THE RECOVERIE of Paradise.

A Sermon, on the Incarnation and Birth of our Sauior Christ.

By Michael Birkhed.

Mercy and Truth are met together, Righte­ousnesse and Peace haue kissed each o­ther. Psal. lxxxv. verse x.

Printed for Nicholas Ling and Thomas Bushel, and are by them to be sold. 1602.

To the Right Honorable, Sir Tho. Egerton Knight, Lord Keeper of the great Seale of England, and one of hir Maiesties most Honorable Priuy Counsell.

IT hath bin (Right Honorable) well de­bated amongst the Learned, where Learning was first professed, and it is as truly recorded of many worthy Wri­ters, who were the first that did teach for to Write, and surely as our forefathers did reue­rence them as Gods, which spake wisedome; so we may extol them as men somewhat superior vnto men which inuented the arte to Write what they spake. The first benefitted the persons that heard them; by the latter are instructed al posterities that shall reade them: the one instructed those onely that were pre­sent with them, the other gaue lessons vnto all nati­ons whatsoeuer, though neuer so much distant from them. And therefore very well saith a certaint Poet, nowe liuing:

O blessed letters that combine in one,
All ages past, and make one liue with all:
By you we do confer with those are gone,
And the dead-liuing vnto Counsell call,
By you the vnborne shall haue communion,
Of what we feele, and what doth vs befall.

The consideration of which premises, together with the respect of this ouer-fruitfull age of the Chil­dren [Page] of the Prophets, the Land hauing more Church men then Churches, and more Preachers then Par­rishes to Preach in; hath moued me (though least of the Apostles yet vnwilling to hide my talent with the vnprofitable seruant) to write what I haue here­tofore spoken, and to publish what I haue Written, which I prostrate as my free-will offring at the foote of the Aulter, as the poore Israelites did their Goats haire, when they had no better to bring, and as the Widdow did hir mite, when she had nothing greater to giue. And forasmuch as Curtesie is the true note of Gentilitie, and Learning is best fauoured of such as are best Learned, and matters of Religion of those that are Religious; I haue therefore made choyse of your Honor for Patron of these papers, not doubting, but that in regard of Gentilitie, you will curteously receiue it, in respect of your Learning, willingly per­vse it, and for the matter and subiect of it, Patronize and protect it. Your Lordships fauourable entertain­ment of this, shall encourage me in greater matters hereafter to imploy my Labors vnto the memoriall of your worthines: and mooue others to peruse it the more diligently, being entertained of a Perso­nage of such Honour and Iudgement. Thus, wishing vnto your Lordship, the accomplishment of your wi­shes, crauing pardon for my (perhappes) ouermuch boldnes, I humbly take my leaue, this first of Ianuary.

Your Honors to commaund. Michaell Birkhed.

THE RECOVERY of Paradise.

Luke. 2. 10.‘Feare not: for behold I bring you tidings of great ioy that shall be vnto all People. That is, vn­to you is borne this day in the Citty of Dauid a Sauiour which is Christ the Lord.’

GReat is the Solemnitie of this feast of Christ his Natiuity, but the shortnesse of the day, re­quireth to reade but a short dis­course: and no maruell if the words we write be short, seeing God the fa­ther made, as at this time his word (the sub­iect of this booke) very short. If you would knowe the shortnesse of Gods Word; behold that Word which said by his Prophet, I fill both Heauen and Earth, which was neither Included in any thing, nor excluded out of any thing, but was all in euery thing, euen that Word which the Heauen of heauens could not cōtaine, which was, from euerlasting without beginning [Page 2] or ending. Was now included in a place, swadled in cloutes, laied vp in a cratch, and become a child of a dayes age: a long word indeed, become very short; and yet what length of time, or multiplication of words is able to descipher, the incomprehensible length and breadth thereof? for euen in his humilitie, his glorie is exalted, and in the shortnesse of his name, his name is enlarged. Great are the works of the Lord, as himselfe is great, but greatest is that which he did in his little one. Paruulus nobis venerit, sed non parum attulit, nō parum nobis contulit. He came as a little one, but he brought not a little with him, it was no little benefit he did vs. It is no vnknowne thing to him that knoweth any thing: how glorious was the estate of Adam in paradise, being created in the Image of the God of glory, liuing in a place of all kinde of pleasure, vnder the shade of the tree of life, with a cōpanion that was meet & fit for him, Inioying the sight of God himselfe, whose countenance is the fulnes of al ioyes & felici­ties, nothing being forbiddē him, that might any wise delight him, saue onely the fruite of one tree that was in the midst of the garden: the penalty, if he tasted of it, was the expul­sing out of paradise, the depriuation of his [Page 3] pleasures, death & damnation to his body & soule, & euerlasting miseries to either amōgst the diuels in hell-fire. But what followed? Thy princes (saith Esay) were rebellious and be­came the cōpanions of theeues. Our parents di­sobeyed the charge of the Almighty, accom­panied Lucifer in his the euery of Gods glo­ry, and so became subiect vnto the forena­med damnation. Great was their fault so ob­stinately to haue sinned, and great was the punishment that was inflicted for their sin. For the Earth mourneth for it, yea euen vnto the children (as Zoroastes speaketh.) Though the father did onely eate the sowre grape, yet his childrens teeth are also set on edge by it: so that we were Damnati antequam nati. Con­demned to die, euen before wee beganne to liue. Glorious was mans condition beeing created in Gods Image, but better had it bin that he had neuer bin created, then so to haue defaced the glory of that Image. But as God is the happiest and chiefest good, contain­ing all happines and goodnes in himselfe, so such was his loue and fauour towards man, that he would make him partaker also of that his happines, and therefore presently he pro­mised him a medicine for his malady, and a salue for his sore, namely, that as Sathan had [Page 4] deiected him into the pit of hell, so his sonne should erect and lift him vp into the king­dome of heauen, if he would belieue in the one, as he had giuen credite to the other. Falshood had seduced and deceiued him, and Truth must reduce and instruct him, yet so, that after he know the Truth, hee re­nounce falshood, and cleaue vnto the Truth: this Truth was that word: this word was that Sonne: this Sonne was that Sauiour, which was made short, became little, and was borne as this day in the Citty of Dauid.

But lest this so precious and peerelesse a Iem should lie hid in the dunghill, and be in the world, and the world know him not, it pleased the Lord by many signes and to­kens, by many Prophesies and prefigurati­ons to describe him plainely vnto all posteri­ties, that none might aledge Ignorance for an excuse of their wickednesse. Therefore his starre was shewne vnto the wisemen of the East, by the conduct whereof they came from the rising of the Sunne, to the citty of Hierusalem, to signifie that a new Sonne of Righteousnesse was risen in the Earth, who by his bright & resplendent beames should inlighten and delight euery one that com­meth into the world: many rare and prodi­gious [Page 5] things also were seene at that time euen amongst the Infidels and Heathen people, declaring the Restauration of the world, the Restitution of man, the Solace of the Iewe, & the Saluation, & Redemption of all man­kinde to be come into the world. For as O­rosius reporteh out of a certrine streete in Roome there sprung vp a fountaine of oyle, which flowed most aboundantly for the space of a whole day, and also (which is wor­thy to be noted) though the Romane Empe­rour had obtained the Scepter of the whole world, and a generall peace was concluded, so that the Temple Ianus was shut vp close (a thing scarce euer seene before.) Yet Au­gustus forbad that any should call him Lord, not without the wondering of all that heard it, and about that time he set at liberty 30000. bond-slaues which had fled from their Lords, (being prouoked no doubt) by the motion and Instinction of God himselfe: These things did God ordaine to be done in the Imperiall citty, euen in the citty of the Earths Emperour, to declare vnto the world that the mediator of mankinde, the Oyle of Gladnesse, the Prince of peace, was come in­to the world; vnto whom the title of Lord, is onely, or most rightly to be attributed, see­ing [Page] he is the true deliuerer of miserable man, the Vassall and Bond-slaue of Sinne, flying from God, from life▪ and from Heauen vnto Hel, vnto Death & the seruice of the Diuel, and restoreth him vnto his true Lord and Maister againe, that so being freed from Sin, and made the seruant of God, hee might at­taine vnto Liberty of the Angels in Heauen. What neede I recite many Records hereof, seeing God did point at him, and distinctly name him: the Angels came & ministred vn­to him, millions of men did heare him & see him: & the very diuels of Hell did acknow­ledge and confesse him. But of all manifesta­tions, that is none of the obscurest that was shewne the very night of his Natiuity vnto the shepheards of Iurie, which we haue cho­sen for the ground-worke of this booke, and the foundation of our writing. An History which will bring you like the Wisemens starre vnto the place of his Birth, and an Hi­story, which if you marke it, wil vnfold vnto you, the fruites of his Birth.

Feare not: for behold, I bring you tidings of great ioy which shal be vnto all People. That is, vn­to you is borne this day in the Citty of Dauid a Sauiour, which is Christ the Lord.

