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both these together, Columba mea, formosa mea; My dove, my fair one ; Cant. ii. 10. which Lucas Brugensis confesses not to be in the Hebrew, yet adds, Ne facilè oinittas. Thy Dove, ó God? Yea, why not thy Raven rather? I am
she of herself, I am black : and, if our own hearts condemn us, thou art greater. Alas! what canst thou see in us but the pustules of corruption, the morphews of deformity, the hereditary leprosy of sin, the pestilential spots of death ? And dost thou say, My Dove, my undefiled? Let malice speak her worst. The Church says she is black ; but she says she is comely : and that is fair, that pleaseth. Neither doth God look upon us with our eyes, but with his own : He sees not as man seeth. The king's daughter is all glorious whin : finite eyes reach not thither. The skin-deep beauty of earthly faces, is a fit object for our shallow sense, that can see nothing but colour.
Have ye not seen some pictures, which, being looked on one way, shew some ugly beast or bird; another way, shew an esquisite face? Even so doth God see our best side, with favour; while we see our worst, with rigour.
Not that his justice sees any thing, as it is not; but that his mercy will not see some things, as they are. Blessed is the man, whose sin is covered ; Psalm xxxii
. 1. If we be foul; yet thou, O Saviour, art glorious. Thy Righteousness beautifies us, who are blemished by our own corruptions.
But what? shall our borrowed beauty blemish, the while, thine infinite Justice ? Shall we taint thee, to clear ourselves ? Dost thou justify the wicked ? Dost thou feather the Raven with the wings of the Dove? While the cloth is fair, is the skin nasty ? Is it no more, but to deck a blackmore with white ? Even with the long white robes which are the justifications of saints? God forbid ! Cursed be he, O Lord, that makes thy mercies unjust. No; whom thou accountest holy, thou makest so : whom thou justifiest, him thou sanctifiest. No man can be perfectly just in thee, who is not truly, though unperfectly, holy in himself."
Whether therefore, as fully just by thy gracious imputation, or as inchoately just by thy gracious inoperation, we are in both thy Dove, thy Undefiled. In spite of all the blemishes of her outward administrations, God's Church is beautiful : in spite of her inward weaknesses, the faithful Soul is comely : in spite of both, each of them is a dove, each of them undefiled. It is with both, as he said long since of physicians, “The sun sees their successes, the earth hides their errors.” None of their unwilling infirmities can hinder the God of Mercies from a gracious allowance of their integrity; Behold, thou art all fair.
But let no idle Donatist of Amsterdam dream hence of an Utopical perfection. Even here is the Dove still : but Columba seducta, or fatua (as Tremellius reads it) Ephraim ; Ephraim is a silly, seduced Dove ; Hos. vii. 11. The rifeness of their familiar excommunications, may have taught them to seek for a spotlessness above. And if their furious censures had left but one man in their Church, yet that one man would have need to excommunicate the greater half of himself, the old-man in his own bosom. Our Church may too truly speak of them, in the voice of God, Woe to them, for they have fled from me ; Hos. vii. 13. It is not in the power of their uncharity, to make the rest of God's Church, and ours, any other than what it is, the Dove of Christ, the undefiled.
2. The HARMLESSNESS follows. A quality so eminent in the dove, that our Saviour hath hereupon singled it out for a hieroglyphic of Simplicity. Whence it was, questionless, that God, of all fowls, chose out this for his sacrifice: Sin ex aliquâ volucri ; Lev. i. 14. And, before the Law, Abraham was appointed no other, Gen. xv. 9. than a turtle and a pigeon : neither did the Holy Virgin offer any other, at her Purifying, than this emblem of herself and her Blessed Babe. Shortly, hence it was that a dove was employed for the messenger of the exsiccation of the Deluge: no fowl so fit to carry an olive of peace to the Church, which she represented. And, lastly, in a dove the Holy Ghost descended upon the meek Saviour of the World: whence, as Illyricus and some an. cients have guessed, the sellers of doves were whipped out of the Temple, as Simoniacal chafferers of the Holy Ghost.
The Church then is a Dove. Not an envious Partridge, not a careless Ostrich, not a stridulous Jay, not a petulant Sparrow, not a deluding Lapwing, not an unclean-fed Duck, not a noisome Crow, not an unthankful Swallow, not a death-boding Screech-Owl; but a harmless Dove, that fowl, in which alone envy itself can find nothing to tax.
