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Let Him Take Heed Lest He Fall

Let Him Take Heed Lest He Fall

Let Him Take Heed Lest He Fall

Jeremiah 8:4–7

Thus saith the Lord: Shall they fall and not arise? shall he turn away and not turn again?

Wherefore is this people of Jerusalem turned back by a perpetual rebellion? they gave themselves to deceit, and would not return.

I hearkened and heard, but none spake aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? Every one turned to their race, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Even the stork in the air knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming; but My people knoweth not the judgment of the Lord.

The Apostle’s counsel is, qui stat videat ne cadat, “he that standeth let him take heed lest he fall.”* And there is, saith Esay, a voice behind us that crieth, Hæc est via, “This is the right way, keep it, turn not from it.”* Good counsels both to those quorum vita via vitæ, ‘whose life is a journey, and a journey to another, a better life,’ to look to their feet, they fall not; to look to their way, they err not. Good counsels indeed, but of which we must say with Christ,* qui potest capere capiat, “follow them that may.”

For true it is that not to fall nor err nor do amiss at all, is an higher perfection than our nature in state it is can attain to. ‘Being men,’ saith St. Chrysostom, ἄνθρωποι ὄντες, and ταύτην τὴν σάρκα φεροῦντες, ‘bearing about us this body of flesh,’ the steps whereof are so unstaid; καὶ τοῦτον κόσμον οἰκοῦντες, ‘and walking in this world,’ the ways whereof are so slippery. It is an Apostle that saith it, in multis omnes, &c. “in many things we offend all;” and it is another that saith,* “that whosoever sayeth otherwise”—not,* he is proud and there is no humbleness, but “he is a liar, and there is no truth in him.”

Our estate then as it is needeth some Scripture that “offereth more grace;” and such there be, saith St. James,* and this is such. That they which have not heard the Apostle and his counsel, qui stat, &c. may yet hear the Prophet here and his qui cecidit, let him up again. That they which have not heard Esay’s voice, ambulate, “you are in the way, turn not from it,” may yet hear Jeremy’s voice, qui aversus est, &c. “he that is out let him get into it again.”

So that this is the sum of that I have read. If we have not been so happy as to stand and keep our way, let us not be so unhappy as not to rise and turn to it again. Best it were before we sin to say to ourselves Quid facio, ‘What am I now about to do?’ If we have not that, yet it will not be amiss after to say, “What have I done?” God will not be displeased to hear us so say. We should not follow those fowls, we should have no wings to fly from God; but if in flying away we have followed them, then that we follow them too in the retrieve or second flight. In a word, yesterday if we have not heard His voice, “to-day if we will hear His voice,* not to harden our hearts,” when He calleth us to repentance.

This is the sum. The manner of the delivery is not common, but somewhat unusual and full of passion. For seeing plain pœnitentiam agite doth but coldly affect us, it pleaseth God, hâc vice, to take unto Him the terms, the style, the accents of passion; thereby to give it an edge, that so it may make the speedier and deeper impression.

And the passion He chooseth is that of sorrow; for all these verses are to be pronounced with a sorrowful key. Sorrow many times worketh us to that, by a melting compassion, which the more rough and violent passions cannot get at our hands.

This sorrow He expresseth by way of complaint; for all the speech is so. Which kind of speech maketh the better nature to relent, as moved that by His means any should have cause to complain and not find redress for it.

That He complains of is not that we fall and err, but that we rise not and return not; that is, still delay,* still put off our repentance. And that, 1. contrary to our own course and custom in other things; we do it every where else, yet here we do it not. 2. Contrary to God’s express pleasure.* For glad and fain He would hear we do it, yet we do it not. 3. Contrary to the very light of nature. For the fowls here fly before us, and shew us the way to do it, yet we do it not for all that.

Which three He uttereth by three sundry ways of treaty; 1. The first by a gentle yet forcible expostulation,* Will you not? Why will ye not? 2. The second by an earnest protestation, how greatly He doth hearken after it. 3. The third by a passionate apostrophe, by turning Him away to the fowls of the air, that do that naturally every year which we cannot be got to all our life long.

Of which passions to say a word; it is certain, the immutable constancy of the Divine nature is not subject to them, howsoever here or elsewhere He presenteth Himself in them. I add, that as it is not proper, so neither it is not fitting for God thus to express Himself. But that He, not respecting what best may become Him, but what may best seem to move us and do us most good, chooseth of purpose that dialect, that character, those terms, which are most meet and most likely to affect us.

And because good moral counsel plainly delivered enters but faintly, and of passionate speeches we have a more quick apprehension, He attireth His speech in the habit, uttereth it in the phrase, figure, and accent of anger, or sorrow, or such like, as may seem most fit and forcible to prevail with us.

1. Tertullian saith the reason this course is used is ad exaggerandum malitiæ vim, ‘to make the heinousness of our contempt appear the more.’* God indeed cannot complain, it falleth not into His nature to do it. But if He could, if it were possible by any means in the world He might, such are our contempts, so many and so mighty, that we would force Him to it.

2. But St. Augustine’s reason is more praised;* Exprimit in Sed ut exprimat de te, ‘In Himself He expresseth them, that from us He may bring them;’ sheweth Himself in passion that He may move us, and even in that passion whereto He would move us. As here now; as in grief He complaineth of us, that we might be grieved and complain of ourselves that ever we gave Him such cause, and so consequently that we might bethink ourselves to give redress to it, that so His complaining might cease.

And from the complaint, it is no hard matter to extract the redress. 1. To yield to but even as much for Him—for Him? nay for ourselves—as every where else we use to do. 2. To speak that which God so gladly would hear. 3. To learn that which the poor fowls know, the season of our return, and to take it as they do. Three ways to give redress to the three former grievances, these three; and the same the three parts of this text orderly to be treated of.

To make His motion the more reasonable and His complaint the more just, He makes them chancellors in their own cause; and from their own practice otherwhere God frameth and putteth a case, and putteth it in question-wise; and therefore question-wise that they may answer it, and answering it condemn themselves by a verdict from their own mouth. “Will they (this people) themselves fall,” &c.? Is there any that if he turn,” &c.? In effect, as if He should say; Go whither you will, far or near, was it ever heard or seen that any man if his foot slipped and he took a fall, that he would lie still like a beast and not up again straight? Or if he lost his way, that he would wittingly go on and not with all speed get into it again?

I proceed then. Men rise, if they fall; and sin is a fall. We have taken up the term ourselves, calling Adam’s sin Adam’s fall. A fall indeed, for it fouls as a fall, for it bruises as a fall, for it bringeth down as a fall; down from the state of Paradise, down to the dust of death, down to the bar of judgment, down to the pit of hell.

Again; men turn when they err, and sin is an error. Nonne errant omnes, &c., saith Solomon;* make you any doubt of it? I do not: No sure, an error it is. What can be greater than to go in the ways of wickedness they should not, and come to the end of misery they would not. It is then a fall and an error.

Upon which He joineth issue and inferreth the fifth verse, Quare ergo? “and why then?” If there be no people so sottish that when they fall will lie still, or when they err go on still, why do this people that which no people else will do? Nay, seeing they themselves, if they be down get up, and if astray turn back; how cometh it to pass it holds not here too? That here they fall and rise not? stray and return not? Fall and stray peccando, and not rise and return pœnitendo? Will every people and not they? Nay, will they every where else, and not here? Every where else will they rise if they fall, and turn again if they turn away, and here, only here, will they fall and not rise, turn away and not turn again? In every fall, in every error of the feet to do it, and to do it of ourselves, and in that fall and that error which toucheth God and our souls, by no means, by no entreaty to be got to do it? What dealing call you this? Yet this is their strange dealing, saith the Lord. Both theirs and ours, which God wonders at and complaineth of; and who can complain of His wondering, or wonder at His complaining?

But what speak we of a fall or an error? There is a word in the fifth verse, the word of “rebellion,” maketh it more grievous. For it is as if He should say, I would it were nothing but a fall or turning away; I would it were not a fall or turning away into “a rebellion.” Nay I would it were but that, but “rebellion,” and not “a perpetual rebellion;” but it is both, and that is it which I complain of.

There is sin, a fall: men fall against their wills, that is sin of infirmity. There is sin, an error: men err from the way of ignorance, that is sin of ignorance. The one for want of power, the other for lack of skill. But rebellion, the third kind, that hateful sin of rebellion, can neither pretend ignorance nor plead infirmity; for wittingly they revolt from their known allegiance, and wilfully set themselves against their lawful Sovereign;—that is the sin of malice.

Take all together. Sin, a fall, an error, a rebellion: we see, “sin aboundeth;” will you see, how “grace over-aboundeth?”* Yet not such a fall but we may be raised, not such a departure but there is place left to return; no, nor such a rebellion, but if it sue for may hope for a pardon. For behold; He, even He, that God from Whom we thus fall, depart, revolt, reacheth His hand to them that fall, turneth not away from them that turn to Him, is ready to receive to grace them, even them that rebelled against Him. It is so: for He speaketh to them, treateth with them, asketh of them, why they will not rise, return, submit themselves.

Which is more yet. If ye mark, He doth not complain and challenge them for any of all those three, for falling, straying, or for rebelling; the point He presseth is not our falling, but our lying still; not our departing, but our not returning; nor our breaking off, but our holding out. It is not; Why fall, or stray, or revolt? But, Why rise ye not? Return ye not? Submit ye not yourselves? Thus might He have framed His interrogatories. Shall they fall and not stand? He doth not, but thus. Shall they fall and not rise? Shall they turn from the right and not keep it? No: But shall they turn from it, and not turn to it? As much to say as, Be it you have fallen, yet lie not still; erred, yet go not on; sinned, yet continue not in sin; and neither your fall, error, nor sin, erunt vobis in scandalum, ‘shall be your destruction or do you hurt.’

Nay, which is farther and that beyond all. It is not these neither; though this be wrong enough, yet upon the point this is not the very matter. Neither our lying still, nor our going on, nor standing out, so they have an end, they all and every of them may have hope. “Perpetual” is the word, and perpetual is the thing. Not why these, any of these, or all of these; but why these perpetual? To do thus, to do it and never leave doing it; to make no end of sin, but our own end; to make a perpetuity of sin; never to rise, return, repent—for repentance is opposite not to sin, but to the continuance of it—that is the point.

In sin are these; 1. The fall, 2. The relapse, 3. The wallow. It is none of these; it is not falling, not though it be recidiva peccati, often ‘relapsing.’ It is not lying still, not though it be volutabrum peccati, ‘the wallow.’ It is none of all these; it is τὸ ἀκατάπαυστον, ‘the never ceasing,’ the perpetuity, the impenitency of sin.* To speak of sin, that is the sin out of measure sinful; that is the offence that not only maketh culpable, but leaveth inexcusable. That fall is not Adam’s but Lucifer’s fall; not to err, but to perish from the right way, not Shimei’s rebellion,* but the very apostasy and “gain-saying of Core.”

This then to add sin to sin, to multiply sin by sin, to make it infinite, to eternize it as much as in us lieth, that is it to which God crieth, O quare? “Why do you so?” Why perpetual?

Why perpetual? Indeed why? For it would pose the best of us to find out the quare? a true cause or reason for so doing?

Before, shew but an example; now here, shew but a reason and carry it. But they can shew no reason why they will not. It were to be wished we would repent, or shew good cause to the contrary.

But as before we violate our own custom, so here we abandon reason, we throw them both to the ground, order and reason, and stamp upon them both when we make perpetuities. Verily, true cause or good reason there is none. Being called to shew cause why? they tell not, we see; they stand mute, they cannot tell why; God Himself is fain to tell them. Why all the cause that is is in the latter part of the verse, apprehenderunt, &c. that is, some non causa pro causâ, some lie or other they lay hold of, or else they would return and not thus continue in it. To flatter itself that it may not repent, Mentita est iniquitas sibi, saith the Psalmist,* Sin doth even cozen itself, telling a fair tale to itself, which is in the eleventh verse, Pax, Pax, “Peace” well enough; and that is a lie, for there is no peace for all that. It is, saith the Apostle, “the deceitfulness of sin that hardeneth” men in it;* that is, if there were not some gross error, strong illusion, notable fascinatio mentis, it could not be that sin should prove to a perpetuity. There is some error sure.

But why is not that error removed? God answereth that too. But the error hath not taken hold of them, for then it might be cured, but they have taken hold of it, fast hold, and will not let it go. That is, it is not in the weakness of their wits, but in the stubbornness of their will. For so is His conclusion. Not non potuerunt, ‘they could not;’ but noluerunt, they “would not return.” So saith David;* “it is a people that do err in their hearts.” Their error is not in their heads but in their hearts, and if it be there, “forty years” teaching will do them no good. If they had a heart to understand, they might soon, but they assot themselves, they will not conceive aright of their estates. If they did, they could not choose but return, but now return they will not, that is resolved; therefore they get them some lewd, irreligious, lying positions, and with them close up their own eyes, even hood-wink themselves. Is it not thus? Yes sure: rather than return, to apprehend a lie. This is a woeful case; but let it be examined, and thus it is. It is a lie they apprehend, that maketh they lie still. Peradventure that error, inter alios,* may be such an illusion as this, that if they should make means it would be to no purpose, God would stop His ears, He would not hear of it. May it not be thus? Despair of pardon hath made many a man desperate. Yes sure. And if that were it, if they would and God would not, they had some shew of reason to abandon themselves to all looseness of life. But it is contrary; they would not return. For I for My part fain would, saith God; it is their “not,” and not Mine. My nolo is nolo ut moriatur; my volo is volo ut convertatur, “I will not their death, I will their conversions:” this is my volo. Nay,* quoties volui? “How often would I?” et noluistis,* “and ye would not.”*

My outward calling by My word, inward movings by My Spirit, My often exhortations in your ears, My no less often inspirations in your hearts, tactus Mei et tractus, ‘My touches and My twitches,’ My benefits not to be dissembled, My gentle chastisements, My deliverances more than ordinary, My patience while I held My peace, such periods as this when I speak,* My putting you to it by quid debui facere? to set down what I should have done and have not, these shew quoties volui, “that many times I would when you would not.” The two verses past, His compassionate complaint in them. And is there no hope? Will you not? O, why will you not? Otherwhere you will and not here, why not here? You have no reason why you will not. Why will you not? If not why fall, or err, or revolt, yet only why “perpetual?” These are evidences enough, He is willing enough therewithal. But, to put it out of all doubt, we see. He breaketh out into a protestation, that if this be the lie we lay hold of, we may let it go when we will. And sure, how earnestly God affecteth the sinner’s conversion, we might be thought to misinform, and to blow abroad our own conceits, if this and such places were not our warrant. I not hear? Why, I stand wishing and waiting, and longing and listening to hear of it. Wishing, “O that My people!” Waiting,* expectat Dominus ut misereatur; “longing,”* even as a woman that is great, “after green fruit;” listening, that I might but hear two good words from them, that might shew that they were but thus forward as to think of this point. It is not all one, it is not neither here nor there with me whether you do it, it is a special thing I hearken after; no merchant for his commodity, no Athenian for his news, more oft or more earnest.*

Then lay not hold on that lie, that I would not hear. Be your error what it will be, let it not be that, let not the charge be mine but yours, if you will needs cast away that I would have saved.

Should not this move us? Now truly, if all other regards failed, and men for them should not return, yet for this and this only we ought to yield to it, that God should be listening so long for it and in the end be deluded.

God hearkeneth and listeneth, and after there is a kind of pause to see what will come of it. And lo, this cometh of it, this unkind unnatural effect; after all this, not so much as locuti sunt recte, a good honest confession. Nay, not so little as this, Quid feci? “What have I done?” He expecteth no great matter, no long process, but two words, but three syllables; and those with no loud voice, to spend their spirit or breath, but even softly said, for He layeth His ear and listeneth for it.

“Thus saith the Lord.” But what say they? None of them, either audibly for I hearkened, or softly for I listened, said no long solemn confession, but not this, Quid feci? God wot this is not repentance: err not, this is far from it.

From whence yet this we gain; what God would hear from us, and what we saying may give Him some kind of contentment. This is but Micah’s fruit we spake of,* which yet He so much desired that He will take it green and unripe as it is. This is but a step unto a proffer, but yet begin with this. Say it, dic, dic, saith St. Augustine, sed intus dic; ‘say it, and say it from within,’ say it as it should be said—not for form or with affectation, but in truth and with affection. Do but this onward and more will follow. Indeed as before we said of the quare, so here we may say of the quid; if either of them, if but this latter were well weighed, rightly thought on, or rightly spoken, there is much more in it than one would think. “What have I done?” 1. What, in respect of itself! what a foul, deformed, base, ignominious act! which we shame to have known, which we chill upon, alone and nobody but ourselves. 2. What, in regard of God, so fearful in power, so glorious in Majesty! 3. What, in regard of the object! for what a trifling profit, for what a transitory pleasure! 4. What, in respect of the consequent! to what prejudice of the state of our souls and bodies, both here and for ever! O what have we done? How did we it? Sure, when we thus sinned, we did we knew not what.

Sure, to say it with the right touch, with the right accent, is worth the while. Say it then; say this at least. Lest, if you will not say quid feci? “What have I done?” when He hearkens, you may come into the case you know not what to do, and say to Him, What shall I do? And if you hear not when He complains, one day when you complain He refuse to bow down His ear and hearken to you at all.

Yet one step farther. Nothing they said: is that all? have we done? Nay; He hears and sees both a worse matter. For instead of this, He sees and hears that forth they run to their careless course of life, tanquam equus ad prœlium. We saw before their slowness in that; now see we their vigour in this. Wherein observe; here they go not, it is no soft pace they run, not as men but as horses, and not every kind of them neither, but as the barbed horse for service, and he not every way considered; but when he is enraged by noise and other accidents of war, שומף rather rusheth, like a violent breach of waters from whence it is taken, than runneth; ὡς ἵππος κάθιδρος, saith the Seventy, “as a horse all of a white foam” into the battle, where a thousand to one he never cometh out again. That is, with as great fury and as little consideration as a war-horse runneth upon his own destruction. And all this, when God hearkeneth and listeneth to hear and receive them, even then and at no other time, then so fling they from Him. All return to sin is brutish; recidiva peccati; that is tanquam canis ad vomitum; volutabrum peccati,* that is tanquam sus ad lutum;* but this fury and fierceness of sin is tanquam equus ad prœlium.* Should there be no more regard in the rider than in the beast he rides on? Shuld such a mind as this be in men?

No verily, we be now gone from men; we be come among beasts. And thither doth God follow us. And even among them, if we will but look to the less brutish sort, He hopes to do it, even among them; to point us to those, that if we will learn, it will teach us as much as this cometh to. This is His apostrophe of the last verse. Where breaking off, occasioned by their abrupt breaking off, he even sets down Himself upon the light of nature, “Well yet, the stork, &c.”

Two kinds of forcible reasons or apostrophes, there are to move us. 1. One, to send the people of God to heathen men, that would shame to deal with their idols, as we do daily with the God of Heaven;* “get you to Chittim and to the isles,” saith Jeremy. See if the like measure be offered by them to their gods. Then the conclusion is, quis audivit talia? God’s people worse than the heathen? This is such a thing as the like was never heard. This was done in the first verse, “if any fall,” &c.

2. Yet more effectual is it when He goeth yet farther, thus far. That not finding among men with whom to sort them, because they keep no rules of men, He is forced to a second apostrophe, to seek among beasts with whom to suit them.

3. But then if it come to this, that the beasts be not only compared with us as in the last, tanquam equus, but preferred before as better advised or disposed than we, as in this—The swallow doth know, My people doth not; that we in the comparison go not even with them, but are cast behind them; that is πρὸς ἐντροπὴν, indeed a foul check to our nature. And to that the Prophet crieth, Audite Cœli, “Hear ye Heavens,* and be astonished at it!” O the damp and mist of our sin! so great that it darkeneth not only the light of religion which God teacheth, but even the light of nature which her instinct teacheth, even the reasonless creature itself. With a very pathetical conclusion doth the Psalmist break off the forty-ninth Psalm;* “Man being in honour,” &c. but “becometh meet to be compared to the beasts that perish.” Which is no small disgrace to our nature so to be matched. Profecto, saith Chrysostom, pejus est comparari jumento, quam nasci jumentum, ‘Now sure it is far worse to be matched with a beast than to be born a beast.’ To be born is no fault, we nor they make ourselves. But to be born a man and to become matchable with beasts, that is our fault, our great fault, and therefore, the worse certainly.

Well, this interrogate jumenta in the Old,* this respicite volatilia in the New,* this apostrophe thus sending us to beasts and fowls to school, setting them before us as patterns, setting them over us as tutors, to learn of them how to carry ourselves, is certainly a bitter apostrophe, a great upbraiding to us, a great aggrieving our sin or our folly, or both.

Especially in them who, as in the next verse he saith,* would hold it great scorn to be reputed of otherwise than as “deep wise men;”—that they should pass their lives with as little consideration, not as heathen men for they be men, but with as little, yea less, than the beasts in the field or the fowls in the air. Thus speaketh God often, and with divers. The slothful body He setteth to school to the ant,* the unthankful person to the ox,* the distrustful man to the young ravens,* the covetous wretch to that beast which reproved the madness of the Prophet who for “the wages of unrighteousness” was ready to make sale of his soul,* that is Balaam’s beast, the ass. And here now in this place the wilful impenitent sinner, one so far gone as He appointeth him not one as to all the former, but no less than four at once. Belike either the number is great that so many ushers need, and so it is; or their capacity very dull and hard to take, that no fewer will serve them, and so it is too; or He sorteth them thus, that every country may be provided for of one to teach in it. For though in some places all are not, yet in all places some of them are to be found.

The lesson with these four, all of them from the stork in the top of the fir tree to the swallow that buildeth under every pent-house, would take us forth, is that which they themselves are so perfect in that they may be professors of it. And it is of four sorts; 1. They have a time to return in. 2. That time is certain and certainly known. 3. They know it. 4. They observe it.

“They have a time.” The place, the climate, which the cold of the weather maketh them to leave, they fail not but find a time to turn back thither again. This they teach us first who in this respect less careful and more senseless than they, find a time and times many, oft and long, to take our flight from God; occasioned by no cold or evil weather, for commonly we do it when times are best and fairest; but we can find no time, not so much as half a time, to make our return in. This must be learned. Sure we must, saith St. Paul, σχολάζειν τῇ νηστείᾳ, “take some time of vacancy and leisure;”* we must, saith St. Peter, χωρῆσαι εἰς μετάνοιαν,* “take some several retiring place,” where and when to do it to purpose, and intend it not as a slight matter, but as one of the chiefest and most important affairs of our life. Sure this ado that God keeps about it, these passions, complaints, protestations, apostrophes, give it for no less.

They have a time certain, when if you wait for them you shall be sure to see them come, and come at their appointed season; they will not miss. It will not be long, but you shall see the swallow here again. This they teach us second; us who have sometime some little persuasions in modico, like Agrippa’s, to do as Christian men should do, but as Felix,* we can never ἐυκαιρῆσαι “find a convenient set time for it.”* Return we will, that we will, but are still to seek for our season; and ever we will do, and never we do it. Verily though no time be amiss,* but “at what time soever we repent,” that is “the acceptable time,” that “the day of salvation;”* yet Esau’s tears when the time was past,* and the five virgins that came too short, and but a little too short;* and that very word of God to Saul, “Now was the time,” “now,”* if thou hadst taken it; these plainly shew, that as for “all things under the sun,” so for this great and weighty business,* there is not only עת but מועד; not only χρόνος but καιρὸς; not only a time, but a set season. Which season is in time, as the joint in a member; if you hit on the joint, you may easily divide; if on this side or beyond, you shall not do it, or not do it so well; therefore to do it when it is.

They have their certain time, and they know it. What time of the year the time of their return is, is commonly known; who knows not when swallows’ time is? And our ignorance in not discerning this point doth God justly upbraid us withal; and bids us, if we know not what time to take, to get us to these fowls, and to take their time, the time they return at; that is, now, even this time, this season of the year; to return with the swallows, and to take our flight back when they do theirs. Rather do thus than waste our lives as we do, and take none at all; neither fair nor foul, neither hot nor cold, neither fall nor spring, to do it in. This is the third they teach us.

The last lesson is, to observe it. Opportunity itself is a great favor, even to have it; but a second grace it is, to discern it when we have it; and a third better than both, when we discern it to observe and take it. And many are the errors of our life, but all the errors of our repentance come from one of these; either our ignorance that,* while we have it, discern it not; or our negligence that, when we discern it, observe it not. The one, our ignorance, Christ with bitter tears lamenteth; the other, our negligence, doth God here complain of. This is the last lesson.

There want not that stretch it farther; that by these four fowls, there is not taught the time, but even the manner also how to perform our repentance.

1. That vox turturis, which is gemebam, a mournful note; 2. that the very name and nature of the stork, הסידה of חסד full of mercy and compassion; 3. that the swallow’s nest,* so near the altar of God; 4. that the painful watching and abstinence of the crane, specially when they take their flight, so credibly recorded in the natural histories; that these, emblem-wise, teach us the 1. mournful bewailing of our life past; 2. “the breaking off our former sins by works of mercy;”* 3. the keeping near this place, the house and altar of God; 4. the abstinence and watching to be performed during this time of our return; that is, that all these are allied to the exercise of our repentance and are meet virtues to accompany and attend the practice of it.

This the turtle-dove mourneth, the swallow chattereth; this all of them sound as well as they can; this, if they serve not, as masters to teach us, they shall serve as a quest1 to condemn us whom neither our own custom, reason, religion, before, nor now the light of nature, can bring to know so much as they: either to learn it ourselves, or to be taught it by others. This we should learn, but this we do not, therefore He taketh up His last complaint, “But My people,” &c.

The word judgment receiveth two constructions; for either by judicium Domini is meant that within us which is answerable to that secret instinct whereby the fowls are inclined to do this, which is the prick and dictamen of our conscience, τὸ ἐνδὸν δικαστήριον, the impression whereof is apparent in the most miscreant on earth; in whom nature itself shrinketh and sigheth when it hath done amiss, and joyeth and lifteth up itself when it hath well done; and by which we are moved inwardly, as they by their instinct, to return, but that the motion with us passeth, and with them not. And then the complaint is, that their parva naturalia carry them farther than our great judicials do us in this point.

Or else by judicium Domini is meant His visitation hanging over our heads, called therefore judgment, because it cometh not casually, but judicially proceedeth from God; that is, when God calleth to judgment by invasion, by scarcity, by gentle, general diseases, and such like; and then the complaint is, that where we should imitate these fowls and return against the sweet spring and fair time of the year, that is, while the days of peace and prosperity last, we are so far behind them, as not against fair, nay not against foul, against neither we can be brought to it; not in the days of adversity—no, not against the winter of our life.

That they regard nature’s inclination, so as every spring sure to come; we have lost our regard so even of judgment and all, as neither vernal nor hibernal repentance we bring forth. Nay, not the everlasting judgment of the Lord do we regard; to which sooner or later we must all come, and there receive the sentence under execution whereof we shall lie eternally.

Πάντα δέχομαι, saith St. Chrysostom, ‘I embrace both senses;’ both be good and profitable to men. Take whether you will, or both if you will, you shall not take amiss; and if both, you shall be sure to take right. Regard judgment, when either it awaketh from within, or when it threateneth from without. And when any of these summons us before the great Judge, know for a certainty that the time of returning is come: the Angel is descended,* the water is moved—let us have grace to go in, even then ad aquæ motum; we know not how long it will be, or whether ever it will be stirred again.

And thus we be come to an anchor at this last word judgment. A word, which if with judgment we would but pause on, and roll it awhile up and down in our thoughts, duly weighing it and the force of it, it would bring us about, and cause this whole Scripture to be fulfilled; make us fly as fast back as any fowl of them all.

For indeed the not judicial apprehending of this one word, the shallow conceiving and slight regard of it is the cause we foreslow 1 the time. The foreslowing the time, the cause we come not to quid feci; the not coming to that, the cause why we run on still tanquam equus, why we rise not, return not, yield not, but stand out in perpetual rebellion. Did we hear this word, hear it and regard it aright, and scire terrorem hunc, ‘know the terror of it,’ that God hath fearful judgments in store; even here to meet with us; or howsoever here we scape He hath there a perpetual judgment behind, and that so straight as “the righteous shall scarce escape it,”* so heavy as the mightiest shall not endure it;—did we regard this one point we should find a withdrawing time for this so serious a work; we would say, and say that God should hear it, “What have I done?” We would rise, return, repent; and so His whole complaint should cease. O Judgment! of the very mention of this word judgment, if a perfect view were taken of it, that only were enough. But without judgment or regard we hear it, and therefore the complaint continueth still.

To conclude: we said at the beginning, God therefore sheweth Himself in passion that He might move us, and in that passion whereto He would move us; thus complaineth God that we might thus infer and say, And doth God thus complain? Why it toucheth not God, it toucheth me; “He needeth not our repentance, and our unrighteousness hurteth Him not.”* It is I that shall win or lose by it, even the best thing I have to lose, my soul; He is in no danger, it is I, the hazard of whose eternal weal or woe lieth upon it. And yet doth God shew Himself sorry for me, and shall not I be sorry for myself? Doth God thus complain of my sin, and shall not I be moved to do as much for mine own sin? From this meditation to proceed to propound the same questions which God here doth, and to ask them of ourselves. What then, shall I continually “fall” and never “rise?” “turn away” and not once “turn again?” Shall my rebellions be “perpetual?” Do I this any where else? can I shew any reason why not to do it here? Shall these swallows fly over me and put me in mind of my “return,” and shall not I heed them? Shall God still in vain hearken for quid feci? and shall I never speak that He so fain would hear? Shall I never once seriously set before me the judgments of the Lord? Ask these: ask them and answer them, and upon them come to a resolution, saying, I will rise and return and submit myself, and from my heart say quid feci. I will consider volatilia Cœli; I will not see them fly but I will think of the season of my returning; but above all I will not be without regard of God’s judgment, than which nothing in this world is more to be regarded.

