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The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower

"And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: a sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."—Luke 8:4–8.

IN our country, when a sower goes forth to his work, he generally enters into an enclosed field, and scatters the seed from his basket along every ridge and furrow; but in the East, the corn-growing country, hard by a small town, is usually an open area. It is divided into different properties, but there are no visible divisions, except the ancient landmarks, or perhaps ridges of stones. Through these open lands there are footpaths, the most frequented being called the highways. You must not imagine these highways to be like our macadamized roads; they are merely paths, trodden tolerably hard. Here and there you notice bye-ways, along which travellers who wish to avoid the public road may journey with a little more safety when the main road is infested with robbers: hasty travellers also strike out short cuts for themselves, and so open fresh tracks for others. When the sower goes forth to sow he finds a plot of ground scratched over with the primitive Eastern plough; he aims at scattering his seed there most plentifully; but a path runs through the centre of his field, and unless he is willing to leave a broad headland, he must throw a handful upon it. Yonder, a rock crops out in the midst of the ploughed land, and the seed falls on its shallow soil. Here is a corner full of the roots of nettles and thistles, and he flings a little here; the corn and the nettles come up together, and the thorns being the stronger soon choke the seed, so that it brings forth no fruit unto perfection. The recollection that the Bible was written in the East, and that its metaphors and allusions must be explained to us by Eastern travellers, will often help us to understand a passage far better than if we think of English customs.

The preacher of the gospel is like the sower. He does not make his seed; it is given him by his divine Master. No man could create the smallest grain that ever grew upon the earth, much less the celestial seed of eternal life. The minister goes to his Master in secret, and asks him to teach him his gospel, and thus he fills his basket with the good seed of the kingdom. He then goes forth in his Master’s name and scatters precious truth. If he knew where the best soil was to be found, perhaps he might limit himself to that which had been prepared by the plough of conviction; but not knowing men’s hearts, it is his business to preach the gospel to every creature—to throw a handful on the hardened heart, and another on the mind which is overgrown with the cares and pleasures of the world. He has to leave the seed in the care of the Lord who gave it to him, for he is not responsible for the harvest, he is only accountable for the care and industry with which he does his work. If no single ear should ever make glad the reaper, the sower will be rewarded by his Master if he had planted the right seed with careful hand. If it were not for this fact with what despairing agony should we utter the cry of Esaias, "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"

Our duty is not measured by the character of our hearers, but by the command of our God. We are bound to preach the gospel, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear. It is ours to sow beside all waters. Let men’s hearts be what they may the minister must preach the gospel to them; he must sow the seed on the rock as well as in the furrow, on the highway as well as in the ploughed field.

I shall now address myself to the four classes of hearers mentioned in our Lord’s parable. We have, first of all, those who are represented by the way-side, those who are "hearers only"; then those represented by the stony-ground; these are transiently impressed, but the word produces no lasting fruit; then, those among thorns, on whom a good impression is produced, but the cares of this life, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the pleasures of the world choke the seed; and, lastly, that small class—God be pleased to multiply it exceedingly—that small class of good-ground hearers, in whom the Word brings forth abundant fruit.

I. First of all, I address myself to those hearts which are like the way-side—"Some fell by the way-side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it." Many of you do not go to the place of worship desiring a blessing. You do not intend to worship God, or to be affected by anything that you hear. You are like the highway, which was never intended to be a cornfield. If a single grain of truth should fall into your heart and grow it would be as great a wonder as for corn to grow up in the street. If the seed shall be dexterously scattered, some of it will fall upon you, and rest for a while upon your thoughts. ’Tis true you will not understand it; but, nevertheless, if it be placed before you in an interesting style, you will talk about it till some more congenial entertainment shall attract you. Even this slender benefit is brief, for in a little season you will forget all that you have heard. Would to God we could hope that our words would tarry with you, but we cannot hope it, for the soil of your heart is so hard beaten by continual traffic, that there is no hope of the seed finding a living root-hold. Satan is constantly passing over your heart with his company of blasphemies, lusts, lies, and vanities. The chariots of pride roll along it, and the feet of greedy mammon tread it till it is hard as adamant. Alas! for the good seed, it finds not a moment’s respite; crowds pass and repass; in fact, your soul is an exchange, across which continually hurry the busy feet of those who make merchandise of the souls of men. You are buying and selling, but you little think that you are selling the truth, and that you are buying your soul’s destruction. You have no time, you say, to think of religion. No, the road of your heart is such a crowded thoroughfare, that there is no room for the wheat to spring up. If it did begin to germinate, some rough foot would crush the green blade ere it could come to perfection. The seed has occasionally lain long enough to begin to sprout, but just then a new place of amusement has been opened, and you have entered there, and as with an iron heel, the germ of life that was in the seed was crushed out. Corn could not grow in Cornhill or Cheapside, however excellent the seed might be: your heart is just like those crowded thoroughfares; for so many cares and sins throng it, and so many proud, vain, evil, rebellious thoughts against God pass through it, that the seed of truth cannot grow.

We have looked at this hard road-side, let us now describe what becomes of the good word, when it falls upon such a heart. It would have grown if it had fallen on right soil, but it has dropped into the wrong place, and it remains as dry as when it fell from the sower’s hand. The word of the gospel lies upon the surface of such a heart, but never enters it. Like the snow, which sometimes falls upon our streets, drops upon the wet pavement, melts, and is gone at once, so is it with this man. The word has not time to quicken in his soul: it lies there an instant, but it never strikes root, or takes the slightest effect.

Why do men come to hear if the word never enters their hearts? That has often puzzled us. Some hearers would not be absent on the Sunday on any account; they are delighted to come up with us to worship, but yet the tear never trickles down their cheek, their soul never mounts up to heaven on the wings of praise, nor do they truly join in our confessions of sin. They do not think of the wrath to come, nor of the future state of their souls. Their heart is as iron; the minister might as well speak to a heap of stones as preach to them. What brings these senseless sinners here? Surely we are as hopeful of converting lions and leopards as these untamed, insensible hearts. Oh feeling! thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason! Do these people come to our assemblies because it is respectable to attend a place of worship? Or is it that their coming helps to make them comfortable in their sins? If they stopped away conscience would prick them; but they come hither that they may flatter themselves with the notion that they are religious. Oh! my hearers, your case is one that might make an angel weep! How sad to have the sun of the gospel shining on your faces, and yet to have blind eyes that never see the light. The music of heaven is lost upon you, for you have no ears to hear. You can catch the turn of a phrase, you can appreciate the poetry of an illustration, but the hidden meaning, the divine life you do not perceive. You sit at the marriage-feast, but you eat not of the dainties; the bells of heaven ring with joy over ransomed spirits, but you live unransomed, without God, and without Christ. Though we plead with you, and pray for you, and weep over you, you still remain as hardened, as careless, and as thoughtless as ever you were. May God have mercy on you, and break up your hard hearts, that his word may abide in you.

We have not, however, completed the picture. The passage tells us that the fowls of the air devoured the seed. Is there here a way-side hearer? Perhaps he did not mean to hear this sermon, and when he has heard it he will be asked by one of the wicked to come into company. He will go with the tempter, and the good seed will be devoured by the fowls of the air. Plenty of evil ones are ready to take away the gospel from the heart. The devil himself, that prince of the air, is eager at any time to snatch away a good thought. And then the devil is not alone—he has legions of helpers. He can set a man’s wife, children, friends, enemies, customers, or creditors, to eat up the good seed, and they will do it effectually. Oh, sorrow upon sorrow, that heavenly seed should become devil’s meat; that God’s corn should feed foul birds!

O my hearers, if you have heard the gospel from your youth, what waggon-loads of sermons have been wasted on you! In your younger days, you heard old Dr. So-and-so, and the dear old man was wont to pray for his hearers till his eyes were red with tears! Do you recollect those many Sundays when you said to yourself, "Let me go to my chamber and fall on my knees and pray"? But you did not: the fowls of the air ate up the seed, and you went on to sin as you had sinned before. Since then, by some strange impulse, you are very rarely absent from God’s house; but now the seed of the gospel falls into your soul as if it dropped upon an iron floor, and nothing comes of it. The law may be thundered at you; you do not sneer at it, but it never affects you. Jesus Christ may be lifted up; his dear wounds may be exhibited; his streaming blood may flow before your very eyes, and you may be bidden with all earnestness to look to him and live; but it is as if one should sow the sea-shore. What shall I do for you? Shall I stand here and rain tears upon this hard highway? Alas! my tears will not break it up; it is trodden too hard for that. Shall I bring the gospel plough? Alas! the ploughshare will not enter ground so solid. What shall we do? O God, thou knowest how to melt the hardest heart with the precious blood of Jesus. Do it now, we beseech thee, and thus magnify thy grace, by causing the good seed to live, and to produce a heavenly harvest.

II. I shall now turn to the second class of hearers:—"And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture." You can easily picture to yourselves that piece of rock in the midst of the field thinly veiled with soil; and of course the seed falls there as it does everywhere else. It springs up, it hastens to grow, it withers, it dies. None but those who love the souls of men can tell what hopes, what joys, and what bitter disappointments these stony places have caused us. We have a class of hearers whose hearts are hard, and yet they are apparently the softest and most impressible of men. While other men see nothing in the sermon, these men weep. Whether you preach the terrors of the law or the love of Calvary, they are alike stirred in their souls, and the liveliest impressions are apparently produced. Such may be listening now. They have resolved, but they have procrastinated. They are not the sturdy enemies of God who clothe themselves in steel, but they seem to bare their breasts, and lay them open to the minister. Rejoiced in heart, we shoot our arrows there, and they appear to penetrate; but, alas, a secret armour blunts every dart, and no wound is felt. The parable speaks of this character thus—"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth." Or as another passage explains it: "And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended." Have we not thousands of hearers who receive the word with joy? They have no deep convictions, but they leap into Christ on a sudden, and profess an instantaneous faith in him, and that faith has all the appearance of being genuine. When we look at it, the seed has really sprouted. There is a kind of life in it, there is apparently a green blade. We thank God that a sinner is brought back, a soul is born to God. But our joy is premature: they sprang up on a sudden, and received the word with joy, because they had no depth of earth, and the self-same cause which hastened their reception of the seed also causes them, when the sun is risen with his fervent heat, to wither away. These men we see every day in the week. They come to join the church; they tell us a story of how they heard us preach on such-and-such an occasion, and, oh, the word was so blessed to them, they never felt so happy in their lives! "Oh, sir, I thought I must leap from my seat when I heard about a precious Christ, and I believed on him there and then; I am sure I did." We question them as to whether they were ever convinced of sin. They think they were; but one thing they know, they feel a great pleasure in religion. We put it to them, "Do you think you will hold on?" They are confident that they shall. They hate the things they once loved, they are sure they do. Everything has become new to them. And all this is on a sudden. We enquire when the good work began. We find it began when it ended, that is to say, there was no previous work, no ploughing of the soil, but on a sudden they sprang from death to life, as if a field should be covered with wheat by magic. Perhaps we receive them into the church; but in a week or two they are not so regular as they used to be. We gently reprove them, and they explain that they meet with such opposition in religion, that they are obliged to yield a little. Another month and we lose them altogether. The reason is that they have been laughed at or exposed to a little opposition, and they have gone back. And what, think you, are the feelings of the minister? He is like the husbandman, who sees his field all green and flourishing, but at night a frost nips every shoot, and his hoped-for gains are gone. The minister goes to his chamber, and casts himself on his face before God, and cries, "I have been deceived; my converts are fickle, their religion has withered as the green herb." In the ancient story Orpheus is said to have had such skill upon the lyre, that he made the oaks and stones to dance around him. It is a poetical fiction, and yet hath it sometimes happened to the minister, that not only have the godly rejoiced, but men, like oaks and stones, have danced from their places. Alas! they have been oaks and stones still. Hushed is the lyre. The oak returns to its rooting-place, and the stone casts itself heavily to the earth. The sinner, who, like Saul, was among the prophets, goes back to plan mischief against the Most High.

If it is bad to be a wayside hearer, I cannot think it is much better to be like the rock. This second class of hearers certainly gives us more joy than the first. A certain company always comes round a new minister; and I have often thought it is an act of God’s kindness that he allows these people to gather at the first, while the minister is young, and has but few to stand by him: these persons are easily moved, and if the minister preaches earnestly they feel it, and they love him, and rally round him, much to his comfort. But time, that proves all things, proves them. They seemed to be made of true metal; but when they are put into the fire to be tested, they are consumed in the furnace. Some of the shallow kind are here now. I have looked at you when I have been preaching, and I have often thought, "That man one of these days will come out from the world, I am sure he will." I have thanked God for him. Alas, he is the same as ever. Years and years have we sowed him in vain, and it is to be feared it will be so to the end, for he is without depth, and without the moisture of the Spirit. Shall it be so? Must I stand over the mouth of your open sepulchre, and think, "Here lies a shoot which never became an ear, a man in whom grace struggled but never reigned, who gave some hopeful spasms of life and then subsided into eternal death"? God save you! Oh! may the Spirit deal with you effectually, and may you, even you, yet bring forth fruit unto God, that Jesus may have a reward for his sufferings.

III. I shall briefly treat of the third class, and may the Spirit of God assist me to deal faithfully with you. "And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it." Now, this was good soil. The two first characters were bad: the wayside was not the proper place, the rock was not a congenial situation for the growth of any plant; but this is good soil, for it grows thorns. Wherever a thistle will spring up and flourish, there would wheat flourish too. This was fat, fertile soil; it was no marvel therefore that the husbandman dealt largely there, and threw handful after handful upon that corner of the field. See how happy he is when in a month or two he visits the spot. The seed has sprung up. True, there’s a suspicious little plant down there of about the same size as the wheat. "Oh!" he thinks, "that’s not much, the corn will out-grow that. When it is stronger it will choke these few thistles that have unfortunately mixed with it." Ay, Mr. Husbandman, you do not understand the force of evil, or you would not thus dream! He comes again, and the seed has grown, there is even the corn in the ear; but the thistles, the thorns, and the briars have become intertwisted with one another, and the poor wheat can hardly get a ray of sunshine. It is so choked with thorns every way, that it looks quite yellow: the plant is starved. Still it perseveres in growing, and it does seem as if it would bring forth a little fruit. Alas, it never comes to anything. With it the reaper never fills his arm.

We have this class very largely among us. These hear the word and understand what they hear. They take the truth home; they think it over; they even go the length of making a profession of religion. The wheat seems to spring and ear; it will soon come to perfection. Be in no hurry, these men and women have a great deal to see after; they have the cares of a large concern; their establishment employs so many hundred hands; do not be deceived as to their godliness—they have no time for it. They will tell you that they must live; that they cannot neglect this world; that they must anyhow look out for the present, and as for the future, they will render it all due attention by-and-by. They continue to attend gospel-preaching, and the poor little stunted blade of religion keeps on growing after a fashion. Meanwhile they have grown rich, they come to the place of worship in a carriage, they have all that heart can wish. Ah! now the seed will grow, will it not? No, no. They have no cares now; the shop is given up, they live in the country; they have not to ask, "Where shall the money come from to meet the next bill?" or "how shall they be able to provide for an increasing family." Now they have too much instead of too little, for they have riches, and they are too wealthy to be gracious. "But," says one, "they might spend their riches for God." Certainly they might, but they do not, for riches are deceitful. They have to entertain much company, and chime in with the world, and so Christ and his church are left in the lurch.

Yes, but they begin to spend their riches, and they have surely got over that difficulty, for they give largely to the cause of Christ, and they are munificent in charity; the little blade will grow, will it not? No, for now behold the thorns of pleasure. Their liberality to others involves liberality to themselves; their pleasures, amusements, and vanities choke the wheat of true religion: the good grains of gospel truth cannot grow because they have to attend that musical party, that ball, and that soirée, and so they cannot think of the things of God. I know several specimens of this class. I knew one, high in court circles, who has confessed to me that he wished he were poor, for then he might enter the kingdom of heaven. He has said to me, "Ah! sir, these politics, these politics, I wish I were rid of them, they are eating the life out of my heart; I cannot serve God as I would." I know of another, overloaded with riches, who has said to me, "Ah! sir, it is an awful thing to be rich; one cannot keep close to the Saviour with all this earth about him."

Ah! my dear readers, I will not ask for you that God may lay you on a bed of sickness, that he may strip you of all your wealth, and bring you to beggary; but, oh, if he were to do it, and you were to save your souls, it would be the best bargain you could ever make. If those mighty ones who now complain that the thorns choke the seed could give up all their riches and pleasures, if they that fare sumptuously every day could take the place of Lazarus at the gate, it were a happy change for them if their souls might be saved. A man may be honourable and rich, and yet go to heaven; but it will be hard work, for "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven." God does make some rich men enter the kingdom of heaven, but hard is their struggle. Steady, young man, steady! Hurry not to climb to wealth! It is a place where many heads are turned. Do not ask God to make you popular; they that have popularity are wearied by it. Cry with Agur—"Give me neither poverty nor riches." God give me to tread the golden mean, and may I ever have in my heart that good seed, which shall bring forth fruit a hundredfold to his own glory.

IV. I now close with the last character, namely, the good ground. Of the good soil, as you will mark, we have but one in four. Will one in four of our hearers, with well-prepared heart, receive the Word?

The ground is described as "good": not that it was good by nature, but it had been made good by grace. God had ploughed it; he had stirred it up with the plough of conviction, and there it lay in ridge and furrow as it should lie. When the gospel was preached, the heart received it, for the man said, "That is just the blessing I want. Mercy is what a needy sinner requires." So that the preaching of the gospel was the thing to give comfort to this disturbed and ploughed soil. Down fell the seed to take good root. In some cases it produced fervency of love, largeness of heart, devotedness of purpose of a noble kind, like seed which produces a hundredfold. The man became a mighty servant for God, he spent himself and was spent. He took his place in the vanguard of Christ’s army, stood in the hottest of the battle, and did deeds of daring which few could accomplish—the seed produced a hundredfold. It fell into another heart of like character;—the man could not do the most, but still he did much. He gave himself to God, and in his business he had a word to say for his Lord; in his daily walk he quietly adorned the doctrine of God his Saviour,—he brought forth sixty-fold. Then it fell on another, whose abilities and talents were but small; he could not be a star, but he would be a glow-worm; he could not do as the greatest, but he was content to do something, however humble. The seed had brought forth in him tenfold, perhaps twentyfold. How many are there of this sort here? Is there one who prays within himself, "God be merciful to me a sinner"? The seed has fallen in the right spot. Soul, thy prayer shall be heard. God never sets a man longing for mercy without intending to give it. Does another whisper, "Oh that I might be saved"? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou, even thou, shalt be saved. Hast thou been the chief of sinners? Trust Christ, and thy enormous sins shall vanish as the millstone sinks beneath the flood. Is there no one here that will trust the Saviour? Can it be possible that the Spirit is entirely absent? that he is not moving in one soul? not begetting life in one spirit? We will pray that he may now descend, that the word may not be in vain.

Spurgeon, C. H. (1882). Farm Sermons. New York: Passmore and Alabaster. (Public Domain)

CHRIST the Best Husband

CHRIST the Best Husband

Christ the best Husband:

Or an earnest Invitation to Young Women to come and see Christ

Preached to a Society of Young Women, in Fetter-Lane

Psalm 45:10, 11

Hearken, O Daughter, and consider, and incline thine Ear: Forget also thine own People, and thy Father’s House: So shall the King greatly desire thy Beauty; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.

THIS psalm is called the song of loves, the most pure and spiritual, the most dear and delightful loves; namely, those which are between Christ the beloved, and his church, which is his spouse; wherein is set forth, first, the Lord Jesus Christ in regard of his majesty, power, and divinity, his truth, meekness and equity: And then the spouse is set forth, in regard of her ornaments, companions, attendants and posterity; and both in regard of their comeliness and beauty. After the description of Christ, an invitation to his espousals, is given the children of men, called by the name of daughter; and therefore, particularly applicable unto you, my dear sisters, as being the daughters of men, yet not so as excluding the sons of men.

I shall now, therefore, consider the words, as spoken to you in particular, and containing this doctrine;

That the Lord Jesus Christ doth invite the daughters of men to be his spouse; and is exceeding desirous of their beauty; who, forgetting their people and father’s house, do hearken, consider and incline to his invitation, and join themselves to him in this relation.

I shall shew,

I. How Christ doth espouse himself unto the children, but, more especially, unto the daughters of men.

The Lord Jesus Christ, doth espouse himself unto the children of men, in this world, but the public solemnization of the marriage, is reserved until the last day; when his spouse shall be brought forth to him, in white robes, and a raiment of perfect righteousness, more rich and curious, my dear sisters, than any of your needle-work; and the marriage feast will be kept in his Father’s house, in heaven, where they shall be received into the nearest and closest embraces of his love. The marriage knot is tied here, in which are included four things:

First, Mutual Choice,

Secondly, Mutual Affection.

Thirdly, Mutual Union.

Fourthly, Mutual Obligation.

