A SERMON Preach'd before the King and Queen, IN Their MAJESTIES Chappel at St. James's, on the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Octob. 25. 1685.

By the Reverend Father JOHN PERSALL, Of the Society of JESUS, Professor of Divinity.

Published by His Majesties Command.

LONDON, Printed by Henry Hills, Printer to the King's most Excellent Majesty, for his Houshold and Chappel. 1686.

A SERMON Preach'd before THEIR MAJESTIES, On the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Octob. 25. 1685.

Erat quidam Regulus, cujus filius infir­mabatur.

Joannis c. 4. v. 48.

There was a certain Nobleman, whose son was sick.

THE Holy Church, in this Days Gospel, invites us all to the Bed-side of a Rich, Noble, Young, but Dy­ing Prince, who lies groan­ing at Deaths-door, and notwithstand­ing [Page 2]his Plenty of other things, is be­come a Beggar for a little Breath, which all the Power of the World is not able to afford him. I wish, that the Followers of Sensuality, who make Pleasure their God, live as if they were never to die, imagine Time to stand, and laugh at Discourses of another World, as Fables only for the Enter­tainment and Pastime of this: I wish (I say) they would turn their Thoughts hither a little while, and behold the dismal Theatre, whereon every one of them must one day infallibly act the same Part, which now this Noble Youth represents before them; trem­bling betwixt two great Eternities, of Happiness above, and Misery below, and uncertain which of the two is to be their Lot. Now, tho' we go no further, certainly the Pangs of a dying Prince, and Death triumphing over Wealth, Nobility, and Youth, is an Emblem, clear enough, of the Vanity and Uncertainty of Worldly Happi­ness, [Page 3]and might well deserve to be the Subject of our present Consideration.Serm. 44. de Verbis Do­mini. But because I hear the Great St. Au­gustin (speaking of our Saviour's resto­ring the Widows Son to Life) advise us, That it was our LORD's Intention, that, by what he acted visibly towards the Body, we should understand his in­visible Operations on the Soul, apply­ing all his exteriour and Corporal Per­formances, to an interiour and Spiritu­al Sense: Dominus noster JESƲS CHRI­STƲS ea, quae faciebat corporalitèr, spi­ritualitèr volebat intelligi. It shall there­fore be my present Endeavour, First, by the Sickness of this Youth, to lay before your Eyes the Sickness of a Soul in Sin; and, Secondly, from the Circumstances of his Cure, we'l gather the Means for the Curing of our Souls. But because I am too conscious of my own Weakness, to hope for any Fruit from my Words, unless the Ho­ly Ghost vouchsafe to put them in my Mouth, and speak them again to the [Page 4]Hearts of my Hearers, I must have recourse to the Blessed Virgin, whose powerful Intercession is an Aquaeduct or Channel (as the devout St. Ber­nard assures us) through which Ce­lestial Gifts are conveyed unto us. Wherefore let us humbly invoke the same, saluting her with the Angel, Ave Maria, &c. ‘Erat quidam Regulus, &c.’

IT being then my intent by the vi­sible Sickness of the Body to disco­ver the invisible Sickness of the Soul, let us enter a little into the Chamber of this Dying Prince, which probably you will find adorn'd with the richest Tapestry, beautify'd with choice Cabi­nets, and set out with other Moveables of the highest Price: The Curtains, Vallence, and Canopy of the Bed, all proportionable to the Nobility and Greatness of their Master; but approach a little towards that stately Bed, draw [Page 5]open those Royal Curtains, and see what lies within: A gasping Life, an half-living Death, a breathing Carcass! His sinking Eyes already seek their Grave: his pale and wan Countenance puts us in mind of his Winding-sheet: the feeble and unactive Condition of his Body declares, that he is Death's Close Prisoner: the Panting of his Heart is a sad warning, that the fatal Stroke is ready to be given, which must break asunder the Gordian Tye be­twixt Soul and Body. And is this He, on whom so much Gallantry do's at­tend? Is it to him, those Hangings, Cabinets, and Embroider'd Curtains do belong? This certainly is the Fable in­verted, and not a Pearl on a Dunghil, but a Dunghil in the midst of Pearls.

