THE CYNOSURA, Or a SAVING STAR That leads to ETERNITY. Discovered amidst the Celestial Orbs of DAVID'S PSALMS By way of Paraphrase upon the MISERERE.

Humanum est errare;
Divinum quid emendare.
To do amiss is incident to humane Nature;
To repair our failings something Divine.

Si non traheris, ora ut traharis.

If you be not moved to repentance, pray you may be moved,

St. Aug.

LONDON, Printed by I. Redmayne for Thomas Rooks, at the Lamb and Ink-bottle, at the Entrance into Gresham Colledge, next Bishops-gate-street. 1670.

To the Right Honorable and Illustrious Lady ANNE Countess of SHREWSBURY.

MADAM,

IT is the great Voice of the Church taught by her Heavenly Espouse, that according to the ordinary course set down by his Providence, none arrived to the knowledge of good and evil, can reach their Beatitude; but by the wings of Pennance. 'Tis a Decree passed immediately after our First Pa­rents transgression, that he should not eat his Bread, but at the rate of sweaty Browes: And though God seems to dispense in this severe Sentence in the old Law, promising to the exact observers of it, long life, abundance of wealth, a plen­tiful posterity, and the like: Yet this was done (as he will leave no vertue unrewarded) in regard that Hea­vens Gates were then shut up: But when Christ had cleared their passage unto Eternal felicity, and clapt the Thorns (which were the fruit of our sins) upon his own Head, then they recovered so high a Being, and grew to that value, as the heavier God layes his Hand upon us, the more his love appears: So that now the [Page] mark of our happiness is the Son of God not glorify­ed, but scourged, spit upon, crowned with Thorns, torn with Whipps, and nailed to the Cross.

Hence it is we find our sweet Redeemer born in Tears, bred up in obscurity, and concluding the upshot of his life with all the circumstances of infamy and pain; at the opening of his grand commission to preach unto the World, his first Exordium was an exhortation unto pennance, as if it were the sole Loadstone to draw Heaven towards us: And St. Paul his great Disciple declares it; nay he makes no exception, that all those who would be happy must crucify their flesh with their vices.

Thus you see, Madam, that every Hand, whe­ther innocent or guilty, whether noble or vulgar, ought to be stretched forth to sow the bitter Seed of pennance: If we have sucked in vertue even with our Milk, and thrived with a daily encrease in the sequel of our life, yet we ought not (sayes St. Austin) descend into the Tomb but by the way of pennance: Again if we have com­plyed with the Frailties of our corrupt nature, and tres­passed against the duty we owe to our good God, pen­nance likewise must be our Sanctuary: So that pen­nance is furnished with two Wings to bear us up to Heaven; the one is fashioned out by love, which prompts us to become by a course of severity, a true Copy of our suffering Original; the other is framed by strokes of Justice, and exacts worthy fruits; that is, such as [Page] may in some proportion be answerable to our failings; and though this other have not a motive altogether so Heroick, yet it speaks a great vertue, because it puts us upon a task the most knotty that can be imagined, as to appease the face of an angry God. Besides, it renders that Action just and equitable, in that it aims to repair the injury and contempt thrown by sin up­on his greatness: Wherefore we ought not to blush upon either of these accounts to wear the Liveries of pen­nance: If on the former we mortify our senses upon Earth, and vest our selves with the habit of Christ shaped out to the Image of his Death, it is a perfect Metamorphosy wrought by the power of love, and for which Figure the very Angels (were they capable of sensible impressions) would be glad to exchange with us: If on the latter; that is, the score of satisfaction, it Cancels all our Bonds of guilt, it raises us from an Abyss of misery, to the high dignity of Grace, by which we are adopted Sons and Heirs to Heaven. So that a penitential life cannot but find veneration amongst all wise Men, and be highly acceptable in the sight of God; since by our humiliations we labour to contribute to his honor and greatness.

But Madam, you may perhaps upon this discourse wonder to behold in the Courts of Christian Prin­ces so much of glory, pomp, and magnificence which suit so ill with the Characters of the Cross. I confess at the First glance it might startle any one, were it not that a multitude of persons, both [Page] Illustrious in Blood, and eminent in Sanctity, have taught by their Example, that the glittering of the World, and a penitential Heart are not things in­compatible: It were to groap in the Sun-beams to play the Ignorant in this Truth, that is, not to acknow­ledge that in all ages since Christ's visible appearance upon Earth, Princes and Ladies of no less extraction have been found, who under a Cloth of Tyssue, and the richest Ornaments have covered their tender Bodies with Hair-cloths: Who amidst the delicacies of the Court, have macerated themselves with fasting, and seasoned their repasts with bitter ingredients: VVho have more valued one hours entertainment between God and their happy Souls, than all the Balls and Masques to which external compliance the greatness of their condition in some sort obliged them. For the essen­tial part of pennance consists in the interiour disposition of the Mind; that is, in the operation of the under­standing and will. The understanding first re­presents unto us a God disobeyed, and scorned; and his Justice (by this indignity stirred up to vindicate his ho­nor) threatning nothing but ruine and desolation in this distress, the understanding further suggests that we have no refuge but to the throne of mercy, whereupon the will falls to work, laments what is passed, protests against any future complyance with bad inclinations, and seised with a holy sorrow and affliction, submits to any compensation shall be required: These are the pre­paratories to justification, and when once they are com­pleated [Page] by a ray of Faith, strengthened with hope, and animated with charity, this vertue of pennance growes up to that efficacy, as to obtain, in consideration of the excellency of its acts, and fervency of the Agent a full remission of all sin: Whence it is evident this grand work of pennance may be wrought within the precincts of our interiour, and consequently the vain ap­pearance of precious attyre, and ceremonies of great­ness may possibly reach only to the film or out-side, whilest within they possess humility, purity, tem­perance and other Christian vertues.

To give a further elucidation of this point, you will please Madam to know, that Christ our Lord in his copious Redemption had two main designs: The one to gain the Hearts of Men to the obedience of his Lawes, which were so frozen and marble like as he foresaw a slight wound received upon their score would have little effect; wherefore he used all the endear­ing motives imaginable to work them to their duty, and what greater than to receive upon his Back the stripes due to anothers transgression. It is related of St. Gre­gory the great, that he never beheld the pourtraiture of Abraham with his Arm lifted up to Sacrifice Isaac, but it drew Tears from him; and for us to behold the Eternal Father abandoning his own and only Son to all the outrages which accursed miscreants could inflict upon him, without any resentment of our obligations, especially since they were directed to lead us into the enjoy­ment of eternal felicity, is certainly a wonder be­yond [Page] all the prodigies he ever wrought, we see that very Tygers are won by the unresistable power of good turns; wherefore Christ our Lord hoped by this Engin to make a breach into us, and if once he made an Entry into our Hearts, he knew we would presently Capitulate, and surrender at least with colours flying; that is, conform our selves to his commands though upon the large Articles of enjoying many sensual pleasures, which his indulgent Rules allow to the more Earthy part of Man­kind.

Besides this rational design of working us to a Complyance with his precepts, he had yet another more sublime in his superabundant satisfaction, which was to teach us the Law of love; now this is an Enemy to mercenary aims, and carryes us beyond the Crude prin­ciples of doing no more than what is precisely command­ed. St. Peter tells us his drift in this so rigorous a dis­charge of our debts, that (sayes he) we might fol­low and trace his steps. For he knew this affli­ctive way so necessary to us, as things now stand after our corruption in sin, that albeit one groan of his had been sufficient through the dignity of his infinite person to have redeemed a million of Worlds, yet he was content to load himself with all the injuries that Man can endure, believing his commands would prove less efficacious than the model and pattern of an immense love, repre­sented lively unto us in his own actions.

It is storied of a King amongst the Grecians, that he had a person very deformed, as it could not but [Page] create in the sense of the beholders a great distast: How­ever his goodness and wisdom so wrought upon his Subjects, that all the irregular Lines of nature in their Sovereign, they looked upon as strokes of perfe­ction.

If then opinion had so much power as to work Men into a belief, that very Monsters of nature are quaint perfections, why should not the authority and ever adorable example of our Lord Jesus Christ, find so much credit amongst Men, as to effect, That poverty, chastity, contempt, patience, per­secutions, and the like; which till then the VVorld had entertained with horrour, might afterwards be had in as much veneration; since he had daigned to honor them by his sufferings, raise them by his greatness, fix them by his authority, and fortify them by his ad­mirable example: He had reason to perswade him­self that Men would no more spartle at fasting, hair-cloths, watching in prayer, unwearied labors, and austerities of all kind, since he himself their Lord and Master had followed the same track; all the Documents he hath chaulked out to us from the Crib through the whole course of his mortal life even unto the Cross, had no other aim than to draw us from the love of fading objects, and to divert us from placing any fe­licity in them.

Nor truly Madam hath this design proved unsuc­cessful; for his example hath put millions of gene­rous hearts upon the task of sufferings, and justly [Page] possessed them, that the greatest honor is to be hum­ble, the greatest victory to be patient and for­give, the greatest abundance to be poor, the greatest delicacies to fast, the greatest pleasures to macerate their Bodies, the greatest happi­ness to enjoy nothing of what the World calls happy: And all this because their Heavenly Master had read this Lesson to them in his own actions, and though they could not by all their crucifying inventi­ons in contemning the World and themselves for his sake reach to a compleat return, at least they hoped by them to express their gratitude, and manifest how truly they were the spoils of his amorous conquests.

This little Treatise Madam, is grounded upon a famous President to publish to the world what pennance can do: It sets before our Eyes a King who had great failings, but by penitential acts he so redeemed them, as I question whether succeeding ages gained not more by his misfortunes, than if he had never lost his in­nocence; and as it is said of the incredulous Apostle, that his slow belief cleared to us all mists of doubt, so the miscarriages of our great Penitent warn us both of our own weakness, not to trust to our selves in dangerous occasions, as also of God's enclining mercy so to shield us from despair.

Next, we are taught by this Royal Penitent, that being drawn from the mire of sin; God confines not his mercy to a bare pardon, but afterwards gives us means to arrive at a high pitch of perfection.

I confess Madam, I have a holy ambition to see you great in this noble warfare, since the most eminent Saints and most innocent Souls that ever were upon Earth, have made it their glory to fight under these co­lours, and this passion in me springs not only from a common zeal of Christianity to promote others in Gods favour, but out of a particular respect to your person, having had the happiness to be employed and serve many of your relations in affairs of no small importance: Where­fore fear not to take up the arms of pennance, they will not blemish your fair hand, but prove to your advantage in what posture soever you stand with your dear Creatour; for in these Christian conflicts simply to obey, secures you from being overcome, and every vertuous sally beyond what is commanded will purchase fresh Laurels to you; the greatness of your birth prompts [...]ou not to be ungrateful, and the temper of your Sex is not usually of Adamant against the impressions of love, especially when wrought upon by an accomplished perfection, and by all the endearing obligations imaginable, and albeit before this address you may have happily rendered your self a Captive to the sacred charms of your suffering Redeemer, yet if the perusal of these poor descants may add but one Spark to those your holy enkindled flames, I shall think my labour in this Subject well spent, by which I hope will be evidenced how much your eternal good is valued by

MADAM
Your truly devoted Servant Nicolas Cross.

ERRATA.

Read Page 9. Line 14. conservation. p. 16. l. 26. God-man. p. 26. l. 19. resolved. p. 37. l. 12. unto. p. 38. l. 11. He who knew no sin. p. 64. l. 15. bestialized. p. 64. l. 12. incompatible p. 79. l. 14. wry. p. 92. l. 27. submission. p. 94. l. 24. extended. p. 100. l. 14. a habit. p. 104. l. 7. nor well. p. 106. l. 12. a little after. p. 111. l. 3. his future. p. 136. l. 23. injure. p. 151. l. 12. palms. p. 158. l. 6. communicates. p. 160. l. 20. object. p. 161. l. 1. for that. p. 162. l. 16. Deity. p. 163. l. 3. most love. p. 165. l. 6. heeld. p. 183. l. 7. preceding. p. 184. l. 16. decides. p. 186. l. 21. punish­ment. p. 189. l. 15. account soever. p. 202. l. 5. it is only our heart. p. 203. l. 5. she seemed. and [...] 25. interiour. p. 221. l. 21. in his mind. p. 225. l. at a more. p. 231. l. 25 entertains. p. 236. l. 25. possible. and l. 27. abstruse. p. 237. l. 17. should. p. 248. l. 12. incentives. p. 263. l. 8. blot out degree and in the place read will. p. 278. l. 16. be­lieve in thee p. 280. l. 2. in these. p. 284. l. 29. affect. p. 297. l. 26. blot out his and read all material. p. 324. l. 25. beating. p. 325. l. 21. obstructed. p. 343. l. 25. Quires. p. 355. l. 2. appartment. p. 363. l. 9. premises. p. 366. l. 19. after love adde, to. p. 369. l. 8. danger. and. l. 15. this instruction. p. 370 l. 1. of his heart. p. 403. l. 1. word. p. 365. l. 5. since as I said it is engraven.

CHAP. I.

Miserere mei DEUS,

Have mercy on me, O GOD.

AT the first entrance our King­ly Prophet prefers his Peti­tion; and without any cir­cumlocution expresses in di­rect terms what he would have, Miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me, O God; and he do's it with such confidence as if he had a right to be forgiven: which minds me of a rare sentence of S. Gregory Nissen; that Man cannot more willingly ask pardon, than God is ready to give it: The Divine Majesty expects (if it may be so express'd) with passion the conversion of a sinner, and no sooner a repenting motion animates his heart, but the whole Court of heaven is alarmed with joy, and this joy is followed with showers of mer­cy: No wonder then if our Petitioner make his address with so little Ceremony, since [Page 2] he speaks to a Judge resolved to mercy up­on his submission; to a Father who is trans­ported with joy at the sight of his long lost Son: to a Creatour who hath framed every particle of his being, and perfectly knows how frail, weak, and prone to in­numerable failings he is (if left to himself) wherefore he cryes Miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me, O God. He shelters this guilty (me) t'wixt God that made him, and Mercy that must save him; on these two he anchors all his hopes, which being let down by a vigorous faith renders him se­cure amidst all the storms, that hell and earth can raise; so that now like a rock he stands braving all his enemies assaults, who not long before was handed like a ball from one pleasure to another, as if he had been made up of sensuality, pas­sion, and a neglect of God.

Next in this exordium our Petitioner would insinuate a great truth, that the first grace is a free gift of God, and man a vessel of mercy, not of merit; hence he cryes Miserere mei Deus, that is to say, let him pine away in sorrow, and re­pentance, let him produce acts of ar­dent affection, by which he prizes [Page 3] God above all things imaginable, yet when all this is done, he is a Child of perdition, and clouded with the guilt of Sin, unless an act of Grace be made him from his Sovereign: Wherefore we must know that Grace expelling Sin by access unto the Soul, finds there no merit, nothing that can pretend to a justification; neither Faith nor any other Vertue strikes the stroak, since Grace is the basis, or ground-work of all merit, whence its being is derived no less than a beauteous Flower from the Plant that gives it birth: This piece of Divinity lay not hid to our penitent, hence he acknowledges his imbecility in meriting any favour, only he strives by holy acts of love, and grief to dispose himself for, mercy: Nay though he should comfort himself with Nathan's words that he was already possessed of the first Grace, yet to persevere in it, so as not to fall again, he knew must be the work of the same merci­ful hand; for it is no less out of our reach to become just, than to remain so, with­out a constant supply of many actual Gra­ces, which must issue gratis from Heaven: This kept him still in humility, as never to presume of his own strength, alwayes [Page 4] in fear, without any security of happiness in this life: So that having throughly scann'd the Condition of Man in this pre­sent State, he concludes, the best lesson suitable to our continual wants here, is in­cessantly to repeat, and entreat under this effectual form, Miserere mei Deus, have mer­cy on me, O God.

Whil'st he thus layes all his hopes at the feet of mercy, he cannot but bless the sweet proceedings of Heaven, in requiring of us to compass our happiness, that which is so conformable both to our Reason and Nature: For can there be any thing more rational, and delightful to Man, than to love a Sovereign Good, to congratulate the Di­vine Essence, Divine Subsistences, Divine Attributes, and unchangeable perfections essentially seated in God; Can there be any thing more just, than to desire this greatness and goodness should have his Divine Laws fulfilled, the Universe con­served for the Encrease and Accomplish­ment of his Service, and that all praise and Benediction be poured forth before him by all Creatures both in Heaven and Earth: Can there be any action more commendable than to conceive an extream [Page 5] detestation of Sin, because injurious to His Supream Majesty, and obstructive to his glory; and yet in doing this, we so at­temper our selves for the reception of his favours, that as in the Order of Natural things, upon the Organization, and fitted Dispositions of a Body, he hath obliged himself to infuse a Soul, so he hath no less engaged to vest that Mind with supernatu­ral Grace, which by acts of love and re­pentance shall be prepared for it.

But alas! Amidst these pleasing reflecti­ons, when he looks into himself he finds a check, seeing he cannot even dispose himself for this happiness without a super­natural aid; for though 'tis true humane Na­ture by its own strength knowes that God is worthy of all love, yet our knowledge in morality is much more capable of compre­hension than practice: 'Tis not enough to have Wings to fly, if they be so hamper'd as they cannot be display'd; so this natural facul­ty in Man of loving God above all things is so weakned by original Sin, and a mil­lion of Obstacles, that we find the incli­nation of doing it far more ineffectual, than the dictamens of our reason to have it done. And no wonder when St. Thomas [Page 6] affirms, our Will by original Sin, is much more damnified than our understanding, whence self love growes powerful in us, and if it hath not a counterpoise of superna­tural succours, we are violently hurried into the pursuit of Fading, and sensible objects. This consideration makes our penitent deplore the miseries of humane Na­ture, so wounded and made impotent un­to good, as of her self she cannot pay what she owes to the most lawful object of all hearts, for his just homages are not only Sighs, Groans, and Enthusiastick throwes, but effective services; as the exact observance of his commands, an aversion from what may put a separation 'twixt God and our Soul, such are sensual pleasures, greatness in the World and honours in excess, vi­ctory over Temptations, and in many en­counters this love exacts a perpession of all the Calamities to which Man is inci­dent, even to the privation of life, that he may not fall into transgressions oppo­site unto it: And these difficulties do so far exceed humane imbecility, that at last he makes this result, he must stick close to his praeliminary address, miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me O God;

Again, when he reflects on the distance of these Terms Deus & mei, God and me, me­thinks it should startle the greatest Assu­rance, to consider the sublimity of him that is offended, and the despicability of the offen­dour; the one is immense and fills all places, the other is contracted into the dimensions of a small Body; the one is immutable, and still the same, the other is corruptible, and mouldring away every Moment towards that nothing from whence it came; the one is eternal, the other subject to time; the one is the object of Beatitude, the other of Misery: 'Tis true our penitent in relation to earthly greatness was qualified with the highest Title the World can give, as being Sovereign Monarch, and sole Ruler of a cho­sen Nation, a vast and numerous Body of People; yet if compared to God, he is not so much as an Atome in respect of the Sun: And for this me, this nothing to rise up in rebellion against such a Sovereign, it must needs work a strange Confusion and Di­sturbance within him how to make his sub­mission; on the one side dejected by his own unworthiness, on the other, dazled and con­founded by the glory of the incensed. Yet at last he breaks through all obstacles, and [Page 8] implores mercy, he had rather perish in hop­ing too much, than to commit a Sacriledge in distrusting the goodness of him who in­vites all without distinction unto him: Nay I believe, had the object against which he trespassed, been any thing less than God, he would never have opened his Lips in Order to a Remission: For he knew well that he only to whom Goodness and Mercy is essential, would or could oblite­rate his guilt. 'Tis true his power and greatness strike a terrour, yet they are so contempered with a merciful sweet­ness, that the Blackest Soul may there find wherewith to rinse her stains, and exchange them for a pure Dye of innocency, if she can with a Davids Heart and Tongue but issue forth Miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me O God,

I observe moreover that Almighty God permits a Soul though very dear unto him, to be often here exposed in troubled wa­ters, where she seems to be wholly lost, and abandoned; that Heaven appears to have no light for her, and the Earth nothing but malice to work her ruine: How many terrors, and anxieties of Mind have Saints endured, and been left without any glimps [Page 9] of Comfort, even for some whole year: And why all these rude tryals in the con­duct of the most innocent Soul, but that God seems to be delighted when his crea­tures tune forth; Miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me O God: Whence you may see, that God will exempt no condition from this supplicating stile, he will be sued to by the innocent, as well as nocent, and where the Formality of malice is wanting, he oft gives the apprehension, to the end, that flying to this powerful miserere, they might draw at least from his Goodnss the benefits of Conversation, encrease of Grace, ad­dition of Vertue, and other innumerable Mercies which he hath in store for those who trust in him. So that there is no time, nor place unseasonable for any person to prefer this Petition; Miserere mei Deus, have mercy on me O God.

The Application.

By this Petition we are taught not to presume on the value of our own actions: For God is the Sovereign Lord of the whole World, and particularly of the just, all whose good works convey unto him a [Page 10] pleasing odour; yet can they not arrive to that pitch as to have any Empire over him, or force him to let them share with him in the participation of his Heavenly Kingdom. Let the just perform all the good imaginable, in return he may justly say, I accept these services in discharge of your past debts, and what you owe me for your Creation, Conservation, and the Grace I have given you to act: So that we may truly say with St. Paul, when we have done all we can, we are useless Servants: For whereas we were pure Negatives, it was his Sole Mercy that extracted us from nothing; it was this same Mercy which added to our natural Being, a Being of Grace. Lastly, the accomplishment of this Mercy is to bring us into the possession of eternal Glo­ry, wherefore if we attire our actions in the colours of Mercy, and alwayes beat upon this string, we may justly hope one day to sing the praises of this incompara­ble Mercy with our holy penitent, through­out the vast spaces of Eternity.

Amen.

CHAP. II.

Secundum magnam Misericordiam tuam,

According to thy great Mercy.

OUr Holy Penitent having set a foot his Petition, we have all reason to believe since it is in a matter of so great weight, and from a person so accomplished, that 'tis framed and ajusted to the exactest rules of an effectual address; wherefore let us examine what Arguments he uses to move for a grant.

I observe in the first place he alledges not the innocent and harmless life he led whilst he kept his Fathers Flock: Nor his zeal for the honour of God's people in his Combat with Goliah: He mentions not his constant sufferings wrought by the malice of Saul: Nor his transport of joy, and reverence when he danced before the Ark: In a word he declines the memory of any action in his life past which might make him recom­mendable; wisely considering as did Job that admirable pattern of patience: Should he expostulate with God, He would not be able [Page 12] to answer one word for a thousand: Therefore he casts himself wholly upon the Favour of his judge, saying, Secundùm magnam misericor­diam tuam, according to thy great mercy: He silen­ces all the other Divine Attributes, and conjures his Creatour by that which seems most appropriated to his condition.

Nor is he content to challenge his mercy without the specification of great mercy, as if the Enormity of his Crimes were such as required more than an Ordinary Con­donation.

Indeed his Mercy may well be stiled great, for it hath all the dimensions of greatness, it reacheth from Heaven to Earth, even to the Gates of Hell: It is extended from one pole to another, nay it is immense as God himself, participating of his Divine nature; it searches the abstrusest corners of our Heart, and if the least Crany be put open to his light, and grace, it is present­ly replenished by this great mercy. Ah! did we but know what mists of terrene affecti­ons, the beams of his mercy have dispersed within us; what a change they have made in our bad inclinations, what dangers they have met and diverted from us: We should even repine at Nature that hath [Page 13] not furnished us with more Hearts, and Tongues to love and praise this great mercy.

He adds likewise secundùm, that is accord­ing to the custome of thy great mercy, which uses not to boggle at the remission of any sin, nor to look so precisely upon the de­gree of the offendours past malice, as upon his present repentance, whence he grounds the Communication of his Grace; by which we may discern the Sense our Holy King had of his transgressions, which made him willing to huddle up his score, and with­out giving in any particular to desire they migh [...] [...]ther in a cluster be cast, and drown­ed in the Ocean of his Mercy.

We are taught by this two things, First not to presume upon the value of our own actions, so farr as from them to justifie our selves; for in this kind none could plead more for himself than our holy petitioner; he had with a Piety and fortitude unequalled run through many difficult, and glorious enterprises, wherein God was pleased to appear for him, and own him his champi­on: Yet he thinks good to hush up all this, well knowing that praise is due alone to him under whose guidance and protection [Page 14] he had begun, and set a fortunate period to them.

Next we are taught that (reflecting up­on our sins past) we should never despair; for as our good deeds we owe to God alone, by whose inspiration moving us we do them; so we must submit our bad deeds (whereof we our selves are the sole Au­thors) to his Mercy: Whence we may see, though he cannot concurr with us in doing ill, his unspotted Nature being in­capable of any obliquity; yet it being done, he will share with us in the undoing, or repairing of our misfortunes: And which is more, no sooner hath this M [...]rciful Hand dragg'd us out of the mire of Sin, but 'tis stretched forth to be joyn'd to ours in a happy nuptial bond, promising by his Prophet to espouse us unto himself for e­ver in misericordia, in the inseparable Union of his Mercy. It is this great Mercy with­out end, or beginning, which hath de­creed from all eternity to bring us off clear from all misery, and place us glorious in his light inaccessible; from the time that God was, and loved himself, he disposed us for his love, and mercy; have we not therefore reason to spend every moment [Page 15] of our Life in loving, praising, and glo­rifying this great mercy: It is in all kinds in­finite, no excess of malice obstructs it, no frequency of Commission or reiterated guilt renders it inexorable, no time ex­cludes it, no not a desperate delay to the last moment, O God thy judgments may be well said to be unfathomed Abysses, where­in are lost our most Enormous crimes, and from that loss we find our selves transferred un­to the enjoyance of thee, irradiated with the comfortable beams of thy mercy.

But above all, this mercy never appears so great as in the admirable Mystery of the Incarnation, where we behold the eternal Father giving up his only Son in behalf of Mankind vitiated, and defiled with Sin, rebellious, and insolent against His Sovereign, a Worm, and poor scantling of putrefaction, a prey for the Flames of Hell: That, I say, a God most perfect in himself, who hath no want, should love so vile a Creature, at such a distance from him, and who could stand him in no stead: and yet this eternal God full of greatness hath cherished Man in such a manner, as to bestow upon him the dear production of himself, coeternal, consubstantial, and [Page 16] equal to him in Greatness and Majesty, and for what end? To save him from ruine, to enrich him with eternal Life; this is that great mercy our Penitent now implores, and he claims it by vertue of a promise made to Abraham; that since he had not grudged him his only Sonne, all Nations should be blessed in his Seed, that the Eternal Death of him who is temporal, should be re­deemed by the temporal Death of him who is eternal: How many Miracles found birth in the execution of this act of love and mercy: First, Nature was stopt as to the result of a humane subsistence, in whose place was intimately applyed the personality of the Divine word; and this infinite sub­sistence, was adorned with graces, ver­tues, and priviledges supereminent; a Mo­ther enjoyed a fruitful Virginity, and a delivery without pain; in the fruit was found at the same instant the blood consolidated, or­ganized, animated, and deifyed: So that the Second Person of the blessed Trinity as­suming a new Being newly produced, that is, the essence of a holy humanity, attyred him­self with it, becomes a good man, and a ma­ster piece of love, and mercy: A remedy so necessary, that without it all the purity [Page 17] of Angels, and Holy Souls, all the inflam­ed desires of the Patriarchs could never have merited with condignity this incar­nate mistery: For were all the groans put together, all the tears, sufferings, and exqui­site torments which Saints have endured for the love of God, and on the other side but one single tear thrown in of Jesus Christ shed either at his birth, or any time of his life, this tear issuing from the flaming Fur­nace of his Heart, Sacred, and united to the Divine Word, would exceed in value all you can think, or imagine in the meri­torious actions of Creatures: So that this adorable mistery is not a mistery of just re­tribution springing from any humane, or Angelical merit; but, 'tis a mistery of good­ness and supereminent mercy, and in con­sideration of that prodigious design of love, he is animated in his suit, and be­lieves he cannot receive a repulse, because he acts it Secundùm magnam misericordiam tuam, in the name of the Messias in whom all the Divine mercies from the beginning of the World issued forth unto mankind are com­prised, and consequently may be stiled a great, and the greatest of mercies.

The Application.

Our Holy penitent having in the clear pro­spect of his prophetick View, beheld this great work of mercy, brake forth into this happy expression, and couches a clause of all others the most efficacious to obtain the end he sues for; we may learn from hence that our Mediator Jesus Christ is the best Sanctuary in all our distresses, whether in regard of our past offences, or of our im­potency to repair our failings: Methinks I hear our Petitioner to say, O God what shall I return thee in requital; when I would praise thee, an Abyss of Majesty exhausts in a moment all Encomiums, and my Adorations appear nothing before thy Divine Essence; could I unmake my self in deference to thee the Fountain of all Beings, it were a poor homage to thy in­effable greatness: Nay could I annihilate the whole World for thy glory, yet would it nothing equal what thy immensity might justly exact: But whilst I thus la­bour with my own poverty, finding no­thing created worthy thy acceptance, be­hold the perfect oblation of thy Son, a prodigi­ous [Page 19] effect of mercy; this I offer to thee, he can best speak our gratitude, who can only satisfie thy Justice; since by this gift the very treasury of Heaven will be ex­hausted, and the Earth enrich'd with a pure Sacrifice, whose odour draws upon man­kind a continued flood of mercies. It is this eternal offering meant by our Petitio­ner when he mentions thy great mercy, whose very thought and foresight at the distance of many ages replenished his heart with joy: And if the expectation of him to come so transported, what dilation of spi­ritual joy ought to invade us, who now possess, what they had only in hope, who now reap a plentiful harvest of Salvation, when before the World was blasted with ste­rility and doom'd to darkness, untill the bowels of this great mercy were opened, to store us with his light and grace. Let us joyn our Petitions with Holy David, and adore the wonders of this great mercy, in which we behold humane flesh hypostasiated in a Divine nature, a Creatour link'd to his Creature, Death unto Life, Glory un­to Confusion, and Iniquity stamped with Innocence: And whilst we contemplate these admirable contrivances of the Di­vine [Page 20] Wisdom, can they do less than ascer­tain us (if we place in the Frontispiece of our supplications this compositum, made up of so many contrarieties) that our desires will take effect, that under this Sanctuary we shall strike off all the scores of guilt, and render a satisfaction as great as God can expect or require: Hence you see how confidently every sinner may repeat with David: Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.

CHAP. III.

Et secundùm multitudinem miserationum tuarum,

And according to the multitude of thy mercies.

OUr Holy Petitioner having expressed his relyance in general on Gods mercy, next fixes upon its effects in particular, and makes a series, or list of all his mercies: Wherein methinks I behold him just like one in de­solation of Shipwrack fastning on a plank, and though the storm continue, darkness surround him, and nothing but the Face of Death appears before his Eyes, yet he re­members [Page 21] that many have been saved in his condition; how some have been cast upon the shore, others upon a Rock, some by a passing Boat gathered up: In fine he calls to mind a thousand wayes of preservation to consolate himself in this distress, and every thought of hope makes him grasp with new fervour his floating support: Even so I may say of our distressed Peni­tent, his goodly Vessel of innocence was wreck'd, dashed against the powerfull charms of a Woman, from thence he was thrown into an Ocean of Sins, where on all sides he beheld the menaces of eternal destruction; in these perplexities he runs with his thought over all the passages of God's mercy from the World's beginning by the consideration of them, a little to keep up his sinking Spirits. He fails not to remember the mild proceeding of God with Adam in not punishing him irreco­verably, as he had done the reprobate An­gels, but was contented to Exile him from the delicious place of his Creation, and to expose him here to the Whirl-winds of passions, in which contest if he proved faithful; his reward was to be the same as first designed for him: From thence he [Page 22] passes to the conflagration of Sodom and Gomorrah, where though God's justice fell heavy upon those miscreants, yet he layes it on their impenitency, and admires his good­ness that would notwithstanding have kept in his shafts of vengeance for the sake of ten just persons; if that small number were but found in those populous Cities; he goes on to the Ninivites, and pleases himself to see them under the Lee born thitherby repentance, even when the storm of God's wrath was ready to plunge them in an Abyss of ruine: He insists much upon the prayer of Moses, which still diverted the rigo­rous designs of God upon his people; he fancies that every Groan and Sigh of his contributes something towards the ma­king up of a brazen Serpent, by whose Sove­raign aspect his cauterized Soul might be unvenomed and made whole. It was no small Consolation when he reflects on God's people in the Land of Egypt, whose Oppression (which their own Sins had drawn upon them) was yet re­lieved at the rate of miracles, and won­ders, and such as Israel had not seen: And why all this? But to make good his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that he [Page 23] would never abandon a Truly-repenting Heart.

Thus he goes on enumerating a thou­sand other passages of God's mercy from the Worlds Creation, until his time; nor is he content with this, but advances fur­ther, displaying in his prophetick know­ledge, innumerable other effects of God's compassion to Mankind, and at last begins to make this Application, though he could not deserve to partake of his great mercy, that is, not only to have his guilt remitted, but also to become the object of his choicest favours, yet at least he hoped he might be hudled in amidst the multitude of his mer­cies.

How sweetly did those Attributes Di­vine resound in his Ears, where God is stiled rich in mercies, where his Mercy tran­scends all his other works, and where his Goodness and Mercy are proclaimed inex­hausted Sources: He leaves not a Crany in the World unransacked, and after the severest scrutiny finds, and confesses there is no place destitute of his mercy, no Creature that is not cheered, and enlivened by the effects of his mercy; this made him cry: Lord when thou dost open thy hand, all Creatures are [Page 24] filled with blessings; and he tells us that every Being looks upwards depending on his Creatour, and expects from him a seasonable supply of all wants: Nay he excludes not Hell, nor Souls doom'd to e­ternal flames from this mercy, for he con­siders that God is bonus universis, good to all, and though his Justice have plunged them in that Calamitous State of misery, yet that their torments are not more intense, and in many circumstances aggravated, they owe it to his mercy, which still hath something to do, even in the punishment of the highest offendours.

Having then survey'd Angels, Man, and sensible Creatures, the Heavens, Earth, and Hell, and found no Being that could in the least repine for want of mercy; up­on these reflections with just reason our Petitioner entitles them a multitude of mercies, for on all sides they flow as from a natural Source. Nor wonder that we have more Presidents of his mercy than Justice, for the one consists in a communicative ver­tue of what is good, and as God is essentially good, so he can alwayes breath forth these emanations of his goodness upon us: Now Justice, though it be equally essential to the Divine Essence with mercy, and other [Page 25] Attributes, yet in its operations ad extra or exteriour effects, it depends upon the ob­liquity of our actions, without which it hath no matter or Subject to work on: So that mercy he can alwayes shower down upon us, but Justice only when we offend: he would not forget how the greater number of Angels stood the brunt of temptations, when Lucifer perished with his proud ad­herents, it was this mercy held them up at the instant of their Tryal; and though our afflicted penitent found not this innocence pre­serving mercy, yet he hopes to lay hold on that part where he is stiled a purifying mercy: Let his Subjects fall from their obe­dience, and throw curses at him, let his Children prove unnatural, and labour to dethrone him, let a pestilential Disease de­populate his Country; in fine let the Joy of his Life Absalom be sacrificed by the Hand of his own Souldier, with smiles he will pass through all these Tests, so they pro­ceed from the hand of this all purifying mercy: He values not the mediums, but the end he tends to, and when he thinks o [...] this, he begins afresh to admire this mer­cy in the reward of the elect; he knows not whether it exceeds more in the expectan­cy [Page 26] and furtherance of a sinners conversi­on, or in those immense felicities he com­municates by his presence: For here he beholds a God courting his Creatures, in­sensible as it were of injuries, and disho­nours from them, and seconding their least good intents, with the powerful succours of grace. There he contemplates a God remunerating our small inconsiderable Acts of Vertue with the same Felicity, wherewith he himself is blest and made happy: For his Beatitude is to enjoy himself and contemplate his own beauty and per­fections, and this same Beatitude he imparts to us poor worms through the excess of his Mercy. But whether our holy penitent more extolls the effects of his mercies in Hea­ven or Earth I know not; yet of this I am sure, he is reconciled to make it whilst he hath life, the Theam of his Pen, Heart, and Tongue; he will celebrate the praises of his innumerable mercies for all Eter­nity, he hath scarce a Psalm which speaks not his zeal for this subject, as if his quill had been dipped in this Fountain of mer­cies.

Another branch which growes up a­midst the multitude of his mercies, is, that [Page 27] he distributes his blessings not so much in the measure of his wisdom, as love; and after his innumerable favours done to his Vine­yard, he defies the whole Mass of Creatures to tax him of any want on his part: For should he reward us according to our acti­ons which he in his praescience and eternal essence foresees will come to pass, who of us should be left alive, or who of us should be born? Only the innocent should then be favoured, and rather than it should be so, he was willing to put it upon the Tryal, how or what we might prove hereafter. He foreknew that Lucifer should fall, that Adam would sin, Saul become disobedient, and Judas betray him, yet he forbare not (for all this) to throw his favours upon them; to shew his mercy is ever in compe­tition with Man's malice, and like a good Physitian if one Medicine work no good, he applyes another like a g [...]od Husbandman if his Land yield him no Crop one year, he cultivates and labours it again the Se­cond, and Third, by which it often happens that one fruitful season repaires the sterili­ty of divers years past: Just so God still goes on, and though he sees no hope to stop our malice, yet he stops not his mercy; this [Page 28] proceeding made St. Austin cry, Praise and Glory O Lord be to thee O Fountain of mercies, the worser I grew, and more perverse, so much the nearer thou wast unto me. It is said a small proporti­on of chastisement suffices a Father in or­der to his Son; so God (as a kind and lo­ving Father) thinks a little punishment e­nough for his Children: St. Chrysostome says that after the Master of the Vineyard had his Servants beaten, and slain by the Hus­bandmen, he sent his Son, and for all these their outrages required no other satisfacti­on than to see them abash'd and ashamed of their Cruelties and Ingratitude: They will (says he) reverence my Son; so that 'tis evi­dent, their blushing not their bleeding he de­sired: Whence St. Hierom makes a result of this Parable, that in God's Clemency there was no Weight, no Number, no Measure; nor likewise in the others Ma­lice. So that our holy penitent beholding in every transaction of God with Man this fulness of Mercy, might with reason ex­postulate, and entreat his pardon: Secun­dùm multitudinem miserationum tuarum, according to the multitude of thy mercies.

The Application.

Let every one examine his life from the time he had the use of reason, and I am confident he will find many tyes of obli­gation to this great mercy; nay amongst the mass of Christians, I believe there is none but ranks himself a favourite in order to his largesses of mercy: For his love is constant, and knowes no change, this great and good God hath persisted for an infinity of time in the perpetual resolution of gratifying us with his gifts, his enflam­ed heart hath entertained a continual soli­citude without any truce for our good. Witness the Prophet Jeremy who sayes that God hath loved us with an everlasting Charity: His love is eternal, having alwayes de­creed to enrich us with his favours; St. Paul proclaims it, that he hath loved us before the World was framed. It is disinteressed, without any advantage to himself or hope of re­turn on our parts: No other motive than the superabundance of his goodness; like a fountain which runs over, his natural good­ness throwes blessings on all Creatures. Plutarch speaking of love, sayes, it takes any [Page 30] occasion be it never so slight, to oblige the beloved; he wants no baits, nor snares, carrying about him the matter of his own bondage: So God's love ne­ver takes leave of a Sinner; nay where Man's impiety extorts as it were from him the darts of his Justice, he seems presently to relent, and promises (as he did after the Deluge) to do so no more; so that his love being eternal, unchangeable, and devest­ed of all self ends, what can we ask of God that issues not from his mercy, wherefore let us with holy David cry have mercy on us O God, according to the multitude of thy mercies.

Amen.

CHAP. IV.

Dele iniquitatem meam,

Wipe away my iniquity.

OUr poor Criminal having thus prepa­red his Judge, the next care is to lay open his condition, and shew he implores God's purifying Mercy, by whose vertue the Chains of our sins are loosened and [Page 31] dissolved: Nor did it a little raise his con­fidence, that his Judge was not tyed up to Lawes, as the Ground-work of proceed­ings with offendours; but his power is absolute to do all he pleases, and his will such as to render what ever he doe's good, and Just: So that the least propension of this Will; in order to a remission, is sufficient to wipe away all the iniquities of the Earth.

Besides, he considers that when God chastises, he doth a thing extraneous to him, and (as Esay saies) a work that is not his: But to be merciful he owns it as a propriety annexed to his Godhead, not to extenuate his Justice, but to insinuate the love he bears to Man.

He embroyls not his Fancy with the niceties in Schools; which dispute how Sin is remitted, whether by the expulsion of any positive form, and the introducti­on of another opposite to it: Whether it be by the meer infusion of Grace, or else only by taking away the obligation of a Sinner to eternal punishment; he omits all these curious questions, and attends only to the sweet effect, to wit, that he may be freed from his iniquity, oft repeat­ing [Page 32] in his Heart, he had rather be a good Disciple, than a great Master in the exact knowledge of his own misery.

When he looks back into his life past, and remembers with what satisfaction, and spiritual joy he had performed many acts of vertue, he begins to be enfired with new flames of urging for a grant of his Petition: Since he knowes that whilst he lyes under this attaindour of Treason, he is capable of no right nor priviledge, in the Charter given us by Heaven, that should he do actions which in another condition might be praemiated, would now be look­ed upon as a Jewel counterfeit and of no value: He compares himself to a Plant in a Region far remote from the Sun, whose Fruit never comes to maturity, so his ini­quity sets him at a great distance with God, the light and life of Souls, and consequent­ly nothing can be expected from him which savours not of a Soyl accursed, and doom'd to sterility; so that as a misfortune seldome walks solitary, he finds besides the unhappiness to have offended God, this addition, to be unable to do any thing ac­ceptable unto him.

Then he goes on ruminating upon the [Page 33] sad consequences of his Sin, which makes him fluctuate in his thoughts, wholly un­resolved how to comport himself: Some­times he appears like a Statue without mo­tion, and would eternally remain so, since by no endeavours he can please his Crea­tour: Then again I behold him bent upon the execution of all the good imaginable, at least within the extent of his natural Force or Power; that he may omit no Homage and Duty he owes to the Author of his Being: But after all his restless soli­citudes, he observes the main Hinge of his happiness depends upon this Dele iniquitatem, the cancelling of this Bond by which he is lyable to eternal punishment, e're he can hope for admittance unto his wonted ra­vishing entertainments with his Divine Master.

He descants upon the proceeding of Almighty God with Sinners, and would feign search into the secrets of his Provi­dence, why some are drawn from the depth of wickedness; even when they seemed to be lost to the World and Heaven, whilst others less guilty in the Eyes of men sadly perish without source, or redress. The preservation of the one he attributes [Page 34] to the immense goodness of God, which some­times dispenses (as justly he may) in his own lawes, as to afford unto an unwor­thy sinner such powerfull calls that they are never resisted; such melting affecti­ons, as if they had been train'd up in the School of Divine love, not in the Forge of iniquity: It is fit (he confesses) the Divine Will which frames all Creatures, should so dispose of what he hath made, that when he pleases to raise any one out of corruption, and render them instrumental to his Glory, none ought, or can justly repine at it: He sustains this Argument with much heat, himself being a party interes­sed, still expecting to be the object of his choice mercy: He dilates and expands his Soul under this inexhausted source, like the Earth without Water thirsting for one drop of that Coelestial stream which might allay the anguish of his Mind, and deface all the foul Characters of his iniquity; his groans, and unwearied sighs are fair Har­bingers of that Noble Guest he once en­tertained, with unspeakable delight, and if he ever gain the repossession, he pro­tests that neither Angels, Men, Devils, nor all the charmes in Creatures shall ever [Page 35] brand him with a new stamp of iniquity: his Eyes by which his Soul receiv'd her first wound are become two floods of tears, and if they prevail not to cleanse his stains, at least they will testifie to the World, he repent­ed what he had done: He casts not one glance towards Heaven which is not ac­companied with hopes of meeting this mercy, and this confidence is so ground­ed in him, that were it decreed God would save but one Soul, he hath courage enough to hope that his might be that one; nay he builds so much upon these hopes, that transporting himself to the consideration of many Sinners, abandoned in their im­pieties, it doth not at all deject him; for he considers that God hath given us a free-will, which he will never violence to our prejudice, and though we cannot elevate this will to an act so perfect as naturally to merit the first Grace; yet it may in such sort dispose us for grace by love, and sorrow; that God will doubtless gratifie us so pre­pared: Whence 'tis clear, that as we fall not but by our own default, so by vertue of a promise, and contract made by Hea­ven, we cannot finally perish but by an obstinate reluctancy of our own Hearts: [Page 36] If he sees a Phararh sink into ruine irreco­verably, he beholds likewise a Nebuchodo­nozer for the same crime struck down, to rise again: They were both Kings, the sin of either alike, detaining God's people in captivity, yet the Fates of both very une­qual: Because the one retracts his misdeeds, and raises a detestation of them, the other persists in his Enormities without any truce or suspension.

At last he makes a Corollary of this dis­course, and concludes, since some are pre­served in Innocence by continued showers of Grace, others by a sweet violence drawn from an Abyss of Sin to the upshot of hap­piness, and none so entangled, whom a true repentance will not set free; he will never cease to importune Heaven till his iniqui­ty be rased out: let his Throat grow hoarse with clamours, his Eyes droop and wax dimme, his Heart rend asunder with grief, he will spare no Particle of his whole Body, nay glory in its ruine, if by that means he can but unclog his Soul from the weight of Sin: He judged it very reasonable, that the Body having contributed to his Sin, should share in the punishment, as it had done in the crime, and as it had concurred unto [Page 37] his misery, so likewise it might unto his happiness: For doubtless the Combats which a virtuous Man sustains amidst so many Head-strong passions which abound in this mortal frame of ours, are no small advancements to eternal Glory, nor mean Engins to work our Freedom from the slavery of Sin: Hence he takes up arms, proclaims Warr against himself, and ab­jures any future compliance with his un­bridled appetite: He will make his Body a Sacrifice into pennance, which before had been a lump of ordures, and sensua­lity: His will shall become a Tyrant, and check every the least inclination to Evil, which till then was agitated and born a­way with every breath of Vanity, and foul delights; and if withall these rigours he can break the stamp of his iniquity, he will prize that Action, beyond all his former Victories, and raise more Tro­phies in Memory of this deliverance than ever were consecrated to the most Heroick enterprize of any person in the World.

The monstrous shape of his iniquity so con­founded him, that 'till it was defaced, he could not ask any blessing; for it is the [Page 38] greatest of evils, and wherein all misfor­tunes are Centered. When Rheuben im­portuned his Father Jacob that Benjamin his darling might go into Egypt, he offered his two Sons as pledges for his return, and adds for a further engagement, ero peccati reus, he would be guilty of sin, that is, ex­posed to all the miseries imaginable, if he falsifyed his word. St. Paul expressing how severely God fell upon his only Son, sayes he, who knew no sin, was made sin for us; that is, he discharged upon him the Tem­pest of his wrath, rendring him the most despicable of Men, as a Testimony of sins deformity, and the deplorable State of him that lyes under the guilt of a mortal transgression: Whence a great Doctor al­lowing the truth of St. Austin's assertion that one drop of the water of Paradise will be sufficient to quench the flames of Hell, yet will it not suffice (says he) to wash away the foulness of sin: Our Holy Penitent knew well that Death concludes all our merit, and demerit; that though the Just after this life shall perform many glorious acti­ons, yet these will not purchase to them any new Crowns, no more than the repro­bate shall not become more criminal by [Page 39] their abominations acted in Hell; Where­fore during the time of this transitory life, wherein we are to fix our choice of an eternity good or bad; our penitent resolves to play the industrious Merchant; whilst he lives, his extinguished light of Grace may be enkindled, and the hideous Character of his iniquity worn out, but if Death sur­prize him in the obscurity of sin, he must eternally remain in darkness, deformed with the ugly stamp of his iniquity: Wherefore having a clear view, both of his present state, and danger of delay, he will both importunely, and opportunely redouble his Note, Dele iniquitatem meam, blot out my iniquity:

The Application.

We may learn by the example of our penitent, to work whilst the day of this life endures, for the Night of Death approach­ing our lot is cast: As the Tree falls, so it will lye; no skipping from vice to vertue, nor from vertue to vice, after Death, if here you claw not off the stamp of your ini­quity it will be fixed as an eternal reproach unto you; and 'tis but just where there is [Page 40] a capacity of perfection, that a place, time, and state should be allotted for its acquisi­tion. The Angels who excell Men com­passed their Felicity by one sole Motion, by one simple operation: But Man who is more gross, and set at a greater distance from Beatitude must usually speaking gain it by several reiterated operations; for the period of our merit, or demerit, takes its beginning where we surcease in the use of our senses, for as in flattering their inclinations we offend, so in curbing and wisely ruling them for the love of God, we perform acts of Piety and Vertue, so that in Death the matter of Vice and Vertue expiring with the loss of our senses; Man remains con­firmed in that State he is then found, be it of good, or evil; Wherefore let us imi­tate our penitent, and whilst our Petition may be heard, cry out with Holy David, Dele iniquitatem meam, blot out my iniquity,

Amen.

CHAP. V.

Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea,

Wash me more from my iniquity.

OUr distressed Penitent rowses up his Spi­rits believing he hath already a grant of part of his Petition; but he fears lest some relicks may yet remain of his sin, that is, bad inclinations, and proneness unto wickedness, contracted by many re­iterated peccaminous Acts, and therefore he thinks good to stick close unto the same subject till he compleat his design: Wash me more from my iniquity. It is natural to Ve­getables simply to covet a Being, to sensi­tive Animals, to seek a well Being, and to reasonable Creatures to thirst and long after a Soveraign Being, which only can sa­tisfie their God-thirsting Souls: So that we see our Petitioner by an impulse of na­ture is carryed on to his first demand, but when with this tendency in nature are joyn'd the seeds and beginnings of Divine love, the least stain supervenes not with­out a sequel of a strange horrour and [Page 42] trembling, arising as well from an appre­hension of losing the rich Donative of Grace, as from a restless ambition of im­proving it every moment to God's Glory: He knowes our life is here as it were be­tween privation and existence, between light and darkness; by how much we re­cede from one Extream, we approach near­er to the other; and to make a hault or stop in this mean, is to slide back into that part we would avoid; this made our Petitioner not satisfied with a bare remission, and to press for a further exemption from his ini­quity; Amplius lava me, wash me more.

He beholds the Sun to cheer the World with his light, not by one continued con­stant ray, but by a perpetual emission of Spirits from his luminous Body: Even so he wishes that splendor of the eternal Fa­ther, which hath already visited with com­fortable beams his happy Soul, might in­cessantly oblige him with new influen­ces, that if the least exhalation of Sin arise, it may in an instant fly and disperse it self before this purifying Globe; amplius lava me, wash me more.

His anxiety continues, but with this difference, before he feared to dye an enemy [Page 43] to God; now he dreads to dye not his friend: Before his care was to clear himself of sin, now it is, how to preserve and purchase an encrease of grace: He begins to won­der that this spiritual resurrection allayes not all his desires; but forthwith he checks himself with the reflection of Man's con­dition in this life, where he is alwayes to seek and never to find, because he pro­poses to himself the Idea of an Entity be­yond his reach, and hath only this sup­port to hold up his hope, that he seeks a thing incomprehensible, an Object on Earth designed for our love, and inquisition; in Heaven reserved for our fruition: And which will be communicated more or less in proportion to the Zeal and Purity of Hearts we have here in seeking: It is then in order to this happy enjoyment that our Penitent sues again and again to be more freed from his iniquity.

Besides Vertues have in them an admi­rable Sympathy, which makes they never jarr, but mutually conspire to unite themselves and the Subjects they inhabit to the most perfect Object; and since this Union is only found in glory, it is conse­quent we must needs here be in perpetual [Page 44] motion, sometimes rooting out this im­perfection, otherwhiles acquiring that perfection, untill we arrive at him, who is the beginning, and end of all our agi­tations.

He remembred with what wariness God gave his command to Adam, advising even not to touch the Fruit he must not tast off, well knowing the consequences which attend occasions of sin: Hence he gathers this lesson, if we must not play with dan­ger, much less harbour the lest atome of sin within us; for it is of such a malignity, as the Ocean upon the breach of a bank rush­es not in with more violence than sin doth, and over-flowes that Soul where once it finds admittance: Who will grant no­thing, must receive no Petitions; it was not without reason the Jews forbad the eating of Fat, that they might not be al­lured to devour what was offered in their Sacrifice.

Our Holy Petitioner implores then a preservative, as well as pardon; this more im­plyes not only a fuller deletion of his ini­quity, but also a stalling of dangerous oc­casions; he now suspects every motion of his enemy he hath seen from his own too [Page 45] dear experience that a spark hath grown up to a masterless incendium, and this now hap­pily extinguished, should he again dally but with the least resemblance or shaddow of sin, would in him appear monstrous after the tast of so signal a mercy. This made him cry, wash me Lord not only from sin, but more, even from all danger, and occasi­ons of sin: For in the midst of imminent occasions of sin, not to decline from Ver­tue, and noble resolutions, is a possibili­ty more speculative, than reducible to practice: Nor was our penitent so transpor­ted with his change, as not to have a soli­citude for prevention of the like disaster: His repentance was not by halves, this made him stand alwayes upon his guard; alwayes in fear, and still panting after more puri­ty, and more relaxation from his chains of iniquity.

Wash me more, that is, more than others, this clause of his Petition he judged not unnecessary; for he believed the stains of his guilt were drunk in more deeply, and were more fixt, than in the Soul of any other the greatest offendour, and conse­quently his cure required the application of a more Sovereign remedy. If the Le­prous [Page 46] Condition of Naaman Cyrus found not a compleat redress untill his seventh Lotion in Jordan; what streams must he seek out, whose infirmity speaks a con­tempt of God: What multiplicity of rei­terated bathings will suffice to cleanse that Crimson Dye, whose reeking smoak ascends to Heaven to purchase thence a consuming fire: Whose numberless offences he him­self compares to the sands of the Sea, and confesses he cannot entertain a thought of them without horrour. He reckons up many signal Favours he had received from the liberal hand of God, how he was pickt out from amidst his Fathers flocks, being the youngest and least considerable of all his children, to be made Author of liberty unto Israel: how God had shel­tred him as it were, under his Wings from all his Enemies, and so ordained that their greatest malice proved matter of his greatest glory; how God had entrusted into his hands the Rule and guidance of his elect people, and given him wisdom, and courage to acquit himself of that weighty charge with im­mortal honour: How God had promised not to confine his munificence unto his person, but that he would settle the succession of [Page 47] his Regal Dignity to his posterity for ever: And above all, how from his line, and seed should issue forth an abstract of all his liberalities to Mankind; the Saviour of the World: When he had registred all these Obligations, and passed on to sur­vey what return he had made, he found so high ingratitude, so much of disloyalty, that to rank himself with other sinners, were to add presumption to his heap of sins: He supplicates therefore that to the Enormi­ty of his Crimes may be proportioned the Measure of his pardon, that as the deformity of his sin was unparalell'd, so likewise might the stroke of that pencil exceed, which was to correct all his imperfections, and beautify him with a touch of perfection; wash me more from my iniquity.

When he had thus framed his Petition, implying in this word more; first a neces­sity of greater helps than others, propor­tionably to the greatness of his transgres­sions; next a desire to be free from the least venial sin, and lastly to be secured even from occasions of sin: He ventures yet a little fur­ther, and following the Dictamens of flesh and blood, makes instance for a relaxation of the temporal punishment due to his Sin; [Page 48] wash me more, that is, not only in taking a­way his doom to eternal torments, but also the temporary satisfactions he must here make: His sensitive part shrinks at the foresight of contradictions he was to wade through, and would feign obtain this ad­ditional remission; Man's natural affection to the Body, from a strict Union it hath with the Soul, raised in our Petitioner a great tenderness of it, insomuch as not to plead for it, were to violate (he thought) the Articles of Friendship made by nature between them: Yet he had alwayes such an Eye to the Decrees of Heaven, that after all his supplications he totally submits: He will not repine at any pressure, but with an entire resignation drink in the bitterest draughts of temporal afflictions, if his Di­vine Justice so require: He values ('tis true) his Body in it self, God and nature having imprinted this love in him, but when its depression may conduce to the purifying of his Soul, upon whose happi­ness it mainly depends, reason teaches we must then let it sink; and though it be drown'd in an Ocean of torments, our Pe­nitent hath this consolation that his Petiti­on is granted as to the effect, for he shall see [Page 49] it rise again wholly distained in the waters of tribulation, he shall find his past sor­rows grown up into Jubileys, and Exul­tations, and his heart more sensible of that mercy which gave him constancy in his sufferings, than if by a pure act of grace he had been released from sin without any satisfaction in his own person: If then he be purified either according to his own wish, by an exemption from sufferings which his frail Nature suggests, or else by an inundation of afflictions which he hath merit­ed by his crimes. He hath still this com­fort that he sues not in vain, since both will contribute to the drift of his Petiti­on, which is to appear every minute with a greater purity in the Eyes of his Creatour. Amplius lava me, wash me more from my iniquity.

The Application.

St. Bernard observes that if at any time God deprives us of what is good, it is but to gratifie us with something that is better; upon this reflection he reckons it a happi­ness in St. Paul that he was struck blind, for immediately upon that stroke he was [Page 50] raised to the third Heavens, and admitted unto secrets unfit to unfold to Man; and afterwards receiving the sight of his Body, with that restitution was superadded the clear Eye-sight of his Soul. God sent Jeremy to the Potters shop, that he might see how the broken Vessel was to be new moulded; and come out better than be­fore, if then the Clay frequently recieves a better form and fashion than at first, let us in imitation and with the same confi­dence of our holy penitent after our failings cry, Lord, wash me more, Let our past harms warn us not to presume of our own strength; this humble opinion will separate much of the dross of our actions, and teach us to rely more upon God than our selves: Let us oft lay before us the Seal of God's pardon, this cannot but enflame our love, and enfire our Hearts in the zeal of his service; nay Christ seems to set it down as a rule that we proportion our love to our Obligations. He little loves to whom little is forgiven; that where a large score is struck off by his Mercy, there must needs succeed an ambition to a more superemi­nent perfection; wash me more from my iniquity: In fine, this quadrates with Habakkuk's pro­phecy: [Page 51] If heretofore thou madest one step in the way of Death, thou shalt now tread for it ten in the way of life. So that every sinner is encouraged not only to recover his innocence, but to improve it throughout the remainder of his life, never ceasing to repeat: Amplius lava me ab iniquitate, wash me more from my iniquity.

Amen.

CHAP. VI.

Et à peccato meo munda me,

And cleanse me from my sin.

