Page images

Now, after they were departed from Herod, they go their ways, seeking the child. And, as soon as they came out of the city, they see the star, which guided them until they came unto the house where Jesus was, with his mother and Joseph his father-in-law, ' And when these men came thither, what did ihey? They worshipped him. Note here, they worshipped him, saith the Evangelist. Here is confounded and overthrown the foolish opinion and doctrine of the Papists, which would have us to worship a creature before the Creator, Mary before her son : these wise men do not so. They worship not Mary, and wherefore ? Because God only is to be worshipped, but Mary is niot God; therefore they worship not her, but him, which is the very natural Son of God, yea, God himself, and yet very man. And therefore, if it had been allowed or commanded, that Mary the mother of Christ, should have been called upon and worshipped ; surely then had these wise men been greatly to blame ; but they knew that Mary was a blessed woman above all women, and yet not such a one as should be called upon and worshipped.

Let all those learn here, that are so foolish, that they will call rather upon Mary, on whom they have no commandment to call, than upon God, which hath commanded us to call upon him, as he saith every where in the Psalms, “ Call upon me in the tinie of thy trouble, and I will hear thee.”

They gave him gifts, gold, myrrh, and frankincense : gold, they gave him to signify his kingdom ; myrrh, to signify his mortality; frankincense, to signify his priesthood. And afterwards they departed another way into their countries by the admonition of the angel. After their departure, Joseph with Mary and the child fled into Egypt for fear of Herod, who was minded to destroy the child.

Where you learn to know the wonderful provision that God ever maketh for those, that put their trust in him. For to the intent they might have where. with to bear their costs for such a journey, God moved their hearts, that they should give him gold.

Learn, I say, here to put your trust in God, and to have a good confidence in him, for he is such a loving father to those that trust in him, that he will not suffer them to have lack or need of any thing in this world, of food and necessary things, for he careth for us that believe in him, as well as for Mary and her son. Therefore, he will not suffer us to have lack of that which is needful to soul or body, for the king and prophet David saith, “ I have never seen the just man forsaken or rejected of God, nor cast away,” No (saith he), I have never seen a just man perish for lack of necessary things.

But what is a just man? He is just that believeth in our Saviour ; for, as you have heard before, those which believe in Christ are justified before God, they are clean delivered from all sins, and therefore may be called just : for so they are in the sight of God, such (saith the prophet) he hath never seen forsaken of God. But for all this we may not tempt God, we must labour and do our business, every one in his vocation and order, wherein God hath called him. Labour thou, and God will bless thee, and increase thy labours, so that thou shalt have no lack of necessary things, so long as thou walkest uprightly in thy vocation ; like as he provided for Mary and her child, but yet thou must labour and do thy business, as it is written, Be content to work for thy living, and it shall go well with thee, and thou shalt have enough, for I will make thee a living. Which promise of God is surely a comfortable thing, but little regarded of the people. For they do like as if there were no God, and deceira

and oppress one another. Every man scrapeth for himself, ever in fear that he shall lack, nothing regarding that promise of God. But God is yet alive, and surely he will most grievously punish such horrible unthankfulness and mistrust of his word and promise. What might be more comfortable unto us, if we had grace to believe it, than his loving promises, wherein he sheweth himself a loving Father?

David saith, “I have been young, and now am old, but yet I never saw the righteous lack bread.” Here learn, O man, to have respect to Godward, esteem the word of God and his prornises as they are, that is, most certain and true. Believe them, hang upon them, labour and do thy business truly, and it shall be well with thee, thou shalt have enough, thou shalt have a storehouse that never shall be empty, that is, thy labour. For the poor man's treasure-house is his labour and travail, and he is more 'sure of his living than the rich. For God's promises cannot be stolen by any thief. miseth him a living that truly laboureth, and putteth his trust in him. But the rich man is not sure of his riches, for a thief may come and steal them, or else the same may perish by fire, or one way or other. Therefore the poor faithful man is more sure of his living, than if he had the same in his chest. For God's promises are not vain, they are most certain, and happy are those which believe the same. They shall have not only in this world enough, but afterwards everlasting life without all sorrow and misery.

This much I was minded to tell you of this Gospel; now let us return to the Gospel of this day, wherein I will note two or three short notes, for I will not trouble you much longer, because thet je is much spent.

And when he was twelve years old, cc. God Al

God pro

[ocr errors]

mighty had commanded in his law (Deut. xvi.) that all the males should come together three times in the year, for these three causes.

The first was, that they should learn to trust in God, and not in their own strength. And it was a great matter unto them to leave the land, void. As if we Englishmen had a commandment to come all to London, and leave our country, were it not to be feared that the country should be hurt either by the Scotch or Frenchmen in our absence? Surely, I think it were very dangerous. So at that time, the Jews had great and mortal enemies round about them, yet God commanded them to leave the land void, as who would say, “ Come you together after my commandment, and let me alone with your enemies; I will keep them from you, that they shall not hurt you.” And this was the first cause why he would have them come together.

The second cause was, that they should learn the law and commandments of God, for there was the chief temple of the Jews, and all the spirituality of the whole land were there gathered together and taught the people the law, and how they should walk before God, and this was the second cause.

The third cause of their coming together was for acquaintance sake, for God would have them knit together in earnest love and charity. And therefore he willeth them to come together, that they that dwelled on the one side of the land might be acquainted with them that dwelled on the other side, so that there might be a perfect love between them. For God' hateth nothing more than discord. And these are the causes why they were commanded to come together every year three times.

Now, at this time Mary went with her husband Joseph. Belike she was desirous to hear the word of God, which made her to take so great journey in

hand, for she was not commanded by the law to be there, for women were at their liberty to go or tarry.

Here, note the painfulness of Mary, that she was content to go so great a journey for God's sake. I fear this journey of hers will condemn a great many of us, which will not go out of the door to hear God's word. Therefore learn here, first, to love and embrace God's word. Secondly, to follow all good orders. Thirdly, to be content to go with thy neighbours every holy day to the church, for it is a good and godly order, and God will have it so.

But, peradventure, you will say unto me, How chance you go not to the service upon the holy days? I have none other excuse but this, namely, that I shall go thither in vain. Mary went thither to hear the word of God, and if I might hear the word of God there, I would go thither with a good will. But first, the parson of the church is ignorant and unable to teach the word of God, neither beareth he any good will to the word of God, therefore it were better for me to teach my family at home, than to go thither and spend the time in vain, and so lose my labour. This I have to allege for myself, that if the curate were as he ought to be, I would not be from the church upon the holy day.

Jesus and Mary with all their neighbours were at Jerusalem. And after they had done their business, they came home again ; Mary in the company of other women, and Joseph her husband in the company of men, but Jesus the child was left behind. For Mary thought he was with his father, and Joseph thought he was with his mother. At night when they were met together, she asked him, and he asked her for the child: for before they were not aware that they had lost him. Oh,what sorrow and tri

« PreviousContinue »