he giueth them ouer for a iust punishment of their former sins, further to bee hardned and enthralled: which hardnes and thraldome they further ga­ther to themselues willingly, hardening their owne hearts,Exod. 15.32. and committing sin with greedines.Ephe. 4.19. It cannot therefore be prooued that God tempteth any, and yet it cannot be denied but that in all temptations he hath a stroke. For this is a certaine truth, that nothing can happen inscio aut inuito Deo, without Gods knowledge or against his will. For his knowledge is omniscient, and no­thing can escape it, his will is omnipo­tent, [Page 11] and nothing can resist it. The diuel therefore cannot tempt a man, vnlesse God would haue him tempted; nor foile him, vnlesse God would haue him foi­led; nor vanquish him, vnlesse God would haue him vanquished. And al­though the diuell in tempting, and the man which yeeldeth to the temptation doe both sinne; yet by their sinnes the Lord bringeth to passe his owne good worke. As for example, the chastise­ment, triall, or amendement of his ser­uant, or the iust punishment of the wic­ked. And howsoeuer the diuell and wic­ked men in respect of their will and in­deuour rebelliously oppose themselues against the will of God; yet the euent is no other then God hath appointed, God in his infinite wisedome and al­mightie prouidence, so ouer-ruling the actions of all his creatures, that when they thinke nothing lesse then to doe the will of God, they become his instru­ments vnwittingly for the effecting of his designes, as August. saith ad Lau­rent. cap. 100. Hoc quippe ipso quod contra Dei voluntatem fecerunt, de ipsis facta est voluntas Dei: But we must distinguish [Page 12] betwixt the euill worke of the bad in­strument and the good worke of God, which by the euill instrument he brin­geth well to passe, which is neuer the worse for the bad instrument, as it is neuer the better for the good. As for example, when a malefactour (whom the Magistrate perhaps suffereth to goe vnpunished) falleth into the hands of theeues and is murthered, the iudge­ment of God vpon him is no lesse iust, then if he had been put to death by the Magistrate. Albeit the instruments by whom this iudgement is executed, are wicked murtherers. Thus through the enuious sending of Ioseph by his bre­thren, who therein set themselues a­gainst the will of God reuealed in Io­sephs dreames, the Lord in mercie sen­deth him to be a father vnto Pharao, and a fosterer of his Church, Genesis 45.7. and 50.20. By the filthie incest shamefully committed by Absolom, the Lord iustly punisheth the adulterie of Dauid, 2. Sam. 12.11.12. By the trea­cherous, vniust, enuious giuing ouer of our Sauiour to death, by Iudas, Pilate, and the Priests, the Lord in vnspeake­able [Page 13] mercie gaue his sonne to death for vs, Act. 2.23. and 4.28. So by the wic­ked and malitions temptations of Sa­tan, who therein seeketh the ruine and perdition of the faithfull, the Lord fur­thereth their saluation, sometimes cha­stising them for their amendement, sometimes trying their faith and obe­dience, sometimes exercising them to humilitie and mortification of sinne, al­waies so onerruling the malice of the diuell, that euen in his temptations, wherein he intendeth nothing but their harme and destruction, he becommeth (maugre his spite) the instrument of God to further their saluation.

Thus then it appeareth that God tempteth no man vnto euill, and that howsoeuer the Lord hath a hand in all temptations which be vnto euill, yet he worketh no euill, but vseth, ordereth, and disposeth them vnto good, and so ouerruleth all his creatures, that when they intend and doe euill to their owne damnation, they are the instruments of God to aduance his glorie and further the saluation of the elect. The which doctrine as it ministreth singular com­fort [Page 14] to the faithfull, vnto whose good al things, euen the temptations of Satan, doe worke together, Rom. 8.28: So it serueth to discouer the diuellish malice of the Papists, & namely of the shame­lesse author of the twelue Articles, who is not ashamed to publish in print, that wee not onely make God the author of sinne, which is blasphemous, but the only cause of sinne, and (that which the diuell would haue bin ashamed to vt­ter in his owne person) that wee make God worse thē the diuell, Articl. 10. But I conclude this point with Fulgentius, ad Monimum. lib. 1. pag. 57. Deus ita (que) licet author non sit malarum cogitationum, or­dinator est tamen malarum voluntatum, & de malo opere cuiuslibet mali, non desinit ipse bonum operari: That is, God there­fore although hee be not the author of euill thoughts, yet he is an orderer or disposer of bad willes, and by the bad worke of euery wicked one, he ceaseth not to effect that which is good.

Hitherto wee haue spoken of the for­mer kinde of temptations which are prouocations to euill, in which sense God tempteth no man. The other kind [Page 15] are probations or trials, in which sense God in diuers places of the Scripture is said to tempt, that is, to trie or to proue men, and that diuersly, as we shall heare anon.

But it wil be said, that tentare, to tempt or trie a man, is to take an experiment of him that is tried, presupposing in him that tēpteth either ignorance or doub­ting at the least: the former whereof is a priuation or absence, the latter a de­fect and want of knowledge; but nei­ther is incident to the alknowing God, who with one eternall view or act of vnderstanding, doth at once perfectly and distinctly know al things that haue been, are, or shall be. It may therefore be demanded in the next place in what sense God is said, who knoweth all men better then themselues, to tempt or proue them.

I answere, that tempting or prouing doth not alwaies presuppose ignorance or doubting in him that tempteth. For there are two sorts of tempting or pro­uing: the one when a man tempteth to take an experiment of that which hee knew not, or doubted of; as when a ma­ster [Page 16] trieth the fidelitie of his seruant, or one friend the good will of another, whereof he is not sufficiently perswa­ded. The other, when one tempteth, to cause the partie tempted to giue an ex­periment of that which hee alreadie knoweth: as when a Schoolemaster cal­leth forth one of his best schollers, and apposeth him in such questions as hee can answere. The end of both indeed is experimentall knowledge: but of the former, the knowledge of him that tempteth, that hee may by experience know somewhat whereof before he was ignorant or doubtfull: of the latter, the knowledge, not of him that temp­teth, but of him that is tempted, and al­so of others. In the former sense, temp­ting cannot properly be attributed to God, yet vnproperly and after the man­ner of men, it may. For euen as God is said to be angrie or sorie, or to repent, Non quantum ad affectum, sed quantum ad effectum: Not in regard of the affec­tion which is not incident vnto God, but of the effect, whē he doth that which a man would doe when he is angrie, or sorie, or repenteth: So God may be said [Page 17] to tempt metaphorically, when as after the similitude of a man he saith or doth any thing whereby the minde and dis­position of him that is tempted may ap­peare either to himselfe or to others. And as this is spoken here [...], that is by a metaphore takē from men, so afterwards vers. 12. when hee saith, now I know, that is, now I haue expe­rience or experimentall knowledge: for thereunto tempting directly ten­deth. But in the latter sense tempting may properly be ascribed to God, who is then said to tempt, when he bringeth men into triall, and causeth them to giue an experiment of that which is in them, that their minde and disposition may be manifested, not to God (before whose eyes all things, be they neuer so secret, are [...], that is,Heb. 4.13. Va [...]in. apud [...]ez [...]m. naked, and as it were cut through the backe bone) but to them­selues and to others. In this sense God is said to haue tempted Abraham, when he caused him to giue an experiment to the world of his excellent faith and o­bedience: and answerably hee is said vers. 12. now to know that Abraham [Page 18] feared God, when Abraham had giuen a good experiment of it, as Procopius fit­ly expoundeth those words, Nunc noui, i. nunc specimen eius rei dedisti eximium. And thus tempting, which in the for­mer sense is attributed to God [...] after the manner of men, is accor­ding to the latter sense vnderstood [...] as it beseemeth God,De Sancta Trin. lib. 1. as Athanasius speaketh.

Now if it be further obiected, that if God would take triall of Abrahams faith and obedience, hee should haue tried him rather whiles he was yonger, and before he had giuen so many testi­monies of his faith and obedience: for it may seeme strange that he would trie a tried seruant: I answere, according to that which hath been said, that God ta­keth triall of his seruants to another end then men doe. Men take triall of their seruants, because they would haue experience olf their fidelitie, which is not sufficiently knowne vnto them. But God, to whom the secrets of all hearts are knowne, needeth not make triall of men to this end, that hee might learne something which before hee [Page 19] knew not. But hee is said to trie men, when hee causeth them to giue experi­ments of that which he perfectly know­eth, and that either to themselues or to others. To themselues, for as Augustine well saith,De tempor [...] Serm. 72. Nescit se homo nisi in tentatio­ne discat se: A man knowes not himselfe throughly, vnlesse, by tentation he hath experience of himselfe. For men many times ouerweene their owne gifts, and therefore God bringeth them into trial that they may see their owne weaknes, that seeing it they may be humbled, and being humbled they may be more fer­uent in prayer, more circumspect of their waies, and as it were more iealous ouer their owne hearts. Thus the Lord afflicted the Israelites in the wildernes, that hee might tempt them and know what was in their hearts, whether they would obserue his precepts or not: that is, that by their afflictions and trials he might discouer vnto them their owne weakenes and vnabilitie to keepe his law, and that they by this means might be driuen vnto Christ, Deut. 8.2. The like may be said of Ezechias, 2. Chron. 32.31. whom the Lord left to himselfe [Page 20] for a time, that he might tempt him and know whatsoeuer was in his heart. On the other side, men sometimes excel­ling in humilitie, are defectiue in thāk­fulnes, too much preiudging their own gifts, and therefore the Lord bringeth them also to triall, that they seeing his graces in themselues, may be thankfull vnto him for them. What shall we say then?De tempore Serm. 72. Sic ergo ignarus est Deus. rerū &c. (saith Augustine) Is God therefore so ignorant of humane affaires, so vnac­quainted with mens hearts, that hee should by tempting seeke to finde men? No, but that man should finde himselfe. For (as hee also saith) there are many things in a man hidden and vnknowne vnto himselfe,Ibid. which are not manifested or made knowne, but in temptations. And as the Lord by tēptations maketh men knowne to themselues, so also to others. First, in respect of their frailtie, that we by their example may become more circumspect, especially if they whose example we behold, were better and stronger then our selues. For if Da­uid, if Ezechias, if Peter, when they were tempted, bewrayed their weaknes, how [Page 21] had we need to watch and to pray that wee enter not into temptation?Matt. 26.41 Se­condly, in respect of their faith and constancie, that wee seeing their good examples may both glorifie God, and stirre vp our selues to their imitation.