IN the Series of Acts inordinate and de­ficient from that rectitude required to give them a denomination of good: We find some which relate immediately to God, as when with contempt we strike at things directly ordained to his glory and service, these pass under the name of impiety: O­thers there are whose first tendency levells at our Neighbour, as when we traverse the light of Nature, in doing to another what we would not have done unto our selves, [Page 52] and these are styled by the appellation of iniquity: Lastly there are certain treasons whereof we make our Bodyes instrumen­tal, and by which we are corrupted, de­praved, and wrought into strange habi­tual Frailties; these are properly expres­sed by the term of sin, because by them we act against our selves. Our Holy Peni­tent drawes the exordium of his Petition from a sense of his impiety, when in this first verse he said, have mercy on me, O God, for there he owns his Frailties as a Creature in respect of his Creatour, and beggs his Gracious pardon: In the next verse he confesses his iniquity, whose full discussion as to inju­stice towards his Neighbour I reserve for another place: In this third verse he surveys his own person, beholds the Havocks, and corruption made there by sin; and now would feign apply a Salutary Medi­cament, to which end he inserts this clause in his Petition: A peccato meo munda me, cleanse me from my sin; that is, from the filth, and ordure which accompany sins of the flesh. Amongst all the irregular motions whereof Man is capable, there is none which leads unto Labyrinths so inextri­cable, into precipices so disastrous, as this [Page 53] unhappy sin of carnality: In the first place it drawes a Cloud over the understanding, and so depresses the faculties of the Soul, as she becomes in a manner terrestrial, that is, unable to elevate her self beyond the objects of sense; for the operations of the Soul are more perfect, as they are more abstracted from materiality: Now this sin wholly drowns, and takes us up in the pur­suit of sensible things, and consequently must needs debilitate, and weaken the Mind in her natural functions. In other passions, as Anger, Fear, Joy, and the like there are still extant some Seeds of reason; this destroyes all that is Man in us, and makes Man by a thousand homages, and venerations subject to that Sex, which God and Nature have designed Mans in­feriour; as if it aimed not only at Mans destruction, but to resolve the World into another Chaos: For what shafts of Gods vengeance have fallen heavy upon Man­kind, that were not directed to the cha­stisement of this sin: It was an inordinate appetite to mix with the Daughters of Gentiles that first gave birth to Monsters, and Gyants; and from their accursed off­spring the Earth became such a sink of abo­minations, [Page 54] as no less than an universal inun­dation was able to wash away the stanch and infection of their impieties. It was this foul pleasure which ministred Fuel to the con­suming flames of Sodom, and Gomorrah; this blind passion led Israel ensnared by Madian Women in Idolatry, a foundation to all the Calamities and derelictions by God which befel that chosen Nation: At one time twenty four thousand Hebrews were punished with Death for Adultery, and what a slaughter of sixty thousand persons did our sad Penitent behold, and this in revenge of his own libidinous Acts, as if the stains they had left behind, could not be drawn out by a Sea of blood.

When his affrighted thoughts had layed before him all these dismal passages, he trembles, expecting every moment to be shi­vered and dispersed into Ashes by the de­crees of a just avenger; he approves the fancy of those who compose Venus of the Froth of the Sea, brackish, perfidious, and the Seat of hazzards, and disquiets; the pleasure he hath had, appears to him now but like a Froth, or bubble, which if not born away (as easily it is) by every blast, will certainly of it self soon dissolve, and work [Page 55] its own ruine; and however the substance be fleeting, it leaves notwithstanding a re­membrance behind, so bitter and distastful, and so hardly clawed off, as one would think that alone were a sufficient punishment for a trespass of so little satisfaction; and for the storms, and wastes it often makes in Kingdoms, and private Families, scarce any age hath not furnished many sad ex­amples: I am sure our Holy Penitent felt the smart of this bitter Truth in the desolati­on of his house, in the dishonor and death of his Children, in the rebellion of his Subjects, and above all in the forfeiture of those large promises made by Heaven to him and his po­sterity, all which found not their Tomb but in the corruption of this unhappy sin. So that in this request to be cleansed from his sin, he first declares the foulness of it, evident in the horrid Disease Nature gives to those who use it in excess; next, he hints the reliques, and dreggs it leaves behind, that if God's grace, joyned with a great resolution happen to dislodge this petu­lent Guest, yet still some footsteps or im­pressions remain, apt to reenter, and claim an interest: Wherefore he could promise to himself no security, unless an inunda­tion [Page 56] of mercy fall upon him to purify, and carry away all the remainder of bad incli­nations grown into a habit, and become as it were a second Nature in him. Cleanse me from my sin, and as it was not a slight stain he had contracted, but all circumstances weighed the most indelible that springs from inordinate acts in carnal pleasures: For Lawes Divine, Natural, and Hu­mane seem to be violated in Adultery: Di­vine, in that two persons by marriage are made one flesh, and both pass into the incommunicable Nature of individuality; becoming the essential part of each other whence violation cannot happen to one without destroying the life of the o­ther, and breaking that bond which God hath knit together. Natural Law is like­wise by an adulterous act infringed, be­cause Marriage consists not in the sole possession of the Body, but also, nay prin­cipally in the affections of a reasonable Soul: For the bonds of Marriage are not wrought by copulation, but mutual con­sent, and under a sacred Vow never to be retracted; who then infringes these en­gagements must needs contract a note of infidelity, and consequently strike at the [Page 57] main Hinge of humane Society to pre­serve which Nature chiefly tends in all her principles, and essential motions. Lastly, a breach is made in humane Law by Adultery, in that Marriage is not a private but domestick good, which concerns not one, but infinite Families, strengthened by the Laws of the Church, and publick Faith of Nations: From hence Nature finds those who carefully cultivate her plants; hence Commonwealths are en­riched with Citizens, the Church with Children. By this we may see the malice of Adultery, that drawes along with it the violation of so many Laws. Christ enjoyns us a love of our Enemies; and that the Sun should not set in our anger. Yet in the treach­ery of Marriage-Bed permits a separation between Man and Wife, how strictly so­ever united by indissoluble tyes, as if such crimes surpassed the limits of pardon; as if an evil so destructive, that remedies could find no place, and that this indivi­dual life once dissolved, could no more be recalled than habit from privation.

Many Tyrants have subdued to therage of their cruelties the wealth, liberty, and lives of their Subjects, who looking upon [Page 58] this power as given from Heaven over them, patiently sustained all those depre­dations; but if once they touched upon their wives, and would involve them in the Mass of their impurities, this rowsed up their fallen spirits, cast them into rebellion, nay pushed them to that extremity as never to desist untill they had deprived those of life, who had ravished from them what was more dear than life; untill they had redu­ced unto ashes the Authors of their infa­my, and taught them for the example of posterity this violence of all others will not be left unrevenged in this World.

There hath scarce been any Nation though Pagan or Infidel which hath not pu­nished Adultery with Death or exquisite Torments: Some by fire, others by wild Horses; some by the Halter, others in pul­ling out their Eyes, cutting off their No­ses; some by stones as in Moses Law: Whence 'tis clear that even the light of Nature taught, there ought for the good of humane Society that a stop be made to this disorder.

Our Penitent having in his thoughts lay'd open all those Enormities of an Adulte­rous Act, is surprised to see himself plun­ged [Page 59] in so many abominations, to have heaped up to himself so much ignomi­ny and infection, as the reproach of them would last as long as time. How sparing­ly do good Men treat of carnal subjects, either in Writing or in the Pulpit, lest the very articulate sound or Characters in this matter might offend chast Ears, or cause worse effects in Hearts already tainted: If then this poyson carry with it so much of ma­lignity in the very name or lightest thought, what corruption, and noysomness must the sin it self produce. Oh! how strong did this scent breathe in the Nostrils of our Pe­nitent when once his understanding was awake, and beheld with an Eye free from passion his Body dissolved into so many contaminations; no wonder than if he so oft repeat in this Psalm the cleansing from his sin: Every glimps of his past foul delights casts him into a blush, beholding no other con­sequence of them than shame, confusion, and the threats of eternal destruction, notwithstanding all this he sues for a Ve­sture of innocence, and he does it to him who with a fiat or blast from his Mouth drew out of a dark Chaos that glorious Bo­dy of the Sun which so revives us: To [Page 60] him who hath promised to let fall all the darts of his anger upon the true repen­tance of a sinner; on this basis he fixes his Petition, and doubts not but at last to find a happy issue, to be drawn out of the mire of his sensualities, and his leprous condition changed into the consistence of restored grace; after this he sighs and groans, nor is ca­pable of any consolation untill that happy moment arrive which shall put a period to this longing demand; Et à peccato meo munda me, cleanse me from my sin.

The Application.

We must consider that God is purity it self, who hath nothing more in abomination than an impure Soul: That Heaven in­habited by Angels is a place of honour, where nothing defiled can have access: Wherefore we ought to apprehend any stain of lubricity; because most obstru­ctive to our final Beatitude. First, in that it is according to St. Thomas, peccatum maximae inhaerentiae, a Sin that clings like Bird-lime to our Souls, and of all others most hard to be clawed off; it resembles a Phoenix, who renews her self with the fire enkindled [Page 61] by the motion of her own Wings; so a per­son inured to that vice, even when he would give it over, and bury it withall occasion of incentives, doth often find the Coals to be blown afresh by the wings of thoughts, so that whilst we live, we ought never to be secure; since 'tis a combat of all others the most hazzardous, and where the victory is most rare next, it is a sin of impudency, and when a Soul is devoid of shame, what hopes can there be to reclaim her; St. Hierom ad­vises to a private admonition of our neigh­bour, and gives this reason, lest he break the curb of shame, and dwell in his sin for ever. By baptism we are made members of Jesus Christ, and the chiefest homage we can pay to him as our Head, is to preserve it unspotted from any smut of impurity: A virginal integrity is so acceptable unto God, that the Angels (were they permitted) would translate them Body and Soul into Heaven, that Death might not prey on a treasure that deserves to be immortal, where­fore let us never cease to cry with our holy Penitent; à peccato meo munda me, cleanse me from my sin.

Amen.

CHAP. VII.

Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco,

Because I know my iniquity.

AFter all these supplications our Petitio­ner now comes to give a reason, why so confidently he requires an Act of Grace. At the first view, it seems a strange one, and to imply his greater guilt: It is this, be­cause he knowes his iniquity. Ignorance (where the fact is palpable) makes a great plea in offendours; our criminal on the contrary acknowledges his trespass, declares he knowes what he has done, and from thence claims and pretends a rationali­ty in his petition; had he in lieu of this, inserted a Repentance of his misdeeds, a detestation of his past failings, this might have carried some weight, in order to a re­mission.

But we must reflect, injuries done to God and Man are things very disparate, and quite of another nature: For I may consider many disobligations I have thrown upon my Neighbour, and yet not retract in my [Page 63] will those ill Offices; because I may have received the like from him, and many humane Lawes have allowed this retalia­tion; so that to retain a memory of the harms I have done to Man, may signifie nothing of vertue, or pious amendment. But when I look upon any miscarriage in my Duty towards God, this glance must needs reproach me of ingratitude; there can be no pretence, or shadow of excuse to justifie any failing towards the Divine Majesty: Since we are overwhelmed on all sides with his favours, and benedicti­ons; whence the Sequel of such a conside­ration inevitably will humble, confound, and cast us upon the storms of Repentance.

Our Petitioner therefore knowing his ini­quity, virtually declares by it, he disowns what he hath done, or rather owns it to be exorbitant, and from this confession layes claim to his Justice, which upon the con­version of a sinner, engages to abolish and raise out of his memory all past iniqui­ties.

Because I know my iniquity: This knowledge evidences the return of Grace to his Soul. In the 35. Psalm he describes his own con­dition in the state of sin: My iniquities [Page 64] surrounded me, and I could see nothing: St. Austin exclaims against that day, wherein he committed sin, and questions whether he may call it day; since he was involved in a profound obscurity, and then he goes on, saying, he will rise, and disperse the mists of his iniquities, that he may see the fountain of all goodness.

Our Petitioner again in the 48. Psalm gives Man (when enslaved by sin) the title of Beast, nay with something of aggravation, assimilating him to a Foolish Beast: He re­membred how Adam after his fall, was cloathed with Skins of Beasts; which attire was but a Symbol of his Mind bestiatized, and made Savage by transgressions.

St. Thomas speaking of those Clouds of darkness, wherein poor sinners lye grove­ling; sayes, it proceeds from a propensi­on bent upon evil, aversed from God and deprived of grace: The opposite beams then, which fill our Souls with light and serenity, must needs draw their source from a love of what is good, an adhaesion to God, and a sweet repossession of grace, and in these splendours our Petitioner finds himself: First, they raise his Soul to an Object infinitely good, and amiable, [Page 65] and after vehement affections enkindled towards this Sovereign felicity, his Eyes are unsealed, and beholds the Ghastly shape of his sins, which cast him into ex­clamations against his own unworthiness, upon reiterated addresses for mercy and pardon, and at last admitted into favour; he learns by that inestimable gift (under whose Dominion he now lives) what it is to offend God, how monstrous a thing sin is, and therefore will not conceal his new acquired notions, but proclaim. Quo­niam &c. because I know my iniquity.

It was not an abstract knowledge of his ini­quity he alledges, for this may consist with the most innocent and spotless Soul, and was found in Adam before his fall: But 'tis what he had learnt by dear experience; he had tasted that Tree which imports knowledge of good and evil, but alas, far different from those pure Idaeas, which reside in Souls that were never involved in the shades of sin; for such survey with an intellect as it were Angelical, the commands of God and in obedience to his Law make use of their knowledge, but to avoid the pre­varication: But our Petitioner looks upon the deformity of sin in all its circumstan­ces [Page 66] of the Abyss of ruine it drawes upon us, and having with the Cananean cryed for mercy, then he confesses his nakedness, then he layes open his failings, and blush­es not at the knowledge of his iniquity, because they are now washed in a Christal stream, and their past horrours serve but to raise in him a detestation of them, and to invite him at the same time to admire the Wisdom of God, that thus by his peniten­tial acts will manifest his Justice; and lastly to praise his mercy that hath given him a perfect knowledge of his iniquity, as a certain Land-mark to preserve him from future Shipwrack; because I know my iniquity.

I remember the Prodigal Son, when lan­guishing in misery, and perishing for hunger, pitched only upon this remedy, that he would tell his Father he had sin­ed against Heaven and him: In like manner our Petitioner layes aside the thought of any good he may have done, offers to the view of his eternal Father all the wounds of his cauterized Soul, and that he might engage himself to a compleat discovery, confes­ses he is not ignorant, but knowes all the Windings, and extravagant progressions of his iniquity; how they had led him [Page 67] from Adultery to Homicide, thence to Pride, Vanity, and Sole reliance on his own greatness and power, and when he had summed up all his ingratitudes, he gives this account, Domine opus tuum vivica illud, Lord I know my Sin. So likewise I know the temper of the delinquent, how he is composed of frailties, unable of himself to set his hand to any good vvork, to any supernatural motion: Wherefore he hopes this consi­deration may something take off, and render his deviations less irregular.

Yet on the other side he will not flatter himself into a blameless condition, he knows a support of Grace ever attended him amidst his predominant passions, and smartest tryals, by whose means he might have been victorious: This brings him on his Knees, and drawes from him an humble confession. Because I know my ini­quity.

It was this knowledge fixing him on the basis of humility which prepared him for those sublime, and supernatural commu­nications he afterwards received from his dear Creatour: What are his Psalms but a Series of raptures, and coelestial ravishments, a Tabernacle of sacred mysteries vvith [Page 68] vvhich his understanding was fed; that vve may see to vvhat pitch Man is capable of arising from this knowledge of our Sins. How confidently did St. Peter per­sist in his denial of Christ, and cryed as naturally, I know not the Man; as if he had been nursed up in infidelity: It was only the reflection upon his perfidious Crime, and a clear view of it, that brought him to himself, and sprung in him such flouds of tears. What cast St. Mary Magdalen in­to such rigours vvhich seem incomparable vvith humane Nature but a sense, and knowledge of her transgressions. What opened Heavens-Gate to the expiring Thief but this: Nos quidem digna factis reci­pimus; We truly receive a punishment which our crimes deserve. In a word, you shall find no remarkable change in the life of any person from Vice to Vertue, which took not its first rice from a serious considerati­on of their former ingratitude; and this is confirmed in the example of our Holy Petitioner; vvho first cryes out he hath sinned, and presently hears Nathan, who pro­claims a pardon, after which assurance, he sits not still, nor returns to his Vomit, but will for the future offer up as many [Page 69] holocausts, as before he hath had unlaw­ful delights, he will convert the number of his sins into a greater number of vertues; and whatsoever in him hath contributed to the contempt of God his Creatour, shall be employed in his service by penitential acts, that as now he sadly acknowledges his errours, he may one day be transported in the praise of the Divine goodne [...], divulge his satis­factions, the first step to which ascent he will ever owe to this lesson: Because I know my iniquity.

The Application.

St. Austin prescribing a remedy to sin­ers, gives them this short Recipe, tu inde non avertas, withdraw not thy sight from thy sins: For if thou fix thy Eyes upon them, God will turn his away; but in case you throw them behind your back, then he will take a full view of them, and punish them severely in thee; the Sun setting upon a dark Cloud makes it become bright and radiant; so Almighty God laying open unto our holy penitent, the foulness of his iniquity, he cooperates with his merciful rayes, sur­veys them, and by a true sense of his in­gratitude, [Page 70] attracts the splendour of his pardon upon him. Let us then in imita­tion of our Holy Penitent not become a stranger to our own misdeeds, that so our great Judge may examine no other wit­nesses; an humble confession will prove our best plea, which we cannot exactly do, unless we know them, nor know them in all their colours of deformity without a high detestation of them; so that if we make a careful inquisition after our guiltiness in this life, we may hope to be warranted from a severe sentence in the next: Learn therefore to alledge this powerful Topick here: Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco, be­cause I know my iniquity.

Amen.

CHAP. VIII.

Et peccatum meum contra me est semper,

And my sin is alwayes before me.

AFter this declaration of our Petitioner how knowing he is in his own mis­fortunes, next he layes open his conditi­on, hoping it may draw some beams of mercy and pitty upon him, at least serve to warn others by his harms. My sin (sayes he) is alwayes before me, sometimes as an Accuser, deposing with much vehemen­cy every crime he hath committed, and omitting no circumstance that may render it more odious; sometimes as a Judge de­livering exactly every statute he hath pre­varicated, either of Heaven, Nature, or Reason, shewing the punishment ordain­ed for his misdeeds. And lastly, pronoun­cing a Sentence against which he hath no plea, nor evasion: Whence St. Chrysostom sayes, what pleasure alas can there be in sin, when the necessary consequences of it are, accusation, reproach, scandals and condemnations; all other afflictions have [Page 72] a remedy, this allowes no truce nor respit in other tribulations (whilst our consci­ence is unstained) we have a Sanctuary within us, whether we may retreat, and find God, and in him all consolation; but this once forfeited by sin, what can we do? If in the Country, or City, abroad, or at home still this remorse attends us, and having fled from all the World, we find our Enemy and Executioner in our own selves, which we alwayes dragg after us wheresoever we go.

What dreads and horrors besieged the Heart of Cain, every shadow he beheld seemed to threaten Death and destruction to him, so that his thoughts were alwayes lodged in a Sepulchre; the memory of his crimes still rising up as witness against him, with how just reason then did St. Austin cry: Lord thou hast commanded, and it is fulfilled, that a vicious Soul proves to her self her own tormentour.

Plato sayes, God hath given to the fa­culties of the Soul a certain Harmony, which infinitely delights, and recreates that spiritual substance, now when by in­ordinate actions she dissolves this unity, there must needs spring from this dissoluti­on a great grief or anguish, though the cause [Page 73] be not known, as when any vital part is offended, a smart pain is dispersed through the whole Body, albeit we know not from whence it proceeds. If then this great Philosopher gives affliction as a natural effect of sin, what must he endure who hath the addition of a supernatural precept, when he looks upon it infringed, and made the Subject of his contempt; when he weighs the loss he hath made of Grace, the Abyss of misery, wherein he is plunged; cer­tainly this must create within us a torment far beyond any impression of cruelty, or malice from abroad.

This is the state of our Penitent; let him go where he will, he finds a Tribunal erected within him, where his Case is scanned to the full, and all his Exorbitan­ces laid home to him; whil'st he in the mean like poor Job not able to return one word for a thousand, looks about, at lest to fee some Councel, but alas, every one withdraws, nay his own Conscience rises up against him.

Paschasius upon that place of St. Mathew, where two possessed persons issuing forth from Monuments encountred; our blessed Saviour wonders why the Devils should ra­ther [Page 74] inhabit corrupted Vaults, than plea­sant Fields, Gardens, or stately Mansi­ons, and at last satisfies himself with this reason, that it is a just return for those who would not relish Heavenly delights, they should be fed with Carkasses, nou­rished with Ordure and Putrefaction, to the End their punishment may be suit­able to their offence; this stroke of Ju­stice our Penitent acknowledges his sen­ses take in nothing, but the species of foul and cruel acts committed by him, and eve­ry glance adds a new fuel to his consuming flames; the Memory of them is so Ghastly, that were it to be his sole penalty he should think the reiteration of his crimes purcha­sed at too dear a rate: My sin is alwayes before me.

We need seek no other Topicks to prove the terrour which remorse brings to a Conscience, then our Penitent's own words in the 54. Psalm, where he sayes, Discedunt in Infernum viventes, they descend alive into Hell. He thought no allusion, but to the state of the damned could reach this misfortune, so that whosoever is upon the rack of a tortured Conscience seems to anticipate his sad doom, and to find a [Page 75] Hell even upon Earth, and no wonder when Mercurius Trismegistus asserts, that the Body by habitual sin becomes brutish, and the Mind turns to be a Devil, which chastises and afflicts the offendour with the stripes of his own sin.

Our sad Penitent little foresaw this Ene­my within him at the beginning, his whole Solicitude was only to dazle the Eyes of the World, by that means to stifle the dishonour might arise from his crimes. He sends for Ʋriah to Court, there caresses him, and all his Stratagems failing at last commands him to be exposed to certain ruine, and the drift of all this was to con­ceal his sin, believing could that be effe­cted he should do well enough for the rest; but what was the event, hear the tydings Nathan brings him, thou hast done this offence covertly, and in secret; but God will publish it at noon-day, and make known thy ingratitude. Behold all his policy blown up in an instant, and besides he hath this slow Executioner of his own Conscience, which like a shadow inse­parably attends him, and makes him groan forth: My sin is alwayes before me.

Epicure was of Opinion, exorbitant acti­ons [Page 76] ought to be declined upon the sole motive of fear which alwayes invades the Minds of Criminals; this shews that na­ture is disordered by Evil (for this Philoso­pher had no other ray than that of reason) and the disturbance we find to spring from transgressions, is but an effect of nature in order to its own preservation: For who would conceive (did not sad expe­rience render it manifest) that Man could support the constant reproaches and sharp sentences of his condemning Conscience, for the enjoyment of some slight pleasure of Carnality, Revenge, and the like: Which as a flash of lightning instead of glory and delight, leaves us to moulder away in the ashes of dishonour, and to be surrounded with torments, even be­fore we had at a full pause tasted the cause and subject of our chastisements.

Hence methinks Plato happily com­pares a person enslaved to his sensualities unto one who hatches, and nurses up a Chymaera consisting of many exact linea­ments, and after a thousand complacent thoughts of this phantastick beauty, it is found at last to be a meer effect of the ima­gination. Our sad Penitent looking back [Page 77] into his life, acknowledges the truth of this allusion, he awakes as from a dream, all his past delights appear to him under no other form; only he finds the smart of his punishment to be real, and confesses his unpittying Conscience like another Caligula destroyes him, not at once by a stroak of fury, but wracks him by degrees, that he might (as that Tyrant was wont to say) feel he was dying, and this in the most horrid manner to perish as it were by his own hands: Other indispositions admit some intervalls, this allowes no respit, the very sleep of guilty persons is filled with spectres, and frightful Ideas; witness that reproach of Mankind Nero, who confes­sed even when he slept the Ghost of his Mo­ther failed not to torment him. Witness likewise our Penitent, who cryes out my sin is alwayes before me. Ah! let us then make his mis­fortune our instruction, to live well is the securest Bulwark against frights and ter­rours; a spotless Mind joy alwayes at­tends, as Sorrow and Anguish are the Mates of guiltiness: And though these at present are the Companions of our Pe­nitent, he hath yet this consolation, that the dismal shape of his sin carryes him on [Page 78] to repentance, not to obdurateness, nor despair, and his hope is, that after they have agitated and raised the storms of sad remembrances within him, a gracious calm of pardon will follow, as well to settle peace and security in his Soul, as to banish for ever from his sight the hi­deous spectacle of his sins; which is now the sad subject of his complaint, and bit­ter remorse; my sin is alwayes before me.

The Application.

St. Austin sets down the method his dear Creatour held to reduce him to his duty: Retorquebat me ad meipsum ut viderem quam ulcerosus essem; He threw me upon my self, that I might in my self, as in a Glass behold how I was ulcerated and full of Sores: For this spectacle gave him at once a full view, both of his own misery and God's mercy, and both strike a terrour into him; in the one, he reads the characters of his banisment, and forfeiture of his heavenly right, since nothing defiled can enter heaven, in the other, a Shole of God's mercies appear before him, which meeting with his ingratitude make a strange Combat within him, and strike a terrour not [Page 79] to be expressed, expecting every moment a just vengeance to fall upon his guilty head; this is the effect of sin, these are the lmps of that hideous Monster which surround a poor sinner, and keep him still awake with continual Alarms. Whence, I wonder not if Solomon proclaims non est pax impiis, that there is no peace for the wicked, because the ugly face of sin is alwayes in their Eyes, all the rigours of Disciplines, Hair-cloths, fastings and other austerities of a true Christian Dis­sciple, are but toyes if compared to the tor­tures of a wounded conscience; but to one grimace, or wory look of sin, the hissings of a Snake, stinging of an Adder, and croak­ing of a Toad, offend not the senses like to the dire aspect and frightful voice of sin: It was sin made Hell, Devils, and all that is terrible in nature; wherefore let us beg to be freed from this dreadful Ob­ject, and that we may never make it the subject of our misfortune, as to have the reproach of mortal sins before us.

Amen.

CHAP. IX.

Tibi soli peccavi & malum coram te feci;

I have sinned only against thee, and done evil.

IT would amaze one at the first glance to see this clause of the petition inserted, that he who had highly injured Ʋriah, scan­dalized, and drawn by his sin the heavy hand of God upon his people, should dis­claim of wrong done to his neighbour, and assert with confidence that he had of­fended against God alone. Nathan's Covert insinuation of the poor Man's whole and little stock wrested from him by a merci­less depredation, speaks the prevaricati­on of a precept in the second Table, which concerns our neighbour; the curses of Semei stiling him a Man of blood import a charge of injuries done to Man: again, he knew the petitioned is a searcher of hearts, to whom nothing can lye hid, so as to ex­tenuate his transgressions in the least tittle were absurd: Besides St. Thomas, sayes God, showers down his blessings upon Princes for the Sub­jects sake, so that if they abuse these gifts, [Page 81] they are ungrateful to God the Author of them, and injurious to the people; for whose good they are to be managed and directed. All this put together seems to reflect on the sincerity of our Penitent's proceedings, and that he would disguise, if not wholly suppress a main part of his offences, yet let us examine e're we cen­sure, and I believe his confession will not be found to want the due circumstances of a true repentance. I have sinned (sayes he) against God alone. He considers first he is a criminal, next he beholds no power on Earth, which hath right to take cogni­zance of his trespass, and to carry on a compleat process against him; the Holy Ghost had taught him, the anointed of God are sacred things not to be violated by any hand, wherefore since no humane Law could reach him, for that power is not supream which is linked to any dependency: To whom can he acknowledge himself an of­fendour, but to him who is King of Kings, and from whom all Dominion both in Heaven and Earth is derived? He alone is his Judge, he alone can punish or save, and to his sole will he submits himself, and the cor­rection of his misdeeds.

This specification of his Royal dignity which exempts him from all Earthly Juris­diction, renders him not more innocent, but rather is a circumstance of aggravation; for the perfection of the person offending, is a note of higher ingratitude proportio­nably to the excellency of his nature; and therefore Divines conclude the sin of Lu­cifer to be the most Enormous that ever was committed: First because of the ex­cellency of his nature; next in that he di­rectly strook at the source of his perfecti­ons, for which he ought to have been more grateful than other Creatures, hav­ing tasted more liberally than any other of his divine Favours. Lastly from the causa­lity or consequence of his sin, which gave a rise, and was the foundation of all the evil that hath happened in the World, and in Heaven before it was created, over­whelming both Angels, and Men by his temptations; as in Tobit Chap. 4. From the Pride of the Devil all ruine and perdition is derived, and took its beginning.

If we look upon the dignity of our Peni­tent, we shall find none above him upon Earth; if on the favours showred upon him from Heaven, he appears the Object of [Page 83] Gods choicest liberalities; if on the disa­strous sequel of his sin, what divisions in his Kingdom, what streams of Blood have issued from it. Hence I wonder not if St. Austin sayes, it is hard for Princes to commit a small offence: For the eminency of their place obliges them to so much integrity, that the least blemish in them grows up in­to a monstrous deformity; they are as it were the Primum Mobile, upon which all the other Orbs depend in their motion; Nay Cassidorus sayes it were more credible that Nature could erre, than for a Prince to frame a Com­monwealth different from the constitution of his own life: For he is not onely a glass wherein the people contemplate the Idea or platform of what they ought to do, but a glass en­flaming, and issuing forth incentives to imitation: Have we not seen a Rome war­lick under Romulus, religious under Numa, continent under Fabritius, dissolute under Lucullus and Anthony, Idolatrous under Julian, and drenched in Arrianism under Va­lens, to shew the people are alwayes mould­ed into the temper of their Prince; nay think it a crime not to follow his exam­ple, and believe every leading action in him, may authorize and make good any [Page 84] wickedness in them. It was for this cause the Poets feigned their gods to have been vicious, that from thence they might claim a title, and right to do the like; and Terentius excuses a young man taken in adultery, because he had seen the pour­traiture of Jupiter representing such a po­sture of obscenity.

The prophet Hoseah in his Fifth Chapter threatens judgement and ruin to Kings, who have become a Snare instead of a Sanctu­ary to their subjects; and St. Austin stiles bad Kings the worst of homicides, in destroy­ing the Souls of their Subjects.

Our sad Penitent was not a stranger to his own condition, he knew well his duty to God, and how many obligations of vertue were annexed to a Crown; he therefore now alledges his regal power, not to diminish, but rather to give a full view of his transgression; by this he confesses, that he hath broke his Faith with multi­tudes of Men, deceiving the publick o­pinion they had of his vertue, upon which presumption, their Lives, Fortunes, and what most dear to them, were shrowded under his guidance, and protection: By this he declares the Throne is to edify, not [Page 85] destroy the lookers on; for a King mediates 'twixt God and Man: Now that a Vacuum might not happen, but a happy concate­nation preserved, it is as necessary a King should adhere to God, as he would have the People constantly faithful to him; a Christian Prince ought to make God, not Policy the ulti­mate Object of his sway; so that he must first consecrate himself, next his King­dom, to the service of his Creatour: And if he do it not, he seems to overwhelm and confound both divine, and humane Laws. By this he ackowledges his own misery, as St. Austin sayes, Kings are not to be esteemed happy from their conquests and success of Arms, but by using their power in the advancement of God's ho­nour and service; if they love, fear, and reverence him, if they make their own greatness stoop and lye prostrate before his Divine Majesty; lastly, if they more value the sweet reign of vertue within them, than all the dazling glories of their Earth­ly [...]ingdoms, this only makes them happy.

Mistake not then our Penitent, he boasts not in these words (I have sinned against thee alone) his exemption from any terrene Ju­dicature, [Page 86] but rather would publish by his greatness, the enormity of his crimes, how every glittering flash of his Crown, makes a new flaw in his unhappy trespass. He remembred in Leviticus it was decreed, the same proportion of Sacrifices for the Priest, as for the Universal people; and what satisfactions might then justly be re­quired of him, into whose hands are entru­sted the guidance of that chosen Nation; and to fail in so important an affair, must needs involve a greater blame. For where the Prerogative is more sublime, there the miscarriage carryes with it more of deformi­ty; as St Hierom cryes: Let us rejoyce whilst we ascend, but likewise beware a fall, because there is not so much contentment in the purchase of honour and greatness, as there is grief and confusion to be torn from the prossession of them. Besides such shall not only render an account of their own defaults, but also be responsible for the de­viations of all those to whom they owe the duty of direction and good example.

O ye great ones, whose Birth or Fortune have made eminent in the World, take heed you be not the Subject of Jeremy's complaint; who having surveyed the Valleys, found therein a meer vacuity; from [Page 87] thence passing to the Heavens, he there met with a profound darkness; returning back upon the Mountains, he beheld them all in disorder. If you be Sovereign Princes meant by the Heavens, examine what Splendour hath issued from your Actions, by which your Subjects might steer the course of their lives, and be guided (free from Shipwrack) to the Haven of eternal rest: For if they lose themselves on the Sands of misbelief, or dashed upon the Rock of Vanity, unlawful pleasures, and the like; for want of your directing beams, their ruine will be laid to your charge; and were it permitted you to hear the sad com­plaints, and dire invectives those perish­ed Souls do vomit forth against their Lea­ders, who have deceived, and tilled them on into misery, it would certainly have influence upon you, and oblige you to a greater circumspection in your wayes and manner of life.

If you own Nobility and Honour, which the Mountains personate, remember you are the Object of many inferiour eyes; you are looked upon with respect, and indeed as the Glass which should convey unto them the true representation of their Prince: For he [Page 88] being but one, and consequently not so communicable, it is your parts who are dispersed through Kingdoms, to supply what he cannot do, to shew by your Ju­stice, Piety, Devotion, Charity, and other Christian vertues, that the practice of them can onely maintain your greatness, and is the Foundation of all your hopes in another life, which Principles lively set forth in your actions, cannot but fix your dependants in a strange passion towards good­ness, and ground them in a Belief, that it ought to be the ultimate scope of all their endeavours, and enterprizes in this world.

Nor are those of the meaner rank (hint­ed at by the Valleys) exempt from all obligation in this kind: There is not a Ma­ster of a family, but is as it were a Sovereign to those who depend on him: He ought to be the first at every pious duty, to see his little flock fed with all necessary instru­ctions in order to what Christianity obli­ges them to know, and believe, to carry a watchful Eye over them, that he may know their faults to correct, their vertues to re­ward, and encourage; if they fail in this, they may say with David, I have sinned against thee alone: Though there be none under [Page 89] their roof can be a competent Judge, yet this will not render them innocent; and this our holy Penitent confesses, who in this expre­ssion acknowledges the excellency and mul­titude of God's favours in being a King, and consequently the highest ingratitude on his part towards the Author of them.

The Application.

By this clause we are further taught that if at any time we fail in our duty, the princi­pal motive of that ressentment must be in that it is displeasing to God, whose onely frown we apprehend: For when we trespass against our Neighbour, the evil is in reference to God who forbids it; whence every sinner may justly say I have sinned against thee alone: So that we ought not to regard our temporal, but eter­nal Penalties due to sin; for that concerns our Soul, which alone is the source of all our transgressions: Wherefore our chief so­licitude ought to be for its preservation: Wherein we are to imitate St. Mary Magda­len, who pressed in her spiritual necessity, had a personal recourse to her dear Saviour, but when concerned in the loss of her Bro­thers life she contented her self to dispatch away a letter by a servant, insinuating by this the distinction she made between a soul and Body. I wish we might all in this fol­low [Page 90] her Example, that is, espouse the Souls interest as the main concern: Since in relati­on only to that we are to pronounce, tibi so­li peccavi, I have sinned against thee alone.

CHAP. X.

Ʋt justificiens in Sermonibus tuis, & vincas cum judicaris;

That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and over­come when thou art judged.

OUr holy penitent tells us in this clause why he brought his guiltiness as King upon the Stage, because by it the petitioned will be justified in his words, which are these, that he will never reject a truly repenting heart, and he thinks they were never put more home to the Test than in his Person, for who can despair after his admission into favour, who had broken all the chains, and tyes of duty, wherein a Creature is linked, and obliged by a most loving and liberal Crea­tour. Besides the pardon of his ingratitude will serve as a fence against the rash judge­ments [Page 91] of the impious, who are apt to lay se­verity to God's charge upon the reprobation of a sinner; this makes our penitent to add, that thou mayest overcome when thou and judged; that is, when his case shall be alledged, it will stop and silence any blasphemous Tongue.

I believe also he reflected on the promise made by God, that out of his line [...] should issue forth the hope of Israel, the Redeemer of mankind; and lest his sin might divert the streams of God's mercy, and frustrate his succeeding stemms of that glorious off-spring; he minds him first of his promise to receive with open arms the most enormous, if repenting Soul; nextt, his Foundation laid, he would insinuate, since by an act of mercy, he was again planted in the Region of grace, his hopes now are that the promises made by Heaven to him and his posterity might stand good; that their accomplishment would be a confirmation to him of a plenary indulgence, and a pledge that his punishment should not reach to so heavy a Confiscation, in order to his temporal satisfa­ction.

But you must know when he sayes, that thou mayest be justified, &c. This particle (that) imports not the efficient cause of the precedent verse; to wit, he had sinned a­gainst [Page 92] God alone, to the end God may be ju­stifyed; as if the motive of God's justifica­tion gave rise to his sin: No, no, it means only this, that the eminency of his conditi­on rendered him guilty of the highest ingra­titude, and since the torrent of God's mercy had born this clear away, the publication of this pardon must needs exalt the divine goodness, and testify to the World there is no iniquity so monstrous, which may not (if we will) be overcome by his mercy; whence he is justified in his words, never to be a stranger to those who return with Repentance unto him.

How many times hath God been irri­tated by Man's ingratitude, nay so touched to the quick as to declare he repented to have made him; that is if God were capable of defect or change, this exorbitancy in man might well deserve such a repentance: have we not seen a Pharaoh prodigiously unmo­ved, insensible as a statue at the sight of mi­racles, which confounded all his inchan­ters, and false Gods; yet had not this un­believing Prince hardned his own heart, God had reserved one greater wonder to work in his behalf, that is upon his sumission to receive him unto mercy: what can be [Page 93] thought of more indulgent than his ama­rous care and conduct of his people through the desart; and yet even when he was pre­scribing a Law, and Rule for the obser­vance of their Duties, they frame Idols, and plunge themselves in transgressions of the highest nature. However he did not here forget his promise, but at the pray­er of Moses reassumed them into his So­vereign Protection; the same Night which was blest with the institution of the sacred Synaxis or Eucharist, was also con­scious of the horrid Treason of Judas, and yet this Monster of ingratitude ac­cording to all Divines might have shel­tred himself from God's wrath by a true Repentance.

Thus all along we see God justifyed in his Clemency towards sinners, so that victory must needs remain to him when questioned by blasphemous Tongues, for creating those who were to perish: A Na­buchodonozer speaks for him, a Thief upon the Cross, a St. Paul, a Magdalen, and a Million of others that have redeemed by a few hours repentance, what had been contracted in many years impieties and wickedness.

Our holy Penitent will also come in for a witness: First he cryes what return shall I make to my God for all he hath done to me; he praises, blesses his holy name, and then layes open his enormous crimes, believing it is but reasonable to do him all right, that hath dealt to him so much of mercy; and though every thought of his sins afflicts him, yet he glories that his Creatour's goodness will appear resplendent through his deformity; he is content to be­come nothing that he might add the least tittle to God's Honour and greatness: He values not his own confusion, so God may be justifyed, and this sweet expe­rienced truth made good, that the Divine will is that all shall be saved; and to this end, proportions sufficient means to all; so that none can perish but through their own Impenitency and Perseverance in sin.

The Church would not style Adam's sin a happy sin, if our Redemption and the me­rits of Christ's sacred passion were not ex­tenedd to all, even the highest offendour. St. Paul sayes, as Death found its entrance by the default of one, so life was restored by one; whence it is clear, the remedy brought to us by [Page 95] Christ reached as far as the Disease. St. John entitles him a Sun, which enlightens eve­ry one that comes into this World; there is none wrapped up in so black a Cloud of sins, who may not (if they will) take in the Rayes of his Mercy, and by their Deliverance justify God's Promises to Man.

In the production of every the least Creature (saith St. Thomas) the pow­er, wisdom, and goodness of God are made manifest; how much more then are they exalted in the Transmutation of a Soul from the Privation of Justice to the Possession of a Supernatural Gift of Righteousness; whence St. Paul sayes, God doth predestinate us according to the councel of his will, that we may praise and diffuse abroad his glory.

Ah then, let us give unto God what is his due as near as we can; by despair we condemn our selves, in rendring our Judge Inexorable and deaf to Mercy: By Hope animated with Repentance, we quit our scores of guiltiness, and justify the hand that wipes them off. To our ju­stification by his grace he doth not on­ly invite us to dispose our selves for it, [Page 96] promising to refresh such as are oppres­sed, &c. But declares, he is at the door of our hearts, knocks, solicits, and ex­pects but our consent to enter in, at last defies the World to object the least failing on his side, having done to his Vineyard what ever could be required to make it thrive; To conclude, God will be still justi­fied, that sinner who doth finally perish is the Author of his ruine by his own im­penitency, rejecting graces abundantly sufficient offered to him: So that in the height of his misery when it is too late, he will be forced to acknowledge; cry­ing, O Lord, thou art just, and thy judgements e­quitable: That sinner again who hath imita­ted our Penitent, in having had timely re­course to the throne of mercy, will not blush to unfold his wickedness, since he now breaths a new life of grace, which obliges him to proclaim, how just God is in his promises, and glorious in his Mer­cies. That thou mayest be justifyed in thy words, and overcome when thou art judged.

The Application.

In this clause, we read the clear view our Holy Penitent had of the unquesti­onable proceedings of God with Man; for beholding in his all-displaying Eye the ingratitude of Millions of Souls who would abuse his favours, yet did not this restrain his munificence to them; he first gave them a Being, added to this Being the exhi­bition of his Graces, all sufficient, nay in a greater proportion than to many of the elect; and to the acquisition of these be­nefits he made his only Son instrumental, by whose blood is conveyed to them a capacity of Salvation: Now if afterwards they come to perish, it is through their own malice in misusing his gracious endearments, and proving refractary to his commands, for since he had conducted them indiscriminately with the predestinate by a supernatural Providence, with which all along he obli­ged them, what wisdome, prudence, or justice were it to gratify Traytors (obsti­nate even unto death in rebellion) with his Glory: So that the motive of their re­probation is a foresight of their final perseverance [Page 98] in Sin; their guiltiness gives matter of God's hatred, and eternal damnation, the effect of their impenitency. 'Tis true it was not in their power to be born, or not be born; but to fight generously, or be vanquished by the Devil this depends on us: It seems un­reasonable that a King opening a Tourna­ment, and proposing a reward to the Conque­rour, should admit onely that person into the list whom he feresaw would be victorious: So God in Creating an infinity of persons whereof the greater part would become reprobate is not to be blamed, no more than that Prince who lets all run at the ring though it cannot be gained but by one, for if we be foyld it is by our own Cowardize and remissness. Thus the goodness of God appears in the Creation of Reprobates, and no less his justice in pouring vengeance up­on them, so that he would be justified in his words, and silence any blasphemous Tongue; nay, though these unfortunate wretches miss of their particular end that is paradise to which they are created, yet the general design of their Creation, to wit the promotion of his Glory, will take effect: for after his patience hath been strai­ned (if it may be so expressed) in supporting [Page 99] their insolencies, he will give lustre to his Saints Glory by the opposition of their misery; just as a Moor sets off a great beauty. Where­fore let us keep consort with our Holy Penitent, avowing his just providence, and submitting to all his Decrees, as most equi­table and worthy our Adorations,

Amen.

CHAP. XI.

Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum,

For behold I am conceived in iniquity.

OUr Penitent here appeals to the World whether he hath not reason being re­invested with the rich ornament of Grace to stand up, and maintain Gods proceed­ings with his Creatures; to this intent he knowes no better medium, than the pub­lication of Man's corrupted Nature, brought to that imbecility, as of himself unable to give life, and birth to one good thought behold (sayes he) I am conceived in iniquities; that from the first instant of his conception, he is seized on by sin, and though [Page 100] that lineal stain be cleared by circumcision in the old Law, and now by Baptisme, yet there still remains a propensity to sin, which grows up with us, gaining strength through the whole course of our Adolescence: For many years of our age are spent e're we come to distinguish between good and evil; in all which time 'tis clear we follow without any stop, or haesitation the Dictamens of sense; so that at the opening of our un­derstanding we discover a Law Anathema­thematizing our former practices, the which by many reiterated, and continued Acts are so wrought into habit; that to break them, we must (as it were) mould our selves into another nature. This consi­dered, together with the dreggs, and re­licks of corruption which original sin leaves behind, I wonder not if our Penitent de­plore his misfortune, and hints in his Pe­tition this memorandum; that he was conceived in iniquities.

This Fomes or scattered seed of original sin hath a double effect, one an inclination to evil, the other a drawing back, or declin­ing from what is good: This made St. Paul confess, he found a Law in his Body contradicting that of his reason; and St. Bernard sayes, the sin [Page 101] ('tis true) may be taken away by Baptism, but to work a compleat cure, that we feel no spice, nor itch­ing of the infection, is in a manner impossible; at least it requires a long course of remedies by a constant exer­cise and Tryal in vertuous actions: For it is an inordi­nate, and habitual concupiscence in the sensitive part, so radicated, that it becomes (as it were) a portion of nature: Whence Seneca affirms, vertues are rarely acquired without a Master, but we quickly be­come expert in vice without the help of any Teacher, which shews the pernicious consequence of original sin.

Our Penitent had found the bitterness of it by dear experience, and this push­ed him on to the reflection of a main cause of his misery; because he was conceived in ini­quities.

Yet our Penitent repines not at God's Justice herein, but submits to this smart doom, acknowledging a just retaliation; that since the Soul had been disobedient to her Creatour, the Body in requital should rise up in rebellion against her, and pu­nish her by the same Engins she had made use off in her prevarication; he doth not scan the motives why God should punish so severely many millions of innocent Souls, for the miscarriage of one Man, and though [Page 102] he could satisfy himself, that since original Justice had been purchased to all Adam's descendents by his obedience, it is not unreasonable to share by his fall in the pain due to his transgression: Our Pe­nitent I say waves all argumentation, looks upon the sentence pronounced, and exe­cuted, and being a Decree from God, it must be just: His sole hope is, that this disordered, and depraved constitution in humane nature, will draw a more pow­erful aid, and greater compassion towards a sinner when he fails, and still the burden of his Song is, because he was conceived in ini­quities.

St. Bernard seems unresolved, and full of perplexity, when he considers Man in this tottering condition, it makes him confess, he knowes not by what strange bewitching means our will impared by sin is hampered in a kind of necessity, and in such a manner, as neither the necessity be­cause voluntary, can plead excuse for our consent; nor the will being allured, can scarce break through the necessity; for this necessity is in some sort voluntary, it is a kind of amorous violence working by flattery, and flattering by force: Whence the Will having [Page 103] once consented to sin, can hardly disen­gage her self, nor yet finds reason enough to excuse what she hath done.

Upon this score I wonder not to hear the plaining note of Job. Lord I suffer violence, it is onely you who impose the necessity can answer for me. And a little after he cryes, O thou Ruler of men, why hast thou set me against thee; all which shews the sad State of man wrought by o­riginal sin, if left to himself: for he was con­ceived in iniquities.

Philo the Jew speaking of Sin gives it a Term of infinity, that being once set a flame can never be extinguished: he calls it an im­mortal evil, by no death, or desolation to be destroyed. The truth of this Philoso­phy who finds not in himself, that albeit Baptism hath cleared the channel, so as the streams of grace may run, yet there are certain exhalations which issued from that corruption always ready to fall, and em­body with the currant; so that if there be not a continual care and sifting, it will be morally impossible to preserve our Souls pure, and unstained.

Seneca sayes, there are certain vices which are obvious to every Eye, and to which we may be led as it were by the hand; others there are that lye lurking, [Page 104] and are hardly discerned, till fastned upon us; and these are the most pernicious, because against them we can have nither open warr, nor a secure peace: And this truly is the genuine State of our natures from the corruption wrought in us by sin, that we are not said to be clear­ly sick, or well; and this fluctuancy (if right­ly considered) must needs be a torment, be­cause though we happen not to fall, yet danger still threatens, so that if we tender our happiness, we must stand upon our guard at all times, and places, because neither Heaven, Paradise, Religious Cloyster, or remote Hermitage is a secure fence against sin; and a main reason to us the Children of Adam is, because in iniquitatibus conceptus sum, we are conceived and born in iniquities.

Whilst we are invironed and beset with such adversaries as our bad inclinations, who watch (as I may say) but an advantage to undo us, surely we ought to work out our Salvation with fear and trembling; St. Bernard was not ignorant of Mans in­constancy when he gave this caution; Oh (sayes he) did we but know, how small a portion of vertue we have, and how soon it vanishes, upon how ticklish a foundation it rests, unless the giver by a continued flux of Grace secure it to us, we would [Page 105] not so easily imbark our selves into dangerous occasions, for to indulge our senses, and to arm our Enemies, is the same, but a strange policy. How many who have thought themselves like Cedars ele­vated to a high pitch of vertue, by a pre­sumption of their own strength through ignorance of humane frailty, and a Su­pine negligence, rashly engaging them­selves in hazardous Tryals, have been ignominiously blasted, and reduced to the condition of a contemptible shrub.

Lucifer enamoured of his own per­fections, and aspiring to a parity with God, became the most abject of Creatures. St. Peter promising wonders of his con­stant Fidelity, sufficiently testifyed by his shameful denyal; what Man is in his own nature without the support of Grace.

Our Penitent comes in also for a sad ex­ample, and hopes it will serve at least for a monument to Posterity, that they may reflect what Man is from the instant of his conception, and however he may be rais­ed and enobled by God's favours, yet in his 103. Psalm, he tells what he must trust to when left to himself. Auferes spiritum eorum & deficient, & in pulverem suum revertentur; upon [Page 106] the subtraction of thy Spirit, O Lord we sink; and resolve into the dust from whence we came, all covered, and be­smeared with the stains of sin.

St. Austin sayes, because Man did not what he could and might have done, now he hath a desire to that he cannot perform; losing by a will of malice the power of do­ing good. Hence St. Paul become as it were a captive cryes, the evil I would not now I do, truly it is an expression which might terrify, were it not that a little he confes­ses, there is a power of grace which con­tradicts this predominancy of nature, and therefore in the Sixth Chapter to the Ro­mans, he warns us not to let sin reign in our mor­tal Bodies; intimating hereby, the seeds of tumults and seditions be sowed within us, yet we have also arms, and strength suf­ficient (if we adhere to God) to crush, and frustrate all their insolencies: So true it is that Man cannot be injured but by himself, to whom alone he owns his ruine if he perish.

Thus the life of Man is become a war­fare upon Earth, the Seat of many a con­test, and strife; the sensitive part haling him one way, reason another, and this by a just [Page 107] Decree of Heaven, that since he would not have peace with God, he should have warr brought to his own doors, and feel it within himself. Now to come off clear, and safe amidst so many hurley burleys, requires no small dexterity and courage: It minds me of Agesilaus answer to his friend who importuned him not to remove his Camp, though necessity urged it; be­cause he was sick, and could not without much pain endure any motion; whereat Agesilaus all perplexed what to do crys, O how hard a thing is it to be wise, and yet compassio­nate. So our sensitive part made treacherous by sin, still makes its moan, fawns, soli­cits with importunity; and if the Will ne­ver so little condescend, Man is presently lost in sensual pleasures.

Our Penitent had felt the smart of this Shipwrack, how soon he was overthrown by a little dalliance; and therefore expo­ses to the view of his Judge the source from whence he springs, and hopes since he knowes his brittle substance, it may plead some inducement unto mercy, at least to a mitigation of his penalty; upon this score he proclaims, behold I am conceived in iniquities.

The Application.

In imitation of our holy Penitent we ought seriously to reflect upon the sad plight of humane nature wounded by ori­ginal sin; so depressed and made feeble, as most Divines affirm, we cannot in any vehe­ment temptation prove victorious without a speciall assistance from Heaven: For you must know, though the Will have an absolute command over the sensitive part, yet if the object be present and very de­lightful or afflictive, it is not in the Will's power to suppress the contentment, or anguish derived from thence to the imagi­nation: Wherefore spiritual Men give these Rules, that we remove what we can the Object beloved, or hated from our sight, senses, imagination and thoughts; next, that we consider the little of pleasure, and multiplicity of defects which usually at­tend the objects of a sensual love; all which shews there is no reliance upon our own temper, and after we have practised all evasions to decline an engagement; the success (if put to the Test) must be expe­cted from that all powerful hand which [Page 109] never fails to shield the humble in the most hazzardous and dangerous attempts. It is humility then must crown us with Lau­rels;

Amen.

CHAP. XII.

Et in peccatis concepit me Mater mea,

And my Mother hath conceived me in Sin.

OUr Penitent thinks it not enough to dis­play his own misery, unless he relate also the condition of his Mother at the instant of his conception, and he expresses it so as if she yet groaned under the burden of original sin, when she conceived of him; and my Mother (sayes he) conceived me in sin: That is, had the same stains which defiled me at the First instant of my Being.

As to this you must know in the old Law was instituted a remedy against original sin for Women as well as Men. For from the Creation of the World to Abraham's time (when First circumcision was com­manded) which was above Two thousand [Page 110] years, we find nothing set down for the expiation of this hereditary guilt, yet doubt­less as that lineal contagion was never interrup­ted, no more was there ever wanting a means ordained by Heaven to disengage us from it; so that it is probable after the pre­cept of circumcision, the same remedy was continued on for women, and 'tis thought it consisted in some particular Sacrifice, though the specifical nature of the Sacrifice, or ceremony be not laid open to us: Hence it is beyond dispute, all were cleansed from this contamination, and therefore our Penitent means not by this word (sin) Original sin, but the penalty, and unhappy consequences of that sin, which are hunger, thirst, sickness, and all other afflictions an­nexed to a mortal life all which took not their rise but from Adam's transgression: He therefore casts this glance upon his Mothers condition to quiet himself, that if the plant from whence he springs be beset with thorns, he must not think to be deck­ed with roses; and if it be decreed she must breed, and deliver him amidst the horrid throwes of her labour, he must not think to pass the rest of his life without a sweaty brow, and a heart seasoned with cares.

Man no sooner peeps into the World, than he speaks his own misery, and pro­phecies by his weeping notes this future condition; being grown up he finds him­self engaged in a perpetual conflict be­tween hope and fear: For if he be so hap­py as to live well, yet it must be in the midst of temptations, which oblige him still to have his arms in hand, and dangers threatning from all sides exclude security, or rest; so that in all events, Labour and Apprehensions are his inseparable mates.

St. Paul exhorting us to wisdom, tells us the means to purchase it, by redeeming our time; and gives this reason, because the dayes are evil: He reflects sure upon those deli­cious hours we might have spent in Para­dise, and which are not to be regained but by actions quite opposite to the cause of our Exile from thence: Our First Parent va­lued more the satisfaction of his sensual ap­petite, or a complacent humour towards his Wife, than he did all the pure delights; without any mixture of grief, or repen­tance, he might have enjoyed for many years: To recover then in some sort those years and lasting joyes, we must here denounce war against our senses, de­nying [Page 112] them the least contentment; we must drag our Bodies after us, as a slave would do his Chain, that by this subjection we may preserve our obedience untouched to our Creatour; and let our Soul which natural­ly covets Eternity, deliciate her self in ravishments proper to her spiritual substance; by this means we may strike off all the ar­rears of Time, which the Apostle so seri­ously recommends unto us.

Now for the reason why he puts us upon this task of good Husbandry to repair our losses; because the dayes are evil: St. Austin tells us, there are two things (sayes he) which give birth to these our unfortunate dayes; One, the common misery of Mankind de­rived from Adam's sin: For cast your thoughts on the Mass of things created, and you will find none so indigent, so un­satisfyed, and reduced to such straights as Man; other Creatures are no sooner brought into the World, but nature gives them a capacity of helping themselves; Man after he is born for many years hath his understanding so tyed up, that he resem­bles a meer Brute only surpassed by them in an industry to preserve natural life; other Crea­tures find here those objects which quiet all [Page 113] their motions; the elementary Bodies meet with their Centers which settle them in a full repose; the natural appetite of Beasts en­counters that which satiates and gluts all their avidities; plants grow to a certain greatness proper to their species: Man only is the unsatisfyed Being upon Earth, for his understanding elevates his thoughts above the Heavens, and all the powers of na­ture; his will frames infinitely more de­sires than the World hath perfections; so that there being found no Object upon Earth adequately proportioned to the vast capa­city of his Soul, it is necessary he still languish here in a State of dissatisfaction.

This casts him upon so many shelves of misery, and makes him restless, hop­ing still to find something to allay his de­sires: Sometimes he fancies riches would do it, but finding them ordained to the purchase of other things, it cannot be a sovereign good; thence he flyes to honour, and observing that also to depend upon the breath and will of another; he fastens on beauty, this likewise he perceives to fade, and perish by a thousand accidents; this invites him to the acquisition of knowledge, and after many a toilsome hour he finds [Page 114] only this proficiency, how little we are capable of, that the least plant of the Earth will puzzle and confront all his acquired Notions to render the true vertues of it: Thus he passes on from the Essay of one delight to another, still as unwearied, as unsatisfyed; and why all this? But be­cause my Mother hath conceived me in sin: For my Mother conceiving me in sin, receiv­ed by inheritance the doom of Death, and of miseries consequent to a mortal Life, and so cannot but convey the like direful effects to her posterity.

Timon an Orator of Athens was wont to deliver so pathetically the miseries of Man in this Life, that after his Oration which he held forth in publick, it was usual for many of his Audience to hasten their passage unto Death by a course of violence, some by precipices, others by water, some by poy­son, others by a ponyard, or halter: In fine, they regarded not much the means, so it might but have the effect; that is, to rid them from the Calamities to be sustain­ed in this life. In a word, his Eloquence wrought so many Tragedies, that the Senate was feign to make a recluse of him, that by sequestring him from humane Society [Page 115] they might prevent the destruction of Man­kind.

This person was an Infidel who con­sidered only Man's corporal necessities, toge­ther with his failings in order to moral vertues, and if from this Ground he could draw such efficacious perswasions, what would he have done with the addition of our Penitent's Faith, which teaches that eter­nal felicity, or misery depend upon our actions here; that we lye under the Obligation of many positive precepts, against whose observance are laid continual Ambusca­do's, both from the malice of Hell, de­ceit of the World, and our own bad in­clinations; that in the midst of these im­minent dangers we steer our Course to an Eternity of Joyes, or Pain: What E­nergy I say, would this consideration add to the draught of our misery, when we not only suffer here, but suffer with so much hazzard of incurring the doom of Torments without end.

Ah blame not then our Penitent, if he set before his Eyes, and is willing also the petitioned should glance upon his condition in this state of mortality; his own reflections will serve to keep him in [Page 116] a wary humility checked with the frailties and inconstancy of his own nature; the notice also his dear Creatour may take of what mould he is made, will stand (he hopes) in good stead, for he knowes him so inclinable to pardon, that (if it may be said with reverence) he lyes at catch for an opportunity to save us, and if the least hold be given, he presently fastens upon it, and hastens away (like a Souldier laden with a rich booty, of which he fears the reprisal) till he brings us to a place of security, where we shall have no more reason to fear the irregular motions of cor­rupt nature, no more to vent in sadness; And my Mother hath conceived me in sin.

