« AnteriorContinuar »
thee O God, in a time when thou mayest be found”; we acknowledge this to be that time, and we come to thee now early, with the confession of thy servant Augustine, Sero te amari, pulchritudo tam antiqua, tam nova; O glorious beauty, infinitely reverend, infinitely fresh and young, we come late to thy love, if we consider the past days of our lives, but early if thou beest pleased to reckon with us from this hour of the shining of thy grace upon us; and therefore O God, as thou hast brought us safely to the beginning of this day, as thou hast not given us over to a final perishing in the works of night and darkness, as thou hast brought us to the beginning of this day of grace, so defend us in the same with thy mighty power, and grant that this day, this day of thy visitation, we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, no such sin, no such danger as may separate us from thee, or frustrate us of our hopes in that eternal kingdom which thy Son our Saviour Christ Jesus hath purchased for us, with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood. To whom with the Father, &c.
A SERMON OF VALEDICTION AT MY GOING INTO GERMANY,
AT LINCOLN'S INN, APRIL 18, 1619.
ECCLESIASTES xii. 1.
We may consider two great virtues, one for the society of this life, thankfulness, and the other for attaining the next life, repentance; as the two precious metals, silver and gold: of silver (of the virtue of thankfulness) there are whole mines, books written by philosophers, and a man may grow rich in that metal, in that virtue, by digging in that mine, in the precepts of moral men; of this gold (this virtue of repentance) there is no mine in the earth; in the book of philosophers, no doctrine of repentance ; this gold is for the most part in the washes ; this repentance in matters of tribulation ; but God directs thee to it in this text, before thou come to those waters of tribulation, remember now thy Creator before those evil days come, and then thou wilt repent the not remembering him till now. Here then the Holy Ghost takes the nearest way to bring a man to God, by awaking his memory; for, for the understanding, that requires long and clear instruction ; and the will requires an instructed understanding before, and is in itself the blindest and boldest faculty ; but if the memory do but fasten upon any of those things which God hath done for us, it is the nearest way to him. Remember therefore, and remember now, though the memory be placed in the hindermost part of the brain, defer not thou thy remembering to the hindermost part of thy life, but do that now in die, in the day, whilst thou hast light, now in diebus, in the days, whilst God presents thee many lights, many means; and in diebus juventutis, in the days of thy youth, of strength, whilst thou art able to do that which thou purposest to thyself; and as the word imports, bechurotheica', in diebus electionum tuarum, in the days of thy choice, whilst thou art able to make thy choice, whilst the grace of God shines so brightly upon thee, as thou mayest choose the way, and so powerfully upon thee, as that thou mayest walk in that way. Now, in this day, and in these days remember first the Creator, that all these things which thou labourest for, and delightest in, were created, made of nothing; and therefore thy memory looks not far enough back, if it stick only upon the creature, and reach not to the Creator, remember thy Creator, and remember thy Creator ; and in that, first that he made thee, and then what he made thee; he made thee of nothing, but of that nothing he hath made thee such a thing as cannot return to nothing, but must remain for ever ; whether happy or miserable, that depends upon thy remembering thy Creator now in the days of thy youth.
2? Psalm xxxii. 6. VOL. VI.
First remember; which word is often used in the Scripture for considering and taking care : for, God remembered Noah and every beast with him in the ark; as the word which is contrary
'Tinigna, from 1na, elegit.–Ed. Gen. viii. 1.