But as touching the tried seruants of God, such as Abraham and Iob were, this may be said in briefe: that the Lord trieth them, that his graces in them, as their faith, loue, obedience, constancie, patience, may be manifested not onely to themselues, both to minister com­fort vnto them, and to stirre them vp to thankfulnes, but especially to others, vnto whom the Lord propoundeth them as notable patternes to be imita­ted. For euen as schoolemasters some­times call forth some of their most to­ward schollers, and take exact triall of them, partly to approoue their owne paines, and partly to stirre vp their o­ther schollers to greater diligence: so the Lord maketh choise of some of his principall seruants of whom he taketh exquisit triall, to manifest his graces in them, both to themselues and also to o­thers, who comparing their own wants [Page 22] with their perfections, and perceiuing how farre short they are of that perfe­ction which they are to aspire vnto, may be stirred vp to a daily increase in pietie. And to conclude this point with Augustine, Serm. 72. de temp. where ha­uing shewed that Abraham was temp­ted, that he might be the better knowne to himselfe, he addeth: And if Abraham were knowne to himselfe, yet hee had not been knowne to vs. Verely he was to be manifested either to himselfe or to vs. To himselfe, that hee might know wherefore to giue thankes: to vs, that we might know either what to begge of God, or what to imitate in the man.

So much may suffice to haue spoken of the proposition: wherein wee haue discussed these three questions: first, whether the Lord who is here said to haue tempted Abraham to kill his own sonne, doth tempt any man vnto euill: and secondly, if the Lord tempt none to euill, then in what sense he is said to tempt Abraham, namely to try or proue him: and thirdly, to what end the Lord, who by himselfe knoweth all things, tempted and proued Abraham, which [Page 23] Augustine briefly noteth,De tempore serm. 73. Vt manifeste­tur mundo, qui iam notus fuerat Deo: That he might be manifested to the world, who was alreadie knowne to God.

Now we are to proceed to the narra­tion, wherein this great triall of Abra­ham is declared. And in the narration we are to consider two things, the actiō of God tempting, and the behauiour of Abraham when he was tempted. The action of God is twofold, his vocation or call, whereby hee prepareth Abra­ham to vndergoe this triall, vers. 1. Se­condly, his commandement, whereby he trieth him, vers. 2. As touching the former: Seeing the thing here inioyned to Abraham, namely that hee should with his own hands kill his sonne Isaac, and offer him for a burnt sacrifice, was in shew not onely most cruell and vn­natural, but also repugnant to the com­maundements and promises of God: therefore this is to be presupposed as a most certaine truth and taken for gran­ted, that Abraham was as certainly and infallibly assured, as a man can be cer­taine of any thing, that it was the Lord himselfe which gaue him this comman­dement. [Page 24] For if Abraham could but haue suspected that it was not the Lord which spake vnto him; how easily might he, yea and how resolutely ought he to haue repelled this temptation, as being not so likely to be a serious com­mandement of God, as an instigation of Satan, who might seeme thereby to prouoke him to murder his only sonne, and by sacrificing him to cut off the promises concerning the blessed seede of Isaac. But the Lord so fully enlighte­ned his minde, so powerfully affected his will, so certainly assured him of the truth of this reuelation, as that he could not possibly once doubt thereof. To this end the Lord speaketh familiarly to him and calleth him by his name, A­braham, that he might duly attend, and aduisedly cōsider who it was that spake vnto him: And then hauing receiued his answere, Here am I, wherein Abra­ham shewed himselfe not onely assured of the person that spake to him, but al­so resolued to put in execution whatso­euer he should commaund: then I say he propoundeth the commaundement, whereof I am now to speake. But first [Page 25] with this protestation, that it contai­neth the greatest triall that euer any meere man was exercised withall, and indeed farre greater then I in my weak­nes am able to set forth vnto you, ac­cording to the worthines of the matter. Neither are you to maruell hereat, as though the Lord dealt hardly with A­braham whom thus hardly he tempted, nor yet to please your selues that you are not tried after the same measure. For seeing the Lord is faithfull, and suf­fereth none of his children to be temp­ted aboue their strength, therefore hee proportioneth their temptations and trials,God in try­ing his ser­uants ob­serueth a Geometri­call pro­portion. according to the measure of grace bestowed vpon them. Hence it is that the best seruants of God haue endured the greatest trials: and accordingly Abrahams strongest faith is proued by the greatest triall, whereas the weaker faith of others, is exercised by easier temptations. For what Schoolemaster that seeketh by triall to encourage or approue his scholler, and to commend him to others (as the Lord doth his tried seruants) will appose a petite that learneth his A, B, C, in Greeke or in [Page 26] Hebrew? But trials are proportioned to mens strength, the strongest faith hath the greatest trials, the weakest faith hath the least trials, and where are no trials, it is a signe of no faith.

Now that Abrahams triall was excee­ding great, it may euidently appeare by those two things whereby the greatnes of trials is to be esteemed, to wit, the deerenes of that which he was to forgo, and the hardnes of that hee was to vn­dergoe. The summe of both is, that hee was to sacrifice Isaac. The deerenes of that which he was to forgoe, is of pur­pose amplified by the Lord himselfe to increase the triall, in foure degrees, plainly distinguished in the originall text. Take now (saith he) eth bincha, thy sonne, eth iehidcha, thy only sonne, asher ahabta, whom thou louest, eth ijtscak, euen Isaac, and offer him for a burnt sacrifice. Take thy sonne, thine only sonne, whom thou louest, euen Isaac. Alas, what needed all these words? had it not bin sufficient to breake his heart, to haue said, take thy sonne and offer him, but he must be put in minde that he was his onely sonne whom he loued, euen Isaac [Page 27] his ioy? But the Lord hauing giuen him strength to beare, laieth loade vpon him, and by euery word which is ad­ded, he addeth to the weight.

For a father to lose his son, especial­ly by death, & that violent death, it is a greater grief thē any man can conceiue that is not a father, such a [...] or na­turall loue God hath implanted in pa­rents, who therefore desire to die before their children, and exceedingly grieue if they suruiue them; but especially in godly parents, and heroicall natures, wherein these [...] are most effectuall; but most especially in Abraham, in whom this [...] did excell, who as he had long wanted, so did he most ear­nestly desire, and highly esteeme of a sonne, in so much that without him he little esteemed of all outward blessings besides. For whereas God had by his promise (Gen. 15.1.2.) encouraged him, Feare not, Abraham, I am thy buckler, and thine exceeding great reward. O Lord God (saith he) what wilt thou giue me, see­ing I goe childlesse? And therefore to lose him whom he so greatly desired, and highly esteemed, must needs in all like­lihood [Page 28] be an exceeding great griefe vn­to him. How did Dauid lament the death of Absalom his rebellious sonne, when he wept and said, O my sonne Ab­salom, my sonne, my sonne Absalom, would God I had died for thee! O Absalom, my sonne, my sonne! 2. Sam. 18.33. How did Iacob mourne for the supposed death of Ioseph, Genesis 37.34.35. hee rent his clothes, and put sackcloth about his loynes, and sorrowed for a long season, and when all his sonnes and daughters rose vp to comfort him, he would not be comforted, but said, Surely I will go down into the graue to my sonne, mourning? And how againe was he reuiued, when hee vnderstood that Ioseph was not dead, Gen. 45.28. where it is noted, that the spirit of Iacob reuiued, And Israel said, I haue enough, Ioseph my sonne is yet aliue. And yet Iacob and Dauid had many o­ther sons, whose presence might com­fort them in the absence of any one that they missed. But Abraham was to for­goe his onely sonne, which is the second degree to increase his griefe. For of ma­ny to haue offered any one to God, as it were the first fruites of his children, as [Page 29] Philo speaketh, it had been a lesse mat­ter: but hauing but one, and no hope of more by Sara, his onely wife, to giue him was to forgoe all, and with him all hope of posteritie, which might haue pierced his heart with vnspeakeable griefe. Therefore the Scriptures when they would signifie the greatest sorrow that may be, they vse to compare it to the sorrowing of a father for his onely sonne, Amos 8.10. Zach. 12.10. And as this might haue caused great griefe, so it required great loue, not onely to for­goe, but willingly to forgoe his onely sonne. For this was a figure of Gods loue to vs, which in the Scriptures is worthily noted to be exceeding great, because he hath giuen his onely begot­ten sonne for vs, Ioh. 3.16. Rom. 8.32. 1. Ioh. 4.9.10. But both his loue of God and cause of griefe for his sonne may greatly be amplified, if you consider in what respects he is called his onely son. For in this word, as Caluin speaketh, there was repetitus ictus, a doubled and trebled stroake, which might haue wounded his heart. For he is called the only sonne, first in respect of Sarai, who [Page 30] in regard of him was called Sarah, with promise that she should be a mother of Kings and of nations, as Abram also by the addition of the same letter (he) was called Abraham, to signifie that hee should be a father of many nations, Gen. 17.5.15. and to put him in minde of this promise, which is crossed by the commandement, vers. 2. the Lord cal­leth him by his name, Abraham, vers. 1. Secondly, he is called his onely sonne simply, after the sending away of Ismael, whereunto the Lord in these words see­meth to haue relation, to gall his minde with the memorie of his putting away of Ismael, whom also he dearely loued. As though he would signifie vnto him, that he was not contented to haue cau­sed him to put away Ismael the sonne of the bondwoman, whom also he lo­ued; leauing vnto him Isaac alone; but he will haue him forgoe Isaac too, the only child which he had, or could looke to haue by Sarah, in respect of whose seede notwithstanding both he and she were promised to be the parents of na­tions and Kings.

