SERVE GOD AND BE CHEAREFVLL

THE RIGHT RD. FATHER IN GOD IOHN HACKET LD BISHOP OF LICH. AND COVENT.

Aged 78

Dyed 28. Oct. 1670.

His face this Icon shewes, his pious wit
These Sermons: would you know him further yet,
your selfe must dye: for Reader you must looke
In Heau'n, for what's not of him in this Booke.

A CENTURY OF SERMONS Upon Several Remarkable Subjects: PREACHED BY The Right Reverend FATHER in GOD, JOHN HACKET, LATE LORD BISHOP OF Lichfield and Coventry.

Published by THOMAS PLUME, D. D.

LONDON, Printed by Andrew Clark for Robert Scott, at the Princes Arms in Little Britain, MDCLXXV.

TO His Most Sacred MAJESTY CHARLES II. By the Grace of GOD King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland.

Most Gracious and Dread Soveraign,

I Here present with all Humility to Your Royal Majesty a Bundle of Holy Fran­kincense and Myrrh, hoping that Your Majesties great Piety will please to admit It among the many Rarities of Your Clo­set, and at times seasonable into the more sacred recesses of your Mind and Soul. It was the Com­pound of a late Reverend and Learned Prelate, exalted by your Majesty to be the Intelligence to rule the Orb of Lichfield and Coventry, Who in his ordinary attendance upon your Majesty, your Royal Father, and Grandfather, had the Honour to preach more than Eighty times at Court; and in This one Volume has comprized no less than a Whole Body of Divinity, wherein the Great Mysteries of our Christian Faith are clearly explained, all mens Duty to­wards God sincerely taught, your Majesties Regal Au­thority strongly maintained, the Doctrine and Discipline of our Church (by Law established) learnedly Vindi­cated.

[Page]Long may your Majesty peaceably retain your rightful Jurisdiction over this Church and State.

Long may there be in it such Religious and Learned Prelates placed by your Majesty in Higher Spheres, free from Parity and Poverty.

And long may your Majesty continue like the Sun, not onely to Irradiate the Stars of greater Magnitude above, but also in due time to cast more Lustre upon the lesser Lu­minaries of the Church, that they may shine more bright beneath.

And then, as your Majesty, like your Blessed Saviour, was attended with an Happy Star at your Birth; so your Majesty shall likewise with Him be attended by a Good Angel at your Death, to translate your Majesty to that Crown of glory that fadeth not away. Which is the perpetual prayer of

Your MAJESTIES Most humble Supplicant, and Dutiful Subject, THOMAS PLUME.

A TABLE Directing to the TEXTS of SCRIPTURE handled in the following SERMONS.

XV Sermons upon our Blessed Saviours Incarnation.

  • I. UPon S. Luke ii. 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,page 1
  • II. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 8. And there were in the same Country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their Flock by night,p. 10
  • III. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 9. And lo the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid,p. 20
  • IV. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 10. And the Angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people,p. 30
  • V. Upon the same, p. 40
  • VI. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 11. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Sa­viour, which is Christ the Lord,p. 50
  • VII. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 13, 14. And sudden­ly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly Hoste praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men,p. 60
  • VIII. Upon the same, p. 70
  • IX. Ʋpon S. Luke xi. 27, 28. A certain wo­man of the company lift up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the Womb that bare thee, and the Paps which thou hast sucked: But he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it,p. 79
  • X. Ʋpon S. Luke ii. 29, 30. Lord now let­test thou thy servant depart in peace ac­cording to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,p. 88
  • XI. Ʋpon S. Luke i. 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and re­deemed his people,p. 98
  • XII. Ʋpon S. Luke i. 69. And hath raised up an horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David,p. 109
  • XIII. Ʋpon S. Matth. ii. 1, 2. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the dayes of Herod the King, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusa­lem; Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him,p. 118
  • XIV. Upon the same, p. 127
  • XV. Upon the same, p. 136

VI Sermons upon the Baptism of our Saviour.

  • I. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him,p. 147
  • II. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 14. But John for­bad him, saying, I have need to be bapti­zed of thee, and comest thou to me?p. 157
  • III. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 14, 15. And com­est thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: For thus it becometh us to fulfil all righte­ousness,p. 166
  • IV. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 15, 16. Then he suffered him. And Jesus when he was bap­tized, went up straightway out of the wa­ter,p. 175
  • V. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 16. And loe the hea­vens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a Dove, and lighting upon him,p. 184
  • VI. Ʋpon S. Matth. iii. 17. And loe a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,p. 193

XXI. Sermons upon the Tentation of our Saviour.

  • I. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the Wilderness to be [Page] tempted of the Devil,p. 205
  • II. Upon the same, p. 214
  • III. Upon the same, p. 224
  • IV. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 1, 2. Then was Je­sus led up of the Spirit into the Wilder­ness to be tempted of the Devil. And when he had fasted forty dayes and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungry,p. 234
  • V. Upon the same, p. 244
  • VI. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 3. And when the Tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread,p. 254
  • VII. Upon the same, p. 263
  • VIII. Upon the same, p. 273
  • IX. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 4. But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,p. 282
  • X. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 5. Then the Devil taketh him up into the holy City, and set­teth him on a pinacle of the Temple,p. 292
  • XI. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 6. And saith unto him, If thou be Son of God cast thy self down: For it is written, He shall give his Angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone,p. 302
  • XII. Upon the same, p. 312
  • XIII. Ʋpon Matth. iv. 7. Jesus said unto him, it is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,p. 322
  • XIV. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 8. Again the De­vil taketh him up into an exceeding high Mountain, and sheweth him all the King­doms of the world, and the glory of them,p. 331
  • XV. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 9. And saith unto him, all these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me,p. 340
  • XVI. Upon the same, p. 349
  • XVII. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 9, 10. All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, get thee hence Satan,p. 359
  • XVIII. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 10. For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve,p. 368
  • XIX. Upon the same, p. 377
  • XX. Upon the same, p. 387
  • XXI. Ʋpon S. Matth. iv. 11. Then the De­vil leaveth him, and behold Angels came and ministred unto him,p. 398

VII Sermons upon the Transfiguration of our Saviour.

  • I. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 28, 29. And it came to pass about an eight dayes after these say­ings, he took Peter, and John, and James, and went up into a Mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his rai­ment was white and glistering,p. 411
  • II. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 29, 30, 31. The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And behold there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias,p. 422
  • III. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 31, 32. Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Hierusalem. But Peter, and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep, and when they were awake they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him,p. 432
  • IV. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 33. And it came to pass as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three Taber­nacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said,p. 440
  • V. Upon the same, p. 450
  • VI. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 34. While he thus spake there came a Cloud and overshadow­ed them, and they feared as they entred into the Cloud,p. 460
  • VII. Ʋpon S. Luke ix. 35, 36. And there came a voice out of the Cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, hear him. And when the voice was past Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen,p. 470

V Sermons upon the Passion of our Saviour.

  • I. Ʋpon S. Matth. xxvii. 24. I am innocent of the bloud of this just Person, see you to it,p. 483
  • II. Ʋpon S. John xix. 34. But one of the Souldiers with a Spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout Bloud and Water,p. 505
  • III. Ʋpon Gen. xxii. 13. And Abraham lift­ed up his eyes, and looked, and behold be­hind him a Ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went, and took the Ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his Son,p. 516
  • IV. Ʋpon John iii. 14. And as Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up,p. 527
  • V. Ʋpon Acts ii. 23. Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknow­ledg of God, ye have taken, and by wic­ked hands have crucified and slain,p. 538

IX Sermons upon the Resurrection of our Saviour.

  • I. Ʋpon Acts ii. 24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, be­cause it was not possible that he should be holden of it,p. 549
  • II. Ʋpon S. John 11.43. And when he had thus spoken he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth,p. 558.
  • III. S. John xi. 44. And he that was dead came forth bound hand and foot with Grave-cloaths, and his face was bound a­bout with a Napkin,p. 568
  • IV. Ʋpon S. John xx. 1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the Sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the Se­pulcher,p. 577
  • V. Ʋpon S. Matth. xxviii. 2. And behold there was a great Earthquake, for the An­gel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sate upon it,p. 586
  • VI. Ʋpon S. Matth. xxviii. 3, 4. His Coun­tenance was like lightning, and his Rai­ment white as snow. And for fear of him the Keepers did shake, and became as dead men,p. 597
  • VII. Ʋpon S. Mark xvi. 9. Now when Je­sus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magda­lene, out of whom he had cast seven De­vils,p. 607
  • VIII. Ʋpon S. Matth. xxviii. 9, 10. And as they went to tell his Disciples, behold Je­sus met them, saying all hail, and they came and held him by the feet, and wor­shipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, be not afraid, go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me,p. 615
  • IX. Ʋpon S. Matth. xxviii. 13. Say ye, his Disciples came by night, and stole him a­way while we slept,p. 624

V Sermons upon the Descent of the Holy Ghost.

  • I. Ʋpon Acts ii. 1. And when the day of Pen­tecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place,p. 637
  • II. Ʋpon Acts ii. 2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing migh­ty wind, and filled all the house where they were sitting,p. 646
  • III. Ʋpon Acts ii. 3. And there appeared un­to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them,p. 654
  • IV. Ʋpon Acts ii. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance,p. 663
  • V. Ʋpon Acts ii. 12, 13. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, what meaneth this? Others mock­ing, said, these men are full of new wine,p. 672

III Sermons preached upon Psalm cxviii. 24. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoyce and be glad in it,

  • The first at Whitehall upon the Kings Co­ronation,p. 683
  • The second at Holbourn upon Easter-day,p. 693
  • The Third in defence of the Festivals of the Church,p. 702
  • The second Sermon upon the Kings Co­ronation, preached at the Spittle in the Mayoralty of Sir Cuthbert Hacket, upon 1 Sam. ii. 30. Them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed,p. 711
  • A Sermon preached upon the Gowry Con­spiracy before King James, upon Psalm xli. 9. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against me,p. 731

II Sermons upon the 5th. of November, preached at Whitehall before King James.

  • I. Ʋpon Amos ix. 2. Though they dig into Hell thence shall my hand take them,p. 742
  • II. Ʋpon Acts xxviii. 5. And he shook the beast into the fire and felt no harm,p. 752
  • II Sermons preached at Whitehall upon Gen. v. 24. And Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him,p. 762
  • Upon the same, p. 771
  • III. Sermons preached at Whitehall upon Gen. viii. 20, 21. And Noah builded an Altar to the Lord, and took of every clean Beast, and of every clean Fowl, and offer­ed burnt offerings on the Altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour,p. 780
  • Upon the same, p. 789
  • Upon the same, p. 798
  • II Sermons preached at Whitehall, upon Gen. xix. 26. But his Wife lookt back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt,p. 896
  • Upon the same, p. 815
  • [Page] A Sermon preached at Whitehall upon Numb. xxi. 7. Pray unto the Lord that he take the Serpents from us,p. 823
  • A Sermon upon Joshua xxii. 20. And that man perished not alone in his iniquity,p. 831
  • A Fast Sermon preached at Whitehall upon Nehem. i. 4. And it came to pass when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept and mourned certain days, and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,p. 849
  • A Sermon upon Prov. iii. 3. Let not mer­cy and truth forsake thee,p. 862
  • II Sermons concerning the Rechabites, up­on Jer. xxxv. 6. But they said we will drink no wine,p. 873
  • II Sermons preached at Whitehall upon John iv. 13, 14. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whoso­ever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst,p. 483
  • Upon the same, p. 902
  • III Sermons preached at Whitehall upon John vi. 11. And Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, distributed to the Disciples, and the Disciples to them that were set down: and likewise of the fishes, as much as they would,p. 911
  • Upon the same, 921
  • Upon the same, 931
  • A Sermon preached at Whitehall upon St. Lukes day upon Acts xi. 26. And the Disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,p. 941
  • A Commencement Sermon preached at Cambridge, upon Acts xii, 23. And im­mediately the Angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory,p. 952
  • III Sermons preached at Whitehall upon Gal. iv. 26. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the Mother of us all,p. 964
  • Upon the same, 973
  • Upon the same, 983

II Sermons preached, upon All Saints day, in Holbourn.

  • I. Upon Rev. vi. 9. I saw under the Altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the Testimony which they held,p. 992.
  • II. Ʋpon Rev. vi. 10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judg and a­venge our bloud on them that dwell on the earth?p. 1003

AN ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE and DEATH OF THE AUTHOR.

THE Son of Sirach, a renowned Preacher in his Genera­tion, has given us counsel to commend Famous Men, and our Fathers of whom we are begotten; Ecclus. 44.1. and in the close of his excellent Book has presented us with a large Cata­logue of them, together with an Encomium of their Acti­ons, whose remembrance (sayes he) is sweet as Honey in all Mouths, and pleasant as Musick at a Banquet of Wine.

St. Paul has directly imitated the Son of Sirach, and enumerated many antient Heroes, not without a due Commemoration; and farther given us a Precept, To remember our Governors, or Guides in the Christian Faith,Heb. 13.7. holy Bishops and Martyrs after their death, as appears plainly by the fol­lowing words, whose faith follow, considering the end of their Conversation.

Accordingly in the Primitive times the Bishops of Rome took care that the lives and actions of all holy Men and Martyrs especially should be re­corded; For this purpose publick Notaries were appointed by S. Cle­ment, say some, though Platina first ascribes their institution to Anterus; In vita. whose Records were far more large than the present Roman Martyrology, or that of Bede and Ʋsuardus, or the Menologue of the Greeks, which for the most part contain only the Names and Deaths of the Martyrs; but those were a Narrative of their whole Lives and Doctrines, and Speeches at large, their [...], famous Acts and Sufferings for the Christian Faith; which were also read sometimes in their Religious Assemblies for the encouragement of others,S. Aust. de Civ. Dei. l. 22. c. 8. & alibi. and are said to have converted many to the Christian Faith. But these long since perished through the malice and cruelty of Dioclesian, in those fires which consumed their Bodies and their Books together.

Afterwards, when Christian Religion reflourished, the Christian Church resumed these Studies again. St, Ambrose did right to the memory of Theodosius, Paulinus of St. Ambrose, Nazianzen to Athanasius, St. Hierom to Nepotian, Possidonius to St. Austin, Amphilochius to St. Basil, St. Hierom and Gennadius wrot of all Ecclesiastical Writers and illustrious men in the Christian Church from the beginning of it to their own times. And after all these, there wanted not Martyrologers and Writers of Lives, but such as perhaps we had better have wanted than enjoyed their Writings; inso­much [Page ii] that a great Lieutenant under the Papal Standard durst affirm,M. Canus lo. Com. l. 11. that the Stories of the Heathen Captains and Philosophers were more excellent­ly written then of Christs own Apostles and Martyrs: For those were done so notably, that they were like to live for ever, whereas the lives of many Saints in the Christian Church were so corruptly and shamefully penn'd, that they could no way advantage the Reader; so that at this day we have two things to bewail, not only that we have lost the true reports of the Primitive Christians, but likewise that the lives of the Saints we have remaining, have not been written by Saints and true men, but by liars, who have stufft their fastidious Writings with so many prodigious Tales, as are more apt to beget infidelity than faith, and all honest and judici­ous men are ashamed and grieved to read them.

For my own part I intend not in this tumultuary haste to write an ab­solute Life of the Author, or recollect all his Actions praise-worthy, but only for satisfaction of some importunate friends, to represent quaedam [...], some few Memoirs and Passages of his Life, which I have received from his Lordships most intimate acquaintance, and for the most part from his own reports.Virg. Ecl. S. Bern. in vita S. Ma­lachiae. Tecum etenim longos memini consumere Soles! and in them am resolved to sacrifice to Truth, and not to Affection; to the glory of God, and not to humane fame: to write nothing false or fictitious, nor things true in an hyperbolical and flaunting manner, as in a Panegyrick; but only a Breviary of his most active and industrious life, where the truth shall be recited without false Idea's and representations, and his Lordship made to appear what really he was, both in his Divine vertues, and humane passions.

And though I am likely to do all this with very small Acumen and judgment, yet I hope with true zeal, and sincere affection to the glory of God, and honour of the Church of England. The Members of which Church have been reputed of all others the slackest to celebrate their own Wor­thies, partly I conceive from the humility and modesty of their Principles and Education, partly from the great multitude of incomparable Scho­lars therein to be commemorated, that such labours would be almost infi­nite. For which reason the Dypticks of the Ancient Church were likewise laid aside, when Religion was setled, and Christians grew numerous. But yet if the Divines of the Church of England lived elsewhere we may well con­jecture what Books the World should have had of their learning and piety: For who sees not the many Volumes of Lives daily published by others, wherein ample Commendations are given to idleness, popularity, and ve­ry ordinary deservings; After an impartial reading thereof, I cannot but think that our Own Church has far better Subjects and matter to write up­on, if we that survive wanted not ability or affection to maintain our own Cause, and publish the Merits of our departed Worthies to the World.

Rom. 10.19.Therefore out of Emulation partly, and shame from a foolish Nation, as St. Paul says, but much more out of a profound sense of the Duty I owe to the Memory of this renowned Prelate, and most of all out of hope of sti­mulating posterity to the imitation of the vertues of better times, I have taken care to give the World this Account of our Author, and not to per­mit his Books to be buried (as it were) in the Grave with his Body, mor­tal and immortal to descend together into the same Land of oblivion.

[Page iii]Though it be no real Prerogative, but an accidental and contingent thing, How we are born after the flesh, yet it is commendable to search in­to the Beginning and Causes of such things as we would throughly know, and therefore the Extract and Parentage of learned and great men is u­sually enquired after in the first place.

John Hacket was born in the Parish of St. Martins in the Strand, near Exeter House, upon September 1. Anno Domini 1592. in the happy Reign of Queen Elizabeth, of honest and virtuous Parents, and of good reputati­on in that place, his Father being then a Senior Burgess of Westminster, and afterwards belonging to the Robes of Prince Henry; descended from an antient Family in Scotland, which reteins the Name to this day. His Father and Mother were both true Protestants, great lovers of the Church of England, constant repairers to the Divine Prayers and Service thereof, and would often bewail to their young Son after the coming in of their Countrymen with King James, the seed of Fanaticism then laid in the scandalous neglect of the Publick Liturgy, which all the Queens time was exceedingly frequented, the people then resorting as devoutly to Prayers as they would afterwards to hear any famous Preacher about the Town; And his aged Parents often observed to him, that Religion towards God, justice and love amongst Neighbours gradually declined with the dis­use of our Publick Prayer.

In our Bishops opinion Parentage alone added little to any man, no more than if we should commend the Stock of a Tree when we cannot com­mend the Fruit, Mirari in trunco quod in fructu non teneas, St. Hier. who held that the glory of our Forefathers reflected upon us, was but Color intentionalis, like the sparkling colour of wine upon fair Linnen, or as the Sea-green and Purple in the Rainbow, which are not real colours, but meer sha­dows and reflections: And that never was Pedegree so well set out as that of Noah: These are the Generations of Noah, Noah was a just man, &c. Gen. 6 9. And in like manner our Blessed Saviour commends his Forerunner John Baptist, not so much for his Honourable Descent,Luke 1.16, 17. Matth. 11.11, 12. and Miraculous Con­ception, as for his pious and laborious Ministry, in turning many to Righteousness. This was agreeable to our Bishop's mind, in comparison whereof he little valued all other Titles of Honour

But in his discourse he would often give God thanks for the place he was born in, viz. that he was born an Englishman, and especially in the City of London. He was indeed a great lover of his own Nation, little England (as he would term it) the sweetest spot of all the Earth, and say that the City of London was [...] the very England of England, Ʋrbs Ʋrbium, and wish the Country were a little more sprinkled with her Flour; for in his Travels he had discerned in places remote a Northern rigour and churlishness among our Villagers, wanting that Southern sleek­ness that was usually found in Cities and great Towns, the Metropolis espe­cially.Ʋshers Ann. p. 54. John 7.52. Anacharsis. And though there is no place but has in some Age been enlightned with some famous Luminary; The Prophet Jonas was born in Galilee, out of which said the Pharisees, there arises no Prophet. Yet withal it was obser­ved, in Scythia there was never born but one Philosopher, but in Athens all were such: So in all parts of England there have been learned men born, but in London innumerable; and therefore once in a pleasant discourse [Page iv] between Him and a learned Friend, who were reckoning up the Country, where many Scholars were born, and could not presently tell what Coun­tryman Mr. L. was, the Bishop merrily said, As the Rabbins believed when ever any great Prophet was named in Scripture, and the place of his Birth not named, that it was in Jerusalem; so he would take it for gran­ted, by the like parity of reason, since Mr. L's Country was unknown, he must needs be born in London.

Yet in his judgment it was but a small lustre likewise, that the Place where any Man was Teem'd could cast upon him, but he ought rather to give Lustre to it; for Places did not conciliate Honour to Men, but Men to Places; and that little Hippo was more ennobled by great St. Austin, than great St. Austin by little Hippo. And therefore he never rejoyced so much for the City or Country wherein he was born, as for the Churches sake wherein he was baptized and born again; which of all others to his dying day he most loved and admired; and accordingly he would often render hearty thanks to God that his Birth and Breeding was in a Reformed Church, and of all others the most prudent and exact ac­cording to the Doctrine of holy Scripture, and the Primitive Pattern; that would neither continue in the Fulsom Superstitions of the Roman Church, nor in Reforming be born down with the violent Torrent as some others were.

But from these lesser Circumstances of his Birth, let us therefore pro­ceed to those of his Education and Breeding, which are far greater, and do especially make the difference between one man and another; For where­as all by Nature are born alike of the same corrupt Materials, Education only (like the Hand or Wheel of the Potter) makes us to differ, and become Vessels of Honour or Dishonour. Our Birth from the Womb is not as the Dew of the Morning, fair and pleasant, but tainted like the unwholsom vapours of the Night, with the stench of iniquity, whereby all Youth has a great inclination to Vice and sinful pleasure, and consequently that Age is generally the most riotous and carnal part of our life; but in him it hapned quite otherwise, for by the Providence of his pious Parents, and vigilance of a strict School-master, he was well principled and strictly disciplined betimes.

His wise Parents were extreme careful of him, for he was [...], the only Son and Staff of both their Ages, in whom all their hopes were reposed.Virg. Aen. 1. Omnis in Ascanio chari stat cura parentis; and having re­ceived him in their old Age from God, they were resolved in his early youth to devote him to God again; and therefore never suffered him to lose any time, but being very small and young, entered him into the Kings School at Westminster; where from his tender years he acquired an habit of rising betimes, and constant study; All the day long he was at­tended with the eye of a diligent Master, and at night sufficiently tasqued when he went home, and never permitted to know what idleness or va­nity was by his own leisure or experience.

His Master observing his great propensity to learning, would often foretel that there would be nothing insuperable to his good parts, and great diligence withal, and that with those two wings ( [...],In vità. as John, Patriarch of Constantinople said of Damascen) the young Eaglet would in time soar very high.

[Page v]Of this School he would speak with the greatest respect possible, that it was Musarum Domicilium, virtutis Officina, nobile Doctrinae & Pietatis [...], the most famous Nursery of Learning and learned men who did excel in all Vocations, Judg. 12. Eccl 6.3. more fruitful than Ibsan that had thirty Sons and thirty Daughters, or then Solomons happy Parent, who lived to beget an hundred Children; being of opinion that more learned Scholars had been bred at Westminster School since the Foundation thereof, than in any other Seminary of Learning in England or elsewhere; that one School fur­nishing two entire Colledges of great size in Cambridg and Oxon, besides whom it does send to other places by way of Superfetation.

A perpetual gratitude he bore to Mr. Ireland his School-master, and would bewail, that generally throughout England no better Stipends were allowed to that Profession, than which none was more necessary in a Commonwealth, and yet in most places it was so slightly provided for, that it was undertaken out of necessity, and only as a step to other Preferment.

In this School he first became known to the incomparable Bishop An­drews, who, being then Dean of Westminster, in the necessary absence of the Master, would sometimes come into the School and teach the Boys. There that learned and pious Bishop first took notice of this young Scholar for his great diligence, modesty, pregnancy of parts, strong inclina­tion to learning and vertue, which he afterwards constantly cherished both at School and Ʋniversity to his death: On the other side our young Scholar ever rever'd this great Person in loco Parentum, often retired to him for advice in his studies, and ever honour'd him as St. Cyprian did Tertullian, Tanquam Magistrum.

To tell how well he passed the Circuit of that School I need say no more but what his Master Ireland said, at parting, to him and George Herbert, who went from thence to Trinity Colledge in Cambridge by election to­gether, That he expected to have credit by them two at the Ʋniversity, or would never hope for it afterwards by any while he lived; and ad­ded withal, that he need give them no counsel to follow their Books, but rather to study moderately, and use exercise; their parts being so good, that if they were careful not to impair their health with too much study, they would not fail to arrive to the top of learning in any Art or Science.

The courtesie of his Election he ever would acknowledge to Doctor Nevil the most Magnificent Master of Trinity Colledge, and Dean of Can­terbury, to whom when his Father (though unacquainted) presumed to address in behalf of his Son, he presently bid him spare further speaking to any one, for that Boy should go to Cambridge, or he would carry him upon his own back. So he was removed to Trinity Colledge, Anno 1608. the day before Doctor Playfers Funeral, where he first saw and heard the most Eloquent Mr. Williams, then Fellow of St. Johns, afterwards Lord Keeper, who made the Funeral Oration for him in St. Maries the second day he wore a Purple Gown.

Oftentimes would our good Bishop, like Plato, give great thanks to God that he was not bred among rude and barbarous people, but among civil and learned Athenians; that he was not disposed of to some Mon­kish [Page vi] Society, or ignorant Cloyster, but to the Greece of Greece it self, the most learned and Royal Society of Trinity Colledge, which in that and all other Ages since the Foundation equalled any other Colledge in Europe for plenty of incomparable Divines, Philosophers, and Orators: He would often make mention of his learned Tutor, Dr. Simson, that wrote the Church History, Dr. Cumber a great Critick, Dr. Richardson Regius Professor, Dr. Nevil very splendid and sumptuous Governor; the great Hebri­cian and Chronologer Mr. Lively, one of the Translators of the Bible, the famous and most memorable Dr. Whitgift, sometime Master, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and assert it was almost impossible for any man to continue ignorant under the advantage of so great Examples, and in­fluence of such incomparable Instructers.

Here our young Scholar was quickly taken notice of by the Seniors for his many singular parts of Wit, Memory, skill in Philosophy, subtilty in disputation, excellent knowledge in the Greek and Latin Tongues especially, great sobriety of Life, integrity of Manners, constant dili­gence at his Book, no day nor hour passing without turning over some Historian, Oratour, or Poet, so that his Tutor was forced rather to restrain than to incite him to his study, and would advise him every morning to walk so many turns; yet he would confess sometimes he felt the sleepy humour upon himself; but then his constant rule was, when ever he found himself doubtful, whether to study or loyter, in that indisposition to chuse the better part.

The first proofs he gave of his ability in Logick, Philosophy, and Ora­tory, were so much above the common sort, that his Preferment was soon presaged in that Society, which he obtained by his own merits, without the intercession of Friends to hoist or heave him up. He was chosen Fellow of the Colledge as soon as he became capable by virtue of his first degree, and afterwards grew into that Credit, that he had many Pupils, and of many of the best Families of Gentry in England.

One Month in the long Vacation, retiring with his Pupil, afterwards Lord Byron, into Nottingham-shire for fresh air, there, in absence from all Books, and having no other more serious studies, he made Loyola, which needs no other Commendation than to remember that it was twice acted before King James, and what an ingenious Pen says in a Prologue,

You must not here expect to day
Leander, Labyrinth, or Loyola.

After his return to the Colledge from this Diversion, he began to set himself wholly to the study of Divinity, being egregiously skilled in the preparatory learning of Logick, Physick, Metaphysicks, and Ethicks, with which he had most largely informed his mind, and adorned his soul; and then as Diers having dipt their Silks in colours of less value do afterwards give them the last Tincture of Crimson in grain: So our young Scholar having given his mind a large dip of Secular Arts and Sciences became more fit for Divine Speculations; therefore though but a very young man, his first Sermons at St. Maries and at the Vicarage of Trumpington (which he held with his Fellowship) were so singular and [Page vii] like himself, that (as the learned Bishop Creighton told me) the eyes of the whole Ʋniversity were cast upon him as a Star that would be as bright as any in the Constellation beside.

He received his holy Orders by the hands of John King, Bishop of Lon­don, in December, Anno 1618. This good Bishop had a singular affection and kindness for him, which he expressed upon all occasions; once by accident his Lordship passed through St. Pauls Cathedral, where old Mr. Hacket was walking (as the custom then was) his Gentleman who attended him, whispered to his Lordship, that the goodly old man, who was walking there, was young Mr. Hackets Father of Trinity Colledge in Cambridge. The Bishop thereupon beckoned him to come to him, and gave him joy of his hopeful Son at Trinity Colledge, and bid him when he wrote commend him likewise to him, and let him know in due time he would be a means to bring them two together again. So the matchless Andrews, that great Rewarder of all learning and worth, would often­times send him Commendations, and Counsel, and Money to buy Books, sometimes ten Pieces at a time. But above all others he was taken notice of by that Renowned Prelate John Williams, Dean of Westminster, and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, Anno 1621. a Prelate of incompa­rable learning and knowledge, not only in Divinity and the Tongues, but in all Laws, Civil, Canon, and Common, who presently, upon his receiving the Seal, sent for Mr. Hacket of Trinity Colledge, and admitted him to be his Chaplain, whom of all his Chaplains he ever most loved and esteemed. And on the other side our Bishop would to his last breath acknowledg the Bishop of Lincoln to be the most happy Instrument of Divine Provi­dence that made him known to the world, and to his death bore a most grateful memory to his great deserts and dignity, notwithstanding all his eclipses and slanders cast upon him.

When Mr. Hacket was now a great Tutor, and the very Darling of the Colledge, generally beloved, and so contented, as like to have long there continued, my Lord Keeper would have him to his Service, saying withal, As his Majesty King James had been blamed by many for making so young a Keeper: so he expected to be Censured for chusing so young a Chap­lain; but his Lordship knew his abilities very well, and would trust no body with the choice of his Servants but himself.

Two years he spent in the Keepers Service before his time was come to Commence Batchelor in Divinity, but then begg'd leave to go down to Cambridge to keep the Publick Act, Anno 1623. upon the two following questions: Judicio Romanae Ecclesiae in Sanctis canonizandis non est stan­dum. Vota Monasticae perfectionis (quae dicuntur) sunt illicita.

The former question was given very seasonably; for the year before, Anno 1622. Pope Gregory XV. had Canonized Ignatius Loyola the Father of the Jesuits, Franciscus Xavier the Indian Apostle, Philip Nereus the General of the Jesuits, and Madam Teresia a Spanish Virtuosa, who had built twenty five Monasteries for men, and seventeen for women.

He cast his Position into three parts: 1. Because the holy Scripture saith, The memory of the Just shall be blessed, that all Canonization of Saints is not to be accounted superstitious, but by Canonization he meant only a publick testimony of the Christian Church, of any eximious Members [Page viii] sanctity and glory after death. 2. That this testimony ought to be given by General or Provincial Councils at least of their own Members. 3. By no means to be left to the breast of the Roman Pontiff, and Colledge of Cardinals. 1. Because they especially attended to false qualifications, which they made undoubted signs of Saintship, which were not such. 2. Consequently had already Canonized unworthy persons, not beati­fied in Heaven, but rather damned in Hell. 3. For perverse and impi­ous ends, which they ever thought to establish by their Canonization. In all these respects the Pope of Rome (who is their Virtual Church,) was apparently a most partial and unmeet Judg, very apt to be imposed up­on himself, and likewise to impose upon others.

After his return to the Keepers service he preferr'd him to the Court to be Chaplain to King James, before whom he preached several times, to the great good liking of that most learned King, and once upon the Gowries Conspiracy, for which a Thanksgiving was continued all that Kings Reign upon August 5. and though some people have denied the Trea­son, yet our good Bishop was assured that the most Religious Bishop Andrews once fell down upon his knees before King James, and besought his Majesty to spare his customary pains upon that day, that he might not mock God unless the thing were true: the King replied, Those people were much too blame who would never believe a Treason unless their Prince were actually murdered; but did assure him in the Faith of a Chri­stian, and upon the Word of a King, their Treasonable attempt against him was too true.

Anno 24. he was prefer'd by the Lord Keeper to be Parson of St. An­drews Holbourn. About 12 at night the Keeper sent to speak with him; when he came, his Lordship told him, he was not then watching for his own study, but for his; The Living of St. Andrews Holbourn was fallen, and in the Kings disposal, by reason of the minority of Thomas Earl of Southampton, to which upon the mediation of the Bishop he was pre­sented the next morning by King James.

The same year his Lordship procured for him the Parsonage of Cheam in Surrey, fallen likewise into the Kings gift by the promotion of Dr. Senhouse to the Bishoprick of Carlisle; the Keeper telling him, that he in­tended him Holbourn for wealth and Cheam for health; these two Livings being within a small distance, of ten miles, he held till the Troubles came, and though he was a great lover of Residence, and would say Non-resi­dence was never to be excused, but when utility to the Church, or neces­sity to the Person for his real health or fitting State required it: Yet he would often dispute the necessity of a Country Living for a London Mini­ster to retire to in hot Summer time, out of the Sepulchral air of a Church­yard, where most of them are housed in the City, and found for his own part that by Whitsuntide he did rus anhelare, and unless he took fresh air in the Vacation, he was stopt in his Lungs and could not speak clear after Michaelmas: But upon one of these he was constantly resi­dent, making as few excursions for pleasure or recreation, as any man living, scarce ever absent from both, nor long from either; in so much that his friend Dr. Holdsworth said, Dr. Hacket resided more upon two Livings, than any Puritan (that ever he knew) did upon one; who u­sually [Page ix] made more idle Sallies and gossiping Visits from their Charge to Markets and Fairs, and of late to attend Committees, and such Secular Employments, than they whom they ejected for non-Residents, did in their attendance at Court or elsewhere.

Our Bishop would declare, that naturally he was disaffected to live either in City or Court, yet it pleased God, against his disposition to bring him into both, who valued rural retirement and repose at his Study a­bove all the Riches and Dignities of the World, and would often there­fore recite those words, Come my Beloved let us retire into the Villages, &c. Cant 7.11. and that unless it were for the service of God, all the world should not hire him to live among Butchers, and Bakers, and Brewers, Trades­men of all sorts in the narrow Streets of London, where he could not see the Sun but in some few days all Summer: Yet this he willingly yielded to, a great part of the year for the sake of others, knowing with St. Hierom, Sancta simplicitas solùm sibi prodest; Country retirement was good only for himself, but his Place at Holbourn rendred him beneficial to others, and therefore would compare the Contemplative life, spent in Prayer, Study, and Meditation, to Rachel, who was very beautiful, but almost bar­ren; on the other side, an active and laborious one, spent in daily con­versation, and holy Ministrations to Mankind, to Leah, who was more fruitful, though less pleasing and fair; and to encourage Divines to this, observ'd that no less than three of four Evangelists had taken it for their principal Task to record our Saviours Travels and Miracles, going up and down from one City to another, onely St. John took the other Subject to recount to us especially our Saviour's Meditations and Prayers; and therefore he little valued that commendation of many Popish Saints, for leaving the company of Mankind, and retiring into Deserts, where they could scarce have opportunity at any time to exercise Piety or Charity, which was in his opinion to forsake the Plow, and cast off Christ's Yoke, and embrace idleness, if not pleasure.

At Holbourn he generally resided till the end of Trinity Term, and preached in person upon all the great Feasts of the Church, and all Sun­days in Term, when the Judges and Lawyers were in Town, without ad­mitting any supply, and then commonly retired in the long Vacation for health and privacy till Michaelmas Term. Sometimes indeed he would steal out of Town for one Month in the Spring, which he believed no man did so much Epicurize as himself; who ever found a most lusci­ous sweetness in the Month of April, and nothing else so pleasant in this life, as with a Book in his hand to walk and view the fields and flowers, and to observe every blossom how it grew in that delicious season of the year.

In the last year of King James he was named by the King himself to attend an Embassador into Germany, at which he was very glad, being most desirous to travel and be acquainted with learned men abroad, say­ing, onely low souls loved to dwell always at home, but more knowing and Divine (like the Heavens above) delighted in business and motion; yet upon second thoughts he was disswaded from the Journey; for ha­ving wrot Loyola, he was told, he would never be able to go safe though in an Embassadors Train.

[Page x]To the Memory of King James no man living bore greater respect than our Bishop did for his great wisdom, learning, pacifick disposition, and affection to the Church, to which he thought he might be stiled a Benefactor equal to Constantine the Great: His Life he long intended to write, and to that purpose the Keeper confer'd upon him Mr. Camden's Manuscript Notes of that Kings Reign, till his own death, Anno 1623. and his dear Friend and fellow Servant, Mr. John St. Amand communica­ted to him many choice Letters and Secrets of State of his own collecti­on, who in like manner designed the same thing, to whom the Bishop recommended the perfecting thereof: But the melancholy Rust of the Civil War had so eaten into that Gentlemans soul, that it had quite un­fitted him, and the Bishop also having lost many of his Books and Papers upon his Sequestration at Holbourn, was made uncapable to proceed far­ther in it.

And now having spent some time in his Country-solitariness at Cheam, where he had no company but his Books (though formerly he never meant to have entred into a married state) he cast his affection upon a religious and virtuous Gentlewoman, whom he made his Wife. With this secret he had never acquainted his Master the Keeper, and therefore doubted how he would take it; but upon his Lordships first hearing thereof by another hand, he instantly took Coach and made him a Visit, and enjoyn'd him onely, as ever he had deserv'd well of him, to requite it unto Her; by her God blessed him with several hopeful Children; but she died Anno 1637. and after some years he was married a second time to a most select, wise, and religious woman by whom likewise he had a second Posterity, and by both lived to see 32 Children and Grand­children before his death.

Anno 1628. He commenced Doctor of Divinity, when he preached the Morning Sermon upon Herod's not giving glory to God, Acts 12.23. and being struck by an Angel, and eaten up of worms; and performed all other Exer­cises to the admiration of Dr. Collins and all other Professors, who dismist him to London again with an I Decus I Nostrum! At his return to Holbourn his Fame increased exceedingly, where by indefatigable Study, constant Preaching, exemplary Conversation, and wise Government he reduced that great Parish to a more perfect Conformity than ever they were in before. His Church was not only crowded at Sermons, but well attended upon all occasions of weekly Prayer, and Sacraments cele­brated Monthly, besides other times, at which, especially upon the Churches Festivals, not only the whole Body of the Church, but the Gal­leries would also be full of Communicants; and all things were done in decoro sanctitatis, in the beauty of holiness; few or none would break the publick Order and decent Customs of his Church, but the whole Con­gregation generally rose and sate, fell down or kneel'd, and were unco­vered together. He liked Ceremony no where so well as in Gods House, as little as you would in your own, (was his phrase) but could by no means endure to see in this Complemental Age, men ruder with God than with Men, bow lowly and often to one another, but never kneel to God: He thought Superstition a less sin than Irreverence and Profane­ness, and held the want of Reverence in Religious Assemblies amongst [Page xi] the greatest sins of England, and would prove it from many Histories, that a careless and profane discharge of Gods Worship was a most sure Prognostick of Gods anger, and that Peoples ruin.

When a Stranger Preached for him upon a Sunday, he would often read the Prayers himself, and with that reverence and devotion that was very moving to all his Auditors. And upon Wednesdays and Fridays he would frequently do the like, and thereby engaged many to resort bet­ter to them, always assuring them, God would soonest hear our Prayers in the Communion of Saints. Sometimes, when he had occasion to go in­to the City, and saw slender Congregations at Prayer, he would much wonder at his Countrymen, that had so little love to holy Prayer; but when he heard of any that would not go to Church to Prayer, unless it were accompanied with a Sermon, he would nor scruple to say, he scarce thought them Christians; and never deemed any Divine to be really fa­mous and successful in his Preaching, who could not prevail with his People to come frequently to Sacraments and Prayers.

He was a great lover of Psalmody, and above all a great admirer of Davids Psalms, so full of Divine Praises, and of all Religious Mysteries, great helps to Contemplation, apt to beget a Divine Charity, being a perfect supply for all our wants, joyful to Angels, grievous to Devils, filling the heart with spiritual delights, and a kind of representation of the Celestial felicity; That he constantly call'd upon his People to be present at them, and at all parts of the Churches Prayers; remembring them, that after our Blessed Saviour had cast our the Sheep and Oxen, yet he still called His House the House of Prayer, to shew that though those Sa­crifices were at an end, yet this should never end; and therefore the Apostles themselves after his death resorted to the Temple at the Hours of Prayer. Acts. 3.

He ever took great care to procure a grave and able Curate, a Master of Arts at least, for the instruction of the younger sort in the Church Catechism, Visiting of the Sick, Burial of the Dead, Preaching of Funeral Sermons, Christnings and Marriages: These he generally left to the Curate for his Perquisits and better encouragement; and would often complain, that in great Parishes there was not competent maintenance to keep ma­ny Curats under the Parish Priest, that might be able to live at the Altar, and better discharge all private and domestick duties of piety, sorrow­ing that herein Popish Countries were better provided for, who had ten for one that wait at the Altar there more than we have among us; and therefore though he would much recommend daily visiting of the Flock from house to house, yet found it was impossible for one Minister to per­form the Publick and Private Duties both.

Private Baptisms he would never countenance unless in Cases of neces­sity, or some great convenience, as being expresly contrary to the Consti­tutions of our Church, and greatly derogatory to the dignity of the Sa­crament, to be dispensed in a Parlour or a Chamber, and not with that Solemnity that our initiation into Gods Church required,Brochman Cas. Conse. and therefore greatly commended the Lutherans, who baptized none at home but the sick and the spurious.

[Page xii] Heylyn. Hist. of Reform. p. 40. Funeral Sermons, though he rarely preached himself, yet he defended them to be no Novelty brought in with the Reformation; for John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, hath one in Print for Henry the Seventh; and in Ed­ward the Sixth his time, an Herse was set up in St. Pauls Church for King Francis the First of France, and a Funeral Sermon likewise preached for him by Dr. Ridly Bishop of Rochester.

While he lived in this Parish, he would give God thanks, he got a good Temporal Estate; Parishioners of all sorts were very kind and free to him;Tit. 3.13. divers Lords and Gentlemen, several Judges and Lawyers of eminent quality, were his constant Auditors, whom he found like Zenas, honest Lawyers, conscientious to God, and lovers of the Church of England, and very friendly and bountiful to their Minister. Sir Julius Caesar never heard him preach but he would send him a broad Piece; and he did the like to others; and he would often send a Dean or a Bishop a pair of Gloves, because he would not hear Gods Word gratis. Judge Jones never went to the Bench at the beginning of a Term but he fasted and prayed the day before, and oftentimes got Dr. Hacket to come and pray with him: This strict Judge condemned one for stealing a Common-Prayer Book out of his Church, whom he could not save, the Judge would by no means forgive him, because of the sacredness of the place, but ac­cepted well of his Intercession, and said he should prevail in another matter; and when the Doctor saw he could not succeed, he thanked the Judge for his severity.

Anno 1631 the Bishop of Lincoln made him Archdeacon of Bedford, whither he ever after went once a year commonly the Week after Easter, and made the Clergy a Speech upon some Controversial Head, seasonable to those Times, exhorting them to keep strictly to the Orders of the Church, to all regular conformity to the Doctrine and Discipline by Law established, without under or over doing, asserting in his opinion, that Puritanism lay on both sides, whosoever did more than the Church com­manded, as well as less, were guilty of it. And that he only was a true Son of the Church, that broke not the boundals of it either way.

About this time of King Charles the First's Reign it was justly said, Stupor mundi Clerus Anglicanus; and whereas in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's Reformation Siquis's had been set up in St. Pauls; If any man could understand Greek, there was a Deanry for him, if Latine, a good Living; but in the long Reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James, the Clergy of the Reformed Church of England grew the most learned of the World, for by the restlessnes of the Roman Priests they were trained up to Arms from their youth, and by the Wisdom and Example of King James, had wrote so many learned Tractates, as had almost quite driven their Adversaries out of the Pit, and forced them to yield the Field: So that now we were only unhappy in our own differences at home. But above all the Bishop admired, that People should complain in those days for want of Preaching, wherein lived Brownrig, and Holdsworth, and Micklethwait, and both the Shutes, and infinite more, especially Josiah Shute, whom the Bishop ever termed, Generalis Praedicatorum, in Allu­sion to the General of the Jesuits, or the Praepositus Dominicanorum; be­sides many other incomparable Orators in and about the City of London.

[Page xiii]In the first rank of whom our excellent Author may well be reckoned if we consider his acute Wit, deep Judgment, flowing Elocution, sin­gular Learning, and great Reading, whereby (as Porphiry complained of Origen) he made use of all Heathen Learning to adorn the Doctrine of Christianity: Who was expert withal to handle both Testaments, Law and Gospel, that sometimes his Auditors would acknowledg he had (like St. Chrysostom) swarms of Bees sitting upon his Lips, and that nothing but Honey and Milk lay under his Tongue: At other times he seemed (like St. Basil) to be a strong Hail shower, bearing down all before it, and, as was said of Pericles, left a [...], or wound upon the most obstinate and insensible mind behind him. Yet as Joseph Scaliger would say, He envied the learning of three men, Theodore Gaza, Angelus Politianus, In Opusc. and Picus Mirandula, so the Bishop would acknowledge he could never enough ad­mire Ʋshers profound skill in Antiquity, Overalls great knowledge in Divinity, nor imitate Brownrigs Preaching, when he would put forth his utmost powers.

But let any man peruse this Course of excellent Sermons upon all our Saviour Christs great Works, and many more remarkable matters of Scripture, which were most of them his weekly Preaching, together with what I hope will hereafter follow, whole Chapters and Psalms of Scripture expounded by continued Discourses upon the Chain of the holy Text from first to last, after the custom of the Homilies of St. John Chry­sostom, and other ancient Fathers yet extant, and let him speak impar­tially if this great Prelate be not for Learning, Piety, perspicuity of Phrase, and knowledge of Divine and Humane things almost equal with any of them.

Methinks when I read his accurate and divine Labours, and withal contemplate the religious and peaceable dayes wherein they were prea­ched, in an Auditory equal to the greatest of old, wherein God was served with so much holy Order, I cannot reckon with my self readily where, either by St. Austin at Hippo, St. John Chrysostom at Antioch, or Constantinople, or the famous St. Basil at Neocaesarea, any people were more happy in the labours of a Pastor, or any Pastor more beloved by the wisest of his People. Whatsoever he preached to them once upon the Lords Day, he preached six times over again in his Pious Conversation upon the days of the Week following, and ever thought that frequent Preaching was but a sorry commendation to any man, unless prepared with study and diligence before, to speak as became the Oracles of God; and likewise attended with agreeable practise afterwards, to make that easie by example, which had been before only dictated in Doctrine.

While he Officiated here, I must not forget two things more, First, his Charity to the Poor, of whom he held himself bound by his Calling to have an especial care, and be no less than a continual Overseer: Besides his spiritual Alms and counsel upon all occasions freely administred, he gave freely also out of his own Estate upon all Holy-days, and Prayer-days, and would often engage the Parish Officers so to distribute their Collections as might best bring the Poor to Prayers, to Catechising, and to reap other benefit to their soul at the same time that they received a Boon for the body.

[Page xiv]In all publick meetings (which were many in that great Parish) this worthy man would never so much as eat and drink (as the custom had been) upon the Parish Stock, but alwayes bore his own Expences, though he met upon the Parish Account, so that by his prudence and industry, and frugality for them, the Revenues of the poor were in his time very much increased above what they were formerly.

But his main concern for that place is yet behind, (Church and Poor commonly go together, and he had an equal care of both) the Church Edifice was faln into great decay; the Church-yard too small to bury their Dead, and the Church it self too little to contain the Living, so that a great desire he had to build them a new Church from the ground, for which purpose he had obtained the promise of the Patron the most Religious and Noble Earl of Southampton, to confer all the Timber for the Roof, and very large Subscriptions he had procured from the Nobility and Gentry, and from many other well-affected Parishioners for the finishing of the rest; for these he had been soliciting from the time of his first coming; scarce any of quality dying, but according to ancient Piety, at his request left a Legacy to that purpose, which was laid up in the Church Chest. The good Doctor often telling them, how mournful a sight it was to him to see any place excel the Church in Beauty and Magnificence, and that it was not the Fashion in the best times of Religion for any man to dwell better than God, and that the Fabrick of Churches ought not only to be suited to the bare Convention of people, but likewise to the riches and wealth of the Parish or Nation, from which God expected a suitable pro­portion to the setting forth of his glory. And therefore as much as King Solomons Temple exceeded Moses's Tabernacle, so much did he con­ceive ought our Churches now adays to exceed the poverty and plain­ness of our Forefathers, and would often bewail to see the contrary, that our Forefathers were sumptuous in Gods House, and poor at home; but we, who are far richer, have built our own Houses rich and new, while Gods House lies waste. To remedy this, he was not willing to permit that any rich mens bones should lie sumptuously buried in his Church who never bestowed so much upon Gods House in their life as the value of their Tomb amounted unto, saying, Such did not adorn, but trouble the Church.

By his perswasions many gave very liberally; in particular, I remem­ber the pleasantness of Sir Henry Martin, who at his first speaking bade his man pay him Thirty Pounds; when he received it, because he gave him humble thanks, he bade his man count him Five Pounds more for his humble thanks.

About Ann. 39. having many thousands in stock and in subscription, he went to my Lords Grace of Canterbury, to ask his Lordships leave, that what Workmen were willing might indifferently be entertained by him, without being thought prejudicial to the repair of St. Pauls; but our Troubles came on, and the Long Parliament seized the Money gathered for the repair of both Churches, to carry on their War both against King and Church. Thus was he defeated in his pious intention here, yet God made him happy in accomplishing the like hereafter, as you shall hear elsewhere.

[Page xv]Long before (viz.) Anno 1625. being the great Plague Year, which happened at the beginning of the Reign of Charles I. upon complaint of the Common Council-men of his Parish, that they wanted room to bury their dead, he purchased for that end the new Church-yard in Shooe-Lane, and because in that sickly time it could not be Consecrated, he obtained under the Bishop of London's hand and Seal a leave Provisional to read his Lordships indulgence Instrument only upon the ground, with promise of procuring Consecration when the Plague ceased. At the same time with the consent of the Bishop, and his Vestry in Holbourn, he com­posed a Table wherein were set the Rates of burial in Church or Church­yard, New or Old, and was able to prove, that the like was done in elder times, and therefore the Learned Author was deceived,Spelman. who thought all Church-yards were freely given for the use of the dead: And he found by experience unless you would allow Fees for Funeral Attendances, the Tythes would be too small in great Parishes to find Officers, who must wait upon such occasions both day and night; Likewise unless you make distinction of Prices for burial, all people will be buried in one place, in the very Church, yea, and Chancel it self, if it might be allowed: Nor in a Plague time can you get the Poor born to the Grave, but it will cost dear; and he was of opinion, the Profits, got by the Rich, ought to pay for the Poor, and that there was no more Simony in a Divines payment for some hours attendance upon a Funeral, than in the Clerk's or Sexton's payment for ringing of Bells, or the Heralds for their Escucheons and other Insignia funebria, now of late grown customary; yet most of these were at first mere Oblations and Free-will Offerings, though now due secundum legem Terrae.

But to come to the most afflicted part of his Life, and our never to be forgotten Calamities, in the late days of darkness and gloominess. He hath often protested, that a long time before, he foresaw our troubles gathering in the Clouds of discontents, and would bewail, that Charles the First, the most Religious and best of Princes met with so bad Par­liaments, generally factious, discontented, and levened with Puritans: Whereas Queen Elizabeth ever had calm Parliaments, and that made her Reign glorious, although She assumed more Prerogative than either King James or King Charles; yet then no body cried, Stand to the Li­berties of the People; but nothing destroyed Liberty more than the affe­ctation of too much Liberty: Besides, he observed it was the design of Parliaments to put that mild King upon Wars, and then refuse to give him moderate supplies to serve his just necessities, unless he would part with his Court and his Church in exchange, whereby He was constrained to supply himself by way of Loan, which whosoever paid, much more whosoever of the Kings Divines perswaded others to pay, incurred the fury of the opposite Party.

Then were the Seeds of the future Sedition sown, with an evil report brought upon Davids Government, that all the People might loath it, and after rise up to pluck it down. Libels and licentious discourses were scattered, ever portending future Mutinies, as hollow blasts, and secret murmurings in the Air go before dangerous Tempests at Sea. These things he discoursed, not onely from his own observation, but from [Page xvi] the prediction of many holy and learned men, and wondred that Cardinal Bellarmin, Mr. Hooker, and Mr. Mead after both should all agree, that the Establishment of the Church of England was not like to continue a­bove seventy or eighty years, the Age of a Man; and he would tell how the late Bishop of Chichester hath said unto him, his Father foretold the same, and Bishop Wren said the same from Bishop Andrews; but above all, Mr. John Shearman, Register to my Lord of Canterbury, told him, that he heard Archbishop Abbot before his death, at a solemn Meeting before many friends, with many tears foretel the same; and it was our Bishops opinion, that the Spirit of Prophesie was not quite dried up, but sometimes pro hic & nunc God gave Mankind still a knowledg of future Events.

In the Convocation of 1640, was composed a Book of Canons, which he well approved, always using to call Church Canons so many Buttresses to the House of God, raised up without the walls, to support the build­ing within. Yet considering the swinge of the times, he once presumed to request my Lord of Canterbury not to proceed, but to indulge to the hardness of the peoples hearts; for he was well assured, if his Grace could make another Epistle to the Romans, the people then would not receive it, and therefore often wished those Books had never been made in Eng­land, Selden. nor the Liturgie sent into Scotland, which he would often bewail in the words of his learned Friend, Liturgia infoelicissimè ad Scotiam missa, where the Secular Arm was too weak to protect the Loyal party in their Ecclesiastical obedience.

He accounted it no good Omen to have the Sun Eclipsed that very hour the Long Parliament began, in November Anno 1640, though not visible here, save in the disastrous effects: From the beginning thereof all things were managed with Uproars and Tumults: However some hope there was, that upon moderation shewn matters might be peaceably composed, whereupon the House of Lords appointed a Committee out of their own Members, for setling peace in the Church, in March following; at the same time the Lords appointed a sub-Committee to prepare mat­ters for their Cognizance; the Bishop of Lincoln had the Chair in both, and was authorised to call together divers Bishops and other Divines to consult for correction of what was amiss, and to settle peace: of the sub-Committee those that appeared and consulted together in Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster (some others were named) were these onely, the Bishop of Lincoln, Primat of Armach, Bishop of Durham, Bishop Hall then of Exeter, Dr. Ward, Dr. Prideaux, Dr. Twiss, Dr. Sanderson, Dr. Featly, Dr. Brownrig, Dr. Holdsworth, Dr. Hacket, Dr. Burgess, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Calamy, Mr. Hill. Many things for six several Meetings were propounded, but in the midst of May, while (in order to settle­ment) divers things were upon the Loom, the Bill call'd Root and Branch was brought into the House of Commons, and that, like Atropos, cut off all the threds of this proceeding, to that the whole matter proved abortive and came to nothing.

After this appeared nothing but tumultuous Concourses of raging people, seeking to manage all Affairs by the whirwind of their own ig­norant clamours, and to remedy grievances without consulting Religion [Page xvii] or Justice. He much wondred that any men could think it possible, that the God of Order would ever mend any thing by their means, who (take them one by one) were most ignorant and illitterate, take them all toge­ther, were most bloudy and violent; and no man preached more bold­ly against the licentiousness of those times than he, challenging the Boute­feus to shew, wherever the Scripture gave countenance to Uproars and Rebellions? Julian the Apostate reading the Bible with a malicious intention to quarrel at it, said, that Christianity was a Doctrin of too much patience, but he could never find any place in it to object that it was a Doctrin of Rebellion. If the Administration of a Kingdom were out of frame, our Bishop maintain'd it were better to leave the redress to God, than to a seditious Multitude, and that the way to continue purity of Religion was not by Rebellion, but by Martyrdom. To resist lawful Powers by seditious Arms, and unlawful Authority, was not the Primi­tive and Apostolical Christianity, but Popish Doctrin, not taught the first 300 years, but much about 1000 years after our Saviour's ascension into Heaven, by the Pope of Rome, the very time the Spirit of God said, Satan should be let loose, viz. by Gregory the VII. who first taught the Ger­mans to rebel against the Emperor Henry the fourth: Yet this poison was now given the English People to drink out of the Papal Cup, while they pretended quite contrary. But our Bishop ever asserted this was not the way to pull down Antichrist, but Protestant Religion, and therefore he warn'd the Non-conforming Divines, with whom he lately treated, to have a care how they cried up a War, and became famous only in the Congre­gation (as Erostratus) by setting the Temple on fire.

To prevent that fatal Bill of Root and Branch, the Committee conde­scended to print the Liturgick Psalms in King James's Translation, to expunge all Apocryphal Lessons, and alter some passages in the body of the Book of Common-Prayer, and certain other things, which divers of the Presbyterian Divines said were satisfactory, save that the furious Party of them put the Commons upon the violent way: in particular old Mr. John White told many of the party, who still pressed at Conferences for further Abatement of Conformity, and the Laws established; Time would come when they would wish they had been content with what was offered.

While this Committee was sitting, the House of Commons having now entred upon the debate of taking away the whole Government Ecclesia­stical by Bishops, Deans, and Chapters, together with all their Revenue, several Members of that House being friends to the Hierarchy, mov'd that no mans Freehold might be taken away in Parliament, without hearing them first speak for themselves; whereupon the whole Committee imposed the Task upon Dr. Hacket forthwith to depart to his own House and Study, and meet them again to morrow morning prepared to speak as the Advocate of the Church of England in the behalf of Deans and Chapters. The Speech it self I found among his Papers, which in re­gard that it was never yet published at large, I have thought meet to add as follows.

May it please you, Mr. Speaker, and this Honourable House:

OƲr expectations to be heard by Council in this great Cause, hath brought us unto you most unprepared to deliver that which might be utter'd upon so copious Subject. Yet since we have that favour from this Ho­nourable House, that we may be heard, or some one of us in our own persons, somewhat shall be offered to your prudent considerations, by the meanest and most unpractised in pleading and forensecal causes of all those that attend you this day. The unexpectedness to be thus employed (it was imposed upon me but yesterday afternoon, as my Brethren know) is joyned with another disadvan­tage, that we have not heard upon what crimes or offences of the Deans and Chapters so great a Patrimony as they enjoy is called in question, that we might purge our selves of such imputations; but only reports that fly abroad have arrived at our ears, that Cathedral and Collegiate Churches with their Chapters are accounted by some to be of no use and convenience. I aim at per­spicuity, and therefore I will cast what I have to say into as clear a method as I am able. The use and convenience of Deans and Chapters I reduce un­to two heads, quoad res, quoad personas, first in regard of some things of great moment; secondly in regard of divers persons, whom I know the Justice of this Honourable House will take into consideration.

And first since God hath called his House the House of Prayer, I shall keep a right order, without derogation to any thing that follows, to present them unto you as very convenient for the service of Prayer, which is offered up to God in them daily, both in his Morning and in his Evening Sacrifice. In the antient Primitive Church (as many learned Gentlemen in this Honou­rable House do know, and as my Brethren that assist me can attest unto it) the Christians did every day meet at Prayers, and for the most part at the Blessed Sacrament, if persecution did not distract them. Then it is fit in a well-govern'd Church that there should be some places in imitation of them, where daily Thanksgivings and Supplications should be made unto God. And whereas it cannot be supposed, but that divers remiss Christians do neg­lect oftentimes their daily duty of Prayer, and some are forced to omit that length to which they would produce their Prayer by their multitude of business, it is fit that there should be a publick duty of Prayer in some principal places, where many are gathered together to supply the defects that are committed by private men. And though I am sure the publick Duty of Prayer shall find great acceptance and approbation before so Christian an Auditory, yet I con­fess I have heard abroad, that the Service of Cathedral Churches gives offence to divers for the superexquisiteness of the Musick, especially in late years, so that it is not edifying nor intelligible to the hearers. For this Obje­ction in part, I will confess it is strong and forcible, in part I will mollifie it. It is a just complaint, Mr. Speaker, and we humbly desire the assistance of this Honourable House for the reformation of it, that Cathedral Musick for a great part of it serves rather to tickle the ear, than to affect the heart with godliness; and that which should be intended for devotion, vanisheth away into quavers and air: we heartily wish the amendment of it, and that it were reduced to the form which Athanasius commends, ut legentibus sint quàm cantantibus similiores. But though these fractions, and affected ex­quisiteness be laid aside, yet the solemn Praise of God in Church Musick hath [Page xix] ever been accounted pious and laudable; yea even that which is compounded with some art and elegancy; for St. Paul speaks as if he had newly come from the Quire of Asaph, requiring us to praise God in Psalms and Hymns and spiritual Songs. Surely he would not have exprest himself in such va­riety of phrase, I think, if he had not approved variety of Musick in the Service of the Lord. Some will say per adventure, What if this daily duty of making Prayers to God were intermitted in Cathedral Churches? might it not be supplied in other Parochial Churches? I have but thus much to say to this objection. Prayer is the Incense which ascends up to heaven, and brings down God's blessing upon us, for fourscore and two years without in­terruption God hath continued true Religion among us, and blessed this Kingdom with peace and prosperity, and not without the daily assistance of the Prayers of Cathedral Churches; How the Lord will dispose of us if those places be silenced touching the frequency of that holy duty, it is only in the foreknowledg of God, and no man can guess it.

Secondly, I will proceed to the other Wing of the Cherubin, the great power of God to work our conversion and salvation, which is Preaching; and therein the use and convenience of Cathedral and Collegiat Churches hath been, and, we hope, may continue so, to be very great. May it please you Mr. Speaker, and this Honourable House; it must be confessed that in the beginning of the Reformation under Queen Elizabeth of blessed memory, ma­ny of our Parochial Churches were supplied with men of slight and easie parts; but especial care was taken, that in our Cathedral Churches, to which great concourses did resort, men of very able parts were planted to preach both on the Lords day, and on some week day, as appears by Dr. Alley, af­terwards Bishop of Exeter, who preached such learned Sermons in the Church of St. Pauls, that he hath left unto us good matter to collect out of him even to this day. And give me leave, Mr. Speaker, to take occasion from hence to refel that slander which some have cast out, that Lecture-preachers are a new Corporation, Ʋpstarts, and such other words of obloquy. Sir, this is nothing but ignorance and malice; for as the local Statutes of all or the most Cathedral Churches do require Lecture-Sermons on the Week-dayes, so from the beginning of Reformation they have been read in them by very able Divines. And it is our humble suit, Mr. Speaker, unto this Ho­nourable House, that if our local Statutes have not laid enough upon us in the godly and profitable performance of Preaching, that by the assistance of this Honourable House more may be exacted; particularly that two Ser­mons may be preached in every Cathedral and Collegiate Church upon the Lords day, and one at the least on the Week-days. Our motion comes from this consideration, that the Divines, for the most part, are studied and able men to perform them; and those Churches are usually supplied with large and copious Libraries, and the Monuments of Antiquity, Councils, Fathers, Mo­dern Authors, Schoolmen, Casuists, and many Books must be turn'd over by him that will utter that which should endure the test, and convince gain­sayers.

In the third place, Mr. Speaker, I shall name that whose use and conveni­ency is so nearly and irrefragably concern'd by the prosperity of Cathedral and Collegiat Churches, that it is as palpable as if you felt it with your hand; and that's the advancement and encouragement of Learning, a benefit of that [Page xx] consideration, that I am assured it doth deeply enter into the thoughts of this Honourable House. And because our years ascend up by degrees, therefore I will follow this speculation through three of those ascensions. First, touching our puny years in Grammar Schools. Secondly, touching young Students in the Ʋniversities that enter into their first course of Divinity. Thirdly, touching grave Divines of great proficiency, who maintain the cause of true Religion by their learned Pen: And first out principal Grammar Schools in the Kingdom are maintained by the charity of those Churches, the care and discipline of them is set forward by their oversight, fit Masters are provided for them, and their method in teaching frequently examin'd: and great cause for it; for School-Masters of late are grown so fanciful, inducing new Methods and Com­pendiums of teaching, which tend to nothing but loss of time and ignorance; so that it is not enough to nominate Governors to look unto them once in a twelve-month, or every half year, but there must be care without intemission to see that they swerve not; as likewise for this use, that the most deserving Scholars be transplanted to the Ʋniversities by their examination and choice: so that these young Seminaries of Learning depend upon them, and would come to lamentable decay, if they had not such Governors.

For the next rank of young Students that are to begin the study of Divi­nity, it must be confessed by all men that are conversant in the general expe­rience of the world, that they will be far more industrious when they see rewards prepared which may recompence the costs which they put their friends to in their education, and make them some recompence for their great labours. It is represented before them how many tedious dayes and nights they must de­vour prolix Authors that are set before them; had they not need of encou­ragement to undergo it? and where there is not a desirable Prize to run for, who will toil himself much to contend for it? Upon the fear and jealousie that these retributions of labour should be taken away from industrious Students, the Ʋniversities of the Realm do feel a languor and a pining away already in both their bodies. In a populous Colledge, I mean Trinity Colledge in Cam­bridge, wherein 70 or 80 Students were admitted communibus annis, I have heard by two Witnesses of that Society, that not above six were admitted from Allhalland-day to Faster Eeve. Let any man ask the Booksellers of Pauls Church-yard and Little-Britain, if their Books, (I mean grave and learned Authors) do not lie upon their hand, and are not sailable. There is a timorous imagination abroad, as if we were shutting up learning in a Case, and laying it quite aside. Mr. Speaker, if the bare threatning make such a stop in all kind of literature, what would it work if the blow were given. To this end both the Universities have sent up their humble Petitions to this Honourable House, which we greatly desire may graciously be ad­mitted.

The third Rank are those that are the Chariots and Horsemen of Israel, the Champions of Christs Cause against the Adversary by their learned Pen: And those that have left us their excellent labours in this kind, excepting some few, have either been the Professors and Commorants in the two Uni­versities, or such as have had Preferments in Colledgiat and Cathedral Churches, as I am able to shew by a Catalogue of their Names and Works. For such, and none but such, are furnished with best opportunity to write Books for the defence of our Religion. For as in the Universities the Society of many [Page xxi] learned men may be had for advise and discourse; so when we depart from them to live abroad, we find small Academies in the company of many grounded Scholars in those Foundations; and it is discourse that ripens learning as the spark of fire is struck out between the Flint and the Steel. There like­wise we have copious and well furnished Libraries to peruse, learned Authors of all kinds, which must be consulted in great causes: And they that have such great business in their heads, it is needful that they have otium litera­rium, a retirement to their studies, before they can bring that forth which will powerfully convince gainsayers.

In the fourth place, Mr. Speaker and this Honourable House, I shall al­ledge that which is the genuine and proper use of Cathedral Churches, and for which they were primarily instituted; that is, that the Deans and Chap­ters should be the Council of the Bishop, to assist him in his Jurisdiction and greatest Censures, if any thing be amiss either in the Doctrine, or in the Man­ners of the Clergie. Some of our Reverend Brethren have complained unto you, that our Bishops have for many years usurped sole Jurisdiction to them­selves, and to their own Consistory, and have disused the Presbyters from concurring with them. I am not He that can assoil this Objection, nor will I excuse this omission, as if it were not contrary to the best antiquity. It is not to be denied that Ignatius, Cyprian, Hierom, Austin, and others have re­quired that some grave and discreet Presbyter should be Senatus Episcopi, and be Advisers with him in his Consistory. And as by negligence it hath been disused, so if it be established in the right form again, it will give great sa­tisfaction to the Church of God. But it seemeth strange to me, that when this reformation is called for, the Corporations of Deans and Chapters should be cried down, who were employed in this work by very antient Insti­tution. What Canonist is there that doth not refer us unto them for this service especially. If it be replied that some able and conscionable Ministers may be assumed to assist the Bishop in his Jurisdiction, and in his Ordination out of several Parishes in his Diocess, I answer, that it is very likely that by this course the sole Jurisdiction would fall into the Bishops hands again: for when Ministers shall be called unto this assistance, and have nothing but their travail, and their performance of justice for their labour, they will soon grow weary of it, whereas the Deans and Chapters do owe that duty to this Office, that they have rewards for taking that pains, and stand under the forfeiture of their places by the prime intent of their Foundations, if they be not helpful in it. If therefore we desire that Episcopal Jurisdiction may be reduced from the sole Government of one man to a plurality of Assistants, this is the native, the proper, the sure way to bring it to pass.

The last use of Deans and Chapters touching things of great moment is, that the Structures themselves should speak for the Structures; not that I would draw your eyes only to behold the goodly Fabricks, as the Disciples re­membred our Saviour, Master what manner of stones are these? but to put you in remembrance, Mr. Speaker, that after the first foundations of Christianity were laid in this Kingdom, the first Monuments of Piety that were built in this Kingdom were Cathedral Churches; for Parochial Churches are their Minors and Nephews, and succeeded after them. What ill presage therefore were this to Religion? I will not utter it, that those Churches, which were the first harbors of Christian Religion, should in this Age suffer in those per­sons [Page xxii] who are intrusted with their reparation, and have the care and custody of them.

And thus, may it please you, Mr. Speaker and this Honourable House, I have delivered with as much brevity as I could the great use and conveni­ency of Cathedral and Collegiate Churches in things of great avail and moment; for Prayer and Preaching, and Advancement of Learning and Ecclesiastical Government, and the Structures of the Churches themselves. Divers persons also I have to name that are concerned in their welfare; and I know that the great and Honourable Justice of this House will take into consideration the condition of the meanest Subject of this Realm, much more of so many.

Because I will ascend up by degrees, let me first offer unto you, Mr. Speaker, the multitudes of Officers that have their maintenance, and no other live­lihood but by them, some one Cathedral Church having three hundred persons and more depending upon it, as Singing-men, Choristers, Alms-men, School-Masters and their Scholars, with sundry other Ministers that attend the Church, and the Revenues of it, so that the total number will arise to many thousands. And give me leave, I beseech you, to speak thus much for the Quire-men and their faculty of Musick, that they maintain a Science which is in no small request with divers worthy Gentlemen. A Civil Commonwealth delights in softer Musick than in Drums and Trumpets. And by the Educa­tion of Choristers from their childhood in that faculty you have many Musi­cians that come to great perfection in that skill; few others that prove to be better than Minstrils and Fidlers. And those being brought up to no other Education, by the dissolution of Deans and Chapters, you shall not onely reduce them to the utmost of poverty, but to the greatest snare of the Devil, and the ground wherein he sows the seeds of all tentations to unavoidable idleness, since they are not trained up in any other employment.

In the next order, Mr. Speaker, I move this Honourable House to the consideration of the Tenants, who have prospered better by holding Leases from Deans and Chapters, than Farmers elsewhere do prosper under other Incorporations over all the Kingdom. And the Tenants are sensible of their own happiness herein, and have testified it from many places, by tendring their humble Petitions to this Honourable House, that they may continue, as they have done, under their ancient Landlords, which with all submission we must humbly crave may be admitted and perused by this Honourable House. And I cannot blame them to stir in their own case; for good Accountants have cast it up, that if all the Lands of all Cathedral and Collegiat Churches were cast up into one total sum at a reasonable and fair penny-worth, allowing to the Deans and Chapters what they receive yearly, not onely in Rents but in Fines, the Tenants in clear gain do enjoy six parts in seven at the least. And we are not they that grudg them this bargain, but are most wil­ling that our Revenues should be dispersed in all the veins of the King­dom.

Be pleased, Mr. Speaker, to look now upon the Cities where these Cathedral Churches stand, many of them, especially those that are not maritime, are very poor in Trade, but are much enricht partly by the Hospitality of the Clergy, partly because great numbers of the Inhabitants are chosen to be the Officers of our Churches, partly by the frequent resort unto them, especially [Page xxiii] where there are large and well furnished Libraries, the great Repositories of learning. These Corporations, which are now the strong ribs of the Kingdom, will become Pensioners and Eleemosynaries, fall to irrecoverable decay, if the help of Deans and Chapters be substracted from them.

But put into the Scale with these Cities, that respect which is to be had to the young branches of the whole Kingdom, and the weight will be very pon­derous. All men are not born Elder-brothers, and all Elder-brothers are not born to be Inheritors of Lands. Divers of low degree have generous spi­rits in them, and would be glad to make themselves a fortune, as the phrase is. What hopes have they to atchieve this in a more ready way, than to pro­pose unto themselves to lead a virtuous and industrious life, that they may at­tain to a share of the endowment of Collegiate and Cathedral Churches? they only are the common possession of the Realm, lying open to all that will qualifie themselves to get a part in them. They are not inclosed in private mens Estates, but they are the Commons of the Kingdom.

With all humble leave, Mr. Speaker, now let us proceed to speak a little for our selves, in behalf of the Clergy. We hear it by such as are travel'd in parts beyond the Seas, (most of this Honourable House know it to be true that I shall alledg, in their own experience) that this Kingdom of England, God be praised, affords better livelihood to most degrees and ranks than the neigh­bour Kingdoms do: The Knights and Esquires live more plentifully than theirs, our Yeomanry far more fashionably than their Peasants. Then we trust it will not be thought unreasonable, that the Clergy may in some sort have a better maintenance than in the neighbour Reformed Churches. Otherwise we shall become the most vile and contemptible part of the State because of our poverty: and we shall degenerate into such Priests as Jerobo­am appointed, the refuse and most base of the people, from whom nothing can be expected, but Ignorance, Superstition, and Idolatry. Neither is our estate better than all other Reformed Churches in this case: for I have heard it from them that have diligently travel'd over all the Reformed Churches in Germany, that the Clergy among the Swedes have such Col­legiate Chapters with means endowed to the use of the Government of the Church as we have. And the Reformed in France and the Low-Countries do sufficiently testify how much they desire, that they were Partners of the like prosperity, because many of their rarest Scholars have found great relief and comfort by being installed Prebendaries in our Cathedral and Collegiate Churches. I will speak but of a few, whom my self hath known. In the Reign of Blessed Queen Elizabeth Dr. Saravia was maintained in these Foun­dations; in the Reign of the most learned King James, Casaubon Father and Son. O the renowned Casaubon the Father, what a miracle of learning! add unto these Dr. Primrose, Mr. Vossius, and the great honour of the Re­formed Churches, the most learned Dr. Peter Moulin. Concerning whom let me add, with your leave Mr. Speaker, what he wrote lately to an Honourable person out of France, that by reason of great preparations of war in France he feared it would be dangerous for him to live any longer in Sedan: if troubles increased he would come for England: but if the Entrates of his Prebend, and what else he enjoyed in this Church were cut off, the whole livelyhood of himself, his Wife, and Children should be taken from him. A pittiful moan­ing, and to be regarded. But the testimony of an Adversary is that which [Page xxiv] may most lawfully be used to advantage. The greatest enemy and foul-tongued reviler of the Reformed Church of England was Sanders in his Book of the English Schism, as he terms it. Consult him in the 163. page, as it is in my Edition, how he envies us, and snarles at us for our prosperity of those forenamed Churches; he says that the Royal Queen did judg it fit for the glory of her Praelacy, for the splendor of her Kingdom, for the firmness of her Sect (so he calls our Religion) that in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches she would have Provosts, Deans, Prebendaries, Canons. This was it that troubled him that he saw these Foundations conduced to the stability of Religion: So that I judg by his words a fatter Sacrifice could not be offered up to such as himself than the extirpation of them.