Holy Job that prodigy of humane Constancy amidst the smartest Tryals was yet so sensible of Man's misery in this life, as to fall with bitterness upon the very day wherein he was brought forth, wishing it might perish, and never be reckoned a­mongst dayes in the course of the Zodiack; Nay he goes so farr that he involves in his Anathema's every circumstance which con­curred to his Conception, or Nativity. Expositors of Scripture excuse these male­dictions in Job, and free them from sin up­on [Page 117] this score, that he weighing the dis­proportion of Man's desires, unto the ob­jects he encounters in this life, which hold him in a continued disquiet; how naturally he sets his heart on riches, ho­nour, beauty and other perishable goods, with what difficulty they are attained, with more preserved, and with little sa­tisfaction possessed: Amidst these pensive Meditations beholding himself in the ex­tremity of affliction, his sensitive part crushed even to nothing, brake forth into this seeming rage, as to fly at every thing that had a hand in leading him to so much misery: If this pattern of vertue might be allowed such Salleys that speak so much heat, without any derogation from his innocence, upon the meer consideration of that high pitch of distresses wherein he was plunged. Our Penitent having been made a prey to sin and frailty may doubt­less with all submissiveness (as he doth) expose his Nakedness, as cast into the World without arms, beset with Enemies bent upon his destruction both at home and abroad▪ and in this plight all he can say for himself is; my Mother hath conceived me in sin.

The Application.

We are here to deplore with our Pe­nitent the sad consequences or penalties of original sin: First, it is from thence that Men become Enemies to one another; without this sin, we had known no Tyrants, Robbers by Sea or Land, no corruption in Of­ficers, no oppression nor injury from any per­son: From hence it is, that the Beasts of the Earth, and Fowl of the Air, as if ab­solved from their Fidelity, are in a man­ner no more awed by the Majesty of Man's Face. The Elements, malignant Planets, and other insensible Creatures, as if let loose to our destruction, occasion an infi­nity of disasters unto us: It is from hence we are stupid in our own concerns, that being in a condition even beyond imagi­nation dangerous, we yet sport, and vain­ly pursue our pleasures, as if all things were according to our wish. It is from hence we are filled with self-love, pusilla­nimous in struggling with vice, inordi­nate in our pursuit of fading objects, ne­ver satisfyed with our state; and alwayes seeking a change: Our sences distract us [Page 119] from the meditation of heavenly things, our fancy taken up with illusions, disturb our sleep; and after a thousand other dis­commodities, and infirmities which usher Death, at last it comes to resolve us into corruption, worms, dust, and as it were to no­thing; and all this, because my Mother hath conceived me in sin: Ah let us therefore sub­mit our selves under the powerful hand of God, who alone is able to conclude all our misery in Beatitude;

Amen.

CHAP. XIII.

Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti,

For behold thou hast loved Truth.

OUr Penitent having dissected the Ana­tomy of Man, and left no Cranny, whereinto misery might creep, undis­plaid: Now seems to Apologize for his discovery, and pleads for excuse God's love to truth: And in this point he believes he hath discharged his duty; nor doth it a little satisfie him to have done it, since it [Page 120] is the only thing he can now perform to repair the failing in his duty.

First he hath made an ingenuous con­fession, ripping up every thought that could any wayes intrench upon God's ho­ly Law, and having thus emptied his un­happy store, without the concealment of the least corrupted grain, hear what he expects in return of this his faithful Nar­rative, or rather what a Sequel depends upon it. Dixi confitebar injustitiam meam Domino, & tu remisisti impietatem peccati mei; no sooner, sayes he, had I pronounced that I would lay open my iniquities, but I found my shackles unloosned, and the impiety of my sin wholly rased out; whence we may see how the meer intention of doing well ne­ver falls to the ground unrewarded: Which imports, God presumes we will not trifle with him, and therefore at the least over­ture of rendring a just account of our mis­deeds, he makes us no more impious; that is, takes away all the obstacles to Remission, as impenitency, obduration, habitual impression of evil, and the like; So that if we keep touch in our promise, he will be faithful in com­pleating his act of grace; because dilexisti veritatem, thou hast loved truth.

Hugo Cardinal prescribes unto us verity under three considerations; that is, a ve­rity of life, a verity of Doctrine, and a verity of Justice.

Verity of life consists in a conformity with those Laws which God and Nature have set down for the Rule of our actions, this our blessed Saviour sufficiently asserts, when he gives the lye to him who pretends to love God, and yet not observes his com­mands.

St. Thomas sayes, there is a law eternal re­siding in the Divine intellect, by which the World is governed, and that humane lawes are more or less just, as they partici­pate of this eternal rule: Hence our life if not squared out by this directive original, must needs wander, fall into errour, nor can be called a life of verity; nay I know not whether we may call it a life, since Lactantius affirms, that whosoever strayes out of this line, flyes from himself, de­spises humane nature, and consequently will suffer the torture of an erroneous con­science (which is not small) though other punishments escape him.

The First Principle then of a life of Truth, is to steer our Course in order to this [Page 122] universal guiding spirit imprinted in us by the light of nature; next, we are to look upon positive Lawes, dictated by the Holy Ghost, and the adorable example of our Lord Jesus whose life and actions were all directed to our instruction: So that any structure erected upon this foundation, cannot prove Sandy, nor fail the builders expectation.

We find in holy Scripture frequently eternal felicity promised as a reward to good works; this the penny agreed on with those who wrought in the Vineyard insinuates, no less doth the Crown prepared for those who faithfully combat in this life; the Triumph also of Resurrection speaks as much, assured to the real, not ideal supporters of Christ's Cross: Nor is the name of Chri­stian given us as bare lookers on, but be­cause actually made a spectacle to God; Angels, and Men. By acts therefore of Temperance, Patience, Humility, Resignation, and other Christian vertues, we shake off (as it were) our old Natures, and become a new production created in Justice and Truth, and so become the object of God's Love; because Veritatem dilexisti, he hath ever loved Truth.

If we look upon the unwearied la­bours of Men in pursuit of what may ren­der them happy in this life, we shall find Truth to be the main scope of their aims.

First, it is a priviledge of Man's Na­ture, there being no Creature in the World but Man capable of truth; so that whilst we toil in the inquisition, we comply with an appetite, or desire engrafted in us, which eggs us on towards the thing that can only make us happy: For Beatitude is defined a joy in the possession of truth unveiled, and clearly discovered to us.

Secondly, the delight we derive from the knowledge of Truths far surpasses any o­ther satisfaction we can have in this World, because depending meerly upon the intel­lect; it is depurated from the dreggs of sense, and so more intimately affects, and tran­sports the Soul: When by study we have attained to a Demonstration, how quiet is the understanding, freed from all mists of doubts, and uncertainty, and securely rests in the acquisition of the said truth.

Thirdly, if I covet a Friend, I propose in this design an object of truth, and fidelity; and if I find a breast sealed with this sacred stamp, how pleasing a Sanctuary is it, where [Page 124] in all distresses I fly as to an Oracle, unfold­ing the secrets of my heart, resolving in that consistory between us two what to act, and how to steer the course of my affairs: If the tye of marriage, leagues between Nati­ons, and Friendships are held sacred from the obligation they impose upon us of sin­cerity, and truth; how much ought verity it self to be valued, which gives life, and in­fluence to this Ʋnion; since common rea­son teaches the stream is not to be regarded with equal esteem to the Source from whence it flowes.

Lastly, what is the final End of all Arts and Sciences, whether they ransack the bowels of the Earth, or survey the immense bodies of the Heavens, whether they exa­mine things past or present, but truth: it sets all Men on work, and can alone render them satisfied, so that it may well be defined, the source of motion and rest.

Our Penitent having thus run o're the vast extent of truth, and observed how it animates the actions of Men, takes occasion from thence to adore God's holy Providence; that since he hath obliged us to a precept of con­fessing, and acknowledging our failings with all integrity, and fixed it as the sole [Page 125] means to expiate our faults, he hath advanta­ged us with so powerful an inclination un­to truth: For if we be born so impetuously towards the acquisition, the exhibition of it must needs flow as it were naturally from us; and it is this motive which invites him to so fre­quent a repetition of his offences, lest he should disguise any the lest tittle, for he knows as an exact particular of our Sins, ac­companied with a perfect sorrow, is very acceptable unto God, so it is beneficial unto Man; the return of such an account being alwaies an evenning of all [...]cores, an abolition of past Errours, and a compleat act of grace. Up­on this consideration he is not affrighted, that his Sin shall be evidenced like the Sun rayes to the World, and of this harsh sentence to Na­ture, he himself will be the Executioner, he he will pr [...]mulgate his enormities, and e­very exhalation of infamy that shall arise from thence upon him, he will receive as a blast of Zephir, because he speaks a truth ani­mated with Repentance, a truth which speaks What he hath been, and what now he is, to witt, an imp of perdition, and now is become a subject of mercy, because it is a Truth God will ever own in a truly repenting heart: for ve­ritatem dilexisti, it is essential to one who hath an Eternal love of Truth.

But it is not enough to trace the steps of of our Lord Jesus as far as he is imitable by Man, unless we lay the Foundation of a life of verity, which is done by imbracing with a firm belief the Doctrine and Faith he taught and delivered to us, for it is certain there is but one God and one truth.

First, we cannot deny this unchangeable quality of Faith to spring from God the Pri­mary Truth, since we owe him the Au­thor of Civil and natural Lawes, both which are united, and receive efficacy from the bond of Religion, f [...]r all things are cre­ated to the service of Man, and he to God's service; so that by an act of Religious wor­ship, the homage of all other Creatures are involved in that of Man, and consequent­ly Religion seems of created things the final End, and ultimate disposition unto God.

Now the means to attain to this Truth can­not be by the strength of natural reason, for the matter of credibility is above Nature, and Man by consenting to an act of Faith is raised above himself, therefore it must be God mov­ing us by his Grace which drawes the moti­ons of our Will to submit to his revealed Truths.

The Centurion proclaims he believes, yet withal adds, help O Lord my incredulity, which [Page 127] shews though he had done all that lay in his power, yet something was wanting.

It remains then we render our selves fit subjects for the reception of so noble a Guest, so rich a Donative as that of Faith, the way to this preparation is, first, to practise a life of Truth that is moral vertues; next, to lay a­side all prejudice, that your understanding may work with out biass, or restraint: third­ly, to examine the opinions of those whom the World hath unanimously reverenced for their knowledge, sanctity, and wisdom: fourthly, to receive the Decrees of the Church as things sacred, since she is styled in Holy Scripture, a pillar of truth, a spouse all imma­culate, without any stain of errour; remem­bring also from what authority her infallible placits flow, witness the Apostles in their first Synod at Jerusalem, who began with this Form to publish their resolves; It is judged ex­pedient by the Holy Ghost and by us: Where you see that Divine Spirit still swayes and gives life to all Articles of Faith; and indeed it was the closing farewell of our blessed Master Christ Jesus, who promised to dispatch unto them his Disciples a Spirit of Truth, to reside with and animate his Church to the Worlds end.

A verity of Justice is comprehended in that of integrity of life; it being the very Nerves, and [Page 128] Sinews of humane Society, without which we should be like wild Beasts in desarts, no leagues twixt Nations, no amities contracted amongst Men, no traffick or commerce; so that in this sole lovely quality is seated the very life and Soul of humane conversation: For behold thou hast loved truth.

The Application.

We are further taught in this clause, that God hath a true Being; that is, all qualities suit­able to a Divine Nature, as to be Spiritual, Inde­pendent, Immortal, Omnipotent, all good, wise, mer­ciful, Soveraignly happy, and a thousand other attributes; so that he alone hath the verity of a Divine Being. Whatsoever is imaginable and worthy of God, this is in him in a Sove­raign degree of perfection; Nay whatever his infinite understanding can conceive, this he enjoys without any diminution or reserve: So that when our Petitioner points unto us how God loves truth, he means that he loves himself, and if herein we play the apt Scholar, placing our affections on that inexhausted source of Beauty, we shall then move according to the verity of humane Nature; For our Being is to be reasonable, and what can more decipher the Truth of our reason, than by a disdain of this [Page 129] World, to aspire unto him who is the final end in which we are to rest, and for which we had our Being. May our hearts then be ever fixed on this eternal verity;

Amen.

CHAP. XIV.

Incerta & occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi,

The uncertain, and hidden things of thy Wisdom thou hast made known unto me.

WHilst our Penitent with delight descants upon God's love to truth, it were (he thinks) impious in him to stifle this great truth, that he hath called him to his Councel, unbreasted to him secret and hidden things, and enriched him with the high Prerogative of Prophecy.

Ah what a change in this Holy King; not long before when Nathan laid before him his offence under the shadow of a poor Man violenced in the depredation of his only sheep, he is dull, unfolds not the mystery, and lit­tle dreams (though it were plain enough) himself is pointed at, by which we may see what a mist of ignorance, as well as other mischiefs sin draws along with it. But now he tran­scends [Page 130] the limits of natural knowledge, owns an irradiation of supernatural lights, and a ca­pacity of discerning not only vvhat is past, or present, but vvhat is to come, and this in the secret, and uncertain things of God's VVis­dom.

It is true there is required in that person, who is made a repository of Prophetick Truths, that he shine with integrity of life, have an abso­lute command over his passions, and possess a Mind elevated and fitted to contemplation. Yet God is not tyed up to previous dispo­sitions by degrees, but can in a moment both pre­pare, and render perfect that party he de­signs for such a dignity; as he hath done in the person of King David, and so, as to make him one of the most accomplished Prophets that ever was: For there is a great disparity in prophetick irradiations, some are imperfect lights, and improperly called Prophetick, as what may proceed from an evil spirit, or from nature, as that of Pharoah when he saw oxen, and Ears of Corn, not knowing from whence that vision might come, or whe­ther he was sleeping, waking, and the like.

Another degree more elevated is, when a ray is infused by which I certainly comprehend that which I see only by a species imaginary, such [Page 131] is Joseph's case, who had an assured know­ledge of what he saw, that is, the significa­tion of them, whence he is more justly cal­led a Prophet than Pharoah, who only saw, and knew not what they signified.

A Third degree more perfect is, when there are both an impression of species, and sensible representations, as also an infused light, by which I can judge of the verity of the thing display­ed before me; as Daniel could tell the King his Dream, and what it signified; for the Corporeal forms vvere fixed in his Spirit, and the meaning of the [...] revealed in Daniels Mind.

The last and noblest degree is, when a Truth is represented to us by species intelligible, and a light infused Superadded, which enables me infallibly to judge of what is represented by them, without any external medium of word, fact, or imaginary Vision; and this last ir­radiation Cassiodorus ascribes to David, whence he entitles him the most eminent amongst all the Prophets.

But it will more recreate us to know what are those uncertain, and hidden things laid open to him, than the manner how it vvas done: Some opinionate it vvas the Creation of the World, vvhere the wisdom of God appears glorious in the admirable reduction of a [Page 132] confused Chaos to light and order: In the contri­vance of the Heavens, that such vast, and nu­merous Bodies should keep constant, and uninter­rupted motion, vvithout any jarring, or hin­drance to one another in their Rapid Course. In their Soveraign influences conveyed incessant­ly to inferiour things: In the prodigious fixati­on of the Earth, poysed, and sustained by its own Center. In the rare vertue of its plants, in the variety of Creatures in the Air, Earth, and VVater. And above all in Man the Epitome of the Ʋniverse, to see him sway as Sovereign, and by his reason to quell the fury, strength, and cunning of the most savage beasts. To behold the revolutions of Cities, Kingdomes, and Empires, the strange vicissitude of humane things; to day a City swelling in pomp, and magnifi­cence, not long after become a fallow Field; an Emperour weeping in that there is no more Worlds to conquer, hath been seen to perish howling, dispatched away by a few dropps of poyson; on the other side, another is beheld drawn from a dunghil, set on a throne, and to Raign vvrth that felicity as if Heaven and Earth were held in fee to make him happy. Here a person drenched in a life of Sin, and impiety upon a suddain becomes a Saint there, another endu­ed with grace, and vertue, whom the World Eyes not but with a kind of veneration, by [Page 133] a little presumption of his own strength and merits, falls to nothing, and proves an Imp of darkness. To contemplate I say all these works in Nature, all the strange events of humane actions, and all managed by the Divine wisdom, so as to make a Harmony to God's glory, and out of the clashing and thwarting malice of Men, to draw good; who would not be ravish­ed at such a prospect? And confess with tran­sports, they are truly secret and hidden effects (as to man) of an all-seeing, inscrutable and increated wis­dom. So that with unspeakable delight our ho­ly Penitent repeated oft this Verse, the uncertain, and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast revealed unto me.

Others (and more happily I believe) say, those communications were the Incarnation, Nati­vity, Passion, and all the other mysteries which relate unto the humanity of Christ; and doubt­less the contemplation of those mysteries clearly objected to him, could not but strangely regale his mind, to consider an in­finite Being from all Eternity Soveraignly hap­py, in the perfect enjoyment of his blessed self, to be Hypostasiated in humane Nature, and that this compositum of so many perfections should be born of a Virgin, have no other pal­lace then a poor stable, no other Courtiers then sim­ple beasts, from whose Breath he must borrow a little warmth to preserve him from the [Page 134] rigours of the season, that a bloody design is hatched against him, to avoid which he must fly by Night into Egypt, through Cold and other dangers, attended only by his ap­prehensive Mother, and her faithful Coadju­tour St. Joseph, amidst these discomfortable reflections; surely our Holy Penitent failed not to remember the homages done to him, by the Angels, and Kings, that he might see he still intermixed the Splendour of his Divi­nity, with the Ecclipses wrought, and cast on his Humanity.

From thence he carryes on his thoughts to Christ's Sacred Passion, where he lanches himself into an Ocean of misery; not a drop trickles down of his bloody sweat, but it makes him sink; he distinctly ponders every blow lanced at him, every scorn, and every Calum­ny: He numbers his weary steps, whilst he is haled from one Tribunal to another, he foresees the shameful flight of his Apostles, and how he is abandoned in distresse by his nearest, and dearest Friends.

Thus he sifts every particular passage of that Sacred Tragedy, and were it not he is su­stained by the consideration of its immense Fruit, to wit, the redemption of the perished World, he would have shewed by his com­passionating Death, too much was revealed [Page 135] unto him, to be at once the Subject both of his knowledge, and life.

Now that this expression of our Penitent doth quadrate with these mysteries; you must observe, that the second person of the blessed Trinity is styled the Wisdom of the Father, be­cause produced by an act of his understanding, and though his Incarnation were certain as decreed from all eternity, and foretold by many Prophets, yet it was uncertain as to the precise time, and se­cret as to the manner of his coming, and parti­cular occurrences of his life; it is true, both were couched in some prophecy or other, but so obscurely that the most learned could not dive into them, until he came himself to unread them by his painful accomplishment, and fulfilling of them.

Again by the uncertain things of his wisdom imparted to him, he insinuates a further knowledge as to this; that it is not known to any in this life, whether they are worthy of love or hatred: Almighty God (by a special provi­dence no doubt) having kept this shut up from us, that whilst we lye under an awefull fear, it might abate our pride, and presumption. Now the Clouds of this uncertainty were dispersed as to him, assurance being given that his sin was re­moved, and the Anathema annexed to it tak­en off, and what greater evidence that he is re­admitted [Page 136] into favour, than the entrusting secrets to him, than his exemption from the Common Lawes, set down by Providence for the conduct and guidance of Mankind. These Reflections make him cherish with unspeakable satisfa­ction his priviledged notions, nor do they carry him to vanity, but to bless the source from whence they flow, since gratitude exacts that tribute from him, to whom thou hast laid open the uncertain, and hidden things of thy wisdom.

The Application.

Here we may observe, in what awe and terrour our Holy Penitent remained after his transgression; that though the Seal was set to his pardon, yet he thought this gave him no right to his former prerogative, whose restitution he dares not ask, he only presum­ed to repeat them to his dear Creatour, that he might read therein his ingratitude, who enriched with supernatural gifts, reserved for his choice favourites, and by means of which endowments he might have proved a saving Star to guide others to Heaven; yet he hath not made use of them but to inure the Au­thor of them, and there wrought his Ruine, where he might have erected to himself Tro­phies of glory; Next he made this Repetition, [Page 137] that he might ruminate upon the sad conse­quences of sin; which so alters a Man that God himself knowes him not: This is ma­nifest in the Gospel, where God said to the foolish Virgins, and to those who had wrought miracles in his name; Nescio vos, I know you not: Again, Adam after his sin seemed to be lost to God who made enquiry after him; Adam where art thou? which imports, I placed thee in prosperi­ty, and content, but find thee now in wretchedness and misery. So our Holy Penitent minds his dear God of the blessings he had once showred down upon him, and being so signal, as few besides since the Worlds Creation could boast of the like; he hopes, being now again admitted to his presence, he may not only be re­vived in his memory, but restored to his form­er endearments, to which he disposes him­self by this bashful expression; thou hast O Lord made me happpy by the Communication of the secret and hidden things of thy wisdom.

CHAP. XV.

Asperges me Hyssopo, & mundabor,

Thou shalt sprinkle me with Hysop, and I shall be cleansed.

OUr Holy Penitent replenished with a Pro­phetick Spirit, seems how to breath nothing but Divine Truths, nothing which issues not from such inspired lights: Behold wherefore he speaks at present in person of the Church, and forespeaks the Oeconomy God will practise in the guidance of her. Thou wilt sprinkle me (sayes he) with Hysop; that is, pressures will fall up­on me from all sides, for it is proper to Hy­sop to be of a small growth, to take root in Stony and Rocky places, and its vertue is Soveraign against tumours, and swellings.

First then, Christ beset his Church with Hysop, when he planted her in himself the fruitful Womb of all her productions; hear his Lesson, Learn of me that am meek, and humble of heart; from such a stock what can be expected but lowly shrubs Hysop like; he instructs his A­postles to bear the innocence of Lambs amidst ravenous VVolves, the simplicity of Doves amidst wilely Serpents; he bids them overcome Tyrants [Page 139] by sufferings, opprobries, and contumelies by a patient silence, the glory of great ones by hu­mility, and the wealth of the World by Po­verty.

With these arms the wisdom, power and great­ness of the World have been laid prostrate, and the humble Cross of Christ erected in Triumph, Maugre the malice of Hell and Idolators: After Nero, Decius, Seperus, Maximian, Dio­cletian had raged, and breathed from their Nostrils, death and destruction to the harmless little ones of Christ, affrighting them with fire, VVheels, Gridirons, Gibbets, Lyons, Vipers and innumerable other tortures, what was the event? Julian the last and greatest persecutour, confesses he hath lost the day, and that the Contemptible Nazarean I remained Victori­ous.

St. Paul gives but a touch, yet a dexterous one, and represents to the life the posture where­in God hath founded his Church. God (sayes he) seems to have marked our us Apostles un­to Death, for we are made a spectacle to God, Angels, and Men; we suffer hunger and thirst, we are reviled, and buffeted, we are tossed up and down, hurried from one Tribunal to another, we are laden with maledictions, and in requital distribute blessings, we are plyed with perse­cution, but sustain; we have blasphemies thrown [Page 140] at us, yet we pray, and petition in behalf of the Authors; in fine, we are looked upon as the soum of Mankind, and become as the mockery of the World.

Behold the Epitome of a life Apostolical, and the maximes to which the Primitive Christians conformed themselves, by which you may judge how pat the allusion of Hysop is applyed to the Church; for what is more abject, and despicable than the institute of Christianity, nay it was the usual argument of Infidels, towards any person of eminency embracing Christian Re­ligion, to reproach them with the baseness and contemptibility of it.

The Rocky foundation also which gives life to the Hysops Root, is no less suitable, if you reflect upon the promises made to St. Paul when first he listed himself under Christs ban­ner: Ananias was to be the bearer of his letters Pattents, the substance of them was, that he should see what sufferings he must wade through for his Name, and how punctual God was in the accomplishment of his word, his own Epistles sufficiently declare; that from the time of his conversion, he had constant sup­plyes of tribulations, from his unwearied preaching of the Gospel, unto the Snares and malice of false accusations; from thence to Prisons, then to Chains, Opprobries, and lastly, to a [Page 141] publick Death in the Capital City of the World.

Now that he alone was not doomed to these sad Catastropheys, he tells us into what confusion poor Christians were universally in all pla­ces cast; some lurking in Dennes, others fly­ing into desarts, some groaning under want, others exposed to scorn, and contempt; of whom the World (sayes he) was not worthy; then he enumerates a multiplicity of horrid tortures which ushered their ignominious deaths: And these outrages were not confined to any one Province, or City, but executed throughout the whole habitable World; and to that height, as one day was witness of a hundred thousand who were Sacrificed by the rage of Tyrants; nay they fancied their work so compleatly finish­ed, that Trophies were erected with this In­scription, ‘To the August Caesar Diocletian, by whom Christian Religion is abolished, and the worship of the God's improved.’

These were the flinty soyls which gave life, and growth to Christian Religion; amidst these stony tryals the Church hath still kept herself firmly rooted, in despight of all the storms, tempests, and whirlwinds of persecution.

The third property of Hysop (that it is me­dicinal) may justly be consigned to the furious assaults framed and put in Execution against the Church, as St. Austin sayes, Tyrants could never by obsequiousness and favour have so much contri­buted to the good of Martyrs, as they did by their bloud-thirsting cruelties: St. Paul glories in his tribulations, and makes of them a ladder to lead him as it were by degrees unto Christian perfection; whither he is no sooner arrived, but his thoughts are filled with the expectation of a reward: Nay he terms it a Crown of Justice as if every stroke of Persecution had contri­buted to the making up of his Crown, unto which he had a right, and just claim, since ham­mered and compleated by his patient sufferings. This same Apostle bids the Hebrews look back upon those past dayes wherein they had sustained immense Combats for the name of Christ, as if those pleasing remembrances had been able to charm the most bitter afflictions: Nay he thinks it a happiness when no burden was laid upon themselves, if they did but converse, and hold Society with the oppressed, as if from them must needs issue forth some communication of what is good.

When our blessed Saviour had foretold to his Disciples the scandals of his passion, and how the World would allot the same measure [Page 143] to them, he gives the reason why these sharp decrees are made, because (sayes he) you should fly to me for Sanctuary, and only within my arms seek consolation, and security: St. Austin conforma­bly to this Doctrine confesses Job to have lost all that God had given him, yet he re­tained him from whom he had all; to wit, God our Lord (sayes he) hath given, our Lord hath taken away, the name of our Lord be praised. After­wards St. Austin rapt as it were into admira­tion cryes; behold a Man with a Body mangled, yet entire, full of corruption, yet comely, wounded, yet without a sore, sprawling on a dunghil, yet powerful in heaven: Hence you may gather the exuberant Fruit of this sprinkled Hysop, not a drop of it falls, which carryes not along with it a vertue, that transcends the malignity of persecution, and the rage of Tyrants.

Who would then repine at adversity, since Heaven hath laid it as the foundation, at least medium to eternal felicity. You that are poor tell me what you do want if you have God; and the rich what possess they without God. St. Paul relates how the Hebrews with joy sustained the rapine of their goods, because they knew there is a more lasting, and incomparably better inheritance prepa­red for them.

You that bewail the loss of a Friend, re­member [Page 144] he was not born to live alwayes here, and perhaps was taken away lest malice might have seized him: Besides, if you truly love God, you cannot be afflicted at your Friends Death; since you know, if he perish not to God, he cannot perish to you; and he alone can never be deprived of what is dear to him who makes God the Center of his happiness, and places all that is precious in him, since he is not lost unless we will.

If you groan under an infirm constitution know, you should not desire to enjoy life, but according to the tenour of its grant; we breath under constellations which by their several in­fluences create different humours, and distempers, and this is convenient to the good of the Ʋniverse, unto which particular and private inte­rests must give place. Besides, we learn by experience, that since we can break and thwart our inclinations upon the score of health; we may likewise do it from the mo­tive of vertue and piety, we hold it an act of Religion to wean our selves from sensual de­lights for the love of God; let then resignati­on make that voluntary, which accident, or some providential decree hath reduced to a necessity: you ought not therefore to calumniate this or that cause of your sickness, but take it as a present from a most merciful and benign Parent, or­dained [Page 145] either for chastisement of your sins, or tryal of your vertue; this flatters not the un­happy humour of Avarice, Ambition, Lu­bricity, and the like; every access of a Feaver or other smart pain, sets before us the lively Image of mortality, and gives assurance we must one day quit all our Wordly interests.

It were not amiss also, whilst our indisposi­tion renders us unfit for humane Society, that we fancy our selves as dead, and consider what will be done in the World without us; it subsi­sted before we were, so will it remain when we are gone: Who now seem so united in friendship, that the thought of separation is horrid as Death, will when a few dayes are slipped over after your Funeral, seek other alliances, and if by chance your memory be revived by any Casual discourse, they will afford you a sigh perhaps, and say you were good, or wise, or valiant, or fair, or some such Epethite you might de­serve; and is this worth all the labours and haz­zards we run amidst a Million of designs in this uncertain life? how blessed then is that sickness whose pains lead to Salvation, and how fortunate that war which ends in eternal peace!

If the walls of a Prison affright, propose to your self those immense spaces above the Hea­vens designed as a praemium of your restraint; [Page 146] 'tis true for the present you are deprived of a little fresh Air, and of some other contentments depending on Liberty, but he that trafficks for so great a purchase as eternal felicity, may well venture something on the score of per­secution: How many disasters and Ambuscado's of Enemies have been avoided by Captivity, what a change hath it wrought in many, who by a necessity of Recollection, have become super­eminent Contemplatives, and enlarged their Minds by Spiritual entertainments, more than they could forfeit by the denyal of their Bo­dies liberty: You are there free from Envy, or detraction, it being rare to find malice, or cruelty to rage upon the prostrate: A life in such a place is seldome attended on by scandals, because adversity is the Companion; a Mistress ex­celling in the wayes, and maxims of good­ness: Nay could we fancy the World (as re­ally it is) but a Prison, we should rather think we have made an escape from Thraldome, than lost our liberties.

Thus we see the sprinklings of Hysop, that is, the Seeds of Humility, Patience and Constancy in the profession of Christ, have furnished the Church Universal with Champions, and every her par­ticular Souldier in all encounters with Rules, which if exactly observed cannot but end in Glory: So that our Penitent hopes, if once [Page 147] bathed in these purifying streams, he shall be cleansed, and become an Object pleasing to the all-pure-Eye of his Creatour: Wherefore with Reason he inserts this clause, sprinkle me with Hysop and I shall be cleansed.

The Application.

In imitation of our Holy Penitent. we are to covet the bitter draughts of contradictions in this life, denying our Will what sensuality prompts us to, that we may have a full swinge of our desires in the vast course of Eternity; tri­bulation is the securest clue to be directed by, in ease and pleasure, vertue must needs run a great risque; Fire in its own Sphere con­serves it self without any fuel to maintain it, so vertue would have done in Paradise, where the Goods of the Body concurred with those of the Soul, but this Concord was dissolved by sin. St. Ambrose likewise sayes of Job, that he had shewed himself a valiant commander in peace, but not a conquerour in War, and that his troubles and afflictions purchased unto him the Palms of a compleat Vi­ctory: For Earthly Crowns are made of Gold, but Hea­venly Diadems of the Thorns of tribulation. Ah then let us aspire after these.

Amen.

CHAP. XVI.

Lavabis me, & super nivem dealbabor,

Thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than Snow.

OUr Holy Prophet thus purified, and cal­cined in the Furnace of adversity will not rest there, but is ambitious of a further subli­mation, he beholds himself much refined, the dross of many frailties separated from him by temporal chastisements, and in this harsh School he hath learnt a profitable Lesson; which is, not to advance in a spiritual Course is to loose ground; wherefore these sprinkling dews of Grace do not satisfie, he must be washed o're and all-bath­ed in streams of Martyrdom; this will give him a tincture outvying the purity of Snow; this will consummate all his labours, and set on him the last and highest stroke of perfection. Thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than Snow.

It is pleasant to read Seneca, and other Phi­losophers in this point of Sacrificing life for a publick interest, or on the score of friendship; they alwayes place this action amongst the most Heroick, whereof Man is capable in this life. The Romans had several solemnities to eternize the memory of such as lost their lives [Page 149] in the service of the Republick. The Graecians employed all their Eloquence in setting out the Glory of those who dyed for their Country, be­lieving that Souls separated from the Body up­on such a score, were depurated and free from the mixture of any inordinate desires, or affections; and consequently are disposed to receive the highest beatitude that a created substance can attain unto. Xamolxis of Greece for his Wisdom was by the Egyptians ranked amongst the gods, whose memory to the Graecians was so Sacred, that yearly they sent one of their most learn­ed Doctours to be Sacrificed before his Shrine, and at his departure towards Egypt, the other Collegiate Philosophers were all oppressed with grief, each one repining he was not worthy to be chosen for so glorious a design. The reason why this Opinion grew so prevalent amongst them was, that love and respect is best expressed by an act of homage and Sacrifice, now by the oblation of life, we at once give up all our interests of honour, pleasure, or what ever we can pretend to in this World, and witness in that action, we more value the cause for which we suffer, than our own Being, and in a manner do declare the person for whom we dye, to have a perfect Dominion over us, and destroying our selves would insinu­ate that we are nothing, at least willing to be­come [Page 150] nothing; so we may but pay to the Object of our loves the tribute of glory and greatness.

The generous Heart of our Petitioner had trampled under his Feet the Enemies of God's people, he had purchased many Laurels by his active fortitude; and passing from thence to the passive part, he had manifested by his patience, and perseverance, he wanted not this more noble branch of fortitude; and that he might crown all his victories, he now con­tracts all the circumstances of a compleat mag­nanimity in this Petition, that he might give up his life, and make a publick satisfaction for the injury done by his Exorbitancies to his dear Creatour. Thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than Snow.

He knew well this supereminent de­gree of fortitude, which gives a check to Au­dacity, nor permits its Salleys beyond the li­mits of a just moderation, and which charms likewise the retiring spirits of fear, and makes them return to their first stations, there to stand upon the defensive, is a vertue too sub­lime for Man, if considered within the verge of his natural force, and abilities: For mar­tyrdom implyes a profession of the true Faith which none without a divine Aid can perform: It being necessary to an Act of Salvation, that it be accompanied with th [...] power and means of [Page 151] Grace, wherefore he places the Energy of this Action in the Author of Grace, and cryes; O God, if you will wash me, that is, if you will shower down the dew of your Grace, I will dispose my Soul for the recepti­on, and so manage the gift; as every reproach, every stroke of the Executioner, every drop of Blood drawn from my Veins, shall have its effect of expiation, to cleanse my stains, to purify my Soul, and give it a whiteness which will surpass that of Snow.

Again though the Psalms of this victory be never so precious; yet unless a storm of Tyranny convey them to him, he can only languish in desire: For the infliction of Death must come from anothers hand, his part in this com­bat must be only to accept, and suffer: 'Tis true the Holy Ghost proclaims, that violence must bear away the wreath of this immortality, but it is understood a violence not so much active as passive: We must stoop to oppression, become a play-game, and mockery of the World; we must tune forth the praises of our Creatour, more by expiring than speaking, and from these black mixtures of cruelty, will result, as from the Phoenix ashes, a production far beyond what we could even hope for in recompence. You shall wash me, and I shall be whiter than Snow.

We must not doubt but the Soul of our [Page 152] Petitioner ambitious of perfection, had all the internal affections which move to this end, as charity, obedience, religion, faith, hope, and an heroick fortitude. The first to wit charity rai­ses him to acts of love, by which God is more prizable to him, than his own life, or any other thing imaginable: Next, this amorous contemplation was accompanied with a perfect submission to the decrees of Heaven whilst Se­mei threw stones, and curses at him, he kept close to this principle, forbidding any punish­ment to the Actour, lest (sayes he) God may have ordained it for his tryal or chastisement of his Sins; and what he Wills is just, and ought to be the Rule of our obedience without any dispute, or haesitation. The third ingredient to this dye of purity, is Religion; by which we are taught to pay the tribute of excellency and respect unto God, as the Sovereign Author, and Primogenial Source of all Beings; other Creatures who cannot comprehend the infi­nite perfections essentially seated in God, have a right that their wants be supplyed by our Piety; so that we have a duty of acknowledgement not only for our selves, but in behalf of e­very thing created to our Service; by an act then of Religion we return our own Being, and all other Beings likewise of the whole World into his Hands from whence they [Page 153] came, to be disposed off as he pleases, that as we hold it from him, so we would not en­joy it but for him, and this from two con­siderations; the one, of God's immense great­ness and Majesty, the other of our own smalness, or rather nothing; as to the one, our Penitent defies any Being to compare with God, he con­fesses the Earth, Seas, and Heavens lye at his beck; that his Enemies he disperses, as the Sun doth the Shades of Night, and having thus ex­alted his unmeasured greatness, he then religiously exposes himself before him, acknowledges he is a worm, and not a man; and if a man, the very out­cast, and opprobry of Mankind: He presumes to question God what man is, that he should daign him a glance of his careful Eye; and declares his opinion that he is but a piece of vanity, an empty out-side, a heap of dust, and therefore it is but just in him to honour the Majesty of God by a profu­sion of what he enjoyes, and that his Being can never be put to a better use than by annihilating it self (if possibly) to witness by that submission the immense perfections of his Creatour.

His fortitude in attempting great things needs no dilucidation, the Sun-beams are not more conspicuous; what Nation hath not received the History of his deeds together with the tydings of Christianity, where also is set forth his patience in adversity, in many rebellions un­natural [Page 154] stratagems, and implacable hatred of Saul against him.

For his Faith in Christ, amongst all the Prophecies of a Messias his Psalms excell in delineating, and issuing a lively Character of all the passages of his passion: So that all these vertues could not spring but from a hope of enjoy­ing one day that Sovereign good, for whose ac­quisition he was ready to Seal all these acti­ons with his blood and life.

I confess this tincture of Snow to arise from a bloody stream might seem a wrested inter­pretation, were it not that a passage in the Apocalips doth clear it, where it is said; they whitened their stoles in the blood of the Lamb; that is, the effect of this ablution gives innocence, wipes off like Baptisme all the spots of Guilt, or Pain, so that once dipped in this Lavatory, he may justly promise to him­self a lovely Grain far surpassing that of Snow.

Wonder not then if our Petitioner touch­ed with a sense of his transgressions, and frighted with the memory of that condition wherein he had been plunged, should aim at the glorious Palms of martyrdom both to se­cure his pardon, purchase a compleat abolition of his Faults, and make himself a perpetual Sa­crifice of praise and thanksgiving to his dear [Page 155] Creatour. Lord thou wilt wash me, and I shall be whiter than Snow.

The Application.

Let us by the example of our Penitent thirst after these purifying streams, one boisterous billow of Persecution carried home to the strugling Patient, will have more vertue than all the wa­ters of Jordan; St. Gregory saith, that the depart­ing of the Body from the Soul is but a shadow, but the departing of a Soul from God is a sad Truth: And as a shadow is refreshing in Summer, so is Death to the Righteous, especially if volun­tarily accepted, and inflicted upon the ac­count of a pious cause. But since this Crown is out of our reach, and depends upon ano­thers severity, we must be thus severe to our selves, as to put on an undaunted look against any difficulty which may obstruct our Salvation, or advancement to p [...]fection, and resolve to suffer or overcome them, either of which we may, by the aid of Grace never wanting at a pinch. Next, we must rejoyce when ha­rassed with adversities, it is St Luke's declarati­on of the Apostles, that they returned from Tribu­nal seats with joy, having been made worthy to be there reviled and scorned for the name of Christ; and truly Saints have seemed to measure their hopes of [Page 156] glory, according to the proportion of their suffe­rings: Lastly, we are to expose our selves to hard and painful things for the spiritual good of our Neighbour; if we strengthen our selves with these arms of fortitude, we shall be fitted for that last and most glorious proof of valour, at least secure an immense reward to our selves.

Amen.

CHAP. XVII.

Auditui meo dabis gaudium & laetitiam.

Thou wilt give unto my hearing joy and gladness.

WHen the Church proclaims the sin of Adam happy, in that it merited to have such, and so great a Redeemer; Methinks it hath some resemblance w [...]th this clause of our Petitioner, where he promises to himself joy, and gladness; as if they were a necessary conse­quence to repentance. In the precedent verse he minds his Creatour of the Rules he hath set down to purchase innocence; to wit, by tem­poral adversity, here he opens the secret of God's working with a justifyed Soul, which is to fill her with jubilies, and consolation.

For when Almighty God enlightens our understanding to consider his greatness, providence, goodness, and his other perfections; and when he gives a touch to our Wills, imprinting in them holy impulses of fear, hope, love, and the like; by which we are excited and enabled to frame and execute holy and pious resolutions, he doth not this by a way of violence, as a stone is taken up from its Center, but by a way of sweetness, he governs and changes our inclinati­ons, if we do not prove too stubborn: So that the first step to our justification is not made with­out the concurrence of our Wills; and que­stionless it is no small subject of joy to reflect that we our selves have been Actours in this great work of our justification; which exceeds the Creation of Heaven, Earth, and all that is comprized in Nature; for though we owe to God all that we have, yet that his libera­lity may take its desired effect, this he will have depend upon us; to the end by work­ing our Salvation, it might prove an honour and satisfaction, in that we our selves have contri­buted something to it by the consent of our free will, by which we can claim the actions we do to be our own.

The next branch of joy and gladness in a justified Soul, is the access of grace, a superna­tural form infused by God, by which we are [Page 158] raised to a supernatural Being; that is to say, a new Being, more prizable than an intellectula, or reasonable, than Angelical or Seraphical conside­red precisely in the order of Nature: Be­cause Grace gives a new birth to the Soul, and communicates unto her a new Being which is called Divine; in that the Soul receives from it a resemblance unto God after a manner extra­ordinary, whose more perfect knowledge is re­served for the light of glory, which will make the discovery unto us: All we can now say is, that no sooner this divine gift inhabits our Souls, but we are designed to eternal beatitude: Almighty God beholds us with an Eye of satisfaction, as his Children received into his Family, as Solomon sayes, by grace we contract an eternal alliance with God.

St. Thomas stiles Grace a participation of the Divine Nature; for what the Divine Nature doth in God, the same Grace by imitation doth in a Soul; as the Divine Nature is in God the cause of his most transcending actions; to wit, love and union: So Grace in a Soul is the spring of glory, beatitude, supernatural knowledge and heavenly affections, by which she regulates all her works, according to integrity and holiness: Nay God obliges himself to give a Soul that can plead the title of Grace, the Kingdom of Heaven, and possession of eternal bliss.

No wonder then if after the sprinklings of Hysop, that is penitential tears, our Petitioner, expects a Harmony of joy and gladness, since the divine quality of Grace purchased by repen­tance is attended on by so many advantages: What matter of joy to be spiritually regene­rated, the Son of God, the Brother, and Coheir with Jesus Christ! wherefore St. Leo sayes, this gift of being the Son of God, to be au­thorized to call God Father, exceeds all his o­ther liberalities; for by generation a Father com­municates his Nature to his Son, producing him in species alike: So by Adoption, he that adopts gives unto a stranger in desire and affe­ction, what he is in himself, attributing un­to him the prerogative of a Son, entitling him to all his inheritance, the same as if he were his Son by Nature; now what Man doth to an­other out of affection, God doth in effect: For imprinting Grace in a Soul, he gives himself, and is really in her; insomuch that were it possible, God could be not immense, Grace would render him afresh present to and in the Soul.

Certainly if ever that saying was verifi­ed, where guilt hath raigned, there grace did yet more powerfully sway, it was in the person of our ho­ly Petitioner his raptures, and Enthusiastick throwes, his prophetick notions; Nay God's [Page 160] own Testimony of him, that Repentance had moulded him even conformably to his own Heart, sufficiently proved his Soul to float in floods of Grace, and consequently must needs swell with a great portion of joy; therefore with just reason he proclaims, thou wilt give unto my hearing joy and gladness.

Again this possession of Grace is accompa­nied with the expectation of a Sovereign good: For the understanding enlightned by Faith, knowes that Mans's Beatitude is in God, that this Beatitude is promised him as his final end, and the means to attain unto this End is by Grace, and acts of vertue; So that he enjoyes it not but upon the terms of being one day eter­nally happy; this certain expectation of Beati­tude, St. Bonaventure calls the Anchor and basis of Man in this life: It keeps him from dejection, placing still before his thoughts an infinite good, and which is infallibly to be the abject of his future acquisition; it choaks presumption, casting him upon the mediums ordained to lead him to this end; it draws his affections from terrene things, and raises them to God as the supream object alone worthy to be loved, and served.

What joy then to have our VVills carryed on by this gift of hope, which sweetly enter­tains us in the contemplation of Eternity, and [Page 161] this not as a thing doubtful (for what would Cloud the severity of our comfort) but as a reward to which we are entitled by grace, and of which by this vertue of hope we have an earnest and pledge. St. Paul to the Hebrews pre­scribes hope as a means to compass whatsoe­ver we would have. Let us approach with confi­dence to the Throne of Grace; as if we needed on­ly a firm hope, to be able to scale the Throne of God, and bear thence what so e're we de­sire.

St. Gregory observes, there is no pleasure in this World, which is not greater in the expe­ctation than fruition; by which we see what a strange Operation the very hope of some tem­poral object hath in us; what ravishments then must needs proceed from a hope that is fixed on the source of perfections; and to have this addition, that after our imaginations have proposed all the delights that humane wit can frame, yet they fall infinitely short of those joyes the Object of a supernatural hope will disco­ver unto us.

Blame not then our Petitioner if he give himself the assurance of joy and gladness, when once his Soul shall be enriched with Grace, and divine hope inspired into him; since their presence brings the highest satisfactions we are capable off in this World.

I observe after Christ had declared the remission of St. Mary Magdalens misdeeds, he bids her go in peace, to shew she is no more impious: For as they are strangers to repose, so rest and satisfaction are the natural effects of a good conscience.

When the Thief on the Cross had obtain­ed mercy, immediately follow the glad tidings he should exchange that very day his Gibbet into a Paradise; St. Austin had no sooner step­ped into the Paths of pennance, but he found himself overwhelmed with joy which he thus describes. On a suddain (sayes he) it grew delightful to me to be weaned from trifling pleasures, and what before I feared to loose, now with joy I dismiss; for thou, O supream Diety didst tear them from me, and supplyedst them by thy own presence who art in all honour, beauty and pleasure excelling. You see what he got in exchanging a few Worldly joyes for a life of pennance, in quitting a Creature he came to the enjoyment of his Creatour; in a­bandoning that we must needs once lose, and which we still apprehend will be ravish­ed from us, he arrived to an inestimable, and never perishing good.

Nay reason may tell us, as happy experience hath informed Saints, that if his mercy be so great, and transforms it self into so many Shapes of vertues in reward to sinners; it must [Page 163] needs be much more admirable in order to the just: For it is but equitable, that those who must love and honour him, should have a more ample share in the Treasures of his mer­cies, than such who injure and daily offend him: If when we are Enemies he fails not to give Testimonies of his love, being reconciled, and readmitted to his favour what will he not do? If he bestow a kiss upon a treacherous Judas, with what overflowing sweetness will he visit a loyal heart, which breaths forth nothing but love and a conformity to his will; if a sound of his voice as Man was so charming, that many of the Apostles at his first call abandoned all their VVorldly interests and engagements to follow him, what transports do the sweet whispers of his Divine Spirit occasion unto his dear Servants, what internal consolations, what tranquility of mind: St. Austin terms them certain previous relishes or Antipasts of Heaven, which far transcend all the contentment and satisfactions of this world.

In a word, that Seraphim of love St. Austin gives us the perfect Character of a spiritual joy by his own experience. Saying, O Lord, sometimes thou dost lead me into unknown de­lights, which (were they compleated in me) I know not what they would be, but cer­tain I am it would not be this life; that is, such a Dilatation of Spirits he found to attend those [Page 164] spiritual comforts, that he saw, were they ac­complished, a ruine of his mortal Being must needs ensue.

This is the joy and gladness our Holy Petitioner expects, and that he was not decei­ved in his expectation, scarce a Psalm of his that proclaims not the sweetness, and supera­bundant satisfactions issuing from the love, fear, and service of God, and therefore when he had petitioned for persecution, adversity, and the Crown of Martyrdom, he might justly solace himself with the sequel and fruits of sufferings, which are joy and gladness. To my hearing thou wilt give joy and gladness.

The Application.

Ah who would not then protest against the vain joyes of this world, to tast the sweetness of spiritual entertainments: St. Gregory puts this diffe­rence 'twixt Corporal and Spiritual delights, that the former whilest in expectation, are coveted with much vehemency, but when once enjoyed, they presently become nauseous, and distastful; the other we pursue but coldly, and with little heat of desire, yet when once we have a relish of them, we still languish after the encrease: This made St. Francis that blessed despiser of the World, to make a Covenant with his senses ne­ver to fasten with the least Contentment on [Page 165] any sensual object; and truly he was so exact in the performance, as he went up and down like the meer shadow of a Man, that had no­thing humane in him but his shape; his better part ever dwelling in the Mansion of the Blessed. These are joyes that will not be held by Repentance, may we then still languish after them;

Amen.

CHAP. XVIII.

Et exultabunt Ossa humiliata,

And humbled Bones shall rejoyce.

THis encouragement which our Petitioner al­lowes himself, corresponds with the se­cond part of the former verse, where he was will­ing to Sacrifice his life: For he doth not on­ly cheer himself, in reflecting upon the reward which repentance will bring to his Soul, but likewise upon the future condition of his Earthly mould, which he beholds as matter of great consolation; and therefore upon the same score he prosecutes the Subject of his hope, saying, that his humbled Bones shall rejoyce.

Amongst all the comforts Christian Religi­on affords, there is none hath so much influ­ence [Page 166] upon Man, as the expectation of a future re­surrection, the motive of this consolation springs from the belief we have of God's Omnipotency: For as we believe he hath created us of nothing, so we must acknowledge his power to restore us, and raise our ashes to a better, and more happy condition: Nay if we observe the course of Holy Scripture, we shall find the expiration of Saints hath a particular expression given it: For they are not said to dye, but to fall into a sleep, as if their Bodies after separation retained a certain vertue, which had resemblance with their glorifyed Souls.

In the Fourth Book of Kings Chap. 13. We read that a Carkass being thrown into the Sepulchre of Elizeus, was by a touch of his Bones restored to life.

St. Hierom relates how Constantine the Great conveyed with much Solemnity the relicks of St Andrew and St. Luke unto Constantinople.

Areadius likewise the Emperour transla­ted the relicks of Samuel the Prophet from Judaea into Thrasia, where they were received with great veneration, and joy of the people: All which shews, our Forefathers looked upon the remainder of Saints Bodies, not as liveless fragments, but as the Fountains of life, and health; as certain pieces God would make instru­mental to miracles, and to works above the [Page 167] power of nature. Therefore the Bones of Holy Persons endued with such vertue may justly be qualifyed with joy, and consequently it is not improper to say, That humbled Bones shall rejoyce.

Again St. John Damascene hath a fine con­ception; saying, those who imitate the vertues of Saints, may be more truly said their relicks, or impressi­ons, than the lump and mass of Earth they leave behind. He who hath the zeal and ardours of a St. Paul in the Conversion of Souls, may be stiled his lively Image: Who can claim the fortitude of a St. Stephen in accepting the stroke of Death for Justice sake; will infallibly bear the stamp of that Protomartyr: Who can perform the humble and spiritual life of a St. Francis, will prove a better pattern of him, than his own Body, which at this day remains entire at Assisium, as a Te­stimony of that Glory his Soul enjoyes in Heaven; so that when we cast our selves in­to the mould of their vertues, we become their animated statues, and make them rejoyce in our imitation, as the Angels do at a sinners Conversion: it is not unlikely our Holy Prophet alluded to such living relicks, vvhen he said humbled bones shall rejoyce. Since good Men are here for the most part crushed in the Worlds esteem, that values nothing but what is great in vanity: Yet amidst these Clouds of oppression, and scorns [Page 168] thrown at them, they find within them­selves a satisfaction in performing their duty to God, for the fruit of the spirit (sayes St. Paul) is joy, peace, and a thousand other content­ments which attend a state of innocence; so that it is an ingenious Expression of our Pe­nitent, that humbled bones shall rejoyce.

I have many times wondered, why Al­mighty God should give unto the Ashes of Saints, what he had denyed them whilst they were alive, and made not use of any limb, or vital motion but for his sake; that is, many mi­racles have been wrought, by touching the mouldred dust of Saints, who living were ne­ver favoured with the power of any Miracle: but as the lives of Saints are admirable, so the proceedings of Almighty God with them seem very mysterious, yet I have proposed some rea­sons of this to my sell.

First, Almighty God will shew by this how dear his Servants are unto him, and if he give so much vertue to their Ashes, what may we expect he doth to their Immortal Souls.

Next, it argues how grateful a thing hu­mility is in the sight of God, that those who have Crucifyed their flesh, and daily Sacri­ficed their Bodies for his name, should have the very Ashes of that Mortified Body, cure [Page 169] Diseases, restore sight to the blind, and raise the dead to life.

Thirdly, Almighty God will manifest the difference between a pampered Body, and one mang­led by acts of pennance, the one by all manner of delicacies sought to preserve a beauty, and make it proof against time: Yet once grown old, or cut off by Death it is cast into obli­vion; the other kept in Chains, and threatned daily with ruine, yet at the last proves mat­ter of veneration even unto those who be­fore perhaps contemned it.

You see then, how to live in the Me­mory of Men, what Art is to be used to raise a stately structure of our selves, the materials of this must be acts of Charity towards our. Neighbour, and acts of severity towards our selves; the Cement must be Patience, Constancy, Resignation to God's holy will, and the like; with these Saints have purchased glory to them­selves before God, and veneration amongst Men, that even Kings have crouched with bended knees before their Ashes, who whilst here poor Pilgrims upon Earth were looked upon as Idiots, and made as it were the mockery of the World; so that humbled bones at last shall Triumph, and erect their Trophies, where they had been made the spoils of Death.

St. Gregory Nazianzen affirms the Ashes of [Page 170] St. Cyprian were so powerful, as no Disease wanted there its remedy, and this Testimo­ny he received from those very persons, who had been the Subject of his miraculous Cures.

St. Ambrose relates of one Severus who be­ing blind, by touching only the Casket where­in were enchased the relicks of the Holy Mar­tyrs St. Gervasius and Protasius, he recovered his sight.

St. Austin recounts many miracles wrought by the relicks of St. Stephen, and adds: The benefits obtained at his shrine were so great and numerous, as whole Volumes might be filled with the relation.

In fine, there is not a Doctour of the Church, whose writings speak not the wonders Heaven hath owned, (even in their time) upon the score of supplications made in the presence and honour of Saints Bodies.

Nor did this religious Worship of relicks spring up originally with the Ghospel, for St. Epiphanius brings evidence how the Sepul­chers of Esay, Ezekiel, and Jeremy were had in great veneration among the Jews, and this from the extraordinary succours God conserred on distressed People at the Tombs of those Holy Pro­phets.

We find likewise Exodus 13. that before [Page 171] Moses conducted the Israelites out of Egypt, he ordained the Bones of Joseph to be taken up, and born away with Ceremony into the Land of promise.

Now why all this? But to verify our Holy Prophets assertion that humbled bones shall re­joyce; that Death may cause a separation twixt Soul and Body, and so seem to Triumph over this mortal clay of ours, cannot be denyed: Yet if our members have served in purity (as St. Paul terms it) and merited in life to be the Temple of the Holy Ghost, such as these (though exanimated) may still retain a vertue by which they give life and joy to other Be­ings. Whence justly our Petitioner fore-de­clares, and humbled bones shall rejoyce.

Truly it is but rational to conceive there should be a Providence to preserve from com­mon corruption, those Bodies who had been in­strumental to many acts of vertue, and made a daily victime by pennance: For since mortality is the effect of sin, there ought at least be some­thing that hath the resemblance of immortality to attend that Body, which hath much contribu­ted to the Souls happiness.

Besides, we believe our Bodies shall one day be glorified and vested with immortal dotes; it is fit then such who have here led a life as it were Angelical, without any contamination [Page 172] of sensual pleasures, should anticipate in some kind their future glorifyed condition, and how can this better appear, than by imprinting a Sovereign vertue in their extinguished Ashes, since it is decreed a compleat glorification cannot (un­less particularly dispensed with) be confer­red till the universal Resurrection.

This admirable operation given to their Earthly and liveless substance, as it is a Testi­mony of their Souls felicity, so is it no less to us a pledge the most dear we could have, by which we are assured of their watchful and compassionate care over us. In fine, how powerfully are we wrought into the imita­tion of their lives, when at their shrines we behold both Death and Nature vanquished, and the prodigious effects of humbled, pro­strate Limbs lowdly declare, how precious the Death of Saints is in the sight of God.

Thus our Holy Petitioner hath laid open unto us; First, the Jubileys of mind which fill a Soul united unto God by love and repen­tance: Next, to compleat the Harmony, he tells us our very bones shall not want their portion of joy; that if they here be made bare, disjoynted, or broken, Almighty God ne­ver fails to sweeten those rigours, by internal whispers and consolations, which carry them on to perseverance in their pressures and debase­ments, [Page 173] and when Saints have once payed this debt to nature, then he gives to the one part the immediate fruition of his Glory, and to the other he often communicates such Soveraign vertues, that they are as it were certain previous dispositions to immorta­lity.

'Tis true, the relick of a Saint appears but a lump of Earth liveless, inanimate, and so is not ca­pable of joy, yet God making it the instrument of miraculous effects, is thereby glorifyed, and what ever relates to his honour is matter of exultation. Again, St. Paul saith, that every Creature groans; that is, feels throwes, and longing desires after their Maker: If then these resentments be allowed to every Be­ing, much more ought we grant it to the Sacred pledge of a Saints Body, in which the Omnipotency, and other Divine attri­butes of God do so gloriously shine; and hum­bled bones shall rejoyce.

The Application.

Let us then so manage our senses in this life, enslaving them to the Lawes of reason, that after the short course of their servitude here, we may arrive to that joy mentioned by our Holy Petitioner.

Amen.

CHAP. XIX.

Averte faciem tuam à peccatis meis,

Turn away thy Face from my sins.

WHen I cast my Eye upon this clause of the Petition, I cannot but reflect on that passage of Esay where he sayes, it is a bitter thing to have once abandoned God; for after a sin is committed, though it be secret, unseen, and none reprehend us for it, yet we fear every shadow, suspect every look and syllable, nor can we ever think our selves secure and out of danger.

St. Austin sayes, as iniquity is alwayes ac­companied with a neglect of God, and conse­quently is a kind of Pride, by which we va­lue our own satisfaction beyond his honour; so sin by a just punishment throwes us down below our selves; it first induces us to actions unworthy our reason, and after that engage­ment, what Tyranny like to this usurper: For having shaken off the fear of God, (who alone ought to be the Object of that passion) we sink into the fear of every thing capable to be the Term of Sense; if a sound, it is a loud promul­gation of our Crime, if a Shadow it is some Am­buscado [Page 175] to surprize us; if the World be civil, they are acts of flattery to beguile us, if other­wise they are open hostilities raised by Heaven to begin that vengeance which will be con­tinued to eternity.

Nay though the cause of these terrours be taken away by the reinfusion of grace, yet there is a kind of unsettledness within us which remains ever after, and is ready to break forth upon every representation of past offences. Witness our Holy Penitent whom but a little before we have seen eleva­ted with the assurance of joy and prosperity, which was to attend both his spiritual and corporal sub­stance, but now glancing upon his misdeeds, they appear so ugly to him, that he believes it is impossible that the unspotted Eye of a Divinity can endure such abominations; where­fore lest he might again be involved in the same Abyss of misery, he petitions the Face of God may be averted from his sins; as if the just Judge of Mankind could not make a review of his actions, without laying abroad and re­viving the Ashes of his former condition.