First, My dear sisters, there is a mutual choice which is not only in Christ, as Mediator, but also by Christ as the eternal Son of God, yea, God himself; notwithstanding all that the polite Arians and Socinians say to the contrary. The Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, doth chuse you merely by his free grace; if is freely of his own mercy, that he brings you into the marriage covenant: You, who have so grievously offended him, yet, the Lord Jesus Christ hath chosen you; you did not, you would not have chosen him; but when once, my dear sisters, he hath chosen you, then, and not till then, you make choice of him for your Lord and Husband.

The Lord Jesus Christ when he first comes to you, finds you full of sin and pollution; you are deformed, defiled, enslaved, poor, miserable and wretched, very despicable and loathsome, by reason of sin; and he maketh choice of you, not because of your holiness, nor of your beauty, nor of your being qualified for them; no, the Lord Jesus Christ puts those qualifications upon you, as may make you meet for his embrace; and you are drawn to make choice of this Lord Jesus Christ because he first chose you.

Secondly, In this espousal of your’s, my dear sisters, there is a mutual affection; this doth accompany the choice. Your hearts are drawn out after Christ; your souls pant and long for him; you cannot be at rest until you are engaged to this Jesus: You are ready to cry out continually, none but Christ, none but Christ: this is the language of your hearts, if you are truly sensible of your need of him. The more acquaintance you have of this Lord Jesus, the more pleased you are with your choice, and the more your affections are drawn towards him. And where can you place your affections better than upon that Jesus who shed his blood for your sakes? Surely he deserves both your loves and affections: Go on, go on, my dear sisters, that your affections may grow stronger and stronger.

Thirdly, There is not only mutual choice, and mutual, affection, but likewise mutual Union: And here doth the marriage lie chiefly, in this union; Christ and souls are contracted, and the knot is tied so fast, that neither men on earth, how great soever they be, nor devils in hell, though they should combine all their wrath and rage together, still they cannot dissolve, they cannot untie it; no, my dear sisters, it is indissolvable, for the union is, by the spirit, on Christ’s part, and by faith on your’s: By the spirit, Christ doth lay hold on you; and by faith, you do lay hold on him; and thus the match is made; Christ becomes your’s, his person, portion, and all his benefits are your’s; and you become Christ’s, your persons, your hearts, and all that you have is resigned up unto him; and O that they may be so more and more.

Fourthly, There is a mutual Obligation between Christ and his spouse. Christ obliges himself to love you here; he will not, indeed he never will leave you, he will protect you from the malice of the Pharisees of this generation, he will provide for you in all difficulties; he will live with you here, and at last he will take you to himself, to live with him for ever. And you are engaged to him to be loving, loyal, faithful, obedient; and you are to stick close to him as long as you live; and then you will find yourselves to be married to the best advantage, both for soul and body, for time and for eternity.

II. Christ doth invite all of you to be his spouse.

And it is on this account that he sends forth his ministers to preach. It is this, that makes me thus come among you; that you would accept of this invitation, to which, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I do call and intreat you to take him, on his own terms. He calls all of you, my sisters, whether elder or younger, whether married or unmarried, of higher degree, or of the meanest quality, the poorest servants, yea, the rabble of this world, as the world calls you, who are willing to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ. I say, the poor are as welcome to be Christ’s spouse as those that are rich. He regardeth not the rich more than the poor: he chose a mean virgin, espoused to a carpenter, to be his mother; and he chuseth and calleth all such to be his spouse; then be not discouraged at your being despised in the world; for if you are but loved by Christ, and espoused to him, it will be an over-sufficiency for all the trouble that you have met with here.

III. Those who would be espoused unto Christ, must hearken, consider, and incline to his invitation, and forget even their father’s house.

Such as would be espoused unto Christ must hearken. "Hearken, O daughter." Many amongst you, my sisters, stop their ears against the calls of the gospel; they shut their ears like the deaf adder, which will not hearken unto the voice of the charmer, though he charm never so wisely. You will not hearken unto the invitations of Christ; you can hearken unto the vanities of the world, and be delighted with the espousals of the world, but never think, or are delighted with the espousals of Christ.

It was by the ear, that the temptation of sin was received by the first man, when he departed from God; and by the ear, the invitation to be Christ’s spouse must be received, before the heart will be opened to receive Jesus Christ in this conjugal relation.

If you would, my dear sisters, be espoused to Christ, you must consider Christ’s invitation. It is not a slight or bare hearing of Christ’s invitation, which will be of any service to you, or make up the match between Christ and your souls; no, you must receive Christ in the heart; you must consider the thing itself, the advantages of it, the difference between Christ’s invitations and the devil’s temptations, or any of the world’s proffers.

Those who would be espoused to Christ, must be inclined to accept of Christ’s invitation. "Hearken, O daughter, consider and incline thine ear." This is to incline your hearts: You must consent with you wills; there must be a compliance to the motion of Christ, and you must have desires after Christ, and then your hearts will say, ‘Lord, let us be thy spouse, and be thou our beloved.’

You must likewise forget your father’s house. "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and forget thy father’s house." You are not here to cast off all affections unto natural relations; but you must forget all relations, so as to be ready to forego all their favour, when it standeth in competition with that of the Lord Jesus Christ; and do not let your carnal friends and relations hinder you from closing with, and espousing the Lord Jesus. I earnestly beseech you to suffer the loss of any thing, rather than to lose his favours; you must indeed forget your own people, that is you must forget all your evil customs which you have learned in your father’s house, and forsake all your vain conversation, your reading of plays, novels, or romances; and you must keep from learning to sing the songs of the drunkard; for Christ, if you are his spouse, hath redeemed you.

Such of you, my dear sisters, as are espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ are very beautiful. I do not mean in respect of your bodies; you may have less of external comeliness than others, in respect of your bodies, but as to your souls you will exceed in beauty, not so much in the eyes of man, as in the eyes of God; such have the most beautiful image of God stamped upon them; none in the world, beside them, have the least spark of spiritual beauty. Such as are not married to Christ, are unregenerated, they are not born again, nor brought from sin unto God, which must be done before you be espoused to Christ.

And the Lord Jesus Christ desireth to see this beauty in his spouse, for he cries out, "O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." He calleth his spouse his love, being the dear object of his love; and he admireth her loveliness; he repeats it twice in one verse, "Behold thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair." Thus you see he describes their beauty. And then, my sisters, we have a wonderful expression of Christ to his spouse, "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck." Thus you see how pleased the Lord Jesus Christ is with his spouse; and will not you, therefore, be espoused unto the Lord Jesus? I offer Jesus Christ to all of you; if you, have been never so notorious for sin, if you have been as great a harlot as Mary Magdalen was, when once you are espoused to Christ, you shall be forgiven. Therefore be not discouraged, at whatever slights and contempts the world may pass upon you, but come and join yourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and all your sins shall be washed away in his blood; and when once you are espoused to Jesus, you are disjoined from sin, you are born again. You are now, as it were, espoused unto sin; sin is your husband, and you are too fond of it, but when once you are married to Christ, when you are born again, then you may be said to die unto sin; but till then, sin liveth in your affections; therefore, my sisters, give sin its death-wound in your hearts; you have been called by the word time after time, and it has had no effect upon you; but when you are espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will be brought to him by his Spirit: You will then lay hold on him by faith, his Spirit will draw you unto himself; he will make you to be willing in the day of his power; he will give you faith in him. Faith is the hand of the soul which layeth hold on Christ; therefore, do not rest contented till you have this grace of faith wrought in you with power; do not be contented till you have received the Lord Jesus Christ.

Embrace Christ in the arms of your dearest love; then you love the Lord Jesus Christ with sincerity, when you love and esteem him before father, mother, or all the delights and pleasures of this life; but if you do delight in any thing that this world can produce, more than in the Lord Jesus Christ, you have no true love to him.

If you are espoused to Christ, you have acquaintance and converse with him; you will endeavour to promote his interest, and advance his name in the world; when others are going to the polite and fashionable diversions of life, you will be labouring to bring honour to the Lord Jesus Christ; you will commend your beloved above all other beloveds, and endeavour to bring others into love to him. Can you, my dear sisters, who are now assembled to worship God, shew such evidence of your espousals unto the Lord Jesus Christ? O! how joyful, how comfortable an estate is this! Surely this is a marriage worth seeking after; this is the only desirable marriage, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the only lover that is worth seeking after.

Now, my dear sisters, I shall speak a few words to those of you who have not yet espoused yourselves to the Lord Jesus. It is a great sin, and surely you highly affront the Lord that bought you. It is likewise your folly to refuse and neglect the gracious proffers of being the spouse of Christ; hereby you forfeit all that love which he would bestow upon you; hereby you chuse rags before robes, dross before gold, pebbles before jewels, guilt before a pardon, wounds before healing, defilement before cleansing, deformity before comeliness, trouble before peace, slavery before liberty, the service of the devil before the service of Christ. Hereby you chuse dishonour before a crown, death before life, hell before heaven, eternal misery and torment before everlasting joy and glory. And need there a farther evidence of your folly and madness, in refusing and neglecting Christ to be your spouse.

My dear sisters, I should exceed the limits of your time, should I particularize all the advantages which you would obtain by being espoused to the Lord Jesus. This is your wisdom; they are foolish virgins who refuse; but you are the wise virgins who have accepted of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have disposed of yourselves to him; you have made the wisest choice; and however the blind world may deem you fools, and despise you as being methodically mad, yet you are wise in the esteem of God, and will, one day, appear so in the esteem of them that now despise you. It is your glory that you are espoused unto the Lord Jesus; and therefore glory in your espousal; glory not in yourselves, but in the Lord who hath thus freely and graciously bestowed these favours upon you. It is your safety to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ, he will protect and defend you even from sin and satan, and eternal ruin; and therefore thus far you are safe; he hath a regard for you in times of danger from men, and these times of danger seem to be hastening; it is now arising as a black cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, and by and by it will overspread the heavens, and when it is full it will burst; but if you are espoused to Christ, you are safe.

Now, my dear sisters, I shall conclude with an earnest exhortation to high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to be espoused unto Christ.

Let me speak unto you, young women, who are not yet espoused unto Christ, in an especial manner. It may be to satisfy your curiosity, has brought many of you here; though, perhaps, this may be the time when you shall be brought home to embrace the Lord Jesus, and be espoused to him. And O, that I may persuade you, by his Spirit, to espouse yourselves unto the Lord of life.

And if you are but brought to close with the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall attain my end, and then both you and I shall rejoice that I preached this sermon to you.

Come virgins, will you give me leave to be a suitor unto you, not in my own name, but in the name of the Lord? O! that I may prevail with you for your affections, and persuade you to give them unto Christ! May I be instrumental of bringing your souls to Christ! May I be instrumental to join you and Christ together this day!

Be not coy, as some of you possibly are in other loves: modesty and the virgin blush may very well become you, when proposals of another kind are made unto you; but here coyness is solly, and backwardness to accept of this motion, is shame: you have ten thousand times more reason to blush at the refusal of Christ for your beloved, than at the acceptance; when otherwise the devil and sin would ravish your virgin affections. Never had you a better motion made to you; never was such a match proffered to you as this, of being matched and espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider who the Lord Jesus is, whom you are invited to espouse yourselves unto; he is the best husband; there is none comparable to Jesus Christ.

Do you desire one that is great? He is of the highest dignity, he is the glory of heaven, the darling of eternity, admired by angels, dreaded by devils, and adored by saints. For you to be espoused to so great a king, what honour will you have by this espousal?

Do you desire one that is rich? None is comparable to Christ, the fulness of the earth belongs to him. If you be espoused to Christ, you shall share in his unsearchable riches; you shall receive of his fulness, even grace for grace here, and you shall hereafter be admitted to glory, and shall live with this Jesus to all eternity.

Do you desire one that is wise? There is none comparable to Christ for wisdom. His knowledge is infinite, and his wisdom is correspondent thereto. And if you are espoused to Christ, he will guide and counsel you, and make you wise unto salvation.

Do you desire one that is potent, who may defend you against your enemies, and all the insults and reproaches of the Pharisees of this generation? There is none that can equal Christ in power; for the Lord Jesus Christ hath all power.

Do you desire one that is good? There is none like unto Christ in this regard; others may have some goodness, but it is imperfect; Christ’s goodness is compleat and perfect, he is full of goodness, and in him dwelleth no evil.

Do you desire one that is beautiful? His eyes are most sparkling, his looks and glances of love are ravishing, his smiles are most delightful and refreshing unto the soul: Christ is the most lovely person of all others in the world.

Do you desire one that can love you? None can love you like Christ: His love, my dear sisters, is incomprehensible; his love passeth all other loves: The love of the Lord Jesus is first, without beginning; his love is free without any motive; his love is great without any measure; his love is constant without any change, and his love is everlasting.

It was the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, which brought him down from heaven; and which veiled his divinity in a human soul and body; for he is God over all blessed for ever: It was love that made him subject to hunger, thirst and sorrow; he was humbled, even unto death for you; for you who are espoused to him, he underwent the painful, shameful and ignominious death of the cross: and can you, my sisters, hear this, and not be concerned to think that the blessed Jesus underwent all this for such sinful creatures as you and I are? And when out of love he had finished the redemption on earth, as to what was needful for satisfaction; it was his love that carried him back to heaven, where he was before, that he might make application of what he had purchased, that there he might make intercession for those whom he had redeemed, and prepare a place for them, even glorious mansions with himself, in the house not made with hands, which is eternal in the heavens. It is out of love that he sendeth such tokens to his people from heaven to earth, which he conveyeth through his ordinances, by his Spirit unto them. Surely then none is so deserving as the Lord Jesus Christ for you to espouse yourselves unto: if you be espoused unto Christ he is your’s, all that he is, all that he hath; you shall have his heart, and share in the choicest expressions of his dearest love.

The Lord Jesus Christ, my dear sisters, doth beseech you to be his spouse. We ministers have a commission from the Lord Jesus Christ to invite you, in his name, unto this very thing; and Christ’s invitations are real; general; frequent; earnest; free.

Christ’s invitations of you, to be his spouse, are real; and as the thing is real, so you, my dear sisters, are really invited unto it. The Lord doth not mock and dissemble with you, as some pretending lovers, who dissemble love unto virgins, until they have gained their affections, and then falsely and basely relinquish them, never really intending either to espouse, or marry them: but the Lord doth really intend the thing, in his invitations of you; he never cast off any whose consent and affections he had gained. Again,

Christ’s invitations of you, my dear sisters, are general. All of you are invited, none of you are excluded; all sorts of sinners are invited; the most vile and abominable sinners, the most notorious transgressors are invited to be Christ’s spouse, and shall be as welcome as any unto the embraces of his love.

Christ’s invitations of you are frequent: Jesus Christ calls on you frequently; he hath waited on you time after time, one year after another; and he doth now invite you, by me this day, to come unto Him. Do not slight this invitation, but receive it with joy and thankfulness. Come, I beseech you, to this Jesus, who thus invites you to be his spouse. Again,

Christ’s invitations to be his spouse are earnest; he doth call upon you, and not only call, but call earnestly too; yea, he useth many arguments with you: he will press you to come unto him; he is loth to take any denial from you: he knocks, and knocks hard at the door of your hearts for entertainment; and surely you will not deny the Lord of life and glory who died for you, and gave himself for you: O my dear sisters, let this be the evening of your espousals to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He invites you freely to be his spouse, for all his invitations are free; he doth not expect a portion with you, as worldly lovers do; He wants nothing of you: nay, you must have nothing, if you be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ. If you be poor, miserable, blind, naked, Jesus Christ will supply all these defect of his own free mercy; he will fill and supply you with all things out of his treasury; he will make you meet for himself; he will prepare you to live with him for ever.

Consider, if you be once espoused unto Christ, if once joined in this relation, you shall never be separated from him; neither men nor devils shall be able to separate you: none, none, shall disjoin you; and when death doth break all other bonds, it shall not break the conjugal bond between you and Christ, but bring you unto the most full and everlasting possession of your beloved.

And what do you now say, young women? shall I have a grant for my master, or be sent away with a repulse and refusal; no, I cannot carry such a message to my master; I hope better things of you, my sisters, and things which accompany salvation: methinks by this time ye should begin to have a mind unto Jesus Christ; you look as if you did desire; you hearken as if you would consent. What do you say? Shall the match be made up this evening between Christ and your souls? O that I may be instrumental in joining your hands, or rather your hearts together: O that I may be instrumental to tie that knot, which never can be unloosed.

Some marry in haste, and repent at leisure; but if you were once espoused unto Jesus Christ, you would never repent; nothing would grieve you, but that you were not joined him sooner; and you would not be disjoined again for all the world.

Shall this be the day of your espousals? Some of you have stayed a long time; and will you defer any longer? If you will not now, perhaps you may never have another opportunity; this may be the last time of asking; and therefore it is dangerous to refuse: some of you are very young, too young for other espousals; but none of you, my dear sisters, are too young to be espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ: in other espousals, you must have the consent of your parents; but in this you are at your own disposal; you may give, and ought to match yourselves to Christ, whether parents do consent or not.

But if any of you should ask, what you must do that you may be espoused unto Christ? You must be sensible of your need of being espoused to him; and untill you are sensible of your need of the Lord Jesus Christ, you cannot be espoused to him: You must have desires after this Jesus, and seek unto him for an interest in him; you must cry nightly unto him to espouse you to himself: put off the filthiness of sin and all its defilements; and then, my sisters, put on the white raiment, and clean garments, which Christ hath provided for you, the robes of his righteousness; in these garments you shall be beautiful; and in these garments you shall be accepted: you must have the wedding garment on; you must put off all your own good works, for they will be but a means to keep you from Christ; no, you must come as not having your own righteousness, which is of the law, but you must have the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, come unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will give it to you; he will not send you away without it. Receive him upon his own terms, and he is your’s for ever: O devote yourselves to him, soul and body, and all, to be his for ever; and Christ will be your’s, and then happy, happy you, that ever you were born! But if any of you die before this espousal unto the Lord Jesus Christ, then woe, woe, unto you, that ever you had a being in life; but if you go to Christ you shall be espoused unto the Lord Jesus: though your sins have been never so great, yea, the blood of Christ will cleanse you from them; the marriage covenant between Christ and your souls will dissolve all your sins; you will then be weary of your old ways, for all things will become new in your souls.

Now, my dear Sisters, I shall conclude by just speaking a word or two to those of you, who are already espoused unto the Lord Jesus Christ.

O admire, admire the rich and free grace, which hath brought you to this relation: Is not this an instance of the greatest of love, that you should be the spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ? You that had no beauty, you that had no comeliness, that was full of sin, that He should embrace such as you and I are; that we should be taken into the embrace of this Lord Jesus. O infinite condescending kindness! O amazing love! Reverence, reverence, I beseech you, this Lord Jesus Christ.

He is your Lord, and you must reverence him, love and be faithful unto him, be subject to him, and careful to please him in every thing; endeavour to keep up a daily communion with him; look, long and prepare for Christ’s second appearance, when the nuptials between you shall be solemnized, and you live with him in mansions of everlasting joys, where you shall love and live with this king of glory for ever and ever.

I know not how to conclude; methinks I could speak to you till midnight, if it would bring you unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and make you be espoused to him, for indeed, that will be the espousal which will turn to the greatest advantage, as you will find by experience, if you will but make the trial; and that you may do so, my prayers and my constant endeavours shall be used.

I will, my dear sisters, spend and be spent for you, and by the assistance of God, will persevere in this that I have begun; and as many of you may have opportunity some evening in the week, without breaking in on the business of life; I shall therefore, my sisters, either be here, or where you shall be publicly acquainted with: I will not mind being reproached or despised: the men of this world may use what language they please; they may say I am a Methodist. Indeed, my sisters, I am resolved, by the grace of God, to use all methods I can, to pluck you from Satan, that you may be as brands plucked from the burning fire: this shall be my method, which I hope will be the means of effectually saving your precious and immortal souls.

And if I am the instrument of this, I shall rejoice, yea, and I will rejoice in spight of what men, or devils, can say or do to the contrary: and may the Lord Jesus Christ direct, and assist me at all times, to act what will be most for his glory, and the welfare of your souls: and may you all say a hearty Amen thereto.

"Now the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God over all, blessed for ever, assist and watch over you, keep you from all evil and sin here, and present you before his Father faultless at the great day of account! To this Lord Jesus Christ, the Father, and the blessed Spirit, three persons and but one eternal and invisible God, be ascribed all honour, power, glory, might, majesty and dominion, now, henceforth, and for ever more. Amen, Amen."

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all, to comfort under, and deliver you from tribulation; to preserve you to your respective places of abode; and when there, to keep you in his fear, that you may live to his glory; that to live may be Christ’s, and to die be your eternal gain; so that you may live with him through eternal ages, and sing Hallelujahs to him for ever. Amen."

Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain)

Ploughing the Rock

Ploughing the Rock

Ploughing the Rock

"Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen?"—Amos 6:12.