I go forward now to that benefit which the King and Commonwealth, ta­king them in uno aggregato, do reap by them. They that think themselves cunning in the Kings Revenue do inform us, that we do pay greater summs to the Exchequer by First-fruits, Tents, and Subsidies, according to the propor­tions which we enjoy by them, than any other Estates or Corporations in the Kingdom: Beside Horse and Arms which we find for the defence of the Realm against all Enemies and Invasions: And this we issue forth with most free and contented hearts: Neither would we stop here. We are not ignorant with what continual diligence and study this Honourable House doth forecast to provide great summs of money for two Armies, and sundry other great occasions. God forbid but we should have publick spirits as well as other men. And if we be call'd upon to contribute in an extraordinary manner to this great charge of the Kingdom which now lies upon it, we shall be ready to do it to the utmost of our ability, yea and beyond our ability; and if we fail in it let us be branded with your anger and censures for our sordid cove­tousness.

Now we shall come to an high pitch, imploring the ancient and most Honourable Justice of this House, and for the sake of that famous and ever renowned Justice we hope to find grace in your eyes. We are now by the admittance of Your Honours favour under that roof, where your worthy Pro­genitors gave unto the Clergy many Charters, Privileges, Immunities, and enacted those Statutes by which we have the free right and liberty in all that we have. We read it in Records, that in the beginnings of many Parlia­ments in the first place, divers favours were confer'd upon us, and we be­lieve the subsequent consultations fared the better for it. Indeed we meet with stories likewise that the Prior aliens are vanished out of England, that the Orders of St. John of Jerusalem, and the Knight Templars were dis­solved. It is true Mr. Speaker, and they deserv'd it; their crimes proved manifestly against them were most flagitious, and some of them no less than High Treason. God be praised we are not charged, much less convicted of any scandalous faults: And therefore we trust we shall not suffer the like fate, who have not committed the like offences.

And after our casting our selves upon your Honourable Justice, I will lead you to the highest degree of all considerations, to the Honour of God. The Fabricks that I speak of were erected to his glory, the lands bequeathed to them were dedicated to his Worship and Service: And to that end I be­seech you to let them continue for ever, and to the maintenance of such per­sons, whom their liberality did expresly destine to be relieved by them; [Page xxv] and withall I must inform you, and I dare not conceal it from you, it is tremenda vox which I shall bring forth, that they have barr'd all alienati­on with many curses and imprecations. It is Gods own sentence upon the Censers, which Core and his Complices used in their Schism, with pretence to do God's service, Numb. 16.38. They offered them before the Lord, therefore they are hallowed. This is not spoken after the way of a Levi­tical form and nicety, for the using of those Censers was anti-Levitical: but this is an absolute Theological Rule out of the mouth of the Lord, that which is offered unto the Lord is hallowed. Again Prov. 20.25. It is a snare to the man that devoureth that which is holy. This is Proverbial Divinity, every mans notion, and in every mans mouth, [...], Theology preached in every Street of the City, and every High-way of the Field. Let me only add that smart question of St. Paul, Rom. 2.22. Thou that abhorrest Idols dost thou commit Sacrilege? I have done, Mr. Speaker, if you will let me add this Epiphonema, Upon the ruins of the rewards of learning no Structure can be raised up but ignorance: and upon the Chaos of ignorance no Structure can be built but profaneness and confusion.

In the Afternoon it was put to the Question, and carried by many Votes, that their Revenues should not be taken away; yet not long af­ter, in the same Session, after a most Unparliamentary manner, they put it to a second Vote, and without a second hearing Voted the con­trary.

And now all things tending to violence, it was no longer safe to de­bate these things publickly, therefore at his House were held constant meetings of the Loyal Clergy, Bishops often, and others, Morton, Brown­rig, Holdsworth, Jefferies, and many more, who from thence wrote Let­ters all over England to all Divines of learning and reputation, espe­cially of the Ʋniversity of Cambridge, to know how they stood affected; Quae vobis mentes rectè quae stare solebant? And to engage them to stand fast in the cause of the King and Church. Amongst others Dr. Brown­rig (having been formerly acquainted) sent to old Mr. Dod the De­calogist for his opinion; who answered, That he had been scanda­lized with the proud and tyrannical practices of the Marian Bishops, but now after more than sixty years experience of many Protestant Bi­shops, that had been worthy Preachers, learned and Orthodox Writers, great Champions for the Protestant Cause, he wished all his friends not to be any impediment to them, and exhorted all men not to take up Arms against the King, which was his Doctrine (he said) upon the Fifth Commandment, and he would never depart from it. Likewise Letters were written by them to many Forreign Divines to try their affection in that day of need; Blondel, Vossius, Hornbeck, and (whom he most condoled) Salmasius were sent to in vain, though afterwards that great Scholar came off from his rigour, and made ample amends for his error. Vossius contain'd himself for fear of the Parliament, and of losing his Prebend at Canterbury, in their possession, which King Charles the First conferred upon him with great liberality. [Page xxvi] Deodat wrote firm for Episcopal Government from Geneva, and accused the Presbyterians of Schism. Hugo Grotius said, nothing hapned but what the wise King James had foretold, and he now beheld with great horrors. Episcopius much pitied the sufferings of the Kings Di­vines, and particularly of Dr. Ward, whom he accounted the most learned member of the Synod of Dort. Monsieur Amyrald declared him­self a friend to Episcopacy in a Select Tractate sent hither, which one of that Party borrowed and would never restore, and so it could not be Printed. He who was thus zealous both in and out of his Pulpit in the King's and Churches Cause, could not be long permitted to Officiate in the City of London; one Sunday while he was reading the Common Prayer in his Church a Souldier of the Earl of Essex came, and clapt a Pistol to his breast, and commanded him to read no further, the Doctor smiled at his insolency in that sacred place, and not at all terrified, said he would do what became a Divine, and he might do what became a Soul­dier, so the Tumult for that time was quieted, and the Doctor permitted to proceed.

But the War being begun, and all things in confusion, the Orthodox and Loyal Clergie were every where Articled against, and ejected, com­mitted to Prisons without accommodations, but upon unreasonable Pay­ments, such as they were unable to make. In the City of London and Pa­rishes adjacent one hundred and fifteen Parochial Ministers were turned out, besides many hundreds in all Countries more than ever had been in all Queen Mary's, Queen Elizabeth's, and King James's, or King Charles's Reigns by the Bishops of all sorts. Some few factious Parishioners Arti­cled against him at the Committee of Plunderers, and he was advised by Mr. Selden that it was in vain to make defences, they would never per­mit him to preach in that publick Theatre, but he must retire to Cheam, and he would endeavour to keep him quiet there; but thither also the storm followed him, for the Earl of Essex his Army being upon their March against the King, took him Prisoner away with them, till after some time he was brought before Essex himself, and others, who knew him, and had often heard him preach at Whitehall, who made him great proffers, if he would turn to their side, which he disdained to accept; They kept on their March, and, as he would say, at length the Princes of the people let him go free.

From that time he lay hid in his little Villa, as Gregory the Great in his little Sazimus, which he would pleasantly call, Senectutis suae nidulum. There he constantly preached every Sunday Morning, expounded the Church Catechism every Afternoon, read the Common Prayer all Sun­days and Holy days, continued his wonted Charity to all poor people, that resorted to it upon the Week days in money, besides other relief out of his Kitchin, till the Committee of Surrey enjoyned him to forbear the use of it by Order of Parliament at any time, and his Catechising out of it upon Sunday in the Afternoon. Yet after this Order he ever still kept up the use of it in most parts, never omitting the Creed, Lords Prayer, and Ten Commandments, Confession, and Absolution, and many other particular Collects, and always as soon as the Church Service was done, absolved the rest at home, with most earnest Prayers for the good success [Page xxvii] of his Majesties Armies, of which he was ever in great hope, till the Tidings came of the most unfortunate Battel at Nazby. He was that Morning at an especial Friends house ready to sit down to Dinner, but when the news came, he desired leave to retire, went to his Chamber, and would not Dine, but fasted and prayed all that day, and then was afraid, that excellent King and Cause was lost; using to say of Cromwel, Livy. as the Historian of Marius, He lead the Army, and Ambition lead him, and therefore lookt far nothing but the ruine that came.

He was naturally of a very pleasant and chearful temper, but sad news made his soul retire a great way further into him, and quite of another humour. Indeed no man was more troubled and angustiated in mind for the miseries and distresses of this Church and Kingdom; I have often heard his deep Sighs, and his great Complaints, when he did pro­fess, he did only breath, but not live. I have seen the heaviness of his eyes, when he spake nothing, his grave and ripe wisdom made him ap­prehend Fears more deeply than other people did. But when his Ma­jesties sufferings in Person came, no man could conjecture the load of sor­row that was upon him, He would say he felt his old heart wither within him, and could not but sigh away his spirit; he would often repent He had done no more by Preaching and Writing to prevent it; and after the Kings Death, frequently desired nothing else but to depart from this world of sin and suffering, crying out, Satur sum omnium quae video aut audio.

But next to the Death of his Royal Majesty he would bewail the cutting up the pleasant Vine of the Church of England, and alienating the Churches Patrimony, together with those of the King, Queen, Loyal No­bility, and Gentry, whereby the whole Kingdom of England was then in the hands of unjust Possessors.

For the Citie's abetting this bloudy War, He was now grown to a strong aversation toward London, the place where he was born, bap­tized, bred, and nothing could ever move him to go thither more, until the Earls of Holland and Norwich both requested his Assistance at their expected deaths.

The Earl of Holland was very penitent, for that he had deserted so good a Master in the beginning of the Wars. Norwich was very chear­ful in the comforts of a good Conscience. He would much admire, how God sometimes gives secret admonition of things contrary to all humane expectations, for the Earl of Holland had many Messengers came, and told him they had Votes enough, and to spare, for his life, yet nothing would perswade him but he should die within a few days, and so he did; The Earl of Norwich, that knew of no friends yet would not believe but he should escape, and so he did.

After this he return'd to his Rural retirement, to end his Old Age in continual Prayer and Study, omitting all exercise of body, whereupon he fell into a great fit of sickness; and upon his recovery, the famous Dr. Harvy enjoyned him two things, to renew his chearful conversation, and take moderate walks for exercise, assuring him, that in his practise of Physick since these times he observed more people died of grief of mind than of any other disease, and that his studious and sedentary life would con­tract [Page xxviii] him frequent sickness, unless he used seasonable exercise. Where­upon afterwards, for his healths sake, he would every Morning, before he setled to his study, take large walks very early to make him expectorate phlegm, and other cloudy and fuliginous vapours, whereby he after­wards continued Vegete and healthful to the last.

At this time he did much good in the Country, by keeping many Gen­tlemen firm to the Protestant Religion, who were much assaulted by lurking Priests, who sought to perswade them that it was then necessary to joyn with the Roman Church, or else they could be of none, for they saw (as the others said) the Protestant Church quite destroyed. But the good Doctor advised them better, that the Church of England was still in being, and not destroyed, rather refined by her sufferings. God then tried us as Silver is tried in the hot fire of persecution, which purifies but wastes not. Then especially our Church resembled the Primitive, which grew up in persecutions,Psal. 24.1. and as the Earth is said to be the Lords in all its Ful­ness, so the Church of England was the Lords in all its penury and empti­ness.

And in these lowest of times he was full of faith and courage, that him­self should still live to see a better world one day, and would greatly blame any of the Kings Friends who despaired of seeing the time of the restitution of all things; His opinion was the Youths at Westminster spun a Spiders Web, that could not last long, and therefore was very confident of his Majesties return, and would instance in Josephs case, who was sometime sold for a slave, imprisoned as a Malefactor, yet afterwards advanced to be Governour of the Kingdom; and in David who was hunted over all the Mountains of Israel, yea, and forced to fly his Coun­try too, and yet after brought to the Throne, and also in Caius Marius, who was forced to hide himself in the Flags of a Fenny ditch from the pursuers of Sylla, Livy. so that the Historian asks, Quis eum fuisse Consulem, aut futurum crederet? Who would ever have thought him to have been Consul, or should live to be Consul again? And therefore when any would say,Seneca. There was but little hope, he would answer Tum votorum locus est, cum nullus est spei; They ought to pray the more, and Prayer was a good re­serve at the last cast.

Accordingly he would acknowledge that his many cares for the welfare of the King and Church of England did often send him to his Prayers, but gave God thanks, that his Prayers did always expel his cares. After a day spent in Prayer, he would tell an especial Friend, he found in him­self a marvelous illumination and chearfulness in the Evening, and that as usually thick clouds in Winter cause dark weather, till they were dis­solved in rain or snow; but then the Sun would shew himself, and the air grow pleasant again: So sorrows and cares cloud the mind and soul, till we are able to dissolve them into devotion and holy Prayers, and then post nubila Phoebus, and professed, nothing more contributed to his divine joys than his often reading and meditation upon Davids Psalms, which he conceived they had done very wisely, who set them in the midst of the Bible, as the Fourth Commandment for Religious Assemblies was by God himself in the midst of the Decalogue.

[Page xxix]In those doleful days that was done in St. Paul's London which Selymus threatned to St. Peter's at Rome, to Stable his horses in the Church, and feed them at the High Altar; whereupon our Doctor was very confident their ruine grew ripe apace, and not long after hapned the death of Oliver; of which being suddenly told, and the manner of it, he only said, as Tully of a Villain, Mortem quam non potuit optare obiit; and that we should see within a little while all the world would stink of him, and disdain his Arbitrary and bloudy usurpations; and accordingly in a very short time we saw all things incline to work about the happy revolution, towards the accomplishment whereof no man was more active in stirring up the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy, and People to desire a free Parliament, and Petition General Monk to that purpose, whereby he should be a Benedictin Monk, or a Blessing to the Nation, and not a Dominican, Dominari in ex­ercitu. He preached before the Commissioners at Croydon, and first read the Common-Prayer himself to them, at that great meeting for the peace of the Country. And afterward when his Royal Majesty was restored, he laid aside his long Antipathy, and came up to London, where one going to congratulate his coming thither; so (he answered) he did his own, for he hoped in God he did not appear as a Porpoise, only once in twenty years before a great storm, but as an Halcyon for a sign of fair weather; and when he was restored to his ancient Parish and Church again, being one day visited by many sequestred and banished Friends, returned again with himself, whom he pleasantly called his Charonitae, a By name which the Romans gave to them who were restored to their Possessions and Country after they had been proscribed by Sylla. As if Charon had wafted them over the Lake of Death, and brought them back again. At the same time he gave to God great thanks for the opportunity of meet­ing them again in that place, and prayed God that they might all take notice, first, of the real faults that brought down the late sad Judgments, and be sure to repent of them; and then also secondly, take into consi­deration the supposed faults or scandals that seem'd to do it, and as far as was meet take care likewise to prevent them for the time to come.

He had been installed one of the Residentiaries of St. Paul's Church, a little before the beginning of the Civil War, to which he was now re­stored, whereby he was frequently called to preach there, where he could not spare to tell his Country-men sometimes of their faults, That how­ever his Majesties most gracious Act of Oblivion had delivered them from all humane Penalties, yet unless they abhorred those sins so easily for­given by the most merciful and most courteous King in the world, yet the Anger of God would find them out; and though his Majesty had obliged the Royal Party to forget their sufferings, yet the Presbyterians were ever bound to remember their doings. But his deserts were too eminent and well known to be long in any Orb less than the highest in our Church, there­fore my Lord Chancellor sent to offer him the Bishoprick of Glocester, which he begg'd his Majesties and his Lordships leave to refuse, answering (as Cato) He had rather Future times should ask why Dr. Hacket had not a Bishoprick than why he had one.

Afterward it pleased his Majesty to confer upon him the Bishoprick of Lichfield, and recommend that most ruined Cathedral, City, and Diocess [Page xxx] to his prudent Circumspection, and Government; He first thought that now in his old age the Charge was too great for him, but because Caesar had commanded it, he would resign up himself to his Majesties Com­mands, and willingly put his neck to the burden of the Chair, and to his best abilities not be wanting in his duty to God and the King. But he found in himself a great reluctancy to leave his old people in City and Country, he had so long lived there, that now the place was grown natu­ral, and stuck to him like the Bark to the Tree; but again would some­time say, Holbourn was not the same Parish he left it, a new Genera­tion for the most part rose up in twenty years that knew not Joseph, nor the piety and conformity of ancient times, and that probably young men might suit better with young men, and therefore would ac­cept his Sovereigns gracious offer, and yet always retain a paternal affection and care for them too; and would thereupon shew how vain some Canonists were in prescribing an eternal obligation between Pastor and People, whereas he forsakes not the Church who serves it in another place, but in some circumstances it is his duty to remove, when better qualified for that other Church, and his removal duly required of him: For we are not to consecrate our studies and labours to Places, but to Persons, not to any particular people only, but to the glory of God and best advantage of the Catholick Church.

He received his Consecration December 1661. upon the same day that he had forty three years before received his first Orders, and the Spring following he took his journey to reside upon his Charge, with great congratulations of the loyal Gentry, and most dutiful salutations of the Orthodox Clergy, and unconceivable joy and satisfaction of all people. When his Lordship came to Coventry he was entertained with a Latin Speech, made by Sir Thomas Norton Baronet, and in holy Orders: and again upon his first Entrance into Staffordshire, by Mr. Powel School­master of Stafford with Another; to which his Lordship presently in the same language gave an elegant reply to every particular.

The whole Clergy upon this first meeting were of opinion that his Maje­sty had still the old Apostolical spirit of discerning, having sent to them a Prelate so wise and learned, as they could scarce have wished one alto­gether so fit for themselves, and 'tis not to have been doubted, if the sole election had been in themselves,Theod. l. 5. c 9. Baron. Ann. T. 4. Damasc. de Imag. l. 3. but that the Diocess would have chosen him as unanimously as the people of Constantinople did Nectarius, to whom no man dissented, insomuch that some say the place wherein they held the Election was ever after call'd Concord from the universal approbation of the Fact.

It is much to be admired that the people (who for the most part are none of the best Judges) in those antient times should oftentimes choose so luckily,Paulinus in vita. V. Prefat. Dr. Fell. in vitá Nemesci. who yet sometimes chose men to be Bishops as St. Ambrose of Millain, Synesius Bishop of Cyrene, and Nectarius an Arch-Bishop at Constantinople, besides others who had scarce received any former Orders, and were some of them not well instructed in all parts of Christian Re­ligion,Ep. ad Oce­an. nor indeed baptized: St. Hierom a learned, but sharp Writer, might well gird at this practise Heri Catechumenus, hodie Pontifex; but a­gainst our Bishop there lay no such exceptions, who would sometimes [Page xxxi] rejoyce like Greg. Nazianzen, that he had not been made a Bishop before long labour, and much pains spent in preaching and converting others to the Christian Faith, and gave God thanks he had run through all the lesser Offices, had been long Scholar and Fellow of a Colledg, then been made Deacon, Priest, Chaplain, which was equal to Curat, and sometime Vicar of a poor place, afterwards Parson, Doctor, Prebendary, Archdeacon, and Residentiary of St. Pauls, and had discharged all these with great pains in his own person, in the heat of the day, both in time of peace and persecution, so that he did not leap, but by his merits orderly arise to his Episcopal honour and dignity.

The City of Litchfield has its name from the old Saxon Lice or Car­case, because of the great multitude of Christians thereabouts slain in the Persecution of Dioclesian, which are in the Arms of the City to this day. Therein before the Wars had been a most beautiful and comely Cathedral Church, which the Bishop at his first coming found most de­solate, and ruin'd almost to the ground, the Roof of Stone, the Timber, Lead, and Iron, Glass, Stalls, Organs, Utensils of rich value all were em­bezell'd, 2000 shot of great Ordnance and 1500 Granadoes discharged against it, which had quite batter'd down the Spire, and most of the Fabrick, so that the Old man took not so much comfort in his new Pro­motion, as he found sorrow and pity in himself to see his Cathedral Church thus lying in the dust; so that the very next morning after his Lordships arrival, he set his own Coach-horses on work, together with other Teems, to carry away the Rubbish; which being cleared, he pro­cured Artisans of all sorts to begin the new Pile, and before his death set up a compleat Church again, better than ever it was before, the whole Roof from one end to the other, of a vast length, all repaired with stone, all laid with goodly Timber of our Royal Soveraign's gift, all leaded from one end to the other, to the cost of above 20000 l. which yet this zealous and laborious Bishop accomplished a great part out of his own bounty, with 1000 l. help of the Dean and Chapter, and the rest procured by Him from worthy Benefactors, by incessant importunity, the Gentry of Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire contributing like Gentlemen, whose names are entred into the Registry of the Cathedral; unto which work none were backward but the Presbyterians, whom our Reverend Bishop yet treated with more civility than their cross-grain'd humours deser­ved.

This rare Building was finished in eight years, to the Admiration of all the Country, the same hands which laid the Foundation laying the Top-stone also; All which owes it self to his great fidelity, incredible prudence in contriving, bargaining with workmen, unspeakable dili­gence in solliciting for money, paying it and overseeing all; Nehemiah's eye was ever upon the building of the Temple, and therefore the work proceeded with incredible expedition. The Cathedral being so well fi­nished, upon Christmas Eve Anno 1669 his Lordship dedicated it to Christs honour and service, with all fitting solemnity that he could pick out of antient Rituals in the manner following.

His Lordship being arrayed in his Episcopal Habiliments, and attend­ed upon by several Prebends and Officers of the Church, and also accom­panied [Page xxxii] with many Knights and Gentlemen, as likewise with the Bailifs and Aldermen of the City of Lychfield, with a great multitude of other people entred at the West door of the Church, Humphry Persehouse, Gent. his Lordships Apparitor General going foremost, after whom followed the Singing-boyes and Choristers, and all others belonging to the Choir of the said Church, who first marched up to the South Isle on the right hand of the said Church, where my Lord Bishop with a loud voice repeated the first verse of the 24. Psalm, and afterward the Quire alternately sung the whole Psalm to the Organ. Then in the same order they marched to the North Isle of the said Church, where the Bishop in like manner began the first verse of the 100 Psalm, which was afterward also sung out by the Company. Then all marched to the upper part of the Body of the Church, where the Bishop in like manner began the 102. Psalm, which likewise the Choire finisht. Then my Lord Bishop commanded the doors of the Quire to be opened, and in like manner first encompassed it upon the South side, where the Bishop also first began to sing the first verse of the 122 Psalm, the Company finishing the rest: And with the like Ceremony passing to the North side thereof, sung the 132. Psalm in like manner.

This Procession being ended the Reverend Bishop came to the Faldistory in the middle of the Quire, and having first upon his knees prayed pri­vately to himself, afterwards with a loud voice in the English Tongue call'd upon the People to kneel down and pray after him, saying,

Our Father which art, &c.

O Lord God, infinite in power, and incomprehensible in all goodness and mercy, we beseech thee to hear our prayers for thy gracious assistance upon the great occasion of this day. This sacred House dedicated of old time to thine honour, hath been greatly polluted by the long Sieges and dreadful Wars of most prophane and disloyal Rebels; Thine holy Temple have they defiled, and made it an heap of rubbish and stones; yea they did pollute it with much bloud, in all manner of hostility and cruelty. We beseech thee, good Father, upon our devout and earnest prayers, to restore it this day to the use of thy sacred Worship, and make us not obnoxious to the guilt of their sins, who did so heinously dishonour this place, which was set apart for thy glory. Thou art the God of peace, of meekness and gentleness, and wouldst not let thy Ser­vant David build a Temple to thee, because his hands were stained with the bloud of war, we beseech thee that this thy Sanctuary, having long continued under much pollution, may be reconciled to thee, and from henceforth and for ever be acceptable unto thee: and that the spots of all bloud, prophane­ness, and sacriledge, may be washed out by thy pardon and forgiveness, and that we, and all thy faithful servants that shall succeed us in any religious Office in this place, may be defended for ever from our enemies, and serve thee alwayes with thankeful hearts and quiet minds, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALmighty Lord, the restorer and preserver of all that is called thine, since this Cathedral Church is once again made fit for thy Service, and reconciled to thy Worship and Honour, preserve it henceforth and for ever, that it may never, even to the second coming of Jesus Christ, suffer the like [Page xxxiii] devastation again, that befel it by the impiety and disloyalty of a long and most pernicious Rebellion. Save it from the power of violent men, that such as are enemies to thy Name, and to the beauty of holiness, may never prevail to defile it, or erace it; Confound those ungodly ones that shall say of it, down with it even to the ground. Let the true Protestant Religion be celebrated in it, as long as the Sun and Moon endure. And we implore thee with con­fidence of thy love, and with all vehemency of zeal, that thy heavenly Spi­rit may fill thy hallowed Temple with thy Grace, and heavenly benediction. Hear the faithful prayers which thy Congregation of Saints shall daily pour out here unto thee. And accept their sorrowful contritions in fastings and humiliations; and in the days of joyful thanksgivings, let their spiritual and gladsome offerings ascend up unto thee, and be noted in thy Book. Receive all those into the Congregation of Christs Flock, with the pardon of their sins, and the efficacy of thy Spirit, to suppress the dominion of sin in them, that shall here be presented to be baptized. Let the bones of them that have been, or shall be interred here, rest in peace untill a joyful resurrection. Let heavenly goodness be on all those that shall here be wedded in lawful Matrimony, remembring it is the mystery of Christ and his Church made one with him. O let the most Divine Sacrament of Christs Body broken, and his Bloud shed for us, be the savour of life unto all that receive it. Sanctify to holy Calling such as shall be ordained Priests and Deacons by Imposition of hands. And we heartily pray, that thy Word preached within these walls, may be delivered with that truth, sincerity, zeal, and efficacy, that it may re­claim the ungodly, confirm the righteous, and draw many to salvation, through Jesus Christ, &c.

BLessed and immortal Lord, who stirrest up the hearts of thy faithful people to do unto thee true and laudable service, we magnifie thy Grace, and the inward working of thy holy Spirit upon the heart of our gracious Soveraign Lord King CHARLES, his Highness James Duke of York, and his most Religious Dutchess, and all Dukes, Dutchesses, Nobles, and Peers of this Realm, with our most gracious Metropolitan, and all Bishops, and others of the holy Orders of the Clergy, all Baronets, Knights and Gentry, Ladies and devout persons of that Sex, and for all the Gentry and godly Commonalty, for all Cities, Burrows, Towns, and Villages, who have bountifully contributed to re-edify and repair this ancient and beautiful Cathedral, which was almost demolished by Sons of Belial. But these thy large-hearted and bountiful ser­vants have raised up this Holy Place to its former beauty and comliness again. Lord recompence them all sevenfold into their bosom. As they have bestowed their temporal things willingly and largely upon this holy place, so recompence them with eternal things, and with increase of earthly abundance, as thou knowest to be most expedient for them. Let the Generation of the faithful be blessed, and let their memories be precious to all posterity. O Lord this is thy Tabernacle, it is thy House, and not mans, perfect it we beseech thee in that which is wanting to accomplish it. And for all those thy choice servants, whose charitable hands have given their oblati­on to raise up again this sacred Habitation, which was pulled down by im­pious hands, give them all thine eternal Kingdom for their Habitation. Amen.

[Page xxxiv] O Thou Holy One, who dwellest in the highest Heavens, and lookest down upon all thy servants, and considerest the condition of all men, now we have begun to speak to our Lord God, who are but dust and ashes, permit us to continue our prayers for the souls health, and external prosperity of all those that are concerned in this place. Be favourable and merciful to the most reverend Father in God Gilbert Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, our most munificent Benefactor, under whose Government we reap much peace, good order, and happiness. O Lord be merciful to me thy Servant, the most unworthy of them that wear a linnen Ephod, yet by thy providence and his Majesties favour, the Bishop of this Church, and of the Diocess to which it belongs. Be a loving God to the Dean, Archdeacons, Canon Residentiaries, Prebendaries, Vicars Coral, and to all that belong to this Christian Foun­dation. Bless them that live and are encompassed in the Close and Ground of this Cathedral. Pour down the plentiful showers of thy bounteous goodness upon this neighbour City of Litchfield, the Bailiffs, Sheriff, Aldermen, all the Magistrates, and all the Inhabitants thereof. Lord, we extend our petitions further, that thou wilt please to bless all that pertain to this large Diocess, for all the Clergy of it, that they may be godly examples to their Flock, that they may attend to Prayer, to Preaching, and to administer thy holy Sacra­ments, and diligently to do all duties to those under their charge, that are in health or sickness. O Lord multiply thy blessings upon all Christian people in the several Shires and Districts belonging to the Government of this Bishop­rick, and keep us all, O Lord, in faith and obedience to thee, in loyalty to our Soveraign, in charity one toward another, in submission to the good and orderly Discipline of the Church. And save us from Heresies, Schisms, Fana­tical separations, and all scandals against the Gospel. And guide us all to live as becometh us in the true Communion of Saints. Grant all this, O Lord, for Jesus Christ his sake: To whom with Thee, and thy Holy Spirit, be ascribed and given, &c.

PRevent us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help, that in all our works begun, conti­nued, and ended in thee, we may glorifie thy holy Name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Bishop pronounced a solemn Blessing upon the whole Admi­nistration performed, and upon all that were present.

Then followed the Service of Morning Prayer for that day, two espe­cial Anthems in extraordinary being added. Provision was made in­stantly for Alms to the Poor.

And in a very stately Gallery which the Bishop erected in the House where he lived, his Lordship annexed to the precedent Solemnity a Feast for three days.

First to feast all that belonged to the Choir and the Church, together with the Proctors and other Officers of the Ecclesiastical Courts.

On a second day, to remember God's great goodness in the restaura­tion and reconciliation of the Church, He feasted the Bailiffs, Sheriff, and all the Aldermen of the City of Lichfield.

[Page xxxv]On a third day, to the same purpose, in the same place, He feasted all the Gentry, Male and Female of the Close and City.

He would often afterwards give God thanks, who had accepted him as an unworthy Instrument to build him an House, that what he could not accomplish at Holbourn in his younger years, when he was more able to take pains, yet He had now enabled him to do in his old age, and far worse times; when he found by experience, the Wars had exhausted not only the Wealth but Piety of the Nation, and that it was far easier under Charles the First his Reign to raise an hundred pound to Pious Ʋses than now ten pounds: So some observe that in the Primitive Church Charity ebb'd lower and lower till the stream quite dried up: the first examples thereof were most bountiful, to provoke the liberality of following Ages; Barnabas gave all his Possessions, and so did many others. Ana­nias divided half or thereabouts, but the next Age minced it to a con­siderable Legacy, and then it fell to Charity in small money, afterwards to good words only as St. James sayes, and I pray be comforted; sed ecquid tinnit Dolabella? seldom one cross or coyn dropt from them: the like he observ'd in our own Church in the Ages past, and present; when Christianity was first planted among us, our glorious Founders built Col­ledges and Cathedral Churches; the next rank of Benefactors endowed Schools and Parishes; after Ages gave Plate to the Communion, Bells to the Steeples, costly Vestures to the Minister; now it's come to this pass, some Great man will be content to set up a new Pew for his own use, but stick at all other new building, and sometimes at the mending and re­pair of what was built formerly, and after a while perhaps the World will do just nothing, and then it is time sure for the Gospel to seek out better people, who will bring forth more fruit.

Two things the Bishop used greatly to bewail in his Diocess; First the great loss and spoil of the Antient Demeans of the Bishoprick, having had many Mannors torn from it in the time of Edw. 6. besides an antient Episcopal House in London to entertain the Bishops when they came up to Parliament, pulled down, with others by the Duke of Somerset, to make room for the building of his new House in the Strand; and his Palace at Lychfield, and Castle of Eccleshal likewise were quite demolished by the late Wars; so that the good Bishop was fain to lye in a Prebendal House, upon which he laid out a 1000 l. to make it fitting for his Resi­dence, and thought to have procured an Act of Parliament to have an­nexed it to the See for ever; but till he had finished Gods House he less regarded his own. The antient Bishops of this See, and of all others, were famous for the breeding up many young Scholars and Gentlemen to piety and learning in their own Families, as one (that's best able) tells us, that Bishops Families were Schools of gravity and wisdom,Hooker Pol. l. 5. §. 81. to breed Divines and Gentlemen civilly before they were transfer'd to Noble­men's and King's Houses, and were as requisite after Scholars came from the Ʋniversities to adapt them to business and publick charge, as the Ʋni­versities themselves were for the ripening of such as were raw before: But our Bishop would complain, though he had means enough left for himself and other ordinary uses, yet the curtail'd Revenues of his Bi­shoprick, reliquiae Danaum ac immitis Achillî, Virg. were no way proportiona­ble for this great Expence.

[Page xxxvi] Secondly, far more than this loss to his own See he would bewail the Sacrilege committed upon very many poor Vicarages under his Juris­diction in that Diocess, some great persons to whom God hath given many Lordships, yet would not allow their poor Vicars a competency of Glebe and Tythes to reside upon, and watch over their Tenents souls in the Country, nor wherewithal to buy Books and become learned men, nor indeed tolerable Preachers: Till better provision was made in this kind, he never hoped to see Christian Religion flourish in the remote parts of his Diocess, and therefore earnestly desired that future Parliaments would take this greatest grievance into their Christian consideration, and cause the joyful Jubilee to be proclaimed, when these Revenues should return to their right Owners, or at least in this flourishing Kingdom, where all others possess great Inheritance, Country Divines alone might not have a scanty Patrimony, and till that were done he had just cause to fear that Sacrilege was the sin of the Reformed Churches, and as the Papacy was much too blame to endure no Reformation in the Church because of their cove­tousness, so many Protestants were more too blame who reformed, not out of conscience, but covetousness; whereby all Church means were of more uncertain Tenure now adays than any other private Estate; for whereas every Mechanick could leave an Inheritance secure to his own Chil­dren, only the publick Charities bequeathed to pious uses were in dan­ger of being taken away.

His Lordship would sometime pleasantly compare our times with theirs of the Old Testament, when there was laid up in the Ark for greater se­curity, Aaron's Rod, the Pot of Manna, and the two Tables of the Law; but we read that all was lost but the Tables of the Law; 1 King. 8.9. in like Manner now Some men steal away our Discipline, Aaron's Rod; others steal away our golden Pot of Manna, the Tythe of the Church; and if they had loved the Law or Commandments, Mart. they had stole them away too; Sed tu quod facias hoc mihi Paete dolet. But that this should be done by Protestants troubled our Bishop exceedingly, who would much commend Arch­bishop Cranmar for opposing King Henry the 8.Nele [...]. Adam in vita. his Alienation of Abby Lands from uses of piety and charity; and Peter Martyr much more, who when he left the Monastery, Ib. in vita p. 35. would not carry away the least thing from it, but restored a Ring belonging to the House (the Seal of the Abbot) which he was wont to wear formerly; and wished all Protestant Mini­sters oftentimes to preach upon this Theme, not out of charity to them­selves, but the souls of their hearers; not so much to prevent their own poverty and hard fortune for a little time, as the others condemnation and endless sorrow for ever.

No Bishop ever more desired to have his Clergy pious and learned, that they who were sent to reprove the faults of others might be without offence themselves; but he despaired of such as long as the Vicarages of his Diocess were so exceeding low, where wit and poverty often meeting together, did not always make honest men; yet for his own part he was very careful in all his Ordinations to allow none without sufficient te­stimony, and to examin all himself, in Latin or in English, as they liked best, that he might better know the State of his Clergie, where he would not spare to reprove whatsoever he found amiss in any sort, their very [Page xxxvii] hair and habit it self, which he alwayes required to be grave and modest, becoming Divines the Embassadors of Christ, and not like Ruffians and the Woers of Penelope: To that purpose under his Signification Paper for Orders upon the Cathedral Door was sometimes also written ‘Nemo accedat petitum sacros Ordines cum longâ Caesarie.’ When ever he found a learned modest Scholar presented to him, he would bid him very welcom; yet after long wars where the Ʋniversities could not be attended, and Church Means commonly were seized upon, he would not refuse any tolerable competency of learning, if he found it accompanied with discretion and gravity: Sometimes he would note how he had heard in our troublesom times, that the Presbyterians were so strict in their usurped Ordinations and Tryals of Ministers, that he belie­ved in his conscience, he should not have been able to have passed them himself, if he had been bound to appear before them; but in all his Dio­cess he found none greater Dunces than such as had been of their stamp formerly, several of whom craved to receive Orders from him, and though he could not endure to have the Ark of God drawn by meagre and feeble Cattle, yet in hope of future improvement and better con­formity he did admit them. He never cared to have any presented to him very young, till the heats which boyl in the blouds of youth were well scum'd off, if not quite boyl'd away; affirming that a scandalous Minister had confiscated his own authority of reprehending that in others which he was guilty of himself, and that the Doctrin and Discipline of our Church could never have been so contemptible, but for their sakes, who with their ill lives and manners made all the threatnings of holy Scripture, which they preached, and all the Censures of the Church, which they passed, or denounced, ridiculous and insignificant: yet withal his Lordship ever gave the people warning not to despise the chastening of their Mother; for no man can lightly esteem the power of the Keys upon earth,Prov. 1. and yet be well prepared in heart, to receive the judgment of God in the World to come.

For better amendment of whatsoever was amiss his Lordship would like St. Austin and other antient Bishops frequently sit Judg in his Eccle­siastical Courts, and hasten the dispatch of all Affairs, and especially if there were any thing that concerned his Clergie, would always be present at the hearing of those Causes, that neither his Clergie, nor any by them might be wronged: when he went not in person to the Court, he gave ready access at his own House to all who came to complain, even the meanest people, who were grieved with long and tedious Suits, and after hearing what they could say, would sometimes send for the Chan­cellour and Proctors on both sides, and what he could not redress at home, he would oftentimes go to Court and end there, throwing out many Causes, that had been long depending for trivial matters, and would not suffer any Causes to be entred for defamatory words or trifles without his own knowledg first, to the end they might be composed without much vexation to the parties: by this means his Lordship created to him­self much trouble, which he valued not, for the great good he did by it; and though less profit came to the Officers of the Court, yet were they al­so [Page xxxviii] contented, believing God would better bless them for taking onely those Fees which so conscientious a Judge was willing to allow.

After Ordination he seldom dismissed any whom he ordain'd without rare counsel, To remember they were Ordain'd to Cures, not to Sine Cures, the Cure of Souls, the greatest of all others, and wish them every day to think of the invaluable dignity and seriousness thereof, and therefore in all their Preachings to avoid lightness,S. Bern. Quia Nugae in ore Sacerdotum sunt blasphemiae; as likewise all ridiculous gestures, and loud vocifera­tions, empty affectation of words and phrases without weighty and pon­derous sense and significancy, accounting that elegant words without solid matter were but perfum'd Nonsense, and that there was infinite difference between plainness and rudeness: They had a duty to dis­charge both to the wise and unwise, and therefore must take care, that the learned Auditor might still learn somewhat, and the unlearned Auditor might understand, not only some, but all. His charge was, that in every thing we should retain this great Principle, to offer to God the very Best we have; whosoever builds God an House, let them build it better than their own, the Ornaments thereof should be fairer than our own, our Sermons there superiour to our ordinary discourses or labours in any other kind, arising not from extemporary sawciness, but our studied and best industry;1 Tim. 4.15. and therefore ever warned them, as St. Paul did Timothy, though he had the gift of Prophecying, still to attend to reading as Preach­ing, and remember St. Paul himself would not preach without Books, and therefore caused them to be brought after him in all his Travels, and sometimes preached the same thing the next Sabbath-day, and there­fore probably kept Notes: He conceived it small commendations to any to pour out faster than they took in, and that indiligent and over-frequent Preaching beyond the Preacher's parts, or what the peoples needs re­quired, was no advantage to learning or piety, especially in the obvi­ous way of Preaching altogether by Doctrin, Reason and Ʋse, which of all Expositors of Scripture Musculus first took up, and was one great means to lay the Pulpit open to the prophanations of the late times, such Preaching being oftentimes so poor and easie, that every Justice of Peace his Clerk thought he could perform as well as his Minister; whereas a good Preacher had need be skill'd in the whole Encyclopedy of Arts and Sciences, Logick to divide the Word aright, Rhetorick to perswade, School Divinity to convince Gainsayers, knowledge of many Tongues to understand Originals and learned Authors; and above all, he would recommend St. Hierom's counsel,Epist. ad Paulam. Discamus in Terris quorum scientia nobis perseverabit in Coelis, for otherwise all kind of learning in a Minister with­out good Example and innocency of life was but a jewel of gold in a Swine's snout.

This was his constant advice to his Clergie at Ordinations and Visita­tions, which he duly held every third year. Visitation of Churches he would maintain was no Filia noctis, started up in a night of darkness and Popery, but an Apostolical Institution, and practised afterwards by all the Primitive Fathers and Bishops. Herein his Lordship would oftentimes be the Preacher himself, so that in his first Visitation Anno 1665. in his Progress in Shropshire, and at Stafford, from the last of May to the fifteenth [Page xxxix] of June he preached eight times in the compass of those few dayes, at Bridgnorth, Salop, Elsmere, Wem, Whitchurch, Drayton, Hodnet and Stafford; and confirmed above five thousand persons, whom he required not to be tumultuarily presented, but with the preexamination of their several Ministers, and was in all places most joyfully received.

So that when he put on his Episcopal Robes, he put not off his Ministe­rial Labours; no man had reason to say, his Majesty by making him Bi­shop had spoiled a good Preacher, as it was said of Frier Giles, that the Pope had marr'd a painful Clerk by making him a powerful Cardinal: nor was he like Julius the third, of whom the Historian complains,Onuphrius in vitá. that he had been formerly a diligent man, but when he came to the Pope­dom never minded his Study, or the Affairs of the Church more: Our Bishop on the other side professed he found as many cares in his Bishops Rochet, as he believed Antigonus did in his Royal Purple; and if it were not for the glory of God, and good of his Church, had rather throw it away than hang it about his shoulders.

St. Paul very well understood his Office when he called it a good work, 1 Tim. 3.7. not to be discharged without painful study, often preaching, daily hear­ing and determining Cases of Conscience, judging in Causes Ecclesiasti­cal, repairing or building of Churches. These and so many other things beside he found to do at home, that all absence seemed tedious and in­tolerable to him abroad, so that he never slept out of his Bishoprick in many years, nor was willingly absent from his Flock but upon extraor­dinary occasions, as in Parliament, &c. and then would often request my Lord Chamberlain to beg the Kings leave to let him go home before the end of the Session, sometimes in frosty Winter weather, to be like the good Pastor among his Sheep, where they might hear his voice at Christ­mas and the other great Feasts, and accounted silence a Womans vertue, but not a Bishops, who, if sickness and great Affairs molested not, was still bound to labour in the Word and Doctrine, and held it a mistake to prefer Governing before Preaching, whereas it was ever contrary, as appeared by 1 Tim. 15.17. Let the Elders that rule well be accounted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the Word and Doctrine; and therefore the Bishop alwayes preached, and the Presbyter never before him, Downam Def. l. 3. c. 2. but when deputed, or in his absence: so that when he was sometimes told by his friends, that he was now Miles emeritus, and might lawfully lay aside his Preaching pains, in his extreme old age, he would by no means consent, but still lay-by his other Studies upon Saturday afternoon, and retire to his preaching Meditations, and for the most part preacht once upon Sun­day mornings, both to profit others, and to warm himself. Three Sundays at least every Month he would preach up and down his Diocess, and not only in his chief City of Lichfield, or near to his own Cathedral, but like to a benign Star would irradiate all places within his Orb; He would often take Coach and go more than seven miles, sometimes nine or ten upon Sunday morning, and yet be at Church before most of the Parish, and go home again to dinner, and yet alwayes have the full Service of the Church before Sermon, and many times afterwards rectify disorders in Churches, and sometimes differences about Seats or Pews. This Custom he continued till he died, often mentioning the words of Bishop Andrews, [Page xl] who was wont to institute all his Ministers in curam meam & tuam, and therefore thought he must no more hide his Talent in a Rochet, than they might theirs under a Cassock.

Thus was his diligence equal to any of the Ancients, and his success answerable, reducing multitudes in all places to piety and conformity with the Church of England, almost like another Gregorius Thaumaturgus Bishop of Neocaesarea, a great and populous City, who when he came thi­ther found but seventeen Christians, and when he died gave God thanks he left but seventeen Pagans. Baron. 2.

This great success did owe it self not only to his frequent preach­ing and diligent study, but to his eximious piety and perpetual pray­er. Formerly he had taken great pains in the Study of Antiquity, and for Ecclesiastical History especially he was inferior to very few; no man could give a better account of the Travels of the Apostles after the day of Pentecost, and the Conversion of the World by the Primi­tive Christians; and for the History of the Reformation after the second Pentecost, no man I think could give the like Narrative, how miraculously in all places it was effected: In our own Church there was nothing where­of he was ignorant, all the Councils and passages of the Reformation from the first beginning or Matrix thereof he perfectly understood. But of late years he would say his Studies were not to be more wise and learned, but more holy and good, and therefore laid aside Polemical Divinity whol­ly, and his principal study were Cases of Conscience, Canon Law, and the Liturgies of the Antient Church, in which he was very skilful; yet would often complain, he found this last an unlearned study, and much against his own nature, who was a lover of Philology and Rationality. But he much wondred that any learned men could, contrary to the practice of the whole Church, Ep. ad Pro­tector. lay aside all use of Liturgies, even against the sense of Calvin himself, who wishes there might be in every Church an uni­form Liturgy, (for preservation of Unity, and prevention of Vainglory, and other inconveniencies,) from which it should be unlawful for Mini­sters to depart; but especially in our Church, where so many young men are ordain'd, he wondred any wise man would be against a set Liturgie, and refer all the Service of God to free Prayer; and would assert that it was more easie to marr than to mend the Book of Common-Prayer, and there­fore we ought not to adventure the one for the other; but in regard the Minister of the Parish was permitted to compose a Prayer of his own be­fore his Sermon, he thought no Sectary had cause to complain.

Bidding of Prayer before Sermon he never practised, and said no more did Dr. Ravis and Dr. Fletcher, Archbishop Whitgift's Chaplains, after­wards Bishops, who drew up the 55. Canon, whom he knew very well, and often heard preach, and always used a Form of their own, and no Bishops Articles ever examined or found fault with it, and was certain­ly used by St. Ambrose in Antiquity, and therefore in the Convocation 1640 it was carried for a Form.

And although it was his mind, that all Students were not to be tied up to Canonical hours, but such only whose Devotion need not be interrup­ted by necessary study and employment; yet he would rarely intermit them himself, unless want of health, or very extraordinary business con­strained him.

[Page xli]In a morning he would rarely permit any to visit or disturb him, but held that time was made for God, rather than for men, as the Historian says of Charles the fifth, Florin. Rai­mond l. 1. Manè frequentior cum Deo quàm cum hominibus sermo; therefore the first thing after his sleep was his private Devotion, with reading of the holy Bible, Psalms and Chapters, then gentle walk­ing for health, then Study, then Publick Prayer, then Private Prayers again before Dinner; presently after Dinner to his Private Prayers a­gain, and then to his Study, unless Ecclesiastical Affairs or sutable Com­pany prevented him for an hour or so; and of all sorts of Prayer, he would especially abound in thanksgiving, using St. Paul's words often,1 Thes. 5.8. In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God, and wish that our Common Prayer had more Forms to that purpose, and would sometimes wonder, that when the world had been so cloyed with Religious Orders, Predicants, Humiliats, Oratorians, Mendicants, and many other titles, yet there was never any called Eucharistici, a Congregation appointed to give God thanks for all the good things wherewith this World is reple­nished. In the Evening of every day, Recount thy own actions, and the divine preservations, was his rule to others, and customary to himself; and to pray for the pardon of the one, and praise God for the receit of the other: And in all his Prayers day and night he was a continual sollici­tor for the peace of the Catholick Church: All his counsels, like Me­lanchton's, were ever moderate, and he often wished such a Form of Prayer were composed that all Christians might joyn in, being a great Enemy to sharpness and violence in the matters of Religion, and would often use Erasmus his words, Mihi adeò est invisa discordia, ut veritas displiceat seditiosa.

After his Majestie's return, and restauration of the Church of England, he prayed for nothing more in this World than the downfal of Mahomet, and the resurrection of the Greek Empire and Church again, and would say, he thought in his complexion and Religion both, that he was the greatest Anti-Ottoman in Europe; he was extremely afflicted for poor Hungary, the Antimurale or Bulwark of Christendom, in the last Invasi­on, and consequently for the horrible division of Christians through the juglings of the Papacy, for which reason he could not yet foresee which way possible they should unite under one General, who might be able to put an Hook into the jaws of Mahomet, and repulse the Grand Sig­nior into Arabia again, or to his Scythian Cottages; and therefore he never hoped for this happy time till he saw the Papacy fall first, which yet he hoped should never be brought to pass by those Infidels, though he was very much affected with the words of Musculus, spoken above a hundred years ago. Ecclesia Sancti Petri sic aedificatur Romae, Loci Com. de Ecclesia p. 299. ut ad ple­num aedificata sit nunquam, citiùsque destruenda sit a Turcis, quàm ad fi­nem structurae perducenda a Romanis.

He took the Pope to be an ill Member of Christendom, yet would have no man desire the Devil should pull him down, viz. the Turk; or Goths and Vandals, viz. German Anabaptists and Socinians, for fear the change should be for the worse: the Italians were a civil people, and lovers of learning, the Anabaptists of Germany more ignorant and bloudy far than they. From this civility of his own temper he did not much love to fix [Page xlii] the Title of Antichrist upon the Papacy, Synopsis Prophetica. yet believed that our learned Di­vines (Mr. Mede and Dr. More especially) had with that great learning in all kinds so charg'd this crime upon Him, that he admired his Cham­pions, who daily scatter books of all other matters, could permit their supreme Pontife to be so slander'd, (if it were not true) and he thought it frivolous for them to write upon other controversies, before they were able to clear themselves before all the world of this Capital one, and which being true, concluded all other crimes in it.

Though a reconciliation of all Christians were desireable, yet he held it impossible to be effected, as long as the Doctrines of their Churches Infallibility and the Popes Supremacy were so obstinately maintain'd. The Pope was now become like a Blazing-star, dreadful to all Potentates and Rulers; and therefore whereas his two great Friends, Bishop Ʋsher and Mr. Mede, out of Apocalyptical Principles, were of opinion that there would be a general Apostacy, and Dagon set upon his feet again, he could not believe it: For he never feared Christian Princes would be so forsa­ken of their own understandings, and other Counsellers, as to resign their own Crowns to adorn a foreign Mitre; especially when both Mr. Selden and Sir Robert Cotton had told him, they could shew undoubted testi­monies, that all the Princes in Christendom envied Henry the Eighth's Act in this kind, and would gladly have imitated him if they durst: But this he imputed to a [...] or want of Magnanimity in them who would not endeavour to recover their own rights, in calling Councils, presenting to Churches, and other Flowers of their Crowns unjustly de­teined from them by the See of Rome, and therefore ever prayed the Kings of England might still retein their own just Supremacy, without giving up their Regalia to any foreign Jurisdiction.

He thought the increase of Popery ought to be strictly watched, not only for the perniciousness of the Tenents of their Heterodox Reli­gion in themselves, as being in his opinion Idolatrous and favouring of Rebellion, but likewise for the cruelty and sanguinary minds of Papists themselves, that whereas all Protestants express a charitable respect to­wards the souls and bodies of all Papists, abhorring all bloudy Persecu­tions of them; on the other side Designant nos oculis ad mortem; Papists ever bear bloudy minds towards us, and want nothing but power and opportunity to make as many Bonfires in England, as they had done for­merly; and whereas in their excuse, some say, that the many late Trea­sons against their Princes were but the private Acts of some particular Papists, then he wondred no Pope should ever think fit to send out his Bull to declare that he abhorred them; or that none of their learned men should print books licensed by authority, wherein they were renoun­ced, which he would have given a great deal of money to read.

The Bishop was an enemy to all separation from the Church of England, of whatsoever Faction or Sect: But their hypocrisie he thought superlative that allowed the Doctrine, and yet would separate for mislike of the Dis­cipline; these mens impudence outwent all preceding Histories; and he would challenge any to shew him in all Antiquity for 1500 years where any Christian withdrew from the Churches Communion, much less rose up against lawful Governors, for their imposition of indifferent matters or [Page xliii] Ceremonies? though in ancient times they imposed more than we do now; All that were baptized were presented in White Garments, S. Ambr. l. de Initiand. Tert. de Cor. Mil. which the Priest charged them to keep white and undefiled to the Coming of the Lord; and they used not only the Sign of the Cross, but praegustatio mellis & lactis, intimating that they were now brought to the Land of Canaan flowing with Milk and Honey: Standing at Prayers was requi­red upon all Lords-days between Easter and Whitsuntide, and Prayer with their hands extended, after the similitude of a Cross sometimes, which must needs be very tedious; and so many other things in St. Austin's time, that his complaint is well known,S. Aug. Ep. 119. ad Ja. & 86. ad Cas. Tolerabilior erat Judaeorum con­ditio: yet no Separate Churches were then set up for these things: Truth is, he thought the permission of Conventicles did shew great irre­solution and unsatisfaction in the Truth, administred great tentation to Shopkeepers and sedentary people to be tainted with errors and novel­ties, of which the English temper is too receptive, people being gene­rally vain and whimsically sceptical, and never to be satisfied, like Him in the Talmud, that would alwayes be questioning why the Sun rose in the East, and set in the West! to whom it was answered, if it should do otherwise he would still complain to know the reason. But above all he held we ought to become wise by former experience, for Conventicles in Corporations were the Seminaries out of which the Warriours against the King and the Church came, and therefore would much admire, that if a­ny man coin'd false money it was counted Treason; if any man cheated a Pupil or an Orphan he was punisht, or if he spread false News he was lyable to suffer for it; but if any man publish'd false Divinity to the damna­tion of souls, or perverting the minds of people from their obedience to their Governors, there was little or no regard of it: Beside, he had often heard from credible Witnesses, it was too usual with the dis­contented at their Meetings to charge the Church of England with those consequences which they did terminis terminantibus deny, as the making of indifferent Ceremonies to be Sacraments, and in kneeling at Sacrament to worship the Bread; and thereupon be so furious against that reverend posture, as though Kneeling were Popery, and Sitting Protestancy, Card. Bona de rebus Li­turg. p. 440. when the Pope himself ever Communicates sitting. These things were only spoken to make our Church odious to ignorant people, and being per­mitted must needs in time destroy our Foundations again; and therefore he wished that as of old, all Kings and other Christians subscribed to the Conciliary Decrees, so now a Law might pass that all Justices of Peace should do so in England, and then they would be more careful to punish the depravers of Church Orders.

In matter of Doctrine he embraced no private and singular opinions, as many great men delight to do, in vetere viâ novam semitam quaerentes, S. Hier. says the Father, but was in all points a perfect Protestant, according to the Articles of the Church of England, always accounting it a spice of pride and vanity to affect singularity in any opinions, or Expositions of Scrip­ture, without great cause; and withal very dangerous to affect precipices (as Goats use) when they may walk in plain paths.

In the Quinquarticular Controversie he was ever very moderate, but being bred under Bishop Davenant, and Dr. Ward in Cambridge, was ad­dicted [Page xliv] to their Sentiments. Bishop Ʋsher would say Davenant understood those Controversies better than ever any man did since St. Austin; but He used to say, he was sure he had three excellent men of his mind in this Controversie. Hornb. Sum. Controv. 1. Padre Paulo, whose Letter is extant to Heinsius Anno 1604. 2. Thomas Aquinas. 3. St. Austin; but besides and above them all, he believed in his conscience St. Paul was of the same mind likewise; yet would profess withal, he disliked no Arminian, but such a one as reviled and defamed every one that was not so, and would often commend Arminius himself for his excellent wit and parts, but only tax his want of reading and knowledg in Antiquity, and ever held it was the foolishest thing in the world to say the Arminians were Papists, when so many Dominicans and Jansenists were no Arminians; and so again to say the Anti-Arminians were Puritans, or Presbyterians, when Ward, and Davenant, and Prideaux, and Brownrig were Anti-Arminians, and also stout Champions for Episcopacy; and Arminius himself was ever a Presbyterian, and therefore much commended the moderation of our Church, which made not any of these nice and doubtful Opinions the resolved Doctrin of the Church; this he judg'd was the great fault of the Tridentine and late Westminster Assemblies: But our Church was more in­genuous, and left these dark and curious points to the several appre­hensions of learned men, and extended equal Communion to both.

There is another Controversie that hath been much vexed in our times concerning the case of Divorce and Marriage afterwards; in which it is confessed our Bishop did dislike all those Churches or Polities that were facile to allow separation in Marriage, and much more Marriage after; yet allowed the question was intricate, and such a one as the Pharisees sought to entangle our Saviour withal, and that the Church of England had doctrinally determined neither way, but for practice only judg'd it better that neither party should marry again after Divorce, while the o­ther liv'd, and therefore in the Canons of Queen Elizabeth Anno 97; and in 107 Canon of King James Anno 1604. required Caution by sufficient Sure­ties to that purpose: He condemned not other Churches that allowed it otherwise, but prefer'd our own Caution before them, and for this he wanted not many more reasons, than were wrot in a hasty Letter to a Gentleman his Neighbour, and published (without leave) after his death, together with his own Answer; but it is no credit to conquer the dead, says the old Proverb.

While living He would urge for the indissolubleness of Wedlock, the Authority of Divine Institution, how God was pleased to make them Male and Female, and first one, and then two out of one, and then again two to become one, by a Divine Institution, saying, Whom God hath once joyned, let no man put asunder. 2. The Dignity of Marriage, which re­presents the mystical Union that is betwixt Christ and his Church, and His Union with our humane nature, both which are indissoluble and perpetual. 3. The excellency of that love that one ought to bear to the other in Marriage, Gen. 2. For this cause shall a man leave his Father and Mother and cleave to his Wife; therefore it is a stronger relation then between Father and Son; but the Son while his Father lives can never cease to be a Son, much more while the Wife lives can the Husband cease to be [Page xlv] an Husband, [...], he shall cleave to his Wife, Gen. 2. signifying a glu­tinous conjunction, that will sooner break any where than be parted there. 4. The manner of the conjunction, one flesh, that is according to the Hebrew Idiom, one Man, which supposes the Woman to be the Body, and the Man to be the Soul; so that none can part these, but He alone that can part Soul and Body. 5. And therefore though he conceived Eve did Adam a far greater injury, than when a loathed Strumpet does de­file the Bed of Marriage, yet God nor Adam thought of no rupture in the case, but God only pronounced her future sorrow in Conception: indeed Paludanus and Navar, Roman Casuists, maintain if one party be indangered to be drawn into mortal sin by the other, it is sufficient oc­casion to separate, and therefore probably would have cited Eve into their Courts, and proceeded accordingly against her; but from the be­ginning it was not so. 6. In the New Testament he observ'd our Savi­our's answer seem'd strange to his own Disciples, insomuch that they replied; If the case were so, it were better not marry at all, which shews how they understood him. 7. To be sure St. Paul would not allow it in a Bishop, but strictly required him to be the Husband of one Wife, 1 Tim. 3.2. that is having repudiated one to take no other without exception of any case. 8. He was sure he had in the New Testament six places of his side to one against him, one only carrying an outward face for it, Matth. 19.9. Who­soever shall put away his Wife except it be for fornication, and marrieth ano­ther committeth adultery: But Matth. 5. & 32. Mark 10.11. Luke 16.18. all sound another way; Whosoever putteth away his Wife and marrieth an­other committeth adultery. Rom. 7.2. The Woman that hath an Husband is bound as long as her Husband lives. 1 Cor. 7.10. Let not the Wife depart from her Husband, and if she depart let her remain unmarried: and again the 27. verse; Art thou bound to a Wife, seek not to be loosed: he held it safer to hold with six places than with one: some only say St. Matthew has that which others have not, and he must expound them; yea but one Evan­gelist is not false without the supplement of another, and St. Mark's Gospel was in some places where St. Matthew's was not. 9. This would have given great scandal in the Heathen World, who a long time used no Divorces; the Romans none for 500 years,Tert. Apol. c. 6. Gellius l. 4. c. 3. Noct. Att. Spurius Carbilius Gema was the first that broke the hedge, a great shame for God's people to be more sensual than the Heathen, that they should exceed them in chastity and integrity. 10. We plight our faith in the face of the Church to hold till death us do part, not till Adultery or any other scandalous cause, which promise ought to be alter'd if we do not think meet to perform it. Upon these and many like considerations which he would repeat (but I cannot readily remember) I know he held it more safe to bear with a private inconvenience than alter the antient strictness according to the looseness of our later times, and since antient Writers tell us the Turtle is pudica & univira, would often wish God would please that the voice of the Turtle might be again heard in our Land.

Indeed he was a Prelate of venerable strictness and purity, who would much bewail the unruly and horrid licentiousness of our times, which he conceived grew great by the lessening of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction: the Sword of Excommunication was lockt up in the Sheath, and the Church [Page xlvi] had not the Key of it; but men of vitious and lewd lives, who formerly would have been thrust out for seven years, were admitted without cen­sure to the comfort of the Sacraments; and so instead of godly sorrow too many exult in their sins, jest and droll upon them in all Companies, chant their Crimes to Musick, and sing them sometimes in the high pla­ces of the Streets.

Our holy Bishop had a very chaste ear, and would never permit the [...], or tongue-fornications of any, but would presently reprove them wheresoever he was: and he was once at a publick Table, where he could not presently allay that prophane merriment, so that he put back his Chair, and resolv'd like Cato, to be gone, till the Company became sor­ry, and promised to preserve his Episcopal reverence and gravity.

At a Table no man more chearful and pleasant, yet ever wisely and in­offensively facete, and would often call upon the company as Plato to the rough Xenocrates, Diog. Lacr. in vitá. [...], to sacrifice to the Graces to ob­tain hilarity. But according to his own Motto, Inservi Deo & laetare, Serve God and be chearful. His Salt was ever candid and white, not bit­ter and biting, without all Sarcasms or Ironies, saying mirth was too good a creature to be abused with any affrontive jeasts, scurrility, or bawdry. He loved innocuos sine dente sales, Mart. so as to make every body smile, and no body blush: Impudence and drolling upon Divine things he would not allow to be wit, but want of wit; on the other side, God Almighty never forbad lawful pleasures, and they are not more religious and spiritual who are more austere and morose than others. Christ Jesus refused not chearful meetings, but condemn'd the sad countenances and sullenness of the Pharisees: and melancholy of all humours he held was fit to make a Bath for the Devil.

Chearfulness and innocent pleasure preserves our Mind from rust, and the Body from putrifying with dulness and distempers; and therefore would sometimes chearfully say, he did not love to look upon a sowre man at dinner, and if his Guests were pleased and merry within, would bid them hang out the white Flag in their countenance.

In his Entertainments he was ever very Hospitable, and held where Divines wanted a competency of Means, besides necessary provision for a Family, to be hospitable to others, it was the fault of the State; but where Divines had good Livings, and did not keep Hospitality, the Governors of the Church were in fault if they did not exact it of them: Yet if he found in his Visitation an evil Churchman that spent vainly and riotously upon himself, he would tell him he was guilty of Sacrilege, and bound to make restitution to the Poor.

But in all his own Entertainments his Lordship was as free and com­municative of his Discourse as of his Chear; the Mind had the principal share there, for he gave ever such excellent Sawce with his Meat, so many witty Apophthegms and other ingenious sallies of wit, as made every body eat with a better appetite. He loved to be a rational Feeder, not as at a Manger, but a Table, not much caring what his Provender was, for such was all kind of food without talk, Prandium Boum & Asinorum: and his discourse was not only chearful and pleasant, but most learned and pro­fitable, full of recondite and polite learning, that whoever heard pre­sently [Page xlvii] became all ear, and was not only better the next day, but for ever. I have heard many affirm, that they never heard more learning from any man than from him, sometimes at the close of a Dinner, at a Table, or in his Arbour afterwards; and though he was very splendid in the Enter­tainment of his Friends, yet very sparing in the entertainment of him­self; for himself he chose rather to have a Table replenished from an Or­chard or a Dairy than from the Butchers Shambles. To eat flesh he thought lawful from the beginning of the World, but never used by Seth's Po­sterity (the Line of the Church) before the Floud, and still recommended to all Scholars a plain Diet, to which, as Socrates said, hunger and thirst was the best sawce; and for his own part whenever he dined with any other Haugoust he lost the afternoon, and therefore drank so little wine, as to be almost abstemious, and always of a very small sort, and diluted with water for fear of fumes, that hindred his Studies and Prayers, say­ing withal that whoever eats and drinks temperately sacrifices to his own bodily health, and good temper of mind; but whoever eats and drinks otherwise, must needs have a gross body and a foggy brain.

After he was made Bishop, it made no change of his former sweetness and affability, still he knew us, and we knew him, like a Star in the Fir­mament, quo altior eo minor, he rather seemed less to himself for being raised higher: Who ever once discover'd insolency in him, or that he bore himself with a big carriage to any man? Humility with honour, and urbanity with high dignity were never more really conjoyned, he would still instantly condescend to speak with any Scholar, though never so poor or young. Once when he lay in Channel-row during his Attendance upon Parliament, he rose at midnight and baptized a dying Child at a Neighbour's house, when the Curate of the Parish could not be found; and ever deem'd humility was the infallible cognizance or mark to di­stinguish Apostolical Bishops from others,Bede Hist. according to the old Story of Austin the Monk, who came into England in the time of King Ethelred 600 years after Christ, and prest the West Britains of this Island to receive him as their Master and Governour, because he was sent by the Bishop of Rome. A learned Abbot of Bangor having no fancy to his Message, con­sulted with an Hermit what they should think of this man, and his Mes­sage from Rome; hearken (says the Hermit) the next time you and your Brethren meet to attend this Austin in Synod, observe if he shew any reverence or carry himself humbly when he comes before you; but if he salute not, and bear himself disdainfully, receive him not, for he is no Apostle of Christ. At the next Synod the jolly Prelat entred among the Monks, with a braving courage, never stoopt nor vail'd his head, but usurped the highest place in the Congregation, as the Roman Legate: at this the Britains disliked his Arrogancy, and would not receive his Message.

Yet our good Bishop's humility appeared not only in his outward demeanour, and verbal salutation, which he knew were often forced, and more then was required, and that Rivers were not deepest where they overflow but in their own Channels: but in paying all due respect to the deserts of others without reflecting upon his own perfections; there­fore it was not his fashion to undervalue other mens learning, or mag­nify [Page xlviii] his own. Upon frequent occasions he would confess his want of Eastern Languages, but in such studies wherein he was conversant, would by private letters give great help to many writers of books, who have con­fessed in their returns to him that the books were not theirs, but his, and thereupon would have had him to have own'd them, or at least to have suffered an honorable mention of himself in those books which he would in no sort permit, that as Camerarius said of Melanchton, he was like a Nightingale, that with his singing sweetly affected all others, but would not endure to hear of it himself.Hist. vitae p. 80.

Notwithstanding this great civility and sweetness of temper towards all people generally, we must acknowledg a vanity and defect in all hu­mane accomplishments and perfections; it being not possible that al­most 80 years should be spent in this Age of humane infirmity, and that any mans actions should be all fine flour, without mixture of coarser Meal and Bran; to say so, were not to commend, but to flatter, not truly to represent, but to dawb; our Bishop would often severely censure him­self (and said he best knew his own heart) to be of sinners the chief, most unthankful to God for many Divine Talents confer'd upon Him, and most wanting especially in many grains of meekness and forbearance to his Neighbours. Indeed he was by nature [...] (as most great wits are) irritable and subject to great eruptions of anger oftentimes, espe­cially if he had met with bold and arrogant,Apol. 1. adv. Ruff. but slow parts. St. Hierom acknowledges the like harsh disposition in himself, and compares him­self to an angry horn'd Beast, and says that all the strict Discipline of Bethlehem and Watchings of Arabia could not mortifie this indecent passion in him. God Almighty permitting these most holy and learned men sometimes to betray themselves in such palpable weaknesses, does suf­ficiently convince us,Dall. de usu patr. that humane infirmity cleaves to humane nature, and absolute perfection belongs only to the Divine.

Yet I will add, that as he was very irritable and apt to be offended, so he was exceeding placable and ready to be appeased; too generous he was to be vindicative, and therefore though he would chide earnestly, yet he ever censur'd mildly; like the Apostles who had fiery tongues, but gentle hands; besides it was his judgment, that if any man asked unrea­sonable things, it was much better to chide him away from his house for his fault, than give him good words and afterwards not do it: minus ne­gatur qui negatur celeriter, and would alwayes advise other people, if any thing troubled them to speak it out, and never to retain a dry discontent, and for the most part made his passion subservient to virtuous ends; by his great natural inclination to anger, becoming far more active and zealous in the carrying on his great projectments for piety and cha­rity.

For any other censures of being illiberal and covetous, which are so frequently and unduely cast upon Divines, examin his life, and few men will appear more incontaminat and free. In bad times when he had lost his best Incoms, and like the Widow of Sarepta, had but an handful of Meal and a Cruze of Oyl left for himself and his Family, yet he then thought Elias was worthy of one Cake out of it, and accordingly has gi­ven a distressed friend twenty pounds at a time, and would always ar­gue, [Page xlix] that Times of persecution were the most proper seasons of charity, and that charity was oftentimes the happy means to preserve us from suffering; for Tyrants more commonly oppress the rich than their ino­pious Enemies; as the Historian observed in the days of Nero, Alium Thermae, alium Horti trucidarunt, many men might have fared better, but for delicious Gardens and sweet Baths; no man was safe that had a sumptuous Building, or an envied Possession; and therefore he believed it a prudent, as well as a religious act in the Primitive Church at Jerusa­lem, to surrender their Estates to the holy Apostles for pious uses, rather than to leave them to a violent extension of prophane persons in a short time afterwards.

When he was made a Bishop no man was less lucripetous, he desired to hold nothing in Commendam, he renewed all his Leases for years, and not for lives, and upon very moderate Fines, and spent a very considerable share thereof upon the repairs of his Cathedral, often applying to the Church what the Orator said of the Common-wealth,in Laelis. Non minori mihi est curae qualis futura sit Respublica quam qualis est hodie; while he lived, besides his constant charity to the poor of Lichfield City, he en­quired out distressed Cavaliers in his Diocess, and lent them 50 or 100 l. for a year or two upon their own Bill or Bond, and afterwards frequently gave it to them: And thus he did sometimes to persons of a differing Religion, with whom he held no Christian Communion but in this one thing of giving, and never looking to receive again. He rec­koned that charitable Expences left to the power and managment of Executors were more theirs than the Founders, and therefore was resolved to dispense his own in his life time, and not be like the Whale, that affords no Oyl till she die and must disgorge it.

To several Colledges in Cambridge he gave liberal summs of money, to Clare-Hall fifty pounds, to St. John's fifty pounds, to Trinity Colledge he added a peculiar building call'd Bishops Hostle, which cost him 1200 l. and appointed, that with the yearly Rents of those Chambers Books should be bought into the Colledge Library; and to the Ʋniversity Library he bequeath'd by Will all his own Books, which cost him about 1500 l.

It was his judgment that a Bishop was bound by antient Canons to dispend his Episcopal Revenues in Acts of charity, and therefore no year passed without some eminent actions of that kind, which were never written in any Book upon Earth, the more certain that they are in Heaven. To the several Prisons in London he sent oftentimes good relief by a Friend, whom he ever straitly charged to conceal from whence it came. When the Plague was in London he collected from his poor Diocess 351 l. by November Anno 65. for the City in that woful time, besides what he sent particularly and bountifully to his old Parish of Holbourn from himself: And all this he did without being burthensome to his Clergy, ever giving them quick dispatch when they repaired to him for Institution, and gave in charge to dismiss them with very small Fees: Whenever he gave any of them preferment he was as clear from Simony as from Witchcraft, which he detested above all sins, and ever accounted it among the fatal Prognosticks of a dying Church: 2 Mach. 4. When Jason outbid Onias, and Menelaus outbid Jason 300 Talents, it is set down as a prodi­gious [Page l] token of the destruction of Jerusalem, and joyned with the fiery Horsemen that appeared in the next Chapter to the same affrighting pur­pose.chap. 5. Truth is, in his poor Church he had but few preferments to give, otherwise he would say, he would never suffer good Scholars to sit close in their Studies unpreferred, while others who less deserved sharkt them away. To give the best Preferments to the worst men was in his opinion to set the Goats on the right hand and the Sheep on the left, which would certainly hasten the Divine Judgment, which would decree righ­teousness. I will only add further upon this Head, that wherever any object commendable and deserving was represented to him, there needed not much speaking, his charity was Distillatio Favi, like the dropping of an Honeycomb, you need not press it, it would drop of it self, with­out straining: But for such as were Validi mendicantes, Vagabonds and sturdy Beggars, who had both health and limbs, and yet sought to eat their bread by the sweat of others, our Bishop never would encourage them; for by long acquaintance with Judges, he had heard they were generally Atheists, Libertines living in promiscuous lust, Pilferers, evil Servants to God, unprofitable to the King and Common-wealth, dishono­rers of the Christian Name, and therefore sometimes was of the mind to go from the Church to the Quarter Sessions, and complain there that Gods heavy Judgments would fall upon that Kingdom where these were per­mitted.

There never was a greater Enemy to idleness than this diligent and painful Bishop, who would seldom spare an afternoon; but nothing could divert him from his Morning study to his last, and say, he was then like a French-man, primo impetu acerrimus, best in a Morning, and that Au­rora was the Mother of Hony-dews and Pearls, which dropt from Scho­lars Pens upon their Papers, and ever reckoned that he had great ad­vantage of some great Divines, Dr. Holdsworth and Jeffries, his dear Friends, whom for their late watchings he called Noctuae Londinenses. But by a constant study he had searcht into all kinds of learning; he had been a great enquirer into the knowledg of Nature, and made ma­ny peculiar observations of very many Creatures, especially Bees, Spiders, Snails, and of all sorts of Husbandry, and would often merrily say, since Husbandry was turned over to Swains and mean persons, the Earth disdain'd to give so luxuriant a Crop, as when it was turned up lau­reato vomere & triumphali aratro, Pliny. by a laureat Plowman, and one that had triumph'd in the Capitol, and that it was much easier to be great and rich, than wise and learned; and if it were not below his Profession he would undertake to grow rich by Hops, having strange skill in the wea­ther, and in the nature of the Plant, so that he had an extraordinary foresight when they were likely to take or not:Arist. pol. l. 7. Diog. Laert. in vitâ. as Aristotle reports of Thales the wise man, that one year he bought up all the Oyle before hand, when he foresaw the scarcity of the next; but the Bishop intended no­thing but Philosophy, and therein the contemplation of the Creator of all things; asserting that the least creature beneath us was worthy the con­templation of our whole life, and yet would not be throughly understood, and that David worthily made a Choir of all Creatures to praise God from the greatest Angel in the Host of Heaven to the smallest Flake of Snow.

[Page li]In his younger time he had been much addicted to School-learning, being then much used in the Ʋniversity, but afterwards grew weary of it, and professed he found more shadows and names than solid juyce and substance in it, and would much mislike their horrid and barbarous terms more proper for Incantation than Divinity, and became perfectly of B. Rhenanus his mind,In praef. ad Tert. that the Schoolmen were rather to be reckoned Philosophers than Divines; but if any pleased to account them such, he had much rather with St. John Chrysostom be styled a pious Divine, than an invincible or irrefragable one with T. Aquinas, or our own Country­man Alex. Hales.

For knowledg in the Tongues, he would confess, he could never fix up­pon Arabian learning, the place was siticulosa regio, a dry and barren land where no water is, and had been discouraged in his younger years by such as had plodded most in it, and often quarrelled his great friend Salmasius for saying, he accounted no man solidly learned without skill in Arabick, and other Eastern Languages, our Bishop declared his mind otherwise, and bewailed that many good Wits of late years prosecuted the Eastern Languages so much as to neglect the Western learning and discretion too sometimes; Mr. Selden and Bishop Creitton had both affirmed to him, that they should often read ten Pages for one line of sense, and one word of moment, and did confess there was no learning like to what Scholars may find in Greek Authors, as Plato, Plutarch, &c. and himself could never discern but that many of their quotations and proofs from them were in his own words, incerta, inexplorata, & [...].

