LONDON, Printed by IOHN DAVVSON, for Francis Eglessield at the Mari­gold in Pauls Church-yard, 1646.

TO THE GENEROVS, and worthy of much ho­nour, THOMAS BAKER of FREZINGFIELD, in the County of Suffolke, ESQVIRE.

Most honoured Cosin:

IT is not the propinquity of bloud that is between us; It is not the great Obligation, in which I stand bound unto you; which yet, were causes of themselves sufficient: but it is the [Page]generousnesse of your minde, that make me desirous, to consecrate something t [...] the memory of your Name; for thoug [...] your owne vertue will preserve it suffi­ciently, yet my affection is not satisfied without bearing a part in it: that be­ing my selfe but a whithered bough; may expresse my joy, in so flourishing branch of our Family, as your selfe is▪ And now, I know not whether I ma [...] account you young, in regard of your fer yeares: or Old, in regard of your muc [...] experience: having spent Twelve year together, (a longer time then Vlysses in travelling over the most flourishing parts of Christendome; where ha­ving spent your time, in so noble [...] manner as Report delivers; you can­not chuse but be returned home, Vir pau [...] corum hominum; more compleat in good parts, then to have man Peeres. But to leave this [...] Having heretofore written Meditati­ons [Page]upon the Lords Prayer: J have now adventured to doe the like upon the Creede; which Treatise, as J Dedicate to your Name; so my selfe, to your Service; and remaine

Devoted to you, in all true Love and Affection,
Richard Baker.


IT seemes, that in laying the Founda­tion of CHRISTS Church, where ma­ny Proselytes were to be admitted; this forme of Beliefe was first penned: to the end, that they which would be admitted into the Church, should [Page 2]first professe the Beliefe of these Ar­ticles; and these being beleeved, were thought to bee sufficient, to shew the professed Faith of an Or­thodoxe Christian. But whether the Apostles themselves were the Penners of it, as some have thought: or whether some other, out of the Apostles Doctrine, as the most conceive; is not much materiall to be examined: It is sufficient for us, to know, that it is received by a Generall consent of the whole Church.

And although the Article of Christs Descending into Hell; hath for some time, in some Churches, not been received; yet this is no more then hath befallen some parts of the holy Scripture it selfe. For, the Epistle to the Hebrewes, and the E­pistle of Saint Iude, and some other, now generally received; have for [Page 3]some time, in some Churches, not beene admitted. But howsoever, former times, have had some scruple about this Article; yet wee must admit it now without scruple; un­lesse we will make scruple also, to admit the Article of beleeving the Holy Catholike Church; seeing the Holy Catholike Church, hath long since admitted it into our Creede, as an Article necessary to be beleeved of every Christian man.

And it seems to containe a Brevi­ate of those things, which of a Chri­stian man are Credenda, to be Belee­ved: as the Ten Commandements, a Breviate of things that are Agenda, to be done; and the Lords Prayer, a Breviat of things, that are Oranda to be Prayed for: which Three, as they differ not much in the number of their Articles: so they seeme to have a great coherence, one with an­other: [Page 4]For, what wee Beleeve, that wee have reason to doe; and what we are to doe; that we have just cause to Pray for, to be enabled to doe; That whilst our Beleeving is manifested by our doing; and our doing prospered by our Pray­ing: The man of God may bee made perfect in every good worke. If wee should doe as much as wee are com­manded to doe; and not beleeve as much, as we are taught to beleeve; that doing would doe us little good: and if wee should beleeve as much as wee are taught to beleeve, and not doe as much as wee are com­manded to doe; that beleeving would doe us lesse good: Then onely will the benefit of both of them accrew unto us, when Beleefe is joyned with Action; and Faith with good Workes: without which conjunction, there may be Leaves, [Page 5]but there will bee no Fruit. For if we should do the Commandements, and not beleeve this Creed, our Pro­fession would want the Basis; and if beleeve this Creede, and not doe the Commandements, it would want the Coronis. And so these Ar­ticles are the fundamentals, of that which is to be beleeved of a Chri­stian; but the fundamentals of that which is to be done of a Christian, are the Commandements in the Law, and in the Gospell. Both which Fundamentals must be joy­ned together, to make up the buil­ding of our salvation.

And this summe or Breviate of beliefe, which wee call our Creede; consists of two parts, Personae & Res: First, the Persons in whom wee must beleeve; and then the things which we must beleeve. The persons in whom to beleeve are [Page 6]three; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost: Three Per­sons and one God; Blessed for ever. The things which we are to beleeve are five: of which the two first, which are, The holy Catholique Church, and the Communion of Saints, as they heere stand next to the Ho­ly Ghost: so most properly they relate to the Holy Ghost: He being the fountaine of Sanctification, of which these two are streames. The next two, which are the Forgivenesse of sinnes, and the Resurrection of the Body, seeme properly to referre to God the Sonne: in whose merits, as Man, all sinnes are forgiven: and by the power of whose Rising, as God and man, shall be our Resur­rection. And then the last, which is the Life Everlasting, most proper­ly relates to God the Father: He being the Author of Life; In whom [Page 7]we al live, & move, and have our being, & shal have our eternal being. And this is the Coherence, Personarum & Rerū, of the Persons in whom to beleeve, and of the Things, which we are to beleeve. If wee should know in whom to beleeve, and not know what to beleeve; we should want our lesson: and if we should know what to beleeve, and not know in whom to beleeve, we should want our Teacher: and therefore to make both perfect, both are heere exprest; and exprest so punctually, that nothing can be added, either to make it plainer, or to make it fuller.

And heere it may not be amisse, for the credit of our Creede; (be­fore we goe further) to shew that all the Articles of it, are contained in the holy Scripture; and to bring some place of Scripture, for a Te­stimoniall [Page 8]of each of them: that it may appeare, wee ground not our Beliefe upon Quagmires of uncer­tainetie, but that wee have firme ground to stand upon, and it will be a worke not long in doing. The first Article, is the subject of the whole Bible, all tending to make us beleeve in God. The next Ar­ticle is the subject of the whole Go­spell, all tending to make us beleeve in Christ. The next two Articles, of Christs Conception and his Birth; are declared by the Angell to Joseph: Feare not Joseph, to take Mary thy wife; for that which is con­ceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost: and she shall bring forth a Sonne, and thou shalt call his Name jesus. Then the next Article of Christs suffe­ring under Pontius Pilate; is suffi­ciently testified in Pontius Pilate, who gave sentence to have Barra­bas [Page 9]released, and Christ to be scour­ged: and then his being Crucified, Dead, and Buryed; are for more surety recorded with their circum­stances: That he was Crucified be­tweene two Theeves; and when his Legges should have beene broken, he was found to bee Dead before: and then was Buried, and laid in a Sepulchre, where never man had been laid before, by Joseph of Ari­mathea, as all the Evangelists testi­fie. But now the Article of Christs Descending into Hell, makes us at a stand; For none of all the Evange­lists bring Christ any further then his Grave; there they leave him, and say not a word more of him, till his Rising from the Dead; that for any thing appeares yet, this Article is like to be lost, for want of a Testimoniall. It may seeme indeed strange, that this Article [Page 10]should be in the Creed, and not b [...] found in the Gospel; seeing th [...] Gospell seemes to bee the ground from which the Creed is taken. B [...] is it not, that the ground of ou [...] Creed is not onely the Gospell: bu [...] all the whole Scripture? For th [...] Gospell seemes to deliver no mor [...] of Christ, then what was visible, and done in his body: and least wee should bee doubtfull, what be­came of his Soule, when his body was dead; therefore this Article, [Hee descended into Hell] is added: For wee may observe that in these Articles concerning Christ; this word [Hee] personates three Estates, as when it is said, Hee was Crucified, Dead, and Buried; here the Word, Hee, Intends but onely his Body; as when it is said, Hee Descended into Hell, heere Hee, intends but on­ly his Soule; and when it is said, [Page 11] He rose againe from the Dead; heere the word Hee, intends both his Bo­dy and Soule together; and so con­tinues in all the Articles following: He ascended into Heaven, He sitteth at the right hand of his Father, He shall come to Iudge the Quick and the Dead; still the Word Hee, intends both his Body and Soule together. From whence wee may gather, how it is like to be with us also; that though our soules and bodies be parted for a time, yet when in the Resurrecti­on they once meet againe, they shall never afterward be parted any more.

But though this Article seeme to have no ground in the Evangelists; yet in the Apostles and Prophets it hath: at lest the Prophet David long before had said in the person of Christ: Thou wilt not leave my soule in Hell; by which it appeares [Page 12]that his soule was in Hell: and the [...] what time so fit for the being there [...] as while his Body was lying in the Grave? and Saint Paul also seeme to say as much, where hee saith [...] He Descended into the lowest parts of the Earth: which must needes bee certainely a lower place then the Grave. And so between the Pro­phet David, and the Apostle Saint Paul, we shall be able to make this Article, a good Testimoniall, ha­ving from the one, the Place; from the other, the Motion; David, naming Hell; and Saint Paul, de­scending.

After the stop of this Article, wee come againe into the Roade: For the Article of Christs Rising from the Dead; hath not onely the Voyces of all the Evangelists; but it hath a clowde of Witnesses be­sides. Saint Paul affirming, that more [Page 13]then five hundred brethren at once, saw him being Risen from the dead. Then he next Articles, (whether two or one) of his Ascending into heaven, and sitting at the Right hand of God, are in such manner testified by Saint Marke, that the words of the Creed are but the very Transcript of his Text. Then the Article of Christs comming to Iudge the Quick and the Dead, is Proclaimed as from Christ himselfe; that it is Hee, which was ordained of God, to be Judge both of quicke and dead. And then the Article of Beleeving in the Holy Ghost, is made good by Christs last charge to his Apostles: Goe teach all Nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and in whose Name wee are Baptized, in Him certainly we have just cause to be­leeve. But then the Article of be­leeving [Page 14] the Holy Catholique Church makes us at a stand againe; Fo [...] what place of Holy Scripture ca [...] bee brought for a Testimony, o [...] Beleeving the Catholick Church: whe [...] not so much as the word Catholick [...] is to be found in any place of Ho­ly Scripture. For though some E­pistles of some Apostles, be Inscri­bed Catholicke, yet Inscription of Epistles is no part of the Scripture, no more then part of the Epistles, But is it not? that though the word Catholicke be not directly exprest, yet it may be directly inferr'd; see­ing many places of Scripture binde us to Beleeve the Church, but no particular Church: and therefore the Catholicke, or Universall Church. Then the Article of the Communion of Saints, Is it not fully exprest by Saint Paul, where hee saith, There is one Body, and one Spi­rit, [Page 15]one Lord, one Faith, one Baptisme, one God and Father of all; who is above all, and through all, and in us all. Then for the Article of Remission of sinnes, We have as many Testimonies of Scripture, as there are words: but it may bee Testimoniall enough which Saint Iohn giveth; where he saith, The bloud of Jesus Christ clenseth us from all our sinnes. Then the Article of the Resurrection of the Body, though it might passe under the Article of Christs Resurrecti­on, without any other Testimony; (For if Christ be risen from the Dead, we also shall rise from the Dead.) Yet it hath a Testimony by it self, where it is said, God that raised up Christ from the Dead, shall also quicken our mortall Bodies, by his Spirit that dwel­leth in us. And lastly, the Article of Everlasting Life, is Testified by Saint John, as it were in Red Let­ters, [Page 16]where hee saith, God so love [...] the World, that hee gave his onely b [...] gotten Sonne; that whosoever beleeve [...] in him, should not perish but have li [...] Everlasting.

And now having shewed, that a [...] the Articles are contained in th [...] Scripture: It remaines to shew [...] what it is they containe.

I] Where, first it may be de­manded, that as in saying the Lord [...] Prayer, we say, Our Father, taking others along with us, and not go­ing our selves alone: So in say­ing the Creede, why we doe not as well say, Wee Beleeve, that so wee may not goe alone, but take others along with us? Is it not that Be­liefe is Personall; but Prayer be­longs to the Communion of Saints: Prayer proceeds from Charity, and therefore is Communicative; but [Page 17]Beliefe proceeds from Faith, and [...]erefore is reserved. Another may [...]ray for mee, but another cannot [...]eleeve for me, I must beleeve for [...]y selfe, another cannot: (I speak [...]ot of Infants, but of Adulti.) It [...]s not here, that Per alium is as good [...]s Per se, and therefore no such Tye, [...]or saying Wee Beleeve, in making [...]his Profession; as for saying Our Father, in making that Prayer.

I Beleeve:] But when I say, I Beleeve: Doe I well consider, what it is I say? a word indeed soone spoken, but not a worke so easily done; for, we must not thinke, to put it off with God, as he did with men, who said, Iuravilingua, men­tem injuratam gero: I swore with my tongue, but I kept my heart un­sworne. For God is a searcher of the heart, and lookes after that; and as soone as wee say to him, I [Page 18]Beleeve, he seemes presently to say to us; Then give me your heart, for unlesse you give me your heart, I will never beleeve, you speake as you meane. And thus my soule, thou seest, how deepely thou hast engaged thy selfe, by saying, I be­leeve, and yet thy engagement not so great, but thy undertaking is greater. For to Beleeve is no such easie matter, as the World accounts it: It is indeed, more then of our selves we are able to doe; For it is a worke of Faith, and Faith is the gift of God; and so we undertake to doe that to God, which without Gods assistance we cannot doe; as though wee had Gods assistance at command; No my soule, but wee must bee faine to helpe our selves with saying, I beleeve, O God; helpe my unbeliefe.

But why am I so forward to Be­leeve, [Page 19]and doe not rather make a stand, and doubt? Seeing doub­ting is commonly safe; where cre­dulity runs headlong into danger? Is it not that Beleeving is accepta­ble, and hath reward; For Abraham beleeved, and it was counted to him for Righteousnesse; where Not-Belee­ving is distrustfull, and hath not so much as Hope: and againe, Belee­ving may make me of the number of the Faithfull; where Not-Belee­ving may make me an Infidell: and though Beleeving may have lesse worldly providence; yet certaine­ly, It may have more spirituall wis­dome, then Not-Beleeving: and these are Reasons that make me so forward to Beleeve.

But what reason can I have to make me beleeve; when I must not beleeve reason? No doubt in mat­ters of the world; the Rule is good, [Page 20]to beleeve no more then wee see good reason for; and thereupon is the counsell given, [...]: Becarefull to bee mistrustfull: but in matters Divine, and belonging to God, hee that beleeves no more then Reason warrants, may justly be said, not to Beleeve at all; see­ing Beliefe is a worke of Faith; and Faith properly beginnes not her worke, but when the Reason hath given over working.

There seeme to bee many induce­ments of Beliefe, but specially two: First, the Testimony of the Sense; For who will not beleeve that, which hee sees with his eyes; but this beliefe will not serve the turne. For Faith is an evidence of things not seene; and therefore wee must be­leeve, though wee doe not see. Then the Testimony of Reason; for, who will not beleeve that, for [Page 21]which hee sees apparent reason? but neither will this Beliefe serve the turne, for Faith is above Rea­son; and Nisi Credideritis, non Intel­ligetis: Unlesse yee Beleeve, yee shall not understand, and so Be­liefe must not alwaies stay for un­derstanding; but we must be faine to have recourse to this stil; I beleeve, O God, helpe my unbeliefe.

Beliefe, indeed, is two fold; Hu­mane and Divine: Humane Beliefe is alwaies grounded upon Sense or Reason: but Divine Beliefe hath other grounds to stand upon; ei­ther the ground of Abraham, Qui in spe contra spem credidit: Who con­trary to hope Beleeved in hope: or the ground of those whom Christ calls Blessed; Blessed are they that have not seene, and yet have beleeved: For, we must not alwaies looke for the favour of Saint Thomas, to bee [Page 22]allowed to put our hands into Christs sides before wee beleeve; but we must sometimes come with Faith, without the concurrence of eternall Evidence, and then indeed is Beliefe most kindly, when it stands not upon the Prop of Sense and Reason: which may be prepa­ratives to Beliefe, but it is Faith that gives the confirmation.

And as there are certaine induce­ments of Beliefe; so there are cer­taine properties in Beliefe. It must be steadfast without wavering, as­sured without doubting, confident without presuming; but above all, it must bee rightly applyed; for without right application, Beliefe is no better then Infidelity: and then onely is Beliefe rightly apply­ed, when it is applyed to God: and this brings me to say, [I beleeve in God:] For now I am sure, I take [Page 23]my ayme right, and apply my Be­liefe to the right Object. If I should apply it to any but God, it must be to some Creature; and seeing eve­ry Creature is subject to a Higher Power, what hope could I have to Beleeve in such a one, who must himselfe Beleeve in another? But when I apply my Beliefe to God, not onely I may justly hope, but I may securely be assured, seeing God is a Power Supreme, and hath no E­quall to contest with him, much lesse any Superiour to controule him. If I should Beleeve in man, I might feare that which David saith, that All men are lyers: but when I be­leeve in God, I am out of that feare, seeing God is the Truth it selfe, and cannot lye. If I should Beleeve in Angels, I know the Angels did once fall, and what they did once, they might doe againe, if they were [Page 24]not upheld by a stronger Power; and can it bee safe Beleeving in them, who stand by the power of another, and not by their owne? But when I beleeve in God, my Be­liefe is built upon a sure Foundati­on; seeing Heaven is Gods Throne, and the Earth his Foot-stoole: that he is neither capable of Rising, nor sub­ject to falling. David would not put his trust in man, pronouncing him accursed that should doe it; and why should I? Moses would not trust an Angell to be his guide, though God himselfe offered him one; and why should I? No, my soule, but Adhaerere Deo bonum est, It is good sticking to God; and no assurance indeed of any good, but onely in sticking to him, and de­pending wholly upon him.

And as there are certaine pro­perties of Beliefe, to make it bee [Page 25]right; so there are certaine degrees of Beliefe, to make it perfect. The first Degree, is to Beleeve, There is a God; and this Degree is so sensible and plaine, that he must be a Natu­rall foole that beleeves it not: as David calls him; The Foole hath said in his heart, There is no God. An­other Degree, is to Beleeve him in all he saith, or promiseth; which is in effect, but to account him an O­racle. Another Degree, is to beleeve him to be a Rewarder of them that serve him; an effect of his Justice: and all these Degrees of Beliefe may be in a man, and yet no true beleeving in God: For, these doe but amount to Credere Deum, or Cre­dere Deo; which a man may doe as a stander by, and as onely a looker on; though he make himselfe no party in the matter. The true Be­leeving in God indeed, is Credere [Page 26]in Deum, to interest our selves in him, to depend wholly upon him, to put all our trust and confidence in him; to account him not one­ly our Oracle to Direct us, but our Sanctuary to Protect us; to make him not onely our Hope, but our Assurance, and both in life and death, to say that to him, which Christ said at his death: In manus tuas Domine, commendo spiritum meum, Into thy hands, O Lord, I com­mend my spirit.

I therefore beleeve in God in­deed, but not in Gods; and there­fore not in Gods, because there are no Gods to beleeve in: For if there were more Gods then One, there should be none at all, seeing it is against the nature of God to bee more then One. Neither indeed, will Time or Place allow any more. For of Place, it is true [Page 27]which God saith of himselfe; Cae­lum & Terram ego impleo, Heaven and Earth I fill: and if One God fill all places, what roome can there be for any other? And of Time, it is true also, that God is Primum Ens, the First Being; but there can be but One First, and therefore but One God. And as One multiplyed by One, can never make any more then One: so God being Unity it selfe, can never be multiplied into a number; but it is most true which the Jewes say of him: Hu a'chad ue aein shenì; He is One, and there is not a Second: and yet perhaps not true in their meaning: For they may meane it of the Persons in the Deity; of which here is both a Second, and a Third, and yet all Three, but One God. And if there were more Gods then One, there could bee no Beliefe; at least, but distracted [Page 28]Beliefe; and distraction is destru­ction to beliefe: For if it be not Fixt and Intentive upon One and the same power still, it may bee Opi­nion, but it cannot be Beliefe.