Because the time, the time is the main matter, and ever more ado about it than the thing itself, to have special care of that; knowing that it was not but upon great cause that our Savior complaining of this point cried, “O if thou hadst but known that this day had been the day of thy visitation!”* and so was fain to break off, the tears coming so fast that He was not able to speak out, but forced to weep out the rest of His sentence. O those tears shew what time is, shew that opportunity itself is a grace, even to have it; that it is a second grace to know it, and a third better than them both to lay hold of it and use it. That the greatest errors in this matter of repentance come from our ignorance in not discerning of the time when we may have it, or our negligence in not using it when we discern it. Therefore rather than fail, or rather that we may not fail, to take the time of the text. And that time is at this time now; now do these fowls return. Who knoweth whether he shall live to see them return any more? It may be the last spring, the last swallow-time, the last Wednesday of this name or nature we shall ever live to hear this point preached. Why do we not covenant then with ourselves not to let this time slip? Surely lest no time should be taken the Prophet pointeth us at this, and ensuing the Prophet’s mind the Church hath fixed her season at it. And nature itself seemeth to favor it, that at the rising of the year we should rise, and return when the zodiac returneth to the first sign.

Let the Prophet, let the Church, let nature, let something prevail with us. Et Dominus Qui sic instat præcepto, præcurrat auxilio, ‘and Almighty God, the upholder of them that stand, the lifter up of those that be down, that God Who is thus instant upon this point by His complaint, prevent us with His gracious help that we may redress it;’ following with His Spirit where His word hath gone before, and making it effectual to our speedy conversion![1]

 

 

* Mic. 7:1.

1 i.e. inquest.

1 i.e. delay, or neglect.

[1] Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 338–355). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

Deuteronomy 23:9

Deuteronomy 23:9

When Thou Goest

Deuteronomy 23:9

When thou goest out with the host against thine enemies, keep thee then from all wickedness.

To entitle this time to this text, or to shew it pertinent to the present occasion, will ask no long preface. “When thou goest forth,” &c. This “when” is now. There be enemies, and we have an host; it is going forth. Christ’s own application which is the best may be well applied here, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”* This our host so going forth, our heart’s desire and prayer unto God is, that they may happily go, and thrice happily come again, with joy and triumph to her sacred Majesty, honor to themselves, and general contentment to the whole land. So shall they go, and so come, if we can procure the Lord of Hosts to go forth with, and to take charge of our hosts. “It is He That giveth victory to kings,”* saith David;* it is He That is Triumphator Israel, saith Samuel. Victory and triumph never fail if He fail not.

Now then that God may not fail them, but go in and out before them and bring them back with victory and triumph, and that we all desire and pray for may so come to pass, Moses doth here out of his own experience bestow an advice upon us. And Moses could skill what belonged to war, as one that forty years together was never out of camp. Which advice is, that among our military points we would reckon the abatement of sin for one; that now this time of our going forth we would go forth against sin too, and keep us from it as we would keep us from our enemy. If we could be but persuaded to reform our former custom of sin, it would certainly do the journey good. That therefore with other courses, some remembrance, some regard be had of this; that at this time sin do not so overflow among us, be not so very fruitful as before time it hath.

And this is an use of Divinity in war. And as this an use of Divinity in war, so have we withal an use of war in Divinity. For Moses telling us, that “when our forces go forth against the enemy,”—that we then, at that time, are in any wise “to keep us from wickedness;” by sorting these thus together doth plainly intimate that when the time of war is, then is a fit time, a very good opportunity, to draw from sin and to return to God. These former years, this time of the fast, and this day, the first day of it, both ministered an occasion to call for an abstinence from sin; this day, and this time, being set out by the Church’s appointment to that end. Now besides that ordinary of other years, God this year hath sent us another, the time of war; and that a very seasonable time too, wherein to repent and retire from sin. As if He should say, If you would forsake sin now you may do it; for “behold, now is an acceptable time,”* and a fit season. This time to concur with that time, and both to cooperate to the amendment of our lives.

And what shall I say? O that one of them, the former or the latter, or both might prevail so much with us, that as the forepart this day is fulfilled in our ears, so the latter part might be fulfilled in our lives; that it might not be singly regarded that is thus doubly commended; that the fast at hand might keep us, or the war at hand might keep us, or both might keep us, that we might be kept from sin. That either Joel’s trump proclaiming a fast, or Amos’ trump proclaiming war, might serve to sound this retreat, might serve to awake us from that now more than sleep, even almost that lethargy of sin which the security of our so long peace hath cast us in.

This is the sum. These the double use, 1. of war in divinity; that our going forth might procure the giving over sin. 2 Of Divinity in war; that our giving over sin might procure good speed to our going forth, even an honorable and happy return.

The parts are two; for the verse parteth itself by “when” and “then.” These two; 1. the going forth of the host; 2. the keeping from sin. To express them in the terms of the present business; 1. the former, the commission authorizing to go. 2. The latter, the instruction directing so to go that we may prosper and prevail. In which latter will come to be considered these three points; 1. The conjunction and coherence of these two. 2. The consequence. 3. The contents of the latter, how to keep us from sin.

“When thou goest forth,” &c. In the first is the commission, which is ever the corner-stone of all proceedings. If we take the verse entire, both parts together, it riseth thus; If they which go to war must keep themselves from sin, then is war no sin but lawful, and without sin to be undertaken. Or, if we take the first part by itself, in saying “when thou goest” he implieth a time will come when they may go forth. For vain were the supposal, and far unworthy the wisdom of God’s Spirit to say “when,” if never any such time would come; if there were no time for war of God’s allowance. We cannot better pattern it than by the Gospel of this day, “when ye fast, be not like hypocrites”*—by all Divines resolved thus. Fast ye may sometimes; and then fasting, look you fall not into hypocrisy. And as in that, so in this: go ye may sometimes; only when ye go see ye “refrain from sin,” and then go and spare not. Out of which match of these two, fast and war, we may rise higher.

It is no less usual with the Prophets to say sanctificate prælium, as Joel 3. than to say, sanctificate jejunium, “sanctify a war,”* as well as “a fast.”* And in another, consecrate manus vestras hodie Domino, “consecrate your hands this day unto the Lord.”* Which sheweth war is not so secular a matter, but that it hath both his lawfulness and his holiness; and that the very hands may be sacred or hallowed by fighting some battles. And therefore,* in the Calendar of Saints we have nominated, not Abel, Enoch, and Noah alone, men of peace and devotion, who spent their time in prayer and service of God; but Gideon, Jephtha, Samson, worthies and men of war “who,”* saith the Apostle, “through faith were valiant in battle, and through faith put to flight the armies of aliens.” War therefore hath his time and commission from God.

Secondly, I add that this kind of war, not only defensive war, but offensive too, hath his “when.” And that, out of this very text; which is, if we mark well, not when they come forth against thee, but “when thou goest forth against them,” παρεμβάλλειν, say the Seventy, “to invade or annoy them.” Both these have their time; the former to maintain our right, the latter to avenge our wrong. By both these ways doth God send His people forth; both have warrant. Before Moses,* Abraham’s war to rescue Lot his ally was defensive and lawful; Jacob’s war, to win from the Amorite “by his sword and bow,”* offensive and lawful too. Under Moses, the war against Amalek who came out against them,* and the war against Midian, against whom they “went forth to wreak themselves for the sin of Peor,”* both lawful. After Moses, King David, in the battle of Ephes-dammim,* keeping the enemy from their gates; in the battle of Gath,* seeking the enemy at his own gates, and giving him battle in his own territory. And this as good law, so Egredere, et compelle eos intrare, “Go forth, and compel them to come in,”* is good Gospel too. So that war, and this kind of war, hath his commission.

Thirdly, and to strengthen the hands of our men of war yet farther. As war, and to go forth to war, against our enemies, any enemies, whether foreign foes or rebellious subjects; so of all enemies against the latter, against them to go forth, hath ever been counted most just and lawful. Many commissions are upon record in the law, of journeys in this kind. Against the tribe of Reuben,* for erecting them an altar beside that of Moses; and that have these of ours done too. Against the tribe of Benjamin, for a barbarous, and brutish outrage committed at Gibeah, and that have these too, and not one,* but many. Against Sheba, for blowing a trumpet and crying, “No part have we in David, no inheritance in the son of Jesse;”* and so far hath their madness proceeded. And the Gospel is not behind neither. Against them that send word, nolumus hunc regnare super nos, producite et occidite,* saith our Saviour Christ Himself. In effect these say as much as nolumus, and as much may be said and done to them. Nay, if once he say “no part in David;”* if he were Absalom, or Adonijah, of the blood royal, he “hath spoken that word against his own life:”* much more if but such a one as Sheba the son of Bichri. And yet even he was nothing so deep as this. For neither had King David vouchsafed him any favor any time before, neither offered him peace, or to receive him to grace after he had lift up his heel against him. But here, here have been divers princely favors vouchsafed, and most unkindly rejected; means of clemency many times most graciously offered, and most ungraciously refused; yea, faith falsified and expectation deluded; contempt upon contempt heaped up, that the measure is full. These then are the enemies “against,” and this the time “when.” When not only we may but must, and that not with God’s leave only, but with His liking and full commission, “go forth” in this cause. So that war is lawful; and this kind, “to go forth;” and against these enemies most just and most lawful. At this time against these enemies it is a war sanctified; they shall “consecrate their hands,” they shall præliari prælia Domini, that fight against them. So much for the commission.

The commission being had, we are not to depart but stay and take our instructions also with us; which is the latter part, of “keeping from wickedness.” Joshua had his commission from God to go up against Ai;* yet for leaving out this latter, and not looking to Achan better, had not so good speed. This therefore must accompany and keep time with the former, as a “then” to that “when.”

1. Wherein first, of the joining these two, 1. that they must go together, 2. and of the reason why they must go together.

2. And after of the manner, how we may and must “keep ourselves from this wickedness.”

The meeting of these two within the compass of one verse, 1. “Going forth with an army,” and 2. “forbearing of sin,” is worth the staying on.

Leading an army pertaineth to military policy, forbearing of sin is flat divinity.

For what hath the leading an army to do with forbearing of sin? Yet God hath thus sorted them as we see. Therefore policy of war whereto the former, and Divinity whereto the latter belongeth, are not such strangers one to the other, as that the one must avoid while the other is in place. But that, as loving neighbors and good friends here they meet together, they stand together, they keep time, consequence, and correspondence, the one with the other. God Himself, in Whose imperial style so oft proclaimed in the Prophets they both meet, “the Lord of Hosts,” “the Holy One of Israel;”*—God, I say, Himself in the great chapter of war, the twentieth of this book, assigneth an employment to the Priests as well as the officers of the camp, even to do that which ere-while was assayed, to animate the companies in the Lord, and the power of His might; letting them see the right of their cause, and how ready God is to receive the right under the banner and power of His protection. And from God Himself no doubt was that happy and blessed combination which in most wars of happy success we find, of a captain and a Prophet sorted together:* Joshua, with Moses a Prophet; Baruk,* with Deborah a Prophetess; Ezekias, with Esay;* Jehoshaphat, with Jahaziel; Joash, with Elisha;* and one of these doing the other no manner of hurt but good.* Joshua lifting up his hand against Amalek, Moses lifting up his hand for Joshua.* The one leading against the enemy and annoying him, the other leading against sin and annoying it; against sin, what some reckon of it it skills not, but certainly the most dangerous enemy both of private persons and of public states.

These two then, 1. “going forth with the host,” and 2. “departing from sin,” being thus linked by God, our suit is, Break not this link; God hath joined them that we should join them. And this is a needful suit. For it is one of the diseases under the sun: in war all our thoughts run upon the host, looking to the host only and nothing but the host, and letting sin run whither it will without any keeper. I know well, I both know and acknowledge that the army’s going forth is mainly to be regarded, it hath the first place in the verse, and it hath it not for nought. Joshua must choose out men first; victuals must be supplied.* And nemo militat stipendiis suis, pay must be thought of.* We must go forth with our host; they be the words of the text;* go—not sit still; and with an host, not a heap of naked or starved men. We must help, and not tempt God. To help God is a strange speech, yet said it may be seeing an Angel hath said it; “Curse ye Meroz,” saith the Angel of the Lord, “curse the inhabitants thereof.” Why? “Because they came not to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty.”* This must first be done. But when this is done all is not done, we are not at a full point, we are but in the midst of the sentence yet. As that part of the host is to be regarded, so this of sin’s restraint is not to be neglected. As that hath the first place, so must this have the second, and second the former, or we shall have but a broken sentence without it. There is not, there cannot be a more prejudicial conceit than to say in our hearts, If the first be well all is well, then sin on and spare not, it skills not greatly for the latter. Si putas in robore exercitus bella consistere, faciet te Dominus cadere coram inimicis tuis, saith the Prophet to Amaziah.* If this be our conceit, so the host be well all is well, God will teach you another lesson, saith he, which I list not english. A proof whereof we have before Gibeah. Where the whole power of Israel, 400,000 strong,* trusting in their going out so strong, fell before a few Benjamites, a small handful in comparison, and shewed plainly to all ages to come that it is but a part, it is not all, to “go forth with an host” though never so well appointed.

Let us then, as advice leadeth us, make up our period with taking a course for restraint of sin. For what sin unrestrained can work the valley of Achor may teach us,* where the inhabitants of the poor town of Ai put to flight Joshua with all his forces, and all because this second point was not well looked to.

Now this second point being within the compass of our profession, and yet having so necessary an use in war as the sentence is not perfect without it, may serve to answer the question, more usually than advisedly oft cast out, What good do these Churchmen? What use is there of them now at such times as this? Yes, there is an use of them, and that in war we see. The camp hath use of this place, and they that serve there of them that serve here. Which God shewed plainly in the first field that ever His people fought; and when He had shewed it, caused it to be recorded ad perpetuam rei memoriam—they be God’s own words—that the same course might be ever after holden in all.* Where it is thus written, and “if we believe not we shall not be established,”* that Joshua’s having the better or going to the worse depended not a little on the steadiness of Moses’ hands, and that Moses staying behind and striking never a stroke did his part toward the attaining of the victory not much less than Joshua that went forth and fought manfully. Prayer then is of use; and though we be, saith St. Paul, armed at all points from hand to foot, yet must we super omnia, “over all,” draw this, and arm even our very armor with “prayer and supplications.”*

But what availeth prayer without keeping from sin? Therefore to that armor of St. Paul’s we must add St. Peter’s too, “to arm ourselves with this mind of ceasing from sin,”* that our prayers may be effectual. Therefore Moses himself joineth not to our going forth his exercise of keeping up our hands at prayer, but this rather “of keeping our feet from sin.”* The King of Moab, Balak, when he observed what prayer had wrought in the battle of Amalek, thought to take the very like course, and sent for Balaam into his camp, to match Prophet with Prophet, and to oppose prayer unto prayer. But when all his altars and rams would do no good, Balaam knowing well there is in sin a power to defeat any prayer, he cometh to the dangerous counsel of “causing Israel to sin with the daughters of Moab,” which was found too true. For it turned to their ruin, and all their prayers would then do no good. Here then is another use. For “the chariots and horses of Elisha,”* the “weapons of our warfare,”* as the Apostle termeth them, though not carnal, if God enable them to cast down such sinful thoughts and wicked desires as exalt themselves daily, and to captivate them to the obedience of Christ, have certainly their use to second the former; and we in our turns serviceable, as by crying unto God by prayer, and drawing Him to the host Who is our chiefest and best friend, so by crying also against sin and chasing it away, which is our chiefest and worst enemy. Since then these two have this mutual use either of other, let this be our petition and withal the conclusion of this part, that we single them not or lean to either alone, but suffer them as they stand together in the verse, so in our care and regard jointly to keep time and go together. So much for them.

And now to enquire into the reason of this coupling. Why now? Why at this time in war, a giving over sin? For that indeed they be not barely joined, but so joined as one is made the antecedent, the other the consequent. One the time, and as it were the reason to infer the other. Truly Moses’ word כי will bear both, either quando or quia; “When thou goest then keep;” or “Because thou goest, therefore keep thyself from sin.” With the same word speaketh the virtuous lady to King David, quia præliaris prælia Domini, ideo non inveniatur in te iniquitas, “because thou fightest the Lord’s battles, therefore let there not any iniquity be found in thee all thy days.”*

Sin certainly at all times is to be forborne. When it is war, and not only when it is war, but when it is peace too. “Take ye heed, lest at any time,” saith Christ, “your hearts be overlaid with surfeiting, with drink,”* &c. Not allowing us any time to be wicked in. But though at all times we be to refrain sin, yet not at all times alike, saith Moses here. For it is as if he should say, Be it at other times, sin may better be borne with, it is less perilous; but “when thou goest forth with an host, then”—then, with an high accent, with an emphasis, that is then especially; then above all other times, then, if ever, it importeth you to have least to do with it. Good Lord, how cross and opposite is man’s conceit to God’s, and how contrary our thoughts unto His! For even ad oppositum to this position of His, we see for the most part that even they that are the goers forth seem to persuade themselves that then they may do what they list; that at that time any sin is lawful, that war is rather a placard than an inhibition to sin. A thing so common that it made the heathen man hold that between militia and malitia there was as little difference in sense as in sound; and the Prophet David to call Saul’s companies in his days, torrentes Belial,* “the land-floods of wickedness.” Which being well considered, we may cease to murmur or to marvel, if our going forth have not been ever with such success as we wished. God Who should give the success commanding then a restraint, and man that should need it then taking most liberty. Verily if we will learn of God, if He shall teach us, sin is never so untimely as in the time of war, never so out of season as then; for that is the time of all times we should have least to do with it. To insist then a little upon this point, because it is the main point, and to shew the vigor of this consequent.

1. From the very nature of war first, which is an act of justice, and of justice corrective, whose office is to punish sin. Now then consider and judge even in reason, what a thing this is, how great, gross, and foul an incongruity it is to pour out ourselves into sin at the very time when we go forth to correct sin; to set forth to punish rebels, when we ourselves are in rebellion against God, His Word, and Spirit. Which, what is it but “to cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub?”* Sure our hearts must needs strike us in the midst of our sin, and tell us we are in a great and grievous prevarication, allowing that in ourselves that we go to condemn and to stone to death in others. Therefore, since to go to war is to go to punish sin, certainly the time of punishing sin is not a time to sin in.

2. Secondly, from war in respect of God I know not what we reckon of war; peace is His blessing we are sure, and a special favor it is from Him as the Prophets account it, for a land to spend more iron in scythes and plough-shares than in sword-blades or spear-heads.* And if peace be a blessing and a chief of His blessings, we may reduce from thence what war is. To make no otherwise of it than it is, “the rod of God’s wrath,” as Esay termeth it; His “iron flail,”* as Amos; “the hammer of the earth,”* as Jeremy, whereby He dasheth two nations together—one of them must in pieces,* both the worse for it. War is no matter of sport. Indeed I see Abner esteem of it as of a sport: “let the young men rise,” saith he to Joab, “and shew us some sport.”* But I see the same Abner before the end of the same chapter weary of his sport, and treating with Joab for an end of it; “How long shall the sword devour,”* saith he, “shall it not be bitterness in the end?” So it may be “sport” in the beginning; it will be “bitterness in the end,” if it hold long. War then being God’s rod, His fearful rod, and that so fearful that King David though a warrior too, when both were in his choice, preferred the plague before it and desired it of the twain; when God’s hand with this rod, this His fearful rod, is over us, to be so far from fear and all due regard as then not to shun sin any whit the more, but to fall to it as fast as ever; it cannot be but a high contempt, yea a kind of defiance and despite then to do it: “Do we provoke the Lord to anger, are we stronger than He?”* Then since war is God’s rod, choose some other time; under the rod sin not, then forbear it. Certainly that time is no time to sin.

3. The rather, for that sin it is and the not keeping from sin, but our keeping to it and with it, that hath made this rod and put it into His hand. For sure it is, that for the transgression of a people, God suffereth these “divisions of Reuben”* within; God stirreth up the spirit of Princes abroad to take peace from the earth, thereby to chasten men by paring the growth of their wealth with this His “hired razor;”* by wasting their strong men, the hand of the enemies eating them up; by making widows and fatherless children, by other like consequents of war. If then our sins common unto us with other nations, and that our unthankfulness peculiar to us alone have brought all this upon us; if this enemy have stirred up these enemies, if war be the sickness and sin the surfeit, should we not at least-wise now while the shivering fit of our sins is upon us, diet ourselves a little and keep some order? But1 “drink iniquity as water,” and distemper ourselves as though we were in perfect state of health?* Shall we make our disease desperate, and hasten our ruin by not containing from sin that hath cast us in it? Know we what time this is? Is this a time of sin? Certainly, we cannot devise a worse. In the time of war it is high time to “keep us from sin.”

4. But above all, which will touch us nearest, and therefore again and again must be told us over, that the safe and speedy coming again of them that now go forth, whose prosperity we are to seek with all our possible endeavors—that their good speed dependeth upon God’s going forth with them; and God’s going or staying dependeth very much upon this point. Most certain it is the event of war is most uncertain. When Benhadad went forth with an army that “the dust of Samaria was not enough to give every one in his camp a handful,” it was told him and he found it true, Ne glorietur accinctus, &c. “He that buckleth on his armor must not boast as he that puts it off.”* They that fight can hardly set down what name the place shall have that they fight in; it may be the valley of Achor, that is “sorrow,”* by reason of a foil, as that of Joshua; it may be the valley of Berachah, that is “blessing,” by means of a victory, as that of Jehoshaphat.* All is as God is, and as He will have it. Once, twice, and thrice, by David, by Solomon, by Jehoshaphat, we are told it that “it is neither sword nor bow,”* “it is neither chariot nor horse,”* “it is neither multitude nor valor of an host will serve;”* “but that the battle is God’s,” and He giveth the upper hand.* We need not be persuaded of this, we all are persuaded I hope, and we say with Moses, “If Thy Presence go not with us, carry us not hence.”* Then if we shall need God’s favor and help in prospering our journey, and to make that sure which is so uncertain, it will stand us in hand to make sure of Him in this, this needful time, and to keep Him sure if it may be. For if He keep with the host, and take their parts, Rebelles tui erunt quasi nihil, saith Esay; and “these smoking tails of firebrands”* shall quickly be quenched.* But if God either go not with them, or retire from them, if there were among them but naked or wounded men—what speak I of men? if but frogs or flies—they shall be sufficient to trouble them.

Now then we are at the point. For if we will have hold of God, make Him sure, be certain of Him, we must break with sin needs. Sin and Satan are His enemies, and no fellowship nor communion, no concord, no agreement, no part,* no portion between them. If we will draw Him into league, we must profess ourselves enemies unto His enemies, that He may do the like to ours. At one and the same time enter as an outward war with wicked rebels, so an inward hostility with our wicked rebellious lusts. For that if we keep ourselves from the one, He will keep us from the other, and these being suppressed those shall not be able to stand. Thus doing, “the sword of the Lord shall be with the sword of Gideon:”* God shall be with us, Ithiel; and we shall prevail, Ucal.* For where Ithiel is, Ucal will not be away. But if we will needs hold on our league with hell, and continue our wonted intercourse with wickedness still, and go forth unto it when it beckons or calls, and be so far from keeping from it that we keep it as the apple of our eye, and cherish it between our breasts; if we retain the mark of it in our very foreheads, and the price of it in the skirts of our garment; for not keeping from it He will keep from us, and withdraw His help from us, and put us clean out of His protection.

Therefore, without keeping from sin there is no keeping God, out of Whose keeping there is no safety.

This advice being so full of behoof, so agreeable to reason and religion both, so every way for their and for our good, it remaineth we set ourselves to think of it and keep it. “Every one returning to his own heart, to know there,” as Solomon saith, “his own plague,”* even the sins wherewith he hath grieved God, and to make a covenant with himself, from henceforth more carefully to stand upon his guard, and not to go forth to sin or entertain it as a friend, but to repute it as an enemy and to keep him from it.

First, for the term of keeping. “When thou goest forth against thy enemy,” go forth against sin. We should indeed go forth against sin, and practice those military impressions that are done in camp against the enemy; give it the assault, annoy it, pursue it, never leave it till we have driven it away. These we should do against it. But the Scripture “offereth more grace;”* and bids us, if we list not go forth against it, only not to go forth to it, but keep ourselves, that is, stand upon our defence, to keep good watch, that it surprise us not, that it “get not dominion over us:” do but this against sin,* and it shall suffice.

But this must extend to all wickedness. Wherein yet we do humanum dicere propter infirmitatem nostram, “speak after the manner of men because of our infirmity;”* retching this all no further than human infirmity, than the frailty of our nature will bear, than this corruptible flesh wherewith we are compassed, and this corrupt world in the midst whereof we live, will suffer and give us leave. In the body, we put a difference between the soil which by insensible evacuations goeth from our bodies, keep we ourselves never so carefully, and that which is drawn forth by chafing or sweat, or otherwise gotten by touching such things wherewith we may be defiled. That cannot be refrained, this falleth within restraint. And even so, there is a soil of sin that of itself vapoureth from our nature, let the best do his best. I say not, we should keep ourselves from this, but from provoking it by suffering our minds to wander in it; by not keeping our ears from such company, and our eyes from such occasions, as will procure it, as the Prophet speaketh, “by putting the stumbling-block of iniquity before our faces.” From that by the help of God we may keep ourselves well enough.* From sins lighting upon our thoughts it is impossible, it cannot be; but from making there a nest or hatching ought, that we are willed to look to, and that by God’s grace we may. And the word that Moses useth here דבר רע is not without a dixit at least in corde; not without a saying within us, This or that I will do. It must be dictum, or condictum, ‘said to,’ and ‘said yea to,’ or else it is not דבר רע. The heart not resolving or saying content, but keeping itself from going forth to any act; though wickedness be not kept from us because of the temptation, yet we are kept from it because of the repulse; and with that will Moses be content at our hands as our estate now is.

But with these provisos. We say generally, They that go forth keep from all; from all such both deeds and words as justly may be censured to be wickedly, either spoken or done. Words, I say, as well as deeds. For the word דבר bears both. And indeed, if in good words as in prayers there be force to help, I make no question but in wicked words, as blasphemies, irreligious sayings, jocis fulmine dignis, there is force also to do mischief. Therefore keep from all; all those especially, as very reason will lead us, which have been the ruin of armies in former times; a view whereof we may take when we will out of Liber bellorum Domini, “the Book of God’s battles.”*

Wicked words first. Presumptuous terms of trust in our own strength; “I will go, I will pursue and overtake, I will divide the spoil”—Pharaoh’s words,* the cause of his perishing and all his host. To keep them from that. Rabshakeh’s blackmouthed blasphemy; “Let not Hezekiah cause you to trust in God over much”*—the eminent cause of the overthrow of the host of Ashur. To keep them from that.

And if from words, from wicked works much rather. Achan’s sin, that is sacrilege; Anathema in medio tui, non poteris stare coram hostibus tuis, God’s own words to Joshua,*—the cause of the army’s miscarrying before Ai. To keep them from that wickedness. Such shameful abuses as was that at Gibeah;*—the expressed cause of the destruction of a whole tribe. To keep them from that. Profaning holy vessels or holy places with unholy usage;*—the ruin of Belshazzar, and with him of the whole Chaldean monarchy. To keep themselves from that. Corrupting our compassion, and “casting off pity quite,” and spilling blood like water;*—the sin of Edom, and the cause he took such a foil as he was never a people since. To keep them from that wickedness. From these and from the rest, you shall have a time to read them, I have not to speak them. Arming themselves with a mind to cease from sin, keeping their vessels holy; having pay wherewith they may be content, and being content with their pay; et neminem concutientes, saith St. John Baptist;* not being torrentes Belial, “land-floods of wickedness.”* Or if this will not be that private conformity will not keep them, at least that public authority do it; that kept they may be one way or other from it. If Achan will so far forget himself as “to sin in the execrable thing;” or Zimri to play the wretch,* and abuse himself in the camp; let Joshua find out Achan, and see him have his due; and Phinehas follow Zimri, and reward him for his desert. That the ravine of the one, and the villany of the other be removed as it is committed, and so kept from polluting and pulling down God’s wrath upon the whole host. For sure it is, “Phinehas’* standing up and executing judgment” hath the force of a prayer no less than Moses’ “standing in the gap” to make intercession,* and both alike forcible to turn away God’s anger and to remove evil from the midst of Israel.

This advice is to take place as in them that go, as before hath been touched, so in us likewise that stay at home; that what the one build the other destroy not. Not by Moses’ exercise of prayer and incessant prayer,* or Jehoshaphat’s exercise of fasting and abstinence; both are out of the compass of the text; but that which is in it, by turning from sin to God, and that with a serious not shallow, and an inward not hollow repentance. Not confessing our sins to-day and committing them to-morrow; but every one saying, Dixi custodiam, “I have said, I will henceforth more narrowly look to my ways,”* at least while the sound of war is in our ears. Thinking with ourselves it is now war, it is now no time to offend God, and separate between Him and us in this needful time of His help and protection, by entering into that good and virtuous consideration of Uriah’s; “The Ark of the Lord and all Israel and Judah dwell in tents,* Joab and the servants of our sovereign abide in the open fields,” and shall we permit ourselves as much as we would in the time of peace, and not conform ourselves in abridging some part of our wonted liberty, and forbearing to enjoy the “pleasures of sin for a season?”* To conclude, if we shall, or when we shall be tempted to any of our former sins, to think upon God’s own counsel, even God’s own counsel from God’s own mouth, memento belli et ne feceris,* ‘to remember the camp and not to do it;’ to think upon them in the fields and their danger, and for their sakes and for their safeties to forbear it.

Thus, if we shall endeavor ourselves and eschew our own wickedness, our hosts shall go forth in the strength of the Lord, and the Lord shall go with them and order their attempts to an happy issue.

He that made our foreign enemies “like a wheel”* to go round about us, and not to come near us, shall make these “as stubble before the wind;” causing fear and faintness of heart to fall upon them as upon Midian; sending “an evil spirit”* of dissension among them,* as upon Abimelech and the men of Shechem; causing their own woods to devour them, as rebellious Absalom;* and their own waters to sweep them away, as it did Sisera; yea, “the stars of Heaven, in their course to fight against them,”* as under Deborah’s conduct He did. Many such things are with Him, many such He hath done and can do again, if to our going forth we join a going from sin.