After all this I would detein the Reader no longer in things of less concern, especially knowing it to be against his mind to permit any Pi­cture of himself that could not represent him within, as well as without, ap­proving what Plotinus said, that the other was only the Image of an Image, and in thirty years commonly out of fashion, and then grew ridiculous, and serv'd only to make people laugh: yet he had one taken by stealth, to which I will add only a touch or two (as is usual) quia me juvat ire per omnem Heroa.

He was of bodily stature small and slender, in all parts clean and well shapen, of a very serene and comely countenance, vivid eyes, with a rare alacrity and suavity of aspect, representing the inward candour and se­renity of his mind: the temper of his body was rather delicate than strong, yet through temperance and custom, grown patient of long sit­ting and hard study: His voice was ever wonderful sweet and clear, so that Dr. Collins would say, he had the finest Bell in the Ʋniversity, and in one of his Speeches term'd him [...], i. e. Canora Cicada: Hesiod in Scut. Here. & in diebus. His be­haviour was most gentile and civil, no Courtier carried a better meen, nor better understood the Art of behaviour, which though fortuitous and contingent to him, yet much became him in all company. His Apparel was ever plain, not morose or careless, but would never endure to be costly upon himself, either in Habit or Diet, often quoting that of St. Austin, Profectò de pretiosa veste erubesco, he was as much ashamed of a rich Garment as others of a poor one, and thought that they were fitter for a Roman Consul than a Christian Praesul, and accordingly never put on a silk Cassock but at a great Festival, or a Wedding of some near Friend, [Page lii] holding that a glittering Prelate without inward Ornaments was but the Paraphrase of a painted Wall; Acts 23.3. and on the other side, if the Graces of the Mind could be seen, the Beauties of the Body would seem but deformities, nothing being so fair, and to be admired, as the lustre of Divine know­ledg, the eye of the soul attended with a fair hand of suitable practice. These two were like Tabor and Hermon, the two stately tops of the Soul, that reach to Heaven it self: And indeed though he had great comeliness and elegance of body, his Divine Soul within was fairer than the lodging without.

When he was young he had a most lively and acute wit, which rendred him acceptable to all companies, but ever temper'd with wisdom and learning, that rendred him more acceptable to the Best; and with it he had a prodigious and immortal memory, whereby he ever bore about him a constant Chronicle of all occurrences, that he was able to give a present account of whatsoever he had at any time read, heard, or seen; even all remarkable alterations and changes of weather that had been in his time were as present to his memory, as if he had seen them written in the Air before his eyes; yet all these no man valued less than he in comparison of his higher accomplishments. He abounded not barely with great learning, acute wit, excellent judgment and memory, but with an incomparable integrity, prudence, justice, piety, charity, constancy to God and to his Friend in adversity, and in his friendship was most industrious and painful to fulfil it with good offices, and withal so ready and able upon all occasions to give good counsel, that he to whomsoever God gave that Favour of his Lordship had a blessing scarce valuable.

Yet notwithstanding all these Endowments King Solomons words are true in regard of the body, Eccls. 9.2. Psal. 49 10. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked, and wise men must also die as well as the ignorant and foolish; and the time was now come that this wise and good Bishop must die. He had finished both Church and Quire, which he beautified with most comely Stals of exquisite workmanship, and had likewise set up an excellent Organ, the whole Appartements about it, Pipes, Gilding, Wainscot-case, &c. cost above 600 l. being a great lover of Church-Musick, and would much bewail the peoples ignorance and fierceness, who loved Guns more than Organs; or else their lasciviousness, that would pull them out of Churches, and set them up in Taverns, and chuse rather to sing in Babylon than in Zion. And the last of his Lordships cares for that Church was for the Bells; he had contracted with very able Founders for six excellent Bells fitting for a Cathedral, which his Executor set up, though three only were cast before his death, and onely one (viz.) the Tenor hanged up, which had not been hung so soon, but that his Lord­ship called upon the Workmen to do it. The first time it was rung his Lordship was very weak, yet he went out of his own Bedchamber into the next Room to hear it, and seem'd very well pleased with the sound, and blessed God that had favour'd him with life to hear it, but withal conclu­ded it would be his own Passing Bell, and so retired to his Chamber, and never came out till he was carried to his Grave.

He had done his work, and he must depart to the Church Triumphant. He often said by a kind of presage many years before his death, that [Page liii] some odd October would part us, he felt his body more weak at that Au­tumnal season then any other, and could not have held out so long, but that he was forced to fly to Physick and Diet to corroborate, or rather keep him from sinking every Spring and fall. Accordingly he sickned upon St. Lukes day October 18. and died upon St.Anno 1670. Simon and Judes day following, aged 78 years, the just time of Athanasius and St. Hierom of old, according to Baronius.

Within a fortnight before his death he remitted nothing of his former studies; when he was first taken sick he did not conceive it to be mortal, and therefore sent the week before he died to a Friend in London to send him down the new Books from abroad or at home: But being ever upon his Watch-Tower, when he perceived God beckoned Him to come away, then he laid aside his Books, and all Communi­cation or thoughts concerning any temporal matter; his heart was fixed, and not to be removed, from the great Object of Eternal life. He would say to his Visitants, he was a decaying old man, and desire them to avoid the Room; where in confession of his sins he was ever most humble, in godly sorrow most contrite, in prayer most assiduous, in faith most stedfast, in suffering his sickness most patient, in desiring to be uncloath'd of the Body most joyful and content: He shewed no fear of death, not the least sign of any perturbation of mind for his aproach­ing end; but rather rejoyced that the day of the Lord was come, which he had so often desired; and as G. Nazianzen in his Funeral Sermon for St. Basil, rejoyces that he died [...], with godly sayings in his mouth, in like manner did our godly Bishop so conclude his days in this world as he looked to begin them in the next, that the end of this life should be sutable to the beginning of the other, and that his last words he breathed forth here should have a good connexion with his first addresses when he saw God face to face there: therefore being in perfect sense he sent for one of his Prebendaries to come and pray with him, who after some holy conference, read the Office appointed for the Sick; after that his Lordship desired him to add two Collects, naming first that for the second Sunday in Lent, and then afterward that for the first Sunday af­ter Trinity (both most pertinent to that great occasion) and then to give the Blessing: which being done he thanked him heartily with a faltring speech, whereby the Company plainly perceived, that with the end of his Prayers he drew near the end of his mortal life, and desired to be left a­lone; and so all departed the Room save a couple of Servants, who within half a quarter of an hour gave notice of his placid departure, with as gentle a transmigration to happiness as I think was ever heard of.

Thus I have declared sincerely the Life, the Sickness, the Departure of this worthy Christian Prelate, who lived as good men desire to live, and as many men, that are but shadows, appear to live; and then departed with as easie an [...] as any man could desire to die.

His Funerals onely remain, which were performed by the Reverend and Learned Dr. Scattergood his Lordships Chaplain, in the Cathedral Church, where He was interred neer the Body of his Predecessor Bishop Langthon, as old people said, both great Benefactors to that Church, under a fair [Page liv] Tomb erected by the Piety of the most accomplisht Sir Andrew Hacket his Eldest Son and Heir both of his Estate and Virtues.

He was attended thither by multitudes of the Loyal Gentry and sorrow­ful Clergy of his Diocess, all desirous to pay the utmost dues and rights they were able to his Memory, thinking no Flowers too sweet for his Herse, and no Box of Ointment too costly for his Burial, all admiring his past Diligence,Aeneid. 11. sage Government, admirable Ministrations, and be­wailing the great and universal loss by his Death; ‘Quantum praesidium Ausonia, & quantum Tu perdis Iule!’

O Diocess of Lichfield, what a Father hast thou lost! O University of Cambridge, what a Friend! O House of Aaron, what an Ornament! O Church of England, what a Saint! Sic ora ferebant.

But we will no more deplore his Death, or repine that He is taken from us, but rather rejoyce and give God thanks that we ever had Him, and that He lived so long with us.

This World was not worthy of Him, who was fitter Company for Angels and Stars of Heaven, then Clods of dust and bloud below; and therefore God took Him from this Dunghil to stand before his Throne; Where we leave thee (blessed Soul) among the Angelical Choir, joyful in the illumination of the holy Trinity, and ravisht with thy contemplation of the Divine and unconceivable glory.

We will endeavour not only to read and admire, but practise all thy holy Counsels, which now sound more loud from thy Books and Wri­tings, then they formerly did from thy rare Discourses and Preachings.

We ascribe the glory of all to God, and will compose our selves to imitate thy Graces and Virtues (O Divine Hacket) whose Name is re­nowned, and Memory for ever blessed.

And will hereafter listen with patience for the voice of the Arch-Angel and Trump of God, for the Resurrection of the Dead, the Reno­vation of the World, the Creation of the New Heaven and New Earth at the glorious appearing of Christ Jesus with all his holy Angels and Saints; and then in the Number of godly Prelates and faithful Doctors of the Chri­stian Church I shall see again my Bishop and Father, and hope to be seen of Him in Glory. AMEN.

Come Lord Jesu, come quickly.

OPTIMO PATRI PIENTISSIMVS FILIVS ANDREAS HACKET MILES, F. F.

JOANNIS HACKET Episc. Lichf. & Coventr. cinerib. sacrum.

PRimaevae pietatis
Et summae eloquentiae Praesulem,
Ecclesiae Anglicanae & fidei orthodoxae
Assertorem strenuum,
Concionatorem etiam ad ultimum assiduum,
Et
Superstitionis Babylonicae tam maturum hostem,
Ʋt penè in cunis straverit Loyolitas;
(Raro exemplo
Ʋt Poeta praeluderet Theologo)
Vitae denique integritate, & innocentiâ,
Morum suavitate & candore,
Charitate ergà pauperes eximiâ,
Et liberalitate erga suos insignem typum;
(Verbo omnia)
Joh. Williams Metropol. Ebor. Patroni sui Ectypum,
(Desine ulterius quaerere)
Ista omnia Tabula haec unico in Hacketo exhibet.
Adversus positum caetera marmor habet.
Obiit 28. Oct. 1670. sub anno aetatis suae 79.

Sistamus ergo!
Morae pretium est scire,
Quis demum Langthono claudit latus?
Solus HACKETUS tanto dignus contubernio;
Cujus piae liberalitati debetur,
Quod Langthoni cineres non frigescunt.
Aedis Cathedralis Lichfieldiae Instanrator illic,
Restaurator hìc jacet.
Ecclesiae Anglicanae antistitum par ingens,
Eóque ingentius quòd sibimet pares.
Scire vis Lector,
Quàm multis ille bonis flebilis occidit?
Schola regia Westmonast. Alumnum,
Collegium SS. Trinitatis Cantabr. Socium,
Ecclesia S. Andreae Holbourn Quadragenarium Rectorem,
Et Cheam in agro Surriensi Quadragenarium Rectorem,
Aedes D. Pauli Residentiarium,
Sedes haec Episcopalis dignissimum sibi
Praesulem abreptum deflet.
Sed ludo te, Viator,
Dum inter mortuos refero
Eum VIRƲM
Quem restauratae Pauli reliquiae, & Ceddae ruinae,
Quem Hospitium Episcopale SS. Trin. Coll. de novo extructum,
Et Cantabr. Bibliotheca libris cumulatè aucta,
Longum dabunt superstitem.

At the head of the Statue upon the Monument is ingraved

I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, — till I have found out a place for the Temple of the Lord. Psal. 132.

At the Feet,

Quam speciosa vestigia
Evangelizantium pacem.

The Motto of the Coat at the Head of the Tomb,

Zelus domus tuae exedit me.

On the opposite Coat at the Feet,

Inservi Deo & laetare.

Upon the Grave-stone (that covers the Body) in the Isle contiguous to the Monument,

JOHANNES HACKET, Episcopus Lichf. & Coventr. heic situs est.

THE FIRST SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 7.

And she brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped him in swadling cloths, and laid him in a Manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn, &c.

THis is a part of that joyful news which God did impart at first unto the Angels, which the Angels in the twelfth ver. did reveal unto the Shepherds, which the Shepherds in the seventeenth verse made known abroad, and thereby at first, perchance, it came to St. Luke, which St. Luke made known in this Gospel to the Church; which the Church from time to time hath delivered unto us; which I at this day deliver unto you, and which you must tell unto your Children, that one Generation may comfort another with it unto the ends of the World. I am in love with my Text; but how shall I open and dilate my joy upon it? No, that most venerable name Mary, the blessed Mother of our Lord, knew not how to do it. For although when Gabriel brought tidings unto her, that she should conceive, then she could come out with a strange word [...], as if her spirit friskt and danc'd within for gladness; yet upon the birth no [...] would serve the turn, the joy was too big for the Language of man to deliver. How shall we then express our selves for the honour of the day? Preaching is our present business; but words were too little, and therefore the An­gels turn'd Musicians and sung it; Musick was not enough, and therefore Wise men brought Gifts unto the Cradle; Neither were Gifts the way, for you may see by the cratch and the swadling clouts that He affected Poverty. The Tongues of men, that is Preaching and Prayer; the Tongues of Angels, that is Musick and Singing; the courteous Gifts of the Eastern men, Gold, Myrrh, and Frankincense, all are fit for the solemnity of these twelve days, but not all sufficient.

This happy day made an end of the woful Captivity of the Sons of men under sin and Satan. See how far David went, when none but the Tribe of Judah came back from the Captivity of Babylon, When the Lord turned the Captivity of Sion, then were we like to them that dream. This is the greatest strain of joy, as we may inter­pret it. I do not mean that we should doubt whether we were verily preserved from the captivity of Sin by the birth of Christ, whether it were so indeed, or but a dream, like the Poets amorous fancy, Credimus? an qui amant, ipsi sibi somnia fingunt? Eclog. 8. Lib. 33. or as Livy said of the Grecians when the Romans sent them unexpected liberty after their hard thraldom, Mirabundi velut somni speciem arbitrabantur, they were amazed as if they were not awake, but sleeping: but I would have your Soul transported as it were with an Extasie of devotion, as if Zeal and the Love of Jesus Christ put you in a dream; imagine strongly that this day is not the Anniversary to be celebrated after many years, but the very day it self of Christs Nativity. Cannot you think [Page 2] that this Church is the Cratch that received the Babe? O cui cuncta possunt invidere marmora. Cannot you think your selves to be those Shepherds whom the Angels sent of the good Errand, to look out a Saviour? Who had not rather be one of them Shepherds than any King in the world? Then strongly possess your souls that you see the Son of God; that you stand over him and behold him, as he is wrapped in swadling clouts, lying in a Manger. O that we could so deeply perswade our Soul that this Text is no report, but a vision before our eyes. So we must do, or else it is not full Christmas joy, it is no true Angelical devotion.

And then you shall see in this verse Mary laid of her Child: O the passing exal­tation for flesh and bloud to be such a Mother, and the Child laid in a Manger. O the wonderful humiliation of the eternal God to be such a Son! But that every part of the Text may be handled apart by it self in his own order I will insist upon these five things: 1. Here is the strange condition of the Mother, Et illa peperit, and she brought forth a Son, who by nature was no bearer, for she was a Virgin. 2. The strange condition of the Babe, ejus primogenitus, the first begotten of God was the first born Son of flesh and bloud. 3. The strange condition of the Birth, that it was without the curse of woman, without the pangs of travail; the Fathers collect it from hence, that as soon as the Babe was born she could wrap him in swadling clouts, a manifest sign that there was no debility or weakness in her. 4. The strange condition of the place of the Nativity, She laid him in a Manger. Lastly, the strange condition of men, that there was no room in the Inn for Jesus and Mary; these are the parts of my Text: With great reverence be it spoken, I may call them the swadling clouts wherewith I must wrap my Saviour.

First, Let us consider the strange condition of a maiden Mother, Et illa peperit, and she brought forth a Son, who by nature was no bearer, for she was a Virgin. A Doctrine which the Heathen and Pagan men will not admit, and which the Incredulous Jew to this day after his manner derides. The Heathen were so confident that a Virgin could not bring forth, that as Orosius reports, when Augustus Caesar had rest round about from all his enemies, He shut up the Gates of Janus his Temple, and called it the Temple of peace; and enquiring from their Oracles of Sorcery how long it should stand shut; it was answered, Quousque Virgo pariet, untill the time that a Virgin brings forth a Son. The Messengers thought this answer to be, as if he had said,Oros. lib. 6. c. 20. it should stand shut for ever: and so they wrote upon the Gates, Templum pacis aeternum, The Temple of peace was eternal. Let me dispute the case with a meer natural man, How doth the harvest of the field enrich the Husbandman? It is answered, By the Seed which was sown in the ground. Say again, How came Seed into the world to sow the ground? Surely you must confess, that the first Seed had a Maker, who did not derive it from the Ears of Wheat, but made it of no­thing by the power of his own hand; Qui sine seminibus operatur semina, &c. says St. Austin, Ep. 3. then God could make a man without the Seed of man in the Virgins womb, who made Seed for the corn before ever there was earing or harvest. Nay, there is an instance for it in the little Bees, as the Poet doth Philosophize, they do not bring forth their young ones, as other Creatures do, by the help of Male and Fe­male together; but they gather the seed which begets the young ones from the dew of leaves,Vir. Geor. lib. 4. and herbs, and flowers, and so they bring them forth. Nec concubitu indulgent nec corpora segnes in Venerem solvunt, and therefore the Bee by some is called the Emblem of Virginity.

And as for the unbelieving Jew, the darkness and blindness of his heart cannot put out the light of Isaiahs Prophesie, Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son; for what though the word in the Original signifie not only a Virgin, but any woman of a young and tender age?Isa. 7.14. Yet in that place, as St. Hierom says very well, it must be nomen integritatis non aetatis, a name of Virginal integrity, and not of young age, or else you drown the astonishment which the Prophet doth so much exaggerate and amplifie. I will give you a Sign; why, what sign is it for a young woman to bear a Child?St. Aust. Ser. 6. de Nat. No extraordinary one I am sure. Nay, says he, Ecce Virgo, behold and wonder at it. Behold a Miracle which shall never be wrought but once in the world. This was Virga Aaron florida, nec humectata; Aarons Rod which was not watered, and yet being a dry stick, which had the help of no sap to make it fruit­ful, it flourisht and put out, and brought forth fruit: So this maiden Mother knew no man,Lib. Moral. 1.18. c. 33. she did not conceive after the manner of women, but by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost shall over-shadow thee, says Gabriel. Bene dictum est obumbra­bit, says Gregory, Ʋmbra enim a lumine formatur & corpore, i. e. A Deo & Virgine. The [Page 3] world is full of expression, which says the Holy Ghost shall over-shadow her; for a shadow is caused by the resplendency of Light, and the opacity of a gross body standing between: So Christ, who is the shadow of our refuge, under which we stand to couch our selves from the scorching anger of Gods wrath, he was conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin, that was the body, the Light of Heaven, and the Holy Ghost reflecting upon it. Ʋerbum fuit pater ejus & auditus mater, says Fulgenti­us; Upon the word of the Salutation of the Angel, and by the Ear of Mary that heard the word, between these two alone he was made man, and they were unto him like as a Father, and a Mother.

St. Austin says very sweetly that this admirable Creature Mary the Mother of our Lord is in this verse like unto the Church of Christ; the Church is often called a Vir­gin, the Virgin the Daughter of Sion. I,Sermo. de Temp. 1 9. but since so many faithful Sons are born un­to the Church by the Preaching of the Gospel, how can they be the Sons of the Church, or the Church their Mother, if she be still a Virgin? Very fitly and conve­niently as he answers, Virgo est & parit, Mariam imitatur quae Dominum peperit; the Church is a Virgin, and yet fruitful of Children; for she is like the Mother of our Lord, who was a Virgin Mother. Why God did make this choice, I mean why he chose this Blessed Virgin of the line of David to carry her own Redeemer and ours in her Womb before all the daughters of women, ask in Gods name, and seek the reason; but let this be the ground upon which you build, Sapientia aedificavit sibi do­mum, Prov. 9.1. Wisdom did build her self an house, God did befit himself with so clean a vessel as there was not a more heavenly creature upon earth, neither since nor before her: and such a Virgin was the purest casket which might be found wherein to lay up the gem of the world. The very body of Christ with­out the soul was laid up in a tomb, wherein never Corps were laid before, in a new Tomb, and reason good; for though the soul was flitted away, yet the union between the Body and the Divine Nature was not dissolved: and therefore his Sepulchre was a new Sepulchre which was never seasoned with man before. O then when the living Body and the Godhead were united into one person, very meet and requisite it was that no Child should ever take up that Womb before the Son of God; the son of a sinner was not first to possess that place which was or­dained for the Son of God. Moreover as the Woman Mary did bring forth the Son who bruised the Serpents head, which brought sin into the world by the woman Eve, so the Virgin Mary was the occasion of Grace, as the Virgin Eve was the cause of Damnation: Eve had not known Adam as yet when she was beguiled, and seduced the man; so Mary had not known Joseph, Et illa peperit, and she brought forth her first born Son. And thus you see Sapientia adificavit sibi domum, wisdom did build her self an house.

To make some use of this point unto our selves, we see how well the Womb of the Virgin Mary did fit the Birth of Christ: but will you know what manner of house wisdom doth build unto her self, even unto this day? Our Saviour was so well pleased with a Virgin-dwelling for once, that ever since he loves to abide and dwell in a Virgin, and unpolluted heart. Cor simplex est cor Virgineum, a plain dealing heart, such a one as Jacobs was: a charitable well-meaning heart is a single heart that hath no guile; such a one is in travel with Christ. Cor duplex est cor adulterum, an hypocrites heart that hath two faces and speaks with two tongues, he con­ceives mischief, and brings forth ungodliness; this is an adulterous heart: and as concerning the heart of the hypocrite, and malicious, if any man say, loe here is Christ, or loe there is Christ, believe them not. Beloved you see how curiously every feathered Fowl makes a nest to lay her young one, art and reason are not able to make such a work, as the ingenuity of Nature doth; wherefore let it not irk you once again to hearken how to prepare a nest wherein to lay your Saviour; Grace is more choice and curious than either Art or Nature. Still I am resolved it must be a Virgins breast that is fruitful to bring forth Christ; but in my sense Zacheus was a Virgin; and perchance living in the state of Wedlock. Nay Mary Magdalen was a Virgin in this acception, though sometimes a Sinner given to the flesh: yet Anna the ancient Widow may pass for this Virgin without a Paradox: For as a Virgin is at the dispose of her Father to be given and betrothed, so is the virgin soul altogether into the will of God: and surely in a sort Christ himself is there, for it hath conceived by the Holy Ghost.

Nothing is wanting that this soul so formed into obedience should be answerable unto Mary; but as we read of her, it must be of the house and lineage of David. Saint [Page 4] Chrysostom said of David's heart, it was volumen charitatis, a volume of love and charity, always chanting and singing zeal and devotion, to let your heart say ac­cording to the tune of his heart, My heart is fixed O God, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise, as if it could not be removed from God nor God from it; and then it is of the house and lineage of David. I have said enough I think to shew what is in some competent sort proportionable in a good Christian to the virginity of Mary, that his soul may be made fit to bring forth Christ. St. Bernard calls me back a little, Respexit Dominus humilitatem Mariae non virginitatem, Mary confessed her self that God regarded her lowliness, and not her virginity. Et illa peperit, and the lowly hand-maid brought forth the Babe of exceeding glory. Hail thou that art highly favoured, says the Angel: yea but thrice hail thou that art lowly mind­ed: Etiam in coelo stare non potuit superba sublimitas, if we will not beware of pride by the fall of men whose examples are often seen, why take heed of it by the fall of Angels. Heaven would not let pride be unpunished in Lucifer but threw it lower than the earth. Christ would not let great humility be unrewarded in Mary, but exalted it I may say above the heavens; for so you shall perceive by the second part of my Text the strange condition of the child. Et illa peperit promigenitum, &c.

It was Nicodemus his problem which he propounded to our Saviour, Iterum potest homo nasci? Can a man be born again, or the second time? that which is impos­sible to Nicodemus is true in the person of our Saviour; John 3. for he that was the first be­gotten of God before all worlds, is Ejus primogenitus, at a second birth he is be­come the first born Son of Mary: De Nata. Dom. Serm. 16. De victo genere sumsit hominem per quem generis hu­mani vinceret inimicum, says St. Austin. The Devil thought that at one skirmish in the Garden of Eden he had made a perfect conquest over the poor nature of man, flesh and blood could never rise up again to take arms against him: His malice was like Caligula's, that wisht all the subjects of the Roman Empire had but one head up­on their shoulders, that at one blow he might destroy the whole generation; but de Victo genere, as the Father said, Christ mannageth the quarrel between us and Satan, so fairly and indifferently, that he took upon him not the substance of Angels, but even the flesh which was overcome, that in the same Nature he might destroy our enemies. The Potter may make what vessels do like him best out of his own clay. But how strangely was the wheel turn'd about when the Clay did make the Potter; was it not enough to make man after the image of God, but moreover to make God after the image and likeness of man? was it not enough that the breath of the Lord should be made a living soul for man, but that the eternal word of God should be made Flesh; Bernard. Ʋtinam sicut verbum caro factum est, ita cor nostrum fiat carneum, O that as the word was made flesh, so our stony hearts, as the Prophet says, may be made flesh, that we may believe and glorifie this wonderful genera­tion; but the manner of this generation is a secret of God, within the rail, and I will not touch it.

Let it suffice us to know concerning her first-born. 1. That he was never called the Son of the Holy Ghost, though he were conceived by him. 2. That among all those of the genealogy from whom he descended, especially he is called the Son of David and Abraham: But 3. by the nearest interest he was Ejus primogenitus the first-born Son of Mary. Touching the first, it is an Article of our Creed, that the Holy Ghost was the active principle of the generation of Christ; and why then was he not called his Father? because to be the father of another thing is not enough to be the active principle of it: for even the Sun is the active cause that produceth Worms and Flies, and all those which are called insecta animalia, and yet it is not called the father of those creatures; but a father must beget a thing accord­ing to his own kind and species; and therefore Christ was born after the species and nature of the Woman, whereby he is called not the Son of the Holy Ghost, but the Son of Mary.

Again, as for the next thine observed in the Preface of St. Matthew's Gospel among all those that belong to the line of our Saviours Parentage, the persons es­pecially pickt out are David and Abraham; which was the Son of David, which was the Son of Abraham, and that for this reason, though Christ came from the loins of many others. St. Luke counts 77 descents between Adam and Christ, yet the words of promise benedicentur in semine tuo, it was only spoke unto Abraham and David, that in their seed, that is in Christ all the Kingdoms of the earth should be blessed: And therefore Abraham and David were known by name above others: It was in every mans mouth that the Messias should come out of their stock; the [Page 5] Oath which he swore to our fore-father Abraham says Zachary in his Song; Maldonat. Lyra, Tosta­tus. and blind men and beggars had it at their fingers end, Son of David have mercy on us. The more to illustrate this, you must know that there was a twofold root or foun­dation of the Children of Israel for their temporal being:2 Kings 13.28. Abraham was the root of the people; the Kingdom was rent from Saul, and therefore David was the root of the Kingdom; among all the Kings in the Pedigree none but He hath the name,2 Kings 8.19. and Jesse begat David the King, and David the King begat Solomon; and therefore so often as God did profess to spare the people, though He were angry, He says he would do it for Abrahams sake: So often as He professeth to spare the Kingdom of Judah, He says he would do it for his Servant Davids sake. So that ratione radicis, as Abraham and David are roots of the People and Kingdom, especially Christ is cal­led the Son of David, the Son of Abraham; and to say no more, their Faith in the Incarnation of Christ is of some moment in this point.De Incarnat. David having obtained the name to be called the Prophet [...], because he doth so fully express the Birth and Passion of our Saviour; and Abrahams faith is most notable in that one in­stance says Fulgentius, when He made Eleezer his Steward, put his hand under his thigh, and take an oath in the name of the Lord, not that he thought there was any connexion between his own flesh and the God of heaven, Sed ut ostenderet Deum coeli ex eâ carne nasciturum, but to shew that the blessed Babe of Mary should descend lineally from his Loyns.

Who in the third place by the nearest interest, is called Ejus primogenitus, the first-born Son of Mary. Non quod post eum alius, sed quod ante eum nemo, says St. Austin: not called the first-born Son as the eldest of them Sons that followed, but as being the first fruits of a Virgin-womb that had none before nor after; here is Isaiahs Prophesie, Puer natus nobis, a Child born unto us; Natus est non sibi Christus, sed mihi, for He was born not for himself, but for me, and for all the Faithful. Here is Je­remies Prophesie, Mulier circundabit virum, that a woman shall compass a man; Jer. 31.22. The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man. For Isaiahs Child is called a Man in Jeremiah, Insinuans, ei nunquam defuisse virtutem, because in the very swadling clouts he came forth, not as a weak Infant, but full of power and virtue, as a Giant to run his course. He grew on indeed, says St. Austin, from an infant to a man, but never to be an old man, Crescat & fides tua robur inveniat, vetustatem nesciat. So let thy faith wax more and more; let it come to perfection, and maturity, but never unto old age, as if it droopt and were declining.

I come to the third strange condition of the Birth, it was without travel, or the pangs of woman, as I will shew you out of these words, Fasciis involvit, that she wrapt him in swadling clouts, and laid him in a Manger. Ipsa genitrix, fuit & obstetrix, says St. Cyprian, Mary was both the Mother and the Midwife of the Child; far be it from us to think that the weak hand of the woman could facilitate the work which was guided only by the miraculous hand of God. The Virgin conceived our Lord without the Lusts of the flesh, and therefore she had not the pangs and travel of women upon her, she brought him forth without the curse of the flesh. These be the Fa­thers comparisons, As Bees draw honey from the flower without offending it, as Eve was taken out of Adams side without any grief to him, as a sprig issues out of the bark of the tree, as the sparkling light from the brightness of the Star, such ease was it to Mary to bring forth her first-born Son; and therefore having no weakness in her body, feeling no want of Vigour, she did not deliver him to any profane hand to be drest, but by a special abillity, above all that are newly delivered, she wrapt him in swadling clouts. Gravida, sed non gravabatur, she had a burden in her womb, before she was delivered, and yet she was not burdened: for her journey which she took so instantly, before the time of the Childs birth from Nazareth to Bethlem was above forty miles, and yet she suffered it without weariness or com­plaint, for such was the power of the Babe, that rather he did support the Mothers weakness than was supported; and as he lightned his Mothers travel by the way from Nazareth to Bethlem that it was not tedious to her tender age, so he took away all her dolour and imbecillity from her travel in Child-birth, and therefore she wrapt him in swadling clouts.

Now these clouts here mentioned which were not worth the taking up, but that we find them in this Text, are more to be esteemed than the Robes of Solomon in all his Royalty; yea, more valuable than the beauty of the Lilly, or any Flower of the field or garden, which did surpass all the Royalty of Solomon. I may say they are the Pride of Poverty, for I know not in what thing poverty may better boast [Page 6] and glory than in the raggs of Christ. His tears are no comfort to them that laugh; his Crach in the Manger is no comfort to them that affect the highest rooms in the Synagogues; his want is no comfort to them that are rich; his mean apparel is no comfort to our costly garments: but this is a comfort to them that want cloathing to cover their Nakedness, that Christ himself was wrapt in swadling clouts. He triumphed over poverty in this poor and base Array, says St. Austin, as tru­ly and verily as he triumphed over death. Now death was conquered by Christ, not that we should not dye at all, but that we should vanquish death by the Resurrection: So Poverty was thus led captive, and overcome, Non ut omnino essugeamus, sed ut majori letitia toleremus; not that we should never sustain it, but that we should sustain it chearfully, and with patience. This was but the beginning of sorrow, to be tenderly bound up in warm cloths, there is a worse binding to come when the high Priests Servants shall find him in the Garden, and lead him away bound like a Malefactor; Feret aspera grandior aetas vincula cum palmam clavus utramque premet, says a Christian Poet; his hands will be straiter bound when they are pinned to the Cross with Nails and Iron; for as the bloud which he spent at Circumcision was but an earnest of those drops which he should shed at his Passion: So this wrap­ping and swadling of his Arms and Legs was but a representation how he should yield up all his Limbs to be bound unto the Cross.

O behold this thing, you that think it no Christmas without bravery upon your backs, these were our Saviours cloaths for this good time, he had no other gaudy Garments; but take up the fringe of your own Coats, look upon the Ornaments you wear, and tell me what Saviour it is you imitate; you lay all you can upon your backs to celebrate his first coming into the world, which was in baseness and poverty. I pray you what would you be willing to put on when you shall meet him at his second coming in the clouds? O then our mortal shall be swallowed up of immortality: and as holy Nazianzen says [...], nakedness is all the cloathing we shall put on at the day of the great Resurrection. Blessed Mary, says St. Austin, began betimes to let her Babe see nothing but modesty about him. Nunc mulieres cum lacte in cunis superbiam infantibus instillant; Now adays, says he, our women do so nuzzle their little Imps in their Cradle, that they suck in vanity as soon as they take the dug; and for the most part (let men be so base to follow it if they will) all our gay fashions come from some she inventrix, as Synesius says of the Wife of Triphon, that it was all her ambition, [...], to have the name of the curious Lady, and that all fashions were warranted by her invention; when by their leaves I think it is as little for their reputation, as it was for Anak to find out Mules.

Thus I have followed the stream, not departing from the common adnotation upon this place, which says that Christ did consecrate, and as it were sanctifie Po­verty by this instance, that he was wrapt in swadling clouts: which is not so to be understood, I think, as if the first Linnen Ephod, which was so happy to apparel the great High Priest of the Church, had been some base or wragged piece of cloth. For beloved, to do all due right to the ever blessed Virgin, she was not ignorant what a heavenly burden she bore, she knew that after the custom of women the time of her deliverance was at hand; she understood the Scriptures as well as the high Priests and Scribes that Christ must be born in Bethlem of Judah, the place to which she went to be taxed with Joseph her husband. Can we then imagine but that this most religious Mother had made preparation for such a Child, and had furnisht her self against their journey, Cum lineis pannis purissimis, utpote partus conscia, with the purest fine linnen cloths, because she knew the hour of the most happy Nativity was at hand? [...], says the Greek Text; in one word, she swadled him up, but sure with all observance, and reverent decency.

But the poor and abject estate into which this Kingly Babe was cast as soon as he was born will appear most clearly by the fourth circumstance of the Text, the strange condition of the place of his Nativity,1 Kings 3.17. She laid him in a Manger. And will the Lord dwell upon earth, says Solomon when he had dedicated unto his name the most augustious Temple in the world; Was a question made concerning such a Magnificent house, whether it were fit for the Lord? Then what say you to this grot? This Manger of the Stable? As Seneca said of Caius Marius, when he was turned abroad to seek his lodging among the flags of the Fens, Quis eum fuisse consulem aut futurum crederet? Who would ever think that a man who shrowded his head in so mean a place had been the great Consul of Rome before, or should be Consul again? So he [Page 7] that should find Christ in such a despicable corner of a Room where beasts did feed, who could think that it was that God that created the World before, or should judge the World hereafter? But to say the truth, was he not safer among the beasts than he could be elsewhere in all the Town of Bethlem? His enemies per­chance would say unto him as Jael did to Sisera, Turn in, turn in my Lord, when she purposed to kill him; as the men of Keilah made a fair shew to give David all cour­teous hospitality, but the issue would prove, if God had not blessed him, that they mean to deliver him into the hands of Saul that sought his bloud. So there was no trusting of the Bethlemites, who knows but that they would have prevented Judas, and betrayed him for thirty pieces of Silver unto Herod? More humanity is to be expected from the beasts than from some men, and therefore she laid him in a Manger.

Do not your bowels yearn, Beloved, to make Christ some amends for this poor entertainment? Do not you perswade your selves if you had been in Bethlem it should not have been so as it was? Your Zeal is good, and there is no time lost to do it yet. Non erat ei nisi angustia in terris, ut tu ei locum cordis tui proprium dilatares. Christ was streightned for room in the Inn, and thrust into the Stable, that you might open your heart wide, and enlarge it, to give him an habitation to content him. The heart of an Heretick, the heart of a profane person is more loathsom, more unfit for Christ than any Manger in the world; between such a polluted sink of iniquity, and this Manger as it was adorned, there was no comparison. It was the recreation which the old Friers had in their Monastical Cells, to write lies; Le­gends are for the most part fabulous, and I had as lieve believe the dreams of a sick man as believe all the story of our Saviours birth which goes under the name of St. Bridget: Yet I am altogether inclined to think, that the Stable wherein Christ was born was so beautified for the time with the light of heaven, which did shine in the place, that a Palace of beaten gold could not seem to be half so rich and preci­ous; my reason is, that if the glory of the Lord did shine about the Shepherds in the field with such an heavenly luster, when the Angels came to sing their Carol, most likely it is, that the same glory seven fold brighter did cast celestial beams upon this place, where this Child was laid in a Manger: But no such beams of Heaven ever did shine upon the heart of a profligate sinner, and therefore I have good rea­son to say that a Manger amongst beasts was fitter for our Saviour.

O praesepe splendidum in quo panis inventus est Angelorum: O holy and venerable Cratch which was the repository to receive the bread of Angels. Reclinavit is the strangest word to me in all the Text, that Mary could part with him out of her arms, and lay him aside in the Manger. I did ever think old Simeon much indebted to her for that favour that he was permitted to take him up in his arms; but what, did the Stable and Cratch deserve to be the Throne of the Son of God? Surely, if Jacob understood that there was a Mystery in it, when he laid his head upon a stone to sleep, then it cannot be without many Mysteries that this Infant was laid in a Manger. I will separate all the Meditations which the Fathers raise upon it that he was born in an Inn, and confine my self only to express why this homely Room was lent him in a Stable.

First, Beloved, Periculosum est inter delicias poni; 'tis full of peril to rest among pleasures and delights; It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, Eccl. 7.2. Adam had his habitation among the sweet savours and most delightful recreations of the Garden of Eden; his senses were so filled with objects of pleasures, that he forgot the Lord: Therefore Jesus Christ the Second Adam, who came to restore all that was lost, pitcht upon the worst corner of the house, where there were no delights at all to move tentation. Shall I tell you a paradox which St. Chrysostome held? He said, he had rather be cast into Prison with St. Paul, into the house of affliction, than be wrapt up with him into the third Heavens. Kings houses, and well furnisht Mansions have their occasions of Lewdness, but she laid her Son in a Manger.

Secondly, Omnis caro sicut foenum, all flesh is grass, and our beauty is as a flower of the field, this caused the flesh of Christ to be laid in the part of the Stable, where the grass is cut down and withered; Corruption sorts with Corruption; the Saints that are in glory, and can dye no more, their dwellings are in the highest heavens, which are free from change and alteration, but the Son of man hath put on morta­lity, and to signifie that his body is like unto ours, which shall wither like grass; Reclinavit in praesepi, he was laid in a Manger.

[Page 8] Thirdly, Learn from hence to condescend unto the Humility of Christ if you mean to ascend unto his glory; for as the custom of those Regions was, this Man­ger was [...], a Vault cut out of a Rock, as low a place as he could cast himself into; but no man projects so wisely to raise up a mighty building as he that lays a low foundation: It is reported of Sixtus Quintus, how he was so far from shame that he was born in a poor Cottage, that he would sport with his own fortune, and say, he was Familiâ illustri natus, born in a bright resplendent Family, because the Sun lookt in at every cranny of the house; it is not the meanness of the place that can justly turn to any mans scorn, nor doth a magnificent Palace build up any mans reputation. Holofernes had a costly Tent to cover him, and yet was never the honester; and it was a pretty objection of Plutarchs against the vain consumption of cost upon the decking of our houses. Quare homines in auratis lectis somnum capiunt quem Dii gratis dederunt: What do we mean, says he, to be at such cost to deck our Chambers? Why will we pay so dear for our sleep, when God, if you please, hath given you that for nothing? the slenderest place served our Saviour to cover his head, Reclinavit in praesepi, She laid him in a Manger.

Fourthly, and lastly, God provided the Virgins wombe for our Saviour before he was born, man provided a Manger after he was born, that you may see that God is ever worse provided for by man than he provides for himself. Let him provide for himself the manner of an Ark, or inspire the heart of Solomon what Temple should be built unto him, and the world had never such a piece of work for beauty and magnificence. Let him trust to the benevolence of men, I praise God I am not in the place now where I need to complain, but more eyes have seen such Churches, especially such Chancels which our Zealous Lay Parsons of the Kingdom have sacrile­giously unroof'd, and uncas'd the Lead, and left them thatch and straw for a covering, and scarce that too. O God I shame to speak it, surely by all descripti­on of antient Writers, our Saviour was better provided when He was laid in a Manger.

Their unworthiness deserves to be parallel'd with those men of strange conditi­on in the last part of my Text, that kept possession against Christ himself, and shut him out of doors, for there was no room for him in the Inn, nor for his Mother Mary. Was there no Obadiah that would receive a Prophet? No Obededom that would take the Ark of God into his house? Some say, that because the whole City of David was so ungrateful to their new-born King, therefore the Angel of purpose shunned all the Inhabitants, and went into the field to find out Shepherds, and sent them first to behold their Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Others say, because Bethlem was so pittiless to this Babe, therefore God raised up the fury of Herod, which had no pity of their Babes, but slew all their Children from two years old and un­der. Surely we all see how the Roman Conquerours carried them away captive from their own Country, neither man nor child hath room to inhabite Bethlem this day, neither is there such a Town as Bethlem standing, because there was no room for Christ. You know the Parable of the good Samaritan, that took the wounded man and carried him to his Inn, and left him safe there, and paid his charges. The sence of the Parable is reduced by many of the Fathers unto Christ himself; He is the good Samaritan that would not let our wounds bleed abroad, but hous'd us, and lodg'd us in his own Inn, that is, the Church, to upbraid the incivility of men by the Letter of the Parable, that we gave no hospitality to the Son of God.

The reasons given why Joseph and Mary were thus excluded are three:

The first is false, nay, indeed calumnious, that they came tardy, and after all other company to pay their Tribute money: No, Beloved, such an hasty Couple, so forward to give unto God that which is Gods, would never be slack to give unto Caesar that which is Caesars. Besides, if she brought forth her first-born Son upon the first day of the week, upon Sunday, as some cast it out, then the whole day be­fore she was in Bethlem, for upon the Saturday, or Sabbath she must not travel; per­chance they had been longer in the City, and, as we say, danced attendance, being poor persons, before the Officers of the Tribute would dispatch them; and yet all this while no room was made in the Inn, nor in any charitable house for the Nativity of Christ. The indignation against this were able to make us, like Jacob, live under the dew and frost of Heaven; as the Prophet protested, never to climbe up to our bed because Christ was so disappointed.2 Sam. 11.11. Or as Ʋriah said unto David, The Ark abides in Tents, my Lord Joab is encampt in the open field, and shall I go up into mine [Page 9] own house. The glory of Israel was laid in a Cratch, the Salvation of the world was turned into a Stable, and dost thou permit us to live in sieled houses?

But the second and true reason why the Inn afforded them no room was this: Augustus Caesars Tax had drawn multitudes unto Bethlem that filled every corner; the true use of it was, that there might be more attendance about the King of Glory to do him reverence and homage; but the greater multitude, the fouler was the neglect, the more inexcusable the disobedience. They that glory in multitudes as a great testimony to prove the verity of their Church are as wise as them that should prove their Harvest to be plentiful because it hath abundance of Thistles. A multitude flockt after Christ in the Wilderness, verily it is to eat of the Loaves and Fishes, not for the Doctrines sake. A multitude followed him into the High Priests Hall, and the whole Rabble cried out, Let him be crucified; A troupe of Soul­diers watcht his Sepulchre, and belied his Resurrection; a multitude was in Beth­lem at his Nativity, and there was no room for him in the Inn.

But thirdly, We may suppose the multitudes had not so pestered the Town but that one Lodging might be spar'd, if there were horse-room in the Stable, as it appears there was, because Christ lay in the Manger, then it cannot sound in my ear but there might be room made for men in the Inn. Yes, but Lazarus is poor, and therefore he must not come over the Threshold, but lie at the rich Gluttons door; and though the fish of the Sea were so liberal to pay our Saviours Tribute, the beasts of the Stable so obedient to leave space for his birth, yet reasonable men stood up­on it that they would not entertain him for nothing. Booz was a rare example, that took Ruth into his house when she went a begging: Booz was a Bethlemite, but it seems he had left none behind him, for Mary and Joseph were poor, and there was no room for them in the Inn. I know not how it came to pass, but for the credit of Poverty, which was thus despised, not many rich, but many poor in the days of our Saviour did receive the Gospel. As dry wood, says Bernard, sooner taketh fire than that which is green and flourishing: So the poor did embrace the glad tidings of Salvation without resistance, when the Nobles of the world, that flourisht in their wealth, refused it.

O but let Bethlem be ten times more populous for multitude, were Mary of the poorest of the people, which could not be, admitting that she and Joseph paid Sub­sidies to Caesar; nay, were she a Samaritan, with whom the Jew hated to commerce, yet Barbarians would take her in, and cherish her in the time of Childbirth. Belo­ved, it is a kind of churlishness that can admit no Apology. This is all that I can say, since men had left their civility to be men, to wipe away that foul ignominy God took our nature upon him, and was made man, even He of whom it is said in my Text, She brought forth, &c. It is a sign of very bad times when we lose pity and humanity to men, and reverence to God.

THE SECOND SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 8.

And there were in the same Country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their Flock by night.

A Year is past since I began to handle this part of St. Lukes Gospel, containing the most full and exact History of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Me thinks I am privy to your memory, that you call to mind summarily what then was said upon the former Verse: 1. The strange condition of the Mo­ther, that she brought forth a Son, who by nature was no bea­rer, for she was a Virgin. 2. The strange condition of the Babe, the first begotten Son of God was the first-born Son of flesh and bloud. 3. The strange condition of the place, that she laid him in a Manger. Lastly, The strange condition of men, that there was no room in the Inn for Jesus and Mary. In his name who hath given us leave and life to meet this year also in his holy Temple, and for his honour, and to glorifie his Son we are come again to the same place, and to the same portion of Scripture, to celebrate this blessed and most auspicious day of our Saviours Incarnation. They that consult with the wisdom of flesh and bloud, may marvel that no room of state was made ready for his birth, no place taken up to receive such an Infant and his Mother; or whatsoever the dwelling were, any place rather than a Cratch and a Manger: but there is little amends made in my Text for this humiliation and poverty. For see what Stage the Angel hath chosen to declare and annunciate him unto the world; the City was too rich, the Temple too stately, the Synagogues had too much of the Pharisees in them, Kings Courts were too voluptuous, therefore he assembles those together whom he found in the fields and desolate places. But as mean as their condition was, since an Angel from Hea­ven entertained conference with them, we may justly imploy the exercise of this hour upon them, according as they are mentioned in my Text, There were in the same Country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, and as it followeth.

In which Text I see no less than seven goodly eares of corn growing upon one Stalk according to the prosperous part of Pharaohs dream. For the place in which the Angel chose to publish the Incarnation here are two circumstances: 1. It was in the same Country. 2. It was in the Field. For the time, which is the third cir­cumstance, it was in the night. For the persons, two more: They were Shepherds, that's the fourth part; They were many, so many as made a Plural number, that's the fifth. Then there are two circumstances of their Office and diligence, they watched; that's not all, they watched over their Flocks, and so we are ascended to the number which I propounded, the Text is distributed into seven branches. Pastores in eadem regione, Shepherds in the same Country; at the circumstance we begin.

[Page 11]There is no place upon earth to which God descended, or to which his Angels ap­proached in holy Scripture, but it is significative and mystical, wherefore names were given to such places by the Patriarchs and Prophets, as when the voice for Hea­ven with held Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, it was called Jehovah jireth, the Lord shall be seen in the Mount. From whence I deduce how these words cannot be empty of some pithy observation, in eâdem Regione, that the Angel appeared unto the Shep­herds in the same Country. It was a place between Bethlem and Hierusalem, the same parcel of Ground, as most agree, when Jacob slept,Gen. 28.18. and in his sleep saw Angels ascending and descending upon the Ladder, and when he awoke he built an Altar, and called it Bethel, the house of God. Now where could the first news of Christs Nativity arive more properly than in the same place where it was first seen in a Vision? Where could it be published more aptly, than where it was promised to the Patriarchs? There Jacob poured oyl upon the top of the stone, the first anointing with oyl that we read of in holy Scripture: Upon that parcel of Ground, not by chance, but out of providence, he was proclaimed, who is called Christus Domini, the Christ, or the anointed of the Lord. There stood the Altar which was called Bethel, the first Al­tar that ever was called the Church of God: and from whence should the news of a Saviour issue, but from the holy place which is consecrated and blest to be called the house of God? It was long indeed (for so the yearning and the desire of the world might think) before our Saviour took flesh of the Virgin Mary; yet it was not un­mindfulness in the Almighty, He remembred the oath which he swore to Abraham; nay, He remembred the desolate place when he appeared to Jacob in eâdem Regione, in the same Country.

The further I look into this apparition (Brethren) I see more wonder and my­stery in it; for the whole Country of the Jews was in the same distress and misery at this time, into which poor wandring Jacob was cast, when he slept by the way-side upon the hard stones for his pillow. Esau hated Jacob, and compelled him to abandon his Fathers house, and to retire into desart places; so the overflowing Romans had made themselves Lords of the Land of Jury, and brought all Israel under the thraldom of their Dominion: But behold, as in the pinch of Jacobs extremity his soul saw the Vision of a Saviour, so after the same proportion of mercy, in the pinch of Israels extremity, when the Romans were Lords over them, their eyes saw, and their ears heard the Annunciation of a Saviour; each parcel of comfort landed jump, as God would have it, in the same model of Ground, in the same Country that the Shepherds kept watch over their flocks by night.

Yet methinks I see another mystery, Beloved: for the Incarnation of our Lord stands as thick with wonders as the Heaven with Stars, and it is this: Was not this glorious Babe born at Bethlem? Why are not the first news of his birth carried to the same City where he was born? It is our discretion to suspect that news, and very justly, which comes not from the place where the thing was done. For an­swer, This is the secret of providence, I guess, which is hidden under it. You know that Christ was conceived at Nazareth, and born at Bethlem; Lived much at Capernaum, but died at Hierusalem. These Towns of Nazareth and Capernaum, were vulgarly at this day called Galilee of the Gentiles. The truth is, they were given to the Gentiles to dwell in, and by them inhabited in former times; they were de­stined to the Tribes of Israel, for upon the Captivity of ten Tribes carried quite away by Salmanezar, only Judah and Benjamin were left behind, not able for their small number to fill the whole Land of Canaan; whereupon that part wherein Nazareth and Capernaum did stand was called Galilee of the Gentiles. Mark here the equity and indifferency of the Son of God both to Jew and to Barbarian; He was conceived among the Gentiles at Nazareth, brought forth into the world among the Jews at Bethlem; Lived at Galilee of the Nations, but died at Hierusalem. So in this Gospel, his Mother brought him forth within the Walls of the City, that was proper to the Jew, but the tydings were heard abroad without the Walls in the Country, that was proper to the Gentiles.

The Collection is not violent, but natural; for so St. Paul argues,Heb. 13.12. Salm. Tom. 15. disp. 23. that Christ belonged unto us aliens from the Covenant, who were not of the Jews that served at the Tabernacle, for Jesus also that he might sanctifie the people with his own bloud, suffered without the Gate. The benefit of our Saviours life and death was communicated to all people, not only to the Seed of David, passus extra Hierusalem. He suffered not within, but without Jerusalem, because the fruit of his death lay open to all: Ascendens è monte Oliveti extra Bethaniam; Ascended into Heaven upon the mount of [Page 12] Olives without the Town of Bethany, because he opened the Kingdom of Heaven for all believers. But hear what follows in the Jesuit Salmeron, natus in Speluncâ extra Beth­lem, born in a Grote or Cave, for so he calls the Manger, without the Town of Bethlem, because the benefit of his Incarnation was open and publick to all. Here his observation sticks and is erroneous,Case. in Luc. 2. Baron. in an. 1. Christi, although he hath the judgment of Cajetan to favour him, and the conjecture of Baronius almost concurring with him, for he says, the Stable was in Suburbiis Bethlem, not within, but without the Gates, in the Suburbs of Bethlem. And, what more manifest to convince their fancy than the ele­venth verse of this Chapter, This day is born unto you a Saviour in the City of David. The Moral therefore is more fitly made up, as I told you before, that He came first into the world in the City of Bethlem, by which deed he doth intimate that He was made flesh for the Salvation of the Jew, but the tidings were heard abroad at the first publication in the same Country, whereby it appears he was made man also for the salvation of the Gentile.

Another circumstance of place is in the Text, that the Angel chose the open fields to annunciate the Messias of the world; and who can deem but that they were fitly cho­sen for the purpose? The Priests of the Temple would not be glad to hear of him that cut off their Types and Ceremonies; they that inhabit the City would not relish such a Prophet, that will say unto them, Sell all, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. The pleading places of Justice would laugh at his pre­scription, He that taketh away thy Coat, let him have thy Cloak also. The Seas had heard of nothing but Neptune and Thetis, and the titles of false Gods, all their ships were called by the names of Idols; but the plain Fields had no such prejudicate opinion against a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. Upon their pleasant fruitfulness, the happy news are showred down, as if the dawning of this bright day should change all the Earth into another Paradise. Mystically thus much may be col­lected, as all increase and abundance wherewith we are fed is brought out of the field, so the Incarnation of Christ should fill the world with the plenty and abun­dance of Salvation. I will not say, according to the Letter of the Miracle in the Go­spel, that the fishermen laboured hard all night and took nothing; so in the darkness of the Law (which may not unfitly be called the night) nothing at all was taken; yes, there was a number of those that believed, but a very small one, here a berry, and there a berry, says the Prophet, upon the top of a bow. The Pharisees compassed Sea and Land to gain one Proselyte, and scarce glean'd up one in all their travel; but since the Church writes it self not Jew, but Christian. Since the day spring from on high hath visi­ted us, the number of the fishes is so great which the Apostles drew into the Ship, that the nets were ready to break because of the multitude.

2 Kings 4.6.As the Widows oyl fill'd every vessel which she could borrow of her neighbours, so the faith of our Redeemer hath fill'd all Nations in the world. As Job said by Allegory, Petra mihi effundit rivos olei; Rivers of oyl trickled down from the rock, and the rock was Christ. During the time of Moses Law what a paucity there was of those that spent their industry to interpret the Canon of the Scriptures; How few are reckoned that shed their bloud for the maintenance of the truth? Not any almost that made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven; many Ages yielded small store of Saints. But see what the Gospel hath brought forth like a fruiful field, many Penmen of holy Writings; many Virgins unspotted touching the flesh; thousand thousands of Martyrs. They that have gone about to cast up the number, think that as many have lost their lives for the profes­sion of righteousness in the time of the Gospel, as there were beasts in the old Law slain for Sacrifice before the Altar. Et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbor. Now the trees of the Lord are full of sap, now the Temples of the Lord are throng'd with those that believe, as the fields stand thick with Corn in Harvest. This is the good will of him that was born in Bethlem, prefigured to give increase and abun­dance, because the Angel did annunciate him in the fields, where fruit grows up for the use of man.

The errors of men are captious, and catch at any occasion to argue for their own defence, and why may not this Text be distorted by some to prove, that fields and desarts are fit receptacles for Congregations of Christians? But for Churches and Chappels they may be demolished, or else neglected. It was an Heresie of the Massi­lians, as Damascen oserved, that God might be worshipt as well in the Woods or vast Mountains, in any place unhallowed, as in those Oratories that are dedicated to his honour; I would they had left none of their brood behind them; but the first [Page 13] broacher of that corrupt Doctrine (as I have told you once before) in my con­ceit was Jeroboam, for he made a rent in the Kingdom of Israel, alienating ten Tribes from their Allegiance due to their lawful Prince Rehoboam. But one thing troubled him, that according to the Law all the Tribes must go up once a year to worship at Hierusalem, which was the imperial City of the King of Judah. This was it that cut the very nerves of his conspiracy; therefore you shall find him thus speaking to the people in Josephus: Country-men, says he, you know the Law,Antiq. lib. 8. c. 3. and are not ignorant that God is in every place as well at Dan and Bethel as at Hierusalem. Ʋbique vota exaudit, ubique cultores suos respicit; his ear is every where to hear your Prayers, his eye is every where to see your Worship, and therefore there is no such necessity as the Priests talk of to go up yearly to the Temple at Hierusalem. This is Jeroboams Divinity, in one act both an Heretick and a Traitor, he took away the Crown from Gods anointed by violence, and would take away the throne dedicated to God himself by fraudulence.

Beloved, every Religion knew this, that one house or more, as the worship re­quired, was to be built unto the God before whom they prayed, and in whose name they took an Oath before the Altar. Dagon the Idol of the Philistins had his Tem­ples, and so had the rest; and shall the Assemblies gathered in the name of Christ, shall they only worship in the Mountains and in desart places? The Angel hovered from above over the fields where the Shepherds abode; because he was a Messenger of Heaven, and therefore proclaim'd the Christ under the open heaven; but men that have their habitation upon earth must not so preach Christ as if they had dropt out of the skies; the presence of an Angel did consecrate the waste plains upon which the flocks were feeding, any place was holy for that time where an Angel spoke: but corruptible and sinful man must not think that it is his privi­ledge to do the like, unless the place be set apart for Gods service by a lawful so­lemnity of dedication.Euseb. lib. 2. c. 16. Philo the Jew makes mention of some that worshipt God with most fervent devotion in Egypt, and the parts of Alexandria, frequent in Prayers and Watchings, and it appears to some they were Christians, and they,1 Cor. 11.22. Alphon. a Castro. l. 4. Tit. Tem. says Philo, had their [...], religious buildings full of reverence and Majesty to praise the Lord. This that Philo speaks of was in the reign of Claudius the Emperour, twelve years and no more after our Saviours Ascension into Heaven. The Primitive Church flourishing, the Apostles all living, these [...], these Oratories and Chappels were built, so ancient is the practice to call upon God in such stately buildings as were appropriated to be the houses of Prayer;Concil Gan­gra c. 5. Suorum de­cret. and the Reverend Council of Gangra past this Canon against Eustachius an enemy to Church buildings; If any man shall say the house of God is contemptible, and the Assemblies vain, let him be an Anathema. And of the two circumstances of the place that the Angel appeared in the field before the Shepherds, so much and no more.

Thirdly, I observed for the time, that it was night when the Angel came unto them, I dispute not what time of the night it was. The night was distributed in­to four watches, assigning the space of three hours to a Watch, to this end, that he who could not endure the tediousness of a whole night to lie abroad under the open air might be relieved at the end of a watch by him that took his place; and it is not improbable that this occasion fell out towards the last watch of the night: For to Premonstrate, that Christ came to bring light, to enlighten every man that came in­to the world; he was annunciated by the Angel both at the increase of the year, and at the increase of the day. Oriente Salvatore non solum humani generis salus, Ambros. Serm. 6. de Nativ. sed etiam solis ipsius claritas innovatur. says St. Ambrose, at this day Salvation shin'd upon the soul of man, which had been in the darkness of condemnation, even as our Saviour was born toward the dawning of the morning, when the Sun was peeping out of the darkness of the night. Nay, the same Father goes further. You would think his phancy were Rhetorical, or rather Poetical, but he delivers it for a Doctrine which he did verily believe that it was late at night when the Angel came into the field, Cum sol festinans ob dominicae nativitatis obsequium, &c. When the Sun, Ibid. in homage to our Saviours Nativity, posted, as it were, and (before the Stars had run their cour­ses cut short the night) shined upon the world many hours before the day expected him, and thus he reasons, if the Sun stood still in the day for the Prayers of Josuah, why might not he shorten the night to behold our Saviours Nativity? Where­fore at night this Babe of Glory was born that he might turn the night into day.

A meditation of St. Gregories may supply us with another reason,Greg. moral. Lib. 33.20. the Sun-shine of the day is the great Oracle of manifestation, the smallest Atoms then appear, [Page 14] and whatsoever lay in obscurity is clearly discerned: now we have no clear appre­hension of the mysteries of faith in this life as if they lay naked before us, Sancti quamdiu in hác vitâ sunt divinae naturae Secreta quasi sub quadam imaginatione conspiciunt; The Saints in this world behold the secrets of the Divine Nature as if it were in the imagination of a dream, as men think they see Visions when they sleep in the night. I do not go about therefore to span those things which cannot be measured, how that which is infinite and finite are one in personal Union how he was concei­ved by the Holy Ghost. What perfection of knowledge and grace there was in his Infancy, if you look into the Ark with the Bethlemites you may forfeit your eyes. It is modesty to say these things are incomprehensible, for the Angel did reveal them in the night. They that raise questions, and dispute about those depths con­cerning our Saviour which cannot be sounded look for thanks because they are in­dustrious, whereas their curiosity seems to me to use him no better than if they crowned him with thorns. We must believe without appoizing the Articles of our Faith to the balance of reason, and then though we see darkly in a glass we are children of the day: But if we will scan the secrets of God by the scruples of hu­mane wisdome,Bern. Serm. 5. ex pa [...]vis in Nativ. then is our day turned into night. One day telleth another, and one night certifieth another, Psal. 19.2. That is, says Bernard, the day told unto the day, when the Angel came unto the modest Virgin Mary; the night certified the night, that is, the Serpent conferred with Eve when she was fond and curious.

I am yet under this pillar of Cloud, I mean under this circumstance of time, that the Angel Gabriel addrest unto the Shepherds by night. Captivities that be fa­mous in Scripture are three: Under Pharaoh in Egypt, under Cyrus in Babylon, and under the Devil in the thraldom of sin. Mark what issue every one of these had to obtain liberty: 1. The Children of Israel arose at midnight, and departed out of Egypt: 2. Nehemiah and those few, the first that went out of Babylon to repair Hierusalem arose in the night and went their way, Nehem. 2.12. And thirdly, the great Re­deemer, who should pluck us out of the mire, and draw us out of the bondage of Sin, his fame is spread abroad when the Shepherds kept watch over their Flocks by night. Nay, almost no work of extraordinary worth and efficacy toward and after the time of the Passion but it fell out when darkness was upon the face of the earth. To let his Birth alone, and to say no more than my Text doth, Excubarunt noctu, the poor men heard of it that lay abroad in the night. His Agony in the Garden took hold on him by night, when the world was in a dead sleep, his own Disciples drowsie, and could not watch with him one hour. He suffered when the Sun was darkned, and the Stars gave no light. Finally, He arose out of the Sepulchre before any bo­dy was stirring in the morning. What is the meaning of this? Even to shew that we were dumb and still passives in all the work of our Redemption; we slept, and thought not of help and succour when it was plentifully supplied for our salvation; when no soul awoke to think of blessing, in the dark night of Ignorance Christ was born. We are supine in our sins like men stretcht upon their bed, when he sweat drops of bloud. We regarded not his Passion when he suffered; we were care­less when he arose for our justification. But of the time let this suffice to be spoken.

That which made up the fourth and fifth parts of my Text is concerning the persons they were Shepherds, and they were many Shepherds, so many as made a Plural number, And there were in the same Country Shepherds, &c. The heathen make much ado, and relate it not without admiration; by what mean and almost despised persons the deep knowledge of Philosophy was first found out and brought to light? As Protagoras earning his living by bearing burdens of wood; and Cleanthes no better than a Gibeonite fain to draw water for his liberty. Chrysippus and Epictetus mere vassals to great men for their maintenance, yet these had the honour to find out the riches of knowledge for the recompence of their Poverty; but the day shall come that these Philosophers will wonder that they found out no more than they did, and be astonished that silly Shepherds were first deputed to find out one thing more needful than all the World beside, even Jesus Christ. Ti­berius propounded his mind to the Senate of Rome, that Christ, the great Prophet in Jury, should be had in the same honour with the other Gods which they worshipt in the Capitol. The motion did not please them, says Eusebius, and this was all the fault, because he was a God, not of their own, but of Tiberius invention: So lest great men, and Rulers of the earth should disdain at a Saviour which was not of their own discovery, but found out by servants that kept their flocks, I will [Page 15] make it good by reason that the Angel pickt out very choice persons for the busi­ness, the Shepherds of the Field.

It is truly and modestly observed by Tolet, Tolet. in hunc locum. Causa cur pastores visitantur est Dei bene­placitum, multae autem congruentiae: Why shepherds were visited by the Angel rather than men of another trade or calling; and in particular, why these Shepherds ra­ther than all besides of the same Vocation, no cause can be assign'd, but the meer will and favour of God: but his pleasure having done the deed, much may be said to approve it why it is fit and convenient. To be a Shepherd is a life of great servitude and poverty, as Job says, they spend their time desolate and soli­tary in the Wilderness, and for vile company they are set with the dogs of the flocks: and these were fit to be the first partakers of the Gospel, because it is pow­erful in Spirit, but base and contemptible according to the Flesh, A sapientibus non quaerit testimonium qui parvulis se revelat, he baulks the Pharises and Princes of the people, and seeks the testimony of Shepherds, because he reveals himself unto those that are lowly in their own eyes, and poor in Spirit: none more unlikely than they to do a message for Almighty God. When Samuel came to Ishai, and askt for his Sons, that he might pick out the man whom the Lord had chosen, Ishai presented the most likely, as he thought, indeed all but one; There is one more, says he, in the field that keepeth sheep. O, says Samuel, let that David be sent for from following the Ews great with young. Surely thinks the Prophet, because he hath been despised and neglected, he is the man whom God hath in store to go­vern Israel. Weak and impotent means are the fittest for the Lords choice, that men of action and authority may not attribute that unto themselves which is only the doing of the Lord. Praevalet imperitia in rusticitate Pastorum, says S. Austin. Serm. 2. de Epiphan. When such ignaroes as these were sent abroad, to tell in the City what they had heard and seen, the world could not say they were enticed by Eloquence; the enemies of the Faith could not say that crafty Philosophy got ground upon the simple: but as the Devil chose a Serpent, a wise creature above all the Beasts of the field, and all that are in the water, to destroy the world by subtlety; so Christ chose Shep­herds out of the Field, and Fishermen out of the Water, as the chief means to repair the world by innocency and simplicity. 1 Cor. 1.26. Brethren, says St. Paul, you see your calling: for so Erasmus will read [...] in the present tense, be­cause the thing was open to all mens knowledge, and perspicuous: but what did they see so plainly? not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not ma­ny noble are called, but foolish things were chosen to confound the wise, &c.

Two things are to be drawn from hence; first, that we distort not the Scripture as if it pronounced nothing but confusion to the rulers of the earth; let not the honourable person hang down his head, as if power, and wisdom, and noble blood, and dignity were causes of rejection before God; no beloved, Isaiah foretold that Kings should be nursing Fathers, and Queens should be nursing Mothers of the Church: but it is often seen that the benignity of nature and the liberality of fortune are made impediments to a better life; and therefore Nobles and Princes are more frequently threatned with judgment. I adjoyn moreover that the Scriptures speak more flatly against illustrious Magistrates, than the common sort: for if God had left it to men, whose tongues are prostituted to flattery, they had scarce been told that their abominable sins would bring damnation. 2. The comfort of the poor is never to be forgotten in this point: the servile life of a poor Shepherd is as fortu­nate as great exaltation, when it is made up with this blessing, that Christ is be­fore his eyes; a little that the righteous hath is better than great riches of the ungodly: every small estate with the fear of God is plentiful enough. For thus I reason, if you do not serve God with zeal and charity, and a conscience undefiled, it were pity you should have more than you have; though you were less than the most abject vassal upon earth you had too much. If you be the child of God, strong in Faith, full of the consolation of Hope, operative in Charity, would you wish a better portion than that? do you know whether they that are admir'd for rich and honourable have so much? Who had not rather be one of these silly Swains, so blessed as to have an Angel appear before them, and to sing the triumphing day of Christs Nativity in their ears, than to be the Master of the whole Flock who slept at home under his Canopy of Gold, and heard no such matter? In fine, to end this point, a poor birth required no better than poor Shepherds to come and visit in the Manger of a Stable: Wherefore as S. Austin hath it, Let us learn to be rich in him, who for our sakes was made poor. Let us be no more the servants [Page 16] of sin,In Natal. Dom Ser. 13. because he took upon him the shape of a servant. Qui propter nos de terra or­tus est in illo coelum possiàcamus, Let us live to inherit heaven through him, who for our sakes was abased to inherit earth.

Secondly, The good Shepherd that giveth his life for his sheep, would first be manifested to those good Shepherds, that watcht over their sheep: Palamque fit pastoribus pastor creator omnium, says the ancient Hymn. Methinks I see his promise reveal'd to Moses, to Jacob, to all those Patriarchs, whose vocation it was to keep sheep, in this one act, that Shepherds are his choice, and before all others, to whom the triumph of his Birth is chanted. Who was the first man that ever found God in Heaven? it was the righteous and innocent Abel, a faithful Shepherd as we read it, Gen. 4. semblably who were the first men that ever found out God upon earth? Why the Angels will suffer none to find him out before the Shepherds have had a sight of him. Inquire likewise of your fore-fathers, what God did in their days, and in the time of old, and you shall find that the greatest deliverances that ever happened were wrought by Shepherds. I have toucht upon it before in another strain: Israel was deliver'd from bondage out of the Land of Egypt, the ve­ry type of Hell, and that was effected by Moses who kept the sheep of his Father Jethro. Judah was delivered out of Babylon, another type of Hell, at the command of Cyrus, who then was a mighty Prince, but once an expos'd infant, and train'd up to be Shepherd, as we find it in prophane stories: but the true deliverance was first communicated to these in my Text, that it might be spread abroad by the Shepherds.

The point is full of observation, so that I cannot dwell long upon one thing; but this I add; who deserv'd these joyful news before the Priests in the Temple, and the Shepherds in the field? Marvail not that I joyn them together, the Temple and the Field being so far asunder: but might Zachary say, Lord we have often of­fered up the Lamb at morning, and the Lamb at evening, twice a day have we lookt for the salvation of the world to come in the flesh when we drest the Sacrifice. And might the Shepherd say, Lord we have fed our flocks with carefulness, both in the heat of the day and in the frost of the night, not so much for the wool and profit, but that these might be offerings to be slain upon thine Altar. Yet those Beasts are but shadows of him that is to suffer for the sins of the world: When will he come that is substance of these types? Illius aram saepe tener nostris ab ovilibus im­buet agnus; why to satifie this just expostulation, loe, Gabriel appears to Zachary the Priest, and the thrones of Heaven did congratulate those Shepherds with the news, as who should say, leave the Fields, give over your Flocks and Lambs, there is no further use of burnt Offerings and Sacrifice; go and see the Babe that from henceforth will save the poor Beasts from slaughter, and will save the world from their sins.

Surely these Shepherds had heavenly meditations in their minds, and were most religiously prepar'd, when this Embassador of heaven did approach unto them. And you my beloved, I speak to one with another, if that innocency and harm­lesness were in you that was in them, you would think many a time, that a divine Beam did shine upon your soul, and that you had your conversation with Angels. They had no State Stratagems in their brain, no projections to profit themselves and to wrong the Commonwealth, no undermining insinuations: do you think they were in Law, and cast about to make their suit endless, and never come to trial? or how to cast a fair gloss upon deceitful merchandize? or how to live by the spoil and oppression of others? no such thing I warrant you: But if the An­gel had any joyful tidings to bring in these days, where should he find a man that is harmless and innocent?

Maldonat.Thirdly, says a late Writer, Non magnatibus res innotuit ne ad Herodis aures perve­niret, the Rulers and Magistrates were not acquainted at first with these news, be­cause God would have his Son concealed from bloody Herod: for had there been great men as honest and religious, nay, better than these Shepherds, which I can believe and prove too (if need require) yet somewhat there was in way of Chri­stian policy, which did enable the Shepherds with more trust, to sound out, and to publish Christ: For might it not have been suspected that faction and division was a breeding against Caesar, if some of the principal men had spread abroad that a mighty Prince was born to redeem his people. I say, it would have put the Romans in doubt of Rebellion: that then which had been Treason in the mouths of Po­tentates, was Gospel from the lips of Shepherds.

[Page 17]Fourthly (and I will spare all that may be multiplied beside in this point) Pasto­ribus rationalium Ovium ante alios divina mysteria annuntiantur: Tolet. Ann. 14. in 2. Luc. There are Shepherds that feed the reasonable flock, whose pains and industry are devoted to watch over your souls; of these you must be perswaded, that the divine Mysteries of Christs Evangel, are especially reveal'd unto them. Knowledge is or should be preserv'd in the lips of the Priest, and you must not think that every man is the Son of a Pro­phet, to preach Christ, and to teach a Congregation: It is the brain-sick fancy of the Brownists, who, while they attribute a sacred Priestly authority to every one of the Sect, they have left themselves none that was fit for the Function. What, you will say, was not Christ first published by poor lay Shepherds, and af­terward preached unto the world by Fisher-men; and then his Resurrection testified by Mary Magdalen and other Women? why do we debar them of that now, which Christ vouchsaf'd them before? I answer, Relation is one thing, Revelation is an­other; to teach a Doctrine is one thing, to testifie an act is another: if Christ be born, if he be risen again, to declare this fact and story honest plain dealing Shep­herds and silly Women were fittest instruments, and most unlikely to deceive; but in matters of Revelation, yea, or in matter of Doctrine it is otherwise. Moses was a Shepherd, but never undertook to teach Israel, until God mark'd him out for the business, and inspired him. David was a Shepherd, but undertook not to teach divine Psalms, and instruct the Church, until God instructed him. The Apostles were Fishermen, but never made the Doctors of the world, until the Spi­rit lighted on them: And they that can shew either lawful calling, or revelation that the Spirit hath pointed them out, let them prosper in the work that they un­dertake, otherwise I must say for the instance of these Shepherds in my Text, that they were but faithful relators and witnesses of what they had heard and seen, but not Ministers of the Gospel of Christ.

Of their personality thus far: now of their plurality, that they were Pastores, Shep­herds in the Plural, at least more than one. As some Fathers compute the number of the Wisemen that came out of the East, that they were three, neither more nor less; because three gifts were presented to the Child in his Cradle, Gold, Myrrhe, and Frankincense; so these audacious Textmen are bold to say, that there were three Shepherds to whom the Angel came, neither more nor less: and what conje­cture moves them to this opinion, but because that heavenly Carol which was sung this day from above, consists of three parts, Glory to God, Peace on Earth, Good will to­wards men; but whether two or whether twenty, it is known only to the Holy Ghost: This we read and no more. Pastores in eadem regione, they were Shepherds in the same Countrey. It is a point of care indeed, very circumspectly observed in the birth of Kings, to have witnesses of good credit and report in the place,Maldonat. Ne quis falsus pro vero Rege supponatur, lest a supposititious Child should be jugled in for the Heir of the Crown: So Shepherds were called to come to the place where they should find Mary and the Babe, that the testimony of good men without exception might stand firm against all those that should oppose it: And what testimony could be more valid and strong in every part? let the Jews cavil as they will; they which talk of that which is done afar off, may easily be mistaken; but these came from the nearest parts to Bethlehem, even in the same Country. 2. Active and experienced men are more dangerous to trust, but the Education of Shepherds is without guile or devices. 3. Do not tax their report, that it was a sleepy appa­rition or a dream, for my Text avoucheth they were watching over their flocks. 4. Lest all the credit of the tidings should lean upon one mans voice, Pastores, many Shepherds and many Tongues would bear record, that they saw in the City of David a Saviour which was Christ the Lord.

