« AnteriorContinuar »
place, and didst it by assuming, by drawing us thither; when we fell from thee here, in this world, thou tookest into thy care the reparation of this place too, and didst it by assuming us another way, by descending down to assume our nature, in thy Son. So that though our last act be an ascending to glory (we shall ascend to the place of angels), yet our first act is to go the way of thy Son, descending, and the way of thy blessed Spirit too, who descended in the dove. Therefore hast thou been pleased to afford us this remedy in nature, by this application of a dove to our lower parts, to make these vapours in our bodies to descend, and to make that a type to us, that, by the visitation of thy Spirit, the vapours of sin shall descend, and we tread them under our feet. At the baptism of thy Son, the Dove descended, and at the exalting of thine apostles to preach, the same Spirit descended. Let us draw down the vapours of our own pride, our own wits, our own wills, our own inventions, to the simplicity of thy sacraments and the obedience of thy word; and these doves, thus applied, shall make us live.
O ETERNAL and most gracious God, who, though thou have suffered us to destroy ourselves, and hast not given us the power of reparation in ourselves, hast yet afforded us such means of reparation as may easily and familiarly be compassed by us, prosper, I humbly beseech thee, this means of bodily assistance in this thy ordinary creature, and prosper thy means of spiritual assistance in thy holy ordinances. And as thou hast carried this thy creature, the dove, through all thy ways through nature, and made it naturally proper to conduce medicinally to our bodily health, through the law, and made it a sacrifice for sin there, and through the gospel, and made it, and thy Spirit in it, a witness of thy Son's baptism there, so carry it, and the qualities of it, home to my soul, and imprint there that simplicity, that mildness, that harmlessness, which thou hast imprinted by nature in this creature. That so all vapours of all disobedience to thee, being subdued under my feet, I may, in the power and triumph of thy Son, tread victoriously upon my grave, and trample upon the lion and dragon14 that lie under it to devour me. Thou, O Lord, by the prophet, callest the dove the doves of the valleys, but promisest that the dove of the valleys shall be upon the mountain15. As thou hast laid me low in this valley of sickness, so low as that I am made fit for that question asked in the field of bones, Son of man, can these bones live16? so, in thy good time, carry me up to these mountains, of which even in this valley thou affordest me a prospect, the mountain where thou dwellest, the holy hill, unto which none can ascend but he that hath clean hands, which none can have but by that one and that strong w*y of making them clear, in the blood of thy Son Christ Jesus. Amen.
XIII. Ingeniumque MALUM, NUMEROSO STIGMATE, FASSUS
The Sickness declares the Infection and Malignity thereof by Spots.
WE say that the world is made of sea and land, as though they were equal; but we know that there is more sea in the Western than in the Eastern hemisphere. We say that the firmament is full of
14 Psalm xci. 13. I5 Ezek. vii. 16. 1« Ezek. xxxvii. 3.
stars, as though it were equally full; but we know that there are more stars under the Northern than under the Southern pole. We say the elements of man are misery and happiness, as though he had an equal proportion of both, and the days of man vicissitudinary, as though he had as many good days as ill, and that he lived under a perpetual equinoctial, night and day equal, good and ill fortune in the same measure. But it is far from that; he drinks misery, and he tastes happiness; he mows misery, and he gleans happiness; he journeys in misery, he does but walk in happiness; and, which is worst, his misery is positive and dogmatical, his happiness is but disputable and problematical: all men call misery misery, but happiness changes the name by the taste of man. In this accident that befalls me now, that this sickness declares itself by spots to be a malignant and pestilential disease, if there be a comfort in the declaration, that thereby the physicians see more clearly what to do, there may be as much discomfort in this, that the malignity may be so great, as that all that they can do shall do nothing; that an enemy declares himself then, when he is able to subsist, and to pursue, and to achieve his ends, is no great comfort. In intestine conspiracies, voluntary confessions do more good than confessions upon the rack; in these infections, when nature herself confesses and cries out by these outward declarations, which she is able to put forth of herself, they minister comfort; but when all is by the strength of cordials, it is but a confession upon the rack, by which, though we come to know the malice of that man, yet we do not know whether there be not as much malice in his heart then, as before his confession; we are sure of his treason, but not of his repentance; sure of him, but not of his accomplices. It is a faint comfort to know the worst when the
worst is remediless, and a weaker than that to know much ill, and not to know that that is the worst. A woman is comforted with the birth of her son, her body is eased of a burden; but if she could prophetically read his history, how ill a man, perchance how ill a son, he would prove, she should receive a greater burden into her mind. Scarce any purchase that is not clogged with secret incumbrances; scarce any happiness that hath not in it so much of the nature of false and base money, as that the allay is more than the metal. Nay, is it not so (at least much towards it) even in the exercise of virtues? I must be poor, and want, before I can exercise the virtue of gratitude; miserable, and in torment, before I can exercise the virtue of patience. How deep do we dig, and for how coarse gold! And what other touchstone have we of our gold but comparison, whether we be as happy as others, or as ourselves at other times? O poor step toward being well, when these spots do only tell us, that we are worse than we were sure of before.
MY God, my God, thou hast made this sick bed thine altar, and I have no other sacrifice to offer but myself; and wilt thou accept no spotted sacrifice? Doth thy Son dwell bodily in this flesh, that thou shouldst look for an unspottedness here? or is the Holy Ghost the soul of this body, as he is of thy spouse, who is therefore all fair, and no spot in her1? or hath thy Son himself no spots, who hath all our stains and deformities in him? or hath thy spouse, thy church, no spots, when every particular limb of that fair and spotless body, every particular soul in that church, is full of stains and spots? Thou 1 Cant. It. 7.
bidst us hate the garment that is spotted with the flesh2. The flesh itself is the garment, and it spotteth itself with itself. And if I wash myself with snow water, mine own clothes shall make me abominable3; and yet no man yet ever hated his own flesh*. Lord, if thou look for a spotlessness, whom wilt thou look upon? Thy mercy may go a great way in my soul, and yet not leave me without spots; thy corrections may go far, and burn deep, and yet not leave me spotless: thy children apprehended that, when they said, From our former iniquity we are not cleansed until this day, though there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord5. Thou rainest upon us, and yet dost not always mollify all our hardness; thou kindlest thy fires in us, and yet dost not always burn up all our dross; thou healest our wounds, and yet leavest scars; thou purgest the blood, and yet leavest spots. But the spots that thou hatest, are the spots that we hide. The carvers of images cover spots6, says the wise man; when we hide our spots, we become idolaters of our own stains, of our own foulnesses. But if my spots come forth, by what means soever, whether by the strength of nature, by voluntary confession (for grace is the nature of a regenerate man, and the power of grace is the strength of nature), or by the virtue of cordials (for even thy corrections are cordials), if they come forth either way, thou receivest that confession with a gracious interpretation. When thy servant Jacob practised an invention to procure spots in his sheep7, thou didst prosper his rods; and thou dost prosper thine own rods, when corrections procure the discovery of our spots, the humble manifestation of our sins to thee; till then thou mayst justly say, The whole need not
2 Jade, 23. 3 Job, ix. 30. * Eph. v. 29.
5 Josh. xxii. 17. 6 Wisd. xiii. 14. 'Gen.xxx.33.