Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

The Felon, the Traitor, is justly crucified: the vengeance of the law will not let him live. The Jesuitical Incendiary, that eares only to warm himself by the fires of states and kingdoms, cries out of his suffering. The world is too little for the noise of our cruelty, their patience; while it judgeth of our proceedings by our laws, not by our executions. But, if they did suffer what they falsely pretend, (as they now complain of ease,) they might be crucified; but not with Christ: they should bleed for sedition; not conscience: they may steal the Name of Jesus; they shall not have his Society, This is not Christ's cross: it is the cross of Barabbas, or the two malefactors; TÔ OUSADIQ5Ww; Mark xy. 7. · All these, and many more, are crucified; but not, as St. Paul was here, with Christ. How with Christ? In Partnership; in Per, son.

1. IN PARTNERSHIP of the suffering. Every particularity of Christ's crucifixion is re-acted in us. Christ is the model; we, the metal: the metal takes such forın, as the model gives it: so are we spread upon the Cross of Christ in an answerable extension of all parts, to die with him; as the prophet was upon the dead child, to revive him.

Superstitious men talk of the impression of our Saviour's wounds in their idol St. Francis. This is no news. St. Paul, and every believing Christian, hath both the lashes and wounds and transfixions of his Jesus wrought upon him. The crown of thorns pierces his head, when his sinful conceits are mortified: his lips are drenched with gall and vinegar, when sharp and severe restraints are given to his tongue: his hands and feet are nailed, when he is, by the power of God's Spirit, disabled to the wonted courses of sin: his body is stripped, when all colour and pretences are taken away from him: shortly, his heart is pierced, when the life-blood of his formerly-reigning corruptions is let out. He is no true Christian, that is not thus crucified with Christ.

Woe is me! how many fashionable ones are not so much as pain, ed with their sins! It is no trouble to them, to blaspheme, oppress, debauch: yea, rather it is a death to them, to think of parting with their dear corruptions. The world hath bewitched their love. That, which Erasmus saith of Paris, That after a man hath acquainted himself with the odious scent of it, (hospitibus magis ac magis adhat bescit) " it grows into his liking more and more;" is too true of the world and sensual minds. Alas, they rather crucify Christ again, than are crucified with Christ! Woe to them, that ever they were: for, being not dead with Christ, they are not dead in Christ; and, being not dead in Christ, they cannot but die eternally in themselves: for the wages of sin is death; death in their person, if not in their surety.

Honourable and Beloved, let us not think it safe for us to rest in this miserable and deadly condition. As ye love your souls, give no sleep to your eyes nor peace to your hearts, till ye find the sensible effects of the Death and Passion of Christ your Saviour within

you, mortifying all your corrupt affections and sinful actions; that ye may truly say with St. Paul, I am crucified with Christ.

Six several times, do we find that Christ shed blood; in his Cir· cumcision, in his Agony, in his Crowning, in his Scourging, in his Affixion, in his Transfixion: the instrument of the first was the Knife; of the second, vehemence of Passion; of the third, the Thorns; of the fourth, the Whips; of the fifth, the Nails; of the last, the Spear. In all these we are, we must be Partners with our Saviour.

In his Circumcision, when we draw blood of ourselves by cutting off the foreskin of our filthy, if pleasing, corruptions; Col. ii. 11: in his Agony, when we are deeply affected with the sense of God's displeasure for sin, and terrified with the frowns of an angry Father: in his Crowning with thorns, when we smart and bleed with reproaches for the name of Christ; when that, which the world counts honour, is a pain to us for his sake; when our guilty thoughts punish us, and wound our restless heads with the sad remembrance of our sins: in his Scourging, when we tame our wanton and rebellious flesh with wise rigour and holy severity: in his Affixion, when all the powers of our souls and parts of our body are strictly hampered and unremovably fastened upon the Royal Commandments of our Maker and Redeemer: in his Transfixion, when our hearts are wounded with divine love, with the Spouse in the Canticles; or our consciences with deep sorrow.

In all these, we bleed with Christ; and all these, save the first only, helong to his crucifying.

Surely, as it was in the Old Law, xupis vinclenguoices without bloodshed there was no remission; Heb. ix. 22: so it is still and ever in the New. If Christ had not thus bled for us, no remission: if we do not thus bleed with Christ, no remission.

There is no benefit where is no partnership. If Christ therefore bled with his agony, with his thorns, with his whips, with his nails, with his spear, in so many thousand passages as tradition is bold to define; and we never bleed, either with the agony of our sorrow for sin, or the thorns of holy cares for displeasure, or the scourges of severe Christian rigour, or the nails of holy constraint, or the Spear of deep remorse; how do we, how can we for shame say, we are crucified with Christ? · Divine St. Austin, in his Epistle or Book rather to Honoratus, (Epist. 120. ad Honoratum), gives us all the dimensions of the Cross of Christ. The Latitude he makes in the transverse: this, saith he, pertains to good works; because on this his hands were stretched. The Length was from the ground to the transverse: this is attributed to his longanimity and persistance; for on that his body was stayed and fixed. The Height was in the head of the cross above the transverse; signifying the expectation of supernal things. The Depth of it was in that part, which was pitched below within the earth; importing the profoundness of his free grace, which is the ground of all his beneficence.

In all these must we have our part with Christ. In the Transverse of his cross, by the ready extension of our hands to all good works of piety, justice, charity; in the Arrectary or beam of his cross, by continuance and uninterrupted perseverance in good; in the Head of his cross, by a high elevated hope and looking for of glory; in the Foot of his cross, by a lively and firm faith, fastening our souls upon the affiance of his free grace and mercy. And thus shall we be crucified with Christ upon his own Cross.

