Vera Effigies Reverendi Mar. Franck SS T. P. Aul: Pembro: Cantab: Custodis Eccl: Sti. Pauls Prebend: S. Albani Archidiac. &c.

LI SERMONS, Preached by the Reverend Dr. Mark Frank, Master of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge, Archdeacon of St. Albans, Prebend, and Treasurer of St. Pauls, &c.

BEING A Course of Sermons, Beginning at Advent, and so continued through the Festivals.

To which is added, A Sermon Preached at St. PAULS CROSS, in the Year Forty One, And then Commanded to be Printed By King CHARLES the First.

Idem & Sermo & Vita.

LONDON, Printed by Andrew Clark for Iohn Martyn, Henry Brome, and Richard Chiswell, and are to be sold, at the Bell in St. Pauls Church-yard, at the Gun at the West-end of St. Pauls, and at the Two Angels and Crown in Little Britain, 1672.

To the most Reverend Father in God, GILBERT, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, his Grace, Primate of All England, and Metropolitan, one of His Majesties Most Honourable Privy Council, &c.

May it please your Grace,

THough by that infinite distance I am in to your Grace, I ought to make all the Apologies in the world for this Attempt; yet when I reflect upon your own admired Candour in re­ceiving the most inferiour Addresses, and my own Duty in making this, I need not, I hope, use a Complement to excuse that, which I nei­ther could, nor ought not, but to have done. For the Author of these Sermons, had that Re­lation to your Grace, and your self that Favour for him, that no other name is so fit, or so wor­thy to prefix to any thing of his as your Graces. And besides, I may very reasonably suppose, that there may be something in the following Papers, that may not be unfit to be offered to such a Personage. I humbly therefore pray, that either the one, or the other may excuse the forwardness of this Dedication. As to my own very great obligations to your Grace, I will not be so Conceited as to mention them. For when I have told so Publick, I need not add any Private Reasons. And besides, it may be look­ed upon by the World as a design to gain a [Page] Reputation to my self, by talking of Favours from a Person of such Eminence. Yet I beg that I may have leave to say, that I reckon it my greatest Honour, in having the Advantage of presenting this Offering, which ought to be made to your Grace, by

Your Graces Meanest and most Dutiful Servant Thomas Pomfret.

TO THE READER.

THough I do not call, I suppose Thee judicious, and shall therefore give to Thee, and to my self the ease of saying little. For I am sensible enough, that the Author of these following Sermons will be to all that read them, so much his own Advocate, that they will not want any Orator in the Preface. And to those that read them not, he said nothing, nor shall I. Passing then by on purpose those Arti­fices of Procuring a fair reception to the Book, by the ordinary Pageantry of Commendations; I think it will be enough to assure Thee, that as the Author left the Copies fairly writ by his own hand, so they come as truly his to thine. For this Reverend Person doing me the Honour of leaving me his Exe­cutor, by that I had the Possession and Care of all his Papers. And amongst them, These I found to be so worthy of the Publick, that I concluded it a Trespass against the common interest to keep them in my own hands. But that too which made me the more confident of their value, was the earnest­ness of many, and to that the Approbation of as great a Person as the Church has any, for their Impression. And accordingly I did forthwith upon the Doctors death, committ the Copies to a Sta­tioner, who very disingenuously for some years delay­ed, and at last utterly refused (for what ends I [Page] know not) the Printing them. But retriving them from him, I have put them now into honest mens hands, from whence I hope they will come well cor­rected into thine. And then I am very confident they will speak enough for themselves, and need no more from him who is

Thy humble Servant Thomas Pomfret.

IMPRIMATUR

Hic Liber cui Titulus, A Course of Festival Sermons, Preached by Dr. Frank.

SAM. PARKER.

A SERMON ON The First Sunday in Advent.

S. MATTH. xxi. 9.‘And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.’

BLessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Bles­sed is any coming and going that comes so: Hosanna to him, God bless him, or Hosanna for him; God be blessed for him, whoe're he be. All that went before, and all that follow, all men will say so.

And yet in Nomine Domini incipit omne malum, said Lu­ther once, In the Name of the Lord begins all the mis­chief. (And we still find it so) the whole game of mischief begun and carried on in nomine Domini, under the Name of God, as the Lords work. How should we do then to discern the right in Nomine Domini, when he that comes in the Name of the Lord, comes truly so? Many ways peradventure may be given to know it by; but this is the shortest; If the multitudes that went before, and that followed after, cry Hosanna to him, if the Saints of former Ages and their successours approve the manner of his coming, if it be in a way the Church of Christ has from its first beginning allow'd for Christian; that is, if he come meek and lowly, humbly riding upon an Ass, with Palms and Olives, the en­signs of Peace and Love; then he comes in nomine Domini right; but if proud and scornful, with Horse and Chariot, Sword and Spear, in­stead of Olive Boughs and Branches, with a Sword to cut in sunder the bond of Peace and Unity, and a Spear to keep off Charity: Let him cry out in nomine Domini, talk of the Lord, and take his name into his mouth never so much, 'tis but a meer in nomine, and no more, a meer pretence and name, no Domini, nothing in it really of God; nor the multitudes before, nor the multitudes that follow, nor any of the Primitive Christians ever sung Hosanna, gave any blessing or approba­tion to such comers or their comings. He that comes here in the Text, came nothing so; and he that will come after him, must not come so, Hosanna to no such.

[Page 2] But Hosanna to him that truly comes in the name of the Lord: Gods blessing with him. To him that comes so in the Text, to the Son of David, to him no question. 'Tis the business, both Text and Time, the words in hand, the days in hand, the days of holy Advent are to teach us, to sing Hosanna's to our Saviour, to bless God for his coming, to bless him for his coming, all his comings, all his ways of coming to us; to bless his day that is a coming, whence all his other comings come: to bless him in the highest, with heart and tongue, and hand, to the highest we can go, that he may also bless us for it in the highest.

That it might be done the better, Holy Church has design'd four Sun­days to prepare us for it, wherein to tune our pipes, and fit our instruments and voices to sing Hosanna in the right key, the highest pitch, to praise God as is fitting for Christs coming.

A business sure well worth the doing, and some good time for it worth the observing, if we either think him worth it, that is here spoke of as coming, or his coming worth it. Indeed the coming in the Text is not the coming of that Feast that is now a coming, but it is one of the ways prescribed by the Church for our better coming to the Feast, by preparing with these multitudes some boughs and branches, some Hosanna's and Benedictus's, some provision of holy thoughts and divine affections for it. They that went before, and they that followed in the Text, sung Hosanna for a lesser coming of Christs, then that was in the flesh: we may well do it for a greater; especially making this in the Text a de­gree or note to ascend to that, one coming to usher to the other; the hu­mility of his coming to Ierusalem, a way to exalt the greater humility of his coming into the world. And we have the multitudes before, and the multitudes that follow, all Patriarchs before rejoycing with Father Abraham at his day, and all the Fathers since; all that went before or follow'd since his coming, former and later Christians for our example. They all in their several Generations thought fit yearly to remember it, and so long, even four Advent Sundays together, to prepare the multitudes and people for it; that so by preaching to them the way and manner of all Christs comings, they might 1. perfectly be instructed who it was and is, that truly comes blessed in the name of the Lord, and not be de­ceived by pretenders and pretences: and 2. also truly and duly give the blessing where it ought, sing the Hosanna when, and where, and to whom we should, celebrate the memory of Christs coming right, and Hosanna it as is meet.

Thus did all that went before; and 'tis fit they that come after should do as much, unless they were wiser or better then all that went afore them. And all will do it, but those who are afraid to have their comings discovered to be no comings in the name of the Lord by the un­likeness of their comings; afraid to lose their in nomine, the name how­ever, to have the multitudes that follow them fall off from them, if they should be taught by day, or time, or Text, how far different their ways and comings are, from the humble lowly comings and ways of Christ, whose name they so much pretend to come in, though their own name be the only name they truly come for.

Better example we have here before us, and by Gods blessing we will bless with them; follow them in blessing Christ, both himself and com­ing, in the time and manner all that have followed him ever did it. And to do it the better, and more according to Text and time, let us con­sider,

I. Who they were that here blest Christ for his coming. The mul­titudes [Page 3] that went before, and that followed, both of them says the Text.

II. What was their way of blessing, how they did it, [...] says the Evangelist, they cried, cried it aloud.

III. Their Song of Blessing, what they cried, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.

When we have throughly considered these particulars, there will re­main nothing but a word of Exhortation to follow them that thus go before us; as they cried it and sung it before, so we still to cry it and sing it after them. I begin with the persons, that we may in the first place know whom it is we follow, the multitudes that went before, and that followed.

And that to the Letter is no more then those companies of people, Men, Women, and Children who went out to Mount Olivet to meet our Savi­our at his coming to Ierusalem, when he came riding thither upon an Ass, some of them before him, some behind him, crying out Hosanna.

Many they were it seems, and not a single multitude neither, [...], mul­titudes in the plural, several multitudes that did it; and though it be no argument to prove any thing good or lawful, because the multitudes do it; yet when the multitudes do good, 'tis good to take some notice of it: nay when so many do it, it looks the better. The Song of praise sounds never better then in the great Congregation, and among much people. The Mu­sick never sweeter in the ears of Heaven, then when the Choir is fullest; a good note to teach us to fill Holy Assemblies, to bear our parts in the Congregation.

And in this Congregation 2. the Musick it seems has all its keys and voices: Men, Women, and Children, all sing their parts: no Sex or Age to think themselves exempted from bearing part in Gods Service: though the Apostle will not suffer Women to preach and teach, he will give them leave to sing and pray, to answer the Responses, Antiphones, and Versi­cles, the Hymns and Psalms; the little Children too to learn betimes to lisp them out: no better seasoning of their mouths then with Prayers and Praises to their Redeemer.

Nor 3. were these multitudes meerly the rout of people; there were men of all conditions in them, though it may be not many Iosephs or Ni­codemus's, yet some no doubt; so many of the Rulers having had their sick Servants or Wives or Children healed by him. There are none too good or great for Gods Service. 'Tis no disparagement to any mans ho­nour to be among those multitudes that go out at any time to meet Ie­sus, no dishonour to say Amen with the meanest in them, to joyn with them in any part or point of Gods Service. You may remember the nobility of the Bereans above the Thessalonians, is by the Scripture Heral­dry placed in this, that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, Acts xvii. 11. in short, were more religious and devout, and earnest in the way of Christ, to worship him then the other.

Nor 4. were these multitudes Choirs of Priests and Clerks, or only Orders of Religious men; it was a Congregation of Seculars, though there were Priests and Apostles in it: 'tis St. Chrysostoms own note, to tell us, men are not to put off the work of Devotion and Religion wholly to the Priest and Clerk, as if they only were to sing the Benedictus, Hosanna's, or Allelujahs, and the multitudes only stand looking on; or think men in some Religious Orders were only oblig'd to live orderly and [Page 4] like Christians, all secular or lay-men as they pleas'd. Non ita sane, non ita est, says he, It is not so indeed, it is not so: Hoc plane est quod evertit orbem universum. 'Tis this. It is plainly this, this false opinion or fancy, that ruines all the world. Behold the multitudes here going before, crying, and the multitudes following after, answering them in their Hosanna to the Son of David, all ranks of people, the most secular, so religious grown since Christs coming. 'Tis to be fear'd he is going from us, or will be quickly, if we omit our parts, if we forget our duties, if we once begin to think too much of bearing part or share in his Service, either in the Congre­gation, or out of it.

But 5. however, they that pretend to go out to meet Christ, to have more sense of Devotion, and Zeal to it then others, they above all sure­ly will be easily heard in their Hosanna's or Benedictus. The more devout we are, we sing the louder; the more earnest we be to meet our Lord, the more welcome will we give him, the higher gratulations and acclama­tions to him. Whoever fail in their parts, methinks such should not. If we pretend to love him more then others, then more prayers and praises to him then others: if we love him more, they will be more, and we will not be ashamed to profess it in the multitude, nor think much to be in the multitude among the meanest or poorest at it.

Surely not, seeing 6. the Iews themselves think not much to do so, seeing them so ready, so eager, so violent, in giving honour to him; can it be expected that Christians should be behind? but they before, and we not behind? Too much it is that they before and we behind; it should be rather, we before and they behind: though they got the start in time to get before us, we should sure in measure get it, go there before them. Christ came to them, and they go out to meet him: He comes to us, and we go from him. He came to them at this time with a sad mes­sage of destruction, and therefore weeps in the mount of his triumph to look upon the City, and yet they entertain him with Hosanna's. Bles­sed be the name of the Lord: so come things to pass. He comes to us with tydings of great joy, such the Angels term it, his Birth no other coming; yet we think much to sing Hosanna's for it, to keep a day of praise, or a song of praise, or a face and garb of praise: the more un­christian they that do so, less sensible of Christs favours then the very multitude, then the Jew himself. Rare Christians the while, that think no better, speak no better, rejoyce no better at Christs coming, at his greatest and most gracious coming.

I cannot say this multitude to the Letter, and in the Story are any un­answerable argument for our Hosanna's. Yet when a multitude does well, 'tis good to follow them: but take it now 2. in the mystery, and there needs no greater to perswade us.

The multitudes before are in the mystery, the Holy Patriarchs, and they that followed are the Prophets. Now what the Patriarchs and Prophets have rejoyc'd at, that must we. Abraham, says Christ himself, rejoyced to see my day, he saw it and was glad. Yes, your Father Abraham was glad. He was glad to see Christ a coming, S. Iohn viii. 56. The Prophets are every where full of joyful expressions, at the mention of the Messia's coming; their eyes lookt, and their hearts long'd for him: and the Prophet Zachary calls to us to tell it out with Joy, to the Daughter of Sion, tells punctually even of this very joy and coming too, Zach. ix. 9. And what was written before time, either by Patriarch or Prophet, was written for our learning, says the Apostle, Rom. xv. 4. We may do what they did, what they would have us.

[Page 5] Or 2. The multitudes before in the mystery are the Iews, the multi­tudes that follow are the Gentiles. Both bidden by the Apostle to rejoyce, Rom. xv. 10. Rejoyce ye Gentiles with his people, his people, the Iews, be­fore, and the Gentiles behind, all shall rejoyce in his salvation: for glo­ry is now coming to the Iews, glory to his people Israel, and light unto the Gentiles, to light them by his coming. So sang old Simeon in his Song, S. Luke ii. 32.

3. The multitudes before is the Iewish Synagogue, the multitudes be­hind the Christian Church; a multitude indeed that cannot be numbred, Revel. vii. 9. of Emperours, and Kings, and Princes; Bishops and Priests, Doctors, Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins, all in their several Orders and Generations, crying, Hosanna to the Son of David, the whole world gone after him. Before indeed only, Notus in Iudaea Deus, God only known in Iury, Psal. lxxvi. 1. his coming only talkt of in Israel, but after quam admirabile nomen tuum in universa terra! Psal. viii. 1. O Lord our Governour, how wonderful or excellent is thy name in all the world. All these multitudes, the Iew with his multitude of Patriarchs, Priests, and Levites, and Singers, and Prophets, with his Sacrifices of Bulls and Rams, and Goats, and Sheep, of Types and Figures, all crying out Messiah's com­ing. The Christians, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Doctors, Virgins, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, and all several Orders in their Choirs and Churches throughout the world, crying out he is come; all the corners of the earth resounding out Hosanna's and Allelujahs to him. Vna est fides praecedentium at que sequentium populorum, says St. Gregory; all believing and professing the same he that cometh here; they the Iews before crying he that com­eth; we the Christians crying he that is come, or rather he that cometh still, that every day comes to us by his Grace, and through his Word, and in his Sacraments: Blessed is he that cometh still, not a tense or tittle chang'd; he that comes being the same for ever, eternity and things eternal being ever coming, never gone or going.

So now the Congregation is full, what should we do but begin our Ser­vice? when we have Law, and Prophets, and Gospel to countenance and bear us company in our Te Deum and Benedictus, at our Prayers and Praises; in our Joys and Festivals, all of them crying nothing but Christ, nothing but Christ, blessed be he, blessed be he, and blessed be his coming, and blessed be his day, and blessed be his deeds; the whole practice of all Christian Churches and Congregations, that ever were gathered toge­ther in nomine Domini, in the name of the Lord, till these meer nominal ver­bal Christians that are afraid of the name of him that cometh, of the name of Iesus, of blessing it or bowing at it; all Christians, all that came before in the name of Christ, till these pretenders that follow no body but their own fancies; all agreeing in the same welcome to their Redeemer, joyning in the same prayers and praises: what should we do but add our voices and sing with them? better sure with the multitudes before and behind, the whole multitude of Saints of so many Ager, then with a few scattered headless heedless companies forbear it; better pray and praise with them, then prattle and prate with these; better their Hosanna and Benedictus to him that cometh in the name of the Lord, then these mens sensless Sermons and Discourses, who come in their own name, and of their own heads, without Gods sending them at all. Having then so full a Choir, so many voices to bear us company, let us also now sing with them.

Yet that we may be sure to sing in Tune, let's first listen a little to the key and more they bless in: 'Tis a loud one, for 'tis a crying; they cried: not [Page 6] in the sense we often take it, for a mournful tone or note (for 'tis an ex­pression of joy and gladness. So S. Luke xix. 37. They began to rejoyce, &c.) but with a loud voice it was they praised him, that's the meaning, so expressed in the same verse by that Evangelist.

Indeed true it is, God has turn'd our songs of joy into the voice of weeping (as the Prophet complains) taken away our Feasts and gaudy days; and we may well cry, and cry aloud in that sadder sense of the word crying: yet for all that, must we not lay down the other, or for­get the Song of prayer and praise, especially upon the point of Christs coming to us. Here it must be crying in another tone, singing, speaking, proclaiming the great favour and honour of him that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessing, and honour, and glory to him that so cometh. Now that we be not out in tune or note, let's mind the word, we shall find the sweetest ways of blessing in it.

1. 'Tis a loud crying, such is [...], and that teaches us to be devout and earnest in our prayers and praises, in blessing Christ.

2. 'Tis loud and to be heard, to instruct us not to be asham'd of our way of serving Christ; he that is, Christ will be asham'd of him: so Christ professes, S. Mark viii. 38.

3. 'Tis the crying of a multitude, many multitudes, and intimates to us what prayer and praise does best, even the Pu [...]lick and Common Ser­vice.

4. 'Tis the crying of several multitudes, the same thing, and insinu­ates peace and unity; that's the only Christian way of praising God: one God, and one Faith, and one Christ, says the Apostle, and one heart and mind of all that profess them; and 'twere best one way of doing it; the same Hosanna, the same Benedictus, the same voice and form of prayer and praise, and Worship, if it could be had.

5. 'Tis of some before, and some that follow; 'tis not a confused or disorderly note, or way, hudling and confounding all together, but the voice of Order, where every one sings in time, in tune, and place; some begin and others follow, and the Chorus joyns, all in decency and order: this to preach decency and order to them that come in at any time, or call any where upon the name of Christ, even the very multitude here in Christs praise keep their parts and order.

6. 'Tis a crying, yet of joy we told you, the voice of mirth and glad­ness, that we may know Christ is best served with a chearful spirit. Chri­stianity is no such dull heavy thing as some have fancied it, it admits of Mirth and Songs, so they be in nomine Domini, either to the praise of God, or not to his dishonour, so they be not light, or wanton, or scurri­lous, or such like.

7. This crying here is general, and our praises of God must be so too; all that is without me, and all that is within me praise his holy name: all the powers of my soul, superiour and inferiour, all the organs of my body, all the instruments of my life and living, my estate and means, all to concur in giving praise to God, in celebrating the mercies, the humi­lities, the condescensions, the out-goings and in-comings of my Re­deemer.

Thus we have the key and tune of blessing God and Christ devoutly, confidently, publickly, unanimously, orderly, chearfully, and univer­sally, with all our faculties and powers. Let's now hear the Song of praise, Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is he, &c. And that we may sing in tune, let's know our parts.

Three parts there are in it as in other Songs, Bassus, Tenor, and Altus, [Page 7] the Bass, the Tenor, and the Treble. Hosanna to the Son of David, there's the Bass, the deepest and lowest note, the humanity of Christ in filio Da­vid, being the Son of David; the Bass sings that, that's low indeed for him, we can go no lower. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, there's the Tenor or middle part, he and the name of the Lord joyn'd together, God and Man united, that's a note higher then the first, the Mediator between God and Man; God in the highest, Son of David in the low­est; the middle note then follows. And Hosanna in altissimis, the Altus or Treble, the highest note of all, we can reach no higher, strain we never so high.

We begin low, that's the way to reach high; Hosanna to the Son of David: Yet as low as it is, 'tis hard to hit, hard to reach the meaning of it. Hosanna a hard note, so Interpreters have found it.

St. Augustine will have it an Interjection only, to express rejoycing, like that [...] among the Greeks, or Io triumphe among the Latines. The truth is, 'tis an expression and voice of joy and gladness, though no In­terjection: an expression us'd by the Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyful acclamation, enough to authorize common and received expressi­ons of joy, though it may be they that use them do not perfectly under­stand them; especially joy inexpressible (such as ours should be for the Son of Davids coming) may be allow'd to express it self as it can, or as it does in other rejoycings, when it can do no better.

Some interpret it Redemption, others an Hymn, or Praise, others Grace, others Glory, others Boughs to the Son of David: All yet concur in this, that 'tis a joyful wish for prosperity to Christ under the title of the Son of David; Grace, Redemption, Praise, and Glory, Psalms and Hymns, and all the other outward expressions of Thanks, Respect, and Joy be given to him who now comes to restore the Kingdom of his Father Da­vid. Nothing too much to be given to the Messiah, for him they always mean by the Son of David: No inward or outward joy enough for the coming of our Redeemer.

But though Hosanna mean all these several rendrings, yet the constru­ction is no more then Salvum fac, or salva obsecro, Save we beseech thee, like our Vivat Rex, God save the King. Save the Son of David we beseech thee, and save us by the Son of David. For both it is: A prayer to God to preserve and prosper him, that he may have good luck with his honour, and ride on; and a prayer to God to save and deliver us by and through him, or to him to do it, Salva o [...]cro, O fili David, O fili for filio. Save us we pray thee, O Son of David.

By this time you understand Hosanna to be both a prayer and a thanks­giving, a short Collect and a Hymn both, an expression of rejoycing for Christs coming, with a prayer that it may come happy both to him and us. Thus you have it in Psal. cxviii. 24, 25. whence this seems ei­ther to be taken or to relate. This is the day which the Lord hath made, We will rejoyce and be glad in it; there's the voice of rejoycing: then follows [...] Help me now O Lord, O Lord send us now prosperity: the prayer upon it.

'Tis an easie observation hence, that our rejoycings are to consist in Prayers and Praises, in Hymns and Collects; no true Hosanna's to Christ, no true blessing him but so; no keeping Christmas or any Feast without them. To spend a day in idleness, or good cheer, is not to keep Holi­day: To keep Christmas is not to fill our mouths with Meat, but our lips with Prayers and Praises; not to sit down and play, but to kneel down and pray; not to rest from work and labour, but by some holy rest and [Page 8] retirement from temporal labour, to labour so to enter into eternal rest. The business of a Holiday is holy business; Hosanna business of Christmas, Christs coming so to be solemnized with solemn prayers, and praises, and thanksgivings.

And there is more then so in this Hosanna. It was the close of certain Prayers and Litanies used by the Iewish Synagogues; like our Libera nos Do­mine, our Good Lord deliver us, in our Litanies. They first reckoned up the names of God, God, Lord, King of Kings, &c. and to each Hosanna; then his Attributes, his Mercy, Truth, &c. to each Hosanna; then what they desired, both in publick and private, and for each Hosanna. All resound Hosanna, all eccho out Hosanna, save, and help, and prosper us. 'Tis no new thing it seems, or of Popish Original, to use publick Lita­nies, and Liturgies; 'tis but what the Church of God has ever had in use, the way from the beginning it always serv'd him in. The very Petitions of the Lords Prayer are all taken out of the Iewish Sedar, or Common-Prayer-Book: and if Christ himself who wanted neither words nor Spi­rit to pray, thought fit yet notwithstanding to make use of received ex­pressions and antient forms; I conceive not why any that profess him, should think themselves wiser then their Master, and reject old and ac­customed Forms of Prayers and Praise. Yet indeed we cannot well expect they should keep a Form, that will not keep a day to bless him for his com­ing. We that resolve of this, may be resolv'd of the other, that no way like the old to do it in.

That teaches us to pray the Messiah that Christ may Reign, that his Kingdom may prosper and be enlarged, that we our selves may be of it, and prosper in it, that we may have Redemption and Salvation, Grace and Glory, sing Hymns and Songs of Praise to him both in his Kingdom here upon Earth, and in his Kingdom in Heaven. This the way of enter­taining him at his coming to entertain our selves, and time in blessing him for his goodness, and desiring of his blessing.

And yet besides there is as much Faith as Devotion to be here learn'd from the multitude in this Hosanna. There is an acknowledgment of his Office, that he was Messiah. They it seems believed it. I suspect they that love not to have a day to mind them of his becoming the Son of David, of his Nativity, do scarce believe it: If they thought his coming real, we should have some real doings at it; they would be as busie in it as the best. Were filio David well grounded in us, did we really believe him the Son of David, we would also become the Sons of David, who was a man of Prayer and Praise, sons of Praise, sing Ho­sanna's as fast as any: 'Tis only want of Faith that hinders Works; we believe not in him as we should, what e're we talk, else we would do to him as we should, accept all his comings, even upon our knees, at least with all thankfulness, and such Devotion as time and place required of us.

And 2. we would raise our voices a note higher, add Benedictus to Hosanna. Blessed is he that cometh, &c. Bless God, and bless him, and bless his coming, and bless his goodness, and bless his power, and bless his fulness, and bless his work, and bless his purpose; desire God to bless him, and man to bless him, and also bless our selves in him; for no less then all these is in the words.

Blessed first be God the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a mighty salvation for us in the house of his Servant David. So old Zachary, S. Luke i. 68. 69. Blessed be God the Father for the Son, God the Father for the Son of David's coming to us.

[Page 9] Blessed 2. be the Son, blessed be he that cometh, blessed be Our Lord Iesus Christ for his coming, for to him is blessing due, that he would vouch safe to come and bless: bless the Father for sending, the Son for coming; blessing to them both for thus blessing us.

Blessed 3. be his coming, all his comings, his coming in the Flesh, his coming in the Spirit, his coming in Humility, his coming in Glory: his coming in the Flesh, that's a blessed coming for us, whereby all other blessings come unto us; his coming in the Spirit or by his Grace a bles­sed coming too, and still daily coming; his coming in Glory, that may be a blessed coming to us too, if we bless him duly for his other com­ings: if we truly and devoutly rejoyce at his first and second coming, no doubt but we shall also triumph at his last. That he cometh, came, and will come unto the end, is blessed news; we therefore with these multitudes so bless him for it.

Blessed 4. be his goodness, and that's evident enough in his coming to us: bless him for that he would be so good to come, when all good was going from us, when we our selves were gone away from him, run away as far as well we could, that he would come after us.

Blessed 5. be his power and authority, for in the name of the Lord he comes, not in his own name, but in the Fathers that sent him, S. Iohn v. 43. confess, acknowledge, submit to his power and authority; that's the true way to bless him.

Blessed 5. be his greatness and fulness of blessing, blessed be his bles­sedness, for he is full of blessings; in him all fuluess is and dwells, Col. ii. 9. God blessed for ever; Rom. ix. 5. Let's make this acknowledgment of him, profess and proclaim it as they do here call him, the ever blessed.

Blessed 6. be all his works, actions, and passions, the works of our Redemption, Justification, Sanctification, Glorification, which all come to us only through his Name and Merits. Attribute we all to him and to his Name, Not unto us O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name be the praise and glory of all these great and wonderful things.

Blessed lastly be all his purposes and intentions towards us, he came to reveal his Fathers will unto us; bless him for that: bless we should all such that make known unto us the will of God; Beati pedes Evangelizan­tium, Blessed be the feet of the Ministers of the Gospel; much more this great Archbishop of our Souls that sends them. He came to glorifie the Father, S. Iohn viii. to teach us to do so: bless him for that. He came to save and deliver us from all kind of evil, however we wilfully thrust daily into it, some or other; bless him for that, say all good of him, that wishes and works all good to us: but which is only truly to bless, further we all purposes what we can, and help them forward, that he and we may be glorified by the hand.

For this blessing is not meerly a form of words; we must 1. earnestly and heartily desire God to bless, to bless all Christs ways of coming to us, that we may joyfully, and chearfully, and devoutly entertain him. Desire God 2. to bless him that cometh in his name, him whoe're he be that he sends to us: but this [...] especially, that his coming may come abroad to all the world, all come in unto him. Desire 3. that man may bless him, incite the sons of men to sing praise too unto him. Praise him all ye Nations, praise him all ye people; strive what we can to get all we come nigh, to come with us, and bear a part in blessing him.

In a word, bless we our selves in him, think, and profess, and pro­claim [Page 10] our selves blessed that Christ is come to us, that we have our part and portion in him; place all our joy, all our rejoycing, all our triumph that he is with us, that the name of the Lord is declared unto us, that by his coming the name of the Lord is called upon us, that we are now of his retinue, that we now belong unto him, that he is daily coming in us.

And for this Hosanna now 3. in excelsis, indeed, Hosanna to him in the highest, sing we it as loud as we can reach, as loud as we can cry it.

And that may pass for the first interpretation of in excelsis, that we are to cry it as loud as we can cry it, do what we can to express our joy, how we can to give him thanks, to exalt his praise what we are able, in ex­celsis, to the highest of our power; so Psal. cxlviii. 1. Praise him in the height.

We all of us in excelsis, in our highest, yea, and 2. the very highest, the very most in excelsis of us all, the highest of us, is too low to praise him worthily; yet praise him, O ye highest, ye Kings and Princes of the earth, Kings of the earth and all people, Psal. cxlviii. 11. come down from your excelsis, and lay your Crowns and Scepters at the feet of this King (as S. Luke) that cometh, and submit all your Kingdoms to the King­dom of Christ; make ye all your Kingdoms to bless his, that your King­doms also may be blessed.

Nay, and yet there are higher then these highest, who are to praise him, Praise him all ye heavens, Psal. cxlviii. 4. Praise him all ye Angels, praise him all his Hosts, ver. 2. So S. Luke intimates it when he expresses it, peace on earth, in Heaven, and glory in the highest: glory in Hea­ven for the peace that is made between Heaven and Earth by him that cometh here in the name of the Lord, by whom says the Apostle all things are reconciled, Whether they be things in Earth, or things in Heaven, Col. i. 20. Hosanna in the highest, for this peace with the highest, sung be it by Heaven and Earth, by Angels and Men; the Angels sung some­what a like Song at his Birth when he was coming into the world; ac­cording as St. Luke interprets it, and will sing it again if we invite them as the Psalmist does, to sing with us: and we must desire it, that God may be prais'd: all glory both in Heaven and Earth.

That's the way indeed to Hosanna in the highest, as it is a Song of Praise: but 'tis also we told you a prayer, that even our praises and the ground of them may continue.

A prayer 1. to God in excelsis, the most highest, as the Psalmist speaks. Save us O thou most highest. No salvation but from those everlasting hills of mercy, salvation to be look'd for from none else, the very meanest of the multitude know that.

A prayer 2. for salvation in excelsis, that he would deliver us with a high hand, work salvation with a mighty arm; such as all the world might see it: that he would magnifie this King that cometh, and exalt his Kingdom that cometh to the clouds, set it above the reach and pow­er of malicious men, make it grow and prosper, maugre all contradicti­on and opposition of the highest and strongest of the earth.

A prayer 3. for salvation in excelsis indeed, for salvation in the high­est Heavens; not only to be delivered here, but to be sav'd hereafter; not only for Grace and Righteousness here of the highest pitch, but for glory of the highest order: a prayer that God as he has exalted him that here came in his name, so he would exalt us all that call upon his name, to sit at his right hand in heavenly places, in the highest right. [Page 11] So these multitudes pray, and so pray we; so praise they, and so praise we. Do what we can our selves to praise and bless him, and do what we can to get others do it; call upon the Angels to joyn with us, do it with all our might and strength, stretch out our voices, scrue up our strings: nothing content or satisfie us in our prayers or praises, but the highest, the highest thankfulness, the highest devotion, the highest expression and way of both, that either the multitudes before, or the multitudes that follow, Iews or Christians, former or latter Saints ever used before us.

All perhaps cannot spread carpets, cloths, and garments to entertain him; nor have all Boughs of Palms, or Olives to meet him with; all have not wherewith to make a solemn shew and flourish; but all have tongues, all may sing Hosanna's to him; or if that word be hard, all may cry Save us Lord, and Blessed be he that came and cometh. If we have neither substance to praise him with, nor solemn Ceremonies allowed us to praise him by, nor solemn Services permitted to pray to him, or to praise him: we have yet Words, and Psalms, and Prayers to do it with, and times and places that none can hinder us. And if we set about it in excelsis with high courage, such as becomes the Servants of the high­est, and neither fear the face of man nor Devil: we may do it in excelsis too, with high Solemnities. Our Hosanna to be sav'd, Save us O King of Heaven when we call upon thee: our Prayers will save us from any thing that can hurt us; he that is in the highest will succour and defend us, preserve and bless us, and if we follow him strongly with our cries, fol­low these multitudes close in their Devotion to follow Christ, sing out his praise with courage, pray with fervency, go out to meet him with joy, entertain him with gladness, own his coming with confidence, ce­lebrate it with holy Worship, do all to the highest of our powers: our Hosanna's shall be quickly turn'd into Allelujahs, our blessing him into be­ing blessed our selves by him, and we with all the Saints that went be­fore or followed him, sing Benedictus's and Allelujahs in the highest; to the highest God in the highest Heavens for ever and ever. Amen.

A SERMON ON The Second Sunday in Advent.

S. MARK i. 3.‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths streight.’

SAint Iohn Baptist is here sent in the verse before the Text to prepare his way. Holy Church sends her Ba­ptists, and Preachers still, four several days together before the time (for so many Advent Sundays or great days of Preparation there are in her▪ Holy Kalendar) to do as much. Conceive me the voice of one of them to day, of one crying in the Wilderness, in a Land as wild and barren of good, as any Wilderness of Water. Prepare ye the way, &c.

Indeed he had need of a better voice than mine, that cries it now to any purpose. Need there is of a loud crier indeed, of Vox clamantis at the highest, one to cry it aloud, and ring it in mens ears, to get them to it; they have so almost forgotten, many of them, both day and preparation; his day and his way, so many new ones have they of their own.

Nay, and where old day and way are both pretended to be observ'd, there is too much Wilderness and Desart; so many wild, irregular, unmor­tified passions and affections, such dry, barren doings, so much of our own ways, and ends, and interests even in religious business, the streight way deserted but too much, that we had need of some rough Iohn Baptist to thunder it to awaken us.

Nor will once crying it serve the turn. One single prepare will do no good. Prepare, make streight, both little enough; and three Evangelists to cry it so after the Baptist has done crying: again and again, over and over, scarce sufficient to keep wild passions under, to work us to a suf­ficient preparation, to make streight paths, or keep them.

St. Iohn the Gospeller for the day, has only the first part of the Text, the other three have both, S. Mat. iii. 3. S. Luke iii. 4. and S. Mark here in the Text. The Prophet Isaiah, whence the words are taken, has so too, with some addition. Were we what S. Iohn would have us, we should need no addition; but being what we are, line upon line, precept upon pre­cept, here a little and there a little, are too little for it. It is best to take the [Page 14] fullest, that our preparation may be the fuller, to take it too, out of the mouths of two or three witnesses; that so every word may be established in our hearts, and in our memories: the Lords way prepared, his paths made strait, the work done against his coming, whensoever, and howso­ever, and which way soever he shall vouchsafe to come unto us.

The words are originally the Prophet Isaiah's, Isa. xl. 3. prophecied by him, but proclaim'd by S. Iohn Baptist, Christs Herald to proclaim his com­ing, and his Harbinger to take up his lodging for him in the hearts of the sons of men. And a Proclamation they are to all to prepare and to make ready, make all ready to entertain him: And two points there are of it; two parts of the preparation required in it.

1. To prepare his way.

2. To make streight his paths.

This way of his divides it self you see into the great open road, and into narrow paths: and each has its proper way of ordering; prepare to one, and make streight to the other. Prepare his way, make streight his paths.

But to prepare it for the fuller and easier understanding (for I preach to all) I shall do with the Text as we do with our Rooms and Houses when we prepare and make them ready; in doing that we turn things upside down, remove them this way and that way, hither and thither, till we find where to place them best. I shall use the words so here, disturb their order, that I may bring all into the better order, and we all make the better preparation, and set all things streight.

Be pleased then to forgive me the disorder, and consider this way and Paths: First, what they are: Then secondly, whose they are: Then thirdly, this Preparation, that it must be: What fourthly, or how it must be: And fifthly, by whom it must be.

1. What the way that is to be prepared, and what the paths to be made streight, we must understand by the connexion of these words with the former, and by the way St. Iohn went before us.

2. Whose they are, the Domini will tell us, the Lords they are.

3. That prepared they must be, the Mood and Tense of the Verbs Parate and facite, being the Imperative command here to do it, will assure us.

4. How prepared, the use and sense of the same words will shew us, when we examine what it is ordinarily to prepare and make streight.

5. By whom they must be prepared and streightned; the number of the verb plural, and indefinite, will satisfie us. We are all to do it.

So 1. What this way is, and what these paths mean. 2. Whose they are. 3. That prepared they must be. 4. How prepared they should be. And 5. by whom prepared they ought to be, are the particulars, by which I shall lead you in the way, and in the Preparation, prepare you the way to prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths streight; the only way to have any comfort of his coming. I begin with the way, to shew you what it is, that we erre not from it.

First, This way say some, is the Soul of man, Cor spatiosum, so Origen; and these paths the powers and operations of it. His way is in this Sea, and his paths in these deep waters. Here the wind blows, and the tempest rises, and the waves roar; the unruly passions make a noise and tumult, and so as the Psalm has it, His foot-steps are not known, Psal. lxxvii. 19. We can­not discern his track by reason of their tumultuous doings. These are they that are to be prepared, and stilled, and quieted, the Soul calm'd, [Page 15] and laid, and smooth'd, that Christ may come into it. But this is the way into which, and not by which he comes.

The way by which he comes, or we meet him, is, first, the way of Faith. Faith is the way by which he comes into the souls of men, the way in which St. Paul worshipped the God of his Fathers, Acts xxiv. 14. in and by which we first come unto our Lord, and worship him as did our fathers. Prepare your hearts for it, prepare them for him, that when he comes he may find faith upon the earth, in this earth of ours, where e're else he miss it. And here as Faith is the way, so the several Articles of it may pass for the paths. God grant we keep them right, and streight, and our selves streight to them, in this perverse and crooked generation.

2. The way secondly by which we meet him, is the Law, Mandata Le­galia, says another. Not much distant from St. Paul's stiling it, School­master to Christ, the way to bring us to him. The terrors and threat­nings of the Law a good way to prepare us for his coming: the Types and Figures a good way to lead us to him, that we may see he is the same that was, and is, and is to come, the Saviour of all that were, and are, and shall be sav'd, the same the Patriarchs promised, the Sacrifices prefi­gured, the Prophets prophecied of, the Iews expected, the Apostles preach'd of, the world believed on, and all must be saved by. With such thoughts as these then are we to set upon our preparation: 1. To break our high and haughty spirits by the consideration of the terrors of the Law, the curses due to them that break it (and alas! who is it that does not?) so to make way to let him in. Then 2. by the Types and Figures, to confirm our faith, and make them so many several paths to trace out his foot-steps, and know his coming.

3. The third way by which we are prepared, or which we are to pre­pare for him, is Repentance. The very way St. Iohn Baptist came to preach. His Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, being the same with this, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths streight. Those words of the Prophet the Text, and his the Comment. No way indeed to Christ but by this way. No way but by Repentance to begin it. Turn ye, turn ye, says the Prophet, we are all out of the way God knows from the be­ginning. If we will into the way again, into the way of our Lord, turn we must, repent we must of our former ways, and doings, get us into better ways. And then paths here will be the streight and narrow ways, the rigours and austerities of repentance, the streightning our selves of all our former liberties and desires, making our paths so streight and nar­row, that no tumour of pride, no swellings of lust, no pack-horses or heavy carriages of the world▪ or Devil may pass by that way any more, nothing but Christ and his little flock of humble vertues, such as can enter at the streight state, none else henceforward to walk in it. Prepare we repen­tance and all its parts and paths for the third way and its paths.

A fourth is Baptism, the way St. Iohn Baptist came in too, a way that nam'd him so, the way that was always thought to lead all to Christ and his Kingdom, that came there in any ordinary way. Arise and be baptized, Acts xxii. 16. that's the way to the Lord Iesus. The way he sent his Dis­ciples in to bring in the world unto him, St. Mark xvi. 16. whatever short­er way our new men of late have found for their Disciples. The Articles and conditions of the Covenant of Baptism promised and undertaken by the baptized either in their own persons, or by proxy, are the title paths of this great way, the several tracks that make it up, the ways and paths we are to walk in, if we intend ever to meet the Lord.

[Page 16] The fifth way is Gods Commandments, a way that we all must make rea­dy for him, his own way indeed, drawn out by his own hands and fin­gers; a way of which himself professes, that he came not to destroy it (as some vainly delude themselves) but to fulfil it, to perfect, to exalt it to a greater height, from the outward act, to the inward thought; from the lower degree of vertue, to the highest of it; from bare precepts to addition­al counsels, from meer, external performances to right and regular intenti­ons in them. And here as the moral Precepts are the great plain way, so the Christian Enh [...]sements of them to the highest pitch, the regulations of them to right intentions, and Christian counsels are the paths, the narrow and straiter paths. The sum and short is this. Holy Christian life and conver­sation in all its parts according to our powers and capacities, is the fifth way to be prepared by them that seek the Lord, and expect to see his face.

And yet if there be room and leave for a private conjecture, the way of Gods providence in his judgments and mercies towards Ierusalem; the way of his mercy in saving the believing, and destroying the unbelie­ving Iew, now near at hand, may come in for a sixth way of the Lord: A way indeed past finding out in all its secret paths, yet to be prepared for, and more then pointed at by the Prophet Isaiah in that place whence the words are taken, and by St. Iohn in this. God there bids comfort his captive people, for their deliverance from Babylon was now nigh at hand, and their enemies near destruction; calls to them therefore to prepare them­selves for it, to make ready and expect it: And here S. Iohn Baptist tells the people the Kingdom of Heaven is now at hand, S. Matth. 3. 2. which (by comparing it with that wrath to come, threatned to the Pharisees and Saddu­ces, v. 7. with his exhortation to flee from it, and by the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, mentioned by the Prophet Malachi iv. 5. in the place where S. Iohn Baptists coming is foretold; and the dreadful­ness of it exprest, Chap. iii. 2. where he is said to come to prepare his way before him: but ver. 1, &c. S. Iohns inviting to repentance to divert or shun it) can be no other than Christs coming in Judgment against Ierusa­lem, to execute vengeance upon his enemies, and deliver his faithful ser­vants: vengeance and deliverance, the two great manifestations of his Power and Kingdom; and sure no more then need to cry out to us to prepare and make right paths against that coming, make way for his judgments to pass by us, and his mercies to come to us.

Thus you have the way and paths, observe them: many several paths, but one only way to Christ and Heaven, observe that too; and though many ways I shewed you, they all come into one Law and Gospel, Baptism, and Repentance, Faith and Obedience, Mercy and Judgment, Precepts and Counsels, all into one. 'Tis way in the singular, to shew that peace and unity is the only way of the Lord, the only way of Christ.

Yet 2. both paths and way it is. We must descend to particulars, every one to cleanse his own, his own private paths. Not only shew me thy ways, O Lord, says David, but teach me thy paths too, Psal. xxv. 3. Not only to rectifie the outward action, but the inward thoughts; not to content our selves with a general profession, but to come to a particular practice of Religion of the way of Christ. Observe that too.

Particular practice I say, and yet 3. of the general way, of the way generally and Catholickly held by all: and 2. of all things generally in that way, all the several tracks of vertue, none to be omitted, seeing the paths indefinitely, one as well as another, (none as I hear excepted) are here to be made strait: that's a third thing I wish observed.

[Page 17] But lastly the way first prepared, then the paths made streight. Christs way is a way of order. First, a general resolution to make all streight and ready, then a particular entring into every path to do it. Resolve first upon the way of Piety, then take the paths that lead best to it; pa­rate first, then facite, prepare good resolutions, then set to do them. No­thing done well before them, nothing well done without them. And viam first, then semitas, the plain way of the Commandments for begin­ners, the harder and streighter way of Counsels for great proficie [...]ts and perfect men.

II. The way and path thus now found out, we are next to enquire whose it is, or to whom it leads. Viam Domini, the Lords it is; so the Septuagint and Evangelists all render it, in the Genetive: and Domino it is too; so the Hebrew in the Dative, to him it is, or for him it is; to him it is it leads, for him it is prepar'd, the preparation all for him.

Viam Domini 1. His way first, and not our own. Non sunt viae meae, viae vestrae, Isa, lv. 8. His ways are not ours, ours are Lust, Covetousness, Am­bition, Hypocrisie, meer superficial and external Works, Vanity and Er­ror. The ways we spoke of, Mercy and Truth, Faith, Hope, Charity, Obedience, and all good ways are his, not ours; we have no good ones of our own. Nay even our Souls, those ways too into which he comes, are his: his and not our own; the Soul of the Father, and the Soul of the Son; of all Fathers and Sons: all mine, says God, Ezek. xviii. 4. Our Bodies too, they are Gods, 1 Cor. vi. 20. bodies and spirits all his, made and prepared for his own way and Service; all again to be prepared by us, that they may be fit for him to walk and be in.

For 2. Viam Domino it is. To him all our ways and paths must be directed, to his Glory and Worship: all lead to him as to the end of all; from him all good ways come, to him all good ways tend: he is Alpha and Omega, is and must be the beginning and end of them. They are Domini & Do­mino, both of the Lord and to the Lord, all our ways and preparations, or all are wrong. To him as to my Lord the King, visiting us in mercy and gracing us with his presence; and to him as to my Lord Judge to visit us in judgment, and punish all offenders; as a Lord to us, or a Lord against us; as our own King in triumph, or another King in fury, and to him in each consideration there is a proper way, and a proper way of preparing it.

III. And now 3. Be it what way it will, and to the Lord, under what notion or way we will; a preparation there is due, a preparation next en­joyn'd us.

Indeed there is no meeting him unprepar'd, better meet a Lion in the way, or a Bear robb'd of her Whelps than him unprepar'd. Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, says the Prophet Samuel, 1 Sam. vii. 3. And make streight paths for your feet, says the Apostle, Heb. xii. 13. Law and Gospel both for preparation. If thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul, says the Son of Sirach, Ecclus. ii. 1. 2. If thou goest into his house, prepare thy foot, keep it, keep an eye over it, that it slip not there, says the Son of David, Eccles. v. 1. go not in rashly, and in haste. 3. Prepare thy mouth too, that it be not too hasty to utter any thing, says he, ver. 2. 4. If thou goest any where to pray, before thou prayest prepare thy self, Ecclus. xviii. 23. they that fear the Lord will do so, Ecclus. ii. 17. will prepare their hearts, yea and ponder their paths too: for so Solomon ad­vises us, Prov. iv. 26. Ponder the paths of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Nay ponder them, and all thy ways shall be established, so it may be read; and so Iotham found it, became mighty, says that Text, [Page 18] 2. Chron. xxvii. 6. because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God. No way to become great, mighty, and powerful with God or Man, like pre­paring Gods way in righteousness, keeping our selves streight to the ways of God; a reward sufficient to establish it for a duty. That we may do it as we should, we are now next to enquire what is meant by this prepa­ring and making streight, and how we are to do it?

The word in the Original is either from [...] panim, facies, and may be construed either by faciem date, h. e. speciem, make the way look fair, give it a handsom face; and so to prepare the way will be to cleanse the way: or by faciem obverter, or a facie amovere, change the face of it, or remove things off the surface of it: and so to prepare it, will be to clear the way of rubs and blocks, to remove our sins out of the way. Or 2. from [...] angulus a corner, and may be rendred Angulate, corner it out, and lay it to the line and rule. And then to prepare, will be to make it smooth, regular, and equal.

Put them together, and to prepare the way will be to remove all soil and filth, all blocks and impediments, all roughness and unevenness out of our ways, which are like any ways to hinder our Lords coming to us, so to put all by, that he may have way to come to us, and we the easier and fullier receive him when he comes. Thus to prepare his way will be to remove all hindrances, and to make his paths streight will be to bring all furtherances to his coming. To remove our sins by repentance, which else would hinder him from coming, is to prepare the way; to regulate and order our paths to the rule of his Commandments, to the squares of righteousness, is to make streight paths: both together compleat the pre­paration, which we will consider first in general, then in particular: first how his way generally is to be prepared, then how particularly, after a more particular and special way and manner.

We cannot find how in general to prepare his way better then by the words that follow immediately in the Prophet Isa. xl. 4. and are so repeat­ed also by S. Luke ii [...]. 5. Every Valley shall be filled, and every Mountain shall be brought low, and the crooked ways shall be made streight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.

Every Valley must be filled, the empty valleys of our Souls filled up with the fruits of all good works; these valleys must stand so thick with such holy corn, with all good fruits, that they laugh and fing, make us sing merrily, the praises of the Lord. 2. Every Mountain and Hill must be brought low, all our proud high thoughts laid down. The greater Mountains and lesser Hills, mole-hills as well as Mountains, as well great as less, and as well less as greater sins cast down; our very natural rea­son and understanding submitted to the obedience of faith. 3. The crook­ed ways must be made streight, all our crooked ways, distorted actions, per­verse affections, all that is awry or swerving from the rule of Gods Com­mandments must be rectified and set right. 4. All the rough ways made smooth, all our roughnesses and unevennesses natural or customary made smooth and level, no stones of offence, no thorns, or bushes, hedges or ditches in the way.

That the way be neither mountainous with pride, nor dark with ig­norance, nor dirty with lust, nor thorny with worldly cares, nor hollow with hypocrisie, nor slippery with riot, nor washy with drunkenness, nor tedious through slothfulness, nor uneven with irresolution and in­constancy. Fill the low valleys we must, with high heavenly affections and contemplations, with high degrees of Piety and Devotion. Bring [Page 19] down the hills by humility and obedience. Streighten the crooked by righ­teousness and uprightness. Smooth the rough ways with meekness, gen­tleness, and charity. Rull down the haughty towring thoughts, raise up the groveling mind, rectifie the perverse intentions, smooth the rough and uneven passions of the soul, prepare them all; remove out of them every thing that may offend, and bring them all into the way of the Lord.

Thus in general. But we have a more particular and special way: for we may consider the way of the Lord, either as the way of a King; (for he is both Lord and King) coming against us with his Armies, or as a King coming to us in his Triumph, to honour us and rejoyce with us.

If we consider the way of the Lord as of one coming against us for destruction, prepare we then as the men of Bethulia did against Holofernes, Judeth iv. 4, 5. They sent messengers into all the coasts, they possessed them­selves beforehand of the tops of the high mountains, they fortified the villages, laid up victuals for the provision of War, and gave charge to keep the passa­ges, ver. 7. so they prepared, do we so too; possess we the tops of the mountains by setting our affections upon things above; fortifie we the poor villages of our weak natures by strong and holy resolutions, gather we together all kind of provision for our souls out of the Holy Scriptures, by constant reading and meditation, keep all the passages of them with care and vigilance, and send out messengers into all the coasts of heaven and earth, send up our prayers to the God of Heaven for help, our desires to the Saints upon the earth to assist us with their devotions, advice and company.

Prepare we armour too with Vzziah, 2 Chron xxvi. 14. Shields, and spears, and helmets, habergeons, and bows, and slings. Stand we thus ready armed in the way, our head covered with the hope of salvation for a Helmet, our breast armed with righteousness for a Breast-plate, our body defended with the Habergeon of a holy conversation, in our left hand the Shield of Faith, and in our right hand Alms far better then the strongest Spear, says the Son of Sirach, Ecclus. xxix. 13. the Sword of the Holy Spirit, the word of truth girt to our loins, the bow and arrows of the holy fear of Gods Judgments hanging on our shoulders, the Cross of Christ for our Sling, and himself for the stone to smite our grand enemy in the fore-head, and put him to a perpetual shame. Thus make ready to entertain him.

But if 2. he come to us in the way of triumph, or grace, and favour, then prepare we the way as is usual at the entertainment of great Prin­ces. Now at such times they sweep or wash the ways and streets, they pave, they gravel them, they rail them in, they hang them with Tape­stry, they strew them with Rushes and Flowers, they set guards to fence the ranks, and place themselves in order to cry out Vivat Rex, or some such thing to receive them with joyful acclamations.

Let us go and do likewise. Wash all our ways with tears, sweep them with the besom of confession, pave them with pious vows and purposes, spread them over with fair amendment, rail them in by the obedience of faith and daily caution, adorn them by the imitation of the lives of holy Saints, set them like so many pictures in Tapestry before thee, shrew them with sweet Herbs and Flowers; the Roses of Chastity, the Lillies of Pu­rity, the Balm of Charity, the Hyssop of Humility, the Violets of Pati­ence, the Woodbines of Hope and Love, the Bays of Constancy, all the sweets of piety and vertue, guard the way, guard all the ways with at­tention and godly zeal, and make all the streets and ways resound again with the eccho of praises and thanksgivings. This it is to prepare his way.

[Page 20] And thus every way of his we spoke of must be prepared. Our Souls so ordered, out Meditations of the Law so regulated, our Repentance so adorned, our Baptisms so accompanied, our Obedience so fulfilled, Gods Providence and way of dealing with us so accepted, with clean hearts, grounded resolutions, an even temper, with care and diligence, with ex­emplary vertue, sweetness, and moderation, zeal and attention, humility and thanksgiving.

All this while make streight, must not be forgotten. All this must be done now also with upright hearts, sincere intentions; not in outward form and appearance only, not for fear of punishment, not for hope of reward and praise, not meerly to avoid danger, nor yet lastly to be seen of men. All these the Pharisees did, and yet for all that, none of them keeps the Law, says Christ. The Law is not fulfilled by the external act, the Commandments not kept by the outward performance, 'tis the inward spirit of Charity, when they are done with that, that only keeps them: 'tis that only that makes right ways, sound paths; without it they are but rotten ways, or hollow ones; such as Christ will not choose to come by, or rather will choose not to come by: right good sound ways they must be, if they be his.

And 2. right streight ways too, no turning to the right hand or to the left: not do one way in adversity, another way in prosperity: one Religion when the days are calm and quiet, another when the days are stormy and troublesom. Rectas facite in deserto, so it is in the Prophet and Hebrew Text, Isa. xl. 3. Make his paths streight in the Desart, even when we are deserted of all, when we are in the barren and dry Wilder­ness, where no water is, no earthly comfort about us, in the greatest tri­bulation, we must keep us still to uprightness and honesty; that's the way to Christ: however for a while he seem to be far from us, thither it will bring us after a while; keep innocency, and do the thing that is right, and that will bring a man peace at the last.

Yet 3. one path or two made streight is not sufficient, semitas, 'tis an inde­finite somewhat a kin to an universal; it must be all: he that fails or offends in one is guilty of all, S. Iames ii. 10. If all be not streight, all the paths as well as the ways that you have heard, all the little ways as well as the great, according to our poor power, if at least we do not study and en­deavour it, it is not, it is not right.

Nor is it so, or will it be, unless we take in 4. the Prophets in deserto too; desert and forsake our selves a little, renounce our own ways quite, seek not our own but his, streighten our selves a little of our own lusts and liberties, of our own desires and ways, that the only way to make his streight, and make Christ come streight to us.

V. We have one point yet behind, who it is to whom all this is spoken, and is given in charge. I confess the Ministers and Preachers of the Word are the publick messengers and harbingers who are sent to prepare the Lords way (as S. Iohn Baptist was) before him: yet every one must sweep his own door. For the words are by S. Iohn Baptist preach'd to all Pharisees and Sadduces, Publicans and Souldiers, and all the people that came to him; eve­ry one to have a share, and so he gives it them. S. Luke iii. 10, 11. verses, and so onward, tells people, and Publicans, and Souldiers what to do, sets every one his path, his part of the way to prepare and streighten. Give me leave to do so too.

The Ministers of the Gospel, they come first, they have the greatest share with S. Iohn Baptist, to go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way; [Page 21] but how? To give knowledge of salvation, says old Zachary, to his people, for the remission of sins; or somewhat more, even to give remission too, to give absolution; so to give knowledge to the people, or instruct them, and to absolve them, is some part at least of the Ministers share; but to Baptize also with the Baptist, and to consecrate with Christ himself, is to prepare his way too, to make way for him, to raise the Valleys, to comfort the de­jected, the cast down and afflicted soul against his sorrows, the penitent against his sins, the fearful against the fear of death, the weak hearted against trouble and persecution, to encourage them to lift up their heads and look to the recompence of reward, to raise up the groveling souls of men from earth and flesh to heaven and heavenly business. 2. To cast down the Mountains of Pride and Singularity, Schism and Heresie, that lift up themselves against the obedience of Christ. 3. To rectifie the perverse and crooked souls of men. And 4. to smooth and soften them, to lay the way of Christ smooth and plain before them, make them know his yoke is easie and his burthen light, by continual preaching to them, and instructing them, so preparing them for the way of Christ. Thus the Minister prepares his way in the peoples hearts; sometimes cleansing the young Infants way by Baptism, and sometimes rectifying the young and old mans ways by advice and exhortation; sometimes clearing them with Absolution, sometimes purifying them with the Holy Sacrament, some way or other always preparing them against the Lords coming. And it lies up­on him so to do.

And 2. for the People. There needs no more then has been said. The ways already mentioned concern us all. There is none so righteous but needs some kind of preparation. And he that is not, he needs them all.

And if we consider now the time, so much the more in that his com­ing is nearer whom we prepare for, 'Tis now but a few days to the day he once came to us in the flesh. Let's think of that, and prepare our selves to give him thanks, to cry Hosanna, blessed is he that cometh, bles­sed this blessed way of his coming, and blessed the blessed day of his so coming.

'Tis not many more days 2. to the coming of his flesh and blood in the Holy Sacrament unto us. We are expecting and hoping for it, and 'tis fit we should be preparing for it. Better preparation then you have heard I cannot give you for the one or the other. Only I may add in soli­tudine again. Withdraw your selves aside into some desart and solitary place to prepare you in; retire in private to your souls, and to your busi­ness. I will bring her into the Wilderness, says God, concerning Israel, and speak comfortably unto her, Hos. ii. 14. The place to hear the voice of di­vine and heavenly comfort is in our Solitude. When we are alone, God only and our selves together. Remember then we go into our Closets, and there prepare our selves, forget no point of the preparation, but sweep, and cleanse, and smooth, and adorn our souls with all holy vertues or resoluti­ons, and come well guarded with attention, care, and vigilance, that no­thing unbeseeming pass from us in the way, raise up our spirit with holy thoughts and heavenly desires, cast down our souls with reverence and humility, come without any roughness or unevenness in our affections or behaviour, in our ways or paths; so shall the Lord come; and come with comfort, and take us with him, and bring us safely to the end of our way, the end of our hope, to those things which neither eye hath seen, or ear heard, or ever entred into the heart of man, which he has prepa­red for them that prepare for him, in the City prepared for us in the Heavens.

A SERMON ON The Third Sunday in Advent.

S. LUKE xxi. verse 27, 28.

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a Cloud, with power and great glory.

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.

AND because the day of your Redemption draweth nigh, the day in which your Redeemer came in a Cloud of Flesh and Clay, we are this day by the course of Holy Church to wish you to look up, and lift up your heads to see the Son of man your Redeemer in his second coming, coming in a Cloud of Glory.

That we knowing it is the same Son of man, who was once born in a Stable, and cradled in a Manger, that shall one day come to be the Iudge of Heaven and Earth, we might so celebrate his first coming in flesh, that when all flesh shall stand before him, we might lift up our heads with joy and comfort.

For many there are which shall hang down theirs, such who have not thought aright of his coming into the world, or not worthily entertain'd it, or not walked with him in it along the stage of his humility, or ne­ver rightly pondered the terrors of this second coming in the day of Judgment, which he himself here Preaches to his Disciples, that they might take heed to themselves lest at any time their hearts should be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness (the Disease that usually infects all our Christ­masses) and cares of this life (the Disease that infects all our days) and so that day come upon them unawares; but that watch they should, and pray always that they might be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man, ver. 34.

They had but three days before accompanied him to Ierusalem in his progress of meekness, and now in one of his returns he begins to tell them of another kind of coming to it in judgment and fury. His Disciples, who by the sight of such strong and goodly buildings could not conjecture [Page 24] they should end unless the world fell with them, ask him presently upon it, when those things should come to pass, and when should be the end of the world. Their Master, that he might at once both satisfie and blind their curiosity, mingles the signs of the particular destruction of Ierusalem, and of the general ruine of the world together: that he might the bet­ter keep them awake, to attend both his general and particular coming, and make both them and us, at the approach of particular judgments upon Cities or Nations always mindful and prepared for the general judg­ment of the last day: which he here calls the coming of the Son of Man, and tells us how to entertain it.

So that in the Text, as the verses, so the parts are two.

  • 1. Christs coming. Then shall they see the Son, &c. ver. 27.
  • 2. The Christians comfort. When these things, &c. ver. 28. In Christs coming.

1. The time when. Then, after the signs forementioned, then shall they see.

2. The generality of it. They, all that can see, shall see his coming.

3. The evidence of his coming, so plain, he may be seen, seen by the eye of Faith.

4. The certainty. They shall see him, to be sure.

5. The form in which he comes, as the Son of man.

6. The end to which he comes. He comes with power, with the power of a Judge for quick and dead.

7. The manner of his coming. In a Cloud with power and great glory. In the Christians comfort.

1. Where it begins. When these things begin to come to pass, then that begins too. Then look up.

2. To whom it belongs. You Disciples, do you look up.

3. What kind of comfort 'tis, A looking up, a lifting up the head, when all heads else droop with fear and grief.

4. Whence this comfort arises, from what ground it springs; for your redem­ption draweth nigh.

I go on with all in o [...]der as they lie; so that if you remember the words, you cannot forget the order and method. Then shall, &c.

At Christs coming there we begin; but when is that? the Heavens shall tell you, the Earth shall tell you, the Sea shall tell you, Men shall tell you: The Heavens by signs and wonders, by storms and tempests, the lights of Heaven shall lose themselves in darkness, and forsake their Spheres, and their constantest powers shall be shaken out of their course and harmony. The Earth shall quake for fear, and change its place. The Waves shall fright themselves with their own roarings, and mens hearts shall fail for fear; neither knowing how to stand, nor to avoid this dreadful coming. When these with all the host of heaven and earth startled out of their natural seats and postures, shall have prepar'd and usher'd him the way; then shall he come. He comes not till all things else have done their mo­tion and have gone their last.

Nor is it fitting so great a coming should be without an universal prepa­ration, where every creature forgetting its own nature begins at last to study his. There is nothing that can stand when God comes: Heaven it self is at a loss, and remembers not its perpetual motion, when it but ap­prehends his approach: Every thing is a wonder to it self when he ap­pears. If nature it self be thus terrified, which groans not for it self but [...]; what shall we be with all our sins about us, how can [...] abide his coming?

[Page 25] Yet then shall he appear, when we know not how to appear: Heaven and Earth will change their faces, Men and Angels will hide theirs, only he it is that dares be seen. Sins or imperfections make all the creatures cover themselves with some disguises, or endeavour it, only he who is all purity, all perfection comes then to shew himself.

Yet when this Then shall be, when that day and hour shall come, no man knows, no not the Son of man himself, S. Mark xiii. 32. as man: He that could tell you that come he would, and could tell you the immedi­ate signs that would fore-run it, knew not then the time when those signs should be, or knew it not to tell you. That we might always be waiting for his coming.

Had it been fit for us to know, no doubt he would have told us; but so far unnecessary it seems to be acquainted with that secret time, that he gives us signs which rather puzzle then instruct us: signs which we some­times think fulfilled already, signs which have often been the forerunners of particular ruines, and fates of Countries and Kingdoms; signs which at the same time we fear past already, yet think they are not; that so by this hard dialect of tokens in heaven and earth, we might behold our pre­sumptuous curiosity deluded into a perperual watching for this last coming.

There were in the Apostles times, and there are still in ours, men who lov'd to scare the people with Prophesies and Dreams of the end of the world, as if this then already were at hand; such as would define the year and day, as if they had lately dropt out of Gods Council Chamber: but we beseech you, says S. Paul, that you be not troubled neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand, 2 Thess. ii. 2. Let no man deceive you, ver. 3. they do but deceive you, they vent their own dreams, and fond presumptions. They know not when the Master of the house will come, Whether at midnight, or at the Cock crowing, or at the dawning, S. Mark xiii. 35. for as a snare it shall come on all them that dwell on the face of the earth, ver. 35. of this Chapter.

It is enough for us to know there shall be a day of Judgment, against which we must provide every day to make up our accounts, lest that day come upon us unawares, lest death at least hurry us away to our particular doom, which will there leave us, where the last judgment will be sure to find us in the same condition; no power or tears of ours being then able to change or alter it.

So that the punctual time of this coming, as Christ did not intend to declare, so it matters not to know. A then, a time there will be of his coming.

2. A time when they shall see him come. They, and who are they? but all mankind; but all the creatures? Every eye shall see him, they also that pier­ced him, Rev. i. 7. They also that crucified him, and condemned him, S. Mat. xxvi. 64. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, says Christ himself, to those who were his torturers and his judges. Nay, we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, Rom. xiv. 10. None of us all must think to escape. There we must give account what we have done amiss, every action, every idle word, every vain and wanton thought, every inward desire must we yield account of in the day of judgment. Thy Crown and Throne, O King, cannot exempt thee. Your Honours and Complements, O ye Nobles, cannot excuse you. Thy Riches, O thou son of Pelf, cannot buy out thy absence. Thy sleights, O thou crafty Politician, cannot evade it. Thy strength, O Soul­dier, [Page 26] cannot defend thee from the Angel that will drive thee thither. Your Learning, O ye Learned of the earth, can find no argument to keep you from it. Nor can ye, O ye Worms of the earth, ye meanest, find holes in it to hide you at this coming.

Come you must all together at this coming, and see you shall the Son of man as he is coming. The wicked eyes indeed though Christ comes in glory, shall see nothing of his glory: The Son of man they shall behold, his Humanity, but not his Deity. They shall see the wounds their sins have made, the hands and feet they have nail'd, the side they have pierc'd, the head they have planted with thorns, all these to their grief and sor­row, to see him their Judge, whom they have so abus'd and wrong'd, so trampled and scorn'd, that he yet bears the marks of their malice and cruelty even in his Throne of Glory.

But the good mans eyes, they shall see his Glory too; they shall behold his glorious face, which the eyes of the sinners and the ungodly are not able to perceive, by reason of that veil of sin and darkness that covers them. Both then shall see him, these only the Son of man, those the Son both of God and man, in his Cloud, and in his Glory.

Who are they then that think to hide themselves, who live as if they never thought to come to judgment? Did men certainly, but seriously ponder, that will they, nill they, they must one day see Christ, they would use him better in his Members then they do, better in his Church and Ministers, better in his Worship and Service. Do they not, think you, imagine they shall never see him, that they can shelter themselves some­where from his presence, that dare use him thus contemptuously, thus proudly, thus sacrilegiously and prophanely. Lay but this close every day to your bosoms as you rise, that you must one day come to appear be­fore him, and all your actions will be more regular, and your thoughts higher concerning Christ, and all that is his, or pertains to him, and you the better able to answer them when you see him.

3. For thirdly see him you shall, not only hear your doom and pass away, but see him pronouncing it. When he came to Redeem the world, the eye saw him. Simeons and Anna's, and all Iudea's, many Greeks and Gentiles too. He came then that all might see him. But in his second com­ing, when he comes to judge it, then he comes that all shall see him; eve­ry eye behold him. The eyes that slept in dust before his first arri­val, the eyes that in the time of his abode could never see him for their distance, the eyes that ever since have seen the world, shall all then see him, as well as they that pierc'd him, nay as well as they who liv'd with him, and daily saw him.

He might, considering how unworthy the best of us carry our selves of that corporal presence, which he once vouchsaf'd us, considering how he was then misus'd and handled, have for ever denied us any sight of his glorious Body; but he forgets the injuries he met with, and will once more shew himself to our bodily sight; not so much to confound his persecutors, as to manifest the justice of his judgment; that the whole world may evidently see, that he who came into the flesh then only to redeem us, comes in the same flesh again to judge us, that all may see our Faith in our Crucified God was neither vain nor unprofitable, but by the evidence of their own eyes confess and acknowledge it the only true way to eternal happiness.

And if these eyes now must one day behold their Lord and Master, how should we wash them every day, and cleanse them from earthly defile­ments [Page 27] with our tears, that they may be worthy to see that blessed ob­ject. Wash your eyes ye wantons from unclean and lascivious glances. Cleanse your eyes ye proud ones from scornful looks. Wipe your eyes ye covetous minded from that yellow dust that blinds your sight. Open your eyes ye ignorant and seduced souls, that ye run not headlong to your own destruction, hoodwinkt to Hell, then only to unclose your deceived sight, when you can see no comfort. Remember you are all one day to appear before Christs tribunal, where if you expect any comfort to your eyes, you must come thither with them wash'd, and wip'd, and cleans'd, and pure, no spots, no films, no blemish, no blood-shot in them. Whether to your comfort or no, see you shall. That's certain.

4. Shall see. Can we not shut our eyes then when this day shall come? Can nothing lock up our eye-lids in eternal night, no bar set before us but we must see this Son of man? Can no Hills hide us, nor no Moun­tains cover us? Can we not sleep in dust, and rest quiet in our confusion? Can we not vanish into that nothing out of which we first arose, or at least lie hid in that eternal pit from ever seeing any thing but the regions of everlasting darkness? Must we needs rise out of our wretched Caves to see him, who cannot but afflict us at his coming? so it is: we must see him. See we must, though but to see the justice of our own damnation.

Nothing can be more certain then this sight, sight, it is the surest sense, and to see him at his coming is to be certain of it at the least; but to see the Son of man at his coming, is certainly with evidence; and to be bound to see it, to have such a tie upon us, such a condition on us that we shall see it, whether we will or no, is a certainty with a necessity up­on it.

That so no man may doubt of a final retribution, whilst he is certain, he shall one day see him, who will reward every man according to his work. Let not then the unjustly oppressed innocent, let not the less prosperous god­ly spirit droop, or the glorious and yet triumphing sinner: the prosper­ous Rebel, or thriving Atheist pride himself in the success of his Sins; for he is coming that shall come, and make the just mans eyes run over with joy and happiness for his fore-passed tears, and fill the others eyes with shame and confusion for all their glory. It may be long before he comes, but come he will at last, and his reward is with him.

5. But who is this that comes? so the Prophet once: so we now, or in what shape will he appear? God is the Judge of all the earth, and who is it that can see God? Or if he has committed all judgment to the Son, as it is, S. Iohn iii. Yet who can see him either, being of one substance with the Father, the same individual and invisible Essence? That therefore he may be seen, he comes in the form of the Son of man.

This was that which Daniel foresaw in his night visions, Dan. vii. 13. one like the Son of man coming with the Clouds of Heaven: that which S. Peter told Cornelius, that he it was, who was ordain'd to be the judge of quick and dead, Acts x. 42. Not as he was Lord of Heaven and Earth, or as he was the eternal off-spring of the Deity (for so he could not be ordain'd, he him­self being from all eternity) but as the Son of man, for he hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man, St. John v. 27.

That was it by which he obtain'd the Throne of Judgment, having in that form both done and suffered all things for our salvation. God think­ing but just that he should be our Judge, who came to save us from judg­ment; that he should judge us, who had been partaker of our infirmities, [Page 28] and knew our weaknesses: and would by the compassion of nature easier acquit us, or with more evidence of justice condemn us, himself having once been subject to the like humane, though not sinful passions.

This is the form in which all eyes may see him, all Nations behold him: nor shall the scars of his wounds be covered, but that even by them we may acknowledge our crucified Saviour is become our Judge. Who whilst he judges us in the form of man, will condemn us for nothing a­bove the power of man. And yet even by his actions, as he was man, will he condemn ours. His Humility our Pride, his Abstinence our Gluttony and excess, his Patience our Impatience, his Chastity our Lusts, his paying Caesar beyond his due, our undutiful with-drawings from him; in a word, his Goodness, Piety, and Devotion, our ungodliness, impieties, and pro­phaneness.

And as it is a mercy thus to be judg'd by one who is sensible of our frail condition, so is it a glory, besides, that our nature is so high exalted as to be the Judge of the world, not of men only, but Angels too. What favour may we not expect, when he is our Judge, who is our Saviour, who will not lay aside our nature in his Glory, that he may retain that sympathy and compassion to us, which was taken with it, when he took it from us?

6. I shall not here need to spend much time to tell you 6. what he comes for, who have told you so often of a day of Judgment, and the Son of man, to sit on the tribunal. His coming is to Judgment, for he comes with power, and that power of a Judge.

Only I must tell you, 2. that his motion is no faster then an easie com­ing. So loth is he to come to Judgment, so unwilling to enter into dis­pute with Flesh and Blood, that he delays the hasty prayers of the af­flicted Saints under the Altars of Heaven, seems a little to with-hold the full beams of mercy which he has laid up for the Saints, rather then to post to the destruction of the wicked. Yet for the elects sake to hasten he does a little; and therefore he makes a Cloud the Chariot of his Pow­er, that when he once begins to come, he may come quickly.

And not so only, but come in Glory, which is the last observable in his coming in a Cloud, with Power and great Glory.

In a Cloud he ascended, Acts 1. and the Angel told the Disciples there, that he should so come as they saw him go. In the Clouds say the other Evangelists; they speak of more then one: His cloud is not a single cloud, there are attendant clouds upon it. Angels surround his Throne, S. Mat. xxv. 31. the Trumpet of the Archangel sounds before him, 2 Thess. i. 7. his Throne is a throne of Glory, S. Mat. xix. 28. and his Apostles Thrones are round about him, and all things are in subjection under his feet, 1 Cor. xv. 27.

Thus is he rewarded with Majesty and Glory, for his meekness and hu­mility; that we seeing the recompence of those despised vertues, may learn to embrace them, by so strong incentives and allurements.

What will ye one day say, O ye obstinate Iews, when you shall see his Glory, whose poverty you so despised? What will ye do at his Throne of Judgment, who would not receive him in his Cradle of Mercy? How will his enemies bemoan themselves with them, Wisd. v. We fools thought his life madness, and his end without honour: How is he now numbred among the children of God, the first born amongst many brethren! Fools indeed to count him what we did, for he shall come again with Majesty and Glory.

Glory is a word, by which Christ seems as it were ever and anon to re­fresh [Page 29] the fainting spirits of his Disciples, which are ready to betray their Masters to despair upon the apprehension of the fears and terror which their Lord had told them should precede and accompany the latter day. This word recalls their spirits, that they begin to look up again, and lift up their heads: For having thus as it were amaz'd their thoughts, and unhing'd their patience, he setles them again with some special com­fort, that when these things begin to come to pass, they should look up, and lift up their heads, for (however it fall out to others) their Redemption draweth nigh.