But what is God, or who is the Lord, that I should beleeve in him? For to Beleeve in God, and not know what God is, were to Beleeve in I know not what, and were like to make but a blind Beliefe. Is it then, that there is something which is seene by being invisible, which is known by being Incomprehensible: and that, my Soule is God? Or is it, there is something, whose Cen­ter is every where, and Circumfe­rence no where, whose Power is Infinite, and in whose hands are all the corners of the Earth, and that my Soule is God? Or is it, there is something, which cannot be said, It was; and yet hath alwaies been; [Page 29]Nor cannot be said, It wil be, & yet shal be for ever, and that my Soule is God? Or is it, ther is somthing, whose Being cannot be conceived, and yet whose Being onely is conceivable, which exceeds the Sun in brightnes, yet is no quality; the World in great­nes, yet is no quantity, and that, My Soule is God? But indeed God is He, who brought the Ten great Plagues upon Pharaoh, for presuming to aske this Question. For who can be excu­sed, that takes not notice of his Being, who is the Author of al Being? Who can be excused, that knows not, who Hee is, that onely is? And therefore when Moses asked God his Name, he answered, I am that I am: meaning, that his Being was his Name: For as a name is proper to the thing named, so Being is proper only to God: all other things rather seeme to be, then are: Or if they bee indeed, yet it [Page 30]is but a Being which they have from him; seeing in Him, we all live, and move, and have our being. And this I am of Moses, is my I am too: For it is true, which God saith of himselfe, Ego Deus, & non mutor; I am God, and there is none to change for me; and therefore in Be­leeving in this I am; I am, (I am sure) in a a right Beliefe, which makes me to beginne my Creede with this, I beleeve in God.

But thought the Beliefe, no doubt, be true; Yet it is but a truth which Jewes and Turkes beleeve as well as we; For, they also Beleeve in God, and in one God; and shall a Christians Belief go no further then theirs? Yes, my Soule; For, I be­leeve in God the Father, the first Per­son in the Trinity, and this, no Jew nor Turke beleeves. For they have alwaies stuck at One, and could ne­ver [Page 31]bee gotten to come to Three; when yet without knowing this Three, that One can never be true­ly knowne. Although to say the truth, this Mystery of Three in One, is a Truth not so much to be known, as to be Beleeved; For if it could be perfectly knowne, It would not perhaps bee so fit for a Creede, which consists in Believing, as for some Art, that consists in knowing. But though I cannot perfectly know this Mystery, yet I Beleeve it; because I submit my understanding to Faith; which though I cannot make to goe along with Beliefe, as a Companion; yet I make it to wait upon Beliefe as a Servant: and this, neither Jew, nor Turke will be gotten to doe: They like not to make their Understan­ding a Servant; though they can be content to be servile themselves, [Page 32]yet they will have their understan­ding to be Free; and therefore what they comprehend not, they beleeve not; Foolish men, that would bring downe Heaven to Earth, and bound the profound Mysteries of God, within the shallow lymits of their owne braines.

But what is meant by a Person in the Trinitie, which is necessary to be known; that when wee say, there bee Three persons; It may not bee thought, we meane Three Gods. Indeed humane Infirmity is apt to fall into such errour. Wee must therefore know, that a Person in the Trinity, is a Name of Di­stinction, but not of Diversitie: It makes Alium & Alium, but not A­liud & Aliud; and it is an Appel­lation proper onely to the nature of the Deity; and not to be found in any Creature whatsoever. The Person [Page 33]of the Father is distinct from the Person of the Sonne; and the Per­son of the Sonne from the Person of the Holy Ghost, but Distinct in Relation, not in Substance; and all Three Persons are but One God. And to make it plainer, we may say, that God considered as Beget­ting, is the Person of the Father; considered as Begotten, is the Per­son of the Sonne; and considered as proceeding from the Father and the Sonne, is the Person of the Ho­ly Ghost; In these onely distin­guished; in all other points of Dei­ty, One. The Father is not more God then the Sonne; nor the Son then the Holy Ghost: They are Three in Subsistence, but one in Substance; the Subsistence makes the Trinitie; the Substance, the Dei­tie; an Ineffable Mystery; which we may Beleeve, but cannot Com­prehend. [Page 34]O my Soule, how much [...]re wee bound to God, for revea­ling this Mystery of the Blessed Trinity to us; and more, for ma­king us capable to Beleeve it; For, as without revealing, wee should never have knowne it: So with­out Grace, wee could never have Beleeved it; But now by the Eye of Faith; and by the Light of Grace, we come to see, as it were a glympse of that glorious Appea­ring; when wee shall see God, not in Idaeas, represented by the Fancie; but in the miraculous Verity of his owne Being; which as none can see now and live; so there shall be then, no life, but in seeing it; no joy, but in beholding it.

But though the Persons in the Trinity, be all equall in Deity; yet not all Equall in all respects: For how then should it be true; which [Page 35]Christ saith of himselfe, Pater ma­jor est me; The Father is greater then I: Not greater then Hee, onely as Man; For, this were no great mat­ter; nor greater then He, as God: for this were no possible matter: but greater then He, as Sonne; for the Sonne is of the Father, the Fa­ther is of None: and in that respect is greater then the Sonne; Not as God, but as Father; and there­fore in the sense, in which Christ saith, The Father is greater then I; in that sense doe I place the Father first in my Creede, and say first, I Beleeve in God the Father.

And though I cannot apprehend, how God being but One, should be Three; yet I beleeve it, and be­leeving it, I Adore it; and though I cannot apprehend, how [Al­mighty] One should be Almighty, where Three be Equall; yet I be­leeve [Page 36]it, and beleeving it, I admire it. Indeed if God were not Al­mighty, he could not be God; see­ing his power should bee limited; and a limited Power, implies a grea­ter Power that limits it, which should be God, rather then Hee; and therefore not Almighty, no God. And againe, if hee were not Almighty, our Beliefe in him might be frustrate: For his want of Might, might be in that, for which wee de­pend upon him; and if no depen­ding upon him, then no beleeving in him neither; but now being God, and being Almighty: we Be­leeve in him, not onely justly as God; but securely, as Almighty: seeing whatsoever our want be; yet he being Almighty, can supply it; how great soever our Danger be, yet he being Almighty can De­fend us: how strong soever our [Page 37]Enemies be, yet he being Almigh­tie can Protect us: and as wee are assured, that he can; so wee doubt not, but he will: seeing there is in him, no lesse readinesse to doe it, as being a Father; then Power to bee able to doe it, as being Almighty.

Here the Atheist inferres, that God cannot truely be said to bee Almighty, seeing there are many things which he cannot doe: as he cannot Dye; he cannot lye, he can­not deny himselfe; and if hee can­not doe these things, then he can­not doe all things; and If hee can­not doe all things, then can hee not truely be said to be Almighty. But who sees not the grosenesse of this subtilty, seeing theve are not Acti­ons of Power, but Infirmities; and not to be able to doe things, which it is not Ability to doe, but Infir­mity; what prejudice can this be [Page 38]to Almightinesse? And yet, it cannot so properly be said of God neither, that hee is not able to doe these things, as that hee is able not to doe them; and so his not being able, is indeed an Ability, and an effect of Power; and therefore no cause for this to deny his Almigh­tinesse, but to affirme it rather.

But what is more frequent with Heathen Writers, then to call their fained God Jupiter, Pater Omnipo­tens, The Almighty Father: and what doe we then Beleeve more in this, then the Heathen doe? Wee therefore Adde: [Maker of Hea­ven and Earth;] and this no Hea­then man did ever beleeve: For some of them thought the World to be made by chance, and by the casuall concourse of Atomes. Some againe, thought it to bee Eternall, and not to have beene made at all: [Page 39]None of them ever ascribed the making it to God, and therefore in our Creede we justly say, God the Father, as against the Jew and Turk; we say, Almighty, as against the A­theist; and we say, Maker of Hea­ven and Earth, as against the Hea­then.

Indeed, nothing doth so mani­festly demonstrate the Almighti­nesse of God, as the making of Hea­ven and Earth; because hee made them when there was no matter to make them off: as it is said, In the beginning, God made Heaven and Earth: and againe, In the beginning there was no Time; so before Hea­ven and Earth, there was no mat­ter, and to make them when there was no matter to make them off, was to make Something of No­thing, the most absolute Character of Almightinesse that can bee. If [Page 40]we should say, Maker of Man and Beast: this would not serve to shew Almightinesse, seeing there was matter, whereof they were made, for of Earth they were made both: But to say, Maker of Heaven and Earth, is so evident an argu­ment of Almightinesse, that the Heathen themselves could not chuse but have acknowledged it: if they had not beene blinded with their false Principle, Ex Nihilo Nihil fit, of Nothing is made Nothing: a Principle, true indeed in relation to Nature, but false in relation to the Power of God, to whom, Nothing is as much as Matter, and Matter is no more then Nothing, seeing Mat­ter and Nothing are all One to him.

Neither yet is the Almightinesse of God, more evidently seene in making the Heaven and the Earth [Page 41]of Nothing, so contrary to the course of Nature; then it is seene in making them in a Frame, so contra­ry to the course of Art: For where in all Artificial Buildings, the Roofe is alwaies contiguous, by mediate Joynts unto the Foundation. In this Frame, the Heaven which is the Roofe, is so farre from being conti­guous to the Earth, that there is Magnum Inane, an Infinite extensi­on of empty Ayre betweene them. And where the Foundation in all Artificiall Structures, is alwaies laid upon firme ground, that it may sustaine and beare it up: In this Frame, the Earth which is the Foundation, is laid upon nothing but thinne Ayre, so farre from any firmenesse, that it is alwaies in mo­tion; and yet the Earth it selfe ne­ver moving. And if wee take the Sea, as a part of the Earths Globe, [Page 42]Is there not as great a wonder in that also: seeing, where all liquid things doe naturally overflow all that is under them; here the liquid Sea is above the Earth, and yet overflowes it not. And now stand and won­der, all yee Heathen, acknowledge and admire the Almightinesse of God, that is the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

But is God the Father the onely Maker of Heaven and Earth. Is it not said in Saint John: In the Be­ginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: all things were made by him, and with­out him was nothing made that was made. It is true indeed, all Opera ad Extra, all exteriour works are com­mon to all the Persons in the Deity: but yet in some respects, they are sometimes appropriated more to One then to another: heere there­fore in speaking of Heaven and [Page 43]Earth; the Originall of Creatures: the making them is justly attribu­ted to God the Father, the originall Creator: for otherwise it is so true, that they all had a hand in making them; that it is said of the Holy Ghost also, that Spiritus Dei Incubabat, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, and what was this but a Fomenting the worke of the Father and the Sonne, by the Bond of Concord: the pro­per worke of the Holy Ghost.

From hence we may learne, that the World hath not been from Ever­lasting: For if God be Maker of Heaven and Earth, then Heaven and Earth were made; and if made, then made in time: and if made in time, then there was a time when they were not made. But how could this bee, seeing there was no time, till they were made. But yet there was a space [Page 44]of Duration, and that space had beene from Everlasting: and be­ing from Everlasting, how could it ever come to have an ende? and an End it must have, before Time could come to have a Beginning. O my Soule, These are no Thoughts for thee, thy wings are too weake to fly so high a pitch: Thy Plummets are too short, to sound so great a depth: It may bee sufficient for thee to know, that although, God made not the World from Everlasting; yet hee made it then when from Everlasting hee had Decreed to make it: but how hee brought Time out of Eternity is a mystery, thou shalt never attaine to know, till thou come thy selfe to attaine Eternity.

Thus farre wee are brought by Belee­ving in God the Fa­ther, And in his onely Sonne, Jesus Christ our Lord. but seeing Fa­ther [Page 45]is a Relative: and every Rela­tive, imples a Correlative, and the Correlative to Father is Sonne, this brings my Beliefe a degree further; to Beleeve in his onely Sonne, Jesus Christ our Lord: Not his Sonne by Adoption, as we are; nor his Son by Creation and Grace, as Angels are: but his Sonne by Generati­on, as onely himselfe is; and such a Sonne, as the Father Proclaimes to be His; and tels the day when he begot him; Hodie genui te, This day have I begotten thee. But what day was this day? Not such a day, as our dayes are, which follow one after another: but a day, in which there is nothing Before nor after; but the Past and the Present are both at once; the Past, in Genui; the Present, in Hodie: indeed a day, Not of Time, but of Eternity; which makes him Co-eternall with [Page 46]his Father, One good degree of E­quality: And as the day of his Begetting is not like ours: So nei­ther is the manner of his Begetting like ours; For where our Beget­ting is a Third from Two; his Be­getting is a Second from One, and therefore must needs bee of One substance Both, and this makes him Consubstantiall with the Father: another good degree of Equality: which kind of Begetting though it exceede our capacity, yet it ex­ceeds not our Beliefe: and there­fore, though our Inquisitive Thoughts would faine bee making further Querees about it, yet Faith makes us contented to take this for an Answer: Generationem ejus quis enarrabit? Who shall declare his Ge­neration? If then the day of his Begetting, make him Co-eternall with the Father, and the manner of [Page 47]his Begetting, make him Consub­stantiall with the Father: have we not as good ground, for our Belie­ving in him, as in the Father? And though it may be thought, no Pow­er is left for the Sonne, the Father being Almighty: yet all Power is given to the Sonne, both in Hea­ven and Earth: for though the Fa­ther bee Almighty, yet Almighty but as God; and therefore Al­mighty as due to the Sonne, who is God with the Father: and as just cause wee have to say to the Sonne, as to the Father, Wee praise thee O God, wee knowledge thee to bee the Lord.

But how can the Sonne that is begotten, be Co-eternall with the Father who Begets? Seeing that which Begets, is alwaies before that which is Begotten? But is not this a fallacie? They being Rela­tives? [Page 48]Seeing nothing can Beget, but there must bee something Be­gotten: there cannot bee a Father, till there bee a Sonne: and there­fore if the Father bee from Ever­lasting, the Sonne also is from E­verlasting, and so are Co-eternall.

But though the Sonne may bee Co-eternall with the Father; yet how can he be Consubstantiall with the Father? Seeing the Substance of every thing is proper to it selfe, and cannot bee communicated to another. This indeed were true, if the Father and the Sonne, were Aliud & Aliud, and not onely Ali­us & Alius; but now being Both One God, and onely Two Per­sons: Seeing the difference of Per­sons makes no difference of Sub­stance; they remaine of One Sub­stance Both, and so are Consubstan­tiall.

Thus farre reacheth our Beliefe in the Divinity of the Son; but see­ing we beleeve him to be both per­fect God and perfect Man, this leades our Beliefe a degree further: To Beleeve in Jesus Christ our Lord; Termes belonging to his Humani­ty; Jesus, a Name given him by an Angel, when hee was yet in his Mothers womb; Because hee should save his people from their sinnes: Christ, a Name given him from his Office, As being a Priest after the Or­der of Melchisedech, annointed with the oyle of gladnesse above his fellowes: Lord, a Name given him from his Dominion, For of his Kingdome there shall be no end. O Blessed Son of God, Let mee enjoy the benefit of thy Name Jesus, that I may bee saved from my sinnes: Let me enjoy the benefit of thy Name Christ, that I may bee partaker of the oyle of [Page 50]gladnesse, with which thou wert Annointed. Let me enjoy the be­nefit of thy being my Lord; that being thy Servant, I may have thy Protection, and Thou my Obedi­ence.

But how happens it, that ha­ving said in the beginning of my Creede; I Beleeve: I now come to say, Our Lord: and so where I went single out; am now sudden­ly fallen into company: It is true indeed; I sayd, I Beleeve, when I spake but as regarding my owne person; but now that I speake, as regarding the Communion of Saints; I say, Our Lord. For, though Saint Thomas said, My God, and my Lord, as though hee would claime CHRIST wholly to himselfe; yet that seemes spo­ken but in passion, and to make a­mends for his former doubting.

But now that I speak deliberatly; I can say no lesse, then Our Lord; seeing as Christ is a Saviour not of me onely, but of all mankinde; so he is the Lord, not of me onely, but of all that serve him: and thus Christ is that Lord, in whom is ex­pounded the Riddle of David, The Lord said unto my Lord; For if hee be Davids Lord, how is hee his Sonne? and if he bee his Sonne, how is he his Lord? Indeed Both; his Son as concerning the Flesh, but his Lord concerning Divine Gene­ration: and if Davids Lord, then also of us all; seeing of his King­dome, as there shall be no End; so neither is there any limitation; but it is as Universall, as Eternall.

But though Christ bee the Sonne of God, by Generation, concerning his Divinity; yet not by generati­on concerning his Humanity: but [Page 52]I Beleeve, Conceived by the Holy Ghost. He was con­ceived by the Holy Ghost, Not that the Holy Ghost was his Father: For the Father contributes matter to the be­ing of a Sonne: but the Holy Ghost contributes no matter to the being of Christ; doth nothing to supple­re vicem Patris, but onely to be sup­plementum Matris; Indeed a Concep­tion which passeth our conceiving: That if Mary doubted, how this should be, seeing she knew not man; we as well may doubt it, seeing we know not the manner, nor ever can know it: but the answer which the Angels gave to satisfie Mary, must serve also to satisfie us: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee: and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.

And here now comes in, the great Mystery of the Incarnation of [Page 53]the Sonne of God; to the Jewes a Scandall, and a stumbling Blocke to the Gentiles; and yet the My­stery, not more hard to Beleeve, then necessary to be Beleeved: in­deed so necessary, that there is pro­perly no Antichristian, but hee that denyes it, as Saint John saith; Who is the Antichrist, but hee that denies Christ to be come in the flesh.

But why was it necessary that the Sonne of God should bee Incar­nate? Indeed for many great rea­sons: For his being Incarnate, makes him the more to commiserate our infirmities; his being Incarnate brings our Flesh againe within the Verge of Sanctification: but chief­ly, his being Incarnate makes him fit to be a Mediator betweene God and us: makes him fit to bee a Sa­crifice for our sins; and if it were not for his being Incarnate, we should [Page 54]never have Accesse to the Throne of God. O blessed Iesus, what Infi­nite benefits doe we receive by thy being Incarnate; but what benefit dost thou receive by it thy selfe? Alas, onely to make a purchase of a number of ungratefull wretches; who little consider, what great things thou hast done for us: little consider, what great sufferings thou hast endured for us; little consider thy Love, thy Patience, thy Humi­litie, in taking our Flesh upon thee; when yet but for thy ta­king it upon thee, our Flesh should never have come to Inherit Heaven.

But why was the Sonne Incar­nate, and not as well the Father, or the Holy Ghost? Indeede for just cause: For, it was not fit the Father should bee Incarnate; because the Incarnation was to pacifie the Fa­ther: [Page 55]Nor was it not fit the Holy Ghost should be Incarnate; because the Incarnation was to be the worke of the Holy Ghost: onely the Son was fit to bee Incarnate; because it was congruous that being the Sonne in the Trinitie, hee should also bee the Sonne of the Woman; So to make us the Sonnes of God, without remooving out of his Spheare of Sonne-ship at all.

And heere begins the difference betweene the Humane nature of Christ and Ours. For wee are all of us conceived in sinne: as David saith of himselfe, That he was concei­ved in sinne: and as David, so wee all; but Christ was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and therefore with­out sinne. And as all the passages of our time esteemed, are like our Beginning: Conceived in sinne, Borne in sinne, Living in sinne, and [Page 56]Dying in sinne: So all the passages of Christs time afterward, are like his Beginning: Conceived without sinne, Borne without sinne, Living without sinne, and Dying without sinne; by which it was wrought, that though he tooke upon him our whole nature, & became in al things like to us; yet sinne was excepted.

And that which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, did not prove (we may be sure) a false conception; but prospered and proceeded to a perfect Birth; & therfore, as I Beleeve, he was conceived by the Holy Ghost: So, I Be­leeve, Borne of the Virgine MARIE. hee was Borne of the Virgin Mary; Con­ceived altogether Su­pernaturally in her, but borne for the most part Naturally of her; was nourished in her Wombe; lay nine moneths enclosed in her Wombe; came forth of her Wombe [Page 57]after the course of Nature, and yet Borne Supernaturally of her too; Supernaturally, as of a Virgine, though naturally as of a Woman: For he was Natus ex Virgine, Borne of a Virgine: So he was Factus ex muliere, made of a Woman; Not made in her, but made of her; was Flesh of her Flesh, and Bone of her Bone, as truly as Eve of Adams.

It may well bee said; hee was Borne Supernaturally of her: For who ever heard of such a thing be­fore; a Virgine to bee the mother of a Childe? But though it were never heard off before, that such a thing was; Yet it was heard before that such a thing should bee: For the Prophet Esay, long before had foretold, A Virgin shall be with Childe, and shall bring forth a Sonne: and what marvell, if there never were such a Mother before, when there [Page 58]never was such a Childe before? For this is that Childe, of whom it is said, This day is borne to you a Sa­viour, which is Christ the Lord: and a Saviour of whom? No lesse then of all mankinde; and this no lesse strange then his Birth: A child to be a Saviour of men; and One Childe of all mankinde, fully as strange, as to be Borne of a Virgin; Indeed strange Both, or rather Wonderfull Both; yet as strange or wonderfull as they Both are; we Beleeve them Both, though but One of them be delivered heere for an Article of our Creede.