Even so Lord, so let it be. Those whom thou now carriest forth by Thy mercy, bring them back by Thy might in this place, the place of Thy holy habitation. That Deborah may praise Thee for the avenging of Israel,* and for the people that offer themselves so willingly;” for letting her ear hear,* and her eye see the fall of the wicked that rise up against her; that she may praise Thee, and say, “The Lord liveth,* and blessed be my strong help, and praised be the God of my salvation.”

“Even the God that seeth I be avenged, and subdueth the people unto me. It is He that delivereth me from my cruel enemies, and setteth me up above all my adversaries.”*

Great prosperity giveth He unto His hand-maid, “and sheweth still and continually His loving-kindness to His anointed.”* Praised be the Lord for evermore!

To this God, “glorious in holiness, fearful in power, doing wonders,”* the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, &c.[1]

 

 

1 shall we

* Ps. 106:30.

[1] Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 321–337). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

 

A Cross and Crooked Generation

A Cross and Crooked Generation

A Cross and Crooked Generation

Psalm 78:34

When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned, and enquired early after God.

This Psalm is a calendar or roll of reports, how from Moses to David the Jews carried themselves to God in matter of religion. And this verse a report how in the matter of repentance, expressed here under the terms of seeking and turning to God. Wherein this they did, this was their fashion: while He spared them, they sought Him not; “When He slew them, then they sought Him.” Cum, &c. These words then are a report.

A report; but such an one as when St. Paul heard of the Corinthians, he could not commend it. “What shall I say? Shall I praise you in this? No; I praise you not.”* Neither he them for that, nor I these for this. Rather, as old father Eli said to his sons;* Non est bonus sermo hic quem audio de vobis, “this is no good report I hear,” cum occideret, &c.

Whether good or whether evil it pertaineth to us. For to us of the Gentiles hath St. Paul entailed whatsoever well or ill befell the dissolved Church of the Jews. These, “all these came unto them for examples, and are enrolled to warn us that grow nearer and nearer to the ends of the world.”*

Both pertain unto us, the Scripture hath both; and in it draweth out our duty to us in both, in good and evil reports—as it were in white work and black work. And we to have use of both; yet not of both reports alike, but diversely, as our instructions upon them are diverse. For we are not so much to regard the bare report, as the instruction of it. For which cause Asaph hath entitled this Psalm, not Asaph’s report, but Asaph’s “instruction.”

Now we have here our report. May we find what our instruction is touching it? We may. Asaph expressly hath set it down in the eighth verse before. That this and other errors of theirs are here upon the file, ne fiant sicut patres eorum,* “that we should not be like our forefathers, a cross and crooked generation.” Not like them in other indignities, and among other in this cum occideret, &c. Never to seek God but when He kills us.

In which foul indignity our age is certainly as deep as ever was that, and we need Asaph’s instruction no less than they.

For as if there were no use of religion, but only cum occideret, so spend we all our whole time in the search of other things. Not caring to ask, or seek, or confer about the state of our souls, even till occideret come. And then, peradventure, sending for Asaph, and hearing him speak a few words about it, which we would fain have called seeking of God. I can say little to it, I pray God it prove so; but sure, I fear, it will be found minus habens, “far short of it.”*

Which is so usually received that, take a survey, not one of an hundred ever think of it before. So securely practised, as if we had some supersedeas lying by us, not to do it till then. As if there were no such Scripture as this upon record; “which turned to their destruction,” and must needs lie heavy upon us, when we shall remember it. Cum occideret, &c.

Now sure, this course must needs be prejudicial to our souls, and a number perish in it daily before our eyes. Yet we sit still, and suffer this custom to grow and gather head. Neither delivering their souls, or at least our own, by telling them seriously this is not the time, and then to seek is not the seeking God will allow. That this is a ne fiant, “such a thing as should not be done in Israel.” That it is upon record πρὸς ἐντροπὴν, to their disgrace and destruction. And it cannot be to our comfort or commendation to do the like. Out of which their destruction, Asaph frameth an instruction for us; and as it is well said and fitly to this day, ex cinere Judæorum lixivium Christianorum, ‘of the Jews’ ashes maketh a lye1 for Christians,’ to cleanse us from this foul indignity. Ut videntes cadentes, videant ne cadant, ‘that heeding their fall, we take heed we fall not;’ that is, seek not as they sought, lest we perish by like example of seeking too late.

Therefore, that we set ourselves to seek before this cum come; that is, in a word, seek God, as by repentance and the fruits, so by undelayed repentance, and the timely fruits of it; and be not like the Apostle Jude’s δένδρα φθινοπωρινὰ, our seeking all summer withered and dry,* and beginning to shoot out a little about Michaelmas spring. Of which kind of shooting fruit can never come. This is the sum.

The words consist of two parts. Two parts; but these two evil matched, or as St. Paul “unequally yoked together.”* For where our chief actions, of which I take it our seeking of God is one, should have the chiefest time; here is the first and best of our actions sorted with the last and worst part of our time. Quærebant Eum with cum occideret.

And not only missorted, but misplaced. For cum occideret, “His killing” standeth before “our seeking;” whereas our seeking should be first, and His killing come after. This was never God’s fiant, they must have a ne fiant.

Of these two then. First by way of report jointly that de facto thus it is—thus they, and thus we seek.

Then if we take them in sunder, and as Jeremy saith “separate the precious from the vile,”* quærebant Eum the flower of our actions, from cum occideret, the dross, dregs, and very refuse of our time. Consider them apart, and shew, 1. That this time is not the time; 2. and that this seeking thus sorted and thus placed is no seeking, nor ever shall find. Therefore, with Asaph’s instruction, to settle our seeking upon some other time, and to resolve to begin it before.

Two powers there are in cum; 1. a privative, of all times before; 2. a positive, of that instant time then. No time before we seek, at that instant time then we do. On which two consisteth theatrum vitæ, ‘the very theatre of our life.’ Our case before that time is lively expressed in the words immediately precedent; “They spend their days in vanity, and their years in turmoil in the world.”* Our case then at that time in these words, cum occideret eos. Yea, by implication they are both in this verse; by what they do now is implied what they did before. 1. Now “they sought Him,” so that before they lost Him. 2. Again, then “they turned to;” so that before they turned away, and not once looked toward Him. 3. Now “they rose up early,” so that before they put it off till twilight. 4. Now “they remembered,” so that before they forgat Him clean—no speech, no question, nay no thought about Him.

Thus it was, saith Asaph, under Moses. While His hand was not upon them, they regarded Him not, as not worth the seeking; perdebant Eum, it was their losing time. But “when He slew them,” they fell to seek, and well was he that might find; quærebant Eum, is was their seeking time.

Before, quærebant alia, ‘they found themselves other matters more meet to seek.’ Then quærebant Eum, “they gave over all to seek Him only.”

Before He sought them; and they gave Him good leave so to do. Then all is turned out and in. As He them before, so they Him now.

And is it not thus with us that are now in theatro, ‘upon the stage?’ Yes indeed; and more, if more may be. This is but vetus fabula per novos histriones, ‘the same play again by other actors.’ For in public, when in the days of safety plenty and peace, we are in the sixth of Amos,* and are best at ease when quærebant is farthest from us; but if war, famine, or contagion come, then we run to the second of Joel, “Sanctify a fast,”* and call for the Ark, and grow all godly on a sudden. What is this but cum occideret? And in private, when while youth and strength and health doth last, while the evil day is far off, we are even at cessare fac Sanctum Israel a nobis, “cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from us;”* but when distress, danger, or death come, when Rabshakeh is before the walls, then we cry, “Now is the day of tribulation and anguish; now the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to be delivered.”* Now send to Esay, “Now lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.” What is this but cum occideret? Surely this is our case; our seeking goeth wholly by our killing—waxeth and waneth, is out and in, as that is near at hand or farther off. I need not tell it, your ears and eyes are daily witnesses that this is a true saying, cum occideret Eos, &c. No killing, no seeking.

“This is a true saying,” but all true sayings are not by all means, nay some not by any means, “to be received.” The report indeed is, thus it was. But the instruction is ne fiant,* “that it should not be.” To the end then we may know what to receive and what to refuse, we will take it in pieces, and melt the dross from the silver metal. Quærebant Eum, by itself is good. Put occideret to it, it is base. Of these then in order.

Of quærebant Eum we shall soon agree, if it be quærebant Eum, that it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done.’ Which many other ways might be made to appear, but by none better than this here; that at last all come to it. Sooner or later all seek it, all men if not before yet cum occideret, then certainly.

All seek; and among all “they” sought, which word is not without his weight here. For what are these that Asaph here meaneth by “they?” Not saints, not generatio quærentium, “the generation of them that seek God.” But “they”* that in the verse before “wasted all their days in vanity, and their years in turmoiling in the world.” “They,”* idle, riotous persons—“they” sought.

“They” that in a verse after “flattered Him with their lips,” and gave Him all the good words that might be,* and meant no such thing. The hypocrites, “they” sought.

“They” that a little before “grievously provoked the Most High God” with speeches little better than blasphemy; “can God do this? Is there a God amongst us,”* or is there none? And so, instead of quærebant Deum, quærebant an Deus, ‘made a question, whether there were any to seek.’ That is, even the very wicked, and of all wicked the worst, the profane atheists, “they” sought—even at last “they” sought. This is the triumph of religion; the riotous person, the hypocrite, the atheist, all shall seek.

And herein is folly condemned even of her own children, and wisdom justified of her very enemies; that they that greedily seek sin, at last would be glad to be rid of it, and they that merrily scorn religion at last are glad to seek to it.

“They” shall seek; and the time is set down when they shall seek, and when you shall not fail but see them seek that never sought before. In diebus juventutis, not then. Sanus factus est, nor then neither; but cum occideret, then certainly. Cum occideret, mark this cum when it cometh, and you shall see them that stood out all their life long then come in.

The heathen man saw it with his eyes. O, saith the Persian messenger in Æschylus, when the Grecian forces hotly pursued our host, and we must needs venture over the great water Strymon, frozen then but beginning to thaw, when an hundred to one we had all died for it—that is, cum occideret, with mine eyes I saw saith he,* when Θεοὺς δέ τις, &c. Of those gallants whom I had heard before so boldly maintain there was no God to seek; τότʼ ἤυχετο λιταῖσι, ‘then every one of them on their knees, and full devoutly praying the ice might hold till they got over.’ Moses saw it with his eyes. Pharaoh,* who was at high terms, “Who is the Lord you talk of?” and answered himself, “he knew none such,” nor nothing would do for Him:—when cum occideret came, he took notice there was a Lord higher than he; “that that Lord was righteous, and he a wretched sinner”* that sought for grace at His hands. Mark but the shutting up of dixit insipiens, their own Psalm. When,* saith David, they have in heart sought to persuade themselves, non est—seek none, “none there is;”* and thereupon “corrupted themselves,” and became most loathsome in their lives, “eat up their tenants as they would do so many morsels of bread;” made a mock of such holy men as set themselves seriously to seek God: when all is done and occideret come, trepidabunt timore ubi non erat timor, “they shall begin to be afraid, where they held before no fear needed;” and here shall be the last verse of their Psalm; quis dabit e Sion salutem, “to wish for the salvation of Sion,” which they have so oft derided. “They shall seek,” and “then they shall seek.” Till then possibly you shall lose your labour, if you tell them of seeking of God, but and how good it is. They are, saith Jeremy, “like the dromedary of the wilderness,”* a beast of exceeding swiftness, the female specially; “over hill and dale she goeth,” saith the Prophet, “and snuffeth up the air at her pleasure, and who can overtake her? They that seek her will not weary themselves till her month.” And in her month when she is bagged, then they will find her, and deal with her well enough. The case is like. Age, sickness, death, are far off; youth, health, and strength, possess them; there is no coming to them then. The month, cum occideret, is not yet come; but come that once as once it will to all, you shall find quærebant will have his place—fiat. It is therefore God’s own resolution, thus He resolveth: “I will go,” saith He, “and return to My place, till they acknowledge their faults and seek Me.”* And when will that be? He addeth, in novissimo quærent me diligenter, an end will come, and when that cometh “they will seek Me diligently,” even the best of them. And even so we are fain to resolve; for our lot is God’s lot, and when He sought to them, we go to our place, and there stand till their month, expectantes aquæ motum,* waiting till the destroying Angel come and stir the water, and then quærent Eum will be worth the seeking after.

Then, according to St. Paul’s disjunctive,* we that all other times mente excedimus Dco, at that time sobrii sumus vobis. Divinity, which in our ruff1 is sophism and school-points, and at the best a kind of ecstasy about God, is and shall be then, “the words of truth and soberness.”* For God and His seeking will have their time; before if it may be, but if not before, then at the farthest. First or last, all shall confess by seeking God is to be sought. Some before He kill, and happy are they; but “when He killeth,” all;—hypocrites, heathens, atheists, and all.

And I would pray you in a word but to note, in seeking then how many things they confess. For there be I take it four potential confessions in it.

That such an One there is to be sought. A Power above us Whose being and sovereignty all, first or last, shall seek.

That somewhat there is to be found, some good to be done in seeking; as Esay saith, non frustra dixit, “He hath not in vain said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me.”* For were it to no purpose, they would not then do it; but as at other times they did, so let it alone then too.

That whatsoever that good is, hit upon it,* or stumble on it we shall not; it will not be had in parergo, but seek it we must. For without seeking it will not be had. If it would they might sit still, and let it drop into their laps.

That seeking at this time when He slayeth them, they that shew what that good is they seek; even that the Psalmist saith, “Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live;”* that whatsoever become of their body, at least their soul may live; that we may lose not both, that “He kill not both, and cast not both into hell fire.”* And this, even when we come within the hemisphere of the other life, the sense we then have of somewhat that should have been sought before; the misgiving of our hearts, they shall come to a reckoning for not seeking sooner; and this, that not one of us would die suddenly of our good-wills, but have a time to seek God, before we lose ourselves. This, that we desire to die seeking, howsoever we live; all shew certainly it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done,’ a good thing to seek God, even the enemies of it being judges of it.

So then; quærebant Eum is as it should be. But I add: 1. If it be quærebant, seeking indeed. 2. And if it be quærebant Eum, and not aliud in Eo, seeking, not Him, but somewhat else by Him.

If it be seeking indeed. For they to whom the Prophet Esay said, Si quæritis quærite, “if ye seek, why then do it,” sought so as it seemeth their seeking deserved not the name of seeking. So loosely, so slightly, so slenderly they did it;* as if that they sought were as good lost as found. So sought the party that said, In lectulo quæsivi Quem diligit anima,* that lay in bed and sought. So he that asked our Saviour Quid est veritas? a very good question; and when he had asked it another thing took him in the head and up he rose and went his way before Christ could tell him what it was. Such is our seeking for the most part. Some idle question cast, some table-talk moved, some Quid est veritas,* and go our way—all by the way, in transcursu; and never, as if it were about some matter of special moment, set about it and seek it out indeed.

1. They turned them, saith the text, as if before they sought without so much as turning them about.

2. They rose up, as though before they sat still and sought.

3. They did it early, and did not tarry till cum occideret, the sun were set, and no light to seek by, but their “feet stumbled in the dark mountains.”*

4. They “enquired;” so that before if you had ought to say to them you might, they had nothing to say to you. To seek then is to turn, to rise, to rise early, to enquire after it. O si quæritis, quærite, saith Esay, “the morning cometh, and so doth the night;”* that is, our days spend apace, and we say we will seek; if we will seek, let us once do it indeed.

Secondly, if it be quærebant, and if it be Eum; another point to be rectified. Non vestra sed vos, saith the Apostle, is the right seeking.* Not seek Him for somewhat we would have of Him, but to seek Himself for Himself. It is one thing, say the schools, to seek God for fruition; another to seek Him to make use of Him. One thing, saith Christ,* to seek for the miracle, another for the loaves.* One thing to “seek His face,” another to seek His fingers’ ends. One thing to consult with Him only for conscience, to know and do; another to consult with Him—if it hit our humour to make our advantage of it, if it go against us to set light by it. Such is our seeking for the most part; cum occideret, to have our turn served, to have our health restored, that we may seek Him no longer, but to our former riot again, “and to-morrow may be as yesterday and much more.”*

Seek Him indeed; seek Him for Himself. These two points being agreed of, we shall throughly agree of quærebant Eum. And so much for it, and for our fiat. Now to our ne fiat.

For when we have agreed of our seeking, we have not done. With diligence it would be, and due respect. Our seeking, as all things, the best things under the sun, must have τὴν ὥραν καὶ τὴν χώραν, ‘their due time and place.’* Wherein appeareth the abating power of circumstances,* that they are able to bring down the substances. Namely, of the time; and that mis-timing marreth not only music, but all things else. The thing is right, the cum is wrong, and so all is wrong.

To find out the time, we agree first that as every weighty thing hath, so the seeking of God is to be allowed a time too.

What time is that? Verily, we should do it absolutely, all our life long; quærite faciem Ejus semper. Not when? but when not? without limitation, continually.*

And in this sense we grant cum occideret; then, and at other times too. But not (as Asaph) then, and never till then; so, we deny it.

God indeed is so to be sought, but we cannot so seek Him; other our affairs crave allowance out of our time, and we are well content to yield it largely. Only that God have a set time left when to seek Him. That is but reason; all will yield to it. All grant a cum.

But come to know when that “when” shall be; here we vary first. We cannot be brought to set down any certainty, but love to be left at large. Do it we will, but indeed we cannot shew when; but even Felix his “when,”* ὅταν εὐκαιρήσω, ‘when we have leisure.’ I cannot now stand to seek, saith he; I hope one day to be at leisure to do it, but that day never came.

Urge them, press them “when?” No other resolution but omnis peccator dicit, aliquando Deum sequar sed non modo; ‘sometime still, but not this time.’ Never in the present, but sometime hereafter.

Follow them all along their life, they find not this cum, but put it from one cum to another, till there be none left but only cum occideret, even that very time against which God layeth His exceptions. Every time before we say, nondum tempus, ‘it is not time yet;’ every hour before, nondum venit hora, ‘the hour is not yet come.’

Not to leave God’s seeking thus at random, but to grow to some certainty. I demand, will any time serve? Is God at all times to be found? It is certain not. The very limitation of dum inveniri potest,* sheweth plainly that other times there be wherein seek Him you may, but find Him you shall not.

Then if at all times He is not to be found, we are to make choice of a certain cum, cum inveniri potest, “when He may be found,” and then seek Him.

Many returns there be in the term of our life, many cums; all are reduced to two: 1. cum servaret, and 2. cum occideret. Or if we will needs be wedded to a cum occideret, 1. Cum occideret hostes eorum, 2. not eos; ‘when He scattereth and slayeth our enemies’ and saveth us. One of these two it must needs be.

Cum occideret, it is not. Christ Himself expressly limiteth it before; Dedi ei tempus ad pænitendum, saith He, “I gave her a time to repent.”* What time is that? Lest we might mistake it to be cum occideret, He adds, if we do it not in that time so by Him given, He will “cast us down on our beds,” the beds of affliction and sickness, and there “kill us with death.” So that the time He alloweth us to repent, is before we come thither. For thither we come because we did it not in the time He gave us to do it in. Indeed our bed is not the place: in lectulo quæsivi, “I sought Him in my bed;” quæsivi sed non inveni, “I sought Him but I found Him not.”* The place of slaughter is not the place, nor the time of killing is not the time. We may take that time, but it is not dedi illis, none of “His giving.” The time He giveth us is before we come there.

Then if when He kills us is not it, when He saveth us it is? It is indeed; and a cluster of it, an hour of cum servaret then is better than a vintage, a whole day of cum occideret.

Upon these two the whole Psalm standeth, and the part before sheweth when it should have been. When “He overwhelmed the Egyptians in the sea,”* when “the pillar of the cloud was over,”* when He not only saved them but served them, “raining down manna”* for their need, and giving them quails for their lust;* then was the time with them and then is the time with us.

For sure as we seek God to save us, so He saveth us to seek Him; if when we seek Him we are saved, when we are saved we should seek Him. The time of His saving is the time of our seeking; and one hour then is better than four and twenty.

All that while what seek we? Why, as Jeremy saith,* we do then quærere grandia. Other greater matters we have in hand, matters of more weight than the seeking of God. As if His seeking were some petty business, slightly to be sought, and lightly to be found. Any time good enough for it.

Nay not that, but so evil are we affected to seek Him then, that quærebant is occideret; we indict Him of our death, it is death to do it—as lieve die as seek; it maketh us old, it killeth us before our time. We digest not them that call on us for it, but seek ourselves, as the Apostle speaketh,* Magistros secundum desideria, that may entertain us with speculations of what may be done by miracle at the hour of death; that may give us days and elbow-room enough to seek other things, and to shrink up His seeking into a narrow time at our end, and tell us time enough then. For thus then we reckon; all the time we spend in it we lose the fruit of our life, and the joy of our hearts shall be taken from us. As if the fruit of life were not to find God, or as if any true hearts’ joy God being not found. Call we this our fruit and joy not to seek God? call it not so; lætetur cor quærentium Deum, saith the Holy Ghost, “let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.”* Yea in lachrymis peccatorum, ‘in the very tears of a penitent,’* there is, saith St. Augustine, more sound joy than in risu theatrorum, ‘in all the games the theatre can afford:’ Da Christianum, et scit quid dico. But our taste is turned, and we relish not this seeking. By our flesh-pots we have lived, and by them we will die, and so we do. Lust hath been our life, and we will be buried in the graves of lust; and so we shall, and never know what that joy meaneth, Lætetur cor quærentium Deum.

Cum servaret then will not serve. Nay, cum occideret will scarce serve, it hath much ado; let Him draw His sword and come amongst us. For if, as of His goodness He doth not, He rush not on us at first, but begin with others; if it be cum occideret alios, we seek not. See ye the thirty-first verse: He took away others before their faces, and those not weak or sickly persons, but the goodliest and strongest of all Israel, and least likely to die. Here is occideret. Now did this move? No. See the thirty-second verse: for at this they “sinned yet more,” and went about their seeking never the sooner. It must be cum occideret eos, “themselves,” their own selves, or it will not do it.

Come then to themselves and smite them with the edge, not with the point; with the edge to wound, not with the point to dispatch outright; will that serve? cum cæderet eos, ‘when He wounded them with some mortal sickness the messenger of death, would they seek Him then?’ No: not then, not for all that would they frame to it. For quærebant medicum then, I say, as Asa sought medicos, et non Deum.* Not God and them, but them first; and let God stay till they be gone. And till they give us over, and tell us plainly occideret is now come indeed, no smiting or wounding will send us to seek. So that it is not either 1. cum servaret eos, or 2. cum serviret eis, His saving, or serving us; nay it is not, 3. cum occideret alios, or 4. cum cæderet, ‘His killing others, or wounding us’ with any but our deaths-wound, will do it.

Tandem then, when we are come to the very last cast, our strength is gone, our spirit clean spent, our senses appalled, and the powers of our soul as numb as our senses, when a general prostration of all our powers, and the shadow of death upon our eyes, then something we would say or do which should stand for our seeking; but, I doubt it will not serve. This is the time we allow God to seek Him in.

Is this it? Would we then seek Him when we are not in case to seek any thing else? Would we turn to Him then when we are not able to turn ourselves in our bed? Or, “rise early to seek Him” when we are not able to rise at all? Or “enquire after Him” when our breath faileth us, and we are not able to speak three words together? Neither before, nor with, but even at the end of occideret? No hour but the hour of death?* No time but when He taketh time from us and us from it, et tempus non erit amplius? What shall I say? Shall I commend this seeking, turning, rising, enquiring? No; I cannot commend it either in itself or to any. I commend it not.

That that may be said is this, and it is nothing: true; some one or two of a thousand and ten thousand that have. How then? Shall we not therefore follow our instruction and seek Him before? Nay then,* “some have found and never sought;”—let us not seek Him at all if that will hold. Thus it is: some going a journey have found a purse by the way—it were mad counsel to advise us to leave our money behind upon hope of like hap in ours. No; this is safe and good; though some one or two have found and not sought, yet let us seek for all that. Though some one or two have then sought and found, yet let us seek before. Though some have found a purse in their way, let us not trust to like hap, but carry money with us. This is a privy-door on special favour open to some few. There lieth no way by them. “This is the way,” you have heard, “walk in it and you shall find rest to your souls.”*

To speak then of safe seeking and sure finding, I say, as Asaph saith, it is a ne fiant. This time is not the time Christ giveth us; He assigneth us another. Yea we condemn ourselves in that we would seek to allow it ourselves. If we were put to it to say plainly, “not till He kill me,” it would choke us. We neither have heart nor face, we would not dare to answer so, we dare not avow it. And if it be a ne dicant it is a ne fiant. The time of God’s quærite is primum quærite.* This cum is the last of all our cums; all other before it. First and last are flat ad oppositum. This is not it.

The time of seeking God must be δεκτὸς, such as is meet to be received. This is not: therefore, I hope, we will not offer it God.* If we do, take heed He scorn not this time as He doth their price in Zachary; “A goodly time1 that I have assigned Me.”* Take heed He stand not upon His reputation, as in Malachi, and bid us “offer our service”* at this hour, “to any great man and see, whether he will be content with it,” and not reject both us and our seeking then. This is not, cannot be but a great ne fiant, to offer God that no man is so mean but would take in evil part.

This time is the time when all hypocrites, atheists, tag and rag, come in and seek Him in a sort; and shall not we be confounded to see ourselves in their number? Nay to say that must be said for true it is, It is past the Devil’s time. They be his words, cur ante tempus?* and he seeketh to make them ours, that it is ever too soon to seek God. At the hardest I trust we will not keep time with him.

And to seek Him then is not to seek Him; not quærebant Eum. No; they seek Him not, they “dissemble with Him,” saith Asaph, in the next verse. For when God to try them reprieved them never so little time, they fell to their old bias;* and when as He ceased killing, their seeking was at an end. So are all forced seekings, like to a bow-string brought to his full bent, but remit you never so little it starteth back again.

Nay it is not quærebant, no kindly seeking, but a base ignoble creeping to, without all ingenuity1, when we must either die or do it. Neither χάρις nor κλέος to do it then.

But in very deed it is no “seeking”* at all, as before we defined quærebant to “seek indeed.” There is a diameter between occideret and quærebant, and therefore between it and quærebant Eum. Men cannot then seek; if they must rise up and turn them that must do it, they are not able for their lives to turn or stir themselves to do it. Nay, nor to “enquire.” For what is our “seeking” then? Is it not to lie still on our bed, and suffer a few words to be spoken in our ears? Have a little opiate divinity ministered to our souls, and so sent away? Sure this is rather to be sought than to “seek.” There goeth more to quærebant then thus. We must then “seek” when we are in case to give sentence and to do judgment on ourselves, when we are able to take up our cross before it be laid on us. Quærebant Eum must stand before cum occideret.

Lastly, it would be known what became of this quærebant? What they found that sought thus, and then and not before? “They found not Him,”* the Prophet saith plainly. They go then “with sheep and bullocks,” and all manner of sacrifice, “to seek the Lord; but find Him not, for He hath withdrawn Himself before.”

And justly they find Him not ex lege talionis. God Himself answers them; nay their own hearts answer themselves. Go: whom you have spent your life in seeking, seek to them now. Let them save you at this, whom ye sought at all other times. As for Me, it shall come to pass, as I cried and you would not hear, so you shall cry and seek and shall not find or be heard, saith the Lord.

Yes—they found Him, but with a door shut between Him and them. But what found they? The parable of the ten virgins tells us, which is the Gospel for this Psalm, they found that which we I hope shall never find, a nescio vos.* Where, that we may see that this course is folly and therefore indeed a ne fiant sicut, that which putteth the difference of those that be wise and go in, is that they had sought “and looked to their oil ere the Bridegroom came;”* and those that were foolish and shut out when the Bridegroom was even coming, that is, cum occideret, were to seek their oil then—had not looked to it till then. Nescio vos is their answer, He knoweth them not; they took too short a time to breed acquaintance in. Nescio vos they find that so seek. Profecto ad hoc tonitru, &c. ‘At this clap he that waketh not is not asleep but dead.’

To conclude then with our instruction. If this time and this seeking have so many evil marks, the time so unseasonable, the seeking so many ways to seek; if the success to this seeking be no better but nescio vos, why then ne fiat. If these here were not well advised, if those virgins were foolish, why then ne fiant sicut, “not to be like.”

Secondly, to sever the silver from the dross: the seeking is good, keep it; the time is wrong, change it; either into antequam occideret or into cum servaret. Fiat to the action, ne fiat to the time.

Thirdly, as we confess that there is One to be sought, and that with the turning of a gin1 we cannot have Him when we list, but seek Him we must; that His seeking is worth the while, and that it is not dispatched in a minute, but must have time; so to think His seeking worthy a better, and to allow it a better time than this to do it in.

Fourthly, seeing “yet is the acceptable time,” yet “He may be found,”* yet it is cum servaret, occideret is not yet come—how near it is it is hard to say; our Saviour Christ saith it is quâ horâ nescis,* it may be nearer than we are aware; lest it come upon us before we seek, let us seek before it come upon us. So seeking we shall safely seek; safely seek and surely find God, and with God whatsoever is worth the finding. But, that which we seek, we shall after occideret is past find ourselves in His presence and at His right hand; “in Whose presence is the fulness of joy,”* not as ours here joys half empty; and at “Whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore,” not as ours here for a time and a short time, God knoweth. That which here we seek and cannot find with Him we shall, if we shall here indeed and in due time seek Him by the timely fruits of an undelayed repentance. Almighty God, lighten our minds, kindle our affections, settle our hearts so to seek, &c.[1]

 

 

1 Liter. water impregnated with alkaline salts imbibed from the ashes of wood. Webster.

* Isa. 37:3.

1 i.e. pride. The ruff of their glory. L.’Estrange.

* [ἐκ παρέργου Thucyd. vii. 27.]

* Joh. 18:38.

* Ps. 105:3.

1 [price.]

1 [i.e. ingenuousness.]

* Mat. 25:12.

Psalm 78:34

When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned, and enquired early after God.