Never could words of comfort come better then in the full discourse of the day of Judgment; nor can comfort ever be more welcome, then in the midst of those affrightments. Christ never spoke out of season, but here he seems to have even studied it. When these things begin to come to pass, before they are at their full height, even then look up. Worldly comforts come not so early. The heat and fury of the Disease must be abated e're they yield us any refreshment. They are only heavenly com­forts that come so timely to prevent our miseries, or to take them at the beginning.

Nor is it yet only when the day begins to dawn wherein the Son of man comes forth to Judgment, that we should first begin to take courage to approach, but whilst the foregoing signs of that day are now first com­ing on. Those terrors that affright others, should not startle us, even whilst the lightnings run upon the ground, whilst the Earth trembles, the Sea roars, the Winds blow, and Heaven it self knows not how to look, the Righteous is as bold as a Lion, he stands in the midst of security and peace. This is the state we are to labour for, so to put our trust in the most High; that no changes or chances of this mortal life may either re­move or shake it, or make us to miscarry. Every calamity should teach us to look up, but these should teach us also to lift up our heads. Whilst common fears and troubles march about us, our Christian patience will teach us cheerfulness; but when these things begin to come to pass, these, which are the ushers to our glory, these should rejoyce and cheer us up, that our reward is now a coming to us.

Vs, I say; for this comfort is not general to all that shall see the Son of man coming in glory, but his Disciples only, such as have followed him on earth to meet him in heaven. Lift up your heads: to his servants he speaks, such as hear his words, and attend his steps, and do his pre­cepts.

Others indeed must hold down theirs; the ungodly shall not be able to look up in judgment. The covetous man has look'd so always downward, that he is not now able to look up. The Drunkard has so drown'd his eye­sight in his cups, so over-burthened his brain, that he can neither lift up his head nor his eyes at this day. The voluptuous man has dim'd his eyes with pleasures, that he cannot look about: and the ambitious man has so lost his hopes of being high and glorious, and is become so low and base in the eyes of God, that he is asham'd to lift up his head.

These only that are the true Disciples of their Master, whose eyes are us'd to heaven, who have so often lift up their eyes thither to pray and praise him, they only can look up when these things come to pass.

Nothing can affright the humble eye, nothing can amaze the eye that ever dwells in heaven; nothing can trouble the eye that waits upon her God, as the eye of a Maiden upon the hand of her Mistriss. The humble, devout, and faithful eye may look up chearfully, whilst all things else [Page 30] dare not be seen for shame. O blessed God, how fully doest thou reward thy servants, that wilt thus have them distinguish'd from others by their looks in troubles, who hast so order'd all things for them, that nothing shall affright them, nothing make them to hold down their heads?

This is a kind of comfort by it self, above ordinary, that grief or a­mazement should not appear so much as in our eyes or looks, though so ma­ny terrors stand round about us.

I will lift up my eyes unto the Hills, and I will lift up mine eyes to thee, O thou that dwellest in the heavens, are the voice of one that looks up for help; and in the midst of these dreadful messengers of Judgment, it will not be amiss for us even so to lift up our eyes, to beg assistance and deliverance. But that is not all our comfort (though it be a great one that we can yet have audience in Heaven amidst these fears) we have besides, the refresh­ment of inward joy, whereby we rejoyce at our approaching glory. The righteous shall rejoyce when he seeth the vengeance, Psal. lviii. 9. even when the day of vengeance comes, and the righteous shall rejoyce in their beds, Psal. cxlix. 5. whilst they are now rising up and lifting up their heads out of their graves to come to Judgment.

Nor must it seem strange to see the righteous with chearful looks, whilst all other faces gather blackness. It is not the others misery that they re­joyce at, but at their Saviours Glory, and their own happiness. For their Redemption draweth nigh, that's the ground of all their joy.

And would you not have men rejoyce, who are redeem'd from misery and corruption, from the slavery of sin, and the power of death? would you not have poor Prisoners rejoyce at the approach of their delivery: you cannot blame'um if at such news with Paul and Silas they sing in pri­son? sing aloud for joy, so loud that the doors dance open for joy, though the Keepers awake and even sink for fear.

Your redemption draweth nigh.] They are words will make the scat­tered ashes gather themselves together into bones and flesh; words that will make the soul leave Heaven, with joy to lift up the head of her dear beloved body out of the Land where all things are forgotten: Yea the insensible creatures that groan now under the bondage of corruption, will at these words turn their tunes when they see at hand the days of the li­berty of the Sons of God.

Death and destruction are things terrible, but when the fear of them is once overpois'd by the near approach of a redemption to eternal life and glory, O' Death then, where is thy sting! O Grave then where is thy vi­ctory! They shrink in their heads, and pull in their stings, and cannot hurt us while we with joy and gladness lift up our heads.

What are all the signs and forerunners of the day of Judgment, that they should trouble us, when we know the day of Judgment is our day of redemption, our day of glory? What are the darkness of Sun and Moon, the falling of the Stars, the very totterings of Heaven it self to us, who even thereby expect new heavens; where there is neither need of Sun, nor Moon, nor Star to give us light, for the glory of God shall lighten it, and the Lamb, this Son of man that is coming in his cloud, is the light of it, Rev. xxi. 23. What are the quakings of the Earth, and roarings of the Sea, to them who neither need Land nor Sea in their journey to heaven? What are Wars and rumors of Wars, Famines, and Plagues, and Pestilences, and false Brethren? what are persecutions and deliver­ing up to Rulers, to death and torments? what are those perplexities and fears, that rob men of their hearts and courages, for looking after [Page 31] those things which shall come upon the earth? what are all these toge­ther to them who are thus by those very things redeem'd out of all their troubles? Saint Paul is bold to set up a challenge, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay in all these we are more then con­querours through him (this him in the Text) that loved us, Rom. viii. 35. 37. And he goes on yet higher, For I am perswaded, says he, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Iesus, ver. 38, 39.

And if thus nothing can ever separate us from Christs love, what should trouble us at his coming, whose coming is but to draw us nearer to himself? Be not troubled, be not terrified, says he, ver. 9. but in patience pos­sess your souls, ver. 18. for there shall not a hair of your heads perish, ver. 17. Others may fall, and sink, and perish; but do they what they can a­gainst you, those that hate you, yet care not for it, look up, look up to me, I am coming to redeem you, lift up your heads, and behold the glory into which I am at hand to lift you up.

The sum of all now is, that in the midst of all your troubles, all your amazements, all your fears and dangers, you first still lift up your heads, and look to Heaven for comfort, and fetch it thence by prayers and pe­titions.

2. That in the midst of all calamities, you yet remember your redem­ption is a coming, and so lift up your heads with joy in the heat and fury of them all; knowing that they are nothing else but so many forerun­ners of your glory.

Lastly, that you look up and lift up your heads with thankfulness, that he has thus accounted you worthy to see him in his glory, and that your redemption is no further off. That having thus begun to look up and lift up your voices in praises and thanksgiving upon earth, he may lift you up into Heaven in soul and body, at his coming there, to sing Allelujahs with the Saints and Angels, and the four and twenty Elders, to him that sits upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for evermore: there to be parta­kers of all his Glory.

A SERMON ON The Fourth Sunday in Advent.

PHILIPPIANS iv. 5.‘Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.’

THE Text is a part of the Epistle for the day, chosen you may conceive, because the Lord, that is the time of his coming is at hand. A fit preparation thought by the Church for Christmas now so near, to prepare us how to entertain the happy day, the joyful news of our Lord Christs coming in the flesh. To entertain it, I say, not with excess and riot, but moderation; not with rude tricks and gambols, but softness and meekness; not in vanity of clothes, but modesty; not in iniquity but equity, somewhat departing from our own right, and seeking occasions to do others right, that all men may see and know we behave our selves like Servants, expecting their Lords coming, according to all the several senses of the [...] translated moderation in the Text, but stretching further then any one English word can express it.

A word chosen by the Apostle to comprehend the whole duty (if it might be) of a Christian preparing for his Lord in the midst of much af­fliction, and long wearied expectation, back'd with an assurance that the Lord was now hard by a coming to deliver them. The poor Philippians were somewhat sad, or sad-like by the persecutions they suffered from the unbelieving Iews, and Gnostick Hereticks that were among them; many were daily falling off by reason of them, ver. 18. of the former Chapter, and much hurt those dogs, as the Apostle calls them, ver. 2. of that Chapter: the concision, that is, those Hereticks had done or were like to do them. But for all that, says he, Rejoyce, and again, Rejoyce in the verse before the Text, rejoyce too that all men may see it, see your joy in the Lord, and in your sufferings for him, yet so that they may see your mode­ration in it too, that as you are not sad like men without hope, so you are not merry like men out of their wits, but as men that know their Lord is nigh at hand as well to behold their actions, as to free them from their sufferings, to see their patience and moderation as well as their trouble and persecution.

[Page 34] A perswasion it is, or exhortation to patience and meekness, and some other Christian Vertues (which by examining the word you will see anon) from the forementioned consideration. A perswasion to moderati­on from a comfortable assurance of a reward, the Lord at hand to give it. A perswasion to prepare our selves, because our Lord is coming: A per­swasion so to do it, that all may know what we are a doing, and what we are expecting, that they may see we are neither asham'd of our Religion, nor of our Lord, that we neither fear mens malice, nor our Lords mercy, that we are confident he is at hand, ready to succour and rescue all that patiently and faithfully suffer for him, to take vengeance on his enemies, and deliver his Servants out of all. The time is now approaching, even at the doors.

And if we apply this as we do all other Scriptures to our selves, to teach us moderation and whatever else is contain'd under the word which is so rendred, and draw down the Lords being at hand in the Text to all Christs comings in Flesh, in Grace, in Glory; it will no way disadvantage the Text, but advance it rather, improve the Apostles sense and meaning to all Churches and times to prepare them all to go out to meet the Lord when or howsoever he shall come unto them.

And moderation must be it we must meet him with, be the times what they will, come the Lord how or when he please, know we time or know it not; be what will unknown, our moderation must be known, and yet his coming as unknown as it may be, must be consider'd: always in our minds it must be, that the Lord is one way or other continually at hand.

Indeed I must confess the times were troublesom and dangerous when the Apostle thus exhorted and comforted the Philippians, but the best times are dangerous; danger there is as much of forgetting Christ in prosperity, as of falling from him in adversity: and as much need there is of mo­deration when all happinesses flow in upon us, as when all afflictions fall up­on us: so the advice cannot be unseasonable: And though we call'd the Text St. Pauls advice, or the Christians duty in sad times, and his com­fort in them, and so divide the words, yet they will reach any times, ours to be sure, which, call we them what we will, much danger there is in them of falling away from the true Faith of Christ, and so as much need of the Apostles counsel and comfort in them.

Yet take the division of the words in the most proper sense.

I. St. Pauls counsel, or the Christians duty in sad times: In the first words, Let your moderation be known unto all men; that it be, is the Christians duty; that it should be, is S. Pauls counsel.

II. The Christians comfort in such times, or S. Pauls comforting them with it, in the following, the Lord is at hand. With this they are to cheer up their spirits, and S, Paul tells it unto that purpose. Which will afford us a third Point to be considered.

III. The Connexion of them, that our moderation is therefore to be known to all men, because our Lord and the Lord of all men is at hand to see what we do, and do to us according to our doings: therefore set down here indefinitely, only the Lord is at hand, without deter­mining how, or where, or when, or to what purpose, that we might be the more careful in our duty, more universal in our moderation.

And the Apostle dealing thus indefinitely, and but silently pointing at the sad condition of the times they saw, we shall take leave to be as general, and not bind the counsel or the comfort to sad times, though so they would fit us too, as well as the Philippians. The advice is good, and the [Page 35] comfort sweet, both necessary at any time whatsoever. I begin with St. Pauls counsel, or the Christian duty for moderation. Let your moderation, &c. Three Points I shall consider in it. 1. Let there be moderation. 2. Let it be known. 3. Let it be known unto all men. Let our moderation be, he ma­nifested, be extended unto all.

Let there be moderation, or let our moderation be; let moderation be ours, be our practice, that stands first to be considered. And the word so rendred, has divers significations, all indifferently appliable both to the context, and the Christians duty against his Lords coming.

The word is [...], and first and primarily signifies equity. So Aristotle take [...]. A duty as fit for Christianity as any; not only to be just, but equal: nay to prefer equity before justice, to depart somewhat from our own right rather then exact the extremity of justice, rather to let go a Coat or a Cloak, then go to law about it, rather to take a blow, an affront, an indignity, nay turn the cheek for a second, then draw a Sword; for a third turn the other cheek rather than venture turning out of Heaven, for turning violently again upon them out of a false opini­on of gallantry and valour: rather go a mile or two above our stint and share then to make disturbance for it. This our Masters counsel and com­mand too, to all his Disciples. S. Matth. v. 40, 41, 42. confirmed to us by his example, S. Matth. xvii. 27. Tribute paid by him that was not due, only lest he should offend them.

Indeed it is not equity but iniquity in them that require more then is right; yet 'tis a point of a Christian sometimes (in petty matters always) not to stand rigorously upon our right, when there is like to come nothing but continual dissention, and long-liv'd enmities by exacting it.

So far should we be from doing so, that we should be ready by all fair compliances to remove all unneighbourly contentions from among us; if the parting with trifles, giving way a little, or the forgiving small tres­passes will do it. More then so there is in this [...], in seeking occasions and opportunities to do good. Our blessed Lord went about doing good, says S. Peter, Acts x. 38. from City to City, says S. Matth. ix. 35. from one place to another, all the Cities of Iudea over, from one opportunity to an­other, seeking distressed souls, to do good unto: one point of that [...], that gentleness of Christ, by which St. Paul beseeches the Corinthians, 2 Cor. x. 1. His was, not to leave sinners as they deserve; ours, not deal with our Brethren always as they perhaps deserve of us, but deal better with them then so; to proffer them some condescensions, seek some such ways and means to reconcile them to us.

This is truly Christian, if to be like Christ be to be truly Christian, and as fit it is for such times as the Philippians then were in; nothing more fit in the times either of growing Heresies, or pressing troubles, then to de­scend a little to win the one, and give a little to avoid the other.

And as well it answers to our English rendring it, Moderation. Equi­ty is nothing else but a moderating that summum jus, a bringing ri­gorous right to moderate terms, and so striving to be good to them with whom the contestation is, to overcome them into peace and agreement with us, and so avoid the trouble and vexation, that else is like to come from them to us, and likely from us to them again, that we be not found smiting our fellow Servants, fighting with one another when our Lord comes. A fit vertue this, to answer that part of the Text too, the Lords being at hand.

2. A second interpretation there is that suits as well; for humanity and [Page 36] civility it is taken. And truly Christianity teaches not to be uncivil, al­lows not uncivil language, not so much as a thou fool, threatens Hell fire to such a tongue, S. Matth. v. 22. allows not that which is less, a Racha, any kind of expression of contempt, or vilifying our Brother. Such a fault must come before the Council, we must be brought to the Council. Table for it of God and Christ, and fin'd at what they please for the mis­demeanour, though the Common Law peradventure will not reach to punish it. 'Tis none of Christs Religion that teaches men to be uncivil; no, not to return one incivility with another: no, not revile again though we be re­viled, says St. Peter, and brings Christ for an example, 1 Pet. ii. 23. Others doing us wrong, nay shrewdly persecuting us too, will not authorize us to do it, to requite our very persecutors with any incivility. A good memoran­dum for those who make it an especial sign of their being better Christians then others, to be rude and uncivil to their betters, to be saucy and un­mannerly to any, to all that run not riot with them into the same madness and folly, Sacriledge and Heresie, that cannot be content to do men wrong, and rob them of their dues, but must do it with ill language and incivility. They forget sure the Lord is at hand, that there is any such thing as a Lord, any superiour above them, either at hand, or afar off, ei­ther in this world or in the other. The Apostles [...] is for moderation in this point too, civil and handsom terms, gestures, and carriage, that we should carry our selves like men, at least, if we will not like Christians. And for such times as the Text refers to, 'tis but seasonable: 1. That the sufferers do not increase their sufferings with their own incivilities, or corrupt or dishonour them, by so doing: and 2. That those that cause them to suffer, do not enhance the others sufferings, remembring that themselves also are but men, and the spoke of the wheel, (as that Captive King observed) which is now above, may by and by be below again, especi­ally if it be true (as true it is) that the Lord is at hand, his Chariot is coming after, and the Mother of Sisera, the greatest Captain, need not ask, why tarry the Wheels of it so long, why is it so long a coming? It will come and will not tarry; 'tis happy if it come not on us whilst we are ra [...]ting and railing against any whosoever.

3. There is a third signification of the word for Modesty, so the La­tin renders it Modestia. As fit a posture for sad times, for any times, be the Lord at hand, or be he not, as any whatsoever. Not the peculiar ver­tue of women only, though of them, 1 Tim. ii. 9. but of men too, an es­pecial way to win our adversaries, to win Infidels to Christianity, when they shall behold our conversation in all sweetness and composure, our bodies comely and decently apparelled, our gate sober, our gesture grave, our eyes modest, our countenance compos'd, our speech discreet, our be­haviour all in order: when they shall see us merry without lightness, jest­ing without scurrility, sober without sullenness, grave without doggedness, compos'd without affectedness, serious without dulness, all our demeanour wholly bent to all Christian well-pleasingness, at all times, with all compa­nies, upon all occasions, in all places, and businesses. This is nothing but moderation neither; we may keep the English still, moderation in our garb and habit, and discourse, and motion; modesty, that is moderation in them all.

4. Yet there is a fourth acception of the word, for that sweet, and meek, and gentle temper of the mind, whereby we carry our selves pati­ently and unmov'd in persecution, not rendring evil for evil to them that persecute us, not vexing and tearing our selves upon it, not studying re­venge, or returning mischief, but on the contrary good for evil, blessing [Page 37] for cursing, prayers for imprecations, committing our cause, and our selves to God, that judgeth righteously; this is the true Christian moderation, that to which we are called, says S. Peter; that of which Christ gave us an example, suffered as well for that to give us an example of it, as any thing else, 1 S. Pet. ii. 21, 22, 23. That to which belongs the bles­sing, S. Mat. v. 5. from this Lord that is at hand. 'Tis the very vocation of a Christian, the very design of the Christians Lord, a blessedness there is in the very doing it, when and whilst we so suffer, we are blessed, S. Mat. v. 10. even before that great reward in heaven, bidden therefore, ver. 12. to rejoyce and be exceeding glad upon it, bidden by S. Iames to count it all joy, S. Iames i. 2. bidden by S. Paul in the verse before the Text; to rejoyce and rejoyce again upon it. Nay so exceeding joy it seems the Christian feels in it, that he is fain upon the back of it in this very verse to call to us to be moderate in the expressing it, to call to us for moderation in it, lest we should even burst with it, or overflow into some extraordinary effusions of it, and so provoke more affliction by it. Rejoyce the Apostle would have us in our sufferings for Christ, but yet with moderation, be meek, and patient, and contented, and resigned in them, yet not as we were sensless, careless, or desperate, but discreet and moderate in them all: neither so sensible of them, nor anxious in them, as to forget others, and our respects due to any of them; nor so sensless and careless to forget our selves, and the care due unto our selves. This the moderation most proper to the persons and time, persons under persecution, and in the time of being so, the most seasonable advice: and as seasonable to be given when the Lord is at hand: modera­tion to be observed in the expectation of his coming. They were not too hastily to expect it. The Thessalonians were almost shaken in mind, and trou­bled by so hasty a conceit, that the day of Christ was at hand, 2 Thess. ii. 2. That Christ was just then a coming; S. Paul was fain to stop their haste, to moderate their expectation, to tell them though the day was near, it was not so near as they supposed it, they must be content to expect a little longer, some things were to be done first. So necessary seems modera­tion in this point too, lest expecting the Lord too soon, and failing of him, they should be shaken, and fall away from him, as if he had decei­ved them, quit their Faith and Religion for want of patience and moderation. Thus you have the four senses of [...], four kinds of moderation. Equi­ty or Clemency, Humanity or Civility, Modesty or Sobriety, and Meekness or Gen­tleness. It follows next that they be shewed, that we shew them all, that we make them known. Let your moderation be known.

For sufficient it is not always to do well; we must be known to do it, though not do it to be known; yet be known to do it. Indeed when we fast, or pray, or give alms, or do any good work, we must not do it, that we may appear to men to do so, St. Mat. vi. 3, 4, 6, 18. yet it must appear to men, for all that, sometimes that we do so. Ye, that is, ye Chri­stians are the light of the world, and a light is not to be put under a bushel, S. Mat. v. 15. but on a Candlestick, to give light unto all that are in the house. Let your light therefore shine before men, ver. 16. Shine so before them, that they may see your good works, see and glorifie, glorifie God that has given such graces unto men: glorifie him again by taking thence an ex­ample of such things to themselves. There have been, are still, doubtless, many that brag much of Faith and Holiness, and Purity; nay of Meek­ness and moderation too; but if we call them to S. Iames his shew us them, as he requires them, by their works, we may say as Christ said of the Lepers that were cleansed, S. Luke xvii. 18. There are scarce found [Page 38] one of ten that shew that return of Glory unto God; if one, they count him but a Samaritan, no true Israelite for it: though S. Iames says expresly, Faith is dead, where there is no such expression: and for those other vertues, the very action is so evidently outward, that they must needs be known where they are, they cannot be hid, are not the vertues they pretend to, if not known. It were strange to hear of equity, or civility, or modesty, or moderation that could not be seen; ridiculous to call him merciful or equitable that shews it not by some condescension, to stile him civil whose behaviour is nothing less, him modest who shews nothing but immodesty, him meek who expresses nothing but fury and impatience. These are vertues we must needs see where e're they be.

It is reported of S. Lucian the Martyr, that he converted many by his modest, cheerful, and pious look and carriage, and of S. Bernard, that In carne ejus apparebat gratia quaedam spiritualis, &c. There appeared a kind of spiritual grace throughout his body, there shone a heavenly brightness in his face, there darted an Angelical purity and Dove-like simplicity from his eyes, so great was the inward beauty of his inward man, that it poured out it self in his whole outward man abundantly over all his parts and pow­ers. No motion in them but with Reason and Religion. Where such ver­tue is, it will be known; must be too: must so be exprest that men may know and feel the benefits and effects; [...], Let your moderation speak for you, whose servants you are, what Lord you are under, what is your expectation and your faith.

3. Nor is it thirdly enough to have it known to one or two, to a few, or to the houshold of faith alone. To all men, says the Apostle, Iew and Gentile, Friend and Foe, Brethren and Strangers, the Orthodox and Hereticks, good and bad, Christian and Infidel. Condescend to men of low estate, the very lowest says our Apostle, Rom. xii. 16. Provide things honest in the sight of all men, ver. 17. live peaceably with all men, ver. 8. do all possi­ble to live so: having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that by your good works which they shall behold, they may glorifie God in the day of visitation, 1 Pet. ii. 12. full of equity, that they may not speak evil of you as rigorous and unmerciful; full of courtesie and civility, that the Doctrine of Christ be not blasphem'd for a Doctrine of rudeness and incivility; full of modesty, that the adversary speak not reproachful­ly of the word of truth, have no occasion to do so by your immodesty; full of moderation, that all good men may glorifie God for your professed sub­jection to the Gospel of Christ, to those hard points in hard times, to meek­ness and moderation, when your adversaries are so violent and immode­rately set against you. Known must our moderation be in all its parts, that all may know the purity of our profession, the soundness of our Religion, the Grace of God appearing in us, the adversary be convinced, the Christian Brethren incited by our examples to the same grace and vertue.

One note especially we are to carry hence, that it is no excuse for our impatience, harshness or any immodest or immoderate fierceness against any, that they are men of a contrary opinion, we use so ill: Men they are, and even under that notion moderation to be used towards them; much more if we acknowledge the same Lord or his being any way near either to reward or punish. And so I pass to the second General, the Christians comfort that holds up his head in the bitterest storms, and makes him mo­derate, quite through them all. The Lord is at hand.

Now the Lord is several ways said to be at hand, many ways to be near us.

[Page 39] He is at hand, or near us by his divine essence, not far, says S. Paul from every one of us, Acts xvii. 27. he is every where, we therefore no where, but that he is near us.

He is near us 2. by his Humanity. The taking that upon him has brought him nigh indeed to be bone of our bone, and flesh of our slesh.

He is nearer us yet 3. by his Grace. One with us, and we with him; one Spirit too, he in us and we in him, S. Iohn xiv. 20.

He is at hand, and nigh us 4. in our Prayers. So holy David, The Lord is nigh unto them that call upon him, all such as call upon him faithfully.

He is nigh us 5. in his Word, in our Mouths, and in our Hearts, by the word of Faith that is preached to us, Rom. x. 8. we need not up to hea­ven, nor down to the deep, says the Apostle, to find out Christ, that eternal word is nigh enough us in his word.

He is nigh us 6. in the Sacraments, so near in Baptism as to touch and wash us, especially so near in the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood, as to be almost touched by us: there he is truly, really, miraculously pre­sent with us, and united to us. 'Tis want of eyes if we discern not his Body there, 1 Cor. xi. 29. in that, or see not his power in the other.

He is at hand 7. with his Iudgments, Behold the Iudge standeth at the door, S. James v. 9. Just before he had said the coming of the Lord draweth nigh: but at the second look he even sees him at the door. Now of this coming two sorts we find expected even in the Apostles times, his coming in judgment against Ierusalem to destroy his Crucifiers, the unbelieving Iews, and the Apostate Christians the Gnostick Hereticks, that together with the Iews persecuted the Church of Christ; and his last coming at the general Judgment. We may add a third, his being always ready at hand to deliver his faithful servants out of their troubles, and to revenge them in due time of all those that causlesly rise up against them. The first kind of his coming to Judgment, that against Ierusalem, is the coming by which the Apostle comforts his Philippians, that the Lord was now com­ing to deliver the persecuted Saints out of their hands. The third is that by which our drooping spirits are supported in all distresses, that he is near to help us in them all. The second his coming at last in the general Judgment, then howsoever, to make a full amends for all, is the great stay of all our hope, all Christians from first to last. No great matter how we are here from time to time driven to our shifts, the time is com­ing will pay for all.

Nor do any of the other comings want their comfort: 'Tis a comfort that God is so near us in his essence, so that in him we live, and move, and have our being: our life and being are surely the better by it. 2. 'Tis a great comfort that our Lord would vouchsafe us so great an honour as to become like one of us to walk and speak, and eat, and drink, and be wea­ry, and weep, and live, and die like one of us. 3. 'Tis an inward and in­expressible comfort that he will dwell in us by his Grace and Holy Spirit; make us Holy as himself is Holy. 4. 'Tis a gracious comfort that he suf­fers us so ordinarily to discourse with him in our Prayers. 5. 'Tis an es­pecial comfort, and that such a one as he affords not to other Nations, to give us by his word, the knowledge of his Laws, to reveal unto us his whole will and pleasure. 6. 'Tis a comfort to a miracle that he will yet draw nearer to us, and draw us nearer to himself by the mysterious com­munication of himself, his very Blood and Body to us. No greater [Page 40] establishment to our souls, no higher solace to our spirits, no firmer hopes of the Resurrection of our bodies, then by his thus not only being at hand, but in our hands, and in our mouths. I speak mysteries in the spirit, but the comfort never a whit the less: the joy of the Spirit far the greater ever. But all these comforts heapt together, what comfort in the world like the faithful Christians, all so great, so certain, so nigh at hand?

And yet if I take hint from the Churches choice of this Text for the front of her Epistle this day to her Children, and say, the Lord may be said to be at hand too, because the Feast of his coming, that coming which gave rise to all the rest, the original of all the rest of his gracious comings is at hand to us. I shall not strain much, and to those that truly love his appearance, that can really endure to hear of his coming, any day that shall put 'um in mind of his being at hand must needs be a comfort, a day of good tidings: and this as well as any of the rest will afford us an argument to perswade to moderation, to make it known to all men what­soever at the time when the Grace of God appeared to all men whatso­ever. Which passes me over to the third general, the connexion of the Christians Duty and his comfort, or the perswasion to the duty from the comfort of the Lords coming. And so many perswasive arguments there are from it, as there are comings, so many reasons to perswade modera­tion as there are ways of our Lords being at hand: nay one more, and it shall go first because it stand so.

The Lord it is we do it to, to the Lord, and not unto men: let that go for the first reason. 'Tis to him, and for his sake we are enjoyn'd it. St. Paul thought it a good argument to perswade Servants to their duties, Eph. vi. 7. to do their service with a good will too; and we all are Servants, and here is our Lord.

Here 2. and at hand, on every hand. We cannot go out of his pre­sence. Let that teach us righteousness and equity, modesty and modera­tion, to do all things as in his presence. Would we but think this when we go about any thing, did we but consider seriously the Lord was so near us, heard us, and look'd upon us; our words would be wiser, and our actions better. We durst not look an immodest look, nor speak an unci­vil word, nor do any iniquity, or any thing out of order. The Lord is at hand, and sees what we are doing; let all then be done with mode­ration.

3. The Lord has taken on our nature, and come nearer; yet given us by it an example so to do; to be so moderate as to wash even Iudas's feet, to do good, to be civil and modest, and moderate, even towards them that are ready to betray us, who will do so the next hour, have bargain'd for't already: he came so nigh us in our nature, that we might so come nigh him in his Graces; took up our nature, that we might take up his example; drew so nigh us, that we might not draw off our affection from our bre­thren, but serve them in love, how ill soever they serve us: he took hands and feet to be at hand, to teach our hands and feet how to behave and moderate themselves towards others.

4. He is at hand with his Grace to help us: there is no excuse of impos­sibility. By him I can do all things, says the Apostle, by Christ that strengthens me, Phil. iv. 13. Be it never so hard, his grace is sufficient for us, suffici­ent to enable us to all grace and vertue, even the hardest, and in the most difficult exigencies and occasions. This he offers to us, offers it a­bundantly, [Page 41] more abundant grace. Let us accept it then and walk-wor­thy of it in all modesty and moderation.

5. He is at hand to our Prayers: let us then desire the grace we just now spake of. Deny us he will not; do but knock and he comes pre­sently. To him that knocks, says he, it shall be opened. Let us but come with meek and patient spirits, in love and charity with all men, forgi­ving them that we may be forgiven, and speed we shall; be merciful and moderate towards them, so will God be merciful and moderate to­wards us: moderate at least the punishments due to our iniquities. The Lord is at hand always to hear such a mans prayers; learn we therefore mode­ration.

6. The Lord is near us in his word. This is his command and will, must therefore be performed. If the will of the Lord be so, that we must suffer for righteousness sake, let every answer to our persecutors be with meekness and fear, says S. Peter, 1 Pet. iii. 15. for happy are you, says he, and therefore be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, ver. 14. moderate your passions and your fears, and esteem your selves happy by so suffering, by so doing. 'Tis your Masters revealed will that so it should be, 'tis his way to draw you nearer to himself, by working you to the image of his sufferings.

7. The Lord is at hand, the Iudge is coming: At hand to reward us for all our sufferings, all our patience and moderation, all our modest and civil conversation, all our righteousness and mercy. Not one Sparrow, not the least feather of a good work shall fall to the ground, not one half farthing be lost, not a hair of any righteous action perish: he is at hand to take all up that nothing be lost. At hand he is 2. to deliver us out of the hands of all that hate us: if temporal deliverance be best, to give us that; if not, to deliver us however over into glory. At hand 3. to take revenge upon his enemies, to repay his adversaries. He came presently after this Epistle to do so to Ierusalem, to destroy the incredulous Iews and Apostate Hereticks, those persecutors of the Christian Faith, came with a heavy hand, that they fell to their utter ruine and desolation. Thus he being at hand to reward and punish, may well serve as an argument to perswade us to be patient for so short a while, to be moderate both in our fears and desires, in our words, and in our actions, to bear a while and say nothing, to endure a while and do nothing; for one there is a coming, nay, now at hand to deliver us, to plead our cause, to revenge our quarrel: let us commit it to him. He is the Judge of all the world, and judges right: Let us do nothing but with moderation, and not think much to shew it unto all, when we are sure to be rewarded for it: and those that observe it not, are sure to be punished.

8. The Lord is at hand in the blessed Sacrament, and that is also now at hand; but a week between us and it. And moderation of all kinds is but a due preparation to it, some special act of it to be done against it: Righte­ousness and equity is the habitation of his seat, says David: the Lord sits not, nor abides where they are not. The holy Sacrament that is his Seat, a Seat of wonder, is not set but in the righteous and good soul, has no efficacy but there. Modesty and humility are the steps to it; into the modest and humble soul only will he vouchsafe to come. All reverence and civility is but requisite in our addresses unto it. But moderation, meek­ness, and patience, and sweetness, and forgiving injuries is so requisite that there is no coming there, no offering at the altar till we be first reconci­led [Page 42] to our Brother. Go be first reconciled to thy Brother, says our Lord him­self, S. Mat. v. 24. so that now if we desire a blessing of the blessed Sa­crament unto us; if we desire the Lord should there come to us, let our moderation be known to all men before we come. Let us study the art of reconcilement, let us not stand upon points of honour or punctilio's with our Brother, upon quirks and niceties; let us part with somewhat of our right; let us do it civilly, use all men with courtesie and ci­vility, express all modesty and sweetness in our conversation; all softness and moderation, patience and meekness, gentleness and lo­ving kindness towards all, even the bitterest of our enemies; consider­ing the Lord is at hand: the Lord of Righteousness expects our righte­ousness and equity; the Lord in his body, and looks for the reverent and handsom behaviour of our bodies; the Lord of pure eyes and can­not endure any unseemliness or intemperance either in our inward or outward man: the Lord that died and suffered for us, and upon that score requires we should be content to suffer also any thing for him, not to be angry, or troubled, or repine, or murmur at it, or at them that cause it. At the Holy Sacrament he is so near at hand, that he is at the Table with us, reaches to every one a portion of himself, yet will give it to none but such as come in an universal Charity with all the forementioned moderations.

Give me leave to conclude the Text as I began it, and fix the last Argument upon the time. The time is now approaching wherein the Lord came down from Heaven, that he might be the more at hand. Fit it is we should strive to be the more at hand to him, the readier at his command and service: the time wherein he moderated him­self and glory as it were to teach us moderation, appeared so to all, that our moderation also might appear to all of what size, or rank, or sect whatsoever.

I remember a story of Constantia Queen of Arragon, who having ta­ken Charles Prince of Salerno, and resolving to sacrifice him to death to revenge the death of her Nephew Conradinus, basely and unworthily put to death by his Father Charles of Anjon, sent the message to him on a Friday morning to prepare himself for death. The young Prince (it seems not guilty of his Fathers cruelty) returns her this answer; That, besides other courtesies received from her Majesty in Prison, she did him a singular favour to appoint the day of his death on a Friday, and that it was good reason he should die culpable on that day whereon Christ died innocent. The answer related, so much mov'd Constantia, that she sends him this reply: Tell Prince Charles if he take contentment to suffer death on a Friday, because Christ died on it; I will likewise find my satisfaction to pardon him also on the same day that Iesus sign'd my pardon, and the pardon of his Executioners with his Blood. God forbid I shed the blood of a man, on the day my Master shed his for me. I will not rest upon the bitterness of revenge, I freely pardon him.

Behold a Speech of a Queen worthy to command the world, wor­thy a Christian indeed. To apply it, is only to tell you, we may often take excellent occasions of vertue and goodness from times and days, and bid you go and do likewis [...] ▪ The time that is at hand is a time to be celebrated with all Christian joy and moderation, some particular and special act of Charity, Equity, Modesty, Meekness, [Page 43] Moderation to be sought out to be done in it, or to welcome it: The Feast of Love to be solemnized with an universal Charity; the Lord at hand to be honoured with the good works of all our hands. His com­ing to pardon and save sinners to be accompanied with a general re­concilement and forgiveness of all enemies and injuries, of a mode­ration to be exhibited unto all. Let your moderation then keep time as well as measure, be now especially shewn, and known, and felt, and magnified by all with whom we have to do, that thus attending all his comings, he may come with comfort, and carry us away with honour; come in grace and hear us, come in mercy and pardon us, come in his word and teach us, come in spirit and dwell with us, come in his Sacra­ment and feed and nourish us, come in power and deliver us, come in mercy and reward us, come in glory and save us, and take us with him to be nearer to him, more at hand, to sit at his right hand for evermore.

THE FIRST SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

ISAIAH Xi. 10.‘And in that day there shall be a root of Iesse, which shall stand for an Ensign of the People, to it shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious.’

AND in that day there shall be. And in this day there was a root of Iesse that put forth its branch. That day was but the Prophesie, this day is the Gospel of it. Now first (to speak it in the Psalmists phrase) truth flourished out of the earth: now first the truth of it appeared.

Some indeed have applied it to Hezekiah, and per­haps not amiss in a lower sense; but the Apostle who is the best Commen­tator ever upon the Prophets, applies it unto Christ, Rom. xv. 10. There we find the Text, and him it suits to more exactly every tittle of it, and of the Chapter hitherto, than to Hezekiah or any else.

He was properly the branch that was then to grow out of old Iesse's root. For Hezekiah was born and grown up already some years before, thirteen at least. He 2. it is whom the Spirit of the Lord does rest upon, ver. 2. upon Hezekiah and all of us; it is the Dove going and returning. Upon him 3. only it is, that the Spirit in all its fulness, with all its gifts, wis­dom and understanding, and counsel, and might, and the rest is poured out upon. He 4. it is alone, that judges the earth in righteousness, which is said of this root, ver. 4. He 5. it is that shall smite the earth, with the rod or spirit of his mouth, as it is, ver. 4. so attested, 2 Thess. ii. 8. He 6. it is that can make the Wolf and Lamb, the Leopard and the Kid, the Calf, the young Lion and the fatling lie down and dwell together, as is prophesied of him, ver. 6. He the only Prince and God of Peace, that can reconcile all enmities and difference, that can unite all disagreeing spirits. In a word, He is the very only He whom God hath set up for an Ensign to the People, to whom all the Gentiles flock in, to whom rest and [Page 46] glory both properly belong; the only root too from whence all good things spring, or ever sprung either to Iesse, or David, or any other. Nor is it the Apostle, or we Christians only that thus expound it of Christ, the lear­nedst of the Jewish Rabbies do so too; Tam Christiani, quam tota Circumcisio fatetur, says S. Ierome, all the Circumcised Expositors confess as much, all understand it of the Messiah, only a temporal Messiah they would have, and erre in that, because ours the true one, they will not acknowledge. But we have enough from what they do, from their own [...]onfessing it to be spo­ken of the Messiah, or the Christ.

Of whom we have here four particulars to consider, the stock from whence he was to come. The design upon which he was to come. The success of his design, and the glory of his success.

  • 1. The stock from whence he was to come, is the Root of Iesse.
  • 2. The design upon which he was to come, is, to stand for an Ensign to the people to come in unto him.
  • 3. The success of his design, is their coming in, and seeking to him, to it shall the Gentiles seek.
  • 4. The glory of his success, and his rest shall be glorious. Rest he shall have in it, and glorious he shall be by it.

And to bring both ends of the Text together, nay all the ends of it to­gether, I shall lastly add the time, when this Rest shall spring, when this Ensign shall stand up, when the Gentiles shall seek, when this Rest and Glo­ry, or glorious rest shall be. In that day, says the Text. In this day says the Time. In the Birth of Christ. In the Times of Christ all this should be, and all this was. Both days are one, and this of his Birth-day, the very first of all these things here, beginning to be fulfilled.

And the sum of all is no more but this, that notwithstanding the most calamitous times (such as were threatned to the Iews, by bringing upon them the Assyrian in the former Chapter) there should a day of delive­rance at last appear, a day of rest and glory, when the Messiah or Christ should come to perfect all their deliverances, and not only theirs but the Gentiles also, and build up a Church out of them both unto himself, and dwell and rest gloriously among them, and bring them also to his eter­nal rest and glory. I begin at the root of this great design, to shew you who it is, and whence he comes, that shall thus stand up for the rest and glory of the People. And the Root of Iesse here he is call'd: There shall be a root of Iesse.

In the first verse his stile somewhat differs: He is called a Rod out of the stem of Iesse, and a branch out of his Roots, and he is them all; and this root in the Text, but a Metonymy to express them all.

1. He is a Rod, the Rod, the staff that so comforted old David, Psal. xxiii. that even raises his dead bones out of the Grave, and makes him as it were walk still among the living.

The staff that supported dying Iacob, which he lean'd upon, and wor­shipped, Heb. xi. 21. which we may worship too without any Idolatry. A Rod, a Staff he is to lean upon, a staff that will not fail us, not like the reeds of Egypt, the supports and succours that the world affords us: they will but run into our hands and hurt us, to be sure never be able to hold us up. This Christ is the only staff for that. A staff that will comfort us when we are ready to die, that we may trust to upon our death-beds, that we may commit our dying spirits to, as S. Stephen did, Acts vii. 59. No other can do that but this of Christ. Indeed no rod hath either comfort or strength to hold by but only He.

[Page 47] Yet a rod 2. he is, to rule and correct us too, as there is need; a rod of iron by which God bruises the rebellious spirits, Psal. ii. 9. The rod or Scepter of Iudah, the Shepherds rod or hook; one to shew his Kingly pow­er, the other his Priestly power over us. So the word denotes two of his prime offices out to us, and may yet intimate a third; the Shepherds rod being not so much to strike, as to direct and lead the stragling Sheep into the way: a part of his Prophetick Office. So a word well chosen to signi­fie unto us all his three Offices. And the Rod or Wand that is carried before the Iudge, when he goes to the Judgment-seat, may not unfitly be added to the other, and put us in mind that this our King, and Priest, and Prophet, shall also come to be our Iudge; and we therefore so to car­ry it, so to yield our obedience to him, so to submit to his Rod, as we in­tend to answer it, when he comes to be our Iudge, as we expect or hope to have his favour in the day of Iudgment.

But he is a Rod 3. new springing out of the root, a kind of pliable ten­der thing, so stil'd for his meekness and humility, ready to be wound and turn'd any way for our service, to become any thing, to become all things for our good. A rod so pliant, so flexible, so pliable, so tender; never any son of man so pliant to his Fathers will, so flexible to all good, so pli­able to do or suffer, so tender over us, never so meek, and humble, and lowly, never any.

Nor did 4. ever rod grow out of a more unlikely stem, [...]: the word used here imports a dead trunck cut close down to the earth, no appea­rance of life or power in it. The Royal Family of David was come to that, nothing appeared above ground that could give hope of the least bud or leaf. And then it was, that notwithstanding this Rod came forth. So low may things be brought to humane eyes, and yet rise again: Gods time is often then. When our eyes are ready to fail with expectation, and all hopes have given up the Ghost; when the Family of David, from whence all the promis'd and look'd for hope was in a condition near an extinguish­ment; when Herod had usurp'd the Throne, and the Romans setled him, and his succession in it; when not so much as a sprig, or bud, or string of hope could be seen by the quickest sight, then out starts this rod upon a sudden, and prospers to a wonder. Well might the Prophet put Wonderful for one of his names; there was never any like him: and it may teach us first to adore this wonder, to kiss this Rod, support or comfort us, rule or correct us how it will; and 2. thankfully admire Gods goodness that thus does so unexpectedly often for us.

And upon this next title we may do as much: For he is not only a bare single rod, but a branch that spreads it self abroad into twigs and little boughs. Two main ones at the first, his Divinity and his Humanity; from which infinite little twigs and leaves, infinite graces and blessings are extended to us. My servant the branch, God calls him, Zach. iii. 8. And the man whose name is the Branch, Zach. vi. 12. The word in both places descends from [...] which signifies any thing that springs or rises ei­ther from above or from below. His Divinity that springs from above, from Heaven; and to that alludes the Latin in both those places, which translate [...] by Oriens, the East or rising Sun, and is alluded to by Zachary in his Benedictus, when he calls him the day-spring from on high, Oriens ex alto, S. Luke i. 78. His Humanity that riseth from beneath, from earth, and is sufficiently signified by the root of Iesse: You have them both together, Ier. xxiii. I will raise unto David a righteous branch, ver. 5. and this is his Name, the Lord our righteousness, ver. 6. And from these two all the leaves and fruits of righteousness whatsoever.

[Page 48] For it is not 2. a meer sprout, or yet a barren one, but flourishing and flowring too. Beautiful and glorious, Isa. iv. 3. excellent and comely in the same place. Flos the vulgar reads it, a fair goodly flower. The Rose of Sharen, and the Lilly of the Valleys, Cant. ii. 1. a sweet smelling Flower, that sent forth its odour into all the world. Flos odorem suum succisus reservat, & contritus accumulat, nec avulsus amittit; ita & Dominus Iesus in illo patibulo crucis, nec avulsus evanuit, nec contritus emarcuit, sed illâ lanceae punctione succi­sus speciosior fusi cruoris colore vernavit, mori ipse nescius & mortuis aternae vitae munus exhalans, says St. Ambrose. A Flower when it is cut off loses not its scent, and being bruis'd it increaseth it: So our Lord Iesus, says he, lost none of his beauty, or sweetness, by being broken and bruis'd upon the Cross; when he was here taken off from the stock of the living, the Blood that issu'd out of his Wounds, made his beauty more fresh and orient; and his bruising there extracted from him so sweet an odour, that even still every day raiseth the fainting soul out of its swoon, and revives even the dead, that they flourish out of their Graves by a Resurrection to life eternal. The original of the word [...] is from [...] servavit, to reserve or keep; and may therefore not unfitly denote the great sweetness and vertue that is reserv'd and laid up in Christ to sweeten and adorn the stinking and nasty houses of our sinful souls and bodies.

And from the same Hebrew root, so signifying servavit, we have Ser­vator, our Saviour and Conservator, pointed to us. This [...] this Branch, this Flower bears in its name the Saviour, and hath been by some drawn in­to Nazareus, to raise a conjecture that Christ was called a Nazaren from Isaiah's Netzer, from the word here translated Branch, or Flower. But this to be sure can be no mistake, to tell you either from the Word, or any way else, that our Saviour is design'd by it; and this Rod, and Branch, and Root is none but He.

And Root indeed he is, as well as a Rod or Branch; a Root without a Metonymy, as well as by it. The very Root of all our happiness. The Root in which our very life is hid. Our life is hid with Christ in God, says the Apostle, Col. iii. 3. The Root 2. and foundation upon which we all are built; we are all but so many twigs of this great Vine-root, so ma­ny Branches from him, S. Iohn xv. 5. The Root 3. whence all good springs up to us, all Flowers of Art, of Nature, all the staves of comfort, and rods of hope, all the branches of grace, and glory; no name properer to him in all these respects. Nay 4. Even the very Root of Iesse too, from whom Iesse had his original, from whom Iesse's family throve into a King­dom, from whence his youngest sons Sheephook sprang into a Scepter: the Root of David himself too, so says he of himself, Rev. xxii. 16. Why then say we, or why says the Prophet, the Root of Iesse? Why? not with­out reason neither. Iesse was but a poor man in Israel. My Family what is it? says David himself, 1 Sam. xviii. 18. yet from Iesse would God raise up Christ, that we might know God can bring any thing out of any thing. He can raise Empires out of Sheepcotes; so he did Cyrus, so he did Romulus: the one the Founder of the Persian Monarchy, the other of the Roman. He raised the first Governour of the Iews, out of a bulrush-basket, and the first States of the Christian Church out of a Fisher-boat: And not many mighty, not many noble, saith S. Paul, 1 Cor. i. 16. But God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty, and base things of the world, and things that are despised hath God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, ver. 17. 18. So little is God taken with our greatness, our great birth or breeding.

[Page 49] And it is 2 [...] to shame our pride, who undervalue mean things; ready enough to say with the unbelieving Iews, can any Good thing come out of Nazareth? can any great eminent person spring out of the Root of Iesse? Yes it can.

And our great Ancestors will but shame us, as well as be asham'd of us, if we have nothing to glory of but our relation to their ashes: Our high descent is not worth the speaking of, and perhaps if we but trace it a lit­tle higher than our own memories (to be sure if to the first beginning) the best and gloriousest Princes will find themselves deriv'd from as mean an original as any poor Iesse whatsoever. And this may serve well to cut our plumes, to stop our rantings of our descent and birth, or any thing, and teach humility.

To drive that lesson homer, I may note to you 3. that 'tis the root of Iesse here, not David, (though otherwhere he is called the Root of David, as Rev. v. 5.) lest he should seem either to receive glory from David, or need his name, to cover the obscurity of his beginning. There is no glo­ry to that of humility, nor any so truly honourable as the humble spirit.

And of Iesse 4. not David, to point out as it were the very time of our Messiah's coming; even then when there was scarce any thing to be seen or heard of the house of David; the Royal Line as it were extinct, and Davids house brought back again to its first beginning, to that private and low condition it was in in the days of Iesse. Thus again would God teach us to be humble in the midst of all our ruff, and glory, by thus shew­ing us what the greatest Families of the greatest Princes may quickly come to, where they may take up e're they are aware. And 2. to give us the nearest sign both of Christs coming, and of himself; that when things were at the lowest, then it would be, and that his coming would be in a low condition too; in poverty and humility: Root and Iesse both intimate as much.

And lastly, if we may with some Etymologists derive it from [...] and interpret it a gift, there will be as good a reason as any, why it is here said rather of Iesse than of David; even because this root of all this good is to us, comes meerly of free gift, So God loved the world, says S. Iohn iii. 16. that he gave his only begotten Son; and not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, says St. Paul: this great kindness of God our Saviour appeared towards us, this Lord our Saviour appeared to us, Tit. iii. 4, 5. as a root, as a rod, as a branch; a root to settle us, a rod to comfort us, a branch to shelter us; a root to give us life, a rod to rule us in it, a branch to crown us for it; a close stubb'd root, a weak slender rod, a tender branch full of loveliness, meekness and humility.

And he appeared as they all do out of the earth, watered by the dew of Heaven; they have no other Father than the heavenly showers: so by the descending of the Holy Ghost upon the Blessed Virgin, as rain into a dry ground, this holy Root put forth, this Branch sprung up without other father of his humanity; which is the meaning both of erit in the Text, and egredietur in the beginning, both of this shall be, here, and that shall come forth, or there shall grow up, in the first verse of the Chapter. And thus we have the first part of the Text, the descent, and stock, and na­ture, and condition, and birth of Christ, with other things pertaining to it. And now for his design, to be set up, or stand for an Ensign to the people.

II. And indeed, for that he was born to gather the stragling world into one body, to unite the Iew and Gentile under one head, to bring the straying sheep into one fold, to draw all the Armies of the earth together [Page 50] into one heavenly host, that we might all march lovingly under the banner of the Almighty, under the command of Heaven.

Men had long marched under the command of Flesh, Earth, and Hell. God had suffered all Nations, saith St. Paul, to do so, to walk after their own ways, Acts xiv. 16. But now he commands otherwise, commands to re­pent, and leave those unhappy Standards to come in to his, Acts xvii. 30.

And he exempts none, debars none, all men every where are called to it, Acts xvii. 30. every nation, and every one in every Nation, that will come shall be accepted, Acts x. 35. every creature, says he himself, St. Mark xvi. 15. Iew and Greek, bond and free, male and female, all one here, Gal. iii. 28. Be we never so heavy laden with sins and infirmities, under this banner we shall find rest, St. Mat. xi. 28. Be we never so hotly pursued by our fiercest enemies, here we shall have shelter, and protecti­on. For he is not only an Ensign set up to invite us in, but an Ensign to protect us too by the Armies it leads out for us.

And as it first is set up to call us, and secondly to bring us into a place of defence and safety, so does it thirdly stand to us, and not leave us. An Ensign may be set up and quickly taken down, but this stands and stands for ever. It is not idly said, when 'tis here said parti­cularly, it is to stand. Humane forces, devices, and designs may be set up, and not stand at all; but God's and Christ's, theirs will: the gates of Hell it self cannot disappoint them, cannot throw down this Banner, St. Mat. xvi. 18. His counsels shall stand, he will do all his pleasure, Isa. xlvi. 10. They do but fight against God that go about to resist it, says Gamaliel the great Doctor of the Law, Acts v. 39.

And will you know the Staff, the Colours, and the Flag or Streamer of this Ensign? why, the Staff is his Cross, the Colours are Blood and Wa­ter, and the Streamer the Gospel, or preaching of them to the world. The Staff that carried the Colours, was of old time fashioned like a Cross, a cross bar near the top, there was, from which the Flag or Streamer hung; so as it were prefiguring, that all the Hosts and Armies of the Nations were one day to be gathered under the Banner of the Cross, to which Soul­diers should daily flow out of all the Nations and Kingdoms of the earth. By Blood and Water, the two Sacraments, is the way to him; and the Word or Gospel preached is the Flag wav'd out to invite all people in.

Come we then in first, and let not this Flag of Reconciliation, of peace and treaty; for to such ends are Flags sometimes hung out, be set up in vain; let it not stand like an Ensign forsaken, upon a hill: come we in to treat with him at least about our everlasting peace, lest it become a Flag of defiance by and by.

Come we in 2. and submit to the conditions of peace, submit to his orders and commands. The Septuagint reads: [...], here, to in­timate this: He that stands for an Ensign is to be the great Ruler and Commander of the Nations; 'tis requisite therefore that we come in and obey him.

Come we 3. to this Standard, and remember we are also to fight under it: That's the prime reason of Ensigns and Banners. We promise to do it when we are Baptiz'd, and it must be our business to perform it. It is not for us to be afraid of pains or labour, of danger or trouble, of our lives and fortunes for Christs service, a Souldier scorns it, even he who fights but for a little pay, and that commonly ill paid. And shall we turn cowards when we fight for a Kingdom, and that in Heaven, which we may be sure of, if we fight well?

[Page 51] Above all 4. if this Ensign stand up for us, let us stand up to it, and stand for it to the last. A Souldier will venture all to save his colours, ra­ther wrap himself up in them, and dye so, than part with them. For Christ, for his Word, for his Sacraments, for his Cross, for our Gospel and Religion we should do as much. But I am asham'd, the age has shewed us too many cowards that have not only run away from this Standard, but betray'd it too; the more unworthy certainly that they should ever reap fruit or benefit, twig or branch from the root of Iesse. The very Gentiles in the next words will sufficiently shame them. For to it, to this Ensign do all the Gentiles seek.

III. Shail, it is, I confess in the future tense here, reach'd no further in the Prophets time, but now it does; the Prophesie is fulfill'd, it so came to pass. And it quickly came so, after the Ensign was set up, the Cross reared, and the Resurrection had display'd it. For I, if I be lifted up from the earth, says he himself, will draw all men to me, St. Iohn xii. 32. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and Cappa­docia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and Lybia, Rome and Cy­rene, as well as the dwellers in Iudea, Cretes and Arabians, as well as Israelites, Proselites, as well as Iews, he will draw all in to him. The vast multitudes that came daily in from all quarters of the world, so many Churches of the Gentiles, so suddenly rais'd and planted, are a sufficient evidence to this great truth. And the term, the Iews at this day give the Christians of [...] the very word in the Text for Gentiles, confirms as much by their own confession. So true was both Isaiah's Prophesie here, and Fa­ther Iacob's so long before, that to him should the gathering of the people be, Gen. xlix. 10. But that which is an evidence as great as any, if not a­bove all, is, St. Paul applies the Text as fulfilled then, Rom. xv. 12. And there is this only to be added for our particular, that we still go on and continue seeking him.

IV. But there is Rest, and Glory here added to the success of this great design, His rest shall be glorious.

Now by his Rest, we in the first place understand the Church, the place where the Psalmist tells us his honour dwells, Psal. xxvi. 3. the place of which himself says no less, than, This shall be my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have delight therein, Psal. cxxxii. 14. And glorious it is the Apostle tells us, a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, Ephes. v. 27. glorious all over, so glorious, that the Prophet says, the Gentiles shall come to its Light, and Kings to the brightness of its rising, Isa. lx. 3. they shall bring Gold and Incense from Shebah, the flocks of Kedar, and the rams of Nebaioth shall come with acceptance to his Altar, ver. 7. the glory of Lebanon shall come unto it, ver. 13. They shall call the walls of it salvation, and the gates praise, ver. 18. The Lord is an everlasting light unto it, and God is its glory, ver. 19. So that we may well cry out with David, Glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou City of God, thy Church, thy Congregation, O thou root of Iesse, thou Son of David, which thou hast gathered, and thy Churches or holy Tem­ples too which are rais'd to thee, exceed in glory; the beauty of Holiness, thy holy mysteries, thy blessed self art there.

And indeed in the holy Mysteries of the Blessed Sacrament, is his second place of Rest. There it is that the feeds his flock, and rests at noon, Cant. i. 7. And he is glorious there, glorious in his Mercies, illustrious in his Benefits, wonderful in his being there. No such wonder in the world, as his being under these consecrated Elements, his feeding our souls with them, his discovering himself from under them, by the comforts he affords us by them.

[Page 52] His Cratch to day was a third place of his Rest, glorious it was, because 1. the God of Glory rested there: because 2. the glorious Angels displaid their Wings, and gave forth their light, and sung about it, St. Luke ii. 13, 14. because 3. Kings themselves came from far to visite it, and laid all their glories down there at his feet. There his rest was glorious too.

Nay 4. his Sepulchre the place of his rest in Death, was as glorious, is as glorious still as any of the other: And I must tell you, the Latin reads it Sepulchrum ejus Gloriosum; From thence it is he rose in glory: by that it was he gain'd the glorious victory over Death and Hell: from thence he came forth a glorious Conqueror. Thither have devout Christians flock'd in incredible numbers. There have Miracles been often wrought, there have Kings hung up their Crowns, there have millions paid their homage. And thence have we all receiv'd both Grace and Glory; from his Sepul­chre, where he lay down in Death, and rose again to Life.

There is one Rest still behind, and it is not only glorious, but it self is glory: His rest, himself calls it, Heb. iii. 11. yet a rest into which he would have us enter too, Heb. iv. 9, 11. And in Heaven it is; no rest to this, no rest indeed any where, but there, and perfect glory no where else.

And now to wind up all together. This rest and glory, or glorious rest, which ends the Text, (and 'tis the best end we can either make or wish) springs from the root at the beginning. The Church it self, and all the rest and glory the Churches ever had, or have, or shall enjoy, grows all from that. Our Holy Temples, our Holy Sacraments, our Holy Days, this day the first of all the rest, all the benefits of his Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Glory; nay our greatest glory in Heaven it self, comes from this little Branch of Iesse, this humble Root: and the way to all is by him and his humility.

And the time suits well, and the day hits fair for all. In that day says the Text, all this you have heard shall be; and that day now is this. To day the Root sprang forth, the Branch appeared. To day the Ensign was displaid to all the people. From this day the Gentiles began their search. This day he began to call in his Church, and the Shepherds were the first. To day he first was laid to mortal rest. To day the glory of his Star appear­ed, to wait upon his Cradle. To day we also may enter into his rest, one or other of them.

One of his places of rest we told you was in the Church, or holy place: let us seek him there. Another Rest of his we mentioned to be in the Bles­sed Sacrament: let us seek him there. His Ensign is there set up; let us go in to him, and offer our lives and fortunes at his feet, proffer to fight his Battels and obey his Commands: strive we as the Apostle adviseth us, Heb. iv. 11. to enter into his rest. Root we and build our selves upon him. Root we our selves upon him by humility, build we upon him by faith: grow we up with him rooted and grounded in love, and sprouting out in all good works: rest we our selves upon him, and make him our only stay and glory. So when this Root shall appear the second time, and blow up his Trumpet, as he here set up his Ensign, and our dead roots spring afresh out of their dust, we also may appear with him, with Palms and Bran­ches in our hands to celebrate the praises of this Root and Branch of Iesse, and enter joyfully into his rest, into the rest of everlasting glory.

THE SECOND SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

St. LUKE [...]i. 7.‘And she brought forth her First-born Son, and wrapped him in Swad­ling-clothes, and laid him in a Manger; because there was no room for them in the Inn.’

I Shall not need to tell you who this She, or who this Him. The day rises with it in its wings. This day wrote it with the first Ray of the morning Sun upon the posts of the world. The Angels sung it in their Choirs, the morning Stars together in their courses. The Virgin Mother, the Eternal Son. The most blessed among wo­men, the fairest of the Sons of men. The Woman clo­thed with the Sun: The Sun compassed with a Woman. She the Gate of Heaven: He the King of Glory that came forth. She the Mother of the everlasting God: He God without a Mother: God blessed for evermore. Great persons as ever met upon a day.

Yet as great as the persons, and as great as the day, the great lesson of them both is to be little, to think and make little of our selves, seeing the infinite greatness is this day become so little, Eternity a Child, the Rays of Glory wrapt in rags, Heaven crowded into the corner of a Stable, and he that is every where want a room.

I may at other times have spoke great and glorious things both of the Persons and the Day; but I am determin'd to day to know nothing but Iesus Christ in Rags, but Iesus Christ in a Manger. And I hope I shall have your company along: your thoughts will be my thoughts, and my thoughts yours, and both Christ's; all upon his humility and our own. This is our first-born, which we are this day to bring forth (for it is a day of bringing forth) this we are to wrap up in our memories, this to lay up in our hearts; this the Blessed Mother, this the Blessed Babe, this the condi­tion, and place, and time we find them in, the taxing time, the Beasts Manger, the Swadling-clouts, all this day preach to us.

[Page 54] The day indeed is a high day, the Persons high Estates; but the case we find them in, and the esteem too, the day is lately in, is low enough to teach us humility, and lowliness at the lowest.

With this the day is great, and the Persons great, and the Text great too, and time (perhaps) you think it is that it bring forth. Come then let's see what God hath sent us in it.

A Mother and a Child, Swadling Clouts to wrap it, and a Manger for a Cra­dle to lay it in, and all other room or place denied it quite. These are the plain and evident parcels of the Text, in number five.

But the whole business is between two persons, the Mother and the Child; and it hath two consideratiens besides the letter, a moral lesson and a Mystery: The one sufficiently brought forth, and laid before us; a plain lesson of humility from all points and persons. The other wrapped up and involv'd in the Swadling-clothes, and Manger, and want of Inn-room; nay in the tender Mother, her care and travel. For each may have its mystery, and the Text no injury, nay hath its mystery, and the Text injury if it be not so considered. That's the way, that not one [...], one tittle of the Law or Gospel may fall to the ground, or scrap or fragment may be lost.

We shall do so then. Read you first that great Lecture of Humility which Christ this day taught us by his Birth, and all the circumstances of it here so punctually exprest: and then shew you a mystery in every cir­cumstance. For so great a business as this fell not out by chance, nor the circumstances at hap-hazard; but a reason of all there is to be given: why Christ was born, why of such a Mother, at such a time, under such a name, in such a place, why so wrapt and laid, and no fit room allow'd him. And when we have done so, we will see whether he shall now meet better usage with us, than in the Inn he did to day, and learn you by his happy Mother, how to wrap, and where to lay him.

I begin to run over the words first as so many points of his humility. And seven degrees it rises by, seven particulars in them, we take it from. 1. His being brought forth or born. 2. His Mother, She. 3. His wrapping up. 4. His clothes he was wrapt in. 5. His laying in the Manger. 6. The no re­spect he meets with in the Inn, no room there for him. And lastly, the time when this was done. In the days of the taxing, then was this blessed Mothers time accomplished, in the words just before: and then she brought forth her First-born Son. Thus the Et, the And, couples all, and gives us the time of the Story, that we may know where and how to find it, in the Ro­man Records by the year of the Taxes.

The first step of his Humiliation was to be born, and brought forth by a Woman, the only begotten Son of the Immortal God, to become the First-born of a mortal Woman. The First-born of every Creature to become the First-born of so silly a Creature. Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst become the Son of a woman? But if thou wouldst needs become a Man, why by the way of a Woman? why didst thou not fit thy self of a Body some other way? Thou couldst have framed thy self a humane Body, of some pu­rer matter, than the purest of corrupted natures: but such is thy humili­ty, that thou didst not abhor the Virgins Womb, wouldst be brought forth as other men, that we might not think of our selves above other men, how great or good soever thou makest us.

But 2. if he would be born of a Woman, could he not have chosen an othergates than she, than a poor Carpenters Wife? some great Queen or Lady had been fitter far to have made as it were the Queen of Heaven, and Mother to the Heir of all the World. But Respexit humilitatem ancillae, it was [Page 55] the lowliness of this his holy Hand-maid, that he lookt to, it was for her humility he chose to be born of her before any other. That we may know 1. whom it is that the eternal Wisdom will vouchsafe to dwell with, even the humble and lowly. That 2. we may see, he even studies to descend as low as possible, that so even the meanest might come to him without fear. That 3. we should henceforth despise no man for his pa­rentage, nor bear our selves high upon our birth and stock.

Our descent and Kindred are no such business to make us proud; Christ comes as soon to the low Cottage, as to the loftiest Palace, to the Handmaid as to the Mistriss, to the Poor as to the Rich, nay prefers them here, ho­nours a poor humble Maid above all the gallant Ladies of the world. For God thus to be made Man, man of a Woman, the eternal Being begin to be, Infinity to be encompass'd in a Virgins Womb; he whose goings out are from everlasting, now to seem first to be brought forth, but now lately born; Riches it self, the Son of Poverty; so far to debase himself! who indeed can sufficiently express this his generation; also the poorness, mean­ness, contemptibleness, humbleness of it? His delight surely is to be with the lowly, that thus picks and culls out low things.

You will say so 3. most, if you consider his wrapping up, as well as his coming forth: He that measures the Heavens with his Span, the waters in the hollow of his hand, who involves all things, all the treasures of Wis­dom and Knowledge, in whom all our beings and well-beings, the decrees and fates of the world are wrapt from all eternity; he now come to be wrapt and made up like a new-born child; who can unwind, or unfold his humility? will our Master be thus dealt with as a Child? thus handled like the common infant? and shall we hereafter think much the best of us to be used like other men? away with all our nicenesses henceforward, and be content that our selves and ours should be in all things subject to the common fate of the sons of men.

Nor think we much 2. to be wrapt up, and bound sometimes, and de­nied the liberty of a stragling power to hurt our selves, but ever thank the hand that binds us up, and takes care of us when we either cannot or know not how to help our selves, would undo our selves, if we were left loose, which in another English is too true, too often left undone. He that binds all things with his Word, makes them up in his Wisdom, and wraps them in the Mantle of his protection, was content to be bound up as a Child, when he was a Child; as if he had wholly laid aside his power, humbled himself to be under the power and discretion of a simple Wo­man, Nurse and Mother. To teach us again the humility of a Child, to behave our selves in every condition, and submit in it as it requires; if Children, to be content with the usage of children; if Subjects, with the condition of subjects; if Servants, of servants, and the like.

The Clothes his dear Mother wrapt him in are 4. the very badges of hu­mility; [...] is a rag, or torn and tatter'd Clothes: such were the clothes she wrapt him in, such he is so humble, he will be content with, even with rags. What make we then such ado for clothes? Iacob would bargain with God no further then for rayment to put on: he covenanted with him not for fashion, nor colour, nor stuff, nor trimming: and our Bles­sed Lord here is content with what comes next. But, Lord! to see what ado have we about our Apparel! this Lace, and that Trimming; this Fa­shion, and that Colour; these Iewels, and those Accoutrements; this Cloth, and that Stuff; this Silk, and that Velvet; this Silver, and that Gold; this way of wearing, and that garb in them; as if our whole life were Ray­ment, [Page 56] our Clothes Heaven, and our salvation the handsom wearing them. We forget, we forget our sweet Saviours rags, his poor ragged Swadling-clothes, and our Garments witness against us to our faces, our pride, our follies, our vanities at the best. He that, as Iob says, Iob xxxviii. 9. makes the Cloud the garment of the Sea, and thick darkness a swadling-band for it, he lets his own Swadling-bands be made of any thing, his own Clothes of any [...], any torn pieces, to give us a lesson not to be solicitous of what we should put on, or wherewith we should be clothed, but be con­tent to be clothed as he does the Grass, when and how he pleases. 'Tis no shame to be in rags and tatters, if they be but Christs, if they come by him, not by our own ill husbandries, and intemperances; if for his sake or cause we are brought to them. Clothes are but to cover shame, and defend us from the cold; they make not a man, nor commend any to God. Lazarus's rags are better wearing than Dives his Purple and fine Li­nen. There is a part of humility as well as modesty, that consists in Apparel; and this part is here commended to us by our Saviours condition, that howsoever the giddy Gallants of the world think of it, the sober Chri­stians of the Church should not think strange to see themselves in rags, which our Lord hath thus rent and torn out to us.

5. Well, but though he was content to be wrapt in Swadling-clothes, and those none of the handsomest neither, may we not look for a Cradle at least to lay him in? No matter what we may look for, we are like to find no better than a Manger for that purpose, and a lock of Hay for his Bed, and for his Pillow, and for his Mantle too. A poor condition, and an humble one indeed, for him whose Chariot is the Clouds, whose Palace is in Heaven, whose Throne is with the most High. What place can we hereafter think too mean for any of us? Stand thou here, sit thou there, under my Foot-stool, places of exceeding honour compared to this. What, not a room among men, not among the meanest, in some smoky Cottage, or ragged Cell; but among Beasts? whither hath thy humility driven thee, O Saviour of mankind? Why, meer pity of a Woman in thy Mo­thers case, O Lord, would have made the most obdurate have removed her from the Horses feet, the Asses heels, the company of unruly Beasts, from the ordure and nastiness of a Stable: But that we, O Lord, might see what we had made our selves, meer Beasts, as lustful as the Horse, as sot­tish as the Ass, as proud, and untam'd as the Bulls, as bent to earthly drudgeries and yokes as the Oxe and Heifer, that thou wert fain even to come thither to find us out and redeem us. This note will humble us if any can, and make us not think much if God at any time deal with us as Beasts, whip us, and spur us, beat us with the staff, prick us with the goad, feed us with hard meat, like such things as they, seeing we are now be­come like them, as says the Psalmist, Psal. xlix. 12. 20. To descend from the Society of Cherubims and Seraphims, and all the Host of Heaven, to be the companion of Beasts; from the bosom of his Father, to the concave of a Manger, is such a descent of humility, that we have no more understanding than the very beasts to express it. Go man, and sit down now in the low­est room thou canst, thou canst not sit so low as lay thy Saviour. S. Ierome was so much devoted to the contemplation of this strange humility of his Master in this particular, that he spent many of his years near the place of this hallowed Manger. And S. Luke in S. Ambrose's interpretation plea­ses himself much in the recounting of this circumstance of his Saviour's Birth; and indeed any may so conjecture it, that considers how often he repeats it in so little compass, thrice within ten verses, the 7. 12. and 16. [Page 57] And say I, let others seek him in the Courts of Princes, in the head of an Army, under a Canopy of State, in a Cradle of Gold, or Ivory; I will seek him to day where he was laid, whither the Angel sent the Shepherds to seek him, where the Shepherds found him in a Manger, in a Stable, in the hum­ble and lowly heart; that in an humble sense of his own unworthiness cries out with Agur, Prov. xxx. 2. Surely I am more brutish than man, and have not the understanding of a man, even thinks himself fit for a Manger, nay, not worthy of it, since his Lord lay in it.

6. But the Manger is not the worst, the dis-respect that forc'd him thi­ther, that's the hardest, that there was no room for them in the Inn, [...], eis, no room for them, mark that; 'tis not said there was no room, no room at all in the Inn, but none for them; they were so poor it seems, and their outward appearance so contemptible, that notwithstanding the conditi­on of a Woman great with Child, and so near her time, they were put away without respect or regard. To have fall'n by chance or some accident into so mean a place, or have been driven thither by some sudden storm, or tempest, and so frighted into travel, had been no such wonder perad­venture; but to be driven thither by the unkindness and inhumanity of ones own Countrymen, and Tribe too, is a trial of humility indeed; but to choose to be so (for he knew all from the beginning before it came to pass) so to contrive all things for it, and suffer the uncivil ruggedness of men to drive him out to dwell and lodge among Beasts; to have contempt thrown upon his poverty, and neglect added to all inconveniences, is sure to teach us humility in the harshest usages we meet with. He that made all places, finds none himself, and is content. He that hath many Mansions for others in his Fathers house, hath not the least lobby in an Inn, and repines not at it. He that would have given this churlish Host an eternal house in Heaven for asking for, cannot have a Cabin for any hire, because his parents seem so poor; and yet he fetches not fire from Heaven to consume him for his inhumanity.

How unlike us, I pray, for whom no downy pallets are soft enough, no room sufficiently spacious and Majestick, no furniture enough costly, no attendance sufficient, all respect too little. Do we ever call to mind this our Saviours first entertainment in the world, or think we are no bet­ter then our Master? He could have come in state, in glory, in all magni­ficence and pomp, attended with all respect and honour, but would not for our sakes most, that we might see what he most delights in, and learn it as much by his example as his precept.

7. And yet there is a seventh degree of his humility, to let all this be done to him in such a publick time and place, when the whole world was met together to be taxed, where so many were gathered in such a place of meeting as an Inn, when the whole City is filled from one corner to an­other, there and then to be so used, so despised, so scorned, as a sign of men, and the out-cast of the people, ranked with the Horse and Ass, to have so many witnesses of affro [...]ts, and contempts put upon him, to con­descend and order so to have it done, is the highest of humility: for not only to think meanly of our selves, but to desire to have all others think meanly of us, is so hard a Text that I fear me few can bear it. Whatever we suffer, or to whatsoever meannesses and under offices we condescend, we would not willingly have others think the worse of us for it: there is too oft a pride in our good works, that lies lurking under them, we scarce can throw it off; but 'tis that, 'tis that above the rest that we should endeavour, to be content to be trampled on, and despised for him who was so for us.

[Page 58] Sum we up now the points of Christs humility, to leave his Fathers bo­som for the Virgins Womb, the great riches in Heaven for great poverty upon earth, to wrap up his immensity in Swadling-clothes, his Robes of glory in Clouts and Rags, forsake his Throne for a Manger, the adoration of Saints and Angels for the dis-respects of a surly Host, to be seen in this mean pic­kle to all the world. Domine in quis similis tui? O Lord who is like to thee, who is like to thee may we say this way also in thy humility as well as in thy glory. And sure we cannot hereafter any of us grudge to be in rags, in Sheep-skins, and Goat-skins, in Dens and Caves of the earth, destitute, neglected, forsaken, repuls'd, contemned, but humble our selves to the meanest condition without any great reflection upon our Birth or former estates and conditions, if Christ shall at any time require it of us; seeing the Servant is not better than his Master, nor the dry tree than the green: and if to him all this was done, we should frame our minds at least to a humility ready to undergo it.

I have run over the plain song of the words, the plain lesson of humi­lity that is in them without straining. I must back over again to descant out the mysteries that lie under them.

And she brought forth. Before she travell'd she brought forth, before her pain came she was delivered of a man-child; so prophesied Isaiah, Isa. lxvi. 7. and so the Fathers do apply it: She conceived without corruption, and brought forth without sorrow; the very Text may bear witness to it: for she wrapt it in the Swadling-clothes, and she laid it in the Manger, says St. Luke. No women it seems near to help her: for she who needed not the help of man to conceive, needed no help of woman sure to bring forth: no corru­ption, no sorrow. A great mystery, none ever like it, to begin with.