It is Recorded of many, that they were Sanctified in their Mothers Wombe; as amongst others, of Jeremy the Prophet, but never Re­corded of any, that he was Concei­ved by the Holy Ghost, but onely of Christ; and between being San­ctified: [Page 59]and being conceived by the Holy Ghost, there is very great oddes: For to be Sanctified, is on­ly to have a measure of Holinesse; but to bee conceived by the Holy Ghost, is to have the whole Sub­stance made Holy: To be sancti­fied, is onely to have Grace infused in the Soule; but to be conceived by the Holy Ghost, is to have both Body and Soule bee altogether Grace it selfe.

But though Christ were concei­ved without sinne, because con­ceived by the Holy Ghost; yet how could hee bee borne without sinne, being borne of a sinnefull woman? For though Mary were a Virgin, yet, no doubt, shee was a sinner; For why else should she need a Saviour? as shee saith her selfe, My spirit rejoyceth in God my Sa­viour: and could Christ take flesh [Page 60]of a sinner, and not with that flesh take sinne? But is it not that the Ho­ly Ghost is the Sanctifier, and could aswell sanctifie the Flesh it selfe, as the motions of the Flesh: and therefore make him as well borne without sinne, as conceived with­out sinne: sinne not being able to enter, where the Holy Ghost keeps possession.

But why is there mention made of the Virgin Mary? Is it not enough to beleeve that Christ was borne of a Virgin: but there must be added, the Virgin Mary; Indeed it is added very justly; for by this it appeares, that Christ was Descended of the Lynage of David, (his Mother be­ing of the same Lynage) as the Pro­phets had foretold, the true Christ should bee, and this is no small strengthening to our Beliefe, that Christ is the true Messias.

But how is it like, that Mary was a Virgine, when shee had a Hus­band? at least, how can wee be­leeve shee was a Virgin, when shee had a Child? Is it not that her Marriage was Inchoate indeed, but not Consummate; shee was De­sponsata, but not Nupta; shee was not Married. And therefore Espou­sed, that there might bee One to take care of her, and her Childe when it should be borne.

But why should her Husband take care of a Childe that was none of his owne? might he not rather justly suspect her, to have played false with him, and therefore ra­ther put her to shame, at least put her from him, then to take her to him? It is indeed a hard matter to make one beleeve, that a woman should have a Childe, and not accompa­ny with man: but as it was the [Page 62]Holy Ghost, that wrought the conception of Christ in his Mothers Wombe; so it was the Holy Ghost that wrought this Beliefe in the minde of her husband Joseph, that the Angell told him true, when he said unto him; Feare not Jo­seph to take Mary thy wife: For that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.

And though shee were the Mo­ther of a Childe, yet she continued a Virgin still; For neither the con­ception of Christ, nor the Birth of Christ, did abrogate her Virgini­tie; but rather made her, if not a more Virgin; at least, a pure [...] Vir­gin then shee was before. For such is the purity of Christs Body, that it makes all passages the [...]urer by which it passeth: and therefore it may bee piousl [...] beleeved, and without Hyperbole, that as she was [Page 63] Virgo ante partum, so shee was Virgo in partu, and Virgo post partum; a Virgin before the Birth, and in the Birth, and after the Birth; for though shee had Purification, yet that perhaps, was but as Christ had Baptisme, to fulfill all righteous­nesse.

And as Christ was conceived of Mary without sinne; so Mary was Delivered of Christ without paine; for it was but just, that she who brought him forth, that Freed mankind from the generall Curse, should in bringing him forth, bee Freed her selfe, from the particu­lar Curse laid upon Woman-kind; which was, That in sorrow they should bring forth Children.

But if Jesus Christ were Borne of the Virgin Mary: how could he be the Sonne of the Virgin, fore­told by the Prophet Esay, For the [Page 64]Sonne of that Virgin, was to be cal­led Immanuell, and not Jesus: where this Sonne of the Virgin Marie, was called Jesus, and not Immanuell? But is it not, that Immanuell was not properly meant a Name of Ap­pellation but of Act; and then was the Name Acted, when the Sonne of God tooke Flesh, and was Incarnate: For being the Son of God, and taking our nature up­on him, he was God with us; and to be God with Us, was to be Im­manuell.

Blessed Marie! what Tongue can expresse thy Happinesse in thy selfe! thy glory in the world! to have thy Body nine moneths toge­ther, be made a Heaven for the Son of God to dwell in! to have thy Wombe bee the sacred Bed for the Holy Ghost to overshadow! and more then both these, to have the [Page 65]Sonne of God to bee thy Sonne; and take Flesh of thy Flesh, and Bone of thy Bone; that all our Af­finitie now to Heaven, must be attri­buted to thee; that our flesh which was never before without sinne, is now made as pure, as when it was first made, must bee attributed to thee; and more then Both these; that our Flesh is now exalted up to Heaven, must bee attributed to thee; that Christ sitteth at the Right hand of his Father, to bee our Advocate, must be attributed to thee; and therefore all Gene­rations shall justly call thee Blessed; justly thou mayest say, Thy Soule doth magnifie the Lord, and thy Spirit rejoyceth in God thy Saviour: For if ever Soule had cause to Magnifie the Lord; If ever Spirit had cause to rejoyce in God: It is Thine, It is Thine, most Blessed, most Glori­ous, [Page 66]and most to bee Admired Marie. Suffered under Pon­tius Pilate.

After we have Be­leeved that Christ was Borne of the Virgin Ma­rie: It followes next, that we Be­leeve Hee suffered under Pontius Pi­late. But what? Suffered as soone as hee was borne? Indeed, as all of us beginne our life with Crying, which is an effect of Suffering; and bring this Omen with us into the world, of the miseries that are to follow: So Christ was more like to doe it then any other, who was Vir Dolorum, a man of sor­rowes all his life long: but yet this is not the suffering that is here meant: For the suffering heere spoken of, was under Pontius Pilate, which was not till many yeares af­ter the time of Christs birth. Was it then, that hee was smitten and [Page 67]buffeted, had a Crown of Thornes platted upon his Head, was mocked and scourged under Pontius Pilate? Great suffrings all; yet neither were these the Suffering that is heere meant: but as we use to say, when men are Executed, and put to death, that then they suffer: so the suffe­ring here meant, was his Execu­ting, and putting to Death; as Christ himselfe calleth it, where he saith, I have desired to eate this Passe­over with you before I suffer: which was done also under Pontius Pilate, at that time Governour for the Ro­manes in Hierusalem.

But though it bee necessary to beleeve that Christ suffered; yet why is it necessary to beleeve that he suffered under Pontius Pilate? In­deede, because there were many af­terwards that tooke upon them to be Christ; as Christ had fore-told, [Page 68] that many should come in his Name, saying, I am Christ: But wee ac­knowledge none of them to be the true Christ, but Him onely that suffered under Pontius Pilate.

We have here an Example what little good there is in good Intenti­ons, if they bee not followed home to their full period; for a good Intention in Pilate, for want of pur­suing, cost Christ a scourging more then otherwise, perhaps, hee should have had; for out of a desire to save his life, he caused him to bee scourged; hoping, in a good inten­tion, it would have passed with the Jewes for a satisfying punishment: but when his scourging would not serve their turnes, nor pacifie their malice; he then left pursuing his good intention, and delivered him into their hands to be put to death. Unhappy Pilate! that seeking to doe [Page 69]him good, didst him hurt; and thinking to save his life, didst adde a scourging to his death. What ill lucke hadst thou to bee a Go­vernour at this time, thereby to be made a Minister of so fowle a Fact? What ill hap hadst thou that hee should suffer under thee, who suf­fered for thee? Yet when thou hadst shed his bloud, and that hee had suffered under thee; If thou hadst made good use of shedding it, or good use of his suffering; it might perhaps have beene happy for thee; but to shed his bloud, and then to wash thy hands in wa­ter: as though water could clense the guiltinesse of blood, or as though thy hands could make a­mends for the fault of thy tongue: This, if lesse impiously done, was yet more foolishly done, then that thou didst before.

But, O my Soule, what a sudden change is this? Wee have hitherto thought, that the time was now come of our long desired expecta­tion: His being Conceived of the Holy Ghost, and borne of the Virgine Mary; seemed certaine signes unto us of our expected Messias: but now his suffering under Pontius Pi­late, puts us cleane out of heart: and takes away al hope, that this can possibly be the Messias we expect. But do we forget, that the Prophet which told us; A Virgin shall bee with Childe: and shall bring forth a Sonne; the same Prophet tels us also; that He should beare our Infir­mities; and by his stripes we should bee healed: Let these then bee laid to­gether, and it will bee found, that his suffering, is as true a signe of his being the true Messias as either his Birth, or his Conception.

But how happens this great gap to be in our Creed, betweene the Birth, and the Suffering of Christ? Is there nothing to be beleeved of Christ; from the time he was borne, till the time he suffered under Pontius Pilate? which was more then thir­ty yeares? If there be, why is it not here delivered? No doubt, there are many memorable things of Christ, between his Birth and his Death, and most worthy of our be­leeving; as, that he was Circum­cised the Eighth day; that he was worshipped of the Wise men of the East; that at Twelve yeares old, he Disputed in the Temple with the Doctors; that at Thirty yeares old, hee was Baptized of John in Jorden; that presently after, he was led into the Wildernesse, to bee Tempted of the Devill; that Hee turned Water into Wine at a Ma­riage [Page 72]in Canaa; and many other mos [...] memorable things, but are not ex­prest in this our Creede; because no [...] Works efficient of our salvation For without any of these, he migh [...] have been our perfect Saviour: bu [...] not so, without these exprest in ou [...] Creed: For if he had not taken up­on him our flesh, which was his being borne of the Virgin Mary; and if he had not dyed for our sinnes, which was his suffering under Pon­tius Pilate: and if he had not risen againe from the Dead, and Ascended into heaven; neither could we have had any Salvation by him; neither could hee have beene a Saviour to us; and therefore, these onely are exprest in our Creed, and not the other; though the other no lesse memorable then these, and as wor­thy otherwise of our Beliefe.

Or is it, that the Articles delive­red [Page 73]here concerning Christ; are all of them in opposition to some He­resie; from which in this Creed, we professe our selves to be free? as, Conceived by the Holy Ghost; in op­position to the Heresie of the Pro­dianitae; who held that Christ took flesh from the Elements; and to the Elements, at his Rising, resto­stored it againe. Borne of the Virgin Mary; in opposition to the Heresie of Valentinus; who held that Christ tooke not flesh of the Virgin; but onely passed through her Body, as Water through a Pipe. Suffered under Pontius Pilate, in opposition to the Heresie of Cerdonius; who held, that Christs Body was im­passible, and not subject to payne, but in appearance. Crucified, in op­position to the Heresie of Basilides; who held that Christ himselfe was was not Crucified, but Simon of [Page 74] Cyrene, wh [...] bo [...]e his Crosse. Was [...] [...]n opposition to the Heresie [...] the [...]chees; who held that [...] [...]yed not, but onely made a shew of D [...]ing. Descended into Hell, [...], whom [...], to deny his descen­ding into Hell R [...]se againe from the Dea; in opposition to the Heresie of Cerintius, who held, that Christ is not yet risen, but that he shall rise hereafter. The third Day; in oppo­sition to the Heresie of the Arme­nians, who held, that Christ rose on the Sabbath day; and so on the Second Day, and not on the Third. Ascended into Heaven; in opposition to the H [...]esie of those; who be­cause it is said, In Sole posuit Taber­nac [...]lum suum: were therefore of opinion, that hee went no higher then the Sunne. Shall come to Judge the Quicke and the Dead; in opposi­tion [Page 75]to the Heresie of those; who held, that there shall bee no Ge­nerall Judgement, but every one to bee Judged at the time of his death, and not otherwise. And this perhaps might be a reason, why onely these Articles are delivered in our Creede, concerning Christ; though in other respects, many o­ther might aswell have been con­ceived, and as well Beleeved.

Crucified,] But now wee are come to the suffering of Christ, and who can chuse but suffer him­selfe in comming to it? For what was his suffering, but his putting to death? And to what Death; but the most painefell, and the most Ignominious death of all, the death of the Crosse? John Baptist, when in Herods displeasure he was put to death; had yet a faire death; was onely Beheaded; a kind of death [Page 76]that seemes to hold good quarte [...] with a Delinquent; no Terrour no Ignominy, no Lingring; as soot ended, as begunne; and in which the Sense hath no leisure to feele Paine; but the death of the Crosse which Christ suffered, had in it all the parts of a cruell death; painefull and lingring: and which, to a generous minde, is more grie­vous then both these; full of Ig­nominy and Shame; and that, no­thing might bee wanting to the measure of the Ignominie, Cru­cified betweene two Malefactors; and to increase the Ignominy yet more, put in the midst, as the grea­test Malefactor of all the three.

And what was it to bee Cruci­fied? What, alas! but to have his Handes and his Feet nayled to the Crosse, and there left hanging till hee should bee dead; which [Page 77]could not chuse, but bee a long time, there being nothing to cause his death, but Paine and Bleeding; and Paine, though intollerable, is seldome deadly; Bleading though immeasurably, is oftentimes health­full.

But how then happened it, that with being nayled onely to the Crosse, he should be dead so soone? For after six houres he gave up the Ghost. No doubt, it made him shed blood in abundance; and therefore, in that space of time, he might well bleed to death. But so did the two Malefactors, who yet lived a longer time: was it then, that his death was hastened, by ha­ving a Speare thrust into his side? But that was not done, till after hee was dead. Although one Peter Iohn an Hereticke, would needes, against plainetestimony of Scripture, main­taine [Page 78]this Opinion, that it was done while hee was yet alive. Was i [...] then perhaps, that his Fasting, and Watching, and Scourging the night before, had so exceedingly weake­ned him; that he that could beare the burthen of our sinne, yet could not heare the burthen of his Crosse, but was faine to have Symon of Cy­rene to beare it for him; and there­fore was little better then dead al­ready. Or, if these were not e­nough to hasten his death; was it not perhaps, his own doing; who had power to lay downe his life, and to take it up againe at his plea­sure, and therefore dyed the soo­ner, that it might be verified, which was Prophesied: There shall not a bone of him bee broken. For, if hee had not dyed when hee did, his legges should have beene broken, as the two Malefactors were to ha­sten [Page 79]their death, that they might be dead before the Sabbath. O deare Jesus, what such haste was there for thy death, who onely wert wor­thy never to dye? but that by thy death thou hast given us life; though all our lives were not worth the hastening it; but that thy infinite love never thought it to be haste enough.

It is an olde Heresie of some; that Christ himselfe was not Cru­cified, but Symon of Cyrene in his stead; but the Temple and the Sunne make this knowne to bee a Fable. For would the Temple have rent in twaine? Would the Sunne have beene darkened so long toge­ther for Symon of Cyrene? No a­las, too true it is, that Christ him­selfe was Crucified; and woe to us that true it is; and yet more woe to us, if it were not true; but woe [Page 80]of all Woes, that true it is; in that for us, and for our sinnes, it was that he was Crucified. O my Soule that thou couldst bee alwaies me­ditating upon this Crucifying of Christ: Not, that it could be any pleasure to thinke of his being Cru­cified, but the better to make thee apprehend; First the great causes of it, thy own sinne, and his love: and then the great effect of it, thy Everlasting Redemption: for which thou canst never bee enough grate­full, if thou bee never so little un­mindefull.

Dead.] And now having Be­leeved, that Christ was Crucified; our next Beliefe is, that hee was Dead: and yet how can we Beleeve, that hee could Dye? For, is not Death the Wages of Sinne: and could hee receive the Wages, that had not done the Service? Had [Page 81]committed no sinne? But is it not, that hee dyed not for any sinne he committed himselfe, but for the sinnes of others which he tooke up­on him? Even as a Surety payes the Penaltie of a Debt that was none of his owne. And this rea­son the Prophet Daniel gives, where hee saith, Messiah shall bee slaine, not for himselfe, but for his people: to make reconciliation for their Iniquities, and to bring in Everlasting Salvation. And here appeares ano­ther reason, why Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate: For the same Prophet Daniel fore-sheweth, That after seven weekes, and threescore and two weekes, from the going forth of the Commandem at to restore and build Hier [...]salem; Messiah shall bee slaine: Which being computed according to [...] Prophets sense, agreeth just with the time, that Pontius Pilate [Page 82]was Governour in Judea. And thus as in the Article before, the Virgin Mary was justly mentioned, to shew that Christ was the true Messiah, by the circumstance of his Dis­cent: So in this Article, Pontius Pilate is justly mentioned, to shew that Christ is the true Messiah, by the circumstance of the time.

And for whose sinne was it then, that Christ dyed? O my Soule, this Question reflects upon thee; for amongst others, even for thine: Thy sinnes were the cause that Christ was Crucified; Thy sinnes the cause that Christ Dyed; and Alas, will be the cause to make him Dye continually, if continued: that if there bee any sparke of Grace, if any life of the Spirit at all in thee, thou wilt now at last dye to those sinnes, that made him to Dye: and every nayle that fastned him [Page 83]to his Crosse, will bee a nayle to peirce thy heart.

But if wee Beleeve that Christ was Dead; will wee fix our Be­liefe upon a Dead man? Can we hope for Life from him, who was Dead himselfe? Indeed, therefore we hope for life from him, because he was dead himselfe: For if hee had not Dyed, we could not have Lived; seeing hee therefore Dyed, that hee might Redeeme us from Death; as it is said of him: Thou wast slaine, and hast redeemed us to God by thy bloud. For, though hee were now dead; yet hee continued not dead long; but after three dayes, wee shall heare of his rising to life againe; and then wee shall heare him say: I am hee that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore.

But howsoever, now dead he is, [Page 84]and with him is dead all our joy, and all our comfort; but where is the Lamentation that is made for his death? David, when he heard Absolon was dead; cryed out, O [...] Absolon my Sonne! would to God, I had dyed for thee, my sonne Absolon: but where is any now he heares Christ is dead, that crieth out: O deare Je­sus, would to God I had dyed for thee, most deare Jesus? And is it not a grievous thing, that David should more lament the death of a wicked Sonne, then we should la­ment the death of the Sonne of God; and by whom we are made the Sonnes of God? Is it not a shame, that a Heathen should say of a Heathen, In ignem posita est, fletur: and that we hearing Christ to be dead, should not affoord him so much as a teare? Alas, it were well, if we would floore him but [Page 85]the common office of Humanity, to see him [Buried:] but where are they should doe it? His friends have all forsaken him: Not an Apostle now that will be seen about him; e­ven Peter himself that had made such Protestations, what great matters he would doe for his sake, is slunke away and gone; perhaps, to looke after the Sheepe committed to his charge: never regarding what be­came of the Shepherd; and if it had not beene for one good man, the blessed Joseph of Arimathea: God knowes what Indignities they might have offered to his Sacred Body being dead, who had so vile­ly abused it being alive. But thou blessed Joseph, hadst the b [...]l [...]esse to begge his Body of Pilate, Tho [...] tookest it downe from the [...]resse, Thou w [...]ap'dst it Linnen Cloathes, and laid'st it in a Sepulchre, where [Page 86]never man was laid, that as his Bo­die at first came out of a Virgins Wombe: so now at last, it is laid in a Virgine Tombe; thereby per­haps in mysterie, to honour Virgi­nity, both in Life and Death. And thou blessed Joseph, for this thy pi­ous Fact, shalt live in the memo­ries of men, as long as there shall be memories in men; and thy name shall bee had in everlasting remem­brance.

It may be thought no great mat­ter, what becomes of the Body, when the Soule is out of it; For lay it where you will, or lay it how you will, it turnes to Dust: and yet, I know not how, there seemes to be a kind of Honour in being fairely Buried: and perhaps, besides the Honour, a further my­stery in it, in what place the Body is laid: For why else should Jo­seph [Page 87]be so earnest, to have his Bones carried out of Egypt, and be brought to Canaan, to be buried there.

But what needes expressing in our Creed, that hee was Buried: seeing what needes beleeving that he was Buried? Our salvation had sufficiently beene wrought by his death, though he had not been buri­ed at all: and is it not then sufficient, that I Beleeve he was Dead, unlesse I beleeve also that hee was Buried? But seeing our salvation was wrought by his Death; It was fit to make the Opinion of his death undoubted; and to leave no scru­ple in the minde about it; which could not well bee done, but by adding, that he was Buried: For if he had not beene Buried, it might bee thought, hee was but in a Traunce; and then no great matter to revive againe: and so his Re­surrection [Page 88]have been sleighted; but Buriall is a thing that consummates death, and makes men dead, though they were not dead before: as it is reported of the subtile Schoole­man Scotus, that falling into a Trance, by some Fit of Infirmity, he was, whether out of Officious, or Malitious hastinesse, suddenly buried; and found afterwards, by evident Signes, that he was buried alive. And therefore, to leave no scruple for doubting of the true Death of Christ, it was necessary to be added, that he was Buried.