These were the visible Effects and Consequences of this Prince's Corporal Sickness: Let us now try, how far they will lead us towards the Discovery of the invisible Effects of a Spiritual Dis­ease. [Page 6]If you view the Chamber or Bed, wherein a dying Soul lies gasp­ing, what for the most part more glo­rious? It is one perhaps of these trimm'd-up Beauties of the World, which seem to out-shine the Suns brightest Beams. Gold, Silver, Pearls, and whatsoever the blind World calls Precious, is all too little to set them out. But turn hither the Eyes of your Understanding, draw open those gay Curtains by a serious Consideration, and look on that Soul, which lies with­in them. O quale Monstrum! What a Monster! Had we Eyes of Angels, it would appear far more hideous to us, than the expiring Carcass, which we just now beheld. The Poyson of his Disease had dry'd and wither'd up his Body, consum'd all his Spirits, and the Soul being now ready to depart, all the Train of Beauteous Features had al­ready taken their leave. But the Poy­son of Sin is yet far ranker, and its Effects upon a poor infected Soul far [Page 7]more deplorable. It consumes to no­thing all her Substance, all the Stock of Grace whereby she flourisht. The Sun of Justice, her only Life, is ready to withdraw his Divine Rays, and conse­quently all the Flowers of Vertue must needs dry up and wither; so that she, who before had Beauty enough to ena­mour the very Fountain of Beauty, is now become the Source of a Poyson, rank enough to infect the whole World. She is a meer Sink of Loathsomness and Corruption. What is she else, but a putrifying Carcass, feeding the Worms of a bad Conscience, and en­gendring innumerable venemous In­fects, I mean, the cursed Brood of vi­cious Habits? She breaths forth such a Stench, that were our Corporeal Senses capable of being wrought on by Spi­ritual Objects, it would not be possi­ble for us, to live within the Sphere of its Activity. For the truth of all this, I appeal to those Saints, to whom Al­mighty God has given a more pecu­liar [Page 8]Light, for the discovering the Hor­rour and Ugliness of Sin. St. Chryso­stom calls Sin the only Evil, asserting, That we ought to abhor nothing but Sin, no not even Hell it self. And the Rea­son hereof will appear clearly, if we consider the Nature of an Humane Soul. She is created to the perfect Image of her Creator, and participates in an high Degree of his Divine Es­sence, Divinae Particula Aurae: Hence she has in her a strong and forcible Appetite of being united to her God, and consequently cannot be at rest, whilst she is separated from him; but in this Night of Sin, the Fogs, arising from a corrupted Will, do so obscure the Understanding, that, tho' the Soul perceives an unquiet Appetite within her self of some great Good, yet what that Good is, or where to find it, she knows not, and falls on that which comes next, Sensual Pleasures, Riches, Honours, mistaking the Rivulets for the Fountains, but still ends with a [Page 9]Restlesness and Dissatisfaction. So So­lomon, after he had glutted himself with all the Pleasures so great a Know­ledge could invent, and so great a Power could procure, Quicquid deside­raverunt oculi mei, non negavi eis, quin omni voluptate fruerentur; he experi­enc'd in all Vanitatem, a certain Empti­tiness, Afflictionem spiritus, an Afflicti­on of Mind; because Nothing is good, or according to the innate Appetite of the Soul, but GOD; on the other side, nothing is ill, or contrary to this innate Appetite, but Sin. And hence it was, that those Pauls, Antho­nies, Hilaries, who liv'd on raw Herbs, lay on the hard Ground, spent their Days in Prayer and Mortification, and were depriv'd of all the Delights of Sense, never complain'd of Misery, be­cause having God, and being united to him, they seem'd to want nothing; whereas Solomon, tho' abounding with Riches, being without God, seem'd to have nothing. So true it is, that there [Page 10]is nothing satisfactory to the Rational Soul, but God; and nothing hurtful or grievous to it, but Sin. The Holy Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Anselm, pro­tests, That he would rather leap into the eternal Flames of Hell purus a peccato, free from Sin, than peccati labe pollu­tus coelorum regna tenere, defil'd with Sin to possess Heaven. St. Augustine has many things to the same purpose; but none more emphatically describes this Plague than St. Peter Chrysologus. 'Tis the nature of Sin, says he, to breathe forth a certain venemous Vapour in the Soul, which so dims the two Lights of Faith and Reason, that it leaves her wholly in Darkness: So that being led by Passion, she throws her self from one Precipice to another, till she comes at length to the very Brink of Hell, and yet sees not all this while, whither she has faln, or how near she is to her eter­nal Ruine. Besides this, her Fever af­flicts her with an insatiable Thirst of all those things which increase her Dis­ease; [Page 11]and, on the contrary side, Fonti­bus dulcissimis amara salsedo, it so spoils and vitiates her Taste, that those Fountains of Graces and Spiritual Com­forts, the Sacraments, Sermons, Spiritu­al Books, and the like, which to a Soul in Health are most savory and delicious, to her are as bitter as Gall. To this purpose St. Chrysologus. By which suf­ficiently appears the deplorable Con­dition of a Soul in Sin, had we a Sense or Understanding capable of con­ceiving it. But as the Sickness of the Body is never the less dangerous, be­cause the Patient perceives not the Ma­lignity of his Disease: So the Condi­tion of a Sick Soul is never the less miserable, because in this Lethargy of Flesh and Blood, she discerns not her own Misery. And now, if nothing else will serve the turn, let at least the Danger of an Everlasting Death move us to look after a Cure, and that as earnestly and efficaciously, as the thing deserves. When a wise and [Page 12]skilful Physician tells his Patient, that he is in Danger of Death, it makes him presently seek a Remedy, attend to the Physician's Prescriptions, and put all diligently in execution. But what is the Death of the Body, com­par'd with the Death of the Soul? That is only Temporal; This, Eternal: That implies a Separation of the Bo­dy from a Rational Soul; This, the Separation of the Soul from the Foun­tain of all Happiness, Almighty God: That leaves the Body, bereav'd indeed of Sense, yet without Pain; This bu­ries the Soul in Hell, there to suffer, and for ever, such Torments, that all the Pains and Torments of this Life are nothing to them. When I some­times consider with my self, that it may be, it is not impossible, that I should one day groan under the hea­vy Burden of Eternal Damnation, tho' I go no farther, reflecting only on a meer Possibility of so great a Misery, it makes my whole Body tremble: My [Page 13]Hair stands an end, my Heart pants, and my Bones are almost disjointed with Fear. But forasmuch as concerns a Probability thereof, and such a Pro­bability too, that the contrary is impro­bable, who is there that is not dead already, or quite void of Sense, who can live with such a Thought, under such an Apprehension? And yet cer­tain it is, that those who follow their sensual Inclinations, and scarce ever seriously think of their Souls, are in a Probability, and in a very great Pro­bability of being damn'd. Damn'd! Oh what a Deluge of Misery is inclu­ded in that little word, Damn'd! Let these Considerations, Beloved Christi­ans, sink into our Souls; Let a just Horrour of Sin seise upon our Hearts: And so dispos'd, let us pass to the Second Part, and learn to cure our Souls, by weighing the Circumstances, and considering the Particulars of this young Prince's miraculous Cure.