But she a Virgin, thus bringing forth, affords us a second too, to in­struct us, what souls they are of whom Christ is born; Pure and Virgin, Chaste and Holy only that bring forth him. And the First-born he will be, ever should be of all our thoughts, will be acknowledged so when­soever born, primogenitus, one before whom none; for that only is the sense of First-born here, not referring to any after, but to none before, Col. i. 14. begotten before any creature, in honour above all creatures, en­dued with all the rights of primogeniture, even as man also. Now three things belonged to the First-born Son, the Priesthood, the preheminence, or regal Dignity, and a double or larger portion. He is the High-Priest of our pro­fession, Heb. iii. 1. The great High-Priest of the Christian Profession and Religion. He 2. the Head of his Church, Col. i. 18. To whom all power is gi­ven in heaven and earth, S. Mat. xxviii. 18. He 3. also anointed with the oyl of gladness above his fellows, Psal. xlv. 8. A portion of grace far above others, S. Iohn i. 16. That in all things he might have the preheminence, being the First-born, as well of the dead as of the living, says S. Paul, Col. i. 18. All these mysteries we have wrapt up in the title of the First-born, that by it he is in­timated to be our Prince, our Priest, our elder Brother, one in whom all ful­ness, who should be therefore so acknowledg'd and us'd, be first enter­tain'd in our affections, be the first birth our souls should travel with, and our affections and actions bring forth.

But there are more wrapt up in his being wrapt in Swadling-clothes, then can readily be exprest. All the benefits that came by him were wrapt up and not understood, till the Clothes both of the Manger and the Grave were unwrapt by his Resurrection. He seem'd not what he was, shewed not what he came for until then. All the while before nothing but folds, and things folded up, the Cross made up or involved in his Cratch (for of [Page 59] the form of a Cross the Cratch some say was made) mans salvation in Gods Incarnation, the Churches growth in the Virgins bringing forth, ma­ny brethren in the First-born among them.

His Glory 2. that was wrapt up in those Clothes, his God-head in the Man-hood, the Word in Flesh, Eternity in days, Righteousness in a body like to a body of Sin, Wisdom in the infancy of a Child, Abundance in Poverty, Glory in disrespect, the Fountain of Grace in a dry barren dusty Land, eter­nal light in Clouds, and everlasting life in the very image of death; will you see the Clothes that hid this treasure, not from men only, but from De­vils? The espousals of just Ioseph, and holy Mary hid Christs Conception of a Virgin. The crying of an Infant in a Cradle, the bringing forth with­out sorrow. The Purification her entire Virginity. The Circumcision his extraordinary Generation, without any sin. His flight conceal'd his Power, his Baptism his unspotted Innocence. His open Prayers to his Father his infi­nite Authority and Equality with him. His sad sufferings obscur'd his per­fect Righteousness. The poverty and meanness of his life the height and greatness of his Birth: and the ignominy of his Death the immensity of his Glory.

His Gospel 3. that was wrapt up in Clothes, that seeing we might see and not presently understand, a mystery kept secret since the world began; his Doctrine wrapt in parables, his Grace covered in the Sacraments, the inward Grace in the outward Elements, his great Apostolick Function in poor simple Fishermen, his Vniversal Church in a few obscur'd Disciples of Iudea, the height of his knowledge in the simplicity of Faith, the excel­lency of his Precepts in the plainness of his Speech, and the Glory of the end they drive to in the humility of the way they lead: well may the Prophet exclaim, Vere tu es Deus absconditus, Psal. lv. 15. Verily thou art a God that hidest thy self, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Well may we admire thy folds and wrappings up, O God, and not strive to pry into thy secrets, thy goings out, and thy comings in; and all thy counsels are past finding out: to thee only it belongs to know them, to us to obey and submit to them, and adore them.

Yet 4. he was thus wrapt up to shew us our condition, that the beauty and sweetness of Christianity as well as Christ, of Christians as well as Christ, appears not outwardly, or but in rags. We cannot see the Christians strength for the weaknesses that surround him, nor his joy for the afflictions that en­compass him, nor his happiness for the worldly calamities that oppress him, nor his wisdom for the foolishness of Preaching, that so much de­lights him, nor his riches for the poor condition he is sometimes brought to, nor his honour for the scoffs and reproaches of the world he often labours under. He seems unknown, when he is well known; dying when he only lives, kill'd when he is but chastned, sorrowful though always rejoycing, poor yet making rich, as having nothing, and possessing all things, 2 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Thus the Christian you see is wrapt up, as soon as he is born; nay, and his very life also is wrapt up with Christ in God, Col. iii. 3.

Nay lastly, our practice and duty is wrapt up with him. He is wrapt up in poor Clothes, that we might be wrapt up in stolâ primâ, the best Robe, his Robe of Righteousness, that we might put on the white Linen of the Saints. Wrapt up again. 2. he was, his hands and feet bound up like a Childs, that by the vertue of it our hands and feet might be loosed to do the works of Christ, and run the way of peace: he is made a Child that we might be perfect men in him; he brought forth, that we might bring forth the fruits of good works, and godly living.

[Page 60] The next mysteries lie coucht with him in the Manger; where in a strait and narrow compass he lies, that he may open Heaven wide to all believers, all that keep a strait and strict watch over their ways and actions.

Where 2. uses to lie the Beasts provender; there lies he also who is the bread that came down from Heaven to feed us, who are often more unreasonable than the Beasts; they know their owner: the Oxe and Ass does so, says God, but my people do not theirs; they will but satisfie, na­ture, we burthen it; they will but eat and drink to satisfie, men are grown so sensual they cannot be satisfied. We have made our selves fit for the Manger, which made Christ lie there, to see if he could fill us, see­ing nothing can.

3. In the Manger among the Beasts, that we might sadly consider what we have made our selves, and change our sensual lives, now he is come in­to the Stable to call us out.

4. There he lies in a place without any furniture or trimming up, that we might by the place be instructed that the beauty of Christ wants no external setting out: that 2. his beauty is omnis ab intus, all within, and his Spouse is all glorious within, Psal. xlv. That 3. our eyes might not be diverted from him by any outward splendours, but wholly fixt upon him­self. That 4. by his very first appearance we might know his Kingdom was not of this world; he was no temporal King, we might see by his Furniture and Palace: that lastly we might know he came to teach us new ways of life, and sanctifie to us the way of poverty and humility.

5. In the Stable. For so [...], the word for Manger is, a place for Horses by the way; that we might understand our life here is but a journey, and our longest stay but that of Travellers by the way; and therefore there he places himself for all comers, by his Incarnation and Birth, to con­duct them home into their Country, our Country which is above.

Nor is it 6. without a mystery that there was no room for him in the Inn. Inns are places of much resort and company, and no wonder if Christ be too commonly thrust out thence. They are made houses of licentiousness and revelling; no wonder if Christ be not suffered to be there. They are places of more worldly business; and no wonder neither that there is of­ten there no room for him, when the business is so different from his, and mens minds so much taken up with it: Into the Stable, or whither he will he may go for them, they heed him not; there is no room for him in the Inn, that is where much company, or riot, or too much worldly business is.

That there was no room for him in the Inn, puts us to enquire how it came about, and we find it was a time of the greatest concourse; and in that also lastly there is a mystery, all this done at such a time, that so all might know that it belonged to a [...]l to know the Birth and posture of their Saviour, his coming, and his coming in humility to save them. At such a time, in such a place, in such a case, so poor, so forlorn, so despicable, without respect, without conveniences wast thou born, O Lord, that we through thy want might abound, through thy neglect might be regarded, through thy want of room, room on earth, might find room in heaven: O happy Rags, more p [...]ecious than the Purple of Kings and Emperours! O holy Manger, more glorious than their golden Thrones! The poverty of those Rags are our riches, the baseness of the Manger our glory, his wrap­ping and binding up, our loosing from Death and Hell; and his no room, our eternal Mansions.

Thus we have twice run over the Text, pickt out both the moral and [Page 61] the mystery of every circumstance in it of our Saviours Birth; I hope we have shewed you mysteries enow, and you have seen humility enough. But it is not enough to see the one or the other, unless now we take up the Virgin Maries part, which is behind, bring forth this First-born to our selves; suffer him to be born in us, who was born for us, and bring forth Christ in our lives, wrap him and lay him up with all the tenderness of a Mother.

The pure Virgin pious soul is this She that brings forth Christ; the nou­rishing and cherishing of him and all his gifts and graces is this wrapping him in Swadling-clothes; the laying up his Word, his Promises, and Pre­cepts in our hearts, is the laying him in the Manger.

What though there be no room for him in the Inn, though the world will not entertain him? the devout soul will find a place to lay him in, though it have nothing of its own but rags, a poor ragged righteousness: for our righteousness, says the Prophet, is but menstruous rags; yet the best it hath it will lay him in: and though it have nothing but a Manger, a poor strait narrow soul, none of the cleanliest neither to lodge him in; yet such as it is, he shall command it, his lying there will cleanse it, and his righteousness piece up our rags.

What though there be no room for him in the Inn? I hope there is in our houses for him: 'Tis Christmas time, and let's keep open house for him; let his Rags be our Christmas Rayment, his Manger our Christmas cheer, his Stable our Christmas great Chamber, Hall, Dining-room. We must clothe with him, and feed with him, and lodge with him at this Feast. He is now ready by and by to give himself to eat; you may see him wrapt ready in the Swadling-clothes of his blessed Sacrament: you may behold him laid upon the Altar as in his Manger, do but make room for him, and we will bring him forth and you shall look upon him, and handle him, and feed upon him: bring we only the rags of a rent, and torn, and broken, and contrite heart; the white linen cloths of pure intentions and honest af­fections to swathe him in: wrap him up fast, and lay him close to our souls and bosoms: 'tis a day of mysteries, 'tis a mysterious business we are about; Christ wrapt up, Christ in the Sacrament, Christ in a mystery; let us be con­tent to let it go so, believe, admire, and adore it. 'Tis sufficient that we know Christs swadling-clothes, his Righteousness will keep us warmer than all our Winter Garments: his rags hold out more storms than our thickest clothes, let's put them on. His Manger feeds us better than all the Asian delicates, all the dainties of the world; let's feed our souls upon him. His Stable is not hang'd here with Arras, or deck'd with gilded furniture: but 'tis hang'd infinitely with gifts and graces: the Stable is dark, but there is the Light of the world to enlighten it. The smell of the Beasts our sins, are perfumed and taken away with the sweet odours of holy pardon and forgiveness: the incondite noise of the Oxe, and Ass, and Horse are still'd with the musick of the heavenly Host; the noise of our sins, with the promises of the Gospel this day brought to us. Let us not then think much to take him wrapt up, that is in a Mystery, without ex­amining how and which way we receive him; 'tis in the condition he comes to us. Let us be content with him in his rags, in his humblest and lowest condition; 'tis the way he comes to day: let us our selves wrap and lay him up in the best place we can find for him, though the best we have will be little better then a Manger.

What though there be no room for him in the Inn, in worldly souls, I hope yet ours will entertain him, invite him too, and say as Laban said to [Page 62] Abraham's servant, Gen. xxiv. 31. Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, come in, come in thou blessed Child, come in; wherefore standest thou without? I have prepa­red the house, and room for the Camels, the house for thee, my soul for thee thy self, and my body for the Camels, those outward Elements that are to con­vey thee. They are not fitted, they are not fitted as thou deservest; but thou that here acceptedst of rags, accept my poor ragged preparations. Thou that refusedst not the Manger, refuse not the Manger of my unwor­thy heart to lie in; but accept a room in thy Servants soul; turn in to him and abide with him. Thy poverty, O sweet Iesu, shall be my patri­mony, thy Weakness my Strength, thy Rags my Riches, thy Manger my King­dom; all the dainties of the world, but chaff to me in comparison of thee, and all the room in the world, no room to that wheresoever it is, that thou vouchsafest to be: Heaven it is wheresoever thou stayest or abidest; and I will change all the house and wealth I have, for thy Rags and Manger.

These holy births and raptures, or the like, must our souls this day bring forth to answer this days blessed birth. 'Tis a day of bringing forth, sure then there's no being barren. Bring forth fruits therefore worthy of re­pentance; these, Christ this day came to call for: bring forth fruits wor­thy of the day, and the blessing of it, Holiness, Thankfulness, and Hu­mility, Faith and Piety, they become it. Bring our first-born, our first and chiefest thoughts, our prime and chief endeavours to attend him from his Cratch to his Cross: wrap we up and bind our souls with holy resoluti­ons to his perpetual service, lay them humbly at his feet, let not his Po­verty, or Rags, or Manger, or Reproach fright or scare us from it, but make room for him, and receive him; lay him up and bind him fast unto our souls, visit him with the Shepherds, and sing of him with the Angels, and rejoyce in his Birth, with all its happy and mysterious circumstances. So when the first-born from the dead shall come again to raise us up, come wrapt in Clouds, and rob'd in Glory, we shall be caught up to meet him in the Clouds, and be received of him into eternal dwellings, there to follow him in long white robes, and be with him for ever.

Be it so unto thy Servants, O Lord.

THE THIRD SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

St. JOHN i. 16.‘And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.’

OF his fulness! of whose fulness? of Verbum Car [...]'s ver. 14. for thither this Ejus points us, this day leads us. To the Word made Flesh, to Christ's, to His. Yet of his fulness when so made? Of his emptiness it would be rather. Of his emptiness to day it is, that we have all received, that we still receive all: There is nothing we receive, but 'tis from this days emptiness; and there is nothing that we receive not from it, from his this days emptying him­self into the form of a servant, from this days exinanition.

Yet is it a day of fulness too. His thus very emptying himself for us, his thus very emptying himself upon us, is the very fulness of his grace, and favour to us: the day then, wherein it was, a day of fulness, where­in he was full, and we were fill'd; he full of grace, and we fill'd from it. The fulness of time, the Apostle calls it upon this accompt, Gal. iii. 4. A day wherein Law and Prophets, Types and Promises came all to their full, were fulfilled: we received them all fulfilled to us. A day wherein he gave, and we received, gave himself with all his fulness, and we received him. So then we here did, and I hope we here will do so too.

A day then this worthy to be observed in our generation, wherein to fill our hearts with gladness, and our tongues with joy, to return back somewhat for our great receipts, to confess we received a great grace to day by his coming to us, grace upon grace, favour upon favour by it. To return therefore 2. Gratiam pro gratiâ, thanks to him for his grace, and do it 3. to the full too, with full mouths, in full Congregations, so to answer to his fulness somewhat like.

For to Vs, this, We, reacheth too, this fulness pours out still. We there­fore in all reason to acknowledge it, as well as any we whosoever, at any time whensoever, at all times whatsoever; but at the full time, this time howsoever. No time comes amiss to do it in, but this time it comes [Page 64] best, a word in season always best. Now here's a day of fulness, and a Text of fulness. There wants nothing but our fulness of praise and duty for it; fulness of humility and thankfulness to receive it. All the We in the Text received it so no doubt, all that will be of the We, of St. Iohns Congregation, will receive it in the day, will be glad this day to receive it, and thank God for it. God for sending, Christ for coming with this ful­ness to us: be glad with Abraham to see a day, with the Shepherds to hear a Text, that brings news and tidings of it, be full glad at it.

And it will become us well to do so, we have good reason, for all this fulness is for us. His fulness for our filling: He full that we might be filled. The fulness his, the redundance ours, ours the benefit, we receive the grace, grace for grace, one grace after another, till we also come to a kind of fulness too, the fulness of the stature of Christ.

That we may then receive it as we ought, know we that in the Text there is a fulness and a filling to be considered: the fulness his, the filling ours. Of his fulness we all, there's his fulness, a complete, gracious, glo­rious, communicative, universal fulness. Of his we have all received, and grace for grace; there's our filling, a good, plentiful, gracious, universal filling too.

Yet to understand them fully both, both the fulness and the filling, we must consider this fulness. First, whose it is. 2. What it is. 3. In what re­spect it is. 4. How great it is. 5. How large it is, five particulars. First, His it is whom we read of a verse or two before; for ejus is a Relative, and refers to the Antecedent. Secondly, A fulness it is that is answerable to his greatness, fulness with a double Article [...] an emphatick fulness, a perfect fulness. Thirdly, To him it is, or his it is, as he is Verbum Caro, ver. 14. God and Man both, both natures fulness, according to them both: for this ejus has not more syllables than natures, and relates as well to the one as to the other. Fourthly, So great it is, that it may, nay, that it does communicate it self, and yet is fulness still. De plenitudine, nor case, nor preposition can take any thing from it, to diminish it. Fifthly, So large that it extends as far as all: all some way or other partake of it, more or less, according to their capacity and receipt.

Consider we must again 2. in the filling. That 1. 'tis not an Active, but a Passive filling, as it were, a being filled, a receiving: that 2. 'tis a receiving of, not a receiving all, not a perfect fulness, but a proportional. That 'tis 3. a receiving gratis, nothing but meer gratia in it, of grace, not of desert. That 'tis 4. yet a receiving sufficient, full, every one enough; and that not single grace neither, but one for another, one af­ter another, one upon another. That 'tis 5. a general business, all recei­ving somewhat, some grace or other, and that seldom or never by it self: none without receiving. That 6. it is from Christ, from him it is, from his grace, and from his fulness, that we receive whatever we receive. That lastly, grace for grace it is, for some end and purpose it is, that we receive it, receive grace, that we may say grace, give thanks, and acknow­ledge it. 2. Receive grace, that we may shew grace; receive grace from God, that we may shew it unto men. 3. Receive grace even for grace it self, to increase and grow in it daily more and more, till both it and we come both to perfection.

Of all these this is the sum, that in Christ there is fulness, all fulness, fulness in both natures, fulness that contents not it self, till it have fill'd others, till it fill us all. That from this fulness we receive, receive all we have; all we have, though not all he has, all sorts of graces fitting for us; [Page 65] and all gratis, are therefore to give thanks for it, as we have received, so to repay again grace for grace. And of all, this is the scope, the Exal­tation of Christ, and of his grace, the scope of the Text, the Sermon, and the day. 'Tis but making it yours too, and then all will be full. And that it may so, I begin now particularly to open to you all this fulness; where I am first to shew you whose it is. His fulness.

1. His you know is a Relative, must relate to somewhat that is before; His, to some that was spoken of before: who's that? one to whom Saint Iohn bare witness, that he was before, ver. 15. long before in the beginning, ver. 1. but was fain to draw nearer, e're we could see him, or his ful­ness; to draw himself into the flesh, e're we could fully discern his grace, or behold his glory, was made flesh, the word made flesh, ver. 14. the only begotten of the Father, become the only born of a Virgin Mother, before we hear of any one full of grace and truth.

This word, this eternal word, this only begotten Son of God, is He, this, His, belongs to: yet this fulness, then fully His, when he was made the Son of Man. In that first appeared the fulness of his love, the fulness of his Word and Promise, the fulness of his Grace and Mercy, the infinite grace and favour done to our flesh, the fulness of his truth, and reality above all those empty types and shadows, which more amus'd, then fill'd the world. The body, that's of Christ, says the Apostle, Col. ii. 17. the full body of truth, full bodied grace, never till he took a body to make it full. The Law that could not fill us; the very life of things there was poured out at the foot of the Altar, and all the rest went into smoke. The Prophets they could not fill us with any thing but expectation, fill us with good words; but alas! they are but wind, would have proved so too, had not he embodied them. All the world could not fill us, the fulness of time was not come upon it, till the Son of fulness came: all that was in it till he came was vanity and emptiness; could neither satisfie it self nor us. 'Tis Christ that filleth all in all, Ephes. i. 23. He the end of the Law, the completion of the Prophets, the fulness of the World. To him it is that this fulness is attributed, to the fulness of Christ, Ephes. iv. 13. In him it is, it dwells, Col. i. 19. So it pleased God, says the Apostle there; so to ga­ther together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in him, Ephes. i. 10. Fulness must needs be his, in whom all things are gathered altogether, in whom earth and heaven together.

2. Thus the fulness you see is his, and it being the fulness of Heaven and Earth, you see in general what his fulness is. In particular it cannot be measured. It is as high as Heaven, what canst thou do? deeper then Hell, what canst thou know? the measure of it is longer then the earth, and broader then the Sea, Job xi. 8, 9. There is no end of his fulness, no more than of his greatness: In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii. 3. all wisdom and knowledge treasured up in him, all in the very know­ing him, all the very treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the choicest to be found there, all even hidden and obscured by his, swallow'd up in that; he knows all, and to know him is to know all the highest Wisdom, the deepest knowledge is but silliness and ignorance, in respect of his, hides it self at the comparison, as lesser lights do at the Suns glaring Beams, in him is all knowledge, and in the knowledge of him is all wisdom hidden and contained. In him 2. is the fulness of grace, Full of grace are thy lips, Psal. xlv. 3. and if the lip's full, the heart's not empty; for out of the abundance there, the fulness here, the very stature of fulness, Ephes. iv. 13. In him 3. is the fulness of truth, ver. 14. so full, that he is stil'd the very [Page 66] truth it self, St. John xiv. 6. I am the truth, the truth of the promises, all the promises since the Creation. All the promises of God are in him yea, and in him Amen, 2 Cor. i. 20. The truth of all the Types, and Shadows, and Sacrifices from the worlds first cradle: the true Paschal Lamb, the true Scape-Goat, the true High-Priest, Adam, and Isaac, and Ioseph, and Ioshua, and Samson, and David, and Solomon, were but the representations of him, or what was to be more substantially done by him. They are but the draughts and pictures, he the substance all the way. To him they all related, had not their offices, actions, or passions, scarce their very names fulfilled but in him, all their fulness was in him. Their truth, and all truth besides, the doctrine of truth never fully delivered, never fully revealed or known till he came with it. We knew it but in pieces, we saw it but in clouds, we heard it but in dark and obscure Prophesies, till he came a light into the world, to manifest it all; 'tis then we first hear of the whole will of God, and the declaring that, the whole counsel of God, Acts xx. 27. truth was not at the fulness, till he taught it.

Nor 4. was his the fulness of wisdom and knowledge, grace and truth, but of the Spirit too: not by measure, St. Iohn iii. 34. but immeasurably full He, all the graces of the Spirit, and all of them to the full in him. The Spirit himself proceeds from him, St. Iohn xv. 26. he must therefore needs be full of that.

Full 5. with the fulness of Riches too, the unsearchable riches of Christ, says St. Paul, Eph. iii. 8. so full that we can find out no bottom of it, come to no end of it, unsearchable.

His fulness 6. was the fulness of Glory too, we saw it, says St. Iohn, two verses before the Text; such a glory as of the onely begotten Son of the Father, and that sure is all the fulness of God. Yet to put all out of doubt, this fulness was the fulness of the God-head too expresly, all the fulness of it, and all of it bodily too, says St. Paul, Col. ii. 3. Bodily, how's that? why, that's full in all dimensions, in all dimensions of a body, length, and breadth, and heighth, and depth; the length and infinity of his Power, the extent and breadth of his Love, the height and eminency of his Maje­sty, the depth and unfathomedness of his Wisdom, all met together in Christ.

3. Nor will this seem strange at all, if we consider for our third point, in this fulness, how and in what respect 'tis his: and 'tis his both as he is God, and as man. He could not be thus full as I have told you, unless he were God, could not have the God-head dwell in him bodily, unless God were in the body, unless he were incarnate God. Nor could other kinds of his fulness be in him, unless he were man. He could not be a full and suffici­ent Sacrifice, and so offered for one, had he not been man, nor a perfect High Priest to mediate for us, if not taken from among men; the great promise that contains all the rest, that of the seed of the Woman, could not have been fulfilled, would not have had its fulness from him but as man. The very attribute of fulness speaks him God; none full but God; no fulness or satisfaction but in him; yet some kinds of his fulness evi­dence him man, are not the fulnesses of God, as God; but as God made man: and so the Evangelist by the Context delivers it: as the fulness of the word made flesh, of the eternal word becoming man. This fulness is the fulness of Christ, and Christ is both God and Man, so the fulness of both.

4. And such a fulness, that none runs over, anointed with the oyl of glad­ness above his fellows; that's fulness, but that's not all; so above them too it is, as it runs down upon his fellows: he is not full only for himself, for [Page 67] us it was, that he was born, that he was given, that he was anointed, that he was full, full of grace, and full of truth, and full of glory, that we might be fill'd with grace, and truth, and glory. He indeed is the head that was anointed with oyl, but that head is ours; the Church is the body upon which it runs down from the head.

5. And that not to the near parts alone, to the beard or shoulders, but even to the skirts of the garment it runs, so full it runs. Ex hoc omnes, all the members, nay all the clothes; not only those that are true mem­bers of the Church, but even those who have but an outward relation to it: all that have but an external right or adherence, as skirts, and clothes, have yet some benefit of this oyl, of this fulness of his. Christ is no nig­gard, his fulness nothing so stinted (as some narrow and envious souls will have it) here's enough for all: enough for the whole world to take, and yet leave all full still. You may light a thousand candles at one, and yet the light of it no way lessened by it. You may fill a thousand worlds, if there were so many, from his fulness, and yet he never a whit the less full. Take all you can cope, all that will, nay all that are or shall be, here's still for all, as much as at the first; O the depth of the riches of the fulness of Christ! I could fill the hour, I could fill the day, I could fill all the remnant of my days with the discourses of it; and should I do it, I could yet say no­thing of it, near the full, but be as far from sounding the depth of it at the end, as I was at the beginning. I pass therefore to that which we can better comprehend, easier reach, our filling out of this fulness, the se­cond general.

2. Our filling is here said to be receiving. Be our fulness never so great, it is no other, we have received it all. Alas poor things, we have nothing of our selves. What hast thou that thou hast not received? says the Apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 7. Is it grace? that grows not in our gardens; it comes from Paradise: what we have is transplanted from thence. Is it nature? why that too is received. We did not make our selves, we received as well our natural as our spiritual endowments, from him that made us. Is it glory? why, God calls it his glory: a thing he will not share, but by beams and glances. What should I now mention worldly Riches, Estate, and Ho­nour? they are too evidently received, to be denied they are so. 'Tis the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, Prov. xx. 22. so Riches are received. I shall deliver him, and bring him to honour, says God, Psal. xci. 15. so Honour is received. And the earth hath God given to the children of men, Psal. cxv. 16. so our Estates and Lands, every Clod and Turf of them is received. For the earth is the Lords, and the fulness thereof; and from his fulness we re­ceive of it what we have.

Enough this to humble us; for if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not? 'tis St. Paul's inference upon it. Thou hast no reason to boast thy self O man, thy Honour, thy Riches, thy good Parts, thy Graces, they are not from thy self, thou didst but receive them, thou hast nothing of thine own, why art thou proud?

And 2. if all received, all we have nothing but so many receipts; look we then well to our accounts, they are things we are to reckon for: we had best see how we expend them, that at the general Audit we may give up our accounts with joy.

To do so, 'twill be convenient to think often of our receipts, our own poverty, and indigence; a third business we may learn hence, to grow sensible of our emptinesses and necessities, that we are a meer bill of re­ceipts, so much received to day, so much yesterday, so much day by day; [Page 68] item our souls, item our bodies, item our health, item our wealth, and so on ward, nothing but received, and without receiving, nothing.

Upon this reflection upon our own vacuities, we cannot 4. but open our hearts to receive, our hands to take any thing from his fulness to sup­ply us; to desire to have them fill'd, our selves fill'd out of his fulness, something thence to make us full.

2. Yet 2. we must not expect to be so fill'd, that we should have an absolute or perfect plenitude, a plenitude without a diminishing preposition before it: Plenitudinem, properly speaking, it will not be; de plenitudine, that's the proper speech, somewhat taken from fulness, a kind of ablative secondary, proportional one. We are not capable of other, somewhat ta­ken off the height, somewhat bated of the perfection of it. With this fulness it was, that the blessed Virgin, the Protomartyr St. Stephen, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Barnabas, and other Saints are said in holy Scripture to be full or fill'd, full of Grace, or full of Faith, or full of the Holy Ghost, full as the Bucket, not as the Spring; full as the Streams, not as the Ocean; full as the measure, not as the immeasurable; full with a fulness of abun­dance, not of redundance; of sufficiency, not of efficiency; full enough for our selves, but not for others: Alas poor narrow shallow things that we are, we cannot hold enough for our selves and others too.

Take from the Bucket or the Stream, and the Bucket will not be full, and the Stream will want of what it had. Lest there be not enough for us and you, was more then a just fear of the wise Virgins: there is not, will not, can­not be enough. No man is sanctified by anothers Grace, no man justified by anothers Faith: the Fathers goodness will not satisfie for the Sons un­graciousness, nor the Mothers Piety for the Daughters Vanity; their Righteousness be it as full as it can, will but suffice only for themselves; 'tis only Christs Fulness, his Grace, his Righteousness, that can com­municate it self, that we can take any thing from to fill up our own. Sufficient I think this, to read us a second lesson of humility, not to think too much of our own Righteousness, nor to pride our selves in our re­ceipts; for of another they are, but from them no other; they are re­ceived of his, but none receive of ours.

Sufficient 2. this too to teach us, not to trust to the Piety of our Fore­fathers, as if their fulness of good works should excuse our emptiness. They had but their share, what would serve their turns, we must afresh to the Spring-head, to have enough to serve ours. And the comfort is in the next point, that it will cost us nothing, we have it gratis, for gratia it is, of free grace and favour that we receive it.

3. That we may not doubt it, 'tis doubled in the Text, redoubled; grace, all meerly grace, nothing but grace, from it, and for it, and by it. Nothing from desert, nothing from works; for if of works, not of grace, says St. Paul, Rom. 11. 6. that's plain; for if of desert, not of grace, but duty: not bought or purchased neither, freely without mony, says the Prophet, Isa. 55. 1. Come drink, and eat, and fill your selves. The Ocean runs not freer than his grace. Who hath first given unto him, says the Apostle, Rom. 11. 35. Who first? why no body sure, for before there was any body, before the foundation of the world, Ephes. 1. 4. he begun with us; even then gratificavit nos, he accepted us; all grace from the beginning.

Hence too is a lesson of humility, the Text and day is full of it, from one end of the Text to the other, one end of the day to the other: grace, grace, to put down all opinion of merit or desert; as if it meant to teach us to be fill'd with humility from the fulness of it this day shewed by [Page 69] Christ, and to be read from all the Texts that concern it; as if grace it self had this day appeared to teach it.

4. So much perhaps to be prest the rather from the fulness of the grace that now follows to be considered in the next particular, lest by the abun­dance of it we should be exalted above measure, as St. Paul by the abundance of his Revelations, 2 Cor. xii. 7. For men may be proud of graces, and here are store received in the Text.

1. Gratiam pro gratiâ, the grace of the Gospel for the grace of the Law, that's the more abundant, says St. Paul, Rom. v. 17, 20. though this was a grace too, a favour when time was, and that such, he shewed no such grace to any people, as to the Iew. To them the Adoption, the Glory, the Covenants, the giving of the Law, the Service of God, the Promises, the Fa­thers, the coming of Christ also according to the flesh; all these graces apper­tained, Rom. ix. 4, 5. these all were great ones, but the Law brought nothing to perfection, Heb. vii. 19. The very end of it was Christ, Rom. x. 4. The Law, as great a favour as it was, was but the Law still; full of shadows and imperfections, full of rigours without ability to perform them: That came by Christ, the very grace and beauty, and glory of the Law was Christ, the grace of the Gospel, that was it which was the perfection of the Law, the fulness of the Adoption, the performance of the Covenants, the finishing, bringing in a better service, the fulfilling of the promises, the ex­pectation of the Fathers, the fulness of Christ, not according to the weak­ness of the flesh, but according to the power of the Spirit, and of an end­less grace. This is de plenitudine right, over and above all graces and fa­vours that were shewed before, all that ever any received before us.

So much above them, as spiritual and eternal blessings are above the temporal, as the reward of glory is above all other rewards; for grace for grace 2. is grace for glory: grace given us by Christ, to the end we may obtain eternal glory by it; all the graces (If I may so call the good works of the Law) tended only to temporal promises; read the whole Law over, and shew me any other if you can; the grace of the Gospel of Christ it is, that first revealed the hopes of glory, thence the Kingdom of Heaven is heard of first, there first of grace for glory, grace was single grace, till Christ took a second nature to double it, to grace all to us.

And 3. here's glory again for grace, according to other Interpreters; the reward as sure as the work is: Grace is not only given us to purchase Glory, but Glory as surely given us for that Grace. The glory of the Law, or the works of the Law had no grace at all, was but a kind of dark dusky thing: The glory of the Gospel, and the glory after it, and from it, is that only that exceeds in glory. Thus Grace is doubled upon Grace; we have Grace for Glory; Grace to come to Glory, and Glory again to reward our Grace: two great ingredients of the fulness we re­ceive, & gratiam pro gratiâ, even each of these for the other.

Yet to make the Glory yet more glorious, the Grace more gracious, here is 4. Grace for Grace; yet in another sense, one Grace for another, one to advance another; Grace upon Grace, that we may have Glory upon Glory. For Christ will fill us, if we will, with more than a simple Grace or Glory, increase and advance us by degrees in both. Grace for Grace is put to signifie abundance of Graces: as Iob ii. 4. Skin for skin, skin after skin, one thing after another will a man give for his life; Grace for Grace, that is Grace after Grace will God give us, one after another: ne­ver leave giving, will not only give us one or two simple graces, but a confluence and full tide of them; one crowding upon the other, gratiam [Page 70] cumulatam, Graces upon heaps, all spiritual blessings, Eph. i. 3. redemption, forgiveness of sins, ver. 7. the knowledge of the mystery of his will, ver. 9. the Seal of the Spirit, ver. 13. all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all holy Vertues and Accomplishments, all sanctifying and edifying Graces, for to procure us Grace in the eyes of God, and Graces to gain us Grace in the eyes of men: Grace to make our selves gracious in the sight of God, and Grace to make others gracious also, to bring others into Grace, into the Grace of the Gospel. Thus also we receive, and this And here hath an emphasis, and 'tis this, to denote this fulness and abundance of Grace, that especially, whatever else.

Yet this And may be an adversative, as much as sed, or quamvis; per­adventure thus we receive, and Grace we receive, and Grace in this abundance, but not all Grace alike, but Grace for Grace; that is, either according to his Grace wherewith he loves us, some more, some less, one this, another that, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Ephes. iv. 7. Or 2. Grace for Grace, according to the measure of the use we make of one Grace, we receive another. He that hath, to him shall be given, St. Mat. xiii. 12. Or 3. Grace for Grace, that is one after this manner, ano­ther after that, 1 Cor. vii. 7. One receives one Grace, another receives another, not all alike, not all the same. To one is given the word of Wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another Faith, &c. 1 Cor. xii. 8. and so onward: and which adds much to the fulness of this Grace, it reaches now fifthly unto all, we all have received.

5. All is a large word, yet no larger then Christs Grace. Ho every one, cries the Prophet, every one come take it, Isa. lv. 1. he disgraces Christs Grace, nay ungraces it, that ties it up only to I know not what elect ones. All things were made by him, ver. 3. and received they nothing by it? He fills all things living with plenteousness, Psal. cxlv. 16. and receive they no­thing? He enlightens every man that comes into the world, ver. 9. and is that nothing neither? 1. Does he that receives light from Christ, receive no­thing? Yes, yes, all receive some benefit or other from Christs coming; It were to deny his fulness, to deny that.

All the Patriarchs that went before, all drank of the same Rock, which Rock was Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. they received their fill of him, according to the capacity of their Vessels. All the Prophets that followed after, they also were partakers of the same Grace, in another manner. But they that followed him, they, Gentiles as well as Iews, they above all recei­ued and Grace for Grace. Nay, I am perswaded, that there was no man, no creature; there is no man, no creature (the Devils only excepted) but re­ceive some benefit or other from this fulness; the goodness of God which is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, and to everlasting life, 2 S. Pet. iii. 9. would not suffer any to perish for want of receiving that without which they could not but perish, that first Grace which might in some measure dispose him for a second, and so forward, were he but willing to work with it.

Nay, even We, and what were we? We that were his enemies, St. Paul tells us, we receive reconcilement by his Grace; and why not any ene­mies as well as we? We that were haters of God, Rom. i. 30. and hateful to men, Tit. iii. 3. We that were dead in trespasses and sins, Ephes. ii. 1. full of all abominable iniquities; we received pardon of them all, and were received to Grace: and what reason have we then to exclude any, who be they what they will, cannot be worse than we were once, nor in less capacity to receive it: To be sure, omnes will reach them all, and God is [Page 71] gracious to all, not only to them that call upon him, but to them also that never seek him, nor call upon him, Isa. lxv. 1. This is Grace indeed, and 'tis that makes up the fulness, that shews it full.

6. 'Tis time we should know to whom we owe it: look we back again once more to the ejus, and you have it. Of his fulness, that is, of Christs, it is that we thus all receive; that we receive all this, Ephes. i. 6. In the beloved it is, that we are thus gratified, thus grac'd, thus begrac'd. And the beloved is he in whom he was well-pleased with us all, S. Mat. iii. 17. Grace and Truth, why? that's true Grace, and that came by Iesus Christ, in the verse next the Text. We were all ungracious Children; he the only gracious Son, who makes us gracious. In him he chose us, Ephes. i. 4. In him he predestinated us to the adoption of Children, ver. 5. In him he hath made us accepted, ver. 6. In him we have redemption, forgiveness, and the very riches of grace, ver. 7. All in him, and without him nothing. So get him, and get all; lose him, and lose all. Acts iv. 12. There is no other name but his, no other Grace but his, by which we can be saved. From the Grace he had with his Father from the beginning, we have ours in time, from the Grace he hath purchased with him, to which he was exalted by his obedience, Phil. ii. 9. we are also exalted to his Grace. From the Grace wherewith he loved us, are we made partakers of his Grace. He design'd it for us, he he deserv'd it for us, he infuses it into us, he works it in us, and after all he has yet reserved a greater for us, an eternal Glory for the reward of Grace.

7. How can we now then, lastly, but render Grace for Grace? say grace, and bless him over this plenty and fulness; cry Grace, Grace unto it, as the Prophet has it, Zach. iv. 7. proclaim, and tell it to the world, fill our lips with Songs and Hymns of Praise, fill the Congregations with his Glory, and the world with telling out his goodness.

To do it the better, to do the greater right to his Grace, let us take the Grace-cup in our hand and do it: the Cup which Christ blessed, and gave to us to remember him, and his Grace in. We call it a receiving, let us then receive it, receive, and answer this receiving in the Text, with the recei­ving in the day; receive we him and his fulness, him and his graces, him with all thankfulness, reverence, and devotion. Set we our selves to do it, to draw waters out of these wells of salvation, Isa. xii. 3. by the hand of Faith, and bucket of Humility, out of these Fountains of our Saviour: So the Latin reads it, whose side runs out blood and water, full streams of grace and pardon, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if we will but come hither to draw or drink them. We call it a receiving, and so it is, the most signal receiving, that we have, a receiving him full and whole, Body and Blood, Flesh and Spirit, really, though not corporally both; let us therefore receive it: Open we but our mouths wide, and he will fill them; open we our mouths to beg, and we shall receive; open them wide and full, and we shall be fill'd with fulness too, to day at this full table, a ta­ble at this time full of all heavenly delicates and dainties.

Yet as we must open our mouths, so we must open our hands too, our mouths to receive, our hands to give. We receive of Christ, 'tis fit we give somewhat out of our receipts; we receive of his fulness, 'tis but proportionbale, that we give out of our fulness to those that are not full, that our abundance may be the supply of others want, as Christs fulness is of ours: 'Tis a day of fulness, and all would be full, the poor as well as the rich, that all mouths might this day be filled with his praise, 1 Cor. xi. 20. This is not to eat the Lords Body, for one to be full, (I give it the ea­siest word) another to be hungry, the poor must have their share; they that [Page 72] have not, says the Apostle, that is the poor. 'Tis a Communion, and all must communicate, one way or other, poor and all. 'Tis a feast of fulness both in the Church and in the House, all must communicate of this days fulness one way or other, in one sort or other; and surely when we have filled our selves with the fulness of this house, we cannot but fill others with the fulness of ours.

And yet there is one more [...], another fulness, to which this grace and fulness leads us, to be filled henceforward with goodworks, to be filled with the fruits of Righteousness, and all the knowledge of Christ. For this it is, that this fulness is received, that this grace is received, that this Grace-cup, the cup of Salvation is received, that all gifts and graces are received, that we increase in grace, go on in goodness, proceed in all kinds of holy vertues, till we come to the fulness of Christ, to the fulness of his grace here, and of his glory hereafter.

Send down thy Grace, O heavenly Father, that we may all receive this fulness at thy hand; empty us of our sins, empty us of our selves, that we may henceforward be only fill'd with thee: fill us this day with the plenteousness of thy table, and reject us not, though too unworthy; fill us every day with the plenteousness of thy Grace, and leave us not to our own weakness, that we may go on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, from vertue to vertue, till we come to be filled with the plen­teousness of thy house, to the fulness of joy, and pleasure, and grace, and glory for evermore. Amen.

Now to the God and Author of all this fulness, all our receipts, all good gifts and graces; to the Father that gives, to the Son that purchas'd, to the Holy Ghost that conveys them to us, be all the fulness of thanks, and praise, and honour, and glory, for ever and ever.

THE FOURTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

1 TIMOTHY i. 15.‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Iesus came into the world to save Sinners, of whom I am chief.’

THis is a faithful saying. And this is the day that made it so, faithful and true, wherein it could first be truly said, that Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners: for which both Text and Day are well worthy of acce­ptation.

Turn the whole Scripture over, you will find no say­ing there more faithful, that speaks God more faith­ful, more to have kept his promise, than this that tells us that Christ Je­sus is come into the world. He in whom all his promises are fulfilled. And run through the year you will find no day more faithful than this that presents us the ground of all our Faith, Christ Iesus come to save sinners.

Worthy of all acceptation, too, they must needs be both, both Text and Day, that brings salvation: above all to sinners (of which ye are a part, and the Preacher chief.) I cannot but with gladness preach it, nor you but with joy and attention hear it: especially to day, the day he came in; in a time accepted, in the day of salvation, when Text and time so happily meet. The day makes the Text seasonable. The business of the Text makes the Day acceptable. The necessities of poor sinners make both comfortable. God make the Sermon profitable too, and we have all we can desire to day.

The Text to be sure promises fair: and St. Paul himself finds so much comfort in it by his own experience, of the truth and sweetness of it in the former verses 12, 13. that he here commends it to us, as a saying worthy all the respect that we can give it, worthy to be preach'd, worthy to be believed, worthy to be laid hold on, worthy to be laid up faith­fully and remembred, That Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners. After which saying, nor he nor we have any more to say then that we are the chief of them, so particularly to apply it. [And that I hope we will to day.

[Page 74] For the whole end both of the saying it self, and S. Paul's saying it, is but to dispose and move us worthily to accept Christ now he is come (for whose coming the Church and we have been this month preparing.) And the sum of it to put us 1. in comfort, first that how sadly soever things look'd with us before his coming, by his coming now we may be sav'd, for Christ Iesus came to save sinners, and to put us secondly in the way how we may; by believing, 1. this faithful saying for a truth: by accepting it 2. for a word worthy all acceptance; by confessing lastly our selves the most unworthy of it, yet the chief that need it.

Thus you have the full sense of the Text, and both the Doctrine and Vse of Christmas in it.

The Doctrine, that Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners; the Doctrine of Christmas.

The Vse of it, to take it every one of us to himself; take himself to be the quorum primus, the chief of the quorum concerned in it, the chief of sinners; and therefore chiefly interessed in Christs coming. This the Vse both of the Doctrine and the Day, to apply them both, and cry out every one of us with St. Paul, 'Tis I, and I, and I, for whom He came.

In the Doctrine there are these particulars.

  • 1. That Christ Iesus came into the world.
  • 2. That He came to save sinners.
  • 3. That He came to save the chiefest of them, the very quorum primi of them. What is it else to S. Paul or us? or why does he bring himself in upon no better title?
  • 4. That all these are faithful sayings, and worthy of acceptation; all single, such; but all together make up a saying worthy all acceptation: the very [...], the saying above all sayings, the whole Word and Gos­pel it self; the Word after which no word can be said: nothing be­yond it.

Of which therefore surely the Vse 2. must needs be great if we through­ly apply it: and four ways there are to do it in the Text, four Vses we are to make of it.

  • 1. If a saying, a faithful saying it be, we then faithfully to believe it.
  • 2. If worthy acceptation, we then worthily to accept it.
  • 3. If it reach the chief sinners too, our chief business then, with St. Paul, humbly to apply it to our own particular; not think much any of us to say, quorum ego primus; not to stick to confess our selves the chiefest among them that are sinners, so we may be found chief, or second, or any one among them that are saved.
  • 4. [...] it is, a special saying this is, not to be wrapt up in silence then, nor hudled up within private walls, but to be spoken, and spoken out, cried and proclaimed to all the world.

And all this lastly I add to be done to day. That indeed is not in the Text, but 'tis in the Time, and never better to be done then now to day: That's the right use of this Holy time, that to which the Church designs Christmas: to proclaim Christs coming into the world to save sinners, and to call them in all to come to him.

To carry on the design, I go on now with the Text, and begin with the first branch of the Doctrine there, that Christ Iesus came into the world.

1. That he did so this great day is witness, worthy therefore to be kept for ever for a witness of it; and they that keep it not, to be suspected that they do not think he did, nor believe that there was any such mat­ter.

[Page 75] Yet that such a one there was, one Iesus that went about doing good, the Iews his rankest enemies will not deny it.

That that Iesus was the Christ, though the Iews will not, the Samari­tans will confess it, S. Iohn iv. 43. Christ and Jesus too, the Christ, the Saviour of the world; nay, the Christ indeed, and the Saviour indeed, and they know it, they say there. Nay of the Jews too, many believed it, S. Iohn vii. 31. believed and justified it.

Nor did they it without good ground; the many Miracles that he did in the confirmation of it, the performing what was prophesied of the Mes­siah, Isa. xxxv. 6. and lxi. 1. The opening the eyes of the blind, the ma­king the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the clean­sing the Lepers, the raising the dead, the preaching to the poor the Gos­pel of peace, those pure and holy, and comfortable Doctrines that he taught; were a sufficient resolution to S. Iohn Baptists question: that it was He that should come, and we should look for no other, S. Mat. xi. 3, 4, 5. no other than He.

Indeed we need not: for this Iesus is a Iesus of another sort, of an­other manner of spelling ('tis observ'd) then all former Iesus's, then Ie­sus the Son of Nun, or Iesus the Son of Iosedec, or Iesus the Son of Syrach; this Iehoscuah, Iesus or a Iehoscuah (for 'tis so in the Hebrew) is with the points of Iehovah in it, a Iehovah, Iesus, a Saviour that is the Lord, as the Angel tells us, St. Luke ii. 11. A Iesus never the like before, a Iesus above every Iesus, a name now above every name, a name to which Heaven, and Earth, and Hell must bow: never did they to any Iesus else.

And as this name now above every name, so this coming of his above every coming. We sometimes call our own births, I confess, a coming into the world; but properly, none ever came into the world but he: For 1. He on­ly truly can be said to come who is before he comes, so were not we; on­ly he so. 2. He only strictly comes who comes willingly; our crying and strugling at our entrance into the world, shews how unwillingly we come into it. He alone it is that sings out, Lo, I come, Psal. xl. 3. He only pro­perly comes, who comes from some place or other: Alas! we had none to come from but the womb of nothing. He only had a place to be in before he came. Now such a Iesus, as this, as has God in his name, and must be conceived to be also so by the way of his coming, may well be the Mes­siah that should come into the world, Iesus the Christ. We need seek no further, especially if it be the Iesus that comes to save sinners. And he it is says our next particular.

2. Nay the Angel said so before he was born. He had the name given him for the purpose, S. Mat. i. 21. Thou shalt call his name Iesus: for why? For he shall save his people from their sins. Himself professes he came for the purpose, to call sinners to repentance, S. Luke v. 32. and that's to save them; yea so for them, that there's a non veni to others; he came for no other: to speak truth, there were no other to come for. Omnes aberraverunt, We were all sinners: So if he came for the best of us, he yet came for sinners, for them or no body. But so, for such, as not for them that were not such; so altogether for sinners, as not at all for the righteous. I came not to call the righteous, not them, but sinners as it were in opposition to them. Indeed, Opus non habent, they had no need of his coming. The whole need not the Physi­cian, S. Mat. ix. 12. but they that are sick, and they are sinners. In a word, not only so for sinners, as before the righteous, and as it were against the righteous, but so for sinners too; as for the worst first, for the great­est of them above the least, the quorum primi to be the primi, the chiefest [Page 76] sinners he chiefly came for: that's the third Point of this great Doctrine of the Text.

3. Look the company he keeps, you'l say so. Publicans and Sinners (the most emphatical of the name) there you find him, so often, that he is accu­sed for it by the righteous, the Scribe and Pharisee, S. Mark ii. 16. So for the most enormous sinners it seems, that the righteous cannot bear it; they are scandalized at it. One would think they were so still, that are so much against Christs saving any body but themselves, that they will allow him neither to save, nor come to save any body but the Elect. True indeed he saves none but the Elect, that is, he saves none but them that are and shall be sav'd, but he came to save even them too that shall not be saved. Not for our sins only, says S. Iohn expresly, but for the sins of the whole world, S. John ii. 2. The whole world, be it as large as it will, and the sins of it, be they as great as they can, and all the sins of the world indefi­nitely, be they whose they will in it; for wicked Manasses his as well as good Hezekiah's; for Noahs Drunkenness, Lots Incest, Davids Adultery, Solomons Idolatry, S. Peters Apostacy, S. Pauls persecuting and blasphe­ming, for all sorts of sins and sinners. So they be Saints say they, though they be of the world says He, He is a propitiation for them all▪ would have all men sav'd, says S. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 4. even them that deny him. When he has bought them, says S. Peter, 2 S. Pet. ii. 1. 'Tis neither a true nor faithful saying, nor much worth the accepting, as many receivers as it has, that says otherwise, that binds up his coming only to the Elect. For if not for all, they may be out for all their brags, may be too righteous to be in, among the sinners; among the righteous, that he says himself he came not for. This saying that we are for, That Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners, is a faithful saying, worthy all acceptation, even the chiefest the world affords, to be received by all, whilst it self rejects none. And that it is so we are now to shew you in all particulars: That 'tis a faithful saying, first, That word has many senses, and this saying is faithful in them all, in all those senses, in all its parts.

1. [...] is certus & indubitatus, and a faithful saying, is 1. a certain and undoubted truth. Christs coming is no less. We know it, says S. Iohn; know that the Son of God is come, even his Son Iesus Christ, 1 S. Iohn v. 20. Come, and come in the flesh, 1 S. John iv. 3. that's sure enough into the world; and none but the spirit of Antichrist, says he, none but Here­ticks will deny it. An Angel this day proclaimed it; a whole Choire came this day down to celebrate it, the Wisemen a while after came from the ends the earth to see it. Nothing but what we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, do we declare in it, says S. Iohn, 1 S. Iohn i. 1. The whole Land of Iudea daily saw it, millions have died for the truth of it, and the whole world is witness of it.

And 'tis certain, he came for sinners, to seek and save them, S. Luke xix. 10. keep them from being lost, came and went for them, came into the world, and went out of it, died to save them. Whilst we were yet sin­ners he did so, Rom. v. 8. gave commission besides, that when he was gone remission should be preach'd to sinners all the world over in his name, S. Luke xxiv. 47.

This takes in the chiefest, makes that certain too, that he excludes none; for to save the world he came, says he that lay in his bosom, and knew his heart, to save and not to judge it. That comes but ex eventu, when men will not be sav'd. To judge or condemn them was not his business, unless they were such as would not be sav'd; and are there any so great sinners as would not?

[Page 77] 2. And all this is not only true and faithful, or certain in it self, but makes 2. all Gods former sayings to be so too. It fulfils the Promises, it perfects the Sacrifices, it answers the Types, it compleats all the Pro­phesies that went before: all was shadow till this substance came; all their good and happiness was but coming till Iesus came; all was but say and say, meer words, till this eternal Word leapt down from Heaven. This coming of Christ gave faith and credit to them all. Now God is fully prov'd to be faithful, and all his Promises and Prophesies full and true: Now Iacob's Shiloh, Isaiah's Immanuel, Ieremiah's Branch, Daniels Messiah, Zachariah's Day-spring, Hagga [...]'s desire of all Nations is come into the world, and all the Sacrifices of Bulls, and Rams, and Lambs, and Goats reca­pitulated in this Holy Lamb; and all the Types from the beginning of the world compleated in this great antitype to day beginning to appear, in the end of the world, as the Apostle speaks, to put away sin, Heb. ix. 26.

Ay, that's the business that makes this saying yet more faithful in the way we are now speaking of; this putting away sin, or saving sinners. This Lo I come puts an end and period to all Burnt-offerings and Sacrifices for sin, Psal. xl. No more of them to be heard of when this true Sacrifice is once brought into the world: All the old Prophesies end here too. For to bear our iniquities, to make his soul an offering for sin, to make inter­cession for the transgressors, comes this righteous Servant, as the Pro­phet Isaiah stiles him, Isa, lxiii. 10, 11, 12. And, to finish the transgres­sion, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, comes Daniels Messiah, Dan. ix. 24. And now he is come, they all are at an end, their words made good, and all is true, all faithful and true. And if ini­quity, transgressions, and sins be enough to take in all sorts of sinners (as no doubt it is) his coming to save the chiefest of them, does but the more fulfil the truth of all.

3. But the words are faithful 3. in another sense, not the fulfilling on­ly of our Fore-fathers Faith, but the full of ours. For to believe Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners, is to believe all we are obliged to believe, either of God, or Christ, or of our selves.

In the word Christ is the whole Trinity, his own Person and Offices compris'd; in Iesus and his coming both his Natures: in sinners is our own. And in his coming into the world to save them, is the whole work and bu­siness of our Redemption. Will you see them how they rise?

Why? to be Christ is to be anointed, and to be anointed supposes as well him that does anoint, which S. Peter says, was God the Father, Acts iv. 27. the first Person, and that with which he is anointed, which the same Apostle tells us was the Holy Ghost, Acts x. 38. the third Person, as well as him that is anointed, whom the second Psalm makes God the Son the se­cond Person. And this anointing too implies all his Offices of King, Priest, and Prophet: they anointed all of them, and he anointed to be them all. Here are all the Persons in the Trinity, and therein his own, with all his Offices besides.

2. Iesus is his name; that signifies a Saviour, and that speaks him God. Ego sun [...], & praeter me non est, Isa. xliii. 11. None can be truly so but He. But his coming into the world, that shewed us he was man. There's both his natures. And

3. In the title of Sinners, there's our own, that tells us what we poor things are: poor wretched sinners that want a Saviour.

Lastly, his coming into the world is but a short expression of all he did and suffered in it: and to save sinners is to take thence a Church unto himself, [Page 78] to purifie and cleanse them from their sins, to raise them first from the death of Sin here, to the life of Righteousness, to the communion of Saints, and to raise them at last from the death of the Grave unto the life of Glo­ry; yea, the communion of Saints hereafter. This is the sum of the Christian Faith, and 'tis all summ'd up here: all the Articles of the Creed, nay the whole Gospel it self in this one single period; Christ Iesus came into the world to save sinners. A saying which is not only [...] but [...], now not only faithful, but the full Faith it self.

Faithful it is 4. in another acception. Fidelis est qui nunquam fallet, not like those Aquae infideles, that the Prophet Ieremiah complains of, Ier. xv. 18. those faithless streams, those shallow brooks that fail and dry away when we most need them. When all other waters fail us, this Fountain that was set open for Iudah, and Ierusalem, Ezek. xiii. 1. will run still. When all other comforts are dried up and gone, this of Christ Jesus coming will be coming still: When all other sayings put together will not heal our wounds, nor refresh our weariness, nor cool our heat, nor quench our drowth: this will do all. When all things else desert and leave us, and nor Friends, nor Fortunes, nor Wit, nor Eloquence, nor Strength, nor Policy will help us; this will be faithful to us, this Christ Jesus will stand to us. No such well-spring of life in the world as he, and nothing can come so bad to us in the world, but his coming makes good, a world of good of.

Nay, this very saying, that he came into the world to save sinners, and the chiefest not excepted, well laid to, will stick close to us in all distresses, disperse the terrors of our sins, defeat the devices of the Devil to disturb and fright us: this will support us in our weaknesses, sustain us in our faintings, raise us out of our despairs, relieve us in our sicknesses, ease us in our pains, refresh us in our agonies, com­fort us on our death-beds, revive us when we are even dead, go with us out of the world, and never leave us till it has brought and laid us at his feet who came to save us; and is not willing that any should perish, says S. Peter ii. 3, 9. No not the greatest sinner, not any, first or last.

5. Well may this saying 5. pass for [...] now as St. Ambrose and St. Augustine seem to have read it, as well as [...], be stiled humanus, or ju­cundus sermo, a sweet and pleasant saying, as well as faithful. Pleasing and joyful news it is to hear that such a person as this speaks of is come a­mong us: for all the while we were without this Christ, we were, says St. Paul, without God, too, in the world, Ephes. ii. 12. From his coming on­ly it is, that we can say with St. Peter, Bonum est esse hic, that 'tis good being here, that the world is worth the staying in. It were not without him; no company worth being with till he came, no pleasure in it till he brought it with him. For this it is that [...] makes no mistake; the saying may be said pleasant without an error.

Indeed what more pleasant, if to save sinners be his coming? liberty, and health, and life, and salvation are pleasing news; liberty to the Ca­ptives, health to the Sick, life to the Dying, salvation to the lost and perishing; and to save sinners is to give all of them to them all. Such a saying to them must needs please them all.

And upon this we must needs allow it lastly to be faithful in another sense: [...] is fide dignus, a saying worthy of our faith, worth our be­lieving. All true, and certain, and profitable, nay, and pleasing sayings are not so. No matter whether some of them believed or no. This is a [Page 79] truth of so great concernment, and so truly all, that St. Paul himself, that great Doctor of the world, is content, nay determin'd to know nothing else, nothing but Iesus Christ, and him Crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 2. Him crucified is him come into the world to save sinners: for by his Cross he sav'd them, and up­on his Cradle the foot of it was rear'd; and from his coming into a cross and peevish world, he began to be crucified and bear it. All other know­ledges are not worth the knowing, all other truths not worth the be­lieving: the Law of Moses is but an A B C learning to this knowledge. All the Iewish Kabala, all the wise sentences of the wisest Rabbies, all the wisdom of the Heathen world, of all the world: all that is without Christ Jesus in it, but meer fables, endless genealogies, to no end or purpose all of them but to fill the head with empty no­tion, and the heart with vexation, and the tongue with strife: all meer [...], Phil. iii. 8. Very dross and dung in respect of the knowledge of Christ Iesus coming into the world to save sinners.

Yet after all this, were there not [...] to them all; were ei­ther not the chiefest sinners in, or might not the chiefest of them make a particular application of it to himself; were Christs coming only to a few, and all the rest excluded by some inevitable decree, there would be but a starv'd kind of comfort in it at the best: nor could it well command our faith, seeing it might so command us to believe a lye, and cheat our selves. To make the saying either worth the saying or the believing, it must be applicable to the chiefest sin­ners, and so 'tis here; and the greatest sinner among us may lay hold upon it.

And now it being a saying so faithful and true in it self, faithful both to our Fathers and to us, the fulfilling of their Faith, and the ground of ours, and the sum of it too; a saying that will never fail us in any exigence and distress, but bear up our spirits at every turn, and stick firm to us upon all occasions: a saying so pleasing, so worthy of our Faith, and so close to every one of us: 'tis worthy sure lastly of all acceptation, all the best entertainment we can give it.

'Tis worthy of it 1. for the Person it brings to us: one that is fairer then the children of men, Psal. xlv. worth entertaining.

Worthy 2. for the way it brings him to us, in an humble and fami­liar way (such was his coming) he comes into the world like other men, that we may the easier approach him, and so the more readily entertain him.

Worthy 3. for the good things it tells us he brings with him, for the salvation he comes with to us: a thing worth accepting.

Worthy 4. for the persons it brings all this good to, or for the extent and fulness of that goodness, that 'tis to sinners, sinners inde­finitely and at large, sinners of all sizes, all degrees and latitudes; this certainly worthy all acceptation, by all to be accepted, for all interes­sed in it.

And 5. to be accepted too with all acceptance, all the best ways we can imagine, with soul and body, with hand and heart, with all the expressions of love, and reverence, and joy, and thankfulness; love of his Beauty, reverence to his Humility, joy in his Salvation, and thank­fulness for the freeness and fulness of it. If a friend come but a long Journey to us, we give him all the welcome we can make, and think nothing enough. This friend came to us as far as Heaven is from us, farther then all the corners of the earth. If a great person come to visit [Page 80] us, we meet him with all the respect and reverence we can contrive: none too much. This is the greatest person can come to us. If there come one to save to when we are now ready to perish, how do our hearts leap, and our spirits dance for joy? how glad are we? nothing can be more. Here's one comes to do it, and to do it to the utmost; that none or nothing of us may be lost: what can we now do to him again, who is, and does all this for us? All we can do is all too little, all expres­sions too low to receive him with, and this saying that thus assures him to us, worthy to be written in tables of Gold, with pens of Diamonds, to be written however on all our hearts, never to be raz'd out, nor ever to be brought forth but with devotion and reverence, with exultation and joy.

And now I am fallen upon my second general, the use we are to make of this faithful saying, and a four-fold use it will be, to believe; To ac­cept, to apply, to proclaim it: I add, to make this the day to begin it in.

I: This is a faithful saying; we are first therefore to believe it: such it is to them that believe, to others not: St. Paul I confess says, only to them especially, cap. iv. 10. But that especially is onely too; for Christ is effe­ctually the Saviour of none else. The Saviour truly of all, come down for all, set up for all; yet not any sav'd by him but Believers for all that. Nor all they neither, only such as are careful to maintain good works, Tit. iii. 8. This saying not faithful but to Believers; nor any Believers faithful, but such as shew it by good works. Thus St. Paul limits the words, This is a faithful saying, in those two last cited places, that we may not cheat our selves out of the Text, or the good things in it.

Indeed if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful in himself, he and all his sayings too; that's a faithful saying too, 2 Tim. iii. 11. 13. But, nor he, nor any of his sayings faithful to us, whatever in themselves, if we be not faithful and believing, if we distrust either the beginning or end of his coming to us, or by our sins, or foolish scruples, or despairs, thrust our selves out of our interests in any of them. For the second Use we are to make of this saying is, not only to believe it but to accept it.

Vse 2. Now to accept it, is very highly to prize and value it: and well we may, 'tis worthy of it. Prize it we then as we do Jewels, as that Merchant in the Gospel did the Pearl, sell all to buy it: there's none to it. Lay it up safe, as we do treasures, that neither Moth corrupt nor Thief steal it from us, nor Sin nor Satan rob us of it: there's no treasure like it. Keep it as we do the Records and Tenures of our Estates, part with it upon no score. Our state in heaven depends upon it; 'Tis our title to it. Lord, where were we without this assurance to save sin­ners? where all our hopes if this were lost? whereto all our treasures if this were gone? We had need prize and value it, and keep it sure: and this is to accept it.

And yet to give it all acceptation is somewhat more. To accept it as Tertullus tells Felix they did his noble deeds, Acts xxiv. 3. [...], always, and every where, and with all thankful­ness.

Do we it then 1. not now and then, not to day only, or one day or two, but every day, every day we rise, every opportunity that presents it self, on every occasion that appears; that's [...].

Do we it again 2. [...] in all places, engrave it upon our doors, [Page 81] carve it upon our posts, write it upon our hands, profess it every where we come; not in our Closets and our Chambers only, but in the Church, in the High-Priests Palace, in Pilates Hall, at the Pillar, and at the Cross, no where asham'd or afraid to own it.

Do it 3. [...] with all thankfulness. And how is that? by some good deeds sure as well as words. Present we him ever and anon with some good thing or other: now a basket of good Fruits (so St. Paul sometimes stiles good works:) Now a bottle of good Wine, the Wine of devout and pious tears: Now with a present of Gold or Silver to adorn his House or his Attendants: Now with a garment to clothe his naked members: Now with a dish to feed his poor and hungry Chil­dren: Now with this gift, now with another. This is the way of thank­fulness among men, that they call good acceptance among themselves. These and all the ways we can, [...], (for so some Greek Copies read for [...]) will take all in. But above all our souls and bodies a living Sacrifice will be the most acceptable present we can make him. Rom. xii. 1. and indeed the fittest for him that came to save them.

This will do well yet 3. St. Paul's quorum ego primus, the Apostles applying the only bad word in the Text with an emphasis to himself: his reckoning himself the chief of sinners shews us the best way to apply this faithful saying to our selves, the confessing our selves no ordinary sinners. The third Use of the Doctrine of the Text.

But thou, O blessed Apostle, the chief of sinners! What then (O Lord) are we? Primo primi, the chief of chiefs is a stile too little. And yet, can either He or We now say it, and say truth? if not, the lye may re­dound peradventure to Gods Glory, but it will work to our own damna­tion. Best look to that.

'Tis an Hyperbole most think; yet 'tis no handsom hyperbolizing with God, methinks. We may find out a way, I doubt not, so to say it, as yet to say nothing but our own bosom thoughts.

Three things observ'd, we may both say and think we are any of us the chief of sinners. 1. Look we upon our own sins with the severest eye, with all the aggravations of them we can imagine. Look we 2. upon other mens with the most favourable one, with all the extenu­ations we can invent. And then 3. compare we them so together, and the work is done: we may really suppose our selves of all men the great­est sinners.

To begin with our own sins, and to aggravate them to purpose, consi­der we them ever in their foulest colours, how base and wretched in them­selves, how dishonourable to God, how prejudicial to our Brother, how scandalous to our Religion, and how destructive to our selves. Consider we next upon what poor grounds they were committed, upon what slight temptations, to what silly ends, with what perfect knowledge, with what full deliberation, with what impudent presumption, how wilfully against all good motions, how resolutely against all assistances, and per­swasions to the contrary, how desperately against all dangers threatned from them; and how in gratefully to God and Christ. In a word, what a long train of mischiefs they probably draw after them, how many we involve commonly either in the guilt, or in the punishment, or in the ex­ample, and thereby lay as it were a seed of wickedness for ever, and so sin even in our worms and dust. Thus we are to look upon our own trans­gressions.

But 2. When we look upon other mens, we must do that but curso­rily [Page 82] and glancing, think they are never so bad as they are represented, not so foul by much as they appear at first; that their intentions perhaps were good, or that it falls out far otherwise than they intended; that what was done was upon mistake or error; that it was but a slip, or weak­ness, or surreption; that they have not the light, the strength, the grace, the power that God gives us; that they had not the means or opportuni­ty to shun those sins; that they were overpowered by strong temptations, or were meerly overtaken, or plainly forced to it and could not help it, or had not the opportunity to do better; that they did it ignorantly, meant no hurt at all, and possibly none may come of it; that what e're it be they are heartily sorry for it; that however they have a thousand vertues and good things in them to overpoise the evils they have done. These are the ways we are to consider the sins of other men.

And then 3. if after this we compare our sins and theirs together, ours under all the circumstances of aggravation, with theirs under all extenu­ating considerations, our greatest sins with their little ones, our presum­ptions with their infirmities, our vices with their vertues, our bad or sini­ster intentions with their good and fair professions, our corrupt natures with their good dispositions, our selves as we are by nature and deprest by sin with them as exalted by any grace and vertue; it will be no marvel, no way strange if we think our selves the greatest sinners.

And indeed we have no reason to do other: we know only our own hearts, those we are sure are wicked; but we cannot say so of other mens, can at the best but suppose theirs; of which in charity we ought always to think the best; ever at least better than our own, especially, when even little and ordinary sins in some, may be often worse than cry­ing sins in others, according to the difference of light and grace, and the variety of circumstances that may attend them. All which considered, if we profess our selves the worst, we shall now need no hyperbole to make it good; nor fear it will be any whit worse for us though it be true. St. Paul it seems held it the surest course thus by the greatest and humblest confession of his own unworthiness to plead his interest in this faithful say­ing, in Christ Iesus coming into the world to save sinners.

And now sure 4. we may proclaim it, must do so too. 'Tis not a say­ing to be kept secret, no mysterious Cabala not to be revealed, or commit­ted only to a few. This thing, says St. Paul, was not done in a corner. Into the world he came that came to save us. And, to the world and through the world let it therefore be proclaimed for ever. 'Tis good, says the An­gel to old Tobit to keep close the secret of a King, but 'tis honourable to reveal the works of God, Tob. xii. 11.

And to day is a good day to do it in. A day wherein the Lepers said a­mong themselves, 2 Kings vii. 9. If we hold our peace some mischief will come upon us. I am sure there was enough upon us, when men upon this day held their peace. Well, tell we now our news as they did theirs, to the Court, to the City, to the Country, to the world. The Church bids us do do so to day. Let the Preacher preach it, let the people tell it, let the singers begin it, and go before, and the Minstrels and Musick follow and answer it to day, that Christ Iesus is come into the world to save sinners.

Yet to day we must do more then tell it. We are to believe, to accept, to apply it too. We have to day the best opportunity to do all, to ex­ercise our faith, and to advance it, to give a proof of our acceptance of Christs saving mercies, and the sense of our own sins and miseries.

Yonder under the blessed Elements we shall meet our Saviour coming to [Page 83] us. Shall I tell you how to accept that favour, how receive and entertain him? why! when great Personages are coming to us, we make clean the House, we trick up the Rooms, we set every thing in order, we set forth our choicest Furniture, put on our best Apparel, we look out ever and anon to see if they be coming, and when they are, we go out to meet them, we make our addresses with all humble and lowly reverence, we welcome them with the best words we have, we present them with some lovely present, and take care that nothing unseemly be done before them whilst they stay.

Let us do so to him that came into the world to day. Cleanse we our hearts, and purifie our hands, dress up all the rooms, all the powers and faculties of our souls and bodies with graces and vertues, set our affections and passions all in rule and order, put on the garments of righteousness, and true holiness; let us long, and thirst, and hunger after him, let us go out to meet him, accost him with reverence, welcome him with Prayers and Praises, present him with holy vows and resolutions, and so every way demean our selves with that humility and devotion, that care and dili­gence over all our ways and steps, that nothing appear in us distasteful or offensive to him now he is come: and say we to him in the words of Eli­zabeth to his Mother, Whence is this to me that my Lord himself is come unto me, to me a sinner, to me the chief of sinners!

Thus if we will entertain him when he comes, thus if we will receive him now he is coming towards us, he will not only come unto us, but tar­ry with us till he take us with him to himself; make us his world to be in till he remove us into a better; where the soul that humbly here confes­ses it self the chief of sinners, shall be sav'd and set among the chiefest Saints, when he shall come again in glory.

THE FIFTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

PSALM xlv. 3.2.‘Thou art fairer then the Children of men,Grace is poured into thy lip [...]. full of grace are thy lips:therefore. because God hath blessed thee for ever.’

MY heart is inditing a good matter; So the Psal. begins, and so the Ser­mon. and I could wish my tongue were the pen therefore of a ready writer, that I might speak the things I have made touching the King, this days new-born King, as I ought to speak, as they ought to be spoken. But, Non mihi si centum lin­guae sint, oraque centum, Had I a hundred mouths, and as many tongues, and they the tongues of Angels too, I could not yet sufficiently set forth the Beauty of this Fair one, the Ma­jesty of this King, the grace of his Person, or the comfort of his Day, this day wherein he came to be first reckoned among the children of men.

Yet something must be said both for the days sake, and the persons. 'Tis a day of good tidings, so the Angel tells us, and then we must not hold our peace; the very Lepers that are to hold their hands upon their mouths cannot hold them at this. Say we do not well, if we do, some mis­chief will come upon us, 2 Kings vii. 9. And lips so full of grace will require the return of the lips at least. We can do little if we cannot speak again when we are spoken to, when God speaks to us, as the Apostle tells us, by his Son; if we will not render a word in answer to this eternal word, speak of the beauty, and grace, and blessing that we see in him, and find by him. God hath blessed him for ever, blessed us to day, will bless us too, hath already blessed us in blessing him, will bless us more and more in him, too day and for ever: good reason then, we bless him to day, who from this day began to bless us for ever.

All this while you understand me who I mean, who is so fair, so gra­cious, so blessed. The question is, whether the Psalmist means the same. In­deed they give it out for an Epithalamium, or Marriage-Song at Solomons Espousals with Pharaohs Daughter. And in such Songs the praise and com­mendation [Page 86] of the Bridegroom and the Bride, and good wishes to them are the usual subjects. It is so here; Solomon and his Bride commended, bles­sed, well-wisht to in it: but yet behold a greater than Solomon is here, a fair­er, graciouser, blesseder than he: Christ married to his Church, or rather the Divinity contracted to the Humanity, Christ made the fairest of the children of men, [...] as well as prae, more gracious words out of his mouth than ever out of Solomons, more truly ever blessed [...], than he, the Song sung in a fuller key, the words more punctually appliable, the Pro­phesie more exactly fulfilled in him than in Solomon himself. The Fathers have so expounded it before us, the Church has added authority to it by the choice of the Psalms for a part of the Office of the Day: nay, S. Paul has so applied it, Heb. i. 8, 9. So I am no ways singular: Indeed I love not to be in such points as these, I tread the antient track; though I confess I think I can never take occasions enough, nor I nor any else to speak of Christ, of his beauty, and grace, and blessedness, either to day or any day, though every day whatsoever.

And though I must say with St. Hilary, Filium mens mea veretur attingere, & trepidat omnis sermo se prodere. I can neither think without a kind of fear, nor speak without a kind of trembling, of a person of that glory; yet because 'tis our eternal Solomons, the Words wedding-day, and the Text part of the Wedding-Song; and in such days and Songs the very children, all comers bear a part; and if they did not, the stones would do it, (indeed the stones and walls should this day all ring of it) and if they, I must not be the only sensless stone to hold my peace. Indeed here is a beauty would make any man an Oratour: lips that would make the dumb man eloquent, grace would make the most ungratious full of good words, and holy language, were they well conceived and considered.

That so they may, the words are now to be considered as a part of an Epithalamium, or Marriage-Song, wherein Christ our eternal Bridegroom is set forth in all his lustre. Now in a Bridegroom, the chief things we look at are good parts, and a good estate. Our Bridegroom here has both. Fair fac'd, and fair spoken, full of grace and beauty for his parts, and a fair estate he has too, God be thanked for it; a blessed lot, a goodly heritage in a fair ground, blessedness it self enstated upon him, and that for ever; both far above the parts and portions of the children of men, the Sons parts above the parts of the children of men, and the Fathers blessing a­bove the blessings of the fathers of men; and neither the one nor the other to be conceal'd, but even spoken and sung of while you will. By us as well as David, as loud too, and in as high a key. Run this division upon it if you please, and take these parts, to sing of in their order.