These wordes are an Epitomy or short sum of the whole Booke of the new Testa­ment, cōtaining the long expected Tydings of mans happy saluation in Iesus Christ. They were vttered as (I saied) vnto certaine shepheards of Iury, Shepheards that were faithfully attending their flockes in the fields, being the true Resemblance of gods spiritu­all pastors, and faithfull ministers, and that by an Angell sent as a solemne Embassadour from the Court of Heauen. The summe of whose message was this. That God con­sidering the wretched estate, of his woefull creatures and the damnable condition of the sons of Adam, how they lay sweltring in their fathers goare, how they stuck fast in the mire and clay, and were not able to Recouer the tree of Life, from which they had fallen, but continued subiect vnto the Doome of dam­nation, frō which, by the Law, there was no Redemption, without satisfaction for their fathers transgression. That therefore God of his mercy, not vnmindefull of his promise that he had made vnto Adam. That the seede of the Woman should breake the serpents Head. Which also, by an oth he had ratified vnto Abraham viz: That in his seed all the Nati­ons of the Earth shoulde bee blessed. Had now [Page 8] sent his son from Heauen into earth to bring man frō earth into Heauen vnto him; & that by becōming Sin for Man though he knew no sinne, that man might be made the righte­ousnesse of God in him. And therefore that they needed not to feare the death & damna­tion that was due vnto them for their Fathers transgressions, but with Ioyfull harts should embrace the Life and Saluation that was comming vnto them by the sonne of Gods Incarnation, in whom whosoeuer beleeued should not perish, but haue life euerlasting.

Feare not: for behold I bring you tidings of great Ioy which shalbe vnto, &c.

The words as you may see do generally containe an argument vnto encouragement, and in it more perticularly I obserue these 3. partes. First the encouragement it selfe, in these words, Fare not. Secondly, the reason of it, for I bring you Tidings of Ioy. Thirdly, the ioyfull tidings what it was, in these words, vnto you is borne this day in the Citty of Dauid, &c. And first of the first.

Feare not] As the comfortablest com­fort that Adam receiued in his Paradise of pleasure was the pleasant fruition of his [Page 9] Creators presence, it being replenished with all ioyes and consolations: So since his fall, like a guilty malefactor, he hath shunned no­thing more then that his sight & presence, and therefore as soone as euer he heard his voyce in the garden, hee presently sought a bush to hide his head, thinking to flie from him, from whom no man can flie, but by flying vnto him. So likewise all of his po­sterity, being partakers of their fathers impu­rity, haue shunned the fight of God, as the Executioner of their eternall misery. The Is­raelites had rather beene encountered by an hoste of the Philistines, by whom they were in no other likely-hood, but to be vtterly de­stroyed, then to come into the presence or voyce of God, by whom oftentimes they had beene most mightely protected. And Sampsons wifes parents thought the sight of God so fearefull and deadly a thing, that they halfe despaired of life, when but an An­gell appeered. And so these simple shep­heards were stroken downe amazed, when the Glory of this God began to shine about them. Thus sinfull Cain shaketh at euery shadow; euery tree he thinketh a gallowes, euery one that meeteth him, he deemeth will massaker him: yea, euen his owne friendes [Page 10] he mistrusteth will kill him, for he knoweth that stuble can not stand before the fire, that darkenesse cannot continue when the light approacheth, and that man must needes pe­rish, when as the God of Iustice is come in presence, seeing man is as stuble, and God a consuming fire, seeing man is Darkenesse, and God is a Light, seeing man is wicked, & God is righteous. Timuerunt ergo timore mag­no. They feared therefore (saith Luke) with a great feare, their sinnes were the cause of their feare, and ours deseruing no lesse then theirs, we haue no cause but to feare with them: but what comfort hath the Angell brought with him? marry this. Feare not.

As though he should haue said, yee sor­rowfull and sinfull shepheards, who by rea­son of your manifold sins and iniquities, are ashamed like the pensiue Publican to cast vp your polluted eyes vnto the vnspotted throne of the righteous God, but go mour­ning like reiected Cains, and cursing with Iob, the dayes of your Natiuitie, because yee lie subiect vnto the horrible curse of Lucifer and his Angells, by reason of your originall and actuall sinnes, and therefore feare lest God should cause the earth to swallow you vp, as it did Corah and his confederates, or [Page 11] else to be consumed with fire, by reason of this fiery Light that shineth about you, as the Sodomites were in the dayes of Lot. If ye knew for what cause I am come downe vnto you, ye would be so farre from feare or sorrow, that you would rather with that De­mocrites passe ouer your dayes in perpetuall Laughter. For behold I bring you Tidings, and Tidings of so great Ioy, that the very mountaines, if they could heare it, would skip like Rams, and the little hills like young sheepe: so that henceforward you may sing Salomons song, as heretofore ye haue sighed out leremies Lamentations, wherfore looke vp and behold; behold the Angell of God who am sent from the Throne of his Al­mighty Maiesty, with all the rest of these heauenly Souldiers, to declare tidings of ioy vnto you; wherefore seeing that you are in such fauor with the King of Kings, the Al­mighty Iehouah, the Lord of hostes, in that he hath regarded you more then all the na­tions of the earth, in that you shall see the Redeemer of mankinde, euen Iesus Christ the Son of God before any else. Seeing. (I say) you are in such fauor, and so regarded of him, who is onely to be feared, there is no cause that ye ought to feare.

But here by the way wee must note what Feare is meant in this place: for a Diuision must needs be granted, els there wil be found an Opposition in Religion, which Religion denieth, and a concordance of repugnant contrarieties in one subiect, which Reason in no sort admitteth. For Feare is called Princi­pium sapientiae, the beginning of wisedome, and Salomon saith, it is the root of Life, the fulnes of knowledge, the glory and renowne of a Christian, and the most happy gift. And Dauid saith, that the Lord hath prouided an euerlasting heritage for them that feare him: and yet it is said here, Feare not. S. Paul in the eight to the Romanes setteth downe two kindes of feare, the one a Seruill feare, proper vnto the diuells and his damnable adherents, the other a filiall feare, or the feare of children towards their parents, which is peculiar vnto the Seruants of God. A seruil feare may be seene in Pharao, who feared the Lord when he let the people of Israell depart; but it was onely for feare lest hee should be destroied by those plags & punish­mēts which were denounced against him, & which he had begun already to haue tasted of: So Cain feared when he had slaine his brother, so Iudas feared when hee had be­trayed [Page 13] his maister. Thus the Gentiles feared their Idols; for it was not for any Loue that they could beare thē, being so wicked & vn­godly as they were; but only lest they shold be hurt by them, if they did not serue them. Of this feare Saint Peter speaking saith Timorem eorum ne timueritis, Feare not their feare, or feare not after their maner of fearing. meaning the seruil feare of wicked men. But of the other kinde of feare he saith presently after Dominum autem Christum sanctificate in Cordibus vestris cum modestia et timore. But sanctifie the Lord Iesus in your harts with modesty and feare. And S. Paul writing of this feare saith, Cum timore & tremore vestrum &c. worke out your saluation with modesty and feare. And this feare is called the feare of children, which feare their Parents, more for displeasing them, or prouoking their an­ger, then for the punishment, which by the offence might redownd vnto themselues. This feare was neither forbidden the shep­heards. nor vs, nor any else, but onely that seruil feare, which the Law did bring with it, whē nothing but plagues & punishmēt was denounced against them that did not what­soeuer by the Lawe was commaunded vnto them. Therefore many of the Iewes did ser­uilely [Page 14] feare God, but they loued him not, as may appeare, in that they had rather haue worshipped any stock or stone if thei might haue had their choise without feare of pu­nishment. But now, seeing Christ is come to fulfill the Law for vs, and that God; doth require nothing but our endeuoure, if with firme faith we cleaue vnto the merrits, and suffrings of his sonne, therfore in this respect it is said vnto the Shepheards, & in them vn­to vs, Feare not. And thus much of the com­fort, now of the reason therof why we need not feare.

For beholde, I bring you Tidings, of Great Ioy which shall be vnto all people.