And now that wee have seene Christ Dead and Buried: One would thinke, there were an end of Articles of Beliefe concerning him; and yet there are other be­h [...]de, that must bee Beleeved no lesse then thefe: and happy it is for us, that there are other behind: [Page 89]for Alas, if our Beliefe should end in his Death and Buriall, what hope could we have of benefit by belee­ving in him? But now Christs hu­mane nature consisting of a Body and a Soule: and they being by death parted, as that Article tels, what being dead became of his Bo­dy; [That it was Buried:] So this next Article tels what became of his Soule: [That it Descended into Hell.] For his Soule is all the He now, that in this Article is in­tended.

But is this an Article to make us be glad off? had we not beene better, to have left him at his be­ing dead, and lying quietly in his Grave, then to bring him after­ward to Descend into Hell? Not at all: For marke the consequence of this Article; that if notwithstan­ding his Buriall, wee should bee [Page 90]doubtfull still of the death of Christ; (For one may bee buried for dead, and yet revive againe as Scotus did:) Yet this Article that now comes in, will stricke the mat­ter dead: and indeed, if there were nothing else in the Article, but that it makes us infallibly certaine of his Death; It were cause enough for giving it a place in this our Creede, seeing there is nothing that requires so great a confirmation, as the death of Christ: because upon his death it is, that the maine work of our Sal­vation depends: and certainely a greater confirmation of his death, there cannot bee then this; that while his Body was lying in the Grave, his Soule descended into Hell. For to have the Body in one place, and the Soule in another, both at once, is manifestly and infallibly to bee dead: Seeing Death is no­thing [Page 91]else, but to have the soule and body to be divided.

But now concerning his descent into Hell; It is wonderfull, what diversity of opinions there is at this day about it; Partly, concerning the place, and partly, concerning the motion. First, what is meant by Hell, and then what is meant by Descending; so differing all in the understanding of the words, as if they were not all of one language; at least, had a taint of Babell remain­ing stil in them. Some have thought that by descending into Hell; is meant nothing but the extreame sorrowes, and torments of soule, which Christ suffered in the Garden, and on the Crosse; but this, the time, and order of the Articles, which hath hi­therto been precisely observed, will not allow; For hee descended not into Hell, till after he was dead and [Page 92] buried. And besides, if this were so; it should rather bee said, that Hell ascended up to him, then that he descended into Hell; especi­ally, seeing those agonies were vio­lent; this descending, voluntary; those were sufferings, this an acti­on. Some againe have thought, that by Hell, is meant the Grave; and by descending into Hell, his being held under the power of death; but this, the soule will not allow: for, the grave is a place but for the body, no place for the soule; and the soule must have a place to bee in, aswell as the body; and it is the soule onely, that in this Article is intended. Some others have thought, that by descending into Hell, is meant the going of his soule to the place of all just soules after death, which is to Paradise: but this, the manner of the motion, will [Page 93]not allow; for to Paradise cer­tainly is an ascent, and not a de­scent; and therefore most unlike­ly, that ascending into Paradise, should bee exprest by descending into Hell.

For though the Poet Virgil maks

—amaena vireta
Fortunatorum Nemorum, sedes (que) beatas.

to be a part of Hell, yet this is but a Poeticall fixion, and not worthy to have place in Divinity: which makes it more plaine; Christ told Mary Magdalene at his rising, that he was not yet ascended to his Fa­ther. But to go about to meet with Errour in every corner, would bee both troublesome and tedious, and perhaps, not worth the labour: It may be sufficient for us, to see the truth by it selfe; and Rectum est Index sui & Obliqui; by viewing [Page 94]the right, wee shall the better dis­cerne the falsehood. The truth [...]hen in this Article se [...]mes to bee this: That the soule of Christ being p [...]rted from his body descended lo­cally into Hell, properly so called; though it may seeme strange, that having promised the good Thiefe, to be this day with him in Paradise, he should be this day with the bad Thiefe in Hell; and yet not strange, seeing the soule is no such slow mover, but that it might bee in Hell and Paradise, both in one day; and lesse strange if it bee true, that he meant it, perhaps, of his Deity, and not of his soule.

And that the soule of Christ did locally descend into Hell may thus appeare; The soule, though a spi­rit, must yet have a place after its kind to be in [...] if not Circumscrip­tive, at least Definitive; and the soule [Page 95]of Christ stayed not with his body, for then his body should not have been dead; no it ascended not up to heaven; for, this is a contrary motion to descending; nor it ho­vered not about in the ayre, for, this is but a Ficti [...]n of Poets, when they speake of soules departed; and what place then remained but one­ly Hell? And if it were not the true Hell, into which his soule de­scended, then must the speech bee Metap [...]oricall and Figurative; and is a Figurative speech fit to make the Article of a Creede? What though to sit at the right hand of God, be a Figurative speech, and in the Creed; Is it not a Figura­tive speech, which custome hath made Litterall? And is descending into Hell, a speech made literall by any custome? And if any man be doubtfull still, whether this Ar­ticle [Page 96]ought to be expounded literal­ly, or no: he may doe well to aske counsell of the Article which saith; He ascended into Heaven: For, both the Articles being exprest in a like phrase, there seemes great reason to take them both in a like sense; and seeing his Ascending into Heaven is certainly meant literally: there­fore certainely also meant literal­ly, his Descending into Hell.

But what Authorities have wee for this Interpretation? Indeed, Authorities most irrefragable. First, a generall consent of all the An­cient Fathers; Then, of all the learned Writers in the Ages fol­lowing: Then in our owne time, of an infinite number wee may name these; Alexander Gyll, John Mayer, Alexander Nowell, the reve­rend Deane of Pauls, and chiefely, the learned Bishop of Winchester, [Page 97]Thomas Bilson: and which is more then all these, and not slightly to be accounted of, in the directing of our opinions, The Tenet of our Church of England, as Deane No­well writeth in his Catechisme.

And as there hath been, and still is, great diversity of Opinions a­bout his descending it selfe; so there hath been, and still is, as great di­versitie of opinions about the cause of his descending. But though his descending into Hell be an Article of our Creed, yet the cause for which he descended is none: and therefore though we be tyed of necessity to beleeve that; yet we are at our li­berty for beleeving of this, and need to beleeve no more of it, then we see good reason to make it pro­bable. And why then should wee trouble our selves with debating of circumstances, which doe but [Page 98]serve to breed debate? Can wee not beleeve that Christ descended into Hell: unlesse wee know the cause why he Descended? Should the Israelites have done well, to forbeare the obeying of Gods Commandement, for wearing cloathes mixt of linnen and wollen: untill they might know the cause, why they should not weare them? and doth any man know the true cause of it to this day?

Some indeed, and of the highest ranke, hold this opinion; that the cause of Christs descending into Hell, was onely to triumph; but are there not other, and those no meane ones neither, that are of opinion; he de­scended as wel to suffer as to triumph? First, to suffer to perfect our redemp­tion; and then to triumph, to esta­blish our security? First, to suffer, if not the paines of hell, at least, [Page 99]some paines in hell; thereby to pay the uttermost farthing that was due by us: and then to triumph, to receive the first earnest of reward that was due to himselfe? If his descending into Hell (say they) were onely to subdue Satan, and to tri­umph over him; why is it spo­ken by David in the person of Christ, as a favour of God unto him; Thou wilt not leave my soule in Hell. For what favour was it not to leave his soule there, where it was in triumph? It had beene certainly more favour to leave it there, then to take it from thence. It seemes therefore, there was some­thing which he suffered in Hell; in which it was a favour of God, not to leave him; and might have been as mischieuous to his soule, as cor­ruption to his body, if God should have left him in it. They adde, if [Page 100]Christ had descended into Hell, and had not suffered some paines in Hell; he had left undone his most merito­rious worke, and had given over meriting, before it came to perfe­ction. For to be in Hell, and not de­spair of Gods mercy: to suffer paines in hell, and perhaps of hell, and not murmure at Gods justice; are works which in making perfection of me­rit, shew perfection of grace; and as without Divine assistance, they could not be suffered: so without suffering, they could not be done. They adde farther, it is true, he was not thrust into Hell, as the dam­ned are; who if they were not thrust into it, would never come there: but he descended into it, and descending is a voluntary action, he might have chosen: but as he wil­lingly submitted himselfe to the death of the Crosse, in his bodie; [Page 101]so he willingly submitted himselfe, to the descent into Hell, in his soule. For, till his soule descended into Hell, it came not to the lowest degree of humiliation: and till it came to the lowest degree of humiliation; it could not come to the highest of perfection; and to the highest of perfection, it was to come; before he could come to ascend on high, and to lead Captivity captive. And these seeme to bee their reasons, who are of opinion, that Christ descended into Hell, aswell to suffer, as to triumph.

But may not these reasons bee easily made appeare, to bee unrea­sonable? For when David makes Christ to say; Thou wilt not leave my soule in Hell; was it because he suffered in Hell; or was it not rather, that though hee onely tri­umphed in Hell; yet his joy of [Page 102]triumphing was not so great, to make him forget, by whose assi­stance hee triumphed; and there­fore to acknowledge, that if God should leave him in Hell; he should haue cause to leave triumphing. And to say, that if he had not suffe­red in Hell, he had left undone, his most meritorious worke; Is it not directly to crosse Saint Paul where he saith, That Christ pacified all things by the blood of his crosse; by which it appeares, that Christ suffered as much as was necessary for our salvation upon the Crosse; and what need then of any more suf­fering, by descending into Hell? And for degrees of humiliation; doe we reade of any lower: can wee thinke of any lower then this; that Exinanivit seipsum, he emptied him­selfe of all glory; became of no reputation, and humbled himselfe [Page 103]to the shamefull death of the bit­ter Crosse? But besides these answers, wee may not omit, to observe heere a distinction which offers it selfe, in the Ar­ticles concerning Christ, and may seeme to give some light to the clearing of this Controversie. For the five first Articles seeme to concerne Christ, as onely a pati­ent: (Conceived by the Holy Ghost: Borne of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate: was Crucified, Dead, and Buried:) all Articles, concerning him as a patient; And in which he did nothing, but onely suffered: But the five later Arti­cles concerne him onely as an agent: (He descended into Hell; Hee rose the third day from the Dead; Hee ascen­ded into Heaven; He sitteth at the right hand of his Father; Hee shall come from thence, to judge the quicke and [Page 104]the Dead:) all Articles concerning him, as an agent; and as in those of his suffering, there is a plenitude of merit: so in these of his action, there is a plenitude of reward. And now if wee keepe us well to this distinction, it will keepe us right in the true understanding of this Article: For if hee descended into Hell, as an Agent, then not as a Patient; and if not as a Patient, then not to Suffer, but onely to Triumph. Lastly, if Christ descen­ded into Hell to suffer, why did not then his body descend aswell as his soule; seeing our bodies aswell as our soules should have suffered the paines of Hell? Which cannot be objected, if wee hold hee descended into Hell, but only to Triumph: For as it was a sufficient and proper tri­umph for the soule to triumph over Hell; so it was a sufficient and pro­per [Page 105]Triumph for the body, to tri­umph over death; which it did by rising the third day, as it followes in the next Article. Indeed, for his descending into Hell, to triumph over Satan, there was great reason; seeing hee it was, that had offered him so many great indignities here on earth: He it was, that had tem­pted him in the Wildernesse: Hee it was, that put it into Judas heart, to betrary him. It was therefore very expedient, that the first thing he should doe, when hee came to be an Agent, should be to goe into Hell, to be revenged upon him as it were in hot bloud; and for his greater disgrace, to triumph over him, within his owne Kingdome.

Now which of these opinions is the more probable, perhaps wee may; but which is the truer, who can bee sure? Seing probability [Page 106]and truth doe not alwaies goe to­gether; and sometimes the more true, is the lesse probable; there being fallacies, aswell in Reason as in Sense: and indeed, in matters ob­scure, and not recalled in Scripture; we may sooner mistake all, then take any at all right; and never know in any of them, when we be right, or wrong: and therefore of such poynts, though it may be to­lerated to make Disquisitions; yet it is not safe to make conclusions. Sapere ad sobrietatem, is an excellent rule in all cases; but where the truth is but conjecturall, (as in this case) most of all; and it was justly said of Christ: Yee erre not knowing the Scriptures: For if our know­ledge be grounded, and not upon Scriptures; not onely Errour is easily let in, but it is hardly kept out. What the Scripture de­livers [Page 107]in plaine termes, we may be bold to build upon: but inferences and deductions, are for the most part fallacious; seldome so cleare, to induce a beliefe; seldome so certaine to breed a knowledge: and therefore in this poynt, our safest course is, to content our selves with that which our Creed delivers, that Christ descended into hell: and not be too curious in examining, much lesse too peremptory in concluding, either the manner or the causes of his descending.

But if Christ descended locally into Hell; How could he ever come from thence againe? Seeing it is said, and truly said, Omnia te advorsum spe­ctantia, nulla retrorsum: That from Hel there is no returning. No return­ing indeede for those that are dam­ned; and are brought thither to live and die there; but for him, [Page 108]who descended into Hell, to overcome Hell; for him who by descending in­to Hell, merited ascending into Hea­ven: It was not onely possible that he should returne, but impos­sible he should be there detained.

There have beene Hereticks of old, at least, if they were Hereticks: (called Psychopanichitae) who held this opinion, that when the body dyes, then the soule falls asleepe, and that there is an Interstitium of li­ving as wel in the soule, as in the bo­dy; the soule lying asleep, and not waking till the body at the last day rise againe: because it hath beene said of men when they dyed, that they slept with their Fathers: and Saint Paul also expresseth death by sleeping: where he saith, For this cause, many of you are weake, and ma­ny sleepe: and by this meanes, it may bee justly said, that when a [Page 109]mandies, he knowes his judgement presently: For though there bee a million of yeares, betweene his death and the day of Judgement; yet the soule lying all the while asleep, they are to him as contiguous And this seemes to bee no impro­bable opinion, and by which many difficult places in Scripture may be cleared; for if it were not thus, how could it be said, that where the tree falleth, there it lyeth: for if the soule be in action, while the body is dead; how will the Tree lye, where it falleth? Seeing the good soules will alwaies be doing of good, and the evill soules of evill. But if not­withstanding these reasons, this o­pinion bee not suffered to passe: Can it better bee confuted, then by that which is said here, (Hee descen­ded into Hell:) for, what Hee but his soule? If then his soule descen­ded, [Page 110]and descending bee a voluntary action: and no voluntary action but of that which is awake; then certainely, was Christs soule awake after death, and not asleep; and if his soule, then ours aswell; seeing there is no difference, that we know off, betweene his soule and ours, but propension to sinne.

But what a kind of perswading is this? to seeke to perswade us to beleeve in Christ, by hearing hee was scourged and crucified, and hanged amongst common Malefa­ctors; and after all this to descend into Hell? Is he like to be a Saviour to us, that could not save himselfe? For if he had saved himselfe, and come downe from the Crosse, the Jewes (pretended at least) they would have beleeved in him. But when he did not this, upon so just a Motive; what reason had they [Page 111]but to thinke he could not doe it: and then what reason had they to thinke him a Saviour? This indeed was the mist, that blinded the Jewes eyes: they could never be brought to think him the true Christ, because he came in such meannesse & humi­lity: where they looked for a Mes­sias that should come in state; one that should domineere in the world, and restore the temporall King­dome to the Hebrew Nation. And yet is this one of the maine rea­sons which makes us know and beleeve him to be the true Christ; because it is most agreeable to all the ancient Prophecies, that such a one the true Christ should bee. And indeed seeing hee came into the world to bee a Redeemer; and Redeeming consisted no lesse in suf­fering then in doing: It was neces­sary hee should come in such an [Page 112]Estate, as might be fittest for suf­fering, so to pay for us the utter­most farthing of our debt; not onely by Active, but aswell also by Passive obedience, which hee could not have done; at least, not made appeare to have done, if hee had come in such state as the Jewes expected.

But though he descended into Hell, and no doubt, The third day hee rose againe. did great matters at his being there; yet it seemes he was not long about it; for the Third day he rose againe; Not sooner then the third day, that it might appeare, hee had beene cer­tainly dead: Nor later, that he might not leave his Disciples too long in discomfort: Not sooner then the third day, that there might be time sufficient for his soules triumphing; Nor latter, that there might not be [Page 113]time sufficient for his bodies cor­rupting: Not sooner, then the third day, that hee might not abolish the old Sabbath upon the old Sabbath; Nor later, that he might not leave the world without a Sabbath; for if hee had not risen till the fourth day, then had the third day, beene neither Sabbath-day, nor working-day; Not a Sabbath, because hee was not then risen, whose onely rising made the new Sabbath; not a working-day, because but one day by it selfe, and none of the six, that were at first ordained to bee working-dayes.

And now is performed the thing signified, of which, Jonas was the signe; for as Jonas went down in­to the Whales belly, and after three dayes was cast out safe upon the shoare: So Christ having descended into the Whales belly, of Hell, was [Page 114]the third day set a shore on the earth, and rose from the dead. Now is ve­rified the saying of Christ, at which the Jewes tooke such scandall; Destroy yee the Temple, and in three dayes I will build it up againe: For when the Jewes had destroyed the sacred Temple of his Body, by put­ting him to death upon the Crosse, in three dayes he built it up againe, and rose from the dead. And now was verified the Prophecie, That the glory of the second Temple should bee greater then that of the former: For so was Christs body being risen from the dead; farre more glorious, then the body in which he dyed.

And now the third day being come, hee rose from the dead; but why from the dead? For onely his body from the dead; his soule from Hell: and why then from the dead, rather then from Hell? [Page 115]Is not the rising of his soule as wor­thy of our beliefe, as the rising of his body? And why then, not as well mentioned, as the rising of his body? But is it not, that to say, he rose from the dead, includes them both; seeing his body could not rise without his soule: besides, it more concernes us to say, hee rose from the dead, then to rise from hell; because to rise from the dead, is our owne case; but to rise from Hell, is never like to be the case of any, but onely of himselfe. Neither indeed, can it properly be said, He rose from Hell, seeing there can bee no rising, where there was not a falling first; but though his soule descended into Hell; yet it fell not in Hell, as his body did by death; and therefore proper onely to say, Hee rose from the Dead, and not from Hell.

Never Cordiall was more com­fortable [Page 116]to a fainting spirit; then this Article is to us: The Article before, put us almost cleane out of heart: For if his being dead and buried, touched us so very neerely; how could his descending into Hell, but touch us to the very quick? But now, this Article of his rising from the dead, puts new life into us; see­ing by this, we are assured, not on­ly of the greatnesse of his power, that could so easily vanquish Death and Hell: but of the greatnesse of his love, that as hee did it for our sakes: so for our comfort, he would come againe, to let us know it. And indeed, though Christ did well enough himselfe, with his descen­ding into Hell; yet we for our parts could never well brooke this Arti­cle, for two unpleasing words that are in it; Hell and Descending, ex­treamely distastfull, both. For Hell [Page 117]is a terrour; and Descending, a dis­grace: but now, this Article of his Rising, cheeres us up againe; for Hell is no terrour, to him that can vanquish it; and Descending, is no dis­grace to him that can rise againe, and indeed, there is nothing that more pleaseth us then rising. For, as long as we be rising, wee can never doe amisse: as the word never gives of­fence; so the action never takes hurt: and specially, if wee rise, as Christ did from the dead. For how much the place from which wee rise, is more hatefull; so much the rising it selfe is more gratefull; and seeing nothing is more hatefull, then death: therefore, nothing is more gratefull, then rising from the Dead.

But though Christ continued longer dead, then his Disciples could have wished; yet hee rose [Page 118]sooner from the Dead; then per­haps they expected: and perhaps they expected not he should rise at all: For, if Mary Magdalene had beleeved that Christ should rise a­gaine, would shee have come to the Sepulchre with Spices to Embalme him?

But how is it true, that Christ did rise the third day, when it appeares he rose before it was day? For the Sunne was not risen, when Christ rose; and it is the rising of the Sunne, that makes it day. But though the Sunne were not risen, yet it was upon rising, and that was enough to denominate it day. And besides, before the Sun riseth, there is alwaies a Diluculum, a day-breake; and that certainely e­nough, to make it bee called, Day. But it seems, it is meant in the Gos­pell, to expresse, not only that it was [Page 119]the third day; but what time of the third day it was, when Christ arose. And indeed, whether wee take the day, after the account of the Jewes, who begin their day at Sun setting; or after the account of the Romans, who begin their day at Midnight, as we do; in both the accounts, it was the third day, and then the Sun rising was the time of the day, in which he rose.