  • 1. His Beauty, Christs excellent beauty. Thou art fairer then the chil­dren of men.
  • 2. His eloquence, Christs infinite grace in speaking. Full of grace are thy lips.
  • 3. The original whence they come, from Gods blessing; Eo quod in one way of rendring, Because God hath blessed thee for ever: because he hath blessed thee, therefore art thou so fair, so full of grace.
  • 4. The effect of them, what they cause. Gods blessing again: so the other rendring the word by Propterea; therefore, that is because of this excellent grace and beauty: therefore has God blessed thee for ever.
  • 5. The end whether they move and tend, the great business they aim at, even to the blessing of God again: for so the Hebrew Writers [Page 87] supply the sense, with a dico ego. Therefore say I, and so say we, or are to say so, God hath blessed thee for ever. Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, and blessed be our Lord Iesus Christ, for all this grace, for all this blessing. If our Spouse so fair, then we sure should be faithful: if his lips so full of grace, our lips as full of thanks: if he blessed of God, we again bless God and him, for so great a bles­sing: so great blessings, so continually descending upon us; so lasting, so everlasting, never sufficiently answered but by all our ways of blessing; and so blessing him always, all our days, whilst we live, for ever. We to sing our parts, and praise him in the Song, sing or say, Thou art fairer, thou O Christ art fairer, &c.

For this is the sum and whole meaning of the Text, to give us a view of Christs Beauty, and the Christians Duty both together; so to shew and set forth to us the lustre and splendour of Christs incomparable Beau­ty, and the overflowing fulness of his Grace, as to make us really in love with him, to ravish our [...], and tongues, and hands to his Service, and praise, that we may to [...] and every day serve, and praise, and magnifie him all the day long, [...] way to blessedness for ever. I begin with his Beauty, for that's [...] attractive to him.

When I shall be lift up, shall draw all men to me, says he himself, S. Iohn xii. 32. That lifting up was upon the Cross, and if that be so attractive, if he be so powerful in his humiliation, when his face is clouded with darkness, his eyes with sadness, his heart with sorrow, when his body is so mangled with wounds, deform'd with stripes, besmear'd with blood, and sweat, and dust, that will draw all men to him; how infinitely prevalent then must he needs be when we see him in his excellence, smooth, and even and entire in all the parts of his soul and body. For in both, fair he is, formosus, fair, formosus prae, very fair, formosus prae filiis, fairer then the fairest and sweetest child, in whom commonly is the sweetest beauty; prae filiis hominum, than the children of men, when they come to their full strength and manly beauty. By these degrees we shall arrive to the perfe­ction of his beauty; fair he is, very fair, fairer than the sweetest, fairer than the perfectest beauty of the sons of men, so in both his body and his soul.

In his Body first. And fair and comely sure must that Body be which was immediately and miraculously fram'd by the Holy Ghost; pure flesh and blood that was stirred together by that pure Spirit, out of the purest Blood and Spirits of the purest Virgin of the world. The shadows of that face must needs be beautiful that were drawn by the very finger and shad­dowing of the Holy Ghost: those eyes must needs have quid sidereum, as St. Ierome, some star-like splendor in them, which were so immediately of the heavenly making. The whole frame of that body must needs be ex­cellent, which was made on purpose by God himself for the supreme excel­lence to dwell in, to reside in, to be united to, so united by the union hypostatical. A body without sin must needs be purely fair, a body without concupiscence must needs be sweet, without defect must needs be lovely, without vacuity must needs be complete, without superfluity must needs be so far handsom, without inordination must needs be perfect, without death must needs be firm, without dust must needs be singular, without corruption must needs be curious and delicate, without any of them must needs be excellent. And all these were Christs body, without sin, with­out concupisence, without defect, without vacuity, without superfluity, without inordination, death and dust and corruption could not get the [Page 88] least dominion over it; thou shalt not suffer my flesh to see corruption, saies the Psalm, he did not suffer it to see it saies the Gospel, rais'd incor­ruptible it quickly was, went down into the grave but staid not there, came not into the dust at all, into any corruption at all; had none all the while it was upon the earth, had none under it.

Fair he was in his conception, conceived in purity, and a fair Angel brought the news. Fair (2.) in his Nativity, [...] is the word in the Sep­tuagint, tempestivus, in time, that is, all things are beautiful in their time, Eccl. v. 11. And in the fulness of time it was that he was born, and a fair star pointed to him. Fair (3.) in his childhood, he grew up in grace and favour. St. Luke ii. 52. The Doctors were much taken with him. (4.) Fair in his manhood; had he not been so, says S. Ierome, had there not been something admirable in his countenance and presence, some heavenly beauty, Nunque secuturi essent Apostoli, &c. The Apostles and the whole world, (as the Pharisees themselves confess) would not so suddenly have gone after him. Fair (5.) in his Transfiguration, white as the light, or as the snow, his face glittering as the Sun, S. Mat. xvii. 2. even to the ravishing the very soul of S. Peter, that he knew not what he said, could let his eyes dwell upon taht face for ever, and never come down the Mount again. (6.) Fair in his Passion. Nihil indecorum, no uncomeliness, in his nakedness; his very wounds, and the bloody prints of the whips and scourges drew an ecce from the mouth of Pilate, Behold the man, the sweetness of his countenance and carriage in the midst of filth and spittle, whips and buffets; his very comeliness upon the Cross, and his giving up the Ghost, made the Centu­rion cry out he was the Son of God; there appeared so sweet a Majesty, so heavenly a lustre in him through that very darkness that encompass'd him. (7.) Fair in his Resurrection; so subtile a beauty, that mortal eyes, even the eyes of his own Disciples, were not able to see or apprehend it, but when he veil'd it for them. (8.) Fair in his Ascension, made his Dis­ciples stand gazing after him so long (as if they never could look long enough upon him) till an Angel is sent from Heaven to rebuke them, to look home, Acts i. 11.

If you ask Eusebius, Evagrius, Nicephorus, Damascen, and some others, how fair he was, they will tell you so fair, that the Painter sent from Agbarus King of Edessa to draw his Picture, could not look so stedfastly upon him as to do it, for the rays that darted from his face; and though the Scripture mention no such thing, 'tis no greater wonder to believe then what we read of Moses his face, which shone so glorious that the Children of Israel could not behold it, 2 Cor. iii. 7. Lentulus the Roman President his Epistle to the Emperour Antonius, describes him of very comely colour, shape, and figure; and so do others. Not such a beauty yet as that which darts from it wanton rays, or warms the blood, or stirs the spirits to vain desires, or secular respects and motions; but a sweetness without sensual daintiness, a lustre without lightness, a modest look without dejectedness, a grave countenance without severity, a fair face without fancy, eyes sparkling only heavenly flames, cheeks com­manding holy modesty, lips distilling celestial sweetness, beauty with­out its faults, figure, and proportion, and all such as was most answerable and advantageous to the work he came about, every way fitted to the most perfect operations of the reasonable and immortal soul; the most beautiful then sure when beauty is nothing else but an exact order and proportion of things in relation to their nature and end, both to them­selves and to each other.

[Page 89] Take his description from the Spouses own mouth, Cant. v. 10, 11, 12, &c. My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy (or curled) and black as a Raven. His eyes are as the eyes of Doves, by the rivers of water, washed with water and fitly set, [that is, set in fulness, fitly placed, and as a precious stone in the soil of a Ring.] His cheeks are as a bed of Spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like Lillies dropping sweet smelling Myrrhe: his hands are as gold Rings set with Beryl: his belly as bright Ivory over-laid with Saphyrs. His legs are as pillars of Marble, set upon sockets of fine Gold. His countenance like Lebanon, excellent as the Ce­dars. His mouth is most sweet, yea he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Ierusalem. This is our beloved too. Solo­mon indeed has poetically express'd it. Yet something else there is in it besides a poetick phrase. Beautiful he thus supposes he is to be, who was to be this Spouse, have the beauty of all beautiful things in the world conferr'd upon him; at least to have the finest and subtilest part of all worldly beauties, those imperceptible, yet powerful species of them which make them really amiable and attractive; a head, and locks, and eyes, and hands, and feet, quantity, colour, and proportion, such as dart­ed from them not only a resemblance, but the very spirit of heavenly beauty, innocence, purity, strength, and vigour. Poets when they com­mend beauty, call it divine and heavenly; this of his it was truly so, a kind of sensible Divinity through all his parts.

Shall I give you his colour to make up the beauty? He was white, pure white in his Nativity, ruddy in his Passion, bright and glistering in his life, black in his death, Azure-vein'd in his Resurrection. No won­der now to see the Spouse sit down under his shadow with great delight, Cant. ii. 3. we sure our selves now can do less, and yet this is but the sha­dow of his beauty. The true beauty is the souls, the beauty of the soul, the very soul of beauty; the beauty of the body, but the body, nay the carcase of it. And this of the souls he had (2.) in its prime perfection.

2. Now beauty consists in three particulars; the perfection of the li­neaments, the due proportion of them each to other, and the excellency and purity of the colour. They are all compleat in the soul of Christ. The lineaments of the soul are its faculties and powers, the proportion of them is the due subordination of them to God and one another. The colours are the vertues and graces that are in them.

His powers and faculties would not but be compleat, which had no­thing of old Adam in them. His understanding without ignorance, he knew all, the very hearts of all, thoughts as they rose, what they thought within themselves, S. Luke v. 22. thoughts before they rose, what the Pharisees with other would have done to him, had he committed himself unto them. Now Tyre and Sidon would have repented had they had the mercy allowed to Corazin and Bethsaida, S. Luke x. 13. His will without wilfulness or weakness, his passions without infirmity or extravagance, his inferiour powers without defect or maim, his understanding clear, his will holy, his passions sweet, all his powers vigorous. Hear the Wise man describe him under the name of Wisdom, Wisd. xvii. 22, 23, &c. In her, that is in him, who is the Wisdom of the Father, is an understanding Spirit, holy, one onely, manifold, subtile, lively, clear, undefiled, plain, nor subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good, quick, which cannot be letted, ready to do good, kind to man, stedfast, sure, free from care, having all power, overseeing all things, and going through all understanding, pure, and most subtile spirits, and ver. 25, 26. A pure influence flowing from the Glory of the Almighty, the brightness of the ever­lasting [Page 90] light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his good­ness.

The powers of his soul being thus pure, vigorous, and unspotted, they cannot (2.) but be in order; the will following his understanding, the passions subordinate to them both, all the inferiour powers obedient and ready at command and pleasure. He had no sooner exprest a kind of grie­vance in his sensitive powers at the approach of those strange horrors of his death and sufferings, but presently comes out, Non mea, sed tua, Not my will but thine, all in a moment, at peace and in tranquillity. No rash or idle word, no unseemly passage, no sowre look, nor gesture or expression unsuitable to his Divinity throughout his life: the very Devils to their own confusion cannot but confess it, We know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God, S. Mark i. 24.

To this add those heavenly colours and glances of grace, and vertues, and you have his soul compleatly beautiful: Meekness, and Innocence, and Patience, and Obedience even to the death; Mercy, and Goodness, and Piety, and what else is truly called by the name of good, are all in him: insomuch that the Apostle tells us the very fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily, Col. ii. 9. No Divine Grace or Vertue wanting in him. In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, ver. 3. In him all sanctity and holiness, not so much as the least guile in his mouth, 1 S. Pet. ii. 22. So holy, that he is made holiness and sanctification unto us, 1 Cor. i. 30. Sancti quasi sanguine uncti, We Saints and holy become hallowed by the sprink­ling of his blood. In him lastly is all the power and vertue, omnis virtus, that is omnis potestas, all the power in heaven and earth fully given to him, S. Matth. xxviii. 18.

So that now we shall need to say little of the other particular of this first general point of Christs perfect beauty, that he is not only Formosus, but Formosus prae, not only fair, but very fair: for where there is so much as you have heard, exceeding and excellent it must needs be. Where the body is compleat in all its parts, the soul exact in all its powers, the bo­dy without any ill inclination natural or habitual, the soul without the least stain of thought, or glance of irregularity, nothing to sully the soul or body, all wisdom, and holiness, and power, and vertue: We can say no less of him then the Psalmist of Ierusalem, Very excellent things are spo­ken of thee thou City of God, thou miraculous habitation of the Almighty, thou very dwelling not of God only, but the very Godhead too.

Nor shall I need to say much of the third, the prae filiis, that his beau­ty is more sweet and innocent then the new-born babes. Alas the sweet­est fairest child comes sullied into the world with Adams guilt. Some of that dust that God cast upon him when he told him, Dust he was, and into dust he should return, sticks so upon the face and body, the very soul and spirit too of the prettiest infant, that it is nothing to this days child. In omnibus sine peccato, Heb. iv. 15. In all without sin, says the Apostle, the very temptations he suffered were not from the sinfulness of his nature, any original concupiscence; non novit, says the Apostle in another place, 1 Cor. v. 21. he knew it not, knew no sin at all: in this he might use St. Peters phrase, Man I know not what thou meanest, I know not what this con­dition of man so much as means. Prae filiis, he is as much purer then the child we call innocent, as much before it in purity and innocence, as he is in time and being. Nay yet again, though we see the sweetest beauty is commonly that of children whilst they are so, yet even that beauty must needs have some kind of stain, or mole, or some insensible kind of [Page 91] defect, though we know not what, nor how to term it, which was not in him. The very natural inordination of our powers must needs give a kind of dull shadow to our exactest beauty, and silently speak the inward fault by some outward defect, though we are too dull, being of the same mold, to apprehend it; whilst there could be no such darkness in the face of Christ, no Genius in it which was not perfectly attractive, and exactly fitted to its place and office.

This perhaps may seem a subtlety to our duller apprehensions; but 'tis plain that I shall tell you, though but briefly in the fourth particular, that he is fairer then the children of men, then men come to their perfect beauty. Alas! alas! before that time long, sin had so sullied them, that we may read dark lines in all their faces: the Physicgnomist will tell you all their faults; our sins and deformities are by that time written in our foreheads, engraven in our hands; our beauty is almost clean lost into corruption. Could we see as Angels do, those eyes that seem to sparkle flames, would look terrible as the fires of Hell. Those cheeks that seem beauteous in their blushes, would be seen to have no other than the colour of our sins: those lips which we cry up for sweetness, would stink in our conceit with rottenness: the teeth that look white as Ivory, we should behold black with calumny and slander as the [...]oot of the foulest Chimneys: the fair curled locks, would look like snakes, the young spawn of the great red Dragon: the hands that look so white and delicate, would appear filthy, bloody, and unclean. We, poor we, are but blind moles and bats. We see nothing. We know not what is beautiful, what is lovely. If we did, these earthly beauties would seem what I have said them, nay worse; Christ only would be beautiful, no body but Christs body, no body but that wherein Christ dwells, in whose eyes, and cheeks, and lips, and head, and hands, you might see Christs Beauty, Meekness, Love, Charity, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, Innocence, Piety, with the rest of those lines of beauty which were in him. But whatever we would then say of the bodies, we can say no other even now of the souls of men, th [...]t none are fair, but that are well colour'd and proportion'd to those heavenly lines, and in this point freely acknowledge the pre-eminence of Christ, the prerogative of this Spouse. And well may we say of him with the Psal­mist, that he is fairer then the children of men, whom daily sins deform and render ugly, when the Apostle sets him before the Sons of God, the Angels, the Cherubins, and Seraphins, which you will of them; for to which of them, says he, has he said at any time; Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Heb. i. 5. begotten thee after mine own image, the very express image of my person, the brightness of my glory, ver. 3. Fairer then the children of men, no doubt, who is as fair and bright as God, who is higher then all the Sons of men, all the people by the head, by the Godhead which is in him. Which being in him, there needs no more to say, but that 'tis of necessity he must be the fairest of the Sons of men, through whose eyes, and face, and hands, and whole body, the rays of the Divine Beauty are continually darting from within. Well may we now also expect some of it at his lips, and so we find it here in the very next words, very fully issuing there, Full of grace are thy lips, that's the second general of the Text, Gratia diffusa in labiis, Grace in the lips as well as beauty in the forehead, in face or other parts of soul and body.

Three degrees we observe in the words to make up this fulness, Gratia est, gratia diffusa, diffusa in labiis, that Grace there is in him as well as beau­ty. (2.) Grace abundant, and in full measure. And (3.) so abundant, [Page 92] and so full, that it falls into the lips, comes out full spout there, there above all it issues, and manifests, and appears.

Grace first, that's good with beauty, all beauty but deform'd without is; a good hint to you by the way, to get those souls fill'd with grace, whose bodies God has made fine with beauty. If God has given thee beau­ty, beg of him that he would also give thee grace, beautifie thy soul as well as body; and strive thou also what thou canst possibly thy self to adorn thy beauty with grace and goodness; or if thou hast little or no beauty in thy body, make amends for it by the beauty and sweetness of thy soul: though thy face be not fair, thy lips may be gracious, thou mayest be full of good words and works, and thou mayest do God more service with the grace of thy lips, than with the beauty of thy fairest face that so amazes and ravishes worldly lovers.

Now a threefold grace there is in Christ. And (1.) The grace of his per­son, or personal grace wherewith his own person was indued, so far as to be free from all kind of sin. The grace of the Head, whereby he disper­ses his graces into all his Members, as the Head of the Church into the Body, into the souls of Christians and Believers. And then the grace of Union, that ineffable grace whereby the Godhead is united to the Man­hood. By the first, he himself is holy, by the second he makes us so. By the third he wrought all the means to do it. For the first, let us reverence his person. For the second, let us embrace him, and be rul'd by him. For the third, let us perpetually admire and adore him.

'Tis ready to conceive now that he was full indeed, beyond measure full; the spirit not given to him by measure, so he says himself, S. Iohn iii. 34. and his witness is true, though he bear witness of himself, St. Iohn viii. 14. anointed with it above his fellows, as it follows, ver. 8. words repeated and applied expresly to him by St. Paul, Heb. i. 9. So full that he pours out upon us, pours in all we have. We are but empty ves­sels, till he pour into us; without grace, or any good, till he pour it in, diffusa in, as well as effusa ex, it is spread abroad in our hearts, says the Apostle, Rom. v. 5. as well as spread upon his lips.

Yet is our fulness but the fulness of earthy pitchers, but five or six firkins a piece at most when they are filled to the brim: His fulness the fulness of the fountain, that pours it self over all the neigh­bouring Vallies, and yet empties not it self, runs still as fresh as ever; only holds when there are no more vessels, or the vessels there will hold no more. His fulness minds us either of our emptiness or shallowness; and if grace, we have either in our hearts or lips, we will deplore it: fill our eyes with tears, and our lips with prayers, that he may fill our hearts with grace, make us some way partakers of his fulness.

And that we need not doubt of, now 'tis gotten into his lips. They are the conduits of his grace, they convey it to us. Three several gra­ces we gather from his lips.

1. His gracious Miracles; by his bare word he heal'd the Lame, and cur'd the Blind, and restor'd the Sick, and cleans'd the Leper, and dispos­sest the Devils, and rais'd the dead. He spake the word and all was done. Full of grace indeed to do such deeds of grace, so willingly, so readily, so generally, and in the lips indeed, when it was all done only by the word of his mouth.

2. The gracious instructions that proceeded out of his mouth; inso­much that all wondered at it, says S. Luke iv. 22. He only taught with authority, and a grace; all other teachers, the long winded Pharisee [Page 93] himself, but wind and bubble to him, St. Matthew. vii. 29. [...]

3. The gracious promises of the Gospel, pardon and forgiveness, grace, and mercy, and peace, and heaven, and happiness; all fully preach't and revealed by him. By the word of his mouth were the heavens made, says David, made over now to us, kept in store, provided and prepared for us, with that priviledge too, prae filiis hominum, before all the children of men, that were before us, that they without us should not be made perfect, Heb. xi. 40.

We may without question apply prae filiis hominum to this point, to say here also that his lips are fuller of grace then the children of men; for even the officers of his enemies were forc'd to confess it long ago, S. Iohn vii. 46. Never any man spake like this man; never so graciously, never so comfortably, never so effectually, never so powerfully, never so sweetly, never so much grace, and goodness, and glory.

And 'tis still diffusa, lasts still. His lips are his Ministers and Preachers, and by them he still diffuses his graces daily to us, Labia Sacerdotis custodi­unt, Mal. ii. 7. they keep grace for others, even when they keep none for themselves. The ministry of the Word and Sacraments, though it comes sometimes through corrupt and putrid channels, is not defiled or made unprofitable by it. Out of the childrens, that is, ignorant simple Ministers mouths, sometimes God perfects praise, and makes the stones, the most stony and obdurate sinner among them, cry out loud enough to do others good, to soften others, though they continue hard and impeni­tent themselves.

The Sacraments (2.) are his lips too, in which grace is diffus'd, full grace given and poured out upon us, poured in into us. Never grace so fully given as in those holy Mysteries; there you see diffusa to the eye, the out­ward pouring out the Wine, and must believe though you do not see the inward pouring out the Spirit. Never so gracious words proceeded out of his mouth as those you hear there. This is my Body which was given for you. This is my Blood which was shed for you. Take and eat the one, Take and drink the other. What more abundant grace? what higher favour than thus to have our lips, and mouths, and hearts filled with himself, and all the benefits of himself? Wonder we may at it, for 'tis a work of won­der, an ineffable mystery.

Gracious indeed always were his words. Come unto me all ye that are wea­ry and heavy laden, and I will refresh you, S. Matth. xi. 28. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, S. Matth. ix. 13. Fear not little flock, for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you a kingdom, St. Luke xii. 32. Ye that have followed me in the regeneration, shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve Tribes of Israel, S. Mat. xix. 28. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him should be saved, S. John iii. 17. Behold I give you power to tread on Serpents and Scorpious, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you, S. Luke x. 19. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoaking flax, S. Mat. xii. 20. Lo I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, S. Mat. xxviii. 20. Great and gracious effusions these, full of grace; yet to give himself daily for our food and nourishment, and call us to it, is to set seal to all those other sayings, to bring them home particularly to every one of us, the very Amen and summing up of all the rest.

'Tis time now to enquire whence all this fulness, all this fairness; Eo quod Deus benedixit, reads one Transtation, because God hath blessed him. Christs beauty is Gods blessing, all beauty is so, be it what it will; from him it comes, is but a ray of that eternal beauty, that inaccessible light, [Page 94] that summe pulchrum, as well as summe bonum, the everlasting brightness of the Father: all the beauty of the mind and body, all the integrity and vigour of all our powers, are meerly from his blessing, not our merit; a good lesson from it, not to be proud of any of them. Christ himself as man had not his beauty any other way. No nor his grace neither. His Manhood could not merit the union of the Godhead; it was the meer gift of God so to anoint the Humanity with the Deity, without which he could not have been the Saviour, could not have made satisfaction for so infinite a mass of sins. Gods blessing meerly it was, his meer goodness and blessing so to contrive salvation to us, to enable the Manhood with the Godhead, to go through the work of our Redemption. God so loved the world, that he sent his Son into the world, in our mortal nature, thus enabled, thus beautified, thus filled, that we might all be partakers of his fulness.

4. Yet in the fourth place, though Christ as meer man could not de­serve this grace and beauty, yet when once the Manhood was united to the Godhead, then he deserv'd the second blessing. Then propterea, there­fore God hath blessed him, is as true a rendring as the other: then when being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death: then comes in St. Paul's therefore or wherefore rightly, Phil. ii. 8, 9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above eve­ry name, that at the name of Iesus every knee should bow, that we should bow our selves in humility and thankfulness unto him, that every tongue should confess, all tongues bless him, and bless God for him, that we might praise him in the Church, in the midst of the Congregation.

For a double blessing has Christ purchas'd to himself; a blessing upon his Person, and a blessing upon his Church. By his Grace and Beauty he has first purchas'd to himself a name, and then a Church, a glorious one too, Ephes. v. 27. made himself the head of it. For it pleased God that in him should all fulness dwell, it pleased him also by that fulness to reconcile all things to himself, to make him the head of all, the Saviour of them all, to bless him in the ordinary stile of Scripture, where children are called the blessing of the Lord, to bless him with an everlasting seed, a Church and people to the end of the world, do the gates of Hell what they can against it.

5. There remains nothing now but our Benedixit to answer God's, our blessing to answer his. We to bless him again for all his blessings: For to that purpose is both Christs grace, and Gods blessing, all his blessings; therefore fulness of grace in him, that it might be diffus'd and poured out upon us; therefore diffus'd and poured out upon us, that we might pour out something for it. Bene fecit, for Benedixit, some good works or other, at least Benedixit for Benedixit, good words for it; blessing for blessing.

Indeed 'tis but Benedixit here with God, but dixit & fecit, he said and it was done: saying and doing are all one with God, should be so with us if we would be like him; our deeds as good as our words, our piety as fair as our pretences, that's the only truly blessing God.

And the likest too to last in secula, to hold for ever. Good words and praising God in words, is but the leaves of the tree of blessing; and leaves you know will wither: the stock, and trunck is blessing God in earnest by good works, by expressing the diffusions of this grace in our lives and actions, by imitating and conforming our selves to the beauty of this be­loved.

If he be so fair as you have seen it, how can we now but love him? if [Page 95] his lips so full of grace, how can we but delight to hear him, to hear his word? If blessed, how can we less then strive to be partakers of his bles­sing? If for ever, how can we but desire to be ever with him, perpetual­ly attending him? If his beauty was Gods blessing, let us humbly acknow­ledge ours comes all from him. If the grace of his lips were the blessing of Gods, let us know we are not able of our selves to speak so much as a good word as of our selves. If again he was therefore blessed because he was so beautiful, and so diffus'd his grace, us'd both his beauty and eloquence to bring about the children of men to become the children of God; let us so employ those smaller glimmerings of beauty and gifts of grace we have, to the service and glory of God and his Christ.

We dote much upon worldly beauties, we think, we talk, we dream of them, our minds and affections are ever on them, wholly after them. Why do we not so on Christ, and after him? he is the fairest of ten thou­sand, Solomon in all his glory not like him: none of all the Sons of Adam comes near him. Why do we not then delight to look upon him, to dis­course with him, to talk of him, to be ever with him? What's the rea­son we do not season our labours, our recreations, our retirements, our dis­courses with him?

We are easily won with fair words and gracious speeches. Lo here are lips the most eloquent that ever were; why do we not even hang upon them? why do we not with the Spouse in the Canticles desire him to kiss us with the kisses of his lips, to communicate his fulness to us? Indeed I can render no cause at all, but that we are so immerst in flesh, and earth­ly beauties, that we cannot see the true heavenly beauty of Christ, or we do not believe it.

And yet this Jesus is every where to be seen, his Ministers, his Word, his daily Grace preventing, directing, and assisting, preserving and deli­vering us; the creatures plainly and evidently enough discover him daily to us.

But to day we have a fairer discovery and sight of him. This Iesus that is so fair, this Iesus so full of grace, this Iesus so blessed of God for ever, is this day presented to us in his Blessed Sacrament: there is he himself in all his beauty, all his fulness. Say we then to him, Come in thou blessed of the Lord, come in, we have made ready and prepared the house for thee and for thy Camels, for thy self and those consecrated elements that carry and convey thee. Get we our vessels ready, and shut the door to us, as the poor Widow did shut out all worldly thoughts and wan­dring fancies, that he may pour out his oyl, his grace into them, till they be full. And pour we out our souls before him in all devotion and humili­ty, in all praise and thanksgiving. Is not the cup we are to take, the cup of blessing, in the Apostles stile? take we it then and bless him with it, taste and see how gracious the Lord is; see and behold how fair he is, how amiable and lovely, and be ravish'd with his beauty and sweetness, and never think we can be satisfied with it, with seeing, or hearing, or bles­sing him, but be always doing so for ever.

So shall he make us fair with his beauty, good with his grace, happy with his blessedness, bring us one day to see his face in perfect beauty, and so see his grace poured out into glory, there to bless, and praise, and magnifie him for ever.

THE SIXTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

S. LUKE i. 68, 69.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people.

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.

TIS a Blessed Day, our Blessed Saviours Birth-day; and a blessed Text we have here for it: both a Day and Text to bless him in. A Text top-full of blessings, and a day wherein they came. Blessed Persons, and blessed do­ings, in the Text. Blessed Persons, the Blessed God, our Blessed Lord, Blessed David, and a Blessed People; for a redeemed people are so. Blessed are the people that are in such a case. Blessed doings in it too. God blessing, and man blessing. God vi­siting, redeeming, saving mightily, saving Israel: And one of Israel in the name of all the rest mightily blessing him for so doing to it. All these blessings as well remembred as came in the day. Never was Text so fraught with blessings: never rose Day so fair with blessings: never saw Israel such a one before: never shall Israel or any people see such a Day a­gain for blessings till we come into the land of blessedness.

All that can be said to dim it, is, that this is not the day that blessed Zachary gave this blessing in; it may be nor was this the day that God gave this blessing neither. Time it self runs upon such uneven wheels, that we are fain to borrow hours and minutes to make up the reckoning of our years and days. 'Tis enough that we count near it; 'twere enough if it were a day only set apart by Holy Church to recount it in; though it were nothing near it, nothing near the day when the Lord God of Israel thus vi­sited and redeemed his people. Our business is not to be exact Chronologers of the days of our salvation, but exact performers of our Duties, our thanksgivings and praises for it.

Good Zachary does it here before this Redemption was fully wrought, [Page 98] six months before this Horn of salvation did appear. If we do it a few days before, or after, it matters not. To bless God for it, that's the bu­siness. Only we must be allowed a day to do it in either first or last. But the Church having pitcht it generally every where much about this time; We take it as we find it, quarrel no more with the Church for doing it now, then we do with Zachary for doing it then; when he more forestall'd the time, then we can possibly mistake it.

Being therefore come hither to day upon that account, the account of blessing God, and having here a day of blessing, and a Text of blessing, we shall divide the words into blessings too.

Gods blessing, and mans blessing; Gods blessing man, and mans bles­sing God again.

I. Gods blessing hath in it these particulars.

1. His visiting, he hath visited. (2.) His redeeming us, and redeem­ed. (3.) His saving or raising up a salvation for us. That salvation (4.) no mean or little one, but a mighty salvation: so one of our translations. A salvation (5.) with a horn to hold by, a horn of salvation; so the other, a sure salvation. For us (6.) all of us, the very people to hold by, an universal salvation. A salvation (7.) raised up; an eminent sal­vation. Rais'd up (8.) in the right house, in the house of David, a roy­al, a glorious salvation. Rais'd up lastly upon a right ground too; David's relation to him, his servant David, or Gods goodness to his servants: a singular and especial salvation for them above the rest. This is Gods blessing man, the first general with the particulars.

II. Mans blessing God is the second, and that has these.

1. An acknowledgment of Gods blessings, and his blessedness, visiting, redeeming, saving, &c. That blessings they are, and His they are, He visited, He redeemed, &c. He therefore blessed for so doing.

2. A particular applying and setting our selves to bless him for them, a Benedictus, a Hymn set and begun upon it.

3. A desire that others, even all would do so too, for [...] may have as well [...] as [...] after it; Benedictus as well sit as est to follow it (for there is neither here) so may be and is as well, a Wish that others would, as a Way that we our selves may bless him by.

This is all mans blessing God, the poor pittances we bless him with; acknowledgments, endeavours, and desires, all that we can give him for all his blessings. A very short return however to be given him, such as it is. And to Day however, a Day set apart to do it in.

For all these blessings either rose upon us with the Sun to day, or are to rise from us e're it rise to morrow. Our Lords Nativity being the chief ground both of Gods blessing us, and our blessing him. To day it was he began to visit, to redeem, to save, to raise up his horn and ours. To day then sure we to raise up our voices for it in a Benedictus, in Hymns and Praises. All that is in the Text was on his part set on foot as it were to day. No reason in the world but what is on ours should be so too. That it may, I shall first spread Gods blessings here before you, so the better to stir up yours.

I. Mans blessing indeed it is that stands first here; yet Gods it is that is so. He first blesses before we bless, before we either can, or can think to do it. But you must know it is a day, and a business too, where all things seem out of order at the first. High things made low, and low things high: the first made last, and the last first. God made man, and man God. The very course of Nature out of order, quite. No wonder then that the [Page 99] words that tell us it are so too; that our blessing should be set before Gods. However, this certainly it must teach us, that the first thing we ought now to think or speak of, is blessing God. Yet the way to do that best, is to understand His blessings first; I shall take them in their order: so his Visiting I begin with.

Indeed, there they begin all, [...], that's the rise of all Gods bles­sings. His looking down upon us, or looking over us (so the word signi­fies before it comes to visiting) is the source of all his mercies. There is nothing else to cause them, but that loving eye he hath to his poor crea­tures, the pleasure he takes to look upon them. That here brings him down to visit them.

For I must tell you now this visiting is a coming down, down from hea­ven, down from his glory, down from himself; a coming to purpose, and down to purpose, when he came so low as flesh; and a visiting indeed, when he came so near us. He visited in former times but by his proxies, by his Angels, the ushers of his glory, or by his Prophets, or by a Cloud, or by a Fire. Here it was first he visited in person. [...] was but a looking down from heaven till now, a looking on us at a distance, (and that was a blessing too, that he would any way look upon such poor worms as we) it could not be construed visiting properly till this day came. Now first it is so without a figure.

Yet is not good old Zachary too quick? Does he not cry out [...] too soon? our blessed Saviour was not yet born; how says he then, the Lord hath visited and redeemed his people? Answer we might, the good old man here prophesied ('tis said so just the verse before) and after the manner of Prophets, speaks of things to come as done already. But we need not this strain to help us out. Christ was already really come down from heaven, had been now three months incarnate, had begun his visit, had beheld the lowliness of his handmaid, says his Blessed Mother, ver. 48. The Angel had told her twelve weeks since, Her Lord was with her, ver. 28. of this Chapter. Blessed Zachary understood it then (no less than his Wife Eliza­beth that proclaimed it, ver. 43.) though he could not speak it. As soon as he could he does, and breaks out into a Song of Praise (that was his prophesying) for this new made Visit, this new rais'd Salvation.

That word slipt e're I was aware, comes in before the time. But 'tis well it did; you might else perhaps have mistaken visiting for punishing: so it went commonliest in Scripture till to day. It does not here. This bu­siness has alter'd it from its old acception. And yet punishing sometimes is a blessing too. 'Tis a mercy we oft stand in need of to bring us home to God. But it is infinitely a greater, when he comes himself to fetch us home, as now he does. Shall I shew you how great it is?

Why, then (1.) It is a visit of Grace and honour that he made us here; he visited us as great and noble persons do their inferiours, to do them ho­nour. Hence, Whence it is to me (says St. Eliz.) that the Mother of my Lord should come unto me, &c. ver. 43. She, good soul, knew not how to value such an honour, nor whence it was. Whence then is this, O Lord, that the Lord of that Blessed Mother, my Lord himself should come unto me? That's a far higher honour, and no reason of it to be given, but that so it shall be done to those whom this great King of Heaven and Earth de­lighteth thus to honour. 'Tis a blessing first, this that we speak of, by which God owns and honours us.

2. It was a visit of Charity. He visited his people as charitable men do the poor mans house, to seek some occasion to bestow an Alms. He went [Page 100] about doing good, says S. Peter, Acts x. 38. As poor as he was, (and the Apostle tells us, poor he was) he had a bag for the poor, S. Iohn xii. 6. and for our sakes it was he became poor, says S. Paul, 2 Cor. viii. 9. emptied bag and himself, and all to make us rich. His visit now (2.) is a blessing that makes us rich.

3. It was a visit of Service too. He visited us as the Physician does his Patient, to serve his necessity, to cure and recover him. The innumerable multitudes of the sick and lame, and blind, and deaf, and dumb, and Le­pers, and possessed that he daily healed and cured, will sufficiently evince he visited them also as a Physician. So 'twas a blessing (3.) that cures all diseases, makes all sound and whole again.

4. His visit (4.) was a visit of brotherly love and kindness. He visited us as David did his Brethren, to supply their wants, carry them provision and take their pledge, 1 Sam. xvii. 17. He did so, and much more, be­comes himself by this visit our Provision, makes his Body our meat, and his Blood our drink, and himself our pledge; supplies all our defects, and wants, and enters himself body for body, and soul for soul to make all good. This a visiting no brother could do more, no brother so much.

5. His visit (5.) was not of petty kindnesses, but great mercies, abun­dant mercies too. He visited us as holy David says he does the earth, Psal. lxv. 9, 11. Thou visitest the earth and blessest it; thou makest it very plen­teous. Thou waterest her furrows, thou sendest rain into the little Vallies thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it. He not only furnishes our necessities, but replenishes us with abundances, makes us soft, and plump, and fat, and fruitful by his heavenly dews and show­ers. This (5.) a visit of abundant superabundant mercies.

6. His visit (6.) was a visit of Friendship, and that's more yet. He vi­sited us as blessed Mary did her Cousin Elizabeth, came to us to rejoyce and be merry with us. So acquainted has he now made himself with us by this visit, that he now vouchsafes to call us friends, S. Iohn xv. 15. he eats, and drinks, and dwells, and tarries with us, makes it his delight to be among the sons of men. This is a visit I know not a name good enough to give it.

And yet lastly, his visit was not of a common and ordinary friendship neither, but of a friendship that holds to death. He visited us as the Priest or Confessor does the dying man. When health, and strength, and mirth, and Physicians, and Friends, have all given us over, he stands by and comforts us, and leaves us not till he has fitted us wholly to his own bo­som. A visit of everlasting friendship, or an everlasting visit was this vi­sit in the Text.

Thus I have shewed you a seven-fold visit, that our Lord has made us, made Gods first blessing into seven. A visit of Honour, a visit of Charity, a visit of Service, a visit of Kindness, a visit of Mercy, a visit of Friendship, and a visit of everlasting Love. All these ways he visited his people, and still visits them all the ways he can imagine to bless them and do them good.

And yet I should have thought I had forgot one, if it did not fall in with the blessing we are to consider next; Redeeming. For he visited us also as he is said to do the children of Israel, Gen. l. 24. to bring us out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. He visited us to redeem us, or visited and redeemed.

2. Now if redeem'd, Captives it seems we were. And so we were, un­der a fourfold Captivity. To the World, to Sin, to Death, and to the De­vil.

[Page 101] The World (1.) that had ensnared and fettered us, so wholly taken us, that it had taken away our names, and we were called by the name of the World, instead of that of Men, as if we were grown such worldlings that we had even lost our natures and our names, even the best of us; the Elect are sometimes called so too. To redeem our honours and us thence, God sent his Son, says S. Iohn iii. 17. and he chose us out of it, St. Iohn xv. 19.

Sin (2.) that had made us Captives too, chain'd us up so fast, that the best of us cannot but cry out sometimes O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? Rom. 7. 24. And none but this visitour, could or can▪ God through Iesus Christ, so S. Paul presently adds upon it, and would have us thank and bless him for it.

Death that had also got dominion over us: for no more dominion, Rom. vi. 9. signifies it had it once, and kept us shrewdly under, Rom. v. 17. But Christ Iesus by his appearing (they are the Apostles words) has abolish'd death, 2 Tim. i. 10. Made us free from sin and death, Rom. viii. 2.

The Devil (4.) he took us captive also at his will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. But for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, says S. Iohn, that he might destroy the works of the Devil, 1 S. John iii. 8. And as high as the Fiend car­ries, it he will bruise him under our feet, Rom. xvi. 20. Now to be delivered from such masters as these is a blessing without question.

All the question is, how either Zachary could say so long before our Sa­viour's Birth, or we so presently upon it, he hath redeemed, when S. Paul says 'twas by his Blood, Col. i. 22. S. Peter, through his death, 1 S. Peter i. 19. Why, very well both the one and the other. At his Birth was this Re­demption first begun, the foundation laid; at his Death 'twas finished. In his Incarnation and Nativity he took the flesh that died, and the blood he shed: and we might truly have been said to be redeemed by his Blood, though he had not shed it, and by his Death though he had not died; be­cause he had already taken on our flesh and blood, and from that very mo­ment became mortal and began to dye: or, to speak a little plainer, He brought the price of our Redemption with him at his Birth, He paid it down for us at his Death. The Writings as it were and Covenants be­tween God and Him about it were agreed on at his Birth, were engrossing all his Life, and seal'd by him at his Death. So 'tis as true to day as any day: He redeemed. And had not this day been first in the business, the other could not have been at all, or first, or last. O Blessed Day, that hast thus laid the foundation of all our good ones. O ever Blessed Lord who hast thus visited and redeemed us; what shall we do unto thee, how shall we bless thee?

3. Nay and yet (3.) thou hast sav'd us too. That's the next blessing to be considered. And 'tis worth considering.

For redeem'd indeed we might be, and yet not saved. Redeem'd and yet fall again into the same bad hands or into worse: redeem'd from evils past, and yet perish by some to come. 'Tis this salvation that makes all safe.

Where (1.) we are saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us, ver. 71. every thing that may hereafter hurt us, as well as we were redeemed from all that did. Nor life, nor death, nor height, nor depth, nor any thing can separate us now from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Rom. viii. 39. all things shall continually work for good, ver. 28. all work henceforward for our salvation.

Especially seeing he saves us (2.) from our sins, as the Angel tells us, [Page 102] S. Mat. i. 21. Does not redeem us only from the slavery of our former sins, and the punishments we lay sadly under for them, but preserves and saves us from slipping back into the old, and from falling into new ones. 'Tis a continual salvation.

Nay (3.) 'Tis an eternal one too he saves us with, He the Author of eternal salvation, Heb. v. 9. There we shall be safe indeed. All salvations here may have some clouds to darken them, some winds to shake them, something sometimes to interrupt them, somewhat or other to tarnish or soil their glory. New enemies may be daily raised up to us. Sin will be always bustling with us: here we had need to be sav'd and sav'd again, daily and hourly sav'd, but with this salvation once sav'd and sav'd for ever. Well may we pray with holy David, Psal. cvi. 4. O visit us with this salvation. And well may we term it now, as our Translation does, a mighty salvation.

4. And mighty sure we may justly stile it. For it required a mighty Power, a mighty Person, a mighty Price, and mighty Works to bring such mighty things to pass. And it had them all.

1. A mighty Power: Almighty too. No created Power could do it. Horse and man and all things else but vain things to save a man, to deli­ver his soul from the hand of Hell, Psal. xxxiii. 17. lxxxix. 47.

2. A mighty Person, the very God of might. I the Saviour, and besides me none, Isa. xliii. 11. No other person able to effect it.

3. A mighty price it cost. No corruptible things says S. Peter, 1 Pet. i. 18. Nothing but the blood of the Son of God, the precious Blood of Iesus Christ, no less could compass it.

4. Mighty works lastly, and mighty workings to work things about, Miracles and wonders good store it cost to accomplish the work of our salvation, such as he only who was mighty before God and all the people, St. Luke xxiv. 19. could bring to pass. And this adds much to the glory of this salvation, that it was done by such great hands and ways as these.

But not the works only that wrought it, but the works it wrought speak the salvation mighty too. Mighty for certain, which neither the unworthiness of our persons, nor the weaknesses of our natures, nor the habits of our sins, nor the imperfections of our works, nor the malice of our enemies, nor any power, or strength, or subtilty of men or De­vils were able to hinder or controul, but that maugre all, it spread it self to the very ends of the earth, carried all before it. A salvation we may trust to, we need not fear, in this mercy of the most highest we shall not mis­carry.

5. For (5.) we have here gotten a good Horn to hold by, A horn of sal­vation the original gives it; a salvation not only strong but sure. Salva­tion, that is a Saviour too, one that we may confidently lay hold on, one that neither can nor will deceive or fail us: For,

1. He is a King; so the Horn signifies in the Prophetick phrase, Dan. vii. 8. The four, and seven, and ten Horns there, so many Kings; and it stands not with the honour of a King to deceive or disappoint us.

2. And he is not a King without a Kingdom. He hath a Kingdom (2.) and power to help us. The Horn signifies that too in the stile of Prophesie, because in the Horn lies the strength, and power, and dominion as it were of the creature that hath it. And the power of a Kingdom I can tell you is good hold.

3. And this Kingdom (3.) is not an ordinary Kingdom neither. As this Horn is above the Flesh, so this Kingdom too; not of this world, St. [Page 103] John xviii. 36. the likelier still to conduct us to the other, and there set us safe.

And yet likelier (4.) because it is not a fading but a durable one, a horn that will hold. Saul was anointed with a vial of Oyl, 1 Sam. x. 1. to in­timate the brittleness and shortness of his Kingdom; but David with a horn, 1 Sam. xvi. 13. to signifie the continuance and strength of his; that it should be a throne established for ever, 1 Kings ii. 45. And made good it was by this days Horn rais'd out of his house; of whose Kingdom there shall be no end, says the Prophet. So no failure to be afraid of here. It is a sure sal­vation we have by him.

And if I may now have the liberty to tell you more particularly what kind of Horn he may most fairly be said to be, you will be the more ready to catch at it.

He is then (1.) a Horn of Oyl to anoint us also Kings and Priests; for so he makes us, says S. Iohn, Rev. i. 6.

He is (2.) the true Cornu-copia, the Horn of plenty; full of grace and truth, and all good things else: for out of his fulness we all receive ours, says the same Apostle, S. Iohn i. 16.

He is (3.) one of the Horns of the Altar, or indeed all of them, whi­ther we may safely fly in all our dangers and distresses; where we may lie secure when all the world has left us. A sure hold now you will confess, that is so high, so strong, so powerful, so above corruption, so lasting, so everlasting, so full of lasting honours, plenties, and securities.

6. And yet as mighty, and sure, and as easie to catch hold on as this sal­vation is, were it not for this [...] were it not for us, had we no claim, no interest in it, what were we the better either for the Horn or the salvati­on? 'Tis this for us, that comes next to be considered, that raises up our horns, that makes us glad.

For this [...] this [...] is not the Iews alone. They had the first title, right indeed, but not the only to it. There is an Israel of God (peace be upon it says the Apostle, Gal. vi. 16.) as well as an Israel after the flesh. There are Sons of Abrahams Faith as well as of his body, to whom this salvati­on is sent as well as unto them. Blessed Zachary brings in those that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death into the number, ver. 79. the Gentiles as well as Iews into the light of it; 'tis omni populo, to all people whatsoever, in the Angels message, chap. 2. of our Evangelist, ver. 10.

All people, and all degrees and orders of them, rich and poor, one with another; so populus signifies, not the plebem taken out of it, not the low­est or meanest of the people escaped or forgotten. 'Tis an universal salva­tion that is here set up. God does not streighten heaven, though men do. He would have all men to be saved, 1 Tim. ii. 4. (though some men need a horn indeed to get such a salvation down, yet so it is) and to this purpose he has rais'd this salvation up, which is the next advance of this salvation we are next to handle.

7. And he rais'd it (1.) as a Beacon or Standard upon a Hill, that all Na­tions and Languages, all kind of persons might flock in unto it.

Rais'd it (2.) as from the Dead, [...]. All hopes of it now were in the dust. For the temporal condition of the Iews; their enemies oppres­sed them, and had them in subjection; long they had so; and all the attempts for deliverance had been so often baffled, that they durst hope no longer. For their spiritual condition, both Iew and Gentile were all concluded under sin; the one blinded with his own superstition, the other shut up in ignorance, and darkness, when on a sudden was this day-spring [Page 104] from on high, this horn, this ray of light (for I see not why this Horn, as well as those of Moses face, may not be construed so) this ray, this Horn, I say, rais'd up to light them both into the ways of salvation.

Rais'd up (3.) as the horn out of the flesh, a Saviour rais'd up thence to day. Though from above he came, into the flesh he came, that thence being made sensible of our infirmities, he might the easier bear with them.

Rais'd up lastly to raise up our thoughts from all inferiour expectati­ons, and fix them where they should be for deliverance and salvation, Cornu exaltatum, this salvation eminent for the vastness, the opportunity, the convenience, the proportion it carries: the seventh particular we observe in Gods blessing, the fourth advancing of this salva­tion.

8. There is an eighth: And it is salvation in the right house. The Lord of the Ascendant of our salvation in the Kingly house, the best house to make it the more glorious, the house of David. Men would willingly be sav'd honourably, by a person of honour rather then a base hand. Men love not to owe their lives or honours to an unworthy person, would be beholding to the right King rather than an Vsurper for them. The House of David here hits right for that. And we cannot but acknowledge a huge blessing in it, even upon this account, that how poorly, sneakingly, and basely we every day betray our selves into the hands of our enemies, we are yet thus by Christ brought off with honour, and enjoy by him an ho­nourable salvation.

9. And yet there is one thing more we would desire, not to owe our selves to a villain, or a miscreant, or to a wicked and ungodly house or person. To crown his blessings, God has contrived them in the house of his servant David. So God honoureth his servants; so he encourages them to be good. They are the persons, theirs the houses where salvation dwells. They are the pillars of the earth. To David his servant, and Abra­ham his servant, and Isaac his servant, and Israel his servant, so run the promises both of a Saviour and salvation, to them and to their seed for evermore.

Sum we up Gods blessings now. Gracious Visits, perfect Redemptions, Salvations many, mighty, sure, general, eminent, seasonable, honourable salva­tions to us and ours, everlasting too: what would you more? there's no­thing behind now but our blessing God for all these blessings. I hope that shall not be so long, for 'tis but little that is required for so much; and but three particulars that make it up. An acknowledgment of Gods blessings, a setting our selves to some way to bless him for them; and a desire that all would do so too.

II. The acknowledgment begins it, the acknowledging of Gods bles­sings the first part of ours; so sure a point of it, that Confiteri, to acknow­ledge or confess the blessing, or him that sends it, is above sixty times in the Book of Psalms set down for blessing. And whole Psalms you have that are nothing else but an enumeration and catalogue of blessings, the 66. the 103. the 104. the 105. the 107. the 136. And the more particular we are in it, the more we bless him. You have heard how particular Zachary is in it here. He hath visited, he hath redeem­ed, &c. given us nine particulars, leaves neither gift nor giver unacknow­ledged. Honourable it is to do so: honourable to reveal, to reveal the works of God, says the Angel, Iob xii. 7. honourable to him, honourable to us: we cannot honour God without it, nor expect honour from him, [Page 105] if we will not acknowledge it. Come, and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul, is the best way to begin our blessing.

2. But it is but to begin it. We must go on to the next way of blessing, set close to it; [...] from [...], and Benedictus from Benedicere; both tell us there is much of it in words. Only verbum is factum, and dicere is fa­cere, sometimes in the holy page. So we must take both words and deeds to do it with. The word by the hand of thy servant, as the Scripture some­times speaks, is the best way to bless him with. Yet to our benedicere in the first sense first. And to do that, to give him good words is the least that we can give him: let us be sure then not to grudge him them. Con­fess we that he is good, and gracious, and merciful, full of mercy, plen­teous in goodness and truth. Streighten we not his visits, stifle we not his Redemption, coop we not up his salvation to a corner, suffer we it to run large and full, that the whole world may bless him for it.

Let us (2.) speak it out. Gods blessings were not done in a corner, no more must ours. Publick and solemn they would be. And the Church has made it (and Text) part of the publick service, that every one might bear a part in blessing God. Every one of us, and every thing of us too, our souls and all that is within us, heart and mind, and all. All within us and all without us, our lips praise him, our mouths praise him, our hands praise him, our flesh praise him, our bones say who is like him, all the mem­bers of our body turn themselves into tongues to bless him.

Bless we him (3.) in set Hymns on purpose, in good votes and wishes, that his Church may prosper, his Name be magnified, his Glory advanced to the highest pitch, for bene dicere, is bene vovere too.

And sanctificare is no less. To bless is sometimes to sanctifie. So God blessed the seventh day, is God hallow'd it; and to sanctifie a day, or place to bless him in, is to bless him by his own pattern that he hath set us: well said, if well done, I dare assure you, to set apart both times and places to bless him in.

2. But dicere is not all, sung never sweetly, said never so well. The Lord bless thee in common phrase is, the Lord do good unto thee. Indeed Gods blessing is always such; his benedicere is bene facere. His saying is a doing, his blessing a making blessed. 'Tis fit our blessing should be some­what like it. To himself indeed we can do no good. He neither wants it, nor can be better'd by it. To His we may. Though not to his head, yet to his feet: The poor; we may bless them. And the blessing them is bles­sing him: for inasmuch as ye have done it unto these, you have done it unto me, says he himself, S. Mat. xxv. And truly it must needs be a poor blessing that cannot reach his feet. Nay 'tis a poor one if it reach no higher.

Indeed he that giveth alms, he sacrifices praise, says the Son of Syrach, Ecclus. xxxv. 2. And praise is blessing. But to bless is to honour too. And honour the Lord with thy substance, says a wiser then the Son of Syrach, Prov. iv. Something must be done to his own honour. So nething given or of­fered to support that here among us; for to bless is to give thanks, and that intimates somewhat to be given to him, as well as said or spoken to him. It will else be verba dare, and not gratias, a meer cheating him of our thanks. As soon as Naaman the Syrian was cured of his Leprosie, he begs of the Prophet to accept a blessing for it. Nature had taught him God was to be blest so, 2 Kings v. 15. When the Captains of Israel had found by their whole numbers how God had delivered them, they come with a blessing in their hands of sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels of gold for the house of God, Numb. xxxi. 52. David and his people the story [Page 106] tells us blest him so too, 1 Chron. xxix. 20, 21. offered incredible sums of Gold and Silver for the service of the house of God. And let me tell you, without begging for it, that the House of God being now by this Vi­sit in the Text made the very office of salvation, where he daily visits us, and entertains us with his Body and Blood, with holy conferences and discourses, where he seals us every day to the day of Redemption, and offers to us all the means of salvation; there can be no way of blessing God so answerable and proportionable to his thus blessing us, as thus blessing him again.

Yet where there is nothing thus to bless him with, there is yet another way of blessing him; nay where there are other ways, this must be too. To bless him is to glorifie him, and a good life does that, S. Mat. v. 16. By our ill lives the name of God is blasphemed, says the Apostle, Rom. ii. 24. Then by our good ones it must needs be blest. Zachary seems to point at this way of blessing, when he tells us we were delivered that we might serve our Visitor in holiness and righteousness, ver. 75. And thus he that has neither eyes to look up, nor hands to lift up, nor feet to go up to the house of blessing, nor tongue to bless him, nor so much as a Cross to bless himself or God, not a mite to throw into his treasure, may truly bless him, and be accepted. To this and all the other ways of blessing is the Text set. And let all now come in and bear a part in blessing. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, is now lastly a call to call them in.

The Prophet David does so, Psal. cxlviii. Sun, and Moon, and Stars, and Light, Heaven, and Earth, and Waters, both above and under them, Dragons, and Deeps, Fire, and Hail, and Snow, and Vapour, and Wind, and Storm, and Hills, and Trees, and Beasts, and Cattel, Worms, and Fowl, Kings and People, Princes and Iudges, Young men and Maidens, Old men and Children, all Sexes, Degrees, and Ages, Men and Angels, and all kind of Beings does he call on to praise, and bless, and magnifie their Creator: Indeed the whole Creation is blessed by this Visit, so 'tis but just they should bless God for it.

Yet how should all these things we mentioned do it? many of them have no tongues to say, many no sense to understand it. Why? they do it yet: The Sun by day, the Moon by night may become torches to light his servants service. The Earth brings forth her Corn and Wine to fur­nish out his Table; the deep gives up her Riches, and brings home Golds and Silks to adorn his Holy Altars; the Earth brings Stones and Minerals, the Hills and Mountains Trees and Cedars to his House, the fire kindles Tapers for it, all the meteors of the air, and all the seasons of the years do somewhat, every wind blows somewhat towards it. The very Birds and Swallows get as near the Altar as they can to bless him; the Snow, and Cold, and Ice crowd as near Christmas as they can, to bear a part in this great Solemnity, in our solemnest thanksgivings. Only he that has no need of this visit, no need of Christ or his Redemption, that cares not to be sa­ved, needs keep no Christmas, may stand out, or sit, or do what he will at this Benedictus.

But sure when all things else thus come in throngs to bless him, and even Ice and Snow come hot and eager to this Feast, and willingly melt themselves into his praises, we should not, methinks, come coldly on to bless him, but come and bring our Families, and Children, and Neigh­bours with us to make the Choire as full as possibly we can. Tell one an­other what Christ did to day, what he every day does for us, how he vi­sited us to day, how he still visits us every morning, how he redeemed [Page 107] us to day, how he does day by day from one ill or other; how he began to day to raise up salvation for us, and will not leave raising it for us till we can rise no higher. Tell we our children next, how in this God had re­spect to David his anointed, and that they must learn to have so. How he had regard to David his Servant, will have so to them if they be his ser­vants let them therefore be sure they be so, fit them thus to sing their parts betimes in Hymns, and Anthems, and praises to their God; that they that cannot speak, may yet lisp it out, and when they can speak out, sing it loud and shrill, that the hollow Vaults and Arches may eccho and rebound his praises: not your Children only, but stones also be thus rais'd up for children unto Abraham. 'Tis in the power of your hands (grave Sena­tors, Fathers, and Brethren) to make the stones cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber to answer, Blessing, and Honour, and Glory, and Power to him that has rais'd up to us so great salvation.

I look upon this great Solemnity of yours as a meer design of blessing God, and the Torches that light you hither as so many lights set up to make the light of your good works shine the greater. You have not only these blessings in the Text, but millions more to invite you to it. Not to repeat the blessings and deliverances I have told you; all blessings and salvations else you owe to this days Visit of the Almighty, to this Horn he raised up for us. Let us bring them also into the roll, and thus bless him for them.

Some of you he has delivered out of trouble, bless you him for that. Some of you he has recovered lately from a sickness, bless you him for that. Some of you he has delivered lately from a danger, bless you him for that. You he has visited in distress, visit you his Temples, his poor and needy servants, and bless him so. You he has redeemed of late from the gates of death, redeem you the time hereafter, walk circumspectly and soberly, and for the rest of your life serve him better, and bless him so. You he has sav'd out of the hands of Hereticks and Seducers, save you your selves henceforward from that untoward generation, and come no more among them. Pay him visit for visit, redemption for redemption, one salvation for another, and bless him so. You he has rais'd to some honour and preferment, raise you up some pillar of thanksgiving for it. You he has rais'd to an estate, raise you up some memorial to him out of it. You he has rais'd out of nothing, you out of a desperate condition, your house and family out of ruines; help you God again to raise his house, and he will say, you bless him for it. Let there be some token of gratitude set up here, as God set the Rain-bow in the Clouds, Gen. xix. 15. that he may look upon it, and remember, and save you in the time of need, with his mercy for it.

In a word, God has signally and strangely visited us of late years with his salvation, redeemed us from our enemies, and all that hate us; those Horns, that like those in Daniel pusht down and scattered all before them, that threw down our Temples, took away our daily service, set up the abomination of desolation in these holy places, Horse, and Foot, and Arms, and all the instruments of desolation, and stampt upon all holy things and persons: he has rais'd us up a mightier horn to make those horns draw in theirs; a horn in the house of his servant David: restored our David his anointed to us, kept him his servant, returned him as he went, safe and sound in the principles of his Religion, restored him and his house, us and ours, kept them at least from utterly pulling down. O that men would there­fore now praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders he has lately done for the children of men.

[Page 108] As many Scarlets now as you please to adorn your gratitudes, as many Torches now as you please that we may see them, what solemn processions now as you judge fit to make to evidence your blessings to the Lord God of Israel, for what he has done for us, for either our souls, bodies or estates. So shall God again bless all your blessings to you; the poor shall bless us, and the Church shall bless us, and these walls shall bless us, and the chil­dren yet unborn shall bless us, and all our blessings be continued to us; we shall be visited, and redeem'd, and sav'd upon all occasions, in all ne­cessities, on every hand, and at every turn, till he bring us at last to his eternal salvation, to sing eternal Allelujahs, everlasting Benedictus's, Hymns, and Praises, with all the Blessed Saints and Angels to God bles­sed for evermore.

To this glorious blessing he bring us all, who this day came to visit us, that he might, Jesus Christ. To whom, &c.

THE SEVENTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

2 COR. viii. 9.‘For ye know the grace of our Lord Iesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.’

FOR ye know the grace of our Lord Iesus Christ. And do you know any grace of the Lord Jesus Christ like this days grace, the grace of Christmas? any grace or favour like that grace and favour he this day did us, when he so grac'd our nature as to take it on him? surely, whether this grace be his becoming poor, or our making rich, never was it seen more then this day it was. Never was he poorer then this day shew'd him, a poor little naked thing in rags. Never we rich till this day made us so, when he be­ing rich became poor, that we being poor might be made rich.

And rich not in the worst, but in the best riches; rich in grace, but above all grace in Christmas grace, in love and liberality to the poor, the very grace which the Apostle brings in the poverty of Christ here to perswade the Corinthians to. See (says he) that ye abound in this grace also, ver. 7. For ye know the grace of the Lord Iesus Christ. He was so full of it, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, made himself poor to make us rich; that being made rich we might be rich: To the poor, bestow some of his own riches upon him again, some at least upon him who gave us all, supply his poverty who enricht ours, be the more bountiful to the poor, seeing he is now become like one of them, that as through his poverty we were made rich, so even in our very poverty we might abound also to the riches of liberality. So the Macedonians did, ver. 2. So would he fain have the Corinthians too here, in covert terms; so he would be understood, and so are we to understand him. Christs po­verty here brought in as an argument to perswade to liberality.

A grace so correspondent to the pattern of the Lord Iesus, so answer­able [Page 110] both to the purport of Christmas and the purpose of the Text, that 'tis hard to say whether the Day better explains the Text, or the Text the Day. For whether we take the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ towards us, downward, or the grace of the Lord Jesus in us towards him upward: whether for the grace he did us in becoming poor for our sakes, or for the grace we are to shew to his poor members for his sake again, for his be­coming poor, and making of us rich: I see not how or where I could have chosen a better Christmas Text, a Text for the Day, or a Day for the Text.

For here is both the Doctrine and Vse of Christmas; the Doctrine of Christs free Grace, and the free Use and Application of it too. The Do­ctrine, That our Lord Iesus Christ though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that through his poverty we might be rich.

The Vse, That we are to know it, and acknowledge it, know it for a grace and favour; yea know the grace, know it for a pattern too: For ye know it, that is, to that end ye know it, to take pattern by it, to return grace again for grace, to shew grace to his, for his grace to us, to supply his poverty in his members, for his so gracious supplying ours, to answer the riches of his grace with being rich; in this grace also, in the grace of love and charity to the poor, the best way to be rich, and to abound to the riches of his glory.

But more to appropriate it to the Day, you may please to take it in these particulars. Christs Birth, The Christians benefit, The evidence of both. The Inference upon all.

1. Christs Birth. Egenus factus, when he became poor.

2. The Christians benefit. Propter nos it was, for your sakes it was, & ut vos divites, That ye through his poverty might be rich.

3. The evidence of both, Scitis, no less then that of Science, ye know it.

4. The inference upon all, scitis enim, For ye know it, for what? for a grace and favour; Scitis gratiam, the first. And ut vos divites essetis, that we might be rich in the same grace he was: Then secondly, that ye may do answerable to your knowledge; for propter nos it is, for our sakes he became poor, that for his sake we might look the better upon the poor; for that he made us rich, that we might be rich in good works; for that he made us rich by the way of poverty, that we might know our riches have a near relation to poverty, are given us for the poor, as well as for our selves.

These are the parts, and of all these the sum is, that Christs Birth is the Christians benefit; the knowledge of which ought to stir us up to Christian Charity: or nearer the phrase of the Text, that our Lord Je­sus Christ, though he was rich, became poor to make us rich; rich in all good gifts and graces, but especially in this of love and mercy to the poor; came down in grace to us to that purpose, both in the Text, and in the Day, the whole and business of them both. I shall prosecute it in or­der, and begin with those words in the Text that seem to point us to the Birth of Christ; egenus factus: and if that were the original, the factus would be plain for his being made man. But as it is, 'tis plain enough, he could not become poor but by becoming man.

I. For there is not so poor a thing as man; indeed no creature poor but man: no creature lost its estate, and place, and honour, thrust out of doors, and turned as it were a begging abroad into the wide world, but man. Other creatures keep their nature and place to which they were created; man only he kept nothing; first lost his clothes, his robe [Page 111] of innocence, in which he was first clad, was then turned naked out of his dwelling, out of Paradise, only his nakedness covered a little with a few ragged leaves, fain upon that to work, and toil, and labour for his living to get his bread; forc'd to run here and there about the world to get it; all the creatures that were lately but his servants stood gazing and wondering at him, and knew him not, would no longer own him for their Lord, he look'd so poor, so despicable when he had sinn'd; they that before were all at his command, by the dominion he had received over them, now neither obey'd his command, nor knew his voice, so perfect­ly had he lost the very semblance of their late great Master, so perfectly poor was he become. The Devil kept a power, and awe, and Principality, though he lost his seat; got a Kingdom though he lost his glory: But man lost all, glory and grace, riches and honour, estate and power, peace and ease, shelter, and safety, and all: so that to become poor can be nothing else but to become man; and Christs becoming so, must be his becoming man.

Yet not to know it only, but to know it for a grace, as St. Paul would have us, we must know who it is that became poor. (2.) How poor he be­came who became poor. (3.) What he was still, though he became poor. Our Lord Iesus Christ, says the Text, he it is, egenus factus, he came to very want, [...], to a kind of penury like that of beggars. Yet [...] for all that it is, he continued rich still, though he was poor; he could not lose his infinity of riches, though he took on his poverty, quitted not his Deity, though he covered it with the rags of his humanity.

We first look upon his person, our Lord Iesus Christ. He is a Lord it seems that became poor, that first: and truly the first and only time that we read he entituled himself Lord, it follows presently, he hath need, St. Mat. xxi. 3. The Lord hath need. This may be true, as the Italian ob­serves of the Lords and Princes of the world, none need commonly so much as they, nor they before they came to be Lords and Princes; but of the Lord and Prince of Heaven, as our Lord surely is, that's somewhat strange that he should have any need; yet so it is: and it may serve to teach the best of us, of men, Lords and great ones too, to be content sometimes to suffer need, seeing the Lord of Lords was found poor.

Iesus (2.) it is, was found so. Iesus is a Saviour, and that's stranger. A Saviour that is poor is like to prove but a poor Saviour. Yet this is of­tentimes Gods method, the poor and base things of the world, and things that are despis'd, to confound the rich, and noble, and the mighty, 1 Cor. i. 28. that no flesh, as the Apostle infers there, might glory in his pre­sence. This very name of Iesus was then sent by an Angel to be given him, when he had first told he should be born, St. Mat. i. 21. born of a poor Virgin, and yet save his people from their sins; that we may know God needs nothing to help him; his very poverty is our salvation. Jesus poor, the poorest contemptible means he can save us by.

Nay even the Christ (3.) the Messiah so long expected, comes poor when he was expected rich, to shew the vanity of mens conceit and fan­cies, when they will go alone. Christ the King of Israel, the great Pro­phet, the everlasting High Priest, and Arch-bishop of our souls, he came poor, that men might give over looking upon the outward appearance of things, and think it no diminution to the calling of Priest or Prophet to be sometimes in a low and mean condition, seeing the Christ himself anoin­ted with the holy oil above all Priests and Prophets, came in no other.

And now this we have gotten by considering the person, that if he [Page 112] that is Priest, and Prophet, and Saviour, and Lord, and the Lord of all may become poor, and God do all his work notwithstanding by him; then poverty is neither dishonourable in it self, nor so disadvantageous in its own nature, but that God can still make use of it to his Service, does still most make use of it, dispences his heavenly treasure to us more commonly in earthen vessels, 2 Cor. iv. 7. then in Gold and Silver, and we therefore not to slight the Ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, though become poor, their bodily presence weak, and their speech contempti­ble, as St. Pauls undervaluers speak, 2 Cor. x. 10. For their Lord and ours became poor himself, as poor as the poorest, which will appear by the second consideration. I am now to shew you how poor he became, of whom it is here said he became poor.

And that not only that poor thing called man, that poor worm and dust, that poor vanity and nothing, we call man, but the very poorest of the name; the novissimus virorum, the lag and fag of all, a very scum of men, says the Prophet, and the very out-cast of the people. So poor that there is not a way to be poor in, but he was poor in.

1. Poorly descended, a poor Carpenters Wife his Mother.

2. Poorly born, in a Stable among Beasts; poorly wrapt in rags, poor­ly cradled in a Manger, poorly bedded upon a lock of Hay, poorly atten­ded by the Oxe and Ass, poorly every way provided for, not a fire to dress him at in the depth of Winter, only the steam and breath of the Beasts to keep him warm, Cobwebs for Hangings, the dung of the Beasts for his Perfumes, noise and lowings, neighing and brayings for his Musick; every thing as poor about him as want and necessity could make it.

3. Poorly bred too, a Carpenter, it seems by S. Mark vi. 5. at his repu­ted Fathers Trade.

4. Poorly living too, not a house to put his head in, not a pillow of his own to lay his head on, S. Luke ix. 57. not a room to sup in but what he borrow'd, S. Mark xiv. 15. no money, nor meat but by miracle, S. Mat. xvii. 27. or by charity, S. Mat. ix. 10. not so much as a Bucket to draw water, or a cup to drink it in, St. Iohn iv. 11. Nay more, for [...] is more, he was poor even to beggary, was fain to beg even water it self, in the last cited Chapter, ver. 7. had a bag carried always by one of his Disciples to receive any thing that charitable minded people would put in­to it, St. Iohn xii. 6. his Disciples were so low driven following him, that they were fain sometimes to pull the ears of Corn, as they passed by, to sa­tisfie their hunger; five or seven loaves, with two or three little fishes among them all, was great provision with them. Indeed we read not punctually that he begg'd at any time, but we see him as near it, as was possible, if he did not; and the word [...] in all profane Writers never signifies less.

But let it be but what we translate it, meerly poor, though the Prophet David in the Person of Christ, Psalm xl. 18. cries Mendicus sum & pauper, I am a poor beggar; be it yet but poor, yet so poor it is he was, that he was poor in all, every way poor. Poor in Spirit, none poorer, none more willing to be trampled on; suffered men to plow upon his back, and make long furrows, make a poor thing of him indeed, do any thing what they would with him: poor in flesh too. They may tell all my bones, says the Prophet of him, Psalm xxii. 17. they stand staring and looking upon me, a meer gazing-stock of poverty, a miracle of poverty, marvellous poor, poor in reputa­tion. He made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a Servant, says St. Paul, Phil. ii. 7, 8. of a servant, of a slave, valued at the lowest price, a [Page 113] man could be, thirty pieces of Silver. So poor he could scarce speak out. Non clamabit says the Prophet, he shall not cry; he did not, says the Evangelist, S. Mat. xii. 18. It was fulfilled. You could scarce hear his voice in the streets, ver. 19. In a word, so poor that he was as I may say, asham'd of his name, denied it as it were to him that called him by it, S. Matth. xix. 17. Why callest thou me good? when yet he only was so.

Lastly, poor he was in his Death too; betray'd by one Disciple, denied by another, forsaken by the rest, stript off to his very skin, abus'd, deri­ded, despis'd by all; died the most ignominious death of all, the death of Slaves and Varlets. And can you now tell me how he should become poorer? or can you tell me why we should think much at any time to be­come poor like him? or not rather cry out, O Blessed Poverty that art now sanctified by Christs putting on? How canst thou but be desirable and be­coming since Christ himself became poor? If God become man, what man would be an Angel though he might? If Christ the eternal riches think it becomes him to be poor, who would make it his business to be rich? Give me rags for clothes, bread for meat, and water for drink, a Stable for a Palace, the earth for a bed, and straw for a covering, so Christ be in them, so he be with them, so this poverty be his, so it be for him. I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest upon the hardest stone, or coldest ground, and I will eat my brownest bread and pulse, and drink my water or my tears with joy and gladness, now they are seasoned by my Masters use. I will neglect my body and submit my spirit, and hold my peace even from good words too, because he did so: I will be content with all, because he was so. The servant must not be better than his Lord, nor the Disciple than his Master. Our Lord poor, our Iesus poor, our Christ poor, and we striving to be rich, what an incongruity? The Camel and the needles eye never fitted worse. Poverty we must be contented with if we will have him; poor at least in spirit we must be, ready for the other when it comes; and when it comes we must think it is becoming, ve­ry much become the Disciple to be like the Master, the servant wear his Lords livery. For our sakes he became poor, and we must not therefore think much to be made so for his, be it to an [...], the extreamest.

Especially seeing poverty is no such Gorgon, no such terrible lookt Monster since Christ wore it over his richest Robes, even chose to be poor though he was rich, would needs be poor, and appear to be so for all his riches. Indeed it was the riches of his grace that made him poor; had he not been rich, superlatively rich in that, in grace and favour to us, he would never have put on the tatters of humanity, never at least have put on the raggedest of them all, not only the poverty of our nature, but even the nature of poverty, that he might become like one of us, and dwell among us. And it was the riches of his glory too, that could turn this poverty to his glory. What glory like that which makes all things glo­rious, rags and beggary? what riches like his, or who so rich as he that can make poverty more glorious then the Robes and Diadems of Kings and Emperours? who so often for his Religion sake have quitted all their secular glories, plenties, delicates, and attendants, for russet coats, and ordinaty fare, and rigours, and hardships, above that which wandring beggars suffer in the depth of Winter. Christianity no sooner began to dawn into day, but that we find the professors selling all, Acts iv. as if they thought it an indecency at least to possess more than their Master did; though they were rich they became poor, because their Lord became so though he was rich.

[Page 114] But when men of rich become poor, the case is much different yet from that of Christs; men cease to be rich when they come to poverty, but not so Christ; he is poor and rich together. (3.) [...], being rich he yet shewed poor, Prov. xxii. 2. The rich and poor meet toge­ther never truer any way then here, & utriusque operator est Dominus, the Lord is both himself, as well as worker of them both in others. For in this low condition of his it is that S. Paul yet talks so often of the riches of Christ, the riches of his grace, Eph. i. 7. the riches of his Glory, Eph. iii. 16. the riches of the glory of his inheritance, Eph. i. 18. the exceeding greatness of his power, Eph. i. 19. the exceeding riches, Eph. ii. 7. the unsearchable riches of Christ, Ephes. iii. 8. Christ he in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and know­ledge, Col. ii. 3. his very reproach and poverty greater riches then all the trea­sures of Egypt, Heb. xi. 26. So Moses thought and reckon'd, says the Apo­stle, when he saw his riches but under a veil, saw but a glimpse and sha­dow of them, at two thousand years distance too. So rich is Christ, [...]; the only rich, so great are his riches.

Indeed the riches of the Godhead, that is, all riches indeed dwell all in him; though he became man, he left not to be God, our rags only co­ver'd the Robes of the Divinity, his poverty only serv'd for a veil to co­ver those unspeakable riches, to teach us not to boast and brag at any time of our riches, not to exalt our selves when we are made rich, or when the glory of our house is increased, but to be as humble notwithstanding as the poorest and lowest wretch, to teach us (2.) that riches and pover­ty may stand together as well in Christians as in Christ; the riches of grace and the poverty of estate; and again the riches of estate and poverty of Spirit. To teach us (3.) not to put off the riches of grace, for fear of poverty; not quit our Religion or our innocence for fear of becoming poor by them: to teach us lastly that we may be rich in Gods sight, In truth and verity, how poor soever we are in the eyes of the world, how needy and naked soever we appear. He that being in the form of God thought it no robbery to be equal with God, even whilst he was so, made himself of no reputation, of as low a rank as could be; and being the brightness of his Fathers Glory, the express image of his person, and upholding all things with the word of his power, veils all this glory, darkens all this brightness, conceals all this power under the infirmities and necessities of flesh and poverty, yet only veils all this great riches, hides and lays it up for us, that through his poverty we might be rich. The next point we are to handle, the Christians benefit from Christs Birth, the Christians gain by Christs losses, the Christians making rich by Christs being made poor.

