« السابقةمتابعة »
(John Saviour of the world so apparent unto Philip, that his i. 45.)
simplicity could conceive no other Messias than Jesus of
Nazareth, the son of Joseph. But to stay Nathanael, lest (ver. 46.) being invited to “ come and see," he should also believe,
and so be saved, the subtilty of Satan casteth a mist before
his eyes, putteth in his head against this the common[Ibid.) conceived persuasion of all men concerning Nazareth, “ Is
it possible that a good thing should come from thence?" This stratagem he doth use with so great dexterity, the minds of all men are so strangely ensorceled* with it, that it bereaveth them, for the time, of all perceivance of that which should relieve them and be their comfort; yea, it taketh all remembrance from them, even of things wherewith they are most familiarly acquainted. The people of Israel could not be ignorant, that he which led them through the sea was able to feed them in the Desert: but this was obliterated and put out by the sense of their present want. Feeling the hand of God against them in their food, they remembered not his hand in the day that he delivered them from the hand of the oppressor.
Sarah was not then to (Matt. learn, that “ with God all things are possible." Had Nix:20. Nathanael never noted how “ God doth choose the base 27, 28.)
things of this world to disgrace them that are most honourably esteemed ?" The Prophet Habakkuk knew that the promises of grace, protection, and favour, which God in the Law doth make unto his people, do not grant them any such immunity as can free and exempt them from all chastisements: he knew that, as God said, “I will continue my mercy for ever towards them;" so he likewise said, “ Their transgressions I will punish with a rod:” he knew that it cannot stand with any reason, we should set the measure of our own punishments, and prescribe unto God how great, or how long, our sufferings shall be: he knew that we were blind, and altogether ignorant what is best for us; that we sue for many things very unwisely against ourselves, thinking we ask fish, when indeed we crave a serpent: he knew that when the thing we ask is good, and yet God seemeth slow to grant it, he doth not deny but defer our petitions, to the end we might learn to desire great things greatly: all this he knew. But, beholding the land which God had
* [French: “ Bewitched.”]
severed for his own people, and seeing it abandoned unto Heathen nations; viewing how reproachfully they did tread it down, and wholly make havock of it at their pleasure; beholding the Lord's own royal seat made an heap of stones, his Temple defiled, the carcasses of his servants cast out for the fowls of the air to devour, and the flesh of his meek ones for the beasts of the field to feed upon; being conscious to himself how long and how earnestly he had cried, “Succour us, O God of our welfare, for the glory of thine own name;" and feeling that their sore was still increased: the conceit of repugnancy between this which was objected to his eyes, and that which Faith upon promise of the Law did look for, made so deep an impression, and so strong, that he disputeth not the matter; but, without any further enquiry or search, inferreth, as we see, " The Law doth fail."
7. Of us, who is here which cannot very soberly advise his brother; Sir, you must learn to strengthen your Faith by that experience which heretofore you have had of God's great goodness towards you, “ Per ea quæ agnoscas præstita, discas sperare promissa, By those things which you have known performed, learn to hope for those things which are promised ?" Do you acknowledge to have received much? Let that make you certain to receive more.
“ Ha- [Luke benti dabitur ; To him that hath, more shall be given. When you doubt what you shall have, search what you have had at God's hands. Make this reckoning, that the benefits, which he hath bestowed are bills obligatory and sufficient sureties, that he will bestow further. His present mercy is still a warrant of his future love, because, “whom (John he loveth, he loveth unto the end." Is it not thus? Yet if we could reckon up as many evident, clear, undoubted signs of God's reconciled love towards us as there are years, yea days, yea hours, past over our heads; all these set together have not such force to confirm our Faith, as the loss, and sometimes the only fear of losing a little transitory goods, credit, honour, or favour of men; a small calamity, a matter of nothing, to breed a conceit, and such a conceit as is not easily again removed, that we are clean crost out of God's book, that he regards us not, that he looketh upon others, but passeth by us like a stranger to whom we are not known. Then we think, looking upon others, and comparing them with ourselves, their tables are furnished day
by day; earth and ashes are our bread: they sing to the lute, and they see their children dance before them; our hearts are heavy in our bodies as lead, our sighs beat as thick as a swift pulse, our tears do wash the beds wherein we lie: the sun shineth fair upon their foreheads; we are hanged up like bottles in the smoke, cast into corners like the shreds of a broken pot: tell not us of the promises of God's favour, tell such as do reap the fruit of them; they belong not to us, they are made to others : the Lord be merciful to our weakness, but thus it is. Well, let the frailty of our nature, the subtilty of Satan, the force of our deceivable imaginations be, as we cannot deny but they are, things that threaten every moment the utter subversion of our Faith ; Faith notwithstanding is not hazarded by these
things: that which one sometimes told the Senators of [Sall.] Rome, “Ego sic existimabam, P. C. uti patrem sæpe meum
prædicantem audiveram, qui vestram amicitiam diligenter colerent, eos multum laborem suscipere, cæterum ex omnibus maxime tutos esse, As I have often heard
father acknowledge, so I myself did ever think, that the friends and favourers of this State charged themselves with great labour, but no man's condition so safe as theirs ;" the same we may say a great deal more justly in this case, Our Fathers and Prophets, our Lord and Master, hath full often spoken, by long experience we have found it true, as many as have entered their names in the mystical Book of Life," eos maximum laborem suscipere,” they have taken upon them a laboursome, a toilsome, a painful profession,
“ sed omnium maxime tutos esse," but no man's security [Luke
like to theirs. “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to 31, 32.) winnow thee as wheat;" here is our toil: “ but I have
prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not;" this is our safety. No man's condition so sure as ours: the prayer of Christ is more than sufficient both to strengthen us, be we never so weak; and to overthrow all adversary power, be it never so
strong and potent. His prayer must not exclude our labour: [Psal.