The Father of our Sick Youth no sooner heard of our Saviour's coming that way, but he presently went unto him. The first thing then, we are to do, is to have recourse to the Physi­cian. Abiit ad eum, says the Text, He departed unto him; the word Abiit here signifying not only a Going to, but a Going from. Many are willing enough to go to the Heavenly Physi­cian, on condition that they may not go from the World. They will (I say) go to him, but not follow his Advice, in parting with their Riches, Honour, Pleasure, the Source and Ori­gine of their peccant Humour, and consequently the Cause of their Di­stemper.

The second thing is to Present him with our Petitions: Et rogabat eum: And he ask'd him. Some come to him, but, like the proud Pharisee, ask him nothing, justifying themselves, and scorn­ing [Page 15]to acknowledge their Wants, or any need they have of a Physician. Quid rogaverit Deum, quaere in verbis ejus, & nihil invenies: Examine a little (says St. Augustine) the Pharisee's words, and see what he ask'd of God, and you shall find, that he ask'd nothing. This is not the way: But, on the contrary, we must with Humility own our Mi­sery and Sickness, if ever we expect a Cure. We must rogare, beg with an humble Confidence, ut descendat, that he will come down to us; at least, that he will be pleas'd to cast down an Eye of Mercy upon our sad and helpless Condition; and then we ought not to doubt of a Remedy from that Hand, which is so far from repelling us when we ask, that its Om­nipotent Bounty is always beckning to us, and encouraging us to ask.