Again our Penitent discreetly weighed that God hath a Countenance of Justice as well as mercy, to dispense unto his Creatures; that should the former be cast upon him, he were lost: For who can stand the Face of [Page 176] his Anger which is a consuming fire; he knowes God is just, holy, nay purity and sanctity it self, 'tis not then credible he can have any com­placence to injustice, for sure he must be of a depraved, and sordid nature, that hath not a disdain of what is evil, hence after a sin is com­mitted, Almighty God suspends no longer the action of his Will, but passes judgment upon it in himself, and prosecutes with hatred where he finds it, and truly sin deserves his vengeance.

First, it destroyes Man who is his lively Image, and the most noble Master-piece he hath framed in this World, and as a rare Artist cannot but be incensed against him who spoils his work. So God frowns at Sin, and it appears in his sight more horrid and execra­ble than is the plague, Thunder, or the most vene­mous beast unto the sense of Man.

But his indignation stops not at the Sin, he passes on to the Sinner, who commits and admits it within himself, him he abominates as one infected with the poyson of Sin, as one disfigured, and grown up in to a Monster, as one who hath scorned the Empire of his So­veraign, entertained his Enemy, transgress­ed, and rebelled against his holy Lawes.

This truth; saith Lactantius, is the Sove­raign basis of Religion, and Piety, for who would serve God if he loved not his faithful [Page 177] Servants, and chastized not those that scorn him; and in nothing render that homage and respect which is due to his greatness.

Do but imagine (says a holy person) with what impetuosity a rapid stream, that hath for a while been barricado'd up, doth at last finding a little passage break through and make its way: or a thunderbolt which for a time had been hemmed in a cloud, with what a dreadful force it issues forth, destroying what ever happens neer unto it: just so the anger of God, when not restrained by his mercy and patience, seises upon unfortunate Souls, and inflicts immortal and endless vengeance upon them: this anger in the next life will be im­placable never to be moderated in the vast ex­tent of Eternity; for as their Souls will be Eternally contaminated with Sin, so will they be Eternally odious in the sight of God.

From these considerations our holy peni­tent grounds his Suit, and supplicates that his face of justice may be averted from him; for to be strook with a million of thunderbolts would appear but like a hony dew, if compa­red to the terrour, which the angry looks of our great and good God will strike into a Sinner.

Turn away thy face, that is, examine not thy [Page 178] book of accounts kept in the archive of Eternity, where the debts of all Men are enrolled; if you will not connive, and pass over our sins, but retain them in your sight, and de­sign their discussion before your just tribunal; alas, who will be able to plead his cause; if the just Man shall with difficulty be saved, where can the impious shrowd his Head: St. Austin pronounces wo, and desolation to that person, whose life however pure and holy shall come to be laid open and brought to the Test without the Mercy of God.

Whilest our Petitioner thus contem­plates the disproportion of Man's justice with God's prerogative, he finds himself as it were in a Labyrinth, and after many a pensive thought, how to divert the Eye of his displeasure two Expedients occur. The one by calling home his affection to earthly things, and by disown­ing all those contentments which before he had valued beyond the Honour and Glory of his God; by suppressing all inordinate passions, that they break not forth and wander upon un­lawful objects: and when he shall have no act of inordination, to reproach him, but enjoy a quiet of Minde, which knows no disturbance unless what arises from the storms of repentance: In this posture he hopes, the peaceful Eye of God will be taken up in beholding the change, [Page 179] wrought in him, and that his vertues may serve as a veil cast over his sins; only he begs further that when he shall design design him a glance, that he would not for all this play the curious, and pry too narrowly, but rather the dis­sembler, as if he saw no farther than his penitential groans and tears.

St. Bernard warrants this design of our Pe­nitent by his own experience; saying, O my God I transgressed, and thou didst feign not to be offended, I forbear not my crimes, yet thou didst forbear thy chastise­ments, I prolonged, and persevered in my iniquity, and thou O Lord in thy pitty.

His next stratagem is to interpose the amiable person of Jesus Christ; for if charity cover a multi­tude of iniquities, what a preservative must this sa­cred pledge of Heaven needs prove; that propitiatory Sacrifice prepared by so many sufferings, is a shield of protection, a Sanctuary which the Justice of God it self cannot force; hence our Penitent exclaimed; respice in faciem Christi tui, that if the Head of Christ all Crowned with Thorns were interposed 'twixt God and a Sinner, it would obscure and Cloud his guiltiness, that his all-seeing Eye clogged with benignity could not pierce the traverse, nor come to a survey of his iniquities. Turn away thy face from my sins.

This assurance Nathan the Prophet gave [Page 180] him, that his Sin was transferred, and charg­ed upon the Shoulders of that all-immaculate Lamb, who was to bear away the sins of the World; it is then under this infinite oblation, and universal expiation he shrowds his failings from the face of God.

St. Austin observes, in God not to take notice, imports the same thing as to pardon, nor doth the frequent prosperity of wicked peo­ple shake this Truth, for every their least de­viation is registred and reserved till the last bit­ter account they are to make, however they here run on without any stop, as if the Sage ruler of all things took no cogni­zance of their actions, and which is done parhaps from a foresight they will persevere to the end in wickedness, and having performed acts of moral vertues, God allowes them a little calm in this life.

But in our sense, when God passes over as undiscerned our faults, he remits them with­out punishment, and so seems to have been a stranger to our misdeeds; but yet he never, doth this; that is; never turns away his Face from our sins, unless we first turn our Face upon them, placing them before our Eyes, and touched with a horrour at their deformity, abjure, and protest against them; having done this, we must then expose that ab­stract [Page 181] of wonders Christ Jesus before the E­ternal Father, that his wounded body may serve as a bulwark to defend us, and appease his angry looks, which implies the aversion of his Face, or fury from us.

Our penitent having in this manner made his way, he hopes the effect will follow, that God averting his Face, in that act will give him an abolition of his crimes, that so he may reap the fruit of a Holy penitential fear. We kow St. Peter fared not the worse, when prompted by a low esteem of himself, he request­ed his Lord to withdraw from him because a sinner: No more did the good Centurion lose any thing, in acknowledging his little of merit to have his house blessed, and made happy by Christ's presence: So our Penitent's awful re­spect in declining the Face of his Creatour, springing from a sense of his own unworthi­ness; and believing his sins an object unfit for an Eye so pure and unstained, may perhaps draw benedictions upon him, and contribute in a large measure to his happiness. Wherefore he goes on still repeating, turn away thy face from my sins.

The Application.

From this discourse we may learn the agita­tions [Page 182] of a Soul which hath once been de­filed with sin, sometimes he Figures God unto him as an angry judge, and is affrighted to appear before him, then again as a purity so compleat and Essential, that though he should be conscious of no guilt, as having been cleansed, and washed as white as Snow, he dares not yet stand to the examen: Nay, on the contrary it makes him petition to have that face (which is the joy of Angels) to be diverted from him: we must then in imitation of our penitent fix only to this comfort, that humility, repentance, and reverential thoughts, though they keep us here depressed and under hatches, will at last render that face (we would now decline through the terrour of our Sins) amiable and pleasing into our possession, whereon we may gaze, and feed our glorifyed Senses for all Eternity.

Amen.

CHAP. XX.

Et omnes iniquitates meas dele,

And wipe away all my iniquities.

ST. Cyril of Alexandria saith, in the j [...]stifi­cation of a sinner are required certain pre­vious dispositions, amongst which he reckons up faith, hope, repentance, and fear: Whence I con­ceive the apprehension of our Holy Peni­tent, lest God should fasten his regards up­on his iniquities mentioned in the preceed­ing verse, was initiative, and preliminary to his present address. That his iniquities may be wiped away.

St. Austin holds it a thing most rare, that any should embrace Christian Religion, who have not first received within them an im­pression of the fear of God.

That the Ninivites became Penitent, and shrowded themselves under a veil of Sack­cloth, and Ashes: The only cause was a fear of ven­geance threatned them by the preaching of Jonas.

St. Hierom upon the First Chapter of Ma­lachy sayes, behold O Lord how the fear of punishment [Page 184] diverts us from evil, and that the priviledge of being your Children arises from a servile apprehension.

Our Penitent was not ignorant of this, when after a dread conceived of God's judg­ments, he immediately proceeds (as if pre­pared by that terrour) to demand an abolition of his crimes. Wipe away my iniquities.

Besides he here explicates himself more fully, that in case he do procure the Face of God to be averted, then he is confident, the sequel will be an expulsion of sin by grace. For it were absurd that faith, love, and other qua­lities inherent, should be necessary to dis­pose us for pardon, and yet the formal effect to be extrinsecal, and a justice not ours, but im­puted to us. St. Paul desides this in his Epi­stle to the Colossians. Christ hath freed us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of the love of his Son. Where you see the infusion of justice (by which a Man becomes pious) succeeds to the Remission of sin, by which we cease to be impious, and just as the Air by the same ray of the Sun, hath not only its darkness expelled, but also is filled with light; so that true Son of Justice communicating un­to Man his divine grace, doth at once by this gift disperse the Clouds of sin, and reple­nish him with the splendour of inherent Ju­stice.

The same Apostl [...] Rom. 5. takes away all doubt in this point; saying, that the grace of God is diffused into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto us; and that no mistake in this Text may happen, St. Austin explicates it in this Sense. The charity of God is said to fill our hearts; not with that love by which he loves us, but by [...]he [...]by which we love him. It is then in this foun­tain of love, which springs within us, whose over-flowing streams arise from Christ's do­nation; in these we are washed, we are sanctifyed, and made just; by this regene­ration we are said to become a new Creature, and from an Enemy purchase the title of be­ing the Son of God, all which powerfully im­port a mutation and real change within us.

St. John in his First Epistle sayes, he that doth justice is just: Abel was just in that he sacri­ficed unto God with all the circumstances of homage due unto a supream Being: Noah just in that he gave credit unto God, feared his judgements, and obeyed his commands. St. Luke affirms Zachary and Elizabeth to be just from their compliance, and obedience to Divine precepts; so that it is clear the Prin­ciple of their justification was inherent, and that nothing extrinsick or imputative can be the formal cause of our actions, for if not issu­ing [Page 186] from something within us, we cannot own them to be ours.

Our Holy Penitent filled with supernatu­ral illustrations, was not a stranger to Divine Lawes established in order to Man's conversion: Wherefore he knew well his Petition, to have his iniquities strook off, involved the gift of grace by whose power alone they were to be destroyed.

Nay, even Natural Reason will lead us to this Truth, for justification is a motion from sin to justice, whence its name is derived, as calefa­ction from heat: Now it is evident to expell cold, will not be thought calefaction, unless the quality of heat be introduced: So the bare remission of sin, cannot amount to an act of justification, without the consecution of Ju­stice; which is the End, we tend to in this mo­tion.

Besides, justification is not bestowed on us by God meerly to avoid punisment, it is de­signed as well to fit us for Heavenly rewards, this St. Paul testifyes ad Rom. 8. That God glo­rifyes whom he hath justifyed; of which glory a simple absolution cannot be the Subject, since no person by a judicial sentence clearing him from guilt, is thought by that to merit a reward, but to exchange the condition of an enemy for that of a friend, of a domestick, nay of a childe, this [Page 187] must needs be wrought by something more than a bare condition.

In this Petition then he implores virtu­ally the infusion of justifying grace, a divine qua­lity inherent it the Soul, which like a bright ray of the Sun disperses all the Clouds of sin, before whose presence without a miracle it cannot subsist one sole moment: It likewise enclines the Soul to Christian duties, and from that source do flow all the v [...]rtuous, and pious action we perform: For as sin expells justice, being opposite to habitual grace; not only by way of privation, but contrariety: So a supream act of love opposes habitual sin, and by a contra­ry working, as an efficient cause destroyes it. Whence infusion of grace, and deletion of sin do as infallibly succeed to such an act of love, as the infusion of a rational soul into a Body after humane generation. Thus our Petitioner like a quaint Pen-man, so couches his demands, as to comprize in them much more than the letter seems to express: Wipe away all my iniquities. This word all is emphatick, and expresses with some energy a desire not only to have those sins which appear before him, and re­proach his ingratitude, to be remitted: But also what ever are set upon his score in that eter­nal Book of accounts, and contracted by him, either through ignorance, inadvertence, or [Page 188] oblivion, in not discharging what he owes for their expiation.

Our Petitioner had reason to add this Particle, and frame his Petition full, if we reflect upon what Solomon sayes Ecclesiast. ch. 8. That all things concerning another life shall here be wrapt up in doubts and uncertainties. No security of our state whether markt out to punishment, or reward: For were there any means to this discovery, the benefits of God would lay it open; yet we find these indiscriminately dispenced to the just and impious; to preserve some in humility, he loads them with afflictions, lest others should despair, he fills them with abundant con­solations; some he draws by the Lure of temporal blessings, so to buoy them up from despair, or in reward of some moral vertue; others he steeps in the bitterness of wants and disgraces, to stop the Carreer of pride, and excess; and by a paternal correction he presents an opportu­nity by which they are either deterred from sin, or may satisfy in this life for their trans­gressions. Sometimes again the doom of punishment begins here which is to last for eter­nity; so that neither adversity, nor prosperity give us any light into the state of Men's consciences, whence our Penitent, fearing lest any un­known guilt may stain his Soul, petitions that all his iniquities may be taken away.

St. Paul confesses after a severe inquisi­tion of himself though he found no matter of accusation, yet he durst not trust to his own justification; knowing well, the judgments of God and Men are very different, and if we groap so much in our own concerns, what mad­ness upon every slight conjecture, and sur­mise, to pass sentence of condemnation upon our Neighbour: This savours not the Spirit of an Apostle who would have no other Ʋm­pire than Christ the true searcher of hearts; and the same maxime was fixed in our Holy Peni­tent, who not daring to secure himself from all imputations, cryes out; wipe away all my iniquities that no sin, upon what account con­tracted, may escape the Seal of God's pardon.

How many have been seen who beheld themselves with an Eye of satisfaction as patterns of innocency, as possessing within themselves the treasure of grace, to a great proportion; and yet brought to the Test were found empty Ves­sels, and poor Objects of frailty and malice. St. Peter told his blessed Master he was ready to attend him unto Prisons, nay, even to Death it self; but the event proved he had not the Ground-work of such a fortitude within him. St. Paul whilst he played the fierce Lyon, preying upon the Blood of Christians, believed all his flames were enkindled by a just zeal of God's [Page 190] Holy Lawes, and how do we know but ma­ny actions of ours may proceed from a gross ignorance, which will not render us inexcu­sable at the latter day; what greater Evidence of integrity than to Sacrifice life in any cause, and yet this we have seen done on either side of two opinions diametrically opposite to each other: Both these propose unto them­selves Almighty God above all things amiable as the motive of their sufferings, yet without dispute one of the two must needs be involved in errours, and in the total privation of grace: Hhw justly then doth our Penitent (suspending all judgement of his condition) beg that all his ini­quities may be taken away; that if he have not perfect Charity he may obtain it, if he go astray he may be reduced into the right path, if in darkness he may be filled with light; and since we are ignorant of our own state, and that God hath reserved the knowledge of this Truth to himself, he is resolved in his petition ne­ver to omit this clause; Et omnes iniquitates mea [...] dele, and wipe away all my iniquities.

The Application.

In pursuance of this design we are in regard of our own infirmity, and indisposition never to Lull our selves in security, since God's promises [Page 191] in order to the remission of sins require on our part, that we be worthily disposed for the re­ception of the Sacraments: Now to have an in­fallible assurance of this fitted disposition, or that we are not guilty of some secret pride, some mortal sin undiscovered, some inordinate cleaving to the World, and the like, is by God's Providence locked up in his own Breast, so to keep us humble, wary, and in fear of his judgments: Wherefore all we have to do, is to hope in the mercy of God, in the merits of Christ's passi­on, and efficacy of the Sacraments, and then conclude with the same Prayer of our Peni­tent, that all our defects and transgressions whe­ther known or concealed to us may be blotted out.

Amen.

CHAP. XXI.

Cor mundum cre [...] in me Deus,

Create in me O God a clean heart.

OUr Holy Penitent in the Ten precedent Verses, working like an expert Carver by way of defalcation had still desired he might be brought into shape, by cutting off all those [Page 192] Excrescencies, which made him monstrous in God's Eye: Now he petitions (believing his whole frame vitiated, and unfit for his design) that a new model might be drawn up of him, and new materials inserted in the whole stru­cture. In order to this, he first moves to have a clean heart created in him; this shews him a wise, and bold beggar, that will not be con­tent with scrapps, but askes a treasure which may enrich, and enable him to give to his Benefactour: For this addresse implyes a refor­mation of all the faculties of his Soul, the Scri­pture expressing frequently by the name of Heart both the understanding, Will, and Memo­ry: So that all these once purifyed, and adorn­ed with innocence, he will be able to produce Heroick acts of faith and hope; and the daily in­fluence of divine favours still rising in his ima­gination, must needs enkindle flames of Charity within him.

St. Hierom compares sanctifying grace with the essence of the Soul, for as the powers, and na­tural faculties (which are the instrument of acti­on) flow from the essence: So from grace are di­stilled into the powers of the Soul all those vertues by vvhich they are moved and carryed on to what they act. Grace then is like a new Be­ing vvhich elevates Man above his natural con­dition, and puts him into a capacity of possessing [Page 193] God who is his supernatural end; and by con­sequence it ought like a noble Queen be attend­ed with a train of infused habits of Vertues. The Theological furnish us with wings to fly in a straight Line unto God; the Cardinal set us in a just comportment of holiness towards our Neighbour, and our selves: Nay, when Sancti­fying Grace shall no more be clogged with the Mass of the Body, and relicks of sin, her last operation will be to produce unto us the clear vision of God, accompanied with beatifick love; for the essential part of grace is the same thing with Glory, and only distinguished like to what is perfect, from that which is less per­fect, or as a thing begun from what is fi­nished and compleat.

This Sanctifying Grace then is the fountain our Penitent thirsts after, for the purifying his Heart, and if once washed in this stream he may justly call it a clean heart, witness the Pro­phet Ezekiel Chap. 6. I will shower down upon you a pure water, and it will cleanse you from all your iniqui­ties. If this stain consist in a perverse action unretracted, Sanctifying grace recalls this perverse action by an habitual conversion unto God, and submission to his Holy Will. If it speak an offence to God, grace repairs this injury, and makes that injurious Action no more voluntary: If his ugliness spring from an enmity with God, grace [Page 194] appeases all his anger, and changes it into a love of complacence as a necessary effect; not that to love us he hath any need, but because a Soul enriched with Grace is just, and righteous, and whilest it is in such a condition, God can­not but delight himself in an object so worthy and deserving. If his deformity involves an obligation to eternal punishment, grace clears all that score, raising a Soul to that degree as she is worthy of Heaven: Now 'tis impossible that being in a state capable of enjoying him, she can be lyable to such a debt, wherefore there is nothing so hideous, and abominable in a sinner, which grace doth not destroy. Thus you see what an expedient our Holy Penitent hath pitched upon to arrive by it to his de­signed purity, and if he obtain his demand, he knowes his work is done; that is, the operation of grace is so infallible, as the effect is not to be hindred: For it is not possible that a Soul at the same time can be innocent, and guilty, holy, and impious; have a Right to Heaven and lyable to eternal death: So that being once drowned in this purifying Ocean, he receives a pledge of all the felicity that either the nature of Angels or Men is capable off.

But it may be objected, that our Petiti­oner may fall short of his expectation even though he obtain his demand: For we see ma­ny [Page 195] holy habits introduced with grace, to lye as dead within us; no wayes disposing us sensi­bly to supernatural actions; Nay on the contrary, that persons so enriched are often disturbed, and harassed with the insolencies of perverse inclinations: Now the reason of this is, that the effects of Grace are spiritual, and without the Sphere of sense, so that these supernatural ver­tues being of a quite different rank from the vitious propensions of our corrupt nature, they do not by their presence necessarily destroy them. This position our Penitent admits, knowing that God obliges not himself to communicate unto every Soul all kind of su­pernatural vertues as a necessary dependance on Sancti­fying grace; but that he distributes to some more to others less, in reference either to their want, their disposition, or the Series of his Holy Pro­vidence, which deals the measure of his favours according to his will.

Having weighed all this, he recollects his thoughts as to his own particular, and remembers how before he defiled himself with sin. God had witnessed a satisfaction in the choice of him, making him the object of his most ob­liging liberalities; next, he considers that when God is pleased to sign his pardon and letters of grace unto a sinner, he doth not only free him from eternal punishment for what is past, but re­stores [Page 196] all the treasure he had hoarded up in the sunshine of his favour, nay more, conferres an addition of grace in that very penitential act by which he concurs with his merciful call: So that he hath reason to hope if he purchase a clean heart; that is, if it be sprinkled with the dew of sanctifying grace, his understanding now stupified in the mists of sin, will receive its wonted irradiations, his will born down with the weight of earthly affections, will breath forth again amorous languishments after eternal de­lights; his memory which now records the ugly species of sensual pleasures, will be taken up in the holy entertainments of a spiritual life; and in sequel of this, he thinks it not presumption to be­lieve, he shall find himself in the same, if not better condition than before his fall; and in possession of all those precious titles the Di­vine Oracle had once pronounced of him. This meditation puts him upon great resolves how to preserve, and improve the purity he sues for, that it may more strictly unite him to God who is his final end, his hope, and beatitude; wherefore every moment he redoubles his petition. Create in me O God a clean heart.

Another motive of this his Petition is, in that the heart is the source of all evil: 'Tis from thence that Homicide, Adultery, Theft, and other sins arise, which gave occasion unto [Page 197] many great wits to assert, that internal transgres­sions alone were punished by God, and if at any time the scourge of his anger seems to fall heavy upon external acts, it was meerly upon the score of bad example, whose consequences are for the most part very pernicious to Man­kind. Besides, as the heart is the fountain of all evil, so is it no less of all good: For the goodness and malice of every action consists in its conformity with reason, which rule cannot be squared out by external acts, because the power that sets them on work, cannot discern whe­ther the object be sutable to reason or no. This alone belongs to the understanding, and in se­quel to the Will, by whose direction it is led: It is evident then that on the motion of the heart (which expression comprizes the three faculties of the Soul as I said in the beginning) depends the blame, and praise of whatsoever we do: For that an action may be said to be of Man; the understanding must first give its ap­probation, by which he doth it knowingly; next, the will is to make its election, and in that owns its liberty: Lastly, the memory is for the most part filled with various Images of Ter­restrial Objects, by which it solicits the will to vain and bad desires, so that, if these three be reformed, he questions not but to deface all the fantomes and representations of this [Page 198] World which have led him so astray, and by a total diversion from all that is Earth, to repose quietly in God: That then his under­standing may receive the irradiations of a holy light, his will be consumed in the flames of a pure love, his memory stript of all the species of vain objects, he incessantly repeats: Create in me O God a clean heart.

St Gregory sayes that Abel's Sacrifice was so highly acceptable unto God in that he had first offered up the same in his heart; so that it was not the best of his flocks, but the devotion of his heart, which set a value upon that action. Again, the gloss sayes, it is not the loudness of the voice, but the lovingness of the heart which sounds sweetly in God's Ear; so that if you strike not upon this string, and according to those notes which our great Musitian hath set down, you will but [...]arr, and make a dissonancy ungrateful to your Creatour. This our Bles­sed Saviour sufficiently hinted in St. Mat­thew, when he sayes, They honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: Which imports, that though our Lips, Eyes, Hands, and eve­ry other part speak Sanctity and Holiness; yet if our Heart that great Wheel give not motion to the rest, the End will be nothing but dis­order and confusion.

It is storied of St. Catharine of Sienna, that [Page 199] reading this verset of David, she petitio­ned for a new heart, believing her own to be defiled with Sin; for her love represented to her every the least defect as a monstrous defor­mity: The issue of this her Address was, that Christ our Lord appeared to her, opened her breast, took out her heart, and thus left her heartless, but not hopeless; in this plight she continued somedays, when her amorous maker returns, and fills the void place he had left with his own heart: O happy exchange, so that for ever after this blessed Saint was wont to conjure our Saviour, that he should have care of his own heart: if then St. Catharine pro­secuting the form of anothers petition met with so good success, have we not reason to conclude the like amorous enterchange befel our holy prophet, especially if we reflect upon what God sayes of him, that he had found a Man according to his own heart, that is, who in all things follow the motion and impulse of that heart I gave him: But I conceive this Exchange in the Legend of St. Catharine is not understood to be Physical and real, the moral is, when God destroyes in a sinners heart the foul Characters he there had forged, he takes his pencil, marks it for his own, draw­ing upon it his divine gifts and favours; whence St. Ambrose sayes, at the latter day the reproach [Page 200] of a sinner will be to have blotted out the fair Images of innocence and simplicity of heart; de­lineated by the Hand of God, and in the Room to have set up his own Idol of shame and vanity; lest then any of those hideous spectres may appear at that dreadful Tribunal he now implores, that the Table of his heart, as yet capable of other impressions, may be run o're with the strokes of his mercy: To this end he cryes; Create in me O God a clean heart.

When the Machabees had regained the Temple of Sion, their resolution to destroy the Altar prophaned by Antiochus was com­mended, because all their Ceremonies of Purification, whilst the Altar stood, could ne­ver have washed away the opprobry of that con­tamination.

Our holy penitent was fixed on the same principle, for beholding his soul contami­nated by his transgressions, his whole contri­vance is, that there may be no witness extant, nor any Monument remain of his infideli­ty, wherefore he begs a recreation, or rather such a production of habits opposit to what he had contracted, as it might not appear the same thing: He would not have it created anew, (for he knew it to be incorruptible, and immortal) but that God would daign so to renew it, as it might seem a new Creation; for [Page 201] to restore it to its former condition of inno­cen [...], was all one as to create it; that whereas before his heart was like a World without a Sun, excluded both from light and heat, now upon this transmutation it might become more pure than Snow, whiter than Milk, and more beautiful than the polished Saphir. That where­as before it was like a City burnt, sacked, and rased to the ground; for the future it might prove a fortress impregnable against all the Worlds allurements. That whereas before it was like a habitation deserted and made a refuge only for Toads, Spiders, and Snakes; hereafter it might serve as a Temple for the Holy Ghost, attended on with a retinue of supernatural and moral ver­tues. That whereas before he had not Eyes but to prye into the faults of others, for the time to come he might be quick-sighted only to discern his own misdeeds. Lastly, whereas he had left God to follow sin, and at the same time became as it were a stranger to himself, now he sues for a clean heart that he may reco­ver himself, and so return to his God, ho­ping like the Prodigal Son to find some little Corner of retreat in his Fathers house; though it be but in the nature of a hireling. These are his aims, and which he awaits as the effects of his Metamorphosed heart, he knowes on its tem­per depends the consistence of all vertues, and [Page 202] if that foundation be well laid, it will be the more secure for him to reenter his formes possession. He is not likewise ignorant, that of all the gifts wherewith God hath ennobled Man, it is not only our heart he exacts in re­quital; hence it is that the Enemy of Mankind layes all his batteries particularly against it, insomuch that St. Chrysostome affirms there is not any Nation, City, or Person in the whole World, against whom so many designs are set on Foot both by open force and treachery, as are machinated against a poor distressed heart; and which is yet more deplorable, that most of its Enemies are hatched, and trained up with­in its own Breast, who like the Viper tears a­sunder the womb that bare them. Besides, they are all armed compleatly against it, whilest this defendant to preserve it self against so ma­ny Harpyes and ravenous VVolves, hath nothing but a poor will, and this weakned extreamly enfeebled by original sin; so that many times it is so overpowred, what by the charms of ob­jects presented to her, what by their importu­nity, and near approach, that unable to make any offensive; nay, or so much as defensive play, all she can do, is to disown and disavow any com­pliance, protesting against the violence of all her mutinous passions. In these distresses our Penitent knew well it was necessary to have [Page 203] a clean heart, that is, a heart st [...]d in that per­fection, as might dimini [...] the effects of [...]iginal sin; for a Soul arrived once at perfection, performs acts of vertues with such facility as if he seemed not to have forfeited [...] [...]usti [...]es, and though usually this happiness is not pur­chased but by a long tract of unwearied practise, yet God can supply all this by a superabundant Collation of his Grace, and with these hopes, he confidently and incessantly tunes forth, create in me O God a clean heart.

The Application.

Here we are taught that in all our actions we must attend to the sincerity of our intentions for it is not the material thing we do, that gives a value to them, but the source from whence they spring; and if that be qualifyed with a pure designment to aim only at God's glory, then it is evident they proceed from a heart fashi­oned by the hand of God, and directed by his all-moving Spirit, St. Austin sayes, we shall be rewarded, or punished, according to the will by which we have acted. Abraham lost not his Son, nor likewise did he lose his me­rit, because it is the same moral goodness which resides in the inferiour and exteriour act, and if the one be obstructed, this takes not off the esteem [Page 204] due to the other; just as the Sun is still luminous, though a Cloud sometimes hinders the effect of his beams: Let us bless therefore our good God who contents himself with the heart, and let us dispose that alwayes ready for his service.

Amen.

CHAP. XXII.

Et Spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis,

And renew in my Bowels a right spirit.

OUr Holy Penitent in this clause keeps the method of a wise Petitioner, having an Eye not only to his present succour, but also how to settle a constant supply: For to have implored a dean heart would avail him little without a sen­tinel and guard to protect this fountain from im­pure hands: He was not ignorant that the will is a blind faculty that must be directed, where­fore he petitions here in behalf of his under­standing, that it may receive those lights which are necessary for his conduct in all the occur­rences of this life. Renew in my Bowels a right spirit.

This spiritual rectitude consists in two heads, [Page 205] to wit, faith and morality: The first teaches what we owe to God, the other what is due to our Neighbour and our selves; the first disco­vers unto us the perfections, and attributes of God, and of these gives us a most certain knowledge not lyable to any errour, because it is grounded on the Testimony of God, which is more infallible than our reason, senses, or appari­tions of the dead.

Now that this certitude in matter of Faith ought to be of all things most unquestion­able, is evident: For Man is obliged to pre­fer God before all created things, to set a value upon the works of his service beyond any proper interest of riches, honour, nay of life, which is frankly to be exposed in defiance of all the cruelties that can be inflicted, rather than to fail in the least tittle of what Faith prescribes as due to our Creatour: It were then very se­vere we should be tyed to forfeit what is most precious to us in this World, and to sustain that which we most abhor, and all this for a thing that is dubious, uncertain, and lyable to errour. Wherefore in all reason the know­ledge we have by Faith ought to be the most depurated from dross of doubt, or vacillation: Now what can be more secure and satisfa­ctory than to be taught by God himself, in­structed by his word and revelation, who is a su­pream [Page 206] verity and cannot reveal a falshood, and which is conveyed unto us by the Church, who is the immediate receptacle of Divine truths; so that it is inconceivable how any expedient could be found more efficacious to quiet the minds of Men in religious duties than this of Revelation.

In other vertues God seems to treat with us familiarly, and as equalls, laying down rea­son to move us to embrace them; but in mat­ter of Faith he playes the Sovereign, he com­mands, forbids, threatens, promises, and delivers things which surpass all imaginati­on, and this without any evidence, or reason of their existence; now though at the first glance this proceeding seems harsh, yet se­riously weighed it will be found a stroke of his goodness; for whilst we believe amidst these Clouds and obscurity, it speaks more loud an act of our free will which is the spring of me­rit, presupposing the existence of grace: For if where we most contradict our selves, there is a Subject of greater merit, certainly in nothing Man doth more devest himself of his inclina­tions than in acts of Faith, for he renounces his natural way of knowledge by reason, and sense; he Sacrifices his understanding to God's simple word, and believes all the greatnesses and wonders of the Divine Being, and mysterious works, meerly because he hath said it.

Our Holy Penitent desirous to be irradi­ated with these unerring notions, petitions that a right Spirit may be resetled in him, for supposing Man's End or Beatitude, which is to know, serve, love, and glorify God in all E­ternity; we must in order to this end raise our understanding and affections to objects which outstrip the power of sense, and exceed the reach of our natural reason; the acts of Religi­on by which we pay our duty to God, being supernatural, and justly proportioned to Beatitude to which they tend; now Man of himself with­out some light from above, cannot frame any supernatural act; of himself he knowes not what homage and service is due to his Sovereign Monarch, nor with what Sacrifices he ought to appease his anger, and pay the tribute of thanks, and adoration, wherefore he begs, that he him­self would teach him and be his Master, that he may not like the Gentiles follow the vain dictamens of sense, but serve him as he would be served, and in that manner as might be most agreeable to his divine will, which he shall infallibly perform if he daign to fill him with his right Spirit; and renew in my bowels a right Spirit.

But whilst he sues that this Spirit all guid­ing of Truth may be infused into his bowels, that is diffused through the whole Man, in [Page 208] such sort that every particle of him may feel its operation, he is not I say so transported as not to consider what he asks, and in that the great con­descendency of God, who disdains not to con­verse with Men; he deals not with them as he doth with Angels, where the superiour intel­ligences instruct the inferiour, but by himself an increated wisdom, he conveys unto our happy Ears the mysterious wonders of our Faith: It is by him we are taught that all sin is forbidden, even to the least thought or desire; that God is to be loved above all things, and sin to be abomi­nated in the highest degree, so that the exact observer of his Laws must be holy and enriched with all vertues; there is nothing in our Faith that speaks not the greatness of God, nothing that is not sublime, transcending, and what becomes not an infinite Majesty; he layes down nothing of eternal things that sounds the least imperfection: So that the compleat know­ledge of them must needs involve a joy eternal, since even in the transitory passage of this life we experience the most solid contentment and sa­tisfaction we have to consist in the sweet Medi­tation of those Mysteries: For alas, without those hopes which Faith gives us, what Cap­tive more wretched than Man; we are as ba­nished into a Land of misery, enslaved by sin, where we truckle under the insolency of unruly [Page 209] passions, which hurries into many disasters and calamities; at last, we finish a deplorable life by death, in whose Face is seated nothing but dread and horrour: After this corruption, stanch, and infection are the last farewell and monument of us, so that without Faith we are centered within these myseries, unable to carry our sight beyond the low condition of a brute, and un­reasonable Creature. On the contrary, faith teach­es we are created to a supernatural and blessed end, which we are to purchase by acts of Religion: That our Souls are immortal, by which (resem­bling the Angels) we are excluded from pu­trefaction, and approach the nearer to God: That he hath created all things of nothing in which belief we acknowledge his Omnipoten­cy, and cherish our own hopes, that if he could extract us out of nothing, with more facility can he after death rejoyn our disunited parts.

Our Holy Penitent figures to himself all these comforts resulting from divine faith, and in sequel implores with instance that a right spirit may be renewed within him.

But I conceive our Holy Penitent looked not upon himself as wholy deprived of habitu­al faith, for though every mortal sin disposes afar off unto its total ruine, and truly merits it should be taken from us; yet God is so mer­ciful as to leave that foundation unalterable by sin, [Page 210] unless directly undermined by an opposite act of infidelity. In this petition then for a right spirit he pretends to the operation of habitual faith; that is, an actual and firm belief of Ob­jects proposed by Faith: His reason is, that the lights and irradiations of Faith have a certain blessing from God, to stir up and carry the will to what is good; so that after an act of Faith produced in the understanding, he knew his clean heart would no longer lye a sleep, but grow up into a spark which would both en­lighten and enflame, as the Prophet Habakkuk sayes, Chap. 1. The just Man lives by Faith; that is, Faith actuated, and enlivened both preserves the Soul's life by grace, and by merit opens a passage to eternal glory.

Run o're the World's History from the Creation, and you will find habitual faith ly­ing dead and frozen within us to have been the source of all our misery. The reprobate Angels upon what score did they forfeit that precious title of being the Sons of God? was it not in that they preferred a motion of self love, be­fore the motives of faith, which would have rendered them stable and secure? What a fri­volous plea made Adam for his trespass, lest his Wife upon his denyal might have grown sad, as if a fear to offend God, and ruine his whole posterity ought not to have prevailed [Page 211] in this temptation? Had Cain considered the greatness of God, his obligation to observe his Law in loving his Brother, a petty suggesti­on of avarice, or sting of envy, could never have animated him to an action so horrid; the Massacre of so many Infants by Herod's com­mand wherein he thought to have involved the person of Jesus Christ was meerly upon the account of ambition, the Jewish Oracles fore­telling his raign and Empire, which Herod un­derstood to be of this World; nor did the Jews put our Saviour to death, but in order to the preservation of their City, and them­selves in the good Opinion of the Romans; so that Men have been pushed on in all their crimes by humane reasons and interests; whilst they laid aside those disswasives which Faith held forth to them, and which had (if duly weighed) rendered them victorious, witness St. John Chap. 5. The power of faith hath made a conquest of the World, which is meant not of the habit, but act of faith.

Our Holy Penitent applyes all this to himself, having seen the shipwrack that befel him through a sluggishness in not giving life and activity to his faith: For when he was tempted to impurity and other his transgressions that sprang from thence, had he considered what faith teaches concerning mortal sin, that it deprives [Page 212] a Soul of eternal glory, adjudges her to the endless torments of Hell, that it throwes a scorn and contempt upon a God whose greatness and Majesty is infinite, and who merits from all Creatures a respect and love ineffable; had he fixt himself on these sublime and supernatural rea­sons of Faith the Childish baits of flesh and blood could never have taken hold upon his unfor­tunate senses; wherefore to prevent at least for the future, he solicits a right spirit may be infused into him, a spirit that may not be overgrown with rust like a sword in a scabberd for want of use; but that it may prove active even to his very bowels, which is to say, that this noble quality of faith producing frequently acts, by the consideration of its proper ob­jects, may gain his will, memory, sensitive and moving faculties, and so happily conduct him to his designed Beatitude; renew in my Bowels a right spirit.

After Faith thus enlivened as a necessary dependent, comes in a troop of moral vertues, which compleats the rectitude of his spirit, he so much desires: For vertue is a habit that enclines the Soul to perform actions sutable to a reason­able nature; and though the Soul be sufficient of herself by her natural faculties to frame se­veral acts of vertue, yet it is with hardship and difficulty, whereas this quality of vertue contri­butes [Page 213] a facility by which the good thence issu­ing is done with promptitude, and delight. It consists in a mediocrity between two extreams, that is, too little, or too much: For example; Charity is between a coldness or indevotion, and an indiscreet Zeal: Fortitude between rashness and cowardise; so of the rest: Wherefore the art is, so to steer your course as to keep at an equal distance from them both, yet alwayes mindful, that if one be more dangerous than the other, you are most to decline that; as if I would embrace the vertue of hope, which is beset with presumption and despair, and my com­plexion cold and melancholly drawes me on the extremity of despair, this certainly most threatens my ruine, and therefore I am to look upon every spark of that with more apprehension, than a fire which issues from presumption.

Our Holy Penitent knew that whilest he sailed in the Ocean of this World, he must needs be flanked with two dangerous Rocks, that is two opposite vices to any vertue he would embrace, so that if he keep not a steady hand to the helm, by the least diversion he is cast up­on a shelf which will destroy him: Where­fore it behoves him to fit himself with a right spirit, a Spirit of vertue, which leaning upon the Principles of reason, might preserve him [Page 214] in that degree of honour wherein he is rank­ed amidst created Beings. For as knowledge makes one knowing, so vertue gives us the title of good, and as the good of any thing consists in the just measure and proportion unto it; he concludes this right spirit of vertue to be a purchase wor­thy his ambition; since doubtless nothing to Man as Man is more sutable and agreeing, than such actions as are produced conformable to a reasonable nature; he anticipates his Son's Declaration, and thinks nothing profitable, pleasant, or great, which is not made so by ver­tue: This right spirit will shower down spiritual comforts, settle him in peace with God, An­gels, and Men; shelter him under the wings of God's Providence, which never fails to cherish those who live according to the rules of vertue; and after a life attempered with the Harmony of delightful actions, it changes into swee [...]ss, the grim face of Death, making it a secure passage unto eternal Beatitude, He is resol­ved to put in execution the practice both of intellectual and moral vertues, and that they may prove meritorious, he begs they may be infused into him, that when he considers the infinity of God's Being, and the immensity of his per­fections, he may forthwith pay him the just tribute of glory, respect, and submission; all worship, praise, and possible endeavours of [Page 215] Piety: That his omnipotency may never pass his thoughts without an entire obedience to his will, that his inexhausted and unerring wis­dom may draw him to acts of faith, and firm as­sent to his divine word. That the fidelity of his never failing promises may fix a reliance, and as­sured hope in him: That his unwearied goodness may ravish him into a charity and love never to be extinguished. That his incomparable greatness may work him into the annihilation of himself before him, and give him a true feel­ing of his own vileness. That a terrour of his judgments may throw him into a course of rigid pennance for his misdeeds, and his unspeakable favours be met with all the Testimonies of gra­titude, which a poor Creature can give: He knowes that had he a Million of hearts lodg'd within his own person, yet could they never reach that love his goodness merits, and should he stoop even unto Hell; nay lower were it possible, it would still be short of that sub­mission due to his greatness: Wherefore though he be hopeless to pay what he owes, he will shew at least he hath a will to be just, nor doth he blush at his impotency, since it springs from the excellency of his Creditour, from whom likewise he expects to be enabled towards the discharge of his arrears, and he conceives no treasure can be more effectual than that of a right [Page 216] spirit, and therefore he incessantly repeats; renew in my bowels a right spirit.

The Application.

God will be adored in spirit and truth, wherefore man is to serve and honour him, by a certain knowledge sutable to his intellectual na­ture; now in the essence of God are con­tained wonders not to be comprehended by the natural force of our understanding: Whence we are with our Holy Penitent to Petition for a right spirit, that is the excellent light of faith, by which we are raised to a more eminent knowledge of the Divinity, than all the activity and vigour of our reason could ever reach. In this knowledge consists eternal life, in the ignorance of this eternal death: For with what Face shall he one day ask Heaven of the adorable Trinity, who hath never known that mystery? Or claim a share in the fruit of our redemption, who hath been ignorant of Jesus Christ? Let us then beg for this heavenly wisdom, by which we are taken off from the low affection to Creatures, to fix our Eyes upon the greatness of our Crea­tour, the wonders of his works, and amidst a Mil­lion of ravishing objects which this right spi­rit presents to our meditation, let us insist with [Page 217] a particular gust on this, that our Souls are created for eternal bliss;

Amen.

CHAP. XXIII.

Ne projicias me à facie tua,

Cast me not away from thy face.

OUr Holy Penitent seems here to questi­on the success of his precedent petition, by which he had sued for a right understanding; this argues how unsetled the mind of a sinner is, that no sooner he had aimed at this irra­diation, but immediately he is struck with a terrour of his demerits, and fancies his doom is to be eternally banished from the Face of God, wherefore he cryes, cast me not away from thy Face.

St. Hierom conceives this clause levels only at the communication of his Divinity in order to the Hypostatick union, which he appre­hends in punishment of his sin might be concealed from him; and therefore he sayes, cast me not away from thy face; that is, deprive me not of the knowledge of thy divine nature as it relates to Man in the great Sacrament of the incarna­tion: [Page 218] It is this mystery he fears to be ravished off, which brings along with it a fulness of time, and wherein all the groans and labours of many longing Souls will cease and be at rest.

But the more vogued opinion layes this expres­sion upon his anxiety touching his eternal repro­bation: He knew he was unworthy of eternal life through the forfeiture of grace he had made, and whether being now a Vessel of disho­nour, the divine Artist will not leave him e­ternally in this reproachful mould is the just mo­tive of his fear. He remembers a passage in Exodus, where our Lord threatens to obdurate the heart of Pharaoh, and it is no less affright­ing what St. Paul declares, that God is merciful on whom he will have mercy; and in the Fourth Chapter to the Corinthians, God hath cast an ob­caecation on the Minds of unbelievers. Yet our Pe­titioner is too good a Divine as (entertaining these reflections) to make God the efficient cause of Man's obdurateness, he knowes that God is only permissive, and accidentally concurring unto final impenitency; that is, in not imparting his grace dissolving Hearts unto such as will not receive it; for since they obstinately cleave unto sin, he is not obliged to violence the liberty of Man's free­will which he hath in his Creation decreed unto him: Nor prodigally throw away his [Page 219] precious grace upon those who contemn it; Wherefore the penal substraction of his grace springs not from the slow current of mercy to a sinner: For it is alwayes ready to flow where the Channel is cut out, and prepared to re­ceive it; but from the malice of Man by which he is totally averted from God, op­posite and refractory to his holy inspirations.

When therefore he begs not to be seque­stred from his face, far be it from his thoughts to impeach God as Author of obdurateness; it would only speak he is cause of the punishment not the fault: That if by the prevarication of our first Parent we were reduced to such a condition, as God might justly leave us to our selves, much more by actual sin do we de­serve it; and in this dereliction we can never rise, nor frame a supernatural act, without which it is not possible to attain unto Sal­vation: So that if God will use his own right, and divert his face, that is the effects of his goodness and mercy from him, he gives himself for lost, and so justly lost as not to have the least matter of complaint against his Judge: Nay on the contrary he joyns issue with the Prophet Esay; saying, Lord, if all the Na­tions thou hast made should perish, who can blame thee. If God hath drawn some out of the gulf of perdition to issue forth the Marks of his goodness, [Page 220] even in the height and fury of their malice, this is no warrant to our Petitioner that for his sake he will break the ordinary rule of his pro­vidence: he rather apprehends he may be made an Example of his Justice, and be abando­ned to his corrupt inclinations, wherefore he petitions that he would daign to cast a be­nign Eye upon him, nor throw him away from his blessed face.

Another dismal thought occurs which eggs him on to this demand, and it ought certain­ly to be very dreadful to a sinner; that is, there is a certain period set to every Man's transgressi­ons, which is called the measure of his iniquities, and if this be once compleated, such a Cloud of obstinacy and perseverance in evil in­volves him, as he never will be cheered with the Sun-shine of God's mercy: This proceeding hath been evident in the downfall of several Nations and Cities, whose excess of wickedness hath drawn upon them the exterminating hand of God. Our Holy Penitent first places be­fore his Eyes the universal deluge, where it is declared that the World had accomplished their malice, and by it so prepared the divine Justice, as there wanted nothing but his a­venging Rod to fall heavy upon them. Again, as to the Land of promise designed to the Seed of Abraham, God told him he could not yet [Page 221] perform it, and his patience awaited the space of four hundred years untill the Amorites, and Canaanites had summed up their iniqui­ties, after which they were made a prey to the Children of Israel. In sequel of this our Holy Penitent concludes, that though these examples in a vast multitude were remarkable, and terrifying, yet God's judgements hold the same method in the concern of every particu­lar Soul. Besides, his fears encrease when he considers that God's patience is spun out longer with some than others; and whether his last sin might not be the upshot and close of all God's special favours to him, he knowes not: Wherefore in this suspence, and just subject of apprehension, he petitions not to be thrown away from his face.

Our Holy Penitent finds notwithstand­ing some glimmerings of comfort, when he re­volves in hes Mind the marks of this helpless de­solation. First he remembers when the Sodo­mites were consumed in the flames of his anger, the Harbinger of their destruction was their noto­rious and publick commission of their crimes, and this joyned with such impudence as to vaunt and boast of their impieties. Our sad Pe­nitent found himself not guilty of this, for what contrivances had he nol framed to conceal his sin, and when reproved by Nathan pre­sently [Page 222] with shame and confusion he owned his miscarriage.

The next presage of Reprobation is obstina­cy which was laid before him in the person of Pharaoh, whose hardned heart not all the im­portunities of Moses, nor the prodigious wonders he wrought, could in the least mollify, nor, work him to the dismission of God's people: When therefore you behold a person so bent upon his wicked wayes, as no remonstrance, entrea­ty, promise nor threat can prevail, you have rea­son to believe (as St. Paul sayes) they are gi­ven up to a reprobate sense, which insensibly and unawares will bring them to endless ruine.

Our Petitioner cannot likewise accuse himself of this prelude to perdition; this pre­sent Psalm (which he composed immediate­ly after the Prophet from the part of God had denounced unto him his ingratitude) suffi­ciently evinces, he was not deaf to the workings of God's inspirations, nor impene­trable against the power of exciting grace.

Another cause of God's dereliction is an ha­bitual application to a certain sin, to which one is so fastned, as his ordinary grace hath no effect to draw him from it; and God is pleased not to gratify him with any thing extraordinary in punishment of his transgressions, having so often abused his mercy: This habitual malice was evi­dent [Page 223] in the Jews, who from age to age had persecuted the Prophets, sent to mind them of their duties, insomuch as St. Stephen laid it to their charge, and defied them to name any one who had escaped their fury; and this they continued, untill at last they laid their hands on the Saint of Saints Christ Jesus; after which Sacrilegious act, arrived at the ut­most pitch of their demerits, they were given up to the Tyranny of the Romans, who totally subverted their City and Nation.

Our Penitent had reason to hope his de­viation was an effect of frailty rather than malice, having not continued any space without re­pentance, when once his sin was represented to him by the Minister of God's word, yet knowing the web of Man's Salvation to be wrapt up in the secret of the Divine Provi­dence, that though he had revealed to many of his Servants the glad tidings of their prede­stination, yet never had he to any communi­cated the doom of reprobation, lest it might cast them into despair; therefore he thinks it the wisest course to sail between hope and fear, and in all events to implore, that he may not be excluded from his sight.

Some again weighing the subsequent verse, where our Penitent petitions God not to take away from him his holy spirit, are of Opinion [Page 224] that this demand imports not a dread of reprobation (for he seems to thinks himself in the possession of grace) but argues rather a fear to have stopt the sacred stream of God's extraordinary fa­vours towards him: For he was so well versed in the wayes of perfection, as he knew the foun­dation of a life of Sanctity consists in the good management of divine inspirations, and that the greatest Saints have from thence derived their happy success in a spiritual life. We see no King nor Common-wealth, if they find any person unfaithful in a slight Office, that will entrust to him a more weighty charge; and why should we think that God will be less prudent in the Government of Souls. St. Prosper sayes that God imparts his graces in order, and by de­grees: First distilling into them some little dropps of his grace, and then a greater quantity, in case those first be carefully improved; it being a good earnest, that he who acquits him­self with fidelity in ordinary things, will in matters of greater perfection come off with no less honour. Whereas on the contrary, the first step to the misfortune of a sinner, is made by the neglect of God's early inspirations in the beginning: For there is not any Pagan, mis­believer, or Christian, whom he stirs not up to the common practice of vertue, as obsequiousness to our Parents, the avoiding Theft, Luxury, [Page 225] and the like; and if they comply with these, he fails not to enflame them with desires, and gives them abilities to arrive at more sublime perfection.

Wherefore our Penitent fears he may have demerited in this Nature, and begs not to be excluded from his face; that is, not to be deprived of those endearments wherewith he is wont to overwhelm such Souls as cor­respond with his inspirations; and if hitherto he hath played the Coy one, and scorned his dalliances; for the future he will change his humour, and cherish every the least motion of his dear Creatour: He will aim at a perfect resem­blance of his beloved; in imitation of his wisdom he will discern good from evil, and distinguish 'twixt the less and greater good alwayes em­bracing that which is best. In order to his purity as much as is consistent with frail nature, supported by grace he hopes to preserve him­self from all stain and imperfection. That some sparks of his charity may shine in him, he will love that which God loves, and love nothing but what he loves, and upon the same motives whereon his love is grounded In a word, he will unite all his faculties with God in as strict an alliance as this present condition of mortality will bear, provided he be not exiled from his Face, nor the flood-gates of gracious [Page 226] communications shut up in punishment of his past offences.

Whilst the person offended admits the of­fendour to his presence, it argues there is not an utter breach between them, wherefore till a sentence of banishment be passed, he still retains some hope; his aim then in this petition is, to put a barr to this extremity of rigour; He confesses it is a bitter thing to leave God, but yet a far greater to be left by him; and a main appear­ance of this is, when he leaves us to the de­sires of our own heart; like a Physitian who per­mits his patient in a desperate condition to eat and drink what he please: He knowes the anger of God is great when he is not an­gry with a sinner, and that it is a stroke of his goodness, when his temporal chastisement immedi­ately followes the offence; so that if he please to afflict him, and like a Jealous God issue forth his indignation upon the place for every mis­demeanour, He is ready to embrace with o­pen arms what ever affliction he shall send, and is willing to expose his breast to the direst shafts of his fury; so it may but divert this great subject of his fears, as to bee ternally cast out from his presence. Neprojicias me, &c.

The Application.

We behold by this clause, how all along in this petition our Penitent hath been terri­fyed with the ugly shape of sin; and now he begins to apprehend the effects of sin which is Death: For Death and sin considered apart are very frightful, but once joyned together, that is to dye in sin, there is nothing more dreadful: and this dismal stroke he fears, when he sayes cast me not away from thy face. St. John Damascene observes two derelictions of God; the one seeming, when he permits the just to fall into sin, that by experiment of their frailty, they might rise more humble, and more watch­fully attend to their Salvation. This happened to our Penitent St. Peter, and divers others. The other is absolute, and a final cashier for ever, and this happens when after all remedies apply­ed, a Soul remains stupid, and incurable (even to the last) by his obstinate perseverance in wick­edness: so that God foreseeing this obdurate­ness withholds his special grace, and so lets him end in his impenitency; we are here therefore to joyn with our Petitioner, and beg we may not come to this period, or consummation of our iniqui­ties, but timely lay hold on the shield of his mercy:

Amen.

CHAP. XXIV.

Et spiritum Sanctum tuum nè auferas à me,

And take not from me thy holy Spirit.

THe workings of God's Holy Spirit in our Souls are great secrets, and if to our selves unknown, no wonder that to others they lye hid, and though he be in us after a quite different manner, than he is said to be ubiqui­tary by his essence, presence, and power; yet his approach, or recess is so insensible, as the best per­sons during this life are left in suspence, igno­rant whether they be in a condition of love, or hatred with their Creatour: Of this bles­sed Job seemed to complain, saying Chap. 19. If he come I shall not see him, and when he retires I am in the same Cloud. Notwithstanding God is pleased sometimes though rarely to dis­pense with his ordinary proceeding, as to give such marks of his grace and friendship to a Soul, that it is apparent even to the Eye of the Body. Of this we have an example in the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost des­cended upon the Apostles in form of fiery tongues, so replenishing their Minds with knowledge, and enflaming their Hearts with charity, as the [Page 229] whole World was in a short time laid prostrate to the power of their doctrine and miracles.

In this clause of the petition we have like­wise reason to pass the same Opinion of our Holy Penitent, that he had been gratified with the like visible communication of this divine gift: The past transactions 'twixt God and his once happy Soul were fresh in his memory, and how he had designed to reveal unto him many secrets of his Providence: Nay, had gi­ven him so many proofs of inhabiting grace, as one must be strangely stupid not to acknowledge it. Now here he seems to cheer himself with a confidence, that after his petition for a clean heart, and right understanding, he is again in the enjoyment of his blessed presence by grace and charity; wherefore he begs he might al­wayes dwell with him, and that he may never more tast the bitter absence of his Holy Spirit: Et spiritum sanctum tuum, &c.

Spiritual Men who have employed their thoughts on the subject of the mission of the divine persons unto Creatures, discover advantages by this Embassy unto humane nature which seem to surpass all the wonders of our faith; at least they are conveyed unto us with more sensi­ble delight.

First, they say when a Soul is priviledged with a visit from that divine spirit, she doth not [Page 230] only receive inherent and accidentall grace, not only splendours which irradiate, and ardour [...] which enflame, but even the substantial Prin­cipium the Holy Ghost from whence they flow. Witness St. Paul 2. ad Rom. The charity of God is diffused through our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given to us. The Philosopher sayes, that two Lovers if possibly would become but one, because this identity would destroy all fear of separation, and since they cannot arrive to this, at least by conversation, discourse, and mutual pre­sence they give themselves to one another. Now the love of God is all-powerful, no obsta­cle can hinder the perfect union to which it tends; wherefore this love enclining the di­vine person to unite and surrender up himself unto a Soul, she finds herself immediately fastned to him by other chains than those of his immensity; it is by grace and charity she is enslaved, and their efficacy is to prodigious, that were not that divine spirit already at the door, they would draw him thither and court him to a most intimate alliance.

Our Holy Penitent well knew the truth of this Divinity by the amorous operations he had once felt within him; for this great gift of God was no stranger to him, whence I wonder not if he court its preservation, since in it is con­tained the whole treasure of his immense love: If [Page 231] then he shall please to secure this present to him, he will in return consecrate to his ho­nour all the fruit of his understanding and will; his thoughts shall ever dwell in him, and from this meditation he hopes to enkindle such a flame within him as all the waves of adversity, or allurements of the World shall never be able to quench; his constant Prayer therefore shall be, withdraw not from me thy holy spirit.

After he had thus considered the dignity of the person communicated to a devout Soul, he then descends to the particulars of his nego­tiation.

The first point is, that this divine spirit is the Prin [...]ipium or great wheel which gives motion to all her supernatural and meritorious actions, by which the Soul exceeds her own strength, and gets above all her natural faculties, and with­out this spirit Man is feeble, impotent, and can act nothing generous in a spiritual life.

The second advantage of this Treaty is, that this divine person becomes the object of our understanding and will, so that he is a known ob­ject in a knowing will, and a beloved object in a lo­ving will; then it is that the Soul hath God within her, who alone entertains, and em­ployes her thoughts and affections; it is towards him she raises acts of faith and love, setting a value upon him beyond all the World, as the [Page 232] most excellent Being to whom she can consecrate herself.

Another benefit of this mission is, that this divine spirit communicates himself unto a Soul as her sole treasure, and appropriated sovereign good, and in such a manner, as she will not only find God within her, but likewise that he be­longs to her as her proper right, the serious thought of which happy possession must doubtless much asswage all the bitterness of this life.

In sequel of these irradiations our Holy Pe­nitent is at a stand, comparing the liberalities of his good God with his own ingratitude: For God had given himself up to him, to be the instrument of all his supernatural operations, to be the object of his thoughts, and repository of his af­fections; in requital our unfortunate Penitent re­jecting this divine legate, hath taken up the arms of sensualities against him, filled his memory with Earthly species, and consulted with brutish passions! O bad exchange? When he had thus reproached himself of his disloyalty, he then con­verts his Eye to the shipwrack he had made, for by one mortal sin he hath lost God, as he is God of grace and glory; though not as he is God of nature, for as such a one he still remains to cast thunderbolts of vengeance upon his guilty head; but he is resolved, if the divine goodness shall please to restore and continue to him himself, in [Page 233] whom is found the source of so many precious treasures, he will for the future manage them to his honour, he will glorify him in all eterni­ty, and manifest to the world, that through his grace he is made worthy not to have his holy spi­rit taken from him.

In temporal afflictions we lose (it is true) the gift, but the giver is yet secured to us; by sin we lose both. So that there is no desolation can happen equal to what is thrown upon us by sin: For whilest we lye under the guilt of mortal sin, God is no more the Principium of our me­ritorious operations, no more the object of our amo­rous powers, nor to be claimed as our proper good, and treasure; and though his infinite beauties and perfections render him alwayes a source of all good imaginable, yet to a Soul defiled with sin, he is a spring that diverts his stream in ano­ther Channel; he is a treasure locked up, whose Key is taken away, and all-right of entrance de­creed against him: These are the miserable circumstances which attend the loss of God's ho­ly spirit, of which our Holy Penitent being very conscious incessantly repeats; Lord, with­draw not from me thy holy spirit.