II. And need had he to be rich indeed to enrich so many; need to be rich whose very poverty can enrich us: to speak the very truth, his very poverty is our riches. It is his rags that clothed our nakedness, it is his stable that builds us Palaces, it is his hunger that filled our emptiness, it is his thirst that takes off our driness, it is his necessity that supplies all ours; he made himself a slave to make us free, a servant to make us sons; he came down to lift us up, he became as it were nothing to make us all. The very poverty of Christ is the riches of the Christian, and he that can chearfully put that on after him, is rich indeed, can want no­thing: for he that can be content to be poor for Christ, who though he has nothing is content, he wants not though he has not; and if he want not, he is rich, nay only rich: for he that wants but the least, though he have never so much, never so full coffers, never so many possessions, nay [Page 115] and Kingdoms too, he is not rich with all his riches. The poor pious soul that lives contented in his Cell, and feeds on nothing but bread and water, and joys in it because it is for Christ, he is rich, and abounds, and has all, sleeps securer in a Wilderness amongst wild Beasts, softer upon Ia­cobs Pillar, warmer under the vast Canopy of Heaven, then great Prin­ces in their fortified Castles, upon the Doun of Swans, with all their Silks and Embroideries about them: for neither a mans life, nor his riches consist in the abundance of the things that he possesseth, St. Luke xii. 15. He is rich whom Christs poverty, or poverty for Christ enriches with godli­ness and contentment. That's great gain, that is, great riches, says St. Paul. So great that we need not look after the petty, fading, transitory riches of the world, they are but dross and dung compared to the true riches, the riches of grace and glory we have by Jesus Christ.

For call the rich man whom you will, seek all the expressions the Scri­pture has to call the rich man by: He that is rich in the grace of Christ may lay title to them all. He that abounds in Gold and Silver, is he rich? Behold, Christ calls to us to buy gold of him tried in the fire, that we may be rich, Rev. iii. 18. and he sells all without mony, Isa. lv. 1. 'tis then easie coming by it, easie being rich: nay, the very trial of our Faith is more precious then gold, 1 St. Pet. i. 7. A Christian in the sorest trials, poverty, or reproach, or death, is rich you hear in being so. He that has abun­dance of rich clothes and garments, is he rich? Christ calls us to buy them too at the same easie rate, white rayment, the rayment of Princes, and great men, in the forenamed place of the Revelation, and with the long white Robe of Christs Righteousness, the faithful Christian is ap­parelled; so none richer in clothes than he. He that heaps up Silver like the dust, and molten Gold like the clay in the streets, is he rich? How rich then is he that counts the silver like the dust, and the gold like clay, who is so rich that he contemns those riches? He that has his garners full of Wheat, and his presses with new Wine, is he rich say ye? How rich then is he that lives wholly upon heavenly Manna, and drinks the Wine of Angels, as the true Christian does? He that washes his steps in Butter, and has Rivers of Oyl flowing to him out of the Rock, is he rich? How much richer then is he that is anointed with the heavenly Oyl, with the oyl of perpetual joy and gladness in the Spirit, as the true believer is? He that abounds in Cattel, who cannot number his herds and flocks, is he rich, tell me? how mightily far richer is he that possesses God, whose are all the Beasts of the Mountains, and all the Cattel upon a thousand Hills; and him he possesses that possesses Christ, that is, one of his, the poorest of them; he that has stately and magnificent houses good store, richly deckt and furnisht too, is he rich think you? if he be, how infinitely more rich are they who have Heaven for their house, and all the Furniture fit for theirs? In a word, may he be called rich, who is highly born, rich­ly seated, gloriously attended? how rich then is he that is born of God, as the true Christian is? whom he makes to sit together with him in heaven­ly places in Christ Iesus, Ephes. ii. 6. upon whom the Angels continually attend, about whom they daily pitch their Tents, to whom they are all but ministring Spirits sent forth to wait upon them as upon the heirs of salvation, Heb. i. 14. Will not all this serve the turn? what then plainer now at last, then that he tells us he has made us Kings and Priests, Rev. i. 6. Kings they cannot come under a lower notion then rich; and though Priests of late are not always so, yet a Royal Priesthood, as St. Pe­ter calls us, 1 St. Pet. ii. 9. will be rich.

[Page 116] So that now after the several stiles of rich men in Scripture you see the Christian may be truly stiled rich, if either abundance or increase, clothes or furniture, houses or attendants, may be said to make one rich, or if Kings themselves may be called such.

Yet above all this, he is richer still, even in poverty he is rich, and can make others rich. As poor, says the Apostle, yet making many rich, and as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, 2 Cor. vi. 10. Here's the pre­rogative of Christian riches above all others. None can rob us of them, no poverty can lose them. I know how to abound, and how to want, says St. Paul, Phil. iv. 12. how to abound in the midst of want. They are riches, the riches of grace, that Thieves cannot steal, nor Moths corrupt, such as satiate the weary soul, such as make us with St. Paul in all estates to be content, count all riches, all joy, even the sorest and bitterest poverty or temptation. And when the riches of grace have heaped up our treasuries here with all chearfulness, then open they to us the treasuries of glory, riches so far beyond what the world call so, that all here is but meer beg­gary, and want, and misery in comparison; not to be nam'd, or thought on.

The Vse of this is to instruct us henceforward to labour only for the true riches, to be rich in grace, to be plentiful in good works, not to squander away our days, like children in running after painted Butter­flies, in heaping up Gold and Silver, as St. Iames speaks, to lie, and rust, and cry out against us not to build our dwellings, or fix our desires, or place our affections upon earthly rubbish, not to precount our lands, or houses, our clothes or furniture, our full bags, or our numerous stock and daily encrease, our riches; but to reckon Christ our riches, his Grace our wealth, his reproach our honour, his poverty our plenty, his glory the sum and crown of all our riches and glory. For if you know the grace of the Lord Iesus Christ, this you know also, that 'tis worth the seeking, that 'tis riches, and honour, and glory, how poor soever it look to the eye of the world. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is only that makes us rich, and poverty his way to enrich us by, contrary to the way of the world: and this ye know says the Apostle. 'Tis so plain and evident I need not tell you it, for ye know it. The third point the evidence of all that has been said.

3. For ye know it; for ye know nothing if you know not this. It was a thing not done in a corner: all the corners of the world rang of it, from the utmost corners of Arabia to the ends of the earth. The wise men came purposely from the East to see this poor little new-born Child, & tibi ser­viet ultima Thule, sang the Poet, the utmost confines of the West came in presently to serve him: the whole world is witness of it long ago. Nor were ever Christians ashamed either of this grace or poverty until of late. It was thought a thing worth knowing, worth keeping in remembrance by an anniversary too.

Indeed, were it not a thing well known, it would not be believed, that the Lord of all should become so poor as to have almost nothing of it all. But we saw it, says St. Iohn i. 14. the word made flesh, this great high Lord made little, and low enough, heard it, saw it with our eyes, lookt up­on it, and our hands too handled it, 1 St. Iohn i. 1. had all the evidence pos­sibly could be had, the evidence of ear, and eye, and hand; know it by them all. And not we only, not St. Iohn only, but all men know it. For this grace of God that bringeth salvation, that is, the true grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, hath appeared unto all men, says St. Paul, Titus ii. 11. [Page 117] So that they either know it, or if they know it not, 'tis their own fault; for it has appeared, and has been often declared unto them; so that 'tis no wonder that the Apostle should tell the Corinthians that they know it, they could not be Christians without knowing it, nor it seems men in those days neither, that knew it not.

And yet as generally as it was known, it was a grace to know it, one of the most special gifts and graces, the knowledge of the grace of Christ. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that ye know it is his grace. You could not know it without it, none but they to whom it is given can know it as they should.

4. That we may know it so, as well as they; we are now in the last place to consider what the Apostle would infer upon us by it, what should be the issue of this knowledge: (1.) The acknowledgment of the grace: and then (2.) the practice of it. For ye know the grace of the Lord Je­sus Christ, that though he was rich, yet he so lov'd the poor as to bestow all his riches freely upon them, upon us that were poor, and naked, and miserable, and being thrust out of our first home, never since could find any certain dwelling-place. And therefore we (2.) after his example, being now enricht by him, should be rich in our mercy and bounty to the poor; for if his grace was such to us when we were poor, we should shew the like to the poor now we are rich.

But that we may be the readier to this, we must first be sensible of the other, throughly sensible of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, acknow­ledge it for a grace, a thing meerly of his own good will and favour, that he would thus become poor to make us rich. Know we and acknowledge many graces in this one grace.

A grace to our humanity, that he would grace it with putting on.

A grace to poverty, that he would wear that too.

A grace to our persons as well as to our natures, that it was for our sakes he did it.

A grace to our condition, that it was only to enrich it.

Know we then again and acknowledge it from hence.

1. That poverty is now become a grace, a grace to which the Kingdom of God is promised, St. Mat. v. 3. poverty of spirit. Nay, the poor, and vile, and base things too hath God chosen, saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. i. 28. the poor are now elect, contrary quite to the fancy that the Iews had of them, whose proverb it was, that the Spirit never descended upon the poor; answer­able to which it was then the cry, Can any good thing come out of Naza­reth, any Prophet or great good come out of so poor a place as that?

2. Know we again that Christs poverty above all, or poverty for his sake is a grace indeed; for to you 'tis given, given as a great gift of grace and honour to suffer for his name, Phil. i. 29. And 'tis a part of our calling, says St. Peter, 1 S. Pet. ii. 21. a specialty of that grace.

3. Know we (3.) that our Riches are his Grace too. In vain we rise up early, and go late to bed; all our care, and pains, and labour is nothing to make us rich without his blessing. The blessing of the Lord it is that ma­keth rich.

4. Know we however these may prove, the riches of Christ can prove no other. All the vertues and graces of our souls, all the spiritual joy, fulness, and contentment are meerly his, they the proper Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; no grace above them, no grace near them; nothing can render us so gracious in the eyes of God as they, they are above Gold, and Rubies, and precious Stones. These and all the rest being ac­knowledged [Page 118] in the Text, we may well acknowledge, that there was good reason to put an Article, an Emphasis upon [...], the grace.

Yet to make all up, all these graces, you must know all the several graces, outward and inward, come all from this one grace of Christs be­coming poor, being made man, and becoming one of us. To this it is we owe all we have or hope, to the Grace of Christ at Christmas; and there­fore now are to add some practice to all this knowledge, to return some grace again for all this grace.

Gratia, is thanks, let's return that first; thank God and our Saviour for this grace of his, whence all grace flows, and for all the several gra­ces as they at any time flow down upon us. Gratia Deo, thanks to God.

2. Gratia is good will and favour; let's shew that to others. Good will towards men.

3. But good will is not enough, good works are graces, let's study to encrease and abound, and to be rich in them.

4. Yet Gratia is in St. Pauls stile in this Chapter, ver. 1. and elsewhere, bounty and liberality to the poor; rich in this grace especially we are to be. 'Tis the peculiar grace of Christmas, hospitality and bounty to the poor. 'Tis the very grace St. Paul here provokes the Corinthians to, by the example of those of Macedonia and Achaia, ver. 1. who to their power and beyond their power, he bears them witness were not only willing to supply the necessities of the Saints, but even entreated him and them to take it. By the example (2.) of Christ, who both became himself poor, that we might be the more compassionate to the poor now he was in the num­ber; and made us rich, that we might have wherewith to shew our com­passion to them. Now surely if Christ be poor, and put himself among them, who would not give freely to them, seeing he may chance even to give to Christ himself among them when he gives? however, what is gi­ven to any of them he owns it as to himself, S. Mat. xxv. 40. What ye d [...] to any of the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto me. And can any that pre­tends Christ be so wretchedly miserable as not to part with his mony up­on this score? Can any be so ungrateful as not to give him a little who gave them all? shall he become poor for our sakes, and we not shew our selves rich for his? it were too little in reason not to make our selves poor again for him, not to be as free to him as he to us. Yet he will be con­tented with a little for his all; that we should out of our abundance sup­ply the want of his poor Members. He is gracious: Behold the grace of our Lord, I, in this too, in complying with our infirmities, not com­manding us as he might, to impoverish our selves with acts of mercy, but to be only rich and abundant in them; to which yet he promises more grace still, the reward of glory. Come ye blessed of my Father, ye who supply and help my poor ones, come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, where ye that have follow­ed me in my poverty, or become poor for my sake, or have been rich in bounty to the poor, as it were to a kind of poverty, shall then reign with me amidst all the riches of eternal Glory.

THE EIGHTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

PSAL. viii. 4, 5.

What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of man that thou visitest him?

For Thou madest him,A little lower then the AngelsAnd hast crowned to crown him with glory and worship.

BUT, Lord, What is man, or the Son of man that thou didst this day visit him? that thou this day crownedst him with that glory, didst him that honour? so we may begin to day; for 'tis a day of wonder, of glory and worship; to stand and wonder at Gods mercy to the sons of men, and return him glory and worship for it.

For, Lord, what is man, that the Son of God should become the Son of man to visit him? that God should make him lower then the Angels, who is so far above them, that he might crown us, who are so far below them, with glory and honour equal to them or above them? It was a strange mercy that God should make such a crum of dust as man to have dominion over the works of his own hands, that he should put all things in subjection under his feet; that he should make the Heavens, the Moon, and Stars for him; and the Psalmist might very well gaze and startle at it. But to make his Son such a thing of nought too, such a Quid est, that no body can tell what it is, what to speak low enough to express it, such a Novissimus hominum, such an abject thing as man, such a cast-away as abject man, as the most abject man, bring him below Angels, below men, and then raise him up to Glory again, that he might raise up that vile thing called man together with him, and re­store the Dominion when he had lost it; is so infinitely strange a mercy, that 'tis nearer to amazement than to wonder.

And indeed the Prophet here is in amaze, and knows not what to say: Both these mercies he saw here, but he saw not how to speak them. Gods mercy in mans Creation, and Gods mercy in mans Redemption too. [Page 120] What God made man at first, and to what he exalted him when he had made him. What God made his Son for man at last, what he made him first and last, lower then the Angels first, higher then they at last, that he might shew the wonders of his mercy to poor man both first and last.

But if David did not see both in the words he spake, the Apostle did; for to Christ he applies them, Heb. ii. 6, 7. And that's authority good enough for us to do so, to bring it for a Christmas Text; especially Christ himself applying the second verse, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, as spoken in relation to himself, St. Matth. xxi. 16. And that's authority somewhat stronger. Yet to omit nothing of Gods mercy, to do right on all hands to Prophet and Apostle, and Christ too, we shall take them in both senses. To refer them to man, the plain let­ter with the whole design and context of the Psalm is sufficient reason. To understand them yet of Christ, he himself and his Apostle will bear us out. And though the Text be full of wonder, it is no wonder that it has two senses; most of the old Testament and Prophesies have so, a lower and a higher, a literal and a more sublime sense. Thus out of Egypt have I called my son, Hos. xi. i. Rachels weeping for her children, Jer. xxxi. 14. I have set my King upon my holy Hill of Sion, Psal. ii. 6. all applied to Christ or his bu­siness, and affairs, and yet spoken first to other purposes, of Israel or Da­vid. I should lose time to collect more places. 'Tis better I should tell you the sum of this, that it is the Prophet Davids wonder at Gods deal­ing towards man, and his dealing towards Christ, that he should deal so highly mercifully towards man, and so highly strangely towards Christ; so mercifully with man as to remember him, to visit him, to make him but little lower then the Angels, and crown him with glory and worship. So strangely with Christ, as to make him a Son of man, and lower then the Angels first, then afterward to crown him with glory and worship: Things all to be highly wondered at. And the Text best to be divided, into Gods mercy, and Davids wonder.

I. Gods mercy manifested here in three particulars.

  • 1. In his dealing with man. What is man? &c. In the literal sense of the words.
  • 2. In his dealing with Christ, in respect to man. What is the Son of man?
  • 3. In his dealing with man, in the sublimer sense of the Text, again in respect to Christ, what is man, and the Son of man? in the same sense too.

I. His mercy in his dealing with man will best appear (1.) by what he did: And (2.) for whom he did it; that he should do so much for man, that he should do it for so little; so little, so inconsiderable a thing as man.

Six branches there are here of what he did.

1. He was and is ever mindful of him. (2.) He visits him. (3.) He made him but a little lower then the Angels, but one step below. (4.) He did that only too to exalt him, to crown him, as we read it. (5.) He crown'd him also. (6.) He crown'd him with glory and with worship too.

If you will know (2.) for whom all this. 'Tis

1. For man. Adam, a piece of clay.

2. For the Son of man. Enos, a piece of misery.

3. For a meer quid est, for a thing we know not what to call it.

4. 'Tis for one that the Prophet wonders God should mind or think on, that he should come into Gods mind, much more into his eye to be visi­ted by him: such a one that 'tis a wonder he should be thought on.

II. His dealing with Christ in respect to man, which is the Apostles in­terpretation [Page 121] of the words, is a second manifesto of his mercy, and shew'd

1. In his Exinanition, that God for mans sake should (1.) make him lower then the Angels. That (2.) he should make him so low as man. As man (3.) and the Son of man: Such a Son of man (4.) that we cannot know how to name him, such a quid est, such a we cannot tell what, a wonder, a gazing-stock, not worth seeing or remembring; and all only that man by him might be visited and remembred.

2. In his Exaltation. That notwithstanding all this, God should a while afterwards remember him, visit him, crown him, crown him with glory and honour.

III. And both Exinanition and Exaltation (3.) that he might yet visit man the more, remember him with greater mercies, crown him with richer graces, crown him with higher honours here then he did in the Creation, and with higher glory hereafter then the first nature could pretend to.

Upon all these, the second general, the Prophets wonder comes in well; will follow handsomely, as the conclusion of all, the application of all, to teach us to wonder and admire at all this mercy, and take up the Text and say it after David, What is man, Lord, what is man that thou, &c.

That we may wonder and worship too, and give God Glory and Wor­ship for this wonderful mercy, for the glory and worship that he has gi­ven us: I begin now to shew you his mercy in all the acts here specified; and the first is, his being mindful of us, or remembring us.

1. And he remembers that we are but dust, Psal. ciii. 14. and so deals accordingly, blows not too hard upon us, lest he should blow us clean away: that's a good remembrance, to remember not to hurt us; and the Lord hath been mindful of us, says the Psalmist again, Psal. cxv. 12. hath and will ever be mindful of his Covenant, Psal. cxi. 5. though we too often forget ours, The Bride may forget her ornaments, Jer. ii. 32. and the Mo­ther her sucking child, Isa. xlix. 15. Yet will not I (says God) forget you. The Hebrew here is in the future, as the Latin is in the present: but all times are alike with God; what he is, he will be to us; even when he seems to forget us, he is mindful of us. Recordaris operationum ei, says the Chaldee. Thou remembrest his works, to reward them; but that's too narrow. Thou remembrest his substance, all his bones and members, forgettest none, to preserve them. Thou remembrest his soul to speak comfortably to it. Thou remembrest his body to feed and clothe it. Thou remembrest his goings out and his comings in, to direct and prosper them. Thou remem­brest his very tears, and puttest them up in bottles; all these things are no­ted in his book, Psal. cxxxix. 15. put down there. When we are shut up in the Ark, and all the Floods about us, then he remembers us as he did Noah, and in due time calls us out. When we are unhappily fall'n into Sodom among wicked hands, and the City ready to be all on fire about our ears, then he remembers us as he did Lot, nay, as he did Abraham rather when he delivered Lot, Gen. xix. 29. He is so good, that he remem­bers us for one another: remembers us for Abrahams, Isaacs, Iacobs, and Da­vids sake: remembers the Son for the Father, the Nephew for the Un­cle, the Friend for the Friends, Iobs friends for Iobs sake, Iob xlii. 8. So mindful is God of us, so continually minding us, such a care of us he has, he careth for all; no God like him for the care of all, Wisd. xii. 13. I would we were as careful again to please him, as mindful of him.

2. And yet (2.) he is not only mindful of man, but visits him too. And thy visitation, says Holy Iob has preserved my spirit, Job x. 12. Will [Page 122] you know what that is? Thou hast granted me life and favour; so the words run just before; not life only (for his being mindful of us says that suf­ficiently) but favour also: his visiting intimates some new favour, some­what above life and safety.

Indeed visiting is sometimes punishing, I will visit their sin, Exod. xxxii. 34. And 'tis a mercy to man sometimes that God visits and punishes him; it keeps him from sin, increases him in grace, advances him in glory. And what is man that thou thus visitest him, O Lord, and sufferest him not to run headlong to destruction, though he so deserve it?

But visiting here (2.) is in a softer, milder way, 'tis to bestow some favour on us. Thus holy Iob, in words somewhat like the Text, What is man that thou shouldst magnifie him, and that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him? and that thou shouldst visit him every morning, and try him every mo­ment, Job vii. 17, 18. So, Gods visiting in Iobs interpretation is a magni­fying of man, a setting of his heart upon him to do him good, a visiting him with some mercy or other every morning, a purging and purifying him from tin and dross. In the Prophet Ieremiah's stile it is the performing his good word unto us, Ier. xxix. 10. And in the Psalmists, a Visiting with his salvation, Psal. cvi. 4. Great mercy without question.

Hence it is that he visits us by his Son, to bring us to salvation. Thus good old Zachariah understood it, when he starts out as it were on a sud­den with his Benedictus, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, S. Luke i. 68. He visits us when we are sick, and heals our sicknesses; he visits us in our sadness, and dispels our sorrows; he visits us in prison, and pays our Debts; he visits us in our dangers, and delivers us out; he visits us in our prosperities, and rejoyces with us in them; he visits us by his Mercies, by his Prophets, by his Graces, by his Spirit: yet all these are nothing to this visiting by his Son, or little they are without it; or else they are all included in it: health and joy, liberty and deliverance, peace and mercy, comfort and instruction, grace and spirit, all in it, all in the coming down of Christ to visit us. How in­finite is thy mercy that thou thus doest visit poor sinful man!

3. But thou wert infinitely merciful to him long before, when thou first madest him, when thou madest him but little lower then the Angels. (3.) [...] some little thing, but not much. Thou gavest him understanding as thou didst them, only theirs is a little clearer, and without discourse. But they understand, and so does man. They have wills, and so has he. They are spirits, and he has one. They are Gods Ministers, and so is man; only they do all with more nimbleness and perfection; for they have no bodies but to hinder them, but man has. In that he is somewhat under them, yet not much neither, since Christ has so exalted our nature as to unite it to the Godhead, and made all his Angels worship it.

And which takes much too from this diminution, this minuisti eum, it is but [...] in a second sense for a little while, (for so 'tis possible to be rendred) whilst we live here, for a few years and days: It will not be long e're we be [...] equal to the Angels we are now below, S. Luke xx. 36.

And yet we are a degree nearer to them now, if we expound the words that we render Angels, as S. Ierome, Pagnin, and some others do. The word is Elohim, one of the names of God; and St. Chrysostom found a Translation with [...], he made us but a little lower then God himself. And may well seem so when he sets a Dixi dii estis upon us, Psal. lxxxii. 6. tells us that he said we were Gods, and the Children of the most High.

[Page 123] 4. But (4.) bear it what sense it will, what diminution it can, it is all but to exalt us by it, to crown us; thou hast made Christ to crown him, only to crown; so we read it in the old Translation: our very diminutions are sent us to augment our glory. So infinitely great is Gods mercy to us, that our very lessenings are for our greatning: A rare excess of mercy to make us lower, so to make us higher.

5. And 'tis high indeed when it exalts us to a Crown, and past doubt­ing too, when it comes to a coronasti, thou hast done it, as 'tis here both in the old Latin, and the new English, certain to hold too, not to be one of those corruptible Crowns the Apostle speaks of, of Bays or Laurel in the Olympick games, 1 Cor. ix. If we add the other reading mentioned by St. Chrysostome, Coronabis, Thou shalt crown him; hast already, and shalt again, shalt continue crowning him. Here's a mercy will hold as well as stretch, as everlasting as 'tis infinite. Two senses there are of Coronasti, of this crowning; it may signifie either plenty, or reward. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, Ps. lxv. 11. He crowneth thee with loving kindness, Psal. ciii. 4. In both it signifies an abundance of mercies, and blessings. But he shall receive a crown, St. James i. 12. is the same with a high reward. In both senses God crowns man here, with the fulness of heaven and earth, gives him liberty to feed and clothe himself with what he pleases, keeps nothing of all his plenty from him; and which is more, gives him it as it were a reward for his labour, though it be vastly far above all his pains.

6. If this reward be glory now (6.) as here it is, he has put a crown of Gold indeed upon his head, as the Psalmist speaks. The glory to be made after the very image and likeness of God himself, and to be made so at a consultation with so much solemnity, that's the glory here. It was a kind of one to be made somewhat near the Angels likeness; but to have Gods added to it is, glory upon glory. What glory like Gods? what glory of man like that to be like God?

Having honour added to this glory, that all the creatures should do ho­mage to him, the fiercest and stubbornest of them submit their necks un­der his feet, and the very crooked Serpent creeps away as afraid of him; none of them dare to lift him up a head, or a horn, a paw or crest, or hiss against him; for the Fowls of the Air, and Fishes of the Sea, all of them to serve to his command and use, What is man become now, What hast thou made him thus, O God? Much of this glory I confess is now departed from him, or blurred, or sullied in him, that we can see little of his former purer rays, by reason of his own sin and folly; yet thus God made him, all this he did for him, and the glimmerings of all these glories and mercies are still upon him. And the mercy peradventure is the greater, though the glory be the less, in that notwithstanding all mans demerits, he yet continues in some degree or other all these mercies to him. You will see it still the greater if you now consider who it is all this is done to, who it is that God thus remembers, visits, makes, and crowns with glory and worship.

A worshipful piece God wot, a poor thing call'd man, stil'd Adam here, a piece of clay and dirt, ex limo, a pure clod, a meer walking pitcher, brittle, and dirty too; and the dirtier since his fall.

Miserable (2.) besides. Enos is a second word the Psalmist here expresses man withal; and that signifies a sad, sick, calamitous, miserable, incu­rable wretch; and which adds to it so by descent too, and by entail never here to be cut off: Filius Enos, the Son of man, the son of misery; he [Page 124] comes crying into the world, as if he foresaw it, e're he well could see, and felt it at his first appearance. How innumerable are the troubles, how unavoidable the necessities, how incredible the mischances, how num­berless the sicknesses, how unsupportable the infirmities that surround him from his first hour? infinite need there is that God should be mindful of him, that he should have some eye upon him, and regard him; for he comes in helpless into the world, and continues so if God help him not.

This is that then (3.) makes the Prophet come with a quid est, Lord what a thing is this? what a thing is man? a thing so hidden with infirmities, so covered with misfortunes, so clouded with griefs, so compassed with sorrows, so wrapt up in night and darkness, in sins and miseries, that one knows not what it is, or how to christen it.

Such a thing only we may conceive it, (and we cannot conceive half of its poornesses and emptinesses) that we can only gape and wonder at it. In the 144. Psalm, where the Psalmist propounds this question as it were again of what is man? He answers presently, ver. 4. Man is like a thing of nought, his time passeth away like a shadow. He is not so much as a thing; he is but like it, though that very thing be a thing of nought too; a meer shadow of a thing of nought he is, which we may well wonder at, but cannot well imagine, and wonder again that God should think of such a shadow as he, that he should be mindful of the dust of the earth, that he should regard the dirt, that he should visit a we know not what, that he should raise a piece of clay so near Angels and himself, that he should crown such a dunghil of wretchedness and misery, that he should bestow his glory upon such a shadow, and worship upon the dust of his feet, and the dirt under him. O Lord how wonderful is thy goodness towards the children of men!

'Tis more wonderful for all that, if we now consider his dealing with his own Son, for the sakes of the Sons of men. The second particular of his mercy, that for man and the Sons of men he has made this Text to be said of him also, made him a thing to be wondred at, by his dealing with him both by his Exinanition and by his Exaltation. To him now we come to apply the words, for to him they properly belong. Where first we will find out his Exinanition, or his being emptied and abased, to be wondred at.

What is man? so only before; but what is now the best of men, the Son of man himself? The term of Son of man is very proper unto Christ; called so by Daniel long before he was so, Dan. vii. 13. And it may bear a note, that Christ, he only is properly filius hominis in the singular, the Son of man single, born of the Virgin without a man. Others are filii ho­minum in the plural: every one is so, born by the help of two, Father and Mother both. But notwithstanding man, and the Son of man are dimi­nutions to the Son of God; for to have been made like Angels had been a high derogation; but lower then they, what shall I call it?

But (2.) So low as man, can you lend me a word for it? for what is man, that God should be made one? I have told you over and over what he is, but what art thou O blessed God that thou should'st be made such a things as he?

Or (3.) if man he must be made, what need he be made the Son of man yet? He might have brought a humane nature down from heaven, that had been fittest for him: an incorruptible humanity. To be man and the Son of man, rottenness of rottenness, vanity of vanity (for man in the Psalmists phrase is nothing else) there's a debasement below debasement.

[Page 125] And yet (4.) to be such a Son of man, that has a quid est, a si quis writ over him, to enquire who he is, so obscure and ignoble that neither David nor Esau can discern him; but Esau with a quis est, Isa. lxiii. 1. and David here with a quid est only can decipher him; without form or comeli­ness, form or fashion, or name, or title, one despised and rejected even of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs, one that men would hide their faces from, as the Prophet speaks of him, Isa. liii. 2, 3. to be made such a one as this; we may all wonder indeed, Prophets and Peo­ple, all of us, nay, be all amazed at it.

I can shew you him yet lower, (5.) Lower then the Angels, that we have told you; but they were good ones: but malis etiam, so S. Austin, lower then the bad ones: Laid under their cruelty and fury in his death, and not over them surely always in his life. When the Devil was permitted to carry him from Mountain to Mountain, to the Pinacle of the Temple, or where he pleases, St. Mat. iv. This is stranger still.

Yet this might be a glory, as a trial: but (6.) to be visited, that is punished, and not after the visitation of all men neither, but even the basest, to be a man raised up for punishment, made to be scourged, affli­cted, and abus'd, A homo quoniam visitas, made man only to be punished; the Son of man only to be under the power and lash of man, the worst of men too, the basest of the people, scorn'd and spit upon, beaten and buffeted, torn, and rent, and lash'd, and pierc'd by who would of them: What wonder is there not in his thus being made the Son of man?

But lastly to be as it were out of Gods mind the while, so visited by him, as if he were no way mindful of him, as if he had clean forgotten him, who he was, remembred not at all that he was his Son he us'd so, that he was forc'd to cry, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? art no more mindful of me? This is a quid est, beyond the very Text, a won­der that is above what is explicite there. Yet such a man he was made too; so that we may justly now ask, quid est, in the highest key, what is man? what is this man? what is the business, what the matter that all this is done unto him? that God thus makes and unmakes him, and makes him again we know not what.

And we should more wonder yet, but for the following words (2.) that all this is but to crown him with glory, and honour. But that affords us a new wonder still, that God should so crown such a one as this he we speak of. And to speak truth, his exaltation after all this, the exaltation of our humane nature in him, as poor, wretched, and contemptible as it is, a new work of wonder.

Had it been a nature born and fram'd to glory, it had been none at all; had it been a King, or of the Royal Lineage to have been crown'd, there had been no strangeness in it: but to crown a worm, to crown the very scorn of men, as he terms himself, Psal. xxii. 6. with glory, and the out­cast of the people with honour and worship, this is a quis enarrabit, who can declare this generation; how it should come to a crown?

Yet before we come to speak of that, let's go through the lower parts of his exaltation: And as poor a thing as God made him (and that was poor enough) yet did he not forget him. He was so mindful of him even in his low estate, that he gave his Angels charge over him, would not let his foot slip, or dash against a stone, would not suffer a bone of him to be bro­ken, or one tittle of his Covenant to fail him: sent his Angels too to look after, to minister to him; a whole host of them to declare him this day to the world.

[Page 126] Nay, (2.) came and visited him himself, he and his Holy Spirit with him at his Baptism, he and Moses, and Elias with him in the Mount, where he gave testimony he was his Son, his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased.

Nay, (3.) that which might seem in one sort a diminution, was in an­other an exaltation: he made him but a little lower then the Angels, was an exalting him, when it made even his Body little inferiour to their Spirit; and that it did, when he could pass through a crowd of people as invi­sible as an immaterial Spirit, S. Luke iv. 30. Nay, before that, when he came into the world without any blemish to his Mothers Virginity; as if he had been a Spirit, not a Body: and after that, when he arose out of his Tomb, the stone upon it, when he entred and the doors were shut, when he vanish'd out of sight, &c. they knew not how he went. Paulo minus angelis indeed: this is little less then Angels I can tell you. But St. Austin tells you more, Naturâ humanâ Christi Deum solum majorem, That God only is greater then Christs humane nature. The Hypostatical union to the Deity has made it so; and those infinite graces of his soul are somewhat more then paulo minus, above the Angels rarest endowments.

Yet this is nothing to the Crown that follows; for we see Iesus, says the Apostle, Heb. ii. 9. Who was made a little lower then the Angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour. [...], so Enthymius thinks it may be read without a comma, above the Angels with glory and honour hast thou crowned him, with a glory beyond theirs. Indeed four Crowns he was crowned with, a Crown of Flesh, with that his Mother crown'd him in his Incarnation, Cant. iii. 11. A Crown of Thorns, with that the Souldiers crown'd him at his Passion, St. Iohn xix. 2. A Crown of Precious Stones, De lapide pretioso, at his Resurrection: The four endowments of glorious Bodies, Charity, Agility, Impossibility, and Incorruptibility, were the Stones of it. And a Crown of pure Gold at his Ascension, when he shone like the Son in gloria, and went up cum co­rona, with a crown or ring of blessed Saints, into the highest Heavens. With these two last God crowned him, these two were his exaltation, and the crown or reward of the two other.

And to make this Crown the more glistering and glorious, here's honour added to it, A name given him above every name, that at the mention of it every knee is now to bow, both of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth, Phil. ii. 9, 10. made better then the Angels, Heb. i. 4. so much better that all things, even the Angels themselves, Authorities and Powers, all sorts of Angels are made subject unto him, 1 S. Pet. iii. 22. and are therefore bid all to worship him, says St. Paul, Heb. i. 6. Such honour has Christ after his humiliation; and we may expect some after ours: If we humble our selves, we also shall be exalted, and crowned with glory. And so it seems we are entitled to it by the sufferings of the Son of man, and by his visiting us, our glory is much encreased by his Glory, our honour higher by his Redemption, then in our first Creation; so that we may now well take up the words again, and pronounce them with greater asto­nishment still, that he should so remember, visit, and crown his redeem­ed people as he does.

For what is man indeed that God should redeem him at so great a price? what access can it be to God to raise him out of his ruines? might he not more easily have made a new stock of men of better natures, than have redeemed Adam's?

Or (2.) if he would have needs so much magnified his love as to have [Page 127] redeem'd him, because he had made him; would not a restoring of him to his first estate have been well enough, but that he must raise him to a higher? Without doubt it had, but that God in mercy thinks nothing too much for him.

It appears so by his remembring him. Man was a true Enos, and that is obliviscens, a forgetful piece; yet God remembers him, and comes down in the evening of his fall, a few minutes after it, and raises him up with a promise of the seed of the Woman, to set all streight again. There he did as well visit as remember him.

And in the pursuance of this singular mercy, he still (2.) visits him every morning, morning and evening too; visits by his Angels, by his Priests, by his Prophets, by his Mercies, by his Iudgments, by his Son, by his Holy Spirit, by daily motions, and inspirations. These are the visits he hourly makes us since he visited us by his Son, far more plentifully than before; more abundant grace, more gracious visits; for if his Son be once formed in us, he will never give over visiting till he crown us.

Yet (3.) by degrees he raises us up to some Angelical purities and per­fections before he crown us: our nature is much elevated by the Grace of Christ; and what the Iew did only to the outward letter, we are en­abled to do to the Spirit of it, to inward purity as well as the outward. Thus and thus you heard of old, says Christ, S. Matth. v. 21. but I say more, not a wanton look, not a murtherous thought, not a reproachful word, not the slightest Oath. He would refine us fain somewhat near the Angels, to be pure as they.

But (4.) we shall not do it gratis; he will crown us for it, quicken us together with Christ, raise us up together, and make us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, Eph. ii. 5, 6. Honours us with the name of friends, reveals himself unto us, fills us with the riches of Christ, adopts us to be his Sons, makes us members of Christ, partakers of his Spirit, makes himself one with us, and we with him; washes us by one Sacrament, feeds us by another; comforts us by his word, compasses with the ministrations of righteousness that exceeds in glory; pardons our sins, heals our infirmi­ties, strengthens our weaknesses, replenishes us with graces, urges us with favours, makes us with open face behold them as in a glass, behold the glo­ry of the Lord, and changes us at last into the same image from glory to glory, Eph. iii. 18. What is man, O Lord, or the Son of man that thou shouldst do thus unto him? And what are we, O Lord, what are we that we are so insen­sible of thy mercies? what base, vile, unworthy things are we, if we do not now pour out our selves in thanks and wonder, in praise and glory for this exceeding glory!

Wonder we (1.) stand we and wonder, or cast our selves upon the earth, upon our faces, in amazement at it, that God should do all this for us; thus remember, thus visit, thus crown such things as we. That (2.) he should pass by the Angels to crown us, leave them in their sins and misery, and lift us out of ours. That (3.) he should not take their na­ture at the least, and honour those that stood among them, but take up ours, and wear it into heaven, and seat it there.

And there is a visit he is now coming to day to make us, as much to be wondred at as any, that he should feed us with his Body, and yet that be in Heaven; that he should cheer us with his Blood, and yet that shed so long ago: that he should set his Throne, and keep his Table and presence upon the Earth, and yet Heaven his Throne, and Earth his Foot-stool: that he should here pose all our understandings with his mysterious work, [Page 128] and so many ages of Christians after so many years of study and assistance of the Spirit, not yet be able to understand it. What is man, or the Son of man, O Blessed Iesu, that thou shouldst thus also visit and confound him with the wonders of thy mercy and goodness!

Here also is glory and honour too, to be admitted to his Table; no where so great; to be made one with him, as the meat is with the body: no glory like it. Here is the crown of plenty, fulness of pardon, grace, and heavenly Benediction. Here's the crown of glory, nothing but rays, and beauties, Iustres and glories to be seen in Christ, and darted from him into pious souls. Come take your crowns, come compass your selves with those eternal circlings.

Take now the cup of salvation, and remember God for so remembring you: call upon the name of the Lord, and give glory to your God. If you cannot speak out fully (as who can speak in such amazements as these thoughts may seriously work in us) cast your selves down in silence, and utter out your souls in these or the like broken speeches. What is man, Lord what is man? What am I? How poor a thing am I? How good art thou? What hast thou done unto him? How great things? What glory, what honour, what crown hast thou reserved for me? What shall I say? How shall I suffici­ently admire? What shall I do again unto thee?

What shalt thou do? Why (1.) if God is so mindful of us men, Let us be mindful of him again; remember he is always with us, and do all things as if we remembred that so he were.

2. Is he so mindful of us? Let us be mindful of our selves, and remem­ber what we are, that we may be humbled at it.

3. Does he remember us? Let us then again remember him with our prayers and services.

2. Has he visited us? Let us in thankfulness visit him again, visit him in his Temple, visit him at his Table, visit him in his poor members, the sick, the imprisoned.

3. Has he made us lower then the Angels? Let us make our selves low­er and lower still in our own sights. Is it yet but a little lower then the Angels? Let us raise up thoughts, and pieties, and devotions to be equal with them.

4. Has he crown'd us with glory? Let us crown his Altars then with of­ferings, and his name with praise; let us be often in corona, in the con­gregation of them that praise him, among such as keep Holy-day. Let us crown his Courts with beauty, crown our selves with good works; they should be our glory, and our crown: And for the worship that he crowns us with too, let us worship and give him honour, so remember, so visit, so crown him again; so shall he, as he has already, so shall still remember us last, and bring us to his own palace, there to visit him face to face, where he shall make us equal to the Angels we are now below, and crown us with an incorruptible crown of glory: through Christ, &c.

THE NINTH SERMON ON Christmas-Day.

S. LUKE ii. 30, 31, 32.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

SAlvation cannot but be a welcome then at any time. I know no day amiss. But in Die salutis, at such a time as this, on Christmas-day especially. Then it first came down to bless this lower world.

But salvation so nigh as to be seen is more; much more if we our selves have any interest in it, if it be for the Gentiles too, that we also may come in. Far more, if it be such salvation, that our friends also may be saved with us, none perish: if it be omnium populorum, to 'um all in whatsoever Nation.

Add yet, if it be salvation by light, not in the night, no obscure delive­rance, we like that better; and if it be to be saved not by running away, but gloriously: Salvation with Glory, that's better still. Nay, if it be all, salvation on a day of salvation, not afar off, but within ken, not heard of, but seen, to us and ours, an universal salvation, a gladsome, a light­some, a notable, a glorious salvation, as it is without contradiction, Ver­bum Evangelii, good Gospel, joyful tidings, so it must needs be, verbum diei too, the happiest news in the most happy time.

These make the Text near enough the day; and yet 'tis nearer. What say you if this salvation prove to be a Saviour, and that Saviour Christ, and that Christ new born, the first time that viderunt oculi could be said of him, no time so proper as Christmas to speak of Christ the Saviour, born and sent into the world. He it is, that is here stiled salutare tuum. Christ, that blessed sight that restores Simeons decaying eyes to their youthful lustre, that happy burthen, that makes Simeon grasp heaven before he enter it.

Indeed the good old man begins not his Christmas till Candlemas: [Page 130] 'Twas not Christmas-day with him, he did not see his Saviour till he was presented in the Temple. The Feast of Purification was his Christ­mas. This the Shepherds, the worlds, and ours. This day first he was seen visibly to the world.

Being then to speak of salvation, which is a Saviour, or a Saviour who is salvation. (1.) First of the Salvation it self, [...]. (2.) Then of its certainty, and manifestation; so plain and evident that the eye may see it: Salvation to be seen. More (2.) prepared to be seen. (3.) Of the universality, before the face of all people. (4.) Of the Benefits. They are two. (1.) A light. (2.) A glory, with the twofold parties. (1.) The Gentiles. (2.) The Iews. Of each both severally and joyntly.

When we have done with the salvation, then of the other sense of [...], the Saviour himself, that's the prime meaning of salutare here. (1.) Of his natures, in [...] his Godhead, in [...] and [...] his manhood. (2.) the unity of his person in [...] (3.) His Offices in [...] and [...]. His eternal generation in [...], his temporal in [...].

Lastly, of our way to behold him, and our duty when we see him. How to obtain this glorious sight of [...] of salvation, and how to entertain it. Of which that I may speak with reverence, and you hear with profit, Let us pray, &c.

I begin with that which we all desire and hope to end, Salvation; and first with [...] (give me leave to do so) in the sense of Prophane Au­thors. It will fit the day, [...] were dies salutares, Festivals for some famous deliverances among them. And may not [...] then, be this great Festival of the Nativity of Salvation, this happy day which come about by the circling of the year, expects now the solemnities of our joys and thanksgivings? You see the day it self is in the Text; and now we have seen that, let's look into the occasion of it, what 'tis that makes it Holy-day.

Something seen or done upon it, what's that? Salutare tuum, says the Text; a Saviour seen and a salvation wrought, nay, this seen too, for viderunt oculi to both, if they be two. There is but one word for both, and it may be they may be but one. However distinguish them we will for a while, though we unite them in the upshot.

Salvation. Simeon might with as much ease have call'd him Saviour; but that he thought too little. You would have blam'd his eye-fight had he seen no more. Saviours there have been many. Moses, and Ioshua, and Ieptha, and Samson. I cannot tell you how many, and they have brought salvation in their times and sav'd their people; but none of all was ever made salva­tion but this days Saviour, who is made unto us righteousness and salvation.

Made to us; is that all? nay, is it in himself. Other Saviours when they have saved others, themselves they could not save. They them­selves did still stand in need of being sav'd. Christ needs none other but himself. He is Salvation, no Saviour so but he.

And [...] it is, not [...], nor [...] neither. Salvation nei­ther for male only, nor female only, but both of the Neuter gender. Nei­ther male, nor female, but all one in Christ Iesus.

2. Not [...] in the Feminine, not a weak Feminine Salvation, but a strong firm one, the mighty strength of his right hand.

3. Not a Feminine Salvation, not [...], lest we should fondly look for [...] the Virgin Mother. Not she, but the Virgins Son: the Holy Ghost, as I may say, afraid of Salvatrix mea, Salve Redemptrix be­fore ever Christianity dreamt of that Sacriledge.

[Page 131] But [...] is yet more salvation with an Emphasis, with an Ar­ticle, This Salvation. Many Saviours and Salvations too without doubt had aged Simeon seen in the large circuit of his years without a Nunc di­mittis; but no sooner [...], no sooner this, but he grows weary of the world; his life grows tedious to him, he would be going. What means this hasting to his Grave, when he folds salvation in his arms? Why; this it is that gives it a pre-eminence above all beside. Death now it self is conquer'd, and now first to die is to be saved. Salvation not only from Death, but from the terrours of it.

Salvation is a deliverance, a deliverance is from some evil of sin or pu­nishment. To be deliver'd from punishment, be it but the loss of goods, of liberty, or health, is a kind of Salvation; and if the loss be great we are deliver'd from, the salvation great: but if the punishment stretch it self beyond the limits of fading time, if it be to be extended through eternity, the deliverance then great without question, well deserves the Article [...]

To be deliver'd from punishment and eternal punishment is no small matter beyond all humane power: yet from sin is far beyond it. If we be not sav'd from that, 'tis but an incomplete, a partial salvation from the other.

[...] comes from [...] or [...] salvum facere, to make all whole again, to heal the wounds of sin by the plasters of mercy; to restore a man to his lost health, his lapsed justice, [...] integrum facere, to give him health. Thy saving health, O Lord. Adam lost it, in him we all, and every day we lose it still. We confess as much morning and evening. There is no health in us.

And what is it we gain then by [...] if we so soon are at a loss? yes [...] is salvum conservare too, to keep us well when we are so. Good God, in what need stand we of thy salvation! We sin, we are punisht, we are freed, we rise again, we slip, and fail, and fall again, to deliver us, to restore us, to preserve us as it requires, so it makes, [...] an emphatical, an exceeding great salvation.

Nor is this all; [...] Thy salvation; from sickness▪ or imprison­ment, or poverty, or death, man may sometime save us; yet not so, but that it is [...] Gods too. God by man. But deliver us from the low­est prisons, from a Hell of miseries, sin and its attendants, and keep us upright and entire, 'tis only God-man can do it. That's Gods peculiar [...], His wonderful salvation.

His by propriety. It had no other power but the strength of his own right arm to bring this mighty thing to pass. It had no other motive then his own immense love and goodness to effect it. We were in no case to deserve it, profest enemies, we, had nothing in us to make it ours, but that it might be wholly his. Thy salvation.

Yet thy salvation? why so? What, can God be saved? Thy salvation! our salvation rather: yes both. Thine actively, ours passively. Thou savest, we saved.

And may it not be His passively too? Thy salvation. Thou thy self sa­ved. Thy Promises, thy Truth, which is thy self; thy Mercy, which is thy self; thy Iustice, which is thy self, sav'd from the censure of unjust man, by preparing him a Saviour. Man had almost thought God had broke his word: now that's sav'd. Some still will not let his mercy be sav'd, but destroy it with justice, and in destroying that turn justice into gall and wormwood; ruine that too by denying [...], an universal Saviour. It [Page 132] was time, high time to tell us from Heaven by the mouth of the Holy Spirit of [...] God himself now quitted of injustice, and want of bowels of compassion.

You have a witness of it undeniable. [...], my eyes have seen it. Salvation clear even to the sense, and to the certain'st, the sight. The eye may see it.

2. Viderunt oculi, he might have added & contractaverunt manus me [...], and his hands handled it; but if the eye see it, we need not sue to the hand for certainty.

[...] these eyes. No longer now the eyes of Prophesie, those are grown dim, and almost out. Isaiah indeed could say is born, is given, so certain was he of it; but never viderunt oculi, for all that, be never liv'd to see it; one degree, this, above the infallibility of Prophesie.

Time was when this Salutare tuum was inveloped in clouds: It was so till this day came, a mystery kept secret since the world began; lockt up in Heaven so close, that mine eyes have wasted away with looking for thy saving health, O Lord, sighs David, and the Church answers him with Vti­nam disrumperes coelos, Break the Heavens, O Lord, and come down: O utinam, O would thou wouldst! But now, as we have heard, so have we seen thy salvation.

Nor need we any extraordinary piercing eye to see it: so plain and manifest is the object, that eyes almost sunk into their holes, eyes over which the curtains of a long night are well nigh drawn, eyes veiled with the mists of age, eyes well near worn out with looking and expectation, the dimmest, aged'st sight may see it. Mine eyes, old Father Simeons.

Nor need the Manichee strain his eye-sight to discern it. He need not, as is usual when we look on curious pieces, close one eye, that the visual spirits being contracted we may see those things which else by reason of their curious subtilty scape the seeing. 'Tis no such aiery phantasm, but that we may with open face and eyes behold it; he may see it with [...] both his eyes, without straining, without that trouble.

But if our senses should play false with us, yet my eyes, the eyes of a Prophet, a holy man inspir'd and detain'd a prisoner in the flesh on pur­pose for this spectacle, cannot possibly deceive us.

Especially if you add but [...] to [...], That he did not perceive it only as a far off, Balaams sight, or had a glance or glimmering of it on­ly, but, [...], saw it plain, so plain, as [...] to know it too. Saw it in his arms and lookt near it, nay into it, by the quick lively eye of a firm faith; for with both eyes he saw it, the eyes of his body, and the eyes of his soul; the Saviour with the one, Salvation with the other: the child with those, the God with these. And what greater evidence then that of sight, what greater certainty then that of faith!

If all this be yet too little, if viderunt be to seek, and oculi fail, and mei be deceived; yet parasti cannot but list it above the weakness of pro­bability, put all out of question. It was not only seen, but prepared to be seen.

It came not, as the world thinks of other salvations, by chance, but was prepared. Parasti, Thou hast prepared it, prepared by him that pre­pared the world.

Higher yet, parasti thou hast prepared; done it long since: the prepa­ration began not now, had a higher beginning, a beginning before the face of all people, before the face of any people, before the face of the waters, before the face of the world appeared. Chosen us in him, says St. [Page 133] Paul, then chosen and prepared him for us, before the foundation of the world, Ephes. i. 4.

But this parasti is not the blessing of this day. Parasti ab aterno, so to the Patriarchs too; but in conspectu before our faces, made ma­nifest in these last times, manifested in the flesh, that's the blessing we this day commemorate. A body thou hast prepared me, that prepared, then lo I come, he will be born presently, Christmas out of hand. Parasti now compleat, this day he was first made ready and drest in swadling­clothes.

And prepared. So it came not at mans entreaty, or desert. Nay when he thought not of it. When Adam was running away to hide himself, then the promise of the womans seed stept in between; and when Reli­gion and Devotion lay at the last gasp ready to bid the world adieu, then comes he himself who had been so long preparing, and fulfilled the pro­mise. This a degree of certainty higher then our imaginations can follow it, that relies wholly on Gods own parasti, without mans uncertain prepa­ration.

Yet something ado there was to bring this [...] to [...], this salva­tion to be seen. A long preparation there was of Patriarchs, Moses and the Prophets, of Promises, Types, and Figures, and Prophesies for the space of four thousand years. This long train led the triumph, then comes the Saviour, then Salvation. Sure and certain it must needs be, to which there are so many agreeing witnesses.

This then so variously typified, so many ways shadowed, so often promi­sed, so clearly prophesied, so constantly, so fully testified, so long expected, so earnestly desired. This is the Salvation prepared for us. Whoever looks for any other may look his eyes out, shall never see it. This Name the only Name by which we shall be saved, the Name of Iesus.

Yet notwithstanding all that's said or can be said, 'tis but parasti still. 'Tis not Posuisti, prepared for all, not put, set up for all, as if all should be saved. No, posui te in casum, set for the fall of many, those that will not turn their eyes up hither, that care not for viderunt, neglect this sight, slight this salvation. But however this dismal success often comes about, Parasti it is, that cannot be lost, and in conspectu omnium populorum, for all it is prepared, for all in general; none excluded this parasti, he that put parasti into this good Fathers mouth, put in omnium populorum too. Not only the certainty, but the universality of this salvation, that's the third part of the Text, and thither are we come. Before the face of all people.

Prepared, that's a favour, and for the people, that's an ample one, and one step to an universal. People are men, a great company of men, and for men, and a multitude of men it is prepared, nusquam Angelos, not for Angels, in no wise for them, not one of them. No they are still the Sons of darkness, no day-spring from on high to visit them.

For men, and not for the better or more honourable part of men alone, but for the people too, the meanest sinfulest men in more favour with God then the Apostate Angels.

And not to some few of those people neither, but to all the people, the whole people.

But in conspectu totius populi it might be, for all one people, and the rest ne're a whit the nearer to salvation; the further off rather when it is▪ so restrain'd, [...]niuscujusque populi, would be better for all the people of the world.

'Tis somewhat near the height, that of what we can desire; yet om­nium [Page 134] populorum, 'tis we need for all people whatsoever, not only all that then were, but all before up to Abraham, up to Adam, and all since down to us that live this day, down to all that shall survive us as long as there shall be people upon earth. Vniuscujusque populi had been enough for the whole world then alive. Omnium populorum it must be, or the Fathers be­fore, and we since are men most miserable.

But do not Simeons old eyes deceive him? [...]? what [...]? for all? I know some quicker sights, some younger eyes that can construe [...] into pauci, can see no such matter. It may be [...], the glory of the elect Israel at the end of the Text dims their weak eyes, or per­adventure like men overwhelm'd with the news of some unexpected for­tune, they think themselves in a dream, and dare not give credit to their eyes though they behold it; so great and undeserv'd a blessing, that 'tis a labour to perswade 'um that they see it, though they cannot but see it. Simeons eyes are old enough to ponder objects, he knows what he sees, and he speaks what he knows, and he speaks no more then the Angel before told the Shepherds, g [...]udium quod erit omni populo, tidings of joy which shall be to all people, erit, shall be for ever.

And say not the Apostles the same also? The Saviour of all men, says St. Paul, 1 Tim. iv. 10. specially of them that believe, of them especially, not them only. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Tim. ii. 4. The Saviour of the world, St. John iv. 14. A ransom for all, 1 Tim. ii. 6. God not willing that any perish, not any, 2 St. Peter iii. 9.

Nay, God himself says more, Ezek. xxxiii. II. I will not the death, no not of the wicked, not of a sinner. Much less his death before he be or man or sinner. That's no kin to salutare tuum, that's not salvation, but destruction prepar'd. And 'tis not nollem, I would fain not have it so, but plain nolo, I will not; or more to the word, I not will it, I deny it utterly, Thy destruction is from thy self, 'tis none of my doings. Salutare meum, I will the contrary. To put all out of question, take his oath, Vivo ego, as I live I do not.

And accordingly does the Saviour himself send out his general procla­mation, St. Mat. xi. 28. Come to me all that are heavy laden, and who is not? yet do but come, come who will, and I will ease. He calls 'um all, by that grace they may come if they will, except you think he mocks 'um: when they are come He will refresh them.

To take away all plea of ignorance or excuse, we proceed further, In conspectu omnium; not only prepared for all, but in the sight of all, before their faces. So prepar'd that they may see, and know it, know it to be prepar'd; not that it might be, and is not, as if indeed the salvation were sufficient in it self; but God would not suffer it to be so. So though uni­versal, yet so hidden under obscure and nice distinctions, that few can see it; but withal so evident, that all may see it, in conspectuomnium, none with good reason deny it.

Had it been [...], they migh have had some pretence and co­lour if they had not seen it: had it been only in sight; many things are so, which we oft-times do not see. But [...], that which is just before our faces, we must be blind if we see not that.

If for all this, they close their eyes and will not see, then [...] is contra against 'um to confute, to confound their vain imaginations. So [...] will be against those that cry out the light of righteousness rose not upon us, to prove the contrary now, [...] to their faces.

There is no idle word in Scripture; every Adverb and Preposition, and [Page 135] Article the dictate of the Spirit. There are other words he might have used, [...] many more, but [...] methinks on purpose.

1. It may be (besides what has been said) to distinguist [...] the Iews and Vs, since this salvation came. [...] before our faces. When the light's before, the shadows are behind. So it is with us ever since the Sun of Righteousness arose this day, since this light of Salvation left the clouds. When the light's behind, the shadows are before: So to the Jewish Synagogue. Salvation behind the cloud to them. Nothing before their eyes but veils and shadows; nothing else took up their eye-sight, but we with open face behold the glory of the Lord.

2. Or may it not be [...] against the face of the world, clean contrary. That's for nothing but glory and pomp; God works not as man works; but [...] against the hair, will have an humble Saviour, lowly born, of poor Parentage, in a Stable, wrapt in Rags, laid in a Man­ger; no Royal Cradle, no Princely Palace, without Attendants, with­out State. The Angels themselves at such a sight as this could not but [...], bow down, and look, and look again, and mistrust their eye­sight to see God in a Cratch, Heaven in a Stable: and bow down we must our high towring thoughts, and lay 'um level with that from whence we were taken, if we would bless our eyes with so hidden secrets, or be par­takers of so great Salvation. They were poor Shepherds that first saw this happy sight, as it were on purpose to inform us, that the poor hum­ble Spirit has the first rank among those whoever see Salvation.

3. Or lastly, is it not [...], according to the inclination and capacity of all people, [...] of the people, [...] durum ge­nus, stony-hearted people those that set their faces against Sal­vation, to soften them if possible, or else to break them in pieces like a potters vessel. Or again [...] of [...] people, so call'd from the Corner-stone Christ Iesus, such as had already turn'd their faces towards salvation, to further and encourage them. Or [...] and [...] not only of the peo­ple, to their capacity, but to theirs too who were neither his people, nor people, whose rude barbarisms had exempted them from the number of ci­vil Common-wealths; who did not deserve the name of people, not of men. [...] without [...], without either Article or Adjective, such as no body could point at with an Article, or construe with an Adjective: such as seem here to be excluded out of [...], that yet one would think includes all. Such as if you were to number up all the world, you would leave out them: to these [...], to uncover and shew 'um to the world, and out of their thick darkness to light them the way unto sal­vation. Which brings me to the benefits, together with the parties. Light and Glory; Light to the Gentiles, Glory to Israel. A light to lighten the Gen­tiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.

I keep Gods method, Fiat Lux, begin with light, Gen. i. 2. I need not tell you 'tis a benefit. Truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is, says the Preacher, Eccles. xi. 7. and Mordecai joyns light and gladness together, Hest. viii. 16. So salutare letificans it is, salvation that brings joy and gladness with it.

2. Light of all motions has the most sudden, it even prevents the sub­tilest sense. And was it not so with this salvation? When all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty word leapt down from heaven out of thy Royal Throne, Wisdom xviii. 14. Sa­lutare praeveniens vota, Salvation that prevents our dreams, and awakes our slumbering consciences.

[Page 136] 3. And when our eye-lids are past those slumbers, then Lighten mine eyes, O Lord, that I sleep not in death. Those dark chambers have no lights. A light to lighten them, a light to shew my self to my self; [...] to reveal my inmost thoughts, to shew me the ugly deformity of my sins will be a blessing. Lumen revelans tenebras, no dark-lanthorn light, a light to shew us the darkness we are in; our Salutare dispergens tenebras, salvati­on that dispels the horrid darkness.

4. And to do that, the enlightning of the medium is not sufficient. In conspectu, [...] just before us it may be, and the windows of our eyes damm'd up against it. A light then to pierce the Organ, [...], into it it must be, Lumen penetrans oculum, salvation not only presented to the eye, but to the sight, the eye fitly disposed to behold it.

5. Every enlightning will not do that. It must be [...], the light of revelation. No other will serve the turn; not the light of nature, not the dictates of reason, not the light of moral vertues, or acquired habits, but something from above, something infused, such as comes from [...] divine inspiration. What light else? no remedy, but buried we must be in everlasting night. Scriptures or revealed truth, the revela­tion of Iesus Christ, must save whoever shall be saved. No man can come to me except the Father draw him, St. John vi. 44. No man lay hold upon the Name of Iesus, or salvation, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Lumen divine revelationis, salvation by the glorious light of Divine Revelation.

6. There is an [...], which yet wants an [...] a Revelation, that wants a Revelation, such as St. Iohns, a dark one. This an [...] with a [...], a lightsome one, such as Revelations are when Prophesies are fulfilled of things past, not things to come. Lumen Revelationis reve­latae, a light of salvation as clear as day.

'Tis time now to ask whither it is this light and revelation lead us. I shall answer you out of Zacharies Benedictus, S. Luke i. 79. They guide our feet into the way of peace. Send forth thy light and thy truth, and they shall guide me, Psal. xliii. 3. So David, guide me; whither? Psal. lvi. 13. To walk before God in the light of the living. One light to another, the light of grace to the light of glory. So Lumen dirigens, or salutare pertingens ad coelum, sal­vation leading up to heaven.

Sum up all. Salvation to make us glad, a light, a light to comfort, not a lightning to terrifie. The lightnings shone upon the ground, the earth trembled and was afraid: no such, no lightning: Nor St. Paul's light, a light to blind, but to give light; nor to play about the medium only, but to open and dispose the weak dim eye. Not by a weak glimmering of nature, nor by a dusky twi-light, but by a clear Revelation: not an ignis fatuus to misguide us out of the way into bogs and quagmires, but to guide us to peace and to salvation. Lastly, not a light to any to see only that they are inexcusable, ut essent inexcusabiles, that seeing they might see, and not understand, a light to light 'um down to Hell, that they might see the way down through those gloomy shades with more ease, horrour, and confu­sion; (that's the event indeed sometimes, the end never;) but thither upward, from whence it comes to [...] at the beginning of the Text, to [...] at the end. And can your thoughts prompt to your desires any great­er benefits? can you wish more?

And yet if we but consider in what plight the parties were upon whom the rays of this light shone: the salvation will seem more beneficial. They were in darkness, and could any thing be more welcome to them that sit in darkness, and the shadow of death then a light to lighten? [Page 137] That was the miserable case the Gentiles now were in; Neither have the Heathen knowledge of his laws: 'twas so in Davids time, and so continued on till this days rising Sun scattered the Clouds: and now the case is al­tered, Dedi te in lucem gentium, fulfilled in his time. The Gentiles now enlightned.

Enlightned, what's that? Those that are baptized are said to be en­lightned, Heb. x. So the Gentiles enlightned will be in effect the Gentiles baptized. Baptized they may be with water, (and they had need of some such cleansing element, to wash their black, dark, sullied souls:) but there is another Baptism with the Holy Ghost, and fire, fire that's light, so to be baptized with light, will be with the Holy Ghost. 'Twas heavy midnight through the world. Iudea was the only Goshen, the land of light, till he that was born this day breaking down the partition that divided Palestine from the nations, gave way for the light which before shone on­ly there, to disperse its saving beams quite through the world. Then did they whose habitations were pitcht in the region of death, whose dwel­lings in the suburbs of Hell, see a marvellous great light spring up, that's salus personis accommodata, salvation fitted to the parties.

Fitted, and tempestively too, to them it never could have come so op­portunely. The light of nature was almost quite extinguisht, a light to lighten that again. The light of grace quite vanisht, an [...] for that. The understanding darkened by ignorance, and errour. The will darkened by hatred and malice. The most civilized Gentiles so much de­generated from the beauty of moral vertues (if we believe their own hi­stories) so strongly fetter'd with the bonds of that uncomfortable night, as if they there lay exiled from the eternal providence, as the Wiseman phrases it, all in umbrâ mortis, next door to utter darkness: when behold this light appears, this Sun rises with healing in his wings. Figur'd in the time of his birth, born when the days are shortest, most want of light; in the dead of night, when the nights are darkest; all, to shew opportunita­tem salutis, the opportunity of this salvation.

And is not Gloria as fit for Israelis, as Lux for Gentium? Israel had a long time walkt in light, and not a whit the better for't: that which must convert a Iew must be gloria, so bright a splendour that must rather com­mand then invite the eye.

Gloria, glory! and indeed they needed it. So far now were they fallen below their former credit and honour in the world, so much beneath their antient port and state, under the proud tyranny of a strange power, that nothing but glory could raise up their drooping heads.

I ask though, why gloria Israelis? why so joyn'd? Briefly thus: of them he came according to the flesh: to them especially was he promis'd, amongst them he liv'd, preacht, and wrought his miracles. In respect to him had all their glory, and all their prosperity was given 'um. In a word, Salvation it self is of the Iew, St. John iv. therefore their glory.

Yet that Israelis populi should not lift up their crest too high, or despise those whose weaker light comes short of glorious beams: 'Tis gentium first, then Israelis, the Gentiles in the first place here, Israel in the last. When the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, then for Israel too, then glo­ria in excelsis.

And as gentium has the precedence of Israelis, so has light of glory. God works by degrees, first Lux, then Gloria, first Grace, then Glory. First, he excites, then co-operates, then infu­ses, [Page 138] then assists, then crowns. 'Tis a preposterous course to look for glo­ry, where the light of grace never had operation.

But is glory so much the Iews peculiar; that the Gentile never shall rise thither? It cannot be, yet so it seems at the first blush, Lumen gentium, gloria Israelis, as if, to each their part. Indeed all have light, and light sufficient; but it displays not into glory, to any but populi Israelis tui. When they are become populi tui, thy people Israel, then the light circles into rays: sufficiens into efficax, and they are saved. But if you mark it, 'tis not Israelis, but tui Israelis, Not Israel after the flesh, but the Israel of God: there we first hear of [...] there light rises into glory, and good hope there is the Gentiles may prove populi tui thy people; vocavi populum meum, he said so whose vocavi is enough to make it so: and if populi tui, then Israelis tui, then they have prevailed with God; if thy people, then thy Israel, and so inheritors of this glory.

Glory, and glory so near the end of the Text, makes me think of something without end; the highest pitch of this salvation, the Perpe­tuity. Glory is a word proper to that life to come: false and adulterate glories they are that are below. The glory of the people, that's eternal. Lumen and gloria both meet in the Text, and where they meet is eternity. 'Twas the complaint of old, that their Salvations and Saviours too gave place at length to the necessity of Nature, and were seen no more. Here's a Saviour never dies; that for himself; and is become the Author of eternal salvation, that for us, Heb. v. 9.

For indeed what is salvation, and salvation prepared for all, Iew and Gentile, and the light of salvation without glory? many lights there are that go out and set in darkness, that when the matter, the wiek is worn away, dye into dismal shades. If the light shines not into glory, we are but in a poor case still.

And so we should be, would not this salvation now prove to be a Savi­our. Salutare tuum, be salvatorem nostrum. We told you in speaking of [...], that it was Gods peculiar. Now we tell you more, [...], must be God. None can be salvation in abstracto but he; and none but he crown light with glory. So you have the Divine Nature of this Saviour, his God-head; and yet there is another word in the Text besides, for that. That's [...], light. And God is light, St. John i. 5.

Ay, but sinned we had, and justice required that we should suffer: God cannot. He that must save us by suffering for us, must be man; he is so. Viderunt oculi, my eyes have seen it. No man has seen God at any time; therefore man he was. And prepared; God cannot be so: and prepared with a body, that's plain enough for factus homo, his Humane Nature.

Now put both together, and you have the union of both natures, both united. [...], and [...] salvation seen, [...] and [...] salvation pre­par'd, or vidi and lucem, light seen; or if you will vidi and gloriam his glory seen. We saw the glory thereof, as of the only begotten Son of God, St. John i. 14. More, united into one person, [...], all singular, one single person in the Deity.

But there are three persons there, as [...] a contract, the Divinity con­tracted unto man: so [...] derived from [...], light fetcht from light; a person proceeding. God of God, light of light, proceeding by way of gene­ration, Lux lucem generat, one light begets another. So the second Person in the Trinity, the Son begotten of the Father.

But begotten a Son may be, and not coequal with his Father; a long time after rather: Light that's coequal with the Fountain, as soon as a [Page 139] light body, so soon light to an instant. The Son co-eternal with the Fa­ther, that's egressus ejus ab aterno, His goings out from everlasting, Mich. v. 2. His eternal generation.

He has another, his temporal generation, [...] before the face of all people. [...] is down, so down he came, when he was prepared; that was, when born of the Virgin Mary.

There are three remarkable differences between this generation of his, and that of others, in the word Light.

1. Light is all diffus'd at once, not by parts; now this, then another; and Christs Body was framed all at once, not membratim, one member after another, as other infants.

2. Light enters through solid bodies, as Glass, Crystal, or the like, without either penetration of dimensions, or cracking the glass. So Christ from the Virgin Body of blessed Mary, without the least hurt to her Virginity.

3. The light shines in the midst of noisom vapours, yet it self is kept pure and sincere. In like manner the Deity of Christ joyn'd to the hu­manity mixes not with its corruption, nor is defiled by it. Marcion need not fear the truth of his body, lest our corruption should pollute his God­head, when the light it self confutes him, and convinces him, by the infinite distance between it self, and the power of the Creator.

There wants but one thing more to compleat the mystery of this won­derful Saviour, that's his Offices; if we can find them too in the Text, if we can bring them to viderunt oculi to be seen there, and stray no fur­ther, we have lighted upon a happy Text, [...] indeed, a salvati­tion and a Saviour to whom nothing can be added. Let's try.

He is a King, there's one of his Offices, that from [...], thence the Prophet David seems to gather it, Psal. 2. Yet have I set my King upon my holy Hill of Sion. How proves he that? why, within a verse in comes, I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.

He is a Priest next in gloria Israelis, there's another of his Offices. The Priesthood the glory of the Jew. The glory is departed from Israel, cries out Phinehas his dying Wife: why? because the Ark of God was taken, 1 Sam. iv. 20. and because of her Father-in-law and her Husband, they dead and gone; what were they? the Priests of the Lord; when the Ark, and Priests are gone, the glory of Isoael is departed too. They rise and fall together. A Priest then, but not to Israel, after the flesh alone, or after the Order of Aaron; but Israelis tui, of the true Israel, more pro­perly entituled to this glory, as being a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedeck.

Lastly, he's a Prophet in [...], there's his third Office, his Prophe­tical; the light of Prophesie is the light of Revelation. A Prophet then he is, to reveal unto us Divine Mysteries, the will of his heavenly Father, to give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, S. Luke ii. 77.

A compleat Saviour now. God and man, God begotten the Son, co-eter­nal with the Father, born into the world, of a Virgin, pure and imma­culate, took our nature without sin, without imperfection, a King for the Gentiles, a Priest for Israel, a Prophet for both: a King to defend us, a Priest to purge us, a Prophet to instruct us.

This the Saviour, God the Son. He our salvation too. Yet comes not salvation from him alone, from all three Persons, the whole Trinity that. [...], there's the Father preparing, sending [...] from [...], there's the [Page 140] Son prepared coming; [...], how's that but by the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit? there's the Holy Ghost opening and enlightening our eyes that we may see him. All three plain enough in the Text, as in the day: Viderunt oculi, your own eyes are witnesses.

Here's a sight indeed might well make old Simeon now desire to close up his eyes to see no more, Ne vitam hanc posthàc aliquâ contaminet aegritu­dine, all objects henceforth would but defile his eyes.

But what tell you me of Simeons theory? what of salvation, though ne're so great? what of in conspectu omnium, though ne're so general? what of light and glory, though ne're so excellent? if I may not back again to viderunt oculi mei? if, I my self cannot perceive it? if it be so far di­stant off that I cannot lay hold of it by mine own eyes of Faith and Hope? If I cannot see it to be mine, and with St. Paul apply it, Who loved me and gave himself for me, Gal. ii. 20. Omnium populorum is too large, all may, but all shall not be saved. Viderunt oculi mei, that's somewhat, when mine own eyes can fix and dwell upon it.

Nay, that's not full enough, if [...], these very eyes, that so long expected it, the eyes of my body shall not be partakers of it; if they when they are fall'n into dust shall lie for ever folded up in eternal dark­ness, if eyes that weep out themselves in devout tears with looking and expectation shall not rise with these very bodies to that blessed vision: what reward for all these sufferings? what recompence?

I'le tell you how to see all, and stay no longer, nor go no further. This is the day of salvation, salvation day; and if ever, to day he will be seen. Cast but your eyes up to the Holy Table thither, your very sense may there almost see salvation, behold your Saviour. There it is, there he is in the blessed Sacrament. There it is prepared for you, a body hast thou prepared; his body, flesh and blood, prepared well nigh to be seen, to be tasted. O taste and see how gracious the Lord is, Psal. xxxiv. 8. Go up thither, and with old Simeon take him in your hands, take him yet nearer into your bowels. Take, eat, you shall hear one say so by and by. But stay not there upon your sense, upon the outward element. Look up­on him with your other eye, the eye of Faith; let it be viderunt oculi, let it be both. Let it be viderunt mei, the applying eye of a special Faith. And that you may be sure not to go away without beholding him, there's lumen in the Text; and it would do well in your hands to search the dark corners of your hearts, to examine them. While our hearts are darkened with sins and errours we cannot see him. And if after strict examination we be not found in charity, we are yet in tenebris. St. Iohn tells us, do but love your brother, He that loves his brother abideth in the light, S. John ii. 10. The sum is, Faith must be the eye, Repentance and Charity the light, by which you shall this day see your Saviour, and apprehend salvation: the three requisites those to a worthy Communicant. So shall you there find light to guide you out of the darkness of sin and misery. Glory to en­state you in the adoption of the Sons of God. Salvation with Glory, sal­vation here, Glory hereafter.

And when you have satisfied your eyes and hearts with this heavenly sight; Go, return home to your private Closets, shut up your eyes, never set ope those windows to the vanities of the world again; but with a holy scorn disdain these painted glories, and let a veil of forgetfulness pass over 'um.

For our viderunt must not end when the Eucharist is past; when we de­part this sacred place. I will take the cup of salvation, says the Psalmist: [Page 141] there it is; do that here. But I will rejoyce in thy salvation; do so, both here and at home. Et exultabo; and let me see you do so. Let not your joy be stifled in your narrow bosoms, but break out into expression, into your lips, into your hands. Not in idle sports, excess of diet, or vain pomp of apparel, not that joy, the joy of the world, but the joy of the Holy Ghost.

It is salvation that you have heard and seen, and are yet to see to day, what's our duty now? If it be salvation, let us work it out with fear and trembling. It is salvation to be seen, some eminent work: let us then con­fess we have seen strange things to day. A most certain sure salvation it is, let not a sacrilegious doubtful thought cast a mist upon it. It is pre­pared, let us accept it; prepared for all, let us thank God for so fair a compass, and not uncharitably exclude our selves or others. God has en­larg'd the bowels of his mercy, let us not streighten 'um. It is a light, let us arise and walk after it. It is a glory, let us admire and adore it.