The third thing which we ought to do, is of very great moment, and that, for want whereof, many have been eter­nally [Page 16]lost; and it is, not only to Go, nor only to Ask, but to do Both in time. 'Tis a dangerous thing to de­lay the Cure of our Souls. Alas! how many are there who at this instant fruit­lesly deplore in eternal Torments, that ever they put off so important a Con­cern? We must then in this imitate the Father of our Sick Youth, who was careful in the beginning. Incipie­bat mori; His Son began to die; and he was sollicitous that our Saviour might come, before he had quite gi­ven up the Ghost. Descende, priusquàm moriatur Filius meus: Come down (says he) before my Son dies. I am not ig­norant, that divers Interpreters, and some Holy Fathers also, accuse these Words of want of Faith, as if an Om­nipotence could not as easily have re­stor'd him Dead to Life, as Sick to Health; yet they must all grant, that 'tis an excellent Prayer for a dying Soul, Do­mine, descende, priusquàm moriatur Anima mea; Lord, vouchsafe to come, before my Soul dies.

Consider all the Cures, which our Saviour wrought, and you will still find the appearance of most Difficulty, where the Disease had made the great­est Progress. Lazarus was dead, and now four days in his Grave, and how much is to be done to raise him? First, Our Saviour must come in Per­son, tho' his Disciples dissuade him from exposing himself to so much dan­ger. The Jews, said they, did but just now endeavour to stone thee, and wilt thou again venture thy self amongst them? He goes notwithstanding this, and be­ing come to the Monument, First com­mands the Grave-stone to be remov'd, Then he afflicts himself, turbavit semet­ipsum, and even weeps, lacrimatus est JESƲS: Then he prays to his Eter­nal Father; and at last voce magnâ cla­mavit, he cries out with a loud voice, Lazare, veni foras; Lazarus, come forth. What was all this for? Would not a Lazarus vivit, Lazarus lives, have done [Page 18]the Business, tho' our Blessed Saviour had been as far distant from Lazarus, as he was now from our Sick Prince? It were a Blasphemy to affirm the con­trary. But Lazarus, Dear Christians, was the Type of an inveterate and hardned Sinner; and our Blessed Sa­viour on this occasion was not so care­ful to let us see the Uncontrollable­ness of his Omnipotence, as he was to shew us, how much it goes to his Heart, that a Sinner should delay his Conversion, till he becomes buried in ill Habits, and is kept under Ground by the weighty Grave-stone of his own Obstinacy; and withal, how dif­ficult it is, that such an one should be again restor'd to the Life of Grace.

The Widows Son was not yet bu­ry'd, but only carry'd out to Burial: Efferebatur filius unicus Matris suae. And consequently our Saviour raises him with a far less appearance of dif­ficulty: He comes, but neither afflicts [Page 19]himself, nor weeps; he only touches the Bier, and commands the dead Youth to rise; Adolescens, tibi dico, Surge: and his Commands were presently obey'd; for the dead Youth arose, Re­sedit, qui erat mortuus.

The Daughter of the Prince of the Synagogue was but newly dead, nei­ther buried, nor carry'd out to Buri­al. Our Saviour comes, and without speaking to her, took her by the Hand, and rais'd her; Tenuit manum ejus, & surrexit Puella.

But our young Prince was not so much as dead, but only incipiebat mo­ri, he began to die, and so deserv'd the easiest Cure of all; for our Savi­our neither comes in Person, nor com­mands his Disease; but only tells his Father, Filius tuus vivit, Thy Son is well, and at that very hour reliquit eum Febris, his Fever left him. By all which our Saviour would teach us, how wil­ling [Page 20]he is to hear a Sinners Petition, when it is presented to him in time; and how unwillingly he hearkens to those, who put off all to the last Point. Daily Experience teaches us this Les­son, there scarce being a Country which do's not afford us most terrible Hi­stories of those, who, delaying from time to time the Amendment of their Lives, have felt the heavy Hand of God's Judgment, being taken at una­wares out of this Life, and in a mo­ment they least suspected, swallow'd up, and bury'd in Hell: Momento descen­dunt in Infernum.

