« AnteriorContinuar »
to a certain place or point in that stone, so though we do not assign in the sacrament, where, that is, in what circumstance or part of that holy action grace is : or when, or how it enters, (for though the word of consecration alter the bread, not to another thing, but to another use : and though they leave it bread, yet they make it other bread, yet the enunciation of those words doth not infuse nor imprint this grace, which we speak of, into that bread) yet whosoever receives this sacrament worthily, sees evidently an entrance, and a growth of grace in himself. But this evidence which we speak of this manifestation, is not only, (though especially) in the sacraments, but in other sacramental and ceremonial things, which God (as he speaks by his church) hath ordained, as the cross in baptism, and adoration at the sacrament (I do not say, I am far from saying, adoration of the sacrament; there is a fair distance and a spacious latitude between those two, an adoring of God in a devout humiliation of the body in that holy action, and an adoring the bread, out of a false imagination that that bread is God : a rectified man may be very humble and devout in that action, and yet a great way on this side the superstition and idolatry in the practice of the Roman church) in these sacramental and ritual, and ceremonial things, which are the bellows of devotion, and the subsidies of religion, and which were always in all churches, there is a more evident manifestation and clearness in these things in the Christian church, than was amongst the Jews in the ceremonial parts of their religion, because almost all ours have reference to that which is already done and accomplished, and not to things of a future expectation, as those of the Jews were : 60 you know the passover of the Jews, had a relation to their coming out of Egypt; that was past, and thereby obvious to every man's apprehension; every man that eat the passover, remembered their deliverance out of Egypt; but then the passover had also relation to that Lamb which was to redeem that world ; and this was a future thing; and this certainly very few amongst them understood, or considered upon that occasion, that as thy lamb is killed here, so there shall be a Lamb killed for all the world hereafter. Now, our actions in the church, do most respect things formerly done, and so they awaken, and work upon our memory, which is an easier faculty to work
upon, than the understanding or the will. Salvation is nearer us, in these outward helps, because their signification is clearer to us, and more apprehensible by us, being of things past, and accomplished already. So then the apostle might well say that salvation, that is, outward means of salvation, was nearer, that is, more in number, better in use, clearer in evidence than it was before ; quando crediderunt, when they believed, which is the third and last term, in this first acceptation of the word. Salvation was brought into the world, in the first promise of a Messias in the semen contract, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head; and it was brought nearer, when this Messias was fixed in Abraham's race, In semine tuo, In thy seed shall all nations be blessed; it was brought nearer than that, when it was brought from Abraham's race to David's family, In solio tuo, The sceptre shall not depart from thee, till he come; and still nearer, in Isaiah's virgo concipiet, when so particular mark was set upon the Messias, as that he should be the son of a virgin; and yet nearer in Micah's et tu Bethlem, that Bethlem was designed for the place of his birth ; and nearer in Daniel's seventy weeks, when the time was manifested. And though it were nearer than all this, when John Baptist came to say, Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, yet it was truly very near, nearest of all, when Christ came to say, Behold the kingdom of God is amongst you?; for all the rest were in the crediderunt, he was nearer them because they believed he would come; but then it was brought to the viderunt, they saw he was come. Beati, says Christ: Blessed are they that have believed, and have not seen®: they had salvation brought nearer unto them by their believing; but yet Christ speaks of another manner of blessedness conferred upon his disciples, Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear'; for, verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men, have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them. To end this, the belief of the patriarchs was blessedness; and it was a kind of seeing too; for so Christ says, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw ito': but this was a
6 Matt. üi. 2.
7 Luke xvii, 21. 9 Matt. xiii. 16.
Matt. Lätt. xi. 16. Luke
8 John xx, 29. 10 John viii. 56.
seeing with the eye of faith which discovers future things; but Christ prefers the blessedness of the disciples, because they saw things present and already done. All our life is a passing bell, but then was Simeon content his bell should ring out, when his eyes had seen his salvation. In that especially doth St. John exalt the force of his argument; Quæ vidimus: That which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands hare handled of the word of life, that declare we unto you". Here is then the inestimable prerogative of the Christian religion, it is grounded so far upon things which were seen to be done; it is brought so far from matter of faith, to matter of fact; from prophecy to history; from what the Messias should do, to what he hath done ; and that was their case to whom this apostle spake these words, as we take them in the first acceptation ; salvation, that is, outward means of salvation in the church is nearer, that is, more and better and clearer to you now, that is, when you have seen Christ in the flesh, than when you prefigured him in your law, or sacrifices, or sacraments, or believed him in your prophets.