But although Abraham loued Ismael [Page 31] deerely, yet he loued him but a little in comparison of Isaac, and therefore that is added in the third place, whom thou louest. Indeede if hee had been a sonne whom either he had not loued, or lo­ued but with an ordinary loue, the trial had been the easier: but now the Lord tried him in that which was neerest and dearest vnto him, for Abraham (as Iose­phus speaketh) [...] loued Isaac with more then an ordinary loue:This was saith Philo, lib. de A­brah. [...], the most for­cible mo­tiue of loue because as he saith, [...], parents dote as it were, vpon those which are late borne. De tepore Serm. 73. first, be­cause he was the child of his old age: for (as Philo saith) parents exceedingly loue those which are late borne, and this is noted to haue been the cause of Iacob his extraordinary loue towards Ioseph, Gen. 37. vers. 3. The reason is (saith Philo) either because they haue long desired them, or because they looke for no more: this therefore much increaseth the triall in that as Augustine noteth, Iubetur filium victimare, solatiū paternae senectutis, & vnicū pignus posteri­tatis: qui quanto serior, tanto dulcior: He is commaunded to sacrifice his Sonne, the solace of his Fathers old age, and the onely pledge of posteritie: who the later he was borne, the sweeter he was [Page 32] to his parents. Secondly, because he was the sonne of the freewoman,Gal. 4.22.23 and there­fore not onely his legitimate sonne, but that sonne with whom and whose seede the Lord had promised to establish his euerlasting couenant, Gen. 17. vers. 19. Thirdly, because he was much desired, long expected, and after many delaies (which increase the desire Pro. 13.5.1 [...]) and by many earnest prayers at the length obtained. Fourthly, because he was giuen him of God by miracle▪ a­boue the course of nature, as a pledge of Gods loue to him. Fiftly, because he was a vertuous, gracious and obedient son; which appeared in the voluntarie sub­mitting himselfe to God and his father euen vnto death, as being therin a type of Christ. And lastly, which I touched before, because he was his onely childe. For loue diuided among many is not so feruent. And yet these three degrees, to forgoe his sonne, his only sonne, whom he loued, are nothing to the last. For it was Isaac that he was to lose, Isaac the ioy of his hart, Isaac the pledge of Gods loue, the reward of his faith, the earnest of his saluation, of whom it was said, in [Page 33] Isaac shall thy seede be called, in whose death the promise not onely of posteri­tie, but also of the Messias who was to come of him, might seeme to be repea­led and brought to nothing. And ther­fore with him the Church who was to come of him, might seeme to dye, and in his losse concurred in all apparance the losse of saluation both to himselfe and to all the heires of promise. For no sal­uation but by Christ, who according to the promise of God, was to come of I­saac. In the former degrees Abraham was to contend with nature and with naturall affection, [...], Philo. which I confesse is hard to doe: but in this he was to con­tend with grace, and to oppose himselfe to the word and promise of God. Why, to bid him offer Isaac, was as much in apparance as to bid him rend in peeces Gods couenant, to renounce all assu­rance of Gods loue, to destroy the Church as it were in the shell, and to cut off all hope of saluation by Christ.

And thus haue wee considered the deerenes of the person, whom Abraham was willingly to forgoe: now we are to consider the hardnesse of the action [Page 34] which he was to performe, which indeed appeareth to haue been very hard in respect both of his affection to his son, and of his allegiance vnto God. And in both respects the hardnesse may bee shewed, both by the substance of the worke it selfe, and the circumstances thereunto belonging. The work as you haue heard was, that he should offer vp his sonne vnto God for a burnt sacri­fice. The circumstance is twofold, of time and place. The time, both when this commaundement was giuen, and when it was to bee perfourmed. It was giuen (saith the holie Ghost) in the first words of the chapter, After these things, which haue relation to the matters cō ­tained in the last chapter, although not to the last words of the chapter. That is, after the Lord had commanded Abra­ham to put away Ismael, and had giuen him many notable promises in Isaac, concerning the multiplying of his seed which should inherit the land of pro­mise, and the blessing of all nations in the promised seede, and for a pledge of his loue had giuen him many temporal blessings, insomuch that Kings were de­sirous [Page 35] to enter into league with him. So that now Abraham after Ismael was gone rested wholy vpon Isaac, and as himselfe liued in great prosperitie and fauour of God; so he took this to be his greatest felicitie, that hee was to leaue Isaac behinde him the heire of his hap­pines, and the inheritour of the fauour and promises of God: insomuch that now Isaac being growne to mans estate (for now hee was as Iosephus saith 25. yeares old, as others 33. as the Seder O­lam, 37) he began to bethinke him of prouiding a wife for him, that the pro­mise concerning his seede might be per­formed (as may be gathered by the last euent mentioned in this chapter, wher­by the Lord to gratifie his desire, gaue him hope of a wife out of his owne kin­red) after these things I say, when Abra­ham was in the height of his prosperitie, and in the toppe of his felicitie, resting wholy vpon Isaac, and liuing in certain expectation of the accomplishment of the promises made in him, euen then the Lord propoundeth vnto him this com­maundement, which might crosse all these promises, cut off his happines, and [Page 36] ouerthrow all his expectation. This cir­cumstance doth greatly increase the triall, which had been farre easier, if this commaundement had been giuen be­fore the eiecting of Ismael, with whom alone Abraham could haue been con­tented, as may be gathered out of Ge­nesis 17.18: before hee had receiued such promises, or conceiued such hope of the performance thereof in Isaac, or had tasted so plentifully of Gods bles­sings, which now he hoped to leaue to Isaac, as the inheritour of his happines, and of Gods fauour: for the more a man hath to leaue to his child, the more he is grieued if he lose his only child.

As touching the time when this com­mandement was to be performed: he must take him presently without fur­ther respite: for so hee saith, Take now, vers. 2. but he must offer him three daies after, vers. 4. that is, although this work was most hard, in mans iudgment most vnreasonable, and in shew most cruell and barbarous: yet he must deny him­selfe and his owne reason, and without further consultation not onely resolue to doe it, but also addresse himselfe to [Page 37] this worke. But hauing once resolued, and being entred into the action, hee should not offer him vntill the third day. He might haue bidden him present­ly to dispatch, to ridde him of this care and griefe, or if he would needes haue him goe into the countrey of Moriah, (because there was the place which af­ter he would chuse for his worship and seruice, 2. Chron. 3.1. where also our Sa­uiour offred himselfe vpon the crosse, of which sacrifice this immolation of Isaac was a type) yet he might haue concea­led it from him, as Abraham in his fa­therly care concealed it from Isaac, vn­till he came to the place, because hee would not macerate his sonne with a tedious expectation of death. The which circumstance also doth adde great weight to the triall, especially if you consider the manifold exceptions, which his own knowledge set on work by his affection could obiect, and the cunning obiectiōs which Satan would suggest, and those diuerse occurrents which might happē in the meane space, especially the continuall companie of Isaac, whom he could not behold with­out [Page 38] great remorse, his sweete conuersa­tion and amiable speeches, which might make him relent. So that by this delay Abrahams faith and constancie was strongly assaulted, and his heart being resolute was macerated with the expe­ctation of this dreadfull sacrifice. It is truly said, Acerbissima est mora quae tra­hit paenam: And many times the long expectation of death, is worse then death it selfe.

The place also, howsoeuer in general termes it was declared that it should be one of the hils in the countrey of Mo­riah, which was distant from Beersheba, where Abraham receiued this charge, and whither he returned vnto his fami­lie, vers. 19. as Lyra saith 20. leagues, as Luther & others 10. Germane miles: yet in particular the place was not defined: but for the greater triall of his faith and obedience (as in his calling out of Vr, Heb. 11.8.) left indefinit. For if on an hill, then he might thinke not in an obscure and secret, but an open and conspicu­ous place; and perhaps in the presence or view hee knew not of whom, and therefore he could not tell what either [Page 39] danger or offence he might incurre, by sacrificing his son there. And whereas he came not to the place before the third day, you may thinke, either that the place was so farre distant, as that an old man of 125. yeares or vpward, trauel­ling on foote, with an asse loaden with all necessaries both for the sacrifice and their own prouision, could with conue­niēcie come thither no sooner, especial­ly being to trauell leisurely, that hee might the better meditate and aduise of that which he went about; or if hee came into the countrey sooner, that the Lord for his greater triall held him in suspence, not shewing him the hill be­fore the third day. So that by the cir­cumstance of time and place, it appea­reth that Abraham had time enough to bethinke him, that if hee had not beene very resolute, hee might haue desisted from this enterprise.