Now began the Vine, that is the Church, to stretch forth her branches, and all the Husbandmen that could be hir'd were called to labour in the Vineyard: the time was when one single Dove returned into the Ark. One David sate alone like a Sparrow upon the house top. One Elias that was zealous for the Lord, wandred soli­tary by himself in the Wilderness: now they did increase into troops and into multitudes. Many wise men drew to Bethlehem to adore the Lord, many Shepherds to visit him. Peter and Andrew, Philip and Nathanael, James and John were called together; the Church brought forth no less than twins at once to shew her fruit­fulness: a true sign that they belonged to the Land of Canaan, when they hang to­gether full and thick like the Grapes of Eschol in their clusters. A lesson for them that affect singularity, and think they are in tune, when they sing discord flat [Page 18] against all the world. He that is one by himself is little better than one beside himself, and hath no more cause to boast then a Leper had, who dwelt alone, and was cast out of the Congregation of Israel. Esto gutta in imbre grandinis, make a drop in a shower that poures down from Heaven. Christ accepts not of the testimony of one alone, but of many, Ʋni testi ne Catoni quidem standum, a shaft divided from the Quiver, may be knapt in sunder; when it is in the bundel it is not easi­ly broken. I have done with their pluralities, now I come to the two last circum­stances concerning their office and diligence, they watcht, that's not all, but they watcht over their flocks, that is the sum of all.

There are two sorts of persons noted for finding out Christ more eminently than others, the Shepherds before all others after he was born, and Mary Magdalen the first of all men and women, as far as we read after his Resurrection. The Shep­herds were vouchsafed their blessing, because they watcht by night. Vigilaverunt multum, a hard task if you consider the time of the year; and Mary was so pros­perous because she rose very early in the morning to seek her Lord, Vigilavit mul­tum. It is hard to say whether ever she slept one wink for care and grief, since the Passion of our Saviour; and God knows who shall be the first that finds him at his second coming in Glory, when he shall come also like a thief in the night: but whosoever he be, this I am sure of, Vigilabit multum, he must be none of them that sleep in gluttony, that are heavy with surfeiting and drunkenness, with cham­bering and wantonness, he must watch or be fit to waken to find the Lord. The enemies of our soul are mighty and many in number, our temptations steal upon us as closely as they that come to rob in a mist, or in the dark of the night. David you know chid with Abner, because he watcht no better about Saul his Master: The thing is not good that thou hast done, 1 Sam. 26.15. as the Lord liveth you are worthy to die because you have not kept your Master the Lords anointed. So shall we be rebuk'd if we do not set watch and guard about our soul; we deserve to die because we neglected to sence our soul from the incursion of those evil thoughts that will destroy it.

Slothfulness and idleness are all one, as if you took your ease and slept upon your bed;Sence. de providen. c. 5. it is Vigilantia somno similima, a kind of watching that is no better than if you snorted like a sluggard. He that will not waken out of this spiritual sleep of sin for the voice of preaching, and for good admonition, he will be wakened with a mischief: never any so sleepy and sluggish but Gods wrath, or the hour of death, or the final day of Judgment will start them out of their lethargy, and then they shall awake, as Sampson did that shook himself, when he lifted up his head from Dalila's lap; but the Lord was departed from him. I have multiplied many precepts upon former occasions, that you should be like watchful Shepherds, expecting the coming of Christ: one thing which I do not remember was then delivered shall serve at this time instead of many points of caution. A man that cannot hold up his eyes, and awake when need requires, must be shaken and pincht; violence must be offered to his drowziness.Sence. Ep. 60. So lest we sleep in sin, Excitandus è somno, & Vellicandus est animus; you must prick and gourd your own conscience with the ter­ror of judgment, with the menaces of damnation. Suffer not your eye-lids to shut, but sift and shake your own heart; examine your self, remember what a blessing it is to be a watchful Shepherd, that an Angel of comfort may come and sing salvation unto you.

Watchfulness as it is only a restraint from bodily sleep is not that which I urge and enforce; this is a season wherein I know its much in use, to sit up late; they that intend games and revels, and pastimes are watchful enough, though they turn the night into day, and the day like heavy sluggards into night: The luxury and voluptuousness of our Feasts in many Families do reach to midnight, and then we think we have kept Christmas, when we sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play. Perchance excess and surfeiting do so distemper us, that it is well when we have eat and drunk if we can rise up to play. Some relaxation and triumphs of mirth were ever allowed to our Saviour's Nativity, as Mordecay said of the days Purim, that they were days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor; Esther 9.22. but the Devil envying our gladness hath turned it into riot, and the very madness of luxury: The careful progenitors made it many days work to labour hard, and to leave a fair inheritance to their posterity; and my dissolute heir makes it some few nights play to lose and consume it; as if the day were not long enough: he borrows the best part of the night to make riddance of his patrimony. Great difference between such unlucky night ravens, and these Shepherds in my Text, that watch over their flocks by night.

[Page 19]I know the application runs in a right line upon the Priests of God, but this is not a place for those instructions: this I will not omit, a certain postilling Frier, that preferred his Monastery before the Pulpit, knowing our labour and his own ease, did thus observe upon the former verse, that Christ was born in a Manger, ut Anchoritarum caenobia solaretur to patronize the solitary Cells of Hermites and Ancho­rites, an exact pattern of Solitariness I wiss to be born in a troublesome Inn: nay, in the Stable therefore which is common for all men, and at such a time when Town and Countrey were gathered into Bethlehem. Every house full of Strangers to pay their Subsidies to Caesar, in the midst of this throng. Is not our Frier much mista­ken to put us in mind of a Monastery? but rather we may note, that the blessing of Christs Birth was first annuntiated not to slothful Monks, but to Shepherds that watch over their flocks. Our Saviour is diversly call'd both a Shepherd and a Lamb, Ʋt Agnus apud greges annuntiatur. Christ the Lamb is revealed unto Shepherds; Tolet. Ann. 14. in 2. Luc. it is fit they should first hear of the yeaning of a Lamb. Christ the Shepherd is revealed among the flocks: it is fit the flocks should be comforted, that the Prince of Shep­herds was born. I add Christ the head of the Church, under whom all Shepherds have their charge, it is fit he should be notified to Shepherds that attend their charge, that watch over their flocks.

To include you all, every man and woman in the application, suppose you are no bodies keeper but your own: Vigila saltem super animam tuam, why be watchful and prudent over the safety of your own soul; and when I have spoke that word, your soul, I perceive instantly that you have a whole flock to look to, and it is all your own, the affections and passions of your mind; them I mean, if you bridle their lust and wantonness, if they do you reasonable service, you have a rich flock, sheep that shall stand upon the right hand of God: if they usurp and fill you full of uncleanness, they are a flock of goats, that shall be condemned unto the left. What says Cato of our affections? they are to be governed like a flock of sheep, you may rule them altogether so long as they follow and keep good order, but single one out alone, and it will be unruly and offend you: as who should say all our affections, must be sanctified to God, the whole flock; let one passion have leave to straggle and all will follow it to destruction. Many sit up late and eat the bread of carefulness for the increase of riches; but those are the thorns that choak the seed. Let the watchfulness of the heart especially be fixt upon this flock, the desires, the passions over all that issues out of the soul, as the Star cast his beams directly upon the place where Christ was born. Dei secreta non cognoscimus si in terrenis desideriis vigilemus, Greg. lib. 23. Moral. c. 20. we shall not find out the secret of God, that is his Son, if we watch over fleshly and earth­ly things. Finally, all the providence of our watch will be in vain, as David says, not sufficient to give repulse to the wolf that lies in wait, unless the eye of God keep centinel over us. Our custody is weak unless the Lord send his Angels, as he did unto these Shepherds, to pitch their pavilions round about us: Wherefore pray we that the Watchman of Israel may be always about our paths, and about our beds, who neither slumbers nor sleeps; to whom be Glory and Honour, &c. Amen.

THE THIRD SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 9.

And lo the Angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.

NO Scripture more fertile of wonders, or fuller of variety touch­ing the Incarnation of our blessed Saviour than this Gospel, and therefore I continue in this story year by year upon this glori­ous occasion. And you may discern how we go up by stairs and degrees in every verse till at last we make the highest pitch that the eloquence of man can fly to. We began with a Trea­tise of a most humble stile, a Babe wrapt in swadling clouts, lying in a Manger; from thence we are lead to place and persons of a little better condition, to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night: from the shepherds by a manifest ascent to the Apparition of an Angel, the Angel of the Lord; from one Angel to a multitude, which is much better, a multitude of the heavenly Host; from that noble Army to him who is greater than all the Angels, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord; And lastly, from that Saviour on earth to his most excellent dominion in heaven, Gloria in excelsis, glory be to God on high. And as in our Church Service we do or should shut up every Psalm with that devout Doxology, Glory be to the Father, &c. as if that were it which gave every Psalm his tune and relish, so glory be to God on high is a verse which may most fitly be said or sung to every circumstance which belongs to the birth of Christ. He was laid in a Manger, glory be to God on high for that humility: proclaimed by Angels, glory be to God on high for their at­tendance and ministry: manifested to Shepherds, glory be to God on high for instruct­ing their simplicity: finally, to comfort our hearts that night and darkness are dispelled, a glorious beam of light made the earth glister where they stood, and therefore glory be to God on high for the comfort of that heavenly illumination and glory.

The Text which I have read unto you contains those particulars which are most natural to heaven and most proper to earth, things most truly celestial are Angels, and Light, and glory, all these did joyn together to solemnize this great Nativity when tidings came unto the Shepherds; and that which properly savours of earth is fear, especially [...] great fear, and shepherds not able suddenly to entertain heavenly visions were sore afraid. If you will fully know how and in what trium­phant manner these tidings were declared from heaven, and withal with what astonishment they did possess the earth, lend me your attention to these four parts in general: 1. Here is Gods Minister imployed to divulge the Incarnation, Loe the Angel of the Lord. 2. The pomp and solemnity which the Angel brought with him, the glory of the Lord did shine round about. 3. Here are the persons, though I have [Page 21] spoke largely of them heretofore: I say the persons honoured both with that mes­senger and that solemnity, the Angel came to them, the glory shone round about them, they were Shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. 4. How this Angel, and that shining glory did affect these poor men, they were sore afraid: And for your parts dearly beloved, so prepare your souls so to meditate upon Christs Birth, that when you promise your selves after your dissolution the joy of Angels, and glory shining round about you, remember to temper presumption with the Shepherds fear and reverence; and again, when weakness and little faith are sore afraid, be mind­ful that Christ was born to bring us to that light which knows no darkness, and to everlasting glory: So knit them into your heart, as they are most divinely wo­ven into my Text, And loe the Angel of the Lord came upon them, &c.

And first, be ready to hear how Gods Mnister was employed to divulge the In­carnation, Loe the Angel of the Lord came upon them; touching whose Apparition five interrogatories must be answered: Quis? what Angel this was of all the heavenly Hie­rarchy [...], it should seem one of conspicuous glory, the Angel of the Lord. 2. Quando? when he came, I believe instantly after Mary was delivered; Ecce; loe he came, that note demonstrative expresseth the celerity. 3. Quomodo? the true substance of an Angel is not visible and apparitive to men, he came in some fa­shion altered from himself: ecce, it was wonderful, loe, an Angel. 4. Quo situ? how he did apply himself to the Shepherd, de coelo supervenit, says one Translation, he stood above them, astitit juxta illos, says another, he stood near unto them, we say, he came upon them. 5. Quare? why men were not accepted to do this office to manifest the Birth of Jesus, but, loe an Angel of the Lord.

1. Quis? and who was this Angel of all the heavenly Hierarchy? modest igno­rance is better than presumptuous knowledge: doubtless the Holy Spirit had given him his Name in this place, if it had concerned our edification: yet he was no no­vice; but St. Cyprian himself that ventured to call him Gabriel, Veniunt in Bethlehem quam praedixit Gabriel, & invenitur Emanuel, that is, the Shepherds came to Bethlehem as Gabriel had taught them, and there they found Emanuel, who is God with us. Sure­ly so Divine a Father would not bolt out without a mark to aim at, and I discern some colour for that conjecture out of a Grammatical Article. Zachary was visi­ted by a messenger from heaven, as he was doing his office in the Temple, Luke 1.11. There appeared unto him an Angel of the Lord; but verse 26. [...], the Angel Ga­briel was sent to the Blessed Virgin in the City of Nazareth, and as if he were to be known from that holy Spirit who came to Zachary, by this emphatical Article be­ing once named Gabriel; from thenceforth he is spoken of according to his office, the Angel of the Lord. Surely he was one of the most glorious attendants of hea­ven, one of those principal Seraphins that stand always before the throne of God; the business about which he came was of the highest nature that ever was sent from Heaven to Earth; and therefore who should undertake it but as great a crea­ture as the Heaven and Earth afforded? But the School Doctors say otherwise, who build upon the groundless curiosities of their adulterate Dionysius; list to their spe­culation forsooth, that Cherubins and Seraphins, Thrones, Principalities, and Domini­ons are vertues of the highest rank and order, always resident in the Orbs of Hea­ven, never giving attendance to the Militant Church beneath: But that commonly stiled Archangels and Angels (in which degrees they place this Gabriel) they have intercourse and messages as God appoints them to the world below: A brave president if you mark it for their lazie Cardinal Prelates, that the active Angels, such as proclaim and preach Christ should be the underlings to the rest, and to pretend that there are others of no such troublesome office and employment, that are the superiour principalities. Well, as it is probable with St. Cyprian to say this welcome Messenger was Gabriel, so it is more probable to hold against Diony­sius his conjectures, that this glorious Herauld who came to publish a Saviour to the world was one of the mightiest and chief of the Cherubins, loe the Angel of the Lord.

1. The next interrogatory is quando? at what time and season the Angel came. Ecce venit, surely he made no stay, but came with great expedition after Christ was born; if it were not in the same minute or hour, yet it was in a short space after: for he tells them in his Message, This day is born unto you in the City of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. When God was to destroy a people, he thought it fit to make it known unto Abraham, shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, Gen. 18.17. much more when he was to save a people he would immediately re­veal [Page 22] the thing in hand, and loe the Angel of the Lord, as who should say, shall I hide from these religious careful Shepherds the thing which I have done for their salva­tion. Let us compare in a word Christ manifested to the Shepherds, to the Wise­men of the East, to Simeon and Anna in the Temple: to the Shepherds he was made known the same day that his Mother brought him forth, to the Magi of the East, as the most ancient do collect, twelve days after upon the Feast of the Epiphany, to Simeon and Anna forty days after he was born, when Mary according to the Law came to the Temple to be Purified. The Shepherds were Jews, and he was made known incontinently to them, prefiguring that the first-fruits of the Gospel should be preacht before them at Jerusalem, the bread of life should first be broken to the Children before the dogs had the Crums which fell under the Table.Aquia. 3. P. sum. q. 36. art. 6. Those Easterlings that brought gifts to his Cradle of Gold, Myrrhe, and Frankin­cense, they were Gentiles, and the Apostles were sent to them in a little di­stance of time after the Feast of Pentecost, when it was illustrious that all Tongues and Nations should praise the Lord in their own Language. Yet again there shall be another Revelation of the Gospel to the Jews, after forty days, numerus certus pro incerto, when the Gentiles have had their part, Simeon and Anna shall enjoy them, that is, in the fulness of time, and in an hour that we do not think of; a remnant shall be collected, God will gather together the out-casts of Israel, and the dispersions of Sion. Once it was, ecce Angelus, Gods Minister stood in the midst of them in this Text pointing the Messias with his finger, who then was in the City of David; now after much attendance, after many an ecce, many a long look the glory of Israel shall be revealed unto them. So much for the time of this Apparition.

3. Loe, or behold an Angel! soft a while, and let us ask in the third circum­stance, quomodo? how we should behold him? a Spirit hath not flesh to be seen, or bones to be felt; in what fashion therefore did he alter himself? surely it well deserves Ecce Angelus, a note of Admiration; for the manner was wonderful. Beloved if the Eternal Son of God did not abhor the Virgins Womb, those ministring Spirits whom he commands could not abhor the shapes of men; they appeared eve­ry way in the same form and fashion wherein we walk upon earth. Yet thus we distinguish them from our selves, our bodies are begotten, theirs were created; our flesh propagated from the loins of Adam, their substance made extraordinarily, not according to nature, but by the finger of God; our soul quickens the flesh which it possesseth, and makes it live; their bodies which they assum'd had not vivifi­cation by the breath of life, but only serv'd them for motion and representation: our bodies have the instruments of outward senses to convey sensible things to the fancy, and so to the understanding; they had eyes, and ears, and other sensible organs, non ut sentiant sed ut corpus perfecte representent, says the great Schoolman, not to exercise those senses, but for an ornament and complement sake, lest their bo­dies should seem monstrous and formidable to the beholders. Finally, their bodies after they had appear'd to discharge their embassage, vanisht into elements never to return again into that composition, but our bodies shall revive out of that dust into which they were dissolv'd, and live for ever in the resurrection of the righteous. Some have so commented upon the Apparitions of Angels in holy Scripture, as if they had not truly taken humane shapes, the better to communicate their business to men, but God deluded mens eyes, and bred this thought in their fancy, as if they had seen that which was not visible. I confess there are prophetical Visions in holy Text, when the fancy of certain Prophets was perswaded it saw that which it did not see; it was a Divine passion which made Ezechiel think he saw beasts with wings, and wheels under their feet, chap. 1. It was a mere Divine passion which made Da­niel suppose he saw the powerful ram push down all other beasts with his horn on the banks of Ʋlai, Dan. 8. These objects were conceived by none but by them sin­gle Prophets; no other eye could be partaker of it. Now on the contrary that's no prophetical Apparition but a real object which is equally visible to all specta­tors; therefore the Apparition of Angels was not imaginary, but substantial: for loe the Angel of the Lord was seen of all the Shepherds, and the Angels which Lot entertained were conspicuous, not to Lot only, who was a just man, but equally to all the vicious Sodomites: And so much for the fashion wherein he did appear, not as a spirit, but in the shape of a man; and therefore Ecce Angelus, loe an An­gel of the Lord.

4. The next doubtful question is, Quo situ? after what manner the Angel took [Page 23] his place when he came unto them: the Grammarians are at odds, what [...] should mean, whether he hover'd above their heads in the air, or stood in the same level near unto them. Beda prevented this quarrel, and accepts of both interpretations, Sunt juxta nos per amorem, supra nos per authoritatem; they stand near unto us by their love, and they stand above us by their authority. Surely if Christ had not been born to reconcile us to his Father, we had not been worth the coming near, we had been no company for those holy Seraphins: but since he vouchsafed to take flesh and blood, the nature of man came into respect and reverence; the enemy shall not approach to hurt it, but those auxiliary troops of heaven pitch their pavilions round about it, supra, juxta, planting themselves as a fortress for our head, and as a buckler for our arm. And indeed those are the chief things that need good in­fluence and assistance, knowledge and action, head and hand. Some are secret inventors of mischief, plotters and contrivers of disturbance, their brain is a mint of oppression; where is Angelus superveniens? the Angel above? Some know their Masters will, but they do not do it; nay, quite contrary, fear or favour wrings ill effects from them: where is Angelus astans? they want a good Angel at their elbow. Where is Michael the great Prince Qui stat pro filiis populi tui, which standeth for the children of thy people, Dan. 12.1. But whether this celestial Embassador hover'd above their heads, to shew the property perchance of a glo­rified body, or whether he walk'd and convers'd upon the earth as man to note our fellowship with Angels by the Birth of Christ: yet [...] supervenit is one that came suddenly, never lookt for at that season; which construction, says Beza, Beza in An­not. is indifferent to both: and well he doth apply the verse unto it, Grata superveniet quae non sperabitur hora, an hour of felicity came at an instant upon us which we never dream't of: and so much for the manner how the Angel took his place.

5. Now follows the fifth interrogatory upon which I shall stay longest, why men were not accepted to do this office to manifest the Birth of Jesus; but loe an Angel of the Lord. There are many reasons for that expediency which I will marshal in their order.

1. As an evil Angel did co-operate to bring death into the world, so a good An­gel was a choice instrument to bring the tidings of salvation: for why did the Son of God take flesh? to repair the fall of man. How did man transgress? by the sub­tilty of the Serpent. Who was the Serpent? our adversary the Devil. Who shall make amends for the mischief which the Devil wrought? one much different in grace, but of the same Essence, and Nature, and Creation, the Angel Gabriel. But you will say no fault was committed by the good Angels, they were neither enticers nor abettors of Adams prevarication, why should they trouble themselves? true, but a kind of blot did stick unto their name, and for a full measure of recompence they would satisfie for that which was none of their transgression. Our first dis­obedience was occasioned by a tree, our Redemption was purchased upon the tree of the Cross: We were wounded by the appetite of Eve, we were healed by the Womb of Mary: Here was tree for tree, and woman for woman. So an evil spirit tempted us to our loss, and therefore a good Spirit is zealous to be an instru­ment of our restitution; there's Angel for Angel.

2. They were exceeding busie to declare Christ unto the world many ways, Con­cipiendum, conceptum, natum, before he was conceiv'd to Mary, when he was con­ceiv'd to Joseph, after he was born to the Shepherds; for they are willing to partake all good things unto us in the Militant Church, because we shall be [...], exalted to be equal to the Angels in the day of Christs second appearing; Choristers of one Quire to praise the Lord, and members of one triumphant Church for ever. They came in humane shapes like unto men, nay, they are often called men in Scripture, Ʋt demonstrent intelligibilem societatem, cum iis habendam in vita futura, because we shall make up one spiritual society and fellowship to sing Hallelujah hereafter. I am not of their mind that say the Cherubims in many things were unresolv'd about the My­stery of Christs Nativity, and that they came with these messages to instruct both themselves and us. St. Peter doth not make good that fancy, because he says these are things [...]nto which the Angels desire to look, 1 Pet. 1.12. and Dionysius roves at ran­dom, who imputes it to them that they would better understand that point of Faith, because it is written, Isa. 63. Who is this that comes from Edom? but many an­cient Fathers do adjudge that the Angels take delight to be present in our Christi­an Assemblies when we meet in this house together to offer up the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Paul enforceth modesty to the Corinthian women in the [Page 24] house of Prayer because of the Angels, 1 Cor. 11.10. Angelos testes habent hone­sti pundoris aut impudentiae, as the most expound, the Angels make one congregation with us, and therefore they are witnesses of their modesty or impudence. Where is then your reverence, your bodily humiliation when you come to Gods house? do all things with decency, and well-beseeming devotion; for the Angels are our invisible associates, says holy Bernard. Non ausus es illo presente facere, quod me prae­sente non anderes? Dare you do those unbecoming things where the Angels are by to witness, which you durst not do for fear of censure if the Ecclesiastical Magi­strate did look upon you?

3. The Incarnation of Christ is, I may say, the perfection of all things in the world; and therefore good reason that all creatures should have some participati­on and interest in it. Men did share in him in his own sex and person, women in the Womb that bare him: poor men in the Shepherds, great ones in the sages of the East: the Beasts by the stable wherein he was born: the Earth in the Gold that was offered: the Trees in the Myrrhe and Frankincense; and to reckon up no more, the Heavens in the Star that blaz'd: all the works of God, even they which by natural obedience bless him and magnifie him for ever, did claim some office to make one in the solemnity when their Creator was born. Why surely some room was left for the Angels, it was fit they should be in the train at the Inaugura­tion of this mighty Prince, and their place, according to their dignity was very ho­nourable; they were Gods Embassadors: and as if they had a Patent to use their of­fice frequently, they had many errands from Heaven, to Mary, to Joseph, to the Shepherds; Non satis est semel missum esse, duobus aut tribus testibus stat omne verbum, says St. Ambrose, They came three several turns and no less, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

4. Angelus in carnis specie Christum in carne venturum praenuntiat, says Aquinas, the advent of the Messenger was in some wise a commentary and explication upon the message: the tidings to be open'd surpass'd the apprehension of a natural man, though he were the wisest Dictator of Philosophy, that the Eternal should be be­gotten, the Infinite be contain'd in the finite, that God who is a Spirit incompre­hensible should be made flesh. O unutterable mystery! what visible inducement could be thought of to make man believe it? how should the dull and ignorant ap­prehend this transcendent operation? Behold Gods Nuntio, this Angel that came to the Shepherds, go no farther than him; and you shall have an instance what the Almighty can bring to pass; for the Essence of Gabriel was pure and spiritual, not mixt with elements, no bodily concretion in him; yet he tells his errand to the world in the similitude of flesh and bone, notifying that the Spirit of all Spi­rits God himself should be made flesh.

5. Angels and Principalities were first upon this Ministry to preach the Nativity of Christ, to honour and countenance their office, who in the same calling do succeed the Angels. Look not upon the poor Fishermen whom Christ did call from the Sea of Tiberius, but estimate your Clergy by the excellency of that heavenly Host who were the first that preacht the Gospel to the Shepherds. I take my self off from this dis­course in which I might amply proceed, lest you say unto me as one said of Horten­sius, that he advanc'd Eloquence to the skies, craftily meaning that himself might be advanc'd as an Eloquent Orator in the commendation. If we glory we will glory in our infirmities, and in the Cross of Christ, not presuming upon that amplifi­cation of analogy with Angels. I will lay the scene of my reproof beyond the Seas, but I would we were quit of the fault at home: How many exalted Prelates refuse to do that office to teach Christ, especially to poor Shepherds, although a Cherubim of Heaven in my Text did willingly submit himself to do the work. It troubled the Historiographers among our Adversaries to find out one Pope in almost 100 years that was a pulpit man when he became a Pope, that was Pius V, and he but rarely. I may say of such men, as Pliny did of those Emperours who made great suit to be Consuls, and then disdain'd to discharge the Function. O inscitia verae majestatis concupiscere honorem quem dedigneris, dedignari quem concupieris. O ignorance of duty to affect that honour which they scorn'd to execute: to scorn to execute that ho­nour which they earnestly affected. Is an Angel no more than fit to preach Christ? and is proud man too good for it?

6. The fancies of men have assaye'd to add this for a sixth reason to the former, that the noble Hierarchies of Heaven do merit some increase and addition of glory by their care and obsequiousness toward the universal body of the Church of Christ; [Page 25] but the matter was better scann'd by Biel, who therefore refutes that sentence of Lombard, Tum sequitur si homo non fuisset creandus, Angelus non habuisset summam su­am beatitudinem. Then it would follow that the Eternal Felicity of the Thrones of Heaven did depend upon the creation of man: for except there had been a Church here below to which they might administer, they had wanted occasion to demerit some increase of their glory. Indeed it is an opinion that savours of servility and baseness, as if they that stand always before the face of God would do nothing but upon gain and advantage. Alas, they have no other end of their labour but that which every man should have in charity, the increase and enlarge­ment of the Triumphant Church in Heaven; and therefore our Saviour, Luke 12.9. threatens Apostates from the Faith thus, He that denieth me before men, him will I deny before the Angels of God, that is, before the greatest friends and well-wishers of our beatitude.

Lastly, It is an observation not to be omitted,Serm. de Epiphan. how St. Austin compares three several ways wherein Christ was manifested; to the Shepherds by an Angel, to the Wise men by a Star, to Simeon and Anna devout people that spent their age in the Temple, by the Holy Ghost. Simeon and Anna were exceeding faithful, such as waited and expected every day the salvation of Israel; and therefore the Holy Ghost told them secretly in their hearts as soon as the Babe was brought into the Tem­ple, that this was the Lamb of God which should take away the sins of the world. The Shepherds I presume were just men, but had not so much perfection in the know­ledge of the Law to look for and expect a Saviour; therefore an extraordinary Nuntio, an Angel was sent unto them: but the Gentiles utter aliens from the Faith were directed to the Manger by signs and wonders from heaven. So says St. Paul, 1 Cor. 14.22. Signs are for them that believe not, and Prophesies for them that believe: And as the axiom is in Philosophy, every thing is best collated, when it is fitted ad modum recipientis. Now the Shepherds were Jews, and were taught in the Sy­nagogues concerning the Apparition of Angels; the Magi were Astronomers and better knew the course of Stars: The book of the Creature was sit to teach the Gentiles, but a Divine Spirit was better accommodate to teach a Jew, that they might receive the Gospel even as they had received the Law: and the Law was delivered, says St. Paul, by the ministration of Angels. And so much for the first general part, all the five questions being satisfied, which of the Angels this was, when he came, in what figure and apparition, how he did apply himself to the Shepherds, and lastly, why men were not accepted to do this office, but loe an An­gel of the Lord.

The order which I propounded requires now that I speak of the pomp and solem­nity which the Angel brought with him, [...], and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. [...] the glory of the Lord fitly rendred in this place by the vulgar Latin, Claritas Domini, a lightsome brightness or splen­dor which God caus'd to shine in that place, making the night unto the Shepherds as clear as if it had been day: So when a lightsome pure cloud did appear in the Dedication of Solomons Temple, the Text says, 1 Kings 8.11. The glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord; therefore it was not properly that essential glory of God, unto which no man in this life can approach, but lux ante gloriam, the conso­lation of a beautiful light, which was the shadow, and the fore-runner of Glory. But it were a great trespass in Art to run into obscurity and confusion when we are to speak of light. 1. Therefore I will endeavour to shew how many ways such brightsome apparitions are observable in holy Scripture. 2. Why this illustrious Glory did shine round about the Shepherds.

When God would beautifie and adorn a thing in some excellent manner, I find that in a four-fold fashion he scatters and transfuses the beams of light and splendor either upon it or about it. 1. Let us reflect our remembrance upon 1 our Saviours Transfiguration, his face did shine as the Sun, and his rayment was white as the light; as white as snow, says St. Mark: so that no Fuller on earth could make a thing so white. Now we know that Christ was not as yet glorified, his body had not yet put on incorruption: therefore Eluxit splendor à Divinitate, it was the pleasure of his Divinity at this instant to alter his countenance and his garment, and from the union of his Divine nature: this glory did redound upon the outward parts. 2. In the Resurrection, when our flesh shall become an inha­bitant 2 of the heavens, not only the face, but all the body of man shall look in a triumphant manner, like a pillar of light, which unspeakable beauty shall result [Page 26] from the soul to the blessing and ornament of the body. So I read, Dan. 12.3. They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righte­ousness 3 as the stars for ever and ever. 3. This claritude and heavenly semblance hath shined upon some faces, when it redounded from no inward fountain; as in the Transfiguration of Christ from the personal union of the Divinity; or as in the beatitude of the Saints from their Glorification: But God cast a beam of honour upon them from the comfort of his own presence. So in the forty days that Moses was upon the Mount twice he came down to commune with the Children of Israel, and there was no alteration in him; he lookt as one of the other people: But when the Almighty passed by him and proclaimed his mighty name in his ears, then when Moses came down the skin of his face did shine, and the people were afraid to come nigh him, Exod. 34 30. as the purple of one ripe grape doth tincture that which is next it with the same colour, so that flaming Majesty wherein the Lord appear'd did cast a new die of awfulness upon the forehead of Moses. And S. Stephen the Martyr had a glimpse of the Glory of Christ, which like a ray of the Sun darted upon his face, and all that sate in the Council saw his face as it had been the face of 4 an Angel, Acts 6. ult. 4. A lightsomness and coruscation hath been shewn from hea­ven, not resting upon the persons, nothing was chang'd about them, but upon the place where they stood; in the day time when it appear'd it was more glorious than the day, and when it appear'd in the night it turn'd the night into day. So it happened unto Paul at noon-tide as he journeyed unto Damascus; hear his own testimony to Agrippa, Acts 26.13. At mid-day, O King, I saw in the way a light from heaven above the brightness of the Sun shining round about me, and them that journeyed with me. So it happened to the Shepherds upon Christmas-day as they kept watch over their flocks by night, when the nights are at the darkest, according to the season of the year: the heavens were spread above them like a glistering Canopy, the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and so many ways in Scripture, four in all, God hath communicated light to glorifie his own works, and his Saints that praise him.

You shall hear some opinions what kind of light this was which did spangle in the field,Ambros. Serm. 16. when the Angel came unto the Shepherds. St. Ambrose thinks it was some fulgure of the Stars. Angels, says he, and Shepherds had a voice and a tongue to pub­lish their joy, but the constellations of heaven, Quia voce non poterant, gaudia sua offi­cio protestantur, because they could not utter their joy by a tongue, they express it by their duty to start like lightning into the fields which were near to Bethlehem. And whether he speak it by a figurative amplification or not I know not; but the same Author hath these words, Sol praeter consuetudinem in hac festivitate matutinus il­luxit, the Sun prevented the morning watch, and peept upon the earth earlier than he should, to guild all those fields with his light which were adjoyning to the Stable where Christ was born: For. says he, why might not the Sun make more haste than natural to offer service to the Son of God, as well as stand still in the fir­mament to attend a petty Jesus, Joshuah the Captain of the Israelites? But with the leave of that holy man I conceive, if the Sun had rose miraculously before the time, the Scripture would have express'd it, even as we find it mentioned that the Sun was eclipsed, and the heavens darkened at the Passion of our Lord.

Others are conceited, because an Angel is a glorified creature, therefore the bo­dy which he took upon him did shine triumphantly, as if he had stood in a cloud of light. Hence it comes, says the Cardinal, that among other honours which are decreed to Saints in their Canonization this is one,Bellarm, lib. 1 de sanc. bea­titud. c. 7. Pinguntur eorum imagines addito certo quodam lumine in signum gloriae quam habent in coelis: Their images are painted with resplendent rays about them, to signifie the light of that glory which they enjoy in heaven. But, beloved, my Text says not, glory did shine about the Angel, or that the glory of the Angel did hallow the place; but the Glory of the Lord did shine about the Shepherds. Therefore I adhere to that learned Author, who says it was Claritas creata prae se ferens divinam majestatem, Tollet. in Luc. 2. An­not. 16. a clarity of light new­ly created, which bare the evident shew of no created Spirit, but of a Divine Majesty: and some are bold to say that this white glorious cloud which dazled the Shepherds, afterward being compacted into one body, it made that blazing Star which went before the Wisemen from the East unto Bethlehem; and I leave it in­different to you, as you think fit to believe them.

But I leave to agitate this point any more, [...], what this shining Glory was, and for some profitable use and application I come to the next thing, [...], what [Page 27] use there was of it to celebrate our Saviours Nativity? First, The Lord did put on this glorious apparel, even a robe of light to express the Majesty of his Son who was born to save the world. Mis-conceive not his excellent greatness because he lies in a Manner, but estimate him by this sign from Heaven, that the glory of the Lord did shine round about to honour his Nativity. Christ is obscur'd in the Stable, says St. Austin, but his messenger shines in the field, Sic opera humilitatis apud nos con­temptibilia, illustria sunt in conspectu Dei; so humility may appear contemptible to us, but it is glorious in the sight of God. In the old Testament, says Hugo, though Angels were sent to men upon sundry occasions, yet they never came with this pro­pertie, as far as we read, that glory did shine about them. Nunc exorto Sole justitiae tanquam solares radii lucidi & fulgentes apparent: but now the Sun of Righteousness did rise upon the earth; they appear conspicuous in their colours like the beams of the Sun. Nothing could resemble Christ so well as this Claritas Domini the bright­ness and splendor of the Lord, because he is the brightness of the Fathers Glory, Heb. 1.3. it is a similitude which gives ample occasion unto faith to make fit constru­ctions. The Father is compar'd to the Sun in the firmament, and Christ his only be­gotten to the light of the Sun. 1. Non libere à patre procedit, sed naturaliter, says St. Cyril, he comes out from the Father, not of free choice, as if the Father had power not to beget him, but naturally as the light hath an emanation from the body of the Sun; so that the Sun cannot choose but give light. 2. The generation of God the Son is eternal, even as the Father is eternal: we cannot say there was a time when he was not, no more then we can say there was a time when the Sun had no light: Light is of the same time and antiquity with the Sun it self which brings it forth. 3. Damascen collects truly that the Son of God is inseparable from his Father,Damasc. l. 1▪ de fide, c. 9. Cornel. à lap. in Heb. c. 1. even as light cannot be taken away or parted from the Sun. 4. Another observes how pure a generation that is with which the Father brings forth the Son; because light though it be but a creature, yet it is a pure and a spiritual quality, and comes forth by no contaminated or polluted procreation. 5. It extends further to re­semble how the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son, even as that com­fortable warmth which cherisheth Plants, and every living thing issues joyntly from the Sun it self, and from the light thereof.

By this it appears how suitably a beam of admirable light did concur in the Angels message to set out the Majesty of the Son of God; and I beseech you observe, all you that would keep a good Christmas as you ought, that the glory of God is the best celebration of his Sons Nativity; and all your pastimes and mirth (which I disallow not, but rather commend in moderate use) must so be manag'd, without riot, without surfeiting, without excessive gaming, without pride and vain pomp, in harmlesness, in sobriety as if the glory of the Lord were round about us. Christ was born to save them that were lost, but frequently you abuse his Nativity with so many vices, such disordered outrages; so that you make this happy time an occa­sion for your loss rather than for your salvation. Praise him in the congregation of the people, praise him in your inward heart, praise him with the sanctity of your life, praise him in your charity to them that need and are in want. This is the glory of God shining round, and the most Christian solemnizing of the Birth of Jesus.

Secondly, This lightsome apparition about the Shepherds, 'tis Typus claritatis Evangelicae, a type of the light and perspicuousness which is genuine and proper to the Gospel. The Law of Moses was given to the people when the hill of Sinai was full of mists and dark pillars of smoke, for there were many things delivered to that Nation of the Jews which were wrapt in darkness, and in thick pillars of ob­scurity: Types and Ceremonies were difficile to be understood, but the faithful­ness of the Gospel is as clear as the light, and the righteousness of Gods promise as the noon-day. The Law was lucerna pedibus meis, a candle unto my feet: and so says Solomon, the Commandment is a lamp, Prov. 6.23. Nay, as if it were not a clear burning candle David says it is Lumen in laterna, Thy word is a lanthorn unto my feet; as if the old Law had been no other then a candle under a bushel, as it is in the Parable: but the Gospel is a light as great as the Sun in the firmament, a candle upon a hill, Posita super candelabrum Catholicae Ecclesiae, says St. Ambrose, and the Catholick Church over all the world is the candlestick to hold it. This is not a splendor upon the face only, as it befel Moses, but it is splendor circumquaque, says my Text, it shines round about, and no corner in all the Church which is Christs Family, but it hath been enlightned.

A candle will suffice to give all men light that are in the room where it shines, [Page 28] but it is such a light as doth not warm or cherish you. So the Law was a candle whereby he that read might learn, and know the will of God, but it did not warm or comfort a man; nay, it left a man quivering and shaking, extream chill and cold at the heart: for it is written, Cursed is he that doth not keep all these sayings and do them: therefore the Gospel is a better light, it gives light, and withal heat and comfort, zeal and joy to them that receive it; as it is in the next verse, Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy. How proves he that? why, there is born unto you a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. It is Bonaventure if I mistake not, that says upon my Text, Claritas Dei circumfulsit non tantum exterius in corpore sed etiam interius in mente; the light shin'd outwardly to the Shepherds, and inwardly in their hearts, that's round about in full compass both in soul and body. O you all pre­sume that the light of the Gospel hath shin'd upon you as well as upon another, you know Christ, and his redemption, and that's enough for your share; but do you find any comfort in it? are you warm at the heart? if you be cold in your profession, not caring which way Religion stands or falls, indifferent whether Christ be worship'd this way or that way, then the light doth not shine round about you, you have it without but not within.

Thirdly, The dark night was brightned with a shining Cloud at our Saviours Nativity, to signifie that he should be Lumen solatii in nocte tenebrarum, a light of consolation to them that sate in the dark night of persecution, and misery. Mary Magdalen came to the Sepulchre early when it was yet dark, she wept and afflicted her soul that she found not the body of Christ in the Sepulchre; and loe it was very early and yet dark, a season to increase sorrow: but behold an Angel, whose countenance was like lightning, and his rayment white as snow, did enlighten her heart, and chear'd her spirits, that Christ was risen from the dead. Thus light did arise unto the faith­ful in the darkness of their heaviness. Take another instance of sorrow which was hard at deaths door. Peter was kept in chains in prison, and one says he had no better room than the lowest dungeon,Lorinus in Acts 12. Carcer erat teterrimus & obscurissimus & ne die quidquam lucis admitteret, it was such a dark corner, that there was not a chink in it to take in light in the day time; yet an Angel came to him anon be­fore the hour when he lookt for death, which was long before the morning, and a light shined in the prison, Acts 12.7. And though no outward beam of light glance miraculously upon the Saints in their chains and captivity, yet the comforter even the Holy Spirit will not fail to lighten their darkness within, as David said, in the midst of my sorrows thy mercies, O Lord, have refreshed my soul. The Fathers of yore who were present at the execution of many Martyrs give us the report, what un­speakable gladness was reveal'd unto them from above in their fiery trial: the fiery flame which consum'd them was like the light and shining of an Angel to so­lace them.Hugo in c. 7. Judic. Martyr est velut fracta Gedeonis lagena tunc emicat & vincit: it is the saying of Hugo. Every one of Gideons Souldiers had a pitcher and lamp in it, they broke their pitchers, their lamps blaz'd, and they had the conquest of their enemies: so says he, our body is an earthen pitcher, if martyrdom burn in it like a lamp, and the pitcher be broken to pieces, then we shall have victory against our spiri­tual enemies, and peace with God.

Fourthly, Let us make that use of our Saviours first coming into the world in flesh, which St. Paul doth of his second coming in glory, 1 Cor. 4.5. The Lord com­eth who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart; and then shall every man have praise of God. The most obscure things shall be made manifest unto his light, and the thoughts of all hearts shall be reveal­ed unto him. The righteous Lord trieth the very hearts and reins, Psal. 7.10. [...] to try the heart is verbum forense, as when Magistrates examine the truth not by que­stions only, but by rack and torments, they will have all out in confession: so God is said [...], to draw out all secrets from our inward breast: And it is impos­sible to keep the subtilest thred of iniquity concealed. When he came to judg­ment against Egypt, and sent his Angel to kill their first-born, yet at midnight he knew which was an Egyptian, and which was an Israelite: so though we carry our sins with a demure countenance, and smooth it with subtile hypocrisie, yet his know­ledge shineth in the darkness of our hearts as if it were light; and he can distin­guish between our inward affections, our thoughts, our fancies, our sighs and yearn­ings, that this is an Israelite born of the will of God, and this an Egyptian born of the will of flesh. Laban could not find his Idols, because Rachael had laid them privily in her stuff; but the Lord can detect that Idolatry which we keep close in our [Page 29] hearts. [...], says the Grammarian, the Greeks denominate God from pe­netrating all things with his eye: and when Christ could see into the profoundness of Nathanaels thoughts, behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile, Nathanael instantly confest, Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel. Alas, that we go on still in darkness, and do not understand! are you in your wits that think iniquity is farther from judgment, because it is farther from appearance? do you forget the discoverie of Achans wedge, and Gehazi's briberie? do you not recal how the Priests of Bel were detected for gluttons and impostors, creeping in at se­cret doors to gurmandize the junkets prepared for the Idol? deal squarely and without dissimulation; for you think it is night and no man sees, but the glory of the Lord is round about you.

Fifthly, No sooner was the world blest with the Birth of this holy Child, God and Man, but the Angels put on white apparel, the air grows clear and bright, darkness is dispell'd; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and walk as children of the light: the earth should be more innocently walkt on too and fro, because Christ hath trod upon it; our bodies kept clean in chastity, because he hath assum'd our nature and blest it. Gods word should be heard more respectfully because he hath preacht it: finally our conversation should be honest as in the day, because the day-spring from on high hath visited us. Wicked men are groping like the Sodomites to find out mischief, though God have hid it out of the way. The Saints and Angels are in a state of light, wherein they know as they are known, perfect­ly partaking of the beatifical vision; between these two there is a middle conditi­on of godly men who see into the way of righteousness, though it be darkly as in a glass; but they that dress them by a glass can discern how to mend any thing that mis-becomes them; So the Gospel of Grace is a mirror of the light of Glory; it is not the fault of the Gospel, but of our own darkness, if we learn not of it to put on the true wedding garment. The Apostle calls it the putting on of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ʋbi animus tenebrescere tentationum caligine coeperit, ad lucem gratiae reformatur. Moral. l. 10. c. 19. When the conscience is overcast with the darkness of temptation, it flies to the looking-glass of Grace, and reforms it self by looking into it: This is to vindi­cate our selves from the powers of darkness, and to walk decently as in the day. Works of lewdness come from the darkness of our understanding, they love to be done in privacy and not before the eyes of men: abjiciamus, says St. Paul, as if he would have you fling them away to the Devil, and bid him take his own. As a wise servant would not be found with folly in his hand, if he knew his Master were near: so be­cause our salvation is come as this day in humility, and we know not how little he will defer to come in Majesty; therefore abjiciamus, throw away his filthiness from you, lest Christ should come and find profanation in your mouth, oppression in your purse, false tinctures of art and pride in your face, and disobedience in your heart. Every child of light will have his lamp burning in his hand, and by this he will know you whether you be his Disciple, if you speak the truth and come to the light; as if the glory of the Lord were round about you.

Lastly, A glimpse of some celestial light did sparkle at his Birth to set our teeth on edge to enjoy him who is light of lights, very God of very God, and to dwell with him in that City which hath no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon, to shine in it; for the Glory of God did enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. I con­clude with St. Paul, Col. 1.12. Let us give thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. Amen.

THE FOURTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 10.

And the Angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold I bring yon good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

THat which is every mans salutation, wherewith he greets his neighbour at this time of the year, is the subject of my Text, a merry Christmas; it is it which we wish one to another among our friends and familiers, and it is it which the Angel in my Text wisheth to all kindreds of the world, as if we were all become his friends and familiers, good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. And surely were it not that the Birth of Je­sus made us merry at this season, and put gladness into our hearts, all the year beside would be louring and lumpish, without all manner of consolation, Until God sent forth his Son made of a woman we might not receive the adoption of Sons: Without adoption we had no part in the inheritance, with­out hope of the inheritance what comfort could the children have? we had been all like Esau afflicted, and desperate when we had no share in the birth-right, no part in the blessing of our Father. The Israelites that toil'd like Gally-slaves under the works of the Law, had their New Moons, and their Solemn Feasts of Trumpets, and Tabernacles, had many other gaudy days, which carried a shew of gladness, but indeed there was no solid consolation in them; they wanted a Christmas-day, the Nativity of a Saviour to make all chearful: their pleasantness was like the singing of a bird fast lockt in a cage, sometimes it chants a sweet note, yet flut­ters, and is always unquiet, because it is under captivity. Therefore it is to them that Amos denounceth that heavy note, chap. 8.10. The Lord will turn your feasts into mourning: but for our sakes the message is transpos'd, and the Lord will turn our mourning into an everlasting feast. So said the Angel, not only to a few Shepherds, as in the former verse, but to all that watch over their souls, as they did over their flocks, Fear not, &c.

It is very manifest therefore that the scope of my Text bends to this point, how Christ made flesh as this day in the similitude of man, that he might redeem that na­ture from the curse of his Fathers wrath, which he had taken into the union of his Person, I say, how the Son of God for our sakes incarnate is our crown, and our rejoycing, the consummation of all our felicity, which thus I prove by a true division of the parts. To that eternal happiness, in which we shall rejoyce before God for ever, two things, say the Schoolmen very rightly, do equally concur; Omnis miseria excluditur; omne desiderium expletur, all misery shall be excluded, all desire shall be satiated, and both these two are most remarkable in this Angelical congra­tulation. First, the depulsion, or sending of all manner of evil and misery from our blessed estate, fear not. Secondly, the inclusion of all those joys and solaces [Page 31] that can be askt, that's laid open in Evangelizo; good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. Privatively the messenger brought no discomfort; nay, positively he brought comfort, which twain put together make up the complement of our final beatitude.

In the first general branch wherein the Angel promiseth a deliverance, or award from all evil that might make the Shepherds sorrowful, I consider these particulars for the explication, 1. What they should not fear. 2. How they should not fear. 3. Why they should not fear: in the first they are incourag'd that three things be not dreadful unto them, Splendor Angelicus, propria indignitas, legis maledictio, tremble not either at the heavenly glory that shone round about them, nor be dejected at their unworthiness, nor be affrighted at the threatnings and maledictions of the Law. In the second we may consider a natural fear which may be too passionate, and immoderate, they must cast off that; and there is a worldly sorrow or fear which is altogether unprofitable, they must fly that; but there is a religious reve­rential fear, which is not passio, but donum; not a passion of flesh and blood, but a gift of the Holy Spirit: they must pray for that. The next interrogatory was, why they should not fear? and that for two reasons; Propter nuntium, propter nuntiatum, first in a less principal respect, because an Angel came to comfort them; but chief­ly in a more principal regard, because Christ was born to be their comfort. The second general branch abounds much above this, where not only evil is dispell'd, but a whole box broken, and all the oyl of gladness poured upon their head: where­in you may note, first the Angels Trumpet, with which he proclaims his errand, ecce behold it; then the errand consisting in no less than seven parts of Benediction. 1. Ecce ego, says Gabriel, Behold I bring unto you, the terms were much amended with Heaven and us, that an Angel came upon a peaceable message. 2. Ecce Evangelizo, he was no Law-giver that was terrible, but an Evangelist. 3. The sweet air of the Gospel hath some harsh tidings, to take up the Cross, and endure unto blood, and death, but these were tidings of joy. 4. Joys are of several sizes, this is a great one, nay, none so great. 5. Joys and great ones are quickly done, this is gaudium quod erit, joy that shall be and continue. 6. A man may be a conduit-pipe to transmit joy to others, and have no benefit himself; this is gaudium vobis, joy to you, to every ear that hears it. 7. A good nature would not engross a blessing, but desires to have it diffused, and so was this, gaudium omni populo, joy to all people. None of these many circumstances can be omitted, for I must be faithful in making this rehearsal Sermon, as I may call it, and omit nothing of that which the Angel hath preacht before me.

Now let us begin again with every parcel divided asunder. The Angel said unto them fear not; what should they not fear? first, non a splendore divino, let not their hearts be troubled because the glory of the Lord shone round about them. Sore eyes are distempered at much light, and it is a sign there is some darkness within us all, which loves not to be discover'd; that the best of us all are much perplext if any extraordinary brightness flash upon us. A glorious splendor fill'd the mountain where Christ was transfigur'd, and it did amuse Peter, James, and John, [...], who carry the name of the chief Apostles, that they knew not what they spake. Out of St. Pauls own mouth concerning his conversion, Acts 22.6. Sud­denly from heaven there shone a great light about me, and I fell with my face unto the ground. Well might the Psalmist say, his lightnings gave shine unto the world, the earth trem­bled, and was afraid. Ever ever shall we be afraid of any surpassing measure of light in this life, because our deeds are darkness. Especially the Shepherds hearts did mis-give them that the Lord himself was in this marvellous light, it is his decking, and his garment when he comes forth in Majesty, Thou deckest thy self with light as with a garment. Now you know Elias, a man of mighty courage, covered his face with a mantle, when a still small voice passed by his ears, and the Lord was in the voice; then it were strange if poor Shepherds should not quake, when they were perswaded that the Lord was in the light that shin'd upon them. A learned Expositor confirms what I say, Erat claritas creata praeseferens divinam Majestatem, it was a splendor of glory newly made on purpose, which did bear the evident shew of no created Spirit, but of a Divine Majesty. And ever since Adam was diffident of himself in the Garden or Eden, and confessed in this wise, Gen. 3.10. extimui, I was afraid and hid my self, ever since that hour the heart of man is cast down, and presageth some evil to come, when God and his Angels appear, though they entreat us peaceably. The main reason is this, Ne dignam suis meritis accipiant re­tributionem, [Page 32] our own sins rise up against us, as unanswerable accusers, and we omi­nate and conjecture that God appears for nothing, but to judge and condemn us. When God and his Angels presented themselves to Jacob in a dream, he breaks out into these words, Gen. 28.27. How dreadful is this place! this is no other but the gate of heaven: Peace Jacob, why doest thou not cry out, how comfortable is this place! this is no other but the gate of Heaven; but it's certain that the very comfort of heaven was dreadful, and unpleasant to men in the Old Testament: and our na­ture is still corrupted, the vessel is still unclean that receives these blessings, and therefore we are afraid of the great mercies of the Lord, as well as of the great punishments.

Alas, O Lord, for I have seen an Angel of the Lord face to face, says Gideon, and yet for all that fear,Judg. vi. 22. Gideon is named a mighty man of valour. Manoah the sire of that race from which Sampson came, the very name of valour; yet he said to his Wife, We shall surely dye because we have seen the Lord. Jud. xiii. 22. The charitable widow of Sarepta was no less afraid of Elias an extraordinary Prophet, Art thou come to slay my son and to call my sins to remembrance? finally Peter drawing a miraculous draught of fish into the Ship as Christ bad him cast out the net, thought of nothing but his own sins, and Gods vengeance, Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. But here's a messenger in my Text that bids the Shepherds cashiere all these affrightments, nei­ther to be dismay'd at the light that shin'd about them, nor yet that God was in the glory of that light. First, Not to be troubled at the light, for it was to make this doctrine manifest, as if it had been written with a beam of the Sun, that Christ is the true light which lighteth every man, that cometh into the world: And why, says Bernard, did God ordain that light should be instead of John the Baptist, to usher Christ into the world when he was born? but because he would illuminate him without, Qui interioribus ignorantiae tenebris obducitur, who was overcast with darkness within. In him was life, and that life was the light of men, John 1.4, Quae necdum infundi poterat, at divina saltem circumfunditur claritas, as the light was but spread about their bodies here, so it was a sign, that if they would believe in him that was come to be the Messias, and to save them from their sins, their whole bo­dies should be transform'd into bodies of light hereafter in the Kingdom of Hea­ven: And as every living thing rejoyceth when the night is past, and the Sun ap­pears upon the earth, so they and we have cause to rejoyce that the night of Ce­remonies pass'd away, and the clear evidence of truth did shine abroad, Ʋnto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise, Mal. 4.2. Therefore according to Bernards elegancy this is the Angels fear not drawn out at large:Serm. 6. de Nativ. Dom. timetis phantas­ma; en adest veritas. You are afraid of some spectrum or vision, fear not, behold we come with the evidence of truth. You suspect this is the lightning that goes be­fore a thunder-clap: No, no, it betokens there is a light risen into the world, which is the comfortable light of men: You suspect death, but I annuntiate life: You fear the gates of Hell, but the Heavens are opened and God is come down among you: You conjecture some perdition, but behold I preach a Saviour, that shall save you from your sins. This is the meaning of the light, which did dance at Midnight about the air, when Jesus was born, and the Angel said to them that trembled at the Vision, fear it not.

But what if God himself were in that light? What if it were a fiery Appariti­on darted from the presence of his Majesty? Why yet Nolite timere, Fear it not. Once it pleased our heavenly Father to keep a distance with man upon these terms, no man hath seen God at any time, and lived. Now the day is come when you shall see he communicates himself more friendly to dust and ashes; so St. John begins his Epistle, That which was from the beginning, yet we have seen it with our eyes, we have looked upon it, and our hands have handled the Word of life. It is not from henceforth, since Christ was born, as it was with the Bethshemites that lookt into the Ark, which represented the glory of God, and died for it. Now no man hath so much cause to fear his indignation as he that shuns his presence, and fears lest the Lord should appear before him. How did St. Stephen exult when he saw the heavens opened, and Christ Jesus standing at the right hand of God? Do you think the Martyr was ama­zed to see the sight? No, my Beloved, ever since the Son of God vouchsafed to take flesh in the womb of Mary, it is not a sign of death to see any part of Gods glory, but a good ominous presage of everlasting life. Therefore be it that God was in the light which shin'd about the Shepherds, yet all is well, says the Angel, Nolite timere, Fear it not.

[Page 33]Secondly, They must take courage, and not be troubled à propriâ indignitate, be­cause of their own unworthiness. Indeed, what might they think within them­selves that they were vouchsafed to hear the first Proclamation of this Blessed Nati­vity. To us these Congratulations? To us, poor Swains, this heavenly Embas­sage? To us miserable Shepherds these Tidings who are set with the Dogs of the Flock? Tell them to Caesar, or to Herod his Lieutenant, or to the chief Priest; Non nobis Domine, non nobis. We are most desertless Wretches, and why should God bestow such a royal favour upon us? Do you remember, Beloved, how Peter drew our Sa­viour near unto him, by crying out, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord, Luk. v. 8. The more he requested him to be gone, the more Christ did abide with Peter; so by how much the Shepherds did abase themselves before the Angel the more did the Angel raise them up, and bade them be encouraged to behold the Glory of God. He that did choose little Infants to be his first Martyrs, and ignorant Fishermen to be his first Apostles, and Mary Magdalen a woman, and a sinner, to be the first Witness of his Resurrection, it may appear that his grace is manifestly toward them who have a quick feeling of their own indignity. The blessed Virgin, when she had conceived her Son, came to her Cosin Elizabeth, that God might prove her lowliness, and thus she exprest it; Whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come unto me? Luk. i, 43. Whether John Baptist learnt this humble confession of his Mother Elizabeth, or whether the Mother spake it in the Spirit of her Son which was in her Womb I know not, but I am sure in the like phrase of speech John gave back when Christ came near unto him, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? Indeed, if none had adjoyn'd themselves to our Saviours company, but such as had deserved it, they should have done like the Jews, Joh. viii. 9. all men convicted by their own conscience for their unworthiness should forsake him one by one, and leave Jesus alone.

See how God brings Light out of Darkness, the best encouragement of a dastard fearfulness; the comfort of these poor men was, that they saw nothing in them­selves to comfort them; and their reward was great, because they knew they did not deserve it. We use to say, that no man is the nearer to death because he makes his Will, and bequeaths his body to the earth: So no man is the further from heaven because he doth heartily confess himself a miserable sinner, that de­serves the condemnation of Hell-fire. If that will please the Lord, as sure it will, better than any burnt Sacrifice, who will not say, with David, Adhuc ero vilior, 2 Sam. 2.22. I will yet be more vile than thus, and I will be base in my own sight? This day is a very Cate­chism of humility, ask me any question about a lowly, and an humble mind, and I will shew how this day shall answer it. Suppose it were demanded what is humility? I would say, a conformity to the likeness of Christ incarnate, Ʋt videret homo quem se­queretur, Deus factus est homo. Few ensamples of that vertue upon earth, therefore that man might see whom to follow, God was made man. But proceed we in Interro­gatories; Is not perfect humility abhorrent from the Pomp of the World? Yes, so was our Saviour, who was born without the Pride and Riches of Magnificence. Will it display it self in vain attire? No, he was wrapt in swadling clouts. Is it t [...] be found ordinarily in stately Mansions, and Kings Houses? No, he was laid in a Man­ger. Doth it thirst after the applause of the World? No, upon his first manifestati­on he was made known to the meanest Shepherds in the field. Did he seek his own praise? No, the Carol of his Nativity was, Glory be to God on high. Did he molest and trouble others? Was he disdainful, as proud men use to be? No, the other part of the ditty speaks him otherwise: Peace on earth, and good will towards men. May a mi­rable abject Wretch dare to encounter his dreadful Messengers? Yes, with a glad­som courage, it will be an advantage to their lowly mind, that they are guilty of their own indignity, Nolite timere, fear it not.

The third thing which makes every joynt of an humble sinner to quake, is Legis maledictio, the Curse of the Law, and unless that be strucken off we shall fear, though all the Angels of Heaven sang Halelujah, and bade us be chearful; but this is the greatest piece of alacrity which the birth of Jesus brings with it, that it bids us not to fear the Curse of the Law. With this parcel of comfort St. Paul supplies that which is strictly wound up in the Angels Message. God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, Gal. iv. 5. Yet in a more emphatical Phrase, Gal. iii. 13. Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, Hieron. in 3. cap. ad Gal. being made a Curse for us. First, St. Hierom observes upon it he was factus non natus, not born, but made a Curse. For two things are to be considered in the Manhood of [Page 34] Christ: Both that he was an immaculate Lamb full of grace and truth; and so he was born in the blessing and favour of his Father, This is my well beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, Mat. iii. And also that he took our person, and our guilt upon him, and so the maledictions due to all Mankind were translated upon him. This was the Scape-goat, [...], that carried away the malediction of our sins in­to the Wilderness, that we might serve him without fear, in holiness and righte­ousness all the days of our life. 2. He was not made maledictus, but maledictum, not accursed, but a curse for us. Some expound it by an Hyperbole, that he took upon him maledictionis cumulum, the whole mass of accursedness; but I like it better to be interpreted a Metonymy, semblably to that Text, 2 Cor. v. 21. God made him, that is his Son, to be sin for us, Peccatum non peccatorem, not a sinner, but a Sacrifice for sin; so he was not accursed, but for our sakes made a Sacrifice of malediction. 3. It is remarkable that it is said, Factus est maledictio pro nobis, not nobiscum. It is one thing to be a debtor for debtors, another thing to be a debtor with debtors. No part of his own debt was in the debt which he paid, but it was for us men, and for our salvation. O miserable condition of mankind, but for this most merciful ransom! As many as are of the works of the Law are under the Curse, and as many as break the Law are under the Curse. How could we be exempted, I do not say from com­mon, but even from desperate fear, unless the Angel had said, Fear not, here is a Pro­pitiation for your sins.

Will you please to attend how Christ was made somewhat for our sakes very differently four manner of ways: 1. Factus est aliquid pro nobis & nobiscum. He was made somewhat for us, and with us also: So this day he was made man for our sakes, and we are also men as he was; the Children have partaked of flesh and bloud. Muscul. in 3. cap. ad Gal. 2. Factus est aliquid pro nobis non nobiscum. He was made somewhat for us, but not like as we are; he was made sin for our sakes, but not sinful as we are; him that knew no sin, God made sin for our sakes. 3. Factus est pro nobis, non quod sumus, sed esse debemus. He was that for us which we cannot be now, but that which we shall be hereafter: For us he rose from the dead, ascended up to Heaven, is glori­fied with Angels, was made obedient to his Father in all things, and we have con­fidence in Christ that such we shall be; these things he was made that we might be the righteousness of God in him. 4. Factus est pro nobis, quod, nunquam erimus. He was made that for us, which is proper to his own Royalty, and which we shall never be. So he was made our High Priest, our Mediator, our Redeemer, our Sacrifice to make attonement for our sins: but factus pro nobis, that he was made for us is the base and ground of all; there began the death of sin by the life of Christ, and so forth we go on with chearfulness to abandon fear. The Fathers note it in the Cratch of the Manger where he was laid, a place made unclean with the dung of beasts, but ipsa stercora mundefecit. As his presence did purifie the room, albeit the filthiness of the dung; so his Nativity hath cleansed as many as believed in him, albeit the loathsomness of their iniquities. I have but one thing to say more to this point, noted (as I remember by Gregory) out of the Genealogy of his birth, Mat. i. thrice fourteen Generations are reckoned up, and but four women inciden­tarily put into the Catalogue. Judah begat Pharez, of Thamar, Salmon begat Booz of Rahab, and Booz, begat Obed of Ruth, and David begat Solomon of her that had been the Wife of Ʋriah. No women cited in the Chapter but these four, three of which had been unchast ones, very Strumpets; to chear up the penitent sinner, that their sins, and his, and the sins of all that believe are done away by him, by him that is above all names, the Son of God, who came into the world to purge us of our filthiness; therefore the true mirth of Christmas is to say with David, Psal. xxiii. 4. Though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me to save me from destruction.

Thus far I have enlarged the Angels comfortable Preface to the Shepherds, Fear not, that they should not be dismayed either at the light of glory which shined about them, or at their own unworthiness, which was a darkness within them, or at the malediction of the Law which pleaded condemnation against them, for the Birth of Christ, as I have shewed, was a remedy to take all malignity from them. Perchance if the Angel should come amongst us in these days of slumber, and secu­rity, he might spare that part of his Message. For where's the man that humbles himself as he ought, as if there were any evil to come? We are all confident, and void enough from fear, if that be good. Therefore I come now to lay the second part of my Text to the former, how we should not be afraid, not with an immode­rate fear, not with a desperate damning fear, which dogs a sullen unrepentant [Page 35] sinner up and down, but there is a pious reverential fear, which well becomes the Saints, and now I proceed to speak of those particulars.

The Schoolmen very rightly consider fear two ways, Quà donum, quà passio, Thom. 1.2 ae. qu. 40 gift of the good Spirit of God one way, and another way as it is meerly a natural passion. And first I will speak of it, as it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Primus in orbe Deos fecit timor, says Statius not so soundly, that fear was the first thing in the world that made a God. But I am sure that want of filial and awful fear is the first thing that will make an Atheist, and perswade a man there is no God. Isa. xli. 23. The Prophet Isaiah could say no worse of the Idols made of stocks and stones, but that we should not be dismayed at their Godship, they could neither do good nor hurt. But if we will revereri we must vereri, there can be no true worship of God without a sollici­tous, and most anxious care not to displease his Majesty. He that is not conscien­tiously afraid to offend, doth most of all offend. When Zacharies mouth was opened, and began to divine of this day, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for he hath visited his people, fear fell upon all that were round about him, Luke i. 65. it fell up­on them indeed, even as the Holy Ghost fell upon the Apostles at Whitsontide, Acts ii. In like manner when the Widows Son of Naim was raised from the dead by the word which Christ spake, Fear came upon all that were there, and they glorified God, Luke xvii. 16. Surely they had not glorified God as they ought if that fear had not come upon them. One instance more, 1 Kings iii. 28. All Israel feared Solomon when they saw the judgment of God was in him: And shall not all the World bow down with reverence and astonishment when they know that the power of all judgment is in God himself? But as for this filial devout fear perhaps we love to hear of it, for the Angels themselves cover their faces with their wings standing before the throne of the most high, Isa. vi. as if the Majesty of God were awful and dreadful unto them. And indeed a sollicitousness to do the will of God because he is good and gracious, the study of the heart which is wary and circumspect not to decline from his Law, if you will call this fillial fear, it may become an Angel, for David speaks of it as if it should endure in heaven, Psal. xix. 9. The fear of the Lord is clean, and endureth for ever. This is it to whose perfection we must aspire, to live justly and soberly, though there were no Hell at all, but purely out of the principle of love and zeal to the honour of our heavenly Father; and what a becoming thing it is unto Reli­gion to approach to divine Prayers, especially to the Table of the Lord with an awful duty, as if we were afraid to speak to God, or to touch the crums of his heavenly banquet? Is not this better than to thrust our selves into such coelestial actions with a sawcy familiarity, without fear or wit? What is more comfortable than to taste of that Cup which betokens the precious bloud that was shed for our sins? And yet the Greek Fathers term it usually [...], tremendum mysterium, a mystery to be trembled at when we partake thereof. Assuredly we may presup­pose, that when Mary took the clouts into her hand to wrap about her Infant, when Joseph did assist as it were in the office of a Father, when the Wisemen offered their gifts, when the Shepherds came out of the fields into Bethlem, and peept in where Christ was laid to see what was done, every action of theirs was mixt with reverent fear and joy, they stood amazed, they prostrated themselves, there was no more spirit left in them, as it is said of the Queen of Sheba when she beheld the roy­alty of Solomon: therefore the Angel forbids not but after this sort they should dread the Lord, with a filial and reverential fear.

Nay, I go further, the Angel would not disapprove of that fear which trembles at the wrath to come, and endeavours to live unblameable because God is an avenger of unrighteousness; for to discredit this fear by calling it fervile, and to dehort Christians from it, against which stone some I know do stumble, it shall not be my Doctrine, I hold it not safe and warrantable. If they take fervile fear in that notion in which the Sententiaries do take Attrition, that is, to be displeased at our sins only because judgment will follow, but neither sorrowing that God is disho­noured, nor declining bad occasions, nor intending renovation of life; this hath not a grudging of true Religion in it, it is no more than the trembling of an unre­generate mans conscience, who hath not tasted of the heavenly gift. But if you say that man hath a servile fear who dares not but do his Masters will lest he be beaten with many stripes, be not ashamed of this fear. Our Saviour goes it over and over, and commends it again and again, Luke xii. 4. Fear him which hath power to cast into Hell, yea, I say unto you fear him. The fear of the Lord, says the Wiseman, is the beginning of wisdom. How is it the beginning? Why Faith is the first cause [Page 36] of Religion, and fear is the first effect; as the foundation is the beginning or an house, so after true conversion it begins to go on from vertue to vertue, and this is the first ground work that it lays, Stand in aw, and sin not Psal. iv. It is such a beginning that I will say this, it is impossible to come to a true consolation in Christ without it. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoyce with trembling. Psal. ii. 11. Timor Do­mini est fidei fundamentum, & firmamentum, says St. Cyprian, Faith, which includes our hope in Christ, had no firmness, nor sure footing, but that it knows in it self it fears the Lord, Love fell asleep with her beloved in her arms, Cant. iii.i. And her beloved was gone in the mean time; So if their be not a mixture of fear with our love, it fal­leth asleep, it waxeth secure, and loseth her Beloved. If the comfort of our joy be not allayed with some fear 'tis madness and presumption. Again, if our fear be not intermixt with the comfort of some joy 'tis sullenness and desperation. As the Earth cannot be without Summer and Winter to make it fruitful, the pleasure of the one, and the austerity of the other make up the revolution of a good year, so Faith is the Parent both of a cloudy fear, and a smiling hope: Faith begets fear in us in regard of our own weakness, and hope in regard of the goodness of God; hope ariseth out of the faith of the Gospel, and fear out of the faith of the Law. These cannot be parted.

Indeed, servile fear is an unpleasing word because it grates our memory with this remembrance that our nature is in bondage, and that we are Thralls and Captives to death and punishment;2.2 ae. qu. 19. Art. 2. and therefore the words of Aquinas are very weighty, Timor servilis bonus est, sed servilitas ejus est mala; That bondage which makes us liable to judgment is naught; but the fear which issues from a conscientiousness of that bondage flying to God that it may fly from judgment is holy and good Briefly, let them thus be compared together; a filial fear, which loves God for his own goodness, is like a bright day which hath not a cloud to disfigure it: A servile fear, that dreads God because it dreads the wrath to come, is like a day that is overcast with clouds, but it is clearer than the fairest moon-shine night. It is good to have the spirit of Adoption, but it is better to have the spirit of bondage than the spirit of slumber; it is good to be in Canaan, but it is better to be in the Wilderness than in Egypt; it is good to be a Child, but it is better to be a servant than a stranger to the Lord. David most sweetly puts them together, Psal. xxxiii. Behold the eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear him, and that put their trust in his mercy. So I conclude this Point, that the Angels Nolite timere, fear not, doth neither cry down filial fear, which is the modest bashfulness, nor yet servile fear which is the sharp spur of true Religion.

Hitherto we have spoken of fear quà donum, as it is a gift of the holy Spirit. Now, that I may make my discourse complete, I must speak of it, quà passio, as it is a sensitive passion, and so when it is moderate, it is tolerable; when it exceeds, and will not hearken to the governance of reason, it is condemnable. I will speak but a few words of the first. Nature is excusable when it shrinks from those things that would offend it, and desires to save it from harm by fair and direct means, for in such a case our conscience pleads that there is a reasonable cause and occasion. These are Aristotles words upon the Point, that a man were stupid, or mad, [...]. That it is neither dismay'd at violent tempests on the Sea, nor at earthquakes on firm Land, like the fool-hardy and confident Celts in Scythia: But the day doth admonish me to take my in­stances from our blessed Saviour, and so I can, no example so fit for Allegation. For why did Christ and his Mother fly into Egypt soon after he was born, when Herod was in a fuming chase? Why did the Angel admonish Joseph to do so in a dream? The Lord could have saved him, as he did Elisha the Prophet in the midst of his enemies, whose eyes he blinded, that they could not see him. And again, says the Text, when he returned out of Egypt he went aside to dwell in the Coasts of Ga­lilee, for fear of Archilaus that reigned in Judea in his Father Herod's stead. Great caution as might be, and yet all this needed not, but because our Saviour would allow a circumspect fear in time of persecution to shift for life. Moreover, you must not think that Christ did fear as we do, will nill we, upon the compulsion of necessity, for he had all passions, and humane infirmities under subjection, so that he could be cast into no consternation but when his own will did consent and accord unto it, yet he chose a fit time to cast himself into a great agony of fear, when he sweat drops of bloud in the Garden, lest we should think it a sin at all times to be afraid upon just occasion.

[Page 37]This then is another fear which belongs to our allowance, but there is a fear which hath a Nolite set before it, an immoderate horror of heart, a symptome of desperation, or at least of infidelity and diffidence; this is that quivering with which God strikes his enemies, as a tree is shaken by the wind to unfasten it from the root. That mark which he set upon Cain was a continual trembling at the sight of man and beast. Pharaoh was never at rest in his mind lest the Children of Israel should grow too fast, and multiply so much that they would be too potent for the Tyrant that opprest them. He sent darkness to astonish the Egyptians, and they were troubled with strange Apparitions, Wisd. xvii. 3.2 Kin. vii. 6. He sent such a Panick fear among the Syrians, that they verily believed they heard the noise of an Host, and Chariot wheels, when there was no such thing, so they fled, and left to besiege Samaria. The fear of the wicked it shall come upon him, says Solomon, Prov. x. 14. The Jews were very scrupulous with Christs Doctrine lest the Romans should come and take away their Nation; in conclusion the Romans did come and lead them away in captivity. Timuerunt Judei perdere terram, & perdiderunt coelum, says St. Austin, Super. 11. cap. Johan. Cowards as they were, they were so fearful that they might not lose their possession upon earth that they lost their possession both in earth and heaven. But I come to take the in­stance of the Day into this Doctrine. How foolishly, how rashly was Herod trou­bled, because such Miracles concurr'd at the birth of Christ,Euseb. lib. 3. Hist. c. [...]. lest his Kingdom should be translated from him? And Eusebius makes Domitian the Emperour to con­cur with Herod in this Point; for hearing much talk of the Saviour, and deliverer of those that put their trust in him, he was afraid lest the Christians had a King in store to depose him; but afterwards desisted from his persecution, being certified, [...] that his Kingdom was not of this world, but an heavenly, and Angelical. Nothing, you see, is comfortable to them that have not the true comforter, the holy Spirit in their soul.

I have given my self large scope to run into this Point that I might joyn some Use for your instruction with the celebration of the Day. And now I will sum it up when I have discussed one thing how we may know a godly fear, which the Angel would allow, from a tyrannous molesting fear which He would inhibit. And this we must enquire into à posteriori, by the several effects on this wise according to Aquinas, Vel propter mala quae timet ad Deum accedit, 2.2.ae. qu. 19. Art. 2. vel propter mala quae timet à Deo recedit. Either for fear of some loss or harm it approacheth unto God, and that's a religious fear; or else for fear of some harm it forgets God, and departeth from him, and that's a criminous and a sinful fear. The Devils fear and tremble, says St. James, but they are never the nearer to be good. Diabolus habet timorem affligen­tem, non à penâ cohibentem. Satan feels some horror that gnaws and torments him,Ales. tom. 2. qu. 100. m. 4. art. 4. but he feels not the blessing of that fear which should discipline him from sin, and amend him. I will give another difference of this fear according to the gestures of men as they were good or bad. Abraham fell forward on his face when the Lord spake unto him; in all probability so did St. Paul, when at his Conversion the light from heaven did shine about, so that he and all that were with him fell flat to the ground, and were sore afraid. These in their fear fell towards God, and to­wards the throne of his footstool: But those ungracious servants of the High Priests that came to lay hold of our Saviour, and to bind him, as soon as Christ had said unto them, Whom seek ye? I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground, Joh. xviii. 6. [...]; as old Eli trembled when he heard the Ark was taken, and fell backward from his Seat upon the ground, and brake his neck. This is a naughty fear which recoils from God, and runs back from his Commandments. Now in the close of this Doctrine: I know every man will desire to know what manner of fear this was which the Angel did repel in the Shepherds; I answer, that in all probability it was mixt of good and bad. There was both an affection of reverence in it to the glory of God which shined in the light which was round about them; and an immode­rate passion of humane frailty, which did indispose them to receive any tidings from heaven. No face can be seen in a troubled water; and no message can arrive intelligently at his ear who is perplexed with trembling and astonishment; there­fore to quiet their mind, that the Word of grace might receive the fairer impressi­on, the Angel said unto them fear not. Which is the period of my second observa­tion, how they should, and how they should not fear.