This Psalm is a calendar or roll of reports, how from Moses to David the Jews carried themselves to God in matter of religion. And this verse a report how in the matter of repentance, expressed here under the terms of seeking and turning to God. Wherein this they did, this was their fashion: while He spared them, they sought Him not; “When He slew them, then they sought Him.” Cum, &c. These words then are a report.

A report; but such an one as when St. Paul heard of the Corinthians, he could not commend it. “What shall I say? Shall I praise you in this? No; I praise you not.”* Neither he them for that, nor I these for this. Rather, as old father Eli said to his sons;* Non est bonus sermo hic quem audio de vobis, “this is no good report I hear,” cum occideret, &c.

Whether good or whether evil it pertaineth to us. For to us of the Gentiles hath St. Paul entailed whatsoever well or ill befell the dissolved Church of the Jews. These, “all these came unto them for examples, and are enrolled to warn us that grow nearer and nearer to the ends of the world.”*

Both pertain unto us, the Scripture hath both; and in it draweth out our duty to us in both, in good and evil reports—as it were in white work and black work. And we to have use of both; yet not of both reports alike, but diversely, as our instructions upon them are diverse. For we are not so much to regard the bare report, as the instruction of it. For which cause Asaph hath entitled this Psalm, not Asaph’s report, but Asaph’s “instruction.”

Now we have here our report. May we find what our instruction is touching it? We may. Asaph expressly hath set it down in the eighth verse before. That this and other errors of theirs are here upon the file, ne fiant sicut patres eorum,* “that we should not be like our forefathers, a cross and crooked generation.” Not like them in other indignities, and among other in this cum occideret, &c. Never to seek God but when He kills us.

In which foul indignity our age is certainly as deep as ever was that, and we need Asaph’s instruction no less than they.

For as if there were no use of religion, but only cum occideret, so spend we all our whole time in the search of other things. Not caring to ask, or seek, or confer about the state of our souls, even till occideret come. And then, peradventure, sending for Asaph, and hearing him speak a few words about it, which we would fain have called seeking of God. I can say little to it, I pray God it prove so; but sure, I fear, it will be found minus habens, “far short of it.”*

Which is so usually received that, take a survey, not one of an hundred ever think of it before. So securely practised, as if we had some supersedeas lying by us, not to do it till then. As if there were no such Scripture as this upon record; “which turned to their destruction,” and must needs lie heavy upon us, when we shall remember it. Cum occideret, &c.

Now sure, this course must needs be prejudicial to our souls, and a number perish in it daily before our eyes. Yet we sit still, and suffer this custom to grow and gather head. Neither delivering their souls, or at least our own, by telling them seriously this is not the time, and then to seek is not the seeking God will allow. That this is a ne fiant, “such a thing as should not be done in Israel.” That it is upon record πρὸς ἐντροπὴν, to their disgrace and destruction. And it cannot be to our comfort or commendation to do the like. Out of which their destruction, Asaph frameth an instruction for us; and as it is well said and fitly to this day, ex cinere Judæorum lixivium Christianorum, ‘of the Jews’ ashes maketh a lye1 for Christians,’ to cleanse us from this foul indignity. Ut videntes cadentes, videant ne cadant, ‘that heeding their fall, we take heed we fall not;’ that is, seek not as they sought, lest we perish by like example of seeking too late.

Therefore, that we set ourselves to seek before this cum come; that is, in a word, seek God, as by repentance and the fruits, so by undelayed repentance, and the timely fruits of it; and be not like the Apostle Jude’s δένδρα φθινοπωρινὰ, our seeking all summer withered and dry,* and beginning to shoot out a little about Michaelmas spring. Of which kind of shooting fruit can never come. This is the sum.

The words consist of two parts. Two parts; but these two evil matched, or as St. Paul “unequally yoked together.”* For where our chief actions, of which I take it our seeking of God is one, should have the chiefest time; here is the first and best of our actions sorted with the last and worst part of our time. Quærebant Eum with cum occideret.

And not only missorted, but misplaced. For cum occideret, “His killing” standeth before “our seeking;” whereas our seeking should be first, and His killing come after. This was never God’s fiant, they must have a ne fiant.

Of these two then. First by way of report jointly that de facto thus it is—thus they, and thus we seek.

Then if we take them in sunder, and as Jeremy saith “separate the precious from the vile,”* quærebant Eum the flower of our actions, from cum occideret, the dross, dregs, and very refuse of our time. Consider them apart, and shew, 1. That this time is not the time; 2. and that this seeking thus sorted and thus placed is no seeking, nor ever shall find. Therefore, with Asaph’s instruction, to settle our seeking upon some other time, and to resolve to begin it before.

Two powers there are in cum; 1. a privative, of all times before; 2. a positive, of that instant time then. No time before we seek, at that instant time then we do. On which two consisteth theatrum vitæ, ‘the very theatre of our life.’ Our case before that time is lively expressed in the words immediately precedent; “They spend their days in vanity, and their years in turmoil in the world.”* Our case then at that time in these words, cum occideret eos. Yea, by implication they are both in this verse; by what they do now is implied what they did before. 1. Now “they sought Him,” so that before they lost Him. 2. Again, then “they turned to;” so that before they turned away, and not once looked toward Him. 3. Now “they rose up early,” so that before they put it off till twilight. 4. Now “they remembered,” so that before they forgat Him clean—no speech, no question, nay no thought about Him.

Thus it was, saith Asaph, under Moses. While His hand was not upon them, they regarded Him not, as not worth the seeking; perdebant Eum, it was their losing time. But “when He slew them,” they fell to seek, and well was he that might find; quærebant Eum, is was their seeking time.

Before, quærebant alia, ‘they found themselves other matters more meet to seek.’ Then quærebant Eum, “they gave over all to seek Him only.”

Before He sought them; and they gave Him good leave so to do. Then all is turned out and in. As He them before, so they Him now.

And is it not thus with us that are now in theatro, ‘upon the stage?’ Yes indeed; and more, if more may be. This is but vetus fabula per novos histriones, ‘the same play again by other actors.’ For in public, when in the days of safety plenty and peace, we are in the sixth of Amos,* and are best at ease when quærebant is farthest from us; but if war, famine, or contagion come, then we run to the second of Joel, “Sanctify a fast,”* and call for the Ark, and grow all godly on a sudden. What is this but cum occideret? And in private, when while youth and strength and health doth last, while the evil day is far off, we are even at cessare fac Sanctum Israel a nobis, “cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from us;”* but when distress, danger, or death come, when Rabshakeh is before the walls, then we cry, “Now is the day of tribulation and anguish; now the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to be delivered.”* Now send to Esay, “Now lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.” What is this but cum occideret? Surely this is our case; our seeking goeth wholly by our killing—waxeth and waneth, is out and in, as that is near at hand or farther off. I need not tell it, your ears and eyes are daily witnesses that this is a true saying, cum occideret Eos, &c. No killing, no seeking.

“This is a true saying,” but all true sayings are not by all means, nay some not by any means, “to be received.” The report indeed is, thus it was. But the instruction is ne fiant,* “that it should not be.” To the end then we may know what to receive and what to refuse, we will take it in pieces, and melt the dross from the silver metal. Quærebant Eum, by itself is good. Put occideret to it, it is base. Of these then in order.

Of quærebant Eum we shall soon agree, if it be quærebant Eum, that it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done.’ Which many other ways might be made to appear, but by none better than this here; that at last all come to it. Sooner or later all seek it, all men if not before yet cum occideret, then certainly.

All seek; and among all “they” sought, which word is not without his weight here. For what are these that Asaph here meaneth by “they?” Not saints, not generatio quærentium, “the generation of them that seek God.” But “they”* that in the verse before “wasted all their days in vanity, and their years in turmoiling in the world.” “They,”* idle, riotous persons—“they” sought.

“They” that in a verse after “flattered Him with their lips,” and gave Him all the good words that might be,* and meant no such thing. The hypocrites, “they” sought.

“They” that a little before “grievously provoked the Most High God” with speeches little better than blasphemy; “can God do this? Is there a God amongst us,”* or is there none? And so, instead of quærebant Deum, quærebant an Deus, ‘made a question, whether there were any to seek.’ That is, even the very wicked, and of all wicked the worst, the profane atheists, “they” sought—even at last “they” sought. This is the triumph of religion; the riotous person, the hypocrite, the atheist, all shall seek.

And herein is folly condemned even of her own children, and wisdom justified of her very enemies; that they that greedily seek sin, at last would be glad to be rid of it, and they that merrily scorn religion at last are glad to seek to it.

“They” shall seek; and the time is set down when they shall seek, and when you shall not fail but see them seek that never sought before. In diebus juventutis, not then. Sanus factus est, nor then neither; but cum occideret, then certainly. Cum occideret, mark this cum when it cometh, and you shall see them that stood out all their life long then come in.

The heathen man saw it with his eyes. O, saith the Persian messenger in Æschylus, when the Grecian forces hotly pursued our host, and we must needs venture over the great water Strymon, frozen then but beginning to thaw, when an hundred to one we had all died for it—that is, cum occideret, with mine eyes I saw saith he,* when Θεοὺς δέ τις, &c. Of those gallants whom I had heard before so boldly maintain there was no God to seek; τότʼ ἤυχετο λιταῖσι, ‘then every one of them on their knees, and full devoutly praying the ice might hold till they got over.’ Moses saw it with his eyes. Pharaoh,* who was at high terms, “Who is the Lord you talk of?” and answered himself, “he knew none such,” nor nothing would do for Him:—when cum occideret came, he took notice there was a Lord higher than he; “that that Lord was righteous, and he a wretched sinner”* that sought for grace at His hands. Mark but the shutting up of dixit insipiens, their own Psalm. When,* saith David, they have in heart sought to persuade themselves, non est—seek none, “none there is;”* and thereupon “corrupted themselves,” and became most loathsome in their lives, “eat up their tenants as they would do so many morsels of bread;” made a mock of such holy men as set themselves seriously to seek God: when all is done and occideret come, trepidabunt timore ubi non erat timor, “they shall begin to be afraid, where they held before no fear needed;” and here shall be the last verse of their Psalm; quis dabit e Sion salutem, “to wish for the salvation of Sion,” which they have so oft derided. “They shall seek,” and “then they shall seek.” Till then possibly you shall lose your labour, if you tell them of seeking of God, but and how good it is. They are, saith Jeremy, “like the dromedary of the wilderness,”* a beast of exceeding swiftness, the female specially; “over hill and dale she goeth,” saith the Prophet, “and snuffeth up the air at her pleasure, and who can overtake her? They that seek her will not weary themselves till her month.” And in her month when she is bagged, then they will find her, and deal with her well enough. The case is like. Age, sickness, death, are far off; youth, health, and strength, possess them; there is no coming to them then. The month, cum occideret, is not yet come; but come that once as once it will to all, you shall find quærebant will have his place—fiat. It is therefore God’s own resolution, thus He resolveth: “I will go,” saith He, “and return to My place, till they acknowledge their faults and seek Me.”* And when will that be? He addeth, in novissimo quærent me diligenter, an end will come, and when that cometh “they will seek Me diligently,” even the best of them. And even so we are fain to resolve; for our lot is God’s lot, and when He sought to them, we go to our place, and there stand till their month, expectantes aquæ motum,* waiting till the destroying Angel come and stir the water, and then quærent Eum will be worth the seeking after.

Then, according to St. Paul’s disjunctive,* we that all other times mente excedimus Dco, at that time sobrii sumus vobis. Divinity, which in our ruff1 is sophism and school-points, and at the best a kind of ecstasy about God, is and shall be then, “the words of truth and soberness.”* For God and His seeking will have their time; before if it may be, but if not before, then at the farthest. First or last, all shall confess by seeking God is to be sought. Some before He kill, and happy are they; but “when He killeth,” all;—hypocrites, heathens, atheists, and all.

And I would pray you in a word but to note, in seeking then how many things they confess. For there be I take it four potential confessions in it.

That such an One there is to be sought. A Power above us Whose being and sovereignty all, first or last, shall seek.

That somewhat there is to be found, some good to be done in seeking; as Esay saith, non frustra dixit, “He hath not in vain said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me.”* For were it to no purpose, they would not then do it; but as at other times they did, so let it alone then too.

That whatsoever that good is, hit upon it,* or stumble on it we shall not; it will not be had in parergo, but seek it we must. For without seeking it will not be had. If it would they might sit still, and let it drop into their laps.

That seeking at this time when He slayeth them, they that shew what that good is they seek; even that the Psalmist saith, “Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live;”* that whatsoever become of their body, at least their soul may live; that we may lose not both, that “He kill not both, and cast not both into hell fire.”* And this, even when we come within the hemisphere of the other life, the sense we then have of somewhat that should have been sought before; the misgiving of our hearts, they shall come to a reckoning for not seeking sooner; and this, that not one of us would die suddenly of our good-wills, but have a time to seek God, before we lose ourselves. This, that we desire to die seeking, howsoever we live; all shew certainly it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done,’ a good thing to seek God, even the enemies of it being judges of it.

So then; quærebant Eum is as it should be. But I add: 1. If it be quærebant, seeking indeed. 2. And if it be quærebant Eum, and not aliud in Eo, seeking, not Him, but somewhat else by Him.

If it be seeking indeed. For they to whom the Prophet Esay said, Si quæritis quærite, “if ye seek, why then do it,” sought so as it seemeth their seeking deserved not the name of seeking. So loosely, so slightly, so slenderly they did it;* as if that they sought were as good lost as found. So sought the party that said, In lectulo quæsivi Quem diligit anima,* that lay in bed and sought. So he that asked our Saviour Quid est veritas? a very good question; and when he had asked it another thing took him in the head and up he rose and went his way before Christ could tell him what it was. Such is our seeking for the most part. Some idle question cast, some table-talk moved, some Quid est veritas,* and go our way—all by the way, in transcursu; and never, as if it were about some matter of special moment, set about it and seek it out indeed.

1. They turned them, saith the text, as if before they sought without so much as turning them about.

2. They rose up, as though before they sat still and sought.

3. They did it early, and did not tarry till cum occideret, the sun were set, and no light to seek by, but their “feet stumbled in the dark mountains.”*

4. They “enquired;” so that before if you had ought to say to them you might, they had nothing to say to you. To seek then is to turn, to rise, to rise early, to enquire after it. O si quæritis, quærite, saith Esay, “the morning cometh, and so doth the night;”* that is, our days spend apace, and we say we will seek; if we will seek, let us once do it indeed.

Secondly, if it be quærebant, and if it be Eum; another point to be rectified. Non vestra sed vos, saith the Apostle, is the right seeking.* Not seek Him for somewhat we would have of Him, but to seek Himself for Himself. It is one thing, say the schools, to seek God for fruition; another to seek Him to make use of Him. One thing, saith Christ,* to seek for the miracle, another for the loaves.* One thing to “seek His face,” another to seek His fingers’ ends. One thing to consult with Him only for conscience, to know and do; another to consult with Him—if it hit our humour to make our advantage of it, if it go against us to set light by it. Such is our seeking for the most part; cum occideret, to have our turn served, to have our health restored, that we may seek Him no longer, but to our former riot again, “and to-morrow may be as yesterday and much more.”*

Seek Him indeed; seek Him for Himself. These two points being agreed of, we shall throughly agree of quærebant Eum. And so much for it, and for our fiat. Now to our ne fiat.

For when we have agreed of our seeking, we have not done. With diligence it would be, and due respect. Our seeking, as all things, the best things under the sun, must have τὴν ὥραν καὶ τὴν χώραν, ‘their due time and place.’* Wherein appeareth the abating power of circumstances,* that they are able to bring down the substances. Namely, of the time; and that mis-timing marreth not only music, but all things else. The thing is right, the cum is wrong, and so all is wrong.

To find out the time, we agree first that as every weighty thing hath, so the seeking of God is to be allowed a time too.

What time is that? Verily, we should do it absolutely, all our life long; quærite faciem Ejus semper. Not when? but when not? without limitation, continually.*

And in this sense we grant cum occideret; then, and at other times too. But not (as Asaph) then, and never till then; so, we deny it.

God indeed is so to be sought, but we cannot so seek Him; other our affairs crave allowance out of our time, and we are well content to yield it largely. Only that God have a set time left when to seek Him. That is but reason; all will yield to it. All grant a cum.

But come to know when that “when” shall be; here we vary first. We cannot be brought to set down any certainty, but love to be left at large. Do it we will, but indeed we cannot shew when; but even Felix his “when,”* ὅταν εὐκαιρήσω, ‘when we have leisure.’ I cannot now stand to seek, saith he; I hope one day to be at leisure to do it, but that day never came.

Urge them, press them “when?” No other resolution but omnis peccator dicit, aliquando Deum sequar sed non modo; ‘sometime still, but not this time.’ Never in the present, but sometime hereafter.

Follow them all along their life, they find not this cum, but put it from one cum to another, till there be none left but only cum occideret, even that very time against which God layeth His exceptions. Every time before we say, nondum tempus, ‘it is not time yet;’ every hour before, nondum venit hora, ‘the hour is not yet come.’

Not to leave God’s seeking thus at random, but to grow to some certainty. I demand, will any time serve? Is God at all times to be found? It is certain not. The very limitation of dum inveniri potest,* sheweth plainly that other times there be wherein seek Him you may, but find Him you shall not.

Then if at all times He is not to be found, we are to make choice of a certain cum, cum inveniri potest, “when He may be found,” and then seek Him.

Many returns there be in the term of our life, many cums; all are reduced to two: 1. cum servaret, and 2. cum occideret. Or if we will needs be wedded to a cum occideret, 1. Cum occideret hostes eorum, 2. not eos; ‘when He scattereth and slayeth our enemies’ and saveth us. One of these two it must needs be.

Cum occideret, it is not. Christ Himself expressly limiteth it before; Dedi ei tempus ad pænitendum, saith He, “I gave her a time to repent.”* What time is that? Lest we might mistake it to be cum occideret, He adds, if we do it not in that time so by Him given, He will “cast us down on our beds,” the beds of affliction and sickness, and there “kill us with death.” So that the time He alloweth us to repent, is before we come thither. For thither we come because we did it not in the time He gave us to do it in. Indeed our bed is not the place: in lectulo quæsivi, “I sought Him in my bed;” quæsivi sed non inveni, “I sought Him but I found Him not.”* The place of slaughter is not the place, nor the time of killing is not the time. We may take that time, but it is not dedi illis, none of “His giving.” The time He giveth us is before we come there.

Then if when He kills us is not it, when He saveth us it is? It is indeed; and a cluster of it, an hour of cum servaret then is better than a vintage, a whole day of cum occideret.

Upon these two the whole Psalm standeth, and the part before sheweth when it should have been. When “He overwhelmed the Egyptians in the sea,”* when “the pillar of the cloud was over,”* when He not only saved them but served them, “raining down manna”* for their need, and giving them quails for their lust;* then was the time with them and then is the time with us.

For sure as we seek God to save us, so He saveth us to seek Him; if when we seek Him we are saved, when we are saved we should seek Him. The time of His saving is the time of our seeking; and one hour then is better than four and twenty.

All that while what seek we? Why, as Jeremy saith,* we do then quærere grandia. Other greater matters we have in hand, matters of more weight than the seeking of God. As if His seeking were some petty business, slightly to be sought, and lightly to be found. Any time good enough for it.

Nay not that, but so evil are we affected to seek Him then, that quærebant is occideret; we indict Him of our death, it is death to do it—as lieve die as seek; it maketh us old, it killeth us before our time. We digest not them that call on us for it, but seek ourselves, as the Apostle speaketh,* Magistros secundum desideria, that may entertain us with speculations of what may be done by miracle at the hour of death; that may give us days and elbow-room enough to seek other things, and to shrink up His seeking into a narrow time at our end, and tell us time enough then. For thus then we reckon; all the time we spend in it we lose the fruit of our life, and the joy of our hearts shall be taken from us. As if the fruit of life were not to find God, or as if any true hearts’ joy God being not found. Call we this our fruit and joy not to seek God? call it not so; lætetur cor quærentium Deum, saith the Holy Ghost, “let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.”* Yea in lachrymis peccatorum, ‘in the very tears of a penitent,’* there is, saith St. Augustine, more sound joy than in risu theatrorum, ‘in all the games the theatre can afford:’ Da Christianum, et scit quid dico. But our taste is turned, and we relish not this seeking. By our flesh-pots we have lived, and by them we will die, and so we do. Lust hath been our life, and we will be buried in the graves of lust; and so we shall, and never know what that joy meaneth, Lætetur cor quærentium Deum.

Cum servaret then will not serve. Nay, cum occideret will scarce serve, it hath much ado; let Him draw His sword and come amongst us. For if, as of His goodness He doth not, He rush not on us at first, but begin with others; if it be cum occideret alios, we seek not. See ye the thirty-first verse: He took away others before their faces, and those not weak or sickly persons, but the goodliest and strongest of all Israel, and least likely to die. Here is occideret. Now did this move? No. See the thirty-second verse: for at this they “sinned yet more,” and went about their seeking never the sooner. It must be cum occideret eos, “themselves,” their own selves, or it will not do it.

Come then to themselves and smite them with the edge, not with the point; with the edge to wound, not with the point to dispatch outright; will that serve? cum cæderet eos, ‘when He wounded them with some mortal sickness the messenger of death, would they seek Him then?’ No: not then, not for all that would they frame to it. For quærebant medicum then, I say, as Asa sought medicos, et non Deum.* Not God and them, but them first; and let God stay till they be gone. And till they give us over, and tell us plainly occideret is now come indeed, no smiting or wounding will send us to seek. So that it is not either 1. cum servaret eos, or 2. cum serviret eis, His saving, or serving us; nay it is not, 3. cum occideret alios, or 4. cum cæderet, ‘His killing others, or wounding us’ with any but our deaths-wound, will do it.

Tandem then, when we are come to the very last cast, our strength is gone, our spirit clean spent, our senses appalled, and the powers of our soul as numb as our senses, when a general prostration of all our powers, and the shadow of death upon our eyes, then something we would say or do which should stand for our seeking; but, I doubt it will not serve. This is the time we allow God to seek Him in.

Is this it? Would we then seek Him when we are not in case to seek any thing else? Would we turn to Him then when we are not able to turn ourselves in our bed? Or, “rise early to seek Him” when we are not able to rise at all? Or “enquire after Him” when our breath faileth us, and we are not able to speak three words together? Neither before, nor with, but even at the end of occideret? No hour but the hour of death?* No time but when He taketh time from us and us from it, et tempus non erit amplius? What shall I say? Shall I commend this seeking, turning, rising, enquiring? No; I cannot commend it either in itself or to any. I commend it not.

That that may be said is this, and it is nothing: true; some one or two of a thousand and ten thousand that have. How then? Shall we not therefore follow our instruction and seek Him before? Nay then,* “some have found and never sought;”—let us not seek Him at all if that will hold. Thus it is: some going a journey have found a purse by the way—it were mad counsel to advise us to leave our money behind upon hope of like hap in ours. No; this is safe and good; though some one or two have found and not sought, yet let us seek for all that. Though some one or two have then sought and found, yet let us seek before. Though some have found a purse in their way, let us not trust to like hap, but carry money with us. This is a privy-door on special favour open to some few. There lieth no way by them. “This is the way,” you have heard, “walk in it and you shall find rest to your souls.”*

To speak then of safe seeking and sure finding, I say, as Asaph saith, it is a ne fiant. This time is not the time Christ giveth us; He assigneth us another. Yea we condemn ourselves in that we would seek to allow it ourselves. If we were put to it to say plainly, “not till He kill me,” it would choke us. We neither have heart nor face, we would not dare to answer so, we dare not avow it. And if it be a ne dicant it is a ne fiant. The time of God’s quærite is primum quærite.* This cum is the last of all our cums; all other before it. First and last are flat ad oppositum. This is not it.

The time of seeking God must be δεκτὸς, such as is meet to be received. This is not: therefore, I hope, we will not offer it God.* If we do, take heed He scorn not this time as He doth their price in Zachary; “A goodly time1 that I have assigned Me.”* Take heed He stand not upon His reputation, as in Malachi, and bid us “offer our service”* at this hour, “to any great man and see, whether he will be content with it,” and not reject both us and our seeking then. This is not, cannot be but a great ne fiant, to offer God that no man is so mean but would take in evil part.

This time is the time when all hypocrites, atheists, tag and rag, come in and seek Him in a sort; and shall not we be confounded to see ourselves in their number? Nay to say that must be said for true it is, It is past the Devil’s time. They be his words, cur ante tempus?* and he seeketh to make them ours, that it is ever too soon to seek God. At the hardest I trust we will not keep time with him.

And to seek Him then is not to seek Him; not quærebant Eum. No; they seek Him not, they “dissemble with Him,” saith Asaph, in the next verse. For when God to try them reprieved them never so little time, they fell to their old bias;* and when as He ceased killing, their seeking was at an end. So are all forced seekings, like to a bow-string brought to his full bent, but remit you never so little it starteth back again.

Nay it is not quærebant, no kindly seeking, but a base ignoble creeping to, without all ingenuity1, when we must either die or do it. Neither χάρις nor κλέος to do it then.

But in very deed it is no “seeking”* at all, as before we defined quærebant to “seek indeed.” There is a diameter between occideret and quærebant, and therefore between it and quærebant Eum. Men cannot then seek; if they must rise up and turn them that must do it, they are not able for their lives to turn or stir themselves to do it. Nay, nor to “enquire.” For what is our “seeking” then? Is it not to lie still on our bed, and suffer a few words to be spoken in our ears? Have a little opiate divinity ministered to our souls, and so sent away? Sure this is rather to be sought than to “seek.” There goeth more to quærebant then thus. We must then “seek” when we are in case to give sentence and to do judgment on ourselves, when we are able to take up our cross before it be laid on us. Quærebant Eum must stand before cum occideret.

Lastly, it would be known what became of this quærebant? What they found that sought thus, and then and not before? “They found not Him,”* the Prophet saith plainly. They go then “with sheep and bullocks,” and all manner of sacrifice, “to seek the Lord; but find Him not, for He hath withdrawn Himself before.”

And justly they find Him not ex lege talionis. God Himself answers them; nay their own hearts answer themselves. Go: whom you have spent your life in seeking, seek to them now. Let them save you at this, whom ye sought at all other times. As for Me, it shall come to pass, as I cried and you would not hear, so you shall cry and seek and shall not find or be heard, saith the Lord.

Yes—they found Him, but with a door shut between Him and them. But what found they? The parable of the ten virgins tells us, which is the Gospel for this Psalm, they found that which we I hope shall never find, a nescio vos.* Where, that we may see that this course is folly and therefore indeed a ne fiant sicut, that which putteth the difference of those that be wise and go in, is that they had sought “and looked to their oil ere the Bridegroom came;”* and those that were foolish and shut out when the Bridegroom was even coming, that is, cum occideret, were to seek their oil then—had not looked to it till then. Nescio vos is their answer, He knoweth them not; they took too short a time to breed acquaintance in. Nescio vos they find that so seek. Profecto ad hoc tonitru, &c. ‘At this clap he that waketh not is not asleep but dead.’

To conclude then with our instruction. If this time and this seeking have so many evil marks, the time so unseasonable, the seeking so many ways to seek; if the success to this seeking be no better but nescio vos, why then ne fiat. If these here were not well advised, if those virgins were foolish, why then ne fiant sicut, “not to be like.”

Secondly, to sever the silver from the dross: the seeking is good, keep it; the time is wrong, change it; either into antequam occideret or into cum servaret. Fiat to the action, ne fiat to the time.

Thirdly, as we confess that there is One to be sought, and that with the turning of a gin1 we cannot have Him when we list, but seek Him we must; that His seeking is worth the while, and that it is not dispatched in a minute, but must have time; so to think His seeking worthy a better, and to allow it a better time than this to do it in.

Fourthly, seeing “yet is the acceptable time,” yet “He may be found,”* yet it is cum servaret, occideret is not yet come—how near it is it is hard to say; our Saviour Christ saith it is quâ horâ nescis,* it may be nearer than we are aware; lest it come upon us before we seek, let us seek before it come upon us. So seeking we shall safely seek; safely seek and surely find God, and with God whatsoever is worth the finding. But, that which we seek, we shall after occideret is past find ourselves in His presence and at His right hand; “in Whose presence is the fulness of joy,”* not as ours here joys half empty; and at “Whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore,” not as ours here for a time and a short time, God knoweth. That which here we seek and cannot find with Him we shall, if we shall here indeed and in due time seek Him by the timely fruits of an undelayed repentance. Almighty God, lighten our minds, kindle our affections, settle our hearts so to seek, &c.[1]

 

 

1 Liter. water impregnated with alkaline salts imbibed from the ashes of wood. Webster.

* Isa. 37:3.

1 i.e. pride. The ruff of their glory. L.’Estrange.

* [ἐκ παρέργου Thucyd. vii. 27.]

* Joh. 18:38.

* Ps. 105:3.

1 [price.]

1 [i.e. ingenuousness.]

* Mat. 25:12.

1 [Here used apparently forengine.]

[1] Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 305–320). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

1 [Here used apparently forengine.]

[1] Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 305–320). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

A Cross and Crooked Generation: Psalm 78:34

A Cross and Crooked Generation: Psalm 78:34

A Crooked and Perverse Generation

Psalm 78:34

When He slew them, then they sought Him; and they returned, and enquired early after God.

This Psalm is a calendar or roll of reports, how from Moses to David the Jews carried themselves to God in matter of religion. And this verse a report how in the matter of repentance, expressed here under the terms of seeking and turning to God. Wherein this they did, this was their fashion: while He spared them, they sought Him not; “When He slew them, then they sought Him.” Cum, &c. These words then are a report.

A report; but such an one as when St. Paul heard of the Corinthians, he could not commend it. “What shall I say? Shall I praise you in this? No; I praise you not.”* Neither he them for that, nor I these for this. Rather, as old father Eli said to his sons;* Non est bonus sermo hic quem audio de vobis, “this is no good report I hear,” cum occideret, &c.

Whether good or whether evil it pertaineth to us. For to us of the Gentiles hath St. Paul entailed whatsoever well or ill befell the dissolved Church of the Jews. These, “all these came unto them for examples, and are enrolled to warn us that grow nearer and nearer to the ends of the world.”*

Both pertain unto us, the Scripture hath both; and in it draweth out our duty to us in both, in good and evil reports—as it were in white work and black work. And we to have use of both; yet not of both reports alike, but diversely, as our instructions upon them are diverse. For we are not so much to regard the bare report, as the instruction of it. For which cause Asaph hath entitled this Psalm, not Asaph’s report, but Asaph’s “instruction.”