In a second sense we took these words, of Christ's second advent, or coming, his coming to our heart, in the working of his grace; and so the apostle's words are directed to all Christians, and not only to the new convertites of that nation; and so these three terms, salvation, nearness, and believing, (which we proposed to be considered in all the three acceptations of the words) will have this signification. Salvation is the inward means of salvation, the working of the spirit, that sets a seal to the eternal means : the prope, the nearness lies in this, that this grace which is this salvation in this sense, grows out of that which is in you already; not out of any thing which is in you naturally, but God's first graces that are in you, grows into more and more grace. Grace does not grow out of nature ; for nature in the highest exaltation and rectifying thereof cannot produce grace. Corn does not grow out of the earth, it must be sowed; but corn grows only in the earth; nature, and natural reason do not produce grace, but yet grace can take root in no other thing but in the nature and reason of man; whether we consider God's subsequent
11 1 John i. 1.
graces, which grow out of his first grace, formerly given to us, and well employed by us, or his first grace, which works upon our natural faculties, and grows there ; still this salvation, that is, this grace is near us, for it is within us; and then the third term believing, is either, quando credidistis primum, when you began to believe, either in an imputative belief of others in your baptism, or a faint belief, upon your first catechisings and instructions ; or quando credidistis tantum, when you only professed a belief, or faith, and did nothing in declaration of that faith, to the edification of others.
First then salvation in this second sense, is the internal operation of the Holy Ghost, in infusing grace ; for therefore doth St. Basil call the Holy Ghost verbum Dei, the word of God, (which is the name properly peculiar to the Son) quia interpres Filii, sicut Filius Patris ; that as the Father had revealed his will in the prophets, and then the Son comes and interprets all that actually; this prophecy is meant of my coming, this of my dying, and so makes a real comment, and an actual interpretation of all the prophecies ; for he does come, and he does die accordingly; so the Holy Ghost comes, and comments upon this comment, interprets this interpretation, and tells thy soul that all this that the Father had promised, and the Son had performed, was intended by them, and by the working of their spirit, is now appropriated to thy particular soul. In the constitution and making of a natural man, the body is not the man, nor the soul is not the man, but the union of these two makes up the man; the spirits in a man which are the thin and active part of the blood, and so are of a kind of middle nature, between soul and body, those spirits are able to do, and they do the office, to unite and apply the faculties of the soul to the organs of the body, and so there is a man : so in a regenerate man, a Christian man, his being born of Christian parents, that gives him a body, that makes him of the body of the covenant, it gives him a title, an interest in the covenant, which is jus ad rem; thereby he may make his claim to the seal of the covenant, to baptism, and it cannot be denied him : and then in his baptism, that sacrament gives him a soul, a spiritual seal, jus in re, an actual possession of grace ; but yet, as there are spirits in us, which unite body and soul, so there must be subsequent acts, and works of the blessed Spirit, that must unite and confirm all, and make up this spiritual man in the ways of sanctification ; for without that, his body, that is, his being born within the covenant, and his soul, that is, his having received grace in baptism, do not make him up. This grace is this salvation ; and when this grace works powerfully in thee, in the ways of sanctification, then is this salvation near thee; which is our second term in this second acceptation, propè near.
This nearness, which is the effectual working of grace, the apostle expresses fully, that it pierceth to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit's ; for, though properly the soul and spirit of a man be all one, yet divers faculties and operations give them sometimes divers names in the Scriptures ; Anima quia animat, says St. Ambrose, and spiritus quia spirat: The quickening of the body, is the soul; but the quickening of the soul, is the spirit. If this salvation be brought to this nearness, that is, this grace to this powerfulness, thou shalt find it in anima, in thy soul; in those organs wherein thy soul uses thy body, in thy senses, and in the sensible things ordained by God in his church, sacraments and ceremonies; and thou shalt find it nearer, in spiritu, as the Spirit of God hath sealed it to thy spirit invisibly, inexpressibly: it shall be near to thee, so as that thy reason shall apprehend it; and nearer than that, thy faith shall establish it; and nearer than all this, it shall create in thee a modest and sober, but yet an infallible assurance, that thy salvation shall never depart from thee: Magnificabit anima tua Dominum, as the blessed Virgin speaks, Thy soul shall magnify the Lord; all thy natural faculties shall be employed upon an assent to the Gospel, thou shalt be able to prove it to thyself, and to prove it to others, to be the Gospel of salvation : and then exultabit spiritus, thy spirit shall rejoice in God thy Saviour, because by the farther seal of sanctification, thy spirit shall receive testimony from the Spirit ; that as Christ is idem homo cum te, the same man that thou art, so thou art idem spiritus cum Domino, the same spirit that he is ; so far, as that as a spirit cannot be separated in itself, so neither canst thou be separated from God in Christ; and this, this exaltation of grace, when it thus grows up
12 Heb. iv. 12.