Now as I said, the worke it selfe was very hard to be performed of him, whe­ther you consider his affection to his sonne, or his allegiance to God. For as touching the former, it had been a sore matter, as I shewed before, only to haue [Page 40] forgone his sonne, as appeareth by his forgoing Ismael, chap. 21.11. and Iacob his vnwilling forbearing of Beniamins presence for a time, Gē. 42.38. especial­ly being his onely sonne, the sonne whō he loued euen Isaac the ioy of his heart; more especially to haue forgone him by death, and that a violent death (for the true parent 1. King. 3.27. desired rather to lose her child altogether, then haue halfe of him dead) but most especially seeing his death seemed to annihilate the promises of God, not only concer­ning the multiplication of the Church, but also concerning the saluation of the faithful by Christ, who was to come of Isaac: to consent vnto his death had been more grieuous, hauing consented to deliuer him to death had been dole­full, to bee present thereat had beene more wofull. The eloquent Poet Eu­ripides, and the cunning Painter Timan­thes, Iphigen. Plin. 35.10. were no otherwise able to expresse the dolefull countenance of Agamem­non, being present at the sacrificing of his daughter Iphigenia, then by coue­ring his face: because howsoeuer they could decipher the mourning counte­nance [Page 41] and dolefull behauiour of her o­ther friends,See Tully in Oratore. and that in diuers degrees, yet they perceiued, neither pen nor pencill could expresse the griefe of a fa­ther being present at the death of his childe. What then shall wee say to this worke enioyned Abraham, that hee should not onely consent to his sonnes death, nor to deliuer him to others by them to be sacrificed, nor to be present only thereat, which few men could en­dure (for my part saith Luther on this place, Ego non potuissem esse spectator, ne­dum actor & mactator: I could not haue been a beholder, much lesse an actor or slaughterer) but also that with his own hands he should kill his owne sonne, who was more deere vnto him then his owne life. And how should he kill him? as a burnt sacrifice: that is, first he was to binde him and to lay him vpon the altar, then to cut his throate, after hee was to sprinkle his blood round about vpon the altar,Leuit. 1.5.11 then was he to cut him in peeces, and hauing pulled out his en­trailes, and washed them in water, he was to burne all on the altar, himselfe making and tending the fire, and put­ting [Page 42] euery part as it should fall out from the rest into the fire againe, vntill all were consumed to ashes: which is signified by the phrase of speech which God vseth, vehagnalehu sham legnólah, and make him ascend there (namely in smoake) as a whole burnt offring, wher­of nothing remaineth but ashes. And all this was to be performed of a most tender hearted father in his owne per­son, to his deere and only childe. Whose bowels earne not to thinke of this fact, who would not swoune to see it, who would not dye rather then doe it? And not only his affection towards his son might haue hindred him from this act, but much more his allegiance to God, euen his obedience and his faith which here the Lord tried. And whereas in o­ther temptations the word of God is our helmet of saluation to defend our selues,Eph. 6.17. and the sword of the spirit to of­fend our enemies; in this temptation Abraham found the greatest opposition against him in the commandements and promises of God. And surely (beloued) if God assault vs with his word, where­with in other temptations he doth arme [Page 43] vs, how shall any man hope to stand? And yet this was Abrahams case. For if Abraham would shew himself obedient to the law of God, then should hee not doe that which was in it selfe vnlawful, and vnnaturall, dishonourable to God and scandalous to men. But this fact was condemned by the law of God, who as hee forbiddeth the shedding of innocent blood, Gen. 9.6. so he allow­eth it not in sacrifices.Sacrificing of men. Psal. 106.37 But [...] which was acceptable to the Gods of the Heathen, who were diuels, was most abominable to the Lord. As for him, Augustine saith De temp. Serm. 73. Deus pro nobis iussit filiū suū occidi, non nostros immolari: God commaunded his sonne to be slaine for vs, and not ours to be sacrificed. And if homicide be condem­ned, can parricide be allowed?

It was vnnaturall, and against the law of nature for a father to kill his guiltlesse childe: for euen the brute beasts themselues doe loue and cherish their owne broode. Dishonourable to God, as though hee delighted in such cruell and vnnaturall sacrifices, or as though he would haue men shew their [Page 44] religion by committing parricide. Scan­dalous in respect of the Canaanites, amongst whom there was yet no such practise, as Philo saith, who might haue condemned his religion, and abhorred his God for this one practise. Scanda­lous in respect of posteritie, who would be readie to imitate his example. For euen hypocrites, if outwarde seruice would serue their turne,Mich. 6.7. would not stick to offer the fruit of their bodie, for the sinne of their soule. Scandalous to his seruants, who would either haue bound him for a mad man, or finding him in his wits haue detested him and his pro­fession as bloodie and barbarous. But scandalous especially to Sarah his wife, who how she would haue taken the slaughter of her most deerely beloued and onely sonne, in regard of whom she was called Sarah, a Princesse, and pro­mised to be the Queenemother of the Princes and people of God, and the great grandmother of the Messias, whō God had giuen her by miracle, especial­ly being committed by Abraham him­selfe, and without her priuitie and con­sent, I leaue it to your wisedomes to [Page 45] iudge. For if Zipporah when she was ap­pointed by Moses onely to circumcise her sonne, did cast the foreskinne at his feete, and said, Thou art indeed a bloodie husband vnto me: and thereupon (as Tremellius and Iunius note vpon Exod. 4.25. and 18.2.) in a rage refused to go any further with him: in what a case doe you thinke would Sara haue been, when she should haue vnderstood, that Abraham with his owne hands had kil­led her onely sonne, and in that manner which before I haue described. And shall Abraham now shew his obedience in doing that which in it selfe was vniust, vnnaturall, dishonourable to God, and scandalous to men? And as touching his faith, if Abraham would approoue himselfe to be faithfull and to beleeue the promises of God, then will hee not commit that, whereby in all apparance the promises are ouerthrowne. The pro­mises were principally two: the first concerning the multiplication of the Church in Isaacs posteritie, which was to inherit the land of Canaan: the se­cond, concerning the saluation of the faithfull in all nations, by the promised [Page 46] seede▪ which is Christ, who according to the promise was to come of Isaac. And shall Abraham now approue his faith, by killing Isaac, and consuming him to ashes? Nay rather this might seeme a voluntarie extinguishing of ye Church, and a wilfull renouncing of saluation by Christ. Didst thou beleeue Abra­ham in the promised seede, and was this thy faith imputed vnto thee for righte­ousnes, and can it now stand with thy faith to kill Isaac, in whom alone thou hast these promises? In Isaac shall thy seede be called, chap. 21.12. With Isaac and his seed (saith the Lord) chap. 17. will I establish mine euerlasting couenant, &c. Doest thou beleeue to bee saued by Christ, who was to come of Isaacs seed, and wilt thou with thine owne hands kill him, of whom he is to come?