Now we have here our report. May we find what our instruction is touching it? We may. Asaph expressly hath set it down in the eighth verse before. That this and other errors of theirs are here upon the file, ne fiant sicut patres eorum,* “that we should not be like our forefathers, a cross and crooked generation.” Not like them in other indignities, and among other in this cum occideret, &c. Never to seek God but when He kills us.

In which foul indignity our age is certainly as deep as ever was that, and we need Asaph’s instruction no less than they.

For as if there were no use of religion, but only cum occideret, so spend we all our whole time in the search of other things. Not caring to ask, or seek, or confer about the state of our souls, even till occideret come. And then, peradventure, sending for Asaph, and hearing him speak a few words about it, which we would fain have called seeking of God. I can say little to it, I pray God it prove so; but sure, I fear, it will be found minus habens, “far short of it.”*

Which is so usually received that, take a survey, not one of an hundred ever think of it before. So securely practised, as if we had some supersedeas lying by us, not to do it till then. As if there were no such Scripture as this upon record; “which turned to their destruction,” and must needs lie heavy upon us, when we shall remember it. Cum occideret, &c.

Now sure, this course must needs be prejudicial to our souls, and a number perish in it daily before our eyes. Yet we sit still, and suffer this custom to grow and gather head. Neither delivering their souls, or at least our own, by telling them seriously this is not the time, and then to seek is not the seeking God will allow. That this is a ne fiant, “such a thing as should not be done in Israel.” That it is upon record πρὸς ἐντροπὴν, to their disgrace and destruction. And it cannot be to our comfort or commendation to do the like. Out of which their destruction, Asaph frameth an instruction for us; and as it is well said and fitly to this day, ex cinere Judæorum lixivium Christianorum, ‘of the Jews’ ashes maketh a lye1 for Christians,’ to cleanse us from this foul indignity. Ut videntes cadentes, videant ne cadant, ‘that heeding their fall, we take heed we fall not;’ that is, seek not as they sought, lest we perish by like example of seeking too late.

Therefore, that we set ourselves to seek before this cum come; that is, in a word, seek God, as by repentance and the fruits, so by undelayed repentance, and the timely fruits of it; and be not like the Apostle Jude’s δένδρα φθινοπωρινὰ, our seeking all summer withered and dry,* and beginning to shoot out a little about Michaelmas spring. Of which kind of shooting fruit can never come. This is the sum.

The words consist of two parts. Two parts; but these two evil matched, or as St. Paul “unequally yoked together.”* For where our chief actions, of which I take it our seeking of God is one, should have the chiefest time; here is the first and best of our actions sorted with the last and worst part of our time. Quærebant Eum with cum occideret.

And not only missorted, but misplaced. For cum occideret, “His killing” standeth before “our seeking;” whereas our seeking should be first, and His killing come after. This was never God’s fiant, they must have a ne fiant.

Of these two then. First by way of report jointly that de facto thus it is—thus they, and thus we seek.

Then if we take them in sunder, and as Jeremy saith “separate the precious from the vile,”* quærebant Eum the flower of our actions, from cum occideret, the dross, dregs, and very refuse of our time. Consider them apart, and shew, 1. That this time is not the time; 2. and that this seeking thus sorted and thus placed is no seeking, nor ever shall find. Therefore, with Asaph’s instruction, to settle our seeking upon some other time, and to resolve to begin it before.

Two powers there are in cum; 1. a privative, of all times before; 2. a positive, of that instant time then. No time before we seek, at that instant time then we do. On which two consisteth theatrum vitæ, ‘the very theatre of our life.’ Our case before that time is lively expressed in the words immediately precedent; “They spend their days in vanity, and their years in turmoil in the world.”* Our case then at that time in these words, cum occideret eos. Yea, by implication they are both in this verse; by what they do now is implied what they did before. 1. Now “they sought Him,” so that before they lost Him. 2. Again, then “they turned to;” so that before they turned away, and not once looked toward Him. 3. Now “they rose up early,” so that before they put it off till twilight. 4. Now “they remembered,” so that before they forgat Him clean—no speech, no question, nay no thought about Him.

Thus it was, saith Asaph, under Moses. While His hand was not upon them, they regarded Him not, as not worth the seeking; perdebant Eum, it was their losing time. But “when He slew them,” they fell to seek, and well was he that might find; quærebant Eum, is was their seeking time.

Before, quærebant alia, ‘they found themselves other matters more meet to seek.’ Then quærebant Eum, “they gave over all to seek Him only.”

Before He sought them; and they gave Him good leave so to do. Then all is turned out and in. As He them before, so they Him now.

And is it not thus with us that are now in theatro, ‘upon the stage?’ Yes indeed; and more, if more may be. This is but vetus fabula per novos histriones, ‘the same play again by other actors.’ For in public, when in the days of safety plenty and peace, we are in the sixth of Amos,* and are best at ease when quærebant is farthest from us; but if war, famine, or contagion come, then we run to the second of Joel, “Sanctify a fast,”* and call for the Ark, and grow all godly on a sudden. What is this but cum occideret? And in private, when while youth and strength and health doth last, while the evil day is far off, we are even at cessare fac Sanctum Israel a nobis, “cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from us;”* but when distress, danger, or death come, when Rabshakeh is before the walls, then we cry, “Now is the day of tribulation and anguish; now the children are come to the birth, and there is no strength to be delivered.”* Now send to Esay, “Now lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.” What is this but cum occideret? Surely this is our case; our seeking goeth wholly by our killing—waxeth and waneth, is out and in, as that is near at hand or farther off. I need not tell it, your ears and eyes are daily witnesses that this is a true saying, cum occideret Eos, &c. No killing, no seeking.

“This is a true saying,” but all true sayings are not by all means, nay some not by any means, “to be received.” The report indeed is, thus it was. But the instruction is ne fiant,* “that it should not be.” To the end then we may know what to receive and what to refuse, we will take it in pieces, and melt the dross from the silver metal. Quærebant Eum, by itself is good. Put occideret to it, it is base. Of these then in order.

Of quærebant Eum we shall soon agree, if it be quærebant Eum, that it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done.’ Which many other ways might be made to appear, but by none better than this here; that at last all come to it. Sooner or later all seek it, all men if not before yet cum occideret, then certainly.

All seek; and among all “they” sought, which word is not without his weight here. For what are these that Asaph here meaneth by “they?” Not saints, not generatio quærentium, “the generation of them that seek God.” But “they”* that in the verse before “wasted all their days in vanity, and their years in turmoiling in the world.” “They,”* idle, riotous persons—“they” sought.

“They” that in a verse after “flattered Him with their lips,” and gave Him all the good words that might be,* and meant no such thing. The hypocrites, “they” sought.

“They” that a little before “grievously provoked the Most High God” with speeches little better than blasphemy; “can God do this? Is there a God amongst us,”* or is there none? And so, instead of quærebant Deum, quærebant an Deus, ‘made a question, whether there were any to seek.’ That is, even the very wicked, and of all wicked the worst, the profane atheists, “they” sought—even at last “they” sought. This is the triumph of religion; the riotous person, the hypocrite, the atheist, all shall seek.

And herein is folly condemned even of her own children, and wisdom justified of her very enemies; that they that greedily seek sin, at last would be glad to be rid of it, and they that merrily scorn religion at last are glad to seek to it.

“They” shall seek; and the time is set down when they shall seek, and when you shall not fail but see them seek that never sought before. In diebus juventutis, not then. Sanus factus est, nor then neither; but cum occideret, then certainly. Cum occideret, mark this cum when it cometh, and you shall see them that stood out all their life long then come in.

The heathen man saw it with his eyes. O, saith the Persian messenger in Æschylus, when the Grecian forces hotly pursued our host, and we must needs venture over the great water Strymon, frozen then but beginning to thaw, when an hundred to one we had all died for it—that is, cum occideret, with mine eyes I saw saith he,* when Θεοὺς δέ τις, &c. Of those gallants whom I had heard before so boldly maintain there was no God to seek; τότʼ ἤυχετο λιταῖσι, ‘then every one of them on their knees, and full devoutly praying the ice might hold till they got over.’ Moses saw it with his eyes. Pharaoh,* who was at high terms, “Who is the Lord you talk of?” and answered himself, “he knew none such,” nor nothing would do for Him:—when cum occideret came, he took notice there was a Lord higher than he; “that that Lord was righteous, and he a wretched sinner”* that sought for grace at His hands. Mark but the shutting up of dixit insipiens, their own Psalm. When,* saith David, they have in heart sought to persuade themselves, non est—seek none, “none there is;”* and thereupon “corrupted themselves,” and became most loathsome in their lives, “eat up their tenants as they would do so many morsels of bread;” made a mock of such holy men as set themselves seriously to seek God: when all is done and occideret come, trepidabunt timore ubi non erat timor, “they shall begin to be afraid, where they held before no fear needed;” and here shall be the last verse of their Psalm; quis dabit e Sion salutem, “to wish for the salvation of Sion,” which they have so oft derided. “They shall seek,” and “then they shall seek.” Till then possibly you shall lose your labour, if you tell them of seeking of God, but and how good it is. They are, saith Jeremy, “like the dromedary of the wilderness,”* a beast of exceeding swiftness, the female specially; “over hill and dale she goeth,” saith the Prophet, “and snuffeth up the air at her pleasure, and who can overtake her? They that seek her will not weary themselves till her month.” And in her month when she is bagged, then they will find her, and deal with her well enough. The case is like. Age, sickness, death, are far off; youth, health, and strength, possess them; there is no coming to them then. The month, cum occideret, is not yet come; but come that once as once it will to all, you shall find quærebant will have his place—fiat. It is therefore God’s own resolution, thus He resolveth: “I will go,” saith He, “and return to My place, till they acknowledge their faults and seek Me.”* And when will that be? He addeth, in novissimo quærent me diligenter, an end will come, and when that cometh “they will seek Me diligently,” even the best of them. And even so we are fain to resolve; for our lot is God’s lot, and when He sought to them, we go to our place, and there stand till their month, expectantes aquæ motum,* waiting till the destroying Angel come and stir the water, and then quærent Eum will be worth the seeking after.

Then, according to St. Paul’s disjunctive,* we that all other times mente excedimus Dco, at that time sobrii sumus vobis. Divinity, which in our ruff1 is sophism and school-points, and at the best a kind of ecstasy about God, is and shall be then, “the words of truth and soberness.”* For God and His seeking will have their time; before if it may be, but if not before, then at the farthest. First or last, all shall confess by seeking God is to be sought. Some before He kill, and happy are they; but “when He killeth,” all;—hypocrites, heathens, atheists, and all.

And I would pray you in a word but to note, in seeking then how many things they confess. For there be I take it four potential confessions in it.

That such an One there is to be sought. A Power above us Whose being and sovereignty all, first or last, shall seek.

That somewhat there is to be found, some good to be done in seeking; as Esay saith, non frustra dixit, “He hath not in vain said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me.”* For were it to no purpose, they would not then do it; but as at other times they did, so let it alone then too.

That whatsoever that good is, hit upon it,* or stumble on it we shall not; it will not be had in parergo, but seek it we must. For without seeking it will not be had. If it would they might sit still, and let it drop into their laps.

That seeking at this time when He slayeth them, they that shew what that good is they seek; even that the Psalmist saith, “Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live;”* that whatsoever become of their body, at least their soul may live; that we may lose not both, that “He kill not both, and cast not both into hell fire.”* And this, even when we come within the hemisphere of the other life, the sense we then have of somewhat that should have been sought before; the misgiving of our hearts, they shall come to a reckoning for not seeking sooner; and this, that not one of us would die suddenly of our good-wills, but have a time to seek God, before we lose ourselves. This, that we desire to die seeking, howsoever we live; all shew certainly it is a fiat, ‘a thing to be done,’ a good thing to seek God, even the enemies of it being judges of it.

So then; quærebant Eum is as it should be. But I add: 1. If it be quærebant, seeking indeed. 2. And if it be quærebant Eum, and not aliud in Eo, seeking, not Him, but somewhat else by Him.

If it be seeking indeed. For they to whom the Prophet Esay said, Si quæritis quærite, “if ye seek, why then do it,” sought so as it seemeth their seeking deserved not the name of seeking. So loosely, so slightly, so slenderly they did it;* as if that they sought were as good lost as found. So sought the party that said, In lectulo quæsivi Quem diligit anima,* that lay in bed and sought. So he that asked our Saviour Quid est veritas? a very good question; and when he had asked it another thing took him in the head and up he rose and went his way before Christ could tell him what it was. Such is our seeking for the most part. Some idle question cast, some table-talk moved, some Quid est veritas,* and go our way—all by the way, in transcursu; and never, as if it were about some matter of special moment, set about it and seek it out indeed.

1. They turned them, saith the text, as if before they sought without so much as turning them about.

2. They rose up, as though before they sat still and sought.

3. They did it early, and did not tarry till cum occideret, the sun were set, and no light to seek by, but their “feet stumbled in the dark mountains.”*

4. They “enquired;” so that before if you had ought to say to them you might, they had nothing to say to you. To seek then is to turn, to rise, to rise early, to enquire after it. O si quæritis, quærite, saith Esay, “the morning cometh, and so doth the night;”* that is, our days spend apace, and we say we will seek; if we will seek, let us once do it indeed.

Secondly, if it be quærebant, and if it be Eum; another point to be rectified. Non vestra sed vos, saith the Apostle, is the right seeking.* Not seek Him for somewhat we would have of Him, but to seek Himself for Himself. It is one thing, say the schools, to seek God for fruition; another to seek Him to make use of Him. One thing, saith Christ,* to seek for the miracle, another for the loaves.* One thing to “seek His face,” another to seek His fingers’ ends. One thing to consult with Him only for conscience, to know and do; another to consult with Him—if it hit our humour to make our advantage of it, if it go against us to set light by it. Such is our seeking for the most part; cum occideret, to have our turn served, to have our health restored, that we may seek Him no longer, but to our former riot again, “and to-morrow may be as yesterday and much more.”*

Seek Him indeed; seek Him for Himself. These two points being agreed of, we shall throughly agree of quærebant Eum. And so much for it, and for our fiat. Now to our ne fiat.

For when we have agreed of our seeking, we have not done. With diligence it would be, and due respect. Our seeking, as all things, the best things under the sun, must have τὴν ὥραν καὶ τὴν χώραν, ‘their due time and place.’* Wherein appeareth the abating power of circumstances,* that they are able to bring down the substances. Namely, of the time; and that mis-timing marreth not only music, but all things else. The thing is right, the cum is wrong, and so all is wrong.

To find out the time, we agree first that as every weighty thing hath, so the seeking of God is to be allowed a time too.

What time is that? Verily, we should do it absolutely, all our life long; quærite faciem Ejus semper. Not when? but when not? without limitation, continually.*

And in this sense we grant cum occideret; then, and at other times too. But not (as Asaph) then, and never till then; so, we deny it.

God indeed is so to be sought, but we cannot so seek Him; other our affairs crave allowance out of our time, and we are well content to yield it largely. Only that God have a set time left when to seek Him. That is but reason; all will yield to it. All grant a cum.

But come to know when that “when” shall be; here we vary first. We cannot be brought to set down any certainty, but love to be left at large. Do it we will, but indeed we cannot shew when; but even Felix his “when,”* ὅταν εὐκαιρήσω, ‘when we have leisure.’ I cannot now stand to seek, saith he; I hope one day to be at leisure to do it, but that day never came.

Urge them, press them “when?” No other resolution but omnis peccator dicit, aliquando Deum sequar sed non modo; ‘sometime still, but not this time.’ Never in the present, but sometime hereafter.

Follow them all along their life, they find not this cum, but put it from one cum to another, till there be none left but only cum occideret, even that very time against which God layeth His exceptions. Every time before we say, nondum tempus, ‘it is not time yet;’ every hour before, nondum venit hora, ‘the hour is not yet come.’

Not to leave God’s seeking thus at random, but to grow to some certainty. I demand, will any time serve? Is God at all times to be found? It is certain not. The very limitation of dum inveniri potest,* sheweth plainly that other times there be wherein seek Him you may, but find Him you shall not.

Then if at all times He is not to be found, we are to make choice of a certain cum, cum inveniri potest, “when He may be found,” and then seek Him.

Many returns there be in the term of our life, many cums; all are reduced to two: 1. cum servaret, and 2. cum occideret. Or if we will needs be wedded to a cum occideret, 1. Cum occideret hostes eorum, 2. not eos; ‘when He scattereth and slayeth our enemies’ and saveth us. One of these two it must needs be.

Cum occideret, it is not. Christ Himself expressly limiteth it before; Dedi ei tempus ad pænitendum, saith He, “I gave her a time to repent.”* What time is that? Lest we might mistake it to be cum occideret, He adds, if we do it not in that time so by Him given, He will “cast us down on our beds,” the beds of affliction and sickness, and there “kill us with death.” So that the time He alloweth us to repent, is before we come thither. For thither we come because we did it not in the time He gave us to do it in. Indeed our bed is not the place: in lectulo quæsivi, “I sought Him in my bed;” quæsivi sed non inveni, “I sought Him but I found Him not.”* The place of slaughter is not the place, nor the time of killing is not the time. We may take that time, but it is not dedi illis, none of “His giving.” The time He giveth us is before we come there.

Then if when He kills us is not it, when He saveth us it is? It is indeed; and a cluster of it, an hour of cum servaret then is better than a vintage, a whole day of cum occideret.

Upon these two the whole Psalm standeth, and the part before sheweth when it should have been. When “He overwhelmed the Egyptians in the sea,”* when “the pillar of the cloud was over,”* when He not only saved them but served them, “raining down manna”* for their need, and giving them quails for their lust;* then was the time with them and then is the time with us.

For sure as we seek God to save us, so He saveth us to seek Him; if when we seek Him we are saved, when we are saved we should seek Him. The time of His saving is the time of our seeking; and one hour then is better than four and twenty.

All that while what seek we? Why, as Jeremy saith,* we do then quærere grandia. Other greater matters we have in hand, matters of more weight than the seeking of God. As if His seeking were some petty business, slightly to be sought, and lightly to be found. Any time good enough for it.

Nay not that, but so evil are we affected to seek Him then, that quærebant is occideret; we indict Him of our death, it is death to do it—as lieve die as seek; it maketh us old, it killeth us before our time. We digest not them that call on us for it, but seek ourselves, as the Apostle speaketh,* Magistros secundum desideria, that may entertain us with speculations of what may be done by miracle at the hour of death; that may give us days and elbow-room enough to seek other things, and to shrink up His seeking into a narrow time at our end, and tell us time enough then. For thus then we reckon; all the time we spend in it we lose the fruit of our life, and the joy of our hearts shall be taken from us. As if the fruit of life were not to find God, or as if any true hearts’ joy God being not found. Call we this our fruit and joy not to seek God? call it not so; lætetur cor quærentium Deum, saith the Holy Ghost, “let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.”* Yea in lachrymis peccatorum, ‘in the very tears of a penitent,’* there is, saith St. Augustine, more sound joy than in risu theatrorum, ‘in all the games the theatre can afford:’ Da Christianum, et scit quid dico. But our taste is turned, and we relish not this seeking. By our flesh-pots we have lived, and by them we will die, and so we do. Lust hath been our life, and we will be buried in the graves of lust; and so we shall, and never know what that joy meaneth, Lætetur cor quærentium Deum.

Cum servaret then will not serve. Nay, cum occideret will scarce serve, it hath much ado; let Him draw His sword and come amongst us. For if, as of His goodness He doth not, He rush not on us at first, but begin with others; if it be cum occideret alios, we seek not. See ye the thirty-first verse: He took away others before their faces, and those not weak or sickly persons, but the goodliest and strongest of all Israel, and least likely to die. Here is occideret. Now did this move? No. See the thirty-second verse: for at this they “sinned yet more,” and went about their seeking never the sooner. It must be cum occideret eos, “themselves,” their own selves, or it will not do it.

Come then to themselves and smite them with the edge, not with the point; with the edge to wound, not with the point to dispatch outright; will that serve? cum cæderet eos, ‘when He wounded them with some mortal sickness the messenger of death, would they seek Him then?’ No: not then, not for all that would they frame to it. For quærebant medicum then, I say, as Asa sought medicos, et non Deum.* Not God and them, but them first; and let God stay till they be gone. And till they give us over, and tell us plainly occideret is now come indeed, no smiting or wounding will send us to seek. So that it is not either 1. cum servaret eos, or 2. cum serviret eis, His saving, or serving us; nay it is not, 3. cum occideret alios, or 4. cum cæderet, ‘His killing others, or wounding us’ with any but our deaths-wound, will do it.

Tandem then, when we are come to the very last cast, our strength is gone, our spirit clean spent, our senses appalled, and the powers of our soul as numb as our senses, when a general prostration of all our powers, and the shadow of death upon our eyes, then something we would say or do which should stand for our seeking; but, I doubt it will not serve. This is the time we allow God to seek Him in.

Is this it? Would we then seek Him when we are not in case to seek any thing else? Would we turn to Him then when we are not able to turn ourselves in our bed? Or, “rise early to seek Him” when we are not able to rise at all? Or “enquire after Him” when our breath faileth us, and we are not able to speak three words together? Neither before, nor with, but even at the end of occideret? No hour but the hour of death?* No time but when He taketh time from us and us from it, et tempus non erit amplius? What shall I say? Shall I commend this seeking, turning, rising, enquiring? No; I cannot commend it either in itself or to any. I commend it not.

That that may be said is this, and it is nothing: true; some one or two of a thousand and ten thousand that have. How then? Shall we not therefore follow our instruction and seek Him before? Nay then,* “some have found and never sought;”—let us not seek Him at all if that will hold. Thus it is: some going a journey have found a purse by the way—it were mad counsel to advise us to leave our money behind upon hope of like hap in ours. No; this is safe and good; though some one or two have found and not sought, yet let us seek for all that. Though some one or two have then sought and found, yet let us seek before. Though some have found a purse in their way, let us not trust to like hap, but carry money with us. This is a privy-door on special favour open to some few. There lieth no way by them. “This is the way,” you have heard, “walk in it and you shall find rest to your souls.”*

To speak then of safe seeking and sure finding, I say, as Asaph saith, it is a ne fiant. This time is not the time Christ giveth us; He assigneth us another. Yea we condemn ourselves in that we would seek to allow it ourselves. If we were put to it to say plainly, “not till He kill me,” it would choke us. We neither have heart nor face, we would not dare to answer so, we dare not avow it. And if it be a ne dicant it is a ne fiant. The time of God’s quærite is primum quærite.* This cum is the last of all our cums; all other before it. First and last are flat ad oppositum. This is not it.

The time of seeking God must be δεκτὸς, such as is meet to be received. This is not: therefore, I hope, we will not offer it God.* If we do, take heed He scorn not this time as He doth their price in Zachary; “A goodly time1 that I have assigned Me.”* Take heed He stand not upon His reputation, as in Malachi, and bid us “offer our service”* at this hour, “to any great man and see, whether he will be content with it,” and not reject both us and our seeking then. This is not, cannot be but a great ne fiant, to offer God that no man is so mean but would take in evil part.

This time is the time when all hypocrites, atheists, tag and rag, come in and seek Him in a sort; and shall not we be confounded to see ourselves in their number? Nay to say that must be said for true it is, It is past the Devil’s time. They be his words, cur ante tempus?* and he seeketh to make them ours, that it is ever too soon to seek God. At the hardest I trust we will not keep time with him.

And to seek Him then is not to seek Him; not quærebant Eum. No; they seek Him not, they “dissemble with Him,” saith Asaph, in the next verse. For when God to try them reprieved them never so little time, they fell to their old bias;* and when as He ceased killing, their seeking was at an end. So are all forced seekings, like to a bow-string brought to his full bent, but remit you never so little it starteth back again.

Nay it is not quærebant, no kindly seeking, but a base ignoble creeping to, without all ingenuity1, when we must either die or do it. Neither χάρις nor κλέος to do it then.

But in very deed it is no “seeking”* at all, as before we defined quærebant to “seek indeed.” There is a diameter between occideret and quærebant, and therefore between it and quærebant Eum. Men cannot then seek; if they must rise up and turn them that must do it, they are not able for their lives to turn or stir themselves to do it. Nay, nor to “enquire.” For what is our “seeking” then? Is it not to lie still on our bed, and suffer a few words to be spoken in our ears? Have a little opiate divinity ministered to our souls, and so sent away? Sure this is rather to be sought than to “seek.” There goeth more to quærebant then thus. We must then “seek” when we are in case to give sentence and to do judgment on ourselves, when we are able to take up our cross before it be laid on us. Quærebant Eum must stand before cum occideret.

Lastly, it would be known what became of this quærebant? What they found that sought thus, and then and not before? “They found not Him,”* the Prophet saith plainly. They go then “with sheep and bullocks,” and all manner of sacrifice, “to seek the Lord; but find Him not, for He hath withdrawn Himself before.”

And justly they find Him not ex lege talionis. God Himself answers them; nay their own hearts answer themselves. Go: whom you have spent your life in seeking, seek to them now. Let them save you at this, whom ye sought at all other times. As for Me, it shall come to pass, as I cried and you would not hear, so you shall cry and seek and shall not find or be heard, saith the Lord.

Yes—they found Him, but with a door shut between Him and them. But what found they? The parable of the ten virgins tells us, which is the Gospel for this Psalm, they found that which we I hope shall never find, a nescio vos.* Where, that we may see that this course is folly and therefore indeed a ne fiant sicut, that which putteth the difference of those that be wise and go in, is that they had sought “and looked to their oil ere the Bridegroom came;”* and those that were foolish and shut out when the Bridegroom was even coming, that is, cum occideret, were to seek their oil then—had not looked to it till then. Nescio vos is their answer, He knoweth them not; they took too short a time to breed acquaintance in. Nescio vos they find that so seek. Profecto ad hoc tonitru, &c. ‘At this clap he that waketh not is not asleep but dead.’

To conclude then with our instruction. If this time and this seeking have so many evil marks, the time so unseasonable, the seeking so many ways to seek; if the success to this seeking be no better but nescio vos, why then ne fiat. If these here were not well advised, if those virgins were foolish, why then ne fiant sicut, “not to be like.”

Secondly, to sever the silver from the dross: the seeking is good, keep it; the time is wrong, change it; either into antequam occideret or into cum servaret. Fiat to the action, ne fiat to the time.

Thirdly, as we confess that there is One to be sought, and that with the turning of a gin1 we cannot have Him when we list, but seek Him we must; that His seeking is worth the while, and that it is not dispatched in a minute, but must have time; so to think His seeking worthy a better, and to allow it a better time than this to do it in.

Fourthly, seeing “yet is the acceptable time,” yet “He may be found,”* yet it is cum servaret, occideret is not yet come—how near it is it is hard to say; our Saviour Christ saith it is quâ horâ nescis,* it may be nearer than we are aware; lest it come upon us before we seek, let us seek before it come upon us. So seeking we shall safely seek; safely seek and surely find God, and with God whatsoever is worth the finding. But, that which we seek, we shall after occideret is past find ourselves in His presence and at His right hand; “in Whose presence is the fulness of joy,”* not as ours here joys half empty; and at “Whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore,” not as ours here for a time and a short time, God knoweth. That which here we seek and cannot find with Him we shall, if we shall here indeed and in due time seek Him by the timely fruits of an undelayed repentance. Almighty God, lighten our minds, kindle our affections, settle our hearts so to seek, &c.[1]

 

 

1 Liter. water impregnated with alkaline salts imbibed from the ashes of wood. Webster.

* Isa. 37:3.

1 i.e. pride. The ruff of their glory. L.’Estrange.

* [ἐκ παρέργου Thucyd. vii. 27.]

* Joh. 18:38.

* Ps. 105:3.

1 [price.]

1 [i.e. ingenuousness.]

* Mat. 25:12.

1 [Here used apparently forengine.]

[1] Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 1, pp. 305–320). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

Circumstances of Prayer

Circumstances of Prayer

1.      Kneeling, humiliation.

         He kneeled down and prayed.  Luke 22:41.

         He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed. Matt. 26:39.

         My soul is brought low, even unto the dust, my belly cleaveth unto the ground.

2.      Sinking the head, shame.

         Drooping the face.

3.      Smiting the breast, indignation.

4.      Shuddering, fear.

5.      Groaning, sorrow.

         Clasping of hands.

6.      Raising of eyes and hands, vehement desire.

7.      Blows, revenge.

3-6 2 Cor 7:11

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 4–5). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Places of Prayer

Places of Prayer

In all places where I record My Name, I will come to thee, and I will bless thee. Exod. 20:24.

Letb Thine eyes be open towards this house night and day, even toward the place of which Thou hast said, My Name shall be there; that Thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which Thy servant shall make towards this place. 1 Kings 8:29.

Thou that hearest the prayer
unto Thee shall all flesh come.
The fierceness of man shall turn to Thy praise,
and the fierceness of them shalt Thou refrain.

As for me, I will come into Thy house
even upon the multitude of Thy mercy,
and in Thy fear will I worship
toward Thy Holy Temple.

Hear the voice of my humble petitions,
when I cry unto Thee;
when I hold up my hands
towards the mercy-seat of Thy Holy Temple.

We wait for Thy loving-kindness, O God,
in the midst of Thy Temple.

1. Among the faithful and in the congregation. Ps. 111:1.

2. Enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret. Matt. 6:6.

3. They went up into an upper room. Acts 1:13.

4. He went up upon the housetop to pray. Acts 10:9.

5. They went up together into the Temple. Acts 3:1.

6. We kneeled down on the shore, and prayed, Acts 21:5.

7. He went forth over the brook Cedron, where was a garden. John 18:1.

8. Let them rejoice in their beds. Ps. 149:5.

9. He departed into a desert place and there prayed. Mark 1:35.

10. In every place lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. 1 Tim. 2:8.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 2–4). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Times of Prayer

Times of Prayer

Always. Luke 18:1.