Theodoret sayes, that St. Peter having heard from Christ's own Mouth; Thou shalt thrice de­ny me; would feign have fled many Leagues from that occasion, but his love was so great [Page 234] as he held it less evil to follow, and deny him; than to fly away and confess him: He took so much pleasure in his presence, that he chose ra­ther to hazzard his Soul, than the loss of his blessed sight; deeming it less unhappiness to renounce him, than not to be in the Eye of him whom he loved so dearly: If then his corpo­ral presence so ravished this Apostle, what a charm must it be to possess within us a divine spirit, what solicitude to preserve this treasure in whose participation consists all the happiness we are any wayes capable of in the condi­tion of this our mortality. Ah blame not then our Petitioner, if again and again he sues un­der this forme; Lord, take not thy holy spirit from me.

Many Nations have made their gods Prisoners, chaining them fast in their Tem­ples, the Lacedemonians hampered their god Mars with Cords of Silk; Hercules with Fetters of Gold, fancying to themselves, that if they could enjoy their Company though by violence, they should not want their protection.

Our Holy Penitent thought the best stra­tagem to fasten his God unto him, was an hum­ble acknowledgment of his fault; joyned with a fervent prayer. In the First part of his petition he had copiously set forth his own guiltiness, and now he supplicates in a Subject the most [Page 235] grateful that can be to his Creatour; for his de­light is to be with the Sons of Men; It was to draw the World unto him that he exalted himself upon the Cross; his extended arms there sufficiently expressed, with what dear embraces he would receive those that fly unto him with an hum­ble and contrite heart: His thirst there was not so much the effect of his torments, as an excessive zeal for Man's Salvation: How often hath he justifyed himself in his proceedings with Man; insomuch as all his wisdom and love could not contrive more inducements than he hath set on foot to gain us to him, and if he be continually rapping at our door, can we think he will shut up the treasures of his holy spirit in despight of our importunity: No, no, great Penitent fear not, prefer your memo­rial, it is only expected you ask, and the grant is ready; that his holy spirit shall not be taken from you.

A holy writer observes, that God alwayes gives more than is asked of him: Anna prayed for a Son, God gave her one that was a Saint, a Prophet, and his chief favourite: Solomon sued for wisdom to govern his People, he received it not only to Rule, but he was universally knowing; besides, an infinite store of wealth was bestowed upon him. The Servant endebted ten thousand Talents demanded only a little forbearance, and [Page 236] the whole debt was remitted to him; wherefore our Penitent demanding only to keep what he already enjoyes, by this providential act he not only secures his possession, but gives earnest for a new supply. Nay, his goodness alwayes prevents the prayer of the afflicted, giving them ease of their griefs, before they ask his help; resem­bling that fountain which calls and invites the thirsty to drink, or like that Tree which bend­ing its bowes, offers its fruits unto gathering hands, when ripe; so that God's love needs no baits to allure his favours from him; an af­fectionate heart doth more with him then all the charms in nature: It is true St. Austin distin­guishes between a willing a thing, and a will­ing it stoutly and entirely: But we have all rea­son to judge the velleity of our Penitent was fervent, and efficacious, when he hath so much confidence as to call God to witness of it: Tu scis Domine, omne desiderium meum ante te; that he had exposed before him all the motions of his heart, and left him to be judge whether any circumstance was wanting that might hinder the effect of his petition; as not to be deprived of his holy spirit.

St. Austin sayes, were it impossible for a sinner to hide himself from God, he would advise him to get into some abstruce retreat, and there lye close till the Cloud of his anger be blown over, but since this cannot be [Page 237] done, his best way to escape God's hands, is to put him­self into his hands, and prostrate himself at his feet. Our Penitent then is not ill advised, that being already enrolled in the list of his retinue to endeavour to prevent his dismission by a non auferes à me: For he hath many advantages whilst he is in, which will be lost if once cashier'd: Now he hath the Ear of his Sovereign, can discourse his case with him, and purchase a good word from many powerful friends, but if once discarded like a desolate Orphan he will find no refuge. Besides, though God beheld in his all-seeing prospect the treachery of Judas and ingratitude of the Jews, yet (to cut off all matter of excuse) he obliged them with all the endearings imaginable; why shoul not then our Penitent hope to dwell in the lasting enjoyment of this divine spirit, since he is resolved for the future to be led by his holy dictamens; he will seek his Salvation with ineffable groans; it is St. Pauls expression of such as are guided by the Holy Ghost; he will with the Prophet Jeremy cry out for a fountain of tears, that he may bewail (as he ought) his own and his peoples sins, and since this di­vine spirit communicates himself in so many different wayes unto Creatures, he begs he may return himself a gift and oblation to God, by every thing that is capable of Action; [Page 238] that by a constant, and unwearied motion in his service, this seed of glory he now possesses may at last conduct him to the beatifick vision, where he shall no more apprehend what is now the subject of his Fear: To have his holy spirit taken from him.

The Application.

St. Ambrose sayes, that no man in this life can be long secure from falling into sin, for whom the Devil cannot lay prostrate at the first attack, he presses with redoubled assaults, and leaves no stratagem unessayed to work his end. In this warfare our Holy Penitent was not a Novice, he knew there was no place in Man impreg­nable, unless fortified by God's Holy Spirit: This he expresses in another Psalm, If you withdraw (sayes he) your spirit, we shall presently re­solve into dust; that is, corruption from whence we came. For grace is a motion in the under­standing and will; to wit a certain action in both these powers, which soon passes away un­less fixed by a continued influence of his favours: Wherefore we must take the admonition of St. Paul and be wary, that the grace of God prove not a liberality in vain bestowed upon us: But that we [Page 239] make the right use of it, which is the remission of our sins and a passage unto eternal life.

CHAP. XXV.

Reddite mihi laetitiam salutaris tui,

Restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation.

IT is not (methinks) easy to determine, whether Man be more unfortunate in not having a discerning faculty of misery, or through the mistakes he falls into about the object of his felicity: How many have been seen to lan­guish and pine away under an accident which they looked upon as their ruine, and yet it proved their making; whilest others again have trium­phed, and made jubilyes for seeming blessings, that in the end became fatal to them; who would not have looked upon the Patriarch Joseph when sold to the Madianites but as a slave, and an abortive of fortune, and yet without this cruelty of his Brethren in all likelyhood he had never handled the Scepter of Egypt. Again, who would not have envyed the success of our Penitent against Goliah, and yet this glorious victory occasioned unto him a life full of distur­bance [Page 240] for many years how to preserve himself: This uncertainty in the event of things is ma­naged no doubt by a special providence, to teach us we ought to bear a temper unalterable amidst the various occurrences of this life, not to be too much transported with joy, nor cast down with sadness upon any rencontre, since the effects do often prove far different from what they promise, and this by the unresistable ordina­tions of Heaven, which can draw riches out of po­verty, make us great by humility, give us honour by contempts: In fine, who needs no previous dis­positions in Creatures to frame his productions.

Now to lead us in this labyrinth, that we may not erre, Divines distinguish a twofold joy: The one is temporal which hath for its Object riches, honour, sensual pleasures and the like: So that when our joy reaches but to the petty interests of this World, this is poor, and argues a baseness of Spirit, which is angustiated within the limits of flesh and blood, and hopes or fears only what may prove distastful or pleasant to their present state of Being. The other branch of joy is eternal, taking its specification from the object which is God, without end or beginning; it only looks upon him, and it is he alone that gives the rise to all its motions. One part of this joy is proper for us here whilest we are in viâ (as Divines term it) or pilgrimes upon earth: the com­pletion [Page 241] of the other we must expect in patria, when we shall attain to the mansion of the bles­sed; it is this joy St. Bernard meant when he sayes, O good Jesu if it be so sweet a thing to weep for thee, what will it be to rejoyce with a [...]d in thee. So that we are here by a compunctive sorrow to cru­cify our selves daily, and by this means dis­pose our selves for that joy which is necessari­ly consequent to such acts.

Our Holy Penitent followes this method in his petition, he knows the effects of a heart pierced with a vertuous sorrow and repentance, is peace, joy, and the like: So that though we labour here to steep our selves in bitterness and anguish, there results out of these agonies a cer­tain contentment in performing our duties to God, and this so great, as it surpasses all the delights of this World.

Many Heathen Philosophers have been of O­pinion, that vertue it self was a sufficient reward unto such as embraced it; that is, there springs from good actions such a satisfaction in conformity to the dictamens of reason, as they have preferred it before riches, honour, or any sensual pleasure; we have seen them endure tor­ments of all kind, the hardship of want, the rough trial of disgraces; and all this with smile­ing looks, and meerly from this Principle, they took their cause to be good, and that vertue com­manded [Page 242] it; believing her Lawes to be more sutable to a reasonable Soul than all the glory and plenty of the World attended on by injustice and impiety.

Our Ho [...]y Penitent by his own experience had learnt that in works of Piety, there is found something which sensibly affects the agent with delight, and be they never so knotty, yet they are still sweetned with this; that reason is their guide, that the whole intellectual part ap­plauds the action, which concurrence of the Souls faculties cannot but be followed with an universal dilatation of the spirits, and what is this but the height of joy: If then moral actions, looked upon as apparallel'd in their simple natural colours; that is, meerly confined to the limits of what is good and just by the light of reason, prove such an Antidote against adversity, as to make them receive the most embittered Arrowes of fortune with cheerful looks: What may we expect when these are directed to a supernatural end, when they are enriched with the merits of Jesus Christ, after which our Holy Petitioner languished, and whose efficacy had influence upon his repentance at the distance of so many preceeding ages, as now it hath on ours after so many subsequent re­volutions.

It is then for the joy of this Salvation he [Page 243] makes instance, and what a value must this addition set upon his smallest sufferings? Whence I wonder not to contemplate much of sere­nity in the Fore-heads of afflicted persons crush­ed for vertues sake, for the tempest wherein they are agitated doth only bluster about them, within they enjoy a Harmony and full peace of Mind, even tasting a kind of Antipast or fore­notion of Paradise.

I observe in the Gospel of St. Luke, how Christ our Lord gave a check to his Disci­ples, when returning from the exercise of their Apostolick Commissions they seemed to glory in their power of casting out Devils; and when he had terrified them with a Memo­randum of the Angel's fall, he prescribes rules how they should lay the foundation of their joy, and satisfaction amidst their transcending employments, saying, Rejoyce in this that your Names are written in Heaven: First he disallowes not of their joy, but rather animates them to it; only he dislikes the motive, or more pro­perly to say, sets down what they ought to lay hold on as the basis of their exultations: Re­joyce because your Names are written in Heaven. That they were zealous in God's service, charitable, had the gift of tongues, of working miracles, casting out Devils, and the like; these must not be the groundwork of their contentments; but [Page 244] that they are by the efficacious Will of God transmitted to a supernatural end, upon which foundation are built all the spirituall bene­fits of God towards them, as their vocation, ju­stification, and glorification: From this Root springs their calling to be a Christian, to be a member of Christ's true Church, by means of which they obtain grace, and by the right use of Grace eternal glorification: This must give birth and life to their joy, and no less to ours; as it did to our Holy Penitent before his fall, and now restored (as he hopes) to the wonted ca­resses of his Creatour, he begins to breath after the assurance of his predestination, which had often occasioned unto him abundant joy: Wherefore he cryes, restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation.

Yet whilest he petitioned for this solid contentment, he was not ignorant that his Ele­ction must proceed from the merciful hand of God, and the Collation of glory from the interest of his own merits: God first puts us in an infallible condition to be happy, and then so tempers the circumstances, as we our selves may be a partial cause of our happiness; he offers the occasions of merit, this done, he seconds our endeavours so powerfully as the effect; to wit, eternal glory cannot but follow: So that the joy he sues for, is an assurance to be in the state [Page 245] of grace and eternally predestinate; that be his combats and assaults in this life never so furious, he shall overcome: Be his temptations never so vehement, the issue will be glorious, having his Eyes still fixt upon the Palms of Beatitude, the assured guerdon of his conflicts, in case, I say, he be in the number of the Predestinate.

But as to the infallible decrce of predesti­nation, our Holy Penitent knowes it is a secret shut up in the Cabinet of his great Councels; the joy therefore he aims at here is, that which arises from the mediums consequent to our eternal Election: For God first designs our Beatitude, and after this the means to arrive un­to it, as to have true faith, to observe the Commandements, to avoid sin, to practice works of mercy, to have a sincere repentance, a perfect charity towards God, and our Neighbour, to bear adversity with patience, and finally to per­severe in grace; these actions he knowes are the proper instruments to cause joy within him; in order to this he resolves upon the punctu­al accomplishment of his commands, and this vi­gorously like a Giant both with firm footing, and with large and nimble paces; nor will he discharge this Obligation in a cold manner simply to pay what he owes, but with a serious application of his Mind offering them up to God, and directing them to his glory with a most holy [Page 246] and pious zeal: Next, he resolves alwayes to do that which is most acceptable to God, know­ing that we cannot give him too much honour, and that our fidelity engages us not to omit any occasion of doing good: Lastly, he will be assiduous in framing interiour and exte­riour acts of vertues, especially such as more immediately lead unto him, he will conspire with heart and affection to all the services, to all the acts of love, praise and glorification, that the most perfect Creatures ever have, or shall give unto him.

His next design in pursuance of this joy is to have an Eye to himself, whom he beholds like a plat of ground, which must be cultivated, and emboweld ere it be fruitful: He undertakes this melioration with the tools of fortitude, tem­perance, and other vertues; nor is he set on work by the comeliness of vertue, or turpitude of vice; his final end is the object of all his motion, it is meerly to please God, and glorify him in his Salvation. He knowes the condition of this life is alwayes beset with dangers, and haz­zards (alas his own experience had too freshly taught him this Truth) and that we are in the midst of sworn mortal Enemies, wherefore he is resolved to bear a strict band, and purchase victory by a perfect abnegation of himself, of his senses both interiour and exteriour, of [Page 247] his memory, understanding, and will, knowing it is a Nice and Ticklish Combat to overcome by Love.

His third contrivance to joy is, not to fail in what he owes to his Neighbour: He considers Man issuing from the hands of God, and in a capacity (if faithful to his Graces) to re­turn unto the same fountain: Wherefore he fears to hate that person whom God may have designed to love for eternity, and as he loves God not as a particular, but universal good, so he will cherish, love, and honour all Souls, as being in a possibility of enjoying him.

This is the foundation our Holy Penitent layes for the superstructure of his joy; remitting the rest to the disposal of that all comprehending Architect, whose lines are drawn severally ac­cording to the rule of his providence: For when a Soul whom he hath gratified with endearments of spiritual relishes, and ineffable delights happens to forfeit by some default the subtraction of his grace, sometimes upon her repentance he not only admits her again to his favour, but also to her wonted ravishments, nay to that degree as even she seems to have gained by her loss: Sometimes again he is pleased barely to Seal his pardon, without any further communication of those Enthusiastick throwes, she used to feel in her amorous transports. Now I find our Penitent [Page 248] in this his petition is desirous to regain all, and this appears in divers others of his Psalms, where he suffers strange convulsions in his desires to be united unto God, and now born up with a restless longing, he sighs forth, restore me the joy of thy Salvation.

St. Gregory puts this distinction 'twixt corporal and spiritual pleasures, that the former not had, push us on to vehement desires for the acqui­sition, but when enjoyed they presently cloy, and beget a nauceousness; the other give very little insentives when absent, yet being once possessed they are still coveted, because still creating new delights, and though to be kept in desire and hope be a kind of torment in Earthly enjoyments, yet it is not so when they relate to Heavenly treasures; the reason is, God hath de­puted Earth for our hopes, and Heaven for our bliss: If here we are mindful of Celestial glory, and make it the subject of our thoughts, and de­sires, every the least glimmering hope of that blessed state will produce ineffable joy within us. There is nothing sayes St: Basil which ought so much to ravish Man, as to reflect that he is designed to so noble an end, as to enjoy God's immense perfections for all eternity: Whence he inferrs the sole way to antici­pate our happiness, is to think continually on him, to consider that our Souls shall be trans­lated [Page 249] and as it were dissolved into his divine es­sence: Wherefore he exhorts us to the imita­tion of Painters, who aiming at the perfor­mance of a rare piece, have their Eyes alwayes fixt upon the Original: But if we pervert this order, and make the Earth our Heaven, enjoy that we should but use, what must be the issue; for after a long enquest, passing from one delight to another, our thirst is never satis­fied: Whence the pleasures of this life are re­sembled to brackish waters, which still the more you drink, the more you encrease your thirst; nay they have this additional circumstance of woe, that their drowth shall never be quench­ed in this life, nor in the next; not in this, for Christ our Lord positively declared it to the Samaritan, that those who swill themselves with the puddle of Earthly pleasures shall be al­wayes thirsty and panting after new refreshments: Not in the next life, for the whole extent of Hell could not afford the unfortunate rich man one drop of water, a little to allay the vehemency of his enraging heat. I remember Philo the Jew treat­ing of Earthly delights calls them furta Coeli the plun­der of Heaven: So that who enjoyes them steals them from thence; now as a thief retains what he hath got by rapine with a continual fear and jealousy, which still moderates and allayes the contentment of his acquests, so doubtless there [Page 250] is nothing transitory can give a true satisfaction to the owner.

Our Holy Penitent was very sensible of this Truth, and grown weary of the World's prosperity, confesses in another Psalm, that his Soul could find no comfort but in the meditation of everlasting joy; as in this the whole scope of his petition is, that as Abraham was ready at God's command to sacrifice Isaac his sole joy and contentment in this life, so he is ready to renounce his lovely Absalom, or any thing most dear to him in this World, that by this dispropriation he may make a passage to that lasting joy which attends his Salvation. Where­fore he will never cease to implore, restore unto me the joy of thy Salvation.

The Application.

Our Penitent insinuates the high contentment he once received, when a darling to Heaven he had promises made him, that out of his Line should issue forth the Worlds Saviour; and as the perpetuity, of his blood to continue in the Throne was fastned to his posterity, upon a con­dition that they observed his Lawes, which promise was evacuated (he fears) by his transgressions: Wherefore now readmitted into favour, he hopes to be restored to all his former priviledges [Page 251] and amongst all, he most covets an assurance touching the coming of the Messias. This is the joy of Salvation after which he languishes. In imitation we must rejoyce, in that the In­carnate word is come, and redouble our joy in the reflection of his glorious qualities: First, that this sacred humanity is distained from all the corrup­tions of our nature; and though it be of the same species with ours, yet it far surpasses all created things, even in the first rank of Angels. Next, his flesh miraculously framed by the operation of the Holy Ghost, of the blood of a Virgin all immaculate, was so pure as no ray of the Sun could be equalled to it. Lastly, into this unspotted flesh was infused a Soul of a beauty ineffable, adorned with grace, knowledge, and all supernatural habits, as God himself judged it not unworthy of his personal union. Let then this accomplished wonder of all perfe­ction be the subject of our prayer, that we may possess the joy of thy Salvation.

Amen.

CHAP. XXVI.

Et spiritu principali confirma me,

And confirm me with a principal Spirit.

MEthinks our Penitent by this clause seems to have shaken off his Chains, and forti­fyed with the Seal of his pardon begins to fly at all. He had laid claim to the Holy Ghost; next, he expostulates for the restitution of his primary effect which is joy. Now he would have a principal Spirit which might lead him to perfe­ction, and by that means put him into the best posture of security from a relaps, as our present condition can bear; saying, confirm me with a principal spirit.

This perfection or principal spirit so called, because it leads to generous and noble exploits, con­sists in a concourse of vertuous habits disposing the Soul to actions most holy and meritorious. Our Pe­nitent aims by it to endear himself to God, and to prove just and obliging to his Neighbour: As to the first, this noble spirit settles the Soul in a perfect repose; and as the Needle alwayes points towards the North-pole, so all her af­fections guided by this spirit tend, and rest quiet in God: She looks upon herself in the [Page 253] condition of his spouse, a quality the most sub­lime she can be capable off, by which she is enabled to lead a life answerable to that title: She hath no remorse of conscience, as being at a great distance from sin, she is enriched with peace, sheltered under God's special Providence, and hath power to bend his will by her prayer to any thing she desires, because she desires no­thing but what is good: Her thoughts are all cele­stial, her affections all pure, and her life no less admirable than it is rare. No wonder then if our Penitent after a grant of Jubilyes, alwayes chearful, alwayes ravished with pledges of Salvation should petition for this spirit of perfe­ction, which might secure all these advantages to him; confirm me with a principal spirit.

It is this wisdom our Penitent aims at which irradiates, enflames, and gives to the Soul a rellish of Heavenly comforts; this is the Evangelical Pearl for whose purchase the wise Merchant sold all he had, and it is a good bargain; for St. Paul sayes, a Soul adorned with perfection is of such a value as the Earth deserves not to bear her, and Solomon preferrs one single person fearing God before a thousand impious Sons; nay God is pleased to own a special protection of his perfect Servants, styling himself particularly the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: So that I doubt not, one Soul endued with Perfection doth [Page 254] alone more glorify God, than an infinity of o­thers that languish and consume their lives in coldness and indevotion: Our Penitent there­fore becomes now ambitious of promoting God's honour, supplicates for a spirit of perfection, and though he knowes usually it is not at­tained to but by a long practice of vertues, yet Almighty God is pleased sometimes to dis­pense in this proceeding, and in a moment raises to a high degree such as he hath designed for his choicest favours; and truly he had so far experienced God's liberal hand towards himself, that he might reasonably hope to obtain what­soever he made the subject of his request, as here with all fervour and zeal he petitions; comfirm me with a principal spirit.

Many Divines are of Opinion, that Christ our Lord suffered more in the rude combat of his passion for the most perfect Souls, than for others: For though he offered up his blood for the redemption of all Mankind, yet all did not e­qually share in the fruit of his passion: Some only have conveyed to them by it sufficient means of their Salvation without any other effect; others also receive from thence the true remission of their sins; but perfect Souls are raised by this oblation to a strange pitch in a spiritual life; and in consequence to that, to a degree of most emi­nent glory: Wherefore the passion of Christ is [Page 255] to them effectively more beneficial. This position they prove out of the Canticles, where Christ speaking to a beloved Soul sayes, vulnerâsti Cor meum; that is to say, there is not a hair of her head, dart of her Eye, least motion of her heart, or limb, which cost him not a wound; because they all import acts of obedience, humility, and love, towards him; and therefore it was a pleasing wound, since it was to be to them mat­ter of all their spiritual benedictions: Whence you may see that Christ our Lord doth not like Creatures who love the less those persons that have caused unto them the greater sufferings, for one act of gratitude on our part is of a vertue so soveraign, as it heals and closes up all his wounds.

If then his passion however bitter in it self was made delightful to him in regard of the just whom he foresaw would make good use of it; how ought it to affect those who reap the benefit; it is this satisfaction after which our Penitent aspires, for in this a double contentment arrives to perfect Souls: First, in that his love made him suffer so liberally for them: Next, in that they have contributed to allay the a­cerbities of his passion, by the foreknowledge he had of their compliance with his grace. O what solid matter of joy? Now you must know that our Penitent looked upon himself [Page 256] asmuch concerned in the fruit and participation of Christ's merits, as those who were to live after his comming and visible appearance upon Earth. Our Petitioner in the preceding verse expresses himself in the Terms of thy salvation, that is, purchased by the merits of Christ God­man. The Church calls it a happy fault in that it merited so great a Redeemer, in the same sense our Penitent contemplating the cause of his redemption, admires his happy deliverance, and ur­ges for this spirit of perfection, that as the just was to be the motive of a more copious effusion of his blood, so he becoming perfect might as­swage his torments; to which end he cryes, confirm me with a principal spirit.

Again, our Penitent is animated to this his petition upon the consideration, that when a perfect Soul whom God hath designed to salvation falls into any notable default (as she may, not being impeccable) he lets her not lye mired in the filth of sin without any feeling of her condition, but presently solicits her with his exciting graces, and this with such im­portunity as he told St. Paul, it was hard for him to play the obstinate against so many darts of his love, and if ever that parable was fulfilled, where out Saviour having found the lost sheep, witnesses more joy for the recovery of that one, than of the Ninety nine he had left in the de­sart, [Page 257] it is certainly in the resettlement of a Soul in his favour, whom he hath marked out to be his: 'Tis true, sometimes Almighty God withdraws his sustaining hand, and permits them to dash upon the Rock of offence, so to humble them; that sin might effect what his Grace could not, yet the conclusion is alwayes to their greater good; and if he makes use of so many stratagems to bring them to their former state of happiness, being once re [...]urned, with what pro­fusions of his bounty, with what inundations of his grace doth he overflow them? It is then a Soul makes a new oblation of herself to God, renewing her vowes and promises, and soon regains her former lustre; nay becomes more accomplished improving still her light and ver­tue, and with these penitential ornaments she invites her Espouse to a visit, who declares in the Canticles, that he is descended into the Garden of Filberts, and amidst the Apples of the Valleys. Intimating by these words, that his satis­faction is to behold a Soul (freed from the sink of sin) to spring anew, and bud forth in the practice of eminent vertues, to see her like fire always in motion, acting generous things for his service: To hear her a­midst the baits of this world to send forth amo­rous Sighs after him, passionately coveting to be discharged from the mass of the body, [Page 258] so to arrive at the fruition of him, and he is so good as to answer every motion of this converted Soul: She never looks on him, but he amo­rously casts an Eye upon her; she never thinks on him, but he requites the kindness with a thought on her; she never gives herself unto him, but he as liberally bestowes himself upon her: These are the entertainments our Holy Pe­nitent doth promise to himself by means of this spirit of perfection; he confesses he hath been humbled by his sin: Next, he hopes he is raised by his Grace, and now he expects the consequence of his merciful reconciliation; implo­ring, confirm me with a principal spirit.

When I read this clause, it minds me of what St. Paul sayes, that where sin hath abounded, there Grace doth many times superabound: For doubtless nothing adds wings to the fervour of a true Peni­tent, like to the remembrance of their past failings, whence I gather our Petitioner, upon these seeds of his restauration, will add a superstructure of my­stick Divinity, and raise himself to as high a pitch of Ʋnion with God, as in this life Man is capable of. But in this enterprize he is ig­norant what method to follow, because no certain rule is set down by God for its acquisi­tion, it being a pure gift of his, like Grace gratis given; that we might know we have a Ma­ster in Heaven, who instructs immediately by [Page 259] himself his Disciples in the maxims of true wisdom: Wherefore our Penitent trusts not to his own industry or vertue, but supplicates for divine im­missions, as a thing independent of any other means than his own free Donation; confirm me with a principal spirit.

This Science of mystick Divinity is defined an experimental knowledge of God, arising from a most elevated union of the will with him: For the will is the Organ of a spiritual rellish, by which Man tastes the sweetness of God, and by this experience teaches the understanding what God is: Now this savour, tast, or spiritual feeling may be said to be a kind of knowing; because love it self according to St. Austin is a knowledge; but a knowledge so secret as unintelligible to any but the person in whom it is; as it is common­ly said of a smart pain, none can so justly con­ceive it as he that suffers. Now our Penitent thirsts after this banquet, he knowes it forti­fies and confirms a Soul in the practice of devo­tion, and at a pinch sustains her in the rude combats of temptations: For being united unto God, she is above all the attractives, and vio­lence of Creatures: So that enjoying this delicious guest by an experimental knowledge, there is doubt­less nothing in this World of force to se­parate her from God: This Job seems to in­sinuate Chap. 1. Place me near to thee, and I fear [Page 260] not the attempt of any: And St. Paul likewise ap­prehending himself in this secure state sets the whole World at defiance, who (sayes he) shall separate me from the love of Jesus Christ.

As this security must needs give birth to continual acts of joy: No less are the ravish­ments which overwhelm a Soul in the practice of this devotion; for it is a certain lively expe­riment of God's intimate presence, of his essence, of his perfections and divine operations; and this with an experimental affection or strong assurance that we love God, that we make his glory our interest, that by complacence and friendship we share in what he hath, it being the Nature of true love to make all things common.

The first effect is to work a compleat Me­tamorphosie in us; for to transform a thing, is to separate it from its natural form, and communi­cate another not only interiour but exteriour: Now when a Soul is arrived to a holy compla­cence in God, and to a strict amity with him, she is devested of the form of sin, and vitious affections, which was her natural inclination, and receives within the Center of her heart, new affections, desires wholly Divine, and motions quite different from what Nature prompts her to: This made St. Paul cry I live now, not I, but Christ doth live in me; and this same motive gave life to our Petitioners present address, that [Page 261] gaining this spirit of perfection he might loose himself, and by that enterchange come to know what God is: That he is a source of good­ness, eminency and beauty; that he merits all ho­nour, glory, reverence, and praise: Then com­paring himself to God, he beholds how vile captive, and contemptible a Creature he is: Lastly, comparing God to himself, he admires the greatness of his clemency and sweetness that designs to lodge in so despicable a place as his consci­ence, the inestimable treasures of his wisdom, hence enfired with a glowing flame of love, he can think on nothing but him, study no satisfaction that re­lates not to him, and abhorrs all sensual plea­sure whatsoever: In sequel of this arises a de­light and sweetness, which surpasses all that is Earth; Nay even the capacity of Man in this life, as many Saints have witnessed the same, crying out, O Deus contine undas gratiae. That such a torrent of delights overwhelmed them as if they were not moderated, they must needs have opened a passage unto Death; O! Who would not be overcome by such a conquering spirit; confirm me with a principal spirit.

Another effect of this spirit is to settle the Soul in a great quiet and repose, free from all joy, grief or the like; for every thing is at rest when in its proper place and center: Now God is our Souls final end, nor can she be more intimately united unto him [Page 262] in this life than by the power of this Celestial Philosophy, wherefore the storms of passions ve­ry little molest a Soul enriched with this spirit; all things pass in peace and tranquility, and though it be true that we must still labour in a certain languishment and desire, until we reach our Center, yet this is so attempered by the goodness of God, as it is no wayes Irksome.

A holy person expresses this very pathetically; say­ing, My Lord and God, who art the support and strength of those who faithfully seek you, at the entrance of your Paradise I behold you, and beholding I cannot yet say what Object I have bofere me, because I see nothing that is visible; there is only one thing I dare owne to know, that I am both ignorant of what I see, nor shall I be ever able to know it: For raising my Soul to the highest pitch I find you infinite, and incomprehensible beyond the ac­cess of my imagination, and whilest my thoughts would go on, and make a further inquisition, a mist of ignorance surrounds me: But Oh my God, what is this ignorance but a learned ignorance! Nox illuminatio mea in deliciis meis; this obscure Night is a splendour over­spread with delights, the sum of my joy and consolation in this life; is to consider that you are infinity it self, in­comprehensible and an inexhausted Treasure. What fe­licity one day to possess in glory a good without end, and which exceeds what the understanding can imagine, the heart desire, or tongue can express, and that these Clouds which now involve us shall break forth into a Day of eter­nal [Page 263] Sun-shine. By which you may see, that holy persons in these admirable transactions, though they are left in darkness, and meet not with a compleat allay of all their desires, yet it breeds no disquiet, and all the rest is supply­ed by a perfect submission to the will of God, not desiring even Heaven it self but accord­ing to the measure of his degree.

Our Holy Penitent having received the fruit of one part of this meditation by his graci­ous deliverance from the servitude of sin, he now covets to be sheltered under the secure Bastion of this principal spirit; Confirm me, &c.

Some expositours understand by this principal spirit the first person of the blessed Trini­ty, unto whom power is peculiarly attribu­ted: Whence they inferr in this petition he pretends to a gift of Rule and Government, that by his prudent orders circumstanced with Reli­gion, he might induce his Subjects to pay what they owe to God, himself, and to one another: By which that chosen Nation committed to his guidance might flourish, and he himself make some reparation for the sufferings thrown upon them in punishment of his transgressions.

Others conceive, that by this clause he aims at the Spirit of Prophecy, because in the subsequent verse he undertakes to play the Ma­ster, and teach the wicked, Principles of Heaven, [Page 264] to which nothing would more conduce than a prophetick faculty.

Notwithstanding these Opinions, I ad­here to my first conception, that the spirit of perfec­tion is the scope of his desires, because it in­cludes the others; for perfection is styled by Masters of spirituality a spirit of wisdom, and by consequence proper for a Governour; and as to Revelation it is most certain that contem­platives are illuminated, and receive irradiations which naturally they could not attain to; they are often so surcharged with supernatural lights, and knowledge, a prospect of the World's Scene being laid open to them, as even ravish­ed with admiration they seem to suffer with an excess of communications, which made our Holy Penitent in some such like transport cry out. Anima mea cognoscit nimis; that the divine ope­rations within his Soul exceed the limits of her capacity. Wherefore we conclude, that perfection is an abreviate of Gods Ʋniver­sal favours to Man, and that our Holy Pe­nitent in this his petition comprehends what soever he can ask; confirm me with a principal spirit.

The Application.

We are taught in this clause to aspire un­to perfection which consists in these degrees. The first is to obtain grace and charity; this perfection is requisite to all Christians, and is so essen­tial to a spiritual life that without it we cannot make one step towards Heaven. The second per­fection is of councel, and consists in a certain dispo­sition of the Soul, to perform readily and with­out difficulty on her part, not only what is com­manded, but also works of supererogation; and this in a manner more pure, and more spiritual than usually is done; to this Christ our Lord ex­horts us in the fifth of St. Matthew; Be ye per­fect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. The third perfection consists in eternal felicity, where we shall be united to a sovereign good, by a clear vi­sion and fervent love. This is called our final per­fection, because there is none greater. The other two branches are but the means to arrive at this. The subject then of our petition must be to attain to our Beatitude, and this is truly to be confirmed with a principal spirit.

Amen.

CHAP. XXVII.

Docebo iniquos vias tuas,

I will teach the wicked thy wayes.

OUr Holy Penitent like a Souldier compleat­ly armed (who expects but the Signal to fall on) believes himself now fittted for great designs: His first undertaking is to chaulk out the wicked the Paths of Salvation, an enterprize worthy so great a Prince, and so great a Penitent; and which Christ our Lord an increated wisdom made the sole motive of his becoming Man. This he declares in express terms, asserting that he came not to call the just but sinners: Upon this foun­dation I conceive he imposed upon us an obligation of loving our Neighbour, as our selves: By vertue of which command we are to ex­pose our corporal life and fortune for the preserva­tion of our Neighbours spiritual good; if Christ sets so high a value on a drop of water, or scrap of bread given in his Name to relieve the want of a distressed person, as that he will own it as done to himself; what may we expect in return when we prevent the eternal misery of our Neighbour, which is the necessary conse­quence of sin not defaced by repentance. These [Page 267] reflections so transported, St. Gregory the great as to make him say, The very Angels do envy Man in the conversion of a sinner: Nay, they would be content to quit even the beatifick Vision for a while, that they might render to God the service of gaining one Soul; and could they repine at any thing, it should be in not having Tongues sensibly to express themselves in order to this end. Wherefore you may see by this clause our Penitent is grateful, he will not like the sluggish steward bury his Talent in the Ground, but improve it, and this by the noblest way of Traffick encreasing the num­ber of the blessed: I will teach the wicked thy ways.

There is nothing certainly holds in sub­jection, and strikes an awe and respect into us more than the impressions of knowledge we re­ceive from any person, those who are most famed for wisdome in the world, have alwayes acknowledged a greater Obligation to their Masters than Parents, because the one made them simply to live, the others to live well: It was from this principle that God designing to give a precept of charity to his reasonable Creatures, to facilitate the Execution of this his command, ordained a dependency of one another in the conveyance of intellectual notions; that the first rank of Seraphims should enlighten the next [Page 268] immediate order, and so to the lowest Hie­rarchy; for from this ordinate transmission of scientifical species arises a Harmony of love and respect, love in those that communicate, respect in those that receive; nor doth it end in the giver, and receiver, but is returned with the advantage of praise and glory unto the supream Fountain whence all true wisdom flowes. Now Princes are Earthly Seraphims, unto whom it belongs (as mortal Quires) to enrich their Nobility, they their immediate subordinate ranks, and so to the lowest Peasant, with Documents of Justice, temperance, and Piety: First, by good example: Next, by a vigilancy to put in Execu­tion pious, and equitable Lawes.

Our Holy Penitent happily ambitious to lay the Foundation of a Common-wealth, which unanimously conspiring to God's honor might imitate that of the blessed, is resolved to play his part; he will not barely instruct, but teach by his actions what his subjects owe to God; Nay he will have a particular Eye unto the wick­ed, and shew his zeal in their reduction, a task beyond the victory over Lyons and Giants. I will teach the wicked thy wayes.

I will teach the wicked thy ways, that is, thy com­mandments, and from thence confound them in their disobedience: for God having cre­ated the world of nothing, an absolute dominion [Page 269] over all Creatures is from thence most just­ly due unto him, and if the potter of the same Mass of Clay, composes Vessels of honour, and o­thers to baser uses, and this without any blame, though many causes concurr with him in this action: With much more reason God having had no partner in the production of Creatures ought to have an entire disposal of them; this so­vereignty by the title of Creation is the most noble and accomplished that can be imagined, be­cause he derives the priviledge from none, but holds it from himself, so that it is natural to him.

Having laid this foundation, our penitential Master unfolds unto the wicked a Law eter­nal, which is nothing else but certain decrees and maxims he framed in his infinite understanding from all eternity, by which he resolved to govern the World, when he should think fit to give it a Being. Amongst a multitude of these Maxims, One is, to concurr to the motions and actions of all Creatures conformably to their Natures which he would not destroy. Another is, to permit Man to act according to his strength and liberty whatsoever the issue be. The third is, not to admit him into Heaven, un­less he render himself in some sort capable of it; and after the Collation of his grace, and imposition of his commands, never to violence his liberty so to obstruct sin, but yet he resolved to draw good out of evil, and [Page 270] at the latter day pass a severe sentence upon vo­luntary bad actions.

This is then the first lesson our Convert will read unto the wicked, that the decrees of God touching the worlds Government as they are eternal, so are they immutable. If some be fro­zen through want of light and heat, others a­gain do melt with the excess of both, yet will he not for all this alter the Sun's course; if some do abuse free will, and by it work their own destruction, this inconveniency will not make him change what he hath done, nor abrogate that noble priviledge. Though heaven should become a desart, yet will he not people it but with such as merit it by a good life; I mean in persons grown up to the use of reason, however foolish intoxicated brains may quarrel his conduct (as they do) in many of these particulars.

The next Lecture our Convert will hold forth unto the wicked, and mark out to them the track of heaven, is, that this supream Lord hath imprinted in every man a law of reason; by which if he square not his actions, his own reason will rise up against him, play the judge, and condemn him: This light tells us we must fly what is evil in it self, and embrace that good which is so intrinsick to our natures, as its contrary is absolutely evill: As for example, to a­dore [Page 271] God is a thing so corresponds with Mans reason, as were there no superiour command to do it, yet our own judgement could not but al­low it as proper and fitting to be done; both in consideration of Man's infirmity and vile­ness, as also in relation to the greatness and in­finity of God. This light is so universally spread, that scarce any can be found so sa­vage, who knows and performs not good in some kind or other: St. Paul confirms this doctrine ad Rom. 1. The Gentils ignorant both of the Law of Moses and the gospel do naturally discharge some part of the Law, that is, of nature; whence St. Au­stin cryes out, O God your Law is written in our hearts, which no iniquity can raze out. Hence springs a remorse of conscience even in the most barbarous persons, after the perpretation of any crime opposite to the law of nature, and which sooner or later never fails to seize them with apprehensions of the divine justice, but especially when grace (of which no man is altogether and always destitute) awakens their drowzy and extinguished conscience: this I say ever gives them some light spark of knowledge, by which their first inconsiderate act is rendred less excusable. Thus our brave combatant beats the wicked with their own wea­pons, and evidently demonstrates (referring all to their own conscience) that when [Page 272] they prevaricate by injustice, falshood, irreverence to God, impenitency and the like; they act a­gainst a Law-giver which is God himself; and against a Law that took birth with their Crea­tion, and is the Model and Rule of humane Lawes, which (without conformity to this Law) are not Lawes, but injustice and tyranny: I will teach the wicked thy wayes.

The third remonstrance of our enflamed Do­ctour is, to inform the wicked that positive Divine Lawes are necessary, not only to rectify their wandring steps, but also to preserve the just in their righteous paths. The reason is, Man is designed to a supernatural end, to arrive at which his natural faculties are deficient, where­fore it was requisite he should have supernatural precepts and rules proportioned to the sublime con­dition of his end: Besides, after he had ex­changed a state of innocency for that of sin, and corruption; he stood in need of a Master who might instruct him how disastrous a thing sin is, how necessary to have a redeemer, all which Divine Lawes do open unto him. Again, to observe even the Lawes of Nature would have been a hard task; if he aspired not after som­thing more sublime; for the efforts of his Soul are so clogged by the violence of his passions, and his nature so weakned by sin, that unless di­vine positive laws had engaged man unto heavenly [Page 273] pursuits, scarce would he ever have been able to reach the perfect observance of the Law of na­ture. Lastly, it was necessary he should have alwayes before his Eyes his dependency and sub­jection unto God, so to be stirred up to the performance of his duty, and by giving testimony of his faithful obedience merit something at his hands; wherefore his Creation was no sooner finished, but God laid a command upon him, that he might know even in Paradise he had a Master. Next, he consecrated the Seventh day to works of his service, obliging the first inhabitants of the Earth to its observance: Moreover, those first Men of the World were obliged to the supernatural vertues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, without which acts they could not be saved; now those decrees were positive Lawes, and superadded to those of nature; so that in all times Men were never left purely to the Law of nature, but it was intermixed with several positive ordinations, that might help them on more advantagiously in the way of their Salvation.

Our Holy Penitent having thus exposed before the wicked the endearing providence of God over mankind, who never abandoned them to the sole instinct of nature, and conduct of their own Reason, but like a careful Master teaching them his will by himself, and give­ing [Page 274] them particular directions to lead them in the way of vertue; he would not stop there, but proceed to a further elucidation of God's benefits towards them; that at last overcome by his goodness, they might lay down their arms, and think it no dishonour to lye prostrate at the feet of so noble a Conquerour; which if our pe­nitent can effect, he will repeat with much joy, I will te [...]ch the wicked thy ways.

Our zealous convert plyes the Iron whilst it is hot, hoping to render the wicked more malleable, wherefore he produces the Mosaick law given by God to sanctify the Children of Abraham, and dispose the World for the knowledge, belief, and honorable reception of Jesus Christ: The Law consisted in precepts moral, ceremonial, and judicial: The first contained the Ten Command­ments, and divers others relating to them; and though the Law of nature led to their ob­servance, yet many errours were committed in reference to them, which were cleared, and better regulated by positive Lawes. The Ceremonial were ordained in order to the wor­ship of God, regulating what belongs to the Sacraments, Temple, institution of fasts, and bloody Sacrifice of Beasts; wherein God manifested his justice, declaring that sin de­served Death, and likewise his Mercy, in that he would exchange the death of a sinner [Page 275] for that of a poor animal. The third are judi­cial which conspire to the establishment of a rare Government amongst the Jews, that by an admirable policy being kept in peace, Religion might flourish, the number of their Laws amount to above six hundred, an Argu­ment of God's indulgence towards them: For the Jews being stupid, and of a gross apprehension, uncapable of being led by general rules, as not knowing how to apply them in particular emergencies, he was pleased in every point to satisfy and instruct them: Nay his particular providence here in appears, that delivering so many Articles for their obser­vance, he seems to take upon him the whole care of providing for their temporals as well as spirituals, as if he would keep a watch over e­very step and motion of theirs, to the end all things might be exact, and setled in the high­est order. He designed them likewise to be a pattern of Holiness and Sanctity to the Gen­tiles, that by their example they might be drawn from the corruption of Idolatry, to the real sentiments of vertue and religion, where­fore he planted them in the midst of the ha­bitable world.

Lastly, it was just that Nation should be the most Religious and Pious, from whence Jesus Christ was to issue forth, that they might [Page 276] prefigure, publish, and engrave him in the hearts and minds of Men by their holy Ceremonies and legal observances, which were all to repre­sent him, and the wonders of his life and death: for this cause, the kingdome of the Jews was prophetick, and their religious actions a figure of the qualities, condition, and mysteries of Jesus Christ: Nay, all the worship and service which God required of that Nation, and all the Exercise of their Religion was meerly to foretel, announce, expect and receive the Messias; wherefore St. Paul calls it a holy Law abound­ing in Ceremonies, and all tending to this effect.

I cannot doubt but our great Doctour and Prophet did with much Energy insist upon the designed End of the Mosaick Law which is Jesus Christ; representing to the wicked that the sole way to Salvation was by repentance and belief in the Messias; exhorting them to joyn with him in the practice of Heroick acts of vertues, so to expedite his coming, and repeat after him this his daily Prayer; who will give us from Sion the Saviour of Israel. He told them there was not a sigh or languishment, any prayer, or good work, directed for the accelleration of this mystery which had not its effect; that Abraham advanced it much by his prodigious act of o­bedience in offering to Sacrifice his Son, and [Page 277] after he had run over all the Gests of Saints till his time, he conclude all these motives would have been little efficacious without the charity, mercy, and love of God to lost Man. St. John attributes the glory of this Action to love alone, and if some have compared the vigour of love to equal that of death, I dare give it a higher Encomium, and will say it was so gene­rous as to transport it self up to Heaven, and assault the Divinity in his Throne, drawing from thence the eternal Son of God. O who can be so wicked to behold the lines of this mer­ciful proceeding drawn forth, and not present­ly joyn issue with our holy preacher to aban­don the pernicious wayes of sin, and become a Disciple in the Rudiments of vertue: To behold a Redeemer living in the Hearts of Men, before he came to live upon Earth, to see all the San­ctity of the World addressed to him, to speak of nothing but him, and all conspire to his glory. If before he came, he had so many tongues and voices to set him forth; and that the Law and service of God had no other aim than to engrave the Messias in the Hearts of Men, what expressions ought to enflame our zeal after his birth, life, cross, and triumphant glory.

These are the wayes our Graduate will di­still into the Minds of the wicked, and certain­ly he did it with an excess of fervour and delight [Page 278] helped on by the consideration, that out of his seed the Saviour of Israel was to be born: And it is clear he kept close to this Theam e­ven to the last, making it his Testament, and the subject of his expiring words to his Son Solo­mon, That he should be sure to walk in the wayes of the Lord, that in the exact observance of his judgments and Commandment written in the Law of Moses were fastned the succession of his Crown, saying; This done thou shalt not want one of thy posterity to sit upon the throne of Israel. These are the wayes if happily taken will preserve the wicked from ruine, give them eternal life; secure them from Hell, and open a passage to all the delights of Heaven, as St. John sayes; To the end that all who believe in the should possess eternal bliss. Wherefore our Penitent egged on by so many powerful mo­tives to the discharge of his task, will never fail in what he hath promised, to teach the wicked the wayes of God.

The Application.

Our Penitent instructs us here by his ex­ample, that there is no employment so accepta­ble unto God, as to disperse in our Neigh­bour the clouds of Ignorance, and imbue him with principles of wisdome. His Son Solo­mon was perhaps taught by this clause to ad­dress [Page 279] so happily his petition. And Joel the pro­phet makes it the great subject of good tydings he foredeclared to the Church: Be glad yea Sons of Sion, and rejoyce in the Lord your God, who hath given you a teacher of righteousness. Aristotle being asked why Commonwealths did not assign pensi­ons for Masters that taught and instructed o­thers, as they did to other offices of the State, made this reply, because there could be no reward answerable to their desert: if he thought certain notions in natural knowledge to be so valuable, what a price would he have set on such as convey the sublime mysteries of heaven unto us: Let us then instruct our Neighbour, by good example, by doing charity to the distressed, and by whole­some Documents, every one according to his Talent and Ability: And in doing this, we follow the steps of a great Saint who believed he could in nothing better express his grati­tude and zeal for God's honour, than in the Reduction of Souls to the way of Salvation;

Amen.

CHAP. XXVIII.

Et impii ad te convertentur,

And the impious shall be converted to thee.

BY this clause our Penitent destroyes the O­pinion of some in those modern times, who assert, that Christ died not for all Men, but only for the elect; for if the impious be not excluded from the participation of his precious Blood, surely there is none that are; impiety being a crime that directly strikes against the honour of God, and is a complaet rebellion against his Divinity. Now if our Divine by his preaching was confi­dent to reduce such offendours, whom can we imagine shall be excepted? nor can they say we are put into a worse condition by the Evangelical Law, in which a plenitude of benedictions are showred down upon us, and which as far exceeds the Mosaick, as a thing real, the type and figure that represents it. St. John Chap. 1.2. sayes, Christ is a propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole World. First, Christ satisfied for Adam's disobedi­ence and original sin, witness St. Paul, ad Rom. Chap. 2. As death entered by the default of one, so life by the justice and obedience of one. Again St. [Page 281] John sayes, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the World, that is, original sin, for the Greek version puts it in the Singular Num­ber, so Bede, Theophilact, and St. Thomas underst­and it. The Angelical Doctor adds, that the Son of God was incarnate rather for original sin, which was an universal evil, whose venome in­fected all Mankind, than for the actual and personal sins of the World; but as no sin is irre­missible to an infinite mercy by consequence after original sin, he made satisfaction for all ac­tions and transgressions which were mortal: The reason is, that mortal sins not only deprive the Soul of the vision of God for all eternity, but like­wise exposes it to the everlasting torments of Hell; the Son of God then, whose nature is all good­ness considered the misery of these sins, and offered up his life and death for their expia­tion.

For without sanctifying grace our works are not meritorious; nor can they satisfy for any venial sin: Wherefore deprived of grace by original sin, we could not by our selves (no not by the assistance of the blessed Angels) satisfy for the least venial sin: Because, though they be endued with grace, yet no pure Creature can merit condign grace: Wherefore it was ne­cessary that Jesus Christ should make satisfaction for our least failing, as St. Austin sayes excel­lently [Page 282] well, that to save an infinity of VVorlds we ought not to cast one glance of the Eye contrary to the will of God, Whence it is clear no Creature can satisfy for the least sin, since to do it, we must offer up something more valuable than the whole VVorld.

If then we could not free our selves from the least deviation without the interposition of his merits, much less were we in a capaci­ty to relieve our selves from the guilt of Enor­mous Crimes, and if as to these the fruit of his passion was not applyed unto all, it must be either from the inefficacy of satisfaction, or a defect of commiseration and goodness towards his Creatures. It cannot be the first, for his me­rits are infinite by reason of the divine person from whence they proceed, for actions belong to the person according to Philosophy: It was like­wise infinite in regard of his humanity, because it was sanctifyed and deifyed by the divinity, which was like a certain sanctifying and deifying form unto that sacred humanity, now as the greatness of merit is not only measured by the quality of the work, but also by many circumstances, and especially in consideration of the dignity of the person that merits. Hence it is that Jesus Christ being infinite in consideration of his per­son, and his humanity being infinitely holy, his actions are of an infinite value, and merit.

If it be said his goodness is deficient in this ransom, and that he contracted it only to some few; St. John confounds them for speaking of the incarnation, he seems transport­ed with wonder, and expresses it with a sic, that is, God so loved the World as he gave unto it his only Son: Can we imagine then he loved it so little as to select a certain small number; no no, he loved it so much as he died for all. There is no good person upon Earth who desires not out of charity all Men's Sal­vation, and shall Jesus Christ the Saint of Saints be limited in this his charity? St. Bridget in her Revelations recounts how Christ our Lord said once unto her, I am much offended with those who say my Lawes are hard, that I give not sufficient Grace to their observance, and that my passion is to some no wayes beneficial, by which they would ravish my goodness from me, but at the latter day I will justify my self before the Angels and Saints, and make it clear as the Sun, there was no want on my part; that there is not one Soul for whom I would not have endured as much as I have done for all, and that the sole fault consists in the obliquity of their wills, alwayes rebellious, and con­trary to mine.

St. Peter in his second Epistle, Chap. 2. speaking of certain Reprobate Hereticks sayes: They deny him by which they are redeemed; and St. Paul 1 Cor. c. 8. Thus thy Brother will perish for [Page 284] whom our Lord and Saviour dyed. Whence it fol­lowes a person may be damned for whom Christ offered up his death, by consequence he dyed for the Reprobate. The councel of Trent Sess. 6. c. 3. Christ dyed for all, though as to the benefit of his death those only receive it unto whom his passion is applyed. The price of his blood was given then for all Men, though the success be different, some more, some less partaking the fruit of his pas­sion: He is a Saviour then to all in some de­gree of redemption, even to those he shall judge and condemn; as St. Austin on the 53. Psalm. He shall judge all the VVorld who hath payed the ransome for all the VVorld: In which appears his magnificence and copious redemption, that would dye for Souls whom he foreknew would resist the charms of his grace to the last, and as much as lyes in them, render his passi­on fruitless: nay he gloryes in that he came for the greatest sinners, promising cure to the most desperate diseases, nay to the impious in case they will comply with his prescriptions.

To bring this a little more home, St. Thomas sayes the passion of Jesus Christ is like to a ray of the Sun, which though it be created for the benefit of the whole World, yet all reap not advantage by it, there be­ing some of a melancholy reserved humour who effect darkness, and shut up their doors and [Page 285] windowes against his beams; so the passion and death of our Saviour, is offered up for the universal good of all Men; but many loving the darkness of sin, keep themselves barricadoed from his benign influence, resisting the light of Faith, and other attractives of his love.

Thus you see all have power to save them­selves, though such only are effectually saved, unto whom the passion of Jesus Christ (by our happy concurrence with his sufficient Grace) is communicated and applyed as in the Fifth Chapter to the Hebrews; he is cause of Salvation unto all those who obey him.

Our Learned Doctor upon these grounds hath reason to hope, that when he shall have de­ciphered unto the wicked the wayes of God; how full of mercy, and obliging sweetness they are, they will lend their cooperation and consent to the movings of his grace, bear part with their Sa­viour's passion, that they may likewise share in his glory, acknowledging with faith and love all that is done, or to be done by them, the effects of his grace, and so apply to themselves Christ's merits and satisfaction: And the impious shall be converted to thee.

Impiety in the strict acceptation imports Atheism and a shaking off all acknowledge­ment of a Deity; its usual mates are prophane­ness and impurity, by which all things sacred are [Page 286] contemned, and Man degenerates into a brute. What a task is it then to reduce an impious person? Whom neither the fear of a divinity doth awe, nor the charms of holy things allure, nor finally the shame of a base action can move. St. Austin treating of such as are enslaved to this vice sayes, they resemble in nature to a Feaverish Distemper which still creates a thirst, though you throw in an Ocean of liquor; so where the flames of impiety have once taken hold, to stop the wastes of its fury passes the art of reason, or eloquence; for the impious have nei­ther Eye, nor Ear, nor any sense which is not depraved, and turns all into the malignity of its own humour. I remember St. Chrysostom makes a query, why Herod fell so barbarously upon the massacre of so many Infants, for (sayes he) he either believed the Prophecy or be­lieved it not, if he gave no credit to it, it was sottish in him to embrue his hands in so much blood, any spark of judgement would have di­ctated he ought to have contemned and slighted it: Again, if he believed it was a real prophecy issuing from the decree of Heaven, it must needs be inviolable, and could not want its effect: At last, he solves the question, and throwes it upon this, that a Soul drenched in impiety, is above all things the most infatuated, she is so unhappy as, where there is no impulse [Page 287] from abroad, to precipitate herself into ine­vitable ruine, nay fruitlesly to attempt odious, and impossible things.

It is of these impious, holy Job speaks, when he gives a relation of their Maxims. They say unto God retire from us, we scorn the knowledge of your wayes, what is the Omnipotent that we must serve him, and what benefit arises if we pray unto him?

These are the familiar blasphemies which the impious belch forth; the presence of God they decline, shutting up all the Avenues of Faith and Charity, by which he may enter unto them: The knowledge of his wayes, and Commandements they abhor, because they are contrary to their works; to his power they submit not, faigning to believe he is not omnipotent, because he is merciful: Finally, they offer not up their supplications unto him, because they would ask what is not fit for his supream wisdom and goodness to accord.

Our great Minister in despight of all these exorbitancies, promises yet to himself the redu­ction of these Monsters, and hopes to shape them to the resemblance in which they were cre­ated; in which undertaking we need not doubt but he used all the Topicks of authority and rea­son apt to convince and perswade: First, offer­ing to their consideration how much it com­forts Man to believe there is a God, for in doing [Page 288] this, we contemplate a Being infinite, and so­vereign, that presides and rules in the World, so that the World possesses in him a sovereign good; Is it not then better, the VVorld should enjoy such a Being which derives from him­self alone his essence, and existence, than to be deprived of it. For in believing there is a God, we consecrate our love unto him, we pay him the homage of obedience, than which nothing is more delightful. For to serve an Object of so much excellency is the height of glory, we raise our selves finally one day to enjoy this accomplished Being, as the ultimate end to which we are de­signed, and every glance of this hope creates in us a new contentment. Now if we have not the belief of a God, what followes? We convert our selves to a Creature inferiour to us, on this we rely, to this we submit, in this we hope, who being filled with misery and want, can contri­bute little or nothing to make us great, or happy, so we must needs languish without any hopes of a full satisfaction.

Besides, suppose there were no such thing as a God, we are yet in as good a condition as im­pious Atheists; for then we shall tast no punish­ment after Death, no more than they; but if there be a God, they have lost all, in having not ac­knowledged the Worlds Sovereign, nor per­formed any duty to him; so that in all Events [Page 289] it is better to believe than disbelieve a Deity: For besides the joyes our hopes afford us in this life of eternal felicity, we run no hazzard of ruine, as poor unfortunate, impious Atheists do.

Next, he layes before the impious, that he who believes not a providence, resembles an Or­phan bereft of his Parents, and hath none to take care of him; is like a person at Sea in the midst of Tempests, who fancies to be without a Pilot, and exposed to the mercy of the Waves; Whereas the contrary opinion settles us in peace and tranquility; and in all the disasters of this life, we have this consolation that his wise and indulgent Providence, will make all our seeming misfortunes to end in happiness, if with patience we expect but the Issue.

Again, he would have the wicked represent unto themselves what a comfort it is to place God in our thoughts, enriched with all kind of perfections, that he is an unfathomed Abyss of excellen­cy, that he is most happy, most wise, most powerful, most good, and merciful. So that our dependance on such a Sovereign cannot but add much to our contentment; to think he hath abundance to supply all our indigency, and goodness to confer it upon us, if we prove faithful to his service.

When he had thus ravished them with a dis­course of God's amiable perfections; he tells them, they were created of nothing: and so distills [Page 290] into them a conception and belief of his Omnipo­tency, and by that stirrs up their hope. For if he drew them out of nothing, with more faci­lity can he restore life, and raise them from their Ashes: This belief gives us a knowledge of our extraction, and shews it is noble, in that we belong to God, we are subjects to a Lord all powerful, who can reward, and punish according as we deserve: Next, he minds them that being composed of Soul and Body, the one is immortal, by which he is elevated above all other Crea­tures, and resembles the glorious Angelical spi­rits: Now had they not this assurance by faith, what desolation and despair would seize them at the approach of Death, when like Beasts they must come to lose all, and perish for ever in corruption; whereas the belief of a Resurrection renders Death unto us but like a sound sleep, in the space of which we remove from one ha­bitation to a better: So that the belief of the Soul's immortality is accompanied with the greatest consolation that can be.