Was our Saviour seen? so should we be every day in the Congregati­on; was he prepared to day? let us be always shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. Does he enlighten us, O let us never extinguish or hide that light, till this light be swallowed up by the light of the Lamb, till this day-spring from on high prove mid-day, till Gentium, and Israelis be friendly united in [...], and no darkness to distinguish them, no difference between light and glory, till the beginning and end of the Text meet together in the circle of eternity, till viderunt oculi meet with gloriam, till our eyes may behold that light which is inaccessible, that light and glory which know no other limits but infinite, nor measure but eternity.

To which he bring us, who this day put off his glory to put on salva­tion, that by his salvation we might at length lift up our heads in glory, whither he is again ascended, and now sits together with his Father and the Holy Ghost. To which three Persons, and one God, be given all praise, and power, and thanks, and honour, and salvation, and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

A SERMON ON St. Stephens Day.

ACTS vii. 55, 56.

But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into Heaven, and saw the Glory of God, and Iesus standing on the right hand of God.

And said, Behold I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of man stand­ing on the right hand of God.

YEsterdays Child is to day you see become a man. He that yesterday could neither stand nor go, knew not the right hand from the left, lay helpless as it were in the bosom of his Mother, is to day presented to us standing at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father: he whom earth yesterday entertained so poorly and obscurely; heaven here this day openly glories in. Now the horn of our salvation is raised up indeed: the Church thus shewing us plainly to day what yesterday we could not see for the rags and stable, that it was not a meer silly creature, a poor child, or man only that came to visit us, but the Lord of Glory; so making him some recompence, as we may say to day, for the poor case she shew'd him in yesterday.

But that's not the business. Yesterday was Christs Birth-day, to day St. Stephens; for Natalitia Martyrum, the Birth-days of the Martys were their death-days call'd: they then first said to be born, when they were born to execution. A day plac'd here, so near to Christs, that we might see as clear as day, how dear and near the Martyrs are to him; they lie even in his bosom, the first visit he makes after his own death was to them, to encourage them to theirs: The first appearance of him in heaven after his return up, was to take one of them thither.

And yet this is not all. Christs Birth and the Martyrs Death are set so near, to intimate how near death and persecution are to Christs Disci­ples, how close they often follow the Faith of Christ, so thereby to arm [Page 144] us against the fear of any thing that shall betide us, even Death it self, seeing it places us so near him, seeing there are so fine visions in it and before it, so fair glories after it, as St. Stephen's here will tell you.

And if I add that Death is a good memento at a Feast, a good way to keep us within our bounds in the days of mirth and jollity, of what sort soever, it may pass for somewhat like a reason why St. Stephen's death is thus serv'd in so soon at the first course, as the second dish of our Christ­mas-Feast.

Nor is it for all that any disturbance to Christmas Joys. The glorious prospect of St. Stephens Martyrdom which gives us here the opening of Heaven, and the appearance then of Gods glory, and of Christ in glo­ry, may go instead of those costly Masques of imagin'd Heavens, and designed Gods and Goddesses, which have been often presented in for­mer times to solemnize the Feast. We may see in that infinitely far more ravishing and pleasing sights than these, which all the rarity of invention and vast charges could ever shew us. Here's enough in the Text to make us dance and leap for joy, as if we would leap into the arms of him in Heaven, who stands there as it were ready to receive us, as he was to day presented to St. Stephen.

I may now, I hope, both to season and exalt our Christmas-Feast, bring in St. Stephens story, that part of it especially which I have chosen, so full of Christ, so full of glad and joyful sights, and objects, that it must needs add, instead of diminishing our joy and gladness.

And yet if I season it a little now and then with the mention of Death, it will do no hurt. I must do so, that you may not forget St. Stephens Martyrdom in the midst of the contemplation of the glory that preceded it. That must not be, for the day is appointed to remember it. And though we shall not designedly come so far to decipher it (having no more then the praeludium of his death before us) we will not so far forget it, but that we will take it into the division of the Text; in which we shall consider these four particulars.

  • 1. His accommodation to his Death. His being full of the Holy Ghost, that fitted and disposed him to it.
  • 2. His preparation for it. He looked up stedfastly into Heaven; so that he prepared himself for it.
  • 3. His confirmation to it. He saw the glory of God and Iesus standing on the right hand of God; that encouraged and confirmed him in it.
  • 4. His profession at it. Behold, said he, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God: In those words he pro­fessed his faith, and proclaimed his vision of it.

By this manner of considering it, we shall do St. Stephen right, and Christmas no wrong; remember St. Stephens Martyrdom, and yet not forget Christs being at it, celebrate St. Stephens memory, and yet no way omit Christs. He being here to be lookt on as encourager of St. Stephens Martyrdom; as much as St. Stephen for his Professor and Martyr. By all together we shall fully understand the requisites of a Martyr, what is required to make one such, to be full of the Holy Ghost, to look up stedfastly into heaven, to look upon Christ as there, and as boldly to profess it; to be full of Grace and Spirit, full of Piety and Devotion, full of Faith and Hope, full of Courage and Resolution; all proportionably requisite to the spiritual Martyrdom of dying to the world, and leaving all for Christ; requisite too, all of them in some measure to dye well at any time, the very sum of the Text, to be learn'd hence and practis'd by us. [Page 145] If I add all requisite to keep Christmas too, as it should be kept, with Grace and Devotion, with Faith and courage also against all that shall oppose it, that our Christmas business be to be filled with the Spirit, and not with meats and drinks, to look up to Heaven, to look up to Iesus, and never to be afraid or ashamed to profess it; there is nothing then in the Text to make it the least unseasonable. I go on therefore to handle it part by part. The first is St. Stephens accommodation to his Martyrdom, how he stands fitted for it.

And surely he could not be better. Full of the Holy Ghost; Ghost is Spirit, and what more necessary to a Martyr, then a spirit? The dreaming sluggish temper is not fit to make a Martyr: he must have Spirit that dares look Death soberly in the face.

Yet every Spirit neither will not make a Martyr; there are mad spirits in the world (they call them brave ones (though I know not why) that rush headily upon the points of Swords and Rapiers: yet bring these gal­lant fellows to a Scaffold or a Gibbet, the common reward of their foolish rashness (which they mis-reckon'd valour) and you shall see how sheepishly they die, how distractedly they look, how without spirit. The spirit that will bear out a shameful or painful death without change of countenance or inward horrour, must be holy. Where the Spirit is holy, the Consci­ence pure, the Soul clean, the man dies with life and spirit in his looks, as if he were either going to his bed, or to a better place. 'Tis a holy life that fits men to be Martyrs.

But spirit, and a holy Spirit is not enough to make a Martyr neither; though the Martyrs spirit must be a holy one, yet to dispose for martyrdom the holy Spirit must come himself with a peculiar power, send an impulse and motion into the soul and spirit that shall even drive it to the stake.

And every degree of power will not do it; it must be a full gale of ho­ly wind that can cool the fiery Furnace into a pleasing walk, that can make death and torments seem soft and easie. Full of the Holy Ghost it is, that Stephen is said to be, e're we hear him promoted to the glory of a Martyr. The Spirit of holiness will make a man die holily, and the ho­ly Spirit make him die comfortably; but the fulness of him is required to make him die couragiously, without fear of death or torment, cruelty or rage.

By this you may now guess at Martys, who they are: not they that die for their folly and their humour: not they (2.) that die without ho­liness: not every one (3.) that dies, as we say, with valour and spirit; not they that die upon the motion of any spirit, but the holy one, that one holy Spirit; not they that die in Schism and Faction against the unity of this Holy Spirit, the peace of his Holy Church; none of these die Martyrs: die Souldiers, or valiant Heathen, or men of spirit they may, but men of the holy Spirit, Martyrs they die not. They only die such, that have lived holily, die in holy Cause, in a holy Faith, and in the peace of holy Church, as in the Faith of one Holy Spirit, ruling and directing it into unity, upon good ground and warrant, and a strong im­pulsion so to do, without seeking for, or voluntarily and unnecessarily thrusting themselves into the mouth of death.

And yet there are strange impulses I must tell you of the spirit of Mar­tyrdom, which ordinary souls or common pieties cannot understand. On­ly we must know that the spirit of Martyrdom is the spirit of Love, the very height of love to God, which how that can consist with the spirit of Schism, whereby we break the unity of Brethren, or how a man can so [Page 146] highly love God as to dye for him, and hate his Spouse the Church, or his Brethren, is inimaginable. Some other engines there may be, as vain­glory, an obstinate humour of seeming constant to a false principle, an ignorant and self-willed zeal which may sometimes draw a man to die; but if the fulness of peace and charity does not appear, there is no ful­ness of the Holy Ghost, and they make themselves and their deaths but Martyrs, that is witnesses, of their own folly. He that pretends to be a Martyr, must have more then a pretence to the Spirit of charity.

II. And not to charity only, but to devotion too. He must (2.) pre­pare himself for it, stedfastly look up to Heaven, nay, into Heaven too, fill his Spirit with divine and heavenly provision for it, with St. Stephen here.

Who (1.) looks up to Heaven as to his Country, whither he was a going. He longs earnestly to be there. His soul, with holy David's, has a de­sire and longing to enter thither. He that looks but seriously up to Hea­ven and beholds that glorious Building, those starry Spangles, those azure Curtains, those lustrous bodies of the Sun and Moon, that vast and splendid circumference of these glistering dwellings, cannot but thirst vehemently to be there; soul and flesh thirst for it: O how brave a place is Heaven! how brave even but to look on. But if he can look, (as here it seems St. Stephen did) into heaven too, and contemplate the happy Choirs of blessed Saints and Angels, the ineffable beauty of those inward Courts, the ravishing Melody and Musick they make, the quiet, peace, and happiness, that pleasure, joy, and fulness of satisfaction and contentment there, the majestick presence and blessed sight of God himself, with all the store-houses of blessedness and glory full about him, his very soul will be even ready to start with violence out of his body to fly up thither.

He that looks thus stedfastly, looks into Heaven, cannot now but look askew upon the earth: To look up into Heaven is (2.) to despise and trample upon all things under it. He is not likely to be a Martyr that looks downward, that values any thing below. Nay, he dies his natural death but unwillingly and untowardly, whose eyes, or heart, or sences are taken up with the things about him. Even to die chearfully, though in a bed of Roses, one must not have his mind upon them. He so looks upon all worldly interests as dust and chaff, who looks up stedfastly into heaven; eyes all things by the by, who eyes that well. The covetous world­ling, the voluptuous Gallant, the gaudy Butterflies of fashion will never make you Martyrs; they are wholly fixt in the contemplation of their gold, their Mistresses, their Pleasures, or their Fashions. He scorns to look at these, whose eyes are upon Heaven.

Yet to scorn there, but especially to fit us against a tempest or a storm of stones, there is a third looking up to Heaven, in Prayer and Suppli­cation. It is not by our own strength or power that we can wade through streams of Blood, or sing in flames; we had need of assistance from a­bove; and he that looks up to Heaven, seems so to beg it. It was no doubt the spirit of Devotion that so fixt his sight; he saw what was like to fall below, he provides against it from above, looks to that great Corner­stone to arm him against those which were now ready to shower upon his head. It is impossible without our prayers, and some aid thence, to en­dure one petty pebble.

But to make it a compleat Martyrdom, we must not look up only for our own interests; for we are (4.) to look up for our very enemies, and [Page 147] beg Heavens pardon for them. He that dies not in Charity dies not a Christian; but he that dies not heart, and hand, and eyes and all com­pleat in it cannot die a Martyr. Here we find S. Stephen lifting up his eyes to set himself to prayer; 'tis but two verses or three after that we hear his prayer, Lord lay not this sin to their charge: This was one thing it seems he lookt up so stedfastly to Heaven for. A good lesson (and fit for the occasi­on) so to pass by the injuries of our greatest enemies, as if we did not see them, as if we had something else to look after then such petty contrasts, as if we despis'd all worldly enmities as well as affections, minded no­thing but heaven, and him that St. Stephen saw standing there.

All these ways we are to day to learn to look up to Heaven: as (1.) to our hop'd for Country: as (2.) from things that hinder us too long from coming to it: as (3.) for aid and help to bring us thither: as (4.) for mercy and pardon thence to our selves and enemies, that we may all one day meet together there. The posture it self is natural. 'Tis natural for men in misery to look up to Heaven; nay, the very insensible crea­ture when it complains, the Cow when it lows, the Dog when he howls, casts up its head according to its proportion, after its fashion, as if it naturally crav'd some comfort thence. 'Tis the general practice of Saints and holy persons. Lift up your eyes, says the Prophet, Isa. xl. 26. I will lift up my eyes, says Holy David, Psal. cxxi. 1. And distrest Susanna lifts up her eyes, and looks up towards Heaven, ver. 35. Nay, Christ himself sighing, or praying, or sometimes working miracles, looks up to Heaven, who yet carried Heaven about him, to teach us in all distres­ses to look up thither in all our actions, to fetch assistance thence. If we had those thoughts of Heaven we should, I know how little of the eye the earth should have. Vbi amor, ibi oculus, where the love is, there's the eye. We may easiy guess what we love best by our looks; if Heaven be it, our eyes are there; if any thing else, our eyes are there. 'Tis easie then to tell you St. Stephens longings, where his thoughts are fixt, when we are told he so stedfastly lookt up to heaven.

And indeed it is not so much the looking up to Heaven, as the sted­fast and attentive doing it that fits us to die for Christ. 'Tis [...] a a kind of stretching or straining the eye-sight to look inquisitively into the object. To look carelesly or perfunctorily into Heaven it self, to do it in a fit, to be godly and pious now and then, or by starts and girds will not serve turn; to mind seriously what we are about, that's the only piety will carry it. Plus va [...]t hora fervens quam mensis tepens. One hour, one half hour spent with a warm attention at our prayers, is worth a month, a year, an age, of our cold Devotions. 'Tis good to be zealous, says St. Paul, somewhat hot and vehement in a good matter.

And it had need be a stedfast and attentive Devotion that can hold out with this But. To stand praying or looking up to Heaven when our ene­mies are gnashing their teath upon us, and come running head-long on us, to have no regard to their rushing fury, nor interrupt our prayers, nor omit any ceremony of them neither, for all their savage malice, now pressing fiercely on us, but look up stedfastly still, not quich aside: this looks surely like a Martyr. The little Boy that held Alexander the candle whilst he was sacrificing to his Gods, so long that the wick burnt into his finger, and yet neither cried nor shrunk at it, lest he should disturb his Lords Devotions, will find few fellows among Christians to pattern him in the exercise of their strictest pieties. Let but a leaf stir, a wind breathe, a fly buzz, the very light but dwindle, any thing move or shake, and our poor Religion [Page 148] (alas) is put off the hinge; 'tis well if it be not at an end too. What would it do if danger and death were at our heels, as here it was? Oh this attentive stedfast fastning the soul upon the business of heaven were a rare piety if we could compass it. This glorious Martyr has shew'd us an example, the lesson is, that we should practise it.

But all this is no wonder, seeing he was full of the Holy Ghost. That Almighty Spirit is able to blow away all diversions, able to turn the shower of stones into the softness and drift of Snow, able to make all the torments of Death fall light and easie. If we can get our souls filled once with that, we need fear nothing, nothing will distract our thoughts, or draw our eyes from Heaven.

Then it will be no wonder neither to see next the Glory of God, and Ie­sus standing at the right hand of God.

I call'd this point St. Stephens confirmation, or his encouragement to his death. He that once comes to have a sight of God and Christ, of Gods Glory, and Christ at the right hand of it, of either the one or the other, much more of both, cannot want strength to die, be the death of what kind it will. It was a gallant speech of Luther, when he was disswaded from appearing before the Council (of Wormes I think it was) that he would go thither, though all the tiles of the houses were so ma­ny Devils. Had every stone that was cast at the Martyr Stephen been a Devil, he would not after this vision have been afraid. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then should I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid? says David, Psal. xxvii. 1. and yet he saw nothing like this sight. Gods presence is enough, whether it be seen by the eye of sense, or by the eye of Faith, to keep us stedfast, to make death hide its head for fear, while we stand triumphing over it.

I conceive it impertinent to make it a business to enquire too solici­tously what this glory was, and how St. Stephen saw it. That it was some glorious sight, some high resplendent light or brightness, such as God used to appear in, as Exod. xxiv. 17. Numb. xiv. 10. 1 Kings viii. 10. to Moses and his Prophets, there call'd his glory; or some apparition of Angels in shining garments winging about a throne of glory, visibly appearing to the eye of the Martyr Stephen, is the probablest to conceive, and the shi­ning of his face, as if it had been the face of an Angel, chap. vi. ver. 15. is an evidence it was a visible appearance.

But no doubt his understanding saw further then his eye into Heaven, that lookt and saw a glory there of which the sense though elevated to his height cannot be capable. Divinum lumen, says St. Gregory Nissen, the inaccessible light. Spem in re, says St. Hilary, His hope already. Deum & Divini­tatem, says St. Austin, God and the Godhead. Imo Trinitatem, and that, fa­cie revelata, says he again, The blessed Trinity unveiled. Futurae vita gaudia, says Bede, The joys of the other life. These all he saw say they, and we shall make no scruple to say, in Spirit so he did, as far as humane nature is capa­ble in this condition.

But without question, Christ he saw in his body standing amidst that glory; the words are plain for that, and that alone were enough to put courage into the most coward heart.

To see his Faith confirm'd by sight, and Christs Glory with the Fa­ther visibly appear, to see whom he had trusted, and for whom he had laboured and disputed now with his own eyes in glory, must needs make him kiss the hands that would now send him so soon to him.

To see him (2.) standing at the right hand of God, as if he were risen [Page 149] from his sitting there to behold the sufferings and courage of his Martyr that stood below, now made a spectacle to Christ and all his Angels: that's an honour he may well glory in.

To see him (3.) standing amidst his hosts, as if he were coming down to help him: that adds more spirit still.

To see him (4.) standing at the right hand of God, as if he suffered with him, and was therefore pleading for him, as friends and advocates used to do with the accused party at the Bar. This infuses yet a greater con­fidence, that notwithstanding all his sins or weaknesses he shall now easi­ly prevail.

To see him (5) standing as a Priest to offer him up a sweet smelling sa­crifice to his Father that still increases it.

To see him lastly standing like a judge of masteries at the end of the race or goal to crown him with a crown of glory, cannot but make him think long for the death that shall bring him to it.

All these ways Christ may be brought in here as standing for us. In the Creed we profess him sitting, thereby acknowledging his place in Hea­ven, and his right to be our Judge: yet when his Saints and Servants have need of him, he stands up to see what it is they want, how valiant­ly they behave themselves; he stands up to shew them who it is they trust, he stands up to help and aid them, he stands up to plead and even suffer with them, he stands up to present them to his Father, he stands up to reward them with the garlands of Glory.

Sometimes it is, (oftner it has been when the beginning of Christiani­ty needed it at first) that by some visible comforts and discoveries he shews himself to the dying Saint. Often it is that the soul ready to de­part feels some sensible joys and ravishments to uphold its failing spirits. But he is never wanting with inward assistances and refreshments to those who suffer for him. We must not look all of us, nor Confessors, nor Martyrs now adays to see Visions and Revelations with St. Stephen; we are set in a fixt way, where Reason and Religion so long prov'd and pra­ctis'd is able to give us comfort in the saddest distresses. God does not usu­ally confirm our reason by our sense in the revelation of himself, or what he expects from us. It may be because the Devil, grown cunning now by so many centuries of years, has taken up of late (as he is Gods ape) a way to fetch off souls by some sensible delusions from the Faith; for he can transform himself (nay, does so, says the Apostle) into an Angel of light. For this it may be God sends us now to the word, and to the testi­mony, and leaves us to reason, tradition, and example of so many ages to expound it. However this is sufficient that neither God nor Christ will leave us wholly comfortless, but will surely stand by us when we need, and supply us as there is.

Indeed he cannot look for such a profession upon it as we find here from St. Stephen; yet to a stedfast profession of our Faith, those assistances he still allows us are sufficient. We will look a little upon Stephens though.

And first, here is a kind of profession of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, here at the beginning of the first verse of the Text: God in the middle, and Jesus at the end.

Here is (2.) a profession of Christs manhood, whilst he calls him the Son of Man.

Here is (3.) a profession of his Faith in all of them by his so loud pro­claiming.

Here is (4.) a profession of Gods ready help, Christs ready assistance to his Saints in trouble.

[Page 150] Here is (5.) a profession of Gods owning the Christians cause, and gloriously standing up to confirm and maintain.

Here is (6.) a profession of Christs opening Heaven to all Believers; that Heaven is always open to us if we could see it; that Gods Glory shines upon us to shew us the way thither; that Christ stands there to make our way, to guide us thither.

Here lastly is a profession of his confidence and resolution, that though his enemies stand pressing now about him, and Death before him, he will not eat his words, will not renounce his faith, will not slip the collar, will not deny any thing of what he has said or done, disclaim any thing that he believed, desert him whom he had trusted, but preach him to his death, and die upon it.

And now the heavens being open, 'tis good to make what haste we can to enter it. Moneta a famous Doctor of Bononia, upon the hearing these words, Behold I see the heavens open, preacht soberly upon that they would be quickly shut if men made no more haste to enter, betook him­self presently, says his Story, to a Religious Order. I say nothing to that particular, but yet must tell you the words are strong enough (if we would look as stedfastly into them as St. Stephen did into Heaven) to per­swade to a Religious Life. Heaven will not always be open to us. Patet a­tri ja [...]ua Ditis, 'Tis Hell that stands continually wide ope. We are told by Christ himself that the Bridegroom comes, and the doors are shut; there will be a time if we continue in sin and negligence when Heaven it self, nay, Christ himself will not let us in. Take we then our time whilst Christ stands at the door. Heaven has this day been strangely open to us, and Christ stood there in a glorious manner; though our eyes did not, our Faiths I hope did see him there: 'Tis good taking this opportunity to get in, we know not whether we shall live to the next opening. Prepare we then our selves with St. Stephen here by stedfast looking upward into Heaven, by disdaining and scorning all things below, by vehement ear­nest longings after things above, by setting our selves attentively and constantly to our Devotions, and our Prayers, by holy Charity and pray­ing for Friends and Enemies, by constant resolutions to live and die to Christ, by a bold profession of our Faith and continuance in it, by ma­king it our Christmas work, our Holiday business, our Festival delight: And then, though I cannot promise you Visions here, while we live be­low, I dare promise you the blessed Vision hereafter above, where we shall see Iesus standing at the right hand of God, and there stand round about him, with this blessed Martyr Stephen, and all his Saints and Martyrs in the Glory of God for evermore.

A SERMON ON Innocents Day.

St. MATTH. ii. 16.‘Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the Wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the Children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time, which he had diligently enqui­red of the Wisemen.’

THE Text needs no Apology. 'Tis for the Day. The Day is that of the poor Martyred Innocents, and the Text the Story of it. Yet what does Day, or Story here to day? How does the relation of one of the saddest murthers that the Sun ever saw, suit with the news of the gladdest Joy that day e're brought forth? How do the cries and screeches of slaughtered Infants keep time or tune with the Songs and Hymns of Angels? An hellish crue of murtherers to day, agree with the heavenly host we heard of three days since? What does Herod so near Christ, or Childermas in Christmas? Do not both Day and Story want an Apology, though the Text does not?

Neither of them; they come well now to season our Mirth and Jolli­ties, that they run not out too lavishly. For we find too oft there are sad days in Christmas too; days wherein we play the Herods, and kill our Children and our selves by disorders and excesses, for want of some such serious thoughts: story and day stand fitly here to mind us of it.

But besides they are well plac'd to teach us that we must not look only for gaudy days by Christ; he says himself, he came to send a sword, St. Mat. x. 34. Sent it to day amongst the little ones: sends sword and fire too sometimes amongst the great ones in the midst of all their pleasure; and we must expect it commonly, the closer we come to him. Nor Chri­stianity nor innocence can excuse us. We therefore not to think it strange when it so falls out, reckon it rather a Christmas business, the matter of our rejoycing, to suffer with these Infants for Christ, though we know [Page 152] not why, no more than they: never to think much to lose our Children or our selves for him at any time, and so bring them up, that they may learn to think so too. These Meditations I hope are not unseasonable, no, not in Christmas.

Yet for all that, I ask again, Is it possible that there should be such a thing in truth? such a wantonness in cruelty as to kill so many thousand Children so barbarously in a time of peace? is it probable that men should raise up fears and jealousies of their own, and make such innocent Lambs pay for it? 'Tis Gospel you see, so true as that. Such a thing there was in the days of Herod; and we have seen so much like it in our own, that we may the easier believe it: Children and innocents slain, and un­done for nothing but because some men with Herod, here, thought they were mockt when disappointed of their projects, when Christus Domini, the Lords Christ or Anointed had escap'd them, and the Wise men came not in to hinder it: so they grew exceeding wroth upon it, and make poor Bethlehem and Rachel, all of us still rue sorely for it.

Well then, the Text being so true in it self, so pat to the time, and not disagreeable to the times of late; so profitable, besides, we'l now go on with it by Gods blessing, and see what we can make of it. 'Tis the Mar­tyrdom I told you (and I have the word from S. Cyprian, and S. Austin) of a company of little innocent babes. And we have in it these particulars.

  • 1. Their Persecutor or Murtherer, Herod.
  • 2. The occasion of their Martyrdom, Persecution, or Murther. His think­ing himself mockt. When he saw he was mocked of the Wise men, &c.
  • 3. The cause of it. Wroth he was, exceeding wroth, infinitely angry to be disappointed, that's the reason he fell upon them.
  • 4. The little Martyrs themselves. All the children that were in Bethlehem and all that were in the coasts about.
  • 5. Their Martyrdom. Slain they were, men were sent out to kill them. He sent forth and slew them.
  • 6. The extent and exactness of the cruelty observed in it, all the chil­dren from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the Wise men.

These are the Parts that make up the History. And if in the pursuing it I shew you a mystery now and then, shew you there are more Herods and more martyred children then we see in the letter of the Text, that the story is acted over still every day by our selves, you will be content I hope to take it for an application, that brings all home. And it will not do amiss even now at Christmas to mind us of it, that however we may not act it then of all times else; never pollute our mirth with sinning against our selves or others in it, or defile our joys with the cries of the oppressed, never bring Herod so near Christ again, never make a Childermas of Christmas.

To go on yet in the order of the Text, we begin with the Persecutor or murtherer of the Innocents, whose day it is, and that here we find was Herod.

Indeed there were under Officers that did the deed; for some such are in­timated when 'tis said he sent, and some such there will be always to do the drudgeries of sin, for them that will employ them: but the wicked­ness yet is laid at the contrivers doors: that's insinuated when the [...] notwithstanding is given to Herod by and by; he did but send, and yet he slew them, says the Text. Let who will be the Executioner, the plotter or commander is the Murtherer; and God will brand him for it, be he never so cunning, never so great. Herod with all his men of War shall not escape it.

[Page 153] But may we know what this Herod was? an Idumean first he was, you may know it by his hands, red and rough. No such hands I hope in Is­rael, or in the dwellings of Iacob. They are strangers to that at least that can be so cruel: and it had been happy for the sheep, happy for us of late, if we had not known the voice of strangers, men of another Country to help on our ruine, but kept close to our own Shepherds, as Christ tells us his own sheep do, St. John x. 3, 5.

2. Herod was a man but of an obscure and private family. 'Tis such commonly that build up their greatness upon blood and ruine; the noble and generous soul abhors it.

3. Yet thirdly, this private and mean condition his subtilty and cunning had now advanc'd into a Throne; the less wonder still, that he should be so savage. Tyrants and Vsurpers are so ever, jealous and suspicious, fierce and bloody. They are they that dye their Purples in the gore of Innocents, whilst Kings even undo themselves with their own mercies. 'Tis the Step­mother that would have the Child divided; such only that are for divide, & impera, that are for Divisions to maintain their interest or their plea. The true Mother had rather part with her Child and all she hath, then see it murthered: But the ambitious design of power and greatness, the dri­ving on an advantageous interest, the keeping an unjust possession, are things that slay all before them; nor the tears of Mothers, nor the cries of Infants, nor the relations of nature, nor the obligations of friendship, nor the charms of innocence can do any thing against those furies. Ahab and Iezabel, and Zimri, and Iehu, and Herod are sufficient witnesses how cheap the heads of all sorts are that seem but to stand in the way of their designments; how easily Iudges and Iudicatories are packt against them, notwithstanding reason and law stand whole for them.

4. From such a one as I have hitherto presented Herod, we can perhaps look for no other. But Herod I must tell you (4.) was a great pretender to Religion, a high dissembler of Zeal and Piety throughout; none more zealous and importunate to know Christ, and go and worship him, then he, ver. 8. And is he the persecutor? yes he. It is not all Religion (my Bre­thren) that is called so: nor are all for Christ that pretend for him. The greatest Zealots have proved often the greatest persecutors. And the Pro­selyte either to a false Religion, or to the pretence only of a true (and one of these was Herod) is commonly two-fold more the Child of Hell then he that made him, S. Matth. xxiii, 15. We cannot, you see by Herod, trust all pretenders. There are some that varnish over their very murthers with that pretext of Religion; and whilst they pour out the blood of Inno­cents upon their Scaffolds, dare say they sacrifice at the Altar of the God of Iustice. And had we not seen and felt it too from some huge Saints and Zea­lots, I should have spar'd the note. But you see e're we were aware we have discovered mysteries from the Text, and shew'd you (as I intimated I should) other Herods there besides this one. I am afraid I shall shew you more anon. In the interim, shall I give you Herods Character out of Chrysologus to conclude the Point? Magister mali, Minister doli, Irae artifex, &c. says he. He was a master of mischief, a minister of deceit, an artist in cruelty, an inventer of wicked­ness, a contriver of villany, a destroyer of Religion, an enemy of nature, an op­pressor of innocence, bad to all, worse to his own, worst to himself, from whom Iesus fled, not so much that he might escape him, as that he might not see him; a fiery Dragon by his name, Herodes jerud es, so Arius Montanus ety­mologizes it from the Syriack, a Dragon that devours all like fires before him, spared not his own if they came but in his way, near a kin (sure) to [Page 154] the Dragon in the Revelations, Rev. xii. 17. that was wroth with the wo­man and her seed, did all he could to destroy it, even the promised seed too, could he have found him. The fittest tempered man in the world, this, to begin the persecution of the Church, and by whom we may learn what sort of persons they are who are still raising or continuing it; Mush­romes of a sudden growth, men newly rais'd, men covetous and ambitious, proud and disobedient, traiterous and heady, men without natural affection, bre­thren removed as I may say, as the Edomites from the Israelites, great pre­tenders, though to godliness, and the power of it, yet without it. Such make the perillous times the Apostle speaks of, 1 Tim. iii. 2, 3, 4. or the times pe­rillous both to men and children. And now let's see what occasion they take to do it. Herod's here, was his conceiting himself mockt by the Wise men.

II. We cannot help mens conceits, though they help on our ruines, nor cure a vain jealousie, though death attend it at the heels. We perish of­tentimes by meer mistakes. The Wise men mockt not Herod, he only thought so; nor wise nor good men use Kings or Princes so, though they be Herods, as bad as can be: God calls them another way, and he takes it for an af­front, that they paid not him the complement of a visit e're they returned. A hard case, that the attendance upon a command of God's should prove so prejudicial, that obedience should be a crime: but we can look for no other, where an Herod is the interpreter of the action.

And yet (2.) 'tis harder, a harder case to be undone for another mans error or omission. It was so here; the Wise men offend, at least are thought so, and the Children pay for't beyond an imagination. Delirant Reges ple­ctuntur achivi. The Wise men return another way; Herod fancies himself neglected by it, and the innocent babes, who were concern'd in neither of them, are punisht for the ones omission, and the others mistake.

Nay and (3.) it seems Gods own contrivement too. And does the God of Justice so little regard innocent blood, as thus to draw it on by the way of a particular providence, we cannot understand the reason of? 'Tis enough God does. We have nought to do but to submit, and think that best that God does, be it never so hard. Our own wisdom will mock the wisest of us, more then Herod was by the Wise men, if we pry nar­rowlier.

For the only business we can see clearly here, is, how small a thing men make an occasion to commit a villany. How great a matter does a a little fire kindle? says St. Iames iii. 5. Lord! how easily do men raise themselves into an anger? and in their anger fall presently upon the next comes near them? dig down a wall too to come at them? Need we had with St. Paul to cut off occasion from them that desire occasion, 2 Cor. xi. 12. do what we can to do it; for there are those that will take it, even concerning the Law of our God, as Daniels adversaries serv'd him, Dan. vi. 4. rather then want an opportunity to do mischief.

Indeed, I know a mock, an affront, a bitter jest, a cutting word strikes deep, wounds sore; (and I could wish men would be warier in that point then sometimes we see them) Kingdoms and Churches have been shatter'd by it; but there are mocks as well as scandals that are taken and not given. These I know not how to cure, and to fence less.

Men think sometimes they are mockt, when disappointed of a sin, of a project, of doing mischief. Potiphars Wife, when Ioseph would not com­ply with her lewd desires, she was mockt (forsooth) the Hebrew servant came in to mock her, when he would not come in to sin with her; nay and her Husband must bear the blame, as if he had done it, brought him [Page 155] to that purpose, Gen. xxxix. 14. There, being disappointed of a sin▪ was being mockt.

Dalilah (forsooth) she is mockt too, she says, because Samson will not discover where his great strength lay, Iudges xvi. 10, 13, 15. that she might rob him of it, and destroy him by it. There being disappointed of do­ing mischief, was being mockt.

Again, Balaam he is mockt by the poor Ass, smites her with his staff, and tells her so, when she falls down and would go no further, Numb. xxii. 29. hindering thereby the project he was going about, of enriching him­self with the wages of unrighteousness. There the disappointment of a rich or gainful project, is a being mockt.

Nay, sometimes the very denouncing of Gods judgments seems to some men a mocking, as it did to Lots sons in law, Gen. xix. 8. Sometimes the very preaching a Resurrection does so too, Acts xvii. 32. I am afraid both do so still to many now adays, whose Wits are more then their Religion, and their parts greater then their graces; not to say their portions (too) in this life fairer (I fear) then in the other. Sometimes (6.) when God bids one thing, and men another, God sends us this way, and they call that; if we obey Gods order, and not their ordinance, they are mockt, they think, and slighted, and we must look to answer it with our peril, and the children unborn perhaps may rue it. In a word, men will needs think they are mockt sometimes, say here with Herod they see it too, unless you will betray Christ and his Religion to them, that they may seize and order them how they please. That's the brief of the business here, that Herod so much stomacht, that the Wise men would not do so, would not tell him where Christ was, that he might murther him.

If now the being disappointed of a sin, of a project of doing mis­chief; if the obedience to Gods command, if the protecting Christ, which were all the cases here; or if the denouncing Gods Judgments against sin­ners, or the preaching of the Resurrection, or the defence of our Reli­gion, and not betraying it (which is almost the parallel case sometimes) must pass with some great men, and men of wit, for a mocking of them and a sufficient occasion for tyrannical spirits to bring on ruine and destruction even upon the innocent, and a warrantable ground to justifie War or Mur­ther, rapine or injustice, God help us, and keep us upon all occasions, we know not when we are safe. The comfort only is, God is not mockt, he sees it, and disposes it. Christ is safe by the hand, and how ill soever it falls out, man only is mockt, our enemies are so, and all is well.

III. This for the occasion that brought this days Lambs to the slaughter. But was there not some cause besides? had Herod no cause to do it? All we find exprest is, that he was wroth, exceeding wroth: that's our third particular.

And truly that's enough in some mens judgments to cast down all be­fore them. Enough, we have found it; but cause I cannot call it, to call it right. Mans own impetuous anger will not excuse the mischief it com­mits. Anger it self must have a cause, or it but aggravates the sin; is so near a sin it self, that 'tis hard to discer [...] and discover when it is not. The Apostle cannot mention being angry, but he adds with the same breath, and sin not, Ephes. iv. 26. dares not leave anger to breath it self without that caution.

Yet supposing the anger not a sin, exceeding is. Though we may per­haps be angry, we must not be exceeding. Moses and Aaron both paid for it, Numb. xx. 10, 12. lost the enjoyment of Canaan, fell short of their [Page 156] rest by it; and this same exceeding still disturbs our rest and quiet; nothing more. Moses his just indignation at the golden Calf made him somewhat oversee himself, when it made him cast down and break the Tables of the Commandments which God himself had written with his own finger, Exod. xxxii. 19. A shrewd intimation to us, that the violence of that passion, even in a good cause sometimes, is very prone ever and anon to make us do so too, do that in a moral and worse sense, break the Commandments worse far then they were broken then.

But if the cause be bad, and the wrath exceeding, no wonder if it break out into all excesses: Shall we examine what it was here? (for the cau­ses of our angers are not always written upon our foreheads:) Was it that the Magi neglected his commands, came not to him in their return? that was somewhat, but that was not it. Was it that he truly thought him­self mock'd by their not returning by him? Then indeed it was, but it was not that: that was the occasion, but not the cause. What was it think we then? why, Christ he saw was now in a possibility to escape him, and by a misconceit, his Kingdom, he imagin'd, lay now at stake, seeing the King of the Jews, whose birth he had lately heard of, and so much dreaded, was now gotten he fear'd out of his reach. This was the business that so toss'd him and turmoil'd him; and from it we learn these five particulars. (1.) What strange fears and jealousies our interests and ambitions raise within us. (2.) What unreasonable mistakes those fears and jealousies bring us to. (3.) What hideous cruelties those mistakes make us run upon. (4.) How hardly Christ himself escapes from them: (5.) Or if he does, how exceed­ing wroth and angry we grow upon it.

1. If interest or ambition possess our thoughts, how do we tremble at the very whistlings of the wind, and start at every shadow? Let Adoni­jah but beg Abishag, and he is interpreted to beg the Kingdom, 1 Kings ii. 22. Let Abijah find Iereboam in the way, and foretel him the Kingdom shall be his when Solomon sleeps with his Fathers, and Solomon cannot sleep in quiet till he has driven him out of the land, 1 Kings xi. 40. And

2. When these fears have once seiz'd upon us, what mistakes run we not into? Ahimelech gives David but a few loaves of bread, and a Sword to defend him in the way he went, and he is presently mistaken by Saul for a plotter against his life, for a traitor and a conspirator, 1 Sam. xxii. 13. Ma­ny such mistakes men have made of late, too late, I fear, to be yet forgotten.

Yet forgotten they would be easily, came they not (3.) attended with cruelties at their heels. Ahimelechs being mistaken unhappily cost him and his family all their lives, except Abiathar's: Men and Women, Children and Sacklings, Oxen and Asses, and Sheep, all to the Sword upon it, 1 Sam. xxii. 19. There is no stop nor bounds to the rage of that error and mistake which inte­rest and ambition raise or nourish for their own ends and purposes.

It were well Christ himself could escape them (4.) But Christ and Reli­gion bear the blame as soon as any: And when I told you Ahimelech and the Priests suffered so deep upon mistake, it was ready enough for you to conceive Religion cannot always defend it self, or its Priests and Votaries, from the fury even of an unfortunate Politician, Saul or Herod. And if the Messiah himself, and known to be so, must be sought out, to be de­stroyed, even by him who both knew it, and seem'd to desire it, there are men it seems that for their interests can knew Christ, and yet persecute him. No wonder then if they deal so with his Children and Servants, and persecute them, though they know them such.

Or lastly, if Christ himself by some peculiar providence be delivered [Page 157] from their rage, if the grounds of Religion escape sound, the lesser parts, the Rites and Ceremonies, and lesser points of Religion, the Innocents, must be massacred, (for we are exeeding angry) and though the Head escape, the lesser members shall pay dearly for it; which though the great ones do not, the little ones shall. Herod sends out and slays all the children that were in Bethlehem, and the coasts about, as many as he can lay hands on. His interests make him fear, his fears make him mistake, his mistake makes him cruel; and though Christs Kingdom be not of this world, nor Christ an enemy either to Herod or Caesar, yet the politician is bound in honour to justifie his own fears, and rather than put up a fancied affront or slighting, or confess a mistake, wreak his anger upon the helpless Innocents, and make them both the Martyrs of Christ, and the witnesses of his own cru­elty. Those are they I am next to speak of.

IV. And I justly call them Martyrs; for if it be the cause that makes the Martyr (and we say it is) and Christs cause be that which entitles them more particularly to that name, I am sure they are no less; their cause was Christs; for his sake they were killed, as the Psalmist speaks, all the day long, accounted too, as sheep, or little lambs, appointed to be slain, Psalm xliv. 22. And you may see them following the Lamb too under that noti­on, with the Fathers name written in their foreheads, Rev. xiv. 1. the ve­ry first-fruits unto God, and to the Lamb, ver. 4. the first that suffered, that died for him. Who though they could not some of them speak at all, and other of them but jabber at the most, yet they all speak out and plain these fallowing lessons.

1. That there is no age too young for Christs business one way or other. They that cannot speak for Christ can die for him. They that cannot come themselves may be brought to him. They that cannot live with him, being just going out of the world as they are coming in, may die with him in holy Baptism e're they go. Even of such also is the Kingdom of God, St. Mat. x. 44. and it matters not whether they go by Blood or Water thither.

Nor (2.) is any age too young to speak out Christs Glory neither. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, thou hast perfected praise, says the Prophet, Psal. viii. 2. S. Matth. xxi. 16. and never more eminently fulfilled then this day; their very cries were songs of praise, Hosanna's to the Son of David, blessed is he that cometh, Hallelujahs in the ears of God, in whose name he cometh. None ever cri­ed it louder, or proclaimed it higher.

The Choire is a full one too; of all the children of Bethlehem, and the coasts about, to such an age; 14000. is the least that any say, 44. some. A full Chorus indeed, a large first-fruits of Martyrdom, to teach us, thirdly, not to doubt of that which is attested by so many witnesses, the coming of Christ, nor think strange of that condition, which entered with him, which entred first with Christianity, whilst it yet was in the Cradle, Per­secution, and Martyrdom; but to bear it patiently ever when it comes, see­ing Children themselves have undergone it here by thousands, and trod the way before us.

But they not only teach us patience by their martyrdom, but innocency by their innocence: a fourth lesson that they give us. Let Herod and all his Hosts, all the Herods, and Hosts, and Armies of the world do what they can, they cannot hurt us if we keep our innocence. Out of the world they may thrust us, but into Heaven it is they drive us. Here if they please they may truly see themselves mockt indeed, when against their wills they undo us into a Kingdom, think they destroy us, but will find at last to their [Page 158] confusion, that they have been the great instruments to us both of life and glory. Rapiunter quidem, says S. Austin, à complexibus matrum, sed red­duntur gremus angelorum: These Infants, says he, were snatcht indeed from their Mothers breasts, but into the laps of Angels were they carried, and into the bosom of the Almighty. Quos feliciter nati, says he, again, How happily were they born that were thus early born for Christ? how hap­pily are they all born to whom it is given to die for him? Augustus was deceived, very fouly out, when he cried it was better to be Herods Hog, then Herods Child: that Child surely which died among these Innocents, whatever his other were, was born to a Throne of Glory, to the only Crown and Kingdom. Enough this to dry up Rachels tears, to stop the ten­derest Mothers moans at any time, when she but thinks she hath brought forth a Child to Christ, and placed him so soon in innocence and glory.

After the thoughts of this, it cannot be grievous if I now tell you of their Martyrdom or Murther; that as young, and innocent, and many as they were, Herod sent forth and slew them all.

V. You must not look that I should give you here the several ways and modes of this bloody slaughter, the various arts of this horrid murther, the diverse schemes of barbarous cruelty, the cunning sleights of those inhu­mane Butchers to delude the tender Mothers, and train the innocent In­fants to their deaths. You must not expect I should decipher to you the horrible fury of that grand massacre, the terrible countenance of the sa­vage murtherers, the gastly faces of the astonisht Parents, the affrighted postures of the amazed Kindred and Allies, the frights and flights of the little Children into holes and crannies, the sad lamentations of weeping Mo­thers, their dishevel'd hair, their wringing hands, their torn breasts and garments, their wild frantick garbs, their fights and struglings to pre­serve their babes, the horrible screechings of the dying children, the moans and sighs and groans that filled all the corners of the streets; the cries and roarings, and yellings that even rent the Heavens. You must not think that I can tell you how those tender sucklings were some of them in a wanton cruelty danc'd upon the tops of Pikes and Spears; others dasht savagely against the Walls, some thrust through with Swords, others stabb'd with Poniards, some trampled to death upon the ground, some strangled in their Cradles, some stifled in their Mothers arms, and others torn in pieces to get them thence. You cannot imagine I should express the tears, the blood, the wounds, the barbarousness, the cruelties, the confusi­ons, the consternations, the terrors, the horrors of that day. I am not skill'd in the tracts of cruelty, nor so good an Orator to express it. Nor were it perhaps a Rhetorick for Christmas: Only, I can tell you what the Text does me, that slain they were, all the children that were in Bethlehem, and the coasts about, from two years old, and under; and Herod did it.

Not himself I confess. There are sins we are asham'd to commit our selves, as well as sins we cannot commit without company to help us. And such was this; so horrid, he was asham'd to stand by to own it; so great, he could not act it, but by involving almost an host of men in the guilt and mischief. A murther which neither the greatness of the one, nor the mul­titude of the other, neither his jealousies nor their obedience, neither his command, nor their trade of life shall be ever able to excuse, nor any Rhe­torick ever find a plea for.

VI. But though I cannot be exact in the relation, I must needs say in the last place, Herod was in the transaction so exact, that (1.) Bethlehem he thought too narrow a Stage for this new Tragedy; he takes in all the coasts [Page 159] about; though the Prophet had plainly cold Christ should be born in Beth­lehem, and the S [...]nhedrim had so resov'd it to him, and his main business was to murther him: yet to make all sure, he stretches out his fury to the neighbouring towns. By the way, give me leave to observe, Great Ci­ties are sometimes ill neighbours; they too often destroy our children by the contagion of their mischiefs, and ruine the young heirs of the Towns, and Mann [...]rs that are near them, by the company that the infernal Herod sends out thither daily to that purpose. But I retreat, and tell you,

2. Herod was so exact in the designs of cruelty, that he extends the time as well as the place beyond what he had learn'd of the Wise men. Christ was now but a year old at most, (and more probably not so much.) Herod stretches out his design for two. What's the reason? why! the bloody man and the unjust possessor never think they are safe, till they are beyond all reason. For if Christ was now about two years old, why are the Chil­dren of but two days slain? if but two months or thereabouts, (as some place this business not long after his being presented in the Temple) why are the children of two years old demanded to the slaughter?

At least (3.) how comes his own Son into the number? so Macrobius relates the story, and Augustus alluded to it in his witty speech. This too, to shew us how exactly wicked some men are, that spare neither Kindred nor Children to fix themselves.

And to give you Herods cruelty here full: According to the time he had diligently enquired of the Wise men it was also, says the Text. Very inquisitive about it he had been it seems, and he miss'd not a point of it: so whether Christ was born when first the Star appeared, or whether he was then only first incarnate and conceived in the Womb, he would be sure he thought to have him; a year under or [...]ver would be sure to reach him: so nice and punctual is the cruel and ambitious nature to defend its own interest and greatness, that it cannot rest till it have stopt all ave­nues and cranies of fear, and satisfied them to a nicety; and it boggles not at any age or time, or relation, or diligence, or inquisitiveness to ef­fect it. But 'tis time now to look home.

Yet if any now should be so inquisitive to ask a reason why God should thus suffer these innocent Infants thus to be cruelly massacred, though we are not his counsellors, yet we may say, it might be to shew the absoluteness of his Dominion, that he is Lord of life and death, gives and disposes them as he will. It may be (2.) to teach us that innocence it self is not always a fence against death, or violence. It may be (3.) to instruct us what they must look for from the first, that have any relation to Christ at all. It may be (4.) it was, that by this strange accident and occasion the Birth of Christ might be proclaimed through the world. And yet fifthly, add but the consideration, that they were the Children of Bethlehem where Christ could get no lodging, where he was fain to make the Stable his Chamber, and the Manger his Cradle: and it will not seem unreasonable that God should thus punish the Fathers in their Children for it, and leave some of them scarce a Child for their houses, who would not leave him a house for his Child. But lastly, God's thus advancing the deaths of these little Infants into a Martyrdom, giving them the first honour to die for Christ, and as it were redeem his life with theirs, so early bringing them to Heaven by suffering, there is no reason of complaining; nothing to [Page 160] cloud our Christmas joys, or disturb our rejoycing. Those little ones are singing in the Heavens about the Lamb, Rev. xiv. 3. And 'twill do well that we here upon earth should sing Blessing, and Praise, and Glory, that God has so exalted them, and comforts us; make it one of our Christmas Ca­rols, our songs of joy.

Yet somewhat to allay your joy, that your mirth run not too high, I shall after this long story tell you a tale in your ears will make them glow. Herod is not dead, nor sleepeth. We are all of us Herods, or Herodias's, men and women, one way or other.

We have been as deep dissemblers of piety, some among us, as ever He­rod; many as bloody too, upon it. Many sad errors and mistakes have many of us made, and many a thousand souls have miserably perisht by them. Angry men have been exceeding angry, that the Magi, many a wise man and good, would not comply with their interests and projects, or communicate with their sins. Angry, some I am afraid still, that Christ, that Religion is escap'd their fury, that their kingdoms are not establisht, though it was Christs that was by them pretended, but just as the Worshiping him was by Herod. And I cannot tell but there may be yet some projects of sending out to slay men and children to begin Herods work anew, the War afresh.

But I am sure, though we cannot reach that mystery, there is one you will easily understand, shall serve for an application to drive all home. Our own children are daily murthered by us, their very souls destroyed: a sad­der cruelty than Herods.

Not to tell you that the Mother kills them often in the Womb by the folly and vanity of a dress, by an unruly humour, by a disordered appetite, by a heedless or giddy motion; nor that the nurse kills them at the breast by her intemperance and excess, though it be too true: Yet it is a less murther, that, than to kill the soul, and yet this done oftner. And I'le assure you first, they venture their Children hard that deny them Baptism: I'le say no more. But after that they are smothered, some in their Mothers lap, kill'd with kindness and indulgence; stabb'd through with poniards, others, undone with cruelty and unkindness; trampled to death others, and perish by their friends carelesness and neglect. Some are dasht against the Walls, their brains beat out at least, wholly corrupted by false principles from their cradles: Some we trail along the streets, and destroy them by our ill exam­ples; some we choak with intemperances and excesses, even in Christmas too; some we destroy our selves, others we send out servants and companions to destroy, give them such to tend them as teach them pride, and scorn, and anger, and frowardness, and vanity, and wantonness, e're they understand them; such as teach them to bestow a curse, e're they can ask a blessing, and to speak ill e're they can well speak. And as if we were resolved to make all sure, we send them abroad to be bred sometimes to places of licenti­ousness and debauchery, that they may be sure to be gallant sinners, because forsooth 'tis pedantick and below a Gentleman to be a thorow Christian, to suck in the tame and conscientious principles of Christianity; and all upon Herods mistake, that wise men will mock us for them, when 'tis only that they are wisely wicked and mistaken.

And now shall we cry out of Herods cruelty, and do worse our selves? shall we complain he kill'd the Innocents to day, and we make nothing eve­ry day to destroy even innocency it self? A less, far lesser cruelty it would be to take these tender blossoms and shake them off the tree, than to suf­fer [Page 161] them to grow up to fruits which we can but curse our selves, and others will curse the tree from bearing them. Nay, a greater mercy it were to the poor children, to dash them against the stone [...], to smother them in the Cradle, to overlay them in the bed, to dispatch them any way innocent into the other world, than to nurse them up to our own follies, than to pol­lute them with our debaucheries, than to corrupt them with atheistical and un­godly principles, than to defile them with lusts, than to train them up to be wicked, or meerly vain and unprofitable, breed them up to Hell, to eternal ruine. Yet the tender and delicate woman, that can scarce endure to set her foot upon the ground for niceness, thus daily murthers her belo­ved darling without scruple.

But indeed, do men and women pray for Children as a blessing, that they may only turn them into a curse? only desire them, that they may destroy them? surely one would think they did so, that sees how great a study it is to make them vain, and proud, and envious, and lewd, and wicked. Our Herods and Herodias's cut off the baptized Infants heads, as they of old did the Baptists. We even dance them to death, and compromise them to Hell as soon almost as the baptismal waters are dried upon them. And must old Herod and Herodias only bear the blame of murdering Innocents, and we that do it over and over scape without an accusation? In this too, worse then Herod: He only slew the Children from two years old and under, we under and above too, from their first day upward, till we have rendred them incorrigible to age, and past recovery. The subtilest policy of the Devil, this, thus to kill poor Children from their infancy, when they neither know who hurt them, nor how they came in the confines of that spiri­tual death they dwell in; can only say, they were so dealt with in the house of their friends.

What shall we say my beloved, when these murther'd Children shall cry out against us, out of their miserable Cells at last (for they will do then at least as these did from under the Altar long ago) How long, O Lord, how long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that spilt it, on our Fathers, and on our Mothers, and on our friends, that thus un­timely sent us hither, when we might otherwise have come to thee? whi­ther shall we turn, what shall we answer? or rather because we cannot answer, let us take heed we handle the matter so, that we come not to it. We pretend to love our Children, and thereupon we strive to make them rich, and fine, and great, and honourable: why do we then beggar them from their Childhood, with bringing them up to those vanities that will undo them? why do we deform them with sins and vices, les­sen them with education, make them dishonourable by training them up in ignoble and dishonest principles? why do we in all these ruine them from the first? At least why do we not love our selves who (for ought I know) must needs perish with them, and perish for them, for thus destroy­ing them?

Were we but kind to our own souls, we would be to theirs: But to fill up the measure, we play the Herods, and act the murtherers lastly upon our selves. We daily stifle those heavenly births of good desires and thoughts that are at any time begotten in us by the Holy Spirit, and walk on confi­dently to death and darkness.

But we have acted Herods part too long, and I fear I have been too long upon it. To be short now, let's turn our slaughtering hands upon our sins and vices, kill them, mortifie them, and henceforward act the part of [Page 162] the blessed Innocents; set our selves from this day to better practices, stu­dy the two grand lessons of the day, Innocence and Patience; Innocence in our lives, and Patience in our deaths, or rather patience in them both. Study them our selves, teach them our Children, and continually pre­serve them in those happy ways, that when we shall have serv'd our se­veral generations, and go hence, we may all meet at last, Fathers, and Mothers, and Children at the great Supper of the Lamb, and together with these blessed Innocents in the Text, follow the Lamb for ever­more. Who, &c.

THE FIRST SERMON ON THE Circumcision.

2 COR. v. 17.‘Old things are past away, behold all things are become new.’

AS face in water answers face, so does the face of the Text the face of the Church in the times we live in, where old things are past away, all things become new. But as where the faces are like, the minds often are not so, so the sense of the Text, and the sense of the Times are as unlike as may be, however like the words be to them. Old legal Ceremonies and old corruptions past in the Text; Old corruptions, and old heresies and errors renewed in the Times. The glorious Gospel of Christ newly appearing with affecti­ons answerable to it in the Text; A Gospel I know not whose, not of Peace, but of War, not of Love and Unity, but of Faction and Schism, with affections and courses according, in the times. New things, such as belong to the new Man, righteousness and true holiness, passed over, as unnecessary or unprofitable, all good order antiquated and out of date, cast away as old things, all good things quite ruin'd and decay'd.

It were to be wish'd (but 'tis but meerly to be wish'd, scarce hop'd, I fear) that the sense as well as the words might fit us, that the new things in the Text, were the new ones of the Times; that the old ones here, were the old ones there; That the new year but lately entred, might bring us this news.

But however, I may wish and hope too, I hope, that we in particular will take occasion from it to renew our hearts with the year, and begin it in newness of life and conversation, to live the new year like new men, better than of old.

And though the new times, as now they are, will not agree with the Text, no more than these new men of the times their Sermons do in words only, at the most; yet, because I love to speak seasonably as well as so­berly, a Text in season, if I may have leave to fit the Text to the old [Page 164] time of Christmas, there can be nothing more suitable to both the words and meaning of the Text, than this holy Feast, and the meaning of it.

From this Feast, from Christs birth it was that all old legal ceremonies had their pass, to pass away; from hence all things both in Heaven and earth are reconciled, by him all things made new, by him the old man abolished, and the new man created in us; the old Law abrogated, the new Law come in place; the old Law of Works anulled, the new Law of Faith established; all old things past away, all things become new, through his coming into the world.

And the use and moral of the whole Feast, and the three solemn great days in it, is no more than that we would let old things pass, old worldly affections die, lay off the old, and become new men all; Be (1.) rege­nerate in our spirits, and new born with him upon Christmas-day. Have our old man (2.) circumcised, our old fleshly members mortified upon Circumcision-day; and be wholly renewed in all our parts upon the same, as New-years-day. Begin (3.) the publick profession of our renovation, and new service with the Wise men, worshipping, adoring, and presenting him our gifts upon the Epiphany, or Twelfth; so changing our old Master, and the service of sin, for our new Master and his service; forgetting the old, and pressing on to the new.

Thus you have a perfect Christmas Text, and more evidently a New-years one; yet both, both in words and sense. I have given you the whole sense of it from the Feasts of Christmas, and both told you their meaning, and the Texts; what the several days of the Feast teach you, and what all the parts of the Text would have you learn: of which this is the sum, That through Christ all old things, the old Law, the Law of Moses, the old corruptions of Nature, the law of sin are past away, done away, and abolished, and a new law established, new grace brought to us, new af­fections created in us; all through him, and by his coming: and that whosoever is in Christ, in whom he is come, in him old things are past away, all things are become new, he is a new creature quite, in the words that usher in the Text: so the parts of it will be two.

  • 1. What since Christs coming is become of all things? What is the state of the Gospel? And
  • 2. What upon that is become of those that are in him?

For to understand the Text fully, we are to consider it, (1.) as a ge­neral proposition, concerning the state of the Gospel of Christ, that old things in general are past away, and all things altogether become new, through it, and him. (2.) As a particular application made to any man that is in Christ, it is truly in that state, that in him old things are past away, all things become new.

1. Now in the general, old things are past away, that's become of them, of all old things, since Christs coming; and all things else are become new, that's become of them, or so are they become.

2. In particular, this is become of them in whom Christ is, or who are in him, true sons of the Gospel; old things are past with them, and all things in them become new.

I shall add, a third as the proper Use both of Text and time of the old days and the new year; what is most becoming us, for whom also Christ came, to whom still he daily comes, even to cast away all old cor­ruptions, and in all things to become new.

I begin with the Text as it may be applied to the general state and con­dition of the Gospel, where we shall consider it first respectively, then [Page 165] absolutely: (1.) In comparison with the estate of things, both under the old Law, and under the Gentile infidelity; that the Gospel is a state where both all those old legalities are abolished, and heathen errors done away. (2.) In it self, that the Gospel is a new state of affairs and things, where all things are become new.

Old things, those must be first; and they may all be reduced to these two heads, God's way of dealing with the Iews, and his way of deal­ing with the Gentiles. With the Iews first, where both the old way of his Service, and the old way of his Providence, those two grand things that include all the rest, are to be examined how they pass.

His service consisted (1.) in Sacrifices, and they are done; no more blood of Bulls, or Lambs, or Goats; they could not make the comers there­unto perfect, Heb. x. 1. so they are gone.

His service (2.) consisted in outward washings, Heb. ix. 10. but they could wash no further than the flesh, cleanse no more then the outward man: Not the putting away the filth of the flesh, says S. Peter, 1 S. Pet. iii. 21. that's nothing, for that's but a vanity to stand on, vain, and to so little purpose, no wonder if that way of serving God be vanish'd too.

His service (3.) was much then in meats and drinks, Heb. ix. 10. this they might eat, and that they might not; but all to perish with the using: Why are you any longer subject to those ordinances about them? says St. Paul, Col. ii. 20, 22. For meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God shall destroy both it and them, says he again, 1 Cor. vi. 14. so they pass too.

His service (4.) stood much in Holy-days, new Moons, and Sabbaths, Col. ii. 16. but they were but shadows of things to come, the Body is of Christ, ver. 17. 'twas time they should be packing, when the reality of things were come.

His service (5.) was especially notified by Circumcision; but Circumcision is nothing, 1 Cor. vii. 19. that is passed away indeed to purpose, the greatest passing, to pass into nothing.

His service (6.) was confin'd to the Temple of Ierusalem, to that only Altar there: but it was but a figure, for the time then present, says St. Paul, Heb. ix. 9. and you see how the present time is past; there was no way into the holiest, ver. 8. whilst that was standing, 'twas but neces­sary that also should pass away, & neque in hoc neque in illo, the time was coming that they should neither worship in this nor that, nor that at Ge­rizim, nor that at Ierusalem, S. Iohn iv. No, there should not be left so much as one stone upon another, says Christ, St. Mat. xxiv. 2. that's pas­sing away indeed.

His service (lastly) was in a manner all type and shadow, Heb. x. 1. Not so much as the image of things themselves. And the shadows must needs away, when the Day-spring begins to visit us, and the Sun arises. Away shadows, get you behind us; we see our Sun of Righteousness up, and risen on us: and 'tis fit we should turn our backs upon our shadows, and worship and adore him. The Persians did so superstitiously to the Sun in Heaven, we must do it devoutly to the spiritual and eternal Sun of Glory.

For how much are we bound to Christ, to God in Christ, that he has freed us from those imperfect, yet costly Sacrifices, those troublesom ab­stinences, those unprofitable washings, those strict severities of new Moons and Sabbaths, that painful Rite of Circumcision, those long Journeys to Ierusalem to worship those empty shadows, and given us full perfect li­berty of meats and drinks, and all things else; the doing whereof is no [Page 166] real profit, and brought home his Temples and Service to our doors, our happiness into our bosoms. Though all those old things be pass'd away, let not his goodness in passing them away ever pass out of our memories, nor a day pass without praises to him for it, nor the relation of it pass out of our lips without all thankfulness and humility.

And there will be more reason for it, if we reflect now upon the course of his old providence, altered towards us. In the old way of his provi­dence and dispensations with the Iews, He first led them only with tem­poral promises, fed them only with such hopes, Deut. xxxviii. no other to be found the whole old Bible over. We must not now look for the same dealing, we; Afflictions are made our glory, 2 Cor. xii. 9. and we blessed by them, St. Mat. v. 11. our hopes higher, our promisses better, Heb. viii. 2. So let the other pass, no matter.

He awed them, secondly, with temporal punishments; they could not sin but they were presently punished for it; sometime a Plague, another while the Sword, then wild Beasts and Serpents, now Dearth and Fa­mine, sometimes a fire from heaven, another time a gaping of the earth and swallowing all; seldom but some exemplary or sudden death, or some strange visitations, were the method God used to bring the rest into order and obedience. Such things are rare among us, whom God ter­rifies with the threats of future judgments, that we might have the lon­ger time for our repentance and amendment; his providence is now much fuller of patience and long suffering to bring us to it, his anger and fierce­ness is passed away.

He comforted them, thirdly, by only obscure and dark Prophesies, so dark that he often that spoke them did not perfectly understand them. All those Prophesies are now plain to us, and those shadowy expressions lightned and cleared by Christ. He opened his Disciples understand­ings, St. Luk. xxiv. 45. that they might understand them, and from them we have all those former Praedictions clear as the midday Sun: Those obscure things, or the obscurity of those things, are also passed away.

Fourthly, The old way then was, Do this and live, a sad Covenant of Works, which yet we were not able to perform. That is done away in Christ, and the Covenant of Faith come in the room, Iustus ex fide, to live by that an easier way for us.

Fifthly, Gods way then with them was by Rites and Ceremonies, old things which neither we, nor our old fathers were able to bear, if we believe St. Peter, Acts xv. 10. these, to be sure, a good provi­dence for us that they were among the things that were done away, 2 Cor. iii. 7, 11.

Lastly, The very subject, as we may say, of his Providence, is altered too. In the days of old it was commonly none but the rich and honou­rable, very few else that were imployed in the great services of the Law, insomuch as it was a Proverb, Spiritus Sanctus non requiescit super animan pau­peris; The holy Spirit never lights upon the poor mans soul. But now the con­trary, [...] the poor are preach'd to, and the poor preach too, and Blessed are the poor. The way of Gods dispensation is strangely changed, that old way past too.

What can we then do less than pass our selves into his service, under his protection? Than pass our souls and spirits out of our lips in praises and thanksgiving? That all those beggarly Elements, as the Apostle calls them, Gal. iv. 9. those temporal promises and threats; that heavie [Page 167] slavish servitude, that dealing with us as with untoward children under the rod, or as slaves and servants is past from us; that we are now at the liberty of Sons, and the honour of being the friends of God, such to whom God is now pleased in Christ to reveal his secrets and mysteries so long hidden, even from the beginning of the world, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. iii. 9. and into which the Angels desire to look into, 1 Pet. i. 13. That he hath now revealed them unto babes, Mat. xi. 25. That no condition now, be it never so poor, or mean, or weak, but is made partakers of his grace and glory in the face of Jesus Christ. How great a comfort and glory is it to us, that all old things are thus past away, and all things become new? Yet there are worse old things behind, the old things of the Gentiles, which we are to consider now, both what they are, and how they too are past away. The old errors, and the old sins of the Gentiles, they are the old things of the Gentiles, and they are past.

1. The old heathen ignorance and error; They were in a shadow in­deed, the very shadow of death, Luk. 1. 70. a thick black darkness, the very Region of death, and Land of darkness, saith the Prophet; they knew not God, saith the Apostle, Rom. i. having their understanding darkned, because of the blindness of their heart, Eph. vi. 18. All these shaddows are disperst, all this darkness past away when Zacharies day spring rose upon them; they are not now what they were before Christ came, they are much enlightned.

2. Nor appear their sins now of so deep a blackness, since Christ suf­fered for them also. Before we read of nothing but the Idolatries, the Vanities, the Abominations of the Heathen: that they were alienated, wholly alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in them, Eph. iv. 18. walking after their own lusts, and in the vanities of their wicked mind, being delivered up to the Prince of the air, who wholly ruled and worked in them, Eph. ii. 2. But these things were passed over by the mercy of God in Christ, and even they also received the new Co­venant of Grace and Pardon.

And in the second place, the way of Gods Providence towards them also, as well as towards the Iews, past into another mode. It was in old time, but a Iob, but an Vriah, but an Ittai, but a Iethro, but a Na [...]man in an Age; an Vzzite, a Hittite, a Gittite, a Midianite, a Syrian but now and then; Israel was the only Goshen, the only Land where the light shone free. The case is altered now by Christ. Indeed for a while, till the Chil­dren were first served, or at least first offered meat, it was, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, St. Mat. x. 5. But when Christ had now compleated his work, and was going up to heaven, then Go and preach to all Nations was the stile; and Lo I send thee far unto the Gentiles, Acts xxii. 21. was St. Pauls Com­mission, and others after him. So the Partition Wall is now past through, and the distinction of Iew and Gentile, that old difference, past away.

Nay, secondly, the other branch of Gods dealing with them is so too. In those times of ignorance God winked at them, tolerated, or at least not punished them, saies St. Paul, Acts xvii. 30. But now he commandeth all men every where to repent, says he; the old course is past, Gods way of deal­ing with them now is become new.

Thus we have another ground of thanks and praise, that God has not only freed us from the servitude of the Law, but from the slavery of Satan; not only from the dusky shadows of the Iewish, but from the dismal dark­ness of the Gentile Coasts. Let not this pass further without a Song of praise.

[Page 168] But how shall we now worthily praise him for the next, for making all things new: Novus Rex, & nova Lex, a new King, and a new Law. Novus Grex, & novum Regnum; a new Church, and a new Kingdom. Novum Testa­mentum, & novum Sacramentum: new Covenants, and new Sacraments: Novum Sacrificium & novus Sacerdos; a new Sacrifice and a new Priesthood: No­vum Templum, & novum Altare; a new Temple, and a new Altar. Novus Spiritus, and nova vita, a new Spirit, and a new kind of life: All new.

1. Novus Rex, a new King; we have no ordinary one neither: a King with an Ecce, Ecce venit, both in Prophet and Evangelist; Behold thy King com­meth, says Zachary, Zach. ix. 9. and S. Matthew xxi. 5. says the same. A King worth beholding: The Wise men came I know not how far to see him, S. Mat. ii. 2.

2. And with a new Law he came, a new Commandment, S. John xiii. A perfect Law, S. James. i. 25. A Law of liberty, chap. ii. 12. A royal Law, ver. 8. of the same Chapter, The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Iesus, Rom. viii. 2. The old Law was a bondage, this new one makes us free, as it follows there.

3. A new Church he came to gather, much different from the old: A Church purchas'd by his Blood, a costly one, Acts xx. 28. A glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish, Eph. v. 27. much larger than the old; an universal Church, all the Gentiles also new come in, the utmost parts of the earth, the confines of it, Psal. ii.

4. A new Kingdom there is come too; a Kingdom above all King­doms, the Kingdom of Heaven, S. Mat. iii. 2. A Kingdom of Grace; and a Kingdom of Glory; a Kingdom never heard of before Christs coming with it: no news, no hopes, no mention of the Kingdom of Heaven all the old Scripture through; those exceeding great and precious promises re­serv'd for us, 2 S. Pet. i. 4. They under the Law were led like Children with the nuts and rattles of temporal promises and rewards: Christ first promis'd a Kingdom for the recompence of reward; a Kingdom too wherein we are all Kings, Rev. i. 6.

This new Kingdom (5.) brings a new Covenant, novum Testamentum; take Testamentum how you will, for a Covenant or a Writing; and novum either for the Covenant of Grace, or for a new Schedule of Scripture that contains it: we find both new now, Heb. ix. 15. I will make a new Cove­nant, says God, Ier. xxxi. 31. And he did so, says the Apostle, Heb. viii. 6. But what was it? I will put my Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people, &c. for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more, ver. 10. 12. a Covenant of pardon and remission, such as the Sacrifices of the Law could not give, were not able. And new Books we have it written in, as authentick as those old ones in the Iewish Canon, where we may find all seal'd by the testimony of the Spirit, Heb. vi. the Author of the new Testament as well as of the old.

6. The new Church has its new Sacraments. Ite & Baptizata, for Ite & Circumcidite; Baptism for Circumcision, and the Lords Supper for the Passeover; in both which of ours there is more than was in theirs, in those legal Ce­remonies; not only outward signs as they, but inward graces.

7. New Sacrifices, the calves of our lips, instead of Calves and Goats; the sacrifices of Praises and Thanksgivings, nay the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and humble spirit, the sacrificing of our lusts, and the offering up of our souls and bodies, a living, holy, acceptable Sacrifice, Rom. xii. 1.

[Page 169] 8. A new Priesthood to offer them, an unchangeable Priesthood now, Heb. vii. 24. Christ our High-Priest, and the Ministers of the New Testament, 2 Cor. iii. 6. as so many under-Priests to offer them up to God. Christ of­fer'd himself a Sacrifice, offers up also our Prayers and Praises to his Fa­ther, has left his Ministers in his Name, and Merits to do it too: and this a lasting Priesthood, to last for ever.

9. We have a new Altar too; so St. Paul, Heb. xiii. 10. an Altar that they which serv'd the Tabernacle have no power to eat of. Take it for the Cross on which Christ offered up himself; or take it for the holy Table, where that great Sacrifice of his is daily commemorated in Christian Churches: Habem, says the Apostle; such an one we have, and I am sure 'tis new.

10. Temples we have many new; the Temples of our bodies, 1 Cor. vi. 19. those both to offer in, and offer up: and (2.) Churches many, for that one Temple so long since buried in dust and rubbish.

11. There is above these a new Spirit, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba Fa­ther, Rom. viii. 15. the spirit of love, and not of fear; the spirit of Sons, and not of Servants; a spirit that will cause us to walk in Gods Statutes, keep his Commandments, and do them, Ezek. xxxvi. 27. a new thing indeed, that can make the Beasts of the Field to honour him, as the Prophet speaks of it, Isa. xliii. 19. the Dragons and the Owls to do so, the most sensual, fierce, cruel, and dullest natures bow unto him, that gives waters in the Wilderness, and Rivers in the Desart, Isa. xliii. 19. 20. that blows but with his wind, and these waters flow, Psal. cxlvii. 18. this is a new spirit that is so powerful.

And from this spirit it is that we (12.) receive new life and vigour, that we walk not under the Gospel so dully and coldly as they under the Law, where the outward work to the letter serv'd the turn; but accord­ing to the spirit, in the inward purity of the heart, as well as in the outward purity of the body.

To which, lastly, there is a new inheritance annexed, a new Heaven, and a new Earth, which we may look for according to his promise, 2 St. Pet. iii. 13.

And are not these new things all good news, worth our rejoycings? Can we be ever old that enjoy such mercies? are they not enough to re­vive the dying spirit, nay to raise the dead one to set forth his praises, who thus renews us as the Eagle renews his mercies to us every morning, makes us Kings and Priests, gives us easie Laws, and pleasing Covenants, effectual Sacrifices, and saving Sacraments; turns our bodies into his Temples, and our hearts into Altars; makes us a glorious Church, and builds us Churches; inspires us with a new Spirit, and gives us a second life, gives us a Kingdom, gives us Heaven and all? This is the new state under Christ, since his coming ended and renewed our years unto us. And therefore says our Apostle, just before the Text, If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; all this new work is done upon him: that's the second way we are now to consider the words, That in the Christian, truly such, all old things are past away, and all things become new.

He is dead to sin, Rom. vi. 2. and he is dead to the Law, Rom. vii. 4. or if you will, sin and the Law are both dead to him, they can hold him no longer, he is alive unto God, Rom. vi. 11. new created in righteousness and true holiness.

Will you have it more particular? Why first then, the Heathen ig­norance and error that is past with them, they are enlightned, Heb. vi. [Page 170] they know God, and are known of him; they are light in the Lord, the very children of it. The Heathen sins they are past with them: in them they walkt once, Ephes. ii. 2. such they were some of them, 1 Cor. vi. 11. but now they are washt, but now they are sanctified, but now they are justified.

Nor are they now (2.) under so slender a providence as the poor Hea­then were: God visits them often now, and not only now and then, and suffers them not to go on, or fall back again into the old ways of infide­lity.

But they are not only out of the Heathen condition, but out of the Iewish too; no more in bondage to the Law. The sacrificing of Rams and Goats, of all sensual affections, is done already; the unreasonable part is mortified in them; they have been washt, and need be wash'd no more; they are oblig'd to no differences of meats; no Iewish Sabbatizing, no Circumcision, no one particular place of Worship, no legal Rites or Cere­monies, Christ having abolished in his flesh the Law of Commandments, says S. Paul, contained in ordinances, Ephes. ii. 15. We are now at liberty, he has made us free.

And we are now (3.) under a new course of providence. God leads us now by spiritual and eternal promises, he threatens spiritual and ever­lasting punishments, guides us by a clearer light than Prophesie, the evi­dence of the Word and Spirit, ties us not up to the Covenant of Works, nor empty Ceremonies; these things are past: Makes us not rich that he may accept us, but accepts us as we are: He reckons not of us by our wealth, or honour, or learning, or our parts, we know no man so now, ver. 16. not Christ so now according to the flesh; we value not any man now for any thing but holiness and righteousness, for so much as he is in Christ. Nor does the Christian value himself now for any thing but for that of Christ which is in him: riches he contemns, honour he despises, learn­ing he submits; all outward and externall priviledges and commendati­ons he lays at the foot of Christ, devotes them to his commands; these are all old, worn, tatter'd things, not worth the taking up; nothing now worth any thing but Christ, nothing but Christ, and those new things those graces are in him.

