« PoprzedniaDalej »
for him, thou couldest never requite his own death *; and dost thou stick at one?
Every word hath his force; both to him and thee: he died, which is the Lord of Life, and Commander of Death; thou art but a tenant of life, a subject of death: and yet it was not a dying, but a giving up; not of a vanishing and airy breath, but of a spiritual soul, which, after separation, hath an entire life in itself; He gave up the ghost: he died, that hath both overcome, and sanctified, and sweetened death. What fearest thou? He hath pulled out the sting and malignity of death: if thou be a Christian, carry it in thy bosom, it hurts thee not. Darest thou not trust thy Redeemer? if he had not died, Death had been a tyrant; now he is a slave. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Yet the Spirit of God saith not, He died, but gave up the ghost. The very Heathen poet saith, He “ durst not say that a good man dies.” It is worth the noting, methinks, that when St. Luke would describe to us the death of Ananias and Sapphira, he saith, Bébuze, he expired: but when St. John would describe Christ's death, he saith, supédwnE TÒ veŪuc, he gave up the ghost : how? how gave he it up, and whither? so, as after a sort he retained it: his soul parted from his body; his Godhead was never distracted either from soul or body: this union is not in nature, but in person. If the natures of Christ could be divided, each would have his subsistence; so there should be more persons: God forbid ! One of the natures thereof may have a separation in itself; the soul from the body: 'one nature cannot be separate from other, or either nature from the per. son. If you cannot conceive, wonder: the Son of God hath wedded unto himself our Humanity, without all possibility of divorce: the body hangs on the Cross; the soul is yielded; the Godhead is eviternally united to them both, acknowledges, sustains them both. The soul, in his agony, feels not the presence of the Godhead; the body upon the Cross feels not the presence of the soul. Yet, as the Fathers of Chalcedon say truly, adcupétWG, agwpigws, indivisibly, inseparably is the Godhead with both of these, still and ever, one and the same person. « The Passion of Christ,” as Augustin, " was the sleep of his Divinity:" so I may say, The death of Christ was the sleep of his Humanity. If he sleep, he skall do well, said that disciple, of Lazarus. Death was too weak to dissolve the eternal bonds of this heavenly conjunction.
Let not us, Christians, go too much by sense: we may be firmly knit to God, and not feel it. Thou canst not hope to be so near thy God, as Christ was; united personally: thou canst not fear, that God should seem more absent from thee, than he did from his own Sont: yet was he still one with both body and soul, when they were divided from themselves; when he was absent to sense, he was present to faith; when absent in vision, yet in union one and the
* Si per singulos dies pro eo moreremur, qui nos dilexit, non sic debitum ex. aloeremus, Chrys.
1 Quantumcunque le dejeceris, humilior non eris Christo. Hier,
same: so will he be to thy soul, when he is at worst. He is thine, and thou art his: if thy hold seem loosened; his is not. When temptations will not let thee see him, he sees thee and possesses thee: only believe thou against sense, above hope; and, though he kill thee, yet trust in him.
Whither gave he it up? Himself expresses; Father, into thy hands; and, This day thou shalt be with me in paradise. It is justice to restore, whence we receive; Into thy hands. He knew where it should be both safe and happy : “ 'True, he might be bold,” thou sayest, “as the Son with the Father.” The seryants have done so; David before him, Stephen after him. And, lest we should not think it our common right; Father, saith he, I will that those thou hast given me, may be with me, even where I am : he wills it; therefore it must be.
It is not presumption, but faith, to charge God with thy spirit; neither can there ever be any believing soul so mean, that he should refuse it: all the fear is in thyself. How canst thou trust thy jewel with a stranger? What sudden familiarity is this? God hath been with thee, and gone by thee; thou hast not saluted him: and now, in all the haste, thou bequeathest thy soul to him. On what acquaintance? How desperate is this carelessness! If thou have but a little money, whether thou keep it, thou layest it up in the temple of trust; or, whether thou let it, thou art siire of good assurance, sound bonds. If but a little land, how carefully dost thou make firm conveyances to thy desired heirs ! If goods, thy Will hath taken secure order, who shall enjoy them. We need not teach you, Citizens, to make sure work for your estates. If children, thou disposest of them in trades, with portions. Only of the soul, which is thyself, thou knowest not what shall become. The world must have it no more: thyself 'wouldst keep it; but thou knowest thou canst not: Satan would have it, and thou knowest not whether he shall; thou wouldst have God have it, and thou knowest not whether he will: yea, thy heart is now ready with Pharaoh to say, Who is the Lord ? (the fearful and miserable estate of that man, that must part with his soul, he knows not whither! which if thou wouldest avoid, as this very warning shall judge thee if thou do not, be acquainted with God in thy life, that thou mayest make him the Guardian of thy soul in thy death. Given up it must needs be, but to him that hath governed it: if thou have given it to Satan in thy life, how canst thou hope God will in thy death entertain it ? Did you not hate me, and expel me out of my father's house ? how then come ye to me now in this time of your tribulation, said Jephthah to the men of Gilead. No, no; either give up thy soul to God while he calls for it in his word, in the provocations of his love, in his afflictions, in the holy motions of his Spirit to thine; or else, when thou wouldst give it, he will none of it, but as a Judge to deliver it to the Tormentor.
What should God do with an unclean, drunken, profane, proud, covetous soul? Without holiness, it is no seeing of God. “ Depart from one, ye wicked, I know ye not : Go to the gods you have
urs, (and, him that gave that to
served.” See how God is even with men! they had, in the time of the Gospel, said to the Holy One of Israel, Depart from us ; now, in the time of Judgment, he saith to them, Depart from me. They would not know God, when they might; now, God will not know them, when they would.