Non oportet esse tristitiae locum vbi est natalis gaudiorum: There ought not to be any place for feare or care saith Augustine, when the Birthday of Ioy & blisse is come in presence; for can the childrē of the Bridechamber moorne when the bridegroome is with them? haue the thunderclaps of Sinai bin able to deiect vs, & shall not the songs of Sion be as forcible to erect vs? shall the Law terrifie vs, when the Gospel is sent to cheere vs? But what is this that he saieth, that this Ioy shall be vnto [Page 15] all people? shall all be saued? shall there be no lost sheep in the house of Israel? no goats to stand on the left hand in the day of iudge­ment? shall all be carried into Abrahams bosome? shall all be voide of feare by his comming? I answer, the Lord knoweth who are his: And hath tould vs, that as the way of Life is narrowe and the gate straight, so there shalbe but few that shall find it. For many saith he shal cry, Lord, Lord, open to vs, and shalbe sent away with Nescio vos, I know you not; And in his prayers Christ saith of himselfe that he prayed not for all the world, but onely for those that his father had giuen him out of the world. Therfore it is manifest, that although the Angel saith, that this Ioie of his Birth should be vnto all, yet that all shall not be made Pertakers of the fruits therof. But as touching the merrits of Christ we must speake after two sorts; either according to Sufficiencie; or as touching Efficiencie. Christ his Death was sufficient to haue saued all, but it was not efficient vn­to any, but onely vnto those that belee­ued in him, which were not borne of water and bloud, but of the spirit of God. And so, by all, we may vnderstand the kinds of peo­ple, as a learned father saith, Non pro singu­lis [Page 16] generum, sed pro generibus singulorum, &c. Christ died not for all, of euery kinde, but for the kinde of all; euen for those that were of his Church, and beleeued in him. And in this respect saith Augustine, let euery one wipe his teares from his eyes, and bannish feares from his heart, that doth beeleeue in this Sauiour that is sent. Art thou a sinner (saith he) Reioyce now, because a pardon is sent from the Iudge vnto thee. Art thou a Gentill, Reioice now: because thou shalt re­ceiue saluation with the Iewes, hast thou bin a stranger from God, and an Aliant from his couenant? be glad now because thou mayest be ingrafted into his Body. And in an other place he saith, Reioyce ye Iust, because it is the Birthday of your Iustifier: Reioyce ye feeble and sicke, because it is the Birthday of your spirituall Phisition: Reioyce ye that liue in captiuity, because it is the Birthday of your Deliuerer: Reioyce ye seruants, be­cause it is the Birthday of your Lord: Re­ioyce ye freemen in heauen, because it is the Birthday of him that did set you free: Re­ioyce all Christians, because it is the Birth­day of Christ: and to be short, Reioyce all people, because it is the Birthday of the Saui­our of all people. If any man haue cause to [Page 17] feare or be sorrowfull still, this is the cause; that though Light came into the world, yet he loued Darknesse more then the Light, because his works should be euill. And thus much of the reason of the comfort why they should not feare: now to the Tidings of Ioy it selfe.

Ʋnto you is borne this day in the Citty of Da­uid a Sauiour, which is Christ the Lord.]

Wherein wee will note, first the Person who was borne: Secondly, the Person of whom he was borne: Thirdly, when: Fourthly, where: and Fiftly, for what cause he was borne.

In the beginning of this Treatise, you heard, in part, of the misery of Adam after his fall, that whereas he had bin placed in Para­dise, a garden of pleasure, inioying the sight and presence of God, his state was compa­rable euen to the Angels of Heauen: for though he were subiect vnto God his Crea­tor, yet was he Soueraigne ouer all his Crea­tures, his labour was rest, and his rest might haue bin continuall: his paine was pleasure, and his pleasure might haue bin eternall; he had health without danger of sicknesse, and life without feare of death, the flesh and the [Page 18] spirit neuer striued, the body obeyed the soule; and the soule gouerned the body: In a word, neither hell nor graue, death nor di­uell, could so much as touch or trouble him, so standing as God had appointed. But when he presumed to taste of that fruite that onely was forbidden him, presently the case was cleane altered, so that in stead of life, he heard that fearefull sentence: Thou shalt die the Death. Then was the Earth accursed for his sake, and he was thrust out of Paradise, in the entrance whereof, God set the Cheru­bines with the blade of a sword shaking, to keepe the way of the tree of life: so that he was faine to betake himselfe to this miserable and wretched world, the kingdome of the Serpent: whither could he now goe, but he should meete with a curse, seeing all things were accursed? What might he do, but lie sweating in the miserable and pittifull pangs of desperation? What comfort might hee finde in his wife, or his wife in him, but teares and torments, sorrowes and sighes, crying and howling, weeping and wailing, groaning and gnashing of teeth? Beeing so clogged with the intollerable burden of their sinnes, so ouerwhelmed with the bloo­dy floudes of Gods vengeance, so pittifully [Page 19] and plentifully powred out vpon them: now they perceiue the wages of their sinne to be death and damnation: now they pine away for hunger, and would be glad of the worst and sowrest apple in all Paradise: now they thirst like the Hart after the water of those sweet running Riuers: now they feele the want of Gods presence and amiable coun­tenance, they perceiue the Serpent to be bu­sie about their heeles, most greedily sucking their blood, neither can they both finde out the meanes to shake him off, or bruise his head: therefore they sit like two children ha­uing by misfortune slaine their deere and louing father, weeping and howling the one to the other: they had slaine the Image of their heauenly father, they had poisoned their soules with an Apple which the vene­mous serpent had spit vpon: they feele the worme of a guilty conscience lie gnawing their bowells, and all Creatures disobeyed them, and rebelled against them, in that they had shewed themselues disobedient rebells against their Lord and Creator. But what followed? The mercifull and louing Lord, when we stood at this point, and in a maner at defiance with him; although he saw that the imaginations of mans heart would be e­uill, [Page 20] and that he would alwayes beare a stiffe stomacke against him and his holy will; yet did he not vtterly cast vs off, but blessed, O blessed be his name therefore, hee hath shewne vs a glad and cheerefull counte­nance, it greeued him that we had deserued his wrath, but it would haue greeued him much more, if that we had died the deserued death: therefore that Iustice might haue his course, and his mercy neuerthelesse might be seene ouer all his workes, he was content to send the Diadem of his deitie, that precious pearle, his owne glory, in whom was all his delight, his onely begotten, his best beloued Sonne, euen him before whom the 24. Elders threwe downe their Crownes humbly: whom the Angels magnified, and all the hoast of heauen worshipped conti­nually: and to this end, that he might bee borne of sinfull flesh, that it being defiled with sinne, might be cleansed by the seede of righteousnesse; to be hungry for materiall bread; that our hungry soules might be fed with the bread of life: to be polluted with our spitle, that we might be cleansed by his spirit to be condemned to death by vs, that we might attaine vnto life by him, to bee crowned with a crowne of thornes, that we [Page 21] might be crowned with crownes of glory, to sustaine our sorrowes that we might attaine his ioyes: and in a word, to be borne in mise­ry, to liue in beggery, and to die with ignomi­ny: for his cradle was a cratch, his life crossed, and his kind of death accursed, that mankind might be blessed: but of this hereafter.

The person of whom he was born is most distinctly expressed, and expresly designed in Luke, both with the name of hir espoused Husband, the Citty she dwelt in; the linage and Tribe she came of, and the messenger that was sent from god vnto hir. All which I thinke was not superuacaniously, or in vaine set downe, seeing that neither a leafe from the tree, nor an haire can fal to the ground with­out the will and prouidence of God. There is not a Letter or sillable in the Gospell, but hath some special vse, and also is replenished with celestiall and heauenly sweetnesse, if it haue a dilligent examiner, that can tell how to sucke Hony out of the Rocke, and Oile out of the Flint stone, as the prophet speaketh Esay. 45. The Angell Gabriell was sent to a virgin es­poused to a man, whose name was Ioseph. Luke 1. &c. But what virgin was it that was so vene­rable, as to bee saluted of an Angell, and yet so humble as to be espoused to Ioseph a car­penter? [Page 22] O most excellent no doubt was the commixtion of virginity and humillity; nei­ther doth that person smally delight God, in whome Humility commendeth Virginity, and Virginity exorneth, and beautifieth hu­mility. Wee heare she was a Virgin, and and we heare she was humble; if we can not imitate the virginity of this humble woman, yet let vs folow the Humility of that Virgin. Commendable is Virginity, but more neces­sary is Humillity: for that is but Counselled. but this is commaunded: that we are inuited vnto, but vnto this we are compelled. Of that it is said, I would that euery one were a virgine as my selfe; but of this it is affirmed, That except we be as humble as little Chil­dren we cannot enter Heauen. For without Virginity a man may be saued, but without Humillity hee can not. And therefore saith Mary in her song of thanksgiuing. He respe­cted (what? not my Virginity) but the Lowly estate of his handmaid. Of this hum­ble virgin came Christ in his humility, & for this he respected hir, to shew vs how he re­specteth the humble. It was meet that shee should be meek and Humble: of whom the meeke and humble in hart should proceed; & it was requisite that she should be a pure [Page 23] Virgin & vnspoted, of whom the Immacu­late & vnspotted Sauior should be born, that should clense the spots of the impure world. Adam and Eue as they were the begetters of all, so were they the destroiers of all; yea and which is a more mischiefe, they first destroid vs before they begat vs; for their Seed being impure by their sinne we were al conceaued sinfull, and subiect vnto destruction; The consideratiō whereof might cause vs to feare with the Shepheards; But saith the Angell, Feare not, for ye haue wherewith to redeeme the Impurity of your conception: euen the purity of the conception of your Redeemer. If he had bin vncleane himselfe in his cōcep­tion, how could he haue clensed ours; ther­fore to make them cleane which were borne of vncleane seed he was conceiued without any seed of man. For (as the Angell Gabriell tould hir) the Holy Ghost came vpon hir, & the power of the most High ouershadowed hir. And therefore that holy thing that was borne of hir, was, & is called the son of God: what greater miracle then this? yea who euer heard so great miracles as these, as that God should be man and yet God stil? That a vir­gin should be a mother without the corrup­tion of hir Virginity? Surely I may now with [Page 24] security expect, that that holy one shall not see corruption, but shall rise againe for our Iustification, seing he would not suffer cor­ruption in the Virginity of his mother.

