Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

there was never any man zealous for his religion, and of an imperious bold faith, but he was also willing to die for it: and therefore, also, by as much reason to live in it, and to be a strict observer of its prescriptions. And the stories of the strict sanctity, and prodigious sufferings, and severe disciplines, and expensive religion, and compliant and laborious charity, of the primitive Christians, is abundant argument to convince us, that the faith of Christians is infinitely more fruitful and productive of its univocal and proper issues, than the faith of heretics, or the false religions of misbelievers, or the persuasions of secular persons, or the spirit of antichrist. And therefore, when we see men serving their prince with such difficult and ambitious services, because they believe him able to reward them, though of his will they are not so certain, and yet so supinely negligent and incurious of their services to God, of whose power and will to reward us infinitely, there is certainty absolute and irrespective; it is certain probation that we believe it not: for if we believe there is such a thing as heaven, and that every single man's portion of heaven is far better than all the wealth in the world, it is morally impossible we should prefer so little before so great profit. 16. I instance but once more.

The faith of Abraham was instanced in the matter of confidence or trust in the Divine promises ; and, he being “ the father of the faithful,” we must imitate his faith by a clear dereliction of ourselves and our own interests, and an entire confident relying upon the Divine goodness, in all cases of our needs or danger. Now, this also is a trial of the verity of our faith, the excellence of our condition, and what title we have to the glorious names of Christians, and faithful, and believers. fathers, when we were in pupilage and minority, or a true and an able friend, when we were in need, had made promises to supply our necessities; our confidence was so great, that our care determined. It were also well that we were as confident of God, and as secure of the event, when we had disposed ourselves to reception of the blessing, as we were of our friend or parents. We all profess that God is almighty, that all his promises are certain, and yet, when it comes to a pinch, we find that man to be more confident, that hath ten thousand pounds in his purse, than he that reads God's pro

If our

mises over ten thousand timesi. “ Men of a common spirit," saith St. Chrysostom,“ of an ordinary sanctity, will not steal, or kill, or lie, or commit adultery; but it requires a rare faith, and a sublimity of pious affections, to believe that God will work a deliverance, which to me seems impossible.” And indeed St. Chrysostom hit upon the right. He had need be a good man, and love God well, that puts his trust in him. For those we love, we are most apt to trustk; and although trust and confidence is sometimes founded upon experience, yet it is also begotten and increased by love, as often as by reason and discourse. And to this purpose it was excellently said by St. Basil, “ That the knowledge which one man learneth of another, is made perfect by continual use and exercise; but that which, through the grace of God, is engrafted in the mind of man, is made absolute by justice, gentleness, and charity.” So that if you are willing, even in death, to confess not only the articles, but in affliction and death to trust the promises; if, in the lowest nakedness of poverty, you can cherish yourselves with the expectation of God's promises and dispensation, being as confident of food and raiment, and deliverance or support, when all is in God's hand, as you are when it is in your own; if you can be cheerful in a storm, smile when the world frowns, be content in the midst of spiritual desertions and anguish of spirit, expecting all should work together for the best, according to the promise; if you can strengthen yourselves in God when you are weakest, believe when you see no hope, and entertain no jealousies or suspicions of God, though you see nothing to make you confident; then, and then only, you have faith, which, in conjunction with its other parts, is able to save your souls. For in this precise duty of trusting God, there are the rays of hope, and great proportions of charity and resignation.

17. The sum is that pious and most Christian sentence of the author of the Ordinary Gloss. “To believe in God through Jesus Christ, is, by believing to love him, to adhere to him, to be united to him by charity and obedience, and to be incorporated into Christ's mystical body, in the communion of saints.” I conclude this with a collation of certain excellent words of St. Paul, highly to the present purpose : " Examine yourselves, brethren, whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves m” Well, but how? “ Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?" There is the touchstone of faith. If Jesus Christ dwells in us, then we are true believers; if he does not, we are reprobates, we have no faith. But how shall we know, whether Christ be in us or no ? St. Paul tells us that too: " If Christ be in you, the body is dead, by reason of sin; but the spirit is life, because of righteousness That is the Christian's mark, and the characteristic of a true believer; a death unto sin, and a living unto righteousness; a mortified body, and a quickened spirit. This is plain enough; and by this we see what we must trust to. A man of a wicked life does in vain hope to be saved by his faith; for indeed his faith is but equivocal and dead, which, as to his purpose, is just none at all; and therefore let him no more deceive himself. For, that I may still use the words of St. Paul, “ This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works." For such, and such only, in the great scrutiny for faith in the day of doom, shall have their portion in the bosom of faithful Abraham,

i Clarè cognosceres pon adeò esse facile Deo soli, re aliâ non assumptâ, credere, propter eam, quæ in nobis est, cum mortali compage cognationem. Ab bis autem purgari omnibus uni autem Deo confidere, magni et cæ. lestis animi est opus, et ejus qui nullis ampliùs capiatur earum quas videmus rerum illecebris. - Phil. Judæus, libr. Quis Rerum Div. Hæres.

