صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

iv. 8.]

of these things? At the same mark the blessed Apostle 1 Cor. driveth ; “ Ye abound in all things, ye are rich, ye reign,

and would to Christ we did reign with you:" but boast not. For what have ye, or are ye of yourselves? To this mark all those humble confessions are referred, which have been

always frequent in the mouths of Saints, truly wading in [Isa. the trial of themselves; as that of the Prophet, “ We are i. 6.]

nothing but soreness, and festered corruption;” our very light is darkness, and our righteousness itself unrighteousness: that of Gregory, “Let no man ever put confidence in his own deserts; Sordet in conspectu Judicis, quod fulget in conspectu operantis, in the sight of the dreadful Judge, it is noisome, which in the doer's judgment maketh a beautiful shew :" that of Anselm, “ I adore thee, I bless thee, Lord God of Heaven and Redeemer of the world, with all the power, ability, and strength of my heart and soul, for thy goodness so unmeasurably extended; not in regard of my merits, whereunto only torments were due, but of thy mere unprocured benignity.” If these Fathers should be raised again

from the dust, and have the books laid open before them, [Annot. wherein such sentences are found as this,

- Works, no in 1 Cor. other than the value, desert, price, and the worth of the jii. 8.]

joys of the Kingdom of Heaven; Heaven, in relation to our works, as the very stipend, which the hired labourer covenanteth to have of him whose work he doth, a thing equally and justly answering unto the time and weight of his travails, rather than to a voluntary or bountiful gift;" if, I say, those reverend fore-rehearsed Fathers, whose books are so full of sentences witnessing their Christian humility, should be raised from the dead, and behold with their eyes such things written; would they not plainly pronounce of the authors of such writ, that they were fuller of Lucifer than of Christ, that they were proud-hearted men, and carried more swelling minds than sincerely and feelingly known Christianity can tolerate ?

10. But as unruly children, with whom wholesome admonition prevaileth little, are notwithstanding brought to fear that ever after which they have once well smarted for; so the mind which falleth not with instruction, yet under the rod of divine chastisement ceaseth to swell. If, therefore, the Prophet David, instructed by good experience, have acknowledged, Lord, I was even at the point of clean

xii. 7.1

forgetting myself, and so straying from my right mind, but [Psalm

cxix.71.) thy rod hath been my reformer; it hath been good for me, even as much as my soul is worth, that I have been with sorrow troubled: if the blessed Apostle did need the corrosive of sharp and bitter strokes, lest his heart should swell with too great “ abundance of heavenly revelations:" surely, (2 Cor. upon us whatsoever God in this world doth or shall inflict, it cannot seem more than our Pride doth exact, not only by way of revenge, but of remedy. So hard it is to cure a sore of such quality as Pride is, inasmuch as that which rooteth out other vices, causeth this; and (which is even above all conceit) if we were clean from all spot and blemish both of other faults and of Pride, the fall of Angels doth make it almost a question, whether we might not need a preservative still, lest we should happily wax proud, that we are not proud. What is virtue but a medicine, and vice but a wound? Yet we have so often deeply wounded ourselves with medicines, that God hath been fain to make wounds medicinable; to cure by vice where virtue hath stricken; to suffer the just man to fall, that, being raised, he may be taught what power it was which upheld him standing. I am not afraid to affirm it boldly, with St. Augustine, that men puffed up through a proud opinion of their own sanctity and holiness, receive a benefit at the hands of God, and are assisted with his grace, when with his grace they are not assisted, but permitted, and that grievously, to transgress; whereby, as they were in overgreat liking of themselves supplanted, so the dislike of that which did supplant them, may establish them afterwards the surer.

Ask the very soul of Peter, and it shall undoubtedly make you itself this answer, My eager protestations, made in the glory of my ghostly strength, I am ashamed of; but those crystal tears, wherewith my sin and weakness was bewailed, have procured my endless joy; my strength hath been my ruin, and my fall my stay!

A

REMEDY AGAINST SORROW AND FEAR:

DELIVERED IN A

FUNERAL SERMON.*

JOHN xiv. 27.