But why then would Mary Mag­dalene come no sooner with her Spices; seeing by this account, the Sabbath day that had hindred her, was ended long before? Was it not, that if shee had gone sooner, shee must have gone by darke: and could shee in the darke, have done the worke shee went about? And to have gone by candle-light, would have bred suspition. The Watchmen then might justly have [Page 120]said, His Disciples came by night, and stole him away: but now shee tooke advantage of the first light, to bee going to the Sepulchre; as Christ may be thought at the same time, to bee rising from the Sepulchre: and per­haps, it was but the distance of place, that made the difference of time, betweene her comming, and his rising; and it was well, there was that difference of time; For, if shee had come sooner, shee had found Christ lying dead in his grave still; and to have Em­balmed him then with her Spices, might have brought imputation upon his Resurrection; have made it be thought, that the vertue of her Spices had revived him; and there­fore to prevent this scandall, Christ was up before Mary Magdalen came: and as soone as the third day affoorded but any dawning of [Page 121]light; (for where Saint John saith, While it was yet darke, is but a phrase of expressing, It was not broad day­light;) He rose from the Dead.

And is there not in this a My­stery? May we not say, that Christ would not rise, but with the rising of the Sunne, because the Sunne could not rise, but with the rising of Christ. For, as when Christ left his life, the Sunne left his light, and was covered with darkenesse: so now, that Christ riseth from the Dead; the Sunne riseth from the darke, and makes the day spring from on high againe with his light. Was it ever heard before, that two Suns did rise, both together? And why was it so now, but to shew, that he is the true light, that lighteth every one that commeth into the world: and that in his light, we shall see light. O blessed Sunne of Righteousnesse, [Page 122]as thou didst then rise and appeare to thy Apostles, with beames of comfort, to remove from them all darknes of sorrow; so vouchsafe now to rise in my heart, with beames of grace, to dispell from mee all clouds of errour; that I may not take thee for a Cardiner, as Mary Magdalen did; but that calling me by my name; I may answer thee with Rabboni, as Mary Magdalen did; who though shee came too late, to annoint thee with her Spices, dead: yet she came time enough, to be the first messenger of thy rising from the dead; and to have the honour to bee Apostola Apostolis, the Apostle to thy Apostles; who, but for her incessant diligence, might have lan­guished longer in the ignorance of thy rising.

But is it true indeed, that Christ did rise from the dead, and that it [Page 123]is not a tricke put upon us? Seeing he appeared not to all the people, but onely to some few men, and are a few men sufficient witnesses, to make so incredible a thing to be cre­dited? But though he appeared not to all the people, yet he appeared to all the Apostles, that their holinesse might well supply their number; and to all the Apostles at diverse times, that the frequencie might well cleare them from mistaking: and if incredulity, notwithstanding all this, will still bee excepting a­gainst their witnesse; have we not then, more then five hundred bre­thren at once, that saw him being risen from the dead; that if we be­leeve it not now, having so many witnesses, and such witnesses to confirme it; neither would wee beleeve it though an Angel should come and tell it us, from Hea­ven; [Page 124]and indeede, an Angell did come from heaven, and tell it to Mary Magdalen; He is risen, he is not here.

But why would not Christ be­ing risen from the dead; suffer him­selfe to be seene of the Jewes: was he affraid, they would Crucifie him againe, as they had done before? but there needed bee no such feare, seeing his body was now impassi­ble, and not subject any more to such indignities. But indeede to what ende should the Jewes have seene him? For, it would but have moved them to more blasphemy; they would but have said, as they had said before, that he was a Magcian, and had a devill; and though they had beeue allowed the favour of Saint Thomas, to put their hands into his sides: yet they would never have beleeved him to bee the same man, [Page 125]whom they had put to death; but ra­ther some Devil that appeared in his likenesse: And were these fit men to have the favour to see Christ? The penitent Mary Magdalen could not be allowed to touch him: and should such reprobate Jewes be al­lowed to doe it? even to the Dis­ciples themselves, he appeared but at times, and in short fits; rather to confirme their beliefe of his re­surrection; then to keep them com­pany with his conversation. So as there was cause enough why he was not seene of the Jewes; but why, after he was risen, he stayed forty daies upon the earth, before he Ascended; and in those forty daies, appeared nine times, and but nine times to his Disciples. This indeed is a Mystery; whereof, without divine Revelation, wee shall never come to understand the reason.

But though Christs body might rise from the dead, yet how could it come forth of the Sepulchre; see­ing a great stone was rowled against it, to keep him in? Was it, that the Angel came from heaven, of pur­pole to let him out? In this in­deed, the Doctors of the Church are much divided; some of them holding that the Angel came direct­ly for that purpose; as amongst o­thers of the Authors, Pope Leo, (I thinke) the second: and of the la­ter amongst us, Master Perkins. Some againe holding, that the Angel row­led away the stone indeed, but not to any such purpose, as amongst o­thers; of the Ancients, Saint Hie­rome; and of the latter, Bishop An­drewes, who in his seventeenth Prin­ted Sermon, saith thus: The An­gel indeed rowled away the stone, but Christ was risen first: and the stone [Page 127]rowled away after. But seeing Mary Magdalen asked not this question, why should we? Was it not more, that Christs body should rise at all; then that rising, it should make its way through any obstacle? And why more, to come out of the Se­pulchre, while the stone lay there: then to come in, amongst his Apo­stles, when the doores were shut? For indeed, who knowes, or is able to define: what the abilities and priviledges of a glorified body are?

But how are we sure, that it was the true body of Christ that appea­red; and not rather a phantasme or ghost; seeing a phantasme seems also to be a body: as the Samuel, which the Witch of Endor raised up to Saul? Indeed for this, we are be­holding to Saint Thomas; for, his doubting, hath made this out of doubt: For, putting his hand into his [Page 128]side, without which he would not be­leeve, hee found it to bee flesh and bone, of which, a phantasme or ghost hath none; and therefore, though it may deceive the seeing: yet it cannot deceive the touching.

And here, besides the litterall sense, there may not unfitly bee drawne a good Morall observation: that as Christ did not rise from the dead; till he had first descended in­to Hell; so the best meanes, to rise from the death of sinne, is to de­scend into the Hell and torment of Conscience, by penitent contrition; and indeed, he that truely feeles the compunction of soule for his sinne; may justly be said, to be in hell for the time, seeing no hell can mini­ster greater torment, but yet with this difference: that where in the torment of Hell, there is utter de­spaire; in this torment of Com­punction, [Page 129]there is assured hope. O gracious God, so frame mee to descend into this Hell of Compunction, by peni­tent contrition; that I may never come to feele the torments of that Hell; where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But by what power was it, that Christ rose from the dead? For there is great difference betweene rising, and being raysed: to rise, is properly by ones owne power: to be raised, is properly by the power of another; and they cannot bee both true: and why then are they both said? For as it is said here, that he rose; so in another place, it is said, that he was raised. Is it not that his rising was as his dying; vo­luntary and yet imposed; he dyed, because he would dye: and he dyed, because his Father decreed him to dye; and in this, there is no incon­guitie; [Page 130]seeing all, Opera ad extra; all exteriour workes; and all are exteriour works that are not perso­nall: as they be common to all the persons in the Deitie, so they may be affirmed of the whole Deity.

After the Article of beliefe, He ascended into Heaven. that Christ rose from the dead: our next Beliefe is, that he ascended into Heaven; and indeed it followes well: For, as when he came downe from heaven, he never left descending, till hee descended into hell; so now that he is risen, he never leaves rising, till he ascend up to Heaven. And so my soule, shouldst thou doe, not thinke it enough to rise up from sinne, and there stay; but never leave rising, till thou ascend up to Heaven as Christ did.

But what? Ascend as soone as he was risen? What time was there [Page 131]then, for Thomas to put his hand in­to his side? What time for Peter to take charge of his Sheepe? Hee therefore ascended not presently af­ter his up-rising; but stayed forty dayes upon earth before he ascended; in which time, hee appeared nine times to his Apostles and Disci­ples. But what needed he to have stayed fortie dayes, if hee appea­red but nine times? Or why ap­peared hee but nine times, if hee stayed fortie dayes? Indeed, to give the reason of the number of his times of appearing; and why at other times hee concealed himselfe: is perhaps a secret be­yond our capacitie: Onely in ge­nerall, wee may conceive, that hee appeared sometimes, to make his Disciples assured of his Re­surrection; and he forbore appea­ring sometimes, to weane them [Page 132]from their carnall desire of his pre­sence. He appeared sometimes, to instruct them in many things which they knew not before; and he for­bore appearing sometimes, to pre­pare their mindes for his ascending.

But howsoever, by these his ap­pearings, hee manifested foure fa­culties of a glorified body; that it can vanish away at pleasure; that it can eate or fast at pleasure; that it can alter shape at pleasure; that it can enter, where the doores are shut: For all these Christ did after his rising, by vertue of his glorified body: But that his Body, though glorified, was at any time in more places then one at once, is no where to be found in the holy Scriptures, and can never bee proved by the Word of God.

But to what Heaven was it that Christ ascended? Not as some foo­lishly [Page 133]interpret those words of Da­vid; In Sole posuit tabernaculum suum, as though hee placed his Taber­nacle in the Sunne, and went no higher: For, if this were so, how could he come to sit at the right hand of his Father, whose throne is in the highest heavens.

This ascending of Christ into hea­ven, makes justly a high Festivall a­mong us, which wee call Ascension day; but should we not rather call it Ascension yeare, or some longer time then a yeare; at least, if wee meane it as long as the time hee spent in ascending. For if it were lesse then yeares, it may be written for a Wonder: seeing Alpharabius, a great Astrologer amongst the A­rabians, affirmes for certaine, the Starry-Heaven to be so high above the Earth, that a man with reasona­ble journeyes, could hardly goe it [Page 134]in eight thousand yeares: and o­ther Astronomers affirme, the di­stance from the Earth to the ne­thermost Heaven, to bee no lesse then fourescore Millions of miles: And another expresseth the distance thus, that if a Mill-stone were fal­ling downe from Heaven, it would be neere a hundred yeares in falling, before it came to the Earth. And if wee wonder at these things (as indeed they are most wonderfull) wee may consider what just cause there is, to have this Attribute gi­ven to God, to be the Maker of hea­ven and earth. But though the di­stance of place be so great, and the motion of a naturall body bee so slow; yet what is this to a glorifi­ed body, that makes no reckoning of distance of place; but instar ful­guris, like Lightning, is able to move from any part of the world [Page 135]to another in an instant; that if we measure the length of the Festivall, by the length of the time which Christ spent in Ascending; we need not call it Ascension day, but Ascen­sion minute: seeing his glorified body was able in a minute, to passe from the Earth to the highest Heavens. And though, when hee began his Ascent from Mount Olivet, hee set out at first so slowly, that if he went no faster, he was not like to get to Heaven in many yeares: yet that was done, but ad pascendos Discipulorum oculos; as it were to feed his Disciples eyes: to the end, they might the better observe his Ascending, and be the more sensible of it; and perhaps, to shew how unwilling hee was to leave them. For afterward, no doubt, hee men­ded his pace, and made use of the agility of his glorified Body; and [Page 136]perhaps, was arrived in Heaven, while the Angel stood blaming the Apostles, for gazing up after him.

But if he had been Ascended into Heaven sooner, why did he not send the Holy Ghost downe upon his Apostles; till after fifty daies, that he began his Ascending: that so hee might have kept his promise: And loe, I am with you alwayes to the ende of the world: meaning, either by himselfe, or by the Holy Ghost: where now there were fifty dayes; in which, they neither had Christ, nor the Holy Ghost amongst them? O my soule, what presumption is this: to inquire into Mysteries that are hidden from us, and will be still, till wee come our selves to heaven, from whence the Holy Ghost was sent.

But what ground have wee for it, that Christ indeed ascended into Heaven? Seeing Saint Mathew and [Page 137]Saint John, who were likely to have seene it, speake nothing at all of it; onely Saint Marke and Saint Luke, who saw it not, and had it but at the second hand; record it to us; and is it reason, to beleeve them that speake but by heare-say; when eye witnesses, if any such thing were, are silent; especially, in a matter of so great consequence as his Ascen­sion is? It is true indeed, Saint Ma­thew, for what cause I know not, breaks off his Gospel before Christs Ascending; but Saint John, though hee speake not of it, in the place, where the other doe; yet hee had delivered it, at least, intimated it, before in his Gospel, where hee mentions Christ to say, What, and if yee shall see the Sonne of man ascend up, where he was before? And Saint Paul a Witnesse without exception, af­firmes plainely, That more then five [Page 138]hundred brethren at once saw him As­cending; and himselfe also, though he saw him not Ascend, yet he saw him being Ascended: that nothing can have a more sure ground of Beleeving: nothing bee more cer­taine, then Christs Ascending into Heaven.

And of his Ascention, wee may easily conceive, two speciall ef­fects: One, which we are sure off; the other, which wee hope: the first, his owne glory; that having received indignities on earth, hee might receive the reward of them in Heaven: the other, our com­fort; that where he is, we may be also. O blessed Saviour, I know not whether more to grieve, for thy De­scending into Hell; or more to joy, for thy Ascending up to Heaven: yet I must confesse, there is advantage on the joyes part: For, though one of [Page 139]them was to thee most prejudiciall: yet both of them are to mee most beneficiall.

There are many that ascend: (for we are all of a climbing nature) but not into Heaven: They ascend but with Symon Magus, up into the Ayre; the popular ayre of Am­bition, and glory of the World: and alas, they presently fall downe againe, because the thin Ayre is not able to beare them up; and the end of these men is worse then the beginning. There is no Ascending good, but into Heaven: For, once come thi­ther, there will be no falling down againe; For though Lucifer did so once; yet it is never like, to bee done so any more.

It was never heard, that any Ascended up to Heaven till now, but onely Elias the Prophet: a type perhaps of Christs Ascending, who [Page 140]ascended up in a fiery Chariot; and wee may marvell, how hee could ever get to Heaven, and not bee burnt by the way; but indeed, the fire of his Chariot, was perhaps, the ardour and burning love of Se­raphins: which like the fire that appeared in the Bush to Moses, though it burnes, it never consumes. And thou my soule, if with this ardour and burning love of God, thou couldst enflame thy heart; thou also might'st Ascend up to Heaven in a fiery Chariot, as Elias did.

But though Elias went up into Heaven; yet it cannot properly be said; that he Ascended into heaven: For he was taken up in a Fiery Cha­riot, and to bee taken up, is by the power of another; to Ascend, is by his owne power; and this, Elias did not, nor ever any, but onely Christ.

But though Christ ascended into Heaven; yet he ascended not as the soules of the Saints doe: He fitteth at the right hand of God. to lye under the Altar, when they come there: but he Ascended, to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: For, who indeed, is fit to sit at the right hand of the Father, but his onely Sonne? And now, by his Ascending, a great alteration is made, in the order of taking place in Heaven. For where before, the Cherubins, or Seraphins; or what other Order, is the highest, in the Hierarchy of Angels, tooke their places next to God. Now the hu­mane Nature of Christ, takes place before them all: that if Lucifer were now in Heaven, he might have juster cause, to murmur at Gods par­tiality, as he would call it, then e­ver he bad, when he first revolted.

But we must not here bee ledde with the weake conceit of flesh, or with the vaine conceit of errour; as though God were a body, and had a right hand and a left hand, like to us; who is purus Spiritus, a pure and sim­ple Spirit; but as we make account, that to fit at our right hand, is to have the highest place, next our selves, so when Christ is said to sit at the Right hand of his Father; it is meant, that all power is given him both in Heaven and Earth; at least, a power far supreme then any crea­ture; a soveraigne power over all creatures. And this, my soule, makes well for thee, and for us all; for we may bee sure, hee sits not there for his owne glory onely, but as well also for the good of his Church; that by sitting there, he may bee the readier to make conti­nuall Intercession for us: for alas [Page 143]if it were not by this benefit, how were it possible, his little Flocke should have been able to withstand so many Assaults, as have most vi­olently beene made upon it in all Ages.

O Blessed Jesus; thou well de­servedst to sit at the right hand of the Father, who didst offer up thy selfe, a perfect sacrifice of obedi­ence to thy Father; Thou well de­servest to have the highest place in Heaven, who didst humble, thy selfe to the lowest place in Hell: Thou art worthy to have all knees bow to thee both in Heaven and Earth; who didst drinke the bitter Cup of thy Fathers wrath; to re­concile all things unto him, both in Earth and Heaven. And though in the time of thy Pilgrimage upon Earth, thou wert faine to flee out of Judea into Egypt; and faine to stand [Page 144]as a Prisoner at the Barre of Pilate, and faine to hang nailed on the ac­cursed Tree; and faine after all, to lie buried in a Grave: (all Postures of misery) yet now at last, thou art come to a Posture of rest; For thou sittest: and to a seat of glory; For thou sittest at the right hand of thy Fa­ther: and there shalt sit in rest and glory, till the time come, that thou come to give just sentence upon them, who gave unjust sentence up­on thee, and to bee avenged of all thine enemies. For as we beleeve that Christ sitteth at the right hand of his Father; So we beleeve hee shall come from thence, to judge both the quicke and the dead.

But how can wee beleeve that Christ shall come to judge the quicke and the dead, From thence he shall come to judge, &c. when he pro­fesseth himselfe that hee Judgeth no [Page 145]man. It is true indeed, he judged no man while he was here upon earth, to be judged himselfe: but now that all power is given him both in heaven and earth; wee beleeve, it is a part of that power; that he shall come to jduge both the quicke and the dead.

But when will the time of his comming bee? O my soule, thou maist well rest satisfied, with that answer of Christ to his Apostles; It is not for you to know the times and seasons, which God hath lockt up in his owne breast. Yet see the vaine in­quisitivenesse of mans nature, that would know that, which is hidden from the Angels; and more then this, from the Sonne of man him­selfe; although it may seem strange, that he should not know the day of Judgement: who is himselfe, to be the Judge? and yet not strange, [Page 146]seeing to appoint the day of judge­ment, belongs to him that appoints the Judge; and is perhaps one of the things, which makes God say; Secretum meum mihi, My secret to my selfe: but most of all, my soule, it may be enough for thee, that thou art sure to heare newes of thy own judgement soone enough; even as soone as thou leavest this sinnefull body: and as for the generall Judg­ment, thou needest not trouble thy selfe, when, or how long, it shall be a comming: seeing, though it may perhaps encrease thy particu­lar judgement, yet it shall not al­ter it.

And as wee are uncertaine of the time; so wee are no lesse un­certaine of the place: For though we beleeve from whence he shall come; yet wee have no beliefe, whither he shall come. It hath bene [Page 147]a received opinion by some, that he shall come into the Valley of Jehosophat, and keepe his Sessions there: but alas, what is the Val­ley of Jehosophat, to receive the innumerable number of persons, that must make their appearance there; scarse the whole earth, would be roome enough to make a Sessions-house for such a compa­ny: unlesse perhaps, by the like miracle, as is said to have beene u­suall in the Jewish Synagogue; that when the people kneeled downe, there was roome enough in the Temple to hold them all; but when they stood up, they were fain, many of them to goe out of the Temple, for want of roome; when yet kneeling downe must needs take up more roome, then standing up.

But though we know not, either at what time, or to what place hee [Page 148]shall come; yet we beleeve to what purpose hee shall come; For; hee shall come to judge the quicke and the dead: The quick, those whom hee shall finde alive at his comming; and the dead, those who dyed before his comming: Or the quicke, those that are alive in grace: and the dead, them that are dead in sin. But not to judge the dead, while they are dead; for so, they should not bee able to answer for themselves; which cannot stand with the justice of so righteous a Judge; but at his comming, at the sound of a Trum­pet; The Sea and the Earth shall give up their dead, and they shall all arise, and stand at his Tribunall, to receive their sentence, of pardon or condemna­tion, according to their works. And oh! how terrible will that day be? For if the day were terrible in which the Law was given; so terrible, [Page 149]that Mount Sinai was all of a smoake; how terrible will that day bee, in which the transgressors of the Law, shall all be brought to receiue their Triall? If the day were terrible which was a day of grace; how terrible will the day be, which shall be a day of punishment? O my soule, let the remembrance of this Article be never out of thy minde; and if at any time thou find in thy selfe, either suggestions of Satan, or motions to sinne; then thinke upon this Article; and when thou thinkest upon it, beleeve it; and be most assured, that there shall most certainly bee a day of judgement; in which all thoughts of the heart, though never brought forth in words, shall bee discovered; all actions of life, though never so se­cretly done, shall all be laid open; and judgement shall be given upon [Page 150]them all, without favour, or parti­alitie. And let us not flatter our selves in security, because he who is now our Advocate, shall be then our Judge; but rather consider, that though hee be now a Lambe, he will then be found to be a Lyon; Demonstravit potentiam, qui demon­stravit patientiam; and let us pre­pare our selves against that day in feare and trembling; and let us send up strong cries to him; that as the good Thiefe, obtained to be remembred of him, when he came into his kingdome: so wee may obtaine of him, to be remem­bred in mercy, when he comes to judgement.