It is true, we have a good God, a merciful God, a patient God, who expects day after day the Conversion of a Sinner; but we must know, that a certain Period is pitch'd upon, and decreed from all Eternity, that will wholly stop the Current of Mercy, and open a way to Justice: for tho, as long as any Sinner lives in this [Page 21]Life with the use of Reason, Almigh­ty God never denies him his suffici­ent Grace; yet after such a determi­nate Period, he either takes him out of this Life, or permits him to fall into such Blindness and Hardness of Heart, that he never will recover, tho' he always may: Sic enim (says St. Augustine) excaecat, sic obdurat De­us, deserendo, & non adjuvando, quod occulto judicio facere potest, iniquo non potest: God do's so blind and so harden a Sinner, by forsaking him, and with­drawing his Help from him, as that his Judgment indeed is secret and hidden, but never unjust. For, Hoe eorum vo­luntatem meruisse Respondeo: I answer (says the same Saint) to those who complain hereof, That this is what they themselves (viz. by their own perverse Will) have deserv'd. Poor Samuel, with Eyes and Heart lifted up to Heaven, pray'd for Saul; but it was too late: Why do you ask me for him, (says Almighty God) when abjeci eum, [Page 22]I have cast him off? Remember the two first Chapters of the Prophet A­mos, where our Lord speaks thus to seven different Countries, viz. Damas­cus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and at last even to his Elect Peo­ple Juda and Israel: Super tribus Sceleribus; for three heinous Crimes, Patience: but super quatuor non con­vertam, to the fourth no Mercy. Who knows, but this very Moment may be the last Period and Admonition, the last Grace which Almighty God hath decreed for some one or more of us here present, in such manner, that, if it be neglected, we shall pe­rish irrecoverably for all Eternity? Super quatuor non convertam. No, the Period is come, Mittam ignem, and no­thing now remains, excepting only the dreadful Torments of an unquencha­ble Fire.

O let us then, every one of us, en­ter into our own Souls, and make an [Page 23]exact Scrutiny into their present State and Condition. Let us examine whe­ther Terrene and Sensual Pleasures have not cast them into the Pestilent Fever of a violent Passion, so that in­cipiunt mori, they begin to die, to die (I say) to God and Heaven. If so, let us forthwith have recourse to the Physician; Abeamus ad eum; let us go from all other Entertainments and Concerns unto him: Rogemus, let us throw our selves at the Sacred Feet of our Crucified Lord, acknowledge our Misery, and beg his Assistance: Domi­ne, descende, priusquàm moriatur Anima mea; O Lord, vouchsafe to come down to me, before my Soul be dead. O my Lord, my God, who didst esteem Sin to be so great an Evil, that thou thoughtst it worth thy Labour to come down from Heaven to Earth, to ago­nize and die upon a Cross, that thou mightst free us from it; For what didst thou open Five Divine Fountains of thy Sacred Blood, save only to cleanse [Page 24]us from so foul a Stain? Ah! shew us now, that non est abbreviata Manus Domini, that thy Mercy hath as great a reach as ever. Pardon us what is past, asswage the violence of our pre­sent Passion with one drop of thy most precious Blood, and preserve us from all Sin for the future. Descende, look down into our Souls, and be­hold, how we all endeavour to can­cel our Offences by an Act of per­fect Contrition, being sorry from the bottom of our Hearts for having ever displeas'd so good a God, and this meerly for the Love of thy infinitely amiable Person: And for the same Motive we purpose to suffer whatever can be suffer'd, rather than hereafter to offend thee in the least. Methinks, Beloved Christians, methinks I am sen­sible, that the Bowels of Divine Mer­cy are already mov'd towards us; and I doubt not, but every Soul, that is seriously converted, feels a Pledge of Almighty God's Mercy, by perceiving [Page 25]within her self a more perfect Union with him, who is her Life, and by hearing from him after a peculiar manner, Anima tua vivit, Thy Soul lives, thy Soul is recover'd from her Distemper. Which Happiness, through the Intercession of the Virgin Mother, God of his infinite Mercy grant us all. Amen.

FINIS.