His next overture is that they are design­ed to eternal beatitude, from which article pro­ceeds a most ravishing harmony: for it is the sole charm by which all the traverses and afflicti­ons of this life are made supportable, and the only ingredient which sweetens the bitterness of misfortunes here: It is just like a person in distress, [Page 291] and born to a great inheritance, who still animates himself with the expectation of his Estate, which will be the more welcome to him, as his hardship hath been the greater; no less do our pretensions to Paradise plant in us hope, charity, hu­mility and constancy in all events.

Our Holy Penitent notwithstanding all this is not so arrogant as to perswade himself, the force of his Arguments will infallibly pre­vail upon the impious: For though the advan­tages of Faith prescribe an Antidote against any Poyson of misfortune either in this life, or the next; though it contain nothing that is not holy and pure, nothing that is not worthy the Majesty of God; yet he knowes that Man by the strength of nature cannot purchase a compleat beatitude; that neither by the succour of any natural Agent can he arrive to his perfect hap­piness, because it is above, and exceeds any cre­ated vertue; so that it is necessary God should there act immediately himself, as in the rais­ing a dead person to life, or restoring sight to the blind, whence St. Austin sayes, None can give eternal life, but the Author of Eternity: And there­fore our wise Penitent sayes not, he will convert the impious, but that they shall be converted, which is to say, the power of God's grace must strike the stroke.

Lastly, he acquaints them, that though [Page 292] they are to be illuminated, inspired, and introduced into their happiness by God him­self, yet the sole way to dispose themselves for this, must be by their own good works and actions: Not but that the Omnipotency of God might give them beatitude without exacting any thing at their hands, but the order of his Providence would have it so, that Man should exercise himself in virtue, and labour for the purchase of his final perfection: To which end God assists him with his grace, and gives su­pernatural helps, which proportion his good works to the greatness of beatitude, unto which he may raise himself by degrees, by many labours and pious exercises; so to purify, and the bet­ter to dispose himself for so sublime and tran­scending an end.

In conclusion, our great Doctor bids them gather from this his discourse upon what foun­dation they stand, that if they will have a Crown they must fight for it; they must desert their wayes of impiety, change their gluttony into a sober repast, their softness and delicacies into au­sterity, their vain joyes into Tears of Repentance, their libidinous desires, into languishments of love and affection towards God. If then the most impious will submit to this doom, and follow these rules his Holy Providence hath set down, he will not blush to assert with confidence [Page 293] that even the most enormous sinner shall be con­verted: And the impious shall be converted.

The Application.

By this clause our Penitent would fortify us against despair, and shew there is no sin so enormous which can resist the efficacy of a true repentance, for God hath engaged his word not to be inexorable, and protests it is far from his thoughts, to will the death of a sinner, and he ex­cepts none; no not the impious, but upon sub­mission he will receive them with open arms, raze from his memory their iniquities, and tran­sport them from a state of perdition to the rich title of being his Children. St. Bernard sayes, he that assents to what God affirms, expresses his Faith, and gives belief to God; he that acknowledges his Existence and Being, is said to believe God: Lastly, he that places all his hope in God, is properly said to believe in him. Let us then remember when we say our creed, that at the same time we cast all our hope and confidence in God, relying on his goodness and power, which is infinite and exceeds by consequence all the malice of sin. Let us repeat with St. Austin, if Paul a persecutour and great sinner is become a Vessel of election, why [Page 294] should I despair; and why should not I with our Holy Penitent entertain a firm hope, when the impious shall be converted;

Amen.

CHAP. XXIX.

Libera me de sanguinibus Deus, Deus salutis meae,

Free me from blood O God, God of my Salvation.

OUr Holy Penitent makes a stop in the car­reer of his zeal at the voice of blood from Heaven which beats his affrighted Ears: He remembers how Cain wandered like a restless motion, beholding alwayes in his imaginati­on Spectres, Monstres, Fears, and dreads the usual mates of a Conscience wounded with homi­cide. And shall he then sit quiet in his Throne, whilst Ʋriah his Veins are opened, and em­ptyed by his command; the reeking Vapour which arises from that injured Body seems so to condense the Air, that it even stifles him; wherefore he begs a little respiration, that he may recover a new life; and which he shall ever owe to the God of his Salvation; Free me from blood, &c.

St. Gregory the great, rendering a reason why [Page 295] God will inflict an eternal punishment for a mo­mentary transgression, layes the weight of his ar­gument upon the practice of Men, who dis­patch away into another World by Sentence of Death Murderers, and other Criminals of several less degrees; by which (as much as in them lyes) they inflict a punishment for eter­nity, depriving them of life which they can never restore.

Our Holy Penitent fears the force of this ratiocination, for since he hath decreed this doom to his innocent neighbour, what remains for him to expect, but a torment without end, which shall last as long as the injury, and this he can never repair. All his plea then is to repent, to disown his malice, to throw himself at the Feet of him in whose Hands are grasp­ed all the Lawes of life and death; that he have­ing the supream Legislative power, to him alone it belongs to dispense, acquit, or chastise accord­ing to the measure of his will. Wherefore he sues to this God of Salvation, that he may be freed from that heavy doom due to his trans­gressions; Free me from blood, &c.

St. Matthew sayes whosoever shall take up a Sword in order to the effusion of humane blood shall perish by the Sword; the same measure shall be returned to him which he hath dealt to o­thers, and by the same means he wrought a­nothers [Page 296] destruction, his own shall be contrived, and in Gen. 9. the reason is given; because Man is created to the resemblance of God. We find that upon the score of the excellency of humane nature, Man is taken off from the perpetration of several sins as too low for the dignity of his Creation. The consideration that he is endued with reason, gives unto wise persons an aversion from carnal pleasures, lest they should by them degenerate into the condition of a brute; The consideration that his Soul is immortal, makes him fly Avarice, it being sottish for a substance which is to exist for ever, to dote upon any thing that is lyable to ruine and corruption. The consideration that his Soul is invisible, gives a check to Pride and Vanity, since her glories can­not appear sensibly and with splendour before the Eye of the World. Lastly, the considerati­on that she animates and enlivens every particle of the Body, how minute, or vile so ere it be, warns her from offering any damage or injury to our Neighbour. If I say these thoughts work many to decline several particular sins, in regard they are misbeseeming the excel­lent qualities of the Soul; doubtless the me­ditation, that she is the fair Image of God, ought to make us abominate all sin without reserve, fearing by any vitious act to deface the lively Image of a Divinity: Wherefore [Page 297] the respect we owe to his resemblance, ought to strike in us a terrour of laying violent hands on our Neighbour, much less by any force to dissolve that lovely union of Soul and Body, in which consists the accomplishment of God's work in framing Man: Wherefore St. Cyprian sayes, the honour of humane nature is to treat well the pourtraiture of God, and from thence discharge our awful reverence towards the Original.

But when any one is led on by fury and re­venge, or will usurp in a private person the ex­ecution of Justice, this is to dash in pieces the Image of God, which perhaps he would pre­serve, or at least have it stand, untill by in­struments of his own he is pleased to undo it.

Our Holy Penitent confesses he hath com­mitted this outrage, he is guilty of this irregu­lar proceeding, and hath destroyed God's fair handy work in the Death of Ʋriah, which he was bound to keep decently in repair, it being the Office of a King to protect, and not destroy his Subjects. How many brave designs hath he had to erect a Temple in God's honour, and now hurried on by an unruly passion, he hath demolished a structure more valuable in the sight of God, than all his material edifices the Hands of Man can raise.

If incendiaries by all Nations are punished with most rigorous Laws, what animadversions of se­verity [Page 298] will be practised upon such as destroy not only habitations but inhabitants, who ruine a mansion wherein God hath lodged a Soul im­mortal, and which he hath designed to be the matter of her great merit in this life; and an instru­ment of his praise in the next. And if St. Paul sayes, the blood of Souls will be required at the Hands of Pastors, who starve and famish their flock for want of due instruction, and good Example; what account shall he have to make, who hath not only by omission frustra­ted his Subjects of good Documents, issuing from an exemplar life, but more, hath effectively concurred to the destruction of them, and hur­ried them to a dreadful Tribunal, at a time when perhaps they were little prepared for that grand ballancing of all their good and bad deeds; and by this means who knowes whether he hath not only disjoyned, and torn the Soul from the Body, but even from God for all eter­nity. These dismal thoughts prompt him to fly for Sanctuary, and it is no where to be found but at the Throne of God's mercy which he implores; Free me from blood, &c.

Again, he considers with what a severe Eye God looks upon the sin of homicide, com­manding in Moses Law, that blood alone should be the price and satisfaction for blood; nay he extends it even to irrational Creatures, that [Page 299] if any happen to be the cause of Man's death, the Beast (what ever it be) should lose its life. It was to prevent this unnatural violence, that he prohibited the eating of blood, so to cut off any practice which might diminish the horrour of it. Besides, the remorse and tortures of conscience which alwayes attend this sin, sufficiently evidences, that though in other Crimes his patient Justice seems for a while to lye asleep, yet this he alwayes revenges upon the place: For if the Thunder-bolts of his anger do not immediately fall upon their heads as to the publick view; at least he begins the execution from the first moment of the Fact committed, disturbing their sleep with fright­ful Phantomes, and filling their awakened hearts with dreads and terrours that their life is even a burden and Irkesome to them; of this are extant innumerable examples, both in sacred and prophane Histories, too long here to recite.

It is not unworthy our observation, that a murdered Body should bleed afresh (as it hath been often experimented) at the presence of the murde­rer. It is true many give natural reasons of the thing, attributing it to the vital spirits not yet extinguished in the remnants of the blood retreat­ed into several Cranies of the Body, which by an Antipathy at the approach of their adver­sary fall into a Commotion, and by this distur­bance [Page 300] occasions the blood again to flow. O­thers say it may proceed from a simpathy, supposing the murderer to have upon his wea­pon wherewith he gave the wound, or in some other part about him, certain dropps of blood of the deceased, by which Sympathetick vertue it re­ceives motion in order to its reunion. But my design not being to insist on Philosophical disputes, I will not labour to weaken the force of their Arguments, and only assert my Opinion, which is, that it speaks simply the extraordinary way of God, which he holds sometimes in one kind, sometimes in another, to manifest and publish offendours of this nature,

Our Holy Penitent may be brought in for an instance, unto whom it was declared by God's own command, that notwithstand­ing all his Artifices in contriving Ʋriah his Death, it should be exposed in the view of the whole World; that future ages might see he whom he had chosen as the delight of his heart, should have no priviledge in this particu­lar, and though he would abate something of his wonted rigour, in not exacting his life for a satisfaction; yet he would bring it near to his door by the rebellion of his Children, with the Enmity and Machinations of many Conspira­tours against him; and that the Law of retaliation was not executed against him, perhaps he [Page 301] owes it to this clause of the petition, which he seems with more than usual fervour to have preferred, repeating; O God, God of my Sal­vation.

We may here reflect, how pernicious a thing passion is, when once it hath got the Mastery, and how soon it gets strength with the aid of dangerous occasions. Our Penitent knew well, that the Divine precept; Non occides, thou shalt not kill; did not only forbid the taking away of our Neighbours life, but like­wise all rancour or malice towards him, all in­jury by word or deed, which may touch up­on his honour or person; all disputes, contest, or impetuosity of Choler, these are the seeds of that monstrous fruit homicide, as St. John sayes, who hates his Brother is a homicide: For by nou­rishing within you a little spark of animo­sity, this from the heart appears in the Eyes which are the glass of the inward temper; thence it breaks into words, and at last sadly ends in his destruction. Behold our Kingly Prophet, and now an humble petitioner in his own behalf, he is said to have been the meekest of Men; and in con­sideration of his lenity, and mildness in Govern­ment, God spun out his reign to the Term of Forty years, which was granted to few or none of the Jewish Kings; with what patience did he sustain the reproaches and maledictions of [Page 302] Semei, with what an admirable temper the long and restless persecution of Saul, how tenderly issu­ed he forth his orders touching Absalom, that though he were actually in arms against him, and thirsted after nothing but his life and Throne, yet he commanded a hair of his Head should not be touched. Notwithstanding all this, upon a suddain seized with a passion of love, both his sweet temperament and all his former habits of vertue proved of little use unto him: The Christal of his understanding was blemished with gross vapours arising from brutish pleasures, the purling stream of his inclinations, which was wont to flow softly without noise, and from the source of vertue; is now grown into a storm of fury; it is so deprived of reason, as to ima­gine his own good and safety to depend upon the ruine of his Neighbour; and therefore hast­ens to take vengeance upon him, who never gave him the least shadow of real offence. O what a Tyranny is the Rule of passion, to make us love what is not amiable, and hate what is not odi­ous, to push us on to desire what we should abhor, and fly from vvhat vve ought most to covet. Our holy penitent hath served under this oppression, and novv petitions a release: Free mee from blood, &c.

Novv the Latins not using the vvord blood in the plural Number, though the Greeks do, [Page 303] hence it is, that some infer and with reason, that our Penitent aims at the remission of Adulte­ry likewise, because all carnal acts unlawful carry along with them a corruption both of flesh and blood, this appears in Deut. Chap. 21. Where it is said, that rotteness and worms shall be the inheri­tance of a luxurious person, and as the one (that is homicide) destroyes the species of Man, so adultery subverts those rules which are set down for his education, a design which nature in­tends, and drives at as well as Generation. The one injures his Neighbour in his person, the other in his honour, and this not only of himself, but casts an infamy upon his posterity.

It is storied of Ʋlysses that he met in his Travails with Circes the Enchantress, vvho promised, to make him immortal in case he vvould be naught with her; and though he believed she was able to make good her pro­mise; yet he refused her, less valuing immortality than fidelity to his Wife; Susanna far less esteem­ed of Death, than she did the dishonour to her­self and Family. Solomon sayes a Thief may have some excuse, in that extremity of hun­ger urged him to his villany, at least in rende­ring seven-fold he makes satisfaction: But an A­dulterer hath no plea, nor can the Indies bal­lance the wrong done by him.

Our Holy Penitent revolving all these [Page 304] truths in his Mind, hath reason to joyn in his petition the crimes of homicide and adultery together, since both are Coincident in his malice, both injurious to our Neighbour, both destructive to the very Lawes of nature, and both exemplarly punished in all ages by Di­vine Justice: Wherefore he may justly insert; Free me from blood, &c.

When I read a passage in St. Paul, 2 Cor. Chap. 7. it appears terrible the resentment God entertains of Adultery: He there sayes, if the Husband be in the number of the faithful, and the Wife of the unfaithful, he shall not dismiss her: But if she be unfaithful to his bed, then he may lawfully forsake her; so that God seems to be more offended, in that she keeps not her saith with her Husband, than in being dis­loyal to him, insinuating by this that he will give no quarter to an adulterous act.

How odious this Crime is to humane Society appears, in that the Civil Law permits the Father or Husband of the Adulteress (if taken in the fact) to offer violent hands, and immediately destroy both the offendours; and though the Can­nons seem to disallaw of this Law as unjust, be­cause it precipitates the guilty into an evident hazzard of their eternal Salvation: Yet still it con­cludes, how monstrous an exorbitancy Adul­tery is in the judgements of Men, when to [Page 305] punish it they allow parlies interessed to be both Accusers, and Judges, which in no other circumstance hath ever been permitted.

Adultery is a commerce between persons who are not linked together in a conjugal tye, and from thence it is cloathed with the turpitude of fornication, and is a sin against charity: Next, it is a violation of a bond indissoluble, by which the Author of Nature hath united one to another, and superadded to fortify this Chain the blessing, and vertues of a Sacrament. I remem­ber the Councel of Trent in favour of this Sa­crament teaches, that God by it bestowes a parti­cular grace; that as in Baptism we purchase as it were a new Being, regenerated and born to a spiritual life; as in confirmation we receive a Grace strengthening us in our Faith; as in the Eucharist an encrease of heavenly blessings is showred down upon us the like in the rest of the Sacraments. So in that of marriage a grace is com­municated which perfits, and refines the na­tural love they bare to one another before they married: Insomuch as that love which be­fore was perhaps seated in some corporeal charm or grace, afterwards becomes wholly sacred, and no attractive appears, which carries not along with it a pious allurement, and which makes them (whilest they tread the paths of vertue) to have a horrour of any thing that [Page 306] may alter or diminish it. Now this holy effect is evacuated by Adultery, so that it may be called a kind of Sacriledge, dissolving the sa­cred union of hearts which is made by marriage; and therefore I wonder not if St. Cyprian terms it Summum delictum, the highest crime that Man can be guilty of.

Our sad Penitent alarmed with the out­cryes of blood on the one side, and Adultery on the other, for which as an Enemy to God and Nature he deserves to be exterminated, hath no refuge but to the God of his Salvation, and he repeats it again and again that he would daign to save him from the doom of both, pro­testing a true repentance of both, and that for the future like a Lamb in the shearers hands, he will be silent, endure all the opprob [...]ios his Subjects shall cast upon him, and make a re­turn of all the good he can: Lastly, he will ex­tinguish for ever within him all the Fires of concupiscence and unlawful desires, so he may be sheltered from these crying sins under the beams of his mercy: Free me from blood O God, God of my Salvation.

The Application.

The way to preserve our selves from this torturing guilt is to be well versed in the pre­cept [Page 307] of charity: For by this same vertue by which I love God, I am likewise carried on to love my Neighbour: So that whensoever I injure him, I violate the Law of love towards God, which obliges not only to love him, but all that belongs to him: Now as Man is the most excellent Creature in this inferiour World, and most capable to render him honour and glory, there can be no violence offered to him, which reflects not upon the Sovereign Lord he serves, for whose respect we ought to cherish what he would have cherished. I must not then love my Neighbour because he is rich, beautifull, well fashioned, or to me particularly obliging, but I must love him, because I love God, to whose Family he belongs, and in a place of Eminency by the priviledge of his Being: I must love him in that [...] the glory of God, to which he may contribute much by the Conversion of his own and other Souls to his Service: why should I then plot mischief against him, for whom Jesus Christ hath a value? why should I aim at his Death, to whom God imparted life, for whom our redeemer suffe­red Death, and would if needful do it again? What need I care if they be malicious to me, since I love them nor for what they are in them­selves, not for what they are to me, but meerly for the love I bear to my dear Sigi [...]r? Let us [Page 308] stick close to this Principle, and pray, Free me from blood, &c.

Amen.

CHAP. XXX.

Et exultabit Lingua mea justitiam tuam,

And my Tongue shall exalt thy Justice.

AT the first glance, one might Censure our Petitioner as not placing aright his acts of gratitude, ascribing to God's Justice rather than mercy his deliverance from sin; but you must know, it is far from him; nay contra­ry to the Doctrine he delivered in the preceed­ing Chapter, to think he could merit any thing de condigno, or by the value of his own works without sanctifying grace, which is the sole effect of God's mercy. His meaning therefore is, that supposing he be enriched with the Donative of Grace, he may then lay claim to his Justice for a reward. St. Paul Tim. 4. sayes, A Crown of Justice is reserved and will be justly gi­ven to him. First, he calls Heaven a Crown of Justice; because it is given by way of Justice, in consideration of the worth of merit: Next, that God will give it as a thing to which he [Page 309] hath a right; and Lastly, he styles God a just Judge, in Testimony he doth it by vertue of his Office, that is, to observe the Rules of Justice.

The Arausican Councel chap. 28. declares that a recompence is due to good works, but grace (which is not due) must go before and give life to them; and truly it is rational, that since God threatens punishment to the wicked deeds of Men, he should likewise propose a recompence to vertuous actions; otherwise he might be said to be more enclined to severity than sweetness, which is much repugnant to his nature.

Again, sanctifying grace is a quality so sublime, that it dignifies and exalts the works of that subject it informs above all the Worlds greatness: Now there being nothing but eternal glory which surpasses grace, a meritorious action animated by grace, cannot be recompenced to the worth but by glory, whence it followes that grace by a title of right and condignity merits eternal glory.

Lastly, sanctifying Grace is communica­ted by God unto a Soul with the circum­stance of an affectionate Amity, by which in the first place he loves her, and this love of friendship moves him to pardon all her offences, to receive her into his favour, and adorn her with the incomparable Ornament of this Celestial quality. This done, Man be­comes a Friend of God in his first justification, is [Page 310] raised to a pitch of greatness so transcending, as his works are worthy of Heaven as perform­ed by a friend of God, who hath an affection for her, and by that will render her com­pleatly happy.

Upon these motives, and supposition of a grant to the preceeding clause of his petition, he will blazon forth the Iustice of God not in the remission of his sin, for this he acknowledg­es to his pure mercy, but upon the score of a recompence which his goodness hath promised. This consideration awakens him from slugg­ishness, and as the Labourer endures patiently the fatigues of his task, in hopes of his salary at Night, so will our Petitioner unweariedly su­stain the traverses of this life, and amidst his tribulations, every thought of Paradise shall move his Tongue to exalt, O Lord, thy Ju­stice.

Merit is defined a service which obliges to a retribution or a good work done freely, and which God accepts of as the price of eternal life: Now albeit good actions arising from grace (by which they are supernaturallized) are in a certain manner rendered worthy of eternal life, even without the promise of God; yet they can no wayes oblige God to give it, unless he first engage his word to this effect. For he is the Sovereign Lord of the World, and most par­ticularly [Page 311] of just Men, and their good deeds; yet can they not so much sway with him, as to put a constraint on his will to let them share with him in his Heavenly Kingdom. For when all the just had consecrated to his honour all the good works imaginable, he might justly say, I accept of these in discharge of your past debts, and obligations due to me for your Creation, conservation, grace and power I have given you to act: So that when any one makes an oblation of his person, fortune, or any other his goods unto God, he must not pre­sent it in way of a gift, but with humility as in satisfaction of a debt; nor yet as if he would clear all scores, but as a small parcel of that great Summ which he owes. Wherefore that Man may have an unquestionable right to Heaven by the value of his good works (being so engaged to God as he is) it was necessary a contract or stipulation should pass, by which God should please to declare he would give him Heaven in recompence, and upon this ground he should have a title to demand and obtain it.

In this proceeding his Mercy and Justice meet, his mercy in that he accepts the works of the just, for more than the bare discharge of their obligations: His Justice in that he is pleas­ed to give the rate of Heaven in return of their [Page 312] good works; by this means Saints are humbled in the excellency and value of their merits, for by it they know that Heaven is so bestowed by way of Iustice, as they are notwithstanding unspeakably obliged to the Divine mercy, which passing over the debts, accepts of their works for Heaven; this certainly will give them immortal resentments of gratitude, for which they will powre forth an infinity of praises, and bene­dictions throughout the vast spaces of eterni­ty, to a Benefactour, who treats them so nobly, with such signal favours, as to become a Deb­tor even to his own debtors. St. Austin ad­miring this Mystery sayes, God hath made him­self a Debtor to us, not by receiving any thing from us, but by promising what he pleased unto us. For all things are depending on him, nor can they ob­lige him but as far as he will oblige himself, by his incomparable Charity and inviolable Fidelity.

Our great Penitent ravished in the con­templation of these truths cannot but unloose his Tongue to celebrate the praises of the Divine Iustice, which so attempers the circum­stances of our Salvation, that we may claim it as our due: He hires us into his Vineyard, and if we prove faithful to our task, he will not fail in his promise to give us a salary; he often re­flects what a comfort it will be to a beatifyed Soul [Page 313] to have contributed something to her own happiness. In this liberty and free will which God hath given us, he beholds the perfection, and greatness of the Soul, that neither the most charming beauties, the most ravishing delights, the most glorious dignities, the most amiable vertues in spiritual entertainments, nay, nor the most eminent hopes of glory, can work any impression or impose any necessity upon her actions, but according to the mtasure of her will. Again, she hath a vigour impregnable (fortifyed with God's grace) against all sin and misfortunes, that neither the allurements of what is lovely, nor the horrid face of what is frightful, can make any entrance by force; for the Soul is above all the machinations of Men, can resist them, and meerly because it pleases her so to do. Let them speak fair, let them bribe, threaten, weep, attack, thunder, lighten, muster the Elements into storms and fury, nothing finds admittance, but at her disposal. So that these words in the Apocalips may justly be applyed to her. I have been dead and am living: She was dead by Original sin, and is revived by the Grace of Je­sus Christ, she hath put into her Hands the Keys of life and death, that is free will, which may open to her either Paradise or Hell.

After this survey of Man's liberty in this life, by which he is free either to the acting of what is good or bad; he makes a pause upon the apprehension that Man would have been more perfect, were he limited to vertue, and incapable of any vitious action, as God him­self is, and all the blessed by a clear vision. But he solves this objection, considering that God alone by nature is impeccable, it is a priviledge wherein none can share with him, as being infinitely perfect, and can admit of no imperfection. St. Ambrose sayes, that only the substance of the Divinity is a Being that cannot dye, to wit, by the death of sin: All other reasonable Creatures in this sense are mortal, and if the blessed in hea­ven be impeccable, it is not by their nature, but by the power of glory communicated, in which they were invested by God after they had given proof of their vertues whilest they were Viatours, and under their Tryal.

Now as to Man the experience of his frailty helps him on to discern more clearly (as the obscurity of the Night renders a fair Day the more resplendent) and reverence this excellency in God. Next, he ought not to repine that he is not here glorious; for this life is his place of Combat, and the Crown is not given till the Victory be gained, wherefore as long as he lives he enjoyes a liberty, by which he [Page 315] may sin and be overcome, and by which he may vanquish.

Lastly, God decreed this liberty to Man, and gave him a faculty by which he might with a full swinge of his Will be take him­self to good or evil, to the end he might be ca­pable of merit or demerit; for if he acted by the impulse of necessity, he could merit no recompence for his vertue, nor punishment for his sin, no more than a tree which bears good or bad fruit, and by this means the divine Justice could not be discerned either in the condemnation of the wicked, or in the reward of the just.

Our great Penitent in the issue of this medi­tation hath reason to set his Tongue a work, and spend it self in exalting this powerful and re­munerating Iustice of God, which happily con­verts to our advantage what at the first glance appears the Subject of our ruine; and resign himself to those dangers wherein the perfection of his free will may involve him; since by his grace (which he implores) he may em­brace, and practise what is pleasing to him: And if to the end he carry on this noble reso­lution, he hath an assurance to bless his Iustice for all Eternity. And my Tongue shall exalt thy Iustice.

St. Austin upon this place is of Opinion that our Penitent means the Messias whose [Page 316] Justice he will extoll, in that by his merit both Men and Angels are rescued from the slavery of sin. To which I agree, nor do the premises any waies derogate from this interpre­tation; for the merits of Jesus Christ are the source and cause of Sanctifying grace, which grace dignifyes the works of the just, and raises them to the degree of merit: Now that which is cause of the cause, is likewise cause of the ef­fect, and consequently the merits of Jesus Christ, are cause of the merits of Saints, as St. Paul to the Galatians Chap. 1. He hath blessed us with all spiritual benediction in Jesus Christ.

Next, the merits of Jesus Christ contribute to the merits of Saints, in that he hath obtain­ed by his actions, and sufferings a promise from God to accept the merits of Men in order to Heaven, for it was in consideration of him, and upon the score of his torments, that this pro­mise was made unto us: It is this St. Peter in his Second Epistle Chap. 3. hints at, when speaking of Christ he sayes, by him he hath made us great and precious promises, to the end we might by them be made partakers of the Divine Nature. Now as Grace is the Fountain of the merits of Saints, and God's promise the accomplishment; both the one, and the other proceeding from the merits of Jesus Christ; it followes that the merits of Saints subsist not but by those of Christ. Nor [Page 317] have they a dependency only by way of simple con­dition, or necessary circumstance, but they flow from them as from the root, fountain, and principal cause, without which they would have no Being.

Our Holy Doctor therefore will praise and set forth the divine Justice under several Notions. First, as he is the Principium or Off­spring, whence all remission of sin, and collation of grace is derived; and without which all Mankind had been eternally wrapt up in the darkness of sin, so that the just and superabun­dant ransom he hath paid for us; merits the Ado­rations and praises of all hearts and tongues.

Next, he will extoll him under the title of a remunerating Iustice, in that after he hath taught us how to fight, put arms into our hands, and hath stood by us to confirm our courage, exacting only a firm will to overcome; doth yet dispense his Crowns with applause, as if we had done all our selves: O who can then asperse, and lay a charge upon this Opinion as if it injured Christs merits? doth the fulness of a stream dishonour the source from whence it flowes; or the excellency of any fruit injure the Root that gives birth to it; so the me­rits of the just, being only the rivulets, and fruit of Christ's superabundant satisfaction, cannot cer­tainly in the least derogate from his; they only serve in an inferiour degree to extol and do homage to the infinity of Christ's merit. Wherefore [Page 318] Our Penitent will incessantly tune forth: And my Tongue shall exalt thy Justice.

The Justice of God beholds Creatures in three several relations: First, it is distributive, by which he allots unto every Creature facul­ties proportionable to carry them on to the End for which they were created. To the Soul which he hath designed to contemplate and love him, he hath given an understanding and will; the Body doomed to labour he hath fram­ed with Arms, and Hands: The Sun whose Office is to enlighten the World, he hath vested with a lasting brightness, which never fails to perform its task; in fine, every animal, Tree, Plant, or what ever is existent in the World hath a vertue proper to the designment of its Creation. Whence St. Dennis sayes, that God is communicable in his Justice, distributing to every one according to the dignity of its nature, and bounding within limits most equitable, the manner, beauty, order, Ornament; the inequalities and proportions of all Crea­tures, accommodating every thing with that which is proper to it.

Our Penitent will not be silent in order to this his distributive Iustice, he will admire the works of God, give his approbation without the least Censure, and confess that this wise Architect hath ballanced all things with equity and justice; and if he may be so happy as to [Page 319] manage his individual Being conformably to those proprieties and qualities he hath received from his Creatour, he will with confidence proclaim, that his tongue shall exalt his justice.

In the second consideration his punitive justice hath place, by which he inflicts a pu­nishment on sinners, the reason of this is, that a sinner living contrary to the wil of God, and disobedient to his order, setling his contentment on things forbidden by his Sovereign, doth by these his wayes throw a contempt upon him: Wherefore it is most just reparation should be made; and since he hath rebelled in break­ing the Commands of his Creatour, it is fit he should be afflicted with torments, and enslaved by that will he hath so much scorned, and set at naught. Lactantius sayes, the Law is just which imposes on Criminalls a punishment they merit; and that Iudge is upright and good who spares not offendours; because the chastisement of the wicked, is a preservation of the good. So God is not blamable if he fall heavy upon the wicked, that they may no longer oppress and injure the innocent, for it would not be a vertue in God to behold his Servants in this great World tread his Lawes under foot, blaspheme his Holy Name, thwart in every thing his Sacred will, commit exor­bitancies of all kind, and amidst all these disorders, remain as stupid and incensible: No, no, [Page 320] God hath a vertue dreadful to the impious, which is his avenging Iustice.

Our Penitent finds here likewise matter enough for his Tongue, that God having had so much reason to execute his Justice, up­on his criminal Head, hath yet been pleased to hold in his Thunderbolts, as that they have not (as he deserved) reduced him to ashes. Wherefore he will amend his life so to avoid the terrours of this dreadful power, and if he be not for the future led by the charms of his sweetness unto the observance of his lawes, then he will submit to this his punitive right, it being just he should not forfeit it upon his score, or that of any unrepenting sinner: So that in all events, his Tongue shall exalt thy Justice.

The third reflection of God's Iustice to­wards his Creatures is styled remunerative, by which he fills with ineffable and endless joy, such as have served him faithfully in this life; for as it becomes not his Majesty to let the infringers of his Lawes to the last go unpun­ished, no less is it sutable to his goodness, not to reward the obedient services of his Friends. They have studied here to please him, to con­firm themselves to his desires, and promote his Glory as much as lay in them: Nay, were it possible to make any addition to his treasure [Page 321] and perfections, they would have done it. Wherefore their good God being invincible, and not to be overcome by the good will or affe­ction of any Creature, thinks himself en­gaged to confer by way of recompence eternal honour, riches, and joyes unto those Souls who have her served, and gloryfied him by their vertuous actions.

Our penitent laies hold on this justice, and and it is the great Theam on which he pro­mises here to dilate himself: but whilst he is busied in this his duty, he is confounded to consider, that all he can possibly give to God, is a bare and simple good will, the plenitude of his perfections admitting no encrease; but on the other side, he receives effective and solid blessings: God draws no profit out of our good works, yet he sets such a value on them, as to think Heaven it self not too great a price for them: We can only glorifie him in the film, or outside, by witnessing an esteem we have for his service, but he glorifies us inti­mately, and to the lowest Center of our Soul, which he will replenish with splendour, de­light, and glory; and all these great things he will not do gratis, as a favour at discretion, but by vertue of an engagement, and under a title of Justice, that we might more firmly hope for our felicity, and possess it in the most noble [Page 322] manner of enjoyment! O what a stroke of good­ness even in this his Iustice? Therefore our Penitent will never cease: And my Tongue shall exalt thy Iustice.

The Application.

Christ our Lord declared those blessed who hungered, and thirsted after Iustice. Now this Iu­stice consists in the aggregation of all vertues; to be humble, chast, or patient suffices not to qua­lify any person with the title of just: For if we are guilty of any one inordinate act, we forfeit our whole right to Iustice: Our Penitent therefore in the precedent clause sued to be freed from the crimes of homicide and adultery, hoping as to the rest he was innocent, and no­thing of an enormous Nature could be laid to his charge; supposing then to be cleared from these, he raises his hopes after that promised recompence; to wit, He himself would be our too great reward; and whosoever should glorify him, should be glo­rifyed by him. Let us then exalt this Iustice which seems wholly to lay aside his own interest, that he may stand engaged to those who owe him all; what demonstration of his goodness is this even in his Iustice, as to be him­self our happy portion for all eternity;

Amen.

CHAP. XXXI.

Domine labia mea aperies.

Lord thou shalt open my Lips.

OUr Holy Penitent conscious of the subli­mity of the Subject he hath undertaken, warily considers his inabilities, and that the Tongues of Angels do but stammer when they would set forth his Perfections; yet willing to express his gratitude, he cannot be silent, holding it a less fault to praise him unworthily than not to praise him at all, and his deficiency hath at least this plea of comfort, that it springs from the excellency of the Being he would ex­toll.

But since his duty binds him to say some­thing, like a sage Oratour he would fortifie himself with all the helps imaginable: His first contrivance is to dispose his Lips, which is a main Instrument of Speech, and the best way to fit them to a right temper, is to put them into the hands of him that made them: whence he desires, that he who shapes the tongues of infants into eloquence would open and frame his lips, that they may tune forth his praises, and ravish men with the love of him; upon this [Page 324] design, he cryes; Lord thou wilt open my Lips.

It is couched in Genesis that after God had framed Man out of a mass of Clay, he breathed into him a spirit of life. Our Petitio­ner like a Clod of dull Earth lyes exanimated, and as it were dead in sin, and though some life of grace be put into him, yet he is as in a trance and it is necessary his Lips and Teeth be wrenched open that he may speak, and to speak to the purpose, it was also necessary words should be put into his Mouth, and such words as are enlivened with a Spirit of Wisdome, which he alone could give, who is an incre­ated source of knowledge; and if once thus pre­pared he will do wonders, his Lips shall no more be employed in the vain Art of Arithme­tick to cast up the number of his People, so to rely more on the strength of a Multitude, than on the divine assistance. No more shall his Lips give out unlawful orders for the death of the In­nocent: No more taken up in the luxurious courtships of women: So that if the divine good­ness shall please to lift up these floudgates, he doubts not but to convay a stream, which bac­ting upon the stones of his repenting breast will make up a fine harmony in the ears of his Crea­tour; wherefore he begs, Lord thou wilt open my Lips.

It is storied of Creesus King of Lydia, that seeing a City wherein he was besieged, at­tacked, and forcibly entered by Cyrus King of the Medes, he resolved rather than be­come a scornful prisoner to dye on the places, up­on which design he cast himself into the midst of his Enemies, preferring an honorable death be­fore an opprobrious life: His Son beholding his imminent danger, though to that instant at the Age of twenty years he had been alwayes dumb; cryed out, spare my Father, spare my Fa­ther, it is the King: Whereupon the Enemy seis­ed his person, and preserved his life, some at­tribute this to a natural cause, alledging the love this Prince had for his Father, put all his vital spirits into combustion, and by that violent mo­tion broke the obstacle of his speech.

However methinks this passage may in some sense be applyed to our great Penitent, who was morally dumb, the Organs of his Soul structed by the malignity of sin; insomuch as he could not utter one syllable, which might have force to reach the Ears of his Creatour; untill he came to have a prospect of his e­ternal ruine, and no sooner these Terrours appeared before him, but all the faculties of his Soul were stirred up, removed all Obstacles, and made him Petition for the [Page 326] opening his Lips, the first motion to his happiness. Lord thou wilt open my Lips; For this imports not a local division of the Lips, but an inflamati­on of the heart, by vertue of which heat, all the parts of his Body will be disposed to dis­charge those functions for which they were created.

St Paul to shew how little Man can do if left to himself, sayes, 1 Cor. 4. What do we possess which we have not received, and if so, why glory we in it as if our own. Again, he powerfully asserts it in the Eighth Chapter to the Romans, It is not he who wills, or runs, but he on whom God will have mercy. As if he would say, as Esau in vain pursued his Chase, thinking from thence to derive to himself his Fathers blessing: So Man after sin loses but his time, and en­deavour, if he think by the strength of his na­tural faculties to be able to observe the Com­mandements of God, or perform what is requisite to the purchase of Heaven; So that it must chiefly spring from the mercy of God's assisting grace.

Nay, which is more, we cannot so much as desire to serve God according to our obliga­tions, unless he first by his divine grace move our hearts, and dispose our will unto it; as the same St. Paul sayes, God works in us both the will and the execution; without God assisting, [Page 327] we cannot have a desire neither to believe what is proposed as the object of Faith, nor perform what we should in order to vertuous actions; and therefore St. Austin sayes, the prodigal Son had never resolved to return home to his Father, if the mercy of God had not inspired him to it.

To manifest this truth we need go no fur­ther than to cast our thoughts upon the Gre­cian and Roman learning, which produced the greatest wits in the World; yet in all their inquisition after a sovereign good, they were so lost as even to become ridiculous; acting things concerning a Deity, and Man's supream felicity, as if they were destitute of reason. St. Paul takes notice in particular, how coming to Athens he found an Altar dedicated to an unknown God: For they had been visited with a great pestilence, and ignorant for what offence a cha­stisement so severe was inflicted; at last, fancied it was for want of homage to be rendered to some Deity not yet discovered; than this what could be more absurd, to shew in what dark­ness and errours, Man doth grope when left to himself.

So that if at any time a person blushes at his vanities and past extravagancies, and doth confess that what before he behold as light, and life, to be nothing else than obscurity and death; [Page 328] this Conversion (sayes St. Austin) comes not from himself, but from the powerful, and hid­den grace of God which dissipates the Clouds of Earthly opinions, and enflames his heart with a desire of knowing the truth.

Now this change God works in Souls se­veral wayes, in some more gently, in others more forcibly: Solomon insinuates that he par­ticularly gives his call by the outward preaching of his word; this Esai. confirms Chap. 40. God hath sent Doctors of his Faith into the World, who should reduce their Brethren like the blind into the way; that is, unto Jesus Christ the Messias, who is styled the way, truth, and life. In this manner Surius recounts Barlaam was sent to Josaphat Son to a King in the Indies, that by his conversion the whole Kingdom might embrace the Law of Christ. St. Paul was sent to Athens, who converted the great St. Dennis a famous Doctor of the Areopagites. St. Philip to the Eunuch of the Ethio­pian Queen, who by expounding unto him a Prophecy of Christ in Esai. immediately re­ceived Baptism at his hands.

In the History of Japonia it is related of a certain Indian who had lived well according to the light of nature, how he was restless in his Mind, believing his religion to be false: he went to the Turks thinking to follow theirs, but finding there no satisfaction, then he ap­plyed [Page 329] himself to the Jews, but still remain­ed in perplexity, so that with much fervour he was wont to cry out; O God, let me know who thou art, and that I may serve thee according to thy will, otherwise do not charge me with blame for my errour. At last it happened St. Francis Xavierus came into the Town where he was, and no soon­er did he hear him unfold the points, and sacred mysteries of Christian Religion, but he proclaimed, that Man preaches the God I must serve, and forth with was baptized.

By this expedient he likewise made a conquest of our Holy Penitent, in which acti­on Nathan the Prophet was instrumental, who laying before him his obligations to God and his ingratitude, occasioned that without delay he had recourse to the Sanctuary of this present petition or Miserere.

The second manner of his call is by the inward operation of his Spirit, and this he com­municates to all, witness St. Paul, 1 Cor. 4. God who drew light from darkness by a word from his mouth, hath filled our hearts with the splendour of his knowledge: For without this light of Faith, Man knowes not God who made him, he knowes not whither he tends; he knowes not eternal felicity, for which he was created; nay he knowes not himself; for without Faith, we know not that we are born Imps [Page 330] of wrath, and lyable to eternal death: We know not the wounds of our nature, our inability to good, the necessity of being regenerated by grace. Lastly, without this interiour light, we know not Christ our Mediatour, by whose pretious blood we are Redeemed from eternal damnation, and restored to a life of Grace and Glory.

But you will say if God imparts this light of faith to all, how comes it so many remain in darkness, and infidelity; of this the reason is, that it is required to the end the light of Faith may have its effect, a cooperation in our wills, otherwise this ray (how glorious so e're it be) is rendered useless, and as it vvere under a Cloud: Therefore St. Paul ad Rom. 10. sayes, Faith which justifies must come from the heart; and in Luke 22. Christ reprehends the Disciples going to Emaus, that notwithstanding he had filled them vvith the beams of his light, yet their hearts were slow in admitting a belief; Job likewise confirms this Chap. 24. saying; they were obdu­rate, and rejected the light presented to them.

Our Learned Graduate and Petitioner more happy, rejected not the internal call of God by his secret inspirations, but corresponded vvith them by a pious affection in his will; and having a merciful invitation to a feast of grace, he would not like those guests mentioned in the 22. [Page 331] of St. Matthew, Let the consideration of a poor Farm, or a little musty vvare gain more upon him than the hope of this treasure, more pretious than the whole VVorld: He vvould not preferr darkness before light, nor choose to vvallow in dirt and mire, rather than beauti­fy his Soul with a gift which will one day ren­der him immortal in glory. He had already obtained a desire to do vvell, and this desire he would improve by action, and since God had daigned to give him the velle, or will to serve him, he begs he would open his Lips, that he might redeem his miscarriage in setting forth the Enor­mity of sin, the Characters of the divine goodness, and the greatness of his Justice; Lord thou wilt open my Lips.

St. Austin reflecting upon the goodness of God, in that he not only bids us ask, but even gives us more than we demand; sayes, That our slothfulness ought to blush in that God is more ready to give than we are to receive.

Abraham petitioned for a Son, and re­ceived a promise that his Seed should be multi­plyed like Stars of Heaven, or Sands of the Sea, and that Christ should issue forth from his Loyns.

Jacob's request was extended only to Bread, and a Garment, and he was honoured with Angels to be his Companions, was par­taker [Page 332] of many heavenly visions, and abundance of riches powred as it were into his Lap.

The Thief on the Cross sued but for a re­membrance, and Christ gave him a promise of Pa­radise.

So our Penitent seems to be very modest in his petition knowing well the wont of God's bounty, that doth not succour us in one kind, and leave us miserable in another, but relieves compleat­ly: Wherefore he sues only to have his Lips unsealed; for the rest he referrs it to his incom­parable munificence, being fixt in this Principle, that according to the measure of his donation, he will exhort, allure, threaten; nay put himself into any shape, that may most effe­ctually purchase Souls unto God.

Nor is it a bad presage of his future success, that he is so confident to have his Lips laid open; Lord (sayes he) thou wilt open my Lips, as if he had the Key of grace at his command. For I observe when God would dispose a Soul for the reception of his favour, the first Seed he casts into her is that of hope, this lesson he read to the Paralytick, Matt. 9. Son be confident and hope well.

Cassianus sayes, it is a sign we shall obtain what we demand, when we find a strong faith and confidence in our selves whilst we offer our petition: For Almighty God uses to in­spire [Page 333] this vertue into us as an earnest or pledge of his future grant; this made the Apostle St. Paul prescribe it as a means to compass our desires, Heb. 2.16. Let us approach with confidence the Throne of grace. As if we needed only a firm hope to be able to scale the throne of grace and bear thence what ever we desire.

Hope is defined a vertue residing in the will, which raises it to the expectation of a sove­reign good, and consequently to all necessary means in order to that; as grace, remission of sin, and the like: For the understanding enlight­ned by Faith, knowes that the beatitude of Man is in God, that this beatitude is promi­sed him as his final end; whence the will sets itself a work after this sovereign good, and be­ing unable of it self to reach so high, this vertue of hope is infused to strengthen the imbe­cility of our nature.

Now the motives of hope are; First, God's mercy, which is no less prompt to free his Crea­tures from misery, than the fire is to burn, or the Sun to give light,

The next motive is his Providence, which al­lots unto every Being what is necessary to lead them to their final end.

The third motive is his divine power, against which no machination or force can be of any effect to ruine a Soul he means to save: For [Page 334] all the power of Hell before him is but like an [...] atome before the Sun, nay he can with more fa­cility draw a Soul from an Abyss of sin, and adorn her with an Angelick purity, I say with more ease, than we can utter a Syllable, or make the twinkling of an Eye. Besides, he is gene­rous, and seeing his Enemy at his Feet, implo­ring his mercy, he loves to raise them by his pardon, and cannot endure that any in vain should hope in him.

In sequel of this meditation our Petitioner assures himself that God will not reject him; nay, that he will give him more than even he dares to hope for: That since he hath de­signed him to a supernatural end, his providential care will enrich him with an interiour illustration of his Mind, and a holy impulse in his will, that he may comprehend those Truths which he hath hid from the wise, and discovered to his little ones. He knew the Messias would not shed his pretious blood to make us great Oratours, Physitians, Astrologers or the like; be­cause Man by the strength of his own capaci­ty may reach and acquire them in some per­fection; but to enable us to supernatural princi­ples: And though by the contemplation of created things, Man may make many deductions and inferences, and so come to the knowledge of seve­ral perfections in God: Yet knowledge thus ac­quired [Page 335] is very imperfect; and therefore St. Thomas observes, that the wisest Men have fallen into many sottish errours, untill a superna­tural Divinity came to rectify, what Man's Wit could not penetrate and discern.

Our Penitent now feeling himself to swell like a Fountain to the brim, with these irradiati­ons and sacred transports, longs to discharge himself, and besprinkle the Arid Souls of lan­guishing sinners: Wherefore he begs his Lips may be laid open, that like a torrent he may bear all down before him, destroy all the Barricado's of impiety, and teach the World in his Example, that notwithstanding we forfeit by sin all supernatural aids; yet repentance is of power to redeem them, and restore us to a capacity of regaining our eternal Beatitude: Wherefore he exhorts all Men to joyn issue with him, and with a firm hope cry; Lord thou shalt open my Lips.

The Application.

We are taught here when we begin to pray, that we look upon our selves as infirm, indigent, and ulcerated Beggars; who expect from the merciful hand of God to find some relief in our necessities; and we must further reflect upon this great addition to our misery, that

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as that the time was not tedious to him, to whom the Saint replyed, that the whole world was a great Volume expanded, in which he read as it were in great Characters, the won­ders of its Creatour, to which also alludes the Sentence of St. Chrysostom: There is not any par­ticle of a Creature, be it of worth or not, which issues not forth a voice more loud than a Trumpet, and speaks the praises of God.

But above all, it belongs to Man by ma­ny Titles of obligation to contribute to the praise and glory of God.

First, his natural perfections more lively represent the Divine perfections, as being created to his Image, and enriched with an understanding able to comprehend supernatural things, so that he alone in this Earthly Sphere can acknowledge, and make a return of gratitude, for all the visible productions we here behold. Whence it is evident, that Man is obliged to pay the tribute of praise and thanksgiving in the behalf of all Creatures: it was upon this score the high Priest among the Jews was wont to have wrought in his Gar­ment a draught of the World, to insinuate, that it was his part to discharge the duty of Adora­tion, and acknowledgment unto God in the name of the universe.

Next, Man may be aiding to the glory of [Page 341] God, employing those gifts of grace he re­ceives in acts of Religion, obeying his Com­mandments, embracing his Councels referring all his actions to his honour, and evidencing by a holy life, that all his endeavours are in order to him, and his service. For from hence is reflected a certain external glory upon God; not only in that he is known, loved, and respe­cted by such a life of Sanctity; but also in that he hath such holy and generous Creatures, just as it is the glory of a Father to have a Son vertuous and wise, and who by his valour and sage conduct, drawes the Eyes of the World with a kind of admiration upon him.

But the greatest glory Man can give unto God, is in a state of Beatitude, for when once there arrived, he shall see him face to face without any interposed Veil, he shall know the wonders of his essence, cast his sweetness incon­ceivable, and have his heart ravished with e­ternal affections: He shall there praise him in a full consort for all Eternity: This is the highest, pitch of glory Man can give unto God, in which he is partner with the Angels, it is the final end of our Creation, we are not put into this World upon any other design, than by a con­stant progress in vertue to advance our selves daily to this end.

Here you may discern the general Heads of [Page 342] praise in which our Penitent will engage his mouth. First, he will praise him in the infinite variety of Creatures he hath framed in this inferiour World for Man's use, and in his behalf he will powerforth his thanks, and acts of gratitude, resolving never to abuse them, or design them contrary to that end for which they were made.

Next, he will submit all his actions, to be led and conducted according to the impulse and dictamens of those Graces he shall please to bestow upon him; making his Body a holy, chast, and ma [...]rated victime to his Laws, and by this means he will dispose himself for that last and highest service he is to render him in a compleat Beatitude, where his Mouth shall never cease to celebrate his praise: And my Mouth shall declare thy praise.

Whilest our Penitent thus in his thoughts runns over all these motives which might justly afford matter of praise to his grateful Tongue, there occurs one more which must not be omitted, since it exceeds all others, and exalts the glory of God beyond all the submission of Men and Angels; it is the mystery of the Incarna­tion in which Christ Jesus God-Man hath con­tributed the most to God's glory: For he hath saved the World by the effusion of his pretious blood, and nothing is more glorious to [Page 343] God than the Salvation of Mankind; for good and holy persons will praise, love, ad­mire, contemplate, enjoy, and adore his perfections in the vast spaces of Eternity: Now had he not dyed for Man, no Paradise, no fe­licity could have been for them; so that God had remained under the privation of that glory, he doth and is to receive from blessed Spirits for all Eternity.

Nay more, not only Men do glorify God by Jesus Christ, but the Angels like­wise, in whose concern the Church declares the Angels praise your Majesty, the Archangels bow before you, the Powers tremble with respect, the vertues of Heaven, and blessed Seraphims with like joy and love do glorify you: So that all the external glory consecrated to God either in Heaven or Earth is in con­sideration of the divine person as it supports the sacred humanity of Christ.

Lastly, Jesus Christ in Heaven doth praise and magnify the Divinity with an Air incompara­ble; he doth it more copiously, with more vari­ety, with a note more lively and ravishing than all the Choires of Angels and Saints put toge­ther: The reason is, that the most perfect knowledge, and most ardent affection are the [...]ources of the most sublime and magnificent Pa­negyricks: Now the Soul of our Redeemer en­joyed [Page 344] without dispute a more clear and pe­netrating wisdom and knowledge of the Divinity, is enflamed in that Abyss of essence to a higher degree: than any other whatsoever, and consequently his most pure Soul breaks forth into praises, which outstrip and surpass by far all the Harmony both of Angels and the blessed spi­rits in Heaven.

I doubt not but our Penitent with much satisfaction let his Tongue strike upon this Theam; for if the very thought of the Messias replenished his Mind with abundant joy, what consolation to consider that by him alone God would derive to himself more glory, than from the whole mass of Creatures, that he was to share with him in this task of praise, that he would procure, encrease, and magnify the honour of God to his utmost; and since Angels and Men were to pay their homage of praise and benediction by and in the person of the Messias, our Penitent would not be exempted from that priviledge of bearing a part in the confort, and bless the divine goodness in that by the bloody Sacrifice of the Messias, God's ho­nour should be repaired, and as many voices gained to promote his greatness, as there were to be glorious spirits in Heaven, that by his sacred Mouth the praises of his God, his so­vereign good, and object of his love were to be [Page 345] ecch [...]d forth in the midst of Paradise; with what [...]y would he put a helping hand, and conspire in this design, and second the gene­rous intentions of the Messias, by a million of toyl [...]e Labours, might he but live to see the Day-break of his coming, however he is re­solved by him to offer up all his stock of praise and benediction. And my Mouth shall announce, thy praise.

Cassianus admires the goodness of God, that possessing within himself an inexhausted Trea­sure of all good, in whom cannot be found the least want of any thing desirable, is yet pleased to play the Merchant with poor Crea­tures, entrusting into their hands not only the visible stock of this inferiour World, but also the dispensation of heavenly graces, and this whilst he can expect no return, this our Petitio­ner himself confesses in the last Chapter of the first of the Chronicles; where He and the Princes of the people had made a large Offer­ing of many Talents of Gold, Silver, and other Metals: For reflecting then upon the state of Accounts 'twixt God and his Creatures; he said, Who am I, and what is my people to offer any thing unto thee, for all things come from thee, and of thine own we have given. So that none can offer unto God but what they have received from him: Nay, he is so indulgent, as though [Page 346] we can return him nothing but what is his own, yet let them be stamped with the mark of gratitude, he will put them upon account as satisfa­ctory. In a word we can exchange nothing in return of all his benefit, but the oblation of praise, and is it not strange we should r [...]fuse [...] him this? Nay, to encourage us though we give him but a trifle, not worth the regard­ing, yet if it be done with a real intent of ser­ving him, he blenches not at it, but by his ac­ceptance makes it valuable, and of a price not to be esteemed. I must needs then say, our great Penitent hath pitched upon a right way of traffick, and which is most suitable to the state of his affairs. Wherefore I wonder not if in divers other Psalms, he protests he will live no longer than he shall be able to remit un­to his obliging Creditour, the just tribute of praise, and that he will be punctual in this commerce whilst he hath a Being, which resolution he again here confirms: And my Mouth shall send forth thy praise.

St. Bonaventure forbids two things in those that would praise the name of God; to wit, Pride and fear: For, if proud, though he take up the Subject of anothers praise, and descants upon it with much seeming zeal, yet he alwayes so manages the Encomiums as to involve himself as a Party, which spoils all; for God will [Page 347] have no Ri [...]al, he communicates (it is true) unto his Creatures the participation of his divide essence, I but in matter of glory he will be singular, and protests that none shall bear a share with him; in this he proclaims himself to be a Jo [...] ­lo [...] God.

Next, if the Praiser be timorous, he can never be faithful, for this unmanly passion like an Apoplexy seizes upon all the vital spirits, Whin­ders the speech, nay even be rayles any inte­rest at the Face of danger. So that you never see any thing great or generous to issue from a Coward; wherefore our blessed Saviour de­clares he will not owne him at the Latter day, who hath here blished, and not dared to ac­knowledge him.

Our great Doctor was far exempt from these irregular motions: As to the first, he was the meekest of Men, the Character he gives of himself shews he was not elevated with an Any conceit of his own worth, when he pronoun­ces in his Psalm; That he is a Worm, and not a Man; the opprobry of Men, and scorn of the people. So that the brain blast of Pride did not stifle, or any wayes obstruct those just Attributes he promises here to give unto his Maker.

As to the other branch of fear, his Hero­ick exploits are abundantly set forth in the sacred History, so that to go about to clear him from [Page 348] (apprehension) of terrour, when God's [...]use [...]ay [...] [...]e, were the same as to use Arguments in a glorious day, to perswade the Sun shines: Let us then conclude he was compleatly qualifyed in bor­der to the performance of his task, and that his Mouth was admirably fitted to Sing forth the praises of his God: And my Mouth shall announce thy praise.

Whilst our Penitent goes on in his de­signe to make an Elogy of his Creatours prai­ses, he is startled at an opinion, that God is glo­rifyed in the damnation of a Soul, as much it in her Sal­vation. But he soon recovered himself up­on the principles he hath laid; for as a rare and accomplished piece of work speaks more the art and perfection of the workman, than one that is imperfect and be set with many faults; so a blessed Soul adorned with many perfections, and being lively image of her Maker, doth more express the power, wisdome, and other Attri­butes of God than a lost Soul all stained with a horrid guilt of sin.

Again, it would be indifferent to the most zealous in the love of God, whether a soul perished or not; because they desi­ring nothing but the glory of God, and if that were equally concerned in the loss, or Sal­vation of a Soul, certainly either would be a like to them, but it is most evident they [Page 349] practise the contrary, entertaining passio­nate desires for the gaining of a Soul, and much resenting, nay with great desolation, the ruine of any; which evidences that God derives to himself more glory from a Soul enli­vened by his grace, than from another wallow­ing in the filth of sin. Wherefore he con­cludes the task of God's praise cannot be car­ried on but by a life of Sanctity, which he looks upon as a happy necessity, that the glory of our Creatour is annexed to our greatest happiness; For he hath produced all things to be finally referred to himself, and if in this, Creatures find likewise their interest and full delight, how great an obligation is it? That he hath linked his glory to our happy condition, and utmost perfecti­on; that is, whilst we procure unto God the greatest glory, in the same action we purchase to our selves our greatest felicity: So that our Penitent will never cease: And my Mouth shall send forth thy praise.

The Application.

Here we are instructed that our Being is conferred upon us to no other end than to love, praise, and glorify God, and to procure (as much as in us lyes) that others likewise dis­charge this designment of their Creation. If then [Page 350] we direct our actions to our own praise, sucking in the Air of humane applause, we commit an act of injustice against God, and pervert the noble employment allotted to our nature: We play the Thief, and plunder the lawful propriety of our Creator: The utmost perfection of a stream is to be reunited to its source; and that of Man to praise and glorify God, in loving, serving, and manifesting his perfections; and since all other Creatures conspire according to their capacity to render him glory, Let us who are endued with reason consecrate all our thoughts and words, all our desires and affections to exalt his praise and glory.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXIII.

Quoniam si voluisses Sacrificium, dedissem utique,

Because if thou wouldest have had a Sacrifice, I should verily have done it.

IN this Clause our Petitioner hints a remark­able consideration; which is, that he will not play the Heady devote, nor follow his own will; and what his weak brain may suggest unto him in order to God's service, but wisely [Page 351] commit himself unto God, who must be his Master in this particular: For Man's blind­ness is so great, the Clouds over his understand­ing so black, that of himself he cannot discern what homage is due to his Sovereign Monarch, nor with what Sacrifice he ought to adore, thank, and appease him: He knew well our important affair in this life, is to serve God as he would be served, and in that way which might be most pleasing to him; by consequence the or­ders he is to observe must be revealed to him by God, that conformably to his pleasure he is ready to obey, to Sacrifice not only a beast, but his fortune, honour, crown, person, and all.

There are many Opinions about this Quere; why those legal Sacrifices instituted by God's own appointment, as a testimony of our acknowledgment of his supream Dominion over us, and being their sole refuge to shelter themselves from the darts of his anger, should in the case of our Petitioner be censured as useless, and no wayes to be countenanced by the approbation of Heaven.