Thus old things are past with the true Christian; but (2.) all things also are become new in him. He has a new heart, and a new spirit; he has no more a heart of stone, but a heart of flesh; a soft, tender, pliable heart, a meek and well disposed spirit, a loving spirit; he is no more what he was, the old ego, he has a new understanding; things look not to him as they did of old, he vilifies the world and worldly things. His affecti­ons new, he affects not what he did before; he contemns all things be­low: He is a King, and rules over his passions; he is a Priest, and san­ctifies them with his Prayers: he lives under a new Law, the Law of the Spirit, and not the Flesh; he makes every day new Covenants with God: A Member of the Church he is, and the Kingdom of God is now within him. He is a great adorer of the Sacraments of the Church, and daily offers up himself a Sacrifice to God, his Soul and Body, and all he has, and pours out his praises. His Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and the Altar of his Heart burns with the continual fires of Devo­tion and Charity. He now lives no more, but Christ lives in him, that's the new life he leads, and it leads him into glory. A new thing of which he has a glimpse, and a kind of antipast here, that makes him relish nothing else, but cast all behind his back as old rags and dirt, to press forward to the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Iesus, [Page 171] Phil. iii. 14. This is the new Creature, the new man, in whom old things are past away, and all things become new.

And shall all things become new, and not we? shall all old things pass away, and we remain in our old sins still? every thing be cloth'd with a new lustre, we only appear in our old rags still? Certainly we cannot judge it reasonable. Better use I hope we will make of this days Text, of this New-years lesson. Put off, says the Apostle, concerning the former conver­sation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be re­newed in the spirit of our minds, and put on that new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. iv. 22, 23, 24. 'Tis his coun­sel must be our practise. The time past of our life may suffice us, says S. Peter, 1 Pet. iv. 3. to have wrought the will of the Gentiles. It is sufficient, it is suf­ficient. 'Tis time now we unlearn our old lesson, unravel our old work, leave off our old course of life, and begin a new to live henceford to righ­teousness, and not to sin; to God, and not to men. The new entred year calls for it, the Text calls for it, the Blood of Christ spent at his Circum­cision lately past, which yet this day (and some days still to come) com­memorate, cries for it, that we would no longer count the blood of the new Covenant an unholy thing, but betake us to it, and live by it after a new fa­shion in newness of life. I call you not to legal washings, but the wash­ings of Baptism and Repentance; not to Iewish Feasts, but Christian Fe­stivals; not to sacrifice Lambs and Sheep, but your Souls and Bodies; not to old Ceremonies, but the new substance, the Righteousness of Je­sus Christ. Let him now begin his new reign in you, let his new Com­mandment of Love be obeyed by you, his Church, purchased so dearly, not be cowardly deserted by you; keep his Covenant, frequent his Tem­ples, adorn his Altars, reverence his Priests, follow the guidance of his Holy Spirit, when he inspires good motions into your hearts; amend your lives, and become all new men in Jesus Christ.

And when all these old things shall pass away, and the new Heaven and Earth appear, when he that sits upon the Throne, Rev. xxi. 5. shall make all things new, then shall we be all made new again, even these old decayed ruines of our bodies too, and both souls and bodies clothed with the new Robes of Glory, that shall never pass away, but be ever new, ever glorious for evermore.

THE SECOND SERMON ON THE Circumcision.

St. LUKE ii. 21.‘—His Name was called Iesus.—’

ANd to Day it was that He was called so, when eight days were accomplished for his circumcising. And they did well to call him so, for it was the Name the Angel named him before he was conceived in the womb. And he could be called by no better: For Nomen super omne nomen, says St. Paul of it, Phil. ii. 9. A name it is above every name, for above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, Eph. i. 21. A Name that has all things in it; that brings all good things with it; that speaks more in five letters, than we can do in five thousand words; speaks more in it than we can speak to day, and yet we intend to day to speak of nothing else, nothing but Iesus, nothing but Iesus.

The sooner then we begin the better. And to begin the sooner, we shall set upon it without either the Circumstances before or after in the verse, or the Ceremonies either of Preamble, or of Division of the words.

Only for Method sake, and memory, I shall shew you the fulness and greatness of this Name in these seven Particulars:

  • 'Tis a Name of Truth and Fidelity.
  • 'Tis a Name of Might and Power.
  • 'Tis a Name of Majesty and Glory.
  • 'Tis a Name of Grace and Mercy.
  • 'Tis a Name of Sweetness and Comfort.
  • 'Tis a Name of Wonder and Admiration.
  • 'Tis a Name of Blessing and Adoration.

A faithful, mighty, glorious, gracious, comfortable, admirable, blessed Name it is, given Him to Day to be called by; but to be called by, and to be called upon by us for ever, that we also may be filled with [Page 173] the truth, and power, and glory, and grace, and sweetness, and won­der, and all the blessings of it. This is the sum of what we have to say of this Great Name; and now we go on with the Particulars.

A Name it is first of veracity and fidelity, of faithfulness and truth. This Iesus is but the old Ieshua [...] so much mentioned, so often fortold, so long expected all the Scripture thorow. The Greek termination (of [...]) only added, that we might so understand that all those Types, Prophe­sies, and Promises were now terminated, and at an end in this [...] in this Iesus: the Greeks and Gentiles taken in too, to fulfill all that had been before named or spoken any way concerning him. The testimony of Iesus is the very spirit of Prophesie, Rev. xix. 11. Prophesie had neither life nor spirit without it; and the Name of Iesus is the very Amen to it, Rev. iii. 14. All the Promises of God, too, in him are yea, and in him Amen, says the Apostle, 2 Cor. i. 20. His very name is the Amen, Rev. iii. 14. The faithful and true witness in the same verse. Absolutely faithful and true, Rev. xix. 11. Nay, This same Name Iesus, from [...], to save, was rightly given him in this sense, first, that it saved the honour of God, and the credit of his Pro­phets, that their words fell not to the ground, but were all accomplished and made good in his blessed Name. A good Name the while, for us to hold by, for our souls to rest on, for our hopes to anchor on, that is so faithful and true to us, will not fail us in a word or tittle.

II. And indeed it need not, for it is (2.) a Name of Power. A Name (1.) at which the Devils roar and tremble, Iesu, thou Son of God, what have we to do with thee? A Name (2.) that not only scares the Devils, but casts them out, and unhouses them of their safer dwellings. A Name so power­ful (3.) that pronounced even by some that followed not Christ with the Apostles, St. Luke ix. 49. that were not of so confident a faith, or so near a relation to him, it yet cast them out. So mighty (4.) that in it many of those also cast out devils, did many wonderful works, St. Mat. xvii. 22. to whom he will profess he never knew them, who must therefore at last depart down to those Devils they cast out; A name, it seems, that though in a wicked mouth, has oft done wonders. So powerful (5.) that no disease or sickness, no ach or aile, no infirmity or malady could stand against it. His Name, says St. Peter, hath made this man whole whom ye see and know, Acts iii. 16. His name made that man, makes all men whole. So powerful (6.) with God himself, that he cannot stand against it, cannot deny us any thing that we ask in it. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it, says Christ, St. Ioh. xiv. 14. whatsoever it be, verse 13. and my Father will do it too, St. Ioh. xv. 16. In a word, Iesus signiffes a Sa­viour, and a Saviour is a name of power. He that saves either himself or others must be no weakling; The stronger man in the Gospel at least, St. Luke xi. 22. mighty to save, as the Prophet speaks, Isa. lxiii. 1. But he that saves us from the powers of darkness must be the strong and mighty God too; and so is his name, Isa. ix. 6. or the devil will be too strong for him. O thou God, who art mighty to save, save thy Ser­vants from him; save us from all the evils and mischiefs he plots against us, that through thy Name we may tread them under that rise up against us.

III. So will this Name be glorious too: so it was, and so it is we are to shew you next, a Name of Majesty and glory.

Take it from the reason the Angel gives of the Imposition, St. Luke i. 31, 32, 33. Thou shalt call his Name Iesus. Why? Why, he shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give him the Throne of [Page 174] his Father David; and he shall reign over the house of Iudah for ever, and of his Kingdom there shall be no end. The whole together nothing, but the An­gels comment upon the name Iesus, nothing but the interpretation of the name: where we consider first, that 'tis a royal name, the name of a King; not of any King neither, but a King by succession; not any new upstart King, but of a King from the lineage of ancient Kings: not of any here­ditary or successive King neither, but of one from the Kings of Iudah, Kings of Gods own making; none of Ieroboams lineage, or any others of the peoples setting up: more glorious than so. And yet more of a King, whose Kingdom shall have no end; that's a glorious King indeed. All other Kings die and leave their Kingdoms and their names behind them half wrapt up at least in dust and rubbish: this has an everlasting Kingdom, and an everlasting Name; he lives ever, and that lives so too. But of his Kingdom there shall be no end, hath another sense too. All the ends of the earth shall come in unto him, there shall be no particular end or bound of his Dominion. Upon his holy hill of Sion indeed it is God sets him, Psal. ii. 6. But so there, that he gives him the Heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession, ver. 8. that he may rule them thence. He is both an everlasting and an universal King. Nay lastly, the King of Kings, his Name is written so upon his thigh, Rev. xix. 16. So glori­ous a Name has he, such a superexaltavit there is upon it, so highly exal­ted is this name Iesus, Phil. ii. 9. So highly, that some Commentators and Grammarians would have it the same with the Name Iehovah; then surely 'tis full of Majesty and Glory: [...] only, say they, is added either to make it effable, which was before ineffable; to make it possible and lawful to be uttered, which was before scarce either; so infinite was the Majesty of that great Name: Or (2.) to intimate to us that God now is become man, [...] taken out of [...] which signifies a man, and put into his own Name of Iehovah, so making it Iehosuah, or Iesuah, which is our Iesus, and the Name now given us to be saved by. Whether this Criticism will hold or no, the name Emmanuel, which, says S. Matthew, was fulfilled in this of Iesus, so fulfilled that the Evangelist quotes the Prophets words of calling him Em­manuel, fulfilled in the calling of him Iesus, S. Matih. i. 21, 22, 23. as if both were the same; that name (I say) has Gods Name in it to be sure; El is one of his, so with us it is there joyn'd; enough to render it glo­rious: and the Angel telling us in his interpretation and reason of the Name, that he was the Son of the Highest, intimates it was a Name of the highest Majesty and Glory. And what can we say upon it less than burst out with the Psalmist into a holy exclamation, O Lord our Governour, O Lord our Iesus, how excellent is thy name in all the world! It is all cloth'd with Ma­jesty and Honour, it is deckt with light, it spreads out it self in the Heavens like a curtain, it lays the beams of its chamber in the waters, it makes the cloud its Chariot, it comes riding to us upon the wings of the wind, the Holy Spirit breaths it full upon us, it makes the Angels its Spirit to convey it, it makes the Ministers of it a flaming fire, it laid the foundation of the earth, it covers the deep with its wings, covers Hea­ven and Earth with the Majesty of its glory.

IV. Yet so it might, and we ne're the better, but that, fourthly, 'tis a Name of Grace and Mercy, as well as Majesty and Glory. Iesus is a word of which I may more justly say, as Tully says of the Greek [...] that it contains so much ut Latino uno verbo exprimi non possit, It cannot be exprest in any one Latin or English word, or any one indeed besides it self. Mercy and Grace dwell in it; it engrosses all, and without it there is none any where to be [Page 175] found; no Mercy out of Iesus, no Grace but from Iesus, no Name under heaven given by which we can be saved, but the Name of Iesus, Acts iv. We are Baptized in the Name of Iesus, Acts xix. 5. We receive remission of our sins in the Name of Iesus. Ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Ie­sus, 1 Cor. vi. 11. Ye are sanctified in the Name of the Lord Iesus, in the same verse. We are glorified by the Name of Iesus, in that Name we live, in that name we die. To Iesus it is we run for grace and assistance whilst we live. To Iesus we cry for Grace and Mercy when we die. To Iesus we commit our spirits when we breath them out. We can neither live nor die without our Iesus.

Thy name, says the Spouse, is oyntment poured forth, Cant. i. 3. Now Oyl has three special uses, for light, for meat, for medicine. We have all in Iesus, (1.) He is the light that lighteth every one that comes into the world, St. John i. 9. (2.) He's the meat that never perishes, S. John vi. 27. and feeds us up to everlasting life, S. Iohn vi. 54. (3.) He's the cure and me­dicine of all our maladies. He wants nothing that has Iesus, and he has nothing that wants him.

Omnia Iesus nobis est si volumus, &c. says St. Ambrose. Iesus is all things to us if we will. Curari desideras medicus est, si febribus aestuas fons est, si gravaris iniquitate justitia est, si auxilio indiges virtus est, si mortem times vita est, si ire de­sideras via est, si tenebras fugis lux est, si cibum appetis alimentum est. Dost thou want health? he is the great Physician. Art thou fried in the flames of a burning Fever? he is the well-spring to cool thy heat. Art thou over-laden with thine ini­quity? he is thy righteousness to answer for thee. Dost thou want help? he is ever ready at hand to succour thee. Art thou afraid of death? he is thy life. Wouldst thou fain be going any whither? he is the way. Art thou in darkness and fearest to stumble? he is a light to thy feet, and a lanthorn to thy paths. Art thou hungry, or thirsty? he is nourishment, and food, and meat, and drink, the truest. What is it that thou desirest, that he is not, that this name will not afford thee? Why, it heals our sicknesses, it supports our infirmities, it supplies our necessities, it instructs our ignorances, it defends us from dangers, it con­quers temptations, it inflames our coldnesses, it lightens our understand­ings, it rectifies our wills, it subdues our passions, it raises our spirits, and drives away all wicked spirits from us; it ratifies our petitions, it con­firms our blessings, and crowns all our prayers. In this name they end all that end well, through Iesus Christ our Lord. In thy name, O blessed Iesus, we obtain all that we obtain, through it we receive all that we receive; so that say we may well with that holy Father, Iesus meus & omnia, Iesus me­us & omnia, Iesus is my all, Jesus he is and all. I have nothing else but him, I will have nothing else but him, and I have all if I have him.

V. And well may we now say fifthly, 'tis a name of sweetness and com­fort too, a seet name indeed: oyntment we told you it was, and a sweet oyntment it is, that fills all the house with its precious odour; insomuch as it makes the Virgins therefore love thee, says the Spouse there, in the fore-cited place of the Canticles, Mel in ore, in aure melos, in corde subilus, says S. Bernard, 'Tis honey in the mouth, 'tis musick in the ear, 'tis melody in the heart. The soul, and all its powers; the body, and all its members, may draw sweetness thence. O how sweetly sounds the Name of Iesus or a Saviour to one in misery, to one in danger, to one in any calamity or di­stress! how does it rejoyce the heart, and quicken the very bones! Gyra & regyra, versa & reversa, says the devout S. Bernard, & non invenies pacem vel requiem nisi in solo Iesu. Quapropter si quiescere vis pone Iesus ut signaculum super cor tuum, quia tranquillus ipse tranquillat omnia. Turn you, and turn you [Page 176] again, which way you will, which way you can, you can never find such peace and quiet as there is in Iesus, you will find none any where but in him. If you would fain therefore lay you down to rest in peace and comfort, set the seal of Iesus upon your heart, and all will be quiet: no dreadful visions of the night shall affright you, no noon days trouble shall ever shake you. In the midst of that ter­rible storm of sto [...]es about St. Stevens ears, he but looking up and seeing Iesus, falls presently into a quiet slumber, and sweetly sleeps his last up­on a hard heap of pebbles, more pleasantly than upon a Bed of Down or Roses. For 'tis remarkable that the holy Martyr there calls out upon the Name of Iesus rather than that of Christ, as if that only were the name to hold by in our last and greatest agonies. Nor is it to be forgotten that this Name was set upon the Cross, over our Saviours head, to teach us that 'tis a Name which set upon the head of all our Crosses will make them easie; the thought of Iesus, the reference to that holy Name, the suffering un­der that, will give both a sweet odour, and a pleasant relish to whatever it is we suffer. This looking unto Iesus, as the Apostle advises, Heb. xii. 2, 3. will keep us from being weary, or fainting under them, will make us con­querours, more than conquerours, Rom. viii. 37. sure of our reward to sweet­en all: For neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heighth, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Iesus, ver. 38, 39. This same Iesus at the end fixes and fastens all: the love of God in Iesus will never leave us, never forsake us: keep but that devoutly in our hearts, and piously in our mouths, and we need fear nothing. Come what can, it sweetens all. Methinks St. Paul seems to find a kind of delight and sweet­ness in the very repeating it, he so often uses it, begins and ends his Epi­stles with it, garnishes them all through with it, scarce uses the very name of Christ without it; as if it even sweetned that, at least made it sweeter, and made the Oyl and Chrism with which Christ himself was anointed, run more merrily and freely to the very skirts of his clothing. So that now, is there any one sad? let him take Iesus into his heart, and he will take heart presently, and his joy will return upon him. Is any one fallen into a sin? let him call heartily upon this Name, and it will raise him up. Is any one troubled with hardness of heart, or dulness of spirit, or deje­ction of mind, or drowsiness in doing well? in the meditation of this Name Iesus, a Saviour, all vanish and flie away. Who was ever in such fear that it could not strengthen? who in any danger that it could not deliver? who in so great anxiety that it did not quiet? who in any de­spair that it could not comfort and revive? That we are not sensible of it is our own dulness and experience. If we would but seriously meditate upon it, we should quickly find it otherwise. Nothing would please us where this Name were not; No discourse would please us where it was not sometimes to be heard; No writings delight us if this Name were left out. All the sweetest Rhetorick, and neatest eloquence would be dull without it; our very prayers would seem imperfect which ended not in this very Name. Our days would look dark and heavy which were not lightned with the Name of the Son of Righteousness; Our nights but sad and dolesom which we entred not with this sweet Name, when we lay down without commending our selves to God in it. Our very years would have been a thousand times more unhappy than even those which we have seen of late, would be nothing but trouble, discontent, and misery, did they not begin in this Name, were they not yearly usher'd in under the protection of it. Were not this, His Name was called Iesus, proclaimed [Page 177] to day, to begin it with, we might call the year what we would, but good we could not call it. This setting forth Iesus a Saviour in the front, is that which saves us all the year through, from all the unlucky and un­fortunate days that men call in it. All the ill Aspects of Heaven, of all the Stars and Planets grow vain and idle upon it, and our days run sweet­ly and pleasantly under it. The Psalmist seems thus to prophesie and fore­tel it, Psal. lxv. 12. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, and thy clouds drop fatness. This day crowns the year, this Name crowns the day, all our dwel­lings would be but a sad wilderness all the year without it; but they re­joyce, and laugh, and sing, Hills and Vallies too, being thus blest in the en­trance of the year with this happy Name. I end this point (though so sweet that I part with it unwillingly) with a stave or two of devout Ber­nards Jubile or Hymn upon it.

Nil canitur su [...]vins, auditur nil jucundius,
Nil cogitatur dulcius, quam Iesus Dei filius, &c.
Iesu dulcedo cordium, Fons viv [...]s, lumen mentium,
Excedens omne gaudium, & omne de [...]iderium.
Nec lingua valet dicere, nec litera exprimere,
Expertus potest oredere, quod si [...] Iesum diligere.

There is nothing sweeter to be sung of, nothing more delightful to be heard, nothing more pleasant to be thought of than this Iesus. Iesus the delight of hearts, the light of minds, above all joy, above all we can desire; the tongue cannot tell, words cannot express; only he that feels it can believe what sweetness is in Iesus. A long song he makes of it: It would not be amiss that we also made some short ones, some ejaculations and raptures now and then upon it. Give us but a taste and relish of the sweetness of thy blessed Name, O Iesus, and we shall also sing of it all the day long, and praise thy Name for ever and ever, and sing with the same Father, Iesu Decus Angelicum, in aure dulce can [...]icum, in ore mel mir [...]fic [...]m, in csrde nectar coelicum, O Jesu, thou joy and glory of Men and Angels, thy Name is Musick in our ears, honey in our mouths, heavenly nectar to our hearts, all sweetness, all pleasure to us throughout, wonderful sweet.

VI. Nay, wonderful in all, for 'tis a Name of wonder and admiration. Wonderful is one of the names the Prophet calls him by, Isa. ix. 6. And Cabalistical wits have pickt wonders out of it from every letter in all three languages.

In the Hebrew there are four letters [...] and [...], and from the significa­tion of these letters rise the mystery. Iod signifies a hand, Schin a tooth, Vau a nail or hook, and Ain an eye: the hand is the instrument of power, the teeth one of the instruments of voices and words, the nail an instru­ment in his passion, and the eye an instrument or great discoverer of mer­cy and pity. By all these he is our Iesus; by his power he overthrew our enemies, which would have slain us; by his word he revives our souls when they were slain and dead: by his Passion he redeemed us from our sins, and for his own mercy sake he did all these.

In the Greek there are six letters [...], which according to the old device of vailing names in numbers, amount to the number of 888. the first letter is 10. the second 8. the third 200. the fourth 70. the fifth 400. and the last 300. which put all together, make up that number: and by reason that eight is the number they say of the Resurrection, that falling out the eighth day, the day after the Sabbath, which is the se­venth, [Page 178] include this Mystery, That in Iesus is our rest and Resurrection, to eternal quiet. The name of Antichrist is covered in the Revelation un­der the number of 666. Now the six days are days of labour, pain, and trouble; the seventh is but a short day of rest whilst we are here, 'tis on­ly the eighth day that follows after all, which must close up all in ever­lasting glory, free from all labour, pain, and troub [...] and this is found in no other name, than in the Name of Iesus, nor given us in any other. And that it may not pass for a meer fancy, the Cuman Sybills verses thus fore­told his Name many years before.

Tunc ad mortales veniet mortalibus ipsis,
In terris similis natus patris omnipotentis
Corpore vestitus, vocales quatuor, autem
Fert, non vocalesque duas, binum geniorum.
Sed quae fit numeri totius summa docebo,
Namque octo monades, totidem decades super ista,
Atque hecatontadas octo, infidis significabit
Hominibus nomen. T [...] vero mente teneto.

There shall come, says she, into the earth the Son of the Almighty Fa­ther, clothed with flesh like unto us. Four Vowels and two Consonants shall his name consist of, and the number of them be, eight unites, eight tens, and eight hundred, that is, 888. So here's wonder upon wonder, to make it wonderful.

3. In the Latin we have five letters, IESVS, and by the old short way of writing among the Romans, of the first letter for the whole word, the subtle fanciers of the Cabala will tell us these five letters in the Name of Iesus intimate the fulness of its perfection, that it is jucundum, efficax, sanctum, verum, salutiferum, that it is full of joy, efficacy, sanctity, ve­rity, and salvation. Thus you see we have so rendred it as to find the My­stery in English name, that it is a sweet and joyful Name, an efficacious and powerful Name, a sanctifying and justifying Name, a Name verify­ing all Types, and Prophesies, and Promises, and a salutiferous and sa­ving name too. Five glories to himself, five benefits to us by it; or as I may have otherwise as fully exprest them, Justification, Election, San­ctification, Victory, and Salvation.

And now let the Iew come with his Rasche Theboth, with his first letter for a word, and write [...] for Iesus; meaning thereby maliciously [...] Let his Name be blotted out: it will fall upon himself. His name will surely be blotted out of the Book of Life, who goes about to abuse this, or who has not his portion in the Name of Iesus.

I should add one Mystery more, [...] which is in the Hebrew Name of Ie­sus is, say they, a letter with three equal fangs joyn'd all together, and may denote the Trinity, where the three Persons are equal and all united. And then we have a mysterious Name indeed, the whole God-head, Tri­nity in Vnity in it; and yet a [...] besides (as we told you before) for the Humanity. So a perfect Saviour of both Natures, expressed perfectly in his Name. God and Man, and all the whole Trinity employed in the busi­ness of our salvation. A wonderful Name indeed.

But (2.) 'tis also wonderful without a Cabala, full of plain wonders, as well as of mysterious.

1. 'Tis a new Name, and yet Ioshuah the Prince, and Iosuah the Priest, and Ioshua, or Iesus the Son of Syrach had the same name all; and is it [Page 179] not then a wonder that it should yet be new? But theirs were given them by men, this him by an Angel. Theirs signified only a temporal delive­rance, this spiritual and temporal both: theirs a particular, this a gene­ral salvation: Theirs lastly, meerly signified, this very name effects also our salvation and deliverance.

2. A name that no man knew but himself, Rev. xix. 12. No man can tell the wonders of it. No man can pronounce it right neither, without an immediate assistance from above, 1 Cor. xii. 3. No man can say, the Lord Iesus, but by the Holy Ghost.

3. The wonders that are wrought by it make it truly wonderful, that in it, or by it, or through it, such mighty things both are and have been done, even by men that only outwardly profest it, and only sounded the letters of it, as you have heard already.

'Tis wonderful (lastly) sure, that it should force even the Devils to bow down to it; not only depart their Lodgings to give it room, but even be compelled themselves to worship it: yet so we find it, Phil. ii. 10. Those things under the earth, that is, the Devils also, so doing and con­fessing.

And shall we now think much to do as much, to do what all things in Heaven, and Earth, and under it, even in Hell too, do to it? bow the knee and worship it? It is a Name, says the Apostle, given him to that pur­pose, for us to pay our duty and homage to, ver. 9. 'Tis a Name of bles­sing and adoration, says our last point, Venerandum nomen Iesu, a Name to be blessed and adored.

First then, bless we God for his holy Name, for the benefits and com­fort we receive by it.

Bless we (2.) the Name it self, praise, and magnifie, and glorifie, and give thanks unto it. They are the expressions of the Holy Pen, Psal. cxlv. 2. cxxxviii. 2. lxxxvi. 9. cxl. 13. they are not mine: so you have autho­rity enough to do it, if you think the Holy Ghost knows how to speak.

Bless we (3.) our selves in this Name, when we lie down, and when we rise up; when we go out, and when we come in: for in thy Name, O blessed Iesu, shall we tread them under, that rise up against us: Nothing shall be able to hurt or damage us, when we put our selves under the pro­tection of it. If afflictions and troubles press hard upon thee, and embit­ter all thy days, this Name is the tree whose wood will sweeten the bit­terest waters, cut down a branch of it and throw it in. Do thy sins and conscience rent and tear thee? this Name is the Oyl to lenifie and cure them, pour it out upon them. Art thou to encounter death it self? in this Name thou shalt overcome it, deliver up thy soul but in it. 'Tis a Name of truth and fidelity, thou canst not distrust it. 'Tis a Name of might and power, thou mayest rest upon it. 'Tis a Name of Majesty and glory, thou must exalt it. 'Tis a Name of Grace and Mercy, thou must praise him for it, and commit thy self unto it. 'Tis a Name of sweetness and comfort, thou must rejoyce and be glad in it. 'Tis a Name of wonder and admiration, thou must admire and declare it. 'Tis a Name of adora­tion, thou must now adore it too.

Bow the knee, says the Apostle, or bow down at it. Holy and reverend is his Name, says the Psalmist, Psal. cxi. 9. And if reverend, it may be rever'd, it may be worshipped. I speak not of the syllables and letters, but of the sense. When we hear the Name of Iesus, I suppose there is none so lit­tle Christian but that he will confess, I may lift up my heart and praise him for the mercy and benefits that I remember, and am put in mind of [Page 180] by it; and where I bow my soul, may I not bow my body? The Text is plain enough, That at the Name of Iesus every knee should bow, Phil. ii. 10. Should, though they do not, or else shall when they will not; and where they would not, when they come among those that are under the earth: and was ever more need to do it than in an age where 'tis doubted whether he be or God or Saviour? where it is question'd so often, whe­ther there were ever such a Name to be sav'd by, and we not rather sav'd every one in his own? Is it not high time to revive this honour to it, that the world may know we acknowledge him to be God, to be the Lord, and are not ashamed to confess it? But to sift the matter, and speak home, Is this doing any other, than only one particular way of praising, glorifying, and magnifying of the Name? and are not all the Scriptures expressions so for doing that, and for declaring it? and is this any more? How ordinary are the phrases of exalting, and blessing, and praising, and sanctifying of his Name, and making of it to be glorious, of a glory due to his Name, Psal. xxix. 2. of the honour of his Name to be sung forth, Psal, lxvi. 2. And sure the Scripture knows how to speak. And though the Name of Iesus be not I confess directly and immediately meant in those places, but the Name of God; yet thus much we have certain thence, that (1.) the honour done to his Name, be it by words or any expression else, (for all our outward expressions have the same ground and reason) are duties of the Text: And that (2.) the Name of Ie­sus being now the Name of God, it can be no superstition to do the same to that. Now the Jews, I must tell you, never mentioned the Name of God without an adoration, and a Benedictus; when ever they mentioned it, they bowed themselves, and added always, Blessed for ever, or blessed for evermore, as you have St. Paul, Rom. i. 25. 2 Cor. i. 3. Ephes. i. 3. 1 Pet. i. 3. 2 Cor. xi. 21. 1 Tim. vi. 15. nay, doing no less to the Name of Christ, Rom. ix. 5. mentioning him there with the same words after it. So that it is but reasonable to suppose the Christians should do as much to the Name of Iesus, thereby to possess themselves that he was God, and to possess others against those rising Heresies that were then starting up to rob him of the honour of his God-head. And I cannot but fear that such as obstinately deny this worship to it, do as inwardly grudge at that Arti­cle of Faith that believes him to be God; and are little better in their hearts than old Arians, or new Socinians, or well looking towards them. But I add no more, only remember you, that we daily cry out in the Te Deum, We worship thy Name ever, world without end: and if we do not, why do we say so?

But say that or not, say good of it however I hope we will; and as David's phrase is, speak good of his Name: omnia bona dicere, say all the good, speak of all the good we receive by it.

Say good of it, and make others (3.) say good of it; not give others occasion to speak ill of it, to blaspheme that holy Name by which we are called; not blaspheme it our selves, neither by our words nor by our acti­ons; not blaspheme it by Oaths and Curses, not blaspheme it by our evil lives, not use it irreverently, not speak of it slightly, not cause others to say, Lo, these are your Christians, these your professors to wor­ship Iesus, men that cannot so much as speak well of his Name, which they pretend to be saved by! Carry our selves we will I hope as men that have a portion in Jesus, a share in salvation.

Praise his Name (4.) and give thanks to it; that sure no body will deny him, praise and thanks for what he has done by it.

[Page 181] And (5.) love his Name we must too, love to think of it, love to be speaking of it. 'Tis reported of the holy Ignatius, that the Name of Ie­sus was so frequently in his mouth, that it was even found written in his heart when he was dead, found written there in golden Characters: And 'tis affirmed by good Authors. Oh that this sweet Name were writ­ten in our hearts too while we are living; that it were daily meditated upon, and heartily lov'd by us as it should.

We would then (6.) call upon it oftner than we do, be ever calling on it. We have a promise to be heard for whatever we ask in it, St. Iohn xiv. 13, 14. And we have an authentick example, Christs first Martyr, so to do, Acts vii. 59. Be we not afraid then of the tongues of foolish men, but open we the morning, and shut in the evening with it, begin and end our days with it in our months.

Nay lastly, begin and end all our works and actions with it, do all in the name of the Lord Iesus, Col. iii. 17. whatsoever we do in word or deed, says the Apostle there: we can neither begin nor end better. How sweet is the Name of Iesus, or a Saviour, at the on-set of our work, to save and keep us from all miscarriage in it! How sweet is it again when we have done, if we can say Iesus again, that we have sav'd by it, been saved in it, and shall one day be saved through it; that Iesus runs through all with us! So then remember we to begin and end all in Iesus; the New Testament, the Covenant of our Salvation begins and ends so. The generation of Ie­sus, so it begins; and come Lord Iesus, so it ends. May we all end so too, and when we are going hence, commend our spirits, with St. Stephen, into his hands; and when he comes, may he receive them, to sing Praises and Allelujahs to his blessed Name, amidst the Saints and Angels, in his glori­ous Kingdom for ever.

THE FIRST SERMON ON THE EPIPHANY.

St. MAT. ii. 11.‘And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary his Mother, and fell down and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrhe.’

A Day, this, of the luckiest Aspect; a Text, this, of the happiest success that ever Travellers met with: Never had Journey better success, never pains more happily bestowed, than in the Text, and on the Day. Christ, the end of all our travel, the full reward of all our pains, was here this Day found by the Wise men after a twelve days Journey. And what wise man would not think himself well paid for all his labour, were it not so many days, but years; not so many years, but ages; so that after all he might bless his eyes with this happy sight?

Well may these fortunate Travellers in thankfulness fall down and wor­ship, and offer presents. Wise men could do no other: and we, if we be wise, will do no less. For ordinary and common blessings we bend our knees, and present our offerings to the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ; but for the Lord Iesus Christ himself, 'tis not bending, but falling down; not offer­ing of all praises only, but praises and offerings of all, our selves, and all we have, which can any way look like a thankfulness correspondent to so great a benefit.

This is a mercy not to be forgotten, this Day, especially so falling out, affordeth us by its double holiness, as our Lords Day, and our Lord Epi­phany, an invincible occasion to remember and praise him in it.

Double holiness said I? trebble I may say, and more. Three Epiphanies the Church reckons upon this Day▪ Christ, three sundry and divers ways manifested to the world. (1.) The first to the Wise men, Strangers, and Gen­tiles, [Page 183] by a Star. (2.) The second to the Iews by a voice from Heaven; and the Holy Ghost descending thence in form of a Dove upon him at his Baptism. (3.) The third to his own Country-men of Galilee, at the Marriage at Cana, by his first Miracle. All three commemorated upon this Day; the first in the Gospel, the other two in the two second Lessons for the Day.

Of these we have pitched upon the first, as most concerning us, who once were Gentiles as well as they, who this Day, by the conduct of a Star, were brought into the house, and into the presence of their new-born King and Saviour. We then, as men concerned in these first fore-runners of our Faith, the first fruits of us sinners of the Gentiles, are to take notice of their good behaviour, as well as their good fortune; as well how they carried themselves to Christ when they had found him, as how they found him; as well how they carried themselves towards Christ, as how they were brought to him.

Four points we have of it: They came, They saw, They worshipped, They offered. This is the sum of this Days solemnity, of the Wise mens Religion, and should be of ours. Such service was done then, such service is due still to Christ the Saviour.

So four parts we have of the Text.

  • 1. The Wise mens coming, And when they were come into the house.
  • 2. Their seeing, They saw the Child with Mary his Mother.
  • 3. Their worship, They fell down and worshipped.
  • 4. Their offering, When they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrhe.

Their coming, their seeing, their worshiping, their offering, are the parts of the Text, and shall be of my comment and discourse. I enter first up­on their Intrantes, and When they were come into the house. Their coming, that first; where we are to consider: (1.) The parties, who. (2.) Their coming, what. (3.) Their place, whither.

Who they were, the first verse expresses, Wise men from the East. Wise men, and come so far to see a Child in his Mothers arms! certainly ei­ther the Child is some extraordinary great personage, whose birth also much concerns them, or they have lost their wits, to take so long and troublesom a Journey to so little purpose. A great personage indeed, and this the wisest act that ever yet they did in all their lives. The King of the Iews they stile him, the Messiah they meant; one indeed that should be born King of the Iews, but should be made King of the Gentiles too. In him shall the Gentiles trust, saith the Prophet; rule over them as well as those he should, protect and save them too from their enemies, out of the hands of all that hate them. And to get interest in him betimes, to get to be among the first of those that submit to him, and bring him presents, was the wisest piece of all the wisdom of either East or West.

Wise men the Scripture calls them, Wise men this act proves them, had they never done any thing wise before; and Wise men they shall ever be in holy Language (whatsoever the world esteem or style them) who at any time think no pains or cost too much to come to Christ, to come and wor­ship him.

[...], the Greek names them. A word which latter ages have always, or most commonly taken in the worser sense, for men addicted to unlaw­ful Arts, as we sometimes in our own tongue also call such Wise men, whom we deem little better than Wizards. The word had not that ac­ception from the first, 'twas time, and some mens ill practices that corrupted it; but be it what it will, this we may learn by it, that (1.) [Page 184] God, qui suaviter disponit omnia, the sweet disposer of all things, does often draw a testimony to his truth, even from the mouth of falshood, makes even the Devils to confess it. That (2.) he sometimes calls men to him­self by the violence of their own principles, be they true or false; makes some Star or other sometimes guide those great doaters on Astrology beyond what is right; as here, to Christs Cradle; so at other times to his Chair, to learn of him, and become Disciples: makes them sometimes burn their Books to study his: Makes the Heretick sometimes to confute himself by his own wandring principles into the truth again; makes the perverse and obstinate man weary himself at last into. Christian meek­ness and moderation, by the wearisomness of his own perverseness. Thus the wisest may be caught in his own net e're he is aware (if God please to do him so much good) and wound into a truth or a piece of piety, which he so much struggled to avoid. Nay (3.) by these Wise mens coming, such kind of wise-men from the East, you may see there is no sin so enor­mous, of so orient a dye; no practice or trade of it so strong, though taken up at the East, or Sun-rise of our days, which Grace cannot overcome; no sinner so great from the East to the West, but the Grace of Christ can ei­ther draw, or win, or catch, or force to him.

Antiquity delivers these Wise men for Kings, or some great personages to us. Magi both in Persia and Arabia was a name of honour, and the men Princes at the least. So that, as before we told you, sinners, great sin­ners, might by their example come to Christ; God often brought them: So we now must tell you, that persons of honour, the greatest persons must not think much of a little pains, or a few days Journey upon Christs errand, or to do him service, nay, but to pay their worship to him. He that shall consider our days, and our addresses now to God and his Son Christ, and compare them with what these Wise men did here, will say, we are the Heathen, these the Christians; we, meer Arabians, strangers from the Covenant of Grace, men born and bred in the Wilderness of Arabia, where there is nothing but perpetual drought, no heavenly shower of grace ever comes: these only Believers. We the great persons that Christ himself must wait upon, if he will be seen; these the humble servants that will undertake any thing to see him.

And here it seems (if we now secondly examine their coming) they thought much of no pains or care to find him out. They came into the house.

Many a weary step had they trod, many a fruitless question had they askt, many an unprofitable search had they made to find him; and be­hold yet they will not give over. Twelve days it had cost them to come to Ierusalem, through the Arabian Desarts, over the Arabian Mountains, both Arabia Deserta & Petraea; the difficulty of the way, through Sands, and Rocks; the danger of the passages, being infamous for Robbers, the cold and hardness of a deep Winter season, the hazzard and incon­venience of so long, so hard, so unseasonable, so dangerous, and I may say so uncertain a Journey, could no whit deter them from their purpose: to Ierusalem they will through all these difficulties. But after all this pains, to lose the Star that guided them, to hear nothing at Ierusalem of him they sought, to be left after all this at a loss in that very place they only could expect to find him, and hear nothing there but a piece of an ob­scure Prophesie without date or time, to be left now to a meer wild-goose search, or a new Knight-errantry, and yet still to continue in their search, is an extream high piece both of Faith and Love, that considers [Page 185] no difficulties, that thinks much of no pains, that, maugre all, will set afresh upon the pursuit, that will be overcome with nothing, is resol­ved, come what will, to find what they believe and desire; such a piece of faith and love that we later Christians cannot Parallel.

How would a Winter journey scare us from our faith? A cold or rainy morning will do it; a little snow, or wind, or rain, or cold will easily keep us from coming to the house where Iesus is, from coming out to worship him. How would so long a voyage make us faint to hear of it? How would the least danger turn us back from the House of God? Alas! should it have been our cases, which was theirs here, if we could not presently have found him at Hierusalem, the Royal City, or had we lost the Star that led us, how had we sate down in sorrow, or returned in despair? We would have thus reasoned with our selves. Alas! we are come hither, and have lost our labour: Certainly, had this King been born, it would have been in the Royal City, or there certainly the news had been; but there we hear of no such matter, there neither any believes, or regards, or thinks of such a birth: What then do we do here enquiring, seeing his own people so much neglect it? Surely the Star that led us hither was but a false fire of fancy, and we are quite misled: Nay, and it appears no more, so that if we would still go on our wandrings, we know not whither, we had best return. Thus should we have reasoned our selves from Christ, fainted, and given over quite. 'Tis the fashion with us thus to reason our selves out of our Devotion and Religion. 'Tis the fa­shion too, to object any thing to save our pains in Christs business. Others Customs, or others Negligences, or others Ignorance, are sufficient ex­cuses to authorize ours: and if perchance we want a guide (though every man now thinks himself sufficient to guide and direct himself in all Points of his Religion, yet even this he cares not for, this he refuses and rejects) shall yet serve him for an excuse for his negligence and irre­ligion: nay, God himself shall sometimes bear the blame, his taking away, or else not giving us a Star and light to guide and lead us; his not giving us sufficient grace, shall be pretended the cause why we come not to him. When, did not our own coldness more chill our joynts than the cold of Winter; were we not afraid of every puff of wind when we are called to do any good; did not the fear of I know not what, only fancied and imagined dangers, make us cowards in our Religion; did we not fondly reason our selves out of our patient expectance of Christ; did we not guide our selves more by the Fashions, Customs, and Igno­rances of others, than by the constancy of that which is only just and good; did we not forsake our guides, while we prefer our own carnal reasons, interests, and respects, and lose the Star, the Guide that heaven had sent us to conduct us, by going to Hierusalem, by addicting our selves to the vanity and fashion of Court and City, by asking counsel of He­rod, of Scribes and Pharisees, meer Politicians and Pretenders of Piety and Religion, or Iewish Priests, men addicted wholly to their own way, to Iudaizing observations, I [...]daizing Sa [...]batizing Christians; were it not for these our doings and compliances with flesh and bloud, the Star would not fail to guide us, Gods grace would shine unto us, the day star would arise in all our hearts, and conduct us happily and safely too into the house where we should truly find Christ. The truth is, if our coming to Christ, if our Religion may cost us nothing, nor pains, nor cost, nor cold, nor heat, nor labour, nor time, nor hurt, nor hazard, nor enquiry, nor search, then it may be we will be content to give Christ a visit, and en­tertain [Page 186] his Faith and Worship, but not else; if it may not be had, nor Christ come to without so much ado, let him go, let all go; so we may sit at ease and quiet in our warm nests, come of Christs Worship, and of his house what will.

Yet thither it is (3.) to his house that these Wisemen make with all their eagerness. Many stately Buildings, and Royal Palaces, no doubt, they had seen by the way, fitter far for a King to be born in than the Inn they found him in; but at these they stay not; they and their Star rest not any where but at this house; here indeed they may, both heaven and earth, set up their rest; this house truly the house of God, which now con­tained the God of heaven and earth.

To teach us that we are not to look to outward appearances, nor judge al­ways according to sight. Christ may lie in the poorest Cottage, in the meanest Inn, as soon as in the highest Palace: Nay, in the low humble soul, in the Beggars soul as well as in the Kings, whose bodily presence, as St. Paul speaks, is weak, and whose speech contemptible, you shall sooner find him, than under the gilded roofs of a vain-glorious vertue, on a self-conceited and boasted Religion and Piety.

Indeed where ever the Star stands, whatever house the heavenly light encompasses, there must we alight and enter; we must not think much of the meanest dwelling that heaven points out, of the poorest condition that God designs us to. That house is glorious enough that Christ is in; that habitation and condition happiest, how poorly soever it appear, which the finger of God directs us to, and the light of his countenance shines on and encompasses. O my soul! enter there always, O my soul, where God points out unto thee, where the heavenly light shines over thee, how­ever earth look on thee: Thou shalt find more contentment in a Stable, amongst beasts, in the meanest imployment, than in the highest Offices of state and honour; in an Inn amongst strangers, than with thy brethren and kinsfolk at home; in a thatcht Hovel, in the poorest, hardest lodging, meanest dwelling, and lowest condition, than in the fairest house, the sweetest seats, the softest bed, the most plentiful estate, if God by his special finger, or Star of providence guides thee to it out of his secret wisdom, and Christ be with thee in it.

I do not wonder Interpreters make this house the Church of God; It is the Gate and Court of Heaven now Christ is here; Angels sing round about it, all Holiness is in it, now Christ is in it; Here all the Creatures, reasonable and unreasonable, come to pay their homage to their Creator; hither they come, even from the ends of the earth, to their devotions; a house of Prayer it is for all people, Gentiles and all; hither they come to worship, hither they come to pay their Offerings and their Vows; here's the Shrine and Altar, the glo­rious Virgins Lap, where the Saviour of the World is laid to be adored and worship'd; here stands the Star for tapers to give it light; and here the Wisemen this Day become the Priests, worship and offer, present prayers and praises for themselves, and the whole world besides, all people of the world, high and low, learned and ignorant represented by them.

This House then is a place well worth the coming to; here might the Wisemen well end all their Journeys, sit down, and rest where the eternal Wisdom keeps its residence; here may the greatest Potentates not disdain to stoop and enter, where the King of Kings and Lord of Lords vouchsafes to make his Lodging. Here only in this blessed Inn, where Christ is lodged, can the soul truly rest; no Wisdom but what is here, no Great­ness but what is his, no house but what is sanctified by his presence, no [Page 187] bed but where his right hand becomes our Pillow, and his left our covering, can satisfie the wearied soul, or give so much as one wink of rest, or quiet, or contentment to it. Well may the Wisemen pass by all other houses tocome to this; slight all the magnificent Palaces in the earth, to take up a lodging in this Inn; leave all other sights for this blessed sight, and count nothing worth the seeing till they see him, nothing but him.

Wise men will do so still, esteem Gods House, how mean soever it ap­pear, above all houses; his sight above all that can be seen, count all things dross and dung so they may gain Christ, one glance of him, one beam of his glorious brightness. Any place shall be worth being in where he is; no journey tedious, that at last brings to him; no way trouble­some, that leads to him; Rocks and Mountains easier than flowry plains and Meadows; Sands and Desarts pleasanter than the Spicie Gardens of the East, and the Hesperian Orchards; Ice, and Snows, and rain, and hail, and stormy weather, the greatest hardships that all these lower Regions can pour upon us, more delightful than continual Summers, and per­petual Springs, than uninterrupted sun-shines and gawdy days, if by those endurances we may at length arrive at the feet of Christ. All the injuries and inconveniences that can befall us here, are not worth the naming so they bring us to our Saviour. O my God, let me loose all so I may find him, let me want any thing so I want not him, let me have nothing so I may have him. He is the only thing the Wise men sought, and he it is that thus seeking they found, and saw at last, And when they were come into the house, they found the young Child with Mary his Mother.

And he was a thing worth finding. And found he would be, because they sought him; will be so of us, if we seek him diligently, carefully, and constantly as they did here: For the vvords here may as vvell carry the title of a revvard for their pains, as of a posture of their faith. Some ancient Copies (which the Latine follows) read [...] invenerunt, they found the Child; and thus it seems to speak their success, and the recom­pence of their labour in the search. Others, they say, as ancient read [...], viderunt, they saw the Child, which our English follows; and though there be no great difference, or matter of distinction, yet being authorized by our Church, we are willing to make use of, as being of a larger capacity, as well somewhat expressing the Wise mens carriage as their success. For we intend to handle both.

1. As it presents to us their success. A success sufficient to encourage us all to turn perpetual travellers to find Christ in the flesh. Christ a Child, to find him as soon almost as he can be found, a young Child, not yet full a fortnight old; to find him with his Mother too, Christ and the devout soul together, Christ and the soul united; to find him and Mary together, Christ exalted in our hearts, (for so Mary signifies exalted) his Kingdom and Power set up and exalted in our hearts; to find all this, all this for one poor journey, for the pains and labour of so small a number of days and hours, is a success than which no journey, no undertaking can have better: yet all these are here.

1. They found, first, an incarnate God, their Saviour in the flesh, a sight that the very Angels desire to look into, Bow down to look into, says St. Peter, 1 Pet. i. 12. A sight which all the Patriarchs and Prophets still desired to see, but could not: A sight which made the very Angels leave their hea­ven [Page 188] to come down and see, and seeing, sing for joy; A sight which made the Stars rejoyce in their courses, and wait upon poor mortals steps that they might be admitted to behold it. For indeed, what wonder ever saw they like it? He that spans the Heavens become a span breadth himself. The eternal word without a word to say, the infinite wisdom become childish­ness, the incomprehensible greatness wrapt up in swadling-bands. He that fills heaven and earth, not big enough to fill a Virgins arms. He that opens his hand and fills all things living with his plenteousness, sucking himself a lit­tle milk out of his Mothers Breasts to live by; He poor himself who makes all rich: God a man! Eternity a child! who would not travel the world over to see this miracle, and think his time and pains never spent so well as then?

2. But secondly, to have the first sight almost as it were of so happy a wonder, adds something to the glory of the success, to be admitted among the first into Christs presence, to be so honour'd as to be of the number of his first attendants, to be with him whilst he is yet a child, to wait upon this new-born King, and have relation to him from his Cradle, to meet with him so young, so tender, so pliable, so easie to be approach'd and dealt with, is a success of so much honour and obligement, that we may expect any thing from his hands, being of his first followers and servants in so tender a condition towards us.

3. Thus far the Journey seems sufficiently successful; yet not only to find a Saviour in the flesh, so near allied unto us, and so soon almost as he is so made to us, but also thirdly to find him in his Mothers arms, fast claspt within our souls (for every faithful soul is Christs Mother, as well as blessed Mary, conceives, and brings him forth, and nourishes him, as well as she, the soul spiritually, as she naturally) to find, I say, Christ thus conceived and brought forth in our own souls, this Child in our own arms too, Christ with us, is that indeed which makes this finding worth the finding, this sight worth seeing. Should we only know Christ after the flesh, though amongst the first that knew him; had we no more than an outward sight, did we not see him with his Mother in a mysteri­ous sense, in the soul and spirit, born in our souls, they also made his Mothers (as all that believe and do Gods will, he himself calls so, St. Mark iii. 34, 35.) unless we thus see him, our success will be but lame and poor, no better than those Iews that saw and perished.

4. Yet the success here is one degree beyond it, They saw the young Child and Mary his Mother. Mary signifies exalted, to see him with his Mother Mary, as to see his exalted Mother, the soul exalted by his presence, his Power and Kingdom exalted in it, to see this King in his Kingdom, to see Christ reigning and ruling in us, this new-born King triumphing in our souls, our understandings, wills, affections, and all our faculties sub­jected to him: and this is a good sight where e're we see it. This is then the sum of the success we shall find of our travel after him. (1.) The perfect sight: And (2.) the easie knowledge of him: (3.) Our union with him: (4.) Our exaltation by him. He will reveal himself to them that seek him, discover himself betimes to them that carefully search for him, unite himself and be with them that follow after him, and set up his throne and excellency in them that find him.

2. Indeed this, now secondly, is worth the seeing, worthy the behold­ing. They saw it (1.) they saw it and admired it: their seeing him, it was the Lords doing, and could not but be admirable in their eyes. They could [Page 189] not certainly but admire and wonder to see the Star had pointed out the Child, so poor a Child; a King in rags: so glorious a Child, so blessed a Mo­ther in so poor a plight. Saw it and fell down (say the next words) fell down in amazement and astonishment it may be, as well as any way else, to see so great a mercy, so strange a sight.

2. Yet saw it, secondly, and believed: saw by the eye of faith, as much as by the eye of sense; believed presently it was the Child they sought, and therefore fell down and worshipped; which certainly they would not have done, had they not believed. Indeed the strange guide that condu­cted them, the resolution for the place at least (Bethlehem by name) which they met with at Ierusalem, the new return of their lost starry Leader as soon as they were got out of Ierusalem, the very standing and fixing of it self (which all the while before was in perpetual motion) over this ve­ry place where they found this Child, might sufficiently assure them that it was his Star, that he was the Lord whom this Star attended: so that they might not only believe out of credulity, or an impatient desire to be at their journeys end, or at home again; but out of prudence, as it be­came wise men, who lay all together e're they fix their Faith. Saw and believed, that's the second.

3. Saw it and were glad too; that's a third adjunct of seeing such a sight. If the seeing of the Star again, in the former verse, made them to rejoyce with exceeding great joy, which could only confirm their hope to find him, how exceedingly exceeding great joy, gaudio valde, valde magno, must it needs be they rejoyced with when they found him?

4. Saw and worshipped, that should be a fourth; but it is the third and next part of the Text, which the time and season now forbids me to look into. Only this to recapitulate the rest and apply it home.

1. Behold we, first, and admire this sight, the mercy and goodness of our Saviour, thus for us to become a Child, to take upon him the infirmities and inconveniences of our nature, even from its first weaknesses; to make himself so accessible to us, so easie to be approacht, to vouchsafe to be daily conceived again, and born in our souls and spirits; to take upon him besides the rule and guidance over us; to set up his throne in so poor a place as our unworthy souls, amidst so much frailness and unprepared­ness, souls more filthy and stinking when he first comes to them, than the very Stable he was born in, amidst the dung and ordure of the Beasts. Behold, and see if there were ever goodness like this goodness, see and admire it.

2. See, secondly, and believe it too. The most incredulous among the Apostles, St. Thomas, when he once saw, he soon believed. See but how the Star moves and fixes, and even points us to him; how readily the Wise men entertain the sight, and fall down and worship: see how all the Prophesies concur and meet in this young Child, see how the world is over­spread with this Faith, and has so many hundred years continued it, not­withstanding so many persecutions, and I shall not need to perswade you to play the Wise men too, and upon so many testimonies and evidences believe the same.

3. Yet I exhort you (3.) to see it and be glad. Heaven rejoyced at it, and the Earth was glad. Angels sung proper Anthems for it. The Shepherds joyfully tell it out, The Wise men here scarce know how to carry them­selves for joy, open all their treasures, and fling about their gifts to ex­press their gladness; only Herod and the Iews, Herodian Iews, Hierusa­lem [Page 190] Iews, men addicted wholly to the pomps, and pride, and vanity of the City, are troubled at the birth of so humble a Saviour. It is a Day of rejoycing, this. 'Tis the Lords Day, the day which the Lord hath made, let us rejoyce (says the Psalmist) and be glad in it. 'Tis the Day of shewing himself to us Gentiles who sate in darkness, and the shadow of death. 'Tis fit therefore we should be glad for so great a blessing. 'Tis the Day he was Baptized in, and that ever useth to be among us a joyful day; great joy and feasting at it. It is a Marriage Day, the Day he wrought his first Miracle upon, when he turned Water into Wine, on purpose to make us merry; the water of tears, into the wine of joy. So many blessings together, so many good ti­dings in one day, so many glorious things, so bright a Star, so glo­rious a Child, so blessed a Mother, so miraculous a Baptism, so chear­ful a Miracle, so triumphant a Resurrection; all together on one day, must not, cannot be found out, cannot be seen of Christians so much concerned in them all, without perpetual Songs of gladness and re­joycing.

I should leave you here, but that we must needs yet see a little, one step farther. See and learn: Is Christ our Saviour here a Child? see then that we become like little children, in humility, and innocence; we shall not see Heaven, nor him in it else (he tells us) S. Mat. xviii. 3. Is he so little? let not us then think much to be accounted so, to be made so. Is he con­tent to lie in his Mothers lap? let not us grudge then if we have no where else to lie than upon our Mother earth. Is he content to partake our weak­nesses? let not us then be impatient when we fall into sicknesses and infir­mities. Is he a Child to be adored and worshipped? let us then be careful in all places, and at all times to adore and worship him. Will he accept our pre­sents? let us present our Souls and Bodies, and Estates, and all to his service; lay all our treasures at his feet, worship him with all that is precious to us, think nothing too precious or good for him. In a word, is he to be found, is he so easie to have access to? Call we then upon him whilst he is near, and seek we him while he may be found, seek we him how he will be found, for always he will not, nor every way he will not.

Follow therefore the Wise mens steps, so soon as ever the Day-star arises in our hearts, so soon as ever any heavenly light of holy inspiration shines into us; begin we to set forward, get we out of our own Countries, from our sins, arm our selves against all temptations, against the pleasures, the perfumes and spices of Arabia Faelix, of prosperity and honour; against the sandy Desarts of Arabia Deserta, against driness, and dulness, com­monly the first temptations that we meet with in our way to Christ, that make us to have little or no relish of it; against the rocky and thievish passages of Arabia Petraea; against the rocks of temptations, and afflictions; against the subtleties, and treacheries, and violences of the suggestion of ill companions, wherewith the Devil doth way-lay us. Get we up to Ierusalem the Holy City, enquire we there of the word of God, and at the mouth of the Priest (which God hath said shall preserve knowledge for others good, what-ever for his own.) Ask I say, and en­quire there how we shall find out Christ; rejoyce we ever in the light of Heaven, walk by it, make much of it, of all holy motions and inspi­rations, continue in it; and let neither the tediousness of the way, nor the frailty of our own flesh, nor any stormy or tempestuous weather, any cross or trouble, nor any Winter coldness of our own dull bosoms, nor sometime the loss even of our guides, (those heavenly and spiritual [Page 191] comforts which God sometimes in his secret Wisdom withdraws from us) nor any carnal reason or interest deter us from our search after this Babe of Heaven, after Christ the Saviour; but go on constantly, and chear­fully through all these difficulties to the House of God, to the Church of Christ; then shall we be sure to find him, find him with his Mother, our souls find him, our affections embrace him, then will he be ex­alted in us, and exalt us from this House, the Church Militant below, to that above, the Church Triumphant in the Heavens; this Child make us grow from grace to grace, till we come to the perfect stature of him­self, here of Grace, and hereafter of Eternal Glory.

THE SECOND SERMON ON THE EPIPHANY.

St. MAT. ii. 10.‘When they saw the Star, they rejoyced with exceeding great joy.’

IOY, and great joy, and exceeding great joy! What's the matter? truly, no great matter one would think; on­ly a Star appearing. Who is it then that are so much rejoyced at it? may we not call their wisdom in­to question? their joy into dispute? For the men, they were Wise men I can tell you, ver. 1. Wise men from the East, great Wise men: and for their rejoycing, 'tis the wisest action they ever did, because it was the best sight they ever [...] ▪ the luckiest Aspect they ever beheld in Heaven: the happiest Star, that thus led them out of the region of darkness into the land of light, that thus conducted them to Christ's abode and presence; the greatest reason in the world to be glad at.

Ye hear much talk of a late Star or Comet, and much ado about it; but no great joy as I can hear. It comes they tell us upon a sad errand, is sent to us with heavy tidings: no such but is, that I believe; though I have no confidence of their wisdom that pretend to tell us its intent, and business. But those They in the Text, I know were truly wise, because the Letter tells us so; especially guided and directed into the knowledge and meaning of the Star they are so glad at. And the Star comes with the best news that ever came, is but a Ray of the Star of Iacob, the Morning-Star to usher in the Sun of Righteousness, or our usher to him. Other Stars do commonly but befool their Students, delude their obser­vers, and make them sad: This makes us wise, and glad, and glad to salvation too. The other too often tend from Christ, cause men to forget him; take away the faith and trust that is due to him, to put it to a wandering Planet, its Aspect and Position. This brings us to him, brings us to Iesus and his holy habitation. And because it does so, we will look upon it and be glad, follow it and be exceeding glad.

[Page 193] For to us still the Star shines, and we may see it in the Spirit, in the spiritual sense and meaning. And indeed that's the best, the only seeing. The eye of sense could not in these Magi, that saw it then in being, can­not in us, that see it now only in the notion, work the joy the Text ex­presses. There was an inward light, that made the outward then so com­fortable; the meer light of a Star, though never so glorious, could ne­ver else have done it; cannot now if it should appear again. It was some internal light and revelation then concerning it made them so glad, will make us as glad as they, if we so look upon it as well as they. And they and we are but the same, of the same stock and kin, Gentiles both, both equally concerned in the Star, and in the joy; they only the first-fruits, we the lump; they saw it in the heavens, we see it in the word; a thing as clear and firm, every [...] of it, as the heavens, and we as much rea­son as they had to be glad.

So both the sum and division of the Text will be comprehended in these two particulars. The ground of their joy and ours, and the extent of it. The ground and occasion of their joy and ours, what they did then, what we are still to rejoyce in. When they saw the Star they rejoyced, when we see it, we must do so too.

The extent and measure of this rejoycing both theirs and ours, joy in the positive; great it was, if compared with other joy, above other joy in the comparative, and exceeding great joy, the greatest joy in the superla­tive, as high as may be. They rejoyced with exceeding great joy.

The Star, any Star or light that leads unto Christ, is a just occasion and ground of joy; and when such an one we have, when such an one we see, we cannot be too glad, we cannot exceed, though it be exceeding. This the sum, these the particulars of the Text. I begin with the ground of our joy, and theirs, that we may rejoyce the more, that our joy may be the greater, when we see how great the ground is, that their joy was not for nothing; nor will ours be, if it be for nothing but what theirs was.

Yet before we enter upon either, 'tis requisite we consider the persons, look upon them, before we look upon the Star, that we may see how this They, may become We; how we are interested either to look or rejoyce with them.

The first verse tells us who they were, Wise men from the East: four points we may have thence, and all so many grounds of joy.

1. Gentiles they were. And that to them a door is opened unto life, Acts xiv. 27. that to them that sate in darkness and the shadow of death, light is here sprung up, is a good ground of joy: to such the light is comfortable. And to us also upon the same account; for we were Gentiles, nay, and darkness too, Eph. v. 8. good reason to rejoyce, that now we are not, that we are come into the light.

2. If Gentiles, then sinners too: I know not then who can be out; for if heaven notwithstanding our sin and wickedness vouchsafe so to look upon us, nor they nor we, no body sure, but must needs be glad.

3. Great men they were, foretold in the Psalm, under the notion of the Kings of Arabia and Saba bringing gifts, Psal. lxxii. 10. This is more cause of joy then you would think at first. St. Paul's, Not many noble, not many mighty are called, 1 Cor. i. 26. were enough to startle and amaze the rich and great men of the world; and, how hard is it for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Our Saviours words might very well trouble us, spoil all our mirth, all our joyes, but for this, that the Magi, great Prin­ces, and rich and honourable have an interest in Christs Star, for all that, as well as any

[Page 194] 4. They were learned too. Magi, Wise men is the name the story gives them. And the Apostles, Not many wise, not many learned, again might well amaze us, and make us more than sad; but for this They, that such as they, are not yet such, but that they may come one day to see Stars under them, and in the mean time have their part and portion in the Star that leads to Christ. A sound cause of joy, that however the new lights count of Princes, and great and learned men, as enemies to him whose this Star was; yet this Star shines to them too, them before any, was lighted up for them above all the rest. Shepherds, and Women, and ig­norant People are not to be taught or led by Stars, they understand not their voice and language, that's for the wise and learned, to guide them. Mean and ordinary capacities must have other ways, other guides and lanthorns to lead them to Christ.

Thus from the persons we have four grounds of the great joy we hear, that neither Heathen Ignorance, nor Heathen Learning, nor Honour, nor Greatness; neither great temptations, nor great sinfulness, no conditi­on or quality how sad or cumbersom, but this Star rises for, and is ready to attend into the presence of Christ; all may have a portion in the Star, and in the Ioy. And good reason we have to rejoyce for our selves, and our relations, that no persons or condition is debarr'd it.

Proceed we yet deeper into the grounds of this joy. Three there are, that they (we speak of) saw: (1). Saw somewhat to speak of. (2.) Saw the Star. (3.) Saw it at that time, when they were even at a loss, had but a while before quite lost the fight, that's, when they saw it, the time when they saw it in.

The first point is, that see they did, and a point worth noting; that notwithstanding their great distance from Iudea, the only Nation that then sate in light, that had the knowledge of his Laws, these yet came seeing: That God hath some particular persons all the world over to whom he hath given eyes to see him. No Nation indeed, no whole people but the Iews were seeing, yet Iob in Vz, and Iethro in Midian, and Rahab in Iericho, and Ruth in Moab, and Ittai in Gath, and the Queen in Sheba, and the Widow in Sarepta, and Naaman in Syria; some in every Nation that could see the light of Heaven and rejoyce in it.

Corporal sight then of the eye, is one of the greatest temporal com­forts our life is capable of; we lose the chiefest of joy and pleasure of a mortal life, when we are deprived of that. 'Tis worth rejoycing then, worthy rejoycing in the Lord too, that that we have, that we can see, that we are not blind.

But there is a spiritual, and immaterial eye, and seeing with it; the eye of Faith, and our believing by it, that is far beyond the bodily sight and seeing. 'Tis that by which we live, Heb. x. 38. 'tis that only by which we truly see Heaven, or behold Stars, that's a great ground of joy.

Especially if we add hope to it, the other eye of the Spirit, that pier­ceth within the vail, that sees all the joys and pleasures of beatitude, with affection and delight, that does, as it were, bring Heaven, home in­to not our eyes only, but our bosoms. The hope of Heaven, and hea­vens happiness, how glad and jocund will it make the heart; more than when the Corn, and Wine, and Oyl increase, a better sight by it, than all the riches and pleasures of the earth, all the profit and assistance of it, all the beauties and glory of it, can afford us.

This sight of Hope, and that of Faith, were they the Wise men had. It was thus they saw the Star, believed it was the Star of the Messias, the [Page 195] only guide to their new-born Saviour, their convoy to him; and that such an one there was, they should come to by and by; this they saw by the eye of faith. Thereupon they proceed to hope, to see their hopes also in him; hope ere long to be admitted to the sight and service of him: hope this Star will now bring even them to its Master, and give them a place hereafter with him among the Stars, that they may one day shine in glory like them.

Thus you see Videntes will easily enough be brought home to us. We, even at this day, thus see the Star by the two eyes of faith and hope, be­lieve what here they saw, that such a thing there was, a Star lighted up on purpose to lead the Gentiles to Christ; hope what here they felt within them, some spiritual ray and guidance to him; both believe and hope that as an outward visible Star there was to them; so an inward and invisible Star still there will be to us, by the light of which we may all come to the knowledge of Christ. We are next to see it what it is; what it is to them, what it is to us; how this star looks to them, how it looks to us.

To them this Star was a material Star: to us 'tis a spiritual, and both bring their joy with them. The Psalmist seems to be ravish'd with joy upon the sight of the Stars of Heaven, when he considered the Heavens the works of Gods fingers, the Moon and the Stars that he had ordained, Psal. viii. 3. Then in a kind of Extasie he cries out, Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him? That thou thus spanglest the Heavens with Stars for him? That thou thus visitest him by the Stars? Methinks the very beholding of that golden Canopy, now our covering, hereafter to be our footstool; the casting up of our eyes to heaven in a bright starry night, and considering that all those glorious Lamps are for the use of us poor men here, and for our glory too hereafter, cannot but raise a sweet delight and pleasure in the devout and pious soul, and force out an ejaculation of thankfulness and joy to God that made them for us. Sure I am, that when neither Sun nor Stars appeared, Acts xxvii. 20. it follows presently, that all hope of being saved was then taken away: O the joy of a Star then! the appearing of a Star would have made them then have leapt for joy. We see them commonly, that makes us so little to regard them. If we behold them seriously, we would sing together with them, as Iob says, they do together, Job xxxviii. 7. and praise him together, as the Psalmist speaks, with those stars of light.

But yet if we should have a Star made on purpose for us, we would be gladder, that God should descend to so immediate and special a care of us, as to light up one of those bright Candles for some particular intent and service to us; and such an one this is; great reason therefore sure to rejoyce in it. So much the more, in that commonly the new raised Stars portend mischiefs and misfortunes to us; but this was, as all the Astrologers and Wise men then observed, a healthsom, gladsom star, that brought health, and happiness, and saving in its wings; never any such, or like it, before, or since. When God thus vouchsafes to make heaven dance attendance on us, make all the Stars and Lights speak good to us, some of them more than others; those heavenly Creatures thus wait upon earth & dust, who is now so dull and earthy as not to rejoyce and glory in it? Yet if the star not on­ly portend happiness, but eternal happiness besides; if it foretell not only earthly, but heavenly blessings too; if it be a Star that leaves us not till it have brought us to the Child Iesus, till it hath brought us to God him­self, there is matter indeed of great exceeding joy. So a fourfold ground [Page 196] of joy you have in this very Star; First, Gods general providence over man, to make even the heavenly Creatures serve him. Secondly, God's special Providence in it, now and then sending a Star, some special token to forewarn or guide him. Thirdly, God's comfortable Providence in so doing, sometimes to bless and comfort us, to uphold and chear us. Fourthly, Gods saving Providence, thus to make all things, though never so distant from us, signally instrumental to our eternal happiness and sal­vation; making the Stars and Heavens thus minister unto us. For these four we may well take up St. Paul's resolution, Phil. i. 18. We therein do re­joyce, yea, and will rejoyce.

And yet I must give you a fifth ray of this Star, God's particular Pro­vidence over the Gentiles, strangers from the Covenant of Promise, aliens from the Comman-wealth of Israel, men without promise, without hope; that had neither promise, nor hope of mercy, Eph. ii. 12. that to them this Star should appear, for them be made and sent, is such a ground of joy to us, that are of the same stock and lineage, that without it we had had no joy at all, who ever had. 'Tis upon this title we have our share in this happy Star; upon this particular dispensation of thus gathering the Gentiles to him by it, as by a Standard or Ensign for them to flow in unto him, as the Prophet Phrases it. This is the fifth ray of the material Star, and it may go for a sixth, That the Gentiles not then only, but even to this day still enjoy the benefit of that Star, have oftentimes material and sensible convoys unto Christ; are often by the things of sense, by sensible blessings, drawn and perswaded to his service. Thus you have the six Rays of the Star, six comfortable Rays to ground our joys upon in the material Star.

We come now to the mystical or spiritual, those Stars and Lights which yet remain, even to this day, to guide us to the same Iesus! For more than one there is of this sort, and all sufficient grounds of Ioy.

1. The first sort of Stars are devout and holy men, shining, as Daniel re­presents them, like the Stars, Dan. xii. 3. Stars they are in this world whilst they live; burning, and shining Lights, the very light and life, and glo­ry of the earth, while they are upon it; and Stars they shall be in the heavens when they come thither. Here they go before us with the light of good examples to lead us to Christ, and his righteousness, to all holy and heavenly conversation; And for it they shall one day shine as Stars for ever and ever. A ground of joy it is to us, that this Star we have, that such guides we have, by whose examples to conform our selves to the obedience of Christ, in whose light to walk to him.

2. A second sort of Stars are the Bishops and Pastors of the Church. For, however men now reckon them, or however now much darkned in their heaven, in this our Church, in our Hemisphere, Stars they are in the hand of Christ, Rev. i. 16. in his right hand too, the vision so interpreted, v. 20. the seven Stars, the seven Angels of the Churches; the Church it self crown'd with twelve such Stars, Rev. xii. 1. the twelve Apostles. All crowned Churches, all that are compleat and perfect, are crowned with such Stars, with Bishops, Pastors, and Teachers. And a solid ground of joy it is, that we have such Stars to guide and direct us into the knowledge of Christ, into the ways and means of salvation. Let Hereticks and Schis­maticks think their pleasure, an exceeding joy it is, to all that either un­derstand Religion, or practice it, that God still allows us the glory of these Stars, though one differing in glory from another; that he hath [Page 197] not yet totally darkned our heaven upon us, nor removed our true, law­ful, and faithful Pastors clean away; that we wander not from Sea to Sea, and from the North, even to the East; that we run not to and fro to seek the Word of God, to see a Star, and cannot find it, but have them yet standing over us and directing us. It will be a thousand to one but we miss of Christ when we lose this Star; a thousand to one that we go into the wrong house instead of his when we lose our Bishops, and Teachers, the days we now see tell us so already. For his House being un­doubtedly the Church, and the Church not to be seen or found, but by the light and brightness of successive Bishops and Ministers, who are the Churches glory, and its Crown and joy, nothing but sad and giddy er­rors can be expected where they are not.

A third Star is the Word of God, and there, first, the sure Word of Pro­phecy, a light, as St. Peter stiles it, shining in a dark place, to which he tells us we do well if we take heed, 2 Pet. i. 19. Then secondly, the sure Promises of the Gospel of Grace, and Truth, and Pardon, the comfor­table and glorious light by which we are led to the knowledge of Christ; full glad and merry with the hopes of such pardon and forgiveness, of such grace and favour.

A fourth Star is inward Grace, the light of the holy Spirit, by which we are not only led to the place of this new-born Child, but this Child it self even new-born in us. This is a Star that rises in the very heart, the Day-star rising there, 2 Pet. i. 19. without which we should sit in perpetual shades, the day never dawn upon us. All the former Stars, good Ex­amples, and Instructions, and spiritual Predictions, and Promises, Pa­stors, and Teachers, can teach little without this Star. St. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, and no increase; the Preachers speak and preach into the air, nothing stay behind; good example be spilt as water on the ground, divine Prophesies and Promises only strike the outward ear, to little purpose all of them together, unless the Spirit speak with­in, and warm and lighten the soul with its fiery tongue, and comfort it vvith invvard light and heat. Hence is the joy that is unspeakable, and full of glory, which the Apostle speaks of, 1 Pet. i. 8.

A fifth Star, which is heavenly glory, a bright morning Star it is, that Christ promises to give him, that continues and holds out unto the end, Rev. ii. 28. I will give him the morning star, that is, eternal life, the Star of glory. This is a Star will shew us Christ as he is; bring us to him, not in his Cra­dle, but in his Throne; not in his Mothers lap, but in his Fathers bosom: A Star that will lead us, both here and hereafter, to his presence. Here the great Star that most surely brings us, and most effectually perswades to Christ, and Christian Piety, is the hope of Heaven, the promise of Glory. In the strength of this hope we suffer any thing for him; we hunger and thirst, endure cold and nakedness, poverty and scorn, whips and fetters, halters and hatchets, racks and tortures, ignominy and death, whilst this Star seems to open heaven unto us: thus it brings us to him here, and hereafter it fills us with the beatifical vision of him for ever. I need not tell you this is a very sufficient ground of the greatest joy, it self being almost nothing else.

And yet there is a sixth Star, the Star that was foretold should come out of Iacob, Num. xxiv. 17. I am the bright morning Star, Rev. xxii. 16. I Iesus, says he himself, am the root and off-spring of David, and the bright and morning Star. He the Star that leads us to himself; his own beauty, the great attractive to him; his mercy the sure convoy to himself; [Page 198] his humility, his being the root, so low and humble, the conduct to his Highness; his Incarnation and Nativity, his becoming the off-spring and Son of David, being made man, the only way above all to bring us unto himself. Here's the ground, the very ground indeed of all our joy and comfort, that he thus came into the World to save Sinners, thus clouded his eternal brightness, his starry nature, his glorious Godhead, with the dark rays of flesh and matter, appearing at best but as a subluna­ry Star, the Doctor and Bishop of our souls, that we might so the easier come unto him, and be comforted, not confounded, in his brightness.

Thus we have multiplied the Star in the Text by the perspective of the Spirit into Six, or shew'd you the six spiritual rays which issue from it, which reach to us, and even shine (God be thanked) still, though that be gone, or shut up in the Treasuries of the Almighty; all of these signal grounds of true Christian joy; Good Examples, good Teachers, a good Word of God, the good Spirit of Grace, the good hope of glory, the good of goods, our good and gracious Saviour; so good Stars, and so good occasion of rejoycing, that there can be no better.