The third interrogatory, which is all I will dispatch at this time, is a question that comes nearer to them, why they should not fear, and that for two reasons, Propter nuntium, propter nunciatum. First, in a less principal respect, because an Angel [Page 38] came to comfort them, but chiefly in a more principal regard, because Christ was born to be their comfort. A good messenger is a good medicine, says Solomon, Prov. xiii. 17. and the condition of this messenger is very comfortable like a lenitive medicine; his congratulation runs, as if he had said, fear not me, as if I were that Cherubin who was appointed to stand at the entrance of the Garden to keep you from the Tree of Life; no, I am sent to prepare his way who is born of a Virgin this day to bring you into Paradise. I have said it, be not afraid, for I am one that stand always before the face of your father which is in heaven, I know that his thoughts are full of mercy and compassion towards you. Moses and the Prophets spake con­cerning Christ to come, that he should deliver his people from their sins; but they were sinners themselves, which had utterly disabled their testimony but that they were inspired from God. The Law will reclaim that the same man should be testis, and reus, the person impleaded for guilty, and yet a witness in the fact; therefore an Angel who was guilty of no disobedience, of no breach against the Law, his testimony was unsuspected to testifie the birth of a Saviour. Not as if such as they be were stipulatores, Heb. v. 13. sureties unto men for the Promises of God, for because the Lord can swear by none greater he swore by himself, and because he can promise by none greater, he promiseth by himself. It is not for mans sake, or for an Angels sake, but for his own truth and mercy sake that we believe Jesus was born in the simili­tude of man to be Mediator between God and man; and since the Son of God hath come among us in the flesh we may reply unto this heavenly Messenger, as the Sa­maritans did to the woman that drew water for Christ,Joh. iv. 42. Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him our selves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

But you will object, what trust is there in any Creature, be he never so glorious, that he can promise comfort, and say we should not fear? Why, Beloved, we must not set light, or despise their help that God hath set to be our Guardians and De­fenders,2 Kin. vi. 16. to pitch their Pavilions round about us. The Prince of the air and his evil Spirits are never wanting to entrap us. But what said Elisha to his Servant in the mountain, when Chariots of horsemen and heavenly succours do present them­selves before him, Plures nobiscum, there are more that be with us than against us; Our friends do exceed the number of our enemies, therefore we may be couragious. Besides, the name of Gabriel, supposed to be that Messenger that came to the Shep­herds, his name by interpretation is Fortitudo Domini, the strength of God, as if he were a great Bulwark on our side, Quoniam bellum indictum est Daemonibus, upon Christmas day began open hostility against the Devil, therefore it is a good Omen, a blessed presage, that the trumpet of Gabriel blew these tidings abroad, who is fortitudo Domini, a valiant Prince, such a one as Michael was, that conquered the Dragon; as his name is, so is himself the strength of God. Finally, we may be sure that what he said to encourage us was solid comfort without flattery, no false alarm, no smoother of sweet words where there is no cause; for there are Moun­tebanks in Divinity, that will promise many sorts of remedies to a sin-sick soul where there is none at all;Jer. vi. 14. As Jeremy describes those false blandishing Prophets, They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying peace peace, when there is no peace. Slightly, or verbis leviculis, says Vatablus, with gibing frumps, [...] read the Septuagint, In Sententiis. scornful, despising them, whom they seduced with lying hopes. Periculosiora sunt animae secura, quàm corpori adversa, says St. Austin; security is more perillous to the soul than affliction to the body. But such messengers, as my Text speaks of, cannot publish a falshood, because they are ever enlightned with the spirit of truth; we may build upon a rock of confidence if they say Nolite time­re, fear not.

One touch more and this Point is done: You hear that the Tongues of Angels are chearful, comfortable Tongues, their tidings are no flattery, yet they are words of mirth and gladness. Then it were good me thinks that discretion, and the consideration of Christs merciful Gospel did mitigate their zeal, who think they are bound to thunder nothing so much to the people as fears, and terrors, like the writer of Iambiques that spote anger and poyson to put Archilochus into despera­tion. Let Vices be threatned, but let the hope that accompanies true repentance go together; Let Judgment be put home to the obdurate conscience, but let Mercy be an Advocate for the broken in heart: Let the strictness of Law and the Curse thereof fetch a tear from our eyes; but let the ransom of our sins be set before us, and that Christ will wipe all tears from our eyes. St. Paul wisht himself at Corinth, [Page 39] not to affright them, but to rejoyce with the Brethren; as it was said of the mild nature of the Emperour Vespasian, Neminem unquam dimisit tristem; he never sent any man from him discontent, but gave him some comfort and satisfaction: So the Go­spel is such a sweet demulcing Lesson, that if it be truly preach'd it must always revive the heart, it cannot leave a sting behind it; You see the Angel delights not to scare, but to comfort the Shepherds, Fear not.

I shall lead your patience no further than one thing more, why they should not fear, Propter nuntiatum, that's the most principal regard, because Christ was born to be their comfort. This is to be descanted at large hereafter upon the remainder of this Text, and for the present I will prevent what I shall say hereafter but with this one observation, that concerning all such as are terrified, and perplex'd in mind, we can do no more than the Angel hath done, preach Christ unto them for their comfort; if the joy of his Nativity will not allay their disconsolate, melan­choly desperation, then there is no Balm in Gilead to help them, that's all the infu­sion of solace which the Angel did pour into the world when it was cast down with sin. Poor soul, that art terrified with a condemning conscience, tell me to what end was Christ born but to seek and to save them that were lost? Was not he par­taker of flesh and bloud as thou art? And dost thou surmise that he made any for condemnation whose nature he took upon him, unless by their own infidelity they make themselves reprobates? Did he come among us to bring great joy unto all people? And wilt thou thrust thy self out of the number? Did not he weep in his Cratch that thou mightest sing in heaven? Did not he fly from Herod, that thou mightest fly from Satan? Was not he brought forth amongst us in great humility and misery, that thou mightest be translated out of misery into glory? Be not like Rachel that would not be comforted. Fear not little flock, it is your Fathers pleasure to give you a Kingdom. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? It is God that justi­fieth, who shall condemn us? It is Christ that was born, and died, and rose again to de­liver us from all evil; it is he that was made man, that thou mightest be made a glorious Saint, a fellow Citizen with Angels. AMEN.

THE FIFTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 10.

Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.

Serm. 6. de Nativ. Dom. IN the same Text where we ended the old year, let us begin the new, Jesus Christ last year, and this year, and the same for ever. To speak of our Saviours Nativity, says Bernard, is as new at these days as it was in the first Twelfth-tide after he was born. Semper novum est quod semper innovat mentes, nec unquam vetus est quod fructificare non cessat. That's justly esteemed a new meditation which prepares us to newness of life; neither can we say a tree grows old by standing long in the soil, which fructifies continually as much as ever it did before. In the imagination of our Faith Christ seems to be offered up again so often as we remember his Death and Passion in the Sacrament: so he seems as verily to be born again so often as we do faithfully annuntiate his Incarnation. Once we have done that work already in the day it self; the time is not yet expired which belongs to that Solemnity: now we are come once more to the same business to dispatch it, that you may see the difference between the antiquation of the Old Law plucking out the sting of fear, and the publication of the new Covenant the Gospel which breaths unspeakable gladness. First, I have preacht upon these words how we should purge out the old leaven of distrustful fear, now I come to shew what it is to have a new heart created full of spiritual joy.

I observed unto you upon the whole verse, that as much might be said from hence to extol the benefit which we receive by Christs Nativity, as is usually deli­vered to express that everlasting felicity which we shall enjoy with God in the highest Heavens, to that beatitude of the Saints, say the Schoolmen very rightly, two things must concur, Omnis miseria excluditur, omne desiderium expletur: All mise­ry shall be excluded from our happy estate, and all our desires fulfill'd. And both these two are most remarkable in this Angelical Congratulation: First, the depulsion or sending of all manner of evil and misery from our blessed estate in these words, The Angel said unto them, fear not. Secondly, The inclusion of all those joys and solaces that can be askt, that's laid open in Evangelizo, Behold I bring you good ti­dings of great joy which shall be to all people. Privatively the messenger cashier'd all discomfort, nay, positively he brought great comfort, which twain put toge­ther make up the complement of our final beatitude, and are both deduced from the blessing of the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Christ. The first general branch wherein the Angel promis'd a deliverance, or award from all manner of evil that might make the Shepherds sorrowful, I have done with that, and there I leave it. I come now to the second general branch which abounds much above the former, where not only evil is dispell'd, but a chearful benediction succeeds in the place, Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. Where­in [Page 41] that no title may be lost of such heavenly comfort, first, note the Angels Trumpet, with which he proclaims his errand, Ecce, behold. Secondly, the errand consisting in no less than seven branches of benediction. 1. Ecce ego, says the Angel, Behold I bring unto you; the tearms were much amended between Heaven and us, that the Angel came unto us upon a peaceable message. 2. Ecce Evangelizo, he was no Lawgiver that was terrible, but an Evangelist. 3. The sweet air of the Gospel hath some harsh tidings, to take up the cross and endure unto blood, and death; but these were tidings of joy. 4. Joys are of several sizes, this is a great one, nay, none so great. 5. Joys, and great ones are quickly done; this is gaudium quod erit, joy that shall be, and continue. 6. A man may be a conduit-pipe to trans­mit joy to others, and have no benefit himself; this is gaudium vobis, joy to you, to every ear that hears it. 7. A good nature would not engross a bles­sing, but desires to have it diffused; and so was this, Gaudium omni populo, joy to all people. And of these severally as I have put them in a rank.

Before the Law was delivered at Mount Sinai, the voice of a Trumpet was heard in the Camp of Israel, which sounded long, and waxed lowder and lowder, Exod. xix. 19. A Trumpet was a sign of hostility, and of warlike preparation. The Law indeed came like an enemy to condemn us, for we were not able to stand be­fore it; but Christ, who was the end of the Law, made way to his own manife­station by the articulate voice of an Angel, as if it had been the voice of a man, to intimate that the Prince of Peace was approacht near unto us, ecce, behold. Out of which word standing in this place I note three things, admiration, demonstration, and attention. 1. Ecce, see and admire this is the greatest wonder that ever was. Name any thing unto me that ever was made, and I am confident to say this is stranger to mans apprehension than any thing that ever was made, the Incarna­tion of the Son of God. If you love to cast your eyes upon that which is miracu­lous, look this way, and see the greatest miracle that ever was brought to light. In the beginning was the word, and no word can utter how it was made flesh in time. The eternal Creator was made man of the substance of a woman, and yet his hands did make and fashion the substance of his Mother. The word by which the world was made became an Infant in the cradle, and could not speak. He that bears up the pillars of the earth was born in the arms of Joseph, and carried into Egypt. The Infinite Majesty that hath made the bounds of heaven and earth, be­ing himself without limits or circumscription was bound with swadling clouts, and laid in a manger. It is not safe to proceed into many of these inquisitions, lest astonishment overwhelm us: St. Paul was wary, and came off thus from the won­derment thereof; Without controversie great is the mystery of godliness, 1 Tim. iii. 16. God was mani­fest in the flesh: as who should say, the Temple of Solomon had things of much se­cresie within the Veil, the Ark, the Cherubims, the Propitiatory, the most Holy of Holies; the Church of the New Testament hath things as wonderful and mysterious as those, arcana fidei, recluse and admirable secrets of Faith, the manifestation of Christ in the form of man, Ipsi quoque Angelorum primati incognita, says Dionysius, 2 cap. de Di­vin. Nom. the Primate of Angels in the triumphant Church is not able to sound the depth of it. So then you see this word is a preface to an extraordinary miracle, ecce, behold.

Secondly, To cry out unto the Shepherds, behold, is an Adverb of Demonstration; things hard by make us look towards them more than those that are further off; we sit still and muse upon that which we hope will come to pass, but when we hear the bridegroom coming then we busle and look out. The Prophet would not say barely, Thy King cometh, O Sion, but Ecce Rex tuus, behold thy King cometh. O what an alteration this was, when the invisible God came to an ocular demonstration; and though he be now ascended up to Heaven, yet he hath left his Spirit in our hearts, that we may say with the Apostle, Dominus prope est, the Lord is at hand.Phil. iv. 5. And though the senses of our body do not fix themselves upon him, yet Faith will perceive him strongly and certainly that he is truly present: Faith will assure it self how he stands at the door and knocks, and how it hears his voice. Further­more let this demonstrative direction put you in mind to live so justly, and inof­fensively as if you did always behold God in the flesh. Elias made the right use of this doctrine when he took an oath, Vivit Dominus in cujus conspectu [...]sto, as the Lord liveth in whose presence I stand. Well says Rubanus upon it,2 Kings xvii. 1. the just Prophet demeans himself as one that stands in Gods presence in this life, and he shall surely keep his rank in the same place in the life to come. Ecce natus, says the Angel, Behold the tidings of a Saviour, as if nothing else had been worth our consideration: and [Page 42] how many be there that demean themselves, as if they car'd not whether they heed it or no.

But thirdly, Ecce, behold, it doth not beg, but command attention: when the Lord sends a messenger, is it not fit to note him diligently, and to ponder his say­ings in your mind? Philo says that those two words of Moses, Deut. xxvii. 9. Take heed and hearken O Israel are the sum of all the precepts in the Law. Hearken O daugh­ter and consider, Psal 45. incline thine ear, says David. What's this inclination of the ear? we cannot bow,Lorianus in 1. cap. Jac. or stir that part as we may the hand, and the knee, Aures homi­num sunt immotae, ut sit velox ad audiendum, says one, the ears of man are not to be wagg'd and mov'd like the ears of a beast, to the end there may be no impediment in attention, but that he may be swift to hear. But he is said to incline his ear, who hath a submissive heart, and listens diligently to that which is spoken. If a frivolous tale, suppose the feigned pilgrimage of some Errant Knight be told us, every syllable shall be markt so heedily, that you will be able to repeat it, Conticuere omnes, intentique ora tenebant: But if God do send his servants to narrate his will and pleasure, how many disturbances shall they find in their relation of heavenly things? Sarah laught at the Angel, Pharoah chafed and interrupted Moses, the Jews mis-interpreted Christ himself, Gallio marks not a word that's said, Eu­tyches sleeps, the Athenians flout at Paul, and say what means this babler; who will take the pains to tell a message any more to him that will abuse it so neglect­fully? and if God should take away the preaching of his word from this people, let them thank themselves who were so defective in all due and reverent attention. But, says John the Baptist, The Friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth him, and rejoyceth greatly because of the Bridegrooms voice, John iii. 29. And so much for this word behold, as it is a note of admiration, of demonstration, and lastly of at­tention. Behold I bring, &c.

Now the first of seven things which are remarkable in the message, is that which hath met us often before in all the Texts upon this Gospel, the consideration of the person, that the Angel is sent unto us upon a peaceable entreaty: Ecce ego, Behold I bring you good tidings. The children of men have so often provoked God to send Angels with a sword of vengeance to the earth, that no doubt Gabriel was pleased to bring a welcome message with him. A messenger cannot help it, if he come with sorrowful news; and yet for the most part men will be displeased at such a one, whose tongue doth bode discomfort and infelicity. Joab did tender the welfare of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok, 2 Sam. 18.20. when he would not let him be the first that should certifie David how Absalom was dead; says he, Thou shalt bear tidings another day: but this day thou shalt bear no tidings, because the Kings Son is dead. There­fore if you mark it, Angels that came to inflict punishment, or to threaten some en­suing mischief, came single for the most part, or never above two at once; but to do a good office to men upon earth, to protect Elisha from the Aramites, to annuntiate that the Messias was come into the world they came by troops, and multitudes; no less in this chapter then a multitude of the heavenly host. There were three with Abraham in his tent to tell him that Isaac the son of promise should be born unto him of Sarah in their old age; and we cannot but take notice how one of the three vanisht, and was gone when they went into Lot's house, to warn him that Sodom should be destroyed with fire and brimstone. How far are they from this Angelical benevolence, that gird other men with the remembrance of their mis­fortunes, and insult over their miseries, as Shimei us'd David in his affliction? a curse will fall upon them that love to be instruments to undo men, rather than to raise them up; that delight in the crosses of their brother rather than in their consolation. Miserable comforters, as Job said of his Friends, that powred vinegar into his wounds to vex them, not to heal them.

But these holy ones that are sent from above delight to be the Embassadors of joy; the first of them all that I read of in holy Scripture came to administer help, and succor to the distressed; and that was the Angel that came to Hagar to chear up her drooping spirits, and to put her into the way of safety, when she and Ishmael the child were almost ready to perish. And now one of them comes in my Text with good news to shew that a perfect friendship was made up between all parties, in this verse between Angels and Men; for Ego Evangelizo, I come to rejoyce with you as a friend, I bring you good news. 2. A friendship between God and man; for a Saviour is born unto you which is Christ the Lord. 3. Friendship and amity between man and man, between Kingdom and Kingdom, between one Nation and another [Page 43] people, at the 14. verse. On earth peace, and good will towards men. Yet when our sins cry out for vengeance this truce is broke of all sides. The sword of our enemies shall be unsheath'd, and all peace shall be dissolv'd between man and man: our Sa­viour shall become our angry Judge, neither shall the blessing descend from God to Man. Lastly, the Angel shall draw his sword, and cause the pestilence to cut down thousands upon thousands; as the Mower shears down the grass of the field. I am sure the fury of such an angry Angel sticks still in our remembrance. There­fore let every man for his part keep fast the bond of his tripartite friendship, by sanctification and obedience; then the Angels will come unto us not in fury, but in mercy, saying, Ecce ego, &c.

I proceed to the next circumstance, Ecce Evangelizo, we render it to bring good tidings, but it is as if he had said, I come to be an Evangelist, I am no Law-giver whose voice was terrible, I am a messenger of a better Covenant, of the Gospel of Grace. At this Text, beloved, the Spirit of God doth enter the word Gospel, or Evangel, quite to alter the state of the Church from what it had been before. For the better understanding hereof, I pray you mark it attentively, in what manner God did dispence his will and pleasure to his Church from the beginning of the world to the end of all times. And for order sake I will reduce it all to three heads, to a Law which was given by God to Adam, to a Law which was given by Moses to Israel, and to these glad tidings, to wit the Gospel of the New Testament which was given by Christ to all Nations from one end of the earth to the other. 1. Now I buckle to the first of these, a Law was given by God to Adam. That Law was short and commandatory, fac, & vive, do this and live; therefore that is rightly cal­led the Law of Works; but the Gospel says if thou believest thou shalt be saved: therefore that's called the Law of Faith. The same God was the author of both these; both were revealed to men, and to no other creature; both of them ac­cording as we perform them promise the same reward; both of them have the same end to make us magnifie God for his Wisdom, Goodness, and Justice. Nay, I add, compare the Law of Works imposed upon Adam, and the Law of Faith imposed upon Christians; and both of them are possible to be done: For the first man according to the integrity wherein he was created, and by the virtue of supernatural Grace bestowed upon him, might have obeyed the Commandement given, if he had not turned to disobedience: and by the Divine help of the same grace, we, to whom God hath preached the glad tidings of his Son, are endewed with power to believe that we may be saved. Now in a word let us lay the dif­ference of these two one against another: God gave the Law in Paradise as a King in his Justice, but he gave the Gospel in Sion as a Father of Grace and Mercy; according to that Law the reward had been given ex debito, by debt, and due, say the Schoolmen; but to him that believes, the reward is given by mere Grace which excludes boasting. He that disobey'd that Law was to look for the most strict severity of Justice; so condemnation belongs likewise to the unbeliever accord­ing to Justice; but perhaps it shall be temper'd with some moderation for Christs sake. Finally, this is the main disagreement, the first Covenant made with Adam did exclude all hope of remission of sins; but the second Covenant made in Christ runs in this tenour to them that live by Faith: your sins shall be blotted out, and your iniquities forgotten.

After you have understood the first point, how there was a Law imposed upon Adam when he was created and endewed with original Justice, you must now give ear to the next thing in order, what heavy and astonishing matter is contained in that Law which was given by Moses to the Children of Israel: and remember that I consider the Law deliver'd in the two Tables at Mount Sinai, Seorsim, and by it self, separated from all the promises contained in the Prophets, and in the Psalms of David. These then are the remarkable differences between the Covenant written in Tables of stone, and this Covenant of the New Testament in the Blood of Christ. First, God gave the Law at Sinai being wrath with our sins; for whereas we had lost both the wisdom of our understanding, and the loyal obedi­ence of our will by the transgression of our first parent, yet God impos'd his Com­mandement upon us, and exacts such measure of holiness which we are not able to perform: Therefore that Law was given in the barren Wilderness, because it is not able to bring one soul unto God; likewise it was delivered with signs full of wrath, thunder, and lightning, and a dreadful noise, to shew that God was full of indignation when he laid it upon us. On the contrary, he made the new Cove­nant [Page 44] of peace being reconciled to them that were lost, or at least proffering recon­ciliation in his beloved Son. Read this Doctrine, Heb. xii. from the 18. to the 24. verse. Ye are not come to the Mount, that might not be touched, and that burnt with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard entreated they might hear it no more: They could not endure that which was commanded: And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, I exceed­ingly fear and quake; but ye are come to Mount Sion, and to the City of the living God, &c. Wherefore the Gospel was presented with manifest tokens of love, and benevolence, Ecce Evangelizo, behold, I bring you good tidings. 2. There's a difference arising between the first Testament, and the last, from the several Mediators that came between God and the people. Moses was a servant, faithful in the Family, and he was the Mediator of the Old Testament; Christ is the Son and Heir of all, he was the Mediator of the New: The Law was given by Moses, Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ. 3. The old Covenant was ratified with the blood of Beasts; but loe the New Covenant doth much surpass it, which was ratified with the precious Blood of that immaculate Lamb which took away the sins of the world, which is therefore called the Blood of the New Testament. 4. The old Law in St. Paul's phrase contained poor and beggerly rudiments, not able to bring to life: It was a killing letter, the ministry of death and condemnation, it worketh wrath, it entred that sin might abound; it is like Hagar which gendreth children un­to bondage, Gal. iv. 24. The Gospel is the power of salvation to every one that believeth, a quickening Spirit; it purgeth us from our sins, it speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. 5. That which Moses brought was an heavy burden, which neither the Fathers nor the Children could bear: but of the Gospel Christ saith, his yoke is easie, and his burden is light, and in it you shall find rest for your souls. Lastly, the Old Testament endured unto Christ, and no longer; where­fore because it passed away it is called the Old: the New Testament remaineth for ever;Heb. vii. 16. so says St. Paul of our Blessed Saviour taking flesh, who is not made after the Law of a carnal Commandment, but after the power of an endless life. No passage or comparison can be made between them, but the Law given at Mount Sinai will appear to be an harsh, and most unwelcome injunction; and that which doth clear us from the curse thereof is Evangelium the best tidings that ever arriv'd at the ear of man.

Hitherto I have consider'd the Old Testament in no respect, but as it contains the killing letter of the Law; but you must not mistake that the Holy Spirit hath interlaced many fast-holdings of Faith, and promises Evangelical almost every where in the Prophets, and in the Psalms of David. Nay, the Old Testament is rather Promise than Law; yet it was fit the rigour of the Law should be repeated that it might more appear how necessary the promise of Grace was, that we could not live without it, and that every man being convicted in his conscience by the sentence of the Law, we might more ardently fly to Grace; for the end of the Mo­ral Law is double, to set us a rule what we should endeavour to do, and to discover our own impotency unto us, what we are not able to do, that we may seek a re­medy in the satisfaction of Christ. But this I say that the darkness and obscurity of the Old Testament was enlightned with many excellent promises, that the be­lieving Israelites might be partakers of Faith, and of everlasting life; they had the same Gospel which we have, the same Christ, the same Faith, the same Spirit, sealing the truth of promise unto them. Where is then the priviledge? you will say that the tidings are better to us, then unto them, or far surpassing on our side every way. Israel that believed in the promised seed was an heir, but under age, nothing different from a servant. The faithful since the coming of Christ are adulti heirs come to age, such, I may say, as have sued out their livery, past pupillage, past the pedagogie of Ceremonies; for the yoke of Ceremonies was most troublesome, that the coming of Christ which cancelled such things might the more be desired. Then they beheld a Messias in types, and shadows, now he is manifest in his own person; then Faith was obscurer, now it is more clear; then the Spirit was given scantily, now it is poured out in full abundance, Abundantia spiritus est elogium reg­ni Christi: then the preaching of Faith was included in the Kingdom of Israel, now it is diffused throughout all the world. Mark it now I beseech you, how these three do differ. The Law did terrifie and astonish, there were no good tidings in that. The promise of Grace and Mercy was an annuntiation of good news worth the hearing, and it was fit that a promise should go before, that the day of Christ [Page 45] might be long'd for, and much desired before he came: yet this did cool the com­fort that hope deferred doth afflict the soul. Wherefore when the desire of our eyes did come into the world, to satisfie the Law for us, and to satisfie he expe­ctation of all promises, then it became Evangelium, good tidings, happy news; nothing shall be heard any more to vex us, or to trouble us, unless for want of Faith we would vex our selves.

And what ear will not listen to good tidings? when old Jacob heard that Joseph was living, his spirit reviv'd, and Israel said it is enough, Joseph my son is yet alive. Joseph was advanc'd in Egypt by the wonderful providence of God, that he might receive his brethren in the great distress of famine: these were good tidings to Israel: but is it not much better to hear of this sound out of Ephrata, that Christ is come into the world to feed his brethren in the time of dearth with the bread of life? O quoties & quae nobis Galataea locuta est? as a passionate woer longs to hear of a sweet message from the party whom he loves, so the Spouse which is the Church rejoyceth to hear glad tidings from the Bridegroom, that so it might en­joy his presence here, that she might dwell with him hereafter for ever. Calist­henes approacht towards Alexander the Great portending much alacrity in his coun­tenance; what says Alexander, An Homerus revixit iterum, are there any tidings to be brought which make you so merry unless Homer were alive again? all that he could pitch upon for good news was, if that divine Poet were alive again to record his story in a long lasting Poem. O how infinitely do these good tidings surpass that ambitious fancy! Christus natus est, a Saviour is born to write our names for ever in the book of life. St. Paul took out this lesson from hence, Quam speciosi pedes! Rom. x. 15. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Go­spel of peace, and bring glad tidings of things! Isa. lii. The Prophet Isaiah spoke of them that foretold of the delivery of Israel out of the Babylonish captivity: and if those mes­sengers were welcome that uttered things concerning bodily felicity, much more shall their coming be acceptable, that solace the inward man, the heart and soul. Beauty is that which attracts affections to it, so the Apostles are said to be beau­tiful, because they drew the world unto them: and it was proper concerning them to say how beautiful are their feet, rather than their lips; for they did not rest in one place, but took the whole world for their circuit, from City to City; and because of their dangerous and painful travel by Sea and Land, the Prophet said, How beautiful are their feet? Despise not therefore such as succeed them, though much unworthy in the same errand, but have them in honour for their welcome message. Though Christ hath not washt our feet to make them beautiful, as he did his Disciples, yet the very word that we have to say doth honour our lips, for they are good tidings, no things in the world compar'd to the comfort of the Gospel, they are good tidings, &c.

The main drift of the Text did hang upon this word, how the Angel did Evan­gelize, that is to say, bring good tidings; now we are clear'd, and come off from that: and although there are many things in the Gospel very harsh to flesh and blood, as to leave all and follow Christ, to suffer persecution, &c. Yet these things as I noted in the third place produce joy, joy of a grand size in the intention, great joy, joy of an infinite measure in the extension, everlasting joy, joy that shall be, says the Text: and these are now to be consider'd together; and first that the Birth of Christ bids us rejoyce, and be glad. Can the Children of the Bride­chamber mourn when such a Bridegroom is come unto them? he came unto the world like ripe fruit in the fulness of time; whereupon says St. Ambrose, Ambros. Ep. 11. ad Ire­neum. Christus tanquum maturitas advenit, ut nihil acerbum, nihil immaturum, nihil immite sit. He came when all the fruits of comfort were mellow, and delicious, that nothing might be sower, or harsh, or distastful to his beloved. I alledged the Text of Isaiah before, How beautiful are the feet of them that brought tidings of him: The Septuagint according to some Editions read it [...] what a spring there was in the Mountains when he was preacht: whereupon says S. Cyril, as the Spring chears up the hearts of men, beautifies the earth, and the fields after the desola­ting frosts of a wastful Winter; so the preaching of this Nativity made every thing to flourish after the bitter blasting frosts of the Law. If there were such joy at the birth of Isaac, that they call'd him Isaac from laughter, then let all the earth clap their hands and rejoyce, when he was manifested in the flesh that made the laughter of Isaac.

For our more orderly proceeding, I must consider joy three manner of ways, [Page 46] 1. What true joy doth properly result from the Birth of Christ. 2. What joy may be allowed and indulg'd to Christians. 3. What joy is condemnable. For the first, that joy which doth properly result from the Birth of Christ, is, Risus ex serenitate conscientiae, the mirth and delight of a good conscience; for he that hath given us his only Son, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Rom. viii. 32. The Israelites were confident of victorious success when the Ark of God was in their Camp. The Ephesians thought themselves safe and secure when they had but an Image which fell down from Heaven. This was but a fiction like him that dreams of comfort, and loe he is in desperate extremities: but our case is most clear, and happy, to whom the God of Gods made his approach as one friend that visits another, who is the brightness of his Fathers glory, and the express image of his person. Upon those words of the Apostle, Col. iv. 18. the salutation of me Paul with my own hand, says S. Chrysostom, it was great comfort to the brethren to see salutations, and greetings, and wishes under Pauls own hand. Some comfort it might be, but far short of this, to see not only the word of salutation, but the word of salvation dwell among us, the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. As Pliny said to Trajan of his virtuous Wife, Nihil sibi ex fortuna tua nisi gaudium vendicat, she desired no further interest in his good fortune, but to rejoyce, and to be glad at his felicity; so the righteous man leaves the wide world for the children of the world to share it among them, Nihil sibi nisi gaudium vendicat, all that he challengeth for his own is the Blessed Virgins solace, and My spirit rejoyceth in God my Saviour. O my beloved, it cannot be uttered what tranquility and joy is in that heart which seriously apprehends those evident signs that God is reconci­led unto us. Those heavens which Pythagoras spoke of that they were never with­out concent and harmony, that Fable being moralized is agreeable to nothing but to that soul which is comforted in the mercies of Christ. Semper illic serenum est, it is like the state of the world above the Moon, it is ever fair, and clear in that place without any storm or tempest; it is like the tribe of Zabylon, situated in a safe harbour close unto the tumultuous Seas, Aliorum videt naufragia, sed ipse sal­vus est, it looks forth upon the Seas, and sees how some are tost in perilous wa­ters, how some are shipwrackt and cast away, but it self is safe under the shadow of Christ, and in no such terror or calamity. The ordinary comforts of this world which concur to the being, and to the well-being of nature may be want­ing perchance to a true servant of God; these may a little abate the courage per­haps: it makes us appear, says St. Paul, [...], as sorrowful, 'tis but as if it were so, Tanquam lugentes, as sorrowful, but always rejoycing. The tongues of men and Angels are not able to devise a message of joy more sweet and allective than this, that our severe Judge hath sent his Son to be our Mediator, and that Mediator to be our Judge, and that Judge to be our Brother; for so he calls us by that term of intimate affection. This is such a demulcing comfort to a sin-wounded consci­ence, that it leaves our heart in St. Austins phrase to be, Thalamus Dei, palatium Christi, habitaculum Spiritus sancti, the marriage-chamber of God, the courtly Palace of Christ, and the habitation of the Holy Ghost. This is the proper joy of Christs Birth, with which the Angel did accost the Shepherds, the delight and serenity of a good Conscience.

It is agreeing to the solemnity of this time to speak also of the other branch of joy which is sufferable, and may be warranted, which is called, Risus ad naturae recreationem, pastimes and delightful exercises to refresh the sadness of the heart. And if there be any man whose strictness will allow of no sports, or pleasurable jocundities at this season of our Saviours Nativity, let me tell him that such au­sterity is groundless, and hath no foundation in the Word of God; and to cen­sure all innocent relaxation of mirth, because with some men, and in some places it is done with excessive vanity and riot, he wants a grain of Charity. Shall we build no houses to put our head in, because fools built a Babel? shall we plant no Vineyards because Noah was overseen? shall we forswear courtesie because Absa­lom's kindness was full of flattery? what is another mans sin to my harmless mirth? Joy is in the Text, and if there be harmless joy in the time, no judicious man will disallow it: But why do sickly men imagine that all meats taste rank and unsa­vory? it is the ill affection of their own palat: Why do Boat-men think that the shore goes from them? because they go from the shore. So the heart of churlish men is undelightsome, and that makes them to think all delight is vicious. There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh, says the Wise man, Eccles. iii. 4. And what time [Page 47] more convenient for rejoycing than this? when Solomon dedicated his Temple to the Lord, first he magnified God in a solemn prayer, then all Israel kept a Feast, and a joyful holy day. This Temple was but a figure of Christ the everlasting Priest: these are the days wherein we celebrate the dedication of this Temple, and after we have magnified Gods name in solemn Prayer for his mighty work, we may chear and refresh our selves with joy in a lawful measure of innocency and sobriety. Why should we lowre and look sad like those hypocrites the Pharisees? who had no­thing in them but a form of outward austerity. True joy cannot contein it self in a contemplative meditation; it will exult, it will break forth like John Baptist in his Mothers womb, who rejoyced in the Spirit that Mary had conceived the Mes­sias in her Womb. Nor was that all, [...], the Babe sprang, and leapt for gladness. Whatsoever mirth is honest and lawful, whether spiritual or civil joy, the Angel gives liberty to the Shepherds to use it, Behold I bring you tidings of great joy.

The spiritual, and the innocent civil joy are both native and proper to these fe­stival days of the Birth of Christ: but by our abuse that which is most frequent and common is the third member of the distinction, which is sinful, Risus ex immoderata & turpi laetitia, a mirth bestain'd with riot, and all kind of offensiveness. It is time to cry down the noise of all immoderate and wicked pleasures with an heavenly song. How different are our tunes of beastliness from that which the children of Jerusalem did sing upon the Advent of Christ? Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna in the highest. How different were their modest garments from that pomp and pride which divers of us do bear upon our backs? they spread their garments in the way to entertain the King of Glory: Christ would not have honour'd yours with his feet, he would not have trod upon your Peacock attire which is so vain and alterable. O beloved what an incongruity is this? Christ came down from Heaven to dwell among us, and you rake Hell for merriment to make him welcome. If a Jubilee come once a year wherein you have indulgence for a sweet relaxation in Sports and Festivals, must you needs lose your wits? exeat Cato, as if no sober man all that while were fit for our company: If you will spend a few days of so­lace and recreation so wickedly, so untowardly, do you not deserve that God should turn your Feasts into mourning, and never suffer you to see a joyful day more? Take heed you use not your liberty for a cloke of licenciousness. Take heed of mid-night revels. The Shepherds were not dancing, but keeping watch over their flocks. The Poet Virgil hath billited the sinful joys of the world mala mentis gaudia, with Famine, and Poverty, and the very Haggs of Hell: Aenead. l. 6. and indeed a vicious pleasure is a devillish thing: for lawful and moderate pleasure is the pre­servative of nature, filthy and corrupt pleasure destroys the glory of our nature: I mean the soul. And so much for this point, that the coming of Christ doth in­hibit all extravagant voluptuousness; but for spiritual and bodily pleasure which is lawful, the Angel brought tidings of joy, of great joy which shall be to all people.

Now I must speak of the two supporters of this joy, 1. That it is great for the size. 2. That it is of long continuance for the measure, gaudium quod erit, joy that shall be unto you. Great joy, says the Angel; he pass'd it over without a word of comparison, lest he should seem to the Shepherds to have boasted; but yet he meant there was no joy like to this, to attain to such felicity as to have a Saviour born. Other things may make us glad, this is only a vehement, and intensive ex­ultation. Let a carnal man pamper his skin with gluttony, satiate the desires of the flesh with filthy fornication, decline all industrious labour in pleasurable idle­ness; let him have all things wherein fortune can favour a sensual Epicure. Suppose that neither War, nor Famine, nor Death, nor Dishonour, nor Poverty eclipse his content, yet for all this there is a Melancholy Fiend of Hell that upon sundry frivolous occasions will fret his heart, and break his sleep, and make his passions jar within themselves; and he hath no firm and stable argument to perswade his soul to get out of this heaviness. But if any discontent creep upon him, that hath set up a stedfast Faith as a pillar in his heart, and hath engraven these words upon it, Jesus is my Redeemer; this supports the soul that it shall not be cast down, but it recovers it self from all pensiveness, even as David chid all anguish from his heart; Why art thou so sad, O my soul, and why art thou so disquiet within me? still trust in God, for he is the help of my countenance, and my God. Ʋna est ratio vincendi inimicum, lae­titia spiritualis, This spiritual gladness and festivity is the principal assistance to vanquish Satan, and all desperate doubts with which he would perplex our con­science: [Page 48] it is a royal joy which comforts us that we shall be heirs of a glorious Kingdom; it is a sanctified joy which gives us promise that we shall not only be Kings but Priests for ever, to offer up the sweet odors of our prayers to God; it is a superlative joy which cries down all other petty delights, and makes them ap­pear as nothing; it is endless joy of durance and lasting for ever, and ever: for my Text says, it is Gaudium quod erit, joy that shall be unto you.

All the joy upon earth is gaudium quod est, now it is, and anon it is not; joy for a spirt and away, Eccles. vii. 8. as the crackling of thorns under a pot so is the laugh­ter of a fool. Like a gol-sheave all of a flame, and out again suddenly. The end of mirth, that is of worldly mirth is heaviness, Prov. xiv. 13. Times of feasting have a period, every man is glutted at last: he that hath his fill of sport is weary by the late of night, and glad to take his rest. But the joy that you have in Christ is with you all the year, in all your sorrows, in all your adversities; it sleeps with you, it grows old with you, it will change this life with you, and follow you into a better: And my joy shall no man take from you, says our Saviour, John. xvi. 22. Christmas joy was not only for the first twelve days when the Son of God was born, but for all the twelve months of twelve hundred years, and many hundreds after them unto the worlds end. So St. Peter doth solace us, 1 Pet. i. 8. Though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoyce with joy unspeakable and full of glory, Eccles. xi. 9. Mark I pray you how much line this Syren world gives a voluptuous man to play with, Rejoyce O young man in thy youth, and let thine heart chear thee, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but when the hook is in his jaws, observe how it is twicht and snatcht up at last, Know thou that for all these things God will bring thee unto judgment. So that let the wicked speed never so well in his frolicks, and jocundities, he returns home as Theseus did, with black sails of sor­row; as if he had never made a saving voyage. All their laughter is like the joy of Herod's Birth-day, dancing, and revels, and offering of great gifts last for a while, but before evening you shall see an alteration; and when their surfeited Tables are removed away, the last service in the platter is the Head of John the Baptist. But the mirth which we have in the Mediator of our salvation is a song which hath no rest in it, nor ever shall have a close. We begin the first part here, that we may sing the other part in Psalms and Hallelujahs with the Saints for ever. As Christmas is celebrated part of the new year, and part of the old, so it is joy that is in this life, and shall be in the life to come.

Our last peroration upon the Text is to meditate upon the persons to whom these glad tidings and great joy are directed, Vobis & omni populo, to you, and to all people. And personally to those Shepherds the joy was great, I do not question it; for the Angel did not light upon them casually, as if he took the first he met: chance and fortune are words made by our ignorance, things of no being in the providence of God, but certainly they were pickt out rather than any others, because they were men of just and holy conversation, fit to receive glad tidings from Heaven: they were of an humble and a lowly spirit, not of a proud and stiff opi­nion that would dispute against the Scriptures, which said Jesus was the Christ, like the Scribes and Pharisees; they were useful men to the Commonwealth in which they liv'd, painful in their vocation, and watching over their flocks by night: Out of all these premises we may collect that God had a respect to them in particu­lar; unto such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven, the good tidings fell upon their head. They did apply the benefit of Faith to themselves, and that Saviour which was born was their Redeemer. And vobis Judaeis, to you Jews; the Text will bear that I am sure; better tidings to you Israelites, than to any other Nation, if you will accept them. The Son of God came of their Fathers according to the flesh: in their Country he came to preach daily, and no where in the world beside; in their eyes he wrought his Miracles, and upon their bodies he practis'd his wonderful power to cure their Diseases, to make their Blind to see, and their Lame to walk. He professed himself to be more devoted to their welfare, than to all the earth be­side, before the Canaanitish woman, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They were his, he did acknowledge it; he was theirs, but they denied it: he came to his own, but his own received him not. To abreviate my discourse in this point, Evangelizo vobis, they are glad tidings to you, because it is given to you to hear the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven; for blessed is the ear that heareth the things which you hear. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. It is flat cheating in the Devil to put dubita­tion [Page 49] into mans fancy on this wise, I am partaker of the outward word, but I know not whether God have gone any further with me to give me his inward Spirit to quicken that seed unto immortal life. Beloved, as Christ did institute both Bread and Wine to be the outward Elements of the Sacrament of his Body and Blood; Bread is the substance of food, Wine causeth the concoction, and makes it com­fortable food. So the word preacht is the food of life, and God never lets it go alone without some drops of the Wine of his Grace to make it nourishing and be­neficial, Jude xiii. 23. Manoah the Father of Sampson cries out to his Wife, we shall surely die because we have seen God. Nay, says she, If the Lord were pleased to kill us he would not receive a burnt-offering at our hand. Neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would at this time have told us such things as these. So let me answer all dubitative Christians, unless the Lord did desire thy salvation he would not put his Word into thy ear, nor his Sacrament into thy mouth. The Gospel is an happy annuntiation to every one that hears it, unless he quench the Grace which is offered unto him. Evangelium omni populo, the tidings are auspicious to all people.

To all people? Trahit sua quemque voluptas. There are so innumerous many fond pleasures, desires, vanities, affections in several appetites; can any thing satisfie them all? yes, it is relishable to every palat that will taste it: though the true de­light apprehended is included among the small number of the Elect: yet it is given to all, and no man shall say he is lost for want of a Redeemer, and a sacrifice for his sins. Cum omnibus scriptus significavit omnes, says Origen. Homil. 11. in Lucam. He was taxed in his Mo­thers Womb by Augustus Caesar, when all the world was taxed, to intimate that he did communicate himself to all the world; that after that conscription of their names in Caesars enrollment, whosoever believed in him, his name might be written among the Saints in the book of Life. In the first lesson read upon Christmas-day, thus you have it, Isa. ix. 3. They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoyce when they divide the spoil. A good Harvest is not welcome to one Village, but it is gladsome to the whole Country round about; and when spoils are divi­ded after the vanquishing of an Enemy, every Souldier is enricht, and hath his share: Such a communicative blessing is our Saviours Incarnation, every man fills his bosom with the sheaves of the harvest: every Christian Souldier that fights a good warfare plucks somewhat from the spoils of the Enemy. The dew of thy birth is as the womb of the morning: A learned Father of our own Church transposeth the Versicle on this wise, Thy birth from the Womb is as the morning dew, which waters the whole earth. As the walls of Jericho fell down before the sound of the rams horns, so the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile, methinks it fell down flat to the ground at this blast of the Angels trumpet in my Text, that these were glad tidings, not toti populo, but omni populo, not to the whole people of the Jews, but to all the people of the world. The wall of discord is taken away in the universe, which parted those two great houses, and shall not the sweet welcome of the Birth of Christ take away a wall of partition between thee, and thy neighbour which is in thy heart. Can you out of enmity and hatred wish sorrow unto any, when God wisheth joy, great joy unto all? dost thou envy at the prosperity of thy brother, when the Lord would have the same glad tidings common to you both? Lay down old grudgings and quarrels with the old year, and begin the new year with a new reconciliation in love unfeigned, and true meaning Charity, and the Lord renew a right spirit in us all. Amen.

THE SIXTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 11.

For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Sa­viour, which is Christ the Lord.

THE Angel hath made a brief Sermon upon a great occasion. The occasion is the Incarnation of our Lord: and who can be so co­pious upon that subject as the Mystery requires? yet the Ser­mon which the Angel preacheth, is neither a whole Chapter, nor a whole Gospel, but three verses of a Gospel. In the multi­tude of words a great deal is lost unto the hearer: the good application of a little, whatsoever we think, will yield the best fruits of increase. But for such divine joy as is here pro­claimed, it was fit to roul it up in a small pill, and to minister it to the audience in a little quantity. How is it possible for frail flesh to subsist, and not to be dissolv'd for gladness, if the Angel had continued his tidings with such matter as he be­gun? a Saviour is born; unto you a Saviour is born; no petty redeemer, but the Lord strong and mighty, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. O it was provident care, af­ter the Shepherds had heard a little, to tell them no more at once, but rather to send them away into the City, that they might see the rest. After Israel had sha­ken off the Chaldean slavery, and the Lord had turned the captivity of Sion, Da­vid knew not how to express their astonisht joy, but thus, they were like unto them that dream: as Livie says of the Grecians, when the Romans that conquer'd them sent them unexpected liberty, Mirabundi velut somni speciem arbitrabantur, they re­ceived the tidings, as if it had been a pleasing dream, and themselves scarce awake. So our sins have so much discomforted our hearts, that our spirits are con­fus'd, and faint, if we receive all the comfort that God sends at once, like a strong perfume the sweetness overcomes our sence. Here's one line for a copy, and enough to be taken out at one time, Ʋnto you is born this day, &c.

The Text cannot be divided into equal parts, for here is one word among them, which not only in this place, but wheresoever you find it, it is like Saul, higher by head and shoulders then all the rest. As Painters and Guilders write the names of God in glass, or upon the walls with many rays, and flaming beams to beautifie it round about, so the name of Saviour is the great word in my Text; and all that is added beside in other circumstances is a trail of golden beams to beautifie it. First then with reverend lips, and circumcised ears let us begin with the joyful tidings of a Saviour. 2. Here's our participation of him in his Nature, natus, he is born, and made like unto us. 3. It is honourable to be made like us, but it is beneficial to be made for us; and natus vobis, unto you is born a Saviour. 4. Is not the use of his Birth superannuated, the virtue of it long since expir'd? no, 'tis fresh and new; as a man is most active when he begins first to run, hodie natus, he is born this day. [Page 51] 5. Is he not like the King in the Gospel who journeyed into a far Country, extra or­bem solisque vias, quite out of the way in another world? no, the circumstance of place points his dwelling to be near, in civitate David, he is born in the City of David. 6. Perhaps to make him man is to quite unmake him; shall we find him able to subdue our enemies, and save us, since he hath taken upon him the condition of humane fragility? yes, the last words speak his excellency and power, for he is Christus Dominus, such a Saviour as is Christ the Lord, for unto you is born this day in the City of David, &c.

The beginning of our days work is from that word, which magnifies him that is the word of God above all things; for he is a Saviour. Time was when the chil­dren of Israel had rather Moses should speak unto them than God: Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us lest we dye, Exod. xx. 19. Now let Israel say, let not Moses speak with us, nor the Law, for then we shall surely die. Above all tongues let the Angel speak with us, that proclaims a Saviour, and we shall surely live. If all comfort in the world were forgotten, nothing but darkness, and weeping, and captivity over all the earth, yet here's a word which is enough to turn all that sorrow into gladness, yea, to turn Hell it self into Heaven; This day is born unto you a Saviour: it comprehends all other names of Grace, and blessing; as Manna is said to have all kind of sapors in it to please the taste. When you have call'd him the glass in which we see all truth, the fountain in which we taste all sweetness, the ark in which all precious things are laid up, the pearl which is worth all other riches, the flower of Jesse which hath the savour of life unto life, the bread that satisfieth all hunger, the medicine that healeth all sickness, the light that dispelleth all darkness; when you have run over all these, and as many more glorious titles as you can lay on, this one word is above them, and you may pick them all out of these syllables, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. Abraham could endure to live in a strange Land, nay, he could endure to want his only Son Isaac if God pleas'd: Elias could want his bodily sustenance for forty days: John Baptist could want the comfort of all society in the Wilderness: Peter could leave all he had and want his substance: Paul could live in bonds and want his liberty: Paphnutius could want his eyes, yea, the Martyrs for Christs sake could want their lives; but they could not be without the redemption of their soul, they could not want a Saviour.

The Prophet Isaiah hath foretold that the heaven and earth should joyn their strength together to make a Saviour, Isa. xlv. 8. Drop down the heavens from above, and let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, that's the effect: and the 15. verse speaks of the person, O God of Israel the Saviour. The heavens must drop down from above, and the earth must open and concur beneath, the whole universe must be put together, the Divine Nature and the Humane, tantae molis erat, to make a Saviour. To confuse the Jews with this place. I have read of a learned Scribe of theirs, one Rabbi Accados, who wrote thus before the coming of Christ, that the Messias should come into the world to save men, and the Gentiles should call him Jesus, or the Saviour of the world. Indeed the Gentiles did not only do so after our Saviours ascension into Heaven, being taught unto it by the Aposto­lical preaching, but in the time of Idolatry, which is very strange. Tully says in the 4. Oration against Verres, that he saw an Image at Syracuse in Sicily with this Inscription upon it, [...], a Saviour, and he admires at the strong significancy of the word, Hoc quantum est magnum est, ut latine exprimi uno verbo non possit, to give sal­vation or to be a Saviour is such an appellative, that all the Latine tongue was not furnished with a word to set it forth. But what if their language could have fit it? that's nothing unless the soul do unite it to it self, and write it upon the tables of the heart. But that the name may not be an empty sound to us as it was to them, consider these three things. 1. With what honour it was impos'd. 2. What excellency it includes. 3. What reverence it deserves.

For the first of these, an honour in the imposition of a name will ever stick by the person, and the origen hereof came from the chiefest, that is above all, Phil. ii. 9. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. It was ever of old in the right of the Father to give a name unto his child: Zachary when he could not speak call'd for writing tables to appoint the name of John the Baptist; therefore Christ having no Father on earth, his Father gave him a name from Heaven. His Father gave it, but he did commit it to the trust of an Angel to bring it; for the Angel was the first that ever mention'd it to Joseph the hus­band [Page 52] of Mary in a dream. Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins, Matth. i. 21. God gave it, the Angel brought it, and men did assign it the eighth day when he was circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the Angel before he was conceived in the Womb. Hereupon Bernard casts in two observations. 1. It appears in St. Matthew that the Angel called him Jesus before he was born, yea, before he was conceived, Luke i. 31. it was Gabriels message to Mary, Thou shalt conceive in thy Womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name Jesus. Men called him so after he was born, and circumcised, Idem quippe & Angeli salvator & hominis, hominis ab incarnatione, Angeli ab initio creaturae: for the same Lord is the Saviour both of Angels and Men; of Angels before he was born, from the beginning of the world; of Men in the fulness of time after he was born: That is, the second person in Trinity being the eternal Son of the Fa­ther, did confirm the good Angels in grace, that they should never fall; and the same person incarnate, being the Mediator of God and Man, did redeem the Elect, that they should rise again from their sins, and reign with him in glory. 2. The complete imposition of the name was at his circumcision, when he first shed his Blood, as if his Death had been foretold, as soon as he was born; it would cost him blood, not a few drops of the foreskin, but the very blood of the heart to be called Jesus. In Circumcision he was called a Saviour, at his Passion the word Jesus was wrote upon the Cross: then his enemies confest he was a Saviour, In circumcisione non fuit actu perfecto, sed destinatione salvator; in Circumcision it was told by destination what he should be, and incompleatly, and by inchoation what he was. It was a sign of servitude, and of taking the guilt of sin to be Circumcised; it was a sign of ignominy, and reproach to be Crucified: but this name exalted him, and defended him against the bad opinion of the world, when he was called at the one time in the Temple, and entitled on the Cross at the other, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. To drive this point no longer about the honour of the imposition of the name, this is the sum; Angels and Men had their several shares in the dignity to give this attribute to our Lord, but the name was grounded in his own nature of ex­ceeding mercy, and in his office of reconciliation; therefore God alone could give him this name: Innatum est ei nomen hoc, non inditum ab humana, aut Angelica natura, says Bernard, the name was bred with him, and not imposed by men or Angels.

A name so royally impos'd must include a great deal of excellency, that's the next point.Acts xviii. 15. Gallio the Deputy of Achaia was a great scorner of Religion, and be­cause Paul magnified Christ, and the Jews blasphemed him, Gallio said it was a con­troversie of words, and names, and he would not meddle with it; it was not worth the while. The name of Christ was beyond Gallio's reach to judge upon it. David makes a great account of that which he did villifie, Thou hast magnified thy name, and thy word above all things, Psal. cxxxvii. The names of God, Jehovah are his names as a Creator, and yet to be magnified above all things; but the name of Jesus adds above his power of creation, his goodness of saving and redempti­on, Nihil nasci profuit, nisi redimi profuisset, it had been unbeneficial to be created, unless we had been happily redeemed: His Words, his Actions, his Miracles, his Prayers, his Sacraments, his Sufferings all did smell of the Saviour. Take him from his Infancy to his Death, among his Disciples and among the Publicans, among the Jews, or among the Gentiles, he was all Saviour.

The Jews were under the condition of thraldom at this time when Christ was born, under the thraldom of their enemies; and the tidings of a Saviour was sweet news at such a season: yet the Shepherds could not so mistake that an In­fant born but that day could go out with their hosts to subdue their enemies. No person upon earth hath such need of a Saviour as a sinner, whether it be peace or war, Pandora's box of mischiefs; all the miseries that can be named are the just reward of a sinner: therefore the Angel doth not specifie to the Shepherds, from what calamities he should redeem them; and be called a Saviour indefinitely and absolutely from all. A few particulars would but derogate from the honour of his salvation, he sweeps away all evil at once, like a Spiders web, ab omni malo, he saves us from the whole mass of evil, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord, Jer. xxiii. 7. It shall no more be said the Lord Liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the Land of Egypt, but the Lord liveth which brought the house of Israel from the North Country, the land of Chaldaea. Alas, both these are easie redemptions, to that which calls him Jesus in the New Testament; the Lord liveth who saveth his people from their sins: there begins his mercy at that point, to break the heavy yoke of sin [Page 53] from our necks, to repress the dominion of the flesh rebelling against the spirit, to take away earthly desires from our will, and affections; in a word, to clear us in Gods Court, that our iniquities may no more be imputed to us, Who loved us, and wa­shed us from our sins in his own blood, Revel. i. 5. 2. He is a Saviour that delivers us from the sting and punishment of sin, which is death: He destroyed our death by dying on the Cross, and repaired our life again by his own Resurrection. 3. He is a Saviour that delivereth us from the power of Satan, that although the enemy tempt and oppose vehemently, yet he should not overcome his Saints. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the Prince of this world be cast forth, John xii. 32. and so cast forth that he shall never renew his tyranny again, For through death Chrst did destroy him that had the power of death, the Devil, Heb. ii. 14. 4. He is a Saviour that frees us from the wrath of God: and when we were enemies we were reconciled un­to God by the death of his Son, Rom. v. From sin, from death, from Satan, from the wrath of God. These are the four heads of our Redemption, and these are the excellencies included in the name of Saviour.

After these things thus declared, methinks the third point should fall in directly without any contradiction: Methinks of our selves without bidding men should strive to do abundant reverence at the hearing of this word, a Jesus, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. We have not that feeling of our sins which we ought to have, nor of the wrath of God; for if we had, we would hear this name with greater joy­fulness: but the destruction is not near enough to affect us, Hell and damnation are not represented before our face: if those things were so nigh, that we did feel their horror, we would not captiously gainsay that Ceremony of the Church, to vail the head, and bend the knee, and to prostrate our selves to the earth, in giving honour to Christ for our salvation. Both the Saints in heaven, and the Faithful on earth, and the Dead departed under the earth, all these hath God ordained to bow the knee at the name of his Son Jesus, Phil. ii. 10. Indeed to do it toties quoties, at every repetition of the name is not necessarily inferr'd from thence perhaps; say it be no more than a pious Institution of the Church, to keep us in a faithful remem­brance that we do not forget it; yet a dutiful Child will hearken to the voice of the Church, and not wave her Authority and neglect it; as if the Spirit of God had not directed her to prescribe outward things in a decent manner to the setting forth of Gods glory. Isaiah could not speak of a Saviour in the Old Testament, but this comes in, Ʋnto me shall every knee bow, and every tongue shall swear, Isa. xlv. 23. and lest the world might suppose, they may be bold and sawcy with a merciful Saviour, St. Paul admonisheth how that Saviour shall be a Judge, Rom. xiv. 11. We shall all stand before the Judgment-seat of Christ; for it is written, As I live saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Beloved now ye are in Gods Temple, judgment you neither see nor fear; but imagin with me, the Lord were coming in the clouds, every mans innumerable sins laid open before him to con­demn him, in this distraction of amazement is there any thing to put life into your terrified souls, but the name of a Saviour? then let an Angel preach before you, There is no name under heaven by which you can be saved, but only the name of Jesus. Tell me from your own heart what you think if in that case your head would not unco­ver, your knee bend, yea, your face grovel upon the earth; confess this and amend your stubbornness: it is nothing but the forgetfulness of destruction which makes ye so unregardful to do reverence at the name of salvation. One thing more, and I shall have said enough to this, Zanchy and others allow that soon after the first 300 years it was a custom ungain-said in that ancient Orthodox Church, to put S. Paul's item in practice; and more than that, to bend and uncover at the name of Jesus, and this done, to let the Arrians see, that all worship and honour was due to the eternal Son of God. Though I trust there be now no Arrians among us, is it not fit to hold the Ceremony, that we may keep simple, and perverse men from being Arrians? Princes do not use to lose any part of the honour which was once given them upon any occasion, and will not God look to have that honour maintain'd which was once laudibly ascrib'd vnto him by all mens confession? he cannot grow less to have his honour impair'd, howsoever there may be a mutability in occasi­ons. I will end with St. Austins words, Hoc nomen salvatoris mei in ipso adhuc lacte ma­tris cor meum pie biberat, my heart did drink in this name of Saviour with piety and reverence, even from my Mothers breasts. So much for the honour of imposition, the benefit of application, and that worship of reverence which is due to be done at the name of Saviour.

[Page 54]Now I may say I have built up the Tower in my Text, the strong Tower of Da­vid our chief defence; that which remains is but the raising of the Walls, to compass it about: And you remember what we must deal with next, he comes so near unto us that he participates of our nature, Salvator natus, he is a Saviour that is born: born might the Shepherds say? what an Infant whose mouth was not yet opened, so that an Angel spake for him? can this be that wonderful one ye talk of, that shall deliver us? Ecce venit equitans, that had been more probable to be be­liev'd; behold he cometh riding, though it were in despicable humility, Beheld he cometh riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass: But to be born an Infant, though it were his diminution, it was our glory and exaltation. He was born and made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted; not to give us a natural life, such as he took after our image, but to make us partakers of his Divine Excellen­cy, that as we have carried the image of the earthly, we might carry the image of the hea­venly. We rejoyce at the birth of our own children; the Psalmist calls them ar­rows in our quiver, as if they were the might of our strength: Yet alas for their birth it would be unto nothing but eternal sorrow, unless it were for the Incarnati­on of this Infant in my Text, we might curse the day wherein we were born, with Job, and wish the day quite blotted out with Jeremy, but that we cast off our for­mer birth as it were, and begin our life again at Baptism in the name of our Sa­viour.

How wisely the Almighty doth fold one work in another, and one counsel in an­other to perfect the body of the Saints, is past our finding out. Yet it is sweet to enquire into the method of our salvation, and to ask after this mystery among others, why the Son of God would destroy sin in the nature of man? and why he would be born in the similitude of corruptible flesh, to gain for us an immortal in­heritance? I must prefer St. Paul's reason in the first place, because it is direct Scri­pture, Heb. iv. 15. We have not an High Priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. So that Christ as he was God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds, he knew our misery and infirmity; but as he was man of the substance of his Mo­ther, born in the world, so did he feel our afflictions, and compassionate our in­firmities: He knoweth whereof we be made, and remembreth that we are but dust. When the bones of the poor cleave to the skin in time of famine and scarcity, when the blood waxeth wan and pale with sickness, when the body is under the torments of a tyrant, in these extremities we may fly to Christ with boldness, and plead unto his mercies. O our Saviour that wert incarnate, thou thy self didst take a corruptible body into the unity of thy person, the chastisement of our peace was upon thy flesh; thou knowest what we are able to suffer, thou knowest our weakness and our frailty.

As for other causes why he would be conceiv'd in the womb of a mortal woman, and be born to be a Saviour, I will briefly go along with Damascen, who reduceth them to these four heads, that God might demonstrate the goodness of his Love, his Ju­stice, his Wisdom, and his power.

1. To the first of these the heathen spake somewhat, but knew not well what they said, Amor Deum gubernat, amoris omne regnum est. Love did rule God him­self, love swayed all things in the world: We know and admire the meaning, that the love of the Son turn'd the enmity of the Father into peace; it turn'd threatnings into forgiveness, and death into life. Poise every thing in a right scale, and mark the heavy weight of our undeservings, and the nature of man might stink in Gods nostrils, which had so much offended him to believe a Serpent; nay, to believe the Devil in a Serpent rather then the lively Oracle of his own mouth: Yet love took away that distastefulness, which the whole Trinity had con­ceiv'd against sinful flesh; and the second Person became flesh for our sakes, and was made sin for our sakes; by imputation that we might be made sons, and righteous before God, nay, that we might be made the righteousness of God, Rom. v. The Athenians were proud of Pompey's love, that he would write his name a Citi­zen of their City: for a princely person to accept a freedom in a mean Corpora­tion is no little kindness; how much more doth it aggravate the love of Christ to come from heaven, and be made a Citizen of this vile earth, to be born after a more vile condition than the most abject of the people.

2. It is not so proper to say God did love us by Christ, for God is love, and in him­self, and for his own goodness sake he could not but love the work of his hands; [Page 55] but this is the true and proper understanding of it, that notwithstanding his love to his own justice through the merit of our Saviours humility he forgave us our sins; therefore his love toward mankind, and his love toward his justice went hand in hand, and could not be parted. He satisfied the vehemency of his love toward sinful man, that he gave his Son to be born of a Virgin, and to become our Mediator: he satisfied the love he hath to his own Justice, and the hatred he hath against sin, when he did impose this office of a Mediator upon his beloved Son, not without shedding of blood. Justice cried out it was meet mercy should not rule all; Adam and his posterity ought to dye, or who will answer for them? not an Angel or Spirit, and therefore not the Son of God as he is God; for God is a Spirit. Meet it is every one should bear his own burden: the nature that sinned let it bear the curse of its own sin. Mans nature had sinned, mans nature ought to suffer; but that which our nature should bear, our nature by a fit adequation of recompence could not bear. Our sufferings were not enough to satisfie the wrath of God due to sin. The Son of God is a most valuable person, but not passible: man is passible but not valuable: the one nature ought to suffer but could not, the other could suffer but ought not. That he might be liable to all contempt he was born a Savi­our and made a child, that he might be able to pay the price; he was perfect God as well as perfect man, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.

3. Love and Justice are mightily declared, that a Saviour was born, and the eternal Wisdom of the Father comes in for her part to be magnified. It is beyond our understanding to say nay, but that the Father might have made a creature fit to satisfie his Justice, to have clearly paid the price of our Redemption, and so to have spared his Son: yea, but wisdom interpos'd, it was not fit that man should owe his redemption to any other, than to whom he owed his creation; for the value of that benefit would compel us to love our Redeemer, better than our Crea­tor. So Bernard, Plus nos ad charitatem excitat redemptio quam creatio; Therefore God would not so dispose the mystery of our souls health, that occasion should be given to love an Angel or Saint, better than himself the King of Glory. The Son that sits at his right hand by whom he made the worlds, let him restore all things, and the blessing of our Creation, Redemption, and all other good gifts shall meet in one center. This is pretii difficilimi decentissima solutio, say the Schoolmen, a most conveni­ent payment of a most difficult ransom.

4. The boundless power, and infinite virtue of the Godhead, I confidently pro­nounce it, did never appear so much in any other work, as when a Saviour was born. He that knew no beginning, but was from all eternity, to begin to be a man; he that speaks to the world in thunder to cry in a cradle, Verbum infans: he that decketh himself with light as with a garment to be wrapt in swadling clouts, he that opens his hand, and filleth all things with plenteousness to suck for a few drops of milk at a womans breasts, we are able to answer nothing to this, but with the Angel to cry out, Rev. v. 12. Dominion and power to the Lamb, and to him that sitteth on the throne for evermore. And so far of the second point.

The next word to be consider'd in the Text is like the flesh-hook which the Priest had to draw a portion of the Sacrifice unto himself, To you a Saviour is born, says the Angel, Vobis natus, the good turn shall be yours, the blessing yours, you ought to be affected with joy at this wonderous work, for he is your Saviour. Tell the Shepherds that a Saviour is born, and they cannot but understand he is de nobis, like unto us in nature; but tell them, unto you a Saviour is born, that's a great deal more than they understand that he is born for their redemption. It is honourable to be made like us, but advantageous in the highest degree that he was made for us. Let us work upon this mine, and here we shall find the precious mettal, fit to pay the price of our debts to God in our steed when we were bankrupts.

First, we learn from hence, he was born to you, and not unto himself; to your glory, to his own abasement, and exinanition: for his own part he was begotten of God before all times, so noble a Nativity, that when the Father bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the Angels of God worship him, Heb. i. 6. Therefore for himself he needed no other birth to be born at all, especi­ally to be thus basely born in the manger of a stable. He took a body as it were sown in dishonour, that we might reap the harvest, and be magnified: Likewise he is called a Saviour, not in respect of his own person; indeed he was his own destroyer, and our Saviour, when the High Priests servants sought to lay hold of him in the Garden; neither doth he go about to escape, or to deny himself: but [Page 56] whom seek ye? I am he. No man would put himself into the hands of barbarous enemies that meant to be his own Saviour: all the salvation that he brought with him lookt another way, Titus ii. 14. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.

Some few persons are culled out here, for all that shall be shielded under the buckler of this Saviour; unto you a Saviour is born, says the Angel, speaking only to the Shepherds; that's because no more were in the way: But to as many as read these words, and mark them, the word speaks continually, and is never silent; the message is as properly brought to you as ever it was to the Shepherds, to you a Saviour is born. The Prophet Isaiah allows him to all the Sons of Adam, that will lay claim unto him, unto us a Child it born, and unto us a Son is given, Isa. ix. 6. 'Tis a kind expression to rejoyce at the good news of another mans prosperity, 'tis in­cident to a sweet nature to do so: And indeed if Angels were so enlightned with the gladsomness of our benefit, that when they had said it over, they could not choose but sing it also in the verses after my Text, Cum de aliena gratia Angeli exul­tent, quae nostra est stupiditas? If the blessed Cherubims exult for the grace that we find in Gods eyes, what stupidness is in us, if our hearts do not triumph for glad­ness? for the benefit flows unto us, and not unto the Angels. The Devils fretted and roared out against Christ, because he came into the world for mans sake, and not for their deliverance. Quid nobis & tibi? What have we to do with thee Jesus thou Son of God? we renounce thee, Mat. viii. 29. The evil spirits rage that he is not theirs, the good Spirits of God rejoyce that his Father hath made him all ours, be­ing secure of their own glorious estate; they triumph that we shall be exalted to the fellowship of their happiness.

Well then, to you he is born, not only to the Shepherds, but inclusive to all men; so you have heard in the former verse, his birth was gaudium omni populo, joy to all people; only they are excluded that exclude themselves by infidelity. Facit multorum infidelitas ut non omnibus nasceretur, qui omnibus natus est, says St. Ambrose, the infidelity of many (now infidelity is properly imputed to those within the Church, who had the means to believe and did not) the infidelity of many is a bar, that the Incar­nation of Christ pertains not to all men, although he was born for all men. Every man therefore must strive so to love Christ, and to keep his Commandements, that he may feel the joy of this day particularly enter into his heart, and the Spi­rit testifying to his spirit, unto me a Saviour is born. [...], say the Greeks, it comes of the possessive, [...] Tuus, a Saviour restoreth every man to himself; for a sinner is lost not only to God, and the inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, but he is lost to himself, and to the comfort of a good conscience, until Christ restore him again to joy and peace within his own heart, that he may say to him­self as Philip did to Nathanael, John i. 41. I have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Pro­phets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, &c. Oportet uti nostro in utilitatem nostram, & de servatore salutem operari, says Bernard. Let us make our profit from that which is our own, and let every man collect his own salvation from his own Saviour, To you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise, with healing in his wings, Mal. iv. 2. The Sun enlightens half the world at once, yet none discern colours by the light but they that open their eyes; and a Saviour is born unto us all, which is Christ the Lord: but enclasp him in thine heart as old Simeon did in his arms, and then thou mayst sing his Nunc Dimittis, or Mary's Magnificat, My spirit rejoyceth in God my Sa­viour.

The fourth thing to be consider'd, is, what early tidings the Shepherds had of our Saviours birth, hodie natus, I do not tell it to you, says the Angel, after a month, or after a week, go to Bethlehem and search, and ye shall find this is the first day that his Mother bore him, This day is born unto you in the City of David, &c. Before the blessed seed was promised, for a long while ye have had a state in rever­sion, that Christ should come in the flesh to save his people from their sins; now the act is accomplished, ye have a state in being, enter upon your happiness and possess it, reckon from henceforth that you have your joy in hand, this day the great deliverer hath taken up a poor Palace in the City of David. According to a natural computation of days we forget the nights, though an Infant be brought forth in the still hours of darkness; yet from thenceforth we call it the Birth-day, and not the birth-night of such an Infant, In such accompts (I know not how) we speak of nothing but day, for that's the Dialect of the Kingdom of Heaven, where there is day for ever, and no darkness. So the Shepherds kept watch over their [Page 57] flocks by night, and after the first hour the morning began, as the general conje­cture runs, our Saviour was born; yet since a natural day comprehends darkness as well as light, the Angel was pleas'd to say, This day he is born. This is literal and to the plain meaning; yet I refrain not their allusions altogether, that say, the darkness was remov'd away by that radiant glory which shone round about the An­gels, and that the night was as clear in those parts, as if the Sun had risen upon the earth: therefore upon the comfort of that miraculous illumination the messenger says, This day is born unto you. And David by some men is made to speak to this al­lusion, Psal. cxxxviii. The night is as clear as the day; which was true, say they, at our Saviours Incarnation. Others take their liberty to guess, that good tidings make the night be called day, and sad tidings make the day be called night. Heavy misfortunes indeed have fallen out in the night, for the most part. Sennacheribi great host slain in the night, Thou fool this night thy soul shall be taken from thee: a threatning to the rich Epicure, yet it holds not always: But if Christ be the day-star, and his Birth turns night into day, it will become us as the Apostle says to walk as children of the light.

Curiosity hath gone too far in one question touching this part of my Text, why this late day was esteemed most expedient in Gods wisdom to send his Son in the flesh; four thousand years had almost expir'd, since the seed of the Woman was promised to bruise the Serpents head: and yet no sooner then hodie, say they, that will search in to all causes: the Angel said to day; but why he came punctually on that day, or in that year, he did not learn the Shepherds; nay, I speak it with modesty, I do not think he could teach himself: Therefore I recoil back from that nicety, and lay down my doctrine in this large lesson, it was expedient that many revolutions of years should run out from the promise of Christs Birth, unto the actual accomplishment. 1. So great a matter was worthy much expectation,1 and many predictions of the Prophets. So St. Austin, Quanto major Judex veniebat, Tractat. in Jo 31. tanto praeconum series longior praecedere debebat, the greater the Judge that was to come, the greater troop of Harbingers and Apparitors should go before him. 2. His 2 Incarnation is fitted to the fulness of time, because it falls out equally to try their Faith, that should believe in Christ to come; and to try their Faith who ought to believe that he is come, that he is dead, and risen again, and ascended into glory. 3. Between the time of Adams disobedience, and the Birth of the Lamb 3 of God, a long space of years doth interlope, that man might have time enough to see, and feel his misery, before the medicine was made to apply unto his sore. 4. God is pleas'd to confer great honour upon our humane nature, at three extreme 4 distances; in the beginning of the world, toward the midst of it, and in the end of all things. In the first creation God made man after his own Image, so began our excellencies; then he made his own Son in the similitude of man, a long distance went between these two. Hereafter at the period of all things we are sure to have a glorified body, and that our mortal shall put on immortality. Now Christs Incarnation comes in the midst, because he is the center of all Gods mercies towards us. 5. The Jews, whom Christ above all others calls his own, (He came unto his 5 own, &c.) they did sustain at this time, and for some years had sustain'd a bondage under the Roman Conquest (perhaps it is our Saviours pleasure that a great part of the Church shall be under a Romish thraldom against his second coming.) But this bon­dage was bitter to the Jews, even at this day, when Christ was born, Caesars taxes were very grievous: (for Mary being ready to lie down, was compell'd to come to Bethlehem to be taxed) now in this day of oppression, when the Jews, I believe, thought the yoke of captivity to be more intolerable than their sins, and that they wisht for a victorious champion to fight for them, then did God send them a greater Saviour than they wisht, or lookt for; not to acquit them from the Ro­man Dominion, but from the pit of Hell. And this is all that can be modestly con­jectured about the opportunity of time, &c.

This day is born unto you, and as near as we can observe the course of the year by Astronomical skill this was the very day; yet it is not that hodie of which the Angel spake unto the Shepherds: then is not this part of the Text utterly unappliable to us? no beloved, but appliable to us also in the nearest degree: for as we say of the sin of Adam, Actu transiit, manet reatus, the act past away at the first, but the guilt remains upon his posterity: so our Saviour was born upon one particular day which is past, but the merit and virtue of it is never past, but abides for ever. Wherefore to them that make the right use of this blessing, St. Paul says, it is out [Page 58] of date at no time, but now is the acceptable time (now, when you will your self) now is the day of salvation. The Prophet Isaiah says the joy of this birth it like the joy of men in harvest; that's for the universality of all those that belong unto the field; but for the extension of time it is not for the season of harvest alone; but for all the year,Bern. Serm. 6. in Nativ. not gaudium in annum, but gaudium in sempiternum. Not an harvest joy for the plenty of one year: but this is the bread of life, whose plenty rejoyceth the eartn unto all ages. It is as good news upon any day, as it was upon one day, says Bernard, that Christ is born. That day comes always anew to them that are renewed in the spirit of their mind; and he is born every day to them, in whose hearts he lives by Faith.

I must here cut off the circumstance of time, and because the Sacrament must have a time to be celebrated, I will speak but a few words upon the place and conclude. The Angel directs the Shepherds to the City of David, and thither did all the Scribes and High Priests direct Herod with full consent: Bethlehem of Judea was the place where Christ must be born, for so it was spoken by the Prophet. Now Bethlehem is that City of David. I know in the Old Testament the Tower of Sion is sometimes called the City of David, a strong fortress in Jerusalem which David built to curb the Jebusites; but that famous Metropolis of Jerusalem had no­thing to do with this birth: Little Bethlehem is here called the City of David, where David was born. Take notice I pray you that the Angel could have call'd it Beth­lehem, to take away all mistaking; but it makes more to the matter to shew that Christ came of the house and lineage of David, which was foretold, Psal. cxxxi. Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat. And mark how it falls out agreeably, that Joseph and Mary came to no other Town but this to pay Tribute unto Caesar: Had they been only of the Tribe of Judah as David was, no nearer allied unto him, they might have gone up to many other Cities, much more famous than this to be taxed: but being of the stock of David, and indeed the nearest living in blood un­to him, therefore they go up to no City but to Bethlehem, the City of David. And thus you see the Angel conferr'd with the Shepherds in such words as were very proper; they knew the place, it was the next at hand; they knew it belong'd to him that should be the Saviour of his people, who according to the Scriptures be­long'd to David by blood, and to the City of David for his Country.