2. Yet, lastly, we must go further than this; from his Cross to his PERSON. So did St. Paul, and every believer, die with Christ, that he died in Christ: for, as in the First Adam we all lived, and sinned; so, in the Second, all believers died, that they might live.

The First Adam brought in death to all mankind; but, at last, ac, tually died for none but himself: the Second Adam died for mankind, and brought life to all believers. Seest thou thy Saviour therefore hanging upon the Cross ? all mankind hangs there with him: as a Knight or Burgess of Parliament voices his whole borough or country.

What speak I of this? The arms and legs take the same lot with the head. Every believer is a limb of that body: how can he therefore but die with him, and in him? That real union then, which is betwixt Christ and us, makes the Cross and Passion of Christ ours; so as the thorns pierced our heads, the scourges blooded our backs, the nails wounded our hands and feet, and the spear gored our sides and hearts: by virtue whereof, we receive justification from our sins, and true mortification of our corruptions.

Every believer therefore is dead already for his sins, in his Saviour: he needs not fear, that he shall die again. God is too just, to punish twice for one fault; to recover the sum, both of the surety and principal. All the score of our arrearages is fully struck off, by the infinite satisfaction of our Blessed Redeemer.

Comfort thyself therefore, thou Penitent and Faithful Soul, in the confidence of thy safety: thou shalt not die, but live; since thou art already crucified with thy Saviour: he died for thee; thou diedst in him. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. Who shall condemn? It is Christ that died; yea rather that is risen again, and lives gloriously at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. To thee, () Blessed Jesu, toge- , ther with thy Coeternal Father and Holy Spirit, Three Persons in One Infinite and Incomprehensible Deity, be all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

SERMON XXVII.

CHRISTIAN LIBERTY LAID FORTH:

IN

A SERMON PREACHED TO HIS LATE MAJESTY AT WHITEHALL, IN THE TIME OF THE PARLIAMENT HOLDEN ANNO 1628.

BY JOSEPH BISHOP OF EXON.

GALATIANS V, 1.

Stand fast therefore in the Liberty, wherewith Christ hath made

you free. As if my tongue and your ears could not easily be diswonted from our late parliamentary language, you have here, in this Text, Liberty, Prerogative, the Maintenance of both : Liberty of subjects, that are freed; Prerogative of the King of Glory, that hath freed them; Maintenance of that liberty, which the power of that great prerogative hath atchieved : Christian Liberty; Christ's Liberation; our Persistance: Stand fast in the Liberty, wherewith Christ hath made you free.

I. Liberty is a sweet word: the thing itself is much sweeter: and men's apprehensions make it yet sweeter than it is. Certainly, if liberty and life were competitors, it is a great question, whether would carry it: sure I am, if there be a life without it, yet it is not vital. Man restrained is like a wild bird shut up in a cage; that offers at every of the grates to get out, and grows sullen when it can find no evasion; and, till stark famine urge it, will not so much as feed, for anger to be confined.

Neither is the word more sweet, than large : there are as many liberties, as restraints; and as many restraints, as there are limitations of superior commands; and there are so many limits of commands, as there are either duties to be done, or sentences to be undergone. There is a liberty of the parts, and a liberty of the man.

There is a drunken liberty of the Tongue; which, being once glibbed with intoxicating liquor, runs wild through heaven and earth; and spares neither him that is God above, nor those which are called gods on earth. The slanderer answered Pyrrhus well :

“ I confess I said thus, o king; and had said more, if more wine had been given me.” Treason is but a tavern dialect. Anything passes well under the Rose. It is not the man, but the liquor; not the liquor, but the excess, that is guilty of this liberty,

There is an audacious and factious liberty of this loose film; which not only ill-tutored scholars take to themselves under the name of libertas prophetandi, pestering both presses and pulpits with their bold and brainsick fancies; but unlettered tradesmen, and tattling gossips too: with whom, deep questions of divinity, and censures of their teachers, are grown into common table-talk; and peremptory decisions of theological problems is as ordinary almost, as backbiting their neighbours.

There is a profane liberty of atheous swaggerers, which say, Disrumpamus vincula ; let us break their bonds. Not religion only, but even reason and humanity seem fetters to these spirits; who, like the demoniac in the Gospel, having broken all their chains, find no freedom, but among the noisome graves of hateful corruptions.

There is a disloyal liberty of those rebellious spirits, which despise government; and hold it a servitude, to live within the range of wholesome laws. There is no freedom with these unquiet dispositions, but in the bold censures of authority, in the seditious calumniations of superiors, and in their own Utopical prescriptions. Every thing is good to these men, save the present; and nothing, save their own. Though all these are not so much liberties, as licentiousness.

Besides these, there are civil liberties of persons, towns, incorporations, countries, kings, kingdoms, Good reason these should be mutually stood upon. Religion was never an enemy to the due orders and rights of policy. God's book is the true Magna Charta, that enacts both king and people their own. He, that hath set bounds to the wide ocean, hath stinted the freest li

berty.

But these liberties are not for the pulpit. It is the CHRISTIAN LIBERTY, wherewith we have to do: that alone hath scope enough, both for our present speech and perpetual maintenance.

This Christian Liberty stands, either in Immunity from evil, or Enlargement to good.

The Immunity is from that, which is evil in itself; or that, which is evil to us. In itself: Sin; Satan. Sin, whether in the fault, or in the punishment; the punishment, whether inward, or outward ; inward, the slavery of an accusing conscience; outward, the wrath of God, death, damnation. Evil to us : whether burdensome tra.. ditions, or the law; the law, whether moral, or ceremonial; moral, whether the obligations, or the curse.

Enlargement to good: whether in respect of the creature, which is our free use of it; or whether in respect to God, in our voluntary service of him, in our free access to him; access, whea ther to his throne of grace, or our throne of glory.

« PoprzedniaDalej »