A Catalogue of Books Printed for Henry Hills, Printer to the King's most Excel­lent Majesty, for his Houshold and Chappel, 1686. And are to be Sold next door to his House in Black-fryers, at Richard Cheese's.

REflections upon the Answer to the Papist Mis-represented, &c. Directed to the Answerer. Quarto.

Kalendarium Catholicum for the Year 1686. Octavo.

Papists Pretesting against Protestant-Popery. In Answer to a Discourse Entituled, A Papist not Mis-represented by Pro­testants. Being a Vindication of the Papist Mis-represented and Represented, and the Reflections upon the Answer. Quart.

Copies of Two Papers Written by the late King Charles H. Together with a Paper Written by the late Dutchess of York. Publish'd by his Majesty's Command. Folio.

The Spirit of Christianity. Publish'd by his Majesty's Com­mand. Twelves.

The First Sermon Preach'd before their Majesties in English at Windsor, on the first Sunday of October 1685. By the Re­verend Father Dom. Ph. Ellis, Monk of the Holy Order of St. Benedict, and of the English Congregation. Publish'd by his Majesty's Command. Quarto.

Second Sermond Preach'd before the King and Queen, and Queen Dowager, at their Majesties Chappel at St. James's, November 1. 1685. By the Reverend Father Dom. Ph. Ellis, Monk of the Holy Order of St. Benedict, and of the English Congregation. Publish'd by his Majesty's Com­mand. Quarto.

The Third Sermon Preach'd before the King and Queen, in their Majesty's Chappel at St. James's, on the third Sunday in Advent, December 13. 1685. By the Reverend Father Dom. Ph. Ellis, Monk of the Holy Order of St. Benedict, and of the English Congr. Chaplain in Ordinary to His Ma­jesty. Publish'd by His Majesty's Command. Quarto.

The Fourth Sermon Preach'd before the King and Queen, in their Majesties Chappel at St. Jame's, on Newyears-day, 168⅚. By the Reverend Father Dom. Ph. Ellis, Monk of the Holy Order of St. Benedict, and of the English Congre­gation, Chaplain in Ordinary to his Majesty. Quarto.

Sixth Sermon Preach'd before the King and Queen, in their Majesties Chappel at St. James's, upon the first Wednesday in Lent, Febr. 24. 1685. By the Reverend Father Dom. Ph. Ellis, Monk of the Holy Order of St. Benedict, and of the English Congregation. Publish'd by his Majesties Com­mand. Quarto.

An Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church in Mat­ters of Controversie. By the Right Reverend James Benigne Bossiset, Counsellor to the King, Bishop of Meaux, formerly of Condom, and Preceptor to the Dauphin: First Almoner to the Dauphiness. Done into English with all the former Ap­probations, and others newly Publish'd in the Ninth and Last Editions of the French. Publish'd by his Majesty's Com­mand. Quarto.

A Sermon Preach'd before the King and Queen, in Their Majesties Chappel at St. James's, upon the Annunciation of our Blessed Lady, March 25. 1686. By Jo. Betham Doctor of Sorbon. Publish'd by his Majesty's Command. Quarto.

An Abstract of the Douay Catechism, for the Use of Children and Ignorant People. Now Revis'd, and much Amended. Publish'd with Allowance. Twentyfours.

A Pastoral Letter from the Lord Bishop of Meaux, to the New Catholics of his Diocess, Exhorting them to keep their Easter, and giving them Necessary Advertisements-against the False Pastoral Letters of their Ministers. With Re­flections upon the Pretended Persecution. Publish'd with Al­lowance. Quarto.

The Answer of the New Converts of France, to a Pastoral Letter from a Protestant Minister. Done out of French, and Publish'd with Allowance. Quarto.

The Ceremonies for Healing of them that be Diseased with the Kings Evil, used in the time of King Henry VII. Publish­ed by His Majesties Command. Quarto in Latin, Twelves in English.

A Short Christian Doctrine. Composed by the R. Father Ro­bert Bellarmin, of the Society of Jesus, and Cardinal Publish­ed with Allowance. Twelves.

A Vindication of the Bishop of Condom's Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church. In Answer to a Book Entituled, An Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England, &c. With a Letter from the said Bishop. Per­missis Superiorum. Quarto.

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