* "Ενεστι γαρ πώς τούτο της τυραννίδι Νόσημα, τους φίλοισι μή πεποιθέναι.- Eschyl. Prometh.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

O eternal God, fountain of all truth and holiness, in whom to

believe is life eternal ; let thy grace descend with a mighty power into my soul, beating down every strong hold and vainer imagination, and bringing every proud thought, and

Credere in Deum est credendo amare, credendo diligere, credendo in eum ire, et membris ejus incorporari.-Gloss. Ord. in Rom. 4. m 2 Cor. xiii. 5. n Rom. viii, 10.

• Titus, iii. 8.

my confident and ignorant understanding, into the obedience of Jesus. Take from me all disobedience and refractoriness of spirit, all ambition, and private and baser interests; remove from me all prejudice and weakness of persuasion, that I may wholly resign my understanding to the persuasions of Christianity, acknowledging thee to be the principle of truth, and thy word the measure of knowledge, and thy laws the rule of my life, and thy promises the satisfaction of my hopes, and an union with thee to be the consummation of charity, in the fruition of glory. Amen.

II.

Holy Jesus, make me to acknowledge thee to be my Lord

and Master, and myself a servant and disciple of thy holy discipline and institution; let me love to sit at thy feet, and suck in with my ears and heart the sweetness of thy holy sermons. Let my soul be shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, with a peaceable and docile dispo, sition. Give me great boldness in the public confession of thy name, and the truth of thy Gospel, in despite of all hostilities and temptations. And grant I may always remember, that thy name is called upon me, and I may so behave myself, that I neither give scandal to others, nor cause disreputation to the honour of religion; but that thou mayest be glorified in me, and I by thy mercies, after a strict observance of all the holy laws of Christianity. Amen.

III.

O holy and ever-blessed Spirit, let thy gracious influences be

the perpetual guide of my rational faculties : inspire me with wisdom and knowledge, spiritual understanding, and a holy faith; and sanctify my faith, that it may arise up to the confidence of hope, and the adherences of charity, and be fruitful in a holy conversation. Mortify in me all peevishness and pride of spirit, all heretical dispositions, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine ; that when the eternal Son of God, the “ author and finisher of our faith,” shall come to make scrutiny, and an inquest for faith, I may receive the promises laid up for them that believe in the Lord Jesus, and wait for his coming in holiness and purity: to whom, with the Father, and thee, O blessed Spirit, be all honour and eternal adoration paid, with all sanctity, and joy, and eucharist, now and for ever. Amen.

SECTION XI.

Of Christ's going to Jerusalem to the Passover, the first time

after his Manifestation, and what followed, till the Expiration of the Office of John the Baptist.

1. IMMEDIATELY after this miracle, Jesus abode a few days in Capernaum, but because of the approach of the great feast of passover, he ascended to Jerusalem; and the first public act of record that he did, was an act of holy zeal and religion in behalf of the honour of the temple. For divers merchants and exchangers of money made the temple to be the market and the bank, and brought beasts thither to be sold for sacrifice, against the great paschal solemnity. At the sight of which, Jesus, being moved with zeal and indignation, “ made a whip of cords, and drave the beasts out of the temple, overthrew the accounting tables, and commanded them that sold the doves, to take them from thence.” For his anger was holy, and he would mingle no injury with it; and therefore the doves, which, if let loose, would be detrimental to the owners, he caused to be fairly removed; and published the religion of holy places, establishing their sacredness for ever, by his first Gospel-sermon that he made at Jerusalem. “ Take these things hence: make not my Father's house a house of merchandise; for it shall be called a house of prayer to all nations.”

to all nations.” And being required to give a sign of his vocation, (for this, being an action like the religion of the zealots among the Jews, if it was not attested by something extraordinary, might be abused into an excess of liberty,) he only foretold the resurrection of his body after three days' death, but he expressed it in the metaphor of the temple: “ Destroy this temple, and I will build it again in three days. He spake of the temple of his body;" and they

« PoprzedniaDalej »