Further, we may obserue this in the wis­dome of God, how he maketh the woman a Conduite Pipe of our comfort and Felicity, which before was the instrument of our care and misery; so that as before we laid the fault vpon Eua, Saying, The woman which thou gauest me, gaue to me to eate, &c. So now we may with ioiful harts say to God; Mary which thou gauest me, gaue me of the Tree of Life, & I did eate of it. And it was sweeter thē hony vnto my mouth, for in it thou hast reuiued me: Thus the wise woman rebuil­deth the house, which the foolish had cast downe before. Mary, like the tree of life, bea­reth the fruite of Saluation for vs, as Eue of­fered the apple of Damnation vnto vs.

Nowe let vs proceede to the time of his birth, which was in the midst of winter, e­uen of the colde and tempestuous winter, when all thinges seeme dead and withered, when the Trees, not onely beare no fruite, but also, want their Leaues: when the birdes sing not, nor the Sunne warmeth, nor the heauens are cleere, nor the Aire tollerable, [Page 25] nor the Earth delightfull, nor any creature cheerefull, euen in this withered, barren, and frozen time of the yeare; nay of the world: yea in the dark night of this winter was our Sauiour Borne: for then was the night of which the Apostle speaking saith now is past, when darkenes was ouer the face of the deepe, yea a spirituall and inward darkenesse of the minde when the Light of Knowledge and Vnderstanding was very much obseu­red, & the darkenes of ignorāce had posses­sed mens harts, that few had the true know­ledge of God, or could be instructed in the path of his wayes. There was no Prophet a­mongst them, no chirping of birds was heard in their Land, there was a barrennes, not onely of good workes, but euen of the leaues of good words. Theeues made their dennes in the Temple, and Foxes crept in­to Sion. Charity was cold, and mens hearts were frozen: Iustice was banished, and vn­righteousnes embraced: and therefore ac­cording to the time of the yeare, I meane the course of their life, the stormes and tempests of Gods heauy iudgments, might with rea­son be exspected. But euen in this cod dead winter, and darke time of the night, warme and cheerefull Light appeered vnto the [Page 26] Shepheards, and the glory of the Lord did shine most brightly vpon them, and the Ti­dings of this ioyfull Natiuity was tould vnto them, which is all one with that which the a­postle saith. That when we were Sinners Christ died for vs. And this was the fulnesse of time. Gal. 4. for the fulnesse of Earthly and temporal things, had made a dearth and barrennesse of heauenly and spiritual. This was the time which the Prophet Ioell pro­phesied of, when the mountaines should drop downe new wine, and the hils should flow with milke, and all the Riuers of Iudah should flowe with waters. This was the day wherein God promised the Heauens should send downe their Dew, and the Cloudes drop Righteousnesse, and Saluation and Iustice should growe foorth of the Earth together. This was the day which many Kinges and Prophets desired to see, and could not see it: Yea happy were they that were so happy as to hope for this day: Father Sime­on desired to liue to this day, though hee liued not a day longer, and therefore as soone as euer he saw him whom his soule had so long longed after, presently he said, Lord now lettest thou thy seruant depart in peace, for myne eyes haue seene thy saluation. &c. This was the comfortable day, in the hope wherof [Page 27] the Prophets comforted vp themselues and the people, declaring it in such sort, as though the insensible creatures, as the mountaines and the vallies should be refreshed thereby: Such was the prophesie of Esay: Reioyce, O heauens, and be glad O earth, burst foorth into prayses O mountaines, for God hath visited his people, and will haue mercy on his afflicted. And the Prophet Zacharie saith: Reioyce, for great ioy O daughter Sion, shout out for ioy O daughter Ierusalem, Behold thy king commeth vnto thee. If these reioiced so much in that the Messias should come, How much more should our soules magnifie the Lord, and our spirits re­ioyce in him, who already is come, and as this day born vnto vs? This is the day which the Lord did promise to our forefathers, let vs reioyce and be glad in it. Let vs clap our handes for ioy and gladnes, let vs sing vnto the Lord with the voyce of melodie: for Christ our Sauiour is borne as this day, let vs sing prayses therefore all of vs with vn­derstanding: But some man wil say, this day was long agoe, it is olde and stale newes that Christ was borne, I know indeede that the Messias was borne, not onely long before our times, but euen before all times. But I reade also, that Iesus is yesterday, and to day, [Page 28] and the same for euer: and therefore if the fathers reioiced to see his day before it came, we may as well celebrate the memoriall of it as present now it is come.

But now let vs proceede and inquire out the place of his birth: And that the Euan­gelists affirme to be Bethlehem the citie of Dauid, what if it be a poore village? what if it be the least in all the land of Iudea? shall it be an argument that he was not born there? nothing lesse, for what was more beseeming him, that when he was rich, became poore for vs: and of a great and mightie Lord, be­came a little child, then to be born in a poore and little village. And in this he declareth vnto vs, how greatly he affecteth the poore in spirite, and those that are of a lowly and humble hart: For as he sayd vnto his Disci­ples of his washing of their feete, so it may be said of his other actions, I haue giuen you an example, that you should doe as I haue done: And in this shall all men knowe that ye are my Disciples. If thou wouldst distin­guish betwixt the corne and the chaffe, cast them foorth; the good corne descendeth, but the chaffe will ascend: the wicked are still aspiring, and mounting vpward in this world, but the godly cast down their crowns [Page 29] with the 24. Elders at the feete of the Lamb: Dicit se filius indignum vt, pater eum iudicet dignum; The prodigall sonne termeth him­selfe vnworthy, that his father might terme him worthy: for it is alwayes true, that Cum inclinatur humilitas, excitatur miserecordia, when humilitie stoupeth downe, mercy ari­seth vp. And therefore saith Peter: Humisia­mini sub potenti manu domini, vt vos exaltat in diem Iudicij, Humble your selues vnder the mightie hand of God, that he may exalt you in the day of iudgement: The tree doth not grow vpward except it first take root down­warde: The higher wee meane to builde an house, the lower we must lay the foundati­on, for he that thinketh to doe the one, with­out performing the other, may seeme frugall in the beginning, but will prooue a foole in the ende: The high hils seeme next vnto the cloudes, but the lowe vallies are most refre­shed by them, euen so God resisteth the proude, but giueth grace vnto the humble: The glow-worme shineth bright, and in the darke gloriously, but is blacke and vgly when it commeth to light: whatsoeuer the condition of the proude man seemeth now in the darknes of this worlde, I am sure that when the Sonne of righteousnes shall shine [Page 30] in the last day it shall prooue very lowe and base.

I would that ye were all little Bethelem of Iuda, poore in spirit, and little in your owne eyes, that Christ might vouchsafe to bee borne in you by his spirit, as he was there in the flesh. Bethelem signifieth as much as the house of bread, therefore it is good to bee there: and if we may not build Tabernacles of abode in that place, yet let vs send thither with Iacob, our Camels and Asses, I meane our affections, that we may liue, and not die: It is the house of bread, euen of that liuing bread that came downe from heauen, of which whosoeuer eateth shall liue for euer. Happy were the people that were in such a case, yea blessed was Bethelem that had the Lord for their bread. Let vs pray, beloued, that we may be also Bethelem, the house of bread, that the Lord may turne in vnto vs; for otherwise, if we be vnprouided, as he that was faine to trouble his neighbour at mid­night for a fewe loaues, we are not fit to re­ceiue so great a guest. But who hath this Bread? euen he whose heart is confirmed & strengthned, for bread strengthneth the hart of man; and who is confirmed or strength­ned in hart? but he whose hart is setled to the [Page 31] Commandements of the Lord, which doth not wauer in his faith, but goeth forward with a determined hart towards the heauen­ly Canaan, forgetting the flesh pots of Egypt which are behinde, and not so much as loo­king backe towards the forsaken Sodom. For if any one be doubtfull and wauering in his faith, if a man be not resolued to proceed in his vocation, but is in a quandary, whither he should go forward or backeward, deny his faith, or maintaine it, forsake his sinnes, or returne to his vomit: this man is not pre­pared to receiue the Lord: Christ will not be borne in such a mans house who wanteth faith the bread of life, as the Scripture calleth it, saying, the iust shal liue by faith. But what! did Bethelem beleeue in Christ? did shee so abound with the bread of faith, that the Lord chose his Inne there, rather then any where else? nay surely, she was farre from that in nature, which she seemed to be by hir name, though she brought forth this Sonne, accor­ding to the duty of a mother, yet she was farre from a motherlike affection towards him: though the walles of hir house contai­ned him carnally, yet the affections of hir hart would not entertaine him spiritually. And indeed, we may say of this as Paul doth [Page 32] of other like mysteries: All things were done in former times, in tipes and figures. The be­leeuing soule is that true citty of bread where­in Christ is dayly borne spiritually, as he was in Bethelem carnally: So that I thinke this name was giuē hir, rather as a prophesie that the bread of Life, Christ Iesus should be borne in hir, then for that shee was fed or nourished by him.