THESE expressions are proverbs, taken from the familiar sayings of the east country. A proverb is generally a sword with two edges, or, if I may so say, it has many edges, or is all edge, and hence it may be turned this way and that way, and every part of it will have force and point. A proverb has often many bearings, and you cannot always tell what was the precise meaning of him who uttered it. The connection would abundantly tolerate two senses in this place. An ancient commentator asserts that it has seven meanings, and that any one of them would be consistent with the context. I cannot deny the assertion, and if it be correct it is only one among many instances of the manifold wisdom of the Word of God. Like those curiously carved Chinese balls in which there is one ball within another, so in many a holy text there is sense within sense, teaching within teaching, and each one worthy of the Spirit of God.

The first sense of the text upon which I would say just a word or two is this: the prophet is expostulating with ungodly men upon their pursuit of happiness where it never can be found. They were endeavouring to grow rich and great and strong by oppression. The prophet says, "Ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock." Justice was bought and sold among them, and the book of the law was made the instrument of fraud. "Yet," says the prophet, "there is no gain to be gotten this way—no real profit, no true happiness. As well may horses run upon a rock, and oxen plough the sand: it is labour in vain."

If any of you try to content yourselves with this world, and hope to find a heaven in the midst of your business and your family without looking upward for it, you labour in vain. If you hope to find pleasure in sin, and think that it will go well with you if you despise the law of God, you will make a great mistake. You might as well seek for roses in the grottoes of the sea, or look for pearls on the pavements of the city. You will find what your soul requires nowhere but in God. To seek after happiness in evil deeds is to plough a rock of granite. To labour after true prosperity by dishonest means is as useless as to till the sandy shore. "Wherefore do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?" Young man, you are killing yourself with ambition; you seek your own honour and emolument, and this is a poor, poor object for an immortal soul. And you, too, sir, are wearing out your life with care; your mind and body both fail you in endeavouring to amass riches, as if a man’s life consisted in the abundance of the things which he possesses: you are ploughing a rock; your cares will not bring you joy of heart or content of spirit; your toil will end in failure. And you, too, who labour to weave a righteousness by your works apart from Christ, and fancy that with the diligent use of outward ceremonies you may be able to do the work of the Holy Spirit upon your own heart, you, too, are ploughing thankless rock. The strength of fallen nature exerted at its utmost can never save a soul. Why, then, plough the rock any longer? Give over the foolish task.

So far, I believe, we have not misread the text, but have mentioned a very probable meaning of the words; still, another strikes me, which I think equally suitable, and upon it I shall dwell, by God’s help.

It is this. God will not always send his ministers to call men to repentance. When men’s hearts remain obdurate, and they do not and will not repent, then God will not always deal with them in mercy. "My Spirit shall not always strive with man." There is a time of ploughing, but when it is evident that the heart is wilfully hardened, then wisdom itself suggests to mercy that she should give over her efforts. "Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen?" No, there is a limit to the efforts of kindness, and in fulness of time the labour ceases, and the rock remains unploughed henceforth and for ever.

I. Taking that sense, we shall speak upon it, and remark, first, that ministers labour to break up men’s hearts: the wise preacher tries by the power of the Holy Ghost to break up the hard clods of the heart, so that it may receive the heavenly seed.

Many truths are used like sharp ploughshares to break up the heart. Men must be made to feel that they have sinned, and they must be led to repent of sin. They must receive Christ, not with the head only, but with the heart; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. There must be emotion: we must cut into the heart with the ploughshare of the law. A farmer who is too tender-hearted to tear up and harrow the land will never see a harvest. Here is the failing of certain divines, they are afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings, and so they keep clear of all the truths which are likely to excite fear or grief. They have not a sharp ploughshare on their premises, and are never likely to have a stack in their rickyard. They angle without hooks for fear of hurting the fish, and fire without bullets out of respect to the feelings of the birds. This kind of love is real cruelty to men’s souls. It is much the same as if a surgeon should permit a patient to die because he would not pain him with the lancet, or by the necessary removal of a limb. It is a terrible tenderness which leaves men to sink into hell rather than distress their minds. It is pleasant to prophesy smooth things, but woe unto the man who thus degrades himself. Is this the spirit of Christ? Did he conceal the sinner’s peril? Did he cast doubts upon the unquenchable fire and the undying worm? Did he lull souls into slumber by smooth strains of flattery? Nay, but with honest love and anxious concern he warned men of the wrath to come, and bade them repent or perish. Let the servant of the Lord Jesus in this thing follow his Master, and plough deep with a sharp ploughshare, which will not be baulked by the hardest clods. This we must school ourselves to do. If we really love the souls of men, let us prove it by honest speech. The hard heart must be broken, or it will still refuse the Saviour who was sent to bind up the broken-hearted. There are some things which men may or may not have, and yet may be saved; but those things which go with the ploughing of the heart are indispensable; there must be a holy fear and a humble trembling before God, there must be an acknowledgment of guilt and a penitent petition for mercy; there must, in a word, be a thorough ploughing of the soul before we can expect the seed to bring forth fruit.

II. But the text indicates to us that at times ministers labour in vain. "Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen?" In a short time a ploughman feels whether the plough will go or not, and so does the minister. He may use the very same words in one place which he has used in another, but he feels in the one place great joy and hopefulness in preaching, while with another audience he has heavy work, and little hope. The plough in the last case seems to jump out of the furrow; and a bit of the share is broken off now and then. He says to himself, "I do not know how it is, but I do not get on at this," and he finds that his Master has sent him to work upon a particularly heavy soil. All labourers for Christ know that this is occasionally the case. You must have found it so in a Sunday-school class, or in a cottage meeting, or in any other gathering where you have tried to teach and preach Jesus. You have said to yourself every now and then, "Now I am ploughing a rock. Before, I turned up rich mould which a yoke of oxen might plough with ease, and a horse might even run at the work; but now the horse may tug, and the oxen may wearily toil till they gall their shoulders, but they cannot cut a furrow; the rock is stubborn to the last degree."

There are such hearers in all congregations. They are as iron, and yet they are side by side with a fine plot of ground. Their sister, their brother, their son, their daughter, all these have readily felt the power of the gospel; but they do not feel it. They hear it respectfully; and they so far allow it free course that they permit it to go in at one ear and out at the other, but they will have nothing more to do with it. They would not like to be Sabbath-breakers and stop away from worship; they therefore do the gospel the questionable compliment of coming where it is preached and then refusing to regard it. They are hard, hard, hard bits of rock, the plough does not touch them.

Many, on the other hand, are equally hard; but it is in another way. The impression made by the word is not deep or permanent. They receive it with joy, but they do not retain it. They listen with attention, but it never comes to practice with them. They hear about repentance, but they never repent. They hear about faith, but they never believe. They are good judges of what the gospel is, and yet they have never accepted it for themselves. They will not eat; but still they insist that good bread shall be put on the table. They are great sticklers for the very things which they personally reject. They are moved to feeling; they shed tears occasionally, but still their hearts are not really broken up by the word. They go their way, and forget what manner of men they are. They are rocky-hearted through and through: all our attempts to plough them are failures.

Now this is all the worse, because certain of these rocky-hearted people have been ploughed for years, and have become harder instead of softer. Once or twice ploughing, and a broken share or two, and a disappointed ploughman or two, we might not mind, if they would yield at last; but these have since their childhood known the gospel and never given way before its power. It is a good while since their childhood now with some of them. Their hair is turning grey, and they themselves are getting feeble with years. They have been entreated and persuaded times beyond number, but labour has been lost upon them. In fact, they used to feel the word, in a certain fashion, far more years ago than they do now. The sun, which softens wax, hardens clay, and the same gospel which has brought others to tenderness and repentance has exercised a contrary effect upon them, and made them more careless about divine things than they were in their youth. This is a mournful state of things, is it not?

Why are certain men so extremely rocky? Some are so from a peculiar stolidity of nature. There are many people in the world whom yon cannot very well move, they have a great deal of granite in their constitution, and are more nearly related to Mr. Obstinate than to Mr. Pliable. Now, I do not think badly of these people, because one knows what it is to preach to an excitable people, and to get them all stirred, and to know that in the end they are none the better; whereas some of the more solid and immovable people when they are, moved are moved indeed; when they do feel they feel intensely, and they retain any impression that is made. A little chip made in granite by very hard blows will abide there, while the lashing of water, which is easy enough, will leave no trace even for a moment. It is a grand thing to get hold of a fine piece of rock and to exercise faith about it. The Lord’s own hammer has mighty power to break, and in the breaking great glory comes to the Most High.

Worse still, certain men are hard because of their infidelity—not heart-infidelity all of it, but an infidelity which springs out of a desire not to believe, which has helped them to discover difficulties. These difficulties exist, and were meant to exist, for there would be no room for faith if everything were as plain as the nose on one’s face. These persons have gradually come to doubt, or to think that they doubt, essential truths, and this renders them impervious to the gospel of Christ.

A much more numerous body are orthodox enough, but hard-hearted for all that. Worldliness hardens a man in every way. It often dries up all charity to the poor, because the man must make money, and he thinks that the poor-rates are sufficient excuse for neglecting the offices of charity. He has no time to think of the next world; he must spend all his thoughts upon the present one. Money is tight, and therefore he must hold it tight; and when money brings in little interest he finds therein a reason for being the more niggardly. He has no time for prayer, he must get down to the counting-house. He has no time for reading his Bible, his ledger wants him. You may knock at his door, but his heart is not at home; it is in the counting-house, wherein he lives and moves and has his being. His god is his gold, his bliss is his business, his all in all is himself. What is the use of preaching to him? As well may horses run upon a rock, or oxen drag a plough across a field sheeted with iron a mile thick.

With some, too, there is a hardness, produced by what I might almost call the opposite of stern worldliness, namely, a general levity. They are naturally butterflies flitting about and doing nothing. They never think, or want to think. Half a thought exhausts them, and they must needs be diverted, or their feeble minds will utterly weary. They live in a round of amusement. To them the world is a stage, and all the men and women only players. It is of little use to preach to them: there is no depth of earth in their superficial nature; beneath a sprinkling of shifting, worthless sand lies an impenetrable rock of utter stupidity and senselessness. I might thus multiply reasons why some are harder than others, but it is a well assured fact that they are so, and there I leave the matter.

III. I shall now ask everybody to judge whether the running of horses upon a rock, and the ploughing there with oxen, shall always be continued. I assert that it is unreasonable to expect that God’s servants should always continue to labour in vain. These people have been preached to, taught, instructed, admonished, expostulated with, and advised; shall this unrecompensed work be always performed? We have given them a fair trial; what do reason and prudence say? Are we bound to persevere till we are worn out by this unsuccessful work? We will ask it of men who plough their own farms; do they recommend perseverance when failure is certain? Shall horses run upon the rock? Shall one plough there with oxen? Surely not for ever.

I think we shall all agree that labour in vain cannot be continued for ever if we consider the ploughman. He does not want to be much considered; but still his Master does not overlook him. See how weary he grows when the work discourages him. He goes to his Master with, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" "Why hast thou sent me," says he, "to a people that have ears but hear not? They sit as thy people sit, and they hear as thy people hear, and then they go their way and they forget every word that is spoken, and they obey not the voice of the Lord." See how disappointed the preacher becomes. It is always hard work when you appear to get no forwarder, although you do your utmost. No man, whoever he may be, likes to be set upon work which appears to be altogether a waste of time and effort. To his own mind it seems to have a touch of the ridiculous about it, and he fears that he will be despised of his fellows for aiming at the impossible. Shall it always be the lot of God’s ministers to be trifled with? Will the great Husbandman bid his ploughmen spill their lives for nought? Must his preachers continue to cast pearls before swine? If the consecrated workers are so bidden by their Lord they will persevere in their painful task; but their Master is considerate of them, and I ask you also to consider whether it is reasonable to expect a zealous heart to be for ever occupied with the salvation of those who never respond to its anxiety? Shall the horses always plough upon the rock? Shall the oxen always labour there?

Again, there is the Master to be considered. The Lord—is he always to be resisted and provoked? Many of you have had eternal life set before you as the result of believing in Jesus; and you have refused to believe. It is a wonder that my Lord has not said to me, "You have done your duty with them; never set Christ before them again; my Son shall not be insulted." If you offer a beggar in the street a shilling and he will not have it, you cheerfully put it into your purse and go your way; you do not entreat him to have his wants relieved. But, behold, our God in mercy begs sinners to come to him, and implores them to accept his Son. In his condescension he even stands like a salesman in the market, crying, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." In another place he says of himself, "All day long have I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying generation." If the Lord of mercy has been refused so long in the sight of you who reverence him, does not some indignation mingle with your pity, and while you love sinners and would have them saved, do you not feel in your heart that there must be an end to such insulting behaviour? I ask even the careless to think of the matter in this light, and if they do not respect the ploughman, yet let them have regard to his Master.

And then, again, there are so many other people who are needing the gospel, and who would receive it if they had it, that it would seem to be wise to leave off wearying oneself about those who despise it. What did our Lord say? He said that if the mighty things which had been done in Bethsaida and Chorazin had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented. What is more wonderful still, he says that if he had wrought the same miracles in Sodom and Gomorrah which were wrought in Capernaum, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Does it not occur to us at once to give the word to those who will have it, and leave the despisers to perish in their own wilfulness? Does not reason say, "Let us send this medicine where there are sick people who will value it"? Thousands of people are willing to hear the gospel. See how they crowd wherever the preacher goes—how they tread upon one another in their anxiety to listen to him; and if these people who hear him every day will not receive his message, "in God’s name," saith he, "let me go where there is a probability of finding soil that can be ploughed." "Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plough there with oxen?" Must I work always where nothing comes of it? Does not reason say, let the word go to China, to Hindostan, or to the utmost parts of the earth, where they will receive it; for those who have it preached in the corners of their streets despise it?

I shall not lengthen this argument, but shall solemnly put the question again. Would any of you continue to pursue an object when it has proved to be hopeless? Do you wonder that when the Lord has sent his servants to speak kind, gracious, tender words, and men have not heard, he says to them, "They are joined unto their idols; let them alone"? There is a boundary to the patience of men, and we soon arrive at it; and assuredly there is a limit, though it is long before we outrun it, to the patience of God, "At length," he says, "it is enough. My Spirit shall no longer strive with them." If the Lord says this, can any of us complain? Is not this the way of wisdom? Does not prudence itself dictate it? Any thoughtful mind will say, "Ay, ay, a rock cannot be ploughed for ever."

IV. Fourthly. There must be an alteration, then, and that speedily. The oxen shall be taken off from such toil. It can be easily done, and done soon. It can be effected in three ways.

First, the unprofitable hearer can be removed so that he shall no more hear the gospel from the lips of his best approved minister. There is a preacher who has some sort of power over him; but as he rejects his testimony, and remains impenitent, the man shall be removed to another town, where he shall hear monotonous discourses which will not touch his conscience. He shall go where he shall be no longer persuaded and entreated; and there he will sleep himself into hell. That may be readily enough done; perhaps some of you are making arrangements even now for your own removal from the field of hope.

Another way is to take away the ploughman. He has done his work as best he could, and he shall be released from his hopeless task. He is weary. Let him go home. The soil would not break up, but he could not help that; let him have his wage. He has broken his plough at the work; let him go home and hear his Lord say, "Well done." He was willing to keep on at the disheartening labour as long as his Master bade him; but it is evidently useless, therefore let him go home, for his work is done. He has been sore sick, let him die, and enter into his rest. This is by no means improbable.

Or, there may happen something else. The Lord may say, "That piece of rock shall never trouble the ploughman any more. I will take it away." And he may take it away in this fashion: the man who has heard the gospel, but rejected it, will die. I pray my Master that he will not suffer any one of you to die in your sins, for then we cannot reach you any more, or indulge the faintest hope for you. No prayers of ours can follow you into eternity. There is one name by which you may be saved, and that name is sounded in your ears—the name of Jesus; but if you reject him now, even that name will not save you. If you do not take Jesus to be your Saviour he will appear as your judge. I pray you, do not destroy your own souls by continuing to be obstinate against almighty love.

God grant that some better thing may happen. Can nothing else be done? This soil is rock; can we not sow it without breaking it? No. Without repentance there is no remission of sin. But is there not a way of saving men without the grace of God? The Lord Jesus did not say so; but he said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." He did not hint at a middle course or hold out a "larger hope," but he declared, "He that believeth not shall be damned," and so he must be. Dream not of a back door to heaven, for the Lord has provided none.

What then? Shall the preacher continue his fruitless toil? If there is only half a hope left him, he is willing to go on and say, "Hear, ye deaf, and see, ye blind, and live, ye dead." He will even so speak this day, for his Master bids him preach the gospel to every creature; but it will be hard work to repeat the word of exhortation for years to those who will not hear it.

Happily there is one other turn which affairs may take. There is a God in heaven, let us pray to him to put forth his power. Jesus is at his side, let us invoke his interposition. The Holy Ghost is almighty, let us call for his aid. Brothers who plough and sisters who pray, cry to the Master for help. The horse and the ox evidently fail, but there remains One above who is able to work great marvels. Did he not once speak to the rock, and turn the flint into a stream of water? Let us pray him to do the same now.

And, oh, if there is one who feels and mourns that his heart is like a piece of rock, I am glad he feels it; for he who feels that his heart is a rock gives some evidence that the flint is being transformed. O rock, instead of smiting thee, as Moses smote the rock in the wilderness and erred therein, I would speak to thee. O rock, wouldst thou become like wax? O rock, wouldst thou dissolve into rivers of repentence? Hearken to God’s voice! O rock, break with good desire! O rock, dissolve with longing after Christ, for God is working upon thee now. Who knows but at this very moment thou shalt begin to crumble down. Dost thou feel the power of the Word? Does the sharp ploughshare touch thee just now? Break and break again, till by contrition thou art dissolved, for then will the good seed of the gospel come to thee, and thou shalt receive it into thy bosom, and we shall all behold the fruit thereof.

And so I will fling one more handful of good corn, and have done. If thou desirest eternal life, trust Jesus Christ, and thou art saved at once. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth," says Christ, "for I am God, and beside me there is none else." He that believeth in him hath everlasting life. "Like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."

O Lord, break up the rock, and let the seed drop in among its broken substance, and get thou a harvest from the dissolved granite, at this time, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Spurgeon, C. H. (1882). Farm Sermons. New York: Passmore and Alabaster. (Public Domain)

Good Friday 1605 - Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1605 - Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1605 — Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, and despised the shame; and is set at the right-hand of the throne of God.

St. Luke, though he recount at large our Saviour Christ’s whole story, yet in plain and express terms he calleth the Passion,* θεωρίαν, "a theory or sight," which sight is it the Apostle here calleth us to look unto.

Of our blessed Saviour’s whole life or death, there is no part but is "a theory" of itself, well worthy our looking on; for from each part thereof there goeth virtue to do us good. From each part;—but of all, from the last part, or act of His Passion. Therefore hath the Holy Ghost honoured this last part only with this name, and none but this. This is the "theory" ever most commended to our view. To be looked on He is at all times, and in all acts; but then, and in that act, specially, "when for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, and despised the shame." Then, saith the Apostle, "look unto Him." St. Paul being elsewhere careful to shew the Corinthians, and with them us, Christ; and as to shew them Christ, so to shew them in Christ what that is that specially concerneth them to know or look unto, thus he saith: that though he knew many, very many things besides, yet he "esteemed not to know any thing but Jesus Christ,"* et Hunc crucifixum, Him, "and Him crucified." Meaning respective, as they term it, that the perfection of our knowledge is Christ; and the perfection of our knowledge in or touching Christ, is the knowledge of His Cross and Passion. That the chief "theory." Nay, in this all; so that see this, and see all.

The view whereof, though it be not restrained to any one time, but all the year long, yea all our life long, ought to be frequent with us;—and blessed are the hours that are so spent! yet if at any one time more than other, certainly this time, this day may most justly challenge it. For this day was this Scripture fulfilled, and this day are our ears filled full with Scriptures about it. So that though on other days we employ our eyes otherwise, yet that this day at least we would, as exceeding fitly the Apostle wisheth us, ἀφορᾷν "cast our eyes from other sights," and fix them on this object, it being the day dedicate to the lifting up of the Son of Man on high,* that He may draw every eye unto Him.

The occasion of the speaking is ever the best key to every speech. The occasion then of this speech was this. The Apostle was to encourage the Hebrews, and in them us all, to hold on the well-begun profession of Christ and His faith. This our profession he expresseth in the former verse in the terms of a race or game, borrowing his similitude from the games of Olympus. For from those games, famous then over all the world, and by terms from them taken, it was common to all writers of that age, both holy and human, to set forth, as in the running the laborious course, so in the prize of it, the glorious reward of a virtuous life.

Which race, truly Olympic, because they and we, the most of us, either stand still, or if we remove do it but slowly, and are ready to faint upon every occasion; that we may run the sooner, and attain the better, two sights he sets before us to comfort us and keep us from fainting. One, a cloud of witnesses, in the first verse, that is the Saints in Heaven—witnesses as able to depose this race may be run, and this prize may be won, for they have run the one, and won the other long ago. These look on us now, how well we carry ourselves; and we to look to them, that we may carry ourselves well in the course we have undertaken.