Hear this then, ye Violent Spirits, that think there can be no piety that is not cruel; the Church is a Dove: not a Glead, not a Vulture, not a Falcon, not an Eagle, not any Bird of Prey or Rapine. Whoever saw the rough foot of the Dove armed with griping talons ? Whoever saw the beak of the Dove bloody? Who. ever saw that innocent bird pluming of her spoil, and tyring upon bones?
Indeed, we have seen the Church crimson-suited, like her celestial Husband; of whom the Prophet, Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? And straight, Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garment like him that treadeth in the wine-press ? Isaiah lxiii. 1, 2: but it hath been with her own blood, shed by others; not with others' blood, shed by her hand, She hath learned to suffer, what she hateth to inflict. Do
ye see any faction with knives in their hands, stained with massacres; with firebrands in their hands, ready to kindle the unjust stakes, yea woods of martyrdom; with pistols and poniards in their hands, ambitiously affecting a canonization by the death of God's Anointed; with matches in their hands, ready to give fire unto that powder which shall blow up King, Prince, State, Church; with thunderbolts of censures, ready to strike down into hell whosoever refuses to receive novel opinions into the Articles of Faith? If ye find these dispositions and actions Dove-like, applaud them, as be
seeming the true Spouse of Christ, who is ever like herself, Columba perfecta, yea, perfecta columba, a true Dove for her quiet Innocence.
For us, let our Dove-ship approve itself in meekness of suffering; not in actions of cruelty. We may, we must delight in blood; but the blood shed for us, not shed by us. Thus let us be Columba in foraminibus petre; Cant. ii. 14. a Dove in the clefis of the rock : that is, in vulneribus Christi, In the wounds of Christ, as the Gloss; in the gashes of him, that is the true Rock of the Church. This is the way to be innocent, to be beautiful, a dove, and undefiled.
II. The PROPRIETY follows; My Dove. The kite, or the crow, or the sparrow, and such like, are challenged by no owner; but the Dove still hath a master. The world runs wild; it is fere na'ure : but the Church is Christ's ; domestically, entirely his : My Dove ; not the world's, not her own.
Not the world's: for, If ye were of the world, saith our Saviour, the world would love his own : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you ; John xv. 19.
Not her own: so St. Paul; 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price.
Justly then may he say, Níy Dove. “ Mine, for I made her;" there is the right of Creation : “ Mine, for I made her again;" there is the right of Regeneration : “ Mine, for I bought her;" there is the right of Redemption : “Mine, for I made her mine;" there is the right of spiritual and inseparable Union.
O God, be we thine, since we are thine. We are thine by thy merit: let us be thine in our a!lections, in our obedience. It is our honour, it is our happiness, that we may be thine. Have thou all thine own. What should any piece of us be cast away, upon the vain glory and trash of this transitory world? Why should the powers of darkness run away with any of our services, in the momentary pleasures of sin? The great King of Heaven hath cast his love upon us, and hath espoused us to himself in truth and righteousness; Oh then, why will we cast roving and lustful eyes upon adulterous rivals, base drudges ? Yea, why will we run on madding after ugly devils ? How justly shall he loath us, if we be thus shamefully prostituted ? Away then with all our unchaste glances of desires, all unclean ribaldry of conversation : let us say mutually, with the blessed Spouse, My Beloved is mine, and I am his; Cant ii. 16.
My Dove: mine, as to love; so to defend. That inference is natural, I am thine, save me. Interest challenges protection. The hand says, “It is my head; therefore I will guard it :” the head says, “ It is my hand; therefore I will devise to arm it, to withdraw it from violence :” the soul says, “It is my body; therefore I will cast to cherish it:" the body says, “ It is my soul; therefore I would not part with it.” The husband says, Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; and therefore Sámi, he makes much of her ; Eph. v. 29. And, as she is desiderium oculorum, the delight of his eijes to him; Ezek. xxiv. 16 : so is he operimentum oculorum, the shelter of her eyes to her; Gen. xx. 16. In all cases, it is thus. So as, if God say of the Church Columba mea, My Dove, she cannot but
say of him, Adjutor Meus, My Helper. Neither can it be otherwise, save where is lack, either of love or power. Here can be no lack of either: not of love; he saith, Whoso toucheth Israel toucheth the apple of mine eye : not of power; Our God doth whatsoever he will, both in heaven and earth.
Band you yourselves therefore, ye bloody Tyrants of the World, against the poor despised Church of God: threaten to trample it to dust; and, when you have done, to carry away that dust upon the soles of your shoes: He, that sits in heaven, laughs you to scorn ; the Lord hath
in derision. ( Virgin daughter of Sion, they have despised thee : O daughter of Jerusalem, they have shaken their heads at thee. But whom have ye reproached and blasphemed? And against whom have ye exalted your voice, and lift up your ques on high? Even against the Holy One of Israel, who hath said, Columba mea, My Dove.