. CXLVIII.) PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S inn. to that, forgetting is also for the affection contrary to it, it is neglecting, Can a woman forget her child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? But here we take not remembering so largely, but restrain it to the exercise of that one faculty, the memory; for it is stomachus animæ. The memory, says St. Bernard, is the stomach of the soul, it receives and digests, and turns into good blood, all the benefits formerly exhibited to us in particular, and exhibited to the whole church of God: present that which belongs to the understanding, to that faculty, and the understanding is not presently settled in it; present any of the prophecies made in the captivity, and a Jew's understanding takes them for deliverances from Babylon, and a Christian's understanding takes them for deliverances from sin and death, by the Messias Christ Jesus; present any of the prophecies of the Revelation concerning antichrist, and a papist will understand it of a single, and momentane, and transitory man, that must last but three years and a half; and a protestant may understand it of a succession of men, that have lasted so one thousand years already: present but the name of bishop or of elder, out of the Acts of the Apostles, or their epistles, and other men will take it for a name of equality, and parity, and we for a name and office of distinction in the hierarchy of God's church. Thus it is in the understanding that is often perplexed; consider the other faculty, the will of man, by those bitternesses which have passed between the Jesuits and the Dominicans, (amongst other things belonging to the will) whether the same proportion of grace, offered to men alike disposed, must necessarily work alike upon both their wills? And amongst persons nearer to us, whether that proportion of grace, which doth convert a man, might not have been resisted by perverseness of his will ? By all these difficulties we may see, how untractable, and untameable a faculty the will of man is. But come not with matter of law, but matter of fact, Let God make his wonderful works to be had in remembrance“: present the history of God's protection of his children, from the beginning, in the ark, in both captivities, in infinite dangers; present this to the memory, and howsoever the understanding be beclouded, or the will perverted, yet both Jew and Christian, Papist and Protestant, Puritan and Protestant, are affected with a thankful acknowledgment of his former mercies and benefits, this issue of that faculty of their memory is alike in them all: and therefore God in giving the law, works upon no other faculty but this, I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt; he only presents to their memory what he had done for them. And so in delivering the Gospel in one principal seal thereof, the sacrament of his body, he recommended it only to their memory, Do this in remembrance of me. This is the faculty that God desires to work upon ; and therefore if thine understanding cannot reconcile differences in all churches, if thy will cannot submit itself to the ordinances of thine own church, go to thine own memory; for as St. Bernard calls that the stomach of the soul, we may be bold to call it the gallery of the soul, hanged with so many, and so lively pictures of the goodness and mercies of thy God to thee, as that every one of them shall be a catechism to thee, to instruct thee in all thy duties to him for those mercies: and as a well-made, and wellplaced picture, looks always upon him that looks upon it; so shall thy God look upon thee, whose memory is thus contemplating him, and shine upon thine understanding, and rectify thy will too. If thy memory cannot comprehend his merey at large showed to his whole church, (as it is almost an incomprehensible thing, that in so few years he made us of the Reformation, equal even in number to our adversaries of the Roman church,) if thy memory have not held that picture of our general deliverance from the navy; (if that mercy be written in the water and in the sands, where it was performed, and not in thy heart) if thou remember not our deliverance from that artificial hell, the vault, (in which, though his instruments failed of their plot, they did not blow us up; yet the devil goes forward with his plot, if ever he can blow out ; if he can get that deliverance to be forgotten.) If these be too large pictures for thy gallery, for thy memory, yet every man hath a pocket-picture about him, Emanuel, a bosom book, and if he will turn over but one leaf, and remember what God hath done for him even since yesterday, he shall find even by that little branch a navigable river, to sail into that great and endless sea of God's mercies towards him, from the beginning of his being
3 Isaiah xlvüi. 15.
* Psalm cxi. 4.
Do but remember, but remember now : Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be as the first fruits of his creatures :: that as we consecrate all his creatures to him, in a sober, and religious use of them, so as the first fruits of all, we should principally consecrate ourselves to his service betimes. Now there were three payments of first fruits appointed by God to the Jews: the first was, primitiæ spicarum, of their ears of corn, and this was early about Easter; the second was primitive panum, of loaves of bread, after their corn was converted to that use; and this, though it were not so soon, yet it was early too, about Whitsuntide; the third was primitiæ frugum, of all their fruits and revenues; but this was very late in Autumn, at the fall of the leaf, in the end of the year. The two first of these, which were offered early, were offered partly to God, and partly to man, to the priest ; but in the last, which came late, God had no part: he had his part in the corn, and in the loaves, but none in the latter fruits. Offer thyself to God; first, as primitias spicarum, (whether thou glean in the world, or bind up whole sheaves, whether thy increase be by little and little, or apace ;) and offer thyself, as primitias panum, when thou hast kneaded up riches, and honour, and favour in a settled and established fortune, offer at thy Easter, whensoever thou hast any resurrection, any sense of raising thy soul from the shadow of death ; offer at thy Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost visits thee, and descends upon thee in a fiery tongue, and melts thy bowels by the power of his word; for if thou defer thy offering till thy fall, till thy winter, till thy death, howsoever they may be thy first fruits, because they be the first that ever thou gavest, yet they are such, as are not acceptable to God; God hath no portion in them, if they be not offered till then; offer thyself now; for that is an easy request; yea offer to thyself now, that is more easy; Viximus mundo; ritamus reliquum nobis ipsis"; Thus long we have served the world ; let us serve ourselves the rest of our time, that is, the best part of ourselves, our souls, Expectas ut febris te cocet ad 5 James i, 18.