their thoughts are vain who think that their watching can cxxvii.1)
preserve the city, which God himself is not willing to keep. And are not theirs as vain, who think that God will keep the city, for which they themselves are not careful to watch? The husbandman may not therefore burn his plough, nor the merchant forsake his trade, because God
hath promised “ I will not forsake thee.” And do the promises of God concerning our stability, think you, make it a matter indifferent for us to use, or not to use, the means whereby to attend, or not to attend, to reading ? to pray, or not to pray, that we “ fall not into temptation ?" Surely, if we look to stand in the Faith of the sons of God, we must hourly, continually, be providing and setting ourselves to strive. It was not the meaning of our Lord and Saviour in saying, “ Father, keep them in thy name,” that (John
xvii, 11.) we should be careless to keep ourselves. To our own safety, our own sedulity is required. And then blessed for ever and ever be that mother's child, whose Faith hath made him the child of God. The earth may shake, the pillars of the world may tremble under us, the countenance of the Heaven may be appalled, the sun may lose his light, the moon her beauty, the stars their glory; but concerning the man that trusteth in God, if the fire have proclaimed itself unable as much as to singe a hair of his head, if lions, beasts ravenous by nature, and keen with hunger, being set to devour, have as it were religiously adored the very flesh of the faithful man; what is there in the world that shall change his heart, overthrow his Faith, alter his affection towards God, or the affection of God to him? If I be of this note, who shall make a separation between me and my God? “ shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or (Rom. famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No; I am per- 38, 39. suaded, that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, nor death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall ever prevail so far over “ I know in whom I have believed; I am not ignorant [2 Tim.i.
12.] whose precious blood hath been shed for me; I have a Shepherd full of kindness, full of care, and full of power, unto him I commit myself; his own finger hath engraven this sentence in the tables of my heart, “ Satan hath desired to (Lake
xxii. 31.) winnow thee as wheat, but I have prayed that thy Faith fail not:" therefore the assurance of my hope I will labour to keep, as a jewel, unto the end; and by labour, through the gracious mediation of his prayer, I shall keep it.
PART OF ST. JUDE'S EPISTLE.*
“But ye, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before of the Apostles of
our Lord Jesus Christ ; How that they told you, that there should be Mockers in the last time, which should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These are makers of sects, fleshly, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, edify yourselves in your most holy Faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. And keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal Life."
1. The occasion whereupon, together with the end wherefore, this Epistle was written, is opened in the front and entry of the same. There were then, as there are now,
many evil and wickedly-disposed persons, not of the mystical [Jade,4.] Body, yet within the visible bounds of the Church, « men
which were of old ordained to condemnation, ungodly men,
* [Printed at Oxford, 1614, 4to. “To the Worshipful Mr. GEORGE SUMMASTER, Principal of Broad-Gates Hall, in Oxford, HENRY JACKSON wisheth all happiness.
Sir, your kind acceptance of a former testification of that respect I owe you, hath made me venture to shew the world these godly Sermons under your name. In which, as every point is worth observation, so some especially are to be noted: the first, that as the Spirit of Prophecy is from God himself, who doth inwardly heat and enlighten the hearts and minds of his holy Penmen (which if some would diligently consider, they would not puzzle themselves with the contentions of Scot and Thomas, Whether God only, or his ministering Spirits, do infuse into men's minds prophetical revelations per species intelligibiles'), so God framed their words also. Whence the holy Father St. Augustine religiously observeth, “That all those which understand the Sacred Writers, will also perceive that they ought not to use other words than they did, in expressing those heavenly mysteries which their hearts conceived, as the blessed Virgin did our Saviour, by the Holy Ghost' (De Doct. Chr. lib. iv. c. 6). The greater is Castellio his offence, who hath laboured to teach the Prophets to speak otherwise than they have already. Much like to that impious King of Spain, Alphonsus the Tenth, who found fault with God's works: 'Si (inquit) creationi affuissem, mundum melius ordinassem ;' If he had been with God at the creation of the world, the world had gone better than now it doth.' (Rob. Tolet. lib. iv. c. 5). As this man found fault with God's works, so did the other with God's words; but, because we have a most sure word of the Prophets,' to which we must 'take heed,' (2 Pet. i. 19) I will let his words pass with the wind, having elsewhere (Præf. in Orat. D. Rainold.) spoken to you more largely of his errorus, whom, notwithstanding, for his other excellent parts, I much respect.
“You shall moreover from hence understand, how Christianity consists not in formal and seeming purity (under which who knows not notorious villany to mask?), but in the heart
Whence the Author truly teacheth, that Mockers, which use Religion as a cloak, to put off and on, as the weather serveth, are worse than Pagans and Infidels. Where I cannot