On which cloud when we have stayed our eyes a while, and made them fit for a clearer object, he scattereth the cloud quite, and sets us up a second, even our blessed Saviour His Ownself. And here he willeth us, ἀφορᾷν, "to turn our eyes from them," and to turn them hither, and to fasten them here on Jesus Christ, "the Author and Finisher of our faith." As if he should say; If you will indeed see a sight once for all, look to Him. The Saints, though they be the guides to us, yet are they but followers to Him.* He the Ἀρχηγὸς, "the Arch-guide," the Leader of them and us all—Look on Him. They but well willers to our faith, but neither authors nor finishers of it; He, both. Both Author to call us to it, and set us in it; and Finisher to help us through it, and reward us for it:—Look to Him. Hunc aspicite is the Apostle’s voice, the voice that cometh out of this cloud, for it is the wish of them all, even all the Saints;—Hunc aspicite. At His appearing therefore the cloud vanisheth. There is a time when St. James may say,* "Take, my brethren, the Prophets for an example." But when He cometh forth That said, Exemplum dedi vobis,* "I have given you an example," exemplum sine exemplo, ‘an example above all examples;’ when He cometh in place,* Sileat omnis caro, "Let all flesh keep silence." Let all the Saints,* yea, the Seraphins themselves cover their faces with their wings, that we may look on Him, and let all other sights go.

Let us then turn aside to see this great sight. The principal parts thereof are two: 1. The sight itself, that is, the thing to be seen; 2. and the sight of it, that is, the act of seeing it or looking on it.

The whole verse, save the two first words, is of the object or spectacle propounded. "Jesus the Author, &c." The two first words, ἀφορῶντες εἰς, is the other, the act or duty enjoined.

But as in many other cases,* so here, Et erunt primi novissimi, "the first must be last." For though the act, in the verse, stand foremost, yet in nature it is last, and so to be handled. We must have a thing first set up before our eyes, before we can set our eyes upon it.

Of the object then first: this object is Jesus, not barely, but with His double addition of 1. "the Author," 2. "the Finisher of our faith, Jesus." And in Him more particularly, two theories or sights: 1. Of His Passion; 2. Of His Session. 1. His Passion, in these words: "Who for the joy," &c. 2. His Session, in these; "And is set," &c.

In the Passion, two things He pointeth at: 1. What He suffered, 2. and what moved Him to it. 1. What He suffered; the cross and shame. The cross He endured, the shame He despised. 2. And what moved Him; "for a certain joy set before Him."

Then is to follow the act or duty of looking on this sight, ἀφορῶντες εἰς. 1. Wherein first the two prepositions, 1. Ἀπὸ and 2. Εἰς, "from" and "to:" to look "from," and to look "to." 2. Then the two verbs: 1. One in the verse expressed, that is, ὁρᾷν in ἀφορῶντες. 2. The other of necessity implied, for we have never a verb in all the verse. Ἀφορῶντες is a participle, and but suspendeth the sentence, till we either look back to the verb before; and so it is 1. Ut curramus: or to the verse next after, and so it is 2. Ne fatigemur. In the one is the theory or sight we shall see, thus looking. In the other the praxis of this theory, what this sight is to work in us; and that is a motion, a swift motion, running. So to look on it that we run, and so to run that we faint not.

And if the time will give leave, if our allowance will hold out, then we will take a short view of the session; that He "is set down." Wherein is 1. rest and ease opposed to His cross, where He hung in pain. 2. And in "a throne;" wherein is glory opposed to shame. 3. And "at the right hand of God," wherein is the fulness of both the joy wherein He sitteth, and the joy which was set before Him, and which is set before us.

To give the better aspect to the party Whom he presenteth to our view, that with better will we may behold Him, before he name His Name he giveth Him this double addition, as it were displaying an ensign, proclaiming His style before Him; whereof these two are the two colours, 1. "The Author," 2. "The Finisher of our faith, Jesus."

"Author and Finisher" are two titles, wherein the Holy Ghost oft setteth Him forth, and wherein He seemeth to take special delight. In the very letters, He taketh to Him the name of "Alpha"* the Author, and again of "Omega" the Finisher of the alphabet.* From letters go to words: there is He Verbum in principio,* "the Word at the beginning."* And He is "Amen" too, the word at the end.* From words to books.* In capite libri scriptum est de Me, in the very "front of the book"* He is; and He is Ἀνακεφαλαίωσις, "the Recapitulation," or conclusion of it too. And so, go to persons: there He is Primus and novissimus,* "the first and the last." And from persons to things:* and there He is, "the beginning and the end;" whereof ἀρχὴ, "the beginning," is in Ἀρχηγὸς, the Author; and τέλος, "the end," is in Τελειωτὴς, the Finisher.* The first beginning a Quo, He "by Whom all things are made;" and the last end He, per or propter Quem, "by, for, or through Whom" all things are made perfect.

Both these He is, in all things. And as in all things else, so in faith, whereto they are here applied most fully and fitly of all other. Therefore look not aside at any in Heaven or earth for matter of faith, look full upon Him. He is worth the looking on with both your eyes, He hath matter for them both.

The honour that Zerubbabel had in the material, is no less truly His in the spiritual temple of our faith.* Manus Ejus, "His hands" have laid the corner-stone of our belief, and His hands shall bring forth the head-stone also,* giving us "the end of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls."

Of our faith, and of the whole race of it He is the Author, casting up His glove at the first setting forth. He is the Finisher, holding out the prize at the goal end. By His authority it is our course is begun; we run not without warrant. By His bounty it shall be finished and crowned in the end; we run not in vain, or without hope of reward.

But what is this title to the point in hand? So, as nothing can be more. "Author and Finisher," they are the two points that move us to look to Him. And the very same are the two points wherein we are moved to be like to Him.

To fix our eye, to keep it from straying, to make us look on Him full, He telleth us He is both these. In effect as if He said, Scatter not your sight, look not two ways, as if He I shew you were to begin, and some other make an end. He I shew you doth both.

His main end being to exhort them, as they had begun well, so well to persevere; to very good purpose, He willeth them to have an eye to Him and His example, Who first and last, ἀπὸ φάτνης ἄχρι σταυροῦ, ‘from the cratch to the cross,’* from St. Luke’s time quo cœpit Jesus facere et diocere, "that He began to do and teach,"* to St. John’s time that He cried consummatum est,* gave them not over sed in finem usque dilexit eos, but "to the end loved them." And so must they Him, if they do Him right. Both set out with Him, as "Author" by a good beginning; and hold out with Him, as "Finisher," to a far better end; and follow Him in both Who is both. Were He "Author" only, it would serve to step forth well at the first. But He is "Finisher" too: therefore we must hold out to the last. And not rend one of them from the other, seeing He requireth both—not either, but both—and is indeed Jesus, a Saviour of none but those, that follow Him as "Finisher" too, and are therefore marked in the forehead with Tau the last letter of the Hebrew, as He Himself is Omega, the last of the Greek Alphabet.* This is the party He commendeth to our view; "Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith." For these two to look upon Him, and in these two to be like unto Him.

Our sight then is Jesus, and in Jesus what? you have called us hither, say they in the Canticles, to see your Shulamite;*—"what shall we see in Him?" What? saith the Spouse, but as "the company of an army," that is, many legions of good sights, an ocean or bottomless depth of manifold high perfections. We shall lose ourselves, we shall be confounded to see in Him all that may be shewed us, the object is too great. Two pieces therefore He maketh choice of, and but two, and presenteth Him to our eye in two forms only: 1. As hanging on the cross; 2. as sitting on the throne. 1. His Passion, and 2. His Session; these two. And these two, with very good and perfect correspondence to the two former. By the "cross," He is "Author;" by the "throne," He is "Finisher of our faith." As Man on the "cross," "Author;" as God on the "throne," "Finisher." "Author," on the "cross"—there He paid the price of our admitting. "Finisher," on the "throne"—there He is the prize to us of our course well performed, of the well-finishing our race, the race of our faith.

And sure, with right high wisdom hath the Holy Ghost, being to exhort us to a race, combined these twain. For in these twain are comprised the two main motives, that set all the world on running, 1. love, and 2. hope. The love He hath to us in His Passion on the cross; the hope we have of Him, in His Session on the throne. Either of these alone able to move; but put them together, and they will move us, or nothing will.

1. Love first. What moveth the mother to all the travail and toil she taketh with her child? She hopes for nothing, she is in years, suppose; she shall not live to receive any benefit by it. It is love and love only. Love first.

2. And then hope. What moveth the merchant, and so the husbandman, and so the military man, and so all the rest? All the sharp showers and storms they endure, they love them not. It is hope, and hope only, of a rich return.

If either of these will serve us, will prevail to move us, here it is.* Here is love, love in the cross: "Who loved us, and gave Himself for us, a sacrifice" on the cross. Here is hope,* hope in the throne. "To him that overcometh will I give to sit with Me in My throne." If our eye be a mother’s eye, here is love worth the looking on. If our eye be a merchant’s eye, here is hope worth the looking after. I know it is true, that verus amor vires non sumit de spe;—it is Bernard.* ‘Love if it be true indeed, as in the mother, receiveth no manner strength from hope.’ Ours is not such, but faint and feeble, and full of imperfection. Here is hope therefore to strengthen our weak knees, that we may run the more readily to the high prize of our calling.

To begin then with His love, the love of His Passion, the peculiar of this day. In it we first look to what He suffered, and that is of two sorts. 1. "The cross He endured;" 2. "The shame He despised." 3. And then with what mind, for the mind is worth all; and love in it sheweth itself, if not more, as much as in the suffering itself:—but certainly more. And this is His mind, proposito Sibi gaudio, as cheerfully as if it had been some matter of joy. Of both first, jointly under one. Then severally each by itself.

Two things are to us most precious, 1. our life and 2. our reputation. Pari passu ambulant, saith the lawyer, ‘they go arm in arm,’ and are of equal regard, both. Life is sweet: the cross cost Him His life. Honour is dear: shame bereft Him His honour. In the race which, before us and for us, our blessed Saviour ran, these two great blocks, 1. death, and 2. disgrace were in His way. Neither stayed Him. To testify His love, over both He passed. Put His shoulders under the cross and endured it, to the loss of His life. Set His foot upon shame and despised it, to the loss of His honour. Neither one nor other, life or honour, held He dear, to do us good. O, if we should hazard but one of these two, for any creature living, how much ado would we make of it, and reckon the party eternally obliged to us! Or if any should venture them for us, we should be the better every time we saw him. O that it might be so here! O that we would meet this love with the like measure! Certainly in His Passion, the love of us triumphed over the love of His life and honour both.

One view more of both these under one, and we shall by these two discover two other things in ourselves, for which very agreeable it was He should suffer these two, that by these two of His for those two of ours He might make a full satisfaction. It will shew a good congruity between our sickness and His salve, between our debt and His discharge.

The mother-sin then, the sin of Adam and Eve, and their motives to it, are the lively image of all the after-births of sin, and the baits of sin for ever. Now that which moved them to disobey, was partly pleasure, and partly pride. Pleasure—O the fruit was delightful to see and to taste.* Pride—eritis sicut Dii, it promised an estate equal to the highest. Behold then in His Passion, for our pleasure His pain, and for our pride, His shame and reproach. Behold Him in His patience, enduring pain for our wicked lust; in His humility, having shame poured on Him for our wretched pride.* "The Lord of life,"* suffering death; "The Lord of glory," vile and ignominious disgrace.* Tanquam agnus, saith the Prophet of Him, "as a lamb,"* pitifully slaughtered. Tanquam vermis, saith He of Himself, "as a worm," spitefully trod upon. So, by His enduring pains and painful death, expiating our unlawful pleasure; and by His sustaining shame, satisfying for our shameful pride. Thus may we under one behold ourselves, and our wicked demerits, in the mirror of His Passion. Gregory saith well: Dicendum erat quantum nos dilexit, ne diffidere; dicendum erat et quales, ne superbire et ingrati esse. ‘How greatly He loved us, must be told us, to keep us from distrust; and what we were when He so loved us, must be told us, to hold us in humility, to make us everlastingly thankful.’ Thus far both under one view.

Now are we to part them, to see them apart. We shall have much ado to do it, they are so folded and twisted together. In the cross there is shame, and in shame there is a cross, and that a heavy one.

The cross,* the Heathen termed cruciabile lignum, ‘a tree of torture;’ but they called it also, arborem infælicem, et stipitem infamem, ‘a wretched infamous tree’ withal. So it was in His crown; the thorns pricked Him—there was pain; the crown itself was a mere mockery, and matter of scorn. So in His robe; His purple body underneath in great pain certainly, His purple robe over it, a garment of shame and disgrace. All along the Passion, thus they meet still together. In a word,* the prints of His Passion, the Apostle well calleth stigmata Christi. Both are in that word; not only wounds, and so grievous, but base and servile marks, and so shameful, for so are stigmata. Thus shame and cross, and cross and shame run interchangeably.

Yet since the Holy Ghost doth shew us them severally, so to see them as He shews them. Enduring is the act of patience, and patience hath pain for her object. Despising shame is the property of humility, even of the highest humility; not only spernere se, but spernere se sperni. First then we must see the pain His patience endured—that is meant by the cross; and then see the dispising His humility despised—that is meant by the shame. First then of His cross.

It is well known that Christ and His cross were never parted, but that all His life long was a continual cross. At the very cratch, His cross first began. There Herod sought to do that which Pilate did, even to end His life before it began. All His life after, saith the Apostle in the next verse, was nothing but a perpetual "gainsaying of sinners,"* which we call crossing; and profess we cannot abide in any of our speeches or purposes to be crossed. He was. In the Psalm of the Passion, the twenty-second, in the very front or inscription of it, He is set forth unto us under the term of a hart, cervus matutinus, "a morning hart," that is, a hart roused early in the morning; as from His birth He was by Herod, and hunted and chased all His life long, and this day brought to His end, and as the poor deer, stricken and wounded to the heart. This was His last, last and worst; and this we properly call His cross, even this day’s suffering. To keep us then to our day, and the cross of the day. "He endured the cross."

"He endured." Very enduring itself is durum, durum pati. Especially for persons of high power or place as the Son of God was. For great persons to do great things, is no great wonder; their very genius naturally inclineth to it. But to suffer any small thing, for them is more than to do many great. Therefore the Prophet placeth his moral fortitude, and the Divine his Christian obedience, rather in suffering than in doing. Suffering is sure the more hard of the twain. "He endured."

If it be hard to endure, it must be more hard to endure hard things; and of all things hard to be endured, the hardest is death. Of the philosopher’s πέντε φοβερὰ,* ‘five fearful things,’ it is the most fearful; and what will not a man, nay what will not a woman weak and tender, in physic, in chyrurgery, endure, not to endure death? "He endured" death.

And that if He endured, and no more but that, it might suffice; it is worth all we have, for all we have we will give for our life. But not death only, but the kind of death is it. Mortem, mortem autem crucis, saith the Apostle,* doubting the point; "death He endured, even the death of the cross."

The cross is but a little word, but of great contents; but few letters, but in these few letters are contained multa dictu gravia, perpessu aspera, ‘heavy to be named, more heavy to be endured.’ I take but the four things ascribed by the Holy Ghost to the cross,* answerable to the four ends or quarters of it.* 1. Sanguis Crucis,* 2. Dolores Crucis,* 3. Scandalum Crucis, 4. Maledictum Crucis: that is, the death of the cross is all these four; a 1. bloody, 2. doleful, 3. scandalous, 4. accursed death.

1. Though it be but a cold comfort, yet a kind of comfort it is, if die we must, that our death is mors sicca, a dry, not sanguis crucis, not a bloody death. 2. We would die, when we die, an easy, not ὠδῖνες σταυροῦ, not a tormenting death. 3. We desire to die with credit if it might be; if not, without scandal—scandalum crucis. 4. At leastwise to go to our graves, and to die by an honest, ordinary, and by no means by an accursed death—maledictum crucis. In the cross are all these, all four. The two first are in "the cross," the two latter in "the shame." For "the cross" and "the shame" are in very deed two crosses; the shame, a second cross of itself.

To see then, as in a short time, shortly. That of the poet, nec siccâ morte tyranni,* sheweth plainly, it is no poor privilege to die without effusion of blood. And so it is. 1. For a blessing it is, and our wish it is, we may live out our time, and not die an untimely death. Where there is effusion of blood, there is ever an untimely death.

2. Yet every untimely death is not violent, but a bloody death is violent and against nature; and we desire to pay nature her debt by the way of nature.

3. A violent death one may come to, as in war—sanguis belli best sheweth it—yet by valour, not by way of punishment. This death is penal; not, as all death, stipendium peccati, but, as evil men’s death, vindicta sceleris, an execution for some capital offence.

4. And not every crime neither. Fundetur sanguis is the punishment of treason and other more heinous crimes, to die embrued in their own blood. And even they that die so, die not yet so evil a death as do they that die on the cross. It is another case where it is sanguis mortis, the blood and life go away together at once; another, when it is sanguis crucis, when the blood is shed, and the party still in full life and sense, as on the cross it was; the blood first, and the life a good while after. This is sanguis crucis, an 1. untimely, 2. violent, 3. penal, 4. penal in the highest degree; there bleeding out His blood before He die, and then die.

When blood is shed, it would be no more than needs; shed it would be, not poured out. Or if so, at one part, the neck or throat, not at all parts at once. But here was fundetur, havoc made at all parts; His Passion, as He termeth it, a second baptism, a river of blood,* and He even able to have been baptized in it, as He was in Jordan. And where it would be summa parcimonia etiam vilissimi sanguinis, ‘no waste, no not of the basest blood that is,’ waste was made here. And of what blood? Sanguis Jesu, ‘the blood of Jesus.’ And Who was He? Sure, by virtue of the union personal, God; and so this blood, blood of God’s own bleeding, every drop whereof was precious, more precious than that whereof it was the price, the world itself. Nay, more worth than many worlds; yea, if they were ten thousand. Yet was this blood wastefully spilt as water upon the ground. The fundetur and the Qui here, will come into consideration, both. This is sanguis crucis, and yet this is not all neither; there is more yet.

For the blood of the Cross was not only the blood of Golgotha, but the blood of Gabbatha too. For of all deaths, this was peculiar to this death, the death of the Cross; that they that were to be crucified, were not to be crucified alone, which is the blood of Golgotha, but they must be whipped too before they were crucified, which is the blood of Gabbatha; a second death, yea worse than death itself. And in both these places He bled, and in either place twice. They rent His body with the 1. whips; they gored His head with the 2. thorns—both these in Gabbatha. And again, twice in Golgotha, when they 1. nailed His hands and His feet; when He was 2. thrust to the heart with the spear. This is sanguis crucis. It was to be stood on a little, we might not pass it. It is that whereon our faith depends, per fidem in sanguine Ipsius. By it He is "Author of our faith," faith in God,* and peace with God, both; pacificans in sanguine crucis,* "pacifying all with the blood of the Cross."

Now this bloody whipping and nailing of His, is it which bringeth in the second point of pain; that it was not blood alone without pain, as in the opening of a vein, but it was blood and pain both. The tearing and mangling of His flesh with the whips, thorns, and nails, could not choose but be exceeding painful to Him. Pains, we know, are increased much by cruel, and made more easy by gentle handling, and even the worst that suffer, we wish their execution as gentle, and with as little rigour as may be. All rigour, all cruelty was shewed to Him, to make His pains the more painful. In Gabbatha they did not whip Him, saith the Psalmist,* "they ploughed His back, and made," not stripes, but "long furrows upon it." They did not put on His wreath of thorns, and press it down with their hands, but beat it on with bats, to make it enter through skin, flesh, skull, and all. They did not in Golgotha pierce His hands and feet,* but made wide holes like that of a spade, as if they had been digging in some ditch.

These were pains, and cruel pains, but yet these are not ὠδῖνες, the Holy Ghost’s word in the text; those are properly "straining pains, pains of torture." The rack is devised as a most exquisite pain, even for terror. And the cross is a rack, whereon He was stretched, till, saith the Psalm,* all His bones were out of joint. But even to stand, as He hung, three long hours together, holding up but the arms at length, I have heard it avowed of some that have felt it to be a pain searce credible. But the hands and the feet being so cruelly nailed, parts of all other most sensible by reason of the texture of sinews there in them most, it could not but make His pain out of measure painful. It was not for nothing that dolores acerrimi dicuntur cruciatus,* saith the heathen man, ‘that the most sharp and bitter pains of all other have their name from hence, and are called cruciatus,’ "pains like those of the cross." It had a meaning that they gave Him, that He had for His welcome to the cross, a cup mixed with gall or myrrh, and for His farewell, a sponge of vinegar; to shew by the one the bitterness, by the other the sharpness of the pains of this painful death.