Before wee leave this Article; there is one observation which may not be omitted; that this Article is of a different making from all the rest: all the other might bee [Page 151]made by Apostles; but this seemes rather to bee made by a Prophet: For our beliefe in it is Propheticall, and tells what Christ will doe in time to come. Indeed, none of the Articles concerning Christ; are in the Future tense but onely this; as none of them is in the Present tense, but onely the next before, He fitteth at the right hand of his Fa­ther: all the other Articles are in the Preter perfect tense, and speake of the time past: even from his con­ception, to his ascending into Hea­ven, in the Preterperfect tense, all: but once ascended into Heaven, where all time is Present; no more Pre­terperfect tense then, no more men­tion of time past, and therefore our Article turnes Present too, He sitteth at the right hand of his Father; and there should sit and enjoy his Pre­sent tense, and time for ever, if [Page 152]it were not for us: but as once before, for our sakes hee left Hea­ven and came downe to redeeme us: so once againe, for our sakes hee will leave Heaven, and come downe to judge us. For without judging, he could not come to re­warding. No comming to Venite benedicti Patris, Come yee blessed of my Father; untill hee have judged first: and without comming to this Venite, all that went before, would come to nothing. And therefore all the benefit of these Preterper­fect tenses, consists in this Future; all the harvest I may say, of the o­ther Articles, is reaped in this last; that Christ shall come to judge the quick and the dead; O therefore my soule, be carefull to lead thy life so in this present world, that thou maist not bee afraid of his comming to judgement; because of Ite maledicti [Page 153]in ignem aeternum, Goe yee cursed into e­verlasting fire; but maist rather re­joyce at his comming, because of Venite benedicti Patris, Come yee bles­sed of my Father: For, as that Ite, will pay them home for all the pleasures of a wicked life; So this Venite, will make amends for all the pressures of a wretched life: and indeed without the benefit of this Venite, all the delights and pleasures, the world can afford; will prove but as Naboths Vineyard to Ahab, Corosives in the end.

And now having beleeved in the first and second Person of the Trinity, I beleeve in the Ho­ly Ghost. the Father and the Son: if wee should not beleeve in the third Person, the Holy Ghost; wee should doe him great wrong, and our selves more: seeing it hath been through him, and by his assi­stance, [Page 154]that we have beleeved in thē. For, as it is true, that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son: so it is true, that beleeving in the Father & the Son, proceeds from the Holy Ghost. For beleeving being a work of Faith; and Faith a worke of Sanctification, and Sanctification a worke of one­ly the Holy Ghost; how should wee come to beleeving, but by the Ho­ly Ghost? And it is indeed for this, that he hath his Name to be called the Holy Ghost, or Spirit. Not but that the Father and the Sonne, are both Holy and Spirits, as well as he; but because it is properly Hee, that inspires our mindes with all good thoughts, and holy desires. And now, my soule, while I be­leeve in the Father, as the author of my Creation; and in the Sonne, as the author of my Redemption; and in the Holy Ghost, as the author [Page 155]of my Regeneration; that all the Persons in the Deity, may have their severall operations in me, and bestow their severall gifts upon me; will there not be cause of my thankefulnesse to every one of them; and of returning to every one of them, all praise and glory, who are all of them but one.

But why is there so much spo­ken of Christ, and so little of the Holy Ghost; being a Person in the Trinity, as well as hee? Is it not, that there is more spoken of the Sonne then of the Holy Ghost, in regard of the Sonnes being In­carnate, and taking our nature up­on him: For, this indeed, brings in many points to bee beleeved; whereof, considered onely as the second person in the Trinity, there should be no need. So as the two Natures in Christ must needs give [Page 156]cause to have more spoken of him, then of the holy Ghost, that hath but one nature.

The Doctrine concerning the Holy Ghost, hath in all Ages beene most obscure; so much, that in some Churches it was some time before it was beleeved at all; or so much as knowne, whether there were a Holy Ghost, or no: even in these present times, the Greeke Church, a Church of great extent, differs thus from us; that where we beleeve the Holy Ghost, to pro­ceede from the Father and the Son; that Church beleeves the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father by the Sonne; a nice difference in so Incomprehensible a Mystery, that there seemes no just cause to lay such Anathemaes, as some doe: upon that Church for so beleeving.

If wee should beleeve in the Fa­ther, [Page 157]and in the Sonne, and not be­leeve in the Holy Ghost, this be­liefe would never be sanctified, see­ing the Holy Ghost onely is the Sanctifier; and sanctifies none, that beleeve not in him: and the beliefe not being sanctified, would never bee acceptable to the Father him­selfe, notwithstanding our beliefe in him. And this perhaps, was the cause, why the Offering of Cain was not accepted: because, though a Sacrifice, yet it wanted a devotion sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

There is a sinne which is proper­ly called, The sinne against the Holy Ghost, and for them that commit this sinne, we are forbidden to pray: a grievous sinne, no doubt; which stops the current of Charity, whose nature is wont to overflow al banks: but what the sinne is, and by what marks it may certainly be known; [Page 158]though a Question much agitated, is not yet so fully explicated, but that it leaves scruples: but what­soever it is, or may be; we may be sure, that the Not-beleeving in the Holy Ghost, is one principall in­gredient in it; Or rather, where a true beleeving in the Holy Ghost is, this sinne properly can never bee committed. And therefore in ma­king profession of our Faith, there is none of all the Articles in the whole Creed, that seemes more necessary to be said then this: For by say­ing this Article, we make it appeare there can bee no danger in praying for us; as not being likely to com­mit the sin against the Holy Ghost, who beleeve in the Holy Ghost.

But why is it, that sinnes com­mitted against the Father, or the Sonne, shall bee forgiven: but a sinne committed against the Holy [Page 159]Ghost, shall never bee forgiven; neither in this world, nor in the world to come? Is it not, that if a sinne bee committed against the Father, or the Sonne; the Holy Ghost being the Sanctifier, can san­ctifie that sinne, and make it par­donable; but if a sinne bee com­mitted against the Holy Ghost, there is none to sanctifie it; and not being sanctified, it justly exceeds all bounds of Remission. O therefore thou blessed God the Holy Ghost: Vouchsafe to endue me with a Spi­rit of sanctification, that what o­ther sinnes soever I may happily unhappily commit; yet I may ne­ver be so unhappy to commit this dreadfull sinne, of sinning against thee.

When we read the order of the Persons in the Trinitie; the Father placed first; the Sonne, second; [Page 160]the Holy Ghost last: wee must not conceive it, as though there were any Priority betweene them in time; who are all Go-eternall: or any disparity betweene them in dignitie, who are all Consubstan­tiall; but that it is an expressing of Order onely to our capacities; see­ing although they be Three Per­sons, yet they are all but One God: All but One in Substance, though Three in Subsistence. The Incom­prehensiblenesse of which Myste­rie, though it exceed our capacities; yet not our Beliefe; Or therefore the fitter for beliefe, because it ex­ceeds our capacities.

And now having professed our Beliefe, in God the Father, God the Sonne, and God the Holy Ghost; wee may justly conclude, and say, O Holy, Blessed, and glorious Trinity; Three Persons, and One God, have [Page 161]mercy upon us miserable sinners.

And thus is finished the first part of our Creed, In whom it is we Beleeve: the other part remaines, containing What it is we Beleeve: For to know In whom to beleeve, and not know what to beleeve, were to stand at a gaze, and bee to seeke, when wee come to our lesson. Indeede, the things wee beleeve, have depen­dance upon the Persons in whom we beleeve; and such dependance, as without beleeving in those, wee cannot truely beleeve these. If wee did not beleeve in the Holy Ghost, we could not beleeve the Holy Ca­tholike Church, nor the Communion of Saints; for these are benefits, that come by the Holy Ghost; And if we did not beleeve in the Son of God, Christ Jesus, we could not beleeve the Forgivenesse of sinnes, nor the Re­surrection [Page 162]of the body, for these are be­nefits that accrue unto us, by the Sonne of God Christ Jesus: And if we did not beleeve in God the Fa­ther, we could not beleeve the life Everlasting; seeing by him onely it is, that we live, and have our pre­sent being, and shall have our eter­nall being.

And the first Ar­ticle of this kinde is this: I beleeve the holy Catholike Church. I beleeve the Holy Catholike Church. I beleeve it in deed, but not in it, as I doe in God: For this is a Priviledge due onely to him; and besides, if I should beleeve in it, I should beleeve partly in my selfe, as being a Mem­ber of it: but I beleeve, there is a Holy Catholike Church. Holy, as in which are the Elect of God, and Catholike, as in which are of all Nations under heaven: and this is [Page 163]not the Church of the Jewes, for that Church, though at some time, it were Holy, yet it was never Ca­tholike, as being bounded within Canaan: but now as the Holy Ghost hath made the Church Holy, by sanctifying it; so Christ hath made it Catholike, by enlarging it: for at his comming, at least, at his go­ing away, he broke downe the Par­tition wall, by his last Warrant to the Apostles: Goe teach all Nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Fa­ther, and of the Sonne, and of the Ho­ly Ghost.

But though Christ set his Church at large, yet not long after his time, a Sect of Hereticks would needs re­straine it againe: For Donatus and his followers, would perswade the world, that as before the true Church was onely in Canaan: so now, the true Church was onely in Africa: [Page 164]but by beleeving the Holy Catholike Church: I now disclaime both these Churches, the Church of the Jewes, as not being Catholike, and the Church of the Donatists, as being neither Catholike nor Holy.

But what use is there of this Ar­ticle? May not a Christian man doe well enough, and yet leave this Article out of his Creed? Indeed, there is not onely great use of it, but even necessitie. For seeing there is no salvation out of the Catholike Church; what assurance could I have of my salvation, if I did not beleeve, that there is a Catholike Church? How can I beleeve my selfe to be a member of that Body, which I doe not beleeve to bee? For this Holy Catholike Church, is the number of all those, whō God hath Predestinated and Elected: and though the Catholike Church may have in [Page 165]it errours, and perhaps Heresies: yet the Holy Catholike Church can have none in it, but Orthodoxe and true beleevers. For it is as the Arke of Noah, to save all that be­leeve the comming of the Flood: but unbeleevers are all excluded from entring into it; It is as the Corporation of the Citizens of the New Hierusalem, in which, whose names are not Enrolled: (and none are Enrolled, that beleeve not,) they can bee no partakers of the Heavenly Priviled­ges; of which, Salvation is the chief­est. If there were not a Holy Catho­tholike Church; then Christ should be a Shepherd without a Flocke; then God the Father, should bee a King without a People; then the Holy Ghost should bee a guide, and have none to lead: but the Two first of these, are assured us by Christ, where he saith, Feare not little Flock, For it [Page 166]is your Fathers pleasure to give you a kingdome: and the last, where hee saith, Hee will send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. Therefore there is an Holy Catholike Church; which, he that beleeves not is not of it; and not being of it, can have no hope of salvation by it.

To be Holy and Catholike, are in­deed the proper Caracters of a Chri­stian Church; the first representa­tion whereof, was then, when at Pentecost, there met at Hierusalem, of all Nations under heaven: Par­thyans, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia and Judea, in Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phry­gia, and Pamphylia, in Aegypt, and in the parts of Lybia; and sirangers of Rome, Jewes and Proselites, Creetes and Arabians: For here was no boun­ding within Canaan, no bounding within Africa, but the Church was [Page 167]made apparent by plurality of Nations, to bee Catholike, and by visible graces to be Holy.

This Church therefore, I beleeve to be holy, yet not holy in perfecti­on, but tending to perfection; and justly called holy, for its Inchoati­on; and I beleeve it to bee Catho­like, but Catholike in doctrine, not in discipline; and therefore the rule of it as concerning doctrine is this, Quod ab omnibus, Quod ubique, Quod semper: For if it be not ab Omnibus, It is not Catholike in Persons: if not Vbique, not Catholike in place; if not Semper, not Catholike in time; and all these must concurre, to make the Church be Catholik in Doctrin: In Discipline, not so; for there, neither ab omnibus, nor ubique, nor semper is required: but it may be va­rious, and diverse, according to the diversity of Time and Place; and [Page 168]yet in doctrine bee the Catholike Church: For Discipline is but one­ly Ecclesiasticall, where Doctrine is divine.

This Article bindes my beliefe to no particular Church, as it is a particular, but as it is a Member of the Catholike: For take it by it selfe, without considering it, as a Member of the Catholike Church: and it is not so properly a Church, as a Conventicle; which though I cannot deny, but it may be Holy, at least in a Morall holi­nesse: yet I can deny, that I am bound to beleeve it to be holy, be­cause I am bound to beleeve no true holinesse to bee out of the Catho­like Church.

This Catholike Church is a Schoole of instruction, to teach us as much as we are bound to know, and a Rule of direction, to informe [Page 169]us as much as wee are bound to be­leeve: if it were but onely what Saint Thomas saith: this might make us doubt of Christs resurrection: or if it were but onely, what Saint Pe­ter saith, this might make us incline, to comply with the Jewes: but when it is that, which all the Apostles with one consent say, this is the voice of the Catholike Church, and can ne­ver make us to goe astray. And ther­fore to this Church, I submit all my faculties, both my understanding to her decrees; and my will to her counsels; and make account, that if I know any thing, and not of her instruction, it will prove but false­hood; if doe any thing, and not by her direction, it will prove but fol­ly: For, this that Spouse of Christ, of which it is said, Thou art all faire, and there is no spot in thee. Oh then, let not me beginne to make any spot [Page 170]in the face of thy Spouse, O Lord, but so purge me with Hysope, that though I be not pure, yet I may bee cleane; at least not so foule, to de­file others; nor deserve with Miri­am to be put out of the campe of thy Militant Church, but may come to thy Triumphant. As therefore this Article is the first of all we have to beleeve, so let it have the honor that is due to the first, and have the high­est place in our beliefe; For indeed, all the Articles that follow, are but as flowres that grow in the garden of this Catholike Church: The Com­munion of Saints, as the flowre of Charitie. The forgivenesse of sinnes, as the flowre of Faith: The resurre­ction of the body, as the flowre of Hope; and the life everlasting, as the flowre of reward: if I may not ra­ther say, as the whole nosegay of all the other flowres together; seeing [Page 171]in this, they have all their smels u­nited into one fragrant odour; Cha­rity raised to perfection, Faith tur­ned into love, and Hope into en­joying.

But what should be the cause, why amongst these Articles that are to be beleeved, there is no mention at all made of the Scriptures? For, seeing we are commanded to search the Scriptures; No doubt, it is requi­red wee should beleeve the Scrip­tures; and if we should beleeve them, why are they left out in the Article of our beliefe? Is it not that these were Articles of Beliefe for a Christian man, before any Gospell of Christ was written? and how then could they have any place in the Creed; when they had not as yet any being in the world? For the life and doctrine of Christ, was published by word, before it [Page 172]was recorded by writing; and the Apostles preached it, before the E­vangelists writ it: and this Creede being a Breviate and summe of that which was preached; who can tell but it may bee more antient then that which is written? at least being the substance of them both: what more is it to beleeve the Scripture, then the Creed? And then what neede is there to have them named, when they are exprest? And as for the words of Christ, Scrutamini Scripturas, Search the Scriptures: or, yee search the Scriptures; if we extend them no further, then Christ spake them, we may be farre enough off from beleeving the Gospel. For Christ spake then but of the Olde Testament, and not of the New, which at that time was none. For the first Gospell that was written of Christ, was that of Saint Matthew, [Page 173]which was not writtē, til eight years after Christs death; the other, much later; especially that of Saint John, which was not written till thirty yeares after, and therefore the Creede, no doubt, was delivered, if not in forme, as now it is; at least in substance, as now it is; long be­fore any Gospell was written.

And may it not bee further said, that this Creed seemes to have been penned, when Religion was first translated from Judaisme to Chri­stianitie: and therefore that there are no other Articles in it, then such as are in opposition to the doctrine of the Jewes; by introducing in their place, the Christian beliefe: For by the Article of beleeving in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, we utterly renounce the doctrine of the Jewes, who acknow­ledge no Trinity of Persons in the [Page 174]Deity. By beleeving the Incarnati­on of the Sonne of God, Christ Je­sus, and his passion under Pontius Pilate, we renounce the doctrine of the Jewes, who teach, that the true Messias is not yet come. By be­leeving the Holy Catholike Church, wee renounce the opinion of the Jewes, who thought that the Church of God was bounded onely within Canaan, and that no Church could be holy, but that of Israel. By be­leeving the Communion of Saints, we renounce the doctrine of the Jewes, by which, a Jew indeed would take no usury for money of a Jew; but to any of another Nation, they would use oppression, to the very grinding of their faces. By belee­ving the forgivenesse of sinnes, we re­nounce the Pharisees Justification by workes; and sticke onely to the Publicanes Justification by Faith, O [Page 175]God be mercifull to me a sinner. By be­leeving the Resurrection of the Body, we renounce the errour of the Sad­duces, whom Christ confuted by this argument, Have ye not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of I­saak, and the God of Jakob: God is not the God of the dead, but of the li­ving. By beleeving the life everla­sting, we renounce the opinion of the Jewes, who depended onely up­on temporall benefits, and the bles­sings of this life; and as for the life to come, were as carelesse of it, as ignorant. And now, seeing all the Articles of this Creed, are in op­position to the doctrin of the Jewes; what marveile, that in it there is no Article for beleeving the Scrip­tures; whē, as concerning the Scrip­tures that were then, there was no opposition beweene the Christians and them.

It may with more reason bee de­manded, why in these Articles of beliefe; there is no mention made of the Sacraments: seeing Baptism and the Lords Supper were ordain­ed by Christ himself, and are things so necessary to be beleeved? But is it not, that of Baptisme Christ said; Goe teach all Nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Sonne and of the holy Ghost: and of the Eucharist he said, Doe this in remem­brance of me; and so both these are things of Action, which wee must not onely beleeve, but doe; and therefore fitter placed, Inter agenda, amongst the records of things to be done; then Inter credenda, amongst the Articles of things to be belee­ved.

The Catholike Church is no sooner founded, The Commu­nion of Saints. but the Communion of Saints [Page 177]followes presently upon it; as was seene at the Pentecost, after Ch [...]ists Ascending, when the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles in clo­ven Tongues; for then were pre­sent of all Nations under Heaven, who it seemes, made the represen­tative body of the Catholike Church: and then being all of one accord, and having all things in common and distributing to every one as they had need, they acted the Article we here beleeve.

If there were not a Communion of Sts, the wicked should be more chari­table then the godly: for among the wicked there are leagues and confe­deracies, and they hold together for the common good; and often­times their lives are engaged for one another: and if the wicked doe this, the godly certainely, will doe it much more; and this makes me to [Page 178]beleeve assuredly, The Communion of Saints.

But are there Saints then on earth? Are not all men living, sinners? and can sinners be Saints? Indeed, not Saints by Canonization of men, but by the Canonization of the Ho­ly Spirit: Not Saints in perfection, but in Inchoation; called Saints, as Saint Paul saith; because called to be Saints, as having their Names written in the Booke of God in Heaven.

But we must here take heed of the Anabaptists Communion of Saints: For by their Communion, no man should have any thing in private; but all should be in common; and so, none should be richer or poorer then another: which would make Christs Praediction directly false; where hee saith, The poore yee shall have alwaies with you: and would make all these exhortations voide: [Page 179] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glo­rifie your Father which is in Heaven. Charge them which are rich in this world, that they be ready to give, and glad to destribute. Give Alme, of thy goods, and never turne thy face from any poore man. But indeed, this Communion is in part exprest by Saint Paul, where he saith, Doe good to all men, but especially to those of the houshold of Faith. For the being of one houshold, implies plainely a common provision for al the house, but implies withall, a disparity of estates.