Without ceasing. 1 Thes. 5:17.

At all times. Eph. 6:18.

Samuel among such as call upon His name. Ps. 99:6.

God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, and shewing you the good and the right way. 1 Sam. 12:23.

We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4.

He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Dan. 6:10.

In the evening, and morning, and at noon day will I pray, and that instantly, and He shall hear my voice. Ps. 55:18.

Seven times a day do I praise Thee. Ps. 119:164.

1. In the morning, a great while before day. Mark 1:35.

2. In the morning watch. Ps. 63:6.

3. The third hour of the day. Acts 2:15.

4. About the sixth hour. Acts 10:9.

5. The hour of prayer, the ninth. Acts 3:1.

6. The eventide. Gen. 24:63.

7. By night. Ps. 134:2.

At midnight. Ps. 119:62.

Andrewes, L. (1865). The Devotions of Bishop Andrewes, Translated from the Greek, and Arranged Anew. (J. H. Newman, Trans.) (A New Edition, pp. 1–2). Oxford; London: John Henry and James Parker. (Public Domain)

Easter 1608 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Easter 1608 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Easter 1608 — Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Mark 16:1–7

And when the Sabbath day was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought sweet ointments, that they might come and embalm Him.

Therefore early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre, when the sun was yet rising.

And they said one to another, Who shall roll us away this stone from the door of the sepulchre?

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was a very great one.

So they went into the sepulchre, and saw a young man sitting at the right side, clothed in a long white robe; and they were afraid.

But he said unto them, Be not afraid: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, Which hath been crucified; He is risen, He is not here; Behold the place where they put Him.

But go your way and tell His disciples, and Peter, that He will go before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.

The sum of this Gospel is a gospel, that is, a message of good tidings. In a message these three points fall in naturally: I. the parties to whom it is brought; II. the party by whom; III. and the message itself. These three: 1. the parties to whom,—three women, the three Maries. 2. The party by whom,—an Angel. 3. The message itself, the first news of Christ’s rising again. These three make the three parts in the text. 1. The women, 2. the Angel, 3. the message.

Seven verses I have read ye. The first four concern the women, the fifth the Angel, the two last the Angel’s message. In the women, we have to consider 1. themselves in the first; 2. their journey in the second and third; and 3. their success in the fourth.

In the Angel, 1. the manner of his appearing, 2. and of their affecting with it.

In the message, the news itself: 1. that Christ "is risen;" 2. that "He is gone before them to Galilee;" 3. that "there they shall see Him;" 4. Peter and all. 5. Then, the Ite et dicite, the commission ad evangelizandum; not to conceal these good news but publish it, these to His Disciples, they to others, and so to us; we to day, and so to the world’s end.

As the text lieth, the part that first offereth itself, is the parties to whom this message came. Which were three women. Where, finding that women were the first that had notice of Christ’s resurrection, we stay. For it may seem strange that passing by all men, yea the Apostles themselves, Christ would have His resurrection first of all made known to that sex. Reasons are rendered, of divers diversely. We may be bold to allege that the Angel doth in the text, verse 5. Vos enim quœritis,* for they sought Christ. And, Christ "is not unrighteous to forget the work and labour of their love" that seek Him. Verily there will appear more love and labour in these women, than in men, even the Apostles themselves. At this time, I know not how, men were then become women and did animos gerere muliebres,* and women were men. Sure the more manly of the twain. The Apostles, they set mured up,* all "the doors fast" about them; sought not,* went not to the sepulchre. Neither Peter that loved Him, nor John whom He loved, till these women brought them word. But these women we see were last at His Passion, and first at His Resurrection; stayed longest at that, came soonest to this, even in this respect to be respected. Sure, as it is said of the Law, Vigilantibus et non dormientibus succurrit Lex, so may it no less truly be said of the Gospel. We see it here, it cometh not to sleepers, but to them that are awake, and up and about their business, as these women were. So that there was a capacity in them to receive this prerogative.

Before I leave this part of the parties, I may not omit to observe Mary Magdalene’s place and precedence among the three. All the Fathers are careful to note it. That she standeth first of them, for it seemeth no good order. She had had seven devils in her,* as we find, verse 9. She had had the blemish to be called peccatrix,* as one famous and notorious in that kind. The other were of honest report, and never so stained, yet is she named with them. With them were much, but not only with them, but before them. With them;—and that is to shew Christ’s resurrection, as well as His death, reacheth to sinners of both sexes; and that, to sinners of note, no less than those that seem not to have greatly gone astray;—but before them too, and that is indeed to be noted; that she is the first in the list of women, and St. Peter in that of men. These two, the two chief sinners, either of their sex. Yet they, the two, whose lots came first forth in sorte sanctorum,* in partaking this news. And this to shew that chief sinners as these were, if they carry themselves as they did, shall be at no loss by their fall; shall not only be pardoned but honoured even as he was,* like these, with stolâ primâ, "the first robe" in all the wardrobe, and stand foremost of all. And it is not without a touch of the former reason, in that the sinner, after his recovery, for the most part seeketh God more fervently, whereas they that have not greatly gone astray, are but even so so; if warm, it is all. And with God it is a rule, plus valet hora fervens quam mensis tepens, ‘an hour of fervour more worth than a month of tepor.’ Now such was Mary Magdalene, here and elsewhere vouchsafed therefore this degree of exaltation,* to be "of the first three;" nay, to be the first of the three, that heard first of His rising; yea, as in the ninth verse, that first saw Him risen from the dead. This of the persons.

And now, because their endeavours were so well liked as they were for them counted worthy this so great honour, it falleth next to consider what those were, that we being like prepared may partake the like good hap. So seeking as they, we may find as they did. They were four in number. The first and third in the second, the second in the first, and the last in the third verse. All reduced, as Christ reduced them in Mary Magdalene, to dilexit multum, ‘their great love,’ of which these four be four demonstrations; or, if love be an "ensign" as it is termed Cant. 2.,* the four colours of it. 1. That they went to the sepulchre;—love to one dead. 2. That they bought precious odours;—love that is at charges. 3. That out they went early, before break of day;—love that will take pains. 4. That for all the stone, still they went on;—love that will wrestle with impediments. The first is constant as to the dead; the second bounteous, as at expense; the third diligent, as up betimes; the last resolute, be the stone never so great. According to which four, are the four denominations of love: 1. Amor, a mor-te, when it surviveth death. 2. When it buyeth dearly, it is charitas; 3. When it sheweth all diligence, it is dilectio; 4. When it goeth per saxa, when stones cannot stay it, it is zelus, which is specially seen in encountering difficulties. It shall not be amiss to touch them severally; it will serve to touch our love, whether ours be of the same assay.

The first riseth out of these words, "They went to the sepulchre;" and indeed, ex totâ substantiâ, ‘out of the whole text.’ For, for whom is all this ado, is it not for Christ? But Christ is dead, and buried three days since, and this is now the third day. What then, though He be dead, to their love He liveth still: death may take His body from their eyes, but shall never take His remembrance from their hearts. Herein is love, this is the first colour, saith a great master in that faculty,* fortis sicut mors, "love, that death cannot foil," but continueth to the dead, as if they still were alive. And when I say the dead, I mean not such as the dead hath left behind them, though that be a virtue, and Booz worthily blessed for it that shewed mercy to the living for the dead’s sake;* but I mean performing offices of love to the dead himself; to see he have a sepulchre to go to; not so to bury his friend, as he would bury his ass being dead. To see he have one, and not thither to bring him, and there to leave him, and bury him and his memory both in a grave. Such is the world’s love.* Solomon sheweth it by the lion and the dog. All after Christ living, but go to His sepulchre who will, not we. The love that goeth thither, that burieth not the memory of Him that is buried, is love indeed.

The journey to the sepulchre is iter amoris; had it been but to lament, as Mary Magdalene to Lazarus:—but then here is a farther matter, they went to anoint Him. That is set for another sign,* that they spared for no cost, but bought precious odours wherewith to embalm Him.

1. To go to anoint Christ, is kindly; it is to make Him Christ, that is, "Anointed." That term referreth principally to His Father’s anointing, I grant; but what, if we also anoint Him, will He take it in evil part? Clearly not, neither quick,* nor dead. Not quick, Luke 7. Mark 14. Not dead; this place is pregnant,* it is the end of their journey to do this. He is well content to be their, and our Anointed, not His Father’s only; yea, it is a way to make Him Christum nostrum, ‘our Christ,’ if we break our boxes, and bestow our odours upon Him.

2. To anoint Him, and not with some odd cast ointment, lying by them, kept a little too long, to throw away upon Him; but to buy, to be at cost, to do it emptis odoribus, ‘with bought odours.’

3. This to do to Him alive, that would they with all their hearts; but if that cannot be, to do it to Him dead, rather than not at all. To do it to whatsoever is left us of Christ, to that to do it.

4. To embalm Christ, Christ dead, yea though others had done it before,* for so is the case. Joseph and Nicodemus had bestowed myrrh and aloes to that end already. What then? though they had done it, it is not enough, nay, it is nothing. Nay, if all the world should have done it, unless they might come with their odours and do it too, all were nothing. In hoc est charitas, ‘herein is love,’ and this a sign of it. A sign of it every where else, and to Christ a sign it was. Indeed, such a sign there was, but it is beaten down now. We can love Christ absque hoc, and shew it some other way well enough. It sheweth our love is not charitas, no dear love; but vilitas, love that loves to be at as little charges with Christ as may be, faint love. You shall know it thus: Ad hoc signum se contrahit, ‘at this sign it shrinks,’ at every word of it. 1. "They bought,"—that is charge; we like it not,* we had rather hear potuit vendi. 2. "Odours." What need odours? An unnecessary charge. We like no odour but odor lucri. 3. To Christ. Nay, seeing it is unnecessary, we trust Christ will not require it. 4. Not alive, but especially, not dead. There was much ado while He lived to get allowance for it; there was one of His own Apostles, a good charitable man,* pater pauperum, held it to be plain perditio. Yet, to anoint the living, that many do, they can anoint us again; but to the dead, it is quite cast away. But then, if it had been told us, He is embalmed already, why then, take away their odours, that at no hand would have been endured. This sheweth our love is not charitas. But so long as this is a Gospel, it shall sound every Easter-day in our ear, That the buying of odours, the embalming of whatsoever is left us of Christ, is and will be still a sign of our loving and seeking Him, as we should; though not heretofore, yet now; now especially, when that objection ceaseth, He is embalmed enough already. He was indeed then, but most of the myrrh and aloes is now gone. That there is good occasion left, if any be disposed in hoc signo signari, ‘with this sign to seal his love to Christ anew again.’

From this of their expense, charitas, we pass to the third, of their diligence, dilectio, set down in the second verse in these words "very early," &c. And but mark how diligent the Holy Ghost is in describing their diligence. "The very first day of the week," the very first part of that first day, "in the morning;" the very first hour of that first part, "very early, before the sun was up," they were up. Why good Lord, what need all this haste? Christ is fast enough under His stone. He will not run away ye may be sure; ye need never break your sleep, and yet come to the sepulchre time enough. No, if they do it not as soon as it may be done, it is nothing worth. Herein is love, dilectio, whose proper sign is diligentia, in not slipping the first opportunity of shewing it. They did it not at their leisure, they could not rest, they were not well, till they were about it. Which very speed of theirs doubleth all the former. For cito we know is esteemed as much as bis. To do it at once is to do it more than once, is to do it twice over.

Yet this we must take with us, Διαγενομένου σαββάτου. Where falleth a very strange thing, that as we have commended them for their quickness, so must we now also for their slowness, out of the very first words of all. "When the Sabbath was past," then, and not till then, they did it. This diligence of theirs, as great haste as it made, stayed yet till the Sabbath were past, and by this means hath two contrary commendations: 1. One, for the speed; 2. another for the stay of it. Though they fain would have been embalming Him as soon as might be, yet not with breach of the Sabbath. Their diligence leapt over none of God’s commandments for haste. No, not this commandment, which of all other the world is boldest with; and if they have haste, somewhat else may, but sure the Sabbath shall never stay them. The Sabbath they stayed, for then God stayed them. But that was no sooner over, but their diligence appeared straight. No other thing could stay them. Not their own sabbath, sleep—but "before day-light" they were well onward on their way.

The last is in the third verse, in these words, "As they went, they said," &c. There was a stone, a very great one, to be rolled away ere they could come at Him. They were so rapt with love, in a kind of ecstacy, they never thought of the stone; they were well on their way before they remembered it. And then, when it came to their minds, they went not back though, but on still, the stone non obstante. And herein is love, the very fervor of it, zeal; that word hath fire in it. Not only diligence as lightness to carry it upward, but zeal as fire to burn a hole and eat itself a way, through whatsoever shall oppose to it. No stone so heavy as to stay them, or turn them back.* And this is St. John’s sign: foras pellit timorem, "love, if it be perfect, casts out fear;" et erubescit nomen difficultatis, ‘shames to confess any thing too hard for it.’ Ours is not so; we must have, not great stones, God wot, but every scruple removed out of our way, or we will not stir. But as, if you see one qui laborem fingit in prœcepto, ‘that makes a great deal more labour in a precept’ than needs, that is afraid where no fear is;* of leo in viâ, "a lion" or I wot not what perilous beast "in the way," and no such matter; it is a certain sign his love is small, his affection cold to the business in hand; so, on the other side, when we see, as in these here, such zeal to that they went about, as first they forgot there was any stone at all, and when they bethought them of it, they brake not off, but went on though; ye may be bold to say of them, dilexerunt multum, ‘their love was great’ that per saxa, ‘through stones’ and all, yet goeth forward; that neither cost nor pains nor peril can divert. Tell them the party is dead they go to; it skills not, their love is not dead; that will go on. Tell them He is embalmed already, they may save their cost; it is not enough for them except they do it too, they will do it nevertheless for all that. Tell them they may take time then, and do it; nay, unless it be done the first day, hour, and minute, it contents them not. Tell them there is a stone, more than they remember, and more than they can remove; no matter, they will try their strength and lift at it, though they take the foil. Of these thus qualified we may truly say, They that are at all this cost, labour, pains, to anoint Him dead, shew plainly, if it lay in them to raise Him again, they would not fail but do it; consequently would be glad to hear He were risen, and so are fit hearers of this Gospel; hearers well disposed, and every way meet to receive this Messenger, and this message. Now to the success.

We see what they sought, we long to see what they found. Such love and such labour would not be lost. This we may be sure of, there is none shall anoint Him alive or dead, without some recompense or consideration; which is set down of two sorts. 1. "They found the stone rolled away," as great as it was. That which troubled them most, how it might be removed, that found they removed ere they came. They need never take pains with it, the Angel had done it to their hands. 2. They found not indeed Whom they sought, Christ; but His Angel they found, and heard such a gospel of Him, so good news, as pleased them better than if they had found His body to embalm it. That news which of all other they most longed to hear, that He they came to anoint needed no such office to be done to Him, as being alive again. This was the success.

And from this success of theirs our lesson is. 1. That as there is no virtue, no good work, but hath some impediment, as it were some great stone to be lifted at,—Quis revolvet? so that it is ofttimes the lot of them that seek to do good, to find many imaginary stones removed to their hands; God so providing, ut quod admovit Satanas, amoveat Angelus, ‘what Satan lays in the way, a good Angel takes out of the way;’ that it may in the like case be a good answer to Quis revolvet? to say, Angelus Domini, "the Angel of the Lord," he shall do it, done it shall be: so did these here, and as they did, others shall find it.

2. Again, it is the hope that all may have that set themselves to do Christ any service, to find His Angel at least, though not Himself; to hear some good news of Him, though not see Him at the first. Certain it is with ungentes ungentur, ‘none shall seek ever to anoint Him but they shall be anointed by Him again,’ one way or other; and find, though not always what they seek, yet some supply that shall be worth the while. And this we may reckon of, it shall never fail us.

To follow this farther. Leave we these good women, and come first to the Angel, the messenger, and after to his message. An Angel was the messenger, for none other messenger was meet for this message.* For if His birth were tidings of so great joy as none but an Angel was meet to report it, His resurrection is as much. As much? nay, much more. As much; for His resurrection is itself a birth too. To it doth the Apostle apply the verse in the Psalm,* "This day have I begotten Thee." Even this day when He was born anew, tanquam ex utero sepulchri, ‘from the womb of the grave.’ As much then, yea much more. For the news of His birth might well have been brought by a mortal, it was but His entry into a mortal life; but this here not properly but by an Angel,* for that in the Resurrection we shall be "like the Angels," and shall die no more; and therefore an immortal messenger was meetest for it.

We first begin with what they saw,—the vision. They saw an Angel in the sepulchre. An Angel in a sepulchre is a very strange sight. A sepulchre is but an homely place—neither savoury, nor sightly, for an Angel to come in. The place of dead men’s bones, of stench, of worms, and of rottenness;—What doth an Angel there? Indeed, no Angel ever came there till this morning. Not till Christ had been there; but, since His body was there, a great change hath ensued. He hath left there odorem vitœ, and changed the grave into a place of rest. That not only this Angel here now, but after this,* two more, yea divers Angels upon divers occasions, this day did visit and frequent this place. Which very finding of the Angels thus, in the place of dead bodies, may be and is to us a pledge, that there is a possibility and hope, that the dead bodies may come also into the place of Angels. Why not the bodies in the grave to be in Heaven one day, as well as the Angels of Heaven to be in the grave this day?

This for the vision. The next for the manner of his appearing, in what form he shewed himself. A matter worth our stay a little as a good introduction to us, in him as in a mirror to see what shall be the state of us and our bodies in the Resurrection, inasmuch as it is expressly promised we shall then be ἰσάγγελοι,* "like and equal to the Angels themselves."

2. They saw "a young man," one in the vigour and strength of his years, and such shall be our estate then; all age, sickness, infirmity removed clean away. Therefore it was also that the Resurrection fell in the spring, the freshest time of the year; and in the morning, the freshest time of the day,* when saith Esay "the dew is on the herbs." Therefore, that it was in a garden, (so it was in Joseph of Arimathea’s garden) that look, as that garden was at that time of the year, the spring, so shall our estate then be in the very flower and prime of it.

They saw him "sitting," which is we know the site of rest and quietness, of them that are at ease. To shew us a second quality of our estate then; that in it all labour shall cease, all motions rest, all troubles come utterly to an end for ever, and the state of it a quiet, a restful state.

They saw him sit "on the right side." And that side is the side of pre-eminence and honour, to shew that those also shall accompany us rising again. That we may fall on the left side,* but we shall rise on the right; be "sown in dishonour," but shall "rise again in honour," that honour which His Saints and Angels have and shall have for ever.

Lastly, they saw him "clothed all in white." And white is the colour of gladness, as we find Eccles. 9:8. All to shew still,* that it shall be a state, as of strength, rest, and honour, so of joy likewise. And that, robe-wise; not short or scant, but as his stole, all over, down to the ground.

Neither serves it alone to shew us, what then we shall be, but withal what now we ought to be this day, the day of His rising.* In that we see, that as the heavens at the time of His Passion were in black, by the great eclipse shewing us it was then a time of mourning; so this day the Angels were all in white, to teach us thereby with what affection, with how great joy and gladness, we are to celebrate and solemnize this feast of our Saviour’s rising.

Their affection here was otherwise, and that is somewhat strange. In the apparition there was nothing fearful as ye see, yet it is said, "they were afraid." Even now they feared nothing, and now they fall to be afraid at this so comfortable a sight. Had they been guilty to themselves of any evil they came to do, well might they then have feared, God first, as the malefactor doth the judge, and then His Angel, as the executioner of His wrath. But their coming was for good. But I find it is not the sinner’s case only, but even of the best of our nature.* Look the Scripture; Abraham and Jacob in the Old,* Zachary and the Blessed Virgin in the New,* all strucken with fear still, at the sight of good Angels; yea even then,* when they came for their good.

It fareth with the Angels of light, as it doth with the light itself. Sore eyes and weak cannot endure it, no more can sinners them. No more can the strongest sight neither bear the light, if the object be too excellent, if it be not tempered to a certain proportion; otherwise, even to the best that is, is the light offensive. And that is their case. Afraid they are, not for any evil they were about, but for that our very nature is now so decayed, ut lucem ad quam nata est sustinere nequeat, as the Angels’ brightness, for whose society we were created, yet as now we are, bear it we cannot, but need to be comforted at the sight of a comfortable Angel. It is not the messenger angelical, but the message evangelical that must do it.

Which leadeth us along from the vision that feared them, to the message itself that relieved them; which is the third part. The stone lay not more heavy on the grave, than did that fear on their hearts, pressing them down hard. And no less needful was it, the Angel should roll it away, this spiritual great stone from their hearts, than he did that other material from the sepulchre itself. With that he begins.

1. "Fear not." A meet text for him, that maketh a sermon at a sepulchre. For the fear of that place maketh us out of quiet all our life long.* It lieth at our heart like a stone, and no way there is to make us willing to go thither, but by putting us out of fear; by putting us in hope, that the great stones shall be rolled away again from our sepulchres, and we from thence rise to a better life. It is a right beginning for an Easter-day’s sermon, nolite timere.

2. And a good reason he yields, why not. For it is not every body’s case, this nolite timere vos, "fear not you." Why not? For "you seek Jesus of Nazareth Which hath been crucified." "Nazareth" might keep you back, the meanness of His birth, and "crucified" more, the reproach of His death. Inasmuch as these cannot let you, but ye seek Him; are ashamed neither of His poor birth, nor of His shameful death, but seek Him; and seek Him, not as some did when He was alive, when good was to be done by Him, but even now, dead, when nothing is to be gotten; and not to rob or rifle Him, but to embalm Him, an office of love and kindness, (this touched before) "fear not you," nor let any fear that so seek Him.

Now, that they may not fear, He imparts them His message full of comfort. And it containeth four comforts of hope, answerable to the four former proofs of their love: "1. He is risen;" 2. But "gone before you;" 3. "Ye shall see Him;" 4. "All His Disciples," "Peter" and all; "Go tell them so."

In that you thus testify your love in seeking Him, I dare say ye had rather He ye thus come to embalm, that He were alive again; and no more joyful tidings could come to you than that He were so. Ye could I dare say with all your hearts be content to lose all your charge you have been at, in buying your odours, on condition it were so. Therefore I certify you that He is alive,* He is risen. No more than Gaza gates could hold Samson,* or the whale Jonas, no more could this stone keep Him in the sepulchre, but risen He is.

First, of this ye were sure, here He was: ye were at His laying in, ye saw the stone sealed, and the watch set, so that here He was. But here He is not now; come see the place, trust your own eyes, non est hîc.

But what of that, this is but a lame consequence for all that; He is not here, therefore He is risen. For may it not be, He hath been taken away? Not with any likelihood; though such a thing will be given out,* that the Disciples stole Him away while the watch was asleep. But your reason will give you; 1. small probability there is, they could be asleep, all the ground shaking and tottering under them by means of the earthquake.* 2. And secondly, if they did sleep for all that, yet then could they not tell sleeping, how, or by whom, He was taken away. 3. And thirdly, that His Disciples should do it; they you know of all other were utterly unlike to do any such thing; so fearful as miserably they forsook Him yet alive, and have ever since shut themselves up since He was dead. 4. And fourthly, if they durst have done such a thing, they would have taken Him away, linen, clothes, and all, as fearful men will make all the haste they can possibly, and not stood stripping Him and wrapping up the clothes, and laying them every parcel, one by one in order, as men use to do that have time enough and take deliberation, as being in no haste, or fear at all. To you therefore, as we say, ad hominem, this consequence is good; not taken away, and not here, therefore risen He is.

But, to put all out of doubt, you shall trust your own eyes; videbitis, ‘you shall see’ it is so; you shall see Him. Indeed, non hîc would not serve their turns; He knew there question would be, Where is He? Gone He is; not quite gone, but only gone before, which is the second comfort; for if He be but gone before, we have hope to follow after; I prœ, sequar; so is the nature of relatives. But that we may follow then, whither is He gone? Whither He told ye Himself, a little before His Passion, chap. 14:28. "into Galilee."

1. No meeter place for Jesus of Nazareth to go, than to "Galilee:"* there He is best known, there in Nazareth He was brought up,* there in Cana He did His first miracle, shewed His first glory—meet therefore to see His last; there in Capernaum, and the coasts about, preached most, bestowed most of His labour.

2. "Galilee;" it was called "Galilee of the Gentiles,"* for it was in the confines of them; to shew, His resurrection, tanquam in meditullio, ‘as in a middle indifferent place,’ reacheth to both;* concerneth and benefiteth both alike. As Jonas after his resurrection went to Nineveh, so Christ after His to Galilee of the Gentiles.

3. "Galilee;" that from Galilee, the place from whence they said, No good thing could ever come, He might bring one of the best things, and of most comfort that ever was; the sight and comfort of His Resurrection.

4. "Galilee" last, for Galilee signifieth a revolution or turning about to the first point, whither they must go that shall see Him, or have any part or fellowship in this feast of His Resurrection. Thither is He gone before, and thither if ye follow, there ye shall see Him.

This is the third comfort, and it is one indeed. For sight is the sense of certainty, and all that they can desire, and there they did see Him. Not these here only, or the twelve only,* or the one hundred and twenty names, in Acts 1. only, but even five hundred of them at once,* saith the Apostle; a whole "cloud of witnesses,*" to put it clean out of question. And of purpose doth the Angel point to that apparition, which was the most famous and public of all the ten.

This was good news for those here, and they were worthy of it, seeking Him as they did. But what shall become of the rest, namely of His Disciples that lost Him alive, and seek Him not dead? They shall never see Him more? Yes (which is evangelicum, ‘good tidings’ indeed, the chief comfort of all) they too that left Him so shamefully but three days ago, them He casts not off, but will be glad to see them in Galilee. Well, whatsoever become of other, Peter that so foully forsook, and forsware Him both, he shall never see Him more? Yes, Peter too, and Peter by name. And indeed, it is more than needful He should name him, he had greatest cause of doubt; the greatest stone upon him to be rolled away of any, that had so often with oaths and execrations so utterly renounced Him.* This is a good message for him, and Mary Magdalene as fit a messenger as can be to carry it, one great sinner to another. That not only Christ is risen, but content that His forsakers, deniers, forswearers, Peter and all, should repair to Him the day of His Resurrection; that all the deadly wounds of His Passion have not killed His compassion over sinners; that though they have made wrack of their duty, yet He hath not lost His mercy, not left it in the grave, but is as ready to receive them as ever. His Resurrection hath made no change in Him. Dying and rising, He is to sinners still one and the same, still like Himself, a kind, loving, and merciful Saviour. This is the last; Peter and all may see Him.

And with this He dismisseth them, with ite et dicite, with a commission and precept, by virtue whereof He maketh these women Apostolos Apostolorum, ‘Apostles to the Apostles themselves,’—for this article of the Resurrection did they first learn of these women, and they were the first of all that preached this Gospel—giving them in charge, that seeing this day is a day of glad tidings, they would not conceal it, but impart it to others, even to so many as then were, or would ever after be Christ’s disciples.

They came to embalm Christ’s body natural; that needs it not, it is past embalming now. But another Body He hath, a mystical body, a company of those that had believed in Him, though weakly; that they would go and anoint them, for they need it. They sit drying away, what with fear, what with remorse of their unkind dealing with Him; they need to have some oil, some balm to supple them. That they do with this Gospel, with these four; of which four ingredients is made the balm of this day.

Thus we see, these that were at cost to anoint Christ were fully recompensed for the costs they had been at; themselves anointed with oil and odours of a higher nature, and far more precious than those they brought with them,* Oleum lœtitiœ, saith the Psalm,* Odor vitœ, saith the Apostle. And that so plenteously, as there is enough for themselves, enough too for others, for His Disciples, for Peter and all.

But what is this to us? Sure, as we learned by way of duty how to seek Christ after their example, so seeking Him in that manner, by way of reward we hope to have our part in this good news no less than they.

1. "Christ is risen."* That concerneth us alike. "The head" is got above the water,* "the root" hath received life and sap, "the first fruits" are lift up and consecrate;* we no less than they, as His members, His branches, His field, recover to this hope.

2. And for His going before, that which the Angel said here once, is ever true. He is not gone quite away, He is but gone before us; He is but the antecedent, we as the consequent to be inferred after. Yea, though He be gone to Galilœa superior, ‘the Galilee that is above,’ Heaven, the place of the celestial spheres and revolutions, even thither is He gone, not as a party absolute, of or for Himself, but as "a Harbinger,"* saith the Apostle, with relation to others that are coming after, for whom He goeth before to take up a place. So the Apostle there, so the Angel here. So He Himself, Vado;* not Vado alone, but Vado parare locum vobis, "I go to prepare a place wherein to receive you," when the number of you and your brethren shall be full.

3. To us likewise pertaineth the third videbitis, that is, the Gospel indeed. "He is risen." Rising of itself is no Gospel, but He is risen and we shall see Him; that is it. That the time will come also, that we shall see Him in the Galilee celestial that is above;* yea, that all shall see Him, even "they that pierced Him." But they that came to embalm Him,* with joy and lifting up their heads they shall see Him; with that sight shall they see Him, That shall evermore make them blessed.

4. Lastly, which is worth all the rest, That we shall not need to be dismayed with our unworthiness, in that willing He is Peter should have word of this, and Mary Magdalene should carry it. That such as they were, sinners, and chief sinners, should have these tidings told them, this Gospel preached them; that He is as ready to receive them to grace as any of the rest, and will be as glad to see them as any others in Galilee.

But then are we to remember the condition, that here we get us into Galilee, or else it will not be. And Galilee is ‘a revolution, or turning’ ad principia ‘to the first point,’ as doth the Zodiac at this time of the year. The time of His resurrection is pascha, ‘a passing over;’ the place Galilee, ‘a turning about.’ It remaineth then that we pass over as the time, and turn as the place, putteth us in mind. Re-uniting ourselves to His Body and Blood in this time of His rising, of the dissolving and renting whereof our sins were the cause. The time of His suffering, keeping the feast of Christ our new Passover offered for us; leaving whatsoever formerly hath been amiss in Christ’s grave as the weeds of our dead estate, and rising to newness of life, that so we may have our parts "in the first resurrection;"* which they are happy and blessed that shall have, for by it they are sure of the second. Of which blessing and happiness, He vouchsafe to make us all partakers, That this day rose for us, Jesus Christ the Righteous!

Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 2). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

Easter 1607 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Easter 1607 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

EASTER 1607 — Biship Lancelot Andrewes

1 Corinthians 15:20

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and was made the first fruits of them that sleep.

The same Apostle that out of Christ’s resurrection taught the Romans matter of duty, the same here out of the same resurrection teacheth the Corinthians matter of hope. There, similiter et vos,* by way of pattern to conform ourselves to Him "in newness of life;" and here, similiter et vos, in another sense by way of promise; that so doing, He shall hereafter conform us to Himself,* "change our vile bodies," and make them like "His glorious body." That former is our first resurrection from sin, this latter our second resurrection from the grave; this, the reward of that. In that, the work what to do; in this, our reward, what to hope for. These two, labour and hope, the Church joineth in one Anthem to day, her first Anthem. They sort well, and being sung together make a good harmony. But that without this, labour without hope, is no good music.

To rise, and to reclaim ourselves from a sinful course of life we have long lived in, is labour sure, and great labour. Now labour of itself is a harsh unpleasant thing, unless it be seasoned with hope.* Debet qui arat in spe arare, saith the Apostle above at the ninth chapter, in the matter of the Clergy’s maintenance,* "He that plows must plow in hope;" his plough will not go deep else, his furrows will be but shallow. Men may frame to themselves what speculations they please, but the Apostle’s saying will prove true: sever hope from labour, and you must look for labour and labourers accordingly, slight and shallow God knoweth. Labour then leads us to hope.

The Apostle saw this, and therefore is careful, whom he thus presseth to newness of life and the labour therefore, to raise for them, and to set before them, matter of hope. Hope here in this life he could set them none. They were, as he was himself,* at quotidie morior every hour,* in danger to be drawn to the block. It must therefore be from another, or at least as the text is, by a hope of being restored to life again. It was their case at Corinth, here in this chapter, plainly: If we must die to-morrow, if there be all that shall become of us,* then "let us eat and drink" while we may. If we be not sure of another life, let us make sure of this. But when in the sequel of the chapter, he had shewed there was restoring, and that so sure he was of it that he falls to insult over them in these terms, they gird up their loins again, and fall to their labours afresh,* as knowing their labour should not be "in vain in the Lord." This hope leads us to our restoring.

Our restoring is but a promise—shall be restored: that necessarily refers to a party that is to make it good. Who is that? Christ.* "Christ is our hope." Why, "hope is joined to the living,"* saith the Wise Man. Christ is dead; buried last Friday. If He be our hope, and He be dead, our hope is dead too; and if our hope be dead, our labour will not live long, nay both are buried with Christ in His grave. It was their case this day that went to Emmaus: say they, supposing Christ to be dead,* nos autem sperabamus, "we were once in good hope" by Him, that is, while He lived; as much to say as ‘Now He is in His grave, our hope is gone, we are even going to Emmaus.’ But then after, as soon as they saw He was alive again, their hope revived, and with their hope their labour; and presently back again to Jerusalem to the Lord’s work, and bade Emmaus farewell. So He leads us to labour; labour, to hope; hope, to our restoring; our restoring to Christ’s, Who, as He hath restored Himself, will restore us also to life. And this keeps us from going to Emmaus. It is used proverbially. Emmaus signifieth ‘a people forlorn:’ all that are at sperabamus, have lost their hopes, are said to go thither; and thither we should all go, even to Emmaus, but for the hope that breathes from this verse, without which it were a cold occupation to be a Christian.

This then is the hope of this text, spes viva, spes beata, worth all hopes else whatsoever. All hopes else are but spes spirantium, ‘hopes while we breath;’ this is spes expirantium, ‘the hope when we can fetch our breath no longer.’ The carnal man—all he can say is, dum spiro spero, ‘his hope is as long as his breath.’ The Christian aspireth higher, goeth farther by virtue of this verse and saith, dum expiro spero; ‘his hope fails him not when his breath fails him.’* Even then, saith Job, reposita est mihi spes in sinu meo; this hope, and only this, is laid up in our bosom, that though our life be taken from us, yet in Christ we to do it, and it to us shall be restored again.

Our case is not as theirs then was: no persecution, nor we at quotidie morior, and therefore not so sensible of this doctrine. But yet to them that are daily falling toward death, rising to life is a good text; peradventure not when we are well and in good health, but the hour is coming, when we shall leave catching at all other hopes, and must hold only by this; in horâ mortis, when all hope save the hope of this verse shall forsake us. Sure it is, under these very words are we laid into our graves, and these the last words that are said over us, as the very last hold we have; and we therefore to regard them with Job, and lay them up in our bosom.

There is in this text, I. a text, and an II. exposition. I. The text, we may well call the Angels’ text, for from them it came first. II. The exposition is St. Paul’s. These words,* "Christ is risen," were first uttered by an Angel this day in the sepulchre;* all the Evangelists so testify.

This text is a good text,* but reacheth not to us, unless it be helped with the Apostle’s exposition, and then it will. The exposition is it that giveth us our hope, and the ground of our hope. "Christ is risen," saith the Angel. "Christ the first fruits," saith the Apostle. And mark well that word "first fruits," for in that word is our hope. For if He be as the "first fruits" in His rising, His rising must reach to all that are of the heap whereof He is the "first fruits." This is our hope.

But our hope must have "a reason," saith St. Peter, and we be ready with it.* The hope that hath a ground, saith St. Paul, that is,* spes quæ non confundit. Having then shewed us this hope,* he sheweth us the ground of it. This: that in very equity we are to be allowed to be restored to life, the same way we lost it. But we lost it by man, or to speak in particular, by Adam we came by our attainder. Meet therefore, that by man, and to speak in particular, that by Christ, we come to our restoring. This is the ground or substance of our hope.

And thus he hath set before us this day life and death, in themselves and their causes, two things that of all other do most concern us. Our last point shall be to apply it to the means, this day offered unto us toward the restoring us to life.

The doctrine of the Resurrection is one of the foundations, so called by the Apostle. It behoveth him therefore, as a skilful workman,* to see it surely laid. That is surely laid that is laid on the rock,* and "the rock is Christ." Therefore he laid it on Christ by saying first, "Christ is risen."

Of all that be Christians, Christ is the hope; but not Christ every way considered, but as risen. Even in Christ un-risen there is no hope. Well doth the Apostle begin here; and when he would open to us "a gate of hope,"* carry us to Christ’s sepulchre empty; to shew us, and to hear the Angel say, "He is risen." Thence after to deduce; if He were able to do thus much for Himself, He hath promised us as much, and will do as much for us. We shall be restored to life.

Thus had he proceeded in the four verses before, destructive.* 1. Miserable is that man, that either laboureth or suffereth in vain.* 2. Christian men seem to do so, and do so, if there be no other life but this. 3. There is no other life but this, if there be no resurrection.* 4. There is no resurrection, "if Christ be not risen;" for ours dependeth on His. And now he turneth all about again. "But now," saith he, 1. "Christ is risen." 2. If He be, we shall. 3. If we shall,* we have, as St. Paul calleth it, a "blessed hope," and so a life yet behind. 4. If such hope we have, we of all men "labour not in vain." So there are four things: 1. Christ’s rising; 2. our restoring; 3. our hope; and 4. our labour. All the doubt is of the two first, the two other will follow of themselves. If a restoring, we have good hope; if good hope, our labour is not lost. The two first are in the first; the other, in the last words. The first are, "Christ is risen;" the last, we shall be restored to life. Our endeavour is to bring these two together, but first to lay the cornerstone.

"Christ is risen," is the Angel’s text, a part of the "great mystery of godliness,"* which, as the Apostle saith, was "seen of Angels," by them "delivered," and "believed on by the world." Quod credibile primum fecit illis videntium certitudo, post morientium fortitudo, jam credibile mihi facit credentium multitudo. ‘It became credible at first by the certainty of them that saw it, then by the constancy of them that died for confession of it, and to us now the huge multitude of them that have and do believe it, maketh it credible.’ For if it be not credible, how is it credible that the world could believe it? the world, I say, being neither enjoined by authority, nor forced by fear, nor inveigled by allurements; but brought about by persons, by means less credible than the thing itself. Gamaliel said,* "If it be of God, it will prevail." And though we cannot argue, all that hath prevailed is of God, yet thus we can: that which hath been mightily impugned, and weakly pursued, and yet prevailed, that was of God certainly. That which all the powers of the earth fought but could not prevail against, was from Heaven certainly. Certainly, "Christ is risen;" for many have risen, and lift up themselves against it, but all are fallen. But the Apostle saith, it is a "foundation," that he will not lay it again; no more will we, but go forward and raise upon it, and so let us do.

"Christ is risen:" suppose He be, what then? Though Christ’s rising did no way concern us or we that, yet 1. first, In that a man, one of our own flesh and blood hath gotten such a victory, even for humanity’s sake; 2. Then, in that One that is innocent hath quit Himself so well for innoceney’s sake; 3. thirdly, In that He hath foiled a common enemy, for amity’s sake; 4. lastly, In that He hath wiped away the ignominy of His fall with the glory of His rising again, for virtue and valour’s sake; for all these we have cause to rejoice with Him, all are matter of gratulation.

But the Apostle is about a farther matter; that text, the Angel’s text, he saw would not serve our turn, farther than I have said. Well may we congratulate Him, if that be all, but otherwise it pertains to us, "Christ is risen." The Apostle therefore enters farther, telling us that Christ did thus rise, not as Christ only, but as "Christ the first fruits." "Christ is risen," and in rising become the "first fruits;" risen, and so risen; that is, to speak after the manner of men, that there is in Christ a double capacity. 1. One as a body natural, considered by Himself, without any relative respect unto us, or to any; in which regard well may we be glad, as one stranger is for another, but otherwise His rising concerns us not at all. 2. Then that He hath a second, as a body politic, or chief part of a company or corporation, that have to Him, and He to them, a mutual and reciprocal reference, in which respect His resurrection may concern us no less than Himself; it is that He giveth us the first item of in the word primitiæ, that Christ in His rising cometh not to be considered as a totum integrale, or body natural alone, as Christ only; but that which maketh for us, He hath besides another capacity, that He is a part of a corporation or body, of which body we are the members. This being won, look what He hath suffered or done, it pertaineth to us, and we have our part in it.

You shall find, and ever when you find such words make much of them, Christ called a "Head,"—a head is a part; Christ called a "Root,"*—a root is a part; and here Christ called "first fruits,"* which we all know is but a part of the fruits, but a handful of a heap or a sheaf, and referreth to the rest of the fruits, as a part to the whole. So that there is in the Apostle’s conceit one mass or heap of all mankind, of which Christ is the "first fruits," we the remainder. So as by the law of the body all His concern us no less than they do Him, whatsoever He did, He did to our behoof. Die He, or rise, we have our part in His death and in His resurrection, and all: why? because He is but the "first fruits."

And if He were but Primus, and not Primitiæ dormientium, there were hope. For primus is an ordinal number, and draweth after a second, a third, and God knoweth how many. But if in that word there be any scruple, as sometime it is, ante quem non est rather than post quem est alius, if no more come by one; all the world knows the first fruits is but a part of the fruits, there are fruits beside them, no man knoweth how many.

But that which is more, the "first fruits" is not every part, but such a part as representeth the whole, and hath an operative force over the whole. For the better understanding whereof, we are to have recourse to the Law, to the very institution or first beginning of them.* Ever the legal ceremony is a good key to the evangelical mystery. Thereby we shall see why St. Paul made choice of the word "first fruits," to express himself by; that he useth verbum vigilans, ‘a word that is awake,’* as St. Augustine saith, or as Solomon, "a word upon his own wheel." The head or the root would have served, for if the head be above the water, there is hope for the whole body, and if the root hath life, the branches shall not long be without; yet he refuseth these and other that offered themselves, and chooseth rather the term of "first fruits." And why so?

This very day, Easter-day, the day of Christ’s rising, according to the Law, is the day or feast of the "first fruits;" the very feast carrieth him to the word, nothing could be more fit or seasonable for the time. The day of the Passion is the day of the Passover, and "Christ is our Passover;"* the day of the Resurrection is the day of the first fruits, and Christ is our "first fruits."

And this term thus chosen, you shall see there is a very apt and proper resemblance between the Resurrection and it. The rite and manner of the first fruits, thus it was. Under the Law, they might not eat of the fruits of the earth so long as they were profane. Profane they were, until they were sacred, and on this wise were they sacred. All the sheaves in a field,* for example’s sake, were unholy. One sheaf is taken out of all the rest, which sheaf we call the first fruits. That in the name of the rest is lift up aloft and shaken to and fro before the Lord,* and so consecrated.* That done, not only the sheaf so lifted up was holy, though that alone was lift up, but all the sheaves in the field were holy, no less than it.* The rule is, "If the first fruits be holy, all the lump is so too."

And thus, for all the world, fareth it in the Resurrection. "We were all dead,"* saith the Apostle, dead sheaves all. One, and that is Christ, this day, the day of first fruits, was in manner of a sheaf taken out of the number of the dead, and in the name of the rest lift up from the grave, and in His rising He shook,* for there was a great earthquake, by virtue whereof the first fruits being restored to life, all the rest of the dead are in Him entitled to the same hope, in that He was not so lift up for Himself alone, but for us and in our names; and so the substance of this feast fulfilled in Christ’s resurrection.

Now upon this lifting up, there ensueth a very great alteration, if you please to mark it. It was even now, "Christ is risen from the dead, the first fruits"—it should be of the dead too, for from thence He rose; it is not so, but "the first fruits"—"of them that sleep;" that you may see the consecration hath wrought a change. A change and a great change certainly, to change νεκροὶ into κεκοιμημένοι, a burial place into a cemetery, that is a great dortor; graves into beds, death into sleep, dead men into men laid down to take their rest,* a rest of hope, of hope to rise again. "If they sleep, they shall do well."

And that which lieth open in the word, dormientium, the very same is enfolded in the word "first fruits:" either word affordeth comfort. For first fruits imply fruits, and so we, as the fruits of the earth, falling as do the grains or kernels into the ground, and there lying, to all men’s seeming putrified and past hope, yet on a sudden, against the great feast of first fruits, shooting forth of the ground again. The other of dormientium the Apostle letteth go, and fastens on this of fruits, and followeth it hard through the rest of the chapter;* shewing, that the rising again of the fruits sown would be no less incredible than the Resurrection, but that we see it so every year.

These two words of 1. sleeping and 2. sowing would be laid up well. That which is sown riseth up in the spring, that which sleepeth in the morning. So conceive of the change wrought in our nature; that feast of first fruits, by "Christ our first fruits." Neither perish, neither that which is sown, though it rot, nor they that sleep, though they lie as dead for the time. Both that shall spring, and these wake well again. Therefore as men sow not grudgingly, nor lie down at night unwillingly, no more must we, seeing by virtue of this feast we are now dormientes, not mortui; now not as stones, but as fruits of the earth, whereof one hath an annual, the other a diurnal resurrection. This for the first fruits, and the change by them wrought.

There is a good analogy or correspondence between these, it cannot be denied. To this question, Can one man’s resurrection work upon all the rest? it is a good answer, Why not as well as one sheaf upon the whole harvest? This simile serves well to shew it, to shew but not prove. Symbolical Divinity is good, but might we see it in the rational too? We may see it in the cause no less; in the substance, and let the ceremony go. This I called the ground of our hope.

Why, saith the Apostle, should this of the first fruits seem strange to you, that by one Man’s resurrection we should rise all, seeing by one man’s death we die all? "By one man,"* saith he, "sin entered into the world, and by sin death;" to which sin we were no parties, and yet we all die, because we are of the same nature whereof he the first person; death came so certainly, and it is good reason life should do so likewise. To this question, Can the resurrection of one, a thousand six hundred years ago, be the cause of our rising? it is a good answer, Why not, as well as the death of one, five thousand six hundred years ago, be the cause of our dying? The ground and reason is, that there is like ground and reason of both. The wisest way it is, if wisdom can contrive it, that a person be cured by mithridate made of the very flesh of the viper bruised, whence the poison came, that so that which brought the mischief might minister also the remedy; the most powerful way it is, if power can effect it, to make strength appear in weakness; and that he that overcame should by the nature which he overcame, be "swallowed up in victory." The best way it is, if goodness will admit of it, that as next to Sathan man to man oweth his destruction, so next to God man to man might be debtor of his recovery. So agreeable it is to the power, wisdom, and goodness of God this, the three attributes of the blessed and glorious Trinity.

And let justice weigh it in her balance, no just exception can be taken to it, no not by justice itself; that as death came, so should life too, the same way at least. More favour for life, if it may be, but in very rigour the same at the least. According then to the very exact rule of justice, both are to be alike; if by man one, by man the other.

We dwell too long in generalities; let us draw near to the persons themselves, in whom we shall see this better. In them all answer exactly, word for word. Adam is fallen, and become the first fruits of them that die. "Christ is risen, and became the first fruits of them" that live,—for they that sleep live. Or you may, if you please, keep the same term in both, thus: Adam is risen, as we use to call rebellions risings;* he did rise against God by eritis sicut Dii; he had never fallen, if he had not thus risen; his rising was his fall.

We are now come to the two great persons, that are the two great authors of the two great matters in this world, life and death. Not either to themselves and none else, but as two heads, two roots, two first fruits, either of them in reference to his company whom they stand for. And of these two hold the two great corporations: 1. Of them that die, they are Adam’s; 2. Of them that sleep and shall rise, that is Christ’s.

To come then to the particular: no reason in the world that Adam’s transgression should draw us all down to death, only for that we were of the same lump; and that Christ’s righteousness should not be available to raise us up again to life, being of the same sheaves, whereof He the first fruits, no less than before of Adam. Look to the things, death and life; weakness is the cause of death, raising to life cometh of power.* Shall there be in weakness more strength to hurt, than in power to do us good? Look to the persons, Adam and Christ: shall Adam,* being but a "living soul," infect us more strongly than Christ, "a quickening Spirit," can heal us again?* Nay then, Adam was but "from the earth, earthy, Christ the Lord from Heaven." Shall earth do that which Heaven cannot undo? Never. It cannot be; sicut, sic, ‘as’ and ‘so,’—so run the terms.

But the Apostle, in Rom. 5. where he handleth this very point,* tells us plainly, non sicut delictum, ita et donum; "not as the fault, so the grace;" nor as the fall, so the rising, but the grace and the rising much more abundant. It seemeth to be a pari; it is not indeed, it is under value. Great odds between the persons, the things, the powers, and the means of them. Thus then meet it should be; let us see how it was.

Here again the very terms give us great light. We are, saith he, restored; restoring doth always presuppose an attainder going before, and so the term significant; for the nature of attainder is, one person maketh the fault, but it taints his blood and all his posterity. The Apostle saith that a statute there is,* "all men should die;" but when we go to search for it,* we can find none, but pulvis es, wherein only Adam is mentioned, and so none die but he. But even by that statute, death goeth over all men; even "those," saith St. Paul,* "that have not sinned after the like manner of transgression of Adam." By what law? By the law of attainders.

The restoring then likewise was to come, and did come, after the same manner as did the attainders; that by the first, this by the second Adam, so He is called verse 45. There was a statute concerning God’s commandments, qui fecerit ea,* vivet in eis; ‘he that observed the commandments should live by that his obedience,’ death should not seize on him. Christ did observe them exactly, therefore should not have been seized on by death; should not but was, and that seizure of his was death’s forfeiture. The laying of the former statute on Christ was the utter making it void; so judgment was entered, and an act made, Christ should be restored to life. And because He came not for Himself but for us, and in our name and stead did represent us, and so we virtually in Him, by His restoring we also were restored, by the rule,* si primitiæ, et tota conspersio sic; "as the first fruits go, so goeth the whole lump," as the root the branches. And thus we have gotten life again of mankind by passing this act of restitution, whereby we have hope to be restored to life.

But life is a term of latitude, and admitteth a broad difference, which it behoveth us much that we know. Two lives there be; in the holy tongue, the word which signifieth life is of the dual number, to shew us there is a duality of lives, that two there be, and that we to have an eye to both. It will help us to understand our text. For all restored to life; all to one, not all to both. The Apostle doth after, at the forty-fourth verse, expressly name them both. 1. One a natural life, or life by the "living soul;" the other, 2. a spiritual life, or life by the "quickening Spirit." Of these two, Adam at the time of his fall had the first, of a "living soul," was seized of it; and of him all mankind, Christ and we all, receive that life. But the other, the spiritual, which is the life chiefly to be accounted of, that he then had not, not actually; only a possibility he had, if he had held him in obedience,* and "walked with God," to have been translated to that other life. For clear it is, the life which Angels now live with God, and which we have hope and promise to live with Him after our restoring,* when we "shall be equal to the Angels," that life Adam at the time of his fall was not possessed of.

Now Adam by his fall fell from both, forfeited both estates. Not only that he had in reversion, by not fulfilling the conditions, but even that he had in esse too. For even on that also did death seize after et mortuus est.

Christ in His restitution, to all the sons of Adam, to all our whole nature, restoreth the former; therefore all have interest, all shall partake that life. What Adam actually had we shall actually have, we shall all be restored. To repair our nature He came, and repair it He did; all is given again really that in Adam really we lost touching nature. So that by his fall, no detriment at all that way.

The other, the second, that He restoreth too; but not promiscue, as the former, to all. Why? for Adam was never seized of it, performed not that whereunto the possibility was annexed, and so had in it but a defeasible estate. But then, by His special grace, by a second peculiar act, He hath enabled us to attain the second estate also which Adam had only a reversion of, and lost by breaking of the condition whereto it was limited. And so to this second restored so many as, to use the Apostle’s words in the next verse, "are in Him;" that is, so many as are not only of that mass or lump whereof Adam was the first fruits, for they are interested in the former only, but that are besides of the nova conspersio, whereof Christ is the primitiæ.

"They that believe in Him,"* saith St. John, them He hath enabled, "to them He hath given power to become the sons of God," to whom therefore He saith, this day rising, Vado ad Patrem vestrum;* in which respect the Apostle calleth Him Primogenitum inter multos fratres.* Or, to make the comparison even, to those that are—to speak but as Esay speaketh of them—"His children;"* "Behold, I and the children God hath given Me." The term He useth Himself to them after His resurrection,* and calleth them "children;" and they as His family take denomination of Him—Christians, of Christ.

Of these two lives, the first we need take no thought for. It shall be of all, the unjust as well as the just. The life of the "living soul," shall be to all restored. All our thought is to be for the latter, how to have our part in that supernatural life, for that is indeed to be restored to life. For the former, though it carry the name of life, yet it may well be disputed and is, Whether it be rather a death than a life, or a life than a death? A life it is, and not a life, for it hath no living thing in it. A death it is, and not a death, for it is an immortal death. But most certain it is, call it life if you will, they that shall live that life shall wish for death rather than it, and, this is the misery—not have their wish, for death shall fly from them.

Out of this double life and double restoring, there grow two resurrections in the world to come, set down by our Saviour in express terms. Though both be to life, yet, 1. that is called "condemnation to judgment;"* and 2. this only "to life."* Of these the Apostle calleth one "the better resurrection," the better beyond all comparison. To attain this then we bend all our endeavours, that seeing the other will come of itself, without taking any thought for it at all, we may make sure of this.

To compass that then, we must be "in Christ:" so it is in the next verse;* to all, but to "every one in order, Christ" first, "the first fruits, and then, they that be in Him."

Now He is in us by our flesh, and we in Him by His Spirit; and it standeth with good reason, they that be restored to life, should be restored to the Spirit. For the Spirit is the cause of all life, but specially of the spiritual life which we seek for.

His Spirit then we must possess ourselves of, and we must do that here; for it is but one and the same Spirit That raiseth our souls here from the death of sin,* and the same That shall raise our bodies there from the dust of death.

Of which Spirit there is "first fruits," to retain the words of the text, and "a fulness;" but the fulness in this life we shall never attain; our highest degree here is but to be of the number whereof he was that said,* Et nos habentes primitias Spiritus.

These first fruits we first receive in our Baptism, which is to us our "laver of regeneration,"* and of our "renewing by the Holy Spirit," where we are made and consecrate primitiæ.

But as we need be restored to life, so I doubt had we need to be restored to the Spirit too. We are at many losses of it, by this sin that "cleaveth so fast" to us. I doubt, it is with us,* as with the fields, that we need a feast of first fruits, a day of consecration every year. By something or other we grow unhallowed, and need to be consecrate anew, to re-seize us of the first fruits of the Spirit again. At least to awake it in us, as primitiæ dormientium at least. That which was given us, and by the fraud of our enemy, or our own negligence, or both,* taken from us and lost, we need to have restored; that which we have quenched,* to be lit anew; that which we have cast into a dead sleep, awaked up from it.

If such a new consecrating we need, what better time than the feast of first fruits, the sacrificing time under the Law? and in the Gospel, the day of Christ’s rising, our first fruits, by Whom we are thus consecrate? The day wherein He was Himself restored to the perfection of His spiritual life, the life of glory, is the best for us to be restored in to the first fruits of that spiritual life, the life of grace.

And if we ask, what shall be our means of this consecrating? The Apostle telleth us, we are sanctified by the "oblation of the body of Jesus." That is the best means to restore us to that life.* He hath said it, and shewed it Himself; "He that eateth Me shall live by Me." The words spoken concerning that,* are both "spirit and life," whether we seek for the spirit or seek for life. Such was the means of our death, by eating the forbidden fruit, the first fruits of death; and such is the means of our life, by eating the flesh of Christ, the first fruits of life.

And herein we shall very fully fit, not the time only and the means, but also the manner. For as by partaking the flesh and blood, the substance of the first Adam, we came to our death, so to life we cannot come, unless we do participate with the flesh and blood of the "second Adam," that is Christ. We drew death from the first, by partaking the substance; and so must we draw life from the second, by the same. This is the way; become branches of the Vine, and partakers of His nature, and so of His life and verdure both.

So the time, the means, the manner agree. What letteth then but that we, at this time, by this means, and in this manner, make ourselves of that conspersion whereof Christ is our first fruits; by these means obtaining the first fruits of His Spirit, of that quickening Spirit, Which being obtained and still kept, or in default thereof still recovered, shall here begin to initiate in us the first fruits of our restitution in this life, whereof the fulness we shall also be restored unto in the life to come;* as St. Peter calleth that time, the "time of the restoring of all things." Then shall the fulness be restored us too, when God shall be "all in all;" not some in one, and some in another, but all in all. Atque hic est vitœ finis, pervenire ad vitam cujus non est finis; ‘this is the end of the text and of our life, to come to a life whereof there is no end.’ To which, &c.

Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 2). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

Easter 1606 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Easter 1606 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Easter 1606 — Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Romans 6:9–11

Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.

For, in that He died, He died once to sin; but in that He liveth, He liveth to God.

Likewise think (or account) ye also, that ye are dead to sin, but are alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Scripture is as the feast is, both of them of the Resurrection. And this we may safely say of it, it is thought by the Church so pertinent to the feast, as it hath ever been and is appointed to be the very entry of this day’s service; to be sounded forth and sung, first of all, and before all, upon this day, as if there were some special correspondence between the day and it.

Two principal points are set down to us, out of the two principal words in it: one, scientes, in the first verse, "knowing;" the other, reputate, in the last verse, "count yourselves;"—knowing and counting, knowledge and calling ourselves to account for our knowledge.

Two points very needful to be ever jointly called upon, and more than needful for our times, being that much we know, and little we count; oft we hear, and when we have heard, small reckoning we make of it. What Christ did on Easter-day we know well; what we are then to do, we give no great regard: our scientes is without a reputantes.

Now this Scripture, ex totâ substantiâ, ‘out of the whole frame of it’ teacheth us otherwise; that Christian knowledge is not a knowledge without all manner of account, but that we are accountants for it; that we are to keep an audit of what we hear, and take account of ourselves of what we have learned. Λογίζεσθε is an auditor’s term: thence the Holy Ghost hath taken it, and would have us to be auditors in both senses.

And this to be general in whatsoever we know, but specially in our knowledge touching this feast of Christ’s Resurrection, where there are special words for it in the text, where in express terms an account is called for at our hands as an essential duty of the day. The benefit we remember is so great, the feast we hold so high, as though at other times we might be forborne, yet on this day we may not.

Now the sum of our account is set down in these words,* similiter et vos; that we fashion ourselves like to Christ, dying and rising, cast ourselves in the same moulds, express Him in both as near as we can.

To account of these first, that is, to account ourselves bound so to do.

To account for these second, that is, to account with ourselves whether we do so.

First, to account ourselves bound thus to do, resolving thus within ourselves, that to hear a Sermon of the Resurrection is nothing; to keep a feast of the Resurrection is as much, except it end in similiter et vos. Nisi, saith St. Gregory, quod de more celebratur etiam quoad mores exprimatur, ‘unless we express the matter of the feast in the form of our lives;’ unless as He from the grave so we from sin, and live to godliness as He unto God.

Then to account with ourselves, whether we do thus; that is, to sit down and reflect upon the sermons we hear, and the feasts we keep; how, by knowing Christ’s death, we die to sin; how, by knowing His resurrection, we live to God; how our estate in soul is bettered; how the fruit of the words we hear, and the feasts we keep, do abound daily toward our account against the great audit. And this to be our account, every Easter-day.

Of these two points, the former is in the two first verses, what we must know; the latter is in the last, what we must account for. And they be joined with similiter, to shew us they be and must be of equal and like regard; and we as know, so account.

But because, our knowing is the ground of our account, the Apostle beginneth with knowledge. And so must we.

Knowledge, in all learning, is of two sorts: 1. rerum, or 2. causarum, ὅτι, or δίοτι, ‘that,’ or ‘in that.’ The former is in the first verse: "knowing that Christ," &c. The latter, in the second; "for, in that," &c. And because we cannot cast up a sum, except we have a particular, the Apostle giveth us a particular of either. A particular of our knowledge quoad res, which consisteth of these three: 1. that "Christ is risen from the dead." 2. That now "He dieth not." 3. That "from henceforth death hath no dominion over Him." All in the first verse. Then a particular of our knowledge quoad causas. The cause 1. of His death, sin; "He died to sin." 2. Of His life, God; "He liveth to God." And both these but once for all. All in the second verse.