Now, in pain we know the only comfort of gravis, is brevis; if we be in it, to be quickly out of it. This the cross hath not, but is mors prolixa, ‘a death of dimensions, a death long in dying.’ And it was therefore purposely chosen by them. Blasphemy they condemned Him of: then was He to be stoned; that death would have despatched Him too soon. They indicted Him anew of sedition, not as of a worse fault, but only because crucifying belonged to it;* for then He must be whipped first, and that liked them well, and then He must die by inch-meal, not swallow His death at once but "taste" it, as chap. 2:9,* and take it down by little and little. And then He must have His legs and arms broken, and so was their meaning His should have been. Else, I would gladly know to what purpose provided they to have a vessel of vinegar ready in the place,* but only that He might not faint with loss of blood, but be kept alive till they might hear His bones crash under the breaking, and so feed their eyes with that spectacle also. The providence of God indeed prevented this last act of cruelty; their will was good though. All these pains are in the cross, but to this last specially the word in the text hath reference; ὑπέμεινε, which is, He must μένειν ὑπὸ, "tarry, stay, abide under it;" so die that He might feel Himself die, and endure the pains of an enduring death.

And yet all this is but half, and the lesser half by far of cruciatus crucis. All this His body endured. Was His soul free the while? No; but suffered as much. As much? nay more, infinitely much more on the spiritual, than His body did on the material cross. For a spiritual Cross there was too: all grant a Cross beside that which Simon of Cyrene did help Him to bear. Great were those pains, and this time too little to shew how great; but so great that in all the former He never shrunk, nor once complained, but was as if He scarce felt them. But when these came, they made Him complain and cry aloud κραυγὴν ἰσχυρὰν,* "a strong crying." In all those no blood came, but where passages were made for it to come out by, but in this it strained out all over, even at all places at once. This was the pain of "the press"—so the Prophet calleth it, torcular,* where-with as if He had been in the wine-press, all His garments were stained and gored with blood. Certainly the blood of Gethsemane was another manner of blood than that of Gabbatha, or that of Golgotha either; and that was the blood of His internal Cross. Of the three Passions that was the hardest to endure, yet that did He endure too. It is that which belief itself doth wonder how it doth believe, save that it knoweth as well the love as the power of God to be without bounds; and His wisdom as able to find, how through love it might be humbled, as exalted through power, beyond the uttermost that man’s wit can comprehend.

And this is the Cross He endured. And if all this might have been endured, salvo honore, ‘without shame or disgrace,’ it had been so much the less. But now, there is a farther matter yet to be added, and that is shame. It is hard to say of these two, which is the harder to bear; which is the greater cross, the cross or shame. Or rather, it is not hard. There is no mean party in misery, but if he be insulted on, his being insulted on more grieves him than doth the misery itself. But to the noble generous nature, to whom interesse honoris est majus omni alio interesse, ‘the value of his honour is above all value;’ to him the cross is not the cross, shame is the cross. And any high and heroical spirit beareth any grief more easily, than the grief of contemptuous and contumelious usage. King Saul shewed it plainly, who chose rather to run upon his own sword,* than to fall into the hands of the Philistines, who he knew would use him with scorn, as they had done Samson before him.* And even he, Samson too, rather than sit down between the pillars and endure this, pulled down house and all, as well upon his own head, as theirs that so abused him. Shame then is certainly the worse of the twain. Now in his death, it is not easy to define, whether pain or shame had the upper hand; whether greater, cruciatus, or scandalum crucis.

Was it not a foul disgrace and scandal to offer Him the shame of that servile base punishment of the whip, not to be offered to any but to slaves and bondmen? Loris? liber sum,* saith he in the comedy in great disdain, as if being free-born he held it great scorn to have that once named to him. Yet shame of being put out of the number of free-born men he despised, even the shame of being in formâ servi.*

That that is servile, may yet be honest. Then was it not yet a more foul disgrace and scandal indeed to appoint Him for His death that dishonest, that foul death, the death of malefactors, and of the worst sort of them? Morte turpissimâ, as themselves termed it; ‘the most shameful opprobrious death of all other,’ that the persons are scandalous that suffer it? To take Him as a thief, to hang Him between two thieves; nay, to count Him worse than the worst thief in the gaol; to say and to cry, Vivat Barabbas, pereat Christus, ‘Save Barabbas and hang Christ!’ Yet this shame He despised too, of being in formâ malefici.

If base, if dishonest, let these two serve; use Him not disgracefully, make Him not a ridiculum Caput, pour not contempt upon Him. That did they too, and a shame it is to see the shameful carriage of themselves all along the whole tragedy of His Passion. Was it a tragedy, or a Passion trow? A Passion it was, yet by their behaviour it might seem a May-game. Their shouting and outcries, their harrying of Him about from Annas to Caiaphas, from him to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from him to Pilate again; one while in purple, Pilate’s suit; another while in white, Herod’s livery; nipping Him by the cheeks, and pulling off His hair; blindfolding Him and buffeting Him; bowing to Him in derision, and then spitting in His face;—was as if they had not the Lord of glory, but some idiot or dizard in hand. "Died Abner as a fool dieth?" saith David of Abner in great regret. O no.* Sure, our blessed Saviour so died; and that He so died, doth equal, nay surpass even the worst of His torments. Yet this shame also He despised, of being in formâ ludibrii.

Is there any worse yet? There is. For though contempt be had, yet despite is beyond it, as far as earnest is beyond sport; that was sport, this was malice. Despite I call it, when in the midst of His misery, in the very depth of all His distress, they vouchsafed Him not the least compassion; but as if He had been the most odious wretched caitiff and abject of men, the very outcast of Heaven and earth, stood staring and gaping upon Him, wagging their heads, writhing their mouths, yea blearing out their tongues; railing on Him and reviling Him, scoffing at Him and scorning Him; yea, in the very time of His prayers deriding Him, even in His most mournful complaint and cry for the very anguish of His Spirit. These vile indignities, these shameful villanies, so void of all humanity, so full of all despite, I make no question, entered into His soul deeper than either nail or spear did into His body. Yet all this He despised, to be in formâ reprobi. Men hid their faces at this; nay, to see this sight, the sun was darkened, drew back his light, the earth trembled, ran one part from the other, the powers of Heaven were moved.

Is this all? No, all this but scandalum, there is a greater yet remaining than scandalum, and that is maledictum crucis; that the death He died was not only servile, scandalous, opprobrious, odious, but even execrable and accursed, of men held so. For as if He had been a very reprobate, in His extreme drought they denied Him a drop of water, never denied to any but to the damned in hell, and instead of it offered Him vinegar in a sponge; and that in the very pangs of death, as one for whom nothing was evil enough.

All this is but man, and man is but man, his glory is shame oftentimes, and his shame glory; but what God curseth, that is cursed indeed. And this death was cursed by God Himself, His own mouth, as the Apostle deduceth.* When all is said we can say, this, this is the hardest point of His shame, and the highest point of His love in bearing it. Christus factus est maledictum. The shame of a cursed death, cursed by God, is a shame beyond all shames, and he that can despise it, may well say consummatum est, there is no greater left for him to despise. O what contempt was poured upon Him! O how was He in all these despised! Yet He despised them all, and despised to be despised in them all. The highest humility, spernere se sperni; these so many ways, spernere se sperni.

So have we now the cross, ξύλον δίδυμον, ‘the two main bars of it,’ 1. Pain, 2. Shame; and either of these again, a cross of itself; and that double, 1. outward, and 2. inward. Pain, bloody, cruel, dolorous, and enduring—pain He endured. Shame, servile, scandalous, opprobrious, odious—shame He despised. And beside these, an internal cross, the passion of Gethsemane; and an internal shame, the curse itself of the cross, maledictum crucis. Of these He endured the one, the other He despised.

These, all these, and yet there remaineth a greater than all these, even quo animo, ‘with what mind,’ what having in His mind, or setting before His eyes, He did and suffered all this. That He did it not utcunque, but proposito Sibi, ‘with an eye to somewhat He aimed at.’

We handle this point last, it standeth first in the verse. And sure, if this as a figure stand not first, the other two are but ciphers; with it of value, nothing without it.

To endure all this is very much, howsoever it were. So to endure it as to make no reckoning of it, to despise it is more strange than all the rest. Sure the shame was great; how could He make so small account of it? and the cross heavy; how could He set it so light? They could not choose but pinch Him, and that extremely; and how then could He endure, and so endure that He despised them? It is the third point, and in it is adeps arietis, ‘the fat of rams,’ the marrow of the Sacrifice; even the good heart, the free forward mind, the cheerful affection, wherewith He did all this.

There be but two senses to take this ἀντὶ in, neither amiss, both very good, take whether you will. Love is in both, and love in a high measure. Ἀντὶ, even either pro or præ; pro, ‘instead;’ or præ, ‘in comparison.’

Ἀντὶ, pro, "instead of the joy set before Him." What joy was that? Ἐξῆν γὰρ Αὐτῷ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, saith Chrysostom, ‘for He was in the joys of Heaven: there He was, and there He might have held Him.’ Nothing did or could force Him to come thence, and to come hither thus to be entreated. Nothing but Sic dilexit,* or Propter nimiam charitatem quâ dilexit nos; but for it. Yet was He content,* "being in the form of God," ἀντὶ "instead of it," thus to transform,* yea to deform Himself into the shape of a servant, a felon, a fool; nay, of a caitiff accursed. Content to lay down His crown of glory, and ἀντὶ "instead of it," to wear a crown of thorns. Content, what we shun by all means, that to endure,—loss of life; and what we make so great a matter of, that to despise,—loss of honour. All this, with the loss of that joy and that honour He enjoyed in Heaven; another manner joy, and honour, than any we have here; ἀντὶ "for this," or "instead of this."

But the other sense is more praised, ἀντὶ, præ, "in comparison." For indeed, the joy. He left in Heaven was rather περικειμένη than προκειμένη, joy ‘wherein He did already sit,’ than "joy set before Him." Upon which ground, ἀντὶ, they turn præ, and that better as they suppose. For that is, in comparison of a certain joy, which He comparing with the cross and shame and all, chose rather to go through them all than to go without it. And can there be any joy compared with those He did forego? or can any joy countervail those barbarous usages He willingly went through? It seemeth, there can. What joy might that be? Sure none other, but the joy He had to save us, the joy of our salvation. For what was His glory, or joy, or crown of rejoicing, was it not we? Yes truly, we were His crown and His joy. In comparison of this joy He exchanged those joys, and endured these pains; this was the honey that sweetened His gall. And no joy at all in it but this—to be Jesus, "the Saviour" of a sort of poor sinners. None but this, and therefore pity He should lose it.

And it is to be marked, that though to be Jesus, "a Saviour," in propriety of speech be rather a title, an outward honour, than an inward joy, and so should have been præ honore, rather than præ gaudio; yet He expresseth it in the term of joy rather than that of honour, to shew it joyed Him at the heart to save us; and so as a special joy, He accounted it.

Sure, some such thing there was that made Him so cheerfully say to His Father in the Psalm,* Ecce venio, "Lo I come." And to His disciples in earth, This, this is the Passover that desiderio desideravi,* "I have so longed for," as it were embracing and even welcoming His death. And which is more, quomodo coarctor! "how am I pinched, or straitened,"* till I be at it! as if He were in pain, till He were in pain to deliver us. Which joy if ever He shewed, in this He did, that He went to His Passion with Psalms, and with such triumph and solemnity, as He never admitted all His life before. And that this His lowest estate, one would think it, He calleth His exaltation, cum exaltatus fuero.* And when any would think He was most imperfect, He esteemeth and so termeth it, His highest perfection; Tertio die perficior. In hoc est charitas,* "here is love."* If not here, where? But here it is, and that in his highest elevation. That the joys of Heaven set on the one side, and this poor joy of saving us on the other, He quit them to choose this. That those pains and shames set before Him, and with them this joy, He chose them rather than forego this.

Those joys He forsook, and this He took up; and to take it, took upon Him so many, so strange indignities of both sorts; took them and bare them with such a mind, as He not only endured but despised; nor that neither, but even joyed in the bearing of them, and all to do us good. So to alter the nature of things as to find joy in death whereat all do mourn,* and joy in shame which all do abhor, is a wonder like that of the bush.

This is the very life and soul of the Passion, and all besides but the σκελετὸς only, ‘the anatomy,’ the earcass without it.

So have we now the whole object, both what, and with what mind. And what is now to be done? shall we not pause a while and stay, and look upon this "theory" ere we go any farther? Yes, let us. Proper to this day is this sight of the cross. The other, of the throne, may stay yet his time a day or two hence.

We are enjoined to look upon Him. How can we, seeing He is now higher than the heavens, far out of our sight, or from the kenning of any mortal eye? yes, we may for all that. As, in the twenty-seventh of the chapter next before, Moses is said to have seen "Him That is invisible;"* not with the eyes of flesh—so neither he did, or we can; but, as there it is, "by faith." So he did, and we may. And what is more kindly to behold "the Author" of faith, than faith? or more kindly for faith to behold, than her "Author" here at first, and her "Finisher" there at last? Him to behold first and last, and never to be satisfied with looking on Him, Who was content to buy us and our eye at so dear a rate.

Our eye then is the eye of our mind, which is faith; and our aspicientes in this,* and the recogitantes in the next verse, all one; our looking to Him here, is our thinking on Him there; on Him and His Passion over and over again, Donec totus fixus in corde Qui totus fixus in cruce, ‘till He be as fast fixed in our heart as ever He was to His cross,’ and some impression made in us of Him, as there was in Him for us.

In this our looking then, two acts be rising from the two prepositions: one before, ἀπὸ, in ἀφορῶντες, "looking from;" the other after, εἰς, "looking upon, or into."

There is ἀπὸ, "from," abstracting our eye from other objects to look hither sometime. The preposition is not idle, nor the note, but very needful. For naturally we put this spectacle far from us, and endure not either oft or long to behold it. Other things there be, please our eyes better, and which we look on with greater delight. And we must ἀφορᾷν, ‘look off of them,’ or we shall never ὁρᾷν, ‘look upon’ this aright. We must, in a sort, work force to our nature, and per actum elicitum, as they term it in schools, inhibit our eyes, and even wean them from other more pleasing spectacles that better like them, or we shall do no good here, never make a true "theory" of it. I mean, though our prospect into the world be good, and we have both occasion and inclination to look thither oft, yet ever and anon to have an eye this way; to look from them to Him, Who, when all these shall come to an end, must be He that shall finish and consummate our faith and us, and make perfect both. Yea, though the Saints be fair marks, as at first I said, yet even to look off from them hither, and turn our eye to Him from all, even from Saints and all. But chiefly, from the baits of sin, the concupiscence of our eyes, the shadows and shows of vanity round about, by which death entereth at our windows; which unless we can be got to look from, this sight will do us no good, we cannot look on both together.

Now our "theory," as it beginneth with ἀπὸ, so it endeth with εἰς. Therefore look from it, that look to Him; or, as the word giveth it rather, "into Him," than to Him. Εἰς is ‘into,’ rather than ‘to.’ Which proveth plainly, that the Passion is a piece of perspective, and that we must set ourselves to see it if we will see it well, and not look superficially on it; not on the outside alone, but, ὁρᾷν εἰς, ‘pierce into it,’ and enter even into the inward workmanship of it, even of His internal Cross which He suffered, and of His entire affection wherewith He suffered it.

And we may well look into Him; Cancellis plenum est corpus, ‘His body is full of stripes,’ and they are as lattices; patent viscera per vulnera, His wounds they are as windows, through which we may well see all that is within Him. Clavus penetrans factus est mihi clavis reserans,* saith St. Bernard; ‘the nails and spear-head serve as keys to let us in.’ We may look into the palms of His hands, wherein, saith the Prophet,* He hath graven us, that He might never forget us.* We may look into His side, St. John useth the word, "opened." Vigilanti verbo,* saith Augustine, ‘a word well chosen, upon good advice:’ we may through the opening look into His very bowels, the bowels of kindness and compassion that would endure to be so entreated. Yea that very heart of His, wherein we may behold the love of our salvation to be the very heart’s joy of our Saviour.

Thus "looking from," from all else to look "into" Him, what then? then followeth the participle, we shall see. What shall we see? Nay, what shall we not see? What "theory" is there worth the seeing but is there to be seen? To recount all were too long: two there are in especial.

There is a theory medicinal, like that of the brazen serpent, and it serveth for comfort to the conscience, stung and wounded with the remorse of sin. For what sin is there, or can there be, so execrable or accursed, but the curse of the cross; what so ignominious or full of confusion, but the shame of it; what so corrosive to the conscience, but the pains of it; what of so deep or of so crimson a dye, but the blood of it, the blood of the Cross, will do it away? What sting so deadly, but the sight of this Serpent will cure it? This is a principal theory, and elsewhere to be stood on, but not here. For this serveth to quiet the mind, and the Apostle here seeketh to move it and make it stir.

There is then another "theory" besides, and that is exemplary for imitation.* There He died, saith St. Paul, to lay down for us, ἀντίλυτρον, our "ransom;"—that is the former. There He died,* saith St. Peter, to leave unto us ὑπογραμμὸν, relinquens nobis exemplum, "a pattern," an example to follow, and this is it, to this He calleth us; to have a directory use of it, to make it our pattern, to view it as our idea. And sure, as the Church under the Law needed not, so neither doth the Church under the Gospel need any other precept than this one,* Inspice et fac, "see and do according to the theory shewed thee in the mount;" to them in Mount Sinai, to us in Mount Calvary.

Were all philosophy lost, the theory of it might be found there. Were all Chairs burnt, Moses’ Chair and all, the Chair of the Cross is absolutely able to teach all virtue new again. All virtues are there visible, all, if time would serve: now I name only those five, which are directly in the text.

1. Faith is named there; it is, it was most conspicuous there to be seen, when being forsaken of God, yet He claspeth as it were His arms fast about Him, with Eli, Eli, "My God, My God,"* for all that. 2. Patience in "enduring the cross." 3. Humility in "despising the shame." 4. Perseverance, in that it was nothing for Him to be "Author," unless He were "Finisher" too. These four. But above these and all, that which is the 5. ratio idealis of all, the band and perfection of all, love, in the signature of love, in the joy which He found in all this; love, majorem quâ nemo, to lay down His life;* nay, parem cui nemo, in such sort to lay it down. Majorem quâ nemo, to do this for His friends; Parem cui nemo, to do it for His enemies. Notwithstanding their unworthiness antecedent to do it, and notwithstanding their unkindness consequent, yet to do it. This is the chief theory of all, but of love, chiefly, the most perfect of all. For sure, if ever aught were truly said of our Saviour, this was: that being spread and laid wide open on the cross, He is Liber charitatis,* wherein he that runneth by may read, Sic dilexit,* and Propter nimiam charitatem, and Ecce quantam charitatem;* love all over, from one end to the other.* Every stripe as a letter,* every nail as a capital letter. His livores as black letters, His bleeding wounds as so many rubrics, to shew upon record His love toward us.

Of which love the Apostle when he speaketh, he setteth it out with "height and depth,* length and breadth," the four dimensions of the cross, to put us in mind, say the ancient writers, that upon the extent of the tree was the most exact love, with all the dimensions in this kind represented that ever was.

Having seen all these, what is the end and use of this sight? Having had the theory, what is the praxis of this theory? what the conclusion of our contemplation? "Looking into" is a participle; it maketh no sentence, but suspendeth it only till we come to a verb to which it relateth. That verb must be either the verb in the verse before, ut curramus, or the verb in the verse following, ut ne fatigemur; that thus looking we run, or that thus looking we tire not. This is the practice of our theory.

We said the use was, and so we see it is, to move us, or to make us move; to work in our feet, to work in them a motion; not any slow but a swift motion, the motion of running, to "run the race that is set before us." The operation it hath, this sight, is in our faculty motive; if we stand still, to cause us stir, if we move but slowly, to make us run apace; if we run already, never to tire or give over till we do attain. And by this we may know, whether our theory be a true one: if this praxis follow of it, it is; if not, a gaze it may be, a true Christian "theory" it is not.

And here first our ἀφορᾷν, that is, our "looking from," is to work a turning from sin. Sure this spectacle, if it be well looked into, will make sin shall not look so well-favoured in our eyes as it did; it will make us while we live have a less liking to look toward it, as being the only procurer and cause of this cross and this shame. Nay, not only ἀποτρέπειν, ‘to turn our eye from it,’ but ἀποτρέχειν, ‘to turn our feet from it’ too; and to run from, yea to fly from it, quasi a facie colubri, ‘as from the face of a serpent.’

At leastwise, if not to run from it, not to run to it as we have; to nail down our feet from running to sin, and our hands from committing sin, and in a word have St. Peter’s practice of the Passion,* "to cease from sin." This abstractive force we shall find and feel; it will draw us from the delights of sin. And not only draw us from that, but draw from us too something, make some tears to run from us, or, if we be dry-eyed that not them, yet make some sighs of devotion, some thoughts of grace, some kind of thankful acknowledgments to issue from our souls. Either by way of compassion as feeling that He then felt, or by way of compunction as finding ourselves in the number of the parties for whom He felt them. It is a proper effect of our view of the Passion, this, as St. Luke sets it down at the very place where he terms it θεωρίαν,* that they returned from it "smiting their breasts" as having seen a doleful spectacle, themselves the cause of it.

Now as the looking from worketh a moving from, so doth the looking to a moving to.

