Page images
PDF
EPUB

these. The Jews had a fashion of prophesying in the churches; so the Christians from them, as Ambrose: the Jews had an eminent pulpit of wood; so we: they gave names at their circumcision; so we at baptism: they sung psalms, melodiously in churches; so do we: they paid and received tithes; so do we: they wrapped their dead in linen with odours; so we: the Jews had sureties at their admission into the Church; so we: these instances might be infinite: the Spouse of Christ cannot be without her laces, and chains, and borders. Christ came not to dissolve order. But thou, O Lord, how long; how long shall thy poor Church find her ornaments, her sorrows? and see the dear sons of her womb, bleeding about these apples of strife? Let me so name them, not for their value (even small things, when they are commanded, look for no small respect,) but for their event. The enemy is at the gates of our Syracuse: how long will we suffer ourselves, taken up with angles and circles in the dust*.

Ye men, brethren, and fathers, help: for God's sake, put to your hands, to the quenching of this common flame: the one side,

by humnility and obedience; the other, by compassion: both, by ' prayers and tears.

Who am I, that I should revive to you the sweet spirit of that divine Augustin, who, when he heard and saw the bitter contentions betwixt two grave and famous Divines, Jerome and Ruflin; Heu mihi, saith he, qui vos alicubi simul invenire I non possum ;

“ Alas, that I should never find you two together, how would I fall at your feet, how I would embrace them, and weep upon them, and beseech you, either of you for other, and each for himself, both of you for the Church of God; but especially, for the weak, for whom Christ died, who, not without their own great danger, see you two fighting in this theatre of the world." Yet, let me do what he said he would do; beg for peace, as for life: by your filial piety to the Church of God, whose ruins follow upon our divisions; by your love of God's truth; by the graces of that one Blessed Spirit, whereby we are all informed and quickened; by the precious blood of that Son of God, which, this day and this hour, was shed for our redemption; be inclined to peace and love: though our brains be different, yet let our hearts be one. It was, as I heard, the dying speech of our late reverend, worthy, and gracious Diocesan; Modò me moriente vivat 4c floreat Ecclesia ; “ Oh, yet if, when I am dead, the Church may live and flourish!"

What a spirit was here! what a speech! how worthy never to die! how worthy of a soul so near to his heaven! how worthy of so happy a succession! Ye, whom God hath made inheritors of this blessed care, who do no less long for the prosperity of Sion, live you to effect what he did but live to wish; all peace with

* Alluding to the well known story, which Plutarch relates concerning Archimedes; that, when Marcellus had taken Syracuse, the mathematician's mind, as well as his eyes, was so fixed and intent upon some geometrical figures, that he neither heard the noise of the Romans, nor perceived the ciiy to be taken.

EDITOR

ourselves, and war with none but Rome and Hell. And if there be any wayward Separatist, whose soul professeth to hate peace, I fear to tell him Paul's message; yet I must: Would to God those were cut off that trouble you! How cut off? As good Theodosius said to Demophilus, a contentious Prelate; Si tu pacem fugis*, &c. “ If thou fly peace, I will make thee fly the Church." Alas, they do fly it: that, which should be their punishment, they make their contentment: how are they worthy of pity! As Optatus of his Donatists; they are brethren, might be companions, and will pot. O wilful men; whither do they run? from one Christ to another? Is Christ divided ? we have him, thanks be to our good God, and we hear him daily; and whither shall we go from thee? thou hast the words of eternal life.

3. Thus the Ceremonies are finished : now hear the END OF HIS SUFFERINGS, with like patience and devotion.

His death is here included: it was so near, that he spake of it as done; and, when it was done, all was done. How

easy

is it to lose ourselves in this discourse! how hard not to be overwhelmed with matter of wonder; and to find either beginning or end! his sufferings found an end, our thoughts cannot. Lo, with this word he is happily waded out of those deeps of sorrows, whereof our conceits can find no bottom: yet let us, with Peter, gird our coat, and cast ourselves a little into this sea.

All his life was but a perpetual Passion. In that he became man, he suffered more than we can do, either while we are men, or when we cease to be men; he humbled, štaucivwce ; yea, he

emptied himself, ÉNÉVWCE. We, when we cease to be here, are clothed upon, 2 Cor. v. 2. We both win by our being; and gain by our loss; he lost, by taking our more or less to himself, that is, manhood. For, though ever as God, I and my Father are one'; yet, as man, My Father is greater than I. That man should be turned into a beast, into a worm, into dust, into nothing; is not so great a disparagement, as that God should become man: and yet it is not finished; it is but begun.