Then followeth our account, in the third verse. Wherein we consider, first, 1. the charge; 2. and then the discharge. 1. The charge first, similiter et vos; that we be like to Christ. And then wherein; 1. like, in dying to sin; 2. like, in living to God. Which are the two moulds wherein we are to be cast, that we may come forth like Him. This is the charge. 2. And last of all, the means we have to help us to discharge it, in the last words, "in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Before we take view of the two particulars, it will not be amiss to make a little stay at scientes, the first word, because it is the ground of all the rest. "Knowing that Christ is risen." This the Apostle saith, the Romans did;—"knowing." Did know himself indeed, that Christ was risen, for he saw Him. But how knew the Romans, or how know we? No other way than by relation, either they or we, but yet we much better than they. I say by relation, in the nature of a verdict, of them that had seen Him, even Cephas and the twelve; which is a full jury, able to find any matter of fact, and to give up a verdict in it. And that Christ is risen, is matter of fact. But if twelve will not serve in this matter of fact, which in all other matters with us will, if a greater inquest far, if five hundred will serve,* you may have so many; for "of more than five hundred at once was He seen," many of them then living ready to give up the same verdict, and to say the same upon their oaths.

But to settle a knowledge, the number moveth not so much as the quality of the parties. If they were persons credulous, light of belief, they may well be challenged, if they took not the way to ground their knowledge aright. That is ever best known that is most doubted of; and never was matter carried with more scruple and slowness of belief, with more doubts and difficulties, than was this of Christ’s rising. Mary Magdalene saw it first, and reported it. "They believed her not."* The two that went to Emmaus, they also reported it. They believed them not. Divers women together saw Him,* and came and told them; "their words seemed to them λῆρος,* an idle, feigned, fond tale." They all saw Him, and even seeing Him, yet they "doubted." When they were put out of doubt,* and told it but to one that happened to be absent, it was St. Thomas, you know how peremptory he was; "not he,* unless he might not only see with his eyes, but feel with his fingers, and put in his hand into His side." And all this he did. St. Augustine saith well: Profecto valde dubitatum est ab illis, ne dubitaretur a nobis; ‘all this doubting was by them made, that we might be out of doubt, and know that Christ is risen.’

Sure, they took the right course to know it certainly; and certainly they did know it, as appeareth. For never was any thing known in this world, so confidently, constantly, certainly testified as was this, that Christ is risen. By testifying it, they got nothing in the earth. Got nothing? Nay, they lost by it their living, their life, all they had to lose. They might have saved all, and but said nothing. So certain they were, so certainly they did account of their knowing, they could not be got from it, but to their very last breath, to the very last drop of their blood, bare witness to the truth of this article; and chose rather to lay down their lives and to take their death, than to deny, nay than not to affirm His rising from death. And thus did they know, and knowing testify, and by their testimony came the Romans to their knowing, and so do we. But, as I said before, we to a much surer knowing than they. For when this was written, the whole world stopped their ears at this report, would not endure to hear them, stood out mainly against them. The Resurrection! why it was with the Grecians at Athens, χλευασμὸς, a very ‘scorn.’* The Resurrection! why it was with Festus the great Roman, μανία, ‘a sickness of the brain, a plain frenzy.’* That world that then was and long after in such opposition, is since come in; and upon better examination of the matter so strangely testified, with so many thousand lives of men, to say the least of them, sad and sober, hath taken notice of it, and both known and acknowledged the truth of it. It was well foretold by St. John, hæc est victoria quæ vincit mundum,* fides vestra. It is proved true since, that this faith of Christ’s rising hath made a conquest of the whole world. So that, after all the world hath taken knowledge of it, we come to know it. And so more full to us, than to them, is this scientes, "knowing." Now to our particulars, what we know.

Our first particular is, That Christ is risen from the dead. Properly, we are said to rise from a fall, and from death rather to revive. Yet the Apostle rather useth the term of rising than reviving, as serving better to set forth his purpose. That death is a fall we doubt not, that it came with a fall, the fall of Adam. But what manner of fall? for it hath been holden a fall, from whence is no rising. But by Christ’s rising it falls out to be a fall, that we may fall and yet get up again. For if Christ be risen from it, then is there a rising; if a rising of one, then may there be of another; if He be risen in our nature, then is our nature risen; and if our nature be, our persons may be. Especially seeing, as the Apostle in the fourth verse before hath told us, He and we are σύμφυτοι, that is, so "grafted" one into the other, that He is part of us, and we of Him;* so that as St. Bernard well observeth, Christus etsi solus resurrexit, tamen non totus, ‘that Christ, though He be risen only, yet He is not risen wholly,’ or all, till we be risen too. He is but risen in part, and that He may rise all, we must rise from death also.

This then we know first: that death is not a fall like that of Pharaoh into the sea,* that "sunk down like a lump of lead" into the bottom, and never came up more;* but a fall like that of Jonas into the sea,* who was received by a fish,* and after cast up again. It is our Saviour Christ’s own simile. A fall,* not like that of the Angels into the bottomless pit, there to stay for ever; but like to that of men into their beds, when they make account to stand up again. A fall, not as of a log or stone to the ground, which, where it falleth there it lieth still;* but as of a wheat-corn into the ground, which is quickened and springeth up again.*

The very word which the Apostle useth, ἐγερθεὶς, implieth the two latter: 1. either of a fall into a bed in our chamber, where, though we lie to see to little better than dead for a time, yet in the morning we awake and stand up notwithstanding; 2. or of a fall into a bed in our garden, where, though the seed putrify and come to nothing, yet we look to see it shoot forth anew in the spring. Which spring is, as Tertullian well calleth it, the very resurrection of the year; and Christ’s Resurrection falleth well with it;* and it is, saith he, no way consonant to reason, that man for whom all things spring and rise again, should not have his spring and rising too. But he shall have them, we doubt not, by this day’s work. He That this day did rise, and rising was seen of Mary Magdalene in the likeness of a gardener,* this Gardener will look to it, that man shall have his spring. He will, saith the Prophet, "drop upon us a dew like the dew of herbs,* and the earth shall yield forth her dead." And so, as Christ is risen from the dead, even so shall we.

Our second particular is, That as He is risen, so now He dieth not. Which is no idle addition, but hath his force and emphasis. For one thing it is to rise from the dead, and another, not to die any more. The widow’s son of Nain,* the ruler’s daughter of the synagogue,* Lazarus,—all these rose again from death,* yet they died afterward; but "Christ rising from the dead, dieth no more." These two are sensibly different, Lazarus’ resurrection, and Christ’s; and this second is sure a higher degree than the former. If we rise as they did, that we return to this same mortal life of ours again, this very mortality of ours will be to us as the prisoner’s chain he escapes away withal: by it we shall be pulled back again, though we should rise a thousand times. We must therefore so rise as Christ, that our resurrection be not reditus, but transitus; not a returning back to the same life, but a passing over to a new. Transivit de morte ad vitam, saith He.* The very feast itself puts us in mind of as much; it is Pascha, that is, the Passover,* not a coming back to the same land of Egypt, but a passing over to a better, the Land of Promise, whither "Christ our Passover" is passed before us,* and shall in His good time give us passage after Him. The Apostle expresseth it best where he saith, that Christ by His rising hath "abolished death,* and brought to light life and immortality;" not life alone, but life and immortality, which is this our second particular. Risen, and risen to die no more, because risen to life, to life immortal.

But the third is yet beyond both these, more worth the knowing, more worthy our account; "death hath no dominion over Him." Where, as we before said, one thing it was to rise again, another to die no more, so say we now; it is one thing not to die, another not to be under the dominion of death. For death, and death’s dominion are two different things. Death itself is nothing else but the very separation of the life from the body, death’s dominion a thing of far larger extent. By which word of "dominion," the Apostle would have us to conceive of death, as of some great lord having some large signory.* Even as three several times in the chapter before he saith, regnavit mors, "death reigned," as if death were some mighty monarch, having some great dominions under him. And so it is; for look how many dangers, how many diseases, sorrows, calamities, miseries there be of this mortal life; how many pains, perils, snares of death; so many several provinces are there of this dominion. In all which, or some of them, while we live, we still are under the jurisdiction and arrest of death all the days of our life. And say that we escape them all, and none of them happen to us, yet live we still under fear of them, and that is death’s dominion too. For he is, as Job calleth him, Rex pavoris, "King of fear." And when we are out of this life too,* unless we pertain to Christ and His resurrection, we are not out of his dominion neither. For hell itself is secunda mors, so termed by St. John, "the second death,"* or second part of death’s dominion.*

Now, who is there that would desire to rise again to this life, yea, though it were immortal, to be still under this dominion of death here; still subject, still liable to the aches and pains, to the griefs and gripings, to the manifold miseries of this vale of the shadow of death? But then the other, the second region of death, the second part of his dominion, who can endure once to be there? There they seek and wish for death, and death flieth from them.

Verily, rising is not enough; rising, not to die again is not enough, except we may be quit of this dominion, and rid of that which we either feel or fear all our life long. Therefore doth the Apostle add, and so it was needful he should, "death hath no dominion over Him." "No dominion over Him?" No; for He, dominion over it. For lest any might surmise he might break through some wall, or get out at some window, and so steal a resurrection, or casually come to it, he tells them—No, it is not so.* Ecce claves mortis et inferni; see here, the keys both of the first and second death. Which is a plain proof He hath mastered, and got the dominion over both "death and him that hath the power of death,* that is the devil." Both are swallowed up in victory, and neither death any more sting, nor hell any more dominion.* Sed ad Dominum Deum nostrum spectant exitus mortis;* "but now unto God our Lord belong the issues of death;" the keys are at His girdle, He can let out as many as He list.

This estate is it, which he calleth coronam vitæ;* not life alone, but "the crown of life," or a life crowned with immunity of fear of any evil, ever to befal us. This is it which in the next verse he calleth "living unto God,"* the estate of the children of the resurrection, to be the sons of God, equal to the Angels, subject to no part of death’s dominion, but living in security, joy, and bliss for ever.

And now is our particular full. 1. Rising to life first; 2. and life freed from death, and so immortal; 3. and then exempt from the dominion of death, and every part of it; and so happy and blessed. Rise again? so may Lazarus, or any mortal man do; that is not it. Rise again to life immortal? so shall all do in the end, as well the unjust as the just; that is not it. But rise again to life immortal, with freedom from all misery, to live to, and with God, in all joy and glory evermore;—that is it, that is Christ’s resurrection. Et tu, saith St. Augustine, spera talem resurrectionem, et propter hoc esto Christianus, ‘live in hope of such a resurrection, and for this hope’s sake carry thyself as a Christian.’ Thus have we our particular of that we are to know touching Christ risen.

And now we know all these, yet do we not account ourselves to know them perfectly until we also know the reason of them. And the Romans were a people that loved to see the ground of that they received, and not the bare articles alone. Indeed it might trouble them why Christ should need thus to rise again, because they saw no reason why He should need die. The truth is, we cannot speak of rising well without mention of the terminus a quo, from whence He rose. By means whereof these two, 1. Christ’s dying, and 2. His rising, are so linked together, and their audits so entangled one with another, as it is very hard to sever them. And this you shall observe, the Apostle never goeth about to do it, but still as it were of purpose suffers one to draw in the other continually. It is not here alone, but all over his Epistles; ever they run together, as if he were loath to mention one without the other.

And it cannot be denied but that their joining serveth to many great good purposes. These two, 1. His death, and 2. His rising, they shew His two natures, human and Divine; 1. His human nature and weakness in dying, 2. His Divine nature and power in rising again. 2. These shew His two offices; His Priesthood and His Kingdom. 1. His Priesthood in the sacrifice of His death; 2. His Kingdom in the glory of His resurrection. 3. They set before us His two main benefits, 1. interitum mortis, and 2. principium vitæ. 1. His death, the death of death; 2. His rising, the reviving of life again; the one what He had ransomed us from, the other what He had purchased for us. 4. They serve as two moulds, wherein our lives are to be cast, that the days of our vanity may be fashioned to the likeness of the Son of God; which are our two duties, that we are to render for those two benefits, proceeding from the two offices of His two natures conjoined. In a word, they are not well to be sundered; for when they are thus joined, they are the very abridgment of the whole Gospel.

Of them both then briefly. Of His dying first: "In that He died, He died once to sin." Why died He once, and why but once? Once He died to sin, that is, sin was the cause He was to die once. As in saying "He liveth to God," we say God is the cause of His life, so in saying "He died to sin" we say sin was the cause of His death. God of His rising, sin of His fall. And look, how the Resurrection leadeth us to death, even as naturally doth death unto sin, the sting of death.

To sin then He died; not simply to sin, but with reference to us. For as death leadeth us to sin, so doth sin to sinners, that is, to ourselves; and so will the opposition be more clear and full: "He liveth unto God," "He died unto man." With reference, I say, to us. For first He died unto us; and if it be true that Puer natus est nobis,* it is as true that Vir mortuus est nobis; if being a Child He was born to us, becoming a Man He died to us. Both are true.

To us then first He died because He would save us. To sin secondly, because else He could not save us. Yes he could have saved us and never died for us, ex plenitudine potestatis, ‘by His absolute power,’ if He would have taken that way. That way He would not, but proceed by way of justice, do all by way of justice. And by justice sin must have death,—death, our death, for the sin was ours. It was we that were to die to sin. But if we had died to sin, we had perished in sin; perished here, and perished everlastingly. That His love to us could not endure, that we should so perish. Therefore, as in justice He justly might, He took upon Him our debt of sin, and said, as the Fathers apply that speech of His, Sinite abire hos, "Let these go their ways."* And so that we might not die to sin He did. We see why he died once.

Why but once? because once was enough, ad auferenda, saith St. John; ad abolenda,* saith St. Peter; ad exhaurienda, saith St. Paul; ‘to take away,* to abolish, to draw dry,’ and utterly to exhaust all the sins,* of all the sinners, of all the world. The excellency of His Person That performed it was such; the excellency of the obedience that He performed, such; the excellency both of His humility and charity wherewith He performed it, such; and of such value every of them, and all of them much more; as made that His once dying was satis superque, ‘enough, and enough again;’ which made the Prophet call it copiosam redemptionem,* "a plenteous redemption." But the Apostle, he goeth beyond all in expressing this;* in one place terming it ὑπερβάλλων,* in another ὑπερεκπερισσεύων, in another πλεονάζων,—mercy, rich,* exceeding; grace over-abounding, nay, grace superfluous, for so is πλεονάζων, and superfluous is enough and to spare; superfluous is clearly enough and more than enough. Once dying then being more than enough, no reason He should die more than once. That of His death.

Now of His life: "He liveth unto God." The rigour of the law being fully satisfied by His death, then was He no longer justly, but wrongfully detained by death. As therefore by the power He had, He laid down His life, so He took it again, and rose again from the dead. And not only rose Himself, but in one concurrent action, God, Who had by His death received full satisfaction, reached Him as it were His hand, and raised Him to life. The Apostle’s word ἐγερθεὶς, in the native force doth more properly signify, "raised by another," than risen by himself, and is so used, to shew it was done, not only by the power of the Son, but by the will, consent, and co-operation of the Father; and He the cause of it, Who for the over-abundant merit of His death, and His humbling Himself, and "becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross," not only raised Him,* but propter hoc, "even for that cause," exalted Him also, to live with Him, in joy and glory for ever. For, as when He lived to man He lived to much misery, so now He liveth to God He liveth in all felicity. This part being oppositely set down to the former; living, to exclude dying again; living to God, to exclude death’s dominion, and all things pertaining to it. For, as with "God is life and the fountain of life" against death,* even the fountain of life never failing, but ever renewing to all eternity; so with Him also is torrens deliciarum, "a main river of pleasures," even pleasures for evermore; never ebbing, but ever flowing to all contentment, against the miseries belonging to death’s dominion. And there He liveth thus: not now, as the Son of God, as He lived before all worlds, but as the Son of man, in the right of our nature; to estate us in this life in the hope of a reversion, and in the life to come in perfect and full possession of His own and His Father’s bliss and happiness; when we shall also live to God, and God be all in all, which is the highest pitch of all our hope. We see then His dying and rising, and the grounds of both, and thus have we the total of our scientes.

Now followeth our account. An account is either of what is coming to us, and that we like well, or what is going from us, and that is not so pleasing. Coming to us I call matter of benefit, going from us matter of duty; where I doubt many an expectation will be deceived, making account to hear from the Resurrection matter of benefit only to come in, where the Apostle calleth us to account for matter of duty which is to go from us.

An account there is growing to us by Christ’s rising, of matter of benefit and comfort; such an one there is, and we have touched it before. The hope of gaining a better life, which groweth from Christ’s rising, is our comfort against the fear of losing this. Thus do we comfort ourselves against our deaths:* "Now blessed be God that hath regenerated us to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Thus do we comfort ourselves against our friends’ death:* "Comfort yourselves one another," saith the Apostle, "with these words." What words be they? Even those of our Saviour in the Gospel, Resurget frater tuus,* "Thy brother" or thy father, or thy friend, "shall rise again." And not only against death, but even against all the miseries of this life. It was Job’s comfort on the dunghill: well yet,* videbo Deum in carne meâ; "I shall see God in my flesh." And not in our miseries alone, but when we do well, and no man respecteth us for it. It is the Apostle’s conclusion of the chapter of the Resurrection: Be of good cheer yet, labor vester non erit inanis in Domino,* your "labour is not in vain in the Lord," you shall have your reward at the resurrection of the just. All these ways comfort cometh unto us by it.

But this of ours is another manner of account, of duty to go from us, and to be answered by us. And such an one there is too, and we must reckon of it. I add that this here is our first account, you see it here called for in the Epistle to the Romans; the other cometh after, in the Epistle to the Corinthians.

In very deed, this of ours is the key to the other, and we shall never find sound comfort of that, unless we do first well pass this account here. It is I say, first, because it is present, and concerneth our souls, even here in this life. The other is future, and toucheth but our bodies, and that in the life to come. It is an error certainly, which runneth in men’s heads when they hear of the Resurrection, to conceive of it as of a matter merely future, and not to take place till the latter day. Not only "Christ is risen," but if all be as it should be, "We are already risen with Him,"* saith the Apostle, in the Epistle this day, the very first words of it; and even here now, saith St. John, is there a "first resurrection,"* and happy is he that "hath his part in it." A like error it is to conceit the Resurrection as a thing merely corporal, and no ways to be incident into the spirit or soul at all. The Apostle hath already given us an item to the contrary, in the end of the fourth chapter before, where he saith:* "He rose again for our justification," and justification is a matter spiritual;* Justificatus est Spiritu, saith the Apostle, of Christ Himself. Verily, here must the spirit rise to grace, or else neither the body nor it shall there rise to glory. This then is our first account, that account of ours, which presently is to be passed, and out of hand; this is it which first we must take order for.

The sum or charge of which account is set down in these words, similiter et vos; that we be like Christ, carry His image Who is heavenly, as we have carried the image of the earthly, "be conformed to His likeness;" that what Christ hath wrought for us, the like be wrought in us; what wrought for us by His flesh, the like wrought in us by His Spirit. It is a maxim or main ground in all the Fathers, that such an account must be: the former, what Christ hath wrought for us, Deus reputat nobis, ‘God accounteth to us;’ for the latter, what Christ hath wrought in us, reputate vos, we must account to God. And that is, similiter et vos, that we fashion ourselves like Him.

Like Him in as many points as we may, but namely and expressly, in these two here set down: 1. "In dying to sin," 2. "In living unto God." In these two first; then secondly, in doing both these, ἐφάπαξ, but "once for all."

Like Him in these two: 1. In His dying. For He died not only to offer "a sacrifice" for us,* saith St. Paul, but also to leave "an example" to us, saith St. Peter.* That example are we to be like. 2. In His rising: for He arose not only that we might be "regenerated to a lively hope,"* saith St. Peter, but also that we might be "grafted into the similitude of His resurrection," saith St. Paul, a little before, in the fifth verse of this very chapter. That similitude are we to resemble. So have we the exemplary part of both these, whereunto we are to frame our similiter et vos.

"He died to sin:"—there is our pattern. Our first account must be, "count yourselves dead to sin." And that we do when there is neither action, nor affection, nor any sign of life in us toward sin, no more than in a dead body; when, as men crucified, which is not only His death, but the kind of His death too, we neither move hand, nor stir foot toward it, both are nailed down fast. In a word, to "die to sin," with St. Paul here, is to "cease from sin,"* with St. Peter.

To "cease from sin" I say, understanding by sin, not from sin altogether—that is a higher perfection than this life will bear, but as the Apostle expoundeth himself in the very next words,* Ne regnet peccatum, that is, from the "dominion of sin" to cease. For till we be free from death itself, which in this life we are not, we shall not be free from sin altogether; only we may come thus far, ne regnet, that sin "reign not," wear not a crown, sit not in a throne, hold no parliaments within us, give us no laws; in a word, as in the fourth verse before, that we serve it not.* To die to the dominion of sin,—that by the grace of God we may, and that we must account for.

"He liveth to God." There is our similitude of His resurrection: our second account must be, count yourselves "living unto God." Now how that is, he hath already told us in the fourth verse, even "to walk in newness of life." To walk is to move; moving is a vital action, and argueth life. But it must not be any life, our old will not serve; it must be a new life, we must not return back to our former course, but pass over to another new conversation. And in a word as before, to live to God with St. Paul here, is to live secundum Deum,* "according to God in the Spirit," with St. Peter. And then live we according to Him, when His will is our law, His word our rule, His Son’s life our example, His Spirit rather than our own soul the guide of our actions. Thus shall we be grafted into the similitude of His resurrection.

Now this similitude of the Resurrection calleth to my mind another similitude of the Resurrection in this life too, which I find in Scripture mentioned; it fitteth us well, it will not be amiss to remember you of it by the way, it will make us the better willing to enter into this account.

At the time that Isaac should have been offered by his father,* Isaac was not slain: very near it he was, there was fire, and there was a knife, and he was appointed ready to be a sacrifice. Of which case of his, the Apostle in the mention of his father Abraham’s faith,—"Abraham," saith he,* "by faith," λογισάμενος, "made full account," if Isaac had been slain, "God was able to raise him from the dead." And even from the dead God raised him, and his father received him, ἐν παραβολῇ, "in a certain similitude," or after a sort. Mark that well: Raising Isaac from imminent danger of present death, is with the Apostle a kind of resurrection. And if it be so, and if the Holy Ghost warrant us to call that a kind of resurrection, how can we but on this day, the day of the Resurrection, call to mind, and withal render unto God our unfeigned thanks and praise, for our late resurrection ἐν παραβολῇ, for our kind of resurrection, He not long since vouchsafed us. Our case was Isaac’s case without doubt: there was fire, and instead of a knife, there was powder enough, and we were designed all of us, and even ready, to be sacrificed, even Abraham, Isaac, and all. Certainly if Isaac’s were, ours was a kind of resurrection, and we so to acknowledge it. We were as near as he; we were not only within the dominion, but within the verge, nay even within the very gates of death. From thence hath God raised us, and given us this year this similitude of the Resurrection, that we might this day of the resurrection of His Son, present Him with this, in the text, of "rising to a new course of life."

And now to return to our fashioning ourselves like to Him, in these: As there is a death natural, and a death civil, so is there a death moral, both in philosophy and in divinity; and if a death, then consequently a resurrection too. Every great and notable change of our course of life, whereby we are not now any longer the same men that before we were, be it from worse to better, or from better to worse, is a moral death; a moral death to that we change from, and a moral resurrection to that we change to. If we change to the better, that is sin’s death; if we alter to the worse, that is sin’s resurrection. When we commit sin, we die, we are dead in sin; when we repent, we revive again; when we repent ourselves of our repenting and relapse back, then sin riseth again from the dead: and so toties quoties. And even upon these two, as two hinges, turneth our whole life. All our life is spent in one of them.

Now then that we be not all our life long thus off and on, fast or loose, in dock out nettle, and in nettle out dock, it will behove us once more yet to look back upon our similiter et vos, even upon the word ἐφάπαξ, semel, "once." That is, that we not only "die to sin," and "live to God," but die and live as He did, that is, "once for all;" which is an utter abandoning "once" of sin’s dominion, and a continual, constant, persisting in a good course "once" begun. Sin’s dominion, it languisheth sometimes in us, and falleth haply into a swoon, but it dieth not quite "once for all." Grace lifteth up the eye, and looketh up a little, and giveth some sign of life, but never perfectly receiveth. O that once we might come to this! no more deaths, no more resurrections, but one! that we might once make an end of our daily continual recidivations to which we are so subject, and once get past these pangs and qualms of godliness, this righteousness like the morning cloud, which is all we perform; that we might grow habituate in grace, radicati et fundati, "rooted and founded in it;" ἐῤῥιζωμένοι, "steady,"* and ἑδραῖοι, "never to be removed;"* that so we might enter into, and pass a good account of this our similiter et vos!

And thus are we come to the foot of our account, which is our onus, or ‘charge.’ Now we must think of our discharge, to go about it; which maketh the last words no less necessary for us to consider, than all the rest. For what? is it in us, or can we, by our own power and virtue, make up this account? We cannot, saith the Apostle;* nay we cannot, saith he, λογίσασθαι, "make account of any thing," no not so much as of a good thought toward it, as of ourselves. If any think otherwise, let him but prove his own strength a little, what he can do, he shall be so confounded in it, as he shall change his mind, saith St. Augustine, and see plainly, the Apostle had reason to shut up all with in Christo Jesu Domino nostro: otherwise our account will stick in our hands. Verily, to raise a soul from the death of sin, is harder, far harder, than to raise a dead body out of the dust of death. St. Augustine hath long since defined it, that Mary Magdalene’s resurrection in soul, from her long lying dead in sin, was a greater miracle than her brother Lazarus’ resurrection, that had lain four days in his grave. If Lazarus lay dead before us, we would never assay to raise him ourselves; we know we cannot do it. If we cannot raise Lazarus that is the easier of the twain, we shall never Mary Magdalene which is the harder by far, out of Him, or without Him, That raised them both.

But as out of Christ, or without Christ, we can do nothing toward this account; not accomplish or bring to perfection, but not do—not any great or notable sum of it, but nothing at all; as saith St. Augustine,* upon sine Me nihil potestis facere.* So, in Him and with Him enabling us to it, we can think good thoughts, speak good words, and do good works, and die to sin,* and live to God, and all. Omnia possum, saith the Apostle. And enable us He will, and can, as not only having passed the resurrection, but being the Resurrection itself; not only had the effect of it in Himself, but being the cause of it to us. So He saith Himself:* "I am the Resurrection and the Life;" the Resurrection to them that are dead in sin, to raise them from it; and the Life to them that live unto God, to preserve them in it.

Where, besides the two former, 1. the article of the Resurrection, which we are to know; 2. and the example of the Resurrection, which we are to be like; we come to the notice of a third thing, even a virtue or power flowing from Christ’s resurrection, whereby we are made able to express our similiter et vos, and to pass this our account of "dying to sin," and "living to God." It is in plain words called by the Apostle himself,* virtus resurrectionis "the virtue of Christ’s resurrection," issuing from it to us; and he prayeth that as he had a faith of the former, so he may have a feeling of this; and as of them he had a contemplative, so he may of this have an experimental knowledge. This enabling virtue proceedeth from Christ’s resurrection. For never let us think, if in the days of His flesh there "went virtue out" from even the very edge of His garment to do great cures,* as in the case of the woman with the bloody issue we read, but that from His Ownself, and from those two most principal and powerful actions of His Ownself, His 1. death and 2. resurrection, there issueth a divine power; from His death a power working on the old man or flesh to mortify it; from His resurrection a power working on the new man, the spirit, to quicken it. A power able to roll back any stone of an evil custom, lie it never so heavy on us; a power able to dry up any issue, though it have run upon us twelve years long.

And this power is nothing else but that divine quality of grace, which we receive from Him. Receive it from Him we do certainly: only let us pray, and endeavour ourselves, that we "receive it not in vain,"* the Holy Ghost by ways to flesh and blood unknown inspiring it as a breath, distilling it as a dew, deriving it as a secret influence into the soul. For if philosophy grant an invisible operation in us to the celestial bodies, much better may we yield it to His eternal Spirit, whereby such a virtue or breath may proceed from it, and be received of us.

Which breath, or spirit, is drawn in by prayer, and such other exercises of devotion on our parts; and, on God’s part, breathed in, by, and with, the word, well therefore termed by the Apostle,* "the word of grace." And I may safely say it with good warrant, from those words especially and chiefly; which, as He Himself saith of them,* are "spirit and life," even those words, which joined to the element make the blessed Sacrament.

There was good proof made of it this day. All the way did He preach to them, even till they came to Emmaus, and their hearts were hot within them, which was a good sign; but their eyes were not opened but "at the breaking of bread,"* and then they were. That is the best and surest sense we know, and therefore most to be accounted of. There we taste, and there we see;* "taste and see how gracious the Lord is."* There we are made to "drink of the Spirit,"* there our "hearts are strengthened and stablished with grace."* There is the Blood which shall "purge our consciences from dead works," whereby we may "die to sin." There the Bread of God, which shall endue our souls with much strength; yea, multiply strength in them, to live unto God; yea,* to live to Him continually; for he that "eateth His flesh and drinketh His blood,* dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him;" not inneth, or sojourneth for a time, but dwelleth continually. And, never can we more truly, or properly say, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro, as when we come new from that holy action, for then He is in us, and we in Him, indeed. And so we to make full account of this service, as a special means to further us to make up our Easter-day’s account, and to set off a good part of our charge. In Christ, dropping upon us the anointing of His grace. In Jesus, Who will be ready as our Saviour to succour and support us with His auxilium speciale, ‘His special help.’ Without which assisting us, even grace itself is many times faint and feeble in us; and both these, because He is our Lord Who, having come to save that which was lost, will not suffer that to be lost which He hath saved. Thus using His own ordinance of Prayer, of the Word, and Sacrament, for our better enabling to discharge this day’s duty, we shall I trust yield up a good account, and celebrate a good feast of His resurrection. Which Almighty God grant, &c.

Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 2). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)


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