3. And yet a degree may be added, from the third Consideration of the time when this Star appeared. Indeed it had long before this day been seen; had led the Wise men all the way, comforted and cheer'd them up all their long journey through; only at Hierusalem there it left them, there where one would think the Star should shine the brightest. But (1.) What need Star-light, when the Sun of righteousness is so near? Or what (2.) should need a Type, when the Substance was so hard by? Or what necessity (3.) of a Star, when they were now in a surer and brighter light, so says St. Peter, 1 Pet. i. 19. the Law and Prophets at hand to point out him they sought? Or how (4.) should we expect any special favour from the God of Heaven, while we stay in Herod's Courts, in Satan's terri­tories, in wicked company? Or why (5.) should we think the Star should stay upon us, when we leave it? That God should help us, when we, as it were, renounce his direction, to enquire for mens? Go to the Iews and Herod for it? How should we but lose God's grace, if we neglect it?

'Tis the great ground here then of their rejoycing, that after they had lost it, they here recover it; that they are now got out of Herods Court, a place of sin and darkness, and are now refresh'd again with the hea­venly Light. No joy in the World like that of recovering Heaven, when it is almost lost. No joy to the womans for finding again the Groat that she had lost. No rejoycing like the Shepherds for the lost sheep when he has found it. The joy reacheth up to heaven, says Christ; the very Angels rejoyce at it, when a sinner is returned from the error of his way, when God lights anew this Star to him. Truly, when we have lost any of the afore-mentioned Stars, and afterwards recover them, whether they be the Examples of the Saints, that have unluckily slipt out of our memories; or our Bishops and Pastors, that have been forced or driven from us; or the truth of the holy Word, which false glosses and corrupt interpretations have hidden from us; or the inward comforts of the Spirit, which our sins have for some time robb'd us of; or the true re­lish of heavenly joy, and eternal happiness, which hath a while been lost by reason of our delighting our selves wholly in sensual pleasures or im­ployments; or lastly, the beauty of this holy Child, which has been some­what clouded from us, through our weakness and infirmity in appre­hending it, which soever of them it is that we have first lost, and then [Page 199] recovered; when we either recover our memories, or our Ministers, or the truth, or the holy Spirit, or the sight of heaven, or the beauty of Christ into us; the joy is far greater than it was at the beginning, Carendo magis quam fruendo intelligimus, because we never throughly understand the comfort and benefit of any of them, till we see the distress we are in with out them.

And (2.) their seeing the Star again when they were, as it were, in most distress, and when they were more like to be at a greater loss than ever amongst the Cottages of Bethlehem, like utterly to be confounded by the horror of poverty, and the sight of nothing but unkingly furni­tures; this it was that so rais'd their joy. And it will do ours at any time, to have help and succour come timely to us, to be delivered and raised in the midst of distresses and despair. 'Tis the very nick of time to enhance a joy.

'Tis not less neither (3.) to creatures compounded of flesh and bloud, to have even some sensible comforts renew'd to stir us up. To see a star, to behold comfort with our eyes, to have the inward comfort augmented by the outward, to be led to Christ by a Star, by prosperities and blessings, rather than a cloud, by crosses and distresses, this is more welcome, more gladsom, to the heart; and so it seems to the Wise men themselves, that God, though he had given them inward guidances, and back'd them with Prophetical instructions out of his own Word and Prophets, had not yet deserted them of his outward assistance, but even added that also to all the former. Now then thus to have star upon stat, material and mysti­cal; time after time, when we most desire it, when we greatliest need it, to want no guide, no opportunity, no occasion at also to advance our happiness and salvation, how can we but, with them in the Text, re­joyce now, and that with exceeding great joy? Three degrees you see are apparent in the words, all to be spent upon the Star that leads to Christ. We can never be too glad of him, or of his Star; any conduct or occa­sion to come to him: joy, and great joy, and exceeding great joy is but sufficient.

Nor is any joy but spiritual, that which is for Christ, really capable of those degrees; that only is truly called joy; the joy in Christ only dilates the heart, all other joys straiten and distress it, fill it up with dirt and rubbish; worldly joyes can never fill it otherwise: 'Tis only then en­larged when it opens up to heaven, earthly comforts do but fetter and compress it.

That joy (2.) is only great. Earthly ones are petty and inconsiderable, for petty things: Heaven only hath great things in it; Christ the only great one.

That only (3.) is exceeding. That's the joy that passes understanding, that exceeds all other, that exceeds all measure, that exceeds all power, none can take it from us; that exceeds all words and expression too, no tongue whatever can express it. So you see our joy, that a spiritual joy it is, because so great, so exceeding.

Yet being so exceeding, it will exceed also the narrow compass of the inward man, will issue out also into the outward, into the tongue and heads; Joy is the dilatation, the opening of the heart, and sending out the Spirits into all the parts. And if this joy we have, it will open our hearts to praise him, open our hearts to Heaven to receive its influence, open our hearts to our needy brother, to compassionate and relieve him; it will send out life, and heat, and spirit into all our powers; into our [Page 200] lips to sing unto him, into our fingers to play to him; into our feet even to leap for joy; into our eyes perpetually to gaze upon him, into our hands to open them for his sake plentifully to the poor; into the whole body to devote it wholly to his service. This is the Wise mens joy, great and ex­ceeding. Give me leave to fit it to the parts, to apply the joy to the several grounds, Gaudium to videntes, magnum to stellam, valde to the au­tem of the Text. They saw, and so rejoyced with joy. They saw the Star, and so rejoyced with great joy when they saw it; saw it so opportunely, they rejoyced with exceeding joy.

Let us then (1.) rejoyce with them, with a single joy for both the seers, and their seeing; make it our joy, that neither our ignorances, nor our sins can keep us always from Christs presence; that our riches and ho­nours, our learning and wisdom may rather help than hinder us in the search of Iesus Christ. And rejoyce we then again that God hath given us eyes and sight to see the ways and means of salvation. This will at least deserve our joy in the positive degree.

But the Star, or Stars, we mentioned, will add this magnum to it. Let us then (2.) rejoyce greatly, or with great joy, that God thus vouch­safes to lead us to his Son both by outward and inward means; That he hath given us so many lights of good examples to walk by; That he hath lighted up his Stars, Pastors, and Teachers in the Church to direct and guide us. That he continues to us the light and brightness of his truth; That he enlightens us daily inwardly by his grace; That he fills our hearts with hopes of glory; That he is ready more and more to shew us Christ in all his beauty, to give him to us with all his benefits, to bring us to him in all his glory. Great joy is but little enough certainly for such great things as these.

And (3.) exceeding it must and will be, if we but consider the time when such great things are done, or doing for us. 'Tis when we had, in a manner, diverted from him, gone aside out of our way, left his Star for Herod. For God then to renew his mercy to us, to shine upon us in his for­mer beauty, to point us even to the very house, and place to find Christ in; to do it then when we had wilfully departed from his conduct, is so ex­ceeding a grace and favour, that no joy of ours be it never so exceeding, can exceed it.

And if the Wise men, for the direction of that singl [...] Star, were so ex­tremely affected with joy and gladness, how infinite [...]y should we be for so many? Alas, they saw nothing then in comparison of us. The Child was then but in rags and swadling cloaths: he is now in robes of glory. He was then lying in an earthly Cottage, he is now sitting in an heavenly Palace. All the ways of Salvation were then but mysteries, they are now revealed. Salvation then was but in its Clouts, 'tis now in its perfection. They saw Christ but once, we daily see him: See him and all his Stars, see him amidst his Stars, walking with some of them in his hands; the Stars or Angels of the Churches, amongst other of them his Saints, with them in glory, creating stars daily in our hearts, shining to us every day in his Word and Sacraments, there opening his glory unto us, and us a door into it, and all the while the material stars even under his feet.

Seeing all these so much above what they here saw, our joy should be much above what they rejoyced with. But theirs being exceeding, ours can be no more, when we have said all we can. And that it may be so, I shall only tell you, It must exceed the joy we take in earthly things, we must more rejoyce in Christ, and in his Star, than all the World besides; [Page 201] more in the holiness of a Saint, than in the highness of a Prince; more in a faithful Pastor, than in any Worldly Counsellor; more in the Word of God, than in all the Writings of men; much more in the History of Christ, than in all the Romances and Histories of the earth; more in the Promises of the Gospel, than in the promises of all earthly pleasures, and felicities; more in the inward work of grace, and the inward comforts of the Spirit, than any sensual satisfactions and contentments; more in the meditation of Heaven, and heavenly Glory, than in all the glories of the World; more in Christ, than in all things, or hopes together; It must exceed them all.

And when it so exceeds, it will bring us to an exceeding high condi­tion, make us exceed in grace, exceed in glory; do great and wonder­ful things by the power of grace to express our thankfulness, and bring us by it to the reward of exceeding glory, where we shall need no more Stars to guide us, nor Sun or Moon to give us light; but this eternal light, now pointed at by the Star, shall give us light both day and night, shall fill us with joy, such as neither heart can imagine, nor tongue express; that exceeds all we can speak or think; give us joy for joy, great for great, exceeding for exceeding, in his blessed Light and Presence for ever­more.

THE THIRD SERMON ON THE EPIPHANY.
St. MATTH. ii. 11.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary his Mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrhe.

OUR last years business from the Text, was to see what the Wise men saw: Philips counsel to Nathaniel, S. Iohn 1. to come and see. This years shall be to do what the Wise men did, what all Wise-men will do still; Holy Davids invitation, to fall down and worship. For having found this blessed Child, the end of all our Journeys, the crown of all our labours, the sum of all our desires and wishes: this infant-God, this young King of Hea­ven and Earth: what can we less then do our obeysance, and pay our Ho­mage? All Wise men will do so, adore the rising Sun, make sure of some­what, or in the Psalmists phrase, Rejoyce with reverence, and kiss this Son, lest he be angr [...], and so we perish; fall down before him, and even kiss his feet in an humble adoration, that he may lift us up, and advance us in his Kingdom, at least remember us when he comes into it.

To come into the house else where Iesus is, and there to see him, to stand and look upon him only, and no more, is a journey and sight to lit­tle purpose. The Oxe and the Ass saw him; and many no doubt to as lit­tle purpose, upon the Shepherds report, and the rumour of these Wise mens coming from the East, came to see and gaze upon him. It is this worship­ping that sanctifies, prospers all our journeys; we begin them but unto­wardly, and finish them but unluckily without it. If we fall not down upon our knees before we go out, and bow not our selves, and worship not in thankfulness when we come in, we cannot assure our selves of any great good, either of our goings out, or of our comings in, how suc­cessful soever they seem at first, even to have obtained their ends, even [Page 203] found Iesus too. This same worshipping is both the end and blessing of all our journeys, if they be blest; nor see we, or understand we any thing tho­rowly or comfortably where that is wanting, where the worship and ser­vice of God and our Saviour is not both the aim and endeavour of all our motions.

Wise men they were here, that now for these twelve days have made it theirs; And the Ethiopian Eunuch, Acts viii. 27. a great Counsellour, made it the only business of his Journey to Ierusalem, to worship only, and so return. And in the devouter times of Christianity, the devout Christians, when their haste was such they could not stay out a Prayer or Collect, would yet never pass a Church, but they would in and bow themselves, and worship, and be gone. Tantiest adorare; so weighty a business it is to worship, though but in transitu, to prosper any thing we are about.

It was so thought then: it would be so now, did we not more study to make enquiries about Christ, than to serve him; to dispute about Chri­stianity, than to practise it: Christianity here begins with it. These first Christians I may call them, thus profest their service to their Saviour, thus ad­dict themselves to the faith and obedience of Christ; and were there no other reason in the world to perswade it, it were certainly enough, that the first Faith in Christ was after this fashion, thus acknowledged and per­formed.

Three acts there are of it in the Text, [...], fal­ling down, worshipping, and offering. The first, the worship of the Bo­dy; the second of the Soul; the third of our goods: With these three, our Bodies, our Souls, our Goods, we are to worship him; with all these his worship is to be performed, without them all it is but a lame and mai­med Sacrifice, neither fit for Wise men to give, nor Christ to receive.

Two points of the Text we are gone through: the Wise mens Iourney and success; their coming and their seeing; their labour and their reward. Three now we have to go through, Procidentes, Adorârunt, & Obtulêrunt; the three acts, or parts, or points of Worship we are to perform to Christ: each in its order as it lies, and first of Procidentes, their Prostration.

Here it is we first hear of any worship done to Christ, and this falling down, this prostration; the first worship, as if no other, no lesser ado­ration could serve turn after so great a blessing as the sight of a Saviour: as if his taking on a body, challeng'd our whole bodies now; his coming down from Heaven, our falling down upon the earth; his so great humi­liation, our greatest expression of our humility.

Many sorts of adoration have been observed, greater and lesser, Bowing the head, Exod. i. 10. Bowing the body, Gen. xviii. 2. Bending the knee, Isa. xlv. 23. Worshipping upon the knee, Psal. xcv. 6. God thus worshipped by them all. And falling down before him is no news to hear of, neither in Scripture or Antiquity; whatsoever niceness, or laziness, or profaneness of late have either said or practis'd against it.

They were Wise men here that did it; yet it is well that the Scripture calls them so. I know who have been counted fools, superstitious fools, for as little a matter, for the same: though I cannot but wonder to see as much done in a complement to a thing worse than a reasonable man, whilst God himself is denied it. Indeed it may be if we compare the persons, we shall quickly see the reason: These in the Text were Wise men, of cre­dit and reputation, men of some quality, men that understood them­selves, and knew the language of Heaven; and can turn the Stars to their proper uses, that think not much of much pains, to find a Redeemer, [Page 204] that know how to use a King, and serve a God; that run readily at the first call of Heaven to pay this worship: Your selves can inform you what they are that deny it, I shall not tell you.

Poor ignorant Shepherds may perhaps through ignorance or astonish­ment omit the Ceremony and be pardon'd, so they go away praising and rejoycing; but great learned Clerks cannot be excus'd if they pretermit it: but neither the one nor the other, if they deny it. Ignorance will be no sufficient plea for the one, nor a distinction or a pretence of scandal for the other, in a point so plain, as perpetual custom from the beginning of the world, and plain words of Scripture make it.

Abraham falls upon his face in a thankful acceptance of Gods promise, Gen. xvii. 17. His servant Eleazar bows down and worships. Gen. xxiv. 26. Old Iacob did as much as he could towards it on his bed, Gen. xxi. 31. And the people of Israel, Exod. iv. 31. and this before the Law was given. And Moses before the Law was written, fell down before the Lord, as he tells the people, Deut. ix. 18. So it was no Iewish Law or custom then, but even a point of the Law of Nature, though practis'd also by the Iew, by David, Ps. v. 7. by Solomon, 2 Chron. vi. 13. by Ezekiel, ch. xi. 13. by Daniel, ch. vi. 10. by all the Prophets, by all the people; all the children of Israel together bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped and praised the Lord, 2 Chron. vii. 3. Christ himself allows the people to do as much to him; takes it, and takes it kindly from them. Iairus the Ruler of the Synagogue falls at his feet, St. Mark v. 20. Mary does as much, St. Iohn xi. 31. Others often do the same, and none forbid­den it: nay, he himself does it to his Father, St. Mark xiv. 35. fell down and prayed; and do we then think much to do it? The very Saints in Hea­ven, where there is nor shadow certainly nor Ceremony, fall down before him, even before the Lamb. Rev. v. 8. and xi. 16. and xiv. 4. and are we too good to do it? Is the practice of all ages, of Heaven, of Earth, and Christ too, not strong enough to bow our stubborn necks? Is there Iuda­ism and Superstition in Heaven, in Christ too? Oh then let me be supersti­tious, I am content to be so, to be called so by any generation upon earth.

But to make it yet more evident, if it can be: nature it self in the midst of its corruptions keeps yet this impression undefac'd, and more plainly professes this Reverence due to the Deity, than even the Deity it self. Never did any the most blind and foolish Heathen yet acknowledge a God, but presently they worshipped him with their bodies. Nay never did any ever pretend either honour or respect to man, but he exprest it some way by his body, by some gesture or other of it. And must God that made it, and Christ that redeemed it, only go without it? must man be reverenc'd with the body, and the Devil serv'd with it, and God be put off with the worship of the soul, which yet neither can express it self, nor think, nor do any thing without the body whilst it is in it? It was thought a good argument by S. Paul, to glorifie God in our body as well as in our spirits (and in old Manuscripts I must tell you, [...] is not found, [...], the body only, is) because they are God's, he hath bought them with a price, 1 Cor. vi. 20. good reason then that he should have them. The bo­dy is for the Lord, ver. 13. of that Chapter; Who then should have it but he? 'tis for no body else: he only can claim it, others do but borrow it, or usurp it: let him therefore have it, 'tis his own, and it cannot be bestowed better: he knows best to use it, how to keep it, fear we not: Indeed it is so unreasonable to deny it him, so unprofitable to the very [Page 205] body to keep it from him, that I know not why we should expect to have it either safe or well, when we deny it him. Who can keep it better? who can easier lift it up when it is down, raise it up when it is fallen, pre­serve it in health and strength than he? And are we such fond fools then, not to present it always to his protection, and lay it at his feet, who if he tread upon it, does yet do it good?

Though we were Hereticks of the highest impudence, and denied his God-head, yet confessing his humanity, we can do no less than give the wor­ship of our bodies to him; We can give him nothing less. I may with­out breach of charity, I fear, suspect that this generation that are so vio­lent against the worship of the body, will e're long neither confess his God-head nor his Man-hood, turn Arian and Manichee both together, and prove a kind of mixed Hereticks unheard of hitherto, beyond all the wickedness and folly of all their former predecessors, come so far at last, to think all done in a fancy, or a dream, make all the work of our redempti­on come to nothing. For certainly, did they either seriously think him true God or true man, we should see it by their bodies, especially seeing we cannot see any thing by their spirits to the contrary. Even men us'd to be thus worshipped, 1 Kings i. 31. and Prophets, 2 Kings ii. 15. So that did they confess him any thing, they would certainly fall down and wor­ship him, not deny it to be sure, whether do it or no.

For all falling down is not adoration. It is the mind that makes that; the intention of the soul, that turns this outward expression of the body into adoration, that makes it either [...] or [...], either a religious or a civil worship, as it pleases.

This is the reason together with the Authority of the Fathers, St. Au­gustin, St. Leo, St. Bernard, and others, that I make adorârunt here, this word worship, to relate to the soul, as procidentes, falling down, to the body. Though I am not ignorant that both in the School, and Grammar sense it is seldom or never found without the interest and posture of the body, yet must it of necessity most refer to the soul, that being able on­ly to specifie the worship, and give it both its nature and its name, by ei­ther intending it religiously as to God, or civilly only as to a creature, where it gives it; the outward posture being oft the same indifferently to God and man.

That these Wise men intended it as an act of Devotion and Religion, as to an incarnate God, not a meer carnal man, is the general opinion of the Church, and not without good ground. For first, Wise men, who ever pro­pound some end to all their motions, would not have undertaken so long, and tedious, and troublesom a journey to have seen a child in a Cradle, or in the mothers lap; no not a Royal babe: they were Kings themselves; so the Antients delivered them to us: and the 72 Psalm foretells them by that name; and they had often seen such sights, in as much pomp and glory as they could expect it in Iudea. At least cui bono? what good should they get by it? (that's a thing Wise men consider) by any King of Iu­dea? what was such an one or his child to them, who had nor dependance nor commerce with him; or if they had, needed not make such a needless journey themselves, to no more purpose than in a complement to visit him?

But (2.) They tell us they had seen his Star; now we and they knew well enough that the Kings of the earth, though they have the Spangles of the Earth, have not the Spangles of the Heaven at their command; though they have Courts and Courtiers beset with sparks of Diamonds and Rubies, they have not yet one spark of Heaven in their attendance. [Page 206] No King of Stars, but the King of Heaven; none under whose com­mand or dominion they move or shine, none that can call them his, but God that made them; to worship one then who not only can alone call all the Stars by their names, but by his own too, is certainly, in any Wise mans language, to worship God. Our very Star-gazers, who confess no King, and for ought we can see, worship no God, will yet confess, that in the Latin they have regit Astra Deus, that the Stars are only Gods; and though a Wise man may by his wisdom divert their influence, he can in no wise either command or direct their motion.

3. They tell us too they came to worship, their whole business was no­thing else; and we would think they had little indeed, if they came so far only to give a complement to a child that could neither answer them nor understand them; We must certainly take them not for Wise men, but very fools to do so. And if worship be the end of their coming, we may quickly understand by the phrase of Scripture, that it is divine worship that is meant. Of worship indeed and adoration we may read in other senses there, but it is never made a business, said to be any ones aim or purpose, but when it is referr'd to God and his House. The Eunuch is said to come to Ierusalem, and worship, Acts viii. 27. David invites us to fall down and wor­ship, Psal. xcv. 6. St. Paul comes to Ierusalem to worship, Acts xxiv. 11. and certain Greeks are said to come up to worship, St. Iohn xii. 20. but all this while it is to worship God, never made a work to worship man. To fall down before, or bow, or reverence to any man, how great soever, is but an occasional piece of business, on set purpose never. When we come before Kings and Princes we do it, but never come before them to this end only for to do it.

4. Had they conceived no other of him than as man, or a Child of man, that poor contemptible condition, and unworshipful pickle they found him in, the rags of poverty, the place they saw him in, would have made them have forborn their worship quite, they would have been so far from procidentes adorârunt, that it would have been dedignantes abiêrunt; in­stead of falling down and worshipping, they would have gone their ways, disdaining at him. But so powerful was his Star, and so had the day-Star risen in their hearts, so had the eternal light shined to them, that they could see what others could not; in carne Deum, God in the Child: He that led them without, taught them within, both whom they wor­shipped, and how to worship.

And indeed, he that knows and considers whom he worships, will wor­ship both in Spirit, and in truth, with his soul and with his body, in truth else he does not worship. Adorare, adoration consists of both, nay, cannot be well conceived, if you take away either the one or the other. The word it self in its primitive signification is, manum ad os admovere, concerns the body, and is no more than to kiss the hand, and [...] of [...] is just the same. So was the fashion of the Greeks to worship, and it seems ancient through the East; for it is an expression of holy Iob, chap. xxxi. 21. If I have beheld the Sun when it shined, &c. or, my mouth hath kissed my hand, that is, if he had worshipped any other God. But it falls out with this as with other words, they enlarge their signification by time and cu­stom; and so adoration is come to be applied to all worship of the body, bow­ing the head, bending the knee, falling on the face, kneeling at the feet, according as each particular Country perform their reverence. Time yet hath enlarged it further, and our Saviour, that eternal word, and therefore the best Expositor of any word, hath applied it also to the [Page 207] soul [...], St. Iohn iv. 23. nay more, calls them the truest worshippers that worship in Spirit.

And indeed the Spirits, the Souls part is the chiefest, the worship of the body is but the body of worship. The soul that is it that enlivens it, the spirit and soul of it that completes it, the inward intention, direction, submission, and reverence is that which makes all to be accepted. To fall down in humility with the body, and lift up the soul with pride; to give an outward respect to him, and inwardly neglect him; to do the worship cursorily, or in a complement, without attention or good meaning, is to use Christ as the Souldiers did, worship him in a mockery, cry, Hail King, and smite him; to give a Crown of Thorns, and a Scepter of a reed: to make a puppet, or a may-game of him, or with Herod pretend to worship, and mean nothing less: seem devout, forsooth, in all haste, but nourish profane and murtherous, that is, sinful, careless, or Atheistical thoughts against him.

They do best joyn'd: God hath joyned them, and one word hath joyned them; and when joyned, we best understand them; and soul and body being so nearly joyn'd, why should we go about to separate them? The Prophesies foretel them both, as to be solemnly performed to him: All Kings shall fall down before him, all Nations shall do him service, Psal. lxxii. 11. and ver. 15. Prayer shall be made ever unto him, and daily shall he be prai­sed. The Gospel, that assures it was done: and the Apostle tells us, that God had so ordained it should be, given him a name, which is above every Name, that at the Name of Iesus every knee should how, of things in heaven, things in earth, and things under the earth, Phil. ii. 9, 10. If all things in heaven and earth do do it, then spirits and bodies too. For bodies are things, and spirits are things; and in heaven and under the earth, there be no bodies, in earth there is both: so there sure to be done by both. And this name had not been long given before these wise men come to do it reverence; before it was given they came not, presently after they come; not before, that they might know how to call him they were to worship: yet present­ly after, that we might know it was in his name only that the Gentiles were to trust, at which to bow and worship. To worship him, to worship his Name, or at his Name, is but the same in Scripture, or little difference. Yet if we owe him worship, we owe also a respect unto his Name; we are not to take it vainly, or count it light, but pay a reverence to it, as to his; for therein also we worship him. As we worship his Humanity, as it is united to his Divinity, so his Name too we may well worship, that is, reverently esteem and speak of it, and so express it; spiritually re­joyce too at the hearing of it, without fear of Superstition or Idolatry. We else but poorly and lamely worship him, God knows, if we give no respect at all to his Name, or any thing that belongs to him. We may as well be afraid to worship him at all, now since he hath taken on a body, lest we should commit Idolatry to it, being a creature, as to fear Superstition in worshipping at his Name before his foot-stool, as the Scripture sometimes speaks; when the adoration on both hands is only directed to, and ter­minated in his Godhead.

If any then, as alas too many be so little Christians, as to give to Iesus, or his holy Name, or his holy Altars and Sacraments, no more reverence than does a Turk or Pagan, let not us for Christs sake bear them company: we have better examples here before us; nay, we have Angels too before us at the work. When he brought his first-begotten into the world, he said, And let all the Angels of God worship him, Heb. i. 6. and certainly they do it, they [Page 208] fulfil his command, and do his pleasure. And are we then too holy to do it? Is it a command upon them, whom the benefit does no way so much concern; and is it left at our pleasure, who have the most reason in the world to do it, to whom chiefly this Christ was born and given? may we choose whether we will worship him or no? and yet be the greatest gainers by it, and the more holy by not doing it?

Faith's the business they tell us, no matter for any thing besides: only believe and all is done. Well, but is Faith the business? and is it not a strong belief indeed, this, that can bring men out of their own Country, and that a far one too, through Arabian Desarts in the depth of Winter only to worship? and is it not as high a piece of Faith, notwithstanding that poor, outward, contemptible, appearance of Christ, yet to fall down and worship him, and believe him to be their God and Saviour, and to trust the guidance of a Star, or the word of an obscure Prophesie, or an in­ward motion from Heaven, before their own eyes, and all sense, and reason? To leave his Country, and to believe against hope and reason, was counted to Abraham for Faith, Heb. xi. was so to these Wise men of the Text, will be to all that follow their example. Our Worship is but the expression of a Faith, fides facta, or fides faciens, Faith done. We wor­ship, therefore we believe, or, we believe, and therefore worship.

And therefore, thirdly, offer too. Open our treasures, the treasures of our Faith, and present our gifts: And when they had opened their Treasures, &c.

The ancient Fathers have here observed both Letter and Mystery; and I am no wiser, I shall do so too. The Letter is plain enough to tell us, that God looks to be worshipped with our Goods as well as with our Bodies, and our Souls; and that those whom he leads by his Star or Spirit, any that will come to Christ, must no more come empty handed, than those that come to God, Exod. xiii. For God he is, and God he gave us them; God there­fore, every person in the God-head, to be served with them: the first-fruits it should be in all reason, and in justice, all it might be; but some part or offering out of them howsoever. I shall open the Wise mens treasures, and shew you them, the out-side of them, the Letter first.

Treasures they are called before they are opened, that we may learn God is not only to be served with mean things and ordinary ware. Nothing can be too good for him; the treasures of our Hearts, and the treasures of our Cabinets and Coffers are never better opened than for him. David would not offer what cost him nought, and Araunah when he does but under­stand God's business toward, gives like a King, 2 Sam. xxiv. 23. The Is­raelites, hard hearted Israelites, are yet so tender of Gods Service, that they pluck off their Jewels and golden Ear-rings for the Service of the Tabernack. The first Christian Emperours give their stately Halls to make Churches, and nothing is thought too costly by pious souls for God's wor­ship. Are the treasures and precious things of the earth for men only, and not for God? that were strange indeed, and a bondage and usurpation the creature indeed might well groan under.

Gifts they are stiled when they are presented (2.) to tell us that God expects gifts as well as dues. Falling down and worshipping are due upon command: the second Commandment, that forbids it to an Idol, must ne­cessarily thence infer it due to God; and if we do no more than pay our dues, what thank have we? God loves a free-will offering, and expects it too; unless we can suppose the Iew more bound to him than are we: our selves know how we value a voluntary service above any; and think we [Page 209] that God less accepts it? he accepts of the will when there is nothing else, so much he esteems it; and will he not accept it when he sees it pour out it self with fulness upon him?

3. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrhe they prove when they are opened; such best presents as the Country affords, and the best of them: that we may know there is no Country so barren, no man so poor, but may afford something to Gods service. Nor the Rocks of the one Arabia, nor the Sands of the other so dry and fruitless, but that they yield some fruit for Christ. They have but little indeed, that have not to offer a Turtle, or a Pigeon; if they have no Gold, they may have Francincense and Myrrhe, no such great cost: Even the poor Widow hath a Mite or two, something at least to bestow on God, to present him with, that none may plead excuse.

Yet (4.) as they are such as the Country yields, proportinable to that; so they are, as it falls out, very proportionable for them that offer them. Gold and perfumes, fit presents for Kings and Princes, and persons of Estate and Honour, to present, or be presented with; they are things either costly or delicate: and such is fittest for them to present to Christ, to offer up their golden Crowns, and readily part with all their sweetnesses and delicacies for his honour and service. Great men must not give mean presents; it is un­worthy of them.

Not mean ones said I? (5.) Not few neither: here's three together for one present at a clap; and three is all: 'Tis the perfectest number, and intimates all. Of every thing we are to give God somewhat; 'tis as it were a grace to sanctifie the rest: Nor can we methinks promise our selves a blessing upon any thing we enjoy, till we have first offered it, or of it, to God. Certain it is, I dare assure him, he loses nothing of any thing, that gives any of it to God, but encreaseth best by that diminishing.

6. Yet proportionable only to our condition are we required to offer: every one cannot offer Gold. These Wise men therefore, the Type of all the Gentiles that were to come in to offer, not only offer like Kings, but like persons of meaner condition also; Frankincense and Myrrhe, things of a lower value, that we may know, God accepts all, any thing, so we offer it willingly. Turtles and Pigeons, as well as Lambs and Bulls; Mites as well as Talents; Prankincense and Myrrhe as well as Gold; the poor mans pre­sent as well as the greatest Kings and Princes.

7. God as he loves men should keep proportion to their abilities, not that they should be burthened; yet he loves also that they should keep some proportion to himself. We must have regard to God's honour, as well as our own low estate; not offer lame, or maim'd, or refuse things. To Christ here Gold comes very fitly to relieve his necessity, his poor Mothers Poverty: Frankincense does well to perfume the Stable, and Myrrhe comes seasonable to strengthen and confirm his infant limbs. He gives twice, that gives in season. No gift so welcome as that which comes in the time of necessity, when we have most need. Cast we about hence, ever to pro­portion our presents to God's convenience, and the Churches; to supply it in want with our Gold and Silver; in contempt, and under the ill scent of scorn and ill report, to defend it with the sweet incense of Good Works; in weakness and declining, to uphold it with the myrrhe of our Patience and Courage.

8. Do we it lastly, largely, with open hearts, and hands, and purses; open all our treasures, spread them all before him, bid him please him­self, take what he will, all if he will, reserve nothing, detain nothing, no part nor portion from him, as did Ananias and Saphira, who paid dearly [Page 210] indeed for being so close handed, Acts v. but open we all our treasures to him, keep we nothing from him; knowing this, that he that soweth plentifully, shall reap plentifully, and he that gives most, shall yet never lack. And where he takes it not himself, let us our selves pick the choicest out of all; and with these wise and happy souls present them to him. Some­what out of our Gold, our abundance and superfluities; somewhat out of our Frankincense, our competencies and conveniencies; somewhat out of our Myrrhe, our necessaries that are to uphold nature: And as Myrrhe does the dead body, keep it from stinking. Somewhat out of all I say, the more the better; but some at least, some of all three. Our goods indeed, as says the Psalmist, are nothing unto thee, O God, nothing unto thee, in com­parison of thee, the chiefest good: our riches nothing to thine; thou needest them not neither; yet for all that, give him them we must: for he needs not our prayers neither, our souls neither; nothing of ours indeed at all: Yet does he lay his claim to all, and require some of all. You will understand better what he requires, if we open the treasures a little fur­ther, go on to the Mystery, what Antiquity hath conceived infolded in the treasury of the Text; what is the mystery of this three-fold present, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrhe.

For why these rather than any other? or why so specified, being no such rarities in Iudea? somewhat certainly there is in it; a double mystery, say the Fathers: an allegory and a moral; an allegorical, and a moral sense. The Allegory is to teach us what to think or believe of Christ. In offering Gold they acknowledged him for a King, and so paid him Tribute. In offering Frankincense, or Incense, they confest him to be a God. It is to the gods only that even the Heathen offer Incense. Yet (3.) In offering Myrrhe, they yet profess he should die like men: Myrrhe hath little other use than in Sepultures and Embalmings. So the sum of the Wise mens Faith, or the Magi's Creed is thus profest, that this Child they thus adored was the King, Messiah, God and Man who should die for them.

I shall take leave to expatiate and enlarge their Creed out of the same oblations yet a little further, seeing the Fathers have led the way, and point them out, how they thus doing seem to believe all that is to be be­lieved of Christ. First, his two natures, his God-head by the Incense, his Manhood by the Myrrhe. (2.) His Offices, his Kingly Office by the Gold, the very matter of the Crown that makes him King. His Priestly Office by Incense, the Priests Office being to offer Incense, S. Luke i. 9. Levit. xvi. 13. His Prophetical Office by the Myrrhe, representing the bitter and mor­tified life of a Prophet. (3.) Here's his Birth, his Life, his Death, and Resurrection all acknowledged. His Birth fitly resembled unto gold, the purest metal; his birth the purest without any sin at all, of a Virgin pure as the most refined Gold; his Life well represented by the Incense, being nothing but a continual service of God, and a perpetual doing of his Fa­thers business. His Death, the very manner of it evidently pointed at by the Myrrhe, which in his Passion was given him in Wine to drink: the usual draught of those that died upon the Cross. And his Resurrection, easi­ly enough understood by the same Myrrhe, whose chief use is to preserve the dead body from Corruption, out of an hope of a Resurrection; and was even litterally done unto him by Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of Myrrhe and Aloes to embalm him, St. John xix. 39.

So now we see what it is to present Gold, Francincense, and Myrrhe to Christ, even no less than to believe him to be God and Man, our King, and Priest, and Prophet, born of a Virgin, without stain of sin, living in all ho­liness [Page 211] without blame, and dying for us; yet not seeing Corruption, but rising again to Incorruption. This is the Faith we are to offer up, this triple Faith. Fear we not any adversaries or calamities, he is our King to protect us; King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, 1 Tim. vi. 15. Despair we not though we be grievous sinners; he is our Priest, our High-Priest to offer for us, and reconcile us. Let not even Death affright us; by his death, Death hath lost its sting: the Myrrhe of his embalming will pre­serve us, and by his Resurrection he will revive and raise us up. Let us thus think of Christ, and trust upon him, and we still offer this same of­fering of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrhe.

This is the Allegory, the Moral is behind: and in the moral sense we offer Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrhe, who present God with those ver­tues that resemble them.

First, He offers Gold, who patiently and constantly suffers for his Faith, which is far more precious, says St. Peter, than of Gold that perisheth, though it be tried with the fire, 1 Pet. i. 7. The Martyrs flames are brighter than Gold, and the constant Faith will endure the fire better than the Gold it self.

He (2.) offers Gold who sets himself to keep Gods Commandments, which in the Psalmists account, Psal. xix. 10. are more desirable than Gold, yea, than the finest Gold.

He (3.) offers Gold who disperses it abroad, and gives it to the poor; he that gives Alms, properly offers Gold; to the poor indeed he gives it, but to God it is he offers it: an offering of a sweet savour to him.

2. He offers Frankincense who offers Prayers, whose Prayers ascend like Incense: 'Tis holy David's expression, Prayers set forth as Incense, Psal. [...]xli. 2. no Incense so sweet, so acceptable to God, as the devout Prayers of his servants.

He (2.) presents Incense whose hope is only in the Lord his God, whose desires and hopes are always ascending upward.

He (3.) presents Incense who presents humility and obedience: the na­ture of Frankincense is binding and restringent, well imitated by obedi­ence and humility; the best binders and restrainers of our wills and passions.

3. And lastly, he offers Myrrhe who mortifies his affections, which are upon the earth. Myrrhe is a mortifier. One quality of Myrrhe is to kill Worms; he that kills these worms of our inordinate desires, that come crawling on us, those covetous desires that lie gnawing us; those wrig­ling motions of any lusts that are ever tickling, disturbing us, he offers Myrrhe.

2. He presents Myrrhe that presents his body chaste and pure. Iudith that chaste Matron is said to wash her body and anoint it with Myrrhe, Judith 10. as it were a preservative against lust, and the Spouse in the Canticles, so fair, so pure, so undefiled, is much delighted with bundles of Myrrhe; her very hands drop sweet smelling Myrrhe. It is so great an An­tidote against all impurity and corruption.

3. He presents Myrrhe, who though he hath not perhaps altogether kept his body pure, or his affections in order, yet begins now at last to take his Wine a little mingled with Myrrhe, that takes of the bitter potion of repentance, who in the bitterness of his soul repents him of his sins.

You know now how you may still offer Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrhe, a constant Faith, a regular Life; Charity and Alms is as good as Gold, devout Prayer, a lively Hope, an humble Obedience will pass for Incense, a chaste body, [Page 212] mortified affections, and true repentance will be accepted instead of Myrrhe. See we to it then, that we have them always ready to present to Christ.

Yet there is one mystery more to be observed, when they had opened their treasures, says the Text, and it says it that we may know, we are to open our treasures as well as offer them. Now to open them before him, is, as it were to say, take what he will, we are content. A voluntary resigna­tion of our selves and all that is ours to his choice, order, and disposing, to deny and renounce our selves, and all that is ours; our own desires, our goods, our good deeds, our merits: or to leave all to follow him, if he so will have it, is the most perfect of all our offerings, and the perfection of them all. It is both the beginning and end of Christianity; so we begin our Christianity with the same resignedness, we must continue it to the end.

And we may yet observe how to offer here as well as what to offer. Open we our treasures first, do it freely, that we do, all our treasures. (2.) Do it plentifully, and largely, Dorcas-like, full of good works, and alms-deeds: let our good works and graces glitter like the refined Gold. (3.) Do them pure and sincerely. (4.) That they may ascend like Incense, do them reli­giously and devoutly. (5.) Let them be wrapt up in Myrrhe, to keep them from corouption. (6.) Let them all be like sweet smelling Myrrhe of good odour and report. (7.) Let them also be imbittered with Myrrhe, with the bitter tears of repentance, that we have presented God so little good, and the tears of sorrow that we can present no better. (8.) Let them be done in order, our incense in the middle, our prayers wing'd on the one hand with the golden wing of Faith, on the other with purity white (as is says Pliny) the purest Myrrhe, a faithful heart, and pure hands, encom­passed on the one side with Alms, on the other with Mortification and Fasting: First believe, then pray, then practise. First believe Christs word and promises, then pray for his assistance, then practise his obedi­ence. And lastly all our doings, all our offerings must be presented by fal­ling down, with humility, and prayer. So we began the Sermon, and so we end it.

So will he who accepted the Wise men and their gifts accept us and ours, and for our gifts give us better; for our earthly, heavenly treasures; for our Gold the Crown of Glory; for the incense of our prayers that we of­fer here, the honour to offer there, the holy odours of eternal praises; for our bitter Myrrhe we suffer here, the full sweetness of all pleasure there; and for our falling down shall one day raise us up again to ever­lasting glory, to worship him that sits upon the Throne, and the Lamb for evermore. Amen.

A SERMON UPON St. Paul's Day: Preached at St. Pauls.

NEHEM. xiii. 14.‘Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the Offices thereof.’

ANd even to remember our selves concerning this, of the good deeds done to this House of God, and to the Offices thereof have I chose the Text to day.

A day, by all probable conjectures from the ancient great solemnity we find upon it, the Feast of the Dedi­cation of this reverend and aged Pile, either at the first or second building of it, when it was first presented to God to be remembred by him. A Day here observed, not only in memo­ry of St. Pauls Conversion, but of the Conversion also of this place (now St. Pauls) either at the first from the Temple of Diana, to the House of God; or of this Part of it wherein we are, some hundred of years after from common use, and the renewing of the rest of it out of ashes to the vast proportion it now carries.

And it falling out this Year to be a Day crown'd with so honourable an Assembly, I hope it may fall out happily to remember you of some kind offices, some good deeds to it. Now after a third Conversion of it from a Stable, a Magazine, a Market, a Meeting place of Schism and Rebel­lion, to a Church again, and the Holy Offices in their beauty, to set to your pious hands to help it out of dust and rubbish, and raise it up to its first lustre and glory.

But if the day should have no such reflection, no day could be amiss to remember either our selves, or you, of such good works as God here is not only content to be remembred of, but pleased to remember, puts here upon record too, that we also may remember them; Remember [Page 214] what good Nehemiah, and other pious souls have done in their several times to the House of God, and forget not our selves to do the like.

We have a command from St. Paul (whose day it is) to charge them that are rich to do so, 1 Tim. vi. 18. to be rich in good works, and such are these. We have a good warrant for it hence; We have a good Pattern here, and the works put, all, as it were, upon Gods score to pay for Thrice it is so in the Chapter, ver. 22. and 31. as well as in the Text; as if God were little less than bound to recompence and reward them. And he will, if we carry not our selves too high upon them; if we do them with sincerity, and reflect upon them with humility. Nehemiah does so. For how good soever the works were, the words are but a modest re­commendation of them to God when they were done, with an humble Pe­tition to Him to accept them. An excellent Precedent to Us, what to do in the Case, and how to do it.

That we may the better understand his, and do our own, we make the Text into two generals.

  • I. Nehemiahs good deeds done to the House of God. And,
  • II. His Petition to him to remember and accept both him and them, and not blot out either himself or them.

Or to be more distinct, we shall draw those Generals into these Parti­culars; and consider,

  • I. What it was that Nehemiah did to the House of God, and to the Offices, that he would have remembred; the good deeds that he did.
  • II. That such things done to the House of God, or to the Offices, though but Ceremoniis, are good deeds; good indeed, and so to be reputed and remembred.
  • III. That as good as they are, such (yet) they are as God may in rigour of justice wipe out, and not remember; such as we had need still, with Nehemiah, pray him not to wipe out, but remember.
  • IV. That, yet notwithstanding, they are such too, as God may, and will be, easily entreated to remember, and not wipe out; That he, God, does remember them, and sets them here upon Record for such.
  • V. And not only remember them, but the person also for them; Him that does them, Remember Me.
  • VI. But then (6.) This must be remembred too, why they stand here; that this Scripture, as well as others, was written for out learning, to remember us, that (1.) still such a House there is, a House of God, with many Offices belonging to it, and good still to be done to It and Them. That (2.) good it is to do so still. That (3.) God even now also will remember such good deeds; and such also (4.) as shall do them. Would have us (5.) do so too. Would have us (6.) remember sometimes our selves to do them. But be sure (lastly) when they are done, to beg of him not to touch too hard upon them, lest he wipe them out. Remember, &c. you have both the Sum, and the Particulars of the Text. I go on with the First of them, What it was that was here done to the House of God; and there, first, shew you the Person, then his good deeds.

I. For the Person; our Book tells us it was Nehemiah, but the Text has only a plain Me to decipher him. That's enough too, so God but remem­ber him. For God is not taken with our titles. The less we make of our selves, the more always he makes of us.

[Page 215]Indeed, there is not much said any where of his Genealogy, and no where so much what he was, as what he did. The best reckoning Pedi­grees is that of Noahs, Gen. vi. 9. These are the Generations of Noah; Noah was a just man, and perfect in his Generations, and Noah walked with God. This shall be Nehemiahs. Nehemiah was a good man, pious in his Generations, and Nehemiah did good to the House of God. He's of the noblest House who is thus near allied to the House of God; that thus comes closest to it.

And yet Nehemiah was no mean man, neither Cup-bearer to Artaxerxes King of Persia, Chap. i. 11. the Tirshatha, Chap. viii. 9. or Governour of Iudea, Chap. v. 14. had honour and eminence enough; but stands upon record most for his Piety. That out-vies all Names of Honour. The Repairer of Gods House a better Title to be remembred by in Gods Cata­logue of Nobility, and in the Court of Heaven; than the greatest Em­perours Cup-bearer, or the Viceroy of Iudea, nay, of Emperour of East and West.

This only by the way, that He forgets himself, and God will not re­member him, who thinks his Honour and greatness exempt him from the service of Gods House, or values any beyond it. King David himself had rather be a door-keeper there, than dwell any where else; One day there better, says he, than a thousand, Psal. lxxxiv. 9, 10. And one poor Me is worth as many Worships and Honours; that single Syllable, of as few Let­ters as you can make it, with a few good deeds to back it, better than all glorious Titles without them.

But enough of so small a Particle. Enough too here of the Person considered in himself, because I shall speak of him all the way in his good deeds. To which now I pass, and enquire (1.) What he did to the House of God; and then (2.) What to the Offices thereof.

And the several readings give us them under two Heads: Misericordias and Beneficentiam. His Mercy and his Bounty to them both; both House and Offices.

His Mercy to the House, that I begin with; and that take in these particulars: In his Compassion towards it, his Petitioning for it, his Repairing, his Cleansing, his Protecting it. Give me leave to trace the Story, as 'tis fit I should, and I shall shew you them in some or other of the neighbour­ing Chapters as they rise.

1. His Compassion towards it, that we may easily see in his sitting down and weeping over the ruines, in his fasting and sadly praying for it, Chap. i. 4. For 'tis not Hierusalem only, or principally either, (though first mentioned) for which he does so, but Sion, the place that God had chosen to put his Name there, ver. 9. For that it is; because of the House of the Lord his God that he thus seeks, O Hierusalem, to do thee good. David plainly professes so for himself, Psal. cxxii. 9. And for Sion, Thy servants, says he, they think upon her stones, and it pittieth them to see her in the dust, Psal. cii. 14. All good men still it does as much, they more be­wail the ruines of God's houses than of their own. Alas! Hierusalem is but a sad dwelling without Sion, no more than any other City, any or­dinary Heathen City; not the City of the great King, or a sure refuge without that. Even a Fox as Tobiah the Ammonite jeer'd it, Chap. iv. 3. if he go up shall break down the wall, if the wall of the House be not joyn'd to it, and built with it. 'Tis for this principally Nehemiah mourn's, and maks as it were a Cement for it out of the rubbish by the mixture of his tears. 'Tis a Tender mercy; that first.

[Page 216]2. But he does not meerly and dully sit down and weep, end the busi­ness there; Up he gets (2.) and to the King he goes, and petitions him for a Commission to repair it, Chap. ii. 7. Begs of him some supplies and ma­terials towards it. Good it is to do good to the House our selves, but 'tis doubled when we can work others to it too; when we promote it with our friends, and put our selves, as it were, to the blush to beg for it. 'Tis yet a mercy we need not blush at, a holy impudence in doing good; a very serviceable mercy, a mercy not ashamed of any thing to do good to Gods house, or any thing that is his. That's a second.

3. These yet are but the Proems of his mercy. He, thirdly, sets closely to the work: provides necessaries and materials for the House, and be­gins the repairs, completes the unfinished Walls and Turrets, not of the City only, but the Temple too, where ere they wanted, Chap. iii. It had been begun to be re-edified by Zerubbabel, Ezra vi. Where, by the way, take notice they began their building with Gods House then; yet it seems it was not fully finished. Great works are not the business of a little time, not of days, but years. (Above forty years in building was this House wherein we are.) Nor are such Houses at any time so perfect at the last, but that a religious hand will easily find somewhat or other always to be added to their beauty and glory. And this is a point of Nehemiahs mercy too; A mercy that thinks no pains too much, no time too long to con­tinue doing good to the House of God: a laborious and continued mercy. That's the third.

4. Nay, sometimes it seems (and we have found it by our own experience) that the House is not fully finished, yer it is afresh polluted. Nehemiah (4.) is fain to cleanse it. Tobiah, the Ammonite, his houshold-stuff was gotten into the House, Chap. xiii. 5. The High Priest, his Allie, had brought it thither. When the Priest himself profanes the House, lets the Ammo­nite come in, or suffers it, God help us. God help us indeed to some good Nehemiah to throw out that stuff, as you may see ours does, Chap. xiii. 9. A cleansing, purifying mercy the House needs sometimes, needed it we remember too long. Such is Nehemiahs too. A clean, pure mercy. That's the fourth.

5. And yet the Ammonite is not so easily cast out. Nehemiah must stand to what he has done, and still protect it, or Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, the Horonite, the Ammonite, and the Arabian, all Sects, Schism, Atheism, and Prophaneness will in again. If the Princes Authority, and the Magistrates Sword do not protect, as well as recover it from unhal­lowed hands and Offices; 1. From corrupt Priests, such as Eliashib, ver. 7. 2. From false ones, such as cannot prove their succession, Chap. vii. 64. 3. From such as pollute it with strange marriages, as one of the Sons of Ioiada, ver. 28. strange mixtures, (suppose the waters of the Tiber, the Frith, or the Leman Lake with the Springs of Sion.) 4. From strange Levites too, so strange that we know not whence they came, nor what their Pe­digree; even in those mercies of the most Highest, which he hath lately shewed us, contrary to the Psalm, we shall all miscarry. 'Tis the highest Commendation of Nehemiahs mercies, that he does not forsake the House, but strill protects it both from open enemies, and from treache­rous friends; the one, by his Sword and Spear, Chap. iv. 16. the other, by the restoring good order and Discipline, Chap. xii. 24. And this is a couragious and constant mercy; The Fifth Commendation of Nehemiahs.

And thus you have his Mercies to the House it self, His compassion on the Ruines, his soliciting the Repairs, his setting himself upon the work, his [Page 217] delivering the house from prophanation, his protecting it from the prophaners; 1. a tender, 2. active, 3. laborious, 4. pure, 5. constant goodness to the House of God. These are the first branches of those Mercies which God here commends to us, to be shewn by his to his House.

The Second sort are those to the Offices. And Misericordias in Custodiis, in Observantiis, in Ceremoniis, the several translations of the words again shall serve to head them. Nehemiahs good deeds, First, To the Officers; Secondly, To the Offices; Thirdly, To the Ceremonies of the House; these three shall be the Heads.

1. Misericordias in Custodiis, taking the Abstract for the Concrete, His mer­cies to the Officers and Keepers of the House, those who are set to watch and keep it, them we take the first. And indeed the Officers and Mini­sters they had need of them first and last; need all the mercies that Nehe­miah, or any of you can shew them. For not only, unless the Lord keep the House, but unless Nehemiah, the Magistrate, do so too, (you the Reve­verend Iudges, you the renowned Governours of the City) the Watchmen, the Priests and Levites, will all labour but in vain. Tobiah, by his acquain­tance and alliance, Sanballat, by his subtilty and pretences, Geshem, by his wealth and power, will down with the Walls ere they be well dry, and out with the Officers ere they are warm in their work and business. Nehemiah therefore, like a stout Governour, sticks to them against those enemies of Sion and Hierusalem, of peace and order, whether open or con­ceal'd ones; The first of them, Chap. v. the other here, ver. 10. Against all that have ill will at Sion, that envy the prosperity of the House of God, he stands to them and protects them.

He, Secondly, disposes and settles them in their proper places, ver. 30. of this Chapter, descends to take care even of the Singers, and Porters, or Vergers of the house, Chap. xii. 45.

He calls home, thirdly, the poor Levite, who had been forced to for­sake the house for want of maintenance, Chap. xii. 11. delivers him from the oppression of such whose policy it was then, and we know is still, to starve the Levite or Minister out of the House, that so they may either have no Minister at all, and so scandalize the Government; or none but such as will say and do what they would have them, and so preach it down again.

He, fourthly, restores them all to their rights and dues, establishes them to them too by a Law for time to come, Chap. x. 32. and so on.

Lastly, For their better maintenance, and the readier performance of of the holy Office, he commands the holy things and Vessels, meat-Offerings and Oblations, to their proper Chambers, in custodias, to be re­served in their several Wards, Chap. xiii. 9. And these in brief are Nehe­miahs Misericordiae in Costodiis, his good deeds to the Officers or Ministers of the House of God: He defends them against their Enemies; He confirms them in their Places; He delivers them from their Oppressors; He esta­blishes them in their Rights; He Orders all things to their best conveni­ence. Mercies never to be forgotten; and I would our Age would remem­ber them.

2. Yet not them only, but these that follow too. And Misericordias in Observantiis are the next. His Mercies to the Offices themselves. Trace we him, as we did before, and we shall find him (1.) restoring the obser­ving of the solemn Fasts and Feasts in their due seasons, Chap. viii. 9, 10, 14. Vindicating (2.) the Sabbath from prophanation, Chap. xx. 19. Making them (3.) a solemn Form of Prayer, Chap. ix. 5. Setling (4.) solemn [Page 218] Musick, Hymns and Anthems of thanksgivings, Chap. xii. 27. Setting up (5.) the publick reading and teaching of the Law of God, Chap. viii. 1. and ix. 3. Re-establishing (6.) the whole Office of Gods Publick Worship and Service according to the commandment of David, the man of God, Chap. xii. 24. according to the ancient form and fashion.

3. Follow we him a little further, and you will see him (3.) at Mise­ricordias in Ceremoniis too, how he behaved himself in the Ceremonies, what good then. And if you consider how reverently his people demean them­selves at holy work; how devoutly they all stand up at the reading of the Law, Chap. viii. 5. how unanimously they answer Amen at the Prayers and Blessing; how they lift up their hands, and bow their heads, and wor­ship the Lord with their faces to the ground, ver. 6. how content they are to be bound to the Statutes and Iudgments as well as the Commandments of God, that is, to the Ceremonials, and Iudicials, (for so the words Statutes and Judgments do import) as well as to the Moral Law, and how he solemnly binds them to it by an oath, Chap. ix. 29. You cannot but say he has wrought a good work indeed upon them, and by this Mercy kept them from disorder and confusion. Mercy I say, for there is none greater than to preserve the Sheep within the Fold, than to keep all in peace and order, and oblige men by Laws and Oaths to do their duties, to attend the holy Offices diligently in a comely uniformity, who otherwise would some of them never think of it, and others, under pretence of Christian Liberty, run every day into all unchristian licentiousness and prophane­ness, and wander up and down in eternal errors, and perish in them. And sure, to save them, though against their wills, is a mercy they need not quarrel with.

These now are the several Mercies of Nehemiah to the House of God, and to the Offices thereof.

You will understand them better by his Bounty. Misericordias fuller by Beneficentiam, which is the second sort of his good deeds.

And the first kind of his Bounty is his own and his servants labour freely bestowed upon the Work. (For 'tis no matter now whether we divide or joyn the House and Offices.) In effect it is no less than the whole Revenues of his Command and Government; whilst refusing the Pay of the Governour, Cha. v. 15, 18. he suffered it so to run on towards the repairs. It seems he was resolved not to enrich himself (however) by the Church, but (as the Phrase is) rather lay out himself upon it.

The second Expression of it is, the free entertainment of one hundred and fifty of those that laboured in the Work at his own Table, at his own charges, ver. 17. of that cited Chapter. He would neither grow rich upon the Churches charge, or spare his own to enrich, or at least reco­ver that to its former greatness.

The third Manifestation of his Bounty is his voluntary gift of one thou­sand Drachmes of Gold to the Treasury of the House, Chap. vii. 70. a kind of springing stream of supplies unto it.

Add now the fifty Basins (and Gold or Silver they must be) the five hundred and fifty Priests Garments, (and they were no little cost, as the Priests Garments then were made, Exod. xxviii. 40. for beauty, all, and glory) the charging himself, besides, and all the people, with a yearly Tax, or Publick Revenue for the repair and service of the House, and you will confess it a bounty beyond expression.

Especially, if you consider not only that and what, but when and how, as the Story will inform you, you will say Misericordias and [Page 219] Beneficentiam are lean and meagre words to tell you what he did.

For to undertake this business when all others had given it over, and left it in the rubbish, Chap. i. 2. when their enemies without the Walls eagerly opposed, and as scornfully derided it; and false friends within as subtilly undermined it, Chap. vi. 17. when some of their Nobles disho­nourably drew back for fear or interest, Chap. iii. 5. then in a time so diffi­cult, so dangerous, so troublesome; then so vigilantly, so couragiously, so industriously to pursue it, as not so much as shift themselves, from weeks end to weeks end, till all was finished, Chap. iv. 23. to be so bountiful to it, too, in a time of dearth and scarcity, as it seems it was, Chap. v. 3. when they had scarce money to buy bread for themselves and families, then to draw both great and small, the chief Fathers, and the meanest people to great Contributions to it, Chap. vii. 71. is so many good deeds together, and so good together, that 'tis nor Greek, nor Hebrew, nor Latine, no [...] Original, nor Translation can express the goodness. I am sure I have all this while but injured it.

And if we sum up all his Mercies and Bounties, all together; his Tears and Prayers over the desolations, and ruines of Gods House; his Petition and di­ligence for the repairs; his care and labour in the Work it self; his Zeal and Courage in the cleansing and protecting it; his Friendship and Faithful­ness to the Officers and Ministers; his Iustice to settle them in their Office; his Mercy to deliver them from such as would disturb them in it; his establishing them in their Rights, and his studying all Conveniences for the holy Office; his restoring the whole Service of the Church for days, for Forms, for State, for Beauty, for Order, for all Solemnity. Methinks I might spare you the trouble of the next Particular I am to give you, to prove them good. Yet, because there are some that are not willing to believe it, I must do it.

If we would yet but believe the very words of the Text, we should need go no further.

Misericordias the Text calls them, Mercies; and Acts of mercy are good sure. We say so when we want it, and call it a doing us good.

Beneficentiam, (2.) Bounty it styles them too, and that's good; Bonum benè, good well done; so is benefacere; makes him so good that does them, that one would even die to do him good again; for a good man, that is, for a merciful, bountiful man some would even dare to die, Rom. v. 7.

If (3.) you examine the Object of these actions, that's good, for 'tis God. That which is done to his House, is done to him: for if the robbing It be robbing Him, as he tells us 'tis, Mal. iii. 8. the doing good to it must then be the doing good to him.

If you (4.) enquire the intention, that's good too. 'Tis in Observan­tiis and Ceremoniis, for Gods Service all; that he may neither dwell slovenly, nor be served so.

Will you have (5.) a point of faith to sanctifie it further? Why, Deus meus, is the very cloze of faith; the believing God to be his God, the ve­ry reason he is so good to God and His.

To put all out of question. Deeds of this nature God himself styles good. David had it but in his heart to build God a House, and God sends the Prophet purposely to tell him, he did well to think on't; Forasmuch as it was in thy heart to build a House to my Name thou didst well, 2 Chron. vi. 8. Our blessed Saviour himself says as much in the case, of Maries anointing him, (a work which all the Fathers reckon of the same sort with these we speak of) she [Page 220] had wrought a good work, St. Mar. xiv. 6. Indeed, Iudas, and some that he had seduced, with a pretence that it might have been bestow'd much better, they disdained at it, ver. 4. and thought it waste; but remember, I pray, that 'twas but Iudas thought so, and some few that he had abused; Christ says, the doing good to the poor (which was the pretence against it) might stay a while, and must give way to it, ver. 7. Charity must give way to Piety; Charity to them, veil to Piety towards him. Nay, so far is is from a waste that is so spent, that Christ seems to justifie the very wasting our selves upon it, whilst he so highly commends the poor Wi­dow, that had cast into the Treasury of his house all that she had, even all her living, St. Mar. xii. 44. Indeed, it was but two Mites in all, yet that he accepts; the least that is done to him: but 'twas all she had, and that it was which made him prefer it above the richest gifts and presents that were cast in by all the rest. After all this I must tell you, he affects these works so well, (and then they must needs be good) and loves the House so much, that he sets us a pattern of some of them himself; he will not suffer any Vessel to be carried thorow it, St. Mar. xi. 16. and in indigna­tion whips the buyers and sellers out of the very out-parts of it, St. Luk. xix. 45. Twice he did so: First, after he came up from Capernaum, St. Ioh. ii. 15. And again when he went up from Bethphage and the Mount of Olives, St. Mat. xxi. 12. Nay, and he cast out all their Seats, and Mer­chandise, and Moneys; would not suffer the least marks of prophane or common use be left upon it. I wish we would learn to be so scru­pulous in the point, for now you see no reason to scruple their being good.

III. Yet good though they be, they thirdly stand in need of Gods good­ness to remember them, as great mercies as we have shewn them, they yet want his mercy to expound them, a Secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, and a magnitudine bonitatis, as 'tis expresly, ver. 22. a verse paral­lel to this, to construe and accept them. Our works are not so perfect but they require it. Verebar omnia opera mea, says holy Iob viii. 28. He was afraid of the best of them. Nay, though he were righteous, he would not answer God, ver. 15. nor pretend to answer for them. No more will holy David, I have walked innocently, O Lord, says he indeed, but yet be merci­ful to me for all that; both in the same verse, Psal. xxvi. 11. That must be the Plea when all is done. And he that here cries out, wipe them not out O Lord, or remember me concerning them; and ver. 22. Spare me O Lord, or co [...]nive super me, wink at me a little; and ver. 33. Remember them for good, intimates plainly enough, they are not so good but they may do well to be wink'd at, may want a pardom, or fear cancelling, or be as well forgotten, or be remembred for evil as well as good.

Yet good notwithstanding we will allow them. But by Gods grace it is they are so: Good but by the Covenant of the Gospel, not the rigour of the Law. Good by an Evangelical [...], Gods favourable interpre­tation and acceptance, not by the strictness of worth and merit. Good, but overpoised with many bad ones. Davids Delicta sua quis, &c. Who knows how oft he offends? Enough to remember us, we may offend when we think we are doing good; may do best therefore, and shall do safest, not too much to remember them our selves, but leave God in his goodness to remember them.

IV. And that we may do, without any presumption, put God in mind of them now and then. 'Tis my Fourth Particular plain in the Text. And plain too it is, other good men have done so as well as Nehemiah, Hezeki [...]h [Page 221] does so, 2 Kings xx. 3. I beseech thee▪ O Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. Some of it was good deeds to this House we speak of. Holy David particularizes his, Psal cxxxii. 1, 2, and so on. Lord (says he) re­member David: Why! What of him? Why! How he sware unto thee, O Lord, and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Iacob. Well, What was that? Why, That he would not come within the Tabernacle of is house, nor climbe up into his bed, he would not suffer his eyes to sleep, nor his eye-lids to slumber, nor the Temples of his head to take any rest, till he had found out a place for the Temple of the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Iacob. This he prays there that God would remember him and all his troubles for it, how he was troubled till he had found it. Him in all his troubles, too, whensoever▪ he should come in any to deliver him out of all, because of the good he had vowed and intended to the House.

V. But is it only a Prayer that God would remember, Is it not a Record too (5.) that he does? He truly does; you see it here upon Record he does, in the books of his eternal Remembrance. It is here remembred in every Chapter. Your memories cannot be so short but they can tell you it.

The Gospel will tell you it too, tell you God remembers all such deeds as these. Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preacht (and it shall be as long as there is any preaching) there also that which this woman has done shall be told for a memorial of her. [...], St. Mat. xxvi. 13. Told, and told again; every body shall speak of it; and it shall never shall be forgotten. The Beam out of the Roof, and the Timber out of the Wall shall tell it. The Ointment upon Aarons head shall run down upon his beard, to wet even the skirt of his cloathing, and the dust it self shall not be able to lick it up.

If we speak of the House it self, that stands an everlasting monument of the Founders Piety. The very Walls of holy buildings, that scarce now raise their heads so high as to be seen, speak yet plainly forth their Founders and Benefactors. God raises up some good soul or other even in the worst of times to revive their Names, (and blessed be they for it.) If we speak of the good done to the Offices of it; those very Offices are but so many Records therefore from Generation to Genera­tion. Not a Rams, not a Goats, not a Badgers skin offered to the building of the Tabernacle, but stands upon Gods File. Not a Cherubs head, not a Lilly, a Flower, or Pomgranate, not a foot or Inch in the sacred Fabrick, not a Farthing, not a Mite to the Treasure of it falls to the ground un­remembred, un-numbred. Nay, even Sacriledge and Atheism, after so many Centuries of thriving wickedness, have not yet had the power to obliterate the memories of the Houses of God in the Land. So are the good deeds themselves remembred.

Nor shall they that have ever done them, or shall ever do them, be for­gotten. Remember Me, prays Nehemiah; and he was heard in what he pray'd. And you not only see it here, but in the Catalogue made by the Son of Syrach, and long since added near to the very Book of Gods own remembrances. Among the Elect (says he) was Nehemias, his renown is great, who raised up for us the Walls (and some of them were to the house of God) that were fallen, and raised up our ruines, Ecclus. xlix. 13. There are others reckoned there upon the same account, Zorobabel was a Signet the right hand, so was Iesus the Son of Iosedec, who in their time builded the House, and set us an holy Temple to the Lord which was prepared for everlasting glory, v. 11, 12. there's a memorial indeed.

[Page 222]And if you would know what this, to be remembred is, the parallel verses will tell you three things of it: Connive super me, and parce mihi; Wink at and pardon me, ver. 22. and Memento in bonum, remember me for good, ver. 31. To have our weaknesses winck'd at, our sins pardon'd, and our good with good rewarded; these three make up Gods remembring us. And he shews it particularly to those who do good to the place where his honour dwelleth.

1. Many a default had Iacob made, and done some more than justifiable sleights in his transactions with his Brethren, but one vow for Bethel, Gen. xxviii. 22. sets all straight again, and makes God go on his journey with him. There are weaknesses wink'd at, and no reason so probable as Bethel for it.

2. David had some faults, and great ones, yet God says, he turned not aside save only in the matter of Vriah the Hittite, 1 Kings xv. 5. Save that, save many other that we could tell you of, but that we will not rake up those sins that God passed by. But why is God so tender in the point? Why! David was tender over Sion, could not pray for the very pardon of his sins, in that great Penitential Psalm of his, but he must needs in the same breath, as it were, remember Sion, Psal. li. 18. O be gracious unto Sion, as if God else could not be gracious unto him; or as if otherwise, either the pardon of his sins would do him little good, or else there were no readier orsurer way to get them pardon'd than by remembring Sion. Ther's the pardon of sins upon the score.

3. Would you have a remembrance for your good, as well as a forget­ting for your evil? Would you have God remember you with a blessing too? Why, your kindness to his house will do it. God blessed the house of Obed Edom, and all that appertained unto him, because of the Ark of God, 2 Sant. vi. 12. All that appertained? 'Tis good dwelling nigh such a man as he. Again, David would fain have been building God a house, had gotten many materials, and much money ready for it; and God promises him upon it, that He will build him a House for it, and establish him a throne for ever, 2 Sam. vii. 11, 12, 13. God will be behind hand with none that do good to his Habitation, or really intend or go about it. Nay, the very Sparrow is blest, and the Swallow is blest that love but his House, that sing their Mattens and Vespers at his Altars; the devout Prophet even envies them for it, Psal. lxxxiv. 3. So great are the blessings of the House of God, and so ever are those persons under his eye, so in the eye of blessing, whose good deeds are there continually putting God in mind of them.

If you would but remember how God forgets his mercy, (or which is the same) how he remembers them in Iudgment who do ill to his House or to the Offices; how he strikes Vzzah dead for an irreverent touch of the Holy Ark; how he smites Vzziah with a leprosie for an encroachment upon the sacred Office, 2 Chron. xxvi. 19. and turns Saul out of his Kingdom for the like fault, 1 Sam. xiii. 14. How he thrusts Nebuchadnezzar out of doors, Dan. iv. 33. because he had burnt up his Houses in the Land, 1 King. xxv. 9. 'Tis just, indeed, he should have no House who will let God have none. How he despoils Belshazzar of his Kingdom, because he had spoild his Temple, and was now prophaning those holy spoils, carouzing in the sa­cred bowles, Dan. v. 30. How he quite forgets all mercy to the Iews, and casts them out as soon as they prophaned his holy Temple, and abused his Messengers, Priests and Prophets, 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14. and professes he could hold no longer when they had arrived at that height of insolent wicked­ness; How he makes the Heavens forget their dew, and the earth her [Page 223] fruit, because they let his house lie waste, Hag. i. 9, 10. you will readily con­clude, how he remembers those that raise the Walls, and repair the Ruines, and reverence the Sanctuaries, and love the Priests. If them with Curses, then these with Blessings; if them with diseases, then these with health; if them with exile, these with quiet dwellings; if them with scarcity, these with plenty, Vbertate Domus, the plenty of his house; if them with desolate and decaying Families, these with happy and full Posterities; if them with death, then these with life even for ever and ever.

VI. But 'tis time now to remember our selves. And many things we are here to be remembred of.

That (1.) We have a House of God, as well as Nehemiah, to do good to. Many houses of God in the Land now, as well as in the Psalm, lxxiv. 9. This above the rest, whose decay'd Towers, and ruin'd Pinacles, and ragged Walls, and open Windows, and falling Roofs, and broken Pavements, call loud for a Repairer of the breaches. And 'tis not Nehemiahs Mercy and Bounty, nor the Levites thin revenue added, that can do it. Blessed in­deed be God, that he hath put it into the heart of the King to begin, and offer so freely to the Work. But I hope we shall ere long have reason to bless him for your offerings too.

This House is Gods: all such houses Gods, as well as that of Bethel, or that of Sion, or those Synagogues of the Iews, stiled several times his houses. That they are so, the solemn Dedications always of them to his Name with so much glory say enough. And if Domus orationis be Do­mus mea, the House of Prayer be Gods (and Christ says it is, and sure he knows both what is his own, and how to call it) the daily celebration of that Publick Worship there will give a second proof. That some such there were even in the Apostles times, some house besides such as we eat and drink in, that must not be so used, must not be so despised, the Apo­stle tells us, 1 Cor. xi. [...]. and that it was then called the Church of God in the same verse, is to tell you in plain English our Churches are Gods houses.

And God has in our days own'd them for his own. That signal preser­ving them in the heat of War and Plunder, rage and fury, when men were so wrathfully displeased at them, and so implacably set against them. That protecting them (2.) through all the Triumphs of a godly Atheism, and a sacriledge out of Conscience, both as unsatisfied as the grave, so miserably greedy that they would violate their Fathers Sepul­chres, and scatter their ashes in the air and wind, for an inconsiderable piece of lead, or brass, or stone; That miraculous restoring them (3.) to all the holy Offices; this Church in particular destined to a sale, and defer­red only to see who would give most, are evidences of it, too great to be disputed, that God has vindicated his right, and kept it for himself. And I hope you will all remember it, and now help him in it, Court and City, both of you.

And remember, (2.) These Houses have their Officers, their Offices, their Ceremonies▪ as well as that here in the Text. Offices to be performed, Officers to perform them, and Ceremonies to perform them with. Your countenancing, your encouraging, your protecting them, are the good deeds you may do to them.

Remember therefore (3.) I beseech you that you do so. Three arguments there are in the Text to perswade it. (1.) Good it is to do so, good deeds they are. God (2.) will remember them when [Page 224] they are done. God (3.) will remember you for doing them.

1. Good they are, remember that. And good works are a good foundation, 1 Tim. vi. 19. a foundation upon which you may lay hold on eternal life, says St. Paul there; and can you desire a better?

Indeed, Iudas tells us, it would do better upon the poor. But had he had the selling of the Ointment then, or when some of his Disciples had the selling of it since, Were the poor ever the better for it? Were not thousands sent a begging by it? Sure, sure, he that can be content to see the Church in ruines, will not much pass to see the poor in rags. He that en­vies the Church-mans wealth, will never pity the poor mans want; and he that one time sells the Church, will next time sell the poor, if he can get by him. But we will not set good deeds together by the ears. 'Tis enough that these are good: but 'tis more (2.) that God remembers them; that he takes a particular notice of them.

2. I may say, too, a notice of the particulars. The Scrowles of them are laid up for an everlasting remembrance. Feasts of Dedication have been always kept for a memorial of them; and Christ himself vouchsafed to be present at them, St. Ioh. x. 22. And if the Syriac Translator may be allowed to read the last verse of the Chapter, Et ad oblationes, & ad sa­cra temporibus & Festis Statutis memoriam hujus rei mihi serva; we see these good deeds were solemnly remembred in those solemn Feast; and Nehe­miah expected his should be so. Their persons have anciently been remem­bred in the Christian Dypticks. And you see to day we have revived the Custom here.

3. But 'tis not a meer remembring them for honour, but also a real remem­bring them, and them that do them for a blessing, all sorts of blessings. So that would I commend to my dearest friend a Trade to make him rich and happy, it should be doing good to the House of God. 'Tis an old Jewish saying, Decima ut dives fias; Pay thy Tyths if thou wilt grow rich. Build God a House, say I, and he will build thee one again; Do good to His House, say I, and he'll do good to thine; and a wicked Son shall not be able to cut off the Entail. For 'tis worth the notice, that when God pro­mised David a House upon this account, he tells him, that though his Son commit iniquity he would not utterly take his mercy from him. I know there are that to be excused, talk much of unsetled times. This is the way to settle them: When God and man shall see we are in earnest for the House of God, and the Offices thereof, all your Sects will cease to trouble you, and vanish. Some cry, the State must be setled first. Why! Fundamen­ta ejus in montibus Sanctis, says the Psalm; the foundations of Hierusalem are upon the Holy Hills. Lay your foundations there, and you shall never be removed, God of his goodness will make your Hill so strong. No better way to fix the House of the Kingdom, or your own, than to begin with His. Others (to get loose) tell us of the decay of Trade. Why! how can it be other, says God, Hag. i. 9. You looked for much, and it came to little, and when you brought it home, (and 'twas scarce worth bringing home) I did blow upon it; blew it into nothing. And why was it says the Lord of Hosts? Because of my house that lieth waste, and ye run every man to his own house. You dwell in Cedars, and you lap your selves in Silks and Silver, and you have all neat and fine about you; but the House of God, that lies in the dust and rubbish. But is it time for you (O ye, says he, for I know not what to call you) to dwell in cieled houses, and my house lie no better? Did God, think you, make Gold and Silver, Silks and Purples, Marbles and Cedars, for us only and our houses, and not for himself also or his own? Or do you [Page 225] think to thrive by being sparing to it, or holding from it? No, says God, from the day that the Foundation of the Lords Temple was laid, consi­der it, from this, that day will I bless you, Hag. ii. 18, 19. And prove him so (say I, for he bids so himself, Mat. iii. 10.) and see if he will not pour you out a blessing.

Indeed, he has been before us with it. He has brought us home, and stablisht our Estates, and restor'd our Religion; done more to us, and to our ho