And this was the triall whereby God proued Abrahams faith and obedience. Now let vs consider how Abraham ap­proued himselfe in this triall. For how­soeuer this triall was exceeding great, yet was not he tried aboue the strength which God had giuen him. And first consider how he approueth his obedi­ence. [Page 47] For Abraham behaueth not him­selfe, as any one of vs would perhaps haue done in the like case, alleaging for himselfe and his sonne: Alas he is my sonne, mine onely sonne, whom I deere­ly loue, euen Isaac the ioy of my heart, without whom I can neither looke for the multiplication of a blessed seede, nor saluation by the Messias who is to come of him: if therefore I should but forgoe him, it were death to me, if I should con­sent and be present at his slaughter, it were worse than death: if I my selfe should shed his innocent blood and be­reaue him of his pretious life, if I should butcherlike slaughter him and cruel­ly burne his beloued body to ashes, it were a hell vnto me in respect of that affection which I doe, and as I am a fa­ther ought to beare him. Besides, this standeth not with mine obedience to God, to commit such an act which is so vniust, vnnaturall, dishonourable to God, and scandalous to man; nor yet with my faith in his promises, to kill him in whom they are made; and there­fore I will rather die then I will thus de­priue my selfe of my sonne, the world of [Page 48] the Church which is to be his seede, or the faithfull of their Sauiour which is to come of him. But Abraham although in his fatherly affection he were as ten­der hearted as the best of vs, and in his wisdome did see and consider all these impediments; yet notwithstanding he was content to deny his affection, yea and his reason, and to performe simple and absolute obedience to God. For he might thinke; God hath reuealed his will vnto me in this commaundement, so as I cannot possibly doubt but that it is the oracle of God; to this will of God therefore must I submit my selfe. What though Isaac be deere to me, yet I must not loue him more then God; yea, for Gods sake I must be willing to for­goe him. God hath promised his sonne to me, and shall I denie my sonne to him? And what though it shall seeme an vniust thing to kill my guiltlesse sonne, yet I am sure it is more vniust not to obey God. And although I am to be vnwilling to sacrifice my sonne, if it pleased God otherwise, yet must I be more vnwilling to disobey God. And what though it seeme vnlawfull and [Page 49] contrary to the law of God, yet I know it is not. Indeede to kill a man vpon a priuate motion, without sufficient war­rant and authoritie, is fearefull murder: but I haue sufficient authoritie, yea an expresse commaundement from God, and therfore so farre shal I be from sin­ning if I sacrifice Isaac, as that I shall fearefully sinne, if I doe it not. But you will say, hath not God forbidden the shedding of innocent blood? Yea, but the Lord who is the supreme lawgiuer, hath this prerogatiue royall to dispense with his own lawes, and may if it please him commaund things aboue the com­mon course of iustice; his will, which is the rule of iustice, hauing this priui­ledge, that whatsoeuer hee willeth is therefore iust, it being a meere impossi­bilitie that hee who is goodnes and iu­stice it selfe, should either will or doe a­ny thing which is not iust; and conse­quently all his commaundements are to be vnderstood with this exception or restraint, Nisi Deus aliter voluerit, Vnlesse God appoint otherwise. As for example, the law forbidding man­slaughter is thus to be vnderstood, vn­lesse [Page 50] God appoint or authorize a mā to kill, as the lawfull Magistrate, and the warriour in lawfull battaile. This particular commaundement therefore giuen vnto me of God, is my sufficient warrant to sacrifice my sonne, the ge­nerall commaundement to the contra­rie notwithstanding.August. de temp. ser. 72. And therefore to conclude, Attendis quis feriat, & quem feriat? attende quis iubeat: Doe you marke who striketh, and whom he stri­keth? marke also who commaundeth, and acknowledge with me that the bare shew and apparance of sinne, should not driue me into a manifest and appa­rant sinne. Besides, God almightie is a soueraigne Lord ouer all his creatures, hauing absolute authoritie of life and death, who may kill or preserue, or any waies dispose of his owne as pleaseth him, Matth. 20.15. and therefore if hee will he may iustly take away the life of any man by what meanes he pleaseth, although there were no cause of death in him. But there is also cause of death in my sonne, and in all men since the fall, seeme they neuer so innocent. For as in Adam all haue sinned,1. Cor. 15.22 and haue [Page 51] made our selues subiect to death: so the Lord may iustly, when it pleaseth him, take vs out of this life, and by what meanes it pleaseth him.Heb. 9.27. It is appointed vnto all men once to dye, and this debt we owe to God in respect of our sinne, which debt also he may claime when it pleaseth him. Neither may hee bee thought to deale hardly with my sonne or any of his children, whose daies hee shortneth, seeing hee recompenceth their mortall life with immortalitie.

And what though he be my sonne, yet seeing I haue the commaundement of God to offer him, this ought to be an inducement to me, rather then other­wise. For if he were a straunger or my seruant, I might well suspect my selfe, lest by any sinister affection I were mo­ued to enterprise this work. But seeing it is my sonne, whom I loue aboue all things but God,Foelix orbis soret, si om­nes fic fierem parricidae. Zeno. Vero­nens. nothing but the pure loue of God could perswade me to offer him.

And lastly, what though many in­conueniences are like to follow? what though I shall seeme to cut off the pro­mises as it were at the roote, yet my du­tie [Page 52] is not to be a quariste to dispute of Gods commaundement, but simplie to obey his will, and to commit the euent to God.

And as his obedience was absolute and simple, so also resolute and serious, as appeareth by these particulars: first, in that he acquainted not Sara or any other with his purpose, by whose per­swasions and intreaties hee might per­haps haue beene hindred. Secondly, that when he saw the place a farre off, he would not suffer his two seruants to goe with him, vers. 5. lest perhaps they would haue hindred him, condemning him of dotage: of which excuse an vn­resolute man would haue beene glad. Thirdly, in that he bindeth Isaac: for although Isaac when he vnderstood the will of God willingly submitted him­selfe, when as for his strength he might easily haue resisted (for he was of yeeres 25 at the least,Neither must that trouble vs that he is called Nag­nar, vers. 5. which is translated a child, for so are the two seruants called, vers. 3.5. (whom Philo suppo­seth to haue been [...], the ancientest in the fami­lie) and Io­sua when he was (as the He­brewes thinke) 56. yeeres old, Exod. 33.11. and Dauids souldiers 2. Sam. 1.15. when his father was 125, of strength sufficient to carrie, and that vp the hill, wood enough to consume himselfe to ashes) yet lest any thing might haue happened at the very in­stant, through the naturall feare of pre­sent [Page 53] death, which is common to all, and naturall commotion of the parts and members of the bodie, strugling against the sense of paine, he thought good to preuent the worst. And so resolute was Abrahams purpose to sacrifice his son, as that the Lord esteemed it as done. For so he saith, vers. 16. Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not spared thine onely sonne: And the Apostle Heb. 11.17. plainly affirmeth, that Abraham when he was tempted, offered his sonne. To which purpose some expound those words, vers. 19. that hee receiued him from the dead by a similitude: for so resolute was Abrahams purpose to of­fer him, as that in his opinion, who not once suspected a triall, Isaac was but a dead man. When as therefore he was spared by the commandement of God, he esteemed it as if he had receiued him from the dead.

3. It was readie and speedie. For al­though there were many difficulties, as you haue heard, and many impedi­ments to hinder him, yet was not hee long in resoluing, and in ouercomming them. Who would not haue bin daun­ted [Page 54] and amazed at such a charge? who would not haue been at his wits end? who would not at the least haue sought delaies, or desired respite? But Abra­ham early in the same morning ariseth, vers. 3. and presently addresseth himselfe to this worke.

4. And although it were speedie, yet was it not headie and for a brunt, but discreete, couragious, and constant. His discreete cariage of this action appea­reth in all the particular actions and speeches mentioned in this narration, which Moses hath to this purpose parti­cularized, as yt he prouided wood and other necessaries, that he loaded an asse with wood and food, that he tooke two of his seruants to attend him, and so of the rest; all which he did to so good end and purpose, as that it might appeare that this his behauiour was not a fanta­sticall fitte, or melancholy mood, but a discreete and temperate action, vnder­taken with due aduice and mature de­liberation, managed by rare wisedome and singular discretion. And therefore the Lord delaied the execution of this work vnto the third day, that he might [Page 55] not onely proue, but also approue the obedience of Abraham in this behalfe, as being not performed on a sudden motion, or vnaduisedly, but with adui­sed deliberation.

His courage and constancie appea­reth in this, that hauing once resolued, and being entred into this action, no­thing could hinder him from effecting the same, but the voyce of God from heauen: not the affection to his sonne, not his sweet cōpanie; not his amiable speech, vers. 7. which might haue moued a heart of flint,Chrysost. tom. 2. ser. 33 when as Isaac hostia, de hostia patrem interrogat: Isaac being the sacrifice, questioneth with his father concerning the sacrifice, and receiueth this answere, God will prouide, my sonne; not the consideration of the contrarie commandements of God, or repugnan­cie of the promises: but stedfastly per­sisteth in his course. And hauing alrea­die trauailed two daies, enduring al oc­currents in the meane time, which bea­ting vpon him as waues vpon a firme rocke were dashed and repelled: and now seeing the place, the sight whereof might haue daunted him; and hauing com­manded [Page 56] his seruāts to stay with the asse,A caption in respect of their vn­derstāding, taking that properly which was spoken by a Synecdo­che (vve wil returne) and a prophecie in respect of the holie Ghost di­recting his speech ac­cording to the euent. vsing a cunning speech vnto them, that they for want of a beast to be sacrificed, shuld suspect nothing; without shew of passion and perturbation, with cheere­full countenance & constant mind he perfourmeth all those actions which were the forerunners of the sacrifice, e­uery one representing vnto him the death and slaughter of his sonne, which was to be committed by himselfe: He laieth the wood vpon his sonne (as the crosse was laid on Christ) with purpose (tender heart) to burne him vpon it, himselfe takes the fire and the knife in his hand, a knife & fire, the sight where­of, if you respect his intent, might haue cut his heart, and burnt his entrailes: and so they two went together, which ye holy Ghost hath twice noted, ver. 6.8. partly to moue compassion in the hea­rer, when he should cōsider this couple who they were, with what minde and to what end they went together, the in­nocent and obedient sonne suspecting nothing, carying wood to burne him­selfe, and a kinde and louing father, ca­rying a knife to kill his sonne, and fire [Page 57] to burne him that was deerer vnto him then his owne life. Such a passage (saith Luther) is not to be found againe in all the Scriptures: and partly to note the inuincible constancie of Abraham, who hauing left his two seruants behind, and being not onely occasioned by his sons speech, which could not but goe neere him, but also importuned as it were by the opportunitie of the solitarie place to vtter his griefe (which otherwise a man would thinke should haue burst his heart) notwithstanding he neither sends Isaac before, nor bids him come after, either that hee might haue lesse cause of griefe if hee were not present and in his sight, or more opportunitie to grieue if hee were a little absent and out of his hearing, but without shew of passion accompanieth him to the very place, where he buildeth an Altar, cou­cheth the wood, vseth no doubt some effectuall speech to perswade his sonne, when it cannot be sufficiently maruei­led how he could perswade himselfe: ha­uing perswaded him, he bindeth him af­ter the manner of sacrifices, Ne impa­tientia doloris victima calcitraret: Lesse [Page 58] through impatience of griefe his sacri­fice should kicke or sting, as Augustine saith: hauing bound him hand & foote, hee laieth him on the Altar vpon the wood,Serm. 73. De tempere stretcheth out his hand, taketh his knife with purpose presently, I tremble to speake it, presently I say to cut his throate, to dismember his body, and after to set fire to the wood, that as a whole burnt offring he might be con­sumed, leauing nothing to himselfe in apparance of all his hopes and expe­ctations but a few ashes. But blessed be God, in the very nicke as he was giuing the fatall wound, as appeareth by the sudden crie of the Angell, Abraham, A­braham, hee is staied from his pur­pose, and commended for his obediēce; euen as if he had sacrificed his sonne, the Lord (to whom obedience is more ac­ceptable then sacrifice, 1. Sam. 15.22.) accepting of the sincere will and ear­nest endeuour of his seruant for the deede it selfe.