Furthermore, the holy ghost not onely hath expressed the name of the towne, but also the very house, yea, and the very place or roome of the house wherein he was borne, neither is it to be thought curiosity in vs to search the meaning of euery particular, which the spirit of wisedome so curiously hath expressed. Sub sordido palliolo lateat sapi­entia. Vnder a patched coate may lurke wise­dome, and vnder a plaine stile, may mystical­ly be contained most learned institutions; so that, not onely the deep Ocean sea is to bee sounded, but also the shallow foords of Meander are diligently to be considered. Neither do I thinke it haphazard that Christ was borne in a stable (for such is the place that the Euangelists affirme that he was born in) but that it was appointed by God for spe­ciall reasons long before, who doth nothing [Page 33] rashly, but hath a reason of all his actions.

Ye heard before how honorable was the condition of Adam in his Innocencie, being like vnto God, and created in his Image; But the Psalmist witnesseth, man being in honor, and wanting vnderstanding, he was compa­red vnto the Beasts that perish, and in na­tural affections became indeed a very beast, and for his beastly similitude and resemblāce stood tied as it were at the manger, to receiue the fodder of beasts. A strange alteration (be­loued) that he that was the possessor of Pa­radise, the lord of the whole earth, the hous­hold seruāt of the god of saboth, the brother of the blessed and celestiall spirits, and the perfect Image of the holy Trinity, should so degenerate from his kinde, as to become so lowe and base as a Beast. But marke heere, and consider the proceedings of god: for whereas man being become a beast had left the Heauenly bread of Life, delighting more in the fodder of Beastes; Behold now that bread of Life is turned into Flesh, nay into grasse, which is the food of Beasts (for all flesh is grasse) and lieth in a racke or manger to be eaten and chewed of vs beasts. Ther­fore let the Oxe now know his own, and the Asse his masters crib. Let them drawe neere [Page 34] to him in the stable, whom they fled from in the garden. Let them honor him in the man­ger, whom they contemned in his maiesty, and let them feede on him beeing grasse, whom they loathed when he was bread; yea let them with an eager and liuely faith rumi­nate and chew vpon him, that they may be nourished and grow vp by him. He must be receiued by Hearing, chewed by Vnder­standing and disiested by beleeuing, or as an other saith. The eating of his flesh, is a cer­taine hunger and desire, to be incorporated into him. And indeed as our sauiour sayth. He that eateth the flesh of the sonne of man &c. shall liue for euer.

A Sauiour] But wherefore did Christ so debase himselfe? Euen that he might be a Sauior vnto vs? that he might drawe vs vnto him with the ropes of man, and with the cords of his loue, as Ose speaketh. And ther­fore he leaueth no meanes vntried, to bring vs vnto him, no not though they be neuer so base, as to be borne in a Stable.

There is none of vs that liue in this regi­on of death, in the infirmities of the flesh, and amidst the Temptations that are commonly offered, but hath need of Counsell, of Help, [Page 35] and of comfort, for we are Faciles ad seducen­dum, debiles ad operandum, & fragiles ad re­sistendum: if we would discerne betwixt good and euill, we are easily deceiued. If we trie to do good, we are quickly tyred. And if we are tempted, we are sudenly subdued. Therfore to enlighten our blindnes, to help our weak­nes, and to defend our frailnesse, Christ was borne vnto vs. Therefore Feare not. For if he be in vs, who shall deceiue vs? If hee bee with vs, what can we not do in him that strengthneth vs? If he stand for vs, what need we care who be against vs? seeing he is the faithful Counseller, which can neither deceiue nor be deceiued, seeing he is the Almightie God; which is neuer wearied; seeing he is the strong man, that bindeth Sathan, breaketh the Serpents Head, and is neuer vanquished. Wherefore Feare not, O Adam, neither flie any longer. Runne not in to the bushes from the sight of thy Maker, for behold, hee hath sent thee this day a Sauiour. Once thou wast persuaded by the serpēt, to sin against God, and being taken in the fact, thou hadst rea­son to feare. Yea perhaps he brandished his fiery sword against thee: but now it is not so. He commeth not with weapons, to punish, but with mercy, to preserue. If thou saist [Page 36] thou heardst his voice, and therefore fledst; why? he is an Infant, and without any voyce, and if he haue a voyce, it is a voyce more to be pitied then feared. Yea in this thou shalt know, that he is come to saue thee, and not destroy thee, in that he fighteth for thee a­gainst such as rose against thee. Thou hadst but two enemies, Sinne and Death, the death of the body, and the death of the soule: hee commeth to destroy either, and to saue thee from both: therefore feare not, he destroyed sinne in his owne person, when hee tooke mans flesh vpon him without any pollution: For great was the violence that was offered vnto sinne, when humane nature, which was alwayes before as it were in a leprosie, was found in Christ as white as snowe: therefore I hope, yea I am assured that he can plucke out the beame in mine eye, which hath neuer a moate in his owne, that he may satisfie for my sinne, which was neuer defiled himselfe with any. I reade of two that were called Ie­sus, that is, Sauiour, who as they went before this that we speake of, so I thinke they were tipes and prefigurations of him. One of which brought the people out of Babilon, the other brought them into Canaan, both defended them from their enemies, but nei­ther [Page 37] saued them from their sinnes: But this deliuereth vs from our sinnes, bringeth vs out of bondage, and placeth vs as kings in the land of the liuing. Sinne had made a se­paration of the bodie from the soule, and the soule from the bodie, & of both from God: but Iesus hath brought them all together a­gain, yea & in a far neerer coniunction then euer before. For now they that were at mu­tual variance, are now reconciled frends. Yea and so reconciled, that as in the blessed Deity there is a trinitie in persons, but an vnitie in substance: Euen so in this happy reconcili­ation there is a Trinitie in substance, but an Vnitie in the persons. And as there the Tri­plicitie of persons doth not breake the vnity, nor the simplicitie of the vnitie doth not di­minish the trinitie: So heere in like manner the persons doth not confound the substan­ces, nor the substances doe hinder the vnitie of the person; for the word, the Soule, and flesh, are become one person, and these three are one, and this one thing is three, not by confusion of the substances, but by the vni­tie of the person: O wonderfull and super­excellent vnion! who euer heard that things so diuerse should so meete together, as to be one person; yea, soone person, that whatso­euer [Page 38] God may be sayde to haue done in the body, the body may be sayd to haue done it. And whatsoeuer the body suffereth, God may be sayd to haue suffred, by reason of this coniunction. The Angels surely were asto­nied heere at, seeing him beneath themselues, whom they did alwayes adore and worship aboue themselues. The Cherubins which God commaunded to be placed at the two ends of the Arke of the couenant, with their face being turned one towardes another, and both looking on the mercyseate, do signifie as much vnto vs, as that they admyred and wondered to see a woorke of so great pietie. viz. To see God made the propitiatory sacri­fice of the worlde, and to debase himselfe so low as to become a man But behold the pro­phecie (as I may terme it) of Adam fulfilled, Man (quoth he) shall leaue father and mo­ther, and cleaue vnto his wife, and they two shall be one fleshe. Christ Iesus leaueth his Father and the Angelles in Heauen, for to associate himselfe vnto his spouse in earth, and (as you haue heard) she is bone of his bone; and flesh of his flesh, for they are no more two but one person. And this beloued, is tydings of great ioy; for now, according to the lawes of wedlocke, we may assure our [Page 39] selues to haue all thinges in common with him; so that he shall take vpon him our sins and transgressions as his owne, and we again shall be partakers of his puritie and holinesse as our owne; That our debts shall be requi­red at his hands, and we be saued harmles & discharged of them, which is all one with that which is sayd here; that a Sauiour is born vnto vs. But this by the way, wee must not now forget, that it is our partes and duties to forget likewise our owne people and fathers house; to abandon all strange loues, and to admit none into the fellowship of that spiri­tuall bedde, but to cleaue onely vnto him, to honor and obey him, to reuerence and loue him, to keepe our chastities vnspotted, our soules and bodies pure and vndefiled for him: And as our nature is one with his who so is heauenly and diuine; so to liue an hea­uenly & diuine life, neither louing any thing that he lotheth, or lothing any thing that he loueth, but that his will be our will, and his precepts our continuall practises.