But what man? If, as the absolute Monarch of the World, he had commanded the vassalage of all emperors and princes, and had trod on nothing but crowns and scepters and the necks of kings, and bidden all the potentates of the earth to attend his train; this had carried some port with it, suitable to the heroical Majesty of God's Son. No such matter: here is neither form nor beauty; unless perhaps, mopon 818, the form of a servant : you have made me to serve with your sins. Behold, he is a man to God; a servant to man; and, be it spoken with holy reverence, a drudge to his servants. He is despised and rejected of men; yea (as himself, of himself) a worm, and no maň, the shame of men, and contempt of the people. Who is the King of Glory? the Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory; Psalm xxiv. 10. Set these two together; the King of Glory; the shame of men, the more honour, the more abasement.

* Si tu pacem fugis, ego te ab Ecclesia fugere mando,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Look back to his cradle: there you find him rejected of the Bethlehemites; born and laid, alas, how homely, how unwor. thily; sought for by Herod, exiled to Egypt, obscurely brought up in a cottage of a poor foster father, transported and tempied by Satait, derived of his kindred, blasphemously traduced by the Jews, pinched with hunger, restless, harbourless, sorrowful, persecuted by the Elders and Pharisees, sold by his own servant, apprehendei, arraigned, scourged, condemned, and yet it is not finished. Let us, with that disciple, follow him afar off; and, passing over all his conten:ptuous usage in the way, see liim brought to his Cross.

Still the further we look, the more wonder: every thing adds to this ignominy of suffering, and triumph of over-coming. Where was it? not in a corner, as Paul saith to Festus, Acts xxvi. 26. év yuvia; but in Jerusalem, the eye, the heart of the world. Obscurity abateth shame: public notice heightens it: Before all Israel and before this sun, saith God to David, when he would thoroughly shame hin: in Jerusalem, which he had honoured with his presence, tanght with his preachings, astonished with his miracles, bewailed with his tears; 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would 1, and thou wouldst not! O yet, if in this thy day. Cruelty and unkindness, after good desert, afflict so much more, as our nerit hath been greater. Whereabouts? without the gates: in Calvary, among the stinking bones of execrable malefactors. Before, the glory of the place bred shame; now, the vileness of it. When? but in the Passover; a time of greatest frequence and concourse of all Jews and Proselytes: a holy time: when they should receive the figure, they reject the substance: when they should kill and eat the Sacramental Lamb, in faith, in thankfulness; they kill the Lamb of God, our true Passover, in cruelty and contempt. With whom? The quality of our company either increases or lessens shame. “In the midst of thieves,” saith one*, “as the prince of thieves:" there was no gule in his mouth, much less in his hands: yet, behold, he, that thought it no robbery to be equal with God, is made equal to robbers and murderers; yea, superior in evil.

What suffered he? As all lives are not alike pleasant, so all deaths are not equally fearful. There is not more difference betwixt some life and death, than betwixt one death and another. See the Apostle's gradation: He was mude obedient to the death, euen the death of the Cross: the Cross, a lingering, tormenting, ignominious death. The Jew's had four kinds of death for malefactors; the towel, the sword, fire, stones; each of these above other in extremity. Strangling with the towel, they accounted easiest ; the sword worse than the towel; the fire worse than the sword; sconing worse than the the: but this Roman death was worst of all. Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Yet, as Jerome well, “ He is not therefore accursed, because he hangeth ; but therefore he bangeth, because he is accursed.” He was made,

In medio lalronum, tanquam latronum immanissimus. Luther.

uzidpa, a curse for us. The curse was more than the shame: yet the shame is unspeakable; and yet not more than the pain.

Yet all, that die the same death, are not equally miserable: the very thieves fared better in their death than he. I hear of no irrision, no inscription, no taunts, no insultation on them : they had nothing but pain to encounter; he, pain and scorn. An in genious and noble nature can worse brook this than the other; any thing, rather than disdainfulness and derision: especially, from a base eneiny.

I remember that learned father begins Israel's affliction, with Ishinael's persecuting laughter. The Jews, the soldiers, yea, the very thieves tlouted him and triumphed over his misery: his blood cannot satisfy them, without his reproach.