Some say our Penitent means by this the bare external act of Sacrifice, which as an accu­stomary thing without the intention, which gives life to the action, is not required of God, nor receives from him any support, and that in this sense he truly doth not authenticate any Sacrifice so offered.

But questionless this exposition is far from our Penitents thoughts, for no oblation un­less vested with a form of sincere respect, and reverence to the Divinity, can find any propitious effect; and since that depends on the will of him that offers sacrifice, if this circumstance be wanting, neither will his immolation be accep­table, nor he himself blameless; if he desist upon that title from discharging his duty by those Ceremonies which the Law then requi­red.

I will wave the sentiments of divers others so to avoid prolixity, and give you that of St. Gregory, who seems to have hit upon the genuine sense of this clause. For he reputes it to be a prophetick inspiration in our Penitent, that the legal Sacrifices being a Type only and Figure of that eternal Sacrifice to be offered up in the person of Christ, in whom they were all to end. Therefore in consideration of his vigorous Faith, and ardent zeal for his coming, by which he merited the effect of what they represented, he was dispensed within these legal Sacrifices as to himself, they being in these circumstances little beneficial, and as it were unnecessary.

But let us examine the nature of a Sacrifice which will give us light the better to dis­cern the verity of this clause: First, it exacts that he who offers Sacrifice be a Priest; for since it is a worship of all others the most eminent, [Page 353] by which the World conspires in one to ac­knowledge a Divinity, it is requisite this ex­ternal Ceremony, should not be committed to the Execution of everyone, but that certain selected Persons be constituted, who in the name of the Common-wealth should pay their homage to the divine Majesty; and in that action of Sacrifice, acknowledge both his su­pream power, and their subjection; and this person ought to be a Priest because it is his proper office; witness St. Paul in the Fifth to the Hebrews, Every Priest chosen out amongst Men are appointed for the service of Men, in those things which relate unto God in the oblation of gifts and Sacrifices.

Now as to the Law of nature where menti­on is made of Sacrifices, and not of Priests; St. Hierom cites a tradition of the Hebrews which testifies that the First born Male, or Eldest Son were Priests, and enjoyed both a regal, and pontificial authority in their Line, and Family. Whence Job Chap. 2. Sacrificed in behalf of his Children, whom likewise he blessed and sanctifyed.

Next, it is required in a Sacrifice, that it be some external sensible thing, either living or in­animate; for whatsoever by the esteem of Na­tions, or authority of holy Scripture hath been reputed a real and true Sacrifice, it ever consisted in some such visible and external thing.

The third condition of a Sacrifice is, that the thing offered up be killed, or some alteration made in it; for all the Sacrifices of the natural and Mosaick Law were not performed by a simple oblation or elevation of the thing, but by its destruction, and this directed to God's honour. Living Creatures were slaughtered, and things inanimate, some burnt, as Flower, Salt, Incense: Others poured out or spilt, as Blood, Oyl, and Water. The reason why a Sacrifice ought to be destroyed is, that by the destruction it serves no more to the use of Men, and so more compleatly seems all applyed to God's honour, as importing his supream Dominion, and a de­pendency of all things on him.

Fourthly, a Sacrifice is to be offered up impli­citly, or explicitly to the honour of God; if for any other end it loses the nature and quality of a Sacrifice: For a Sacrifice is in the number of those signs by which we express our inward va­lue of anothers excellency, and a desire in our selves to become his slave, now if this esteem or desire be wanting, the sign is false, and hath no effect; so that a Sacrifice proceeding from flat­tery or fear is impious, and puts a scorn upon the Deity they seem to adore.

Lastly, the place wherein a Sacrifice is per­formed, ought to be consecrated to that end, and this we call an Altar, for doubtless [Page 355] the dignity of that action may justly exact a par­ticular department separated from prophane uses, as the custom of all Nations declares.

From these premises we see what a Sacrifice is taken in the strictest sense; to wit, an external oblation of some sensible thing offered unto God, by which we acknowledge his su­pream power over us, and all things: that he may dispose of them and us at his pleasure. Now that God should not require at the hands of our Petitioner such an expression of his duty seems intricate, because though by the tye of nature we are obliged to worship God by acts of vertue; and good works issuing from such a principle, may quadrate with the end of a Sacrifice, which is to honour God: Yet they produce no external sign, and so properly can­not be said to be an act of Religion, nor conse­quently a Sacrifice, which comprehends the most perfect worship that can be given by a Crea­ture.

Besides, it is most certain that the Law of Moses obliged the Jews very strictly, and this appears in God's promises to the punctual observers of it; as that rain should fall in due season, their Lands become fertile, their Trees be laden with fruit, abundance in their Vineyards, that they should be preserved from wild Beasts, enjoy a full peace, overcome [Page 356] their Enemies, and plant themselves in the midst of them; Nay more, that these temporal blessings were to be Crowned with eternal life, of which promise made to the first inhabitants of the Earth, they had a Tradition, though their Law made no mention of it. So that not only for their temporal prosperity, but like­wise in order to spiritual and eternal treasures, they were bound to obey their legal precepts, and this in conscience under the penalty of a mortal or venial guilt, according to the matter wherein they transgressed. Now this obliga­tion was extended not only to their moral, and Ceremonial precepts, but likewise to their Judi­cial and Politick; for why should not civil and temporal Lawes bind in Conscience, since we are tyed by a certain external Justice in morality to contribute to the peace and quiet order of the Common-wealth.

Lastly, they are commanded by God as well as the others, and pronounced with the like benedictions, and maledictions; and there­fore obligatory after the same manner. It was upon this ground they set more by one precept of the Law, than by their lives, or whatsoever else most precious to them: For example Elea­zer, and the Mother of the Machabees with her Sons, chose rather to dye, than to eat Swines flesh forbidden by the Law; it was in [Page 357] pursuance of this their zeal, that when the Romans first took Hierusalem under Pompey, and forcibly entering the Temple, mowed down all before them; neither the terrour of death, nor outcryes of the dying Multitude round a­bout them, could divert them from their divine service, oblations, and Sacrifices; but on the contrary were resolved to lye at the mer­cy of the victorious, and suffer what they pleas­ed, rather then abandon their Altars, on quit any part of their duty, in observing what was commanded by their Law, and fore­fathers.

Now since these legal Sacrifices were so much valued by the Jews, and observed with so much zeal, as instituted by God's own appointment, in Testimony of our acknowledgment, of his supream power, and our subjection, and being they were their sole refuge to shelter them­selves from the darts of his anger, how comes it to pass that in the case of our Petitioner they are censured useless, and no wayes to be countenanced from Heaven: For as here he expresly declares, that God would not have him pay this tribute or homage of Sacri­fice, so we have reason to believe he did it not; for it is no where read, that he offer­ed up any Sacrifice for Ʋriah's murder, or his adultery with Berfabee; though usually all [Page 358] offendours in that nature did it, nor were to be admitted into humane Society untill they had purifyed themselves by a Sacrifice of expi­ation.

Some there are who fancy that our Peti­tioner understands here, that legal Sacrifices were most of them appointed for sins com­mitted through ignorance, and negligence: Now he not finding himself guilty in this kind, pre­sumes that God would not exact a Sacrifice of him upon that score.

But this cannot hold Water, for certain it is, that many of those Sacrifices were insti­tuted for the expiation of several trespasses of com­mission; and namely those which gave birth to this his penitential Psalm: Besides, he seems to be much devoted to that kind of Sacrifice, which was ordained for sins of ignorance, often supplicating the Divine mercy in behalf of his secret, and hidden sins, which must needs im­port his faults into which through ignorance he may have fallen; and therefore upon that score he would never desist from the offering up of a Sacrifice.

Others again interpret this clause of our Petitioner, as if he would say, Lord should I offer up those Sacrifices commanded in the Law they will not please, nor appease thee? They are but figures and representations of that true Sa­crifice [Page 359] thou wilt one day give us, and from the efficacy of which future Sacrifice the weak vertue of these are derived, at whose approach all these are to be evacuated, and cease: Were it not then better that I present you with one, that will never be refused, that is, a heart pierc­ed with sorrow, and bowed with repentance; this is a Sacrifice I am sure you require, and if I give you this, you will not think I grudge you the other: Upon these Terms the three Young Men in Babylon petitioned: That God would receive a contrite heart and spirit of humility, in lieu of Ramms, Bulls, and a thousand fat Lambs offer­ed up in Holocaust.

But with submission I conceive our Pe­titioner in this clause appeals to his great God, and insinuates it, is his revealed will he should desist from these Sacrifices; as being all satis­fyed with his internal acts of repentance, which more perfectly contribute to the effect of a Sacrifice (though not to the formality of it) than any external oblation; For this expression if you would have had one (supposing the com­mand of God in general to the Jewish Nati­on, that in all their distresses they were to make their way to him by the means of Sacrifice) imports a knowledge he had to the contra­ry, otherwise he would never have put in an if, nor made a Quere whether he should [Page 360] do it, had he not been first warranted in the forbearance.

Now, if you ask me why God should proceed so particularly with him, it seems to me probable, that it was in consideration of his vigorous Faith, and ardent zeal for the coming of the Messias, by which he merited the effect of what the legal Sacrifices did represent; and so was dispensed with, in order to all those Sa­crifices, as to him with these circumstances lit­tle beneficial.

For we see in several Emergencies, that God would not tye himself to the strict rules he had set down for the guidance of his people; he had ordained that Priests only were to be the lawful Ministers of Sacrifice, and the preva­rication of this Law he punished severely in the persons of Ozias and Saul: Yet at another time by a particular Ordination, he enjoyned Abel, Abraham, Isaac, and others; though they were not Priests to offer Sacrifice: For by ver­tue of this Command they were consecrated Priests, and had the power of Sacrificing committed to them. In like manner our Petitioner living in the time of the Law, a Law of bondage; where many harsh impositions were laid upon them, might be exempted from the burden of Sacrifices, upon the score of his Heroick Love, Repentance, and ceaseless groans for a Redeemer: [Page 361] For doubtless amongst all the Patriarchs of the old Testament, none ever interessed them­selves so much in that particular as he, and it is believed he much obliged the World by those his longing desires, in hastning the coming of the Messias.

For all this at the first glance, one would think our Penitent were lyable to censure: That knowing he addressed himself to one who is the searcher of hearts, and before whom the most secret motions are displayed; he should nevertheless make this superfluous expression of his promptitude to perform what ever he would exact of him.

But we ought to justify our Penitent, and believe that in this he aims at the Worlds satisfa­ction; to the end after ages might read, he declined not the use of those remedies the Law prescribed, out of any defect of submission to the Law, but meerly upon the score of God's dispensation, who was pleased to accept of the interiour Acts of his repentance, and in that acceptation, would inform Mankind, the heart is the thing he most considers.

The Application.

From hence we may learn this instruction, that when we see our Neighbour deficient in [Page 362] what he owes to the eternal Law, we must not immediately pass Sentence of Condemnation upon him; the Judgements of God being far different from those of Men, but referr all to that great day which will lay open all Truths; especially in matters of omission, where the causes are so inevident, and where in we so often make the Innocent guilty. If seriously we insist upon this principle, then with confi­dence we may keep time with Holy David, and cry; If thou wouldest have had a Sacrifiice, I had verily done it.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXIV.

Holocaustis non delectaberis,

Thou wilt not be delighted with Holocausts.

HAd our Petitioner couched this Clause in the present Tense, and said, Thou art not de­delighted with Holocausts; it would have cleared the sense of the precedent disease, and prov­ed a satisfactory alligation for his omission of Sacri­fice: But being in the future, it renders the expression dubious, and may import, that up­on the establishment of a new Law, all these [Page 363] Figurative oblations will cease, and then the In­cense of those appeasing Sacrifices would no more smell sweet in his Nostrils.

But however upon a more serious inspe­ction it may bear this construction, that an imme­diate, and present effect would follow; to wit, whensoever he should offer Sacrifice, it will be no wayes acceptable to him, because as I said in the promises, the lively Faith he had of the Law of grace, put him in the same con­dition through a particular dispensation of Heaven, as if he had not been under the Mosaick Yoak, and therefore since he con­tributed on his part, what was requisite to the perfection of an Evangelical Sacrifice, God would supply the rest, so that truly, as to his particular, he might say; Thou art not delight­ed with Holocausts, &c.

Upon these grounds our Petitioners ar­gument carries weight, and inferrs that if Holo­causts be not countenanced by Heaven, it were in vain to think of any other oblation, for amongst all the legal Sacrifices, that of Holo­causts, or Burnt-offerings, was the most perfect, and the most compleatly expresses the supre­macy of God's power over us, and the fulness of our subjection to him; for in some Sacrifices part of them were burnt, the rest applyed to the use of the Minister, but in Holocausts all [Page 364] was consumed, and by the total destruction of that offering was implyed a dependency of For­tune, Life, and Being on his orders, and com­mands from whence they were derived.

I observe likewise in the sacred Text, that if Sacrifices were not performed with a pure con­science, and detestation of sin, they were odi­ous in the sight of God, this appears in the First Chapter of Esay; by whose Pen God declares, that Incense was abominable to him, and that he abhorred their Solemnities. Again, in the Prov. The Sacrifice offered up by an impious hand is abo­mination in his sight. For the end of a Sacrifice is either in order to a reconciliation with God, a return of thanks for benefits received, or for the impetration of some new favour: Now to pretend to any of these, and not renounce all affection to Sin were rather to provoke, than any wayes appease his anger: But our Petitioner delivers not the thing with that horrour, he touches not upon any abomination, or severity on God's part, but expresses it in the Negative of any satisfa­ction he will take in it, which concludes his Sacrificing action would not be rejected upon the score of any real-guilt, but as a thing un­necessary to him, who was priviledged with the conditions of a more efficacious oblation, and therefore justly he might cry, thou art not delight­ed with Holocausts.

Again, our Holy Penitent in his 30. Psalm, explicates himself more clearly about this point, his vvords are these. Thou hast not re­quired a burnt-offering for sin, wherefore I will plant your Law in the midst of my heart; since I said engraven in the Frontispiece of the Book that is my conscience, I should in this manner perform your will: What can be more evident to demonstrate, he had or­ders to desist from any other Sacrifice, then what were hatched and conveyed unto God, from an unspotted Heart; for by this Book is meant the secret of Gods proceedings with Man, as appears in the Apocalips, where is expressed that the Lamb alone was found wor­thy to open, and unclasp the Book of God's se­crets, and this Book was unfolded to him, by which he is taught. That he is not delighted with Holocausts, Holocausts, &c.

Besides, though the Law of Moses were abrogated as to their Ceremonial and judicial pre­cepts: Yet what depended on the Doctrine of Faith, and morality was not cashierd, but re­fined, amplifyed, and made more perfect: Whence our Holy Petitioner by way of Ampli­fication instructed in the more ample Elucida­tion of Faith to be unfolded in the Law Evange­lical, and enriched with a right Spirit, not on­ly to discern what is good, from bad; but like­wise to embrace, and pursue the wayes [Page 366] of vertue, not only to know the wounds of hu­mane nature, but also the sovereign remedies for their cure; presumed he might lay claim to a Law, not of fear but love, laid open to him in his prophetick Spirit. A Law not only given by a Legislator, but by him who was both a Lawgiver, and Redeemer; a Law not written in stone, and which breathed forth anger, but one that should be imprinted in the hearts of Men, vvhose effects are Grace and Truth, and by vvhich he should be related to them as their God, and they to him as his people: A Law not given to one single Nation, but directed to the whole World, in which repentance, and remission of sins should be enacted, and held forth; A Law not consisting of shadowes, but substance, by the infusion of Faith and Charity, and by the impletion of all figurative Sacrifices; a Law not of slavery, but freedome, and love, which vvith the Precepts vvould be communica­ted a spirit of Charity, to enable them to the performance of vvhat vvas imposed, and vvhere the Lords spirit is, there liberty is found. Hence though our Petitioner was still under the Law, yet it vvas not as a bond-man, performing his acts by constraint; but as a Child born to his duties by affection and respect, and therefore exempt from the terrours of the Law, he sayes, thou art not delighted, &c.

Christ our Lord abrogated the bill of di­vorce practised amongst the Jews, declaring that vvhosoever dismissed his wife, and took another, played the Adulterer: Now it is most certain that it was alwayes unlawful, though in the Law (upon the score of the Jews proness, and obstinacy in evil) no punish­ment vvere ordained for the fame, as there vvere for other crimes; so that it vvas an evil permitted, not approved off. And this not as to the guilt, but defect of chastisement. If then the Law practised a kind of connivancy in for­bearing the use of its coercive power to prevent a greater inconveniency, that might ensue; Why may vve not inferr vvith more reason, that where the most perfect conditions, as to the effect of a Sacrifice are found, others of less moment may be omitted: The legal Sacrifices not having power to conferr Grace, nor with­out the internal worship of vertues, as Charity, Re­pentance, and the like were grateful, no more than our external good works at present are, even in the highest, and more perfect oblation, if a dis­position in the Mind be wanting; wherefore our Petitioner enriched with all essential requisites of a lively faith, love, sorrow, &c. And being a person according to Gods own Heart, I see not but with these circumstances he might [Page 368] rest fixed in his Oblation in Spirit; and cry, thou art not delighted with Holocausts.

This Clause hath set a work many great wits, and pushed them on so far, as to assert that Sacrifices were not commanded in the old Law, but only permitted as a lesser Evil, as to make them decline Idolatry; which that gross peo­ple were so apt to slide into, and to shew this was the end of that Institution, they obser­ve those Beasts were appointed, and mark­ed out for their Sacrifices, which were the Dei­ties adored by the Egyptians; as a Sheep, a Goat, a Kid, an Ox, a Calf, a Dove, a Sparrow, a Tur­tle; that whilst they mangled, and destroy­ed those Animals they might reflect upon that one supream God, before whom all other pow­ers must lye prostrate, and by their destruction acknowledge his Sovereign Dominion.

Now I confess, as to the Ʋniversal tye of the Law, I go not along with this Opinion in matter of Sacrifice, for before the written Law, it is clear in the Sacrifice of Abel, Noah, and Abraham, that they were Obligatory, and likewise acceptable to God, and this the Church confirms supplicating that this unbloody Sacrifice might find acceptance at his Hands, as those of Melchizedeck, and other just Pa­triarchs had done: Nay, in Exodus the 12. God makes an accurate, and distinct settle­ment [Page 369] of the Ceremonies, inflicting punishments on the infringers, which speaks more than bare permission: Nay, he owns the perfume arising from a Sacrifice, to be most Odoriferous, and plea­sing to him.

You must know then that one motive in the Institution of Sacrifices was to divert the Jews from dangers of Idolatry, just as now one of the intentions in marriage may be to avoid fornication.

Another motive was to prefigure that bloody Sacrifice of the Cross, to be offered up in the new Law; for the end of the Law was to know love, and obey Christ, so that all their Sacrifices tended to his instruction: They were as a kind of bond, or engagement by vvhich the new Law vvas promised to them.

So that if they addressed them under that Form, and attired vvith these circumstances, they were questionless holy, and grateful in the sight of God, and in this sense the Law ob­liged all in general unto Sacrifice; yet this hinders not, but our Petitioner prevented with extraordinary Graces, may be taught another method of Sacrifice, and truly he insinuates as much in his 39. Psalm, where he owns to have received a command to performe the will of God, and adds he had done it; and this in planting his Law, that is Sacrifice in the [Page 370] midst of his Earth; wherefore as to himself he might say: Thou art not delighted with Holo­causts, &c.

I am not Ignorant there are many who lay the force of this expression upon the sole ineffi­cacy of the Law, whose Sacrifices, and Sacraments did not Physically and really conferr Grace, but only after a moral way, prefigured and sha­dowed it forth; depending more upon the disposition of him that offered, than on any innate vertue contained in themselves; and upon this ground our Petitioner might alledge that burnt-offerings would not serene his angry looks, since they did but discover the Ʋlcer not heal it.

Yet the difficulty still remains, that how­ever inefficacious they were, they had no other remedies; so that they were duties, to which they were obliged, and the sole expedient to relieve them in distress.

Some were propitiatory to divert, and shel­ter them from the storms of Gods vengeance, and this was a victime for sin, others were in thanksgiving for blessings received, and for the continuation of them, and was stiled a pacifick oblation, part of this Animal was burnt, the rest eaten by the Priests, and those that offered the same Sacrifice like­wise [Page 371] if not consumed the same day, but reserved till the next; was directed to the impetration of new benefits; whence you may see, that upon every turn, and in all their Exigen­cies they were necessitated to flye unto the help of Sacrifices, and how liberal and un­wearied they were in that devotion, ap­pears by a just account, (as Josephus re­lates) given into the President of Syria, who was desirous to acquaint Nero by this with the greatness of their Common-wealth, it was there found, and exactly set down, that they did Sacrifice at every one of their Solemn Sabbaths, two hundred fifty six thousand five hundred Lambs: So that you see their fervour was not slack, and tepid in mat­ter of Sacrifices, and though they were a Na­tion of all others most addicted to avarice: Yet in this they jumped not with the Opinion of So­crates, who judged things of the least value most fit to be offered up to the Gods, because as they stand not in need of our gifts, so do they more value our affection, then what we give; but they on the contrary, thought no­thing better spent, than what was laid out in Sacrifices, a clear Evidence, that the main part of their Religion consisted in these external rules.

Nay, they were so bent upon them, as St. Chrysostom by way of similitude sayes, as a Physitian to cut off all opportunity from his Fevorish Patient, that he might not ruine him­self by intemperate draughts of cold water, in a kind of passion throwes away that liquor, and breaks the Vessel in which it was brought, just so (sayes he) Christ the original, and ac­complishment of all their Figures, appear­ing amongst them, who came to make a per­fect cure, and free them from all their distempers, saw he could not wean them from their habi­tual practises of the Law at that time, not on­ly unnecessary, but even obnoxious to them, without proceeding like a resolute Physitian by way of severity: Wherefore where he saw rea­son, sweetness, and all the Wonders he had wrought could effect nothing with those obdurate, and unbelieving spirits; he was forced to a course adverse to his meekness, and to the love he bare that chosen Nation, designing the total subversion of their City, and place of Sa­crifice, and their utter dispersion through the habi­table World, and this he foretold them all bath­ed in Tears, to shew his resentment for what he needs must do, there being no other ex­pedient to draw them from that strange dotage on victimes and immolation of Beasts.

From these premises we may conclude [Page 373] that whilst the Law was in its vigour, Sacrifices as to the universality of the people, were the only rules set down for the reparation of their failings, and till our Penitent had a par­ticular Patent for his exemption, none was ever more magnificent in his exhibitions in this kind: Nay, he made it the Theam of his ex­hortations to others, that they should consecrate their Vowes, and discharge by way of Sacrifice what they owe unto the Lord God.

But when God was pleased to reach unto him, the fair draught of the mystery of the in­carnation; wherein he read the Lawes evacua­tion, the darkness of its Figures, to break forth into the splendour of a Crucifyed oblation, from whence arises a perfume, whose odour would lay open Heavens Gates, that to this Law of terrour would succeed one of love, and which like to its Priesthood was to be eternal; his desires heightned by these prophetick notions were certainly inflamed to a great pitch of charity, and strengthened with a vigorous and lively Faith, pushed him on to vehement long­ings to become a Member of that Kingdom of Grace, then to flourish in the Hearts of Men. In this manner prepared by internal acts of vertue, of repentance for his misdeeds, submission to his will, patience under the weight of his Chastisements; no wonder if the Eye of Heaven [Page 374] pleased to behold an Object so worthy of his special favour, should take him out of the Common track of the Mosaick way, and con­duct him by the Beams of an Evangelical light; So that supported with Grace by a firm hope in the merits of the Messias to come, he might now (void of any blame) as to himself say, thou art not delighted with Holocausts, &c.

The Application.

This Clause seems but a confirmation of the precedent Verse, wherein our Holy Penitent doth specify in the Example of a Holocaust, how lit­tle valuable our actions are, if they be not cir­cumstanced with the approbation of Heaven: For amongst all the Religious ordinations of the Jews, there was none that expressed their entire sub­mission, and dependance upon God, like to that of a Holocaust; and yet our Holy Petitioner de­clares, God is not delighted with it; that is, if per­formed in his person, whom he had instru­cted in the oblations of a more perfect Sacrifice, not so gross and carnal as that of Beasts; but which hath a resemblance with what the Angels and bles­sed do incessantly offer up from their flaming Brests. Let us then in imitation ascend from vertue to vertue, and proportionably to the [Page 375] communication of his Graces, aspire to a life more perfect, remembring we are to improve our stock according to the Sum we have to nego­tiate. God grant then we may give a just account.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXV.

Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus,

A Sacrifice to God is a troubled Spirit.

AFter our Penitents Declaration, that God required not at his Hands the external right of Sacrifice, he comes now to specify what homage he is to pay, saying a Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit. Now if you look upon the principles of spiritual Masters, this oblation seems very opposite to what they design; for the main intent of all their prescriptions drive at this, as to make us insensible of any Earthly Objects, which might turmoil the Spirit, and to hinder a quiet repose in the Soul, with­out which no fruit can be reaped in contemplation. Nay, indeed its necessary in order to the meritorious performance of any good work; this appears in Aaron, who reprehended by [Page 376] Moses, that upon the loss of his Beloved Daughter, he forbare to eat of the Sacrifices, made this answer, how can I please God by eating, or any other Ceremony, whilest I possess a sad and troubled Mind. But you must know there is a two-fold sorrow, one that springs from God, the other from the World, this gives life, that Death: St. Hierom calls a Soul crushed with au­sterity and fasting, a Sacrifice, so that by this oblation of a troubled spirit, our Penitent means the combat of a vertuous Man, in subduing his passions; and this St. Gregory terms a continual mar­tyrdom, in which is daily offered up a living victime, Holy, pure, and acceptable to God, by which a Man may be resembled to one that flying his Enemy kills himself.

In Leviticus 12. A command is laid upon the Jews, that they should celebrate with great solemnity the Feast of expiation, and the manner how it was to be done is set down, that they should afflict their Souls: Now this seems very incongruous to the nature of a Feast, but since our felicity consists in suffering here, we must be merry to see ourselves piously sad; green wood cast on the Fire both weeps, and burns, our breast may be sad in one part, and cheerful in the other. The Prophet Baruc sayes, the Soul that bewails her Sins gives Glory unto God, for as there is nothing more sad than [Page 377] sin, so doubtless nothing more delightful as worthily to deplore it: Wherefore this trou­bled spirit imports not a tortured conscience but a Lancet in the Hand of a dexterous Artist, who making a passage for corruption, the sooner cures the wound; so likewise groans, tears, wringings of Hands, outcryes, and such like Testimonies of a disturbed Mind, are the several compositi­ons of a Sacrifice pleasing to God; A Sacri­fice to God is a troubled spirit.

St. Austin sayes, Man comes into the World wrapt up in such a Cloud of Ignorance in order to truth, and replenished with such a swarm of desires, that were he left to his own inclination, there is no evil he would not commit. This is evident in the Comportment of Men before Cities were built, and pollicy of Laws established, which restrain the impe­tuosity of their passions; for it is storied, they killed, and devoured one another, falsifying all equity, and justice: So that to deserve the name of Man, we ought to bridle, and check the insolency of our sensual appetites, but to be­come a Sacrifice pleasing to God under the Character of a troubled spirit, not only the Body must be macerated, and brought under, but the spirit likewise must be enslaved, and captivated to the Faith of Christ.

In the composition of this Sacrifice, I find spiritual directors are divided, some think the [Page 378] most powerful ingredient is to chastise the Body, waste it with abstinence, and hair-cloths, and spend it with labour; by which harsh usage, it is weakned, and the Soul gets the Mastery to do what she pleases, as with an Enemy over­come, disarmed, and at our Feet: This Opi­nion hath given birth to so many austerities in several orders, to so many Crucifying inventions, that the Soul might become more powerful by extenuating the Body, and so render it less rebelli­ons to the decrees of reason: This way hath the approbation of St. Paul, who in his Fift Chapter to the Galathians sayes; that those who are servants to Christ, have crucifyed their flesh with their vices, and concupiscencies. Others again say, it is not enough to quel, and reform your spirit by the Body, but that your Body is like­wise to be reduced to order by the Mind; be­cause in the commission of sin, the Body is not al­wayes the offendour, and deserves not to be harassed with rude strokes like an Asse: where­fore they judge it more expedient that the su­perior portion of Man, to wit, his reason should interpose; and taking into consideration what is prejudicious, or conducing to Salvation, frame resolutions accordingly both to avoid such actions as are pernicious, and embrace such as are to her interest: And if this be put in Execution with a vertue Heroick, it will infallibly oblige the sensi­tive [Page 379] part to quit her pursuits, and follow the dictamens of the Soul: For example, suppose I am transported with a passion of Anger for some disgrace thrown upon me, my part is to reproach my self with the Vanity of being concerned in the trifling affairs of the World, to that de­gree as to forfeit my quiet which is more pre­tious, and if I generously pardon my Neighbour, this injury will at last conclude in my honour; by this means all will succeed in peace, and tranquility; I shall be fortified against all Events and so rationally govern my passions, espe­cially if guided with a moderate severity to my Body.

Our Holy Penitent having undertaken to instruct the wicked, and setled in the pos­session of a principal spirit, that is a spirit of per­fection, was not blind in the conduct of himself; wherefore we may believe he squared out this Sacrifice, according to the rules of a good, and prudent Artist, he expresses in the first of his penitential Psalms, that his Soul was troubled, and in another place it was like wax melted before the Fire, and that his Enemies neer him; to wit, his passions assaulted him with strange violence, insomuch as he confesses his sole refuge (as if reason were then useless to him) was to play the deaf, and dumb; and by that passive com­portment, avoiding contests, he Sacrificed [Page 380] his troubled spirit to his Creatour. A Sacrifice to God, &c.

St. Gregory Nyssen descants upon God's proceeding with the Israelites in commanding them to set up a brazen Serpent, at the sight of which those that should be bit with those venemous Beasts, might immediately find their cure, and why (sayes he) did not God take a shorter cut by destroying all those Serpents, which had given an end to that Plague he had sent amongst them; at last, he satisfies him­self with this reason, that whilst the Hebrews beheld that Soveraign Medicament, in casting up their Eyes to Heaven, they might have oc­casion to consider from whence they recei­ved their deliverance, which otherwise that gross ungrateful people would soon have forgot: So that to draw them to pay what they owe to his goodness, he was faign to length­en out their afflictions.

Job likewise whilst he was scraping his Soares upon the Dunghill, said, Lord when I was in prosperity I heard thee, but now in my affliction I see thee: Which shews nothing gives a more intimate knowledge of God, than to be surrounded with tribulation, the Soul in prosperity growes proud, deaf, and careless; so that she must smart in the sense to be made sensible: With how many charming Courtships doth the espouse in the Can­ticles [Page 381] woe his Darling to open the door, but all in vain, she is not to be wrought upon, but inter angustias, when afflicted, and in misery: Jonas in the Whales Belly, the Prodigal in the Pig-sty, the Sick in his Feaver, thinks and calls upon God, but when in sports, and pa­stimes sailing in a Sea of plenty and delights, all our senses are shut up, and no passage open to his merciful call.

But to be pinched in the last of any tem­poral misfortune, as it awakens a Soul to stretch out for succour, so doth it no less bow God's powerful Arm towards us: This he declares to Moses out of a bush, which he made the Throne of his Glory, to shew that the affliction of his people made him run after that Prophet, and retrive him in the Thickest part of the desart, and from thence commission him in order to their deliverance: St. Gregory sayes, that God appeared to Job in a Whirl-wind; because having hurried him into a boisterous storm of af­flictions, he would himself enjoy no calmer Weather, but let him know he was there to secure him. Of Joseph it is said he went down with him into the Pit, nor left him in his Bonds, and Esay 12. speaking in the per­son of God, sayes, my people is gone down into Egypt: Assur hath afflicted them without cause, and now what do I here? My people captive, and I at [Page 382] liberty, VVhat do I here? My people trod under Foot, and I enjoy the smoak of Incense, and Sacri­fice, what do I here? No, no, there is no Sacri­fice acceptable to God, like to a troubled spirit, and this our Holy Penitent had wrought out even to perfection: For he declares how all his Bones were in disorder, his Loyns filled with illusions and spectres, at the ghastly memo­ry of his Sins; his groans were like the roar­ings of a Lyon, and the burthen of his Folly so weighty, as it bowed him even to the ground; if his Flesh appeared before the Face of God's anger, it dissolved into corruption, and had not one sound part, if before the frightful aspect of his transgression it gave a trem­bling, and disquiet to all his Bones; the night he spent in bathing his Couch with Tears, and in the day he confessed that the hand of God was heavy upon him; so that if ever the Sacrifice of a troubled spirit, that is, of a person discomposed by the resent­ment of his ingratitude was offered up to God, it was certainly in our Holy Penitent, who amidst all his afflictions had this comfort; A Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit.

Spiritual directors lay down as the ground work of a life of Sanctity, an interiour abnegation of our selves, by which we give a repulse to our selves: For when once we come to devest our selves of love, then the terrours of mortifica­tions, [Page 383] torments, and adversity will find no effect, then generous, and Heroick Acts will be the productions of such a Soul; for solid ver­tue, like a Rose amidst Thornes seldome springs forth but in the soyl of crosses, austerities, and repentance. Those that are seised with this holy aversion against themselves, mind not the hardships they are to wade through in making good their fidelity to God, they throw them­selves upon the points of Halberts, and other instruments of severity; without the least whining or flinching at their sharpness: they take in as it were with the same relish the Gall of misfortunes, and desolations, and the Hony of pro­sperities and comforts: No stormy season hinders their Journey, and that which disturbs soft and effeminate Spirits is to them matter of joy, and repose; because they possess what they desire, to wit, affliction; so that all things which pass under the name of Adversity, are not so, but to the wicked who make ill use of them in prizing the Creature, more than the Creatour: Hence it is that the general spirit of Saints have carried them on to be ambitious of suffering, and to reckon it amongst one of the choice favours of Heaven; for they had learnt by experience, that if God with one Hand reaches unto them the Cup of his passion, it is but by snatches [Page 384] and as it were a sup, whilst with the other he gives them large draughts of consolation.

It is noted in the sacred Text, that God laid open the person of Job to all the assaults of Satan, but with this reserve, that he touch not upon his life; and this not in regard that death would have ecclipsed the glory of that great Champion, but because he would not be deprived of such a Combatant to whose con­flict he, and his blessed Angels were intent with much satisfaction, and so would not lose the pleasure of seeing this stout skirmish, fought out to the last 'twixt him, and his Enemy. And as the Heathen Emperours took great delight to see a Christian enter into the list with a wild Beast; so the King of Heaven is solaced with the sight of one of his Saints, when he maintains a Fight against those fierce Beasts of Hell.

Seneca out of the principles of humane wisdom, drew this excellent saying, that no object was more worthy in the Eyes of the gods, than to behold a stout Man with a settled countenance unmoved to struggle with adverse Fortune: and truly the delay our bles­sed Saviour made, in sending succour to his Dis­ciples endangered by a storm at Sea, sufficient­ly hints unto us, the pleasure God takes to see the Just row against the stream, tugg and wrestle [Page 385] with all the might they can against the stream, and afflictions of this World.

Thus you see how happy our Holy Peni­tent hath ajusted his Sacrifice to the lines of God's will, and that he never spake more emphatically than when he said, A Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit.

St. Bonaventure sayes, that honor is due to God in four several respects, and in like manner we ought in as many wayes render it unto him: First, in considera­tion of many blessings, and this is to be returned by our gra­titude, and acts of thanksgiving: Next, we owe him honor in that he hath laid his commands upon us, and this we perform by our obedience, and submission to his Laws: Thirdly, his greatness and sovereignity exact it at our hands, and this is paid by the vertue of Latria, and ado­ration: Lastly, honor is due unto him in that he hath been offended, and injuriously treated by sin: Now the honor due to him in this point is restored by Penitential acts, and by a troubled spirit.

Because, in regard of his displeasure, and to make reparation for the contempts thrown up­on his Majesty, he is ready to humble himself, and apply all his endeavour to works of piety, so far as even to afflict himself, that he might honor the Divine Justice, which requires that sin should never go unpunished.

Wherefore God is delighted in these painful satisfactory acquittances, which we often [Page 386] give him written in our sweat, and blood: And Jesus Christ makes of them a present to his Fa­ther with his own, from whence the value of ours is derived, and there they find acceptance, not upon the score of any contentment it is to God that we are tormented either in Soul or Body, but meerly in that by them his Justice is honored and exalted, and the Palms of our victory more resplen­dent.

This anxiety of spirit supported with a pa­tient resignation, and strengthened with a fervent prayer, purchased to the distressed Anna, and to the Jewish Nation, that great Prophet Sa­muel. This same disturbance of Spirit, carried on by a generous submissive resolution against all the Machinations of Saul, put into the Hands of our Penitent the Scepter of Juda; in a word, it seems to be a principle setled in Heaven, that without this Sacrifice of a troubled spirit, he will not part with his blessings.

It may be objected that God knowes the Hearts of Men, and what they will do, and therefore he need not this external Testimony: Next, that Christ's merits being of an infinite value, ours appear altogether superfluous; to which I answer: First, that his external glory consisting in the visible homages payd to him by his Creatures, this would be wanting should he give them no occasion to make it mani­fest, [Page 387] and shew unto the World, he hath de­pendants who value no suffering in proporti­on to the duty they owe him: Besides the sa­tisfaction we shall take in Heaven to have done something to merit our Beatitude, will certainly be a great addition to our Content­ment.

As to the other, though I confess the merits of Christ all sufficient, yet this will not excuse us from offering what we can in satisfaction, for the Honor and glory of all our actions be­long to God; now it being an Act of injustice to defraud any one of his revenue, no less is it against equity to deprive God of the glory due unto him: Wherefore a life that contributes not to his glory is perverse and wicked. Again he that owns a Tree, hath likewise right to the fruit it bears, if the Land be mine, the Crop also is at my disposal; the labour and ser­vice of a Horse is due to his Master: In like manner all that we are, all the good we do, or shall do, is the work of God, and a present with which he enriches us, that we might be able to give something to him: Wherefore as all is his, our duty binds us to consecrate all our interiour, and exteriour actions to promote his honor and glory: And since it is reasonable sin should be punished, our Holy Penitent submits to the decree, exposes himself to be wracked [Page 388] and tortured by what punishment the Divine Majesty shall think good either in Mind or Body, nor can he ever repine whilst he re­flects: That a Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit.

The Application.

Here we are taught, there is no Sacrifice conveyes an odour so pleasing unto Heaven, as that of a Soul angustiated upon the score of God's cause. The oblation of a Holocaust im­ports the reduction of it to Ashes, that of a trou­bled spirit is a transmutation into the Holy Ghost who promises to be the intellect, to be the Tongue; nay all unto him that suffers for his name. It is a Sacrifice of what is most dear un­to us, that is the Friendship of Men: For Christ foretold his Servants that they should be hated of the whole World, so that by this immola­tion we forfeit what is natural, and of all things most delightful to us. But whilst we are in this consuming task, we must remember that the Husbandman expects not the fruit of his labours until the seed he casts into the ground be corrupted, and thence a plentiful Generation spring forth: So we must continue perishing to the last, that so we may rise under a new form, never more to be crushed by the Flail, or [Page 389] Mill of grinding persecutors, but to flourish in eternal quiet, as the just recompence of a troubled spirit.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXVI.

Cor contritum & humiliatum Deus non despicies,

A contrite and humble Heart O God thou wilt not despise.

ST. Chrysostom sayes, no fond Lover dotes so much upon his Mistress, as God doth on a Soul truly Penitent; and then making an Apostrophe unto Tears, he cryes, O happy streams, all prin­cipalities and powers strike Sail to you: The countenance of a Judge affrights you not, your accusing adversaries are struck dumb, before you: It is you alone that finds admittance, and are entertained by your Sovereign, you only can overcome the invincible, and tye up the Omnipo­tent.

When I read these words of this great Saint upon the efficacy of Tears, I am startled at the slender Character our Petitioner gives in this clause: A contrite heart (sayes he) O God thou wilt not despise: An expression which falls much short of a Lovers passion; for to have [Page 390] no other return of a present, than barely not to have it rejected, argues the gift very little prized by the receiver, and is in the next door to a contempt. But yet the addition our Peni­tent makes of humble, speaks very much and helps out the sentence: For it imports, that humility teaches him the excellency of God, and at the same time his own nothing; so that not to find a repulse in the exhibition of any homage rendered to a Being infinitely perfect, is an endearing beyond what a poor Creature could any wayes in Justice expect; and therefore in these lowly thoughts it seems to him he sets out God's mercy in saying; A contrite and humble heart thou wilt not despise.

Wherefore it is evident our Petitioner re­lyes upon sure principles, and speaks he is well read in Divinity; for if satisfactory and penal works be a Sacrifice pleasing to God (as is demon­strated in the precedent clause) much more a contrite heart must needs be highly accepta­ble, which is a total destruction of all love to sin, a detestation and dislike against it; which in­volves a passion of sorrow consequent to this ha­tred, and a firm purpose to avoid all future re­lapses.

But the motive of this sorrow must be in that we have offended the Majesty of God, who merits all love, honor, and obedience from us; [Page 391] and therefore meerly in that sin is displeasing to him, we are to retract and abominate our past misdeeds.

Our Holy Penitent, the more effectually to create within him this lively compunction, considers that by sin we deny unto God the just tribute of ohedience, as if in a manner we would wrest his Scepter from his Hand, and in sequel reduce him to nothing; for God cannot be God, nor subsist, without a soveraign Empire over all things, it being an attribute immedi­ately resulting from his Divine and Infinite Majesty.

Next, he weighs how God hates sin even to death; witness his Commandements imposed under such heavy penalties on the transgressors. The rebellious Angels, our first parent Adam, the universal Deluge, conflagration of So­dom, &c. are frightful examples. After he had run over all these punishments, it was easy for him to judge of sin's horrour, and how much it is abominated by God; nay he yet stooped lower, and beheld many eternally doomed to the flames of hell, and this perhaps but for one only mortal sin.

After these dreadful presidents he proceeds further, and in his prophetick view contem­plates the Son of God innocent, undefiled, and set at a great distance from any sin, to pass [Page 392] through the highest rigours of Justice, and this meerly because he had taken upon him our iniquities. Hence he concludes, if the e­ternal Father be so severe to the dear producti­on of himself in chastising the prevaricati­ons of another, he will certainly redouble his stripes on Man for his own proper defaults: Conformably to this meditation St. Austin sayes, If a Redeemer be so roughly handled upon the score of anothers transgression, what may a sinner expect in revenge of his own miscarriage.

Lastly, our Penitent layes down how by sin we are declared Enemies to God, enslaved to Satan, odious in the sight of Angels, and doomed to suffer in Hell without end; which infinitely exceeds all the disasters of this life. Besides, we lose the grace and love of God, a treasure above all other imaginable, and whose forfeiture we ought more to deplore, than all other misfortunes joyned together: Where­fore one mortal sin is more to be lamented, than all the disgraces and hardships which possibly may befall us in this World.

Our Petitioner having by these remonstran­ces alarm'd all the faculties of his Soul, and so disposed them for action, just like Souldiers com­manded to Arms; he then instructs them how to redeem all their dammages they have sustained by sin.

First, they must abhorr their past misdeeds, that is, have such an aversion as heartily to wish they had never been committed, and since the birth and essence of sin springs from the will, it must be ruined by the same power, retracting, disowning, and as much as in us lyes, breaking the force of sin in becoming unvoluntary.

This done, he reads unto them the effi­cacy of contrition, by which our Souls are sancti­fyed, and all the Characters of sin defaced: So that from Children of perdition, in an instant we are declared heirs to eternal felicity; the reason of this is, that contrition comprizes a love of God above all things, and the nature of cha­rity is to make an absolute destruction of all vice, which other vertues do not, as having a repug­nance only to the opposite sins: So that there is no medium 'twixt charity and sin; Man hath the one or the other, but cannot enjoy them both together. This is confirmed by the Prophet Ezechiel Chap. 53. The impiety of the impious shall not do him harm, whensoever he shall be converted: For love, saith St. Gregory, is nothing else but a flame, and sin may be compared to rust: So that when Christ said, Many sins are forgiven her, because she loved much; it imports her Soul en­kindled with a fire of divine love, had worn a­way all the rust of her sins.

But what need we seek for authorities to strengthen this Doctrine, when our Penitent had this happy Truth wrought in himself; for no sooner he had cryed peccavi, and re­pented what he had done, when the Prophet Nathan published his deliverance, and that his sin was taken from him, so that he had all reason to assert; a contrite and humble heart O God thou wilt not despise.

St. Ambrose sayes, that pennance is as ne­cessary to a sinner, as any Balsom, or Medica­ment can be to a dangerous wound: For where parts by any hurt are disunited, and by separation break off a necessary communication with the blood, or vital spirits, nature cannot of herself repair those breaches, without the supply of reme­dies ordained in such extremities: So like­wise in any spiritual distemper, which threatens the Souls ruine; if the sovereign medicine of con­trition (whose principal ingredient is gathe­red in Heaven) be not applyed; she must needs run a hazzard of destruction: Where­fore since pennance is the sole remedy of sin after Baptism, this great Doctor exhorts us to make it our Refuge; he bids us not to shrink at the face of sufferings, but on the contrary fill our Soul with bitterness, endure the storms of compunction, remember the heart is to be con­trite, not crooked or broken, but shivered [Page 395] into pieces by disgraces, confusions, tears, sighs, and acts of humility; and when you shall be in these Agonies upon the account of vertue, then may you joyn issue with our Holy Petitioner and say; a contrite and humble heart O God thou wilt not despise.

But our Penitent adds the particle of humble, to shew that a heart compleatly disposed for God's favourable aspect must have a stroak of humility, because this vertue speaks obedi­ence, for Eccles. Chap. 10. sayes, as the beginning of Pride is the Seed of Apostacy from God, so humility is a reduction to our duty. St. Austin makes no distinction between pride and disobedience, nor between humility and obedience, but takes them in a manner for the same thing: In his Fourth Book of the City of God he declares, It is good to keep our hearts aloft, not towards our selves, for that is pride; but unto God which is obedience, and a ver­tue not to be found but in the humble. Again on the Eighth Chapter of Gen. our proper will can­not but sink under a great weight of ruine, if it prove rebellious to the will of a superiour power; this the First Man contemning Gods command found too true, and by this he learnt to distinguish between good and evil; that is, between the good of obedience, and the evil of disobedience: So that we see the transgressi­on of our first parent sprung from a secret [Page 396] Root of disobedience; for puffed up with pride he would be his own Master, and scorn to be subordinate to the Lawes of God, this made him seise on the forbidden fruit, and by that act of disobedience we are all made guilty.

So that to repair our innocency and begin a new life, we must destroy the old man, that is, pride and self love: And as by those unhappy instru­ments we fell from our righteousness, it is by humility, and a love to God above all things we must return to Justice; and if our Hearts be vested with these noble qualities, we shall alwayes have a stock to fashion out to our Creatour, a Sacrifice that will not be de­spised.

It is feigned by the Poets that the Son of the Earth wrestling with Hercules, still as he touched the ground, he received a fresh vigour; just so the hum­ble minded Man, who esteems himself to be but an Imp of the Earth, the off-spring of Dust and Ashes, in proportion as he bowes him­self in acts of lowliness, he will be raised, and approach nearer to Heaven. St. Austin speaking of the Centurions humility, who judg­ed himself unworthy to receive such a guest as our Saviour under his roof, sayes; that by confessing himself unworthy, he rendered himself more worthy, for there is no disposition so fit for the reception of God, as to acknowledge, and avow our own unworthiness.

But you must know there is a humility of the understanding, another of the will; this gives us a true knowledge of our nothing that brings us readily to submit: Now to be humbled by the will, and force honour and greatness to stoop, this is Heroick, and worthy a Prince; but to be brought down by adverse fortune, this humility carries with it little of wonder, there being no great vertue for one that is humbled to become humble.

This vertue then, to render it meritorious, and accomplished in all points, as to make our Heart a pleasing Sacrifice to God, requires that we seriously consider our own faults and imperfections, the wants and necessities inci­dent to humane nature, and which every one (how charming soever in the outside they appear) carry about them. This will suffi­ciently evidence that instead of praise and ve­neration, we ought to expect nothing but scorn and confusion from the sense of our own defects, and conclude that honour and excellency belong not to us. Thus you see the will is carried on by humility to decline all things which raise our hope or appetite above our deserts.

It is proper then to this vertue to check all ex­cessive attempts in Man, after the purchase of greatness and Earthly advantages: Nor is it not­withstanding opposite to hope as a Theological [Page 398] vertue, nor unto magnanimity as a Christian vertue: For these stirr up to the pursuit of what is great in order to God, and humility obstructs not this, waving only that greatness which sides with the inordinate interests of the World. St. Thomas sayes, There is none but may believe, and declare himself without a falshood to be the most vile Crea­ture in the World, according to the hidden defects he knowes in himself, and the gifts of God unknown to him which are or may be in his Neighbour. In fine, Christ our Lord declared it to be the sole clew leading to Heaven; it is the first and last step to bliss: For in this life where all is storm and tempest, tor­ment, war, and temptation; where nothing is secure and certain, humility alone amidst these perills and dangers like so many rocks, and shelves, can bring us safe off, and conduct us to the Haven of happiness. Elias in that furious whirl­wind, terrible Earthquake, and dismal Fire, wrapt himself up like a bottom of Yarn, and lay close to the Earth. Job in that general de­struction of all his goods, rent his garments, shaved his Head, fell flat to the ground, and worshipping, said, Naked I came into the VVorld, and naked I shall return: The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away, blessed be his name: The tempest afterwards encreasing upon him, as boiles, botches, leprosy, worms, and a wife, he fled to a Dunghill with a piece of potsheard [Page 399] in his Hand, making choice of the humblest and safest place. Our Holy Penitent like­wise in that his persecution by Saul, cryed out, I was humbled, and he delivered me: So that he spake not at random, but had experience, how acceptable unto God is a contrite and hum­ble heart.

The Scripture attributes two Names un­to Christ; the one Espouse, the other Lord; in the one he shews his love, in the other the fear which is due unto him; in the one the security with which we may come unto him, and offer our petitions; in the other, the respect and reverence we owe to so great a Majesty: As our Espouse he hath contracted with us a holy alliance by grace, which we have forfeited through our infidelity; and therefore to redeem this adul­terate action, nothing but a pure act of sorrow arising from the source of Charity will suffice to a recon­ciliation.

But as he is our Lord, we ought (were it possible) to dissolve into nothing before him in acknowledgement of our guiltiness, and satisfaction to his offended greatness: So that this Sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart seems to be appropriated to these titles of Espouse, and Lord ascribed in sacred writ unto him: For love rooted in repentance is the most proper compen­sation for an injured and abused lover, and fear [Page 400] joyned with humility is the best allay to an irritated Sovereign.

St. Gregory sayes a repenting sinner, for the most part beginning his conversion, is seised with a terrour and fear, which the memory of his treason doth work within him; this makes him for a time consume in the sad apprehension of deserved punishment for his crimes; and whilst he remains in this plight he heholds God under the notion of a severe Judge; but by degrees the bitterness of these terrours wearing off by some glimmering hopes of pardon obtained, he still continues his penitential acts, yet with this dis­parity; that whereas at first he wept lest he should be brought to Execution, now enflamed with a love of spiritual-delights, he melts away in Tears, lamenting that he is with held from his felicity: So that love and fear are still the materials of this Sacrifice which God will not reject.

This same Doctor observes the several agi­tations of a Soul in this oblation of love and fear: First, she calls to mind in the glass of her sins where she was; to wit, on the brink of Hell: Next, weighing and affrighted at the Abyss of God's judgments, considers where she may be; then casting her Eye upon the miseries of this present life sadly reflects where she is: Lastly, she contemplates the joyes of eter­nity, [Page 401] and filled with sighs, and groans, laments she is not there.

Thus you see how a Soul is distracted, that hath ever tasted the bitterness of sin: If she look back she is affrighted at the ghastly sight of her misdeeds, and hath only this comfort which God declared to Ezechias upon his repentance, that he had thrown all his sins behind him, ne­ver to take a further view of them. If she look upon what may befall her, the judge­ments of God are unfathomed Abysses into which she cannot dive; and the sole buckler she hath to rely on, that he will not reject an humble and con­trite heart. If she fix her Eye upon the present state of things, she beholds herself surround­ed with dangers from abroad, and her own frailties at home, against which her only fence is humility and resignation to his blessed will. If she raise her thoughts to the end for which she is created, she can but languish after it; and frame ardent desires for the possession. In these distresses our Holy Penitent marches between love and fear, his love cimented with fear keeps him from sinking into despair; and his humi­lity, fortifyed with a true sorrow resolves him to a future constant obedience to God's Lawes. Thus armed, thus guarded with a train of hope and confidence, trusting in God, and alwayes distrustful of himself, he concludes; [Page 402] A contrite and humble heart O God thou wilt not de­spise.

The Application.

We are here instructed how to prevent any repulse in our addresses to Heaven, for a heart qualifyed with love and humility, God will not reject; this is declared in the person of St. Mary Magdalen that her love had pur­chased a compleat abolition of all her iniquities, and Christ hath engaged that he who humbles himself shall be exalted. St. Thomas says, as there is no attribute wherein God more glories than in his mercy, so above all, he most delights in the humble, it being a vertue which renders Men still capable of his favours; and upon the same score he hates the proud, because they have not recourse to his mercy, as believing they want it not. Let us then stick close to our Pe­nitents doctrine, and seek no other way to be great, than what was practised by our re­deemer; he stooped even to the death of the Cross, and so entered into his glory; we like­wise must either take up our own Cross, or else with love and humility bear that which God shall please to lay upon our shoulders, and if we thus sustain our load, we need not fear that [Page 403] scornful World, I know you not; but on the con­trary, a happy invitation, Come yee blessed into the Kingdom prepared as a recompence of your contrition and humility from the Worlds beginning.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXVII.

Benigne fac Domine in bona voluntate tua Sion,

Deal favourably O Lord in thy good will with Sion.

THe order of Charity prescribes that in the first place we love God; next, our selves, and then our Neighbour: As to God, he is the primary, and chief object which gives motion unto Charity; because a goodness infinite (which is the ground-work of our love) is found essentially and most perfectly in him. He being then the sovereign good of all things, there is no goodness in Creatures which is not derived from him as the source, and without whom they could not one moment subsist. Insomuch as God is to me a greater good than I am to my self: For though God be a thing distinct from me, yet he is the good on whom both my self, and all o­thers depend; wherefore I ought absolutely [Page 404] to wish and choose rather that God should be, than that my self should be; because it is better, and more sutable to the inclinations of nature: For Man is not carried by any natural propension to love himself more than God, such an inclination were perverse and wick­ed: Nay, forbidden by the Law of nature, that a Being created and imperfect should be pre­ferred before one infinite and increated: God therefore whose productions are all good, never gave unto Man such a tendency: The conclusion then is, that we are carryed on by the impulse of nature to love God above all things, even above our selves, however this in­clination be strangely thwarted by our passions, and the corruption wrought in us by sin.

After God we are to love our selves in our spiritual wants and necessities, beyond all our Neighbours in the most strict alliance either of blood or friendship: Because the aim of Cha­rity is to unite the Subject it informs with God; and therefore St. Bernardin of Sienna sayes, Whosoever defiles himself with sin under the Cloak of Charity, this Charity is impious; for that can­not be Charity which destroyes our own Charity within us, since all Charity in Man begins at home, and in order to himself.

Our Holy Penitent had steered his actions according to the Rules of Charity: First, he [Page 405] had consecrated his love to God his sovereign good, and in view of this he beheld all other things as a fair nothing: When he had paid him these first fruits of his inclinations, he fell upon his own concerns in his spiritual necessities, and ha­ving exposed them all before the beams of God's mercy, which never fails to enliven and cherish a contrite and humble heart; he pre­sumes now to intercede for his Neighbour, and petition in behalf of the inhabitants of Sion, a Hill dedicated to God's service, and for the holy City of Jerusalem, that these places might be preserved to the encrease of the peoples de­votion, and not be laid open to destruction upon the score of his transgressions, wherefore he cryes, Be favourable O Lord in thy good will with Sion.

When I read a passage in Jeremy, Chap. 7. I admire the power and force of prayer; for there God speaking to this Prophet sayes, do not pray for this people, lest I divert my anger; and again he bids Moses forbear his importunity, that his fury might break forth; which shews that the supplications of the just bind up Gods Hands, and stand like a bulwork between his rage and our guiltiness. Now if the efficacy of prayer be such, as to appease his avenging Face, when all enflamed against offendours, it hath doubt­less no less vertue to obtain what ever we demand [Page 406] for our own or our Neighbours good. St. Austin sayes, that whilst God leaves us a Heart and Tongue disposed for prayer, we need not fear the substraction of his graces; for he is faith­ful in his promise, nor will ever give a repulse to just petitions: The Head of this Truth springs from the order of his Providence, which hath eternally resolved, that many things shall be done in the World by the means of prayer: For there are two kinds of decrees, the one absolute, by which he determined the Creation of the Heavens, Angels, and Elements, and these things he determined to create without any entermingled condition: His other decrees are conditional, as that of Beatifying the Angels, and communicating unto Men eternal glory, upon supposition that by their vertuous actions they rendered themselves worthy of Be­atitude. Such also is that decree by which he designs a grant of several benefits in case he be petitioned for them, and with humility demand­ed at his Hands as the Author of all good: Wherefore prayer works no change in Gods determinations, but brings them to Execution sutably to his orders; whence prayer hath the power of impetration, and obtains of God's mer­cy what he hath graciously promised, but this must be understood in things that are condu­cing to Salvation. Whereupon St. Bernard de­livers [Page 407] these excellent words: The Care of God over thee is so tender and prudent, that when ignorantly thou dost petition for what is useless, or perhaps prejudi­cious to thee: he is deaf to thee in this particular, yet will exchange it into some gift or other more to thy advantage. For example, suppose you ask to be freed from some affliction that seems very heavy to you, if God grant you patience, it is a blessing beyond the deliverance you seek after: Again, you would be exempted from this or that temptation; as St. Paul made it his earnest suit, but if God give you grace and courage to repress it, in such sort as to receive no injury, but an encrease of merit, you have no reason to repine: So that God is alwayes faithful in his promises, and never breaks his word with his Creatures, but gives the effect of prayer either in the specifi­cal thing demanded, or in that which is more valu­able; if I say it be asked with faith, hope, perse­verance, and concerning necessaries to Salva­tion.

St. Austin sayes, the Soul hath power as­sisted by grace to cultivate herself, and by a pious industry purchase and get into the possession of all vertues; by which she may be delivered from the difficulties of concupiscence which torments her; and of ignorance that blinds her. Nay, in the height of temptation or ignorance, God never takes from her a free will, by which [Page 408] she may demand, seek, and play the couragi­ous, even before she assent to those that ask, discover to those that enquire, or give admit­tance to such as importunately press upon her; how comes it then to pass (sayes he) that she is sometimes ignorant what to do, it is because she hath not yet received that Grace, but in­fallibly she will receive it, if good use be made of what she hath already received, that is, a grace to seek piously and with diligence. Hence he layes the ruine of many Souls upon this de­fault in not praying against the difficulties of concupiscence and ignorance: Nay on the contra­ry, we covet for the most part to be glutted with some Earthly satisfaction, on which our sensitive part is fastned, for which our prayers and instances are made out of self love not the glory of God: Now because they are pernicious to us, he playes the deaf; and thinks it misbe­comes his love to Man to set a seal to his un­doing, which made St. Austin say; It is a stroak of Gods mercy sometimes to withdraw his mercy.