As he hath ouercome Sinne in his owne person, in being conceiued, and liuing with­out Sinne, so hath he deliuered vs also from the guilt therof, by suffering the punishment for vs, and imputing his Righteousnes vnto [Page 40] vs: also in that he ouercame Sin, it appeareth plainely that he hath vanquished death. For death is but the stipend and wages of Sinne, and as it were the effect and fruite of Sinne. For if man had auoyded the first, he should surely haue escaped the latter, for it was not the corruption of our bodies that made our soules sinfull, but the Sinne of our Soules that made our bodies corruptible. And ther­fore if the fountaine be drie, the brookes must needs be drie: If the cause be taken a­way, the effects must of necessity follow, as if the Sunne be darke, the Moone and the Starres can giue no light: death a great while amazed al mankind. (I speake of the eternall and neuer-dying death, of which Gregory speaking faith Mors erit immortalis, defectus indeficiens, & finis infinitus, vnto which belon­geth the worm that neuer dieth, when a man shall be alwayes dying and neuer dead euer­lastingly, hauing an end, and yet no end; stil decaying, and neuer decayed. Because his end euer beginneth, his death euer liueth, and his decay neuer ceaseth, From which, by the Law, there was no Redemption, which would haue brought into eternall subiection all creatures whatsoeuer, if this Sauiour and deliuerer had not bin born vnto vs, so that e­uery [Page 41] soule like the mothers in Rama [...], might haue iustly sighed forth those dolefull dirges of weeping, mourning, and lamentation; and with Iob haue cursed the dayes of their Na­tiuity, by reason of the torments and tortures of the dead. But as the Asse called Cumanus asmus, getting vp and downe in a Lions skin, did for a while terrifie his maister, but after­ward being descried, did do him no good ser­uice: So death which sometimes made afraid the wisemen of the world, by his skin or sting of Eternity. Nowe since our Sauiour hath bereaued him thereof, seemeth contempti­ble, euen vnto Children, so that they dare boldly goe vnto it, for they know it shall be­nifite them very much: for if they be oppres­sed with any miseries or calamities in this life, when they shall come to death, they shall be discharged, and death as an Asse shall beare their burdens for them; yea they know, that death vnto them shall bee no death, but an entrance into euerlasting life, and therefore they feare not.

God is the life of the soule, as the Soule is of the bodie, by sinning voluntarily the Soule lost God hir life, therefore she can not now at hir pleasure giue life. She would not be gouerned of God, therefore now she can [Page 42] not gouerne the body. Hauing not obey­ed hir superiour why should she command hir inferiour. God found his creature rebel­lious against him. The Soule was found a transgressor of Gods law, now therefore she findeth a law in hir members repugning the law of hir mind. Sinne separated betwixt God and hir, therefore death doth seperate betwixt hir and the body. The Soule could not be diuided from God, but by sin, neither can the body from the Soule, but by death: what iniury therfore suffred she, if she suffe­red that of hir subiect which she committed hir self against hir prince? Nothing surely was more agreeable vnto Iustice, then that death should be rewarded with death; spiri­tuall with corporall, and voluntary with ne­cessary. Whenas man therfore had deser­ued according to either nature, to suffer this double death, the one spirituall and volun­tary, the other corporall and necessary; from either of them the man-god Christ Iesus most mightily hath deliuered vs, by his owne corporall and voluntary death: and in that one of his, hath satisfied for both of ours. If he had not died corporally, he had not paid our debt, and if he had not died vo­luntarily, his death had not bin meritorious. [Page 43] But now if (as it is said) the merit of death is sinne, and the woges of sinne is death. Christ remitting and forgiuing our sinne, and dy­ing for sinners, the merit is abolished, & the debt is discharged. But how shall we knowe that Christ can forgiue vs our sinnes? euen by this, in that he is God: But how shall wee knowe that hee is God? his miracles doe prooue it: for he doth the works which no no man else can doe, yea God himselfe from heauen hath confirmed the same. Therefore if Christ be for vs, who is against vs? If Iesus iustifie vs, who shall condemne vs? It is he, and no other, to whom we confesse our sins, saying, Against thee onely haue I sinned, &c. Who could better, nay who could at all forgiue vs that which was committed against him? Or how can he not do this, which can do all things? In a word, if I can pardon that which is committed against me, if I will, shal not God our Christ be able to forgiue that which is committed against him, if he wil? If therefore hee can forgiue and pardon our sinnes, both because hee is omnipotent, and onely can, because they are onely done against him. Surely blessed is the man to whom this Lord Christ will not impute sinne. Therefore we know that Christ, by the [Page 44] power of his diuinity is able to forgiue sins: now of his will who need to doubt? For hee that debased him selfe so much, as to take our flesh vpon him, and to suffer death for vs, shall we thinke that he will not imparte vnto vs his righteousnes? surely yes, so that as it is euident by the consideration of his deitie, that he is able to forgiue our sinnes: so it is ma­nifest by the consideration of his Humani­ty, that he is willing so to do. But what other argument haue we that he hath vanquished death? marry this, because hee suffered it which did not deserue it. And therefore with what reason can that bee required of vs, which an other hath already paid for vs? hee that tooke away the merrit of sinne, by giuing his righteousnes vnto vs, hee hath paid the debt of death, and restored life vnto vs; for so death being vanquished, life is re­stored, as sinne being taken away, righteous­nes is returned.

But how could he die which was God▪ Euen in this respect, that hee was man. But how could the death of one man satisfie for an other? because he was Iust and Innocent that died. As he was a man, he might die, but being guiltlesse, it was not necessary. Indeed a sinner is not able to satisfie the debt of [Page 45] death for an other sinner, for euery one di­eth for his owne sinne: but he that hath no cause to die for his owne, shall we not thinke his death may be a ransome for an other? Surely by how much the more vniustly hee dieth which hath not deserued death, by so much the more iustly he liueth for whom he so dieth. But what equity is it (saist thou) that an innocent person should die for the guilty? I tell thee, it is not Iustice, but mercy: if it should haue bin Iustice, then he had not di­ed voluntarily, but of duty: if of duty, then he himselfe should die indeed, yet he for whom he so died should not liue. But neuerthelesse if it be not Iustice, yet it is not against iustice, otherwise God could not haue bin iust and mercifull at once. But although one iust man may satisfie for one sinner, yet howe is it that one may satisfie for many? for it might seeme inough, if one dying for one, do re­store Life vnto one. To this the Apostle shall answere, As by the offence of one, the fault came on all men to the Condemnation of death: So by the Righteousnes of one, the benefit abounded towards all men to the iu­stification of Life. For as by one mans diso­bedience many were made Sinners: So by the Obedience of one, many are become [Page 46] Righteous. But perhaps one man might re­store Righteousnes vnto many, but Life, not so. By one man (saith he) death entered in­to the world, and so by one is Life regayned; For as by Adam all die, so by Christ shall all be made aliue. For what! shal one man sinne and all become guilty, and shall the Righte­ousnes of one redownd but to one only? was gods Iustice such, as to condemne al for one, and cannot his mercy be as great, as to saue all by one? Or could Adam do more in euill, then Christ in good? Shall Adams Sin be imputed vnto me, and shall not Christes righteousnes belong vnto me? Shall his diso­bedience be the cause of my Death, and shal not Christs obedience restore me to life? but thou wilt say, we are worthely guilty of A­dams Sinne, because we were contained in him when he sinned, and were begotten of his flesh in the sinfull Lust of the Flesh. But I say, more truly are we begotten of god ac­cording to the spirit, then of Adam accor­ding to the flesh: I meane, if we are of the number of those whom God hath predesti­nated before the creation of the world vnto Life; And that we are begotten of god S. Iohn witnesseth where he saith, Which were not begotten of blood, nor after the will of [Page 47] the Flesh, nor of Man, but of God. And in one of his Epistles he likewise maketh men­tion of this holy generation, saying. He that is borne of God sinneth not. But thou wilt say, our carnall concupiscence and sinne, te­stifieth that we haue descended of sinners ac­cording to the flesh, and not of God. I an­swere, this generation or birth is not seene in the flesh, but in the spirit and minde: and that of those onely that can say with the A­postle, we haue the minde of the Lord, and who haue the spirit, bearing witnesse to their spirits, that they are the sonnes of God: for by the spirit of God, chastitie is infused into our mindes, as by the flesh which is of A­dam, concupiscence is diffused about in our members: and as that which is descended vnto vs from the parents of our bodies, doth neuer depart in this life from the flesh: so the other proceeding from the father of our spi­rits, is neuer excident from the intention of the mindes of his children that are perfected in him. If then we are borne of God, and elected in Christ, what equity is it that our earthly and humane generation should hurt vs more then our spirituall and heauenly is able to helpe vs? Can our carnall succession hinder the election of God, and a momentary [Page 48] sinne be a let vnto his eternall and euerlasting purpose? Nay if by one man death entered vpon all, shall not life by one man, especially such a man as Christ, be giuen vnto all? And if in Adam wee all died, shall we not much more in Christ be made aliue▪ for the fault was nothing so much as the gift; for iudge­ment came for one sinne vnto condemnati­on, but grace was of many sinnes vnto iusti­fication. Christ therefore both could remit our sinnes, in that he was God, & die, in that he was man, and by dying, deliuer vs from death, in that he was iust, and though but one, yet be sufficient vnto iustification and life for all, because both sinne and also death did enter into vs all by one. Thus all of Christ was powerfull to helpe vs, in euery thing he was profitable for vs, neither was his infirmity lesse auaileable then his maie­stie; for although by the power of his deitie hee remoued the yoke of sinne from our neckes▪ yet in the infirmity of his flesh▪ he de­stroyed the power of death by his death. And therefore true is that of the Apostle, the weakenesse of God is strongest vnto men; for his death hath freed vs from death, as his life did from errour, and his grace from sinne. But some man may say, if Christ hath thus [Page 49] deliuered vs from the power of sinne and death, what is the reason that we die dayly, and are not presently clothed with immorta­litie? mary that the truth and verity of God may be fulfilled, for seeing God loueth both mercy and truth, it is necessary that man die because God hath spoken it, and yet that he rise and liue againe, because God is merciful. So that death, although it doth not perpetu­ally raigne ouer vs, yet it remaineth for a time in vs for the truth of Gods sake; euen as sinne also, though it raigne not in our mortall bo­dies, yet it is not altogether abolished out of vs.