Indeede, the first flowre that growes in the Garden of the Catho­like Church, is the Communion of Saints; which as it begins in the Militant, so it continues in the Tri­umphant Church: Continues there when the other flowres are withe­red [Page 180]and gone: For when Faith and Hope shall be no more, yet Charity shall continue; and not onely continue, but be then most flourishing: and if we did not beleeve the Communi­on of Saints, wee could not truely say, Our Father in the Lords Prayer: for in saying Our Father, wee pro­fesse this Communion.

But for the better understanding of this Article; It may bee con­ceived, that there are Saints on Earth, and Saints in Heaven; and this Article containes the Commu­nion of them both; both of the Saints on earth between themselves, and of the Saints in Earth and Hea­ven with one another. What though they bee farre distant and asunder? Are not the feet so from the head: are not the hands so from the heart? Yet if there were not a relation and correspondencie betweene them: [Page 181]neither the feet would bee able to move, nor the hands to stirre, and perhaps not the head in many things to doe his Office.

And this Communion consists, either in Assistance, or in Love; but in Assistance, for a time; in Love, for ever. For as the Saints in Hea­ven assist us, by praying, that wee may so leade our lives in this life, that we may come to bee admitted into their Societie in the next: So we assist the Saints in Heaven, by praying, that the suite which they make, lying under the Altar, may be heard and accomplished. They pray for us, that we may be parta­kers of the forgivenesse of sinnes; and wee pray for them, that they may be partakers of the Resurrecti­on of the body. But as this Com­munion of Assistance is but for a time; so the Communion of Love [Page 182]will be for ever: For we shall love one another, and bee loved of one another, as Members of one Body, as Inhabitants of one Citie, and as Fellow-labourers in the worke of exalting Gods glory; a work, which because it shall never end, there shall therefore, never be end of this Com­munion.

If the Communion bee of the Saints on earth betweene them­selves, this is visible charity; as it is said, If yee love not your brother, whom yee see; how can yee love God, whom yee doe not see. And it consists in supplying what wants soever we see in a brother, as farre as wee are able; and in doing to others, as we would be done unto our selves. If the Communion bee of the Saints in Heaven between themselves, this is Intellectuall Charitie; and it consists in a reciprocall love they [Page 183]beare one to another, in regard of the love they beare all to God. If the Communion be of the Saints in Heaven, towards the Saints on Earth; this is condoling charity, and it consists in a griefe they take at any sinnes, we commit; least wee should not be found blamelesse, at the great day of the Lords appea­ring. If the Communion be of the Saints on Earth, towards them in Heaven; this is a congratulating charity, and it consists in a pious re­joycing, at the happinesse wee con­ceive they enjoy, in the fruition of God, and of his blessed Angels.

This Communion of Saints, is a Gazophylacium, or Treasurie, where there is receiving indeed, but not without contributing: we must do our parts to it, or never looke for any part in it; and it is to be doub­ted, there are many Hereticks a­mongst [Page 184]us, concerning this Article, that either understand it not; or at least, beleeve it not: For if they did truely beleeve the Communion of Saints, were it possible, they should passe by the man lying wounded in the way, and not doe as much as the Samaritan did; take care of his curing? It is, no doubt, good to observe the Rule, that Charitie begins at home: but it is good also to understand the Rule; and to know what is meant by home; for the Home of Charitie, is included in the Communion of Saints; and ex­tends as farre, as the releeving of a needy brother. But alas, because Charity seekes not her owne, therefore she her selfe is not much sought af­ter; and while Charity is negle­cted: this Article stands in our Creed, but as a Cypher; and as well we may forbeare to fay we Be­leeve [Page 185]it; as forbeare to shew by our actions that we Beleeve it: Or rather, better indeed to leave it out of our Profession, then not to take it into our Practise. And this Communi­on is therefore necessary to be be­leeved, because it is the flowre of Charitie, and must be set in our hearts betimes: that it may take the dee­per root, as that which shall conti­nue, when the flowres of Faith and Hope shall be faded and gone.

And now having spoken of the two Articles, The forgive­nesse of sinnes. that pro­perly relate to the Holy Ghost. It followes to speake of the two next Articles, which properly relate to the Sonne of God, Christ Jesus; whereof this is the first, I beleeve the forgivenesse of sinnes. And indeed, after the Communion of Saints; this Article followes very fitly, seeing [Page 186]there is seldome any mention made of Forgiving of sinnes; but that there is mention made of Charity also; as in the Prayer taught us by Christ, we say not, Forgive us our trespasses, but say withall, as we forgive them that trespas against us: For, Love co­vers the multitude of sinnes; and the sinnes being covered, they are the more easily forgiven afterward.

But whether the connexion of this Article to the former, bee for this reason, or no; there are certain­ly of this Article many great rea­sons: For, if there were not For­givenesse of sinnes, the whole world should bee damned. For, all the World being guilty of sins, and the Wages of sinne being death: if that wa­ges be not forgiven, how shall any man be saved? But seeing there are which are Elect, and ordained to salva­tion; this makes me assuredly to be­leeve [Page 187]the Forgivenesse of sinnes.

If we should not beleeve the For­givenesse of sinnes; Why have wee Beleeved, that Christ was Crucifi­ed? For, why was hee Crucified but to pay the penalty of our sins? And the penalty being paid, how can the sinnes but bee forgiven? To what end was all the suffering of Christ, but to satisfie his Fa­thers justice; That laying the se­verity of his justice upon him, hee might conferre the benefit of his mercy upon us; and how is his mercy conferr'd, but by Forgiving of sins? If we should not Beleeve the For­givenesse of sinnes; how could wee beleeve that God were merciful? see­ing the chiefest act of Mercy, con­sists in Forgiving? And to deny God to be mercifull; what were it, but to deny him the most glorious, and the most eminent of all his At­tributes? [Page 188]seeing his mercy is above all his workes. Alas, if we did not beleeve the Forgivenesse of sinnes; in what miserable affliction should our mindes be? For knowing first, that we cannot but commit sinnes day­ly; and then knowing, how grie­vously our sinnes provoke the wrath of God against us: and lastly know­ing, how fearefull a thing it is, to fall into the hands of the living God; in what a miserable condi­tion should we be, if we did not be­leeve the Forgivenesse of sinnes? If I should not beleeve the Forgivenes of sinnes; what hope could I have they should ever be forgiven? see­ing all the meanes I have in my selfe, to procure their forgiving, is onely my beliefe, that they shall be Forgiven.

O how comfortable an Article is this; which makes it be truly said [Page 189]of Christ: In odore vnguentorum tu­orum curremus post te; In the savour of thy sweet Ointments wee will run after thee. For with this Oynt­ment hee healeth all our sores, he makes us whole in all our diseases; he makes us strong in all our Infir­mities. O my soule, if at any time, thou either by infirmity, fall; or by allurements, be entised to com­mit sinne; then have recourse to this Article: I beleeve the forgive­nesse of sinnes, and thou shalt certain­ly find in it, both rest and refreshing to thy fainting spirits.

And of what sins is it then, that I beleeve the forgivenesse? Indeede of all sinnes, how great or many soe­ver they bee; for seeing there are no limits of Gods mercy, neither is there any bound of his forgiving. And therefore, though m [...] sinnes be more then the haires of my head, [Page 188]though a burden farre greater then I can beare; yet I beleeve the For­givenesse of them all.

But if I beleeve the Forgivenesse of all sinnes, doe I not then beleeve the Forgivenesse of a sinne which shall never be forgiven? For is there not a sinne against the Holy Ghost, which shall never bee forgiven either in this world, or in the world to come: and so my Beleeving will prove a false Beliefe, and deceive mee in the end. It is true indeed, that such a Sinne there is; but is it not that the chiefest Ingredient of that sinne, is the not-beleeving the Forgivenes of sinnes? And therefore hee that truely beleeves this Article, is never likely to commit that sinne; seeing the beleeving being from the Holy Ghost, the sinne against the Holy Ghost can never be committed.

But is this the uttermost of our [Page 189]beliefe, to Beleeve the Forgivenesse of sinnes? Is there no place for be­leeving the Merit of Workes? If there be, why hath it not here a place in our Creed? Indeede, in the Pharisees Creed, it might perhaps have a place: but in the Penitent Publicanes Creed, such as wee professe our selves to be, what place can it have? seeing all his beliefe is terminated in this, O God be mercifull to me a sin­ner. Indeed, as Solon, amongst all his Lawes, made no Law against Parricides; not, that hee did not thinke them worthy of Punishment; but because he thought, there would never bee any so unnaturall, and therefore thought it not needfull to make a Law against a Non futurum, against a fault that was never like to be committed: So in our Creede, there is no Article, of the Merit of good works: Not that good works [Page 192]may not Merit; but because such Meritorious works are never like to be done by any; and therefore not fit to make an Article of a Non futu­rum, of a thing, though possible, yet not likely: or rather, so farre from being likely, as not being possible. And indeed, which of the Apostles can we thinke, should have been the Author of such an Article? Saint John, we may be sure would not; For he saith plainely; If we say wee have no sinne, there is no truth in us; and where there is sinne, there can be no Merit. Saint Peter, we may be sure, would not: for, though there was a time, when hee thought hee could doe wonders of good works, and even dye with Christ; yet when it cam to the point, he was glad to bewaile his infirmitie with teares: and to say to Christ, when time was, Depart from me, for I am a sin­full [Page 193]man. And Saint Paul, wee may well thinke, would not; For hee professeth directly, To glory and re­joyce in nothing, but in the Crosse of Christ crucified: And for what serves the Crosse of Christ, but for the Forgivenesse of sinnes? And by the judgement of these Apostles, wee may judge of the rest; and there­fore no defect of our Creed in this, but the uttermost bounds of our Beliefe in this point; beyond which there is no Plus ultra, goes no far­ther then this, to Beleeve the Remis­sion and forgivenesse of sins. We may indeed labour, & we must labour to do good works, the best we can; but all the Merit of it, is but this, and it is a great Merit too; that we cannot rightly beleeve the Forgivenesse of our sinnes; if wee doe not labour, not to sinne, and doe our endea­vour, to doe good works. O my [Page 194]soule, all we have to trust too, all we have to hold by, is the Forgive­nesse of sinnes: For, these are they that make God angry with us: and these forgiven, will reconcile him. These are the causes why he turnes away his blessed face from us: and these, forgiven, will make his couu­tenance to shine upon us: all Merit must be ascribed to him onely, in whom they are forgiven: between whose Merit, and his Fathers mercy; I know not how to distinguish; and therefore take them both but as one motive, to make me Beleeve the Forgivenesse of sinnes: All of us, have onely sinne, Christ onely hath Merit, his Father onely hath For­givenesse; For with him there is mer­cy, and plentious redemption.

But may not a sinne be forgiven; and yet the Penalty be still in arere? Was not the sinne of David with [Page 195] Bathsheba forgiven, and yet punished afterward by the death of the child, that was begotten of her? It is true indeed, the life of the Child was ta­ken away indeed, but this was not properly a punishment for the sinne, but a castigation of the sinner, to make him the better to resent his sin, and to bee the more wary after­ward of committing the like. Be­sides, it may be thought rather a fa­vour, then a punishment to David; for in taking away the life of the Childe, there was that taken from him, which upon his repen­tance, would have beene a perpetu­all eye-sore to him, if it had lived; according to that of St. Paul, What fruit have yee of those things, where­of yee are now ashamed? Withall, it was not perhaps without Mystery; to shew, that the pleasures of sinne never beare but blasted fruits, which [Page 196]fall off the tree, before they come to ripenesse.

But at what time is it, we beleeve that sinnes may bee forgiven? In­deed at all times, as long as sinnes may be committed; which is all the time, that wee are living in this world: but if once we be dead, as there will be then no more commit­ting of sinne; so neither will there be any more forgiving of sinne: but where the tree falleth, there it will lye.

But is there not a sinne, of which it is said, It shall never bee forgiven, either in this world, or in the world to come? And why is this said, but because a sinne may bee forgiven, in the world to come, though it be not forgiven in this world; and this perhaps, is a cause, why some have conceived, that in the world to come, even the Divels them­selves shall bee forgiven. But is it [Page 197]not that the Not-forgiving of sins in the world to come, is therefore mentioned; because in the world to come, shall be pronounced the sen­tence of Not-forgiving: and so it is but as to say, it shall never be for­given in this world, upon private conviction; nor in the world to come, upon publicke condemnati­on. For otherwise, it is most evi­dent, if absolutely a sinne bee not forgiven in this world, neither shall it ever bee forgiven in the world to come.

It is no small impediment to the beliefe of this Article, that there are few, who thinke they sinne at all; but are of the Pharisees mind, and their Consciences are as cleare as Chrystall: and of those againe, that thinke they sinne, there are few that know the greatnesse of their sinne; but they judge of their sin, [Page 198]as of the Moone: this little because farre from their sight; that little, because farre from their thought. And of those againe, that know the greatnesse of their sinne, there are few that say with David, I acknow­ledge my iniquity, and my sinne is ever before me. For sinne being an unplea­sing sight, they love not to look up­on it, more then needs they must, & while they looke not upon the dis­case, they looke not after the reme­dy; and so between the little know­ing of sinne, and the little acknow­ledging of sinne: the beliefe of this Article is in no little danger to be very little; only Faith stands in the breach: and supplies all de­fects, and it is the worke of Faith; and indeed of a great Faith, that can truly say, I beleeve the forgive­nesse of sinnes.

There have been Hereticks of old, [Page 199]who held this opinion; that no fins should be forgiven, that were com­mitted after Baptisme; and they grounded their opinion upon the saying of Saint Paul; If wee sinne wilfully after we have received know­ledge of the truth, there remaineth no more Sacrifice for sinnes; and ground­ing themselves upon this Text, they would neither Baptise others, nor be Baptized themselves, till in their old age; making account that Age having repulsed in them inordinate desires; they might safely then bee Baptized, without feare of com­mitting any wilfull sinnes after­ward. But would any man beleeve, that men of common sense, could ever fall into so grosse an errour; especially, having heard it said, At what time soever a sinner repenteth him of his sinnes, I will put all his wicked­nesse out of my remembrance, saith the [Page 200]Lord. That we may see, it is not time that prejudiceth Gods forgivenesse; whether before Baptisme, or after; whether sooner, or latter: but come at any time, and bring Repentance, and God at no time will be wanting to Forgivenesse. For as it is mercy in God, which is the motive to us, to Beleeve the forgivenesse of sinnes; so it is Repentance in us, that is the mo­tive to God, to Forgive us our sinnes.

But why is the Forgivenes of sins, put here inter Credenda, amongst things to be Beleeved; and not ra­ther, inter Agenda, amongst things to be done: seeing to Remission of sinnes, there belongs Repentance, a thing to bee done; and without Repentance, no forgivenesse. Is it not that forgivenesse of sinnes, is an effect of Faith; and therefore justly pla­ced amongst things to be Beleeved; and though Repentance be necessary [Page 201]to come in the Recre, yet Faith must lead the Vant-gaurd, and have the Preceedence: For if Faith goe not before, Repentance will not follow; indeed, cannot follow, seeing with­out Faith, It is impossible to please God.

And now my soule; observe the great extent of this Article, it keeps mee from sinning against the Holy Ghost, whilst I beleeve the forgive­nesse of sinnes, by his inspiring; it appeaseth the wrath of God the Father, whilst I beleeve the forgive­nesse, in onely his mercy: It glori­fies his Sonne Christ Jesus, whilst I beleeve Gods mercy, through onely his Merits; that seeing this Article is reguardant to all the Per­sons in the Trinity, I may hope that by beleeving it, all the Per­sons in the Trinity, will be reguar­dant upon me; and specially, the Sonne. For indeed, this Article, [Page 202]and the next that followes, are two flowres I may say, that grow up­on the very Grave of Christ. For as there is no Forgivenes of sinnes, but onely by the vertue of his death: so there is no Resurrection of the body, but onely by the operation of his Rising from the Dead.

And thus farre wee are brought by this flower of Faith: I beleeve the Forgivenes of sinnes: The next is the flower of Hope, The Resurrecti­on of the Body. by which wee Beleeve the Resur­rection of the Body; and it followes indeed, very fitly; for seeing the bo­dy dyed not at first, but by reason of sinne; what should hinder, if sinne bee forgiven, but that the bodie should rise againe, and returne to life? This indeed, is a flower some­thing hard of growing; but [...] growne, sends forth a most [...] [Page 203]savour: and as, of all the Articles in the Creed, there is none more hard to be beleeved; so once beleeved, there is none that ministers greater comfort. For, what need I care, though my body bee laid in the grave, and bee turned to dust; so long as I am sure, and undoubtedly beleeve, that hereafter it shall rise againe, and bee in the same, but a better state then now it is: In the same for substance, but in a better for quallities and endowments.

If there were no Resurrection of the body; then neither the god­ly should have Reward in their Bo­dies, nor the wicked, Punished; but seeing both the godly shall bee Rewarded in their Bodies, and the wicked, Punished; therefore there shall bee a Resurrection of the Body.

This Article, no doubt is hard to [Page 204]be beleeved; For, who would be­leeve, there should be Regressus a cor­ruptione ad generationem, a privatio­ne ad habitum: a going backe from Corruption to Generation; from Privation to Habit; a thing impos­sible in Nature, and improbable in Reason; yet this impossibility in Nature, this improbality in Reason must be beleeved; before wee can beleeve the Resurrection of the Body. Who would beleeve, that a Body consumed to dust, and that dust scat­tered by the wind into a thousand places, should ever be brought to­gether againe, to be the same body it was before? who would believe that a Body devoured, perhaps, by wild beasts; perhaps, eaten by Fi­shes; and by digestion become a part of those Beasts or Fishes; should ever returne to be the Body of a man againe; as it had beene [Page 205]before? Indeed, none would beleeve it, that looked only upon the power of Nature, as were ledde only with the light of Reason; but when we looke upon a Power that is stronger then Nature, and are led by a Light that is brighter then Reason: what should hinder, why we should not beleeve it? Shall we not beleeve the Resurrection of the body, because we know not by what wayes it shall bee raysed? Is it not enough, that we know the power of Gods wayes; but that we must also know the waies of his Power? Doe we know, how the body at first is for­med in the Mothers wombe; and would we looke to know, how it shall bee formed the second time, in the wombe of the Earth? Have wee professed by the first Article of our Creed, that God is Almigh­ty; and will we not allow him to do [Page 206]the works of an Almighty? Doe we beleeve that nothing is impossi­ble for God to doe, and yet thinke, there is this thing, which he cannot doe? Looke upon the Corne, when it is cast into the earth; and after a few daies, you shall see it to bee nothing but as a kind of corruption; and yet of that corruption, doth God make the same Corne to spring up againe; and to bee as flourishing, as it had beene before: and if God doe this in the Corne, shall hee not as well doe it in our bodies?

But, it is not perhaps, that wee doubt of his Power, but of his Will; seeing his Will is not al­waies to doe all hee can. And can we doubt of his Will; his Will so often revealed to us in his Word: so firmely assured to us by his Word; This is the Fathers Will, [Page 207]which hath sent me; that of all which he hath given mee, I should loose no­thing; but should raise it up againe at the last day. And in another place, This is the Will of him that sent mee; that every one that seeth the Sonne, and beleeveth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

And now if we be satisfied of his Will; shall we fall back againe into a relapse of doubting his Power? But alas, is it any hard matter, for God to make the same body again, which hee had made once before? Or is it harder for him, to make a Body the same it was before; then it was to make it at first, when it was not at all? Is it not easier for God, to make a Body out of some­thing; then it was at first, to make it out of nothing? Is it any hard mat­ter for God, to reduce all Bodies to [Page 208]their first Elements; and then to mixe and compound them againe, as he did at first? When our Bodies were first made, they were made but of dust; and when they are dead, they shall but be turned into dust; and cannot God take the same dust, to make the same body againe, as well now, as hee did then? What though it bee scattered about in a thousand places: is distance of place any thing to God, who is equally in all places at once? Is it hard for God to know, which is the proper dust of every particular Body, and to give to every one their own dust; whose knowledge extends to count the just number of the sand, and to call all the stars of Heaven by their names? Is there any dust upon the Earth, any mote in the Sun, which God hath not made? And if hee have made them all by his power, [Page 209]shall he not dispose of them all at his pleasure? If by onely saying, Con­gregentur Aquae: God made the great Ocean, which we cannot look upon without wonder; Can he not as well, by onely saying, Congrege­tur Pulvis, make the dust of all Bo­dies come together again; that every Body may be the very same Bodie, it was before? Say a Body be devou­red of Beasts; be eaten of Fishes: so as by digestion, it become a part of their Bodies, say it suffer never so many alterations; yet all those al­terations shall be resolved at last, into the same dust it was at first: and cannot God of the same dust, make the same Body againe; as well now as he did before? God of nothing made the dust of the Earth; and of that dust, the Body of man; and though the dust which was made of nothing, shall returne againe to no­thing; [Page 210]yet the Body of man, that was made of dust, shall never re­turne to lesse then dust; and to so little, should never have returned neither, if God for mans transgres­sion had not denounced against him, Pulvis es & in pulverem reverteris: If then Gods saying, Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt returne; have been the cause of the Bodies retur­ning to dust: why shall not his say­ing, A Body thou art, and a Body thou shalt rise againe; be as well a cause of the Resurrection of the body?