“Let not your hearts be troubled, nor fear.” 1. The holy Apostles having gathered themselves together by the special appointment of Christ, and being in expectation to receive from him such instructions as they had been accustomed with, were told that which they least looked for, namely, that the time of his departure out of the world was now come. Whereupon they fell into consideration, first, of the manifold benefits which his absence should bereave them of; and, secondly, of the sundry evils which themselves should be subject unto, being once bereaved of so gracious a Master and Patron. The one consideration overwhelmed their souls with Heaviness; the other, with Fear. Their Lord and Saviour, whose words had cast down their hearts, raiseth them presently again with chosen sentences of sweet encouragement: My dears, it is for your own sakes that I leave the world ; I know the affections of your hearts are tender, but if your love were directed with that advised and staid judgment which should be in you, my speech of leaving the world, and going unto my Father, would not a little augment your joy. Desolate and comfortless I will not leave you; in Spirit I am with you to the world's end. Whether I be present or absent, nothing shall ever take you out of these hands. My going is to take possession of that, in your names, which is not only for me, but also for you prepared ; where I am, you shall be. In the mean while, “My peace I give,

, not as the world giveth, give I unto you: let not your hearts be troubled, nor fear.” The former part of which

* [Printed at Oxford, 1612. 4to.]

of senIt may

sentence having otherwhere already been spoken of, this unacceptable occasion to open the latter part thereof here, I did not look for. But so God disposeth the ways of men. Him I heartily beseech, that the thing which he hath thus ordered by his providence, may through his gracious goodness turn unto your comfort.

2. Our nature coveteth preservation from things hurtful. Hurtful things being present, do breed Heaviness; being future, do cause Fear. Our Saviour, to abate the one, speaketh thus unto his Disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled ;" and to moderate the other, addeth, “ Fear not.” Grief and heaviness in the

presence sible evils, cannot but trouble the minds of men. therefore seem that Christ required a thing impossible. “ Be not troubled.” Why, how could they choose? But we must note, this being natural, and therefore simply not reprovable, is in us good or bad, according to the causes for which we are grieved, or the measure of our Grief. It is not my meaning to speak so largely of this affection, or to go over all particulars whereby men do one way or other offend in it; but to teach it so far only, as it may cause the very Apostles' equals to swerve. Our grief and heaviness therefore is reprovable, sometime in respect of the Cause from whence, sometime in regard of the Measure whereunto it groweth.

3. When Christ, “ the life of the world,” was led unto (John cruel death, there followed a number of people, and women, which women bewailed much his heavy case. It was natural compassion which caused them, where they saw undeserved miseries, there to pour forth unrestrained tears. Nor was this reproved. But in such readiness to lament where they less needed, their blindness in not discerning that for which they ought much rather to have mourned ; this, our Saviour a little toucheth, putting them in mind that the tears which were wasted for him, might better have been spent upon themselves; “ Daughters of Jerusalem, (Luke weep not for me, weep for yourselves and for your children.” xxiii.

28.] It is not, as the Stoics have imagined, a thing unseemly for a wise man to be touched with grief of mind: but to be sorrowful when we least should ; and, where we should lament, there to laugh, this argueth our small wisdom. Again, when the Prophet David confesseth thus of himself,

vi. 51.)

Psal. lxxiii. 3.

“ I grieved to see the great prosperity of godless men, how they flourish and go untoucht;" himself hereby openeth both our common, and his peculiar, imperfection, whom this cause should not have made so pensive. To grieve at this, is to grieve where we should not, because this grief doth rise from error. We err, when we grieve at wicked men's impunity and prosperity ; because, their estate being rightly discerned, they neither prosper nor go unpunished. It may seem a paradox, it is a truth, that no wicked man's estate is prosperous, fortunate, or happy. For what though they bless themselves, and think their happiness great? Have not frantic persons many times a great opinion of their own wisdom? It may be that such as they think themselves, others also do accompt them. But what others? Surely such as themselves are. Truth and reason discerneth far otherwise of them. Unto whom the Jews wish all prosperity, unto them the phrase of their speech is to wish peace. Seeing then the name of peace containeth in it all parts of true happiness, when the Prophet saith plainly, 6 That the wicked have no peace; how can we think them to have any part of other than vainly-imagined felicity? What wise man did ever accompt fools happy? If wicked men were wise, they would cease to be wicked. Their iniquity therefore proving their folly, how can we stand in doubt of their misery? They abound in those

things which all men desire. A poor happiness to have Eceles. good things in possession : “A man to whom God hath

given riches, and treasures, and honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that it desireth, but yet God giveth him not the power to eat thereof;" such a felicity Solomon esteemeth but as “ vanity," a thing of nothing. . If such things add nothing to men's happiness, where they are not used, surely wicked men, that use them ill, the more they have, the more wretched. Of their prosperity, therefore, we see what we are to think. Touching their impunity, the same is likewise but supposed. They are oftner plagued than we are aware of. The pangs they feel are not always written in their foreheads. Though wickedness be sugai in their mouths, and wantonness as oil to make them look with cheerful countenance; nevertheless, if their hearts were disclosed, perhaps their glittering estate would not greatly be envied. The voices that

[Isa. xlviii. 22.]

vi 2.

« السابقةمتابعة »