Yea, let all the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places, all the legions of hell troop together, they shall as soon be able to pluck God out of his throne of heaven, as to pull one feather from the wing of this Dove. This Propriety secures her: she is Columba mea, My Dove.
III. From the Propriety, turn your eyes to the best of her properties, UNITY.
Let me leave arithmeticians disputing whether unity be a number. I am sure, it is both the beginning of all numbering numbers, and the beginning and end of all numbers numbered.
1. All PERFECTION rises hence, and runs hither; and every thing, the nearer it comes to perfection, gathers up itself the more towards unity: as all the virtue of the loadstone is recollected into one point.
Jehovah our God is one : from him, there is but one world, one heaven in that world, one sun in that heaven, one uniform face of all that glorious vault: the nature of the holy Angels is one and simple, as creatures can be: the Head of Angels and Saints, one Saviour ; whose blessed Humanity, if it carry some semblance of composition, yet it is answered by a threefold union of one and the same subject, a double union of the Deity with the Humanity, a third union of the Humanity in itself. So that, as in the Deity there is one essence and three persons; in Christ, iş one person, and three essences united into that one.
If from heaven we look to earth, from God to men ; we have but one earth, one Church in that earth, one king in that Church, and, for us, one deputy of that king, one sceptre, one law of both; one baptism, one faith ; Cor unum, viam unam : and all these make up Columnbam unam, one Dove.
It would perhaps be no unnecessary excursion, to take hereupon occasion to discourse of the perfectest form of Church-govern
ment; and to dispute the case of that long and busy competition betwixt monarchy and aristocracy. Ingenuous Richier, the late eye-sore of the Sorbonne, hath made, methinks, an equal arbitration, That the State is monarchical, the Regiment aristocratical. The State, absolutely monarchical in Christ, dispensatively monarchical in respect of particular Churches; forasmuch as that power, which is inherent in the Church, is dispensed and executed by some prime ministers: like as the faculty of seeing, given to the man, is exercised by the eye, which is given for this use to man. And if, for the aristocratical Regiment, there be in the native Senate of the Church, which is a General Council, a power to enact Canons for the wielding of this great body, (as more eyes see more than one,) yet how can this consist without Unity ? Concilium is not so much a concalando, as Calepine hath mistaken, as a conciliando, or, as Isidore, à ciliis oculorum, which ever move together. In this aristocracy there is an unity; for, as that old word was long since, Episcopatus unus est, cujus à singulis in solidum pars tenetur. In a word, no regiment, no state can have any form, but deformity, without Unity.
2. Neither is there more Perfection than STRENGTH in Unity. Large bodies, if of a stronger composition, yet, because the spirits are diffused, have not that vigour and activity, which a well-knit body hath in a more slender frame. The praise of the invincible strength of Jerusalem was not so much in the natural walls, the hills round about it, as in the mutual compactedness within itself. And Solomon tells us, it is the twisted cord that is not easily broken. The rule of Vegetius, that he gives for his best stratagem, is, that which our Jesuits know too well, to set strife where we desire ruin. Our Saviour says that of every city, which one said anciently of Carthage, That division was the best engine to batter it: A city divided cannot stand. On the contrary, of every happy Church, of every firm State, is that verified, which God speaks, in the whirlwind, of Leviathan's scales, una uni conjungitur; One is joined to another, that the wind cannot pass between them : they stick together, that they cannot be sundered ; Job xli. 16, 17.
3. That there is Perfection and Strength in Unity cannot be doubted; but how agrees this Unity to Christ's Dove, his Church? It shall be thus absolutely in patria, at home;" but how is it in vid, “ in the passage?” Even here it is one too : NOT DIVIDED; NOT MULTIPLIED.
(1.) To begin with the Former. It hath been a stale quarrel, that hath been raised from the divisions of the Christian world, worn threadbare even by the pens and tongues of Porphyry, Libanius, Celsus, Julian: and, after them, Valens the emperor, was puzzled with it, till Themistius, that memorable Christian Philosopher, in a notable Oration of his, convinced this idle cavil
, telling the emperor, “ He should not wonder at the dissensions of Christians : that these were nothing, in comparison of the differences of the Gentile Philosophers, which had above three hundred several opinions in agitation at once: and that God meant, by this variety