But although Abrahams obedience was singular, yet his faith, which was the ground of his obedience and his vi­ctorie in the temptation,1. Ioh. 5.4. was more [Page 59] wonderfull: and therefore the Apostle saith, Heb. 11.17. By faith he offred Isaac. For Abraham had receiued a double o­racle from God, the one a promise con­cerning Isaacs seede, the other a com­maundement concerning the burning of him to ashes before he had any seed. These 2. oracles in mans reason are cō ­trarie one to another, and nothing but faith can reconcile them. How then was Abraham to behaue himselfe in this re­pugnancie of Gods oracles? He knew certainly that the commandement was the word of the Lord, and therefore re­solued whatsoeuer should come of it, to obey it, and to commit the euent to God; and of the promise he could not doubt, but that it also was the very o­racle of God, and therefore resolued to beleeue it, assuring himselfe that al­though Isaac before hee had any seede were consumed to ashes, yet notwith­standing God would performe his pro­mises concerning Isaacs seede. But how can this be? If Isaacs seede must inherit the land of Canaan, and Christ himself must come of his seed, then must he liue vntill he haue seede, and not be consu­med [Page 60] to ashes before he haue any: if he die and be burnt to ashes before hee haue seede, according to the comman­dement, how shall his seede be multi­plied, or Christ come of it, according to the promise? Yet such was Abrahams faith that he assuredly beleeued, that al­though Isaac were consumed to ashes before he had any seed, yet the promise concerning his seede should be perfor­med: and in this assurance of faith in the promise, hee readily, resolutely and constantly obeyed the commandemēt. But how could he obey the one, and yet beleeue the other, seeing the one is con­trary to the other? I answere, Abraham assuredly beleeued that God as he is true and faithfull, and therefore wil­ling to keepe his promise: so in respect of his omnipotent power and alsuffici­encie he is able to make good his word, being indeed able to doe any thing, but to denie himselfe or to goe backe from his word. And therefore doubted not but that as hee had receiued his soone from the dead and barren wombe of Sara, as similitude of death (for thus those words Heb. 11.19. may also be ex­pounded) [Page 61] so also the Lord would in re­spect of his truth and faithfulnesse, and could in respect of his power, euen out of those ashes restore him vnto life, that his seed might be multiplied, and all na­tions of the earth might account them­selues happie in his blessed seed. And this is testified by the Apostle, Heb. By faith (saith he) Abraham offered vp Isaac when he was tempted, and he that had receiued the promises (which were to be fulfilled in his sonne and his posteritie) offered his only begotten sonne. To whō it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. [...] For he considered, or rather conclu­ded, that God was able to raise him vp euen frō the dead, from whence he receiued him also after a sort. For as Procopius saith, he pondered in his mind that saying of the Apostle, that God who had made Sarah of barren fruitfull, could also raise vp Isaac from the dead: And therfore as Augustine saith, he beleeued whē Isaac was to be borne,Serm. de temp. 72. and mourneth not for him when he was to die: his hand is lif­ted vp to sacrifice him that he might be dead, whose heart was lifted vp to be­leeue that he might be borne. Abraham [Page 62] doubted not to beleeue when Isaac was promised: he doubted not to offer him when he was required againe: neither was his religion in beleeuing, contrarie to his deuotion in obeying. And again, Credidit suscepturus filium, credidit occi­suru [...]: He beleeued when he was to be­get his sonne, he beleeued when he was to kill him, vbique fidelis, nusquam cru­delis, euery where faithfull, no where cruell. And therefore, as another saith, In spe non denegabat Deo, quod contra spem acceperat ab eo. In hope hee denied not to God, which against hope, he had receiued from him.

And thus by vndoubted faith in the truth and power of God Abraham re­conciled the repugnancie betwixt the commandement and the promise, and so approued his singular obedience to the one, and his admirable faith in the other▪ & in respect of both is propoun­ded to vs and to all posteritie, as a most notable patterne to bee imitated. For beloued, wee are to know that these things they were written for our profit, and therefore we must not be idle hea­rers of this story concerning Gods pro­uing, [Page 63] & Abrahams approuing his faith and obedience, but we are to apply the same to our vse and edification.

And first from Gods prouing of A­braham, wee are to learne that it is his maner to trie the sonnes of men, and by triall to make knowne what is in them, that men might labour aforehand to be sound, and to lay a good foundation against the day of triall. For if men bee indued with grace, the Lord will not haue it smothered, but by triall to bee manifested to his glorie, their comfort, and good example of others. If men be vnsound, and leade their life as it were vpon a stage, he will by triall vnmaske them, that their hypocrisie may be de­tected & detested. And although none may looke in these dayes to be tempted as Abraham was, by a particular com­mandement from God (because how­soeuer the Lord in former times spake [...], at sundrie times and many wayes to the Fathers, yet in these lat­ter times he hath spoken last vnto vs by his sonne, Heb. 1.1. (and we are not to looke for extraordinarie reuelations and ap­paritions, but to hearken to the Sonne [Page 64] of God speaking vnto vs in the Word) notwithstanding we must looke to bee tried by some other means.Eccles. 2.1. My sonne, if thou wilt come into the seruice of God, pre­pare thy soule to tēptation.

Gods trials are either of the right hand, as some distinguish them, or of the left. Of the right hand are his tem­porall blessings, either offerd vnto vs, or conferd vpon vs. In respect of tem­porall blessings offered, hee trieth vs whether we wil make conscience in the gathering and getting of them, as hee tried the Israelites in the gathering of Manna. Exod. 16.4. For if, when anie worldly commoditie is offered to our desire, we make no conscience how we compasse it, whether by lying and fal­shood, or any other sinfull meanes, wee shew our selues to hee carnall and pro­fane, seeing for euerie trifle of the world we are readie to sell our soules to the diuell: when as indeed the gaine of the whole world (if thou couldst get it) will not counteruaile the losse of thy soule. And therefore if we were good Chri­stians indeed, and citizens of heauen we would be resolued not to sinne, and by sin to hazard the losse of our soules, though we may gaine the whole world, [Page 65] Mar. 8.3.6. And as God trieth, so Satan tempeth vs by worldly commodities offered, vsing them as his baits to allure vs to sinne: and therefore we are to bee assured, that when we got them by vn­lawfull meanes, we do with them swal­low the hooke of the diuell.

As touching the blessings bestowed, the Lord trieth vs in respect of the vse: whether we will make cōscience of im­ploying thē according to his appoint­ment, remembring that we are but his stewards euen of these outward gifts, who must giue him an account, how we haue disposed the goods committed to our trust: as namely, whether wee are readie to expose & communicate them to the publike vses of the Church and commonwealth, and to the priuate ne­cessities of our brethren, as our abilitie shall affoord, & their necessity require▪ For (that I may speake a little of this point, the place wherein I speake requi­ring it at my hands, and the time wher­in we liue giuing me but too iust occa­sion, the charitie of many waxing cold) when wee hauing wealth are made ac­quainted with others wants, the Lord [Page 66] trieth our loue, and he trieth our fideli­tie. Our loue, first to God, namely whe­ther wee loue him or the world more. And we are to know that God vseth to trie vs in those things which we loue, as in this example of Abraham: for he lo­ueth not God aright, who thinketh any thing too deare for him. Whosoeuer ther­fore hauing this worlds good, seeth his bro­ther haue need, and shutteth vp his compas­sion from him (whom he ought to relieue for Gods sake) how dwelleth the loue of God in him, saith Iohn, 1. Epist. 3.17. Such a one would be far from offering Isaac vnto God, that denieth him a smal part of his goods. Secondly, he trieth thy loue to thy brother, which appeareth to be nothing worth, whē thou canst find in thy heart to denie him, being thy brother in Christ, yea thy fellow mem­ber of Christ, some worldly pelfe which thou mightest spare, to whom Christ Iesus hath not denied his owne heart bloud. 3. Yeah herein is tried thy loue to Christ thy sauiour, who esteemeth that giuen, or denied to him, which is giuen or denied to his poore mēbers. Couldst thou find in thine heart to denie reliefe [Page 67] to Iesus Christ if he were in neede? Take heed then how thou deniest it to thy needy brother who is a mēber of christ. Remember the excuse which the wic­ked will make at the day of iudgement, and Christs answer to the same, Matth. 25.44, 45. for when Christ shal say vn­to them, Depart from me you cursed into euerlasting fire: for I was an hungred and you gaue me no meat, I was thirsty and you gaue me no drinke, &c they shall take ex­ception, and say: Lord when saw we thee an hungred or thirstie, &c. and did not mi­nister vnto thee? But hee shall answer, Verily I say vnto you, in as much as you did it not to one of the least of these, yee did it not to me. Againe, he trieth thy fidelitie: For if God haue appointed thee to bee his Almoner (as euery rich man is Gods Almoner) then art thou no better then as theefe (for so wouldest thou thinke of thine Almoner) if thou keepest backe from the poore that which God hath commanded thee to giue them.