For first, who is there that can look unto those hands and feet, that head and that heart of His that endured all this, but must primâ facia, ‘at the first sight’ see and say, Ecce quomodo dilexit nos? If the Jews that stood by said truly of Him at Lazarus’ grave,* Ecce quomodo dilexit eum! when He shed but a few tears out of His eyes, how much more truly may it be said of us, Ecce quomodo dilexit eos! for whom He hath "shed both water and blood," yea even from His heart, and that in such plenty? And He loving us so, if our hearts be not iron, yea if they be iron, they cannot choose but feel the magnetical force of this loadstone. For to a loadstone doth He resemble Himself,* when He saith of Himself, "Were I once lift up," omnia traham ad Me. This virtue attractive is in this sight to draw our love to it.

With which, as it were the needle, our faith being but touched, will stir straight. We cannot but turn to Him and trust in Him, that so many ways hath shewed Himself so true to us. Quando amor confirmatur, fides inehoatur, saith St. Ambrose, ‘Prove to us of any that he loves us indeed, and we shall trust him straight without any more ado,’ we shall believe any good affirmed of him. And what is there, tell me, any where affirmed of Christ to usward, but this love of His, being believed will make it credible.

Now our faith is made perfect by "works," or "well-doing,"* saith St. James; it will therefore set us in a course of them. Of which, every virtue is a stadium, and every act a step toward the end of our race. Beginning at humility, the virtue of the first setting out,—"let the same mind be in you,* that was in Christ Jesus, Who humbled Himself,"—and so proceeding from virtue to virtue, till we come to patience and perseverance, that keep the goal end. So saith St. Peter, Modicum passos perficiet, "suffering somewhat,* more or less; some crossing, if not the cross; some evil report, though not shame; so and no otherwise we shall come to our race end, our final perfection."

And as the rest move us if we stand still to run, so if we run already, these two, patience and perseverance—patience will make us for all our encounters, μὴ κάμνειν, saith the Apostle in the next verse,* "not to be weary." Not in our minds, though in our bodies we be; and perseverance will make us, μὴ ἐκλύεσθαι, "not to faint or tire," though the time seem long and never so tedious; both these in the verse following. But hold on our course till we finish it, even till we come to Him, Who was not only "Author," but "Finisher;" Who held out till He came to consummatum est. And so must we finish, not stadium, but dolichum; not like those, of whom it was said, currebatis bene, "ye did well for a start,"* but like our Apostle that said, and said truly, of himself, cursum consummavi,* "I have finished my course, I have held out to the very end."

And in this is the praxis of our first theory or sight of our love. But our love without hope is but faint: that then with better heart we may thus do and bestir ourselves, it will not be amiss once more to lift up our eyes, and the second time to look on Him. We have not yet seen the end, the cross is not the end; there is a better end than so, "and is set down in the throne." As the Prophet saw Him, we have seen Him, in such case as we were ready to hide our faces at Him and His sight. Here is a new sight; as the Evangelist saw Him, so we now may;* even His glory as the "glory of the only-begotten Son of God."* Ecce homo! Pilate’s sight we have seen.* Ecce Dominus et Deus meus! St. Thomas’ sight we now shall. The former in His hanging on the cross, the beginning of our faith. This latter sitting on the throne, the consummation of it.

Wherein there is an ample matter of hope, as before of love, all being turned in and out. He sits now at ease That before hung in pain. Now on a throne, That before on the cross. Now at God’s right hand, That before at Satan’s left. So Zachary saw Him;* "Satan on His right hand," and then must He be on Satan’s left. All changed; His cross into ease, His shame into glory.

Glory and rest, rest and glory, are two things that meet not here in our world. The glorious life hath not the most quiet, and the quiet life is for the most part inglorious. He that will have glory must make account to be despised oft and broken of his rest; and he that loveth his ease better, must be content with a mean condition far short of glory. Here then these meet not; there our hope is they shall, even both meet together,* and glory and rest kiss each the other; so the Prophet calleth it a "glorious rest."

And the right hand addeth yet a degree farther, for dextera est pars potior. So that if there be any rest more easy, or any glory more glorious than other, there it is on that hand, on that side; and He placed in it in the best, in the chiefest, the fulness of them both. At God’s right hand is not only power, power while we be here to protect us with His might outward, and to support us with His grace inward; but at "His right hand also is the fulness of joy for ever," saith the Psalm;* joy, and the fulness of joy, and the fulness of it for evermore.

This is meant by His seat at the right hand on the throne. And the same is our blessed hope also, that it is not His place only, and none but His, but even ours in expectation also. The love of His cross is to us a pledge of the hope of His throne, or whatsoever else He hath or is worth. For if God have given us Christ, and Christ thus given Himself, what hath God or Christ They will deny us? It is the Apostle’s own deduction.*

To put it out of all doubt, hear we His own promise That never brake His word.* "To him that overcometh will I give to sit with Me in My throne." Where to sit is the fulness of our desire, the end of our race, omnia in omnibus; and farther we cannot go. Of a joy set before Him we spoke ere-while: here is now a joy set before us, another manner joy than was before Him; the worse was set before Him, the better before us, and this we are to run to.

Thus do these two theories or sights, the one work to love, the other to hope, both to the well performing of our course; that in this theatre, between the Saints joyfully beholding us in our race, and Christ at our end ready to receive us, we may fulfil our "course with joy," and be partakers of the blessed rest of His most glorious throne.

Let us now turn to Him and beseech Him, by the sight of this day, by Himself first, and by His cross and throne both—both which He hath set before us, the one to awake our love, the other to quicken our hope—that we may this day and ever lift up our eyes and heads, that we may this day and ever carry them in our eyes and hearts, look up to them both; so look that we may love the one, and wait and hope for the other; so love and so hope that by them both we may move and that swiftly, even run to Him; and running not faint, but so constantly run, that we fail not finally to attain the happy fruition of Himself, and of the joy and glory of His blessed throne; that so we may find and feel Him as this day here, the "Author;" so in that day there, the "Finisher of our faith," by the same our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 2). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

The great Duty of Family-Religion

The great Duty of Family-Religion

The great Duty of Family-Religion

Joshua 24:15

As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.

THESE words contain the holy resolution of pious Joshua, who having in a most moving, affectionate discourse recounted to the Israelites what great things God had done for them, in the verse immediately preceding the text, comes to draw a proper inference from what he had been delivering; and acquaints them, in the most pressing terms, that since God had been so exceeding gracious unto them, they could do no less, than out of gratitude, for such uncommon favours and mercies, dedicate both themselves and families to his service. "Now therefore, fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth, and put away the God’s which your fathers served on the other side of the flood." And by the same engaging motive does the prophet Samuel afterwards enforce their obedience to the commandments of God, 1 Sam. 12:24. "Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth; with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you." But then, that they might not excuse themselves (as too many might be apt to do) by his giving them a bad example, or think he was laying heavy burdens upon them, whilst he himself touched them not with one of his fingers, he tells them in the text, that whatever regard they might pay to the doctrine he had been preaching, yet he (as all ministers ought to do) was resolved to live up to and practise it himself: "Chuse you therefore, whom you will serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served, or the Gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

A resolution this, worthy of Joshua, and no less becoming, no less necessary for every true son of Joshua, that is intrusted with the care and government of a family in our day: and, if it was ever seasonable for ministers to preach up, or people to put in practice family-religion, it was never more so than in the present age; since it is greatly to be feared, that out of those many housholds that call themselves christians, there are but few that serve God in their respective families as they ought.

It is true indeed, visit our churches, and you may perhaps see something of the form of godliness still subsisting amongst us; but even that is scarcely to be met with in private houses. So that were the blessed angles to come, as in the patriarchal age, and observe our spiritual oeconomy at home, would they not be tempted to say as Abraham to Abimilech, "Surely, the fear of God is not in this place?" Gen. 20:11.

How such a general neglect of family-religion first began to overspread the christian world, is difficult to determine. As for the primitive christians, I am positive it was not so with them: No, they had not so learned Christ, as falsely to imagine religion was to be confined solely to their assemblies for public worship; but, on the contrary, behaved with such piety and exemplary holiness in their private families, that St. Paul often styles their house a church: "Salute such a one, says he, and the church which is in his house." And, I believe, we must for ever despair of seeing a primitive spirit of piety revived in the world, till we are so happy as to see a revival of primitive family religion; and persons unanimously resolving with good old Joshua, in the words of the text, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

From which words, I shall beg leave to insist on these three things.

I. First, That it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, "Serve the Lord."

II. Secondly, I shall endeavour to shew after what manner a governor and his houshold ought to serve the Lord. And,

III. Thirdly, I shall offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective households, to serve the Lord in the manner that shall be recommended.

And First, I am to shew that it is the duty of every governor of a family to take care, that not only he himself, but also that those committed to his charge, should serve the Lord.

And this will appear, if we consider that every governor of a family ought to look upon himself as obliged to act in three capacities: as a prophet, to instruct; as a priest, to pray for and with; as a king, to govern, direct, and provide for them. It is true indeed, the latter of these, their, kingly office, they are not so frequently deficient in, (nay in this they are generally too solicitous;) but as for the two former, their priestly and prophetic office, like Gallio, they care for no such things. But however indifferent some governors may be about it, they may be assured, that God will require a due discharge of these officers as their hands. For if, as the apostle argues, "He that does not provide for his own house," in temporal things, "has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel;" to what greater degree of apostasy must he have arrived, who takes no thought to provide for the spiritual welfare of his family!

But farther, persons are generally very liberal of their invectives against the clergy, and think they justly blame the conduct of that minister who does not take heed to and watch over the flock, of which the Holy Ghost has made him overseer: but may not every governor of a family, be in a lower degree liable to the same censure, who takes no thought for those souls that are committed to his charge? For every house is as it were a little parish, every governor (as was before observed) a priest, every family a flock: and if any of them perish through the governor’s neglect, their blood will God require at their hands.

Was a minister to disregard teaching his people publicly, and from house to house, and to excuse himself by saying, that he had enough to do work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, without concerning himself with that of others; would you not be apt to think such a minister, to be like the unjust judge, "One that neither feared God, nor regarded man?" And yet, odious as such a character would be, it is no worse than that governor of a family deserves, who thinks himself obliged only to save his own soul, without paying any regard to the souls of his houshold. For (as was above hinted) every house is as it were a parish, and every master is concerned to secure, as much as in him lies, the spiritual prosperity of every one under his roof, as any minister whatever is obliged to look to the spiritual welfare of every individual person under his charge.

What precedents men who neglect their duty in this particular, can plead for such omission, I cannot tell. Doubtless not the example of holy Job, who was so far from imagining that he had no concern, as governor of a family, with my one’s soul but his own, that the scripture acquaints us, "When the days of his childrens feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts; thus did Job continually." Nor can they plead the practice of good old Joshua, whom, in the text, we find as much concerned for his houshold’s welfare, as his own. Nor lastly, that of Cornelius, who feared God, not only himself, but with all his house: and were christians but of the same spirit of Job, Joshua, and the Gentile centurion, they would act as Job, Joshua, and Cornelius did.

But alas! if this be the case, and all governors of families ought not only to serve the Lord themselves, but likewise to see that their respective housholds do so too; what will then become of those who not only neglect serving God themselves, but also make it their business to ridicule and scoff at any of their house that do? Who are not content with "not entering into the kingdom of heaven themselves; but those also that are willing to enter in, they hinder." Surely such men are factors for the devil indeed. Surely their damnation slumbereth not: for although God, in his good providence, may suffer such stumbling-blocks to be put in his childrens way, and suffer their greatest enemies to be those of their own housholds, for a trial of their sincerity, and improvement of their faith; yet we cannot but pronounce a woe against those masters by whom such offences come. For if those that only take care of their own souls, can scarcely be saved, where will such monstrous profane and wicked governors appear?

But hoping there are but few of this unhappy stamp, proceed we now to the

Second thing proposed; To shew after what manner a governor and his houshold ought to serve the Lord.

1. And the first thing I shall mention, is, reading the word of God. This is a duty incumbent on every private person. "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life," is a precept given by our blessed Lord indifferently to all: but much more so, ought every governor of a family to think it in a peculiar manner spoken to himself, because (as hath been already proved) he ought to look upon himself as a prophet, and therefore, agreeably to such a character, bound to instruct those under his charge in the knowledge of the word of God.

This we find was the order God gave to his peculiar people Israel: for thus speaks his representative Moses,Deut. 6:6, 7. "These words," that is, the scripture words, "which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart, and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children," that is, as it is generally explained, servants, as well as children, "and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house." From whence we may infer, that the only reason, why so many neglect to read the words of scripture diligently to their children is, because the words of scripture are not in their hearts: for if they were, out of the abundance of the heart their mouth would speak.

Besides, servants as well as children, are, for the generallty, very ignorant, and mere novices in the laws of God: and how shall they know, unless some one teach them? And what more proper to teach them by, than the lively oracles of God, "which are able to make them wise unto salvation?" And who more proper to instruct them by these lively oracles, than parents and masters, who (as hath been more than once observed) are as much concerned to feed them with spiritual, as with bodily bread, day by day.

But if these things be so, what a miserable condition are those unhappy governors in, who are so far from seeding those committed to their care with the sincere milk of the word, to the intent they may grow thereby, that they neither search the scriptures themselves, nor are careful to explain them to other? Such families must be in a happy way indeed to do their Master’s will, who take such prodigious pains to know it! Would not one imagine that they had turned converts to the Church of Rome; that they thought ignorance to be the mothers of devotion; and that those were to be condemned as heretics who read their Bibles? And yet how few families are there amongst us, who do not act after this unseemly manner! But shall I praise them in this? I praise them not: Brethren, this thing ought not so to be.

2. Pass we on now to the second means whereby every governor and his houshold ought to serve the Lord, family-prayer.

This is a duty, through as much neglected, yet as absolutely necessary as the former. Reading is a good preparative for prayer, as prayer is an excellent means to reading effectual. And the reason why every governor of a family should join both these exercises together, is plain, because a governor of a family should join both these exercises together, is plain, because a governor of a family cannot perform his priestly office (which we before observed he is in some degree invested with) without performing this duty of family prayer.

We find it therefore remarked, when mention is made of Cain and Abel’s offering sacrifices, that they brought them. But to whom did they bring them? Why, in all probability, to their father Adam, who, as priest of the family, was to offer sacrifice in their names. And of ought every spiritual son of the second Adam, who is entrusted with the care of an houshold, to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of supplications and thanksgivings, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, in the presence and name of all who wait upon, or eat meat at his table.

Thus we our blessed Lord behaved, when he tabernacled amongst us: for it is said often, that he prayed with his twelve disciples, which was then his little family. And he himself has promised a particular blessing to joint supplication: "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." And again, "If two or three are agreed touching any thing they shall ask, it shall be give them." Add to this, that we are commanded by the Apostle to "pray always, with all manner of supplication," which doubtless includes family prayer. And holy Joshua, which he set up the good resolution in the text, that he and his houshold would serve the Lord, certainly resolved to pray with his family, which is one of the best testimonies they could give of their serving him.

Besides, there are no families but what have some common blessings, of which they have been all partakers, to give thanks for; some common crosses and afflictions, which they are to pray against; some common sins, which they are all to lament and bewail: but how this can be done, without joining together in one common act of humiliation, supplication, and thanksgiving, is difficult to devise.

From all which considerations put together, it is evident, that family prayer is a great and necessary duty; and consequently, those governors that neglect it, are certainly without excuse. And it is much to be feared, if they live without family prayer, they live without God in the world.

And yet, such an hateful character as this is, it is to be feared, that was God to send out an angel to destroy us, as he did once to destroy the Egyptian first-born, and withal give him a commission, as then, to spare no houses but where they saw the blood of the lintel, sprinkled on the door-post, so now, to let no families escape, but those that called upon him in morning and evening prayer; few would remain unhurt by his avenging sword. Shall I term such families christians or heathens? Doubtless they deserve not the name of christians; and heathens will rise up in judgment against such profane families of his generation: for they had always their houshold gods, whom they worshipped, and whose assistance they frequently invoked. And a pretty pass those families surely are arrived at, who must be sent to school to pagans. But will not Lord be avenged on such profane housholds as these? Will he not pour out his furry upon those that call not upon his name?

3. But it is time for me to hasten to the third and last means I shall recommend, whereby every governor ought with his houshold to serve the Lord, catechizing and instructing their children and servants, and bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

That this, as well as the two former, is a duty incumbent on every governor of an house, appears from that famous encomium or commendation God gives of Abraham: "I know that he will command his children and his houshold after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." And indeed scarce any thing is more frequently pressed upon us in holy writ, than this duty of catechising. Thus, says God in a passage before cited, "Thou shalt teach these words diligently unto thy children." And parents are commanded in New Testament, to "breed up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." The holy Psalmist acquaints us, that one great end why God did such great wonders for his people, was, "to the indent that when they grew up, they should shew their children, or servants, the same." And in Deut. 6 at the 20th and following verses, God strictly commands his people to instruct their children in the true nature of the ceremonial worship, when they should enquire about it, as he supposed they would do, in time to come. And if servants and children were to be instructed in the nature of Jewish rites, much more ought they now to be initiated and grounded in the doctrines and first principles of the gospel of Christ: not only, because it is a revelation, which has brought life and immortality to a fuller and clearer light, but also, because many seducers and gone abroad into the world, who do their utmost endeavour to destroy not only the superstructure, but likewise to sap the very foundation of our most holy religion.

Would then the present generation have their posterity be true lovers and honourers of God; masters and parents must take Solomon’s good advice, and train up and catechise their respective housholds in the way wherein they should go.

I am but of one objection, that can, with any shew of reason, be urged against what has been advanced; which is, that such a procedure as this will take up too much time, and hinder families too long from their worldly business. But it is much to be questioned, whether persons that start such an objection, are not of the same hypocritical spirit as the traitor Judas, who had indignation against devout Mary, for being so profuse of her ointment, in anointing our blessed Lord, and asked why it might not be sold for two hundred pence, and given to the poor. For has God given us so much time to work for ourselves, and shall we not allow some small pittance of it, morning and evening, to be devoted to his more immediate worship and service? Have not people read, that it is God who gives men power to get wealth, and therefore that the best way to prosper in the world, is to secure his favour? And has not our blessed Lord himself promised, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all outward necessaries shall be added unto us?

Abraham, no doubt, was a man of as great business as such objectors may be; but yet he would find time to command his houshold to serve the Lord. Nay, David was a king, and consequently had a great deal of business upon his hands; yet notwithstanding, he professes that he would walk in his house with a perfect heart. And, to instance but one more, holy Joshua was a person certainly engaged very much in temporal affairs; and yet he solemnly declares before all Israel, that as for him and his houshold, they would serve the Lord. And did persons but redeem their time, as Abraham, David, or Joshua did, they would no longer complain, that family duties kept them too long from the business of the world.

III. But my Third and Last general head, under which I was to offer some motives, in order to excite all governors, with their respective housholds, to serve the Lord in the manner before recommended, I hope, will serve instead of a thousand arguments, to prove the weakness and folly of any such objection.

1. And the first motive I shall mention is the duty of gratitude, which you that are governors of families owe to God. Your lot, every must confess, is cast in a fair ground: providence hath given you a goodly heritage, above many of your fellow-creatures; and therefore, out of a principle of gratitude, you ought to endeavour, as much as in you lies, to make every person of your respective housholds to call upon him as long as they live: not to mention, that the authority, with which God has invested you as parents and governs of families, is a talent committed to your trust, and which you are bound to improve to your Master’s honour. In other things we find governors and parents can exercise lordship over their children and servants readily, and frequently enough can say to one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; to a third, Do this, and he doeth it. And shall this power be so often employed in your own affairs, and never exerted in the things of God? Be astonished, O heavens, at this!

Thus did not faithful Abraham; no, God says, that he knew Abraham would command his servants and children after him. Thus did not Joshua: no, he was resolved not only to walk with God himself, but to improve his authority in making all about him do so too: "As for me and my houshold, we will serve the Lord." Let us go and do likewise.

2. But Secondly, If gratitude to God will not, methinks love and pity to your children should move you, with your respective families, to serve the Lord.

Most people express a great fondness for their children: nay so great, that very often their own lives are wrapped up in those of their offspring. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" says God by his Prophet Isaiah. He speaks of it as a monstrous thing, and scarce credible; but the words immediately following, affirm it to be possible, "Yea, they may forget:" and experience also assures us they may. Father and mother may both forsake their children: for what greater degree of forgetfulness can they express towards them, than to neglect the improvement of their better part, and not bring them up in the knowledge and fear of God?

It is true indeed, parents seldom forget to provide for their childrens bodies, (though, it is to be feared, some men are so far sunk beneath the beasts that perish, as to neglect even that) but then how often do they forget, or rather, when do they remember, to secure the salvation of their immortal souls? But is this their way of expressing their fondness for the fruit of their bodies? Is this the best testimony they can give of their affection to the darling of their hearts? Then was Dalilah fond of Samson, when she delivered him up into the hands of the Philistines: then were those ruffians well affected to Daniel, when they threw him into a den of lions.

3. But Thirdly, If neither gratitude to God, nor love and pity to your children, will prevail on you; yet let a principle of common honesty and justice move you to set up the holy resolution in the text.

