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whole selves, souls and bodies, for a whole burntoffering, a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; if he should require from us our whole substance, whole rivers of oil, and all the cattle feeding on a thousand hills.
44. Yet now he is content that less thanks shall satisfy, than were due before ever he performed that glorious work; nay, he hath after all this taken off and subducted from that debt, which we owed him for our creation: for whereas then one actual offence against this law did necessarily draw along with it inevitable destruction; yet now our gracious God, perceiving that we are but dust, accepts of our imperfect, sinful obedience, nay, sometimes, of the inward desire and willingness to perform, where there is not power to put it in execution. Nothing then can be more reasonable, than that a Christian should be commanded, not to prefer the fulfilling of his own will before God's will; not to suffer, that his carnal desires should have greater power and sway with him, than the command of such a God; or, lastly, not to withdraw his allegiance and obedience due to his Redeemer, and place them upon a creature, but equal, or may be, inferior to himself.
45. Secondly, Consider the wonderful love and kindness of the Lawgiver, that hath already tasted unto us; tasted, nay, hath drank the dregs of this unpleasant, bitter potion. He, by whom all things were made, even the eternal almighty Word: he, who thought it no robbery to be equal with God; became his own creature, and submitted himself to be trod upon, reviled, hated, despised by the worst of all creatures, cruel, ungodly, and perverse sinners: he, of whose fulness
we have all received, did utterly evacuate and empty himself of his glory and majesty, denying to himself such things, which he would not even to the most despised creatures. For, saith he, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not whereon to lay his head."-" Ye know (saith St. Paul, 2 Cor. viii. 9.) the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich." So poor he was, that he was forced to borrow tribute money of a fish, and was fain to strain himself to a miracle to get the fish to bring it: so poor, that he was forced to borrow a young colt of strangers, never known to him: "Say (saith he) The Lord has need of him :" a strange unheard-of speech! The Lord that created the world, and can as easily annihilate it, yet he hath need, and need of a colt, the foal of an ass! Time would fail me, for I suppose the world itself would not contain the books that might be written of his dangers, his temptations, his fastings, his travels, his disgrace, torments, and death; all performed without any end proposed to himself, besides our good and happiness.
46. It behoved him (saith St. Paul) to be made like his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people; for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them which are tempted."* Which of you (my beloved friends) when he does seriously meditate on this
* Heb. ii. 17, 18.
place, will not be forced to sit down, even ravished and astonished at the excessive and superabundant mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ; that he who was the God that created us, in whom we live, move, and have our being; and, being more intrinsical to us than our own natures (as the schools do boldly express) doth know our most hidden thoughts long before they are; that he, notwithstanding, should descend to submit himself to the same infirmities and temptations with us, to this end, that by bettering and adding to that knowledge, which he had before of our wants and miseries, to wit, by perfecting and increasing his former speculative knowledge by a newly-acquired experimental knowledge, he might be better acquainted with what we want, and thereby more inclined to mercy and commiseration, and more powerful to succour us, being tempted.
47. See, behold, beloved Christians, how for our sakes he hath enlarged, as it were, three of his glorious, incomprehensible attributes, 1. His omniscience, by knowing that personally and experimentally, which he did before only know contemplatively. 2. His mercy, in that this his knowledge doth more incite his goodness. And, 3. His omnipotent power; for (saith the text) in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is (thereby) able to succour them which are tempted. There seems likewise to be an access to his glory by this his great humility; for, saith the text in Heb. v. 5." Christ glorified not himself to be a high-priest."
48. Woe unto us, my beloved friends, if such mercies as these be neglected and slighted by us:
woe unto us, if a commandment proceeding from such a Lawgiver have not greater force upon us, than any obligation whatsoever.
49. And if these things be so, then (in the first place) how miserably are those deceived, that think they have sufficiently observed this commandment, when they deny to themselves some one delightful insinuating affection, some enormous crying sin, to which they see others wilfully and scandalously devoted; yet, in the mean time, reserve to themselves many a bosom, private, beloved lust.
50. You that know the story of Ananias and Sapphira, may remember, with what a fearful name the Holy Spirit hath branded their sin; it is called no less than lying to the Holy Ghost: it comes near, both in name and condition, to that fearful sin, for which Christ did not die, and for which God could yet never find mercy enough to forgive.
51. Yet consider what this sin was; they voluntarily sold all the means they had, that the money, being equally divided, might supply the necessity of those that wanted. Notwithstanding, to make sure work for some certain estate whereupon they might rely, they subducted some part of the money, and laid the rest at the apostles' feet.
52. St. Peter told them, that their land was in their own power; neither did any constraint lie upon them, to enforce them to sell all: but since they had professed themselves among the number of them, who were willing to clothe, and cherish, and feed Christ, in the persons of their newlyconverted brethren; it was horrible theft, and
desperate lying against God, to diminish one penny of the sum.
53. Now that you may know how much this concerns you: which of you, beloved Christians, hath not solemnly and publicly sworn and vowed to Almighty God at your baptism, not to prefer the vain pomp and vanities of this world, much less the abominable crimes thereof, above your Saviour, into whose name you were baptized?
54. Are not you then most shamefully perjured, when you are so far from renouncing the vanities of this world for Christ's sake, that you will not be withdrawn from the crimes of it? When the base lust of an harlot, or the furious excess of wine, or that untempting, undelightful, and therefore more unpardonable sin of swearing, and blasphemy, shall be of sufficient force with you very hour, not only to withdraw all manner of respect and obedience from Christ, but even to make you crucify him again, and to put him to open shame.
55. And do not please yourselves in this conceit, that because God does not exact of you now the forfeiture of your vow and promise, as he did of Ananias and his wife, that therefore your case is much better than theirs; for, let me tell you, as our Saviour on such an occasion told the Jews, Think you, that you are less sinners than they, whose blood Pilate mingled with the sacrifices; or those, "upon whom the tower in Siloam fell?" so let me say unto you: Think you, that because God shewed so terrible an example upon Ananias and Sapphira, for their lying to the Holy Ghost, by taking them away suddenly by a fearful death, and hath not yet shewed the like upon you, that your sin comes much short of theirs, and that you