A poor caskenet to contain so great a Jewel. Thou Bethlehem, says the Pro­phet Micaiah, the least among the Princes of Judah; yet big enough to contain the Prince of Heaven and Earth. Little Zoar, says Lot, and yet Zoar was big enough to receive him and his Children safe out of the fire of Sodom. Poor Bethlehem, which had but one Inn for strangers in it all it seems, and that of small capacity, which had no room, no by-corner for a woman to be delivered in, but only the manger of the stable. Mean Bethlehem, unless the Angel had spoke it, the Prophet foretold it, and the Star had shewed it to the Wise men, who would not have gain­said that the Saviour of all men could be laid in such a Village? The Roman Hi­storian made a marvail that so noble an Emperour as Alexander Severus was, could come out of Syria, Syrus Archisynagogus, as they call'd him in scorn. Behold that Emperour's Lord, comes not only out of Syria, but out of the homeliest corner in Syria, out of the despicable tributary City of David. And as it is in the next verse, not so well born as in the City; but natus in praesepi, born in a dunghil-stable, in Civitate, born in a City? what, a Citizen of this world? no, the words following correct it, he had no room given him among men, but among beasts, a pilgrim and a foreiner on earth; his Kingdom lay not here.

In a word for all. Joseph and Mary were a poor couple. Bethlehem, a little City, the stable a place of the meanest account in all that City, Shepherds of the lowest condition that were sent to visit him: all things were little, and humble about Christ at his Birth, that nothing might be proud and insolent, and vain-glorious about us, if we would be born the Sons of God: but alas how unconformable are we to this lowly fashion of our Saviour? the Feasts of many rich men are for pomp, to let as rich as themselves see their munificence, and not for charity to the poor, who stand in need of refreshment. Apparel superlatively costly, most vain, and most effeminate; how generally it is to be seen upon all peoples shoulders, to what excessive bravery is the pride of the whole Kingdom rais'd in less than the revolu­tion of thirty years, not only in this luxurious City, but in little Bethlehem, in every village of the field. But I am sure the costly pride of the LandLords appa­rel shall make the poor Tenant humble: Bethlehem the house of bread, the poor [Page 59] Farmers grange shall be made small enough, with these new invented expences. And where men are become lovers of themselves altogether, not lovers of God, not lovers of the publick weal, not lovers of the poor members of Christ; in these there is no fruit to be seen of true humility. What a revenue it would be to help the needy, if the tenth of Christmas gaming and dicing were bestowed up­on them; yet they that will not give a shilling to the hungry are free enough to dice a pound. Perdere norunt, donare nesciunt, Men know how to be loosely wasteful, but not wisely liberal. Among lawful and good pastimes of this Festival time, it is strange that dicing is crept in among them. The miscreant Souldiers that crucified Christ cast lots, which some interpret to be throwing the Dice for his garments (gene­rally it is so painted) more likely therefore to be a sport for them that keep a Feast for joy that Christ was crucified, than for joy that Christ was born. Beloved, let the greatest part of your Christmas joy be according to the Angels pattern; first as­cribing glory to God, then some friendly pastimes may resemble peace, and joy on earth; but put off all strife, debate, and envy; so you shall observe good will to­wards men: but at every turn remember the little City of David, remember humi­lity. Bethlehem honora parvam quae te inducit in paradisum, says Nazianzen. Make ho­nourable esteem of little Bethlehem, of lowliness and humility, and that will bring you into Paradise, into the Kingdom of Heaven, where the Lamb of God, this day born in the flesh, sits upon the Throne for evermore. Amen.

THE SEVENTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 13, 14.

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly Hoste praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men.

GOod Christians have ever observed to keep this feast of the Birth of Christ with some decency in Apparel more than ordinary, with bounty of Fare, with Carols of joy, and many other circumstances of chearfulness. I am sure the decorum of a fit Text for the day is as much, and more requisite than any thing that I have named. A word spoken in season ought to taste bet­ter upon the palate of our understanding than meat in season. I have gone that way hitherto, and still continue in it, to teach you some remarkable passage which fell out when our Saviour was born, upon this blessed Day and Season wherein he was born. This portion of St. Lukes Gospel, which by appointment is the second Lesson for our Morning Prayer, hath been the Theme of my Doctrine sundry times, it afforded me to speak of the Nativity it self, next of the Humility, afterwards of the Sermon which the Angel preacht upon it, fourthly, of the poor Shepherds to whom these glad Tidings were first published. Now for a conclusion, here is an Host of Angels to confirm all for truth, which one of their Order had said before, and to make the Tidings sweeter and joyfuller by their congratulation. Indeed, all that goes before is made so compleat and full by that which they have added, that our Church hath made a stop there, and bids us read no further. The Message which one Angel brought made it known that a Saviour was born in the City of David; had it not been for him the birth was so obscure and private, and indeed so unlikely to be the same which it was, we cannot guess how it should ever have come to light, and been published: But those Tidings which that Angel brought were so strong, so far above reason, so far beyond the deservings of miserable sinners, that unless a multitude of Angels had seconded all that was said before, we cannot guess how it should ever have been believed. The shepherds never said one to another, let us go unto Bethlem, and see this thing which is come to pass for that which one Angel told them; they stirred not out of the field to go see the wonder until an Army of those heavenly Watchmen concorded to it, and chanted it out with a merry noise, Glory to God, &c.

This convinceth the truth of the Incarnation of Jesus far more than that Text which I handled the last year, though that, as I shewed, was a very powerful evi­dence. For Wisemen to come from the East to Hierusalem, and to have a strange Star [Page 61] for their Leader rais'd a mighty fame of the Nativity, both in that City, and perhaps in a great part of the world: But if all the Stars of heaven had gone before them, and all the wise Gymnosophists had made a journey, it were but a mean Demonstrance to this, that all the Angels of heaven (I conceive no less of this multitude than of all) should make an Apparition in the air, and Carol the coming of Christ into the earth. The Stars of the Firmament are sometimes figuratively called the Host of heaven; these Apparitors in my Text are not called, but are so, litterally and properly. The Wisemen were but Questionists, and raw Disciples, where is he that is born? These say the word when and where, with all other requisite addi­tions, and put it out of question. The Wisemen adored him with costly Gifts after the manner of an earthly Prince: The Angels glorifie him with Hymns and Praises after the Majesty of God. In every respect this is the greatest testimony of Christ in all the Scripture, excepting where God used his own voice immediately from Heaven, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. These things are but said now, I will prove it in the prosecuting of the parts, which are these: The Mes­sengers, the preparation to the Message, and the Message it self; or the Choristers, the preparation to their Musick, and then the Anthem. The Choristers are 1. Hea­venly ones; 2. A multitude; 3. An Host or an Army of them. Their preparati­on is twofold: With much suddenness, suddenly there was with the Angel; and with much chearfulness, for they were [...], singing praise unto God. The Anthem it self hath three rests in it, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men.

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly Host; these are the Choristers that sung the Carol, and the first thing we note in them, is, that they were heavenly ones. Many things in the former Verses of this Chapter were ex­ceeding mean, if I may not say vile and sordid, touching our Saviours Nativity: but this portion of the story is of another nature and very honourable; the more his Divinity had hid it self in Clouts, in Flesh, in a Manger, the more it is illustra­ted by a glorious testimony. The Earth afforded him one of the worst places it had, the Heavens afforded him their very best attendance, the Angels. These heavenly Spirits, you see, gaze not upon the Work of our Redemption, nor upon the Oeco­nomy of the Church as idle Spectators, but they were imployed from the beginning in all the works of the Lord, Job xxxviii. 7. Who laid the corner stone of the earth, when the morning Stars sang together, and all the Sons of God shouted for joy? Some Expositors infer from hence,Pineda. that the Angels applauded and praised the Lord for the Creation of the world; for the Chaldee Paraphrase instead of the Sons of God reads it Acies An­gelorum, the Army of Angels: And the Septuagint [...], when the corner stone of the earth was laid, all my Angels praised me with a loud voice. St. Chrysostome says upon it, that the Angels admired to see the beauty of the world beneath, they were asto­nished to behold the degrees of the Elements, the multitude of all sorts of Crea­tures, their Order, Number, and measure: And by so much were they transpor­ted with the beauty of Gods Excellency more than we, and of all his Works, by how much they did better perceive that they were wrought with infinite and inex­plicable wisdom. This apprehension of the Fathers upon those words of Job I think is not to be refused. Anastasius Sinaita is cited to go a great deal further, that on the fourth day of the Creation the Angels saw the Sun rise in the morning from under the interposition of the Earth, and presently they bethought them how Christ, Sol justitiae, should be born of a pure Virgin, and dwell upon the earth, and immediately they sung this very Song, Gloria in excelsis, as a prevention or pre­diction what should be sang upon this day, almost four thousand years before it came to pass. But this conjecture supposeth one of these two things scarce to be admitted, either that these heavenly ones foresaw the fall of Adam before it came to pass, as well as God, and that the Son of God should be given in the flesh for a Propitiation to be the remedy; or else another scholastic quidlibet must be received, that Christ was so the head of the Angels, that he should have been Incarnate, and the Angels saved by faith in that Incarnation, though Adam had never faln; which is but harsh in the delivery.

This is the true Doctrine, and the right descant upon the Point, these Spirits that dwell in Heaven rejoyced for the Creation of the Earth, when the Foundati­ons of it were laid, as Job says, how much more would they bear a part, and tri­umph for our sakes at the Restauration, and the Redemption of the Earth? Yet now we are at the truth, mistake not the reason of their joy as some have done; [Page 62] let me but touch upon a petty error, and so proceed to the true causes. It is suppo­sed by many that the Angels are ready to attend the Church with all their help and diligence, and exceeding glad in our prosperity, because they receive an augmen­tation of their blessedness by their pious Ministry towards the Sons of men. Now this savours of a little servility, me thinks, as if those holy ones did not commu­nicate themselves to be safeguards and watchmen over us without expectation of reward; but Biel presseth it further, Tum sequitur si homo non fuisset creandus, An­gelus non habuisset beatitudinem; It would follow, that Angels had never come to the height of their beatitude unless men had been created; nay, it will follow further, they should come short of their full beatitude unless man had sinned, and disobeyed Gods Commandment.

Let me lay down more sufficient reasons therefore for your further satis­faction.

First, The Angels had always done their best to pitch their Pavilions round about us, and to keep us from the tyranny of the Devil, but they perceived that their protection was not a saving Medicine, it would not cure, it would not keep us in life; but it bred them great content and joy when Christ did manifest him­self in flesh upon the earth to heal our sores and bruises, and to overcome that strong man for us, and spoil him, generally to supply in himself whatsoever was defective in their abilities. This is Origens reason, and his Simile follows, as if many unexpert, but well affected Physicians, should spend their pains to no profit about a sick person whom they would fain recover, and hearing that one of re­nowned skill, [...], was come into the City, who would undoubtedly restore the languishing party, all the rest that had attempted it did much congratulate his coming: So our heavenly Friends the Angels could not speed us as they desired, but as soon as they saw the Prince of Physicians was come into the world, first one Angel appeared the Prolocutor of the whole Host, and he broke with the Shepherds about good tidings of great joy to all People, This day is born, &c. All this while the rest of his consort hovered in the air, and at last became visible, and discovered them­selves in a Volley (Apparuerunt cum illo Angeli, says the Syrian Paraphrast) exulting and praising God that the Lamb was yeaned that should take away the sins of the World.

Secondly, The fruit of this birth came to us, and not to them, Nusquam Angelos; Christ took not on him the seed of Angels, but the seed of Abraham, yet they are as forward in praise and thanksgiving, as if the benefit had been their own. Let the envy of wicked natures envy at this, that God hath such good servants, as are possessed with exceeding joy, not for their own, but for their fellow servants happiness. O most Angelical perfection to account of the blessings that fall upon our brethren, as if they descended upon our selves. This heavenly Host did sing with mirth upon our Holy day, but it is the Devils manner to houl and cry at the good of others; if Christ came to save a man, they rore that he came to torment them before the time. Since the deliverance of poor distressed men was the Devils pain, let the salvation of all those upon whom the faith of the Gospel doth shine be our rejoycing. The foundation of Lycurgus his Commonwealth among the Spar­tans was, Ne scirent privatim vivere, that they should not accustom themselves to think of the private, but of the publick good, and it is the foundation of charity among Christians, Nescirent privatim gratias agere, that they should not restrain their thankfulness to their own peculiar, but to extend it for favours which do befall every member in the Church of Christ.

Thirdly, The Choire of heaven sang praise unto God on this day, to set us in, whom it concern'd, to us a Child is born, and to us a Son is given; Shall the standers by pour out their Jubilee, and will we hold our peace? Will we make it no holy day, when it only concerns ours, and not the Angels redemption? Was it not opprobrious to the Scribes, and High Priests, and Pharisees, that a troop of Wisemen should beat out a journey of twelve days perhaps, and peradventure more, and bring all the precious gifts with them that those Eastern Countries afforded, and all this to honour him that was born King of the Jews, and yet his own people neither visit upon those reports, nor search for him, suffer him to fly away into Egypt, and never miss him; he came unto his own, and his own received him not. And when Satan stands forth to accuse the Sons of men, will he not as much cast it in our teeth, the Angels began a pleasant Song for your sakes, and you ungrate­ful, whose nature he took upon him, did not follow, they, piped unto [Page 63] you, but you did not dance: He came unto his own, and his own rejoyced not.

Fourthly, Gregory puts in his conjecture among the rest, Dum nos conspiciunt recipi, suum gaudent numerum impleri. Lucifer and his adherents whose rebellion had cast them out of Heaven, did break the numbers of the glorious Angels, and make them less; therefore they break out into singing, because the rooms of those col­lapsed Angels shall be filled in Heaven, with those penitent sinners on earth, that walk by Faith and newness of life: as Peter and the rest no doubt were much com­forted, after Judas had fall'n away from his place by transgression, that Matthias was numbred with the eleven Apostles. The Church of Christ hath lost ground in great shares of Europe, and Asia; but what happy tidings are those, and I trust they shall be better and better, when we hear that souls are gained as fast in the furthest India, and remotest America. The Lacedemonians had a choice band of Soul­diers, which they call'd their immortal Phalanx, because the number was always kept full, at the instant almost when one of the band died, or was slain, another was elected into the order: So the true flock of Christ is certain and invariable, the number cannot be wrong'd; many Apostates slide away, yet elsewhere many millions are added to the Church. This augmentation of them that are lost makes the Angels glad and sing, Glory be to God on high.

Fifthly, and lastly, since the eternal Son of God did inhabit upon the earth, the earth was become an amiable theatre for heavenly creatures to play their parts upon. And as the Poet flatter'd Augustus Caesar, that the spirits of the Decii and of the Scipio's wisht they had been reserv'd to have lived in his happy Reign: so we may say, and yet in no flattering phrase, that the Angels either wisht themselves incarnate, or else to minister to Christ continually upon earth in their incorporeal condition. As the Saints arose out of their graves in their bodies, and descended out of heaven in their souls, and appeared unto many in the holy City of our Sa­viours Resurrection, so the Cherubims came down from the firmament above, and made their apparition in a visible form to celebrate the mystery of his Incarnation. Not one of the Fathers but have wrote resolutely without doubting, that Angels are part of our assembly in these Congregations ever since, and most intelligently do so interpret St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11.10. The woman ought to have power of her head be­cause of the Angels, that is, to do nothing immodestly, or unchastly, because the Angels would be witnesses of their impudency. And thus far on that point, how the celestial chantors, that modulate their tunes continually before the Throne of God; these were the organs and well tuned Cymbals that welcomed Christ with a Song of Joy unto the earth.

But beside their heavenly nature they were a multitude, a numberless concourse of them, as some think, even the whole company of Angels, ten thousands of thousands that minister before the Throne of God, as the Prophet Daniel speaks; the windows of heaven were opened, and Seraphins came down as thick as rain: It is hard to say whether it would not have been pain and grief for any of those blessed Spirits to have staid behind, though it were in Heaven? whether they could have quieted their own desires to be absent from this occasion. I am sure St. Paul leaves out none of them, but cites them altogether, Heb. i. 6. When he brings his first-born into the world, he saith, and let all the Angels of God worship him. An­other says, and that's Salmeron, the fields of Bethlehem could not contain all the Angels, supposing as it is truth, that they appeared visibly, Sed ex omni hierarchia aliqui advenerant, sicut in militia sunt multi ordines, but some appeared out of every Hierarchy instead of all the rest; as sometimes certain choice Souldiers are pickt out of every Squadron in an Army. It was a matter of great consequence, never any tidings of such weight were brought into the world before; and reason good then that divers should come to testifie it: and it was matter of great praise as ever shall be sung; and reason good then that many should come to celebrate it. If you will argue what would barely have sufficed, I confess though fewer had preacht Christ in the audience of the Shepherds, and though a multitude of this multitude had been spared, yet the tidings would effectually have been believed, and the whole world have been partakers of them: But it is no contradiction to say, he that will afford honour unto Christ but even a bare enough, affords him a great deal too little. God did not appoint such Glory unto his Son, as did just suffice, but to teach us with what abundant, magnificent reverence he should have been received. He makes the whole train of Angels, as some say, the selected flower of them as [Page 64] others say, attend him, that his advent may be all in all illustrious. Be it so, yet I would it were not so, that some do grudge and cavil at many points of ornament, and decency which they find in our holy Service. May not sundry Ceremonies be left out, say they, and yet our Religion be sound and entire? Indeed our Ceremo­nies are not necessary in themselves we grant it; why, and what if such great Ca­thedral Churches had not been built, nor such rich costly ornaments bestowed up­on the Roof, upon the Choire, upon the Communion-Table, might not Prayers be read, and Sermons preacht with poorer habiliments and in meaner places? well, no man denies but God was faithfully serv'd in Dens, and Rocks, and Caves of the earth, when the Apostles and Prophets were persecuted. Besides, there are that complain, when one Minister may sufficiently and audibly read Service to the Congregation: frustra fit per plura, what a needless thing it is, to have a Choire of Singers discharge that, which ordinarily is no more than one mans la­bour? They that make these objections, let them consider what errors they fall into; they may as well tax God himself for sending a multitude of Angels to con­gratulate the birth of his Son, when two or three would have done the business; for out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be justified. Why should a reasonable man think it fit to glorifie God with bare scanty provision? God hath given us full measure of all his blessings, and running over; therefore no decent Ceremony is superfluous, no rich Ornament too gorgeous, no strain of our Wit too eloquent, no Musick too sweet, no Multitude too great to advance his name, who hath exalted us by the humiliation of his Son, and made us capable to live with Angels in Heaven, because Christ was content to lie among beasts in a manger.

Yet I am not out of this point concerning the multitude that came. Angels came by one, or by two at some other famous births in holy Scripture; now they come not single, or by pairs, but they throng together at this Birth, because this was no petty Saviour. This was he that God gave in his great mercy to call all the ends of the world together, from the East unto the West; therefore all the dwellers in Heaven muster'd themselves together from one end to another, and pro­phesied by their multitudes what increase the Evangelical Church should have, A great multitude of all nations, and kindred, and people, which none could number, Rev. vii. 9. A great draught of fish inclosed in the net, so that the net was ready to break. Some Feasts in the Old Law, as that of the Passeover, and that of Tabernacles, had seven days annext to honour them. Christmas-day hath twelve days joyn'd unto it, to eche out the solemnity; why should he not have most days to solem­nize it of any Feast? for through that holy Incarnation the company ot true Wor­shippers is infinitely larger than it was before. As nothing is hidden from the heat of the Sun, so every corner of the earth is disclosed to the light of the Gospel. And remember that there is no variation or change in God, as he appointed many Angels to sing out his Birth, so to this time and for ever he loves to be glorified by multitudes. Let two or three be gathered together in his name rather than one separatist alone: but if you will multiply those two or three to hundreds, to thou­sands of souls, O then his desire is upon them that fear him, and upon those thwackt congregations that call upon his name. He that invited the guests in the Gospel did not think his Feast well bestowed till his room was full; therefore he bid his servants scower the High-ways and bring them in, that his number might be augmented. I commend your private exercises of Prayer between God and your own heart, that your Father that sees you devout in secret may reward you openly: But those Prayers which you would have most prosperous and successful, send them up in the thickest press of Prayers, when a great assembly opens their lips together. He that joyns his spirit with the spirit of the Church shall be heard as if he prayed with ten thousand voices. Finally, to bring this point to the end, Angels flock by multitudes to disperse these tidings, that Christ is born; and who should take up this message after them, but they that are called Angels in the Testaments New and Old. The Priests lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth; for he is the Messenger, or the Angel of the Lord of hosts, Mal. ii. 7. And then the Church is blessed when there is multitudo exercitus, a multitude of this Ecclesiastical host, a multitude of these Angels upon earth; when there are many among you to break the bread of life. I know after the old Proverb there may be Multi thyrsigeri, pauci Bacchi, many Priests and few Pulpit-men, many of that office and few that officiate: therefore our Saviour bad those that fol­lowed [Page 65] him to pray, that since the harvest was plenteous, and the labourers were few, that the Lord of the harvest will send forth labourers into his harvest. God will send forth many Reapers at the last to gather his Wheat into his Barn, and to burn up the Chaff; therefore if there be not many sowers, and many labourers, the sickle will light upon those to cut them down for weeds, that being Angels in the Church, and sufficient for multitude, did not often tune their musick after their ditty in my Text, &c.

The connexion of the next point will fit well with the former; for thirdly they are an host of Angels, and therefore many, nay, they must be very many, and more than one rank or file that make an host-like multitude: the number of fifty or an hundred would make a full train for messengers, but they would be much too few to make an Army: As Tigranes scoft at the Roman legions which Lucullus led, says he, if they come to me for Embassadors they are a fair company, if they come against me for an Army they are but an handful. A multitude, though unarmed, are a good safeguard in their populous numbers, how much more when they ap­pear in battel array, and stand readily charg'd in warlike preparation? But I will come in order to the reasons of this apparition. There are no creatures so mean and weak but God is able to put strength into them, and to raise an invincible host; therefore the very Flies and Grashoppers are called his Army, and an Army which Pharaoh knew not how to withstand, or which way to drive them back, unless Mo­ses prayed for him. But more eminently than all other creatures, the constellati­ons of Stars are very frequently in holy Scriptures, called the host of heaven: as Deut. xvii. 3. If there be any found among you which hath worshipped the Sun, or Moon, or any of the host of heaven, bring forth that man or woman, and thou shalt stone them with stones that they dye, 2 Kings xvii. 16. The reason is given why Salmanasar the King of Assyria took away Hoshea the King of Israel, and the ten Tribes into captivity, be­cause they made them two Calves, even molten Images, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. There is admirable order indeed in the Stars of the Fir­mament, as in a well-marshall'd Camp; the Planets one above another, the Sun running his course in the midst, as in the main battel: nay, there is virtue and in­fluence in them to overthrow Gods enemies; but the knowledge after what man­ner they fight against sinners is too excellent for us to attain unto it: but Deborah the Prophetess said it, that the Stars in their courses fought against Sisera, Judg. v. 20. Josephus says upon that story, that hail, and thunder, and winds were raised up by some planetary aspect, which did great annoyance against Sisera, and the Midi­anites. Like as Livy says, that the brightness of the Sun, and clouds of dust blown about by the winds fell both together into the eyes of the Romans, when they lost their whole Army at Cannae; and the heavens above caused those incom­modities almost to their utter destruction. So Claudian sings of Theodosius the Em­peror's Victory, that the heavens above did fight of his side against his enemies. O nimium dilecte Deo cui militat aether: therefore the Stars, whether you regard their order or their efficacy are rightly called an heavenly host.

And if these visible lights which the Lord hath set in the firmament to distin­guish day and night, are a celestial battel, how much more the Angels whom God hath made invisible by nature, and as fierce as fire in activity, Who maketh his An­gels spirits, and his Ministers a flame of fire. Psal. civ. So Elisha presented a muster of them to his servant, not simply as an host, but as a fiery host: the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses, and cha­riots of fire round about Elisha, 2 Kings vi. 17. Scarce any Prophet but touches upon it, though darkly and mystically, that the Angels are a militia ready to war and fight. David, Psalm xxxiv. 7. The Angel of the Lord (castrametatur) encampeth round about them that fear him. Is there any number of his armies? meaning there is a multi­tude of heavenly Spirits assisting before the throne of God continually, Job xxv. 2. Who hath created these things that bringeth out their host by number? Isa. xl. 26. I saw in my vision and behold the four winds of heaven strove upon the great Sea, Dan. vii. 2. And these says St. Hierom were the four Angelical powers, to whom the four princi­pal Monarchies of the world were committed: But before any other Prophet of God mention'd that warlikeness which is in Angels, Jacob did, Gen. xxxii. 2. when he was returning with his wife and children into Canaan, the Angels of God met him, and when Jacob saw them, he said, This is Gods host; and he called the name of the place Mahanaim. Mahanain is of the dual number, and signifies two several Camps; whether he meant the troop of Angels that came to guard him for one, [Page 66] and the servants of his own family for another;Pererius in hoc cap. or rather as a learned Author says, he saw a band of Angels before him, and another behind him. The Angels that particularly protect Palestina receiv'd him into that Country, and they that were Guardians of Mesopotamia delivered him up, and brought him thither. You see that the phrase of our Evangelist is confirm'd by all the Prophets in the Old Testament; but if it appear that Christ himself hath said as much, you will be­lieve the more that the sense is very useful and mystical. Why Josh. v. 14. when Joshua was about to besiege Jericho, he lift up his eyes and saw a man over against him with his Sword drawn in his hand, says he, Art thou for us or for our adversaries? and he said, nay, but a Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. Many Pontificians had the rather say this was an Angel, because Joshua worshipped, to help out their bad cause of the Worship of Angels; but Andreas Masius proves it learnedly that this was Christ himself, who conducted the people of the promise into the Land of Canaan, even as he shall bring all his Elect into the Kingdom of Heaven, and many times shew'd himself in a visible form as a man unto the Patriarchs, to learn them the Faith of his Incarnation in the fulness of time. The same Masius cites some words out of one Moses Gerundensis a Jewish Cabalist, which I cannot omit, says the Jew, There is one principal Angel, the Prince of all the rest, who is the face of God; for it is said, Exod. xxxiii. 14. Behold I will send my presence, or my face before thee. You know how this agrees with Christ the second Person in Trinity, who is called the express image of his Fathers presence, Heb. i. 3.) The Cabalist goes on, The Jews did much desire to see that principal Angel who he was; they could not know him by any prophetical vision, nor by their Law, whereas the face of God can be nothing else but God him­self, and God promised of him to the people, He shall be kind and gentle to thee, nei­ther shall he hold thee to the strict and rigid Law, but shall deal favourably and mercifully with thee. A most manifest description of Christ and his Kingdom, but that his Jewish obstinacy would not let him see it. This we gain out of it, Christ is Gene­ral of the Angels, and they his Army; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabbaoth, that is of Hosts, as we say it and sing it often in our morning Hymn.

These, being under the banner of Christ are the Chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof. These did once turn the point of their Sword against us, now Christ hath reconciled all things in heaven and in earth; and they made this armilustrium, this training in warlike ostentation at the birth of Christ, to give us knowledge and comfort that they will turn their arms against our enemies. That the Kingdom of Sa­tan should be thenceforth brought under, and supprest, that the strong man should be cast out of his house, and spoiled of all his munition: Therefore this Canticle of theirs is an Epinicium or Song of triumph for a victory assured or obtained,Isa. ix. 3. Like the joy of them that divide the spoil, says the Prophet Isaiah upon the occasion of the Birth of Christ. Here are species praeliantium, & voces cantantium, the habit of War, and the Song of Peace. Their habit shews what was before, war and enmity against the earth; their Song shews what shall be hereafter, confidence and courage against our spiritual foes, and assurance to get the mastery, and so to have joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. If Herod and all his partizans were troubled to hear the wisemen ask, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? what concussion of fear would have been among them to have heard that he brought a multitude of heavenly Souldiers with him into the world? they are a defensive guard unto his little flock; and though Tyrants rage, though Inquisitions be advanced, though Leagues be sworn, though Armadoes fill the Seas and the Air with their Ships and Sails, though the Rulers of the earth take counsel against the Lord and against his Christ; yet there is an Army always ready prest in the Air, the mighty one hath girt his Sword upon his thigh to deliver his Church in the time of need; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it: Therefore Solomon says of it, thou art comely as Jerusalem, and terrible as an Army with banners, Cant. vi. 4. Some of little Faith may look upon Christ newly born with fleshly eyes, and may doubtingly say, Nunquid isle salvare potest Israelem? Can this Infant restore Israel? can this sucking babe lead forth our Armies to vanquish our enemies. O see how many legions he can command from Heaven, and then say, it is a vain thing to trust in the forces of man, it is the Lord that hath powers and principalities in store to awe the world: loe he cometh with a multitude of the heavenly host.

Thus much of the Choiristers, I have now to speak of the preparation to their musick, which is two-fold; for it was with much speediness, and with much chearfulness, with much speediness; for suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude [Page 67] of the heavenly host. The Choire was not long a tuning, but the Hymn was sung im­mediately after the Sermon was ended, like a chime that follows a Clock without distinction of a minute: one good work follows another incontinently without any tedious pause or lingring respite: as Pliny said of the Emperour Trajan in his Panegyrick, that the people did often give him extemporary applauses, and those sudden acclamations were a sign of their true hearty liking of his government, Quae fingendi non habent tempus, for being done of a sudden, they had no leasure to think how to dissemble or flatter him; so it is a sign our heart is right with the Lord, when we break out into sudden praises of his goodness upon all occasional meditations. When we have received any favour, or when the merciful kindness of the Lord comes into our remembrance, why do we not break forth into a speedy benediction and thanksgiving? at what should we stick? certainly every hesitati­on is a sin, every moment of delay is ingratitude: it was a Prophetical motion in John the Baptist before he was born, as soon as the voice of the salutation of the Blessed Vir­gin sounded in Elizabeths ears, the babe leaped in her womb for joy. Quick motions of zeal and devotion are ever most acceptable. Procrastinating of time is the ready way to be taken tardy like the foolish Virgins. When Abraham entertain'd Angels, Gen. xviii. he gave them welcome, as I may say, with Angelical celerity. Abraham hastned into the Tent to Sarah, Sarah made ready quickly three measures of fine meal, Abraham ran into the herd for a tender Calf, and gave it to a young man, and he hasted to dress it. See what an active family here was, all upon the speed to do good. Nemo piger est in domo charitatis, a charitable house had not one sluggish per­son in it. The Cherubims are graven with wings, to put wings to our slothfulness: our heart should fly as fast to all good works, as an arrow out of a well drawn bow. The faithful among the Jews had long waited for the joy of their eyes, the pro­mised Messias, day by day they did expect his appearance; and one of their own says it was a chief part of the service and Prayers in the Synagogues to beseech God that his Anointed, his Christ would come into the world. After this earnest ex­pectation, he comes with as much haste and expedition as heart could wish; mes­senger upon messenger, one Angel after another, and a third telling his errand al­most before the second had done. And because all the Angels equally wish our sal­vation one as much as another, the whole multitude of them, with the same nimble dispatch, at the same instant proclaim it, That the day-spring from on high hath visited us. Yet before I end this point understand the case right, the hea­venly host did publish these glad tidings suddainly, that God should be glorified, the earth should have peace, and good will should be imparted to sinners; not that suddainly and immediately from that moment it should so come to pass. Joseph had a dream sent him from God, that his Father and his Brethren should bend unto him, and he should be possest of great command: and so it came to pass, but after long imprisonment, and much tribulation. The Angel Gabriel greeted Mary, that she was highly favoured of God, the Shepherds honour'd her, the Wise men visited her, Simeon blest her; yet the same Simeon tells her that before her blessedness should be accomplisht, a Sword should pierce her own soul. So the Angels give suddain intelligence of glad tidings (and suddain joy makes the passion the stronger) but many years were to turn about, before the effects of their message should be ful­filled; that is, the earth enjoy her peace and God his glory.

For the speediness of the coming of the heavenly host let this suffice; the other circumstance which concurs with the delivery of their message is their chearfulness and alacrity, [...] they praised God with a merry noise, and I must say it, since all Expositors have said as much before me; they sang chearfully to the God of Ja­cob. They that offer him praise do honour him, Psal. l. 23. Now after the honouring of God for his own being, for the eternal generation of the word, for the proceed­ing of the Holy Ghost, the supreme, most excellent, most glorious work is the Incar­nation of Christ. This is that noble act, for whose sake all voices that have utterance shall magnifie him for evermore. Therefore the usual Evening Anthem in Cathedrals, I and the Psalms sung in private Parishes, I am sure my observation deceives not, was wont to be, Psal. cxlviii. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens, praise ye him all his Angels, praise him all the host, praise ye him Sun and Moon, praise him all ye stars of light, &c. And the first Psalm among those proper ones appointed for morning Prayer be­gins, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shews his handy work. Psal. xix. 1. About beatitude or final felicity there have been great disputes whether it should consist in action or in contemplation; but the best resolution of the problem is, that praise [Page 68] consisting partly in contemplating the great goodness of the object to be praised, partly in the fruit of the lips, which sends forth that honour our; blessedness shall consist in giving land to the Holy Trinity, and unto the Lamb that sits upon the Throne for evermore. Vidisti vilia, audi mirifica, says St. Ambrose, upon these words, that which the Shepherds saw with their eyes was a little Infant poorly brought forth into the world, and cast aside neglectfully in a corner of a stable: but that which they heard with their ears was strange and admirable, both that all the tongues of men should glorifie this child, and that the Angels who by nature had no tongues, assumed bodies for that hour, that they might speak with such a mouth, with such a voice, with such a dialect and language as men use to do, and fill the world with praises of his name, who made himself an improperium, a derision and scorn unto many to take away our infamy, and therefore worthy to be praised.

The Devil feigned the tongue of man to delude our first Parents, that they should be made like unto God; the good Angels also frame a voice in the air like unto the tongue of man to dissolve the works of the Devil, and to teach us that God is made like unto us. Let the Serpent hiss at it, this heavenly host which con­sists of our friends and protectors doth sing it out, and warble it, Coelesti quadam & ineffabili modulatione, Burgensis. says the ordinary gloss, with a celestial harmony, far transcend­ing all humane musick, and above all possible Relation. A Nurses lullaby will sing a Child out of crying and frowardness, and make it still: but it had need be a singing Angel, nay the concent and harmony of all the Angels that should chear up our hearts with the gladness of a Saviour, and wipe away all tears from our eyes, when before we knew our selves dead in sins and trespasses. And it is good to take it at the best sense; great comfort it is, that these holy Ministers of Hea­ven came with singing and exultation: It was a sign that there was a great change wrought in the world, and favour and propitiation come about to the full desire of our heart. Angels have been sent with fire and brimstome, as against Sodom and Gomorrah; with wrath and reproof to make all the children of Israel to weep, Judg. ii. with a Sword, and with the noisom Pestilence, when David had sinned in num­bring the people: but all this horror and dreriment is cast aside by the birth of Christ, says St. Chrysostom: and Angels come with Anthems and Carols of praise. Thus the Lord hath put a song of thanksgiving into our mouth, for he hath done marvellous things.

If Asaph and that Choire did lift up their note with all sorts of musical instru­ments in the Old Law, while the Sacrifice was burning upon the Altar, I am sure we have much more cause, not in imitation of Asaph, but of the Angels to praise the Lord with Psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual Songs. Luther, I know not upon what reason, unless it were because the Angels in my Text did begin the Gospel with melody, he makes Psalmody to be one of the notes of the Orthodox Church of Christ. The voice of man certainly is to praise God in its best tunes and elegan­cies: and the reasons why musical notes are most fit and necessary amidst our Chri­stian Prayers are these four. 1. Rules of piety steal into our mind with the de­light of the harmony. The Agathyrsians even to Plato's days were wont to sing their Laws, and put them in tune, that men might repeat them in their Recreations. 2. It kindles Devotion, and fills the soul with more loving affections. Make a chearful noise to the God of Jacob, says David. As the noise of Flutes, and of Trumpets inspire a courage into Souldiers, and enflame them to be victorious, so the Psalms of the Church raise up the heart, and make it leap to be with God; as if our soul were upon our lips, and would fly away to heaven. 3. An heavy spirit oppresseth zeal, and that service of God is twice done which is done with alacrity: and our Christian merriment by St. James his rule is, singing and making melody to the Lord. When our Saviour and his company were sad the night before his Passion, to put away that heaviness they sung an Hymn, when they went to Mount Olivet. 4. To sing some part of Divine Doctrine is very profitable, because that which is sung is most treatibly pronounced; the understanding stays long upon it, and nails it the faster to the memory. It was a Law of Numa among the Romans, Nihil oportet in transcursu à diis petere, sed ubi vacat, & est otium, we must ask nothing of God by snatches, but with sober deliberation.

And as our Parochial singing of Psalms is very sweet and requisite, wherein all or most of the Congregation bear a part, so it doth well become Princes Courts, and Episcopal Churches to have more curious and sumptuous musick of several Instru­ments, [Page 69] and a skilful Choire appointed to execute it. It is semblable to that of my Text, where the Angels sung the Service, and the Shepherds gave them audi­ence. If some wayward humors say, this Choiral Musick hath no relish with them, it doth not help them in the practice of Religion, they understand it not. I an­swer, they accuse themselves of many faults in their own complaint: 1. That they understand not that which they have by roat, if they would mark it. 2. They are malicious that would deprive them of that sweetness who are much affected with it. 3. It is arrogancy in a high nature to wish that their own ignorant, im­musical, unfashion'd humour should be a prescription to a whole Church. To con­clude all, I come from publick Church Musick to our private delight in holy Songs. S. Hierom testifies that in his days, as they walkt about the Market, as they sailed in Ships, as they were busie at Work they sung some holy Ditties. It is our solace at home, our recreation abroad, says St. Basil: Neither is it irksome to any but to the evil spirit, for the evil spirit went out of Saul when David played upon his Harp: and David was no profane Minstrel, but a Divine Singer. But I read of two sorts of Hereticks that quarrel'd it; the Arrians dislik'd singing of Psalms, because the Orthodox Christians did use it; and the Manicheans because they con­demn'd the whole Old Testament: Insani sunt adversus medicamentum quo sani esse po­tuissent. They are furious to find fault with that which would have healed their fury. But we have learn'd to praise the Lord with our best skill, with our best harmony, with our best chearfulness, from the example of Angels, especially at this time for the Birth of our blessed Lord and Saviour, &c.

THE EIGHTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 14.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will towards men.

O Sing unto the Lord a new Song, for he hath done marvelous things. I will begin the New year from that portion of Davids Canticle. Marvelous things they were, you will all confess, that the powerful God should be made a feeble Infant: that a woman should bear him in her womb, who supports the world, and all the Creatures that are contained in it; that the Eternal should be born who had no beginning; never was the like heard or seen before, therefore whatsoever was said of old will not agree to set it forth, it must be a new Song of praise and thanksgiving to our God. So is the Text which I have read before you. It cometh to pass by the providence of God, that St. Lukes Gospel is more chearful than all the rest, and full of Musick: So that he is well called by one, not only the Evangelist, but the Psalmist of the New Testament. The Song of Zachary, the Song of Maries Magnificat, the Song of Simeon, this Song of the Angels, the Church is beholding to him for reciting them, and to no other Penman of the holy Word. St. Paul calls him Luke the Physician; some of the Roman Church, to serve their own Imagery de­lights, out of some Histories unallowed, call him Luke the Painter, there is no con­jecture for that out of the book of Scripture, which cannot lye: But I have more conjecture for my own opinion, that he was Luke the Musician, (a man of divers gifts and qualities) for the Prophets and Evangelists wrote the Scriptures by divine revelation, yet always with a sweet tincture of their own abilities; The stately elo­quence of Isaiah shews his breeding; St. Pauls Logical Arguments shew his Scholar­ship; St. Peters facile Exhortations shew his zeal, and plain Education; Finally, if I be not deceiv'd, the repeating of so many celestial Hymns in St. Luke shew his mu­sical art and affection.

Now, the Spirit of the Church hath been ever so directed by God, to take in all the Songs of the New Testament into its publick Service and Liturgie, the Magni­ficat, the Benedictus, the Nunc Dimittis. Thus it is not only with us, but was so most anciently in all flourishing and well established Churches. Neither is this Ver­sicle of the Angels, I mean my Text, left out, but it is referred to the chief part of our serving of God in the celebration of the holy Communion; before we part from the Table of the Lord our Rubrique commands us to sing or say, Glory be to God on high. Indeed, that Prayer as we have it, is enlarged with many other pithy strains of devotion, We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorifie thee, &c. And such as have wrote of ancient Ceremonies say that Pope Telesphorus made up that excellent prayer of Laud and Thanksgiving, beginning with my Text. Very [Page 71] ancient it is I am sure, because I meet with it for the most part in those pieces which are called the Constitutions of Clemens, and St. James his Liturgy. But for the words which I handle I have great cause to judge that they were the most accepta­ble Prayer of the Primitive Church, for St. Paul begins his Epistles with grace and peace be multiplied, as much as to say, peace on earth, and good will towards men; and the end of many clauses in his Epistles is that Doxology to God, To whom be glory for evermore, Amen. I wonder that the words themselves are bended in and out with such curious divisions by many Divines, for the Angel hath parted them into three several rests, and I will not go about to mend his work; and whereas Points are raised out of Grammatical constructions of the Verb, whether they should be the Indicative or the Optative Mood it shall be all one to that way in which I will handle the parts, for I will handle every of the three members three ways: First, As a Congratulation or thanksgiving. Secondly, By way of Prayer or Petition. Thirdly, By way of Doctrine and Instruction. Thanksgiving unto God that his glory on high appeareth, that peace doth flourish on earth, and that he is pleased with men; or make it a Prayer or Postula­tion that all glory may be given to God, all safety to the earth, and that an happy reconciliation may be begun with men. Otherwise, if it be a Sermon or Exhorta­tion, the sum is, that God be magnified, peace preserved, a friendship with God endeavoured; thus nothing shall be lost of this divine musical Embassage, Glory be to God in the highest, &c.

Now we cannot be to seek, what is the sum of the first member, Glory to God in the highest, it must be thus, the Angels glorifie God for sending Christ in the flesh to redeem mankind, and they wish and pray that men may glorifie God in Christ; and they teach us that Gods glory is to be sought before all things; and so I proceed to explicate it before you. If the Disciples be silent at what time it is fit to praise God, the stones shall speak, says our Saviour, that's ultimum refugium, the last shift and refuge, that the very dross of the earth, if need were, should not want a tongue to magnifie its Creator. But it stirs up emulation, and provokes us more, when those that are far above us discharge the duty which we ought to execute, rather than when those things which are much beneath us should give us example. So my Text lets you see, that if men be silent, and set not forth the praise of the Lord, the Angels will speak, and give him glory. It were a great shame for the Com­mons to be rude and irrespectful towards their King, when the Nobles and Princes of the people are most dutiful and obsequious; so when the Cherubins devote their Songs to extol the most High, it were a beastly neglect in man, a worm in respect of a Cherubin, not to bear a part in that humble piety: But to speak after the me­thod of reason, had it not been more proper for the Angels at this time to have proclaimed Christs Poverty than his Power, his Infancy than his Majesty, his Humility in the lowest, rather than his glory in the highest? If there wereany glo­ry coming out of this work of the Incarnation, it may seem we had it rather than our Saviour, and he lost it. But the piercing eye of those celestial Spirits could see abundant honour compassing Christ about, where ignorant man could espy no­thing but vileness and misery. For first they celebrate the glory of Gods justice in sending his Son made of a woman, and made under the Law, to suffer for us that had sinned against the Law, because that Justice would not receive man into favour without a Lutrum, or satisfaction. This stops the mouth of the Devil that he cannot calumniate, and it resounds the praise of God that the iniquity of the world did not escape unrevenged. Caiaphas meant to speak bitterly, and to blas­pheme; but the Lord turned the curse of his mouth into the words of blessing, It is expedient for us that one man die for the people, and that the whole Nation perish not, Joh. xi. 50. Secondly, They divulge the honour of Christ unto the ends of the world, for the mercy that came down with him upon all those that should believe in his name; if his Justice was not forgotten in their Song, surely his Mercy should be much more solemnized. The Angels for their own share were unac­quainted with mercy, 'twas news in heaven till this occasion hapned; they had felt gratiam confirmantem, but not gratiam condonantem; that is, the Lord bestowed upon the good Angels grace to confirm them in grace; but for those rebellious ones of their Order that had sinned, they found no grace to remit their trespasses; properly that is called mercy, but a thing so rare and unheard of in heaven, that as soon as ever they saw it stirring in the earth, they sing Glory to God in the highest. Thirdly, They praise the Lord on high for the Incarnation of his Son, because the dignity of the work was so from himself, that no Creature did merit it, none did [Page 72] beseech or intercede unto him for it, before he had destinate it, nothing but his own [...], and compassion could move him to it; Nemo in hoc opere glorietur, nullius merito ascribatur; no man can ascribe it to his deserts, no man can partake in the glory. What was man that the Son of God did visit him? For him we shall be glorified, by him we have obtained peace, through him good will hath shined up­on men, therefore unto him be all the glory.

This was the Angels Congratulation, and no doubt God shall be glorified in his holy places on high; but shall that God who is most high be worshipped and glorifi­ed by us below? That is it the Angels pray for, and wish for our sakes, and for our Salvation, that we of the Militant Church beneath may extol the name of the Lord, and give him glory. Among men, sinners pray for sinners, and it is but one for an­other; the People pray for the Prince, and the Prince for the People: The Priest for the Congregation, and the Congregation for the Priest. Great and small there are no odds in that, they requite one another with their mutual Charity, the head cannot say unto the feet I have no need of your Prayers, nor the feet unto the head, Dum singuli orant pro omnibus, omnes orant pro singulis, while every particular man prays for all Christians in the Church, all Christians in the Church pray for every particu­lar man; but as I said, this is sinners for sinners, quid pro quo: But when the Angels are sollicitous in Hymns and Supplications for us, it is not that we should pray to them, or pray for them again, but shew charity that cannot be requited. They know that many Sacrifices of Prayers are requisite to bless any Congregation on earth, that God may have his due honour from it, and therefore all the powers in heaven above assist us with their intercession. And especially they are mindful over us to make that Petition on our behalf, that we may never forget that our condition is base, and as low as the clay and dust of the earth, and that God is highly exalted above all the world, therefore that we are made to worship him, and to fall down before him, and to render the homage of our humility to our Chief, that is dominion and glory to him that is the highest. We find this title of most high in Melchisedechs title, Gen. xiv. 18. and never before. There it comes in, as some say, whom I approve for this reason: Melchisedech is the first in holy Scripture that is called a King, that being the greatest name of pre-eminency among men. God blazons his own honour just at the first discovery of that name, to shew how far it exceeds all earthly Principality, and calls him, Melchisedech King of Salem, a Priest of the most high God. And indeed there was a glory due to that Melchisedech, and to every one in his rank, that is set on high above the people; but take heed we let not our Worship and Service rest in them, and in the admiration of their outward Pomp, and go no higher. God set Princes in their Thrones of Majesty to be bowed unto, and obeyed, that we may rise up in our Meditations, and consider how ex­cellent and superlative he is that gave such power and dominion to men. Before Christ came into the world it was Gloria in excelsis, men worshipt their Idols in every high place, as the Prophets did greatly complain of it; but it was not Deo in altis­simis, they worshipt the Host of heaven, and things above, but they did not lift up their hearts to him that sitteth above the heavens. Therefore this is the sum of the Angels Prayer, that men may give dominion, and praise, and thanksgiving to the true God; and their wish was as effectual as they could desire, for even im­mediately upon the Birth of Christ Idolatry went down, the heathen Gods were discovered more and more to be but Wood and Stone, the work of mens hands, and the praise of the true God began to be sounded forth in all places.

The next issue of this first Point is, the Angels teach us by the contents of their Prayer, that Gods glory is to be sought before all things. Nihil aequius est quam ut pro quo quis oret pro eo etiam laboret, says St. Austin. Whatsoever we pray for, we must not only stand wishing it, but as much as in us lies endeavour it also. First, re­peating often the marvelous works which he hath done for the conservation of those that praise him, and for the destruction of his enemies. O God we have heard with our ears, and our Fathers have declared unto us the noble works that thou didst in their days, and in the old time before them. Secondly, By confessing of our grievous sins, which makes his mercy and his grace so excellent throughout all the world: and depres­sing our best works to be as ineffectual as our sins unto Salvation, unless the Lord will cover the stains that are in them with the bloud of Christ. Surely the reward which he brings with him is much exalted, when we deny not but the best thing we do is less than the least of all his mercies. Thirdly, by defying, by shunning, by resisting, nay, by rooting out the children of Belial that blaspheme his glory; for [Page 73] God will avenge himself of them that are tame and patient when his name is vio­lated, and his honour prophaned; it is the glory of humane Laws, and of Prince­ly Justice, that there is no impunity or connivency for them that scandalize the glory of the great King who ruleth over all. Fourthly, God hath his house wherein he hath promised to dwell, let every thing therein be magnificent, full of splen­dor, bountiful, fit to entertain his Majesty. The Angels might have said, Fie upon the earth when they sang glory in the highest to see Christ tumbled heedlesly in a Stable by most brutish hospitality; I am sure men deserved no glory for this days work, to bestow their Saviour in so ignominious a Lodging; we may all blush to re­member it, but that I hope through all Ages we will satisfie for it, as we shall be able, and reform it. Provide for him sumptuously in the beauty of holiness, let no place be statelier than Christs Church among us Gentiles, because no place was worse than the Manger, wherein he was received among the Jews. These things as I have laid them in order, you may do well to do, and then the good Angels have their wish; but the Devil doth all he can to spoil their celestial musick. We like not this partition, says St. Austin, wherein men have peace demised to them,Aug. Ep. 127 and God hath all the glory; Et dum gloriam usurpant turbant pacem, but they drive away their own peace by usurping glory. O stulti filii Adae, qui contemnentes pacem, & gloriam appetentes, & pacem perdunt, & gloriam; Fond and silly men that neglect peace, and seize upon glory to themselves, and so they lose both peace and glory. But most accurate is this distribution as the Choir of heaven hath laid it forth; Here is nothing but discord and sedition in this lower world, Nation against Nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom; nay, the very bowels of the Church torn out with Questions and Controversies; here the blessing of peace is most to be desired to bring bone unto his bone, and sinew unto his sinew: In the world above their is nothing but righteousness, and zeal, and purity, therefore the pro­per Incense to be sent up thither is perpetual praise and glory. Avoid Satan that wouldst confound these things, that malignant Spirit knows it would be no peace in earth if men on earth should hunt for glory, but peace will ensue here if glory be given to him that is above. So runs these words which are the Angels Con­gratulation to God, their Prayer for men, their Sermon unto men, Glory be, &c.

The next staff of the Song is, and on earth peace; for the second happiness on earth is peace, and there is but one blessing, that is Gods glory, before it. Some take the word peace in this place personally for Christ himself, as if the Song went, Let God be glorified that hath sent Jesus the Prince of Peace upon earth, who brings good will to men. Qui in coelis glorificatur in terrâ est, & factus terrenus, says one. He that sitteth in the heavens and ruleth over all dwelt upon the earth, and became the peace of earth, and the chastisement of our peace is upon him, Isa. liii. Indeed, he is God from heaven, man from earth, partaker of both in his two natures, and therefore fit to reconcile all, and to put all in peace. It is the Hypostatical union that brings both ends together, the two extremes heaven and earth, and by that inseparable union God greets us with the kiss of love, and gives us osculum pacis, the Symbol of much endeared friendship, the kiss of peace. All enmities were so compounded, and well agreed for his sake, that St. Paul says, He is our peace, Eph. ii. 14. The principal reconciliation which he obtained was, that man might have peace with God; for God wanted his own glory through the Idolatry of the world, and there­fore men wanted their peace because of their sins. Our first Fathers prevarication (we must often look back to that woful estate) had caused such a rupture between God and us, that no doubt the very Angels wondred how that offence would ever be remitted and forgotten. And indeed, that rent could never have been made up, unless God and man by an infinite dispensation had been pieced together in one person; unless he that is greater than Moses had stood before him in the gap to turn away his wrathful indignation, we should all have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. Justice hath a great voice among the Attributes of God, carries a mighty sway, and it roared out from Mount Sinai, Cursed is he that keeps not this whole Law, cursed be he that breaks a tittle. Then Christ steps in, the Malediction light upon me, I will endure it, but these Sheep let them be spared. Why Justice could not say this was a total indulgence, then it would have clamou­red, but only a commutation of punishment; for our acquitment the Lord did lay upon his Son the iniquity of us all. We must not say, this was just, therefore the Lord decreed it, but the Lord decreed it, therefore this was just. Alius solvit pro debitore, [Page 74] aliud solvitur quam debebatur; one was the debtor, and another satisfied: one thing was owed to God, I mean the life of sinners; another thing was paid, I mean the life of an innocent. So Justice had no injury, and Mercy had no denial; but justitia & pax osculatae sunt, two things that stood at distance were brought together, that is, righteousness and peace did kiss each other, Psal. lxxxiv. If we set not Christ be­fore us the Mediator between God and man, our unworthiness would be such, that we durst not ask of God to be appeased with us: We could expect nothing but tri­bulation and anguish upon every soul both Jew and Gentile, and that all the An­gels should be in arms like Souldiers to bid us battel and to slay us. But Christ came into the world like an Herald to stop the battel, the Angels sang of their arms, Salvation appeared unto us, we cast up our eyes with joy to heaven from whence cometh our help, our help cometh even from the Lord, which hath made heaven and earth; therefore when Christ was brought with triumph into Jerusalem, the Song of the people did a little vary from my Text, Peace in heaven, say they, and glory in the highest; for when the great Majesty of heaven was pleased to spare men on earth, the sure part of the amity was peace in heaven, for when Christ had reconciled us to his Father, that the peace came downward, the Covenant was sure, and could never be broken.

The next peace which the Angels congratulate unto us, is, Interioris domus tran­quillitas, if Christ have attoned the variances which our sins made between us and God, peace will succeed within the closets of the conscience, where there was no­thing but horror before, and perturbation: Therefore Theophylact doth thus con­nect the first and second part of this Song, Gloria in excelsis Deo, quia in terra pacem se­cit, Glory be to God on high, because he hath made peace on earth. Lord let me not be at war with my own heart, though all the world should defie me and set themselves against me. As a continual dripping of humors upon the lungs consumes the body, so a continual disquieting of mind, as if viols of anger from hea­ven were ready to be poured upon it, breeds such an anxiety in the whole man, that he will wish his whole substance were dissolved into nothing. O thrice happy when God sends that serenity of favour into our thoughts and cogitations, to make us truly say with David, Turn again unto thy rest, O my soul, Psal. cxvi. 7. This is that peace which the world cannot give. This is St. Paul's confidence against all opposers, Who is he that condemneth, it is Christ that justifieth. When the Wise men askt, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. So sore troubled that he would not spare poor inoffensive babes, who could not offend him; no not his own babes as some say, who were the pillars of his family: when he thrust his sword into them he digged into his own bowels. No man is able to express what a discomfortable mutiny this wretch had within himself. No plague like a wounded disturbed spirit, whereas old Simeon, that saw death at the door, that felt one foot in the Grave, was exhilerated for all that through the joy which he had in Christ, and warbled that Swan-like Dirge over his own Grave, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. Wherefore if there be any of you which have a conscience sorely wounded with horror, and even tempted to despair (which God forbid) chide it with David out of that dreadful moode, Why art thou so sad O my soul? and why art thou so disquieted within me? Hath not Christ said there is peace between God and thee, and dost thou say there is en­mity? foolish heart, shall I not rather believe the tidings which an Angel brings, than that which thou dost suggest? and doth not he say, Peace on earth? Whoso­ever will not be cheared up, will not be comforted, will not be established with hope from this sweet proclamation which the Ministers of Heaven sang unto the Shepherds, it had been better for him that he had never been born: nay, I speak it with reverence to God, and condemnation to such a one, it had been better for him that Christ had never been born, because he receives not the Son of God into his heart, neither believes in his Redemption. Many flagitious sins do make men as execrable before God as the devil himself, but he that despairs of Gods mercies, as if Christ would not keep his Covenant of peace with him, I may truly pro­nounce it against him, that he is even possessed with a devil. O cast forth that evil Spirit, and be resolved, the Lord would never have sent his Angel to sing the Hymn of peace unto men, but to revive our souls, and to raise them up from dust and despair, because he is gracious and favourable to all penitent sinners.

And thus you have heard that upon the occasion of this blessed Nativity of Christs, the Angels have congratulated both heaven and earth, as David foretold it, [Page 75] Psal. xcvi. 11. Let the heavens rejoyce, and let the earth be glad. The congratulation to men on earth hath been unfolded in two members, that there is peace above us which passeth all understanding; and peace within us, such as the world cannot give. Thirdly, It follows, they sing and rejoyce for our sakes that there is peace without us, and on every side a good way laid open to take away all Schisms, strifes, divisions, debates, and as Solomon says in his mystical Song, the voice of the Turtle is heard in our land. What a hurly burly was in the world before Christ made his Church one body out of all Languages and Nations. They that professed the Law of Moses you know had no communication with those millions of millions that knew no Schoolmaster to teach them but the law of nature. Among those few that were zealous of the Law, the Jew forsook them of Israel of the ten Tribes for Re­bels and Idolaters. Among the Jews the Pharisee condemned the Sadducce for an He­retick: Then the Samaritan had an antipathy both against Jew and Israelite; and all these accounted of the Gentiles no other ways than as bond-slaves of the De­vil. Here was nothing but hate and defiance between one Sect and another over all the world, until Christ broke down the wall of separation, made of two one, invited them all to embrace, and to greet one another with an holy kiss. Thus the Prophet Isaiah upon it, Chap. xix. 23. in his stately but dark eloquence, In that day shall there be a high-way out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and in that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and As­syria; that is, there shall be traffique and friendship, and conversation together, from one Nation to another over all the earth. And indeed National feuds are the more odious and unchristian, by how much Christ hath called all people to the sprinkling of the same water, and to alike participation of his Body and Blood at the same table. And it was well apprehended of one, that God hath given un­to men more excellent gifts in the skill of Navigation since his Son is born, than ever they had before; that he might shew the way how all the Kingdoms of the earth should be sociable together: for Christ hath breathed his peace upon all the Kingdoms of the world.

Then I descend from generals to specials. The Angels did not only see that our Saviour had built a wall of Charity, as it were about the whole earth, and made it one, but that his Gospel is the love knot and band of agreement between one member and another in all particular persons. It turns the hearts of the Fathers unto the Children, and of the Children unto the Fathers: it makes peace conjugal between man and wife; for Marriage is a Mystery of Christ and his Church: and the instance which the Apostle lays before us, is, how Christ loved his Church, and laid down his life for it. It attones variances between Neighbour and Neighbour; for it calls upon us to forgive and put up injuries: it non-suits many actions of trespass between man and man, with St. Pauls sweet propo­sition to the Corinthians, Why do ye not rather suffer wrong? That jangling fellow in the Gospel that came to Jesus to give him authority for his contention, Dic fratri ut mecum dividat, Master, bid my brother that he divide the inheritance with me; our Lord put him off, and would hear of no division: Such motions did jar in the ear of him that was the God of reconciliation. The Law of Moses either was or did seem to be vindicative, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but the Gospel exhibiteth patience for wrongs received, and benediction for injuries. And indeed the cha­rity of the Law was but partial, as I may say, it admonisheth fairly, Levit. xix. 18. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thy self: But this [...], or forgetting of all evil done un­to them extended only to Israelites, which was not the full and large duty, but an epitome of Charity. If aliens from their own stock had provok'd them, though many years before, there's another lesson for it, Deut. xxv. 17. Remember what Amaleck did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt. Such fruit grows upon the bramble of the Law, not upon the Olive tree of the Gospel. God forbid that we should keep a Register what Moab, or Amaleck, or what any adversary hath done unto us; the peace which the Angels proclaimed forbids, that after the be­ginning of the new year we should remember the enmities or discords that were occasion'd in the old: whosoever nourishes old grudges and contentions, when the heavens sing peace, gives the lye unto the Angels. Let your ear receive this with it, that all other practises of Religion, having not peace and perfect amity among them are but forms of godliness, which deny the power thereof. This is not far off to be proved, but within the verge of the Text; for it will not be re­garded [Page 76] that you give glory to God on high, if there be not peace below; you must leave your gift upon the Altar, your glory to God, and go home for peace; go and be re­conciled to your brother, and then you are a fit instrument to give God his honour.

Some are always wrangling for the glory of God, as they pretend, and care not which way peace goes on earth. Every theological conclusion, I say not Articles of Faith, but disputable deductions not near the foundation of Faith, must be maintain'd precisely as they apprehend it, or they cry out that truth is violated further than can be endured: Every ceremonial observation must be either ta­ken off, or discharg'd punctually as they score a line, or else they contend bitter­ly that Gods Worship is abused. All this while two things are quite forgotten, First, that there is a compass and latitude for mens wits and judgments to be di­verse one from another, and yet no unity to be broken. All points touch not to the quick; and in such things because every mans reason hath not the same kind of reach and notion, there may be much variety of opinions without all dissention. Secondly, few lay it to their thoughts, that to meet in agreement as far as possibly the conservation of truth will permit, is far more acceptable to God than an in­flexible pertinacy, which is rather rigorous than pacificous. There was much ado to settle the pure Doctrine of the Church in the first four hundred years, but nothing avail'd more than that [...], as the Greek Fathers call it; a condescending one to another, making moderation the umpire of all strifes: By these calm de­grees God was more glorified among the Gentiles that were unconverted, who per­ceived how the Christians kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of Peace, than if they had wrangled about every nicety, and prosecuted every disagreement to an utter separation. Peace on earth is a ready means, that glory in the highest may not be scandalized.

And after all this that hath been said, certainly the Angels meaning extends it self thus much further, that the Child which was born in Bethlehem, the Messias of the world would direct them in a way, if men would be diligent to observe it, that there should be no bloody Wars of seditious Princes in all the earth, no Armies clattering together, no rouling in blood; it is his property to break the bow, and knap the Spears in sunder, and to burn the Chariots in the fire: and it makes much that this is votum militare, peace on earth comes from the mouth of Souldiers; the Angels were arrayed like an host in battail when they preacht it; as if milita­ry men could best tell the world, what a blessed thing it is to have cessation from Wars, and sweet agreement. Our neighbour Kingdoms know the true rellish of this Doctrine, who live in continual alarms, losses, destructions, desolations; alas their vintage is become not the blood of grapes, but of men. O 'tis a most savage, a very bruitish affection in them that are sick of the long continuance of peace, and wish that Leagues and Truces were expired. They are of another mind, I warrant you, that have felt the unutterable miseries of War, for the space of fif­teen years and more, in their flourishing Empire without pause or respiration. He that could certainly pronounce before them, that they should enjoy the liberty of their conscience, and no hostility should invade them, they would receive him with as much gladness as the Shepherd heard the Angel say, Glory he to God in the highest, and on earth peace. But the objection is ready to be cast in my way by every man, (I would it were not) that all the divine inspirations of God have ensued plentifully upon Christs coming into the world, but nothing less than peace. Persecutions, Massacres, Contentions, irreconcilable Wars, these have entred in wheresoever the Gospel hath been taught, and Jesus denied it not, but said unto the twelve, Think not that I come to send peace into the world, I come not to send peace but a sword, Mat. x. 34. Beloved, opposition and war are not the right fruits of the Gospel, no more than Ivy is the fruit of the Oak tree, though it creep upon it: But pre-supposing the malice and corruption of men, the tidings of salvation, though they exhort unto peace, yet they will beget division; for Satan reigns in the wicked, and it makes him rage to hear celestial Doctrine preacht; and that impiety which was asleep befere is roused up with the noise of the Gospel, and grows tumultuous: this is consequentiae necessitas non consequentis, an accidental misfortune, not a proper effect.

Yet very true that none is a greater adversary than our Saviour to some sorts of peace, Pax Christi bellum indicit mundo, voluptati, carni, demoni, says Beda upon my Text, The peace of Christ breaks the confederacy which sinners have in evil; it defies the Devil and the vain pomp of the world; it draws the sword against blas­phemy [Page 77] and Idolatry; it will not let a man be at quiet within himself when he is full of vicious concupiscence. To make a Covenant with Hell, as the Prophet speaks, or to have any fellowship with the works of darkness, as St. Paul speaks, Illa mala pax est, & indigna hominibus bonae voluntatis, that's a pernicious peace, and unworthy of those to whom that blessing belongs, good will towards men. Rom. xii. 18. But for brethren to dwell to­gether in a good amity, and as much as in us lies to have peace with all men, it makes heaven upon earth. Malignities and disagreements are things whereof the Angels have no experience in heaven; but because the earth is full of mischief and debate, and there must be seditious truce-breakers at all times, that peace-makers may be more approved: Therefore the Angels do not only congratulate the Church, but they pray for it, that it may abound with peace; and they preach unto it that it may seek peace, and ensue it. We know not so well as the Angels do what an Hell it is to be an enmity with God; we perceive not so well as they what a black sin it is to be at strife and division among our selves: Hear and attend what they wish for our sakes, and will not we wish the same benefit as heartily to our selves? wish and labour for it; for they that will not do their part to effect that they pray for, they did but dream, and not pray. The Angels in these words gave our Church a pattern to repeat the collect for peace every day in our morning Devotion, O God which art the author of peace and lover of concord. And that which we pray for daily, compose we our charity to practice daily, especially while it is called to day, when we come to the Table of the Lord: The Angels Song is perswasive, but the Body and Blood of Christ doth more effectually commend unto us this middle strein of my Text, Peace on earth.

Now I come to the last part of the three: and as the close of a Song is best composed when it hath a soft and a gentle cadence; so it fails not here in the last note of all, and good will towards men. And good will, &c. so our old English Translation reads it with the conjunction copulative; and perhaps upon the au­thority of some Greek Copies: but for my own part I never saw, or heard of any that had [...]. Yet Beza commends the Syrian Paraphrase for adding it to the clearing of the sense, and so do I. And this is gained by it, that the au­thor of that Syrian gloss goes against the common reading of the Latin Church, that make but two portions of this Angelical Ditty, Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will, [...], make that noun the Genitive case, as they do, and the whole order is inverted. It is not to be denied unto them but that such a reading is in some ancient Fathers; but the most and the best concur with our Translation. Howsoever let the words have the right interpretation, and that shall make no disagreement.

The Latin Expositors are divided in it; for some say it is peace of good will towards men: others say it is towards men of good will peace. So Beda, Non est pax impiis, sed hominibus bonae voluntatis, This peace on earth belongs not to all promiscuously, good and bad, elect and reprobate, but to such as are well affected to Gods glory. And Leo inclines most that way, In terra pax conceditur quae facit homines bona voluntatis; such a peace is come down on earth, as makes men willing and ready to serve the Lord. Surely this is an inforced sense, and must rightly be understood of Gods good will towards men, and not of mans good will towards God; for it is the praise of God, and not of man: it is but a colour therefore of some learned Romanists to say that as it is specified in the first section to whom glory is given, to God in the highest: so it is fitly specified in the second section, to whom peace is bequeathed, to men of good will. For the very word [...] or good will is mostly referred to God, and not to man: and surely it refers it self to God and his good pleasure, not to men, or to any good will of theirs. I know it, and ever preach that consolation to you, that where there is a diligent and a studious endeavour, God will accept of our good will, though the action be offensive, Ʋt si sit actionis infirmitas, at sit voluntatis inte­gritas, and the Lord will speak peace unto their souls that are men of good will: but Christ came not to save us, because any of us all were men of good will, and took delight in him: nay, he came unto his own, and his own received him not, and when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Rom. v. 10. They make far better use of the Latin reading that expound [...] to be as much as [...], men of good will are men whom God hath respected from on high in his good will and pleasure, such as belong to his beneplacitum, to his election and purpose, before the beginning of the world, and are the children of it. So Tolet most ingeniously, on earth peace of good will towards men, Hoc est, [Page 78] ex Dei beneplacito, & gratuita voluntate, non ex eorum meritis, in the Jewish salutation peace was as much as health and salvation; and God grants peace and salvation of good will to men out of his free love, and the eternal counsel of his own will, and out of no merits of ours. Sponte & gratis nullis praecedentibus meritis voluit mundum salvare, says Nyssen upon it. Of his own accord, of his gratuitous goodness Christ came to save mankind, and for no preceding good works, or good will of ours.

And then the most common reading of the Greek Church is coincident with that true Orthodox sense, and good will towards men; that is, and Gods free grace and kind acceptation towards them with whom he was offended. So St. Chrysost. conceives it, [...], and reconciliation to men. So the Syrian Para­phrast, Et bonum nuntium or Evangelium hominibus, and good tidings towards men: a happy chearful message to all that will believe in the name of the Lord Jesus; for Christ is our glorifier in heaven, our pacifier on earth, and our reconciler to God. Indeed as there is no difference in the Text between earth and men, so there is as little between peace and good will: peace were rather a captious advantage than a true peace, unless benevolence and good will did follow it. Let God the Father have his glory to himself alone, and to no other; then God the Son will be our peace, our peace that shall have no end, Isa. ix. 7. and God the Holy Ghost, who is the essen­tial love of the Godhead, will seal a pledge and earnest of the Divine Love unto our hearts, and will breath into us the Spirit of love and good will one to another. Amen.

THE NINTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE xi. 27, 28.

A certain woman of the company lift up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the Womb that bare thee, and the Paps whcih thou hast sucked: But he said, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

THis is the Sons day, and not the Mothers: This is Christs own day, and not Maries. Therefore it is not for the Wombs sake, but for the Fruit of the Womb; not for the Paps of a mortal woman, but for the Infants sake, an immortal God, that I have chosen this Text. A good Israelitess she was that magnified Christ on this manner; though she was not spoken to, yet her heart was full, and she must speak, for her joy would have stifled her if she had not uttered it. If you mark the Context of the Chapter, immediately before these words our Saviour had taught his Disciples to pray most divinely he had cast out devils most triumphantly, he had answered the Calumniations of the Pharisees most rationally, he had put on glorious apparel, as the Psalmist says, and girded himself with strength: While these wonderful works were fresh in memory, the Lord from on high could have sent Legions of Angels to magnifie his Son, and to praise him with celestial Canticles. But to strike the greater shame into the Pharisees that had blasphemed him, he stirs up a woman, a nameless one, a poor Plebeian; one not admitted near him, she stood afar off, and was fain to speak aloud to be heard, Blessed is the Womb that bare thee, and the Paps which thou hast sucked. It was a free acclamation, a sudden start, a passion that came from her spirit ex tempore, and that I may give Christ his full honour, and attribute no more to the woman than is truth, she prophesied in this saying of greater things than at that time she understood. The Holy Ghost gave her the pri­viledge to be the tongue that delivered this Congratulation, but it remains to us to lend it an heart, that we may truly conceive it. For the inward sense of it is the gladsom contents of this day, blessed be the Father of all mercies for the Incarna­tion of his Son, that he was made of a woman for our sakes, and blessed are all mankind that he hath taken flesh of our flesh, and that he is made partaker of our humane nature. But because it would not prove our benefit that he was born for us, unless he be born in us likewise by faith and obedience, it follows to make our joy and crown complete, yea, rather blessed are they that hear, &c.

The parts are as manifestly two as the two hands wherewith we handle. First, Blessedness offered to us in Christs Incarnation. Secondly, Blessedness made com­plete in our own application. The woman begins the Text in the first part, Christ finished in the second. She said well for his Incarnation, Blessed is the Womb that [Page 80] bare thee; He makes it much better by stirrig us up to the use and fruit of it, yea, rather, &c. She blesseth Christ, and Christ blesseth us: she would have all felicity to rest in him; he would have a share of felicity to be derived to us. A pretty strife between a devout Creature and a merciful Creator, between an humble Ser­vant and a bountiful Master; between a true faith, that heaps all honour upon God, and between a gracious God, that heaps the treasures of his riches upon a true faith.

To begin with that which the woman said it must be considered two ways, in a Litteral sense, such as flesh and bloud revealed to her: And in a Prophetical sense above her understanding, such as the Spirit of God hath revealed to us. Blessed is the Womb that bare thee: And so it was indeed, according to the Latitude of this womans natural understanding: For first, she knew at large that it was a blessed thing to be an Instrument, or conveyance of any great good unto others. Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber be, blessed shall she be above women in the Tent, Judg. v. 24. Shee had done her part to work deliverance for Israel. And when Ju­dith had sped in her adventure to cut off the head of Holofernes, says Oziah, Blessed art thou of the most high God above all the women upon earth, Judith xiii. 18. A good Messenger is called an happy, and the feet of those are pronounced beautiful that bring glad tidings of peace. It is a narrow and an abject conceit of some, that think themselves fortunate, and at the best, when they receive and take in all that can be heapt upon them. These men measure felicity backward, for beatius est dare quam accipere, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Though that Maxim be not extant in any of the Evangelists; Acts xx. 35. St. Paul tells us upon his credit it was our Sa­viours; The souls of them that are converted to true holiness shall bless the lips of the Priest, the poor shall bless the liberal, after Ages shall bless publick Spirits, that do famous things, and are provident for Posterity. A Cistern that contains the waters poured into it is much inferiour to a Fountain that sends them forth. It is nothing so laudible to be wrought upon, as to work that which is honourable. Even the Parents, that have enricht the world with such as are ornaments unto it, benediction reflects upon them for it, because they are Conduit pipes of publick felicity. Yet all those that have made others happy by their gifts and qualities had been for ever unhappy themselves if the Child that was born this day had not suckt the breasts of a Virgin. O happy Parent! whose Womb contained all the treasure that maintains the whole earth. Somewhat she collineated at this mean­ing that said unto our Saviour, Blessed, &c.

And each Parent partakes in this reason, that it is joy and honour to them to have a renowned Son; and it may be this woman was partial to her own Sex, that contented her self to speak of no more than the womb of the Mother. In strict Divinity indeed her words are admirable, for Christ had no Father according to the flesh, but that is more than I collect out of St. Luke, that she mentioned not his Father for that reason: But in all humane births, that prove successful and glo­rious, the loyns of the Father are blessed, as well as the womb of the Mother, and the glory of children are their Fathers, Prov. xvii. 6. Yet in the next construction of mere natural capacity, it was proper to say for his sake blessed is the womb, be­cause barrenness was a curse, and fruitfulness of children a blessing. They that propagate a faithful seed upon earth give the means to replenish heaven with Saints; it is that wherein we exceed Angels, to beget Sons and Daughters in our own likeness; and to continue a Generation like our selves makes mankind by succession as incorruptible as the Angels. God blessed all living Creatures, mark that, God blessed them, and said unto them, be fruitful and multiply, Gen. i. 28. Though the Lord said it in his wrath, that the mothers womb should bring forth children in sorrow, yet he never recalled his former Sentence of grace, but that fecundity should be a benediction. As a rich harvest is joyfully received when the Valleys stand thick with Corn, and a rich Autumn is most welcom when the trees bow down their arms to reach us fruit: So Children, and the fruit of the womb are a most desired Heritage that cometh of the Lord. Old Jacob, anon before he de­parted out of the world, poured out the strength of his prayers upon Joseph, and this benefit he did impropriate to him, Gen. xlix. 25. The God of thy fathers shall bless thee with the blessings of the breasts and of the womb. But it had been better for us that all women had been barren if the Saviour of mankind had not been inclosed in the womb of Mary. All fruitfulness is to be congratulated, but hers especially, Blessed is the womb, &c.

[Page 81]Thirdly, I make no scruple to affirm it, that this was the very thought and fancy of the woman that uttered these words, that the Mother was most honoured, full of fame and glory, who had a Son that spake so divinely, and wrought such heavenly Miracles. It is a great recompence which God gives to careful Parents upon earth, when their off-spring live soberly and temperately to be their comfort and honour. Do you question it, but that Rebeckah was pleased above all contents which the earth could afford, when Jacob, whom she tendered as her hearts dar­ling, was so just and diligent in the fear of the Lord? Do you suppose that Bath­sheba knew not how many eyes of favour were upon her, how many tongues did congratulate her, when her Solomon was the wisest of all the Kings of the earth that sate upon a Throne? With what exultation did Olimpia speak often of her Son Alexander and his Monarchy? How did Cornelia, the Mother of the Gracchi, please her self, when certain strangers noted her for a plain Matron, that wore no rich or gaudy dressings, as the fashion of the Roman Ladies was in those days; but when her hopeful Sons came home, she told her Guests those were her Cabinet of Jewels, Hi sunt mei torques, haec mea monilia. And this is the reward on earth of all Paternal care and anxiety, Spes surgentis Iuli, that solace which you take in the ingenuous obedience of children, as we call it, towardliness. And the neglect of their breeding (a mischief which is seldom recovered, if the Plant be marred in the first setting and tendance) I say that neglect is a manifest [...], a plain want of na­tural affection, which is a denying of the faith: But the fear of the Lord which is instilled into Children from their Infancy is not only the Childrens, but even the Parents happiness. The rare endowments that appeared in Christ made a certain woman here cast the praise of it upon the Mother, Blessed, &c.