This is a principle which all men would be thought to act upon. But certainly, if any may be truly censured for their injustice, none can be more liable to such censure, than those who think themselves injured if their servants withdraw themselves from their bodily work, and yet they in return take no care of their inestimable souls. For is it just that servants should spend their time and strength in their master’s service, and masters not at the same time give them what is just and equal for their service?

It is true, some men may think they have done enough when they give unto their servants food and raiment, and say, "Did not I bargain with thee for so much a year?" But if they give them no other reward than this, what do they less for their very beasts? But are not servants better than they? Doubtless they are: and however masters may put off their convictions for the present, they will find a time will come, when they shall know they ought to have given them some spiritual as well as temporal wages; and the cry of those that have mowed down their fields, will enter into the ears of the the Lord of Sabaoth.

4. But Fourthly, If neither gratitude to God, pity to children, nor a principle of common justice to servants, are sufficient to balance all objections; yet let that darling, that prevailing motive of self-interest turn the scale, and engage you with your respective housholds to serve the Lord.

This weighs greatly with you in other matters: be then persuaded to let it have a due and full influence on you in this: and if it has, if you have but saith as a grain of mustard-feed, how can you avoid believing, that promoting family-religion, will be the best means to promote your own temporal, as well as eternal welfare? For "Godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come."

Besides, you all, doubtless, with for honest servants, and pious children: and to have them prove otherwise, would be as great a grief to you, as it was to Elisha to have a treacherous Gehazi, or David to be troubled with a rebellious Absalom. But how can it be expected they should learn their duty, except those set over them, take care to teach it to them? Is it not as reasonable to expect you should reap where you had not sown, or gather where you had not strawed?

Did christianity, indeed, give any countenance to children and servants to disregard their parents and masters according to the flesh, or represent their duty to them, as inconsistent with their entire obedience to their father and master who is in heaven, there might then be some pretence to neglect instructing them in the principles of such a religion. But since the precepts of this pure and undefiled religion, are all of them holy, just, and good; and the more they are taught their duty to God, the better they will perform their duties to you; methinks, to neglect the improvement of their souls, out of a dread of spending too much time in religious duties, is acting quite contrary to your own interest as well as duty.

5. Fifthly and Lastly, If neither gratitude to God, love to your children, common justice to your servants, nor even that most prevailing motive self-interest, will excite; yet let a consideration of the terrors of the Lord persuade you to put in practice the pious resolution in the text. Remember, the time will come, and that perhaps very shortly, when we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; where we must give a solemn and strict account how we have had our conversation, in our respective families in this world. How will you endure to fee your children and servants (who ought to be your joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ) coming out as so many swift witnesses against you; cursing the father that begot them, the womb that bare them, the paps which they have sucked, and the day they ever entered into your houses? Think you not, the damnation which men must endure for their own sins, will be sufficient, that they need load themselves with the additional guilt of being accessary to the damnation of others also? O consider this, all ye that forget to serve the Lord with your respective housholds, "lest he pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you!"

But God forbid, brethren, that any such evil should befal you: no, rather will I hope, that you have been in some measure convinced by what has been said of the great importance of family-religion; and therefore are ready to cry out in the words immediately following the text, "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord;" and again, ver. 21, "Nay, but we will (with our several housholds) serve the Lord."

And that there may be always such a heart in you, let me exhort all governors of families, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, often to reflect on the inestimable worth of their own souls, and the infinite ransom, even the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which has been paid down for them. Remember, I beseech you to remember, that you are fallen creatures; that you are by nature lost and estranged from God; and that you can never be restored to your primitive happiness, till by being born again of the Holy Ghost, you arrive at your primitive state of purity, have the image of God restamped upon your souls, and are thereby made meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light. Do, I say, but seriously and frequently reflect on, and act as persons that believe such important truths, and you will no more neglect your family’s spiritual welfare than your own. No, the love of God, which will then be shed abroad in your hearts, will constrain you to do your utmost to preserve them: and the deep sense of God’s free grace in Christ Jesus, (which you will then have) in calling you, will excite you to do your utmost to save others, especially those of your own houshold. And though, after all your pious endeavours, some may continue unreformed; yet you will have this comfortable reflection to make, that you did what you could to make your families religious: and therefore may rest assured of sitting down in the kingdom of heaven, with Abraham, Joshua, and Cornelius, and all the godly housholders, who in their several generations shone forth as so many lights in their respective housholds upon earth. Amen.

Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain)

The Ploughman

The Ploughman

The Ploughman

"Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?"—Isaiah 28:24.

UNLESS they are cultivated, fields yield us nothing but briars and thistles. In this we may see ourselves. Unless the great Husbandman shall till us by his grace, we shall produce nothing that is good, but everything that is evil. If one of these days I shall hear that a country has been discovered where wheat grows without the work of the farmer, I may then, perhaps, hope to find one of our race who will bring forth holiness without the grace of God. Hitherto all land on which the foot of man has trodden has needed labour and care; and even so among men the need of gracious tillage is universal. Jesus says to all of us, "Ye must be born again." Unless God the Holy Spirit breaks up the heart with the plough of the law, and sows it with the seed of the gospel, not a single ear of holiness will any of us produce, even though we may be children of godly parents, and may be regarded as excellent moral people by those with whom we live.

Yes, and the plough is needed not only to produce that which is good, but to destroy that which is evil. There are diseases which, in the course of ages, wear themselves out, and do not appear again among men; and there may be forms of vice which, under changed circumstances, do not so much abound as they used to do; but human nature will always remain the same, and therefore there will always be plentiful crops of the weeds of sin in man’s fields, and nothing can keep these under but spiritual husbandry, carried on by the Spirit of God. You cannot destroy weeds by exhortations, nor can you tear out the roots of sin from the soul by moral suasion; something sharper and more effectual must be brought to bear upon them. God must put his own right hand to the plough, or the hemlock of sin will never give place to the corn of holiness. Good is never spontaneous in unrenewed humanity, and evil is never cut up till the ploughshare of almighty grace is driven through it.

The text leads our thoughts in this direction, and gives us practical guidance through asking the simple question, "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" This question may be answered in the affirmative, "Yes, in the proper season he does plough all day to sow"; and, secondly, this text may more properly be answered in the negative, "No, the ploughman does not plough every day to sow; he has other work to do according to the season."

I. First, our text may be answered in the affirmative,—"Yes, the ploughman does plough all day to sow." When it is ploughing time he keeps on at it till his work is done; if it requires one day, or two days, or twenty days to finish his fields, he continues at his task while the weather permits. The perseverance of the ploughman is instructive, and it teaches us a double lesson. When the Lord comes to plough the heart of man he ploughs all day, and herein is his patience; and, secondly, so ought the Lord’s servants to labour all day with men’s hearts, and herein is our perseverance.

"Doth the ploughman plough all day?" So doth God plough the heart of man, and herein is his patience. The team was in the field in the case of some of us very early in the morning, for our first recollections have to do with conscience and the furrows of pain which it made in our youthful mind. When we were little children we woke in the night under a sense of sin; our father’s teaching and our mother’s prayers made deep and painful impressions upon us, and though we did not then yield our hearts to God, we were greatly stirred, and all indifference to religion was made impossible. When we were boys at school the reading of a chapter in the Word of God, or the death of a playmate, or an address at a Bible-class, or a solemn sermon, so affected us that we were uneasy for weeks. The strivings of the Spirit of God within urged us to think of higher and better things. Though we quenched the Spirit, though we stifled conviction, yet we bore the marks of the ploughshare; furrows were made in the soul, and certain foul weeds of evil were cut up by the roots although no seed of grace was as yet sown in our hearts. Some have continued in this state for many years, ploughed but not sown; but, blessed be God, it was not so with others of us; for we had not left boyhood before the good seed of the gospel fell upon our heart. Alas! there are many who do not thus yield to grace, and with them the ploughman ploughs all day to sow. I have seen the young man coming to London in his youth, yielding to its temptations, drinking in its poisoned sweets, violating his conscience, and yet continuing unhappy in it all, fearful, unrestful, stirred about even as the soil is agitated by the plough. In how many cases has this kind of work gone on for years, and all to no avail. Ah! and I have known the man come to middle life, and still he has not received the good seed, neither has the ground of his hard heart been thoroughly broken up. He has gone on in business without God: day after day he has risen and gone to bed again with no more religion than his horses, and yet all this while there have been ringing in his ears warnings of judgment to come, and chidings of conscience, so that he has not been at peace. After a powerful sermon he has not enjoyed his meals, or been able to sleep, for he has asked himself, "What shall I do in the end thereof?" The ploughman has ploughed all day, till the evening shadows have lengthened and the day has faded to a close. What a mercy it is when the furrows are at last made ready and the good seed is cast in, to be received, nurtured, and multiplied a hundredfold.

It is mournful to remember that we have seen this ploughing continue till the sun has touched the horizon and the night dews have begun to fall. Even then the long-suffering God has followed up his work—ploughing, ploughing, ploughing, ploughing, till darkness ended all. Do I address any aged ones whose lease must soon run out? I would affectionately beseech them to consider their position. What! Threescore years old and yet unsaved? Forty years did God suffer the manners of Israel in the wilderness, but he has borne with you for sixty years. Seventy years old, and yet unregenerated! Ah, my friend, you will have but little time in which to serve your Saviour before you go to heaven. But will you go there at all? Is it not growing dreadfully likely that you will die in your sins and perish for ever? How happy are those who are brought to Christ in early life; but still remember—

"While the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return."

It is late, it is very late, but it is not too late. The ploughman ploughs all day; and the Lord waits that he may be gracious unto you. I have seen many aged persons converted, and therefore I would encourage other old folks to believe in Jesus. I once read a sermon in which a minister asserted that he had seldom known any converted who were over forty years of age if they had been hearers of the gospel all their lives. There is certainly much need to caution those who are guilty of delay, but there must be no manufacturing of facts. Whatever that minister might think, or even observe, my own observation leads me to believe that about as many people are converted to God at one age as at another, taking into consideration the fact that the young are much more numerous than the old. It is a dreadful thing to have remained an unbeliever all these years; but yet the grace of God does not stop short at a certain age; those who enter the vineyard at the eleventh hour shall have their penny, and grace shall be glorified in the old as well as in the young. Come along, old friend, Jesus Christ invites you to come to him even now, though you have stood out so long. You have been a sadly tough piece of ground, and the ploughman has ploughed all day; but if at last the sods are turned, and the heart is lying in ridges, there is hope of you yet.

"Doth the ploughman plough all day?" I answer,—Yes, however long the day may be, God in mercy ploughs still, he is long-suffering, and full of tenderness and mercy and grace. Do not spurn such patience, but yield to the Lord who has acted towards you with so much gentle love.

The text, however, not only sets forth patience on God’s part, but it teaches perseverance on our part. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Yes, he does; then if I am seeking Christ, ought I to be discouraged because I do not immediately find him? The promise is, "He that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." There may be reasons why the door is not opened at our first knock. What then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I knock all day. It may be at the first seeking I may not find; what then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I seek all day. It may happen that at my first asking I shall not receive; what then? "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then will I ask all day. Friends, if you have begun to seek the Lord, the short way is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." Do that at once. In the name of God do it at once, and you are saved at once. May the Spirit of God bring you to faith in Jesus, and you are at once in the kingdom of Christ. But if peradventure in seeking the Lord, you are ignorant of this, or do not see your way, never give up seeking; get to the foot of the cross, lay hold of it, and cry, "If I perish I will perish here. Lord, I come to thee in Jesus Christ for mercy, and if thou art not pleased to look at me immediately, and forgive my sins, I will cry to thee till thou dost." When God’s Holy Spirit brings a man to downright earnest prayer which will not take a denial, he is not far from peace. Careless indifference and shillyshallying with God hold men in bondage. They find peace when their hearts are roused to strong resolve to seek until they find. I like to see men search the Scriptures till they learn the way of salvation, and hear the gospel till their souls live by it. If they are resolved to drive the plough through doubts, and fears, and difficulties, till they come to salvation, they shall soon come to it by the grace of God.

The same is true in seeking the salvation of others. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Yes, when it is ploughing-time. Then, so will I work on, and on, and on. I will pray and preach, or pray and teach, however long the day may be that God shall appoint me, for—

"’Tis all my business here below
The precious gospel seed to sow."

Brother worker, are you getting a little weary? Never mind, rouse yourself, and plough on for the love of Jesus, and dying men. Our day of work has in it only the appointed hours, and while they last let us fulfil our task. Ploughing is hard work; but as there will be no harvest without it, let us just put forth all our strength, and never flag till we have performed our Lord’s will, and by his Holy Spirit wrought conviction in men’s souls. Some soils are very stiff, and cling together, and the labour is heart-breaking; others are like the unreclaimed waste, full of roots and tangled bramble; they need a steam-plough, and we must pray the Lord to make us such, for we cannot leave them untilled, and therefore we must put forth more strength that the labour may be done.

I heard some time ago of a minister who called to see a poor man who was dying, but he was not able to gain admittance; he called the next morning, and some idle excuse was made so that he could not see him; he called again the next morning, but he was still refused; he went on till he called twenty times in vain, but on the twenty-first occasion he was permitted to see the sufferer, and by God’s grace he saved a soul from death. "Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?" asked some one of a mother. "Because," said she, "I find nineteen times is not enough." Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."

We prize that which costs us labour and service, and we shall set all the higher value upon the saved ones when the Lord grants them to our efforts. It is good for us to learn the value of our sheaves by going forth weeping to the sowing. When you think of the ploughman’s ploughing all day, be moved to plod on in earnest efforts to win souls. Seek—

"With cries, entreaties, tears to save
And snatch them from the fiery wave."

Doth the ploughman plough all day for a little bit of oats or barley, and will not you plough all day for souls that shall live for ever, if saved, to adore the grace of God, or shall live for ever, if unsaved, in outer darkness and woe? Oh, by the terrors of the wrath to come, and the glory that is to be revealed, gird up your loins, and plough all day.

I would beg all the members of our churches to keep their hands on the gospel plough, and their eyes straight before them. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" let Christians do the same. Start close to the hedge, and go right down to the bottom of the field. Plough as close to the ditch as you can, and leave small headlands. What though there are fallen women, thieves, and drunkards in the slums around, do not neglect any of them; for if you leave a stretch of land to the weeds they will soon spread amongst the wheat. When you have gone right to the end of the field once, what shall you do next? Why, just turn round, and make for the place you started from. And when you have thus been up and down, what next? Why, up and down again. And what next? Why, up and down again. You have visited that district with tracts; do it again, fifty-two times in the year—multiply your furrows. We must learn how to continue in well doing. Your eternal destiny is to go on doing good for ever and ever, and it is well to go through a rehearsal here. So just plough on, plough on, and look for results as the reward of continued perseverance. Ploughing is not done with a skip and a jump: the ploughman ploughs all day. Dash and flash are all very fine in some things, but not in ploughing: there the work must be steady, persistent, regular. Certain persons soon give it up, it wears out their gloves, blisters their soft hands, tires their bones, and makes them eat their bread rather more in the sweat of their face than they care for. Those whom the Lord fills with his grace will keep to their ploughing year after year, and verily I say unto you, they shall have their reward. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" Then let us do the same, being assured that one day every hill and valley shall be tilled and sown, and every desert and wilderness shall yield a harvest for our Lord, and the angel reapers shall descend, and the shouts of the harvest-home shall fill both earth and heaven.

II. But, now, somewhat briefly, the text may be answered in the negative. "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" No, he does not always plough. After he has ploughed he breaks the clods, sows, reaps. and threshes. In the chapter before us you will see that other works of husbandry are mentioned, The ploughman has many other things to do beside ploughing. There is an advance in what he does; this teaches us that there is the like on God’s part, and should be the like on ours.

First, on God’s part, there is an advance in what he does. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he goes forward to other matters. It may be that in the case of some of you the Lord has been using certain painful agencies to plough you. You are feeling the terrors of the law the bitterness of sin, the holiness of God, the weakness of the flesh, and the shadow of the wrath to come. Is this going to last for ever? Will it continue till the spirit fails and the soul expires? Listen: "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he is preparing for something else—he ploughs to sow. Thus doth the Lord deal with you; therefore be of good courage, there is an end to the wounding and slaying, and better things are in store for you. You are poor and needy, and you seek water, and there is none, and your tongue faileth for thirst; but the Lord will hear you, and deliver you. He will not contend for ever, neither will he be always wroth. He will turn again, and he will have compassion upon us. He will not always make furrows by his chiding, he will come and cast in the precious corn of consolation, and water it with the dews of heaven, and smile upon it with the sunlight of his grace; and there shall soon be in you, first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear, and in due season you shall joy as with the joy of harvest. O ye who are sore wounded in the place of dragons, I hear you cry, Doth God always send terror and conviction of sin? Listen to this,—"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land," and what is the call of God to the willing and obedient but this, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved"? Thou shalt be saved now, find peace now, if thou wilt have done with thyself and all looking to thine own good works to save thee, and wilt turn to him who paid the ransom for thee upon the tree. The Lord is gentle and tender and full of compassion, he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever. Many of your doubts and fears come of unbelief, or of Satan, or of the flesh, and are not of God at all. Blame him not for what he does not send, and does not wish you to suffer. His mind is for your peace, not for your distress; for thus he speaks—"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned." "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." He has smitten, but he will smile; he has wounded, but he will heal; he has slain, but he will make alive; therefore turn unto him at once and receive comfort at his hands. The ploughman does not plough for ever, else would he reap no harvest; and God is not always heart-breaking, he also draws near on heart-healing errands.

You see, then, that the great husbandman advances from painful agencies, and I want you to mark that he goes on to productive work in the hearts of his people. He will take away the furrows, you shall not see them, for the corn will cover them with beauty. As she that was in travail remembers no more her sorrow for joy that a man is born into the world, so shall you, who are under the legal rod, remember no more the misery of conviction, for God will sow you with grace, and make your soul, even your poor, barren soul to bring forth fruit unto his praise and glory. "Oh!" says one, "I wish that would come true to me." It will, "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" You expect by-and-by to see ploughed fields clothed with springing corn; and you may look to see repentant hearts gladdened with forgiveness. Therefore, be of good courage.

You shall advance, also, to a joyful experience. See that ploughman; he whistles as he ploughs, he does not own much of this world’s goods, but yet he is merry. He looks forward to the day when he will be on the top of the big waggon, joining in the shout of the harvest home, and so he ploughs in hope, expecting a crop. And, dear soul, God will yet joy and rejoice over you when you believe in Jesus Christ, and you, too, shall be brimful of joy. Be of good cheer, the better portion is yet to come, press forward to it. Gospel sorrowing leads on to gospel hoping, believing, rejoicing, and the rejoicing knows no end. God will not chasten all day, but he will lead you on from strength to strength, from glory unto glory, till you shall be like himself. This, then, is the advance that there is in God’s work among men, from painful agencies to productive work and joyful experience.

But what if the ploughing should never lead to sowing; what if you should be disturbed in conscience, and should go on to resist it all? Then God will make another advance, but it will be to put up the plough, and to command the clouds that they rain no rain upon the land, and then its end is to be burned. Oh! man, there is nothing more awful than for your soul to be left to go out of cultivation; God himself giving you up. Surely that is hell. He that is unholy will be unholy still. The law of fixity of character will operate eternally, and no hand of the merciful One shall come near to till the soul again. What worse than this can happen?

We conclude by saying that this advance is a lesson to us; for we, too, are to go forward. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" No, he ploughs to sow, and in due time he sows. Some churches seem to think that all they have to do is to plough; at least, all they attempt is a kind of scratching of the soil, and talking of what they are going to do. It is fine talk, certainly; but doth the ploughman plough all day? You may draw up a large programme and promise great things; but pray do not stop there. Don’t be making furrows all day; do get to your sowing. I fancy that those who promise most perform the least. Men who do much in the world have no programme at first, their course works itself out by its own inner force by the grace of God: they do not propose, but perform. They do not plough all day to sow, but they are like our Lord’s servant in the parable, of whom he saith, "the sower went forth to sow."

Let the ministers of Christ also follow the rule of advance. Let us go from preaching the law to preaching the gospel. "Doth the ploughman plough all day?" He does plough: he would not sow in hope if he had not first prepared the ground. Robbie Flockart, who preached for years in the Edinboro’ streets, says, "It is in vain to sew with the silk thread of the gospel, unless you use the sharp needle of the law." Some of my brethren do not care to preach eternal wrath and its terrors. This is a cruel mercy, for they ruin souls by hiding from them their ruin. If they must needs try to sew without a needle, I cannot help it; but I do not mean to be so foolish myself; my needle may be old-fashioned, but it is sharp, and when it carries with it the silken thread of the gospel, I am sure good work is done by it. You cannot get a harvest if you are afraid of disturbing the soil, nor can you save souls if you never warn them of hell fire. We must tell the sinner what God has revealed about sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Still, brethren, we must not plough all day. No, no, the preaching of the law is only preparatory to the preaching of the gospel. The stress of our business lies in proclaiming glad tidings. We are not followers of John the Baptist, but of Jesus Christ; we are not rugged prophets of woe, but joyful heralds of grace. Be not satisfied with revival services, and stirring appeals, but preach the doctrines of grace so as to bring out the full compass of covenant truth. Ploughing has had its turn, now for planting and watering. Reproof may now give place to consolation. We are first to make disciples of men, and then to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Jesus has commanded us. We must pass on from the rudiments to the higher truths, from laying foundations to further upbuilding.