And now, if we be satisfied of his power; shall wee fall back againe into a relapse of doubting his Will? But why did God make the Body of man of dust; where he made the bodies of Beasts of nothing; but be­cause, the bodies of Beasts, shall re­turne againe to nothing: where the Body of man shall never returne but [Page 211]into dust, that out of that dust; it may rise againe, to be the same Bo­dy it was before? Why did God make the Body of man himselfe; where he commanded the Earth to bring forth the Bodies of other Creatures; but because he meant it a further preservation, then hee meant other creatures; and what further preservation, if the body did not rise againe?

And if now againe we bee satis­fied of his Will; shall wee fall backe into another relapse of doubt­ing his power? Cannot God doe as much upon a sudden, as Nature can doe with Time? Though Na­ture must have nine Moneths lying in the Mothers wombe, before it can make a mans Body perfit; yet God made Adam a perfect Body in an Instant; and could he transcend Nature then, and can he not now? [Page 212]Is he growne to bee as impotent as Nature: able to doe no more, then what naturally may be done? What though the world doubt it, and Sad­ducees deny it; shall we rather assent to them, then say with Job, Though wormes destroy this Body, yet I shall see God in my Flesh: And if see God in his Flesh, then must his Body rise againe, that hee may have Eyes to see him.

And as these be some reasons of many, to shew, that the Resurrection of the body; may be. So there are other reasons as strong, to shew that it shall and must be. When Moses met Christ on the Mount; how came hee by his Body againe, which had beene dead and buried many hundred yeares before? How came those men by their bodies againe, who having beene dead and buried, a­rose at the time of Christs rising; [Page 213]and appeared unto many in the Ho­ly Citie? When Christ at the last day shall say, Venite Benedicti Patris, Come yee Blessed of my Father; hee shal not say it to the soule alone, nor to the body alone, but to the whole man; and if to the whole man, then must the body bee joyned to the soule againe, that it may be a whole man; but no such conjunction, if no Resurrection of the Body. Is not Christ our head, and we his mem­bers; and if hee Ascended up to Heaven in body and soule, must not we that are his members doe the like? But no such Ascension, if no Resurrection of the body. Hath not Christ promised, That wee shall sit with him at his Table, and eate and drinke with him in his Fathers King­dome? But no such Eating and Drinking, if no Resurrection of the Body.

When Christ in the Gospel, meant to confute the Sadducees, de­nying the Resurrection, hee used this Argument: Have ye not read, what God said to Moses in the Bush: I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaak, and the God of Jakob: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living: and with this Argument he put them to silence. But how their Errour is confuted by this Argument: or how this Argument proves the Resurre­ction of the Body, is not easie to bee perceived. It seemes, the Argu­ment is not so much ad Rem, as ad Hominem; though it prove not di­rectly the Resurrection of the body, yet it proves it sufficiently against the Sadduces, who therefore denyed the Resurrection of the body, because they beleeved not the immortality of the soule: and this Argument pro­ving directly the immortality of the [Page 215]soule, proves sufficiently against them, the Resurrection of the body. Or is it, perhaps, meant thus; God is the God of Abraham; but Abraham is not the soule onely, but the whole man: and therefore the Bo­dy of Abraham, though now dead, must of necessity bee raised to life againe; seeing, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. In­deed, all Morall reasons, that can be brought to prove the Immortalitie of the soule, may serve as well, to prove the Resurrection of the body: For if there bee reward for the godly in another life; certainely, that re­ward shall not bee to the soule onely, but as well to the bodie; and if to the body, then must the body of necessity rise againe, that it may be capable to receive the re­ward? But what capacitie, as long as it is lying in the dust? And as [Page 216]this reason is of force, to prove the Resurrection of the body, in the god­ly: so the punishment due to sinne, makes it of no lesse force, to prove it in the wicked.

All that hath been said, and all that can be said in this matter; are as so many links, that may be made into a chaine, and will necessarily draw us on, to this beliefe: For will you except against the body, that it is not worthy to bee raised from the dead? Or will yee except against God, that he is not able to raise it from the dead. Or will yee except against the cause, that it ought not to bee raised from the dead; and when all these Excep­tions are proved unjust; what doubt can there bee, of its rising from the dead? For first, is not the body worthy to rise againe; which is, Vagina afflatus Divini, the receptacle [Page 217]and sheath, as it were, of the Divine breath; and is not our Flesh, as one cals it soror Christi, the sister of Christ, that if, of it self it be not; at least, by this Consanguinitie, it is most wor­thy. Is not God able to raise it againe out of dust, who at first made it of dust, and dust of nothing? Is there not just cause, it should be raised againe; indeed so just, that it is of necessitie, if God be just. For if the body be not raised again, how can it appeare in judgement? And if it appeare not in judgement, how can it receive the sentence of Absolution, or Con­demnation; and if it receive not such sentence, how can it be Punished, or Rewarded, and if it be not Punished or Rewarded: how can God bee just, that neither punisheth nor reward­eth, the good or evill it hath done in this life? And seeing God is most Just, even Justice it se fe. It [Page 218]followes of necessitie, that the Body shall be raised againe to life: which though it be here made an Article of our Beliefe, for the difficultie; yet it falls within the compasse of our knowledge, for the certainty.

To doubt of the Resurrection of the Body, is to doubt, (as hath been said) of either Gods Power, or of his Will: and to doubt of his Power, is to make him no God: and to doubt of his Will, is to make him not good; For how should he be good, to destroy our Bodies, which are Temples of the Holy Ghost; if hee should not raise them up a­gaine, that they may bee Temples for his service? O my soule, let this be thy joy for the resurrection of thy Bodie; Not, that it shall rise againe, to be sinneful flesh and bloud as now it is, but that it shall rise to be a Temple for the Holy Ghost; [Page 219]fitted to bee taken into the Quire of Angels, to sing the praises of God, and of his Christ for ever. And in­deed, if I thought my Body should rise againe, to bee in the state that now it is; though with enjoying as much happinesse as the world can affoord: yet I would make it my humble suit to God, rather to let it lye in the dust still, then to raise it up to such a life. For alas, O Lord, what do the pleasures of the World, but distract mee from thee; and what is my hope, but to enjoy thy presence? What is the World, but a barre to keepe thee from me: and what contentment can I have, while I am without thee? No my soule, thou shouldst do most unkindly, to wish my Bodies rising againe; if it were not to bee with God, and to serve him as a Temple of his glo­rie. For without this, no Resurrection [Page 220]of the body shall be welcome to me; Alas, not so good as lying quickly in the dust.

But if it were meant, that our Bodies indeed should rise againe, and be the same hereafter, as now they are; why would God suffer them to dye at all? and not rather con­tinue them alive still? For so hee might have saved himselfe the trou­ble of new making them; and us the misery, of so long missing them. But now, seeing the soule hath beene without its body, so many hundred yeares already, and is like to bee without it, God knowes, how many hundred yeares more; why may it not be contented, to be without it altogether, and never stand expecting this impossible Resurrection? But, O my soule, how vaine are these thoughts? For what are we, that we should enter into Gods secrets? as [Page 121]though wee could comprehend that which is Incomprehensible; and search out that, which is Unsearch­able? As for Gods suffering the bo­die to die, and not continuing it a­live still; who sees not the reason, that knowes the sentence, pronoun­ced by God upon Adams transgres­sion? And as for the Soules wan­ting the Body so long, who can thinke it long, that considers Eter­nity?

If we did but know, or would but consider, the admirable won­derfulnesse of the frame of Mans body; we would much more wonder at the Formation of it, then at the Resurrection of it: and David shew­ed himselfe well seene in Anatomie, when he said, I am wonderfully and fearefully made. Fearefully made in­deed; For, hee that should looke into the frame of Mans body, and [Page 222]see upon what wonderfull tickle points our life stands, might well be afraid; it were not possible, wee could live one minute. If then we see before our eyes, the great won­derfulnesse of the formation of the body: why should we doubt of the lesse wonderfulnesse, the Resurre­ction of the body?

There is a place in one of Davids Psalmes, where he saith, The Lord keepeth the bones of the just; one of them shall not bee consumed; from which place, the Jewes conceive an opinion, that In Spina dorsi, in the ridge of a mans backe there is a little bone, which will never de­cay, how long soever it lye in the earth; and this little bone, to be as it were, Semen Resurrecturi Corporis, the seed out of which the Body shall rise againe: and as God made Eve of onely a bone of Adam, yet of [Page 123]that bone, he made her bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh: So of this little backe bone, God will raise the Body againe, to bee the same bones and flesh it was before. But what need we looke after any such bone; when the least crumme of dust, is Seed sufficient for God, to raise it up the same body it was before. And indeed, we have surer ground for our beliefe, then Jewish Fables: For if wee Beleeve that Christ is risen from the dead, we can­not doubt of our owne rising; see­ing hee therefore did rise, that hee might be Primitiae resurgentium, The first fruits of them that rise; but the first Fruits he could not be, if others did not rise as well as hee. And therefore having beleeved in an Ar­ticle before, that Christ rose from the dead; this Article of our own rising, is but Ex Abundanti, more [Page 224]then needed; but that the difficulty of beleeving it, requires, as it were, a double Buttresse to strengthen our Faith.

There are some perhaps, that look for Naturall reasons to prove De­monstratively, the Resurrection of the body; but is not their expectation very unjust, to expect Naturall rea­sons, to prove a thing that is not Naturall? If Naturall reasons could be given of it, it should be fitter for the Metaphysicks, then a Creed; and as able to breed a Knowledge, as Beliefe: Our Reason onely helps us thus farre, to make us know, there is something left for Beliefe, which Reason cannot reach to, and of this nature is the Resurrection of the body: our. Beliefe shall then be turned into knowledge, when we shall come to have experience of it; in the meane time, wee must content our selves [Page 225]with Beleeving it: And, O my Soule, doe thou beleeve it indeed; and be most assured, that though thy Body leave thee for a time, and bee laid in dust, and bee turned to dust: yet it will not bee long, ere it shall rise, and bee joyned with thee a­gaine, as now it is; but in a far hap­pier condition then now it is: Not stubborne and restiffe then, but tra­ctable and obsequious: not earthly and lumpish then, but Aery and light; and indeed, such a body it shall be, as thou wouldst wish it to be: Not subject to diseases, Not weary with labours: Not itching with lust: Not drowsie with sleep: Not hungring after meat; and which is most of all, where now it takes upon it to be thy Master, It shall then be content to be thy ser­vant; but such a servant, as shall therefore serve thee, because thou [Page 226]servest God: For it is sowne a Naturall body, it shall bee raised up a spirituall Body: It is sowne in corruption, it shall be raysed in incorruption; the same body in substance that now it is, but endued with Spirituall and better qualities.

Many questions are here moved by the Schoolmen; as whether the bodies of Abortives, which were never borne, but dyed in their Mo­thers wombes, shall be partakers of the Resurrection; seeing, though they never came to see the light, yet they had beene once alive and quicke? Then, whether bodies shall arise, of the same age and stature, at which they died: as Infants, at the stature and age of Infants: and o­thers, at their severall statures and ages; Or else shall all rise at a per­fect age and stature; because of the words of Saint Paul, in his Epistle [Page 227]to the Ephesians, Till we all come unto a perfect man, to the measure of the sta­ture of the fulnes of Christ. Then, whe­ther bodies shall arise, with the same deformities and defects, which they had living: as, Crooked, Lame, Blinde; or otherwise, mutilation of Members: seeing Christ arose, with the same wounds which he re­ceived, when his body was pierced with the Speare? And many such questions moved more out of vaine curiosity, then tending to Edificati­on: and which perhaps may pro­babably be argued, as having cou­lours on both sides: but can never directly be defined, as having war­rant on either side: Reason may make conjectures of it; but Faith will build no certainty on it. It may bee sufficient for us to beleeve, that the bodies of all men, shall rise at the last day, and stand at the Tribu­nall [Page 228]of Christ, who shall come from Heaven, to judge the Quick and the Dead.

And now having beleeved the two Articles, that properly relate to the Sonne of God, Christ Jesus: [the Forgivenesse of sinnes, and the Resurrection of the Bodie.] It fol­lowes fitly, to beleeve the Article, that properly relates to God the Father; [The life Everlasting,] and it followes not onely fitly, but ve­ry necessarily: For, if we should not adde, the life Everlasting, it might be thought, that our Resurrection were but like theirs, who rose at the time of Christs rising: and appeared to many in the Holy City, who rose indeede, but then died againe: at least, who can tell what became of them, and so our Beliefe should cast Anchor in a very unsafe har­bour: but now by adding the life [Page 229]Everlasting, we make the Resur­rection of our Bodies, a perpetuity; and beleeve they shall rise againe, never any more to dy. And indeed how can it be otherwise? seeing there never was but one sentence of death denounced against man: and that sentence once executed, by his dying once: there is no new sentence of dying any more; and therefore the Body being beleeved, to be raised from the dead; the life Everlasting will bee beleeved of course. Death indeede is a debt due to nature, and a debt that nature lookes to have payd; but yet na­ture is not so unjust, to looke that a debt should be payd her more then once: and therefore the body having payd the debt once, by dying once: if it can get to rise a­gaine, and live; it will not be then in natures debt any more, and there­fore [Page 230]cannot naturally dy any more, but shall live for ever.

But why is there no mention made in our Creed, of the Immor­tality of the soule? that of this poynt, there might be left no scru­ple; for as long as this is in suf­pence, wee shall necessarily fall into the errour of the Sadduces; and ne­ver beleeve the Resurrection of the body. Is it not, that the Immorta­litie of the soule, is therefore not made an Article of our Creed; because it is not so properly credi­ble, Per fidem, as demonstrable per artem: there being so apparent rea­sons for it, that even the Heathen themselves have not denyed it; and one of their owne Poets could say: Parte tamen meliore mei, super acta perennis Astra forar; meaning his soule. Besides, what [Page 231]need is there of mentioning it, when it is sufficiently intimated, or in­cluded rather, in these two last Articles. For if we beleeve the re­surrection of the body, we cannot doubt of the Immortality of the soule; seeing the body cannot rise, without the soule: and if we be­leeve the life Everlasting, we can­not but beleeve the soule to bee Immortall; seeing without the soule, there can be no life at all.

And now wee are come to the last Article of our Creed, which may well bee the last; seeing it brings us to that which is Everlast­ing. And here it may not be unfit, to examine a little the extent of this Everlasting life: seeing it is not momentary, and fading, as our pre­sent life is; but continuing and last­ing, without having any l [...]st: that if we say, it shall last a Thousand [Page 232]years, if a million of thousand years, if so many millions of thousand yeares, as there are sands in the sea: although an infinite incomprehen­sible extent of time; yet wee shall expresse but a very small part, or rather indeed, no part at all of it; seeing, of those, how many soever, yet they will have an end at last; Everlastingnesse, never. It may best bee exprest by number In ab­stracto, of which, when never so many have bin preceding; yet never the fewer will bee left behind. O the wonderfulnesse of everlasting­nesse! enough to amaze our appre­hension: so wonderfull, that when wee have wondred as much as we can, wee may begin and wonder a­gaine; and he that shall stand won­dring all his life long: yet cannot be thought to have wondred e­nough. Iustly therefore is it made [Page 233]an Article of our Creede; seeing it exceeds our capacity, it passeth our understanding, it transcends our rea­son; onely Faith is apprehensive of it.

And where is it then, that this E­verlasting life shall bee led? Is it not, that of the first thousand years, we may perhaps give some account: that it shall be led, where wee shall reigne with Christ; for so Saint John the Evangelist, in plaine termes delivers it: and Papias a Bishop, and a Scholler of Saint Johns, who was likely to have learned the meaning of his words, affirmes more; that it shall be led heere upon earth, in all delights and pleasures both of body and minde: and indeede, most of the ancient Fathers of that Primi­tive time, runne together by a line in this Exposition; and yet by the later Fathers, is this Opinion cleane [Page 234]exploded: and the words of Saint John expounded in a farre differing sense, and not without cause: for see­ing it is truely said, that flesh and bloud shal not enter into the kingdom of heaven, there is no likelihood, that bodily or fleshly pleasures shall ever be allow­ed to have place in that kingdome.

Is it then, that there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth; and then this life Everlasting shall be led? And it is indeed most likely, that as our bodies shall rise, though in their old substance; yet endued with new qua­lities: So heaven and earth, where they are to abide, shall suffer the like alteration; that so there may bee a correspondence between our bodies and them; which could not be, if the qualities of heaven and earth, were not aswell altered, as of our bodies.

But when is it that this life Everla­sting shall beginne? Indeed as soone [Page 235]as this momentary life shall end; but yet, but in part: and therefore we be­leeve the resurrection of the body, first; and then the life everlasting, after: be­cause, although the soule in its kind, be living still; yet till the body rise againe, there will be no perfect life; and it is not intended, that our life should be everlasting, in the imperfe­ction of it, which is the separation of the soule from the body; but that the body rising againe, and joyning with the soule, it shall then bee everlasting. And now my soule, consider the dif­ference of our future life, from this that is present; which shal be so much longer then this, as eternity, then a moment; and so much better then this, as happinesse then misery.

But wherein shall the happinesse of our future life consist? For if bo­dily pleasures be restrained, there will want a great part of that, which wee [Page 236]now count happinesse. Indeed bodi­ly pleasures will be restained, but not pleasures of the body: but the body be­ing raised up a spirituall body, the plea­sures also of the body, shal be spiritu­all pleasures. And how much the soul is better then the body: how much the reason is better then the sense; so much shall the pleasures of our future life, bee better then the pleasures of our present life; and if this doe not sufficiently expresse the difference; Remember then how Christ hath ex­prest it, that the pleasures of our fu­ture life shall bee such, as neither eye hath seene, nor eare heard, neither hath it entred into the heart of man: and by this, certainely we may well con­ceive the infiniteness of the difference.

But what are these pleasures, which eye hath not seene, nor eare hath heard? Indeed, if wee could tell, vvee should make Christs vvords but vaine; yet in [Page 237]some sort, perhaps, vvee may con­ceive them: For vvhat eye hath seene the faces of Cherubins in their brightnesse? What eare hath heard the melody of Angels in their sweet­nesse? But which is most of all, into what heart of man hath it entred, what the glory of the Almighty God is; and what joy it will be to us, to be admitted into his blessed presence? O my soule, these are pleasures, which if we could appre­hend, would drive us into extasie, at least, would raise up our minds from groveling in the base pleasures of this vaine world.

And who are they that shall bee partakers of this life Everlasting? are they onely the godly; or as well also the wicked? Indeed, as well the wicked, as the godly; but not the wicked, so well as the godly. For alas, the wicked shall live everlasting­ly [Page 238]indeed; if it may bee called life, which is infinitely worse then any death, to bee in perpetuall torment, and paine insufferable: Onely the godly shall live everlastingly; the life which is onely worthy to bee called life; in perpetuall joy, and happinesse unspeakable.

Oh then, if our lives shall neces­sarily bee everlasting, and that the happinesse of the everlastingnesse depends upon this moment we now live. Let us endeavour to spend our short time so; that our everlasting­nesse, may be in joy, and not in mi­sery. O my soule, be alwaies think­ing of this word Never: Never shall the torments of the wicked have an end; Never shall the joyes of the godly have an end: not after a thou­sand yeares, not after a million of yeares, not after a million of milli­ons of Ages; but Never, Never; [Page 239]which if wee could apprehend, or would but consider; it would cer­tainely be a Remora to us; and give a stop to all our vaine courses.

And now having briefly run over these Articles of our Creed; we may doe well to consider, how happy the Church of God should be, if it would content it selfe with these Articles, as once it did: For then the little Barke of Christ should not bee tossed with so many tempests of Schismes; should not be torn with so many rents of Di­vision as now it is: but should enjoy the unity of faith in the bond of peace: where now, while new Ar­ticles are dayly obtruded upon our Consciences, we seem to be in worse case with Articles of faith, then the old Jewes were, with the Ceremonies of the Law: they overwhelmed with number, we with novelty, or rather indeed with both.


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