Which of his senses now was not a window to let in sorrow? His Eyes saw the tears of his Mother and friends, the unthankful demeanour of mankind, the cruel despight of his enemies: his Ears heard the revilings and blasphemies of the multitude; and, whether the place were noisome to his Scent, his Touch felt the nails, his Taste the gall. Look up, O) all

O all ye beholders, look upon this precious body, and see what part ye can find free. That Head, which is adored and trembled at by the angelical spirits, is all raked and harrowed with thorns*: that Face, of which it is said, Thou art fairer than the children of men, is all besmeared with the filthy spittle of the Jews, and furrowed with his tears: those Eyes, clearer than the sun, are darkened with the shadow of death: those Ears, that hear the heavenly concerts of angels, now are filled with the cursed speakings and scotls of wretched men: those Lips, that spake as never man spake, that command the spirits both of light and darkness, are scornfully wet with vinegar and gall: those feet, that trample on all the powers of hell, (his enemies are made his footstool,) are now nailed to the footstool of the Cross : those Hands, that freely sway the scepter of the heavens, now carry the reed of reproach, and are nailed to the tree of reproach : that whole Body, which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, was all scourged, wounded, mangled : this is the outside of his sufferings.

Was his Heart free? Oh no: the inner part or soul of this pain, which was unseen, is as far beyond these outward and sensible, as the soul is beyond the body; God's wrath, beyond the malice of men. These were but love-tricks, to what his soul endured; () all ye that pass by the way, behold and sce, if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow: alas, Lord, what can we see of thy sorrows ? we cannot conceive so much as the heinousness and desert of one of those sins, which thou bearest : we can no more see thy pain, than we could undergo it: only this we see, that what the infinite sins, of almost infinite men, committed against an Infinite Majesty, deserved in infinite continuance; all this thou, in the short time of ty Passion, hast sustained.

We may behold and see; but all the glorious spirits in heaven cannot look into the depth of this suffering

* Caput angelicis spiritibus tremebundum spinis coronatur, &c.

Do but look yet a little into the passions of this his Passion; for,, by the manner of his sufferings, we shall best see what he suffered. Wise and resolute men do not complain of a little: holy martyrs have been racked, and would not be loosed; what shall we say if the author of their strength, God and Man, bewray passions ? what would have overwhelmed men, would not have made him shrink; and what made him complain, could never have been sustained by men. What shall we then think, if he were affrighted with terrors, perplexed with sorrows, and distracted with both these? And, lo, he was all these.

For, first, here was an Amazed Fear. For millions of men to despair, was not so much as for him to fear: and yet it was no slight fear: he began, én 94BETc Ja, to be astonied with terror; which, in the days of his flesh, offered up prayers and supplications, wih strong cries and tears, to him that was able to help him, and was heard in that he feared. Never was man so afraid of the torments of hell, as Christ, standing in our room, of his Father's wrath. Fear is still suitable to apprehension. Never man could so perfectly apprehend this cause of fear: he felt the chastisements of our peace, yea the curse of our sins; and therefore might well say with David, I suffer thy terrors with a troubled mind; yea, with Job, The arrows of God are in me, the terrors of God fight against me.

With fear, there was a Dejecting Sorrow, adypovía; My soul is on all sides heavy to the death; wepínutes. His strong cries, his many tears, are witnesses of this Passion: he had formerly shed tears of pity, and tears of love; but now, of anguish: he had before sent forth cries of mercy; never of complaint, till now. When the Son of God weeps and cries, what shall we say or think?

Yet further, betwixt both these and his love what a conflict was there! It is not amiss distinguished, that he was always in agony; but now, in cywvío, in a struggling passion of mixed grief. Be. hold, this field was not without sweat and blood; yea, a sweat of blood. Oh, what man or angel can conceive the taking of that heart, that, without all outward violence, merely out of the extremity of his own Passion, bled, through the flesh and skin, not some faint dew, but solid drops of blood ? No thorns, no nails fetched blood from him, with so much pain as his own thoughts. He saw the fierce wrath of his Father; and therefore feared: he saw the heavy burden of our sins to be undertaken; and, thereupon, besides fear, justly grieved: he saw the necessity of our eternal damnation, if he suffered not; if he did suffer, of our redemption; and therefore his love encountered both grief and fear. In itself, he would not drink of that cup: in respect of our good and his decree, he would and did; and, while he thus striveth, he sweats and bleeds. There was never such a combat; never such a bloodshed: and yet it is not finished. I dare not say, with some Schoolmen, that the sorrow of his Passion was not so great as the sorrow of his compassion; yet that was surely exceeding great. To see the ungracious carelessness of mankind, the slender fruit

« PreviousContinue »