The trials of the left hand are crosses both temporall and spirituall. The tem­porall are afflictions: and afflictions are whatsoeuer crosse our desires. And [Page 68] because afflictions trie mens faith, obe­dience, loue, patience, therefore they are called temptations or trials, Iam. 1. ver. 2.3. 1. Pet. 1.7. Wherefore when we are exercised vnder the crosse, let vs thinke that the Lord as he doth father­ly chastise vs for our sinnes, so he proo­ueth our faith and patience, what wee are able to beare for his sake, and wil­ling to suffer at his hands that hath suf­fered so much for vs; whether wee are willing to forgoe our worldly desires for his sake, &c. that so we may be care­full to approue our selues to God, that proueth vs. For as Iames saith, Blessed is the man that endureth temptation or trial: for when by triall he shall be found approo­ued, Iam. 1.12. he shall receiue the crowne of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that loue him. Among others which are afflicted, let parents which forgoe their children or other friends, learne by this trial of Abraham how to behaue themselues: For as Abraham by the commaunde­ment vnderstood the will of God, so may they by the euent. And as he sub­mitted himselfe to the will of God de­clared in the commaundement, so must [Page 69] they to his will reuealed in the euent. For if we cannot be content to giue the Lord leaue to take them to his mercie when it pleaseth him to call them, what would we doe if the Lord should bid vs with our owne hands to kill them, and to burne their bodies to ashes, especial­ly if they were to vs, as Isaac was to A­braham? Yea but Abraham by reason of the promise knew his sonne should (if he were killed) be restored to life: and hast not thou a better promise of thy sonnes resurrection? Isaac if he had bin killed, he should haue risen to haue died againe, as Lazarus did: thy sonne shal rise to die no more. He should haue risen with a mortall bodie, thy sonne shall rise with an immortall. And what though he shall, not rise again so soone, yet in the meane time his soule is with God, and therefore in better case then if he were still with thee: and his bodie, no otherwise then as seede-graine is committed vnto the earth against the great haruest. And what husbandman weepeth when he committeth his seed to the ground, the common mother of vs all? Yea but his bodie shall be re­solued [Page 70] into dust. Thou foule, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die, and as it were rot in the earth, 1. Cor. 15. vers. 36. And although thy sonnes body he sowne in corruption, yet it shall be raised in incorruption; it is sowne in dishonour, it shall be raised in glorie. vers. 42.43.

Spirituall crosses are heresies in iudge­ment, and common corruption in man­ners. In respect of the former the Lord trieth vs, when hee permitteth heresies to spring vp among vs. For as the Apo­stle saith, 1. Cor. 11.19. There must be he­resies, euen among vs, which are the true Church of God, that those which are ap­proued amōg vs, might be known. Therfore the Lord forewarneth the Iewes, that if a false prophet should arise among thē, they should not hearken vnto him, though hee should confirme his doc­trine by signes and wonders: For (saith he Deut. 13.3.) the Lord your God pro­ueth you whether you loue the Lord your God, with all your heart, and all your soule. Euen so at this day, the Lord suffereth Poperie, the sinke of heresie and myste­rie of iniquitie, to spread, and popish [Page 71] heretikes and Idolatours to goe about, perswading men to an apostasie from Christ to Antichrist, which they call re­conciling men to the Pope and Church of Rome: but is (as I haue proued else­where) the setting vpon men the marke of the beast, whereby they are branded vnto destruction, Reuel. 14.9.10. But this is done for the triall of the faithfull and sound Christians; and for a iust iudgment on the vnsound, vpon whom the Lord sendeth efficacie of error and strong illusions,2. Thess. that they may beleeue the lying doctrines of Antichrist, be­cause they haue not loued the truth of the Gospel, yt they might be saued by it. But blessed be God: howsoeuer Anti­christ preuaileth in those that doe pe­rish, as the Apostle saith,Vers. 10. yet the Lord Iesus hath prophecied, that it shall not be possible for the false prophets and ministers of Antichrist, to seduce either totally or finally the elect, Mat. 24.24.

And as touching corruptions in man­ners, the Lord suffereth the wicked to liue among the faithfull to trie them, Iud. 2.2 [...]. And euen in these times (be­loued) the godly liue among such a ge­neration [Page 72] of men, as that if a man doe but labour to keepe a good conscience in any measure, although he meddle not with matters of state, of discipline or ce­remonies: As for example, if a Minister diligently preach, or in his preaching seeke to profit rather then to please, re­membring the saying of the Apostle, If I seeke to please men, I am not the seruant of Christ, Gal. 1.10. Or if a priuate Chri­stian make conscience of swearing, san­ctifying the Sabboth, frequenting Ser­mons, or abstaining from the common corruptions of the time, he shal straight way be condemned for a Puritane, and consequently be lesse fauoured, then ei­ther a carnall Gospeller, or a close Pa­pist. But thus it pleaseth God to try vs whether we haue faith or not, and whe­ther wee preferre the applause of vaine men, before the approbation of the great and glorious God. For what saith our Sauiour to the Iewes, Ioh. 5.44. How can you beleeue seeing you seeke glorie and estimation one from another, and seeke not that glorie which commeth from God a­lone? It therefore thou desirest to be ap­proued for a sound christian, thou must [Page 73] labour to keepe a good conscience, and approoue thy selfe to God who trieth the heart: and not onely contemne the censures of carnall men (whose wise­dome is enmitie against God) but also think thy self happie when men speake euill of thee for righteousnes sake, Mat. 5.11. And these briefly are the trials of God, whereunto all sorts of men are subiect, both hypocrites and sound Christians.

Hypocrites, whom the Lord trieth, that they shrinking in their triall and falling away, their hypocrisie may be detected. For (beloued) there bee ma­ny which liue in the Church which be not of it, and cannot easily be discerned vntill triall come. But such men as they are vnsound, and by reason thereof sub­iect to defection, so when they are tried they commonly fall away: and they are suffered to fall, that it might appeare they were not of vs, as Iohn speaketh, 1. Epist. 2.19. For as the firie fornace discerneth the drosse from the mettall, the fanne seuereth the chaffe from the corne; so trials put a difference betwixt hypocrites and sound Christians. It [Page 74] behoueth vs therefore (beloued in the Lord) to lay a good foundation against the day of triall,Matth. 7.24 to build vpon the rock, to take roote inwardly, and to bring forth fruite outwardly, to haue oyle in our lampes; otherwise, if wee content our selues with the greene leaues of an outwarde profession, neither hauing the roote of faith, nor fruits of loue, we shall wither when the sunne of tempta­tion ariseth, Luk. 8.13. If we build vpon the sand, that is, as our Sauiour expoun­deth, be hearers and not doers of his word, when the windes of temptations shall blow, and surges of trials shall beate against vs, our building will fall to the ground, Matth. 7.26.27. If wee content our selues with the shining lampe of an outward profession, wan­ting the oyle of inward grace, when the Bridegrome commeth, we shall be shut out.

But the Lord also trieth the faithfull and sound Christians, sometimes to let them see their owne weaknes, that they may be humbled at the sight thereof, and be made more circumspect for the time to come. Sometimes to manifest [Page 75] his graces in them, both to themselues and others, but alwaies for their good in the end, Deut. 8.16. And therefore he neuer trieth them aboue their strength, or at least aboue their profit, but pro­portioneth his trials both to their strength, 1. Cor. 10.13. and also to their profit, Hebr. 12.10. and consequently the issue of them is alwaies happie and good: the Lord causing all things (and not onely his trials) to worke together for their good which doe loue him, Rom. 8.28. And although many times they are brought to that exigent, as that their estate seemeth desperate and re­medilesse, yet euen in the nick when things are at the worst, the Lord (who neuer faileth those which forsake not him) as it were [...] and beyond al expectation, giueth deliuerance. As in this triall of Abraham, vers. 10.11. and that of Iob. And it was well said of Philo, when he pleaded the cause of his natiō, being brought to a great exigent, be­fore Caligula: It cannot bee but that Gods aide is neere, seeing all mans help faileth vs. Seeing then the trials of the faithfull are profitable and tend [Page 76] to their good, therefore so many of vs as are sound, are to be so farre frō pray­ing against these temptations of triall, as that wee are rather to desire that wee may be tried, Psalm. 139.23. and to be glad when wee are, Iam. 1.2.3. 1. Pet. 1. vers. 6.7.

The vse in respect of Abrahams ap­prouing himselfe is this, that as we pro­fesse our selues to be the children of A­braham and heires of promise, so wee should shew our selues to be the childrē of Abraham, in imitating his obedience and his faith, to which end the Lord hath by Moses propounded this wor­thie example, and by me expounded the same vnto you. And first our obe­dience must be conformable vnto his. I say not that it must be equall. For al­though we must striue towards this per­fection, and neuer content our selues with our growth vntill we come to our [...] that is, our full growth, which wee shall neuer doe whiles we liue here, be­cause in this life wee are alwaies in our [...] and growing age; yet few may hope to attaine to Abrahams pitch. But though wee cannot be equall to match [Page 77] him, yet we must be like to imitate him in obedience, if wee would be esteemed his children, as the faithfull are. For as our Sauiour saith, Ioh. 8.35. If you were the sonnes of Abraham, you would doe the workes of Abraham.