Thirdly, as death was put to death by this Lord of life, so likewise was sathan the prince of death: for as Origen testifieth there were besides the Theeues, two crucified on the Crosse of Christ. Christ himselfe visibly, with his wil, and for a time: the diuell inui­sibly, against his wil, and for euer: so that now the band of death which was drawne together, by the sinful life of one, was loosed by the righteous death of an other, and our malicious aduersary that neuer ment vs good is now ouertaken in the effect of his malice: for by hastening the Sonne of Gods execu­tion, he brought on all the sonnes of mens [Page 50] redemption, and his owne confusion. Ruens dum irruens, captus dum capit, mortalem perse­quens, & in saluatorem incidens. Falling whilst following, caught whilst catching, pursuing a creature, and lighting on the Sauiour: so that as before he had ouercome the first Adam, and in him, had held all mankinde captiue, now he is ouercome himselfe of a second A­dam, & by his puissance looseth the Christi­an kinde that were chosen out of mankinde, and now set free from the sinne of man, by this his aduersary, that was without sinne, though he were of mankinde. And is not this (blessed brethren) Tidings of great ioy, that such a Sauiour is borne vnto vs, that hath subdued all those that were any whit against vs? Therefore now, O dead Adam, lift vp thy head again; take hart vnto thee, and be of a good courage, for hee is borne that hath vanquished thy enemies, Sin, Death, and the Diuel: that wil reconcile thee to thy creator, and make thee a newe creature: thou hast bin dead a great while like Lazarus, and wee may thinke with Mary, that thou stinkest, but he that could make the dry bones come together, and stand vp, is able to raise thee from the dust of death, and to set thee with the Princes of the liuing God. Thou hast layne a long time in thy goare, like the woun­ded [Page 51] man of Iericho, and many haue passed by thee, but none shewed compassion on thee; but behold, here is come a good Sama­ritane to binde vp thy wounds, and to restore thee to thy health, despaire not. This (belo­ued) is the comfort of a Christian, the solace of a sinner, and the tidings of ioy that is come vnto all people: euen that there is borne vn­to vs a Sauiour. O name aboue all names, and most woorthy to be euer named; It is euen as honny vnto my mouth, and as marrowe vnto my bones; O blessed be this name of the Lord, for it turneth my water into wine, my malady into melody, my sorrowes into sollace, my musing into musicke, and my sighing into singing: like oyle, it maketh me to haue a cheerefull countenance, and like bread, it strengtheneth my fainting hart: it is as sweet incense powred forth, and therefore saith Solomon, the virgins loue him. I wil not nowe be afraide for any terrours by night, nor for the arrowes that flie by day: for my Sauiour will saue me vnder his wings, and I shall be safe vnder his fethers, his mercy and truth shall be my shield and buckler.

Many were the fauors that God shewed vnto the Israelites, in bringing them from their grieuous bondage in Egypt, to their [Page 52] stately gouernment in Canaan, whereof Da­uid seemeth very proud in that Psalme that he compiled of it. But if you consider them they will appeare nothing, in comparison of those benefits which this sweet name Sauior doth import vnto vs. First, saith Dauid, he deuided the red Sea, and led them safely through it, when their foes were drenched and ouerwhelmed in it, and in the day time he led them with a Cloud. This was their Baptisme vnder Moses as Paul saith, but if we compare it with ours, we shall finde that we haue drowned a greater enemie, euen the infernall Pharao the diuill of hell, as many as are baptised in the red Sea of this our Sa­uiours bloud. Dauid goeth farther and saith; As he led them in the day time with a cloud, so did he in the night time with a light of fire. This was, I confesse, a token of Gods great loue, to giue them such a Light; but it was nothing in comparison of that light which shineth in the darknesse of our heartes and minds, by whch whosoeuer walketh, shal neuer see darknesse, but shal haue the Light of Life. Furthermore he saith, for the glory of the Iew he claue the rock in the wildernes and gaue them Drinke as out of the great depth. But Paule saith for the comfort of vs Gentiles. This rock is Christ, which being [Page 53] clouen on the crosse by the souldiers speare, there gushed out most plentifully that water of Life which serueth to satisfie the thirst of euery soule. Dauid addeth. God opened the Doores of Heauen, and rained downe Manna vppon them to eate, which was the food of Angels: but that was but a figure of this bread of life, which is come down from Heauen vnto vs, of which whosoeuer eateth shall liue for euer. Finally, Dauid reioyseth that God by the hand of his seruant Ioshua, conducted his people into Canaan, and set them in possession of that good and pleasant land. But that was but as dung in comparison of our inheritance, our heauenly Canaan the kingdome of God, of which Iosuah our Ie­sus will crowne vs Kings for euer, if we fol­low him as he hath commanded. Seeing then (O happy Christians) that Dauid so much reioyced for those temporal blessings that God had bestowed vpon his forefa­thers, how much more ought wee to tri­umph in the remembrance of those spirituall benedictions and graces which we shall bee pertakers of for euer, by the comming of our Sauiour, wherein we seem as farre to ex­ceede the Iewes in the fauour of GOD, as the Iewes exceeded all other nations of the [Page 54] world whatsoeuer.

Euen Christ the Lord] It is added more­ouer for the increase of our comforte, that our Sauiour is Christ. This word Christ is a Greeke word, and soundeth as much as Annointed in English. Whereas then we heare that our Sauiour is Christ that is an­nointed, we are assured that he is come into the world by the speciall decree and appoint­ment of God himselfe. The externall or vi­sible Oyle that was vsed in the time of the Lawe, God ordained for the creating or ap­pointing of three sorts of officers, viz. Kings, Priests, and Prophets, whereby he did signi­fie that by the hand of this King, he would gouerne and defend his people, in the per­son of this Priest, bee called vpon and wor­shipped, and by the mouth of this Prophet, declare his wil and pleasure vnto the people. Vnto all these Offices was our Sauiour an­nointed, not with materiall or visible oyle, but with the oyle of gladnes wherewith Da­uid Prophesied hee should be annointed a­boue his fellowes. Neither beareth he these names and titles in vaine, but also hee execu­teth the Offices belonging thereunto: For first he hath deliuered vs, like a King, from the power of our enemies, and hath made vs [Page 55] free-men with the Angels in heauen, yea he hath giuen vs Lawes and Statutes to obserue, which whoso keepeth, shall liue in them: blessing also them that serue him, and dam­ning such as rebell against him. Therefore in that we heare our Sauiour is annointed our King, to rule ouer vs, wee haue no little cause to reioyce, in that we may be assured, that the kingdome of darknesse, which our aduersarie the diuell had begun to erect and stablish in vs, shall nowe bee ruinated and pluckt downe: In stead whereof Christ wil establish his heauenly kingdome, which is iustice, peace, and ioy of the holy ghost: al­so, that he shall bridle, with his might, and bruise with his rod of iron, not onely wicked and diuelish men, but also the diuel himselfe and al his Angels, which go about to hinder the increase of his glory, or our health and saluation.