And thus far in the Litteral sense, as far as flesh and bloud could reveal unto her: But if she could have seen into the Scriptures, as the holy Spirit hath enabled us to see into them, there are other grounds of more Evangelical observation. And first let it be noted, that the blessedness which is attributed to the womb that bore our Saviour redounds to all the members of his mystical body. Even as upon that saying of our Saviour to St. Peter, Blessed art thou, &c. Mat. xvi. St. Austin says, that the words should not have a full and illustrious sense unless they were referred to the whole Church: So this saying in my Text were maimed and imperfect unless we enlarged it thus to all Believers, blessed, and thrice blessed are all the Sons and Daughters of God through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, who was he that came down into this wretched world to make it almost equal with heaven it self. Let the Earth be glad, and let the Hills rejoyce, let the Sea make a noise, and all that is therein. What a flower of Jessai did the earth bring forth instead of thorns and briars? What a Day-star did shine upon our Hemisphere, which was justly threatned with eternal darkness? What Prince of peace was this which visited us when we were at war and defiance with God and our selves, and with all the Powers of Heaven? What purity was this which mixt with our uncleanness? What Omnipotent that descended to our weakness? What Immortal that would be dishonoured with our corruption and mortality? All treasures of Wisdom are hid in his age of nonage; all Strength in his infant infirmity; all Riches in his state of poverty; all Righ­teousness in him that was accused of iniquity; all Freedom from bondage in him that was wrapt up in swadling clouts; all Felicity in him that was encompassed with weakness and misery: These are the fruits of his Nativity, these are the benefits of his birth and infancy. The Eternal Father did more for us when he made him flesh than when he made the heaven and the earth beside; without his Incarnation the Earth had been our Curse, all the Elements our Plague, the Hea­ven above our Envy, and the Hell beneath our portion for ever. But as soon as ever the Babe, who is blessed for ever, did open the womb, our fetters were bro­ken in sunder, the kingdom of darkness spoyled, no Malediction remained in the Law any longer, no curse in death. Hoc est Christianae fidei fundamentum, Aug. Ser. 9. de Nat. quia unus per quem ruina, alius homo Christus per quem structura. This is the foundation of Chri­stian faith, this is the scope of all the Scripture, this is the ground work of all hearts ease and consolation, that one man was our ruine, and another man was our reparation.

As the Apostle says, Heb. ii. 3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? we deserve to mourn if we do not magnifie God for this joy: we deserve to be mi­serable for ever, if we prefer not the blessing we received this day for the very crown of our happiness. Though you now see him not, yet believing ye rejoyce with joy [Page 82] unspeakable, and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 8. One man in a family having a fortunate ad­vancement makes his whole blood and kindred fortunate with him; how much more shall Christ make all mankind happy being made one of us, accedens ad nos per id quod assumpsit ex nostro, Ibid. & liberans nos per id quod mansit ex suo. He is come near unto us all by that nature which he assumed of ours; and he hath redeemed us all by that glorious Deity which was ever his own. Finally, there was a concur­rency of all sorts of blessedness in this most mysterious Incarnation. The Mother pure from all carnal copulation and incorrupt in her Virginity, the place comfort­able to the worst sinners, because he chose his habitation among beasts in a stable, and an ostery for the common resort of all passengers, because he came into the world for a publick benefit. The time most seasonable and accommodate, the very fulness of time, as the Apostle says. Whereupon St. Ambrose, Christus tanquam maturitas advenit, ut nihil acerbum, nihil immaturum, nihil immite sit, he came when all the fruits of comfort were mellow, ripe, and delicious, that nothing might be sower, or harsh, or distasteful to us. Tardius enascitur cupressus seris umbram factura nepotibus, says Pliny, the Cypress tree is long a growing, yet when it is grown up to a tree, the shade of it serves for an harbour to the child unborn. So the long ex­pectation of Christs coming is requited with those blessings that grow up more and more, and spread wider and wider for all generations to come. The company that came from heaven to congratulate this day most glorious, and chearful, a multitude of heavenly host; and what a mighty army hath he levied to take our part, in respect of those few scattered forces which are against us. The manner of his birth most edifying and instructive, in all abjectness and low estate, in all po­verty and humility. A magnificent pompous Saviour would have been a scanda­lous example, as we may well mistrust it, to the high imaginations of our hearts, and might sooner have destroyed this proud world than redeem'd it; we did not want a Champion in arms, but an Infant in swadling clouts. We did not need a Prince guarded with his Peers, but one in the form of a servant, whose best companions that came about him were silly Shepherds. It was not for our turn to have one that would keep state and ruffle, Superbia non est magnitudo sed tumor, Pride is not greatness verily and in truth; nay, but a tumor that is blown up with ap­pearance. It was for our profit to have one that did empty himself of his glory, and make himself of low degree, that man may blush away his own pride, when he sees the Son of God invested with humility. Finally, the fruit of this Nati­vity, O the fruit of it is passing delectable and unutterable! grace, illumination, vacancy from fear of condemnation, tranquility of conscience, angelical prote­ction here, angelical society hereafter: to know the rigor of the Law was the old lesson, to know the Covenant of Grace the new: to live and dye were vulgar things, to rise from death and to live for ever came by him, who being our head was made mortal, that we might be immortal members of his body. So I have pointed only to severals as in a map, to the felicity of the Womb he chose, of the place that received him, of the time that exactly fitted him, of the company that congratulated him, of the humility that adorn'd him, of the precious fruit that grew from him, that the Sum might redound to make up this principal point of my Text: everlasting blessing is the free gift of God to this whole world, through the Incarnation, &c.

The second Evangelical observation above that which the woman conceived that spake these words is thus: Both the Womb and the Paps also of common Mo­thers are obnoxious to many miseries, and to such great ones sometimes that they prove mortal. The subtilty of the Serpent brought this curse upon the Womb of mothers, Gen. iii. 16. I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. That calamity is a common wound to that tender sex, not so apt to bear any sore affliction. But the birth of Christ was without the pangs and hard travail of the Mother. The malediction was not upon Mary, but Blessed was the womb that bare him, Ipsa genetrix fuit, & obstetrix, says St. Cyprian, Mary was both the Mother and the Midwife of the Child: Far be it from us to think that the weak hand of any woman could facilitate that work which was guided only by the miraculous hand of God, The Lord did do his own work; so great, so tran­scendent without all humane assistance. And mark another reason of St. Austins, if any should headily contradict it, Quod sine voluptate carnis concepit, sine dolore pepe­rit; The Virgin conceived our Lord without the lusts of the flesh, and therefore she brought him forth without the dolour, without the curse of the flesh. And many [Page 83] other of the Fathers, for it was their common tradition, have these similitudes upon it; As a Bee draws hony from the flower without offending it; as Eve was taken out Adams side without any grief to him; as a Sprig opens the bark of a tree to grow out of it; as the light sparkles from the light of a Star: such ease it was to Mary to bring forth her first born Son. Gravida sed non gravabatur, says Bernard, Shee had a burden in her Womb before she was delivered; yet she was not burdened: that lies upon this proof that shee took a journey instantly before she was delivered from Nazareth to Bethlehem, above forty miles; and yet she suffered it without weari­ness or complaint. For such was the power of the Babe, that he did rather sup­port the Mothers weakness, than was supported. And as he lightned his Mo­thers travail by t he way, that it was not tedious to her tender age; so he took away all dolour and imbecillity from her travail in Child-birth: This was a benediction upon her Womb, Blessed is the Womb, &c.

Thirdly, In this the woman prophesied more than shee understood; that where­as nature is like Hagar that bringeth forth children unto bondage; and all the off­springs which Mothers bring forth are in themselves accursed from the womb; for we are all born and conceived in sin, Prius reati quam nati; only this child, this Im­manuel, this holy of holies was a righteous branch, that knew no sin, that had no part in iniquity; and therefore exempted from that malediction which lies upon our shoulders from the first hour wherein we are born. According to the strictness of the Law, by which no flesh is justified, that sentence is most righteous against us all, Deut. xxviii. 18. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. Therefore Job sell out with his birth-day, and so did Jeremy; for until the time that we are regene­rate and born anew, 'tis most true, which they perhaps disgusted in discontent, Cursed be the day wherein I was born; let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed. St. Ambrose reduceth it very well to this moral application, let the day of my first birth perish, that I may be accounted to live from the day of my regeneration, Pereat dies secularis ut dies spiritualis oriatur, vanish those days of sin, that none but spiritual days may shine upon me. But all that bitter mourning came from hence, that nothing but wrath and rejection belongs unto us, as we are born in original depravation. This is true in all, one only excepted, who in the similitude of sin­ful flesh took our nature upon him without the filthiness of it. Blessed was the womb which brought him forth who was blessed from the Womb, who was born not of blood, nor of the will of flesh, nor of the will of man, but was the holy one of God, and conceived by the Holy Ghost. If ten righteous had been found in Sodom, it had not been destroyed for tens sake; but when one righteous one was not found among all the sons and daughters of men, when we have all gone out of the way, and there is none that doth good, no not one, Rom. iii. 12. What will become of us, when there is not one to make attonement? not one for whose sake the rest may be mercifully entreated? Why, it rested only in him who is one by himself, above all, to be made poor, that we might be made rich; to be made sin for our sakes, that we might be found righteous in him who was born pure and unstained, yet made a curse for our sakes, that we that are born under the malignity of a curse might be made pure and undefiled to live in blessedness for evermore.

Nay fourthly, before I end this point, shee that said Blessed is the womb that bare thee, she came short in her conceit by far, how highly Mary was favoured of God, how highly exalted above all women, that the Infinite did not abhor to be inclo­sed in her Womb. Never was such honour cast upon any mortal creature, never the like glory incident to any Archangel: Nay, since this fact is past and gone, which is so marvellous in our eyes, none can be capable of such excellency hereafter. And therefore Beza breaks out, Quis non fateatur Mariam infinitis parti­bus omnium mulierum praestantiam superare? Who will not confess that Mary excells all women in glory by infinite degrees? Is not that home spoken? no just praise can be attributed to so excellent a vessel, that our Church will not say Amen unto it. An evil spirit is in them that charge us for being malignant to her eximious praise; because as we avoid contumacious neglect of her honour, so we do as much decline Superstition and Blasphemy. We never gain-said that Hymn in their Missal, Beata viscera Mariae Virginis, quae portaverunt aeterni patris filium, Bles­sed be the Womb of Mary that bore the Son of an Eternal Father. We learnt it of the Angel, Luke i. 28. Blessed art thou among women. We learnt it of her Cousin Elizabeth who was great at that time with the greatest Prophet that ever was, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Ver. 45. Elizabeth [Page 84] renowns her in the very same words that the Angel did, says St. Ambrose, Novit sermonem suum spiritus sanctus, neque unquam obliviscitur: Nay we will rather learn it of her self than of Angels, and Prophets, All generations shall call me blessed. She bare record of her self, and yet she is worthy to be believed; for she sought not her own praise, but magnified the power of God.

I would some would stay at this, and not pour on such measure as runs over, and cannot be defended. What a vanity is it to tell us that the Angels sing Hymns of her praise in Heaven? for which of them hath ascended up to Heaven to bring us tidings of that? and what an impiety it is to abuse the people with so many thousand Miracles of her aid, assistance, and apparitions, as can be believed by none, but by idiots of most stupid credulity; and with what scandalous profane­ness are they transported to call her the Queen of Heaven; to enstile her a Court of Chancery, to which we must sue to mitigate Christs Justice, to cry out Impera filio tuo Deipara, command thy Son thou Mother of God: as St. Hierom said of Nepotian in his funeral Oration, Foelix qui haec non videt, foelix qui haec non audit, happy she that did not see that immoderate honours done unto her, happy she that did not hear those Blasphemies. When Blesilla a woman that had been most mo­dest in her apparel was buried with great pomp, and a golden Mantle was cast up­on the Coffin, says the same Father, Videbatur mihi clamare de coelo non agnosco vestes, amictus iste non est meus, she seemed to me to cry from Heaven, I renounce this pomp, that gorgeous garment which you cast upon my corps, I will not own it for mine. So methinks the Holy Virgin speaks from heaven, I renounce these superlative su­per-mortal titles, the worship that you give me, the prayers that you make unto me are not mine. Go not further than this woman did, who did lift up her voice for our Saviours sake, and said, Blessed, &c.

I have done with the first general part of the Text, the acclamation, both as a certain woman apprehended the words in her natural understanding, and in that prophetical sense which was above her understanding. Now it will be most ma­terial to observe how the Master of all wisdom corrected and refined it, yea rather blessed, &c. First, upon the note of emendation [...], yea rather, then upon the simple proposition, Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. [...], yea ra­ther blessed are they; which is spoken not negatively, but comparatively, [...] says Theophylact, Christ doth not thrust out his Mother from the list of the blessed; take heed of such a thought: neither doth he reject it, but that it was to be counted in some part of happiness, that Mary bore such a Son. An accumulation of good in any kind is a felicity much more in this,Luke x. 23. Blessed are the eyes which see that which you see, says our Saviour to his Disciples. I, and he were to be reputed a stupid stock, that would not have reckoned himself most fortunate to have cast his eyes upon that glorious Babe in the Cratch, whom the poor Shep­herds beheld this day with so much reverence; then ascend up in your imaginati­ons, and compare things together justly: Was it not ten thousand times more no­ble and happy to be his Mother, than to be his beholder; to have fed him with her Breasts, than to have seen him as some did, to have attended him, as Joseph his reputed Father did, or to have held him in his arms as Simeon did, or to have toucht the hem of his garment, as one that had a bloody issue did: yet there was some­what which doth surpass all these: for they that pierced him saw him, Judas toucht him and kist him, the High Priests servants held him and bound him, his Mother Mary bore him, and nourisht him with her paps; but that did not make her soul more holy, or more acceptable to God: she magnified God, she believed, she obeyed. From thence and from nothing else we are assured, that her soul reigneth in eternal glory.

[...], yea, rather; that note is not at all in the Syrian Paraphrast: so we can have no help from thence to understand it. Erasmus says it is a particle, Quae nec affir­mat, nec negat; it neither assents to that which the woman uttered, nor yet con­tradicts it, but leaves it in medio, untoucht and unanswer'd. The Jesuit Maldonat will make Calvin his adversary many times where he is not, and lays to his charge this impiety, that Christ should cross all that was said before. 'Tis not so that the Womb is blessed which bare me, no, blessed are they, &c. Calvin God wot, hath no such asseveration, but thus, Fere pro nihilo haec ducit Christus, & longe est inferius, &c. But 'tis large in this form, it cannot be denied, says he, but that God exalted Mary to the highest honour, when he elected and destined her to be the Mother of his Son; but Christ reputes this as nothing, and much inferiour to the other: to hear the word of God and keep it, is there any offence in this? not any. And what [Page 85] if it be Maldonats own opinion in other words: thus he, Ʋtrum que, & quod dictum est, & quod dicendum affirmat, sed dicto, dicendum proponit. Our Saviour affirms that the woman said true, Blessed is the womb, &c. And he affirms it was blessed to hear the word of God and keep it: but he prefers the spiritual blessedness of hearing the word of God and keeping it, before the natural blessedness to bear him in the womb. This is most true, and runs thus in St. Austins elegancy, Beatior Maria percipiendo fidem Christi, quam concipiendo carnem Christi. O sacred Virgin much more happy in entertaining the Faith of Christ, than in conceiving the Flesh of Christ. For the second Covenant, which is the anchor of Salvation, is, Crede & vive, believe and thou shalt be saved; not uterum gere & vive, bear the Son of God in thy Womb, and thou shalt be saved. Eusebius Emissenus speaks enough to have angred Maldo­nat, yet sound and good in true construction; She whom thou dost magnifie was not therefore blessed, because she was my mother and bore me, Sed quia verbum au­divit, audiendo credidit, credendo custodivit; but because she was glad to hear my word, and what she heard she believed willingly, and what she believed she practised di­ligently.

Her own Cousin Elizabeth extended her salutation to this sense, Blessed is she that be­lieved, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord, Luke i. 45. A quip for her own Husband Zachary by the way, who had a message brought him by an Angel, and gave no credit to it, and was strucken dumb for in­credulity; but Mary had all applause and congratulation from heaven and earth, from Angels and men, because she heard the word and believed it. Nay, Christ himself hath confirmed this construction most sharply and emphatically, Mat. xii. 48. Who is my Mother? and who are my brethren? and he stretcht forth his hand to his Disciples Behold my mother and my brethren, for whosoever shall do the will of my Fa­ther that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother. And if it would not profit Mary to have given the bread to such a Son without Faith and obedience, how can any other carnal respect and advantage do us good? fleshly consanguinities and prerogatives make additions in a coat of armory; but we must stand before the tribunal of God disrayed of all such circumstances. A wise Heathen could taunt at them that boasted the smoky Images of their Ancestors, Ʋt quod in fru­ctu non teneas mireris in trunco, says St. Hierom, as eloquent as any of the Heathens, Shall we commend the stock of a tree, when we cannot commend the fruit? Fi­nally, St. Paul divorceth the Jews and all others from pretending a carnal propin­quity with Christ: says he, We know no man after the flesh, yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth we know him so no more, 2 Cor. v. 16. The Mo­ther whose paps he suckt must not glory that she fed him, but that he fed her, and gave her living waters of his Word and Spirit to drink. Yea rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.

I must not, and if I would I have no time, set forth before you what a secun­dity of error there is in mans heart about the notion of blessedness. Our Saviour confines our stragling imaginations to this rule, that no good thing of a subordi­nate condition can stile a man happy; 'tis a title to be given to that immense com­munication of good, when the soul shall enjoy the fulness of him that filleth all in all. But the means that impetrate a reward, and the reward it self are knit so individually together, that nothing is enjoyed in the one, but is affirmed of the other: And he that goes the right way to the eternal joys above, is canonized happy, as if he were in those joys already, Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. The Kingdom of God is not meats and drinks, but a pure and a righ­teous spirit. [...], says St. Basil very truly; a pure and a sanctified soul is the first ascent of happiness. And this is tried by two particulars; first, if we treasure up the precious things of God in our ear, then if we transmit them to a more inward and a safer place, and treasure them up in our heart. Whether your consciences be sometimes vexed with a Sermon, or whether your heart be pricked, or whether the Doctrine delivered be most oppo­site to your appetite in way of profit, or pleasure, or reputation; yet still remem­ber it is a blessed thing to hear, and a great honour to dust and ashes that God will speak unto you: And he that is cloy'd with hearing hath such a surfeited consti­tution, that he is cloy'd with blessedness. Mary her sitting attentive to hear our Saviour, was unum necessarium, not a thing well done, but yet indifferent, and at her own choice whether she would do it or no: but it was, unum necessarium, a ne­cessary part of obedience which concerned her salvation. The Lord from heaven [Page 86] began his law with the command of hearing, hear O Israel, Deut. iv. 1. And so the voice of the Father from heaven began the Gospel, This is my beloved Son, hear him. The fault of this age (to speak the truth) is not in this, that there want hear­ers; for excepting some few that think themselves wise enough already, and that they need not learn; and excepting some irreligious and profane ones that refuse true wisdom, and never think of their latter end; but the generality in all places will not stick to shew their duty in hearing, but with divers they are mens gifts and persons which they admire and follow: if those men teach whom their ear tasts, or if it be such kind of teaching as they will only like in their prejudicate humors, then have with you, they will be present in the Congregation. Whereas our Sa­viour hath abstracted from all such humane qualifications and scandalous niceties, that the sound of his Ministers should go forth into all the world, and he that hath ears to hear, let him not be so scrupulous in his choice, but let him hear. Paul was pleased to have Christ preached either through contention, or sincerely; all manner of ways, says he, I rejoyce, Phil. i. 18. They that came to mock the Apostles as men drunk, were caught by hearing them. They that came to take our Saviour, themselves were taken by hearing, John vii. 37. Many of the negligent rank, that come to gaze about, rather than to attend; many that come hither with affections worse than beasts, depart converted and repentant with a new heart, and a new spirit more like Angels than men. In brief, let the Heathen, that communicate not in the Gospel, enjoy all that this earth and the plenty thereof can afford; yet they, and none but they are blessed that hear the word of God.

And if you will make a good man, ply him apace with this exhortation to hear, yet know now that is but the first rude draught of him till you finish him with that which follows; he must hear and keep that which he hears. Let him hear the sayings of Christ and do them, then he shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, Mat. vii. 24. Custodia Sermonis Dei est ejus adimpletio, says Euthymius up­on my Text, to keep the word is to do as we are taught, and to endeavour to ful­fil the royal Law. This is the very concluding promise which God did send to Is­rael by his messenger Moses, If thou shalt hearken diligently to the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, blessed shalt thou be in the City, and blessed in the field, Deut. xxviii. most divinely the Psalmist, Psal. cxi. 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a good understanding have all they that do thereafter. So that the understanding of the law of God consists not in knowledge and speculation, but in practice and execution. We must be Servants as well as Disciples. The work of a Disciple is to hear and conceive aright, but the work of a Servant is to do and obey: and though dissimulation will intrude it self into every good thing, yet there may be, nay, there is ten thousand times more hypocrisie in hearing, than there can be in doing. Imperfect fruits are more pleasing to God than bare leaves. A sorry doer such a one as Ahab was, in his sullen and crude repentance, shall have more recompence from God than a barren unprofitable hearer, that thrusts in at all the Lectures and Exercises that City and Country af­fords. Live so, that all men may see you have often talkt with God, and God hath spoken often to you from this holy place; else I must leave you among those that are censur'd by St. Paul, 2 Tim. iii. 7. Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. I told you before that Mary sate at our Saviours feet to hear his Sermon, when Martha minded other domestical business; between those two, Maries choice was much more transcendent, and unum necessarium, but not uni­cum, one necessary duty, but not the only; a part of Religion but not the whole: for in another place Maries part of doing was far better than her part of hearing; I mean her anointing of Christs head with a box of precious oyntment, For this that she hath done shall be spoken of throughout the world, Mat. xxvi. 13.

Let me make a summary application of all, and so conclude. This day we be­gin to solemnize the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and continue it with a Festival dedication for twelve days following. There are three sorts of men that make most different uses of it; some that are Epicures, and never consi­der what great work the Lord wrought at this time, that we have an Advocate with the Father, who is the propitiation for our sins: but they consider that feasting and freedom are vulgar in these days, and they take their fill of that: but according to their riotous manners you cannot conceive that they keep the Birth of Christ holy, but that they celebrate a wakes for the making of some golden Calf, for they sit down to eat and to drink, and rise up to play. Secondly, There are others that [Page 87] honour God with their lips, that will say this is an happy season wherein a Re­deemer came down among us; God hath raised up a mighty salvation for us all, because he hath sent his Son to take our nature upon him. And as Micah said, be­ing a most idolatrous sinner, Now know I that the Lord will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my Priest, Judg. xvii. 11. So these men flatter themselves in their impe­nitent lives, Now know I that the Lord will be merciful and spare me, since the word became flesh and dwelt among us. But I hope there are many of the third sort, that conceive unutterrable gladness for the Nativity of their Saviour; but they know withal that as Christ is the meritorious cause of all blessedness, so it is a most barren faith to rest only in the contemplation of that: for as all mankind are blessed that the womb did bear him, and that the paps did give him suck; so it must be accomplisht by this obedience, Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. Do you love him for his Incarnation? then keep his sayings, If a man love me he will keep my sayings. Do you wonder that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son? then take heed of maligning and hating one another. He that says he loves God, and hateth his brother, is a lyar, and there is no truth in him. Do you honour his humility, then command your self to imitate him in lowliness of heart? would you do all due celebration to his sacred Birth, frequent his holy Temple, and hear his word and observe it. 'Tis much in every ones talk, who keeps a good house in Christmass. Beloved, you are now at this present in the best that is, Can any man keep a better house than God? would you wish a more de­licious banquet then such Confessions, such Collects, such Litanies, such heavenly Prayers, as our Church hath appointed, in which there is nothing wanting but company to attend them; what delicacies are contained in the holy Scriptures both read and preacht unto you? what edifying Doctrine in the Homilies which are read on the Saints days, together with the Divine Service? and above all, what Nectar? what Manna? what restoring Cordials are received in the Blessed Sacrament? This is the house which God keeps, who also allows you to be chearful at home at this season, and commends it to you to feed the hungry; but especially shew your thankful heart in frequenting his Church of Saints, that you may hear his word gladly, and obey it dutifully, and reign with him eternally. Amen.

THE TENTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE ii. 29, 30.

Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word; For mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.

OUr Text the last year for the solemnization of this day was, Blessed is the Womb that bare thee, and the Paps which thou hast sucked. Our Text this year makes good the words of our Sa­viour, Blessed are the eyes which see that which ye see. For so the devout Simeon magnifies his own happiness that the Incar­nation of Christ fell out in his days, and that his eyes had seen his salvation. To give him suck was more than to look upon him, to bear him in the Womb far more noble than to dandle him in the Arms, therefore this Text doth follow the other, as the lesser happiness comes behind the greater. Yet if you regard it as a testimony among those Witnesses that confest Christ was come into the world, it is either equal to the first, or next unto the best. I bear more reverence to the Thrones that stand before the face of God than to compare him with the Angels, [...], &c. they are immortal, and cannot see death; Simeon had one foot in the grave, and begg'd to depart in peace. If they speak from heaven they com­mand us to believe them, he was a frail man, obnoxious to passions, and though he spake as the Spirit gave him utterance he could no more than perswade. With­out all controversie therefore the testimony of Angels, so far as I have laid it forth, is much more excellent. Yet will you come now to other Collations, the Angel preacht his hodie natus, this day a Saviour is born, to a few, and to the meanest of the Laity, to certain Shepherds. Simeon testified that the salvation of God was come unto Israel before the best of the Priests, in the audience of all those that were met together in the Temple, and so his saying would go much farther than the Angels when persons of such authority and estimation received them from his mouth. The Angels seem'd to restrain the fruit of Christs birth to the Jews only, vobis natus, this day is born unto you: The Prophetical Ejaculations of this old Patriarch impart him to all, to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel. With all others that witnessed of this day thus far I will contend, whether they were the Shepherds, or the Wise men of the East, they were blessed in­struments of Gods honour, yet the Scripture hath not given us their names, nor yet described them by any sanctified property; but Simeon is named, and his ver­tues are remembred, he was a just man, and a devout, and he lookt for the con­solation of Israel. The rest were like to live, and vigorous of body, some could endure to watch over their flocks all night, some could travel from far Countries in the depth of Winter, neither of them probably near their end, this man was full of days, ready to give up the Ghost, ready to give up his accounts to God, and [Page 89] to answer for every idle word, and at the last gasp, when it was no time to dissem­ble, he preacht that the Babe whom he then embraced was Christ the Lord. He preacht it; nay, he sang it likewise, in a more joyful strain than any Witness that had gone before him (except the Angels) his words in his own language (which we have not) were Metrical and Poetical, says Maldonat, the whole tra­dition of the Church is so universal for it, that Calvin, who useth to condescend to no terms but such as are found in Scripture, is content to call it the Song of Si­meon. If you alledge, that the Magnificat of the blessed Virgin was a triumphal holy Song, and likewise the Benedictus of Zachary, I will not gainsay it, so I re­joyn, which is true, that they were sung in private houses, this is the first Hymn or Anthem in all the New Testament which was sung in the Publick Temple. Finally, That I be not tedious in my Proem, this Song, whereof my Text is a Moyty; was uttered with such a divine gravity, that at this testimony, and at no other, it is said, that Joseph and his Mother marvailed at these things which were spoken of him, ver. 33 in this Chapter.

But to make that which they wondred at easie to be understood, there are these two general parts of my Text, Occidens and Oriens, a Star setting, and the Sun ri­sing, Simeon departing this world and Christ approaching. Therefore the first verse is Epicedium, a Dirge for a Funeral, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace ac­cording to thy word: The second verse is Genethliacon, a Congratulation of a Nati­vity, For mine eyes have seen thy Salvation. Simeon would be gone because Christ was come; marvelous strange indeed, for if ever this world were worth the living in, it was when He did live upon the earth, in the form of a man. To sift therefore the agreeableness of those two parts attend to these particulars: First, Here is a Supplicant the servant of the Lord, Lord now lettest thou thy servant. Secondly, The Petition of his soul, to depart. Thirdly, The time which he sets, Now, Lord now— Fourthly, he pleads that he was well prepared to depart, for his heart was in peace, Lord now— Fifthly, the assurance in which he trusted that God would grant him his desire, for it was according to his word. Sixthly, and principally, Here is the reason upon which he framed his desire why he would depart, he had seen that which his soul waited for before it flitted away, For mine eyes have seen thy Salvation. You shall now hear the income of these, if you will attend them.

The Supplicant stiles himself the Servant of the Lord, In Psal. cxv. and he that can say so much for himself may speak with boldness, for the Lord will deal well with his servant accord­ing to his word, Psal. cxix. 35. Magna humilitas, sed magna simul dignitas, says St. Hie­rom; It is great humility to confess ones self a Servant, but it is no little dignity to profess ones self such a Servant, to be the Servant of God, and not the Servant of men by vile obsequiousness, nor the Servant of a mans own Passions by lust and sensuality, nor the Servant of sin by giving place unto the Devil, this is a freedom that excells all other liberty. To serve the Lord, Optabilius est quàm regnare, nedum liberum esse, says Philo, it is to be preferred before a Kingdom, how much more be­fore that, which the world calls freedom from servitude. And yet I deny not but the bondage of them that served God faithfully under the Law was very great, they were enthraled to Ceremonies about Meats, about Apparel, touching Marriages, touching Observation of days, touching the very labour of the Cattel in the field, and what not; It was a burden, as the Apostles testifie, which neither they nor their Fathers were able to bear; yet there was sweetness in all this, because it was done for the Lords sake, though the task had been stricter. David did well set forth the condition of the Law, unto what great bondage it did captivate a man, in these words, Behold, O Lord, how that I am thy servant, I am thy servant, Psal. cxvi. 14. and the son of thine handmaid, a servant in extremity of thraldom, and therefore it was repeated a Servant born, for partus sequitur ventrem, he must needs be so that was the Son of an handmaid; he was born to be circumcised, and to be a debtor to the whole Law. Such were all they that boasted themselves to be the only freemen in the world, because they were the Sons of Abraham. Nay, Simeon was not only such a Servant, as I have hitherto described, bridled under the Pedagogy of Moses Law, but out of the relative terms of my Text I will shew that he was in grea­ter subjection and aw; for how doth he call the Lord here? Not [...], but [...] is a Lord that had power of life and death over his Vassal, you shall not find it used again in all the four Evangelists. [...]; says Favorinus; [...] is the Lord of a bondman, [...] of a freeman, that is an hired servant. I have plaid the Critick enough; such servants, those [...] [Page 90] were anciently called so, not because they were paid for their labour which they did undergo in drudgery, but because they were taken by hostility, and their lives were forfeited to the Conquerour, who had power to slay them, yet spared them, and resigned them up into their hands that would lay down a ransom for them. So Si­meon confesseth that God had the power of life and death over him; when he might have killed him, out of his clemency he spared him. Behold a Servant then (and such as he was such were all the Jews) a man under the yoke of the Law, and un­der the power of death. But behold as this day the Deliverer was born, and did quite change the copy of our service. Christ as God did put the Church under the servitude of the Law, but being made man he hath exempted us to the liberty of the Gospel; and though we shall all die, through that sentence which cannot be repealed, yet if we believe that he hath given himself a ransom for us, and live unto righteousness, we shall not die unto condemnation.

But that you may know what kind of servants they are that retain to that fami­ly whereof God takes the care and administration, mind the character of Simeon, which the Holy Ghost gives him in the verses preceding my Text; for his Calling it is obscurely past over thus, there was a man in Jerusalem. Galatinus says out of the Rabbins that one Simeon the just, was the Master of the great Doctor Gamaliel, and that may very well light upon this Simeon. Much hath been urged to prove him to be a Priest, but to no purpose. Salmeron and Tolet alledge, that when a child came to be presented to the Lord, the Priest took the child out of the arms of his Mother, and did not restore him again till he was redeemed for five Shekles of Silver according to the Law, Num. xviii. but how will they prove that a Child might not light in­to the arms of some other incidentally, as well as into the arms of the Priest? Yea, but Simeon blessed Joseph and Mary, ver. 34. that is a Sacerdotal action. Nay, not al­ways; old Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and every Prophet is an instrument of Benediction. At the last heave, says Tolet, it is an old tradition of the Church to paint him in a Priestly Vesture; an hard refuge, when they refer us for a proof to Pictures, and not to the Word of God. Whether the Priesthood or the Layty may challenge him for theirs I know not; one thing I know, that he was a just man, and waited for the consolation of Israel; a pious holy Father, a frequenter of the Temple, a man uncompounded with the world, but this was his righteousness, that he lookt for the blessed off-spring God and man, whom the Lord would send to redeem his Saints. You will say, perhaps, did not all the Jews expect the Messias? What did he more than other men? Why, herein he did exceed them, that they did not look for such benefits from the Messias as Simeon did, such spiritual refreshment for the soul and for the spirit. Then, the common sort of people lookt for Christ afar off, he lookt for him just at that time, near at hand. As Joseph of Arimathea is said to look for the Kingdom of God, that is, to see Christ incarnate even then, in the fulness of time, Luke xxiii. 51. Again, others waited for Christ, but carelesly with­out any earnest affection,De Verb. A­post. Serm. 3. Simeon even languisht with longing, and did passionately desire it. St. Austin says, that he did continually pray for the coming of Christ, and often repeated that of David, Psal. lxxxv. Shew us thy mercy O Lord, and grant us thy salvation, and then God answered him, that he would fulfill his hearts desire. Nice­phorus tells us a vagrant story, that Simeon was reading those words, Isa. vii. Behold a Virgin shall conceive a Son, Lib. 1. hist. c. 12. and being sollicitous what that place should mean, an Angel appeared, and told him he should not die till he had seen that Babe with his eyes of whom Isaiah Prophesied. This is certain, the Holy Ghost had given him some great assurance of it. The Spirit was [...], ver. 25. not [...], not only in him, but upon him, which signifies extraordinary assistance, as when it is said, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Isa. lxi. You see now with what endowments of heavenly graces Simeon was enricht, before he called himself the servant of the Lord. His modesty would give himself no better title, yet our Saviour speaks better things of those that believed, Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth, but I have called you friends, &c. Joh. xv. 15. It is not the mean­ing, that we shall ever out-grow the name of servant, for even at the day of judg­ment, in the time of our reward, it shall be said, Well done good and faithful ser­vant. But here it is, we are all servants by debt and nature, the Gospel stiles us friends by Covenant and Composition. Before Christ was revealed God dealt with them of the Synagogue as with servants, he did not reveal the mysteries of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of the coming of the Holy Ghost; if he did reveal them to the Prophets, it was ex privilegio, not ratione status, it was by special priviledge, [Page 91] not by common publication; that which was a secret among some few is now vul­gar to all. God hath disclosed his hidden treasures to us as unto friends. He was their Lord, so he is ours, but he is also our Father. They were his servants, and so are we; but the interest we have in Christ, that hath taken our nature upon him; hath made us more than servants, and exalted us to be his friends.

Hitherto I have held your attentions to the Supplicant, now the Petition of his soul comes in order, that he may depart. The Servant had a burden that opprest him, a frail and a corruptible body, and he desires the Lord to ease him of it, and to take it from him. For so St. Ambrose and the Syrian Paraphrast read the word optative­ly Dimitte, O take me away from hence, and let me depart. And they that say it is dimittis for dimittes, the Present Tense for the Future, bring it up to the same sense, Lord thou wilt now let thy servant depart (so Origen and St. Cyprian read it) for the Hebrews use to make their Petitions in the future time, as thou shalt hear my prayer in an acceptable time, which is a fit form of words to ask in faith, and not to waver, as St. James says; but the word here is Metaphorical in the original, [...], as you would say in the native term, Lord now lettest thou thy servant be unloosed, De bono mor­tis, lib. 2. as horses are taken from the Plough, and set up to rest, when they have drawn till Evening and are weary; or to signifie, says St. Ambrose, that necessity compelled him to stay here, Ideo dimitti poscit, quasi à vinculis quibusdam, ad libertatem festinaret, therefore he desires to be let loose, as if he had been enthraled like some Captive, and now would shake off his bonds and attain his liberty. This earth is not our Country, therefore though we have an inbred desire to have the union of the body and soul maintained, yet our willingness inclines to be uncloathed of the body, rather than not go from hence, when we are full of days. Quis peregre constitutus non prepararet in patriam regredi? says St. Cyprian, that man were unnatural that affected to be a stranger, and had rather travel always than settle himself at home in peace; revolve in your memory the words of just men in holy Scripture, and you shall find that this is common to them all, to mourn and sigh because their pilgri­mage was prolonged, Wo is me that I am constrained to live with Mesech, says David. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Says St. Paul. It is enough Lord, take away my life, I am not better than my Fathers, says Elias. While the body was a Palace, the soul was content to stay in it, now it is become a filthy prison no wonder if it de­sires to be gone.

Let not Simeons Nunc dimittis, nor this Doctrine be mistaken, every mans willing­ness to leave this world, and to die is not commended from hence, but when it is joyned with patience, and good internal motives, especially when we find an apt­ness and good preparation in our selves, that when we go from hence we shall be joyned to the Lord. There is no worse sign in some that God is departed from them than when they are sullen and froward with their life, and care not which way they break violently out of the world so they may depart. Seneca could say, Mori velle non tantum fortis; & patiens, set etiam fastidiosus potest; that is, not only stout men are resolved to die, and such as are fortified against fear, but the discontented that cannot bear his cross, had rather lose himself than his peevishness; good and bad upon several reasons are contented both to die and to live,Tract. 9. in Ep. Johan. Sunt homines qui cum patientiâ moriuntur, sunt autem quidam perfecti qui cum patientiâ vivunt, says St. Au­stin. There are some holy men that exercise their patience to be content to die, there are some perfect men that exercise their patience to be content to live; there­fore the motives that induced Simeon to this must be sifted to make him an inoffen­sive, nay a profitable example. Salmeron the Jesuit follows a most capricious inven­tion, that this reverend Sire, importuned God to put a period to his days as soon as Christ was born, that he might be the first Nuncio to the Fathers that were in limbo, and certifie them that the Messias was come into the world, who would exalt them from that lowly condition in which they were held, and conduct their souls into the Kingdom of heaven. This is so extravagant, that I give it you to note the man, and the far-fetcht way of their expositions. The true reason is, that this cygnea cantio, this farewel Song of his hath taught us, that there is no terror in going to the Grave; no sting in death, since God appeared before us, and became man, to deliver our souls from the nethermost hell, and to make our bodies like to his own most glorious body. They that know not what their condition may be in the next world must needs think of death with an heavie heart, and sigh and wring their hands when they feel it approaching. He that could see Christ no otherwise than through the dark mists of the Law, did count it somewhat an irksom thing to go [Page 92] out of the land of the living; it was a good King of Judah that chattered like a Swallow when Isaiah told him he should live no longer. But it is incredible to hu­mane reason how it encourageth a faithful man to meet his death with chearful­ness, because, though not in our own bodies, yet in the Apostles and others we have seen, we have heard, and our hands have handled the word of life, and that we know there is plentious redemption for us in Christ our Saviour. Simeon knew the in­stant of his dissolution was at hand, and yet he sang away the remainder of his life with joy; as who should say, Egredere ô anima; fly away my soul, fly away like a dove and take thy rest, for now I see that the promises of grace and mercy are true; here is Christ thy Saviour in thy hands, thine eyes do see, thine arms do sup­port thy Salvation; though thou departest thou shalt not go from him, for he is man on earth to comfort thee, and God in heaven to glorifie thee. This is it which did animate Simeon to say, Lord let me depart, and therefore as the Patriarches in the time of the Law desired length of days upon earth that they might live to see the Messias, so let us desire a joyful departure to be with him for evermore.

I proceed, the time which he sets for the accomplishment of his Petition is pre­sently, or at that instant, Now, Lord now let, &c. Nunc, ante hâc non item. As who should say, if I had been summoned to leave my station before this day came, my soul had been in bitterness, and I had been gathered to my Fathers in sorrow, but now my Pilgrimage hath been prolonged till I am full of happiness, now I am fledg'd with all my feathers to fly away, for what will satisfie him upon earth whom the sight of a Saviour will not satisfie? This Nunc, this welcom instant it is circumstanced with two things especially to be observed, the old age of Simeon, and the miseries of those times wherin he lived; The context of the Scripture hath not expresly described him by old age, yet that's collected out of the words, that he should not see death till he had seen the Lords Christ, meaning sure that he was far stricken in years, and yet not mellow enough to drop off from the tree till the Nativity of Jesus was fulfilled, and he a witness of it; neither would it sound well out of the mouth of any that were not rich in silver hairs, Let me now depart in peace: Observe therefore that he had waited long before the time came that Christ ap­peared, he might say with David, Expectando expectavi, He lookt many a long look before he beheld his Saviour. And this is the nature of Gods Promises, they are seldom accomplished till his faith hath been throughly tried to whom they are made, and that he doth even languish with expectation. Some will say perhaps, O I have waited long, this will never fall out as God hath promised. Nay, the more like to be because you have waited; every long put off will have his [...], and you shall say at last, though I was a murmurer and repined, yet now I see that the Lord is faithful, and will not deceive his servants; the glass of Simeons life was almost run out to the last sand before the Virgin brought forth her Son, but days were added to his days, that the words of the Psalmist might be verified in him, With long life will I satisfie him, and shew him my salvation.

Secondly, Simeon reserved himself for joyful days to see the glory and the salva­tion of Israel, but even to this now, whereof he spake in my Text, he had seen as much misery and infelicity as ever had befaln any poor Kingdom in the world. But though he saw all things most contrary to the Promises of God, still he trusted to see the day star shine, and those clouds to be blown over, and having a stedfast hope even against hope, the most high came down from above and comforted his people. Who would not have been weary before this time of the former days? Their King­dom was given to strangers; and the Romans that hated them were Lords over them; their Scepter was departed to Herod an Idumean: their Tributes were so grievous, that the poor Virgin Mother, being ready to lie down, was compelled to take a jour­ney to be taxed; their Religion was so prophaned, that the Pharisees made the Commandments of God in vain through their Traditions; the High Priesthood, which had been so admirable in the sight of God and man, was conferr'd by favour and cor­ruption upon the basest of the people; The Temple was defiled with Images contra­ry to the Law, and such as resisted it, their bloud was shed like water on every side of Jerusalem. Notwithstanding these dismal days this reverend Sire was contented to live in all this affliction, he did patiently bear the calamities of the Church and Kingdom, and staid the good time when Christ should come to help all. This was the season, he knew it according to the Prophets; and seeing so prosperous a sign arise, which assured that the happiness which had befaln his Nation did far exceed their precedent miseries, he was willing now to bring his weather-beaten Vessel [Page 93] into the Haven. I know what the conceit of the most will be upon it, that when troubles were past, and consolation newly manifesting it self in his Horizon, it were more proper to say, Vah vivere etiam nunc lubet, O let me live,Terent. in Adelph. and add many years unto me, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation; but was this a time to bid the world farewel, and to say, now let me depart? Indeed this were a strong obje­ction if he had been obnoxious to self-love: But allowing that which must be gran­ted, that a good man judgeth himself most fortunate in the publick happiness of others, no wonder if Simeons desires were crowned with all that his heart could wish, and was content to make a full stop there, when he saw that all Jerusalem, and all his kindred and posterity were in the ready way to be filled with the salva­tion of the Lord. I have no approved Author whom I dare cite unto you, how long this aged Israelite did live after our Saviour was born and presented in the Tem­ple. Nicephorus says he went immediately from that place to his own home, and took his rest for ever: but this I gather from it, a devout man is or should be al­ways at these terms with God, Nunc dimittis, I am not fastned to this world with the love of it, I have set my house in order, I have thrown away the superfluity of my sins, I am ready to give up my Stewardship when my Master will take my accounts; I have bid adieu to all impediments, Lord receive me when it is thy will and plea­sure. [...]. Pythagoras his Symbole, to have our fardles ready trust up to be gone. Again, reason good he should ask of God to close his eyes, for they could never do him such good service any more, as they did at that instant, when they saw that mighty God in the visible form of a little Infant. The superstition and the barbarisms of the Turks being so well known, I do assent to some stories re­ported of them, which may seem incredible to civil Nations. I instance in this particular, that when some of their Zealots have made a Pilgrimage to Mecha to do their Adorations to the Tomb of Mahomet, they presently draw hot burning steel before their eyes to put them out, that they may never see any other spectacle, af­ter they have been honoured to see that Monument of their Prophet: Far better a gread deal, and without superstition might Simeon say, mine eyes have seen thy sal­vation, O Jehovah, now draw their curtains before them, that they may never hereafter see the iniquities of men. To touch the point yet more to the quick, there were some things to come to pass, which Simeon foresaw in his Prophetical spirit, and he chose rather to die than to be present at them. God himself, I may say it with humility, could do no greater favour to the world, than to send us his Son, and to give him a body. The world on the contrary, I speak it with horror, could offer no greater despight to God, than to reproach his Son, and to crucifie him. Therefore this Saint begs, that since he had seen Jesus in the bosom of his Mother, and in his own arms, he might not live to see him hanging between two Thieves; as if he had said, O let me not survive to see the infidelity of mine own Nation: O let me not live to see him crown'd with thorns. Lastly, A mans native Country can never deserve so ill, but he will wish it subsistence, that it may not utterly be ruined: and albeit the sins of Jerusalem would call for vengeance and desolation upon it, this loving Patriot desired to be called out of the way, that he might not see her made an heap of stones. As the Historian says that Anastasius a good Bishop of Rome gave up his breath with a broken heart immediately before the Goths had sackt that imperial City, Ne orbis caput sub tali Episcopo truncaretur. So Simeon saw that the sins of the Jews were not yet come to the worst, but that their hardness of heart, rejecting Christ, would draw more grievous judgments upon them; there­fore he desired, while matters were not yet come to their extremity, now he might depart in peace.

I know 'tis trivial with every rash spirit that is discontented with his fortune to say, emori cupio, like Clitipho in the Scene, I would I were out of the world; but it is a good corrective speech of the old mans, Prius quaeso disce quid sit vivere, Terent. in Heauton. learn first to live as you ought; and so had Simeon done, for in the fourth part of my Text he pleads that he was prepared to die in peace, Lord now, &c. It cannot be conceiv'd of him, since we must allow the best men some grains of infirmity, but that his heart had been oppressed with many recurrent thoughts, between that long space that God did first make the promise unto him, unto the actual birth of Christ: never did any Father expect the return of his only Son after twice seven years travail from month to month, from day to day, as he did watch the advent of the Lord conti­nually, when he should be presented in the Temple: and surely it is likely that Hanna and divers more had heard from Simeons mouth what the Lord had revealed unto [Page 94] him, and that his credit suffered a little with good people, as if he had deluded them: for the riff raff, if such a thing were come to their ear, no marvail if they taunted him that he was a lying Prophet, and that he was possessed with a spirit of wicked divination: These assaults from without, and the revolvings of his heart from within did make his conscience boil like a troubled Sea, because that graci­ous Oracle which he had received was not yet to come to pass, nor like to be ful­filled in the short remainder of his days, since his candle was burnt to the socket; wherefore at the first glimpse that he viewed the holy one of God in swadling clouts, this ejaculation starts from him, as if his joy had burst the vessel, like new li­quors that swell'd within it; as who should say, I began to be troubled, I began to distrust, I was afraid that thy promises would fail; and by so much the more I was afraid of death: now come what will come, I am secure and confirm'd, my heart is quiet, my Faith is built upon a rock, Lord, now, &c. just as old Jacob was ready to die for gladness, when he saw that Joseph was alive; says he, now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive, Gen. xlvi. 30.

And the content which this holy Prophet took in embracing the Messias, who had been so long waited for, could not be better exprest than thus, that his soul was ready to take leave of the world in peace: for as bread imports all manner of sustenance in the phrase of the Hebrews, so peace in their signification imports all manner of good that is desirable, health, plenty, honour, safety, tranquility of conscience, comfort in the Holy Ghost, all sorts of prosperity, heavenly and earth­ly are no more but peace in their acception: therefore the interpretations what 1 Simeon would have are many, and all agreeable to pious analogy. First, Euthymius expounds it of the peace of his thoughts, that he did fluctuate before, and hang in suspence what God would do; but when Christ was born he was resolv'd against all the slights and cavillations of Satan, that the Lord was just in all his sayings, and holy in all his works. There may be security in a bad man, I will not deny him that carnal priviledge, who refresheth himself with the comforts of this life, but there can be no stability in him, no setledness against distraction and fluctuation, unless by much meditation he do set Christ before his eyes, as if he were born in him, and endeavour to Incarnate the promises of the word in his soul by Faith, as the blessed Virgin gave flesh to the eternal word by bearing him 2 in her womb. Secondly, Others interpret this peace, de pace intrepiditatis, he did not fear to be dissolved, though his decayed body lay even under the stroke of death,Psal. iv. 9. he saw nothing why he should flinch, but that he might say with David, I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest. Before a Saviour was granted to mankind death was death, and Hell to boot; now it is but a sleep without all disturbance, a repose without all annoyance, a releasement out of bonds, a transmigration to felicity: He therefore that will not die in peace knowing that Christ stands at the right hand of God to make intercession for him, and to purchase in his behalf in­stead of a transitory estate a far abundant exceeding weight of glory, the fault is his own, Vitam in manibus fero, mori non timeo. A strange darkness is before the eyes of unbelieving impenitent men at their last gasp, their conscience knows not how to answer that objection which it makes to it self, Quae nunc abibis in loca? My soul whither art thou going? in what woe or sorrow shalt thou be entertained hereaf­ter? Thus Cain was dejected, Every one that findeth me will slay me, Gen. iv. 14. Thus Nabals dastardly spirit fainted, and nothing brought him to death but the fear of death. His sordid, churlish, inhospitable life here, and the rest of his undeservings represented nothing but horrors to entertain him in the life to come. Sed quis est iste qui de hoc seculo recedit in pace, nisi is qui intelligit Deus erat in Christo mundum reconci­lians sibi, says St. Austin: But who is the man that gathers up his feet into his bed sweet and placidly, as old Jacob did, and dies in peace? but he that felt the con­solation within him that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. 3 Thirdly, The sense holds very well to interpret it de pace gaudii, he should be ga­thered to the dead in great joy, because the troubles and thraldoms of his Nati­on should no more disquiet him. For who could doubt of the deliverance of Israel when he was born, that was the Redeemer of all deliverers? This is that emplai­ster of which Isaiah Prophesied that it should lenifie all their sores, Comfort ye, com­fort ye my people, saith our God, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, Isa. xl. 1. And again, the Lord shall comfort Zion, he will comfort all her wast places, he will make her Wilderness like Eden, and her Desart like the Garden of the Lord, joy and [Page 95] gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody, Isa. li. 3. what a quick-sighted faith had Simeon that he could see so far into Christ, upon what part of him did he cast his eye, that he could find such a Champion in a lit­tle Infant wrapt in swadling clothes? O what an heavenly light there shines before faith, that the old man could espy in this little Bethlehemite, that he should turn their captivity like the rivers in the South? there was nothing to behold external­ly in Christ, but contempt, and weakness, and poverty in those days: who will distrust his protection now, when there is nothing to be viewed about him but Pow­er, and Fortitude, and Majesty? O that men should be afraid to perish even in the presence, nay even in the hand of such a Saviour! He that is yet to seek for the peace of joy, though death were at the door, let him consume in his own infideli­ty. Fourthly, He had purchas'd peace before his departure, because he had as 4 much as could be askt; his heart was satiated wirh good things: a very greedy avarice had been in him, if he could have askt any more. And so Theophylact glos­seth very judiciously upon my Text, [...], he that hath gained the sum and substance of all his hopes and petitions, he may justly say that he can bid adieu to this world in peace. So God promised to Abraham, Gen. xv. 15. thou shalt be buried in a good old age, and thou shalt go to thy Fathers in peace, that is, thy desire shall be filled brim full, and measure running over; nothing that thou canst ask in Faith but I will give it thee. So Simeon possessed the complement of all felicity, he had so much that he could desire no more: for he that hath given us his Son, will he not with him likewise giue us all things? And take this to your use from hence, that a wishing heart which is ever thirsting for more, strugling for some addition, and yet some more to that, cannot be said to be in peace, no more than an Hydropical man that thirsts for drink continually can be said to be in health. Crescit indulgens sibi dirus hydrops, the satiating of one concupiscence begets an­other, and that's like a mill-horse in a circle, that you can never say he is at his journeys end. Therefore if you mean to be at ease, and not to be wrackt with care, let to morrow care for it self. Fifthly, And so to give this point its last al­lowance; 5 Origen and Irenaeus interpret my Text of that peace which Christ came to make between God and man. St. Paul says that when we were darkened in our un­derstanding, walking in the lust of our own mind we were enemies with God: and alas we are sure to come by the worst of that enmity; for who is able to sustain his displeasure: and it was no petty enmity, but God did abhor us, and provide all manner of scourges to plague us both in this world, and in that which is to come. No creatures which are noted for antipathies do shun one another at more distance than God doth abhor an impure soul; and they are not sacrifices of Beasts that could make an attonement for us: they were not Angels that could deprecate the Divine wrath, and reconcile us, they were glad to bring the tidings that an Eternal Son of an Eternal Father had done that good office for us, Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace; it could never be well sung but at this Incarnation, and therefore it could never be well said but at his Incarnation, Lord now lettest thou thy servant, &c.

You have heard of the supplicant, and of his petition, and the time which he sets, and his good preparation of peace, to go from hence and to be with the Lord. After this it is seasonable to speak of the assurance in which he trusted, that God would grant him his desire; for he askt nothing extravagantly, and without warrant, but it was secundum verbum tuum, according to thy word: and that word upon which he might stedfastly build, is, ver. 26. it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, till he had seen the Lord's Christ revealed unto him. But perhaps you will say, why might it not be his own imagination that deluded him, and no revelation from God? We indeed that walk in the ordinary course of Grace, may be cozened, like Enthusiasts, and think that our own doating fancies are inspirations from Heaven. But Prophets that had extraordinary illuminations were able to distinguish between brain-sick notions, and the word of God when it spake within them. And Simeon, you will mark it when I tell it you, had a double, and a double portion of the Spirit. In the last days, says Joel, Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. These are different graces for several persons, only in this Prophet, they concurr'd both. He had the old mans dream to reveal unto him that he should not die till Christ was manifested: and he had the young mans vision to accomplish his happiness, His eyes did see his salvation. No doubt then he had sufficient means to prove in himself that it was the word of God, that is, the word of the Holy Ghost, from [Page 96] whom he received that Oracle: and hence St. Athanasius doth learnedly prove the divinity of the Holy Ghost. And the plenty of this point will contribute this espe­cially unto us, that it is presumption to expect any thing to be granted us, with­out warrant and promise received from the word of God. That's the Organ or Tongue by which the Holy Ghost speaks with us; and he that puts himself upon any hazardous action, without encouragement from it to bring him off with safety, he makes a snare to bring himself to destruction. Satan durst not be so impudent to tempt our Saviour, to fall down from a pinacle of the Temple, without pretence of authority from the Psalm, that He shall give his Angels charge over thee; and therefore we justly exclaim against Monastical Vows of perpetual Chastity; and we see how frequently they apostate from their Vow, and wallow in all lust and un­cleanness; because it is no where written, if any one will take this yoke upon him, I will assist him, and make it light. It is a miserable thing to have no other staff to lean upon then the word of men, though they call themselves the Church; for the children of men are deceitful upon the weights, they are 1 altogether lighter than vanity it self. To draw this Doctrine streight and even upon the Text, 1. Many will alledge Simeons example, and say they could willingly die if they might see this or that come to pass. Pray observe that such as these seldom or never see their desire come to pass, because they fabricate vain 2 hopes to themselves without the word of the Lord. 2. When that which they long'd for doth come to pass, they are content to redeem it with any Physick or cost that they may not die for all their bragging; like the woman in the Fable that was miserably poor, and gathering sticks for her fire, and herbs for her sustenance; being vexed with extreme want, she bursts out into this frowardness, O that death would come to me. Says the Fable, death did come to her to know what she would have, Help me up with my bundle of sticks, says she, I have nothing else to say to you. But this is the sum of this point, all our petitions are but avaritious craving, or unchristian presumption, unless we say, Lord let it be according to thy word.

And now I shall end my Sermon in that point, wherein Simeon desired to end his life; it is the reason upon which he stood why he would depart, because he had seen that which his soul waited for before it flitted away, For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which is to this effect, the Redeemer is come, let my fetters therefore be broken off; my joy is excessive and superlative, this frail flesh cannot contain it: The new Wine is poured in, O let the old bottles break. Thou hast granted me more than ever thou didst grant to any Prophet upon earth; therefore exalt me to thy Saints in heaven. For all the Prophets could get no more than this answer, that a Virgin should conceive, Immanuel, that is God with us, should be born, and their posterity should not fail to behold him in after ages; but says St. Paul, all these died in Faith, not having received the promises themselves, but having seen them afar off, Heb. xi. 13. Now this Patriarch did far exceed all the Prophets, that he saw the Messias with his own eyes, and none other. And mark the Pleonasmus, not con­tented to have said, I have seen thy salvation: He doth denote the assurance of the act that he was not deceived, hisce oculis vidi, I have seen him with mine eyes: it is the very Jesus that shall save the world, I cannot be deluded, as Ʋlysses speaks to Circe in Homer that she should re-transform his associates,Lib. 1. c. 12. [...], distinguishing true sight from phantastical. Nicephorus, a most corrupt Historian, hath a tale by himself, that Simeon was so far stricken in years that he had been long blind, and as soon as ever this heavenly babe was brought near unto him he recovered his sight; and therefore he magnifies God that his eyes were re­stored to see the object of all objects, the blessed Child Incarnate: and is it likely that St. Luke would have concealed such a miracle; if it had been true? and would God have let us receive it from so corrupt an hand as Nicephorus? The Scripture says, ver. 27. of this Chapter, He came by the Spirit into the Temple; not that he was led like a blind man. There are some conjectures that rove at random likewise, by what means he should discern such Divine glory in our Saviour. Admit there were other Infants presented in the Temple at the same time, how did he perceive that this was the Son of the most high, rather than any of the rest? I find one Au­thor shoot his bolt, that a celestial splendor came down from Heaven, and shone round about the Child. I find another Author more superstitious than this, that the Blessed Virgin was compast about with a cloud of glorious light in the place where she stood; and so that honour should terminate it self upon her, and not upon [Page 97] Christ. This is to trifle in a most serious matter, for certainly the suggestion of the Holy Ghost within him was enough to direct him, without any external cogni­zance: and therefore Nyssen says well, Blessed were the eyes both of his soul and body: his bodily eyes did see the happiest sight in heaven and earth, but the eyes of his soul did respect that which is invisible.

His bodily eyes did see God made of a woman, an object more beautiful and estima­ble then even Paradise it self, when Adam saw it at the best. Nay more beauti­ful than the whole Revelation which S. John saw in heaven, excepting Christ him­self, whom he saw upon his throne. Abraham would have given his portion in the promised land to have seen him, David his Kingdom, Solomon his revenews of Ophir; and therefore no wonder if Simeon triumph in it, that the eyes of his body had seen him. But what the eyes of his soul did pierce into, is magnum auctarium, an huge addition. They did see his salvation, and salvation cannot be comprehended but by a lively and an effectual Faith. They did see [...], cornu salutis, as old Zachary calls it, in whom God had reposed all the stock and treasure of salvation. But why thy salvation? and not rather ours? had it not been more proper to say, mine eyes have seen mine, or our salvation? There is no difference in effect, one saying is as proper as the other, salutare tuum, for he is the Son of God, the gift of God to us, the holy One conceived by the Holy Ghost, and in those notions Gods salvation, as David says, the Lord hath made known his salvation, Psal. xcviii. 2. Again, salutare nostrum, for he came to redeem us, and to give himself a ransom for us, and so he is our salvation. As if Simeon had said, this is he after whom Jacobs heart panted, Gen. xlix. 18. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord. This is he of whom Isaiah foretold, All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God, chap. lii. 10. He comes with much impotency and weakness, to be presented in the Temple, and to be redeem­ed after the custom of the Law, with five shekels of silver, but he will redeem us both from the bondage of the Law, and from the bondage of sin, with the five wounds of his body. If such salvation as this were only to be glanced upon per­functorily, this sage Israelite would have been contented to have seen him, and re­sted there; but forasmuch as we must incorporate our Saviour in our souls, and en­deavour that there be a real union 'twixt Christ and us: therefore in the verse be­fore my Text, Simeon took up our Saviour into his arms, and St. John makes that a great mystery of his own, and his brethrens happiness, that their hands had hand­led the word of life. Quod Simeon ulnis gestavit nos fide gestemus, he doth bear us up always in his hands, let us bear him and enclasp him in our Faith,Homil. 15. and say as Israel did, I will not let thee go till thou hast blessed me, says Origen. Was it so beneficial to a poor woman to touch the hem of Christs garment in the Gospel, then how profit­able will it be to hold him close in our embraces as this Father did? And as Maldo­nat says very truly, Non credentis est modo sed amantis, complectimur quos amamus. This doth not only betoken Faith, but exceeding love; we hug them in our arms whom we have in dear estimation, we catch them in our arms, as if we would grow to­gether: so if we love the Lord sincerely, we are one with him, and he with us; we dwell in him, and he in us. This amplexus arctissimus, and he that loves not our Lord Jesus, let him be accursed. Chiefly at this time in the holy Sacrament we see him upon the Lords Table, we take him in our hands, we incorporate him in our souls by a lively faith; and at his mystical presence in these Elements let us say as it is reported of a Religious Votary called Maria Aegyptiaca, when Zozimus the Ab­bat gave her the Bread of Life upon her sick bed, she beheld the Sacrament wishly, which is the seal of all Christs mercies towards us, and brake out into this song of Si­meon, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. Amen.

THE ELEVENTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE i. 68.

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

AMong all portions of Scripture that afford matter for Christmass day, I have for the most part hitherto chosen those Texts to speak of before you which are extracted out of the Songs of the New Testament. Our Proverb goes, It is good to be merry and wise. Every Section of the Gospel disposeth us to be wise unto eternal life: but the Canticles which sing the birth of Christ, they teach us to be merry and wise unto Salvation. Nothing doth better agree with this day than a godly Song, Sing we merrily unto God our strength, make a chearful noise unto the God of Jacob. You have heard me divers times preach unto you out of the Angels Carol, Luke ii. The last year I made my Sermon out of the Song of Simeon, Nunc dimittis; and I am sure I could not furnish my self better this year than out of the Song of Zachary, so appositely doth it serve our turn, both for our spiritual benefit, procured in our Saviours Nativity, and for our temporal benefit, God having repossessed us after a lingring and destructive contagion in health and safety, to break out into this Thanksgiving, Blessed be the Lord, &c. The Lord turn us unto him, and bring us out of our evil ways, for therefore he visited us. The Lord make us his own peculiar people, zealous of good works, for therefore he hath redeemed us. When you hear of a Visitation and Redemption, I know your thoughts will carry you pre­sently to your late sufferance under a bitter scourge, and to Gods merciful delive­rance. This is not amiss, and I wish it may be long in your mind to bring forth the fruit of righteousness. But this Visitation whereof my Text speaks, it in­vites you to look above you, not about you; it invites you to think of that hea­venly Infant that was born unto us, not of those Sucklings and Infants that were swept away with the late mortality; and by all means let us prefer the rejoycing that we have in Christ at this time, before that other gladness for our bodily pro­sperity; intend that chiefly, and the condition of our own particular welfare let that come behind in a latter regard; so did Zachary the Priest, from whose mouth my Text proceeded. God did give him a Son for the comfort of his own Family, and such a Son as a greater than he was not born of a woman, John the Baptist. God also gave him to understand by Prophetical illumination, that the Messias, the Re­deemer of the World, was in the womb of the blessed Virgin. Mark now the Pie­ty of this good old man, first he praiseth God for the Incarnation of Jesus, that he raised up an horn of salvation for them out of the house of David, and in the last close of the Song he magnifies that blessing, that such a Son should be born to him in his old age, and thou Child shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest. This is a fair direction [Page 99] for our use, that this should be the first thing in our thoughts, and in our thank­fulness, to say, Blessed be the Lord, that the Word was made Flesh, and hath dwelt among us.

Having told you how well this Song doth become the day, and that the chief note of the Song is in the word Visitavit, the Son of God did visit his people in an humane body; I will yet give you more content out of the Text by informing you that it is a most remarkable Prophesie: from Malachy for the space of four hun­dred years there had been no Prophet in all the Land of Judaea; and therefore we count all that Apocryphal Scripture, which is thrust upon us from the days of Malachi to Christ, because there was no Prophetical inspiration among the Jews. Behold now when a Prophet was grown such a rare thing among them, the Lord opens the mouth of Zachary the Priest, and he begins to Prophesie. It is well noted of Ori­gen, that after the blessed Virgin conceived our Saviour, men and women whereso­ever she came were all inspired with Prophesie. Elizabeth, the wife of Zachary, breaks out into admiration, and how is it that the Mother of my Lord doth come unto me? And she Prophesies, the Child sprang in the mothers womb for exultation that the Messias was under that Roofe, that was a mighty Prophesie, not in word, but in deed. When Mary came to the Temple, and brought Jesus with her to be purified after the Law, Simeon and Anna in their several turns gave thanks unto the Lord and Pro­phesied; but Zachary, though last named, he is the first and most memorable of the rest that spake mighty things in the Spirit, the reviver of Prophesie after a long time it had lain asleep; and to set an Emphasis upon my Text, the words of it are the first that came from him after he had been dumb, and the first that he uttered after he became a Prophet. In a word mark it that he is the first-born of the Sons of the Prophets in the New Testament, and this Text is the first fruits of his Prophesie. Christ was yet but an Embrio, his mother but three months gone since she conceived, and yet Zachary speaks with a most Prophetical confidence of things to come as if they were past already, as if the sweet Babe were born who had not yet opened the womb, He hath visited, and he hath redeemed his people. Take the whole verse now together, which is the exordium of this Prophetical Song, and it contains two parts; the magnifying of the divine goodness, and the reason rendred why it was fit to break out into that devotion. In the first, here is the comprehension of all praise in this word blessed. Secondly, the comprehension of the divine titles, the Lord God of Israel. The next general member why this praise is given is drawn from two acts, that God hath visited, and that he hath redeemed. And the Object of both those acts is it which makes it praise-worthy, and thanks worth; he hath visi­ted his People.

First of all, here is a full ascribing of all glory to God in this word blessed. O how Zachary did meditate this all the while he was dumb! O how much he desired all the while his utterance was stopt to bring forth these good words to the honour of his Maker! He kept silence a long time from this heavenly Canticle, but it was pain and grief unto him. Now his mouth was opened with the key of the Holy Spirit to discourse of the wonderful works of God; and it was a blessed thing that as soon as he was able to talk, this was the first language that flowed from him, Blessed be the Lord. Two things are the grace and dignity of our Elocu­tions, Deum laudare, verum dicere, to praise the great Majesty of Heaven, and to tell the truth upon Earth; but why do I divide them two which will most properly fall into one? For no truth so clear and evident as that the name of Christ is blessed for evermore. They that speak the truth of him must speak well of him: and whosoever blasphemes his honour is a Liar, and an Antichrist. As Hezekiah paid the Tribute, which Sennacherib imposed upon him, out of the Treasure of the house of the Lord, and out of the Gold which over-laid the doors of the Temple, 2 Kings xviii. 16. so the praise of God is the chief treasure of our heart, the chief thing that belongs to this holy place, the very Gold of the Temple; therefore when we magnifie his name, we pay him Tribute out of the best thing which the Church can afford. Neither is there any good business of Religion, whereof we may be so confident, that we are in a right course, and do not swerve: Our Belief may be grounded upon strong errors, as it is among Hereticks; Our Zeal may be tran­sported into Faction, as it is among Schismaticks; Our Repentance may be slight and superficial, as it is among Hypocrites; We may be too forward in our Hope, having no firm assurance from the fruits of a good Conscience; Too free of our Charity, when we do not distinguish who are fit to receive it; Too prodigal of [Page 100] our Commendations, when we do not note mens Actions whether they deserve it; but be as copious as you will in magnifying your Creator, and Redeemer, and you are certain the work is very good, most certain that you cannot tread awry. Yet Satan and our own negligence are able to frame an objection against any truth which is most demonstrative. What will our sluggish spirit say? The honour of God doth not depend upon the fame of this World. His glory cannot be raised high­er than it is by our Jubilees and Songs, or by our Instruments of Musick, no though we could praise him as loud as claps of Thunder. But for all this will you be con­tent to glorifie him, if it will bring your self to honour, though it be no amplification to the Majesty of God? Agreed then.

And first it is an high advancement, that he will permit us to do him that ho­mage, though we should have no recompence for our labour; it is abundantly re­warded that he will give us leave to exalt him, he hath not dealt so with all peo­ple. Unto the ungodly said God, Why dost thou take my name within thy lips? As it is an honour to the Magistrate, that God hath committed the Sword of Justice to their power, so it is an honour to every Christian that he hath permitted unto us to talk of his honour; it is an Angels life continually to bless him, and sound forth his glory. Therefore that parcel of the Psalm may look this way, let the praise of God be in their mouth, and a two edged Sword in their hand, the one is as great a priviledge belonging to us as the other to a Magistrate.

Secondly, St. Peter grants it generally to all godly people, Yè are an holy Priest­hood to offer up spiritual Sacrifices to God, 1 Pet. ii. 5. What is the spiritual Sacri­fice but Praise and Thanksgiving? Therefore let us offer up the sacrifice of praise sweetly and devoutly, and all Christians shall become Priests in that respect, and the ho­ly portion of God; and having offered up this visible sacrifice of praise, we our selves in our hearts shall become the invisible sacrifice of God, and bring oblation upon oblation unto the Altar, it is nothing worth unless your own soul be the principal Oblation. I press this the rather, because it is so ill forgotten in the Roman Missal: For they that do so often trouble your ears with their sacrifice, and their Altar, have not one word in their Missal, that we, or our souls, should be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice to God.

Thirdly, In giving glory to the Lamb, and to him that sits upon the Throne, we do not give but receive; for no man can ascribe much praise to God, but out of a large capacity of faith; no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost; no man can speak of the King of Kings, according to his due excellency, but it will procreate devotion and reverence; therefore though Gods honour be in the same state that it was before, yet your soul is in better state than it was before by praise and glorification.

Fourthly, We do all agree with St. Paul, that Charity is greater than the two other Theological Vertues, greater than Faith that believeth all mysteries, greater than Hope that expecteth all Promises, and therefore greater, because it shall abide with us in the Kingdom of Heaven when the other two shall vanish away: So to laud and magnifie our Omnipotent Creator is far above all other acts of Religion, because nothing else shall abide with us when we see God face to face. There shall be no confession of Christ our Mediator, for none shall deny him; there shall be no fasting, for man shall eat Angels food, and have no need of nourish­ment; no Alms shall be given, for it is life without want and scarcity; no Prayer for forgiveness of sins, no hearing of the Word, no sufferance of the Cross, no intercession for them that suffer, but the praise of God continueth, and supplieth all the rest, uncessantly we shall cry out, Holy, holy Lord God of Hosts, which was, and is, and is to come. Therefore it is called blessing of God, because it shall be our only work when we have attained to blessedness, for God doth bless man by pouring his benefits upon him, and man doth bless God, by confessing the good which he hath received.

Fifthly and lastly, Whereas our Saviour did abase himself to become man, and em­ptied himself of his glory for our sakes, we set upon it to do him all possible honour, that we may weigh up again the Scale of his glory, which himself depressed for our advancement; as Peter said unto him, when he went about to do that work of a ser­vant to his Disciples, Dost thou wash my feet, no thou shalt never wash my feet, he contended with his Lord, that he would not cast himself down so far: So Zachary sings a triumphal ditty to bless his poor Nativity, we do all bow at the name of Jesus, who bowed the heavens, and came down to visit us; we advance his Cross [Page 101] in our forehead; we erect our goodliest Churches in his name; we make Christmas day, the high Feast of the year, the great holy day of Praise and thanksgiving; as if the Saints of God had conspired not to let Christ be humbled, though he would be humbled. So when he came to Jerusalem with the meanest pomp that could be imagined, riding upon an Ass, they that had loyal and zealous hearts to him combined to conduct him into the great City in as Princely a manner as they could devise, laying their garments under his feet, and in a manner proclaiming my very Text before him, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. The sum of this first Point is thus much, O sing unto the Lord for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.

So I have discharged the first Point, that there is a comprehension of all praise in this word Blessed, beside here is a comprehension of the chief divine titles, the Lord God of Israel. The names of the Lord do not consist in compound Epithets, and magniloquous appellations. The heathen did affect that bravery to set out the lu­stre of their Idols, [...], &c. as the Poet Callimachus expresseth it in his Hymn of Diana, she desired an hundred brave names to be given her by her Priests, as ma­ny attributes as Apollo had in his Temple. Some will have these to be those vain repetitions of the Heathen, which our Saviour reproves, Mat. vi. 7. taxing them that they thought they should be heard for their much speaking. Sacred titles con­sist not in number, but in weight, and no words could be more ponderous and signi­ficative, and yet contracted into fewer Syllables than these, the Lord God of Israel. A Law-giver will prefix his most ample attributes before the Pandect of his Laws, and this is the Inscription over the two Tables, Deut. xx. I am the Lord thy God; which is all one as to say, I am the Lord God of Israel. And the very words of my Text seem to be a current Eulogy in Davids time, as it is Psal. cvi. 48. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and let all the people say, Amen. Which names must needs contain an infinite excellency when they march in a rank together, since if you take them one by one they are most dreadful and venerable. He is called the Lord, because he is the supreme and highest above all things, so every King in his Sphere is a Lord in chief, as Joab said to David, Why doth my Lord the King delight in this thing? He is called Elohim, or God, because he is set over all his Creatures to judge and re­venge their iniquities; therefore the Princes of the people are nuncupative Gods in Scripture, because they sit upon the Throne of Judgment on earth to judge be­tween man and man. Or rather he is called God, from his infinite and incomprehen­sible Essence; Lord, from his power and dominion, but Lord God of Israel by appli­cation of his mercy to his Church above all the Kingdoms of the World. There­fore he is to be worshipped as God eternal, to be obeyed in all his Commandments as the Lord Omnipotent, and be magnified and blessed for Israels sake, because he loved that people above all things, whom he hath chosen to be his inheritance for ever.