Our Petitioner knew that the gift of prayer is the first grace God bestowes on Man, which serves as a Ladder, that by it he may ascend to other Graces necessary to Salvation; he hath made it the Subject of his Song, and beat upon no other string in the whole tract of this his peti­tion, than to obtain pardon for his sins, and to [Page 409] be restored to the inestimable treasure of Sanctifying grace; after this task of his own concern, he undertook to instruct the wicked, and labour in the conversion of the impious, and that these principles wherewith he had imbued them might take the deeper root by a constant practice, he now supplicates the Divine Majesty in be­half of the City of Jerusalem, and the holy moun­tain of Sion, to the end it might be settled in peace, and be a secure refuge not onely to the numerous inhabitants, but also to that infinite resort of Pilgrims, who from all parts came thither to pay their religious duties to God; and he hopes for a good effect of his prayer, since it is in or­der to the establishment of God's Church; in which action the divine zeal hath more vi­sibly appeared (both in gratifying such as have advanced the structure, and in punishing any sa­crilegious violence) than in any other external actions of Men.

Ezekiel, painting forth the abominations of the Temple sayes, there came six Angels, and every one had in his hands Vessels of slaughter; upon which Theodoret observes in the destru­ction of Zenacharib's Army, one only Angel ap­peared, but against the prophaners of his Temple six are deputed, that no day of the Week should pass over their Heads without a fresh Executioner to torment them.

Jeremy weighs the wrongs Nebuchodonozer had done to Jerusalem by dishonouring Ma­trons, deflowring Virgins, killing little Children, tormenting the aged, burning houses, their rob­beries and spoils, and yet all these he passes o­ver in silence (though he took it much to heart) and presses only the prophanation of the Temple, having made of it a stable for his Horses.

When the Angel appeared to Joshuah with a drawn sword, and commanded him to put off his Shooes, as before he had done to Moses in the flaming bush, enjoyning him the like; many grave Doctors assert th [...] this Angel was the Son of God, wherein he would insinuate two things: First, the reverence they ought to bear to that place, where in a manner so particular he was pleased to manifest himself: Next, that against those who should lose this respect, he had Fire and Sword ready to vindicate his honour: For the Majesty of a King or regal power upon Earth is respected throughout the whole jurisdiction of his Crown, but yet much more where he hath his Throne, and Chair of state: So God as he is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords over all the Nations of the World, ought in all places to have homages of submission and obedience paid unto him, but especially in places dedicated to religious acts; in [Page 411] Heaven at the right hand of his Father is the supream throne of his greatness; in the Syna­gogue he had the propitiatory, and in the Temple his Sacrarium; and as to a Temple or Church wherein God is to be honoured. Nilus sayes a Christian should bear no less respect to this his Holy Tabernacle than if he were in Heaven: Because, the glory of God is more apparent in the adorable Sacrament of the Altar; and from thence a greater reverence may justly be requi­red, than from all the Temples that were in past ages dedicated to God's honour: For in this dread Sacrifice God is adored, honoured, appeased, loved and served by his Son Je­sus Christ in all the Corners of the World; where this mystery is celebrated all the adorati­ons, and homages of other Creatures, contri­bute nothing to his Glory, if compared to what he receives here by his Son; because he is an object infinite, and as a King receives more honour from the submission of a Prince, than of an ordinary vulgar person; in like manner the adorations rendered to God by Je­sus Christ do glorify him more, than those of all Men and Angels, together by the Mouth of Malachy the Prophet; God sayes, my name is great among the Gentiles, because in all places a pure oblation is offered up unto me, which Theodoret ex­plicates an unspotted Lamb taking away the sins [Page 412] of the World, and which is Sacrificed unto him in this mystery.

The Master of the Family Matth. 20. ha­ving had his Servants ill treated by the labourers in his Vineyard, sent his Son to reduce them to obedience; saying, they will respect him: So God the Father would render his Son present in this mystery, to induce all Christians to pay their duties to his greatness.

Who would not then Combat in the presence of their King? We may reasonably expect to live with Angels, and with them contem­plate the divine essence, since now we live with Jesus Christ himself who is the Food of our Souls; he who gives himself to be eaten here, will not deny us to see and behold him in eternity.

Now our Holy Penitent in his prophetick view beheld this Hill of Sion, as a place mark­ed out for the admirable structure of the Evangeli­cal Temple, whereof the Messias was to be the Corner stone, and therefore he calls it holy, wherein Sacraments conferring grace by their proper vertue were to be administred; upon this score he preferrs the Gates of Sion, before all the tabernacles of Jacob: He forespeaks the building of this Sion, and that God will there be seen in his glory, as much as the Cloudy Scene in this World can represent him; and as on mount [Page 413] Sinai the written Law, a carnal and Earthly Law was given; so on Mount Sion should be en­acted a Law Evangelical, holy, spiritual, and hea­venly. These fore-notions imprinted in our Petitioner a reverence to this model of perfecti­on, and stirrs him to implore his mercy in her behalf; that since it is to be a Law of love, all powerful to conduct Souls unto a great pitch of sanctity in this life, and glory in the next, he will hope his prayer may contribute somthing to draw from his liberality a confirmation of his gracious promises unto her; in this confidence with much fervour and zeal he repeats; Deal favourably O Lord in thy good will with Sion.

The Application.

We have a Lesson here of Charity which shews us inexcusable, if we fail to endeavour the succour of our Neighbour: For there is none so impotent but may lend the assistance of his pray­ers, and how powerful that is to avert danger, ap­pears in that God seems willing to prevent the Prophet Jeremies mediation, command­ing he should not resist him; that is, he should not stand between him, and the destruction of his people; as if it were in the power of this Prophet by means of his prayer, to hold God's [Page 414] Hand, and force him to a merciful composition. Besides we are much encouraged to relieve the distressed in this supplicating way by the form of prayer which Christ prescribes, in that we should conjure him under the title of Father; nay more our Father which speaks I have a right to ask not only as I am your Child, but likewise to intercede for him who hath the same relation unto you, and by that an alliance towards me, which naturally exacts my help; if then as a Maker you can destroy; as a Father nature will prompt you to save: In fine, God playes not the stately like the great Princes of this World, but gives audience upon the place; whether in behalf of your self or Neighbour: Nay, he excludes not his greatest Enemies, but doth treat with them of peace upon the least overture they make: Ah! let us then daily present our supplications before his throne of grace, in behalf of all persons capable of eternal Salvation.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXVIII.

Ʋt edificentur muri Jerusalem.

And let the Walls of Jerusalem be built.

BY the Walls of this Sion or Jerusalem (for they are usually taken for the same thing) is meant the Prelats, and Pastours of this hap­py Congregation, within whose circumference or direction we are all piously to walk, and to whose care and protection all Mankind is com­mitted: Our Penitent beholds the Messias as the foundation and prop of this eternal structure; for the Office of a Priest consists in the power of administring sacred things, and to offer pray­ers, gifts, and Sacrifices unto God for the remission of sins, and this in the name of the uni­versal Church: Now Iesus Christ was constitu­ted by God over all Souls, with a plenary au­thority to reconcile them to him, and for this end he offered up a true and real Sacrifice, in which the immolated victime suffered a real mu­tation, both in that Christian oblation without ef­fusion of blood, which he celebrated the night before his death, as also in the bloody Sacrifice of himself, which he might have hindred but would not; he is then a true Priest.

Again, his power not being confined to Sacraments, nor to certain words and ceremo­nies, as that of Men, who are Priests after him; and not depending upon the impression of any Character (since he was setled in it suffi­ciently by his Hypostatick union) he enjoyes a degree of Priesthood with eminency above all other Men, invested with this sublime dig­nity.

Wherefore doubtless this his Priesthood, above all other things was most acceptable to God; because by this title and quality he hath wrought the Worlds Salvation, hath recon­ciled Souls unto God, and put them into a con­dition of rendering him glory in all Eternity: So that among all the sublime qualities of Jesus Christ, that of his Priesthood hath been the most beneficial to the World; for by it he hath made up all the breaches of sin, both in Heaven and Earth, appeased God's anger by his Sacri­fice, and restored us to his lost grace and fa­vour.

Next, he is not only Priest but sovereign Bishop, empowred to institute, ordain, and govern at his pleasure in all spiritual things, which relate unto God and the Salvation of Souls; where­fore St. Peter Ep. 1. C. 2. Stiles him the Bishop and Pastour of Souls. St. Paul likewise to the He­brews Chap. 7. sayes, It was fit we should have a [Page 417] Bishop holy, innocent, unpolluted, and separated from sinners, who hath no necessity of offering Sacrifice daily for his own sins. So that Christ is not reduced to that extremity as to offer Sacrifice for the expi­ation of his own faults, he hath no need to purify himself, since he hath a Sanctity which outvyes that of Angels; his only task is to enlighten, purify, and improve others, that he might transmit them from the perfection and spiritual trea­sures of this life; to the perfection and eternal trea­sures of the next. At this his sovereign Chair doth aim; that is, the acquisition of immortal fe­licity, he hath laid down for our safe passage and firm footing two planks; to wit, the Cross and pennance, he is mediatour between God and Man, an intercessour for us, he assists at our right Hand that we might not be over­thrown, and amidst the storm of Stones which fell upon St. Stephen, he is awake and upon his Leggs, ready to run to his suc­cour; so that he hath all the conditions of a pow­erful and careful Prelat.

The Prophet Joel had in his prospect this Prince of Ecclesiasticks, when in his 2. Chapter he exhorts the Daughters of Sion to skip for joy, and fly to the Lord their God, because he had given unto them a Doctor of Justice; to teach them a spiritual life, how to separate their Souls from affection to Creatures, and unite themselves to God. This [Page 418] he did in commanding us to renounce our selves, and follow him; to carry with him our Cross, to be perseverant in prayer, to pra­ctise vertues, to love God above all things; and our Neighbour as our selves: In fine, his Do­ctrine permits no vice, cherishes all vertues, raises Man above himself, and his nature, and be­sides his Commandements he gives admirable Councels of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and o­ther precepts leading to perfection; which if exactly weighed would evidence as clear as the Sun beams, that he is the greatest Master and Doctor of a spiritual life.

He is then Head of the Church because the Founder, from whence she hath received her Life and Being; by the seeds of his grace, by the preaching of his Apostles, by all the good works and stratagems he hath set on foot to draw Souls unto Faith and Baptism: From whom she hath received her subsistence and nourishment in the provision of the Sacraments, and of a mul­titude of gifts and graces in order to the propaga­tion and defence of the Church. He hath like­wise setled here an Ecclesiastical Hierarchy resem­bling that of Angels; and lastly, he over­whelms her with the load of his favours, trans­mitting daily her Members to his Church Tri­umphant, where he invests them with glory, nor will cease untill he hath made of the [Page 419] Souls issuing from the militant here beneath a Church glorious, and without the least stain or wrinkle.

This Saint of Saints, this Prince of Ecclesia­sticks, this Doctor of Justice is the Corner stone on which our Penitent had fixed his Eye, and petitioned to be the Basis of Jerusalem's fair Walls; so that having such a foundation, what noble superstructure might he not expect; and truly this edifice was squared out to the highest Ideas of perfection. First, we see an addition of the three Theological vertues, that is so po­lished and refined as it gives them quite an­other lustre; as to Faith the mysteries of the blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, and the holy Eu­charist are in the Evangelical Law drawn as it were out of a Cloud into the Sun-beams, and there­fore St. Paul styles the written Law a Schoolmaster which taught the Jews only the first Rudiments of Religion, whereas Christian Faith proposes ra­vishing objects, and discovers the wonders of the said mysteries distinctly, which begets reverence and devotion in the Hearts of Men.

As to hope, which enflames our courage to the Execution of generous undertakings, the Jews had very obscure revelations of eternal beatitude, nor could they hope for it till the coming of the Messias and Redeemer who was to open Heaven's Gates, and have the honor to be the [Page 420] first Man that entered there; in the interim they were fed with promises of Earthly rewards which rendered Souls Mercenary, and their intentions more gross, whilst the Evangelical Law unfolds the wonders of Heaven, the glory of a Resurrection, and engages for our immediate re­ception into that place of immortal felicity after this life, supposing we are distain'd from all guilt of sin.

As to Charity the Soul of vertues and devotion, it must needs receive from the Evangelical Law many degrees of heat and fervour; since it ren­ders our faith and hope more perfect: For where the knowledge is greater of things more worthy of love, and where our hopes are heightned to a more valuable expectation, there doubtless will be found the production of a more ardent desire and affection.

After this rare piece which much embel­lished the structure, are disposed the Sacraments which like a great water about the circumval­lation, serve both to secure the inhabitants from the assaults of their Enemies, and to strength­en them in the noble exploits of vertues: So that by this succour and powerful aid they are ob­liged in honour and conscience to a more eminent degree of Sanctity. We see that Arts and Sci­ences are improved by success of time, and those Masters which come after are more [Page 421] expert than the former: Now this proceed­ing we behold in divine precepts, not out of any deficiency in the Law-giver, but because after Adam's sin humane nature was rendered un­worthy of God's grace, so that if at any time he communicated his blessings, it was by way of advance, and upon credit in consideration of the merits of his incarnate Son. Wherefore being once come, he gave precepts of higher per­fection, so that doubtless nothing can be bet­ter, more just, and more suitable to Man than the Evangelical Law: Nothing more a­greeable to the good Government of the Universe, and all Creatures; nor which contains in its decrees more equity and ho­liness: Insomuch as its perfection alone seems ground enough to pass a judgment, that it cannot issue but from the deep Councels of a Divi­nity.

Lastly, as to good manners, or natural precepts, this great Architect hath made of them a more clear and ample explication, by which the will is rectifyed, and carried on to the pur­suit of greater things than were proposed in the Mosaick Law.

What just reason then had our Petitioner to make this edifice of Jerusalem's Wall the object of his most fervent prayer, and that all his sub­jects should subscribe to the petition, and offer up [Page 422] their Vowes for the dispatch of this great work, in which their heavy Yoak so little beneficial to them would be taken off, and in exchange they were to be ranked under the discipline and law of grace and love; wherefore let us joyn issue and cry; Let the Walls of Jerusalem be built up.

The next composition of this structure is foretold by the Prophet Esay; I will lay in the foundation of Sion a stone that hath endured the touch, a corner and precious stone founded in the foundation: This is Peter and his successours, that rock on whom Christ hath built his Church, and which hath been tryed by all the assaults of Earth and Hell: Nor hath this stone proved only of right temper, in which no engin of ma­lice could work a flaw, but it is shaped into a corner stone, by which the two walls of Jews and Gentiles are united together, and make one Christian Church: It is also precious in co­piously distributing her Spiritual Treasures throughout the World; as the clear expli­cation of her Doctrine by universal consent, the rights of Sacraments, which delivered with a Harmony and unity in faith, is the bond of peace, the Life and Soul of Religion. Lastly, it is ground­ed in the foundation which shews it to be a secon­dary foundation: The first St. Paul declares; no Man can lay any other foundation (that is primary [Page 423] and Basis of all) than what is already laid; to wit, Jesus Christ.

But after him the next groundwork is St. Peter, by whom alone, and his successours we are to arrive at Christ, and what can be to God more glorious than to make use of the feeble to confound the strong, and by faith and hu­mility to lead Men unto wisdom and glory.

This piece of Workmanship in the Fa­brick of Jerusalem is like a Citadel which com­mands all, and holds its awful title not by Law of Nations, but divine right: It governs men in order to their Souls, and rather under the notion of being Christians, than Men; it looks not upon their temporal ease and security, but hath an Eye to a life and felicity immortal: It is fortifyed with divine Lawes, and maintains a perpetual skirmish not only with a few visible ad­versaries, but with an infinity of invisible Ene­mies.

After this Rock solidly disposed and fit­ed, the Bishops like Watch-towers and strong Ba­stions are erected; whose office is to superintend over the Guards and Sentinels, and to protect the weaker part of the Walls from the Ene­mies assaults; this contrivance is set down by St. Athanasius, where he sayes, O Peter upon thy Foundation the Bishops as pillars of the Church are setled and confirmed.

Then Priests, Deacons, and other officers are assigned to render this structure in all points compleat; some of these materials are for the beauty and ornament of the Church in her great solemnities; others as Priests for the necessary discharge of our duty to God; for religion teaching us to pay that honor and esteem we owe to God, is the perfection and accomplishment of the World, nor can we upon any score be dis­pensed with in the acknowledgment of these fealties: Whence no Nation hath ever been found so ignorant or barbarous as not to own, and in some manner or other to pay this Tribute, ei­ther by way of adoration, praise, prayer, sacrifice, festival solemnity or by some external Ceremony: Now that these actions might be duly acquitted, there appears an absolute necessity that some selected person should be set apart, and san­ctifyed to this end.

But above all it was most requisite in the Evangelical Law, where a Priest hath power to offer up a victime and Sacrifice by which in a mo­ment he renders to God more glory and service than all the Angels and Men can do in the vast durance of Eternity: Where he is daily to represent to the eternal Father Christ's holy passion, and by that moving object render him propitious unto Souls, where he is to disengage Men from the slavery of sin, and jawes of Hell by [Page 425] the administration of holy Sacraments: So that all the splendour and beauty of the Church con­sists in the Ministery of Priests, that as the Sun diffuses his beams on all sides, no less doth this sacred Character enrich those Souls with a perfume of Sanctity, who make themselves worthy by a due cooperation with its vertue; so that we ought to esteem it one of the great­est blessings of God to the World, in that he hath given us Ecclesiastical persons to dispense his Heavenly treasures, and spiritual graces to en­lighten the World, purify Souls from sin, and lead them as it were by the Hand unto a sove­reign good. Ah! what ingratitude then to throw a contempt upon those without whom Mankind would be but a Fire-brand for Hell in all Eternity.

The last materials for this Fabrick are lay and secular persons of all sorts; so that of these and Ecclesiasticks are composed two different and great Nations under the Jurisdiction of Christ; the Office of the one is to give, the other to receive; the one communicates by oblation of Sacrifice, and administration of Sacraments, spiritual goods, without which Men would be like a Body destitute of a Soul, having little tenden­cy or elevation unto God; the others passive­ly make up the Hierarchy, as being framed, [Page 426] instructed, purifyed, and by Ecclesiasticks united unto God.

Thus you see our holy Prophet was solici­tous in a matter of no small concern, for within the limits of this sanctuary are bounded all the hopes of Man's Salvation. Christ was made (sayes St. Paul) cause of eternal Salvation unto all those who obey him: Now his Commandements re­late to Faith, good manners, and the Sacraments, which are not rightly performed but within the bosom of his Church. Let us then joyn our hands and hearts to this noble structure, and cry, that the walls of Jerusalem be built up.

The Application.

If our Holy Penitent was so zealous for the erecting this magnificent structure of the Church, as by his ardent prayer to dispose the divine Ar­chitect unto this admirable work; what a reproach will it be to us, who find the Fabrick done to our Hands, and who are our selves so happy as to be part of the materials, if we do not so much as keep it in repair, nor preserve it a­gainst any rebellious or violent effort. To this performance is required a due obedience to the supream Pastour, who as it were the form and [Page 427] Soul of this edifice: Next, a reverence and sub­mission unto Bishops, who are the pillars, and great supports of it: Lastly, a respect to Priests, who are a main ornament, and useful to this glorious Fa­brick. Whereas then our Holy Penitent pour­ed forth his prayers, with so much fervour for the raising of these Evangelical walls, it is our part now to make addresses unto Heaven, that according to his promise it may continue pure, unstained, and invincible against all the malice of Earth and Hell.

Amen.

CHAP. XXXIX.

Tunc acceptabis Sacrificium, Justitiae oblationes, & Holocausta.

Then thou wilt receive Sacrifice, oblations of Justice, and whole Burnt-offerings.

OUr Holy Penitent had entertained in his thoughts not only the Materials and Architecture of this Building, but he went further and reached in his prophetick view the Sacrifices which were there to be offered up.

The first object display'd in this Temple [Page 428] is the Messias God-man, who was a true Sa­crifice, oblation of Justice and Holocaust. A Sa­crifice, in that he appeased God's anger, frankly offered, and with the purest intention that could be imagined; this is expressed in John 14. That the World may know I love my Father, and perform his commands, arise (sayes Christ to his Apostles) and let us to the Cross. For God ha­ving committed to him the affair of Man's Salvation lost by sin, he was enflamed with a zeal of rendering all possible satisfaction; and considering that if he should make himself a victime, and present that Sacrifice to God, it would be of an infinite value, in regard of the infinity of his person; and such a Sacrifice in­finite, would counter-ballance the infinite ma­lice of sin, and prove a satisfaction answerable to Man's offence: Wherefore that God might have reparation of honor, he designed an actual bloody Sacrifice of himself unto God for the sin of Adam, and all Mankind: And to this end likewise that God being appeased and satisfyed by the dignity of this Sacrifice, might depose all animosity against Man, and re­store him to those expedients by which he may work his Salvation.

Amongst all the contrivances that can enter our thoughts, none appear more excellent and noble, both to ajust God's honor and Man's Salvation toge­ther, [Page 429] than this immolation of himself upon the Altar of the Cross. First, it is very powerful to appease God's wrath, for nothing more than death can be endured for God's honor, nor can any Creature more absolutely avow himself un­to him, than in dying for his sake: Wherefore St. Paul sayes of Christ ad Ephes. 5. He gave himself up an oblation and host unto God in the perfume of sweetness. Next, it is very proper to cure Man's infirmity, who by his disobedience and pride had forfeited his right to Paradise; wherefore Christ submitting himself to the Cross, and so accomplishing the will of his Father, repaired those breaches we had made by our Rebel­lion.

Lastly, it is very efficacious to purchase our love without infringing the liberty of our free-will: For what can more charm us to love, than to behold a person for my sole interest sustain the torments of a Cross, which was the most infamous of all kind of punishments; yet so great was the affection our Saviour Christ bare us, that he deposited in the infamy, and reproach of the Cross, all that honor which his mi­racles, his Doctrine, and innocent life had purchased to him; leaving them all hang­ing on it as a Trophey of his love: The Cross then is the North Star of our comfort, and hope; for what can he deny us, nay what will he not [Page 430] grant us, who on the Cross hath made such large expressions of his kindness. God is said to be the searcher of hearts; that is, he only knowes the sincerity of them; whence some have taken occasion to murmur at the Maker; in that he placed not a window before the Breast of every one: But though we may be jealous of all the rest, yet sure we cannot be of Christ upon the Cross, nor of his love, since he there even layes open his Bowels unto us; upon this con­sideration Christ might justly promise to himself, That when he shall be lifted up from the Earth (that is upon the Cross) he would draw the affec­tions of all Mankind unto him.

How different is the proceeding of this our eternal Priest from the usual wayes of Men, who upon a mean and trivial interest fall upon the destruction of their Neighbour; whilst his de­sign is to Sacrifice himself upon our score, and by that means gain our love as a just Tribute to his eternal Father; he might well assure him­self this Sacrifice would be accepted, he knew that God could not behold the Face of his Christ under this bloody posture for the redempti­on of guilty Souls, and not be touched with the worth of this Sacrifice; wherefore our Peni­tent may confidently repeat tunc acceptabis, then, that is, at this plenitude of time a Sacrifice will appear which shall convey to Heaven an odor [Page 431] grateful unto God, and serve as a balm to cure all the wounds of humane nature.

This Sacrifice was likewise an oblation of Ju­stice, for supposing that God would have sin punished, because it is a decree of his eternal Law, which cannot erre nor want its effect. A­gain, since Man was impotent to any compleat satisfaction for sin, wherewith he was defiled and contaminated, it was necessary some person exempt from all sin should interpose, and take upon him out of love and goodness, the discharge of our transgressions. Now Christ was this happy Redeemer, who replenished with mercy spared not his sacred humanity for our deli­verance.

First, he dragged us out of the misery wherein we lay after Adam's sin, that by no action of ours we could recover grace, or any wayes reach our justification; this impotency Christ took away, and purchased to all Man­kind means of Salvation in case they make right use of it.

Next, he freed us from the misery of sin, and by his passion obtained a perfect enlarge­ment for all those who faithfully cooperate with his grace.

Lastly, he merited for the Soul and Body an exemption from the Calamities they sustain and endure in this life; and afterwards the glory [Page 432] of Heaven, if so be they persevere in sanctifying grace; and all this upon the design of rendering a full satisfaction for all the sins of the World in rigour of Justice: And since God was irrita­ted by Man's contempt which sin involves, Christ knowing that God could not receive more honour than what was paid him by the way of Sacrifice; and that by how much the victime excelled, his glory went in the like proportion: He presented his sacred humanity personally united to the Word by way of Justice on the Tree of the Cross, as a just compensation of all indignities thrown upon him by the World; and for this end he ex­posed his Body to all the highest severities of Justice. Thus God accepting this oblation of Justice punished in his Son all the sins of Man­kind.

Wherefore as a disobedience to God's Law, a Pride in thwarting his greatness, and a plea­sure in our conversion to a Creature are found in sin; all these were confronted in Christ's passion, by a prodigious obedience, an incom­parable humility, and a perpession of the most exquisite torments that could be inflicted; so that there was not the least punctilio of equity wanting in this oblation of Justice.

Our Holy Penitent weighing this terrible account could not but tremble: It is true God [Page 433] was contented with Abrahams good intenti­on, and stopped the Execution of Isaac; but when his eternal Law to punish sin was in que­stion (which he will have inviolable) he spares not his only Son, and if on him the darts of his anger fall so heavy, and this for anothers transgression, what may not a miserable sinner justly expect for his own sins in his own person: If this be done on the green branches, what ha­vock will be made of those that are withered: if the Innocent have this measure, what will be­come of the Guilty, but however these dis­mal reflections may affright our penitent, yet he is still boyd up with hope and confidence in this oblation of Justice.

Lastly, this Sacrifice is a perfect Holocaust, the ex­cellency of which consists in the total destructi­on of the thing offered. In confirmation of this St. Paul asserts, that Christ annihilated himself in becoming obedient to the Death of the Cross. Look on his passion; and you will see him re­duced to a moral nothing. First, at his last Sup­per, he throws himself at the Feet of his A­postles, he washes, dryes, and kisses even those of a perfidious Judas: in the garden of Olivet he not onely prayes with bended knees, but is pro­strate on the ground, bedewed with a bloody sweat, the most prodigious effect of terrour that ever hap­ned in nature: In the sequel of his passion [Page 434] he is branded with false accusations, and ignomi­nious reproaches, derisions and scorns: He receives the highest indignities from the vilest of persons, as to be buffeted, spit on, crowned with Thorns, fastned on the Cross between two Thieves as the ring leaders, and this at their Paschal solemnity in the populous City of Jerusalem, where he forfeited all that reputation, which the wonders of his power, and sublime communications of his wisdom had purchased to him; so that many who had been his spectators, and of his audience, in whose opinion he had passed for a signal person, a great Prophet, a Man incomparable in vertue and sanctity, nay who looked upon him as the promised Messias, and Son of God, gave him then the Character of an Hypocrit, and condem­ned all his miracles, as meer illusions, and the effects of Art magick, and his Sermons as dreams of phantastick babling. Nay, the Prophet Esay stiles him the last and outcast of Men, disfi­gured, mishapen, and laden with infirmities, insomuch that he was esteemed as one Leperstrook, and the object of God's vengeance. O what a Holocaust was this? He that is Lord and Creatour of the World, King of Heaven, and Sovereign Judge over the li­ving and the dead; is destroyed in his honor and reputation, his Eyes wax dimm and dark, his Face pale and wan, his Tongue furred and swoln, his Lips black and blew, and his whole [Page 435] Body mangled in such sort as they numbred all his Bones; so that it was as it were but one wound; and all these outrages are compleated in his Execution upon the Cross, which kind of death was so abominable as Tostatus sayes; it is an injury done to God himself that a Creature crea­ted after his Image should dye on the Cross. Cicero sayes, it is an act very hainous to bind a Citizen of Rome, a Villany to scourge him, and in a manner a Parricide to kill him, but what then will it be to put him on a Cross.

Heretofore God made himself known by destroying Pharaoh and all his Host, but now he will get himself a Name and Fame by playing the Holocaust, and dying upon the Cross.

Thus you see how justly our Petitioner might assert this Sacrifice to be an oblation of Ju­stice, and a Holocaust or whole burnt offering which would be accepted off: For certain­ly God was never more honoured than by Christ offered up on the Cross, because the glory there given him, outvyes all the injuries and affronts that had been or ever shall issue from the ugly Face of sin.

But the Fire of his love stopt not here: his sacred humanity would further yet honour God by a Sacrifice, which should not be confined to a short space of three hours, to a little [...] [Page 436] Nation of the Jews, nor to the narrow hill of Mount Calvary: wherefore by a generous de­sign he instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, where this same humanity without effusion of blood might honour God by a Sacrifice that would last to the worlds end, and be e­very day reiterated, not upon one single moun­tain, but in millions of places throughout all king­domes where there is any Priest to offer up this Sacrifice to God's honor, and as a tribute to his infinite greatness.

Our great God beholding this admirable contrivance of his incarnate word, and of a Soul most pure, and holy, allyed to his Son by a personal union; and relishing this honor he should receive from this Sacrifice begun at a great distance to nose the sweet odour it would evaporate even up to Heaven; this gave him a distast (as it were) of the Mosaical Sa­crifices; which revealing to our Holy Penitent made him cry, thou art not delighted with Holocausts. But this is more clearly expressed by the Pro­phet Malachy, where God requires the Temple Gate to be shut; the Fire of his Altar for the destruction of victimes no more to be kept in; and confesses he is cloy'd with them, upon the prevision of that excellent Sacrifice to be made to him in the E­vangelical Law.

Again, as a Sacrifice is directed not only [Page 437] to express God's supream Dominion over us, but likewise to acknowledge our thanks for his divine favours; now the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ accomplished in vertue would not be ungrateful: For God had given himself unto it by a personal union, in a manner the most obliging, and most sublime, that is any way consistent with a Creature; in return of this he would consecrate himself unto him with all the circumstances of perfection, by which a Creature can be made his: And which cannot be more than by a Sacrifice wherein he him­self is destroyed, and as much as may be redu­ced to nothing, that his immense greatness might appear by his opposite subjection: Now having done this once by the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross, he would perpetuate the same in the Sacrifice of the Altar: that whilest the fabrick of this new Jerusalem should stand, he might alwayes render acts of thanksgiving for the graces conferred on his humanity, and on the members of his Church. By this Sacrifice we are enabled to pay our debt of thanks to God for the rich pre­sent of his only Son, which we return unto him as a due and equal acknowledgment; and if it be proportioned to what we owe for a gift so pretious, much more will it serve to dis­charge our duties of gratitude for other bene­fits; as when he is pleased to make us victo­rious [Page 438] over temptations and all the Enemies of our Salvation.

Lastly, his Sacrifice on the Cross was to al­lay God's anger against the sins of Mankind; and this same design is carried on in the Sacrifice of the Altar, and aims chiefly to render God propitious to our transgressions. In the works of St. Iames, St. Basil, and St. Chrysostom speaking of this Sacrifice is found this expression. Lord accept of this Sacrifice as a propitiation for the sins and ig­norance of the people, by which you may see this Sacrifice doth not only appease God's anger, dis­charge our large score of gratitude, but also is effectual to purchase a supply for all our wants. So that our Petitioner in the prospect of this bloody and unbloody victime might confidently u­surp this pleasing air: Then he will with a sa­tisfyed Eye behold a Sacrifice, oblation of Justice, and a whole burnt-offering.

The Application.

Our Holy Penitent in another Psalm ex­presses the resentment of the Children of Is­rael, when in captivity they sat weeping upon the Banks of the River of Babylon at the re­membrance of Sion, and of those Religious acts they were wont to perform in that holy place. [Page 439] I am confident our zealous Petitioner felt no less the bitter throwes of affliction and langutshments after the Evangelical Temple, wherein would be offered up a Sacrifice so full, as the Justice of God could exact nothing more; with what satisfaction did he reflect on this then, to wit, that time we now possess, wherein we can daily adore Jesus Christ in his sacred throne of the Eucharist, as Children paying the duty we owe to so indulgent a Father, as Subjects to a lawful Prince, as Criminals to a most equitable Judge as slaves to a Redeemer, and as Creatures to a Sove­reign Creatour. Let us beg that since he hath daigned to expose himself a daily victime upon the Altar for all Mankind, that there may be no Soul who shall deny him the just tribute of love, praise, and Adoration.

Amen.

CHAP. XL.

Tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos,

Then they will lay Calves upon thy Altar.

OUr holy Penitent having decipherd this bloody, and unbloody Sacrifice, as Jerusalem's greatest Glory, and the Ornament of Sion, that is, the Church of Christ; he carries on in [Page 440] his prophetick view his thoughts to other inferiour offerings, as the off-spring and result of this supreamly great one: Such are the obla­tion of persons, who raised above the charms of flesh and blood embrace the Councels, and Rules of highest perfection given by our Saviour, and quitting all Earthly interests con­secrate themselves totally to God.

These our Petitioner shadowes under the name of Calves (according to Enthymius) be­cause having never tasted the Yoak, but let loose to their full swinge and liberty, do yet of their own accord make themselves a daily Sacrifice unto God: For he that embraces such a state of perfection forsakes all; first, he forsakes himself, renouncing in some sort all right over himself, and to become a slave to God in the person of another, who in the name of God, and in his stead accepts the donation and surrender of himself; and it is upon these terms, that he may be conducted to perfection; so that the Final motive of this Sa­crifice is the exact and universal practise of all kind of vertues.

Riches, honour, and pleasure are the three main Enemies to perfection; all which are clear­ly subdued in the essential obligations of this perfect State. Poverty choaks the desire after temporal goods; Chastity allays the concu­piscence [Page 441] of pleasure, and obedience stifles all appetite to Worldly greatness: But besides all this, we are to give to God our actions, our time, and employments; and this gift con­sists in the punctual observance of certain Rules which allot to every one how to spend the Year, the Moneth, the Week, the Day; nay every Hour: So that persons who devote themselves to such a state need not be solicitous for directi­ons leading to perfection; the Commandements of God, and zealous performance of such prescripts as are given by spiritual masters, afford abundant matter for this noble design.

What a comfort must it be to those who are setled in this state to think, that there is nothing more excellent in a Creature, than to belong in a particular manner to God their Creatour; who hath power to glorify and en­rich them with all good? What can be more desirable than to grow every Day, and hour in perfection, and this in spirituality, which is be­yond all others a treasure of highest value? We see all Beings strive to their utmost in this ambi­tion; Plants spring up, and bear the fairest Flowers that possibly they can: Trees afford li­berally their best fruit; Bodies issue forth all their strength and vigour to become more powerful in which their vertue consists: And what invention is not hammered out by Women to [Page 442] add the least stroak to their natural beauty; shall the Soul then be alone insensible in this pro­priety of nature? No, no, our new Law-giver hath planted in Man a holy ambition after perfe­ction, and this seed hath been so fruitful, and so efficacious, that one might judge the abstrac­ted lives which so many have led in all ages, since his visible appearance upon Earth, were the effects of a severe command, rather than a Paternal Councel, and that such a Sacrifice of Calves; that is, a religious simplicity and total abnegation of Earthy interest, could not spring from a frank choice of the will, but from an absolute ne­cessity: Wherefore our Holy Penitent all ra­vished with admiration points out that time wherein these wonders shall be wrought; Then will they put Calves upon thy Altar.

The great Wheels which give motion to all our actions in this life are what is beneficial, plea­sant, and glorious: As to the first, those who addict themselves to a state of perfection find good rules, good example, spiritual documents, knowing directours, several exciting graces, and all things that lead to the accomplishment of vertue, and encrease of merit. Besides, he is secured from innumerable miseries of the World, which is nothing else but a Chaos of trouble and confusion, a Theatour of envy, ambition, luxury, tyrannical oppressions, [Page 443] a place of errour, and darkness, overspread with nets of temptations, and cluttered with im­pediments of Salvation heaped one upon ano­ther: So that to be warranted against so many dangers, and at the same time put into possession of a real good by the constant practice of ver­tues, is an advantage to a humane Creature designed for Eternity beyond all other in the World.

As to the other motive which agitates us here; to wit, things delightful, none are to be compared to those ravishments enclosed with­in the precincts of a holy retirement: For they are satisfactions of the Mind, which being more pure and solid than those of the Body, do consequently much outstrip them in worth and excellency; the first ground of this con­tentment is a perfect tranquility of Mind, which knows no gnawing nor remorse of consci­ence. The Soul (sayes Solomon) that rests in this assurance is a continual banquet, after this quiet suc­ceeds a great love to God, which yields a sweet relish to the most embittered accidents of this life: Then a vigorous subduing of immortifyed passi­ons, which like an Executioner tortures the greatest part of Worldlings, and makes them spin out this miserable life in an infinity of anxi­eties, and affliction. In a word, it is the property of vertue to affect with delight that person which [Page 444] puts himself upon the performance of any Heroick action. Wherefore a state of perfection which teaches the practice of all vertues, in the most generous and disinteressed way, must needs be attended with a great joy and consolati­on; what pleasure then must it be to be setled in a condition of life which is a holy resemblance of Heaven, surrounded with the precious ornaments of all vertues, wherewith it is decked and set forth no less than is the Firmament embellished with Stars.

O what pleasure to be received into the Houshold and Family of God, to be cherished with an amiable aspect from that grand Master, and own'd by him as a Domestick; where a multitude of graces and divine favours are showred down; where at every turn are offered occasions of doing well, and arri­ving at an admirable pitch of Sanctity, and lastly, where particular aids of grace are com­municated to carry us to our final end and ete [...]al felicity!

As to the third Engin which gives life to our actions, that is honor; what greater can there be than for a Soul to be God's spouse, his favourite, and friend! Now this state of perfec­tion ennobles a person with all these titles of greatness; for vertue is the source of honor, and by how much that excells in any one, so much [Page 445] is his honor really advanced, this state then being a nursery of vertues, wherein the most excellent are practised, and in the most excellent man­ner, as squared out to the Evangelical Councels, it followes that such are truly noble who are en­listed under the sublime Standard of so perfect and Christian a warfare.

First, they practise the method of getting honor; that is, by flying it; for honor resembles a shadow that flyes the pursuer, and pursues the fugitive.

Next, they profess humility, and the Son of God hath protested, that those who humble them­selves shall be exalted.

Thirdly, they incessantly praise and glo­rifie God both by their deeds and words; now Christ sayes, those that glorify him shall be glorifyed by him. Wherefore this state cannot be but truly glorious and honorable, in which are comprised in its perfection all that is ei­ther to our profit, pleasure or honor.

Some who would diminish the worth of this Sacrifice object, that many languish under the Yoak of their vocation, and lead a life more embittered than others in a worldly conversati­on.

To which I answer, that those defects spring not from the State, but from the immor­tifyedness, pride, indevotion, and other evil qua­lities [Page 446] in particular persons, who were they such as their state requires, would trip with joy in their tribulation, acknowledge themselves singularly countenanced by Heaven, that when they were in the midst of a depraved and corrupted world, he drew them off clear from all its hazzards and miseries; to plant them in a Land flowing with Milk and Hony: That having rescued them from a party, that would have betrayed and given them up to death, he admitted them inhabitants of God's City upon Earth; who will be to them a loving and indulgent Mo­ther, and transmit them rich laden with merit into the Land of the living; in case they ac­quit themselves faithfully of their duty: This I say would be their Harmony were they not ungrateful, and by their Chagrin and Male­contented humour, distastful to God and them­selves, and so unworthy of the dignity of their state.

But whilst I thus exalt this Sacrifice, which is the purchase of that eternal victime offered up on the Cross, yet I am not so transported with its excellency, as not to know it hath its proper Crosses, nor do I blush to confess it, since every difficulty finds there likewise its Consola­tion.

First, the indigent life there led is many times but a simple dispropriation; where we find [Page 447] more necessaries for a subsistence than an infinity of persons in the World enjoy, who by con­straint is feign to continue poor: Besides, this poverty will be recompenced with a hundred­fold in eternal treasures, and to this perfor­mance the Son of God hath engaged him­self.

Chastity there observed is a life Angelical, and an imitation of that eternal, wherein no mar­riage will be admitted, it frees them from a million of cares, sufferings and perplexities which married persons experiment at a dear rate, and thence frankly confess their state to be much less happy.

Obedience is a life without curiosity, a secure na­vigation, and an excuse of weight with God: It is a journey performed sleeping; for whilst you obey, you repose quietly in the conduct of an­other, and by that, avoid a thousand dangers and difficulties incident to those, who live at the Helm of their own will and liberty.

If they are startled at the necessity of co­habiting with some who may be of a strange peevish and cross humour, and with these they must continue even to death; this I con­fess may happen sometimes, yet not alwayes; but as to this likewise there is often a mistake, the froward humour being rather in themselves than in their companion, so that possessing a spirit like [Page 448] that of the Jaundice, all they behold appears yellow to them: But admit they are really so, that is, thwarting and contradictory, per­haps God hath given them to you, that they may be converted and saved by your mildness and patience, at least to be unto you occasion of merit: Christ our Lord disdained not to cohabit with Judas, and if they discharge not their duty to you, at least do yours to them, and so you will hammer out a Crown at their cost, and by means of their unpleasing stroaks.

In a word, if you have a love for God, and a serious thought of Eternity, be it of Heaven or Hell; if you consider the torments and death of Jesus Christ, nothing will seem harsh or tedious to you in this life: If you consider the immense obligations you owe to your Redeemer, you will lament in that you have but one life to Sa­crifice for him, that hath lost his own so wor­thy upon the Altar of the Cross for your sake: You will repine that nature allowes you but a term of sixty years or thereabouts in this world to spin out in his service; since he hath surren­dered up his life for you, of which one moment is more to be valued than all the duration and existence of Men and Angels.

This is the Sacrifice of Calves, which our Penitent had in his prophetick view, and it leaves a sweet relish in his Mind, with which he [Page 449] concludes his petition. It was doubtless matter of great joy to our Penitent, to consider the powerful operation of Christ's Spirit, that would draw Men from sensual pleasures, and baits of this World, induce them to contemn riches, honors, and Earthly glory, and exchange these for hair-cloths, fasting, disciplines, and o­ther mortifications of the flesh; and this to be act­ed by persons great in dignity, swimming in a full plenty of wealth, and endued with intellectual parts even to admiration: Millions of these have shrowded themselves within the Walls of a poor habitation, where cloathed with a course habit they have led a life wholly Angelical, and made themselves a daily Sacrifice, unto God beautifyed with a religious simplicity, which sur­passes all the wisdom of the World, and so ful­filled the prophecy of our happy Penitent; Then (that is in the Church to be established and founded by the Messias) they will lay Calves on thy Altar.

The Application.

Our Holy Penitent here entertains him­self with the grateful returns which Christians were to make in consideration of Christ's e­ternal Sacrifice, and certainly there is no state speaks so much a generous love to God, as that [Page 450] of a contemplative life, where we behold Men devested of all self love, to become perfect slaves to the divine will; freed from all adhesion to created things, that in charity they might be united to God, avoiding the World's conver­sation, the better to enjoy God's presence, that since they cannot live without him, at least they might live with him as much as the condition of this mortal life will bear. To contemplate so many thousand Families, where Crea­tures anticipate their felicity by praising God incessantly, and who seem not to subsist but by the dew of a Holy Love, like the Seraphims in Heaven. Ah let us then conclude with our Holy Penitent, and bless the divine Provi­dence, who hath in the revolution of so many ages received the perfume of prayers and thanks­givings, from an infinity of pure innocent Souls, consecrated in a peculiar manner to his glory and service.

Amen.

FINIS.

A TABLE Of the principal matter of this BOOK.

A.
  • Affliction.
    • WHy God conducts Souls by way of affliction. Pag. 8
    • Adversity foundation to eternal hap­piness. p. 143
    • Why God lengthens out our afflicti­ons. p. 380, 381
    • Affliction of David. p. 282
  • Anger.
    • Means hovv to avert God's anger. p. 178
  • Adultery.
    • All Lavves violated by adultery. p. 56, 57
    • Punished by death and great tor­ments by all Nations. p. 58
    • It subverts the rules set dovvn for our education. p. 303
    • It is a vvrong not to be repaired. Ib.
    • A passage of St. Paul terrible con­cerning adultery. p. 304
    • The civil lavv permits parties inter­essed to be Judges. Ibid.
    • It is a kind of Sacriledge. p. 305, 306
B.
  • Body.
    • It is fit the Body should share in the punishment of sin. p. 36
    • Saints Bodies alvvayes had in vene­ration both in the old and nevv Lavv. p. 170
    • Divers examples of this subject. ib.
    • Why God favours Saints Bodies with the working of miracles. p. 168
    • What David means by humbled bones. p. 167
  • Beatitude.
    • To anticipate our Beatitude is here to think alwayes of it. p. 248, 249
    • Why we cannot be happy here. p. 249
    • How sweet the thoughts of Beati­tude. p. 290
    • Good works the means to Beati­tude. ibid.
C.
  • Carnal Sins.
    • Carnal sins destroy both Body and Soul, p. 52, 53
    • Punishments of Heaven for carnal sins. p. 53, 54
    • Why carnal sins are most dangerous and most abominated by God. ibid.
  • Church.
    • A pillar of truth, &c. p. 127
    • Upon what terms God founded his Church. p. 138 & seq.
    • God punishes such as violate Tem­ples, or Churches. p. 409, 410
    • The sublime institution of the Church. p. 422, & seq.
  • [Page]Christ.
    • Christs presence how amiable. p. 234
    • Christ loves to be with men. p. 235
    • Christ dyed for all. p. 280, & seq.
    • Christ's Revelation to St. Bridget. p. 283
    • Christ the source of all merit. p. 316
    • Christ supream pastour of Souls. p. 415
    • Christ Sovereign Bishop of the Church. p. 416
    • Christ a true Holocaust. p. 433, 434
    • Christ a true oblation of Justice. p. 431
  • Charity.
    • Order of charity. p. 403, 404
  • Conversion.
    • Of an Indian in Japonia. p. 328
    • Sometimes wrought by outward preaching. ibid.
    • Sometimes by the inward operation of his spirit. p. 329
D.
  • Mystick Divinity.
    • Its definition and several operations from p. 259. unto 263
  • David.
    • Why David begged to be freed from temporal punishment. p. 48, 49
    • David the most accomplished Pro­phet p. 131
    • The world's creation revealed to David. p. 131, 132
    • The Incarnation, Nativity, and Passi­on revealed to David. p. 133, 134, 135
    • The state of his conscience in order to God was revealed to him. p. 135
    • David desired to be a Martyr. p. 150
    • What means he by the joy of his Salvation. p. 251
    • He was very meek and humble. p. 3 [...]7
  • Death.
    • Death concludes all our merit. p. 38, 39, 40
  • Desire.
    • Why our desires are never satiated in this life. p. 43, 44
  • Despair.
    • Why we should never despair. p. 293
E.
    • Men of all conditions are bound to give good example. 86, 87, & seq.
F.
  • Fear.
    • Difference of fear in the good and bad. p. 43
  • Friend.
    • Loss of a friend not to be lamented. p. 143, 144
  • Faith.
    • Springs from God. p. 126, and 216
    • Moral vertues &c, the way to faith. p. 127
    • Faith teaches what we owe to God and our Neighbour. p. 205
    • Faith of all things ought to be the most unquestionable. ibid.
    • God proceeds like a Soveraign in matter of faith. ibid.
    • This his proceeding a stroke of his goodness. ibid.
    • Christ our Master in matters of faith. p. 207, 208
    • The mysteries of faith our greatest comfort. p. 208, 209
    • What habitual faith is, and its ef­fects. p. 210, 211
G.
  • God.
    • If God deprives us of one good, it is but to give us a better. p. 49 & 50
    • God never rejects a truly repenting heart. p. 90, 91, & seq.
    • [Page]God will be justifyed in his proceed­ings with man. p. 97
    • God a primary and essential truth. p. 128
    • God is not the efficient cause of ob­durateness. p. 218, 219
    • What sign of God's leaving us. p. 226
    • Two derelictions of God. p. 227
    • How God is lost by sin. p. 232
    • God still gives more than we ask. p. 231, 235
    • How to escape God's anger. p. 236, 237
    • How comfortable the belief of God. p. 288
  • Grace.
    • Definition of grace and its effects. p. 158, 159
    • Grace raises our hope to the expe­ctation of a sovereign good. p. 160
    • How sin is expulsed by grace. p. 184, 185, 186, & seq.
    • Grace compared to the essence of the Soul. p. 192
    • How grace cleanses the Soul from all iniquity. p. 193, 194
    • Why grace doth not quiet all mo­tions of sensuality. p. 195
    • Grace purifyes all the powers of the Soul. p. 196
    • God imparts his graces by degrees. p. 224
    • The power of sanctifying grace. p. 309
  • God.
    • God is the final end of all his works. p. 337
    • God hath an essential glory and what it is. ibid.
    • He hath likewise an external acci­dental glory. ibid.
    • God is more glorified by a good than bad Soul. p. 338, 348
    • Every being glorifyes God. p. 339
    • Why man above all in this world ought most to glorify God. 340, 341
    • Why God is delighted with our suf­ferings. p. 385
  • Good works.
    • How do they merit a recompence. p. 309, 310
H
  • Heart.
    • The heart the source of all evil, and good. p. 196
    • How St. Katharine of Sienna lost her heart. p. 199
    • Character of a heart defiled with sin. p. 201
    • God exacts only our hearts. p. 202
    • The misery of a humane heart. ibid.
  • Honour.
    • Sacrificed by Christ on the Cross. p. 429
  • Hope.
    • The comforts which hope brings to a Soul. p. 160, 161
    • The first sign of God's favour is to give us hope p. 332
    • The definition of hope. p. 333
    • The motives of hope. ibid.
  • Holy Ghost.
    • His operations in a Soul. p. 229, 230, & seq.
  • Humility.
    • Praise of this vertue. p. 395
    • Not to be humble is to be disobedi­ent. ibid.
    • Two kinds of humility. p. 397
    • The effects of humility. ibid.
    • How pleasing to God. p. 402
  • Homicide.
    • Terrours of mind which attend ho­micide. p. 294
    • An injury not to be repaired. p. 295
    • It destroyes God's image. ibid.
    • To prevent this he forbad in the old law the eating of blood. p. 299
    • It is never left unrevenged. ibid.
    • Why a murthered body bleeds at the presence of the murtherer. p. 299 300
I.
  • Incarnation.
    • The wonders of this mystery set forth. p. 16
    • No creature could satisfye for sin, so that it was a mystery of love. p. 17
  • Ingratitude.
    • The ingratitude of David. p 232
  • Injury.
    • All injuries done are against God. p. 89, 307
  • Job.
    • Job excused from sin in cursing the day of his birth. p. 116, 117
    • Why God would not permit Satan to touch upon Job's life. p. 384
  • Impiety.
    • Definition of it. p. 285, & seq.
  • Justice.
    • God's justice is distributive, punitive and remunerative. p. 318, 319, & seq.
    • To be just implyes an aggregation of all vertues. p. 322
  • Justification.
    • The first step is not made without the concurrence of our wills. p. 157
    • A justifyed Soul is filled with joy p. 156, & seq.
  • Intention.
    • We shall be rewarded and punished according to our intention. p. 204
  • Inspiration.
    • It highly imports not to reject the least good inspiration. p. 224
  • Infirmity.
    • An infirm constitution and sickness not to be repined at p. 144, 145
  • Instruction.
    • To teach others the way of salvation the highest employment. p. 277, 278, 279
    • It is an employment envyed by the Angels. ibid.
    • Why Masters have not pensions as­signed them by commonwealths. p. 279
  • Ioy.
    • Joy the effects of grace. p. 56, & seq.
    • Many blessings accompany a spiri­tual joy. p. 162, 163
    • Two kinds of joy. p. 240, 241
    • What ought to be the motive of our joy. p. 243
    • The means to arrive at this joy. p. 246, 247
K.
  • Knowledge.
    • Why it is good to know our iniquity. p. 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, & seq.
  • King.
    • In what sense Kings offend against God alone. p. 81
    • The greater the person is that of­fends the greater is his offence. 82
    • Why Kings are obliged to give good example. p. 83, 84, 85
L.
  • Love.
    • The properties of God's love. p. 29
    • St. Peters love to Christ. p. 233
    • Love assaults the Divinity in his throne. p. 277
    • Why we should love our Neigh­bour. p. 307
    • God's love in playing the merchant vvith poor man. p 345
    • To overcome self-love the shortest way to perfection. p. 382
    • Christ's love to man on the Cross. p. 429, 430
    • Christ's love to man in the instituti­on of the Eucharist. p. 436, & seq.
  • Law.
    • What is law eternal. p. 269
    • What is the lavv of reason. p. 270
    • Positive divine lawes. p. 272
    • The Mosaick lavv. p. 274, 275
    • The end of the Mosaick lavv, per­fection of the Evangelical lavv. p. 419, 420, 421
  • Man.
    • Man is a vessel of mercy not merit. p. 2
    • Man cannot persevere in grace with­out a special aid. p. 3.
    • [Page]Man is diverted from many sins as misbelieving his nature. p. 290
    • How little man can do if left to him­self. p. 326, 327, & seq.
    • Man is created to praise God. p. 349
  • Mercy.
    • It is God's mercy not the value of our actions by which we are sa­ved. p 9
    • His mercy is immense and exceeds all our demeries. p. 12
    • His mercy is a Bulwark against de­spair. p. 14
    • By Gods great mercy is meant the mystery of the incarnation. p. 18
    • A series of Gods mercies. p. 21
    • No Creature is destitute of Gods mercy. p. 23
    • Why we have more Presidents of his mercy than justice. p. 24.
    • His mercy appears in reward of the elect. p. 25
    • He distributes his mercies more in the measure of his love than wisdom. p. 27, 28
  • Martyrdom.
    • A description of what is requisite to be a martyr. p. 150, 151, 152
  • Masters.
    • We owe more to our Masters than Parents. p. 267
    • Why there is a dependency of one another in the conveyance of in­tellectual notions. p. 267, 268
  • Misery.
    • Miseries of this life set forth. p. 114, 115
    • No misery like to that of sin. p. 174
  • Merit.
    • Definition of merit. p. 310
    • We merit by vertue of grace but the effect of it comes from Gods pro­mise. p. 310, 311
O
    • Occasions of sin to be avoided. p. 44, 45
  • Omnipotency.
    • The belief of it raises our hope. p. 290
P.
  • Prophet.
    • Conditions requisite to a true Pro­phet. p. 130
    • Several degrees of prophetick lights. p. 130, 131
  • Praise.
    • General heads of praise that man is to give to God. p. 342, 343
    • Pride and fear forbidden in those that would praise God. p. 346
  • Prison.
    • Restraint occasion of much good. p. 146
  • Providence.
    • How comfortable the belief of it. p. 289
  • Persecution.
    • How beneficial. p. 155
  • Passion.
    • How dangerous it is. p. 301, 302
    • Several benefits of Christs passion. p. 431
  • Predestination.
    • No security of our state in this life. p. 188, 189.
    • How we are predestinated. p. 244, 245
    • The effects of our eternal election. Ibid.
  • Perfection.
    • Praise of a state of perfection. p. 440
    • What it is. p. 252, 440
    • The effects of perfection and its praise. ibid.
    • Perfect Souls if they fall do soon rise again. p. 256, 257
    • Three degrees of perfection. p. 265
  • Pleasure.
    • Difference 'twixt corporal and spi­ritual pleasures. p. 161, 248
  • Pennance.
    • To pennance succeeds many glad ti­dings. p. 162, 164, & seq.
    • Necessity of pennance. p. 394
  • Prayer.
    • How we are to dispose our selves [Page] to prayer, and what we are to ask. p. 335, 336
    • The power of prayer. p. 405
    • Prayer works no change in Gods decrees. p. 406
    • Prayer the first gift of God. p. 408
    • How we ought to value it. p. 413, & seq.
R.
  • Remorse.
    • Remorse of conscience alwaies attends sin. p. 71, & seq.
  • Resurrection.
    • Belief of the resurrection very comforta­ble. p. 166
S.
  • Sin.
    • The agitations of a soul defiled with sin. p. 182.
    • There is a period set to every man's sins which is called the measure of their ini­quityes. p. 220, 221
    • The marks of this period. p. 221, 222
    • No less equal to what we lose by sin. p. 233
    • Whilest in sin we are capable of no right to heaven. p. 32
    • Why some are drawn from sin others not. p. 33
    • Sin the greatest of evils. p. 38
    • Greater sins require a greater mercy. p. 45 46, 47
    • The terrours of sin. p. 76 & seq. p. 174, 175
    • Man's imbecility caused by original sin. p. 99 & seq.
    • What remedy in the old Law for original sin in women. p. 110
    • The penalty and consequencies of original sin. p. 110. & seq.
    • The benefit of confessing our sins. 126, 125
    • It becomes God to punish sin. p. 176
  • Sacrifice.
    • Why God required not of David a sacri­fice. p. 351
    • Who the minister of a sacrifice p. 352, 357. & seq.
    • In the law of nature the first born male were Priests. Ibid.
    • That some sensible thing be offered is re­quired in a sacrifice. p. 353
    • Definition of a sacrifice. p. 355
    • Other conditions of a sacrifice. p. 354
    • Holocausts the most perfect sacrifice. p. 363
    • Why sacrifices commanded. p. 368, 369
    • Divers sorts of sacrifices. p. 370
    • The jews zeal in mater of sacrifice. Ibid.
    • Sacrifice of the new law most perfect. p. 424, 428.
  • Sorrow.
    • There is a twofold sorrow. p. 370
    • How pleasing a pious sorrow is to God. Ib.
    • What is a troubled spirit. p. 377
    • Whether the soul or body most conducing to a sacrifice of a troubled spirit. p. 377
    • Motives of a true sorow p. 390. & seq.
  • Security.
    • No security from sin in this life. Ibid.
  • Speech.
    • How Croesus son came to his speech. Ibid.
    • How one is morally dumb, and how cu­red. Ibid.
  • Seneca.
    • His opinion concerning such as lost their lives upon the score of friendship, or a publick interest. p. 148, 249
T.
  • Truth.
    • Three kinds of truth. p. 121
    • Knowledge of truth most delightful. p. 123, 124
  • Trangressions.
    • Internal trangressions only punished by God. p. 197, 198
    • A certain period is set to every man's trans­gression. p. 220, 221
    • Signs of this helpless desolation. p. 221, 222, 223
  • Tribulation.
    • Tribulation the securest way to heaven. p. 147
    • Senecas opinion of tribulation manfully sustained. p. 348
  • Temptation.
    • The difficulty to resist temptation. p. 202
V.
  • Vertue.
    • Moral vertues contribute a facility in do­ing well, and wherein they consist. p. 213
    • Vertue it self a reward to the actours. p. 241
    • Delight of vertuous actions. p. 242, 243
  • Vncertainty.
    • All things uncertain as to the issue in this life. p. 239
W.
  • Will.
    • The will is more prejudiced by original sin than the understanding. p. 6.
    • God doth never violence our will to our prejudice. p. 35
    • The greatness of the soul by free will. p. 313
    • Whether it had not been better to have done well by necessity. 314, 315
FINIS.

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