But thou wilt say, If God did speake to me, and commaund me any thing, as he did to Abraham, I would doe as A­braham did. I answere, thou art to ap­plie euery generall commaundement in the word, as spoken vnto thee: and thou art to make conscience of obeying the same, as if God from heauen did now speake vnto thee. For so the Lord hath propounded his commandemēts, as that thou canst not doubt but that he hath spoken to thee therein. For doth hee not speake to thee, when hee saith, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steale, &c. Nay further I professe vnto thee, that as thou hast greater assurance that God speaketh vnto thee in his word, then if an Angell should speake vnto thee from heauen (for the written word the Apostle calleth [...] a more sure word, 2. Pet. 1.19. and if we should trust to extraordinarie reuelations and [Page 78] apparitions of Angels, we should bee subiect to the illusions of Satan, who can transforme himselfe into an Angell of light:) so if thou wilt not hearken to the written word of God, to Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, neither wilt thou beleeue or obey though an Angel should come from heauen, or a man should come from the dead, Luk. 16.

Well then, when thou hast a com­mandement from God, do as Abraham heere doth. As for example, God com­mandeth thee to turne vnto him, to re­pent thee of thy sinnes, to beleeue in Christ, to walke vprightly before him, to sacrifice not thy sonne, but thy selfe, and to offer vp thy soule and thy bodie as a holy, liuely and acceptable sacrifice vnto him,Rom. 12.1. which is thy reasonable, that is, spirituall seruice of him. Be carefull to approoue thy obedience as Abraham did. What though inconueniences will follow, what though the world shall condemne thee, and the wicked flout thee, & the diuel & thine owne flesh set themselues against thee: denie thy selfe as Abraham did, and thine own reason; dispute not of Gods commandement, [Page 79] but obey it, and commit the euent to God. And let thine obedience bee not onely absolute & resolute, but also spee­die without delay, & constant without fainting. Worthie is that saying of Lu­ther to bee written in the tables of our hearts, Qui habet certum verbum Dei, in quacunque vocatione, credat tantum & audeat, & dabit Deus haud dubiè se­cundos exitus, Whosoeuer hath the cer­taine word of God in any calling, let him beleeue onely and be bold, & God no doubt will giue prosperous suc­cesse.

Now if we wold approue our obedi­ence when God proueth vs, as Abra­ham did, wee must be qualified in two respects as he was. For first, seeing the Lord vseth to proue vs in such things as we loue: therfore we are with Abraham to thinke nothing we haue too deare to be consecrated to God, but we must be readie to offer as a spirituall sacrifice, if God shall require the same, our goods, our honour, our sonnes and daughters, our parents, our wiues, our liues, our selues: for hee that loueth anie of these more then Christ is not worthie of him, [Page 80] Matth. 10.37.38. This therefore in a word Abraham teacheth vs,De temp. serm. 72. as Augu­stine saith, Vt Deo non praeponamus quod dat Deus, That we preferre not before God, that which God hath giuen vs.

Secondly, we must (as Abraham was) bee resolued before hand to obey the commandements of God, seeme they neuer so vnreasonable vnto vs. For this resolution will make the commande­ments easie to vs, which seem hard to o­thers. As indeed the difficulty of Gods cōmandemēts is to be attributed to the corruptions and contrarie dispositions of men, who haue resolued, or at the least inured themselues to do euill: so that it is as easie for them to abstaine from their accustomed sinnes, as it is for a Blackamoore to change his hue, or a Leopard his spots, Ierem. 13.23. It is ea­sie for a sober and temperat man to ab­staine from drunkennesse, a chast man from whoredome, a religious man from swearing, a mild man from chafing and reuenge; but bid a drunkard leaue his drunkennes, a whoremaster to forsake his filthinesse, &c. you may as well bid him pull out his eye, or cut off his hand, [Page 81] so hard a thing it is for them to mortifie their earthly members, fornication, vn­cleannes, &c. Col. 3.5. But let God say to an Abrahā that is resolued to obey him in all things, offer thine only sonne vn­to me for a burnt sacrifice, and hee will readily doe it. And as we are to follow Abrahams obedience, so must we imi­tate his faith, and that in two respects: first, in beleeuing the promises of God: secondly, in bringing forth fruites and working by loue.

As touching the former, our dutie is to be resolued before hand with Abra­ham, as to obey the commandements of God, seeme they neuer so vnreaso­nable: so to beleeue his promises, seeme they neuer so vncredible.

Thou wilt say, If God did promise me any thing as he did to Abraham, I would beleeue as hee did. The promises were made to Abraham and his seede, that is, the faithfull who are the sonnes of A­braham and the heires of promise. And although the promises be generally pro­pounded in the word, yet art thou particularly to apply them to thy selfe as spoken to thee. For being generall [Page 82] they include al, that exclude not them­selues by infidelitie: only bring the con­dition of the promise which is faith, and thou art safe. For doth not the Lord promise, whosoeuer beleeueth in Christ hath remission of sin, shall rise to glo­rie, shall be saued? euen as the Israelites had a promise,Num. 22.8.9. that if when they were stung with the firie Serpents, they did lift vp their eyes to the brazen Serpent,Ioh. 3.14.15 16. they should be healed. Resolue then to lift vp the eye of faith to him that was figured by the brazen Serpent, to be­leeue in Christ, labour to lay hold vpon him by faith, striue against thine owne infidelitie and doubting: assure thy selfe, if thou beleeuest, that thou art iu­stified, and shalt be saued. Let not the sense of thine owne weakenes, or the conscience of thine owne vnworthines, or any thing else, wring from thee thy stedfast faith in Christ: but beleeue a­gainst sense and reason, and hope a­gainst hope as Abraham did. This is the promise of God, beleeue in Christ, and thou shalt be saued.Mat. 16.16. Indeed it plea­seth God many times so to trie his ser­uants, for the exercise of their faith, as [Page 83] that their triall seemeth to oppugne his promises. But yet notwithstanding the promises are firmely to be beleeued, and we are to be perswaded,Luther in Gen. 22. that when any thing doth happen vnto vs con­trarie to the promise, and the Lord shewes himselfe vnto vs otherwise then the promise soundeth (as our Sauiour shewed himselfe to the woman which was a Cananite, Matth. 15.23.28.) that it is but a trial, whereby the Lord, how­soeuer hee exerciseth vs for a time, will yet doe vs good in the end, Deut. 8.16. and therefore we are not to let goe our hold, or suffer the promise, which is our staffe and stay, to be wrested out of our hands. Rather let vs imitate Abrahams faith in this place, who when hee was commaunded to kil his sonne, in whose seede hee had many promises, yeelded indeed to the commandement, and yet held him to the promise. Though Isaac be consumed to ashes, yet shall the pro­mise of God concerning his seede bee performed. So Iob when he was so grie­uously afflicted, as that in his own sense, and opinion of others, he seemed to be cast out of Gods fauour, yet (saith he) [Page 84] though he kill me I will beleeue in him. Job. 13.15. In like sort, when as God promiseth life to all that beleeue, & yet we die: we must beleeue that although we die, yet wee shall liue, Ioh. 11.25. In a word, we must learne by Abrahams example, to giue credite to the truth and power of God, rather then to our owne sence and rea­son. For he is true, and therfore will, hee is omnipotent, and therefore can per­forme his promise.

Secōdly, our faith must be fruitful, as Abrahams was, and we are to manifest it by good works, that the Lord may say of vs,Iam. 2.18. as he did heere of Abraham, Now I know that thou fearest God, &c. for although good works do not concurre with faith to the act of iustification as anie cause thereof, yet they concurre in the subiect, that is, the partie iustified, as necessarie fruits of his faith, and te­stimonies of his iustification. And ther­fore Abraham although he were iustifi­ed before God, by faith without works, as Paul saith, that is, absolued from his sinnes and accepted as righteous vnto life; yet he was iustified not only in that sence by faith, but in another sence, [Page 85] that is, declared to be iust by works, as Iames saith. But to this purpose most effectuall is S. Iames his argument in the second chap. By such a faith as A­braham was iustified, must we be iusti­fied: but Abrahā was iustified by such a faith as brought forth good works, as appeareth by this example, and was not an idle or dead faith: and therfore that faith wherby we must be iustified must bring forth good fruits, or els it is not a liuely & a true, but a dead & counter­feit faith, by which no man can be iusti­fied. For howsoeuer faith alone doth iu­stifie, because it alone doth apprehend the righteousnesse of Christ, whereby we are iustified; and not loue or any o­ther grace, yet that faith which is alone doth not iustifie, because it is not a true faith. For euen as, the bodie without spirit or breath,Iam. 2.26 is iudged to be dead, so faith which is without works is dead. And to conclude, howsoeuer the pro­mise of saluatiō is made to faith, yet the sentence of saluation shall be pronoun­ced according to our works: and there­fore let vs be carefull as Abraham was to shew our faith by our workes: For [Page 86] good works are as it were the euidence according to which the Lord wil iudge of our faith: in so much that where hee findeth none, [...]att. 25.34 hee will say, Depart from me you cursed into euerlasting fire ▪ And where hee findeth workes giuing eui­dence to our faith, he will say, Come you blessed of my father, inherite the kingdome which is prepared for you from the founda­tion of the world. To which kingdome let vs beseech him to bring vs, who hath so dearely purchased it for vs, euen Christ Iesus the righteous, to whom with the Father and the holy Ghost be all praise and glorie both now and euermore. Amen.



Pag. 16. lin. 10. reade, as he knoweth he can answere. pag. 27. lin. 21. reade, when as. pag 41. lin. 9. reade, not deliuer. lin. 10. not be present.

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