St. Austin cast out the difference on this wise,Lib. 8, in Gen. xi. that the Creator of all things is stiled God, and when he gave a Law unto mankind, Gen. ii. 15. then he was stiled a Lord. But the observation hath an oversight in it, for he is called the Lord God four times in the same Chapter before he commanded Adam to dress the garden of Eden, and to keep it. The Annotation would run better thus, that while all things were in making in the Creation the Creator is termed God, and God said let there be Light, and God said let there be a Firmament; so in every work throughout all the first Chapter of Genesis. When the Creation was quite finished, and the whole Universe of Creatures set in order, then in the second of Genesis he is called Lord. From whence a question is started, much agitated in the School, Whether the great Jehovah may be called Dominus ab aeterno? The Lord from all eternity.Dan. vi. Thou art God from everlasting, that is an Article of faith never doubted of. Nebuchadonosor could see that by the wonders and tokens which were wrought for Daniels sake, therefore he makes a Decree, that men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever: But the scruple is, since he did not exercise his dominion before the works which he made were extant, whether the title of Lord did not accrue unto him in the beginning of time, and not from all Eternity? St. Austin moved the Controversie, but out of his wonted modesty pas­sed it by undefined. Tertullian against Hermogenes says,Civ. Dei li. 12. c. 15; It is none of the eternal Appellations of the Divine Nature, for it belongs not to the Divine Essence, but to the Power, and the Power could not exercise it self before there was an Object created. Many of the School-men are convicted in their judgment by this reason of [Page 100] [...] [Page 101] [...] [Page 102] Tertullian, and hold to his opinion. I think if St. Austin would have determined it, he would have gone the other way; and for my part I take it to be most proba­ble, that we may say God was the Lord from all eternity, before the Creatures were existent and produced. It is true, that if we measure things by our own power, or rather by our own infirmity, we can command nothing but that which is, and hath a being; but God is the Lord of all things even before they are, and when they yet are not he can command them to have a being; he spake the word, and all things were made, he commanded, and they were created, Non possunt per manda­tum fieri quae non erant, nisi dominium praecederet; things that have no being could not be commanded to be made unless he had dominion over them, that is, unless he were Lord over them before they were made, Rom. iv. he calleth things that are not as things that are; therefore he hath authority as a Lord over things that are not, as much as over things that are. The fair conclusion of it is, the actual relation of the Creatures to his dominion began in time, but their subjection to his will and power is for ever, therefore God is the Lord from all eternity.

Whatsoever distinction may be put between these names, yet when we praise God let us do as Zachary doth, joyn them both together; when we confess him, let us do so likewise, as Jonas did, I am an Hebrew, who worship the Lord God that made heaven and earth. When we say our Belief let us do the same, even as the Nicene Fathers did before us, I believe in one God, and in one Lord Jesus Christ. And if you please your selves to distinguish accurately upon such Titles, because St. Paul hath said that there be Gods many, and Lords many; let us distinguish between them and this supreme one, the Lord God of Israel, who is blessed for ever more. Christ says the Scripture calleth them Gods to whom the word of God came, Joh. x. 34. That Scri­pture is Psal. lxxxii. 6. I have said ye are Gods, and ye are all the children of the most high. From thence, and from my Text you may state a profitable difference. 1. Dixi, I have said ye are Gods, he hath said it, and that made them so; unless he had Godded them they had had no such pre-eminence. What they have it is by en­titling and nuncupation. 2. Dixi Dii estis, there are many of those Gods, not only every Prince and Ruler chalengeth it by his Crown, but every Christian hath his interest in it by adoption of filiation. So I cited it from the mouth of our Saviour before, the Scripture hath said they are Gods to whom the Word of God came. 3. Estis, ye are, for a while ye are, and after a while ye shall go from hence and be no more seen; ye shall die like men, but the true God abideth for ever. 4. These heathen Semi-gods, these that carry that badge upon earth, shall not only die like men, but like sinful men, for it follows in the Psalm, that when they fall God shall arise to judge the earth; after they have judged, they shall be judged upon it here­after how they have judged: But O man thou must not reply against the God of heaven, his judgments are indisputable. 5. The ever blessed God is praised in eve­ry thing that pertains unto him, he is praised in all places of his dominion, he is praised in all his works. He hath done all things well, say the people of Christ, but among the actions of the best men, Sunt bona, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura; Among some good there is much evil, among some flourishing sprigs of praise there are divers dead boughs of frailty. 6. These Nuncupative Gods preside over Civil Governments, each of them is a golden head over his own Political bo­dy, but Christ only is head of the whole Church, from whence the whole body increa­seth with the increase of God, he alone is the Lord.

And it is likewise upon some remarkable appropriation that the Psalmist says, the Lord is his name; he bears it certainly with many notorious marks of diffe­rence from all the Lordlings in the world.

First, The dominion of man is joyned with some servitude in the Master, for he that stands in need is a servant to his own necessities: and the Master stands in need of the drudgery of the labouring man, as much, or more perhaps, than that drudge stands in need of the wages of the Master: But all our service is of no use or benefit to the King of heaven.12. Civ. D [...]i, c. 17. I said unto the Lord thou art my God, my goods are nothing unto thee, Psal. xvi. and therefore, says St. Austin, God did not make the world from all eternity, to shew that he did not want the help of his Creature.

Secondly, All things serve the Lord above, nothing is hidden from the Scepter of his dominion; but man in the highest Office upon earth is confined to a small scant­ling of authority; he can command the body of his Vassal, but not his soul. He cannot command his Grass to grow, or his Trees to bear, or his Cattel to encrease, [Page 103] or the weather to be seasonable: But as the people said in admiration of the Mi­racles of the Son of God, Who is this that commandeth the Winds and Seas, and they obey him?

Thirdly, All the Lordship upon earth is subalternate and dependant from a greater 3 command. Masters do that which is just unto your Servants, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven, Col. iv. There is but one Lord, and none but he that is responsive to no other, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Our Saviour, though an unscrutable Abyssus of humility, assumed that unto himself, Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well, for so I am, Joh. xiii. 13. Such a Lord to whom all the Sons of men do bow and obey; Such a Lord, that though he were Davids Son, yet David in spirit calleth him Lord, The Lord said unto my Lord sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstoole. Lord of all things by the Essence of his Godhead; Lord of all things in his Manhood by the Hypostatical Union; but by special interest Lord of all those whom he redeemed with his most precious bloud; Lord God of Israel; in which numbers as soon as ever he believed, Thomas concluded himself, saying, My Lord and my God. As we have the Humanity of Christ expressed in the two subsequent actions, so we have as surely his Divinity set forth in these Titles, the Lord God of Israel.

But that God that filleth the heaven of heavens, and that Lord who hath stretcht out the line of his power over the whole earth, he is Canton'd in this Text to a little Region of the earth, but a Molehill in respect of the extent of his Majestie, the Lord God of Israel. It was not with Zachary the Priest in this elegant Canto, as it useth to be with other Poets, who out of affectation do strain their Poetry to make honourable mention of their own Country, where there was neither cause, nor merit: But this holy Prophet had sufficient warrant from the Spirit which cannot err, to nominate him the Patron of this people, rather than of any other, the God of Israel, and that for two reasons, Propter notitiam verbi, propter promissiones se­minis benedicti.

First, The Oracles of the Scriptures were committed to them, and God was not 1 truly worshipped any where but in the Synagogues of the Hebrews, and therefore says the Psalmist, Notus Deus in Israele. God is well known in Israel; there they knew him that he was to be adored, that he was to be feared, that he was to be admi­red for his excellency; that he was increate, immortal, eternal, and not like the Idols of the Heathen; there was Grace and Religion: other Nations knew not him, therefore he puts them by as if he knew not them, he is the God of Israel.

Secondly, This whole World is made for no other end, but that Christ may exalt 2 his Dominion in it, and therefore the Nation, of whom he was to come according to the Flesh, that is spoken of as if it belonged to God alone, and all other People were quite forgotten. Well therefore might Zachary say, O thou God of Israel; for upon the Nativity of Christ now it was fulfilled, why long since he was called the God of Israel. His Incarnation, as old Simeon said, it was the glory of his people Israel, his conversation among them was their temporal protection, that their ene­mies should not devour them, while he was with them upon earth, his word con­firmed it, that the children of the Bride-chamber should not mourn while the Bridegroom was with them.

Finally, His appearance among them in the Flesh was their spiritual exaltation, for he preacht to none other but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But Israel doth now no longer stand for those that according to the Flesh descended out of the Loyns of Abraham, as St. Paul says, he is a Jew that is one inwardly, Rom. ii. 29. So he is an Israelite, that is, a true man, like Nathanael, that hath no guile in him; he that believeth in Christ, that visited and redeemed Israel. And that you may know the term stands now for the Church of the Faithful and Elect, St. Paul calls them that walk according to the rule of Jesus Christ the Israel of God, Gal. vi. 16. You know that Jacob wrestled with an Angel of God at Peniel, and thereupon the Angel changed his name, and called him Israel, because as a Prince he had power with God and men, and had prevailed, Gen. xxxii. 28. he prevailed over men, that is,Gen. xxxii. 28. over his Persecutors, Esau and Laban: He prevailed with God by tears and supplications; and this is the exact description of all those that belong to the Church of Christ, that is, of the Israel of God. Their outward foes shall be subdued unto them when God shall think it time to put an end to their sufferings; they must overcome their spiritual Foes, that is, get the victory over the passions and lusts of their own flesh, [Page 104] vanquish the Devil, overcome the attractive delights of the world, and then they shall be no more Jacob, but Israel; they shall prevail with God. It is well noted by one, that when the Church in holy Scripture speaks of her infirmity, she is called Jacob, when she speaks of her happiness she is called Israel, Isa. xli. 14. Fear not thou worm Jacob, and Amos vii. 2. by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small: but in a thousand places ye shall find, thus saith the Lord God the King of Israel: and never was the Church in more prosperity, then when Christ came among us in the likeness of man; then it was not Jacob the worm, but it grew mighty indeed; it prevail­ed with him that sits on high: then it was fit the Song should run in the best title, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel.

You have received the first part of the Text entirely in every particle, the so­lemn praise of the Divine goodness; now follows the reason in two most glorious acts, why the God of Israel deserveth this praise, For he hath visited and redeemed his people. Blessed be his name, for he hath visited, blessed be the Lord for he hath done marvellous things. We want not many of these fors when we ascribe ex­cellency to the King of Heaven. Fame is a good companion for Virtue, I love to see them fast together; let there want no praise if there be a quia visitavit, a good reason for it, a deserving action to advance it: but to spend our good word upon them that have no merit, to speak good of the covetous, as David saith, whom God abhorreth, to cry up Absalom among the people for a little out-side formality; such praise is most fulsom, that's broacht either by flattery or ignorance. When re­nown is so ill bestowed upon the wicked, it makes the righteous that they do not regard it. But the object of Zachary's benediction is so gracious, so full of perfe­ction, that when we say all we can in the honour thereof, we shall say too little, for he hath visited, for he hath redeemed his people.

The first of these is that which makes this the double double Holy day, above all the Feasts of the year, visitavit, he visited: and it is once again repeated in this Hymn of Zachary's, the day-spring from on high hath visited us, ver. 78. Some there be that collect the three capital works of Christs dispensation out of my Text, and the verse that follows, for that he visited us, say they, it denotes his In­carnation; that he redeemed us, it betokens his Death and Passion: that the horn of salvation was raised up in the house of his servant David, it implies his Resurrection. I think these things are minc'd asunder, that should not be divided, but all agree that to visit is a word so proper to Christmas-day, as none more, namely to take flesh, and to dwell among us. Doth the same fountain, says S. James, send forth sweet waters and bitter? why that's no such marvail, for this very word to visit is so diverse in holy Scripture, that sometimes it relisheth as sweet as mercy can make it; sometimes it is as bitter as the very gall of his anger can temper it: Visitat quando flagellat, & quando miseretur, says S. Austin, God visiteth when he punisheth, and he visits when he pittieth: In the first acception nothing is better known than that of the Decalogue, Visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And again, I will visit their offences with the rod, and their sins with scourges: and in the Latin Translation, Jer. xxvii. 8. That Nation will I visit with sword, with famine, and with pestilence. And Psal. lix. 5. Thou Lord of Hosts awake and visit the Heathen, and be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. From hence we have drawn it into our common phrase, that we call the infliction of the contagious Pestilence the visitation of the Lord. God is ever present with us, but when he shews himself to be present by some exterior and notable work, bringing his Judgment or his Mercy in a conspicuous manner to our City, or even to the doors of our own house, then he is said to visit us. And if it be a visitation of vengeance, yet re­frain not to say, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; whether he send his Angel with a Sword to smite us, or with a Song, as at Christs Nativity to comfort us; whether coals of fire be kindled at his nostrils to consume us, or whether he blow upon us with the breath of his compassion to revive us; whether he give or whether he take away, you know what follows in Job: The effects upon our bodies are divers, but the effect upon our spirit should be one and the same: do you say, Blessed be the name of the Lord.

But to visit is also taken in good part, as an act of grace and compassion, Exod. iv 31. the people had heard that the Lord had visited Israel, and looked upon their afflictions; then they bowed their heads and worshipped: Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit, Job x. 12. And once more for all, Thou visitest the earth, and dost greatly enrich it with the river of God, Psal. lxv. [Page 105] And welcome be that visitation which brings with it peace, and good will; such was the appearance of him that was born this day of a pure Virgin: he did look out his sheep, and visit them as a Shepherd doth visit his flock, Ezek. xxxiv. so the people of the Jews did well express the significancy of the word, when our Saviour raised up the widows Son of Naim to life again; a great Prophet is risen up among us, and God hath visited his people, Luke vii. 16. God could have sent his Son to have judg'd the world, but he did not send him to condemn us, but that the world through him might be sa­ved. This is a benign, and a courteous visitation. But because the word will extend to divers particulars of grace and love, I will do it right to lay them forth distinctly. 1. To visit is the work of one that comes to do a charitable office to a sick person, ac­cording 1 to that place, Mat. xxv. I was sick and ye visited me. So Christ came into this world, because it languished of a sore disease, Miseri erant quos visitavit, captivi quos re­demit: we were far gone in the infirmities of sin, when we had need to be visited; we were wretched bond-men under the yoke of Satan, when we had need to be redeem­ed. Visitavit Dominus plebem longa infirmitate tabescentem, says Bede upon my Text; long had the Jews consumed in their sins, faint and feeble they were, destitute of all spi­ritual succor, near to the brink of death, then came the great Physician to bind up their wounds, and to heal the broken heart: as virtue went out of him, and he healed all manner of fleshly griefs, if they did but touch him; so, much more now he is in heaven he is an indeficient fountain of virtue: and whosoever toucheth him by a living Faith, he shall be cured of his ghostly imperfections, or at least their malignity shall be asswaged. 2. Visitare in the Latin tongue is a diminitive from videre, to see a thing in a glance, and so to pass it by without any great heed; but the Verb [...],2 which is used in my Text, is a Composit, and is more than [...], it is rem penitus inspicere cujus egeat, to look upon things very remarkablely, with that purpose to know what it wants. In the tenth of St. Luke the Priest saw the man that was wounded and passed by, the Levite looked on and passed by, but the Samaritan saw him, and had compassion of him; that was [...], to look on him with a com­miserating eye, and a tender heart: and to none can it be so well applied as to the Son of God, he looked upon us stedfastly, and with a melting mercy; he look­ed upon us as if his very bowels were in his eyes. 3. To give a visit to another is a 3 voluntary courtesie, an act of kindness, that hath no compulsion or unwillingness in it: for he that visits any place or persons, if he did not like them he might keep away; but you cannot imagine more promptness and readiness in any one than there was in our Saviour, to be humbled to that baseness to take our nature upon him. When the Prophet had said, Sacrifice and meat-offering thou wouldst not have, but a body; immediately follows Christs willingness to accept the motion, O my God, I am content to do it, loe, I come to do thy will, O Lord, Heb. x. how could any thing be entertained more heartily, more chearfully: he that says in Solomon, hear­ken unto me ye children, and blessed are they that keep my ways: he says also my delights were with the sons of men, Prov. viii. 31. 4. There is not only willingness,4 but friendliness in the appellation: no man visits another but in the profession of a friend; therefore St. Paul says upon the Incarnation, Tit. iii. 4. the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared: [...], it was a sign that he did not abhor us, nay, that there was peace and bounty toward us, because he did conde­scend to have such familier conversation among us. When God talked with Moses face to face, the Scripture expresseth with the admiration of Gods love, that he talk'd with him as one friend talketh with more, but to dwell among us, and visit us as one neighbour and well-willer doth another: surely there must be much more amity and familiarity in that strain of love. This very word therefore that he visited us, is enough to exalt us to be the friends of God. Because he frequented the company of those that had led scandalous lives, to call them to repentance, the Pharisees gave him a character that he was a friend of Publicans and Sinners; and Lazarus is called his friend, John xi. because he did often resort to Bethany, to the house of his Sisters Mary and Martha. Beloved, since this visitation hath decla­red us his friends, let us be at enmity with all those things which are opposite to the glory of Jesus Christ. 5. It is more than all which I have said before, that he 5 hath visited us, that he did burst the heavens to come down, that is, offer violence as it were to the God-head to unite it in one person with our corruptible substance. God spake in times past to the Fathers by the Prophets, but in these last days he spake unto us by his Son, nay, he sent unto us his Son. The Prophets were holy men, yet they were but men: here was a nature that visited us far more perfect than theirs, [Page 106] theirs, the nature of Almighty God. They were faithful servants in the house of God, but a servant is an unperfect condition in comparison of a Son: neither were we visited by any of the sons of men, but by his own Son, the Son of God. You know that they of Lycaonia were strangely taken with it, Gods are come down among us in the shape of men, when they supposed Barnabas to be Jupiter, and Paul Mercu­rius: since they were in such an extasie at their own deceit, how should we be af­fected with the truth that the very God became a perfect man, and was Immanuel, God with us, says David, Psal. viii. 4. When I consider the heavens, the work of thy hands, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of man that thou visitest him? as who should say, he that hath such rare and excellent heavenly bodies to delight in, what should he do on earth? what is the Son of man, who is nothing but sin and misery, that the Son of God should vi­sit 1 him; O first let it be remembred with faith and thankfulness, lest desolation come upon us, as it did upon the Jews, because we knew not the time of our visita­tion, 2 Luke xix. 44. Secondly, Let us answer the humility of our Saviour with all possible humility, and say as the Centurion did, Lord we are not worthy that thou shouldest come under our roof: well deserved that all the succors of heaven should have fled from us, and abhorred our face; therefore blessed be his name for ever­more, that brought us peace from his Father, sanctification from the Holy Ghost, justification by his own merits; humble your selves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in the day of his visitation, as the vulgar 3 Latin reads it, 1 Pet. v. vi. Thirdly, Abraham made a feast to the three Angels, when they visited him at his tent door, Gen. xviii. so let us prepare a table to en­tertain our blessed Lord that is come unto us: not a feast of junckets and costly vi­ands, but let us receive him piously and devoutly, as befitteth such a guest, at his own Table. Ipse est conviva & convivium, He is come to be feasted, and he hath gi­uen us his own body to make us a feast, and blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that hath visited us, and given himself to be the true spiritual food for the nourishment of our souls.

And so much of that act which is most conjunct with the festivity of this day, Christ hath visited us, yet peradventure we should esteem that work of courtesie, and friendship, but of no benefit at all, unless it did extend it self to some further end; and what can our desires wish to follow better than that which comes after in this place, visitavit & redemit, by visiting he hath redeemed his people: It is of such consequence above all things else that are needful to our well-being, that St. Cy­prian doth quite drown the former act in the latter, and reads my Text thus, Pro­spexit Deus redemptionem populo suo, not a tittle about visiting; but he hath provi­ded redemption for his people. Now captivity must be presupposed on our part, because we did await and expect redemption, Miseri sunt quos visitavit, captivi quos redemit, as I said before, our soul was filled with a sore disease, and therefore we were visited: we were also under the captivity of sin and the Devil, and lament­able were our case if we had not been redeemed. Look upon the bondage out of which we were pluckt, and it will make us more thankful for the freedom unto which we are called, Ad servum rex descendisti ut servum redimeres, says St. Austin, thou didst descend to be a servant, O King of Heaven, to enfranchise a servant, and to bring him out of thraldom. Remember therefore at once for all, since we all desire to have our part in this redemption, we must all confess we were envassalled in a servitude. So St. Austin against the Pelagians, who denied the traduction of natural corruption from Adam, says he, How can Infants be said to be redeemed in Baptism, unless they were captives before by original sin: Therefore in imitation of our Saviours mercy, as the Ancient Church 1200. years ago was copious in all deeds of Charity,Aug. Tract. 41. in Joh. so their greatest care was to dispend their treasury to redeem captives: and Paulinus, a Pious Bishop, as some stories say, when all the stock of the Church was spent, put himself into captivity to redeem a poor Christian, miserably chained under the yoke of Infidels. But this charitable deliverance of their bre­thren from temporal bondage, was to shew how gratefully we should take it, that Christ had redeemed all those that would lay hold of his mercies from eternal captivity.

2 Secondly, As his goodness is amplified from our captivity, so the redemption is the more valuable, because none else could have pluckt us out of those fetters, but the Holy One, our Lord and Master. Says David, no man can deliver his Bro­ther, nor make a ransom to God for him; for it cost more to redeem their souls, [Page 107] so that he must let that alone for ever, Psal. xlix. 7. when we had all incurred ever­lasting misery, and mercy did so far prevail, that the Divine Justice was content to forgive us, the wisdom of God held the scale, and arbitrated the case, that when a law was broken, and a mediation for pardon was entertained, the best way was not to pass by the fault with a total indulgence, but with a commutation of pu­nishment: And when men and Angels were unfit for that service, then steps in the Son of God, and undergoes the condition in his own person, and became our bro­ther, flesh of our flesh, that, according to the Law being next of kindred to us, he might redeem that which we had morgaged, Lev. xxv. 25. we had sinned, and so needed a Redeemer; and not so sinned, but God the Father being placable, a Re­deemer would serve the turn. And there the point had stuck for ever, and we for ever had been helpless, unless Christ had given himself a ransom for many, Alius solvit pro debitore, aliud solvitur quam debebatur, one was the debtor and another sa­tisfied: one thing was owed to God, I mean the life of sinners, but another thing was payed, I mean the life of an Innocent.

And let it make a third animadversion, that the manner of our redemption 3 doth greatly exaggerate the most meritorious compassion of the Redeemer; there hath been redemption wrought by force and victory, so Moses brought the Israelites with an high hand out of the slavery of Egypt: There is a redemption which is wrought by intercession and supplication; so Nehemiah prevailed with King Cyrus, to dismiss the Jews out of the Babylonish captivity: or thirdly, either gold, or silver, or somewhat more precious is laid down to buy out the freedom of that which is in thraldom: that's the most costly, and estimable way, when value for value is payed: or fourthly, the body of one is surrendred up for the ransom of another, life for life, blood for blood; and greater charity cannot be shewn than to bring redemption to pass by such a compensation. So St. Peter extolls that act in our Saviour, says he, ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the Blood of Christ, as a lamb undefiled. So out of his own mouth, Matth. xx. 28. the Son of man came not to be ministred unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Un­to us therefore the mercy of God is most frank and liberal; a gratuitous blessing, a good turn as freely bestowed as ever was any: so that we who received it conferr'd nothing unto it, but on Christ's part, he laid down a ransom of a most just compen­sation.

Fourthly, As all mankind that is flesh and blood in every man and woman is honoured by his Visitation, so all without exceptions are beholding to his Re­demption. Zachary the Priest with all his innocency, who is said to have been blameless and righteous before God, yet he blesseth God that he was redeemed. Job, a man so holy, that God bears witness to him; so upright that the Devil could not except against him, yet glad he was to take notice of a Redeemer; that was his anchor upon which he stayed himself, I know that my redeemer liveth. The blessed Virgin, no doubt as holy a creature as ever walked upon the earth, yet her Spirit rejoyced chiefly in this, that she had a Saviour. Great is thy benignity, O Lord, that thou hast given us a joyful recovery from an oppressing pestilence, that thou hast given us all things necessary for life and sustenance: greater is thy good­ness that thou hast given us grace to repent, to call upon thee, to direct our heart in thy command, and to believe in thy saving health; but this is the most super­abundant blessing of them all, that since we are odious and unprofitable in thy sight with all our imperfect righteousness, thou hast repaired us again by giving thy self a redemption for us. Thrice happy therefore that we know with Job that our Redeemer liveth; and comfort your hearts thus, he came to redeem that which was lost; therefore he will not let that be lost which he hath redeemed.

Having thus spoken of the benefits of Visitation and Redemption, I should leave my Treatise very imperfect if I should not speak of the Receivers; very briefly therefore concerning them upon whom all was conferr'd, he hath visited and redeemed his people. It is certain that the generations of mankind are meant by this word, the Sons and Daughters of Adam, and none others. The Angels are called his servants, his ministring spirits, his messengers, &c. but they are never called his people. Godly Bishops and Fathers of the Church have drawn out certain streams from the love of Christ by which the Angels should receive some utility. St. Austin says, his light did shine before them, his example did kindle a desire in them to excel in zeal and obedience, Bernard says, Qui evexit hominem lapsum, dedit Angelis ne laberentur, that is, he whose redemption prevailed to raise up man after [Page 108] he had fallen, it confirmed the Angels in grace that they should never fall. He brought us out of captivity, he preserved them that they never came into capti­vity: but that which these speak of, that should turn to the utility of Angels, it came from the power and good will of his God-head, not by virtue of his mediator­ship, being made God and man, to reconcile those to his Father, who had offended. The Schoolmen say though he was not Incarnate for the Angels, nor shed his Blood for their sakes, yet the fruit of his redemption did in some wise redound to them, because it compounded the friendship between Angels and men; whereas they were our enemies in Gods quarrel, before our peace was procured by our Saviour. Well, this comes to nothing on the Angels part, it is neither dignity, nor commodity to them, but unto us; therefore we are the clear gainers by all the profit that my Text brings in, he hath, &c.

In a strict phrase we know who they were that had the happiness to be called his people for many ages; his covenant was made with the seed of Abraham, and with the children of Jacob; but when they ceased to know the Lord, and to obey him, this Covenant was broken: and it is very remarkable how zealously God did ma­nifest it, that his love was turned away from that Nation, Hosea i. he made the children of that Prophet signs and tokens unto them, calling his Daughters lo-ru­hamah, I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, and he called his Son lo­ammi; for says he, ye are not my people, and I will not be your God, ver. 9. You see in that place that God hath as it were torn the hand-writing wherein the Covenant was made; it is cancell'd, and it will not profit them. That people lost their share in this redemption, because they knew not the true redeemer, nor minded the true redemption: Light came into the world, and they loved darkness more than light; they knew not their Redeemer, the holy One of Israel: In the matter of redemption also they were quite mistaken, never drawing their care inward to the use of their soul; but gaping for a Champion that should fight for them against the Romans; so they were neither delivered from the bondage of the Romans, nor from the power of the Devil. Where then shall we look for his people? beloved, not in one angle of the world, but among all Nations, both Jews and Gentiles. God spake once and twice, says the Psalmist, first to the old Church of the Jews, than to the new Church of the Gentiles: and as many as call upon him faithfully, they are his people, and he is their King. And that you may be sure the Gentiles have their interest in him, the first in all the holy Scripture that calls him a Redeemer, is Job, and Job is a Gentile. In every Nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteous­ness, is accepted with him, says St. Peter, Acts x. 35. Nay that which Zachary ut­ters restrictively, he hath visited and redeemed his people, the Angel as one more indifferent to all parties, says, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: So St. John as liberally and largely as the Angel, he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but for the sins of the whole world, 1 Epist. chap. ii. ver. 2. says Prosper very well (a Father that was very cunning in this point) Poculum immor­talitatis habet in se, ut omnibus prosit, sed si non bibitur, non medetur. The cup of im­mortality is in his hand, to bring all men to eternal life, but it will cure none of their sins, but those that drink of it. To conclude all, Christ came especially in­to the world for his Church sake, and more especially in his Church, for those that are called according to his purpose, he came to purchase unto himself a people zeal­ous of good works. They were to be purchased and made his people; they were not his people before he came unto them. Non veniens suam invenit plebem, sed visi­tando eam fecit, if he had not visited them, and redeemed them, and taught them, and given them of his spirit to believe in him: nay, if he had not given them his Body to be meat, that whosoever eateth thereof might not die, but live for ever, they had never been his people. Lord draw us, and we will come unto thee, visit us and we shall be healed, redeem us and we shall be made free, make us thy peo­ple, and we will serve thee, and praise thee, and bless thee all the days of our life. Amen.

THE TWELFTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

LUKE i. 69.

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

THe Spirit of God is so constant to the same matter, to the same phrase of speech in Holy Scripture, that there is no Text of prime Doctrine in the New Testament, but likely you may fit it as it were verbatim out of the Old. I put you in mind of it at this time, because David hath not only comprized my Text, but all this Song of Zachary into one verse. Zachary having been dumb for nine months, his unspeakable joy at last burst out, like a River which hath been stopt, and flows forth in a full gush when the Sluce is open. Now whereas when he found his tongue, and began likewise to Prophesie, his Wife and Kindred who were the Assembly that heard him, expected, no doubt, that in the first instance, after he broke silence, he would speak of John the Baptist, a child of much wonder and expectation, whom the Lord had sent unto him in his old age, yet he did not so, but he took the rise of his Prophesie from a mightier work by far; he begins with the Bridegroom, and then proceeds to the friend of the Bridegroom: He begins with the Saviour, and then speaks of the Servant; he begins with the bread of life, and then goes on to the voice of the Crier; he was sent unto the Jews to invite them to eat of it: He begins with the glorius King sprung out of the house of David, and concludes with his own Son, that was the torch-bearer to carry the light before him. Of both these, thus the Psalmist with most admirable brevity, Psal. cxxxii. 18. There will I make the horn of David to bud, I have ordained a lanthorn for mine Anointed. The horn, or ex­cellency of David is Christ Incarnate; the Lamp ordained for that mighty King was John the Forerunner, whom the Evangelist of his own name calls a burning and a shin­ing light. 'Tis St. Austins Exposition, and so natural to the sense of the Psalm, that it hath gained upon me to follow it. Yet there is great odds between Faith in spe, & in re, between the prenuntion and the event of these mysteries; between the promise of the Sun rising, and the light which shines visibly upon the world; between the knowledge of Salvation, which was drawn nearer to the Church in Zacharies days than it was in Davids when it was further off. In the one it is faci­am, I will make the horn of David to bud, in the other it is feci, the counsel of God is actuated, he hath raised up an horn. David was bold to sing it forth, that God would perform his Promise. Zachary was more bold to speak in the Preter-tense, that he had performed, when it was but in fieri, when the Web was yet upon the Loom. Christmas day was not yet come, it was half a year off, before the time was appointed that a Virgin should be delivered: but Zachary knowing the certain exe­cution of Gods Word hath made Christmass day in the Text. He doth not only bear [Page 110] witness to our Saviour, though yet an imperfect feture after three months concepti­on, as if the Child were born, but as if he were in his most able growth, in perfect strength of years, in perfect execution of his power, in the perfect glory of his King­dom; And hath raised up an horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David.

Now to prepare you to receive the division of the words, you may easily mark, that whereas the former verse contains a general profession of Gods mercy to his Church, he hath visited and redeemed his People, this verse contracts it to the par­ticular instrument through whom we are all blessed; as who should say, God hath given Redemption to his People, yet there is no redemption to be lookt for but in Jesus Christ, he hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant Da­vid. The principal word of the Text therefore is that which is in the midst, An horn of salvation; it is the Periphrasis of Christ, I will begin from thence. 2. I will declare how God did raise up this horn of salvation when Christ was born. 3. Here is the Lineage of our Saviour according to the Flesh, he was raised up in the house of David, in the house of David his Servant. Lastly, Here is the use and fruit of his birth, which belongs to us, that is, to as many as have the same faith in him that Zachary had, when he opened his mouth to utter this Prophetical Song, And hath raised up, &c.

In the former verse Zachary says that he would bless, that is, praise and Magni­fie the Lord God of Israel. And hath he not made good his word? Yes surely; for the praise of the most high cannot be exalted in the tongue of a sinner more than in this attribute, to call him an horn of salvation. There was more obedience and faith in it, (I will not call it merit) but I say it exprest more obedience and faith, that this devout Priest should call a Child, nay, a feture but of three months conception, as yet curdled like milk, as Job says, in his mothers womb, the horn the strength of our salvation, than for the Angels and Seraphins to sing continually before the Throne of heaven, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; the Angels extol that infinite Majesty which they behold in glory: This person confest all that his tongue could utter to the honour of his Redeemer, when nothing was actuated, no­thing yet in being to be seen; and when the time came that it should be seen, no­thing could be more infirm in appearance. Yet neither the inevidence of the ob­ject before he was incarnate, nor the parvity and outward meanness of the object when he was to be incarnate do stumble his faith, but he makes as great a noise to advance his dignity, as words would give him leave, an horn of salvation. Salvati­on, salvation is our tree of life, restore the Church to that O Lord, and there is Pa­radise enough in it, though we be shut out of Paradise. It is one beam, and the ve­ry principal of that inward light in holy Scripture, which shines in the Meridian of us Christians, and makes us resolve by a secret contract between us and faith that it is the the Word of God, because it treats constantly and in every part of it touching the means of salvation. But the Volumes of heathen men (they are to be seen, and testifie what I say) do never aspire to that sublimity: nay, they that referred every thing they had to the gift and goodness of their Idols; Riches to Plutus, joyful Marriage to Juno, Victory to Mars, prosperous Navigation to Nep­tune, all these, and the very breath of their life to Jupiter, yet the Devil was not suffered to fool them with this gross opinion, that any of their adulterate Deities was worth the name of a Saviour. Salvation belongeth to our God, and his goodness upon his people, says the Psalmist. Salvation had never been known upon earth unless this day heaven had faln down upon the earth. But though all comfort in this world were forgotten, nothing but darkness, and weeping, and captivity over all the Universe, yet this one word is enough to turn all the sorrow into gladness, nay, to turn hell into heaven. Where art thou O Lord that we may find thee? Wherein shall we enquire for thee that we may see thy love and glory? If I look for thee in the work of Creation, thou art Omnipotent; if I consider thee in the work of Preserva­tion, thou art most vigilant; if I seek thee in the store of all things wherewith thou hast filled Sea and Land, thou art most indulgent; but when the incarnation of my Lord Jesus, and the mystery of Salvation comes into my thoughts, then▪ O God thou art most transcendent, and I am lost in the Abyssus of thy goodness. When I call him the Glass in which I see all truth, the Fountain in which we taste all sweetness, the Ark in which all precious things are laid up, the Pearl which is worth all other Riches, the Flower of Jessai which hath the savour of life unto life, the Bread that satisfies all hunger, the Medicine that healeth all sickness, the Light that dispel­leth all darkness; when I have run over all these, and as many more glorious [Page 111] Titles, as I can lay on, this description is above them, and you may pick them all out of these Syllables, our salvation; much more when he is exalted with this ad­junct in my Text, an horn of salvation.

And can so great a thing as Salvation be amplified through so mean an Epi­thet? Beside, that it is a badg of a beast, it is not of the choicest substance of na­ture; for what is an horn but the excrement of the Nerves in the outward parts, as Teeth proceed out of our gums within? But as God did not abhor to be made man for our deliverance, so he recoiles not from having his goodness compared to the grossest things for our better intelligence: And yet to see the perverseness of the most learned Wits, likely they intangle those Similitudes with intricate difficul­ties, to which God hath mightily condescended, and even abased himself for our better perspicuity. Did not he intend to set up a plain and a sensible Sacrament be­fore our eyes when his Evangelist hath thus described him, an horn of salvation? And yet what abstruce mistakes are some faln into, that would be more subtil than the Spirit of God? Abulensis says, that this phrase is originally derived from the horn that shined upon the head of Moses when he came down from the Mount, and had talkt with God forty days. And there being this ample resemblance between Christ and Moses, the one brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, the other acquits us from the bondage of sin and hell: Therefore Christ should take this character from Moses that was his Type, and be called an horn of salvation. I like not this opinion for many reasons: First, Moses had no such disfigurement in his face, as the appearance of horns when he came from God. Ignorant Painters make us ridi­culous to the Jews with their childish errors. They know he put a vail on when his face shined, and can they tell how horns branching out would admit of such a vail? Some Limners conceived that the splendour of his face sent forth beams of light, (which indeed Rabby Solomon calls by a figure cornua magnificentiae) others that were bunglers in the Art, took these beams to be horns, and with the help of the Vulgar Latine Translation, they have made him of an holy Saint a prodigious monster. Their error stops not here; for this character doth so little agree with Moses, that the Scriptuce is very wary never to call Moses the salvation of the peo­ple. Why? For salvation comes not by the Law, but by Faith. If eternal life could be attained by the works of the Law, there had been no need of Christmas day, our Mediator had been born in vain, he had died in vain; therefore mark it in Mat. xxii. when the Pharisees askt our Saviour which was the great Command­ment of the Law, as if all their study, all their hope and confidence were in the Law, he answers them fully; but immediately he calls them to another question, What think ye of Christ, whose Son is he? As who should say, by the works of the Law shall no Flesh be justified; it were better for you to know and believe in Christ, there is no other name under heaven through which you can be saved. So I cast off this first opinion, to impute horns unto Moses is a vanity, to impute salvation to him is an Heresie.

Secondly, Some would draw the Phrase from an heathen Proverb. Delrio the Je­suit is not against it. The heathen Jupiter, as their Poets tell us in their raptures, was nourisht by a Goat in his Infancy, and for the memory of it, that horn was endued with vertue to bring forth plenty of all things for the life of man, and constantly they call that which exceeds with all abundance, the horn of Amalthea. Now Christ replinishing us with all good things, supplying us with more than we can desire or deserve, in whom we are complete, as St. Paul says, Col. ii. 10. he is this celestial horn, about which prophane Authors puzzled themselves, and knew not what they said. And shall I ever be perswaded that the Scripture hath bor­rowed terms of honour out of their Fables to give to the Son of God? It sounds not well to my judgment; yet I subscribe it was an eximious Title of great antiquity; for when God raised up the fortunes of Job again, he had three Daughters, the name of the first was Jemima, which is by interpretation, day; The second Kesia, Job xlii. 14 that is, sweet Cassia; The third Keren happuch, that is, the horn of plenty, and the best Editions of the Septuagint have it, [...]. the horn of Amalthea. Yet to strike off that opinion, that horn in the old Addage betokened an inexhaust Fountain of earthly felicity; this horn in my Text is the staff and stay of heavenly salvation: Therefore they differ as much in effect as finite and infinite. Barradius ob­serving that Christ accomplisht the work of our salvation upon his Cross, would deduce that from thence he should be called the horn of salvation, because the two sidepieces of the tree do resemble horns; he might as well have said, that the [Page 112] Metaphor was taken from the Altar in the Old Law, upon which the Sacrifices were presented, because the Psalmist says, bind the Sacrifice with cords unto the horns,Super Psal. cxxxii. or extremities of the Altar. Into the number of these that are more ele­gant than litteral in their allusions let me cast in Lombard, thus he, an horn is an altitude above the flesh; and because it grows higher than the flesh, therefore Christ is called an horn rather than a buckler of salvation, because our hope in him is not carnal, but spiritual: and it is he that gives us grace and power to overcome the flesh. These, and such like subtilties I think it fit rather to name than to prosecute.

But Theophylact hath collected the solid reasons of this Appellation into few words, [...]. it betokens either the mighty power, or the King­dom of salvation. An horn is the weapon and strength of that Creature out of which it brancheth, and therefore it is usual almost in every book of Scripture to borrow a Metaphor from it, as the Lord shall give strength to his King, and exalt the horn, that is, the power of his Anointed, 1 Sam. ii. 10, and Psal. lxxxviii. In my name shall his horn, that is, his strength and fortitude be exalted; and to break the horns of sinners is to pull down their pride and dominion, Psal. lxxiv. I spare to recite innumerous quotations which are extant every where in Scripture; but in this phrase the Holy Ghost intends, that according to the translation which is in our Morning Service, God hath raised up a mighty salvation in the house of his servant David. O puissant Lord and Saviour! who is able to comprehend what infi­nite power did concur to this effect, that the everlasting God should be incarnate, and become man? This birth may seem to the outward man to be nothing but a spe­ctacle of weakness and misery. Look upon an Infant laid in a Manger, wrapt in swadling clouts, the Son of a poor Maid espoused to a Carpenter; and from these circumstances the question might be askt, Where is this horn? Where is this strength which Zachary hath laboured to express so emphatically? I answer, That the Nativity of Jesus was the greatest demonstration of the power of God that ever the world received. The Virgin Mary hath commended it to be very true in her Song, verse 49 of this Chapter, He that is mighty hath done unto me great things. And St. Basil says that the Incarnation was [...], the evidence of the Di­vine Omnipotency. It is a strange efficacy of nature to conjoyn repugnant Ele­ments in the composition of our flesh, as fire and water. It is yet more strange to put an Elementary body and an immaterial soul into one composition; but to joyn an increated and eternal God in one union of person with these things, it exceeds all other marvels. Neque Adami de limo terrae formatio, neque Evae de viri carne plasmatio, Iesu Christi potest ortui comparari, says Leo, the creation of Adam from the dust of the earth, the efformation of Eve from the rib of Adam, both are things to astonish our weak understanding, but neither of these are comparable to his Nativity, that was the Son of God, and the Son of Mary, this is the very firmitude of the horn whereof I am to speak, there are other rights and branches of it: For as Gods power doth astonish us that the Word should be made Flesh, so it brings our admi­ration to more excess that he should become a Saviour, he did overcome his own justice in that act, and an Orator would say, he grew mightier than himself, if it were possible, by sparing us. Certainly, there is good reason in that Axiom of the School, that it was more to save a sinner than to create a world. The heathen had their Saviours from wasteful diseases and pestilentious contagions, as Pandion and Esculapius: the Israelites had their Saviours from thraldom and the peril of the Sword, as Moses and Joshuah: But he that delivers us from the wrath of God, and from the pit of hell, he is the strong deliverer, he is the horn of salvation. Finally, The Salvation which he hath brought us hath not only set us free, but it hath put vigour and animosity in us to subdue our Adversaries that held us in thraldom. What the Heathen spake of another thing I may fitly apply to Christ, Tu spem reducis mentibus anxiis, viresque & addis cornua pauperi; such as were poor and in mise­ry, being fast bound in the fetters of their sins, thou hast refresht them with joy, and given them horns to push down their enemies. The dominion of sin is abated, the edge of infernal tentations is rebated; Death is swallowed up in victory, the Devil cries out in the Gospel that he is tormented, the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church; this is salvation obtained for us, not by compounding with our Foes, and asking their leave, but by strong force, and puissant victory; Cornu sa­lutare nobis, sed impiis terrificum. It is a soveraign horn to us, but an instrument of of­fence against the wicked. His horns are the horns of an Ʋnicorn, with them shall he smite the heathen, even the ends of the world, Deut. xxxiii. 17. the false flattering [Page 113] Prophet Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah put on horns to sooth up Ahab: Antichrist is described with ten horns, and seven heads, Revel. xvii. 3. to denote that he is armed to bring destruction upon those that cleave in sincerity of truth unto the Lord. The Goat and the Ram which Daniel saw in his Vision, chap. viii. had terri­ble horns rising up between their eyes: These were outragious tyrants, whom God permitted to goar the innocent like mad Oxen; but here's an horn in my Text to break their malice, as if it were but a slender reed: The Judge that trieth the cause of the helpless against oppressors, and casts them down for ever, but our horn of salvation. Indeed that's his proper work to save and help his chosen; it is by accident that for their sakes he wounds and offends their enemies: he came not to destroy, but to seek and to save that which is lost; he would not the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and be saved: therefore it is due to be called not an horn of mischief, but an horn of salvation.

Nor doth this word betoken his power only, but his kingdom likewise; as if Zachary had said, God hath raised up a King of salvation to us in the house of his ser­vant David. So said St. Peter before the Council of the Scribes, Acts v. 31. Him hath God lift up with his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour. The Chaldee Paraphrast who is very ancient, agrees greatly with this, for what the Psalm hath, I will make the horn of David to flourish, it renders thus, I will make the kingdom of Davids glory to sprout forth. Euthymius pleaseth me, who gives the analogy thus, the oil was poured out of an horn with which Kings were anointed (you can instruct your selves that it was so both in David and Solomon) and from thence an horn, though an evacuation of nature, and a mean thing, became an ensign of Kingly Majesty. Neither was this known only to the Jews, but to the Heathen also; so that their Kings did wear it among the honours, and ornaments of their head: as ours are painted with a mund, and a Scepter in their hand. Pyrrhus in Plutarch was known in the battail from all his subjects by wearing a Goats horn in his Helm: and Villalpandus reports of an ancient piece of coin, which had the image of Tryphon the Egyptian Monarch on the face, and on the reverse it had his Crest with a Goats horn rising up before it. Nay, the same Author says, that it was the fashion of David to wear the like thing in his head-piece: And all this I have alledged, because I would not want proofs, that an horn was the representation of Kingly Sovereignty.

The meaning then of Zachary is this, that Christ hath abased himself to be incar­nate, and to become our salvation; yet he hath reserved this glory to himself in his humiliation, that he will be a Saviour unto none, but unto them that accept of him for their King, and obey him in all things. In almost all books of Scripture he is called a King. I will not take so wide a scope to expatiate in, but strictly I will touch at a little: In Genesis he is resembled in Melchisedech the High Priest, but he was also King of Salem. In the Psalms, yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Sion: In one of the Lessons for the day, he shall sit upon the Throne of David, and upon his Kingdom, Isa. ix. 7, At his Birth the wise men did inaugurate him in that honour, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? At his triumph when he rode into Jerusalem, Blessed is the Kingdom that cometh in the name of the Lord of our Father David, Mark xi. 10. At his arraignment when Pilate askt him if he were a King, he left him in suspence with this answer, thou sayest it: Finally upon his Cross he would not let the title be altered, but there it stood, Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. The right of this Kingdom was given him in his Incarnation, promul­ged by the preaching of the Apostles, perfected after his Resurrection and Ascensi­on into Heaven, and shall be consummated in the end of the world. He is so ful­ly constituted a King by being called the Christ, that ever since it is the Dignity of all Kings to be called the Lords Christs, Him hath the Lord anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, Acts x. 38. in which words St. Peter hath exprest both his Sa­cred, and his Kingly Sovereignty: and to match him, for the Texts sake, with David in this point, you must call to mind that David was thrice anointed; first at his Fathers house by Samuel, the next time at Hebron after the death of Saul, and finally anointed at Jerusalem, a King over all Israel. So Christ was anointed by shedding of blood in Circumcision, by blood again at his Agony in the Garden, and thirdly by the great effusion of his dearest blood upon the Cross: Or will you lay it thus? He was anointed by his Father from heaven, anointed by Mary with her box of Spikenard upon earth, and lastly his dead body was anointed by the women, when it was laid in the Sepulchre. So in proportion there is a three-fold Unction to make us Kings and Priests for ever: the first of Regeneration in Ba­ptism, [Page 114] the second with the blood of Jesus in the participation of the holy Communion, and the third of glorification in the Kingdom of heaven; but nihil dat quod non habet, he that crowns us in glory had title to a crown himself; he that makes us Kings, was the horn, or prince of our Salvation.

This is the stone of offence against which the Jews stumble, that the Kingdom promised so expresly and literally to the Messias was not verified in the person of Christ our Saviour: had he sate upon the throne of David with Power and Majesty, reason would that they should believe; but this is it as they plead which enervates their faith, that he who is set forth so often in the name of a King, should be born so meanly, die so ignominiously, and be acquainted in all his life with nothing but 1 weakness and poverty. 1. Remember this for the ground of my answer, that Jesus Christ was God's only Son, and our Lord, that is our King, is an Article of our Belief, and therefore his Kingdom appears only to the eye of Faith, and is not to be discerned after an earthly manner, in outward pomp and visible glory; for 2 then it were no Article of the Creed. 2. No humane Kingdom came to him by descent; for ought we know he was of the house and lineage of David, but it ap­pears not that he was the true and lawful successor in the right line to the Crown of David. Armacanus makes much ado to no purpose, to derive his pedigree; so that the Kingdom of David might truly be hereditary in him: I say to no purpose; for since the right should come to him by his Mother, and she out-lived him, that temporal Kingdom had been in her, and never descended upon him, unless he had 3 survived her, 3. Note it, that the Prophets who prophesied of the Kingdom of the Messias, must not be understood literally, that's not the fashion of Prophe­sies. How then? why, with Evangelical qualifications, and they are clear that his Kingdom is not of this world, that he was no King to the prejudice of Caesar; his laws pertained to the spirit and conscience: he rules over his Church, and yet was obedient to Rulers: but he had not the temporal seat of David, even as David had not the spiritual seat of Christ: In a regal Throne he did not sit, for he came not to be ministred unto, but to minister, although he was made heir of all things by virtue of the Hypostatical Ʋnion: Just as David after he was anointed by Samuel, was debased a while as the meanest servant. But Christ being of the line of Da­vid, and having an heavenly Dominion given him, which had influence into the soul and conscience, commanding things in heaven and earth, making all things in the world stoop to the word of his truth, converting sinners to salvation, drawing all the Gentiles to take up his Cross, ruling thus for ever, and to the worlds end. I hope you will say (O that the Jews would heed it!) that this is a more excellent Sovereignty than ever David had; therefore God hath made good his promise, and transcended it, that God had given him the Kingdom of his Father David. I lay the point now with all evidence and perspicuity against the infidelity of the Jews, 1. God did promise the Scepter unto Judah, Gen. xlix. 2. Judah had it in David, and Solomon. 3. It was threatned to be taken away; and never re­stored again; and so it was in Jeconiah. 4. Whereas the family droopt and de­cayed, the promise was that it should reflourish in Christ. 5. That it should be a Kingdom greater than ever was before, extended from the flood unto the worlds end. Lastly, that it should stand and dure for ever: In all things the Gospel con­sents with Moses and the Prophets, and the blind Jews that will contradict it, even Judah shall be scattered with this horn, Zach. i. 21. and be broken in pieces with the Scepter of this Kingdom; but as the Prophet infers well, if I be Lord, where is mine honour; and if Christ be a King, where is our obedience? God hath anoin­ted him with his horn of power to be a King, O that the unction of his Grace may distil upon our hearts, that we may serve and fear him. Concupiscence says, I will reign; Ambition says, I will reign; the Devil says, I will reign; the world says, I will reign; but a good Christian will say, Non habeo regem nisi Dominum Je­sum. There is no King that shall command my conscience, but Jesus Christ, he is the horn of my salvation.

The points remaining shall take up no long time: the next that I come to is the verb of action, how God did raise up this horn of salvation? you may know the mean­ing of this by our own vulgar phrase; for it is our usual saying, that God raiseth up friends to a miserable man, when his relief and deliverance come through those means which he never expected. The house of David had ennobled the Kingdom of Israel more than any other tribe or kindred that came out of the loins of Jacob: is freed the Nation from the oppression of the Philistines, expulsed the Jebu­sites [Page 115] out of the Imperial City, reared up the stupendious fabrick of the Temple, con­trived the service of the Priests and Levites into admirable decency, brought them into great respect with Foreign Princes: All this came to them by the Son of Jesse, and Solomon that succeeded him. But in process of time the lineage of David was quite eclipsed, that stately horn was broken, especially when Herod ruffled it, the poor remnant of the kindred pluckt in their head, and durst not with any safety own themselves to be of that progeny. Loe the inconstant state of humane things, the sons and daughters of David, who were the Princes of that Kingdom, were become poor artisans and inmates in by-places; and nothing was so benefi­cial to them, as to be forlorn and despicable. Now chops in another alteration, more strange than all that had been before, a Virgin of a most private fortune in that stock, not lookt upon, not thought upon to repair that decay, she conceives a Son by the power of the Holy Ghost, in whom the honour of David's house was more ex­alted, than if he had subdued all those Countrys which Cyrus and Alexander made tri­butary to their Empire. This is according to that Prophesie which James applied to our Saviour, Acts xv. 16. in that solemn Council of the Apostles, after this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down: and I will build again the ruines thereof, and will set it up. This kindred, in whom the Majesty of Judah, did once rest, nothing could be laid more flat than it in the revolution of a few ages: and of a suddain this diminution was repaired, no flesh and blood was ever more advan­ced than that house (if they did not bid defiance to their own honor) that Jesus Christ came from them according to the flesh. This did David foresee and presageth it to his own generation, Psal. cxxxii. I will make the horn of David to flourish: but the Verb de­composit in the Septuagint is most significant, [...] I will make it sprout up again; as when a tree is cut down, and the stock appears to be dead, but a little branch springs out of the root, grows high and tall, and fills up a better room than the trunk which was felled. But the Jew complains to this day, that he can perceive no such redintegration of the house of David. O who is so blind and sensless as that Nation? who would not receive him, that came to be their glory, and being pla­gued for their unbelief, they will not perceive their punishment and misery; the horn is raised up, and the beast out of which it grew will not own it, or acknow­ledge it. But the promise of God cannot be made of none effect through their in­fidelity: There is room enough beside in the world to receive him, though his own exclude him; the horn is raised up, though the Rebels of the house of David reject him. The condition of our humane nature was most innocent and Angelical in the first Creation; we sinned, we fell, our boughs of glory were lopt away, our fruit of holiness was shaken from it, our substance was involved in the general curse of the earth to bring forth nothing but thorns and briars. Thus we continued a despised mass of corruption, till our horn was exalted in the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour. Then was our nature advanced to one hypostasis with God himself; as if a Giant should bear up an Infant upon his shoulders: so we that pass'd for no better than blood temper'd with dirt, are become as it were emulous with the thrones of heaven by this assumption of our manhood into his person, because he took not upon him the seed of Angels, but the seed of Abraham. And as all that are born of women have some access of dignity, because Christ took the similitude of our nature, so the Church superabounds in two priviledges: first, as Gregory notes upon such words as these, 1 Sam. 2. that it is said to the Priests of the Gospel, whose sins ye remit they shall be remitted, &c. yet the like was never said to the Priests of the Law; because remission of sins was brought to pass by him that was made man: therefore from that time forth men were made the Ministers of Pardon and Absolution: that's the horn of the Church, the power of the Keys. Secondly, God hath replenished us that are called by his name with a great abundance of the Holy Ghost; and since Christ was made flesh he hath poured out of his spirit upon all flesh. Loe, these are the ascensions by which we climb up into heaven through this mer­cy, that the Lord God of Israel hath raised up unto us an horn of salvation.

Now follows the third part of the Text, to the end the Jews might know that this was the Messias which they expected: here's his lineage exprest according to the words of the Prophets, he was raised up in the house of his servant David. This the Pharisees had learnt by rote, and very truly, when our Saviour askt them, what think you of Christ? whose Son is he? and they say unto him Davids. Till those days the Pedigrees of the Tribe of Judah were kept unconfused; especially the pedigrees that descended directly from David, and those things which the provi­dence [Page 116] of man would never have kept from darkness and intricacy through long tract of time, the wisdom of God kept them clear and uncontroverted: so that Joseph and Mary were taxed as belonging to the house of David. 'Tis much that St. Matthew would not give Abraham the precedency in the generation of Christ, (he deserved it for antiquity) but sets David in the front, The Book of the generation of Je­sus Christ the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. The cause is not to be disputed, but the thing to be granted, that the promises made to David were so comfortable and notorious, that they exceeded the promises which were made to Abraham. Or thus, God did first engage himself to Abraham in these words, In thy seed shall all the Nations of the world be blessed: and the last man to whom he confirm'd that promise was David, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat. To amplifie it further, our blessed Lord and Redeemer is not only saluted by the Prophets in the name of the Son of David, but by an interchangeable nature, or supposition of identity is called David. They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them, Jer. xxx. 9. and I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a Prince among them, Ezech. xxxiv. 4. I conjecture that the Jews did rather please them­selves to call him the Son of David, then the Son of Abraham, because they did ra­ther expect a temporal victorious Monarch out of the line of David. The one was the root of the people, the other the root of the Kingdom: therefore when God says he will not destroy the people, he says he will not do it for Abrahams sake: When he says he will not destroy the Kingdom he says he will not do it for Davids sake. And the gross minds of the Jews were set upon the reflourishing of their visible and outward Kingdom: therefore from the High-Priest in his chair, to the poor blind man that sate by the high-way side, all of them had one name for the Messias, the Son of David. Yet David was a more perfect type of Christ in those words, where he is said to be a man after Gods own heart, than by possessing the Monarchy of all Ca­naan; for Christ, and he only, is a man after Gods own heart, and in whom he is well pleased: David was obnoxious to great Rebellions, for which the Lord was much offended. But I mark it further, that in all the New Testament Christ never calls himself the Son of David, but the Son of Man; as Moses, &c. and that for two reasons: First, Referring to the primitive promise of all wherein Christ is first mention'd, The seed of the woman shall bruise the Serpents head: he points as it were with his finger to that Scripture, that he is the seed of the woman, when he reiterates that periphrasis so often, that he is the Son of man. Secondly, To let us know that not only the house of Israel, but all the Gentiles that came out of the loins of Adam, even all the sons of men that make not themselves unworthy of the promise, do belong to the City of God; all that believe have interest in his Merits and Passion: But because it is impossible that one man should be of the Progeny of all Families, therefore he is sever'd out to a most noble kindred, the house of his servant David.

Will you not be a weary with nice points of Genealogies, if I give an answer to an objection which Julian the Apostate made against the kindred of Christ from the house of David? no, it shall not be wearisom, because I will be very brief. That renegado from the Faith did thus argue, that Joseph was but the reputed Father of our Saviour; but his pedigree drawn up to Abraham in St. Matthew, drawn up to Adam in St. Luke, concur both in Joseph: but since the parentage of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not exprest, whose very Son the Lord Jesus was according to the flesh, how doth it appear that he was the Son of David? Take these grounds in order to sa­tisfie you, First, That the Pharisees in the Gospel labouring by all means not to acknowledge him for the Messias, yet never made any doubt but that he came out of the house of David. Secondly, The Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke were publisht while the Pharisees domineered and had great authority; yet they never quarrelled at the Evangelists, as if their Genealogies had not sufficient­ly demonstrated Christ to be the Son of David. Thirdly, Although you find Joseph to be as it were the ground of both Genealogies, marvail not at it; for St. Hierom says, it is not the custom of the Scripture to context a Pedigree by the Mother: if he means that Pedigrees of long descent, such as these, be not deduced from the female stem, it is very true But fourthly, I answer, That in all likelihood the pedigree of Christ in the third of St. Luke rises up from the holy Virgin his Mother. Thus I make it evident in the first of Matthew, Joseph the Carpenter is called the Son of Jacob: now certainly he was the Son of Jacob; for there it is said Jacob begat Joseph. In St. Luke after our reading he is called the Son of Heli: how can [Page 117] it be that Heli was his Father if Jacob begat him? not by Nature, but by Law three ways. 1. By Adoption; so Esther was Mordecai his adopted Daughter: and 1 St. Austin did once opine that Joseph was the natural Son of Jacob, and the adopted Son of Heli: This may reconcile the seeming contradiction of the two Evangelists, yet it is no answer to Julians objection. 2. There was a legal way peculiar to the 2 Jews, you shall find it, Deut. xxv. if a man died without issue his Brother was tied to marry his Relict, and to raise up seed unto him: and the child that should be born, was the legal Son of the Brother that died without issue; the natural Son of him that begat him.Ruth iv. 10. So Booz married Ruth the Wife of his Brother Mahlon to raise up the name of the dead upon his Inheritance. Affricanus a very ancient Au­thor, as Eusebius reports him, affirmed that he had it by tradition from the Jews, the kinsmen of our Saviour, that Heli and Jacob were brethren. Heli dying child­less, Jacob married his Wife, by whom he had Joseph; so Joseph was the legal Son of Heli, the natural Son of Jacob. And St. Austin meeting with this report of Af­fricanus retracted his former opinion, and subscribed to Affricanus. It is a wonder how many learned men did acquiesce in this opinion, as if none were like it. Whereas, cui bono? to what end should two Evangelists spend such pains to describe both the legal, and the natural line of Joseph? and in the mean time the family of Mary should be forgotten, by whom only it may be demonstrated, that according to the Scripture Christ was of the house of David. 3. The safest opinion, and with­out 3 any intricacy, is, that Joseph was the true Son of Jacob, but the Son-in-law of Heli, by the marriage of the Virgin Mary: so the Virgin being the Daugh­ter of Heli, and Heli being of the stock of Nathan, the Son of David, the truth lifts up its head against all adversaries, that Christ was of the lineage of David. If any one dislike this, as Calvin doth, because Sons-in-law are called Sons, I re­ply, why not as well as Daughters-in-law, Daughters, Ruth xviii. And if you will admit of the acuteness of Gomaras all is salved: he doth enlarge the parenthesis, Luke iii. 23. Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, being the Son of Heli: For that which comes between is a parenthesis, being as was supposed the Son of Joseph, but being the Son of Heli, &c. This reading hath my great approbation, Heli be­ing Christs Grand-father by the Mothers side: and by this reading, it is as clear as the light of the Sun that Christ was of the house of David.

Pardon me if I have troubled you with a genealogy, at other times I will forbear; but it is proper to this day. Now I will end all with the use and fruit of his birth, all this salvation, this mighty salvation, raised up to the admiration of heaven and earth; all is for us, and hath, &c. But for this word all the rest were loose, this girds about us, nay it fills our bosoms with it. The Devils renounced his coming into the world, What have we to do with thee, says Satan, Mat. viii. 29. The good Angels had joy derived unto them through his Birth, but neither glory nor salvation; they were ours, because he is ours; because he is our horn of salva­tion. But in what capacity doth Zachary take him to be his? first, as a Jew; for it was fit that salvation should first be offered to them that were the natural bran­ches. Secondly, As a Priest, salvation came to the Priesthood out of the house of David; that is, the protection of the Church by God and the King. Thirdly, and principally, as a man who is a sinner, that had need of a Mediator: For God is [...] a lover of all mankind. He excludes only those that include not them­selves. Want of Faith causeth that he that is born to all is not born to all. Unto us a child is born, says Isaiah, c. 9. and he directs his message to King Ahaz, a man of great iniquity: but Christ was born for him; as likewise he was born unto Zacha­ry a just man, and one that lived most unblamably. The sinner that hath done very wickedly by faith in him, and by repentance, he may be saved: the good man that lives obediently and devoutly without him, he cannot be saved. Finally, since this horn of salvation is raised up unto us, let us lay hold of it, and fasten upon it. Ʋtamur nostro in utilitatem nostram, let us use him for our best behoof, and draw the proper extract out of him, I mean salvation. He is ours by being made flesh and blood, we shall be his by renouncing flesh and blood: he is ours by his natural generation, we are his by spiritual regeneration: he is ours, his Body and Blood are ours in the Holy Sacrament; we shall be his both body and soul by receiving those mysteries worthily, that is, faithfully, thankfully, charitably, penitently, devoutly. Amen.

THE THIRTEENTH SERMON UPON THE INCARNATION.

MAT. ii. 1, 2.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold there came wise men from the East to Jerusalem.

Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him.

THe Nativity of Christ was that wonder which came to pass this day, but how he was revealed, and known of them that sought him is the use of the day, for Christ was born that he might be found. And that is the cause that the manifestati­on of his birth is joyned together with his birth, and more copiously handled a great deal both by St. Matthew, and St. Luke; by St. Luke, how the Shepherds were sent to find him in a Man­ger: by St. Matthew, how the Sages of the East were admonished to come from a far Country that he might be known unto them. God could have brought it to pass, that the blessed Virgin should have been delivered as she travelled to Bethlem, either in the Wilderness, or in the Forest of Lebanon, where none should have been the wiser; but loe this had been contrary to his own work of grace, to fold up his mercy in darkness when light was come into the world. Therefore he call'd so many witnesses about him, after such a manner, with such new and over-natural signs, that his Nativity was as publick as Angels, and Stars, and Jews, and Gentiles could make it. The Angel sent the Shepherds out of the fields to enquire him, as if he would have the whole Country of the Jews flock thither; The Star called the Wisemen out of the East to come and worship him, as if the hea­vens would invite all the Gentiles to resort to him thither. God diffused the tidings that his Son was born, both to common places, such as Bethlem, and the Stable; and to holy places, such as the Temple at Jerusalem, where Simeon and Anna confes­sed him to be the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. Mark it (Be­loved) so long as the Witnesses came to worship him, so long as those that had him in their arms praised the Lord, and blessed the day they saw him, so long he was manifested more and more. But instantly he sate in a cloud; as soon as Herod sought to kill him, then he drew back the light by which he was known, and hid himself in Egypt. If then we are now met together with such faith as is fruitful to yield him honour, and worship, and praise, and glory, some strange Star will rise in our hearts, and make it easie to find him out, then those mysteries of my Text shall be opened to us, how he was first revealed to the Gentiles, hearken then to that story, which hath been so precious with the Church in all Ages, and begins as I have read unto you, When Jesus was born in Bethlem, &c.

Each of these verses contain a several portion of matter to be handled by it self, [Page 119] the one concerning the doings, the other concerning the sayings of the Wise-men; first you have their Journey, and then their Errand. First, the toil of their body, and then the zeal of their mind; nothing can be more complete than St. Austins judgment upon both, Ambulabant Per fidem, & desiderant speciem. As it is the stage of a Christian to walk in this life by faith, and that race is run so constantly to win that heavenly prize that we may see what we have believed face to face: So these Eastern Travellers went on their way by faith, till they came to Jerusalem, and then like those that had finished their course, Desiderant speciem, they wish that their eyes may be blessed with the hope of their faith, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? We have wearied our selves, but he is our rest; we have seen his Star; but where is he that commands the course of all the Stars? We have seen a wonder in the heavens; but where is he whom the Prophet calls wonderful upon earth? We have seen the Ensign; but where is the Captain under whose Colours we would be led? We have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him. Ambulabant per speciem: upon that subject, with Gods leave, contained in the first verse I will speak at this time, and hereafter how they required that faith might be changed into vision. Upon their doings, or upon their journey therefore I con­sider, 1. Who were the Pilgrims, Magi or Wisemen. 2. Their Pilgrimage, Vene­runt, they came. 3. The length of that Pilgrimage, from the East to Jerusalem. 4. The occasion of that journey, when Jesus was born. 5. The place of that birth, Bethlem of Judea. 6. The time of that birth, in the days of Herod the King. O most true delights and joys of a feastival Christmas! 1. To learn what wisdom it is to seek out a Savi­our, Wise-men came unto him. 2. What rest we shall find in our soul, when we de­sire no rest till we have found him. 3. How mighty his Kingdom is, that all Nati­ons shall come from far to worship him: Many shall come from the East, and from the West, and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac in the Kingdom of God. O blessed birth! not only the greatest and most holy places partake of it, as that great and holy City Jerusalem; but little Bethlem, and the most prophane Regions of the East, which abounded with Idolaters. O joyful birth! which came not only to pass in the times of good Prophets, Old Simeon, and Anna the widow, but in evil days, in times of sorrow and captivity, in the days of Herod the King: For he alone that was born in the days of Herod can turn our sorrow into gladness. Let these be the meditations, let these be the frolicks and triumphs of our Christmass, these shall make it holy day to our soul to be informed in all particulars, how Jesus was born in Bethlem in the days of Herod the King, and behold there came, &c.

First, Constet de personis, let the condition of these persons be examined, for every word in the Text must partake of that knowledge; for though they are but obscurely described here, yet all holy Writers have accounted it zeal and not cu­riosity to labour in the search what they were, says St. Chrysostom, [...],Chrys. Hom. in Mat. v. [...], much watching, and many prayers are needful to find it out. The original Text calls them Magi, out of which word many have suspected that they were of a scandalous profession, we call them Wise-men in our translation, which is a very safe and sure opinion of them, some have entitled them for Kings, but very corruptly, all confess them to be Gentiles, and very truly; and I think I shall sa­tisfie you to the full by considering the persons in this fourfold capacity. First, They that thought the name of Magi to be full of offence and suspicion had much to say for themselves. Simon the Sorcerer, and Elymas the Sorcerer, who could be worse than they? Yet Magus is their title. For howsoever it was meant for a good Appellation at first; yet as the names of Tyrant, and Sophister became very foul and contemptuous by the abuse; so although a Magus was an innocent Artist at first, yet some of the tribe were so far corrupted in their knowledge, that Magick was accounted no better than raking hell, and charming infernal spirits for satisfacti­on. The least fault in the Profession, and yet that a great one, was judicial Astrology, to make Schemes, and calculate Nativities, from certain houses which they framed to themselves in heaven, and to attribute a fatal necessity to all mens actions from some aspect of the Stars which reigned at their Geniture. As Pauls antecedent life, most adverse to Christ, did no way dishonour him to have it remembred after his conversion, so the Fathers thought it no soil to these holy Travellers to impute the worst unto them, what they had been. Tertullian magnifies God for the great alte­ration, Primitias gentium ex inferis excitavit, the Lord raised up these that were the first fruits of the Gentiles even from the Jawes of Hell. St. Hillary thinks they were called to mighty Faith from mighty Impiety. Homines professionis à scientiâ divinae cognitionis [Page 120] longè aversae; they were men of a profession most different from the sweetness and simplicity of divine wisdom. But Theophilact lays load upon them to make their conversion shine the brighter; [...], they were men envassalled to devils, and the enemies of God. And St. Austin, whose meekness would not revile them,Serm. 2. de Epiph. but to make Gods mercies appear the greater in them, Sicut praevalet imperitia in rusticitate pastorum, ita praevalet impietas in sacrilegiis magorum; Rude­ness and ignorance was predominant in the Shepherds that were sent by the Angels to Bethlem, so wickedness was notorious in these blasphemous Magi, who were led by the Star to Jerusalem, and yet both became the children of God.

You hear how good and judicious Authors thought that the conversation of these Magi had sometimes been Diabolical. And if St. Matthew wrote first in Hebrew, and in that Hebrew which Munster took pains to publish, they have more to say for them­selves, for Magi is rendred by no better word there but grand Impostors or Necro­mancers. And this opinion of their person, whether right or wrong, is very com­fortable; for the most holy man that ever lived, let him judge himself as he ought, and he shall find how much it will refresh his heavy laden conscience, that such grand-tortoes as these, sinners of the highest pitch, were called to the hopes of eter­nal life; Nemo desperet salutem sibi credenti, qui Magis conspicit donatam: If Magi and workers with familiar spirits are invited to Christs Nativity, Quid non speramus. They that are enemies may be reconciled to the Prince of peace, as our first Lesson for this day doth call him, they that are Publicans may become Apostles; they that have defiled themselves like Mary Magdalen may wash in tears and be clean, many that are last may be first in the Kingdom of heaven.

I have satisfied you what comfort comes of it, though these Magi which came to Christ had been the worst of all men, though antiquity had said right, that they were Impostors, and deceivers after the great power of Satan, yet they were not such, as I conceive, but men conversed in the studies of deep wisdom, or wise-men, as we translate the word. Such as are most accurate to give the true sense of names do so perswade me. Suidas saith that Magi were Philosophi & [...], Philoso­phers, but of that tribe that dedicated themselves to the knowledge of God. Pha­vorinus says they were [...], Priests that studied divine learning according to the Religion of that Country.Plin. lib. 30. c. 1. To go higher, Pliny says, the Magi were skil­ful in sacred learning; and which moves me more, Strabo says, that in his days (and about his days St. Mathew wrote his Gospel) they were [...], Pro­fessors of a strict and austere life, as you would say, religious. Whether they were by succession the Scholars of that great Oriental Patriarch for Philosophy, Zoroastres, or Prophets children derived from the succession of Balaam, all is one which con­jecture is true, or whether both be false, but in all likelihood they managed the sacred Offices of the Persian Religion. Lib. 3. c. 2. For Eusebius says, how in his days it troubled the Magi that the Persians became Christians, for by Sacerdotal succession they lookt to their own religion, that it should receive no detriment. Diogenes Laertius, in that book which every young Scholar turns over, wherein he wrote very accurately of all Philosophical Sects, says that the Magi attended the Religion of the Gods, prayed, and sacrificed; and for their learning as well as their ministry, Porphyrie says they were interpreters of divine controversies.

Though they were but a bad Priesthood, yet a Priesthood, and a very learned one in their superstitious way. When I first took a hint of this, I laboured to make it truth out of good Authors; the notion must needs be pleasant to them who wear an Ephod in Christs service; that as silly swains, ignorant Lay-men were the first fruits among the Jews, so Priests of a religious calling were the first fruits of the Gen­tiles, and were incited by a divine assistance to seek and find out our Saviour. But though this be true, yet since my Text speaks not of their office and science about Religion, but simply as they were Wise-men, I will pitch upon that. Such as the Grecians called Philosophers, the Jews Scribes, the Assyrians Chaldeans, the Indians Gym­nosophists, the Gauls Druids, this Island Bards, the Romans Aruspices, such were the Magi with the Persians, men that had furnished themselves with all fit knowledge to be their Judges and Counsellors of state. You shall find that seven Wise-men, who knew the Law and Judgments, stood before Ahasuerus the great King of Persia, Esther. i. 13. these were such as the Magi in my Text, the most sufficient directors of all affairs in that mighty Kingdom. Humane Learning and Political Wisdom are so far from being impediments to an man in the way to the Kingdom of heaven, that they are excellent Pedestals for the Pillar of Faith to stand upon; and wise men, [Page 121] if pride do not puff them up with vain opinion, are best able to resist the devil and his tentations, because they best know why they serve the Lord, and have most in­telligence to ponder, why they should not be conformed to the fashion of the world. Certainly they are of that rank to whom much is given, and much shall be required of them. Plain ignorant shepherds came to Christ soon after the first mi­nutes of his Nativity, and those harmless unsuspected persons told it abroad in all Bethlehem, that by the foolish things of the world God might confound the wise: (that's a great mystery of our salvation) yet that the Gospel might lose no opinion by illiterate messengers, the Sophi, the acutest wits of the East discharge the same office, that God may be glorified both in the prudent and ignorant. Learned men of all sorts believed and were saved. Zenas a Lawyer, Luke a Physician, Paul brought up at Gamaliel's feet; he had [...], as Felix said, all sorts of art and literature; these were wise men, and never so wise as in this to seek out Christ, and to prefer the simplicity of faith before all the rudiments of the world. I approve it not that these Travellers were Kings, it is an error I will remove by and by; but after the manner of Persia they were honourable in their own Country; yet their quality of wisdom is remembred before their honour. Nay, had they been Kings, the Romish Expositors say it was most apt for the Gospel they should be called Wise men, Majus est testimonium quod datur Christo à sapientibus quam quod datur a regibus, it did more con­vince the Heathens that their Wise men and Philosophers bare testimony to Christ, than if they had been Monarchs. Those are the chariots and horsemen of Israel, burning and shining lights: It strengthens our part exceedingly, when the eloquence of Apollo, and the Athenian Education of Dionysius the Areopagite are converted to the edify­ing of the Church; but for such as are wise and learned, yet whet those weapons for the maintainance of pernicious errors against true Religion, we pray as David did, Lord turn the wisdom of Achitophel into foolishness, and their subtilty into their own destruction.

I have declared my opinion for the Priest-hood and learning of these wise men, and am not afraid to dissent from them, who interpret Magi to be Nechromancers, or vain Astrologers: for even after they had worshipt Christ, still they are called Magi. When Herod perceived he was mocked of the Magi, or Wise men, he was ex­ceeding wroth, ver. 16. 'Tis probable that a name of Odium and scandal should not be given them, after they had worshipped our Saviour. Thus far both these opi­nions may agree, that the principal of those who visited Christ were reverend Sa­ges of the East, and that some ancient Authors had been informed by tradition, that there were those in their train who secretly were Wizzards and Sorcerers. The best complexion may have a tettar run into it, and the best profession may have some followers that give themselves over to the Devil. And this reconcilia­tion I am more willing to embrace, because it supposeth that a full Chorus, a great company of wise men came to Christ from the East: Not three only, as some say, who dare say any thing. Leo the Great, above 400 years after Christ was born,Serm. de Epiph. is the most ancient Author that I have met with, who stands precisely for the number of three: and how much the circumstances of a true story may be falsified after 400 years, it is too manifest by the records of all ages. The Author of the imper­fect work upon St. Matthew, whosoever he was, he is ancienter than Leo; I think he says they were twelve in company, I think there were not so few: For coming from those Eastern hills to Jerusalem, they pass through Arabia deserta, which