Now therefore, Beloved, if thou wouldst not have God scorn the offer of thy death-bed, fit thy soul for him in thy health ; furnish it with grace; inure it to a sweet conversation with the God of Heaven: then mayest thou boidly give it up, and he shall as gra. ciously receive it; yea, fetch it by his angels to his glory:
He gave up the Ghost. We must do as he did: not all with the same success. Giving up, supposes a receiving, a returning. This inmate, that we have in our bosom, is sent to lodge here for a time; may not dwell here always. The right of this tenure is the Lord's, not ours : as he said of the hatchet, It is but lent, it must be restored : it is ours to keep; his, to dispose and require. See and consider, both our privilege and charge. It is not with us, as with brute creatures : we have a living ghost to inform us, which yet is not ours, (and, alas, what is ours, if our souls be not!) but must be given up to him that gave it.
Why do we live as those, that took no keep of so glorious a guest ? as those, that should never part with it? as those, that think it given them to spend, not to return with a reckoning?
If thou hadst no soul, if a mortal one, if thine own, if never to be required, how couldst thou live but sensually? Oh, remember but who thou art, what thou hast, and whither thou must; and thou shalt live like thyself, while thou art, and give up thy ghost confidently, when thou shalt cease to be.
Neither is there here more certainty of our departure, than comfort. Carry this with thee to thy death-bed; and see if it can refresh thee, when all the world cannot give thee one dram of comfort. Our spirit is our dearest riches: if we should lose it, here were just cause of grief. Howl and lament, if thou thinkest thy soul perisheth: it is not forfeited, but surrendered. How safely doth our soul pass through the gates of death, without any impeachment, while it is in the hand of the Almighty! Woe were us, if he did not keep it, while we have it; inuch more, when we restore it! We give it up to the same hands, that created, infused, redeemed, renewed; that doth protect, preserve, establish, and will crown it: I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. O secure and happy estate of the godly! O blessed exchange of our condition! while our soul dwells in our breast, how is it subject to infinite miseries, distempered with passions, charged with sin, vexed with teinptations! above, none of these : how should it be otherwise? This is our pilgrimage; that, our home: this, our wilderness; that, our land of promise: this, our bondage; that, our kingdom: our impotency causeth this our sorrow.
When our soul is once given up, what evil shall reach unto heaven, and wrestle with the Almighty? Our lothness to give up
keep that which te of the godly: Breast, how is
Sour soul dual godly! o him against aded
comes from our ignorance and infidelity. No man goes unwillingly to a certain preferment. I desire to be dissolved, saith Paul: 'I have served thee, I have believed thee, and now I come to thee," saith Luther: the voice of Saints, not of men. If thy heart can say thus, thou shalt not need to entreat with old Hilarion, Egredere mea anima, egredere, quid times? “ Go thy ways forth, my soul, go forth, what fearest thou?" but it shall fiy up alone cheerfully from thee, and give up itself into the arms of God, as a faithful Creator and Redeemer. This earth is not the element of thy soul : it is not where it should be. It shall be no less thine, when it is more the owner's. - Think now seriously of this point. God's angel is abroad, and strikes on all sides : we know not which of our turns shall be the next: we are sure we carry deatlis enough within us. If we be ready, our day cannot come too soon. Stir up thy soul to a hea. venly cheerfulness, like thy Saviour: know but whither thou art, going; and thou canst not but; with divine Paul, say from our Saviour's mouth, even in this sense, It is a more blessed thing to give, than to receive.
God cannot abide an unwilling guest * : give up that spirit to him, which he hath given thee; and he will both receive what thou givest, and give it thee again, with that glory and happiness, which can never be conceived, and shall never be ended. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
* Ut contra : Nullam animam recipio, quæ me nolente separatur à corpore. Hier.
THE IMPRESS OF GOD.
IN TWO SERMONS,
ZECHARIAH xiy. 20. In that day shall be written upon the bridles (or, bells) of the horses,
Holiness unto the Lord: and the pots of the Lord's house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
If any man wonder whither this discourse can tend, of horses and bells, and pots, and bowls for the altar; let him consider that of Tertullian, Ratio divina in medulla est, non in superficie. These Horses if they be well managed, will prove like those fiery horses of Elijah, to carry us up to our heaven; 2 Kings ii. 11: these Bells, like those golden bells of Aaron's robe; Exodus xxxix. 25: these Pots, like that Olla pulmenti of the prophets, after Elisha's meal ; 2 Kings iv. 41: and these Bowls, like that blessed and fruitful navel of the Church; Cant. vii. 2.
St. Paul asks, Doth God take care for oxen? So may I here, Doth God take care for horses? Surely, to provide for them, not to prophesy of them; much less of their bells, the unnecessary ornaments of a necessary creature: but he, that forbids us to learn of the horse that lesson of stubbornness by the Psalmist, and checks us oft by the ox and ass for their good nature, would have us learn here, under this parable of the horse, and the bells of the horse, and the writing on those bells, the estate of our own peace and sanctification. God doth both speak and work in Parables, as that Father saith well: of this then I may truly say, as Jerome said of the book of Job, Singula verba plena sunt sensibus. Suffer yourselves, with Abraham's ram, to be perplexed a while in these briars, that you may be prepared for a fit sacrifice to God.
In that day: What day is that? All days are his, who is the Ana cient of Days; and yet he says, Abraham saw my day, and rejoiced. He, that made all days, says yet again, This is the day, which the Lord hath made. There is one day of the week God's, nuplaun; Rev. i. 10: and yet I would it were his : God's day by creation, by ordination; I would it were his by observation too. There is one day in an age his : While it is called to day; Hebrews iii. 13: the day of visitation; and yet this thy day; Luke xix. 42. One day in a world his : Matthew vii. 22in that day. "A day beyond