Secondarily, in that he is annointed our Priest, we haue this comfort giuen vnto vs, that we haue one that will sacrifice continu­ally, like good Iob for his children, and make intercession for vs. The office of the Priest in the time of the Lawe was, to pray for the people, to blesse them, to sacrifice for them, to consecrate and sanctifie them according [Page 56] to the commandement. This was a great comfort in those dayes, vnto the afflicted consciences of distressed sinners, groaning and groueling vnder the heauy burden of their manifold transgressions, to haue a Priest to pray for them, and to reconcile them vnto the fauour of God, whom by their sinnes and iniquities they had prouo­ked vnto anger. Sithens then that we heare that Christ is annointed our Priest, we may assure our selues that hee is tied to the selfe same Offices; but indeed to so much more excellent then these, as he hath obtained a more excellent Priesthood. The Priest after the order of Aron, serued in the corruptible and figuratiue Tabernacle; but our Priest is taken vp into the true Tabernacle, heauen it selfe, where he sacrificeth for all the saints and seruants of God: there he maketh intercessi­on for vs, for hee ascended thither, that he might follow all our suites faithfully and earnestly. He blesseth vs also, in that he was made a curse for vs: he sacrificeth for vs, in that he offered vp himselfe a sacrifice once for all, for the sinnes of the whole world: lastly he sanctifieth and consecrateth his Ca­tholike church, renewing hir minde, and washing hir in the fountain of regeneration [Page 57] by the word, that she may be holy, euen as he is holy. Seeing then he is anointed of God, to sacrifice and make intercession for vs, to blesse, consecrate, and sanctifie vs, and to re­concile vs againe into the fauour of Al­mighty god, that we may now without feare approach vnto him: what a ioyfull thing is this, that our Sauiour is a Priest?

Lastly, in that he was annointed to bee a prophet vnto vs, we may reioyce: and bee glad therein, because we shall truely vnder­stand know the will and pleasure of our God, seeing the Sonne of god himselfe, who is one with his father, to whom the eternall will and counsell of God is manifest and open, is annointed and appointed to declare it vnto vs. And thus much of the Ioy which a sinner may receiue when he vnderstandeth that his Sauiour is Christ.

Thus (beloued) haue I acquainted you with the particularities of Ioy that occurre vnto vs in the message of the Angel; what remaineth now? but that you should sing psalmes of praise and thanksegiuing vnto god, who hath sent these ioyfull Tidings vn­to vs; Seeing he hath so gratiously regarded the low estate of vs his poore Creatures, as that he hath not spared his owne sonne to [Page 58] saue vs. Vnto which sonne, if ye runne with penitent and contrite harts, though ye be ne­uer so heauy loaden, he will ease and refresh you. You know, that in Adam ye were al a­lients from the house of God, but you heard how that in Christ ye are brought home vn­to the bishop and shepheard of your soules; you did walke in darkenesse, but, Christ is come to giue you light, you haue mourned for your sinnes, but a Sauiour is come to make you glad; you haue bin poore, but Christ is come with all the Treasures of the Trinity to make you rich. You haue sorow­ed for beeing shut out of Paradise, but now Reioyce in that more then in any thing else; For as far as Adam, being in Paradise, did exceed vs in temporall blessings, so far do we out of Paradise exceed Adam in spiritu­all benedictions: for though we were con­demned to death for the tree of knowledge, yet Christ is come, that by the tree of his Crosse wee might haue life, and that wee might haue it more aboundantly: more a­boundantly! what is that? that aboundantly we might haue more life by the Crosse of Christ, then euer we had or could haue had by the tree of life, that aboundantly wee might gaine more by the obedience of [Page 59] Christ in his death, then euer wee lost or could loose, by the disobedience of Adam in his life: and therefore, though the sinne of Adam was so heinous and horrible, that it cast the Image of God out of Paradise, that it polluted all the race of mankinde, that it condemned the whole world, that it defaced the very frame of heauen it selfe; yet nowe considering the sequele, how not onely the guilt of sinne, but also the very memory of it is abolished by the comming of Christ: we may not be afraid to say with S. Gregory, O faelix culpa quae talem ac tantum meruit ha­bere redemptorem. O happy man was Adam that euer he so sinned and transgressed a­gainst God, seeing both he and all we haue found such plentiful redemption, such ine­stimable mercy, such superaboundant grace, such felicity, such eternity, such life by one Sauiour. Wherefore (deere Christian) what­soeuer thou art, feare not any more as a man without hope, but let thy spirit reioyce in God thy Sauiour. Doe thy sinnes greeue thee, and the punishment due vnto them ter­rifie thy conscience? Why, behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sinnes of the whole world: art thou stung with the old serpent Sathan? Looke then on the brasen [Page 60] serpent Christ, who healeth the sting of the other: art thou hungry? Christ is borne the bread of life, of which whoso eateth shall liue for euer: art thou thirstie? behold Christ the fountaine of liuing water, of which who so drinketh shall thirst no more; but it shall be vnto him a well of water springing vp vn­to eternall life: liuest thou in darknesse, be­hold Christ the light of the world, who one­ly disperseth the cloudes of errour: art thou desirous to enter into life? repaire vnto Christ, for he is the doore thereof, yea he is the way, the truth, and the life, without which way, there is no walking into heauen, with­out which truth, there is nothing but false­hood and errour, and without which life, there is nothing but death eternall. Seeing then that such a Sauior is born vnto thee, in whom is the fulnes of al iov, how canst thou be sorrowfull, or how canst thou feare? Shall Peter be sad, when he seeth the boults of Iron beaten off from him by an Angel, and the gates of the prison set open that he may go foorth and inioy his former freedome? Should Ionas feare a storme when he was cast vp safe on the land out of the belly of a whale? Or Sidrack Misaack and Abednago mourne, beeing deliuered by the Lord from [Page] the fury of the furnace? Can Daniell but re­ioyce being saued from the Lions? Or Io­seph mistrust the goodnes of the Lord being promoted from a slaue, to be Lord of all E­gypt? We are deliuered from a darker prison then Peter, from a more fiery furnace then Sidrack, from a more cruell Lion then Da­niel, and adopted heires of a more noble kingdome then Joseph was, euen the king­dome of Iesus: how then should we but re­ioyce, being thus saued, and so highly pro­moted? Why art thou heauy, O my soule, or why art thou at any time disquieted within me? List vp thy head, plucke vp a good cou­rage; celebrate with ioy the Natiuity of thy Sauiour; daunce now and be merry, not as Herodias did, but as Dauid did, leape vp in affection as high as heauen, where thy Saui­our now sitteth, not in the lap of his mother, but on the right hand of his father in all glo­ry and maiestie. Come then, my brethren, let vs sing vnto the Lord, let vs hartely reioyce in the strength of our Saluation. Let Israel reioyce in him that made him, and let the children of Sion be ioyfull in their King: Praise his name in the daunce, sing praises vnto him with Tabret and Harpe: Yong men and maidens, old men and children, [Page 62] praise the name of the Lord, sing [...] Iustily vnto him with a good courage. For why? the Lord is knowne now to haue plea­sure in his people in that he hath receiued vs vnto mercy, and hath sent his owne, Sonne to satisfie his Iustice, that wee might be [...]ued. He hath annointed him to be our King, let vs therefore obey him: he hath ordained him to be our Priest let vs therefore haue re­course vnto him: and hee hath appointed him to be our Prophet, let vs therefore har­ken and giue eare vnto him.

O Lord God, how greatly are we indeb­ted vnto thy maiesty, being redeemed with so great a price, being saued so franckly and freely. O how art thou to be loued of vs poore creatures! how greatly art thou to be Reuerenced, honored, and glorified of vs? which hast so exceedingly loued vs, saued vs, sanctified and exalted vs; who exceeded all thy creatures in Rebellion against thee? We were vnworthy seruaunts, but now wee are made free, yea now wee are free indeed, in that thy sonne hath made vs free. O giue vs thy grace to receiue thy sonne being now come into the world; that we may be recei­ued of him in the world to come. And for this cause sanctifie our sinfull and polluted [Page 63] harts, that he may vouchsafe to enter into vs, and abide in vs; for a cleane Lord must haue a cleane habitation; That so beeing sanctified in earthly Babilou we may bee thought worthy to be glorified in thy hea­uenly Ierusalem. Heere there is but Tidings of Ioy, but there we shall enioy the Ioy it selfe. Heere there is but newes that he came, but there we shall reape the fruites of his comming, when we shall be wedded vnto him in spirituall vnity, and raigne with him in the kingdome of his deity; replenished with that Ioy that no man shall take from vs. Of the which we beseech thee, O father, to make vs pertakers and that for the merrits of that thy sonne and our Sauiour through the mighty operation of the holy ghost. To which Trinity, yet one power and vnparted maiesty, wee ascribe all honor and glory, praise and thanksgiuing, both now and euer. A­men.


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