And now, another lesson to those of you who are as yet hearers and nothing more. I want you to go from ploughing to something better, namely, from hearing and fearing to believing. How many years some of you have been hearing the gospel! Do you mean to continue in that state for ever? Will you never believe in him of whom you hear so much? You have been stirred up a good deal; the other night you went home almost broken-hearted; I should think you are ploughed enough by this time; and yet you have not received the seed of eternal life, for you have not believed in the Lord Jesus. It is dreadful to be always on the brink of everlasting life, and yet never to be alive. It will be an awful thing to be almost in heaven, and yet for ever shut out. It is a wretched thing to rush into a railway-station just in time to see the train steaming out; I had much rather be half-an-hour behind time. To lose a train by half-a-second is most annoying. Alas, if you go on as you have done for years, you will have your hand on the latch of heaven and yet be shut out. You will be within a hair’s breadth of glory, and yet be covered with eternal shame. O beware of being so near to the kingdom, and yet lost; almost, but not altogether saved. God grant that you may not be among those who are ploughed, and ploughed, and ploughed, and yet never sown. It will be of no avail at the last to cry, "Lord, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. We had a seat at the chapel, we attended the services on week-nights as well as on Sundays, we went to prayer-meetings, we joined a Bible-class, we distributed tracts, we subscribed our guinea to the funds, we gave up every open sin, we used a form of prayer, and read a chapter of the Bible every day." All these things may be done, and yet there may be no saving faith in the Lord Jesus. Take heed lest your Lord should answer, "With all this, your heart never came to me; therefore, depart from me, I never knew you." If Jesus once knows a man he always knows him. He can never say to me, "I never knew you," for he has known me as his poor dependent, a beggar for years at his door. Some of you have been all that is good except that you never came into contact with Christ, never trusted him, never knew him. Ah me, how sad your state! Will it be always so?

Lastly, I would say to you who are being ploughed, and are agitated about your souls, Go at once to the next stage of believing. Oh! if people did but know how simple a thing believing is, surely they would believe. Alas, they do not know it, and it becomes all the more difficult to them because in itself it is so easy. The difficulty of believing lies in there being no difficulty in it. "If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not have done it?" Oh, yes, you would have done it, and you would have thought it easy too; but when he simply says, "Wash, and be clean," there is a difficulty with pride and self. If you can truly say that you are willing to abase your pride, and do anything which the Lord bids you, then I pray you understand that there is no further preparation required, and believe in Jesus at once. May the Holy Spirit make you sick of self, and ready to accept the gospel. The word is nigh thee, let it be believed; it is in thy mouth, let it be swallowed down; it is in thy heart, let it be trusted. With your heart believe in Jesus, and with your mouth make confession of him, and you shall be saved. A main part of faith lies in the giving up of all other confidences. O give up at once every false hope. I tried once to show what faith was by quoting Dr. Watts’ lines:—

"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
On thy kind arms I fall.
Be thou my strength, and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all."

I tried to represent faith as falling into Christ’s arms, and I thought I made it so plain that the wayfaring man could not err therein. When I had finished preaching, a young man came to me and said, "But, sir, I cannot fall upon Christ’s arms." I replied at once, "Tumble into them anyhow; faint away into Christ’s arms, or die into Christ’s arms, so long as you get there." Many talk of what they can do and what they cannot do, and I fear they miss the vital point. Faith is leaving off can-ing and cannot-ing, and leaving it all to Christ, for he can do all things, though you can do nothing. "Doth the ploughman plough all day to sow?" No, he makes progress, and goes from ploughing to sowing. Go, and do thou likewise: sow unto the Spirit the precious seed of faith in Christ, and the Lord will give thee a joyous harvest.

Good Friday 1604 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1604 - Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1604 — Biship Lancelot Andrewes

Lamentations 1:12

Have ye no regard, O all ye that pass by the way? Consider, and behold, if ever there were sorrow like My sorrow, which was done unto Me, wherewith the Lord did afflict Me in the day of the fierceness of His wrath.

At the very reading or hearing of which verse, there is none but will presently conceive, it is the voice of a party in great extremity. In great extremity two ways: 1. First, in such distress as never was any, "If ever there were sorrow like My sorrow;" 2. And then in that distress, having none to regard Him; "Have ye no regard, all ye?"

To be afflicted, and so afflicted as none ever was, is very much. In that affliction, to find none to respect him or care for him, what can be more? In all our sufferings, it is a comfort to us that we have a sicut;* that nothing has befallen us, but such as others have felt the like. But here, si fuerit sicut; "If ever the like were"—that is, never the like was.

Again, in our greatest pains it is a kind of ease, even to find some regard. Naturally we desire it, if we cannot be delivered,* if we cannot be relieved, yet to be pitied. It sheweth there be yet some that are touched with the sense of our misery, that wish us well, and would give us ease if they could. But this Afflicted here findeth not so much, neither the one nor the other; but is even as He were an out-cast both of Heaven and earth. Now verily an heavy case, and worthy to be put in this book of Lamentations.

I demand then, "Of whom speaketh the Prophet this? of himself, or of some other?" This I find; there is not any of the ancient writers but do apply, yea in a manner appropriate, this speech to our Saviour Christ. And that this very day, the day of His Passion, truly termed here the day of God’s wrath, and wheresoever they treat of the Passion, ever this verse cometh in. And to say the truth, to take the words strictly as they lie, they cannot agree, or be verified of any but of Him, and Him only. For though some other, not unfitly, may be allowed to say the same words, it must be in a qualified sense; for in full and perfect propriety of speech, He and none but He. None can say, neither Jeremy, nor any other, si fuerit dolor Meus, as Christ can; no day of wrath like to His day, no sorrow to be compared to His, all are short of it, nor His to any, it exceedeth them all.

And yet, according to the letter, it cannot be denied but they be set down by Jeremy in the person of his own people, being then come to great misery; and of the holy city, then laid waste and desolate by the Chaldees.* What then? Ex Ægypto vocavi Filium Meum, "out of Egypt have I called My Son,"* was literally spoken of this people too, yet is by the Evangelist applied to our Saviour Christ.* "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" at the first uttered by David; yet the same words our Saviour taketh Himself,* and that more truly and properly, than ever David could; and of those of David’s, and of these of Jeremy’s, there is one and the same reason.

Of all which the ground is that correspondence which is between Christ, and the Patriarchs, Prophets, and people before Christ,* of whom the Apostle’s rule is, omnia in figurâ contingebant illis; "that they were themselves types," and their sufferings forerunning figures of the great suffering of the Son of God. Which maketh Isaac’s offering, and Joseph’s selling, and Israel’s calling from Egypt, and that complaint of David’s, and this of Jeremy’s, appliable to Him; that He may take them to Himself, and the Church ascribe them to Him, and that in more fitness of terms, and more fulness of truth, than they were at the first spoken by David, or Jeremy, or any of them all.

And this rule, and the steps of the Fathers proceeding by this rule, are to me a warrant to expound and apply this verse, as they have done before, to the present occasion of this time; which requireth some such Scripture to be considered by us as doth belong to His Passion, Who this day poured out His most precious Blood, as the only sufficient price of the dear purchase of all our redemptions.

Be it then to us, as to them it was, and as most properly it is, the speech of the Son of God, as this day hanging on the cross, to a sort of careless people, that go up and down without any manner of regard of these His sorrows and sufferings, so worthy of all regard. "Have ye no regard? O all ye that pass by the way, consider and behold, if ever there were sorrow like to my sorrow, which was done unto me, wherewith the Lord afflicted me in the day of the fierceness of His wrath."

Here is a complaint, and here is a request. A complaint that we have not, a request that we would have the pains and Passions of our Saviour Christ in some regard. For first He complaineth, and not without cause, "Have ye no regard?" And then, as willing to forget their former neglect, so they will yet do it, He falleth to entreat, "O consider and behold!"

And what is that we should consider? The sorrow which He suffereth, and in it two things; the quality, and the cause. 1. The quality, Si fuerit sicut; ‘if ever the like were;’ and that either in respect of Dolor, or Dolor Meus, ‘the sorrow suffered,’ or ‘the Person suffering.’ 2. The cause: that is God That in His wrath, in His fierce wrath, doth all this to Him. Which cause will not leave us, till it have led us to another cause in ourselves, and to another yet in Him; all which serve to ripen us to regard.

These two then specially we are moved to regard. 1. Regard is the main point. But because therefore we regard but faintly, because either we consider not, or not aright, we are called to consider seriously of them. As if He should say, Regard you not? If you did consider, you would; if you considered as you should, you would regard as you ought. Certainly the Passion, if it were throughly considered, would be duly regarded. Consider then.

So the points are two: 1. The quality, and 2. the cause of His suffering. And the duties two: 1. To consider, and regard; 2. So to consider that we regard them, and Him for them.

"Have ye no regard," &c.? To ease this complaint, and to grant this request, we are to regard; and that we may regard, we are to consider the pains of His Passion. Which, that we may reckon no easy common matter of light moment, to do or not to do as we list; first, a general stay is made of all passengers, this day. For, as it were from His cross, doth our Saviour address this His speech to them that go to and fro, the day of His Passion, without so much as entertaining a thought, or vouchsafing a look that way. O vos qui transitis! "O you that pass by the way," stay and consider. To them frameth He His speech, that pass by; to them, and to them all, O vos omnes, qui transitis, "O all ye that pass by the way, stay and consider."

Which very stay of His sheweth it to be some important matter, in that it is of all. For, as for some to be stayed, and those the greater some, there may be reason; the most part of those that go thus to and fro, may well intend it, they have little else to do. But to except none, not some special person, is hard. What know we their haste? their occasions may be such, and so urgent, as they cannot stay. Well, what haste, what business soever, pass not by, stay though. As much to say as, Be they never so great, your occasions; they are not, they cannot be so great as this. How urgent soever, this is more, and more to be intended. The regard of this is worthy the staying of a journey. It is worth the considering of those, that have never so great affairs in hand. So material is this sight in His account. Which serveth to shew the exigence of this duty. But as for this point, it needeth not be stood upon to us here at this time; we are not going by, we need not be stayed, we have stayed all other our affairs to come hither, and here we are all present before God, to have it set before us, that we may consider it. Thither then let us come.

That which we are called to behold and consider, is His sorrow. And sorrow is a thing which of itself nature inclineth us to behold,* "as being ourselves in the body," which may be one day in the like sorrowful ease. Therefore will every good eye turn itself, and look upon them that lie in distress.* Those two in the Gospel that passed by the wounded man, before they passed by him, though they helped him not as the Samaritan did, yet they looked upon him as he lay.* But, this party here lieth not, He is lift up as the serpent in the wilderness, that unless we turn our eyes away purposely, we can neither will nor choose but behold Him.

But because, to behold and not to consider is but to gaze, and gazing the Angel blameth in the Apostles themselves,* we must do both—both "behold" and "consider;" look upon with the eye of the body, that is "behold;" and look into with the eye of the mind, that is "consider." So saith the Prophet here. And the very same doth the Apostle advise us to do. First, ἀφορᾷν, to look upon Him, that is, to "behold,"* and then ἀναλογίζεσθαι, to think upon Him, that is, to "consider" His sorrow. Sorrow sure would be considered.

Now then, because as the quality of the sorrow is, accordingly it would be considered—for if it be but a common sorrow the less will serve, but if it be some special, some very heavy ease, the more would be allowed it; for proportionably with the suffering, the consideration is to arise;—to raise our consideration to the full, and to elevate it to the highest point, there is upon His sorrow set a si fuerit sicut, a note of highest eminency; for si fuerit sicut, are words that have life in them, and are able to quicken our consideration, if it be not quite dead; for by them we are provoked, as it were, to "consider," and considering to see whether ever any sicut may be found to set by it, whether ever any like it.

For if never any, our nature is to regard things exceeding rare and strange; and such as the like whereof is not else to be seen. Upon this point then, there is a ease made, as if He should say, ‘if ever the like, regard not this;’ but if never any, be like yourselves in other things, and vouchsafe this, if not your chiefest, yet some regard.

To enter this comparison, and to shew it for such. That are we to do, three sundry ways; for three sundry ways, in three sundry words, are these sufferings of His here expressed, all three within the compass of the verse.

The first is מכאוב, Mac-ob, which we read "sorrow," taken from a wound or stripe, as all do agree.

The second is עולל, Gholcl; we read "Done to me," taken from a word that signifieth melting in a furnace, as St. Hierome noteth out of the Chaldee, who so translateth it.

The third is הוגה, Hoga, where we read afflicted, from a word which importeth renting off, or bereaving. The old Latin turneth it Vindemiavit me, as a vine whose fruit is all plucked off. The Greek, with Theodoret, ἀπεφύλλισέ με, as a vine or tree whose leaves are all beaten off, and is left naked and bare.

In these three are comprised His sufferings—wounded, melted, and bereft leaf and fruit, that is, all manner of comfort.

Of all that is penal, or can be suffered, the common division is, sensus et damni, grief for that we feel, or for that we forego. For that we feel in the two former, wounded in body, melted in soul; for that we forego in the last, bereft all, left neither fruit nor so much as a leaf to hang on Him.

According to these three, to consider His sufferings, and to begin first with the first. The pains of His body, His wounds and His stripes.

Our very eye will soon tell us no place was left in His body, where He might be smitten and was not. His skin and flesh rent with the whips and scourges, His hands and feet wounded with the nails, His head with the thorns, His very heart with the spear-point; all His senses, all His parts laden with whatsoever wit or malice could invent. His blessed body given as an anvil to be beaten upon with the violent hands of those barbarous miscreants, till they brought Him into this case of si fuerit sicut.* For Pilate’s Ecce Homo! his shewing Him with an Ecce, as if He should say, Behold, look if ever you saw the like rueful spectacle; this very shewing of his sheweth plainly, He was then come into woeful plight—so woeful as Pilate verily believed His very sight so pitiful, as it would have moved the hardest heart of them all to have relented and said, This is enough, we desire no more. And this for the wounds of His body, for on this we stand not.

In this one peradventure some sicut may be found, in the pains of the body; but in the second, the sorrow of the soul, I am sure, none. And indeed, the pain of the body is but the body of pain; the very soul of sorrow and pain is the soul’s sorrow and pain. Give me any grief, save the grief of the mind,* saith the Wise Man; for, saith Solomon, "The spirit of a man will sustain all his other infirmities, but a wounded spirit, who can bear?" And of this, this of His soul, I dare make a ease, Si fuerit sicut.

"He began to be troubled in soul,"* saith St. John; "to be in an agony,"* saith St. Luke; "to be in anguish of mind and deep distress,"* saith St. Mark. To have His soul round about on every side environed with sorrow,* and that sorrow to the death. Here is trouble, anguish, agony, sorrow, and deadly sorrow; but it must be such, as never the like: so it was too.

The estimate whereof we may take from the second word of melting,* that is, from His sweat in the garden; strange, and the like whereof was never heard or seen.

No manner violence offered Him in body, no man touching Him or being near Him; in a cold night, for they were fain to have a fire within doors, lying abroad in the air and upon the cold earth, to be all of a sweat, and that sweat to be blood; and not as they call it diaphoreticus, ‘a thin faint sweat,’ but grumosus, ‘of great drops;’ and those so many, so plenteous, as they went through His apparel and all; and through all streamed to the ground, and that in great abundance;—read, enquire, and consider, si fuerit sudor sicut sudor iste; ‘if ever there were sweat like this sweat of His.’ Never the like sweat certainly, and therefore never the like sorrow. Our translation is, "Done unto Me;" but we said the word properly signifieth, and so S. Hierome and the Chaldee paraphrast read it, "melted Me." And truly it should seem by this fearful sweat of His He was near some furnace, the feeling whereof was able to cast Him into that sweat, and to turn His sweat into drops of blood. And sure it was so; for see, even in the very next words of all to this verse, He complaineth of it;* Ignem misit in ossibus meis, "that a fire was sent into His bones" which melted Him, and made that bloody sweat to distil from Him. That hour, what His feelings were, it is dangerous to define; we know them not, we may be too bold to determine of them. To very good purpose it was, that the ancient Fathers of the Greek Church in their Liturgy, after they have recounted all the particular pains, as they are set down in His Passion, and by all, and by every one of them, called for mercy, do after all shut up all with this, Διʼ ἀγνωστῶν κόπων καὶ βασάνων ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς, ‘By Thine unknown sorrows and sufferings, felt by Thee, but not distinctly known by us, Have mercy upon us, and save us!’

Now, though this suffice not, nothing near, yet let it suffice, the time being short, for His pains of body and soul. For those of the body, it may be some may have endured the like; but the sorrows of His soul are unknown sorrows, and for them none ever have, ever have or ever shall suffer the like, the like, or near the like in any degree.

And now to the third. It was said before, to be in distress, such distress as this was, and to find none to comfort, nay not so much as to regard Him, is all that can be said to make His sorrow a non sicut. Comfort is it by which, in the midst of all our sorrows, we are confortati, that is strengthened and made the better able to bear them all out. And who is there, even the poorest creature among us, but in some degree findeth some comfort, or some regard at some body’s hands? For if that be not left, the state of that party is here in the third word said to be like the tree, whose leaves and whose fruit are all beaten off quite, and itself left bare and naked both of the one and of the other.

And such was our Saviour’s case in these His sorrows this day, and that so as what is left the meanest of the sons of men, was not left Him, not a leaf. Not a leaf! Leaves I may well call all human comforts and regards, whereof He was then left clean desolate.* 1. "His own," they among whom He had gone about all His life long, healing them, teaching them, feeding them, doing them all the good He could, it is they that cry, "Not Him, no, but Barabbas rather;" "away with Him," "His blood be upon us and our children." It is they that in the midst of His sorrows shake their head at Him,* and cry,* "Ah, thou wretch;" they that in His most disconsolate estate cry Eli,* Eli, in most barbarous manner, deride Him and say,* "Stay, and you shall see Elias come presently and take Him down." And this was their regard.

But these were but withered leaves. They then that on earth were nearest Him of all, the greenest leaves and likest to hang on, and to give Him some shade; even of them some bought and sold Him, others denied and forswore Him, but all fell away, and forsook Him. Ἀπεφύλλισέ με, saith Theodoret, not a leaf left.

But leaves are but leaves, and so are all earthly stays. The fruit then, the true fruit of the Vine indeed, the true comfort in all heaviness, is desuper, ‘from above,’ is divine consolation. But Vindemiavit Me, saith the Latin text;—even that was, in this His sorrow, this day bereft Him too. And that was His most sorrowful complaint of all others; not that His friends upon earth, but that His Father from Heaven had forsaken Him; that neither Heaven nor earth yielded Him any regard, but that between the passioned powers of His soul, and whatsoever might any ways refresh Him, there was a traverse drawn, and He left in the state of a weather-beaten tree, all desolate and forlorn. Evident, too evident, by that His most dreadful cry, which at once moved all the powers in Heaven and earth,* "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Weigh well that cry, consider it well, and tell me, si fuerit clamor sicut clamor iste, ‘if ever there were cry like that of His:’ never the like cry, and therefore never the like sorrow.

It is strange, very strange, that of none of the martyrs the like can be read, who yet endured most exquisite pains in their martyrdoms; yet we see with what courage, with what cheerfulness, how even singing, they are reported to have passed through their torments. Will ye know the reason? St. Augustine setteth it down: martyres non eripuit, sed nunquid deseruit? ‘He delivered not His martyrs, but did He forsake them?’ He delivered not their bodies, but He forsook not their souls, but distilled into them the dew of His heavenly comfort, an abundant supply for all they could endure. Not so here. Vindemiavit Me, saith the Prophet; Dereliquisti Me, saith He Himself;—no comfort, no supply at all.

Leo it is that first said it, and all antiquity allow of it, Non solvit unionem, sed subtraxit visionem.* ‘The union was not dissolved: true, but the beams, the influence was restrained,’ and for any comfort from thence His soul was even as a scorched heath-ground, without so much as any drop of dew of divine comfort; as a naked tree—no fruit to refresh Him within, no leaf to give Him shadow without; the power of darkness let loose to afflict Him, the influence of comfort restrained to relieve Him. It is a non sicut this, it cannot be expressed as it should, and as other things may; in silence we may admire it, but all our words will not reach it. And though to draw it so far as some do, is little better than blasphemy, yet on the other side to shrink it so short as other some do, cannot be but with derogation to His love, Who, to kindle our love and loving regard, would come to a non sicut in His suffering; for so it was, and so we must allow it to be. This, in respect of His passion, Dolor.

Now in respect of His Person, Dolor Meus. Whereof, if it please you to take a view even of the Person thus wounded, thus afflicted and forsaken, you shall then have a perfect non sicut. And indeed the Person is here a weighty circumstance, it is thrice repeated—Meus, Mihi, Me, and we may not leave it out. For as is the Person, so is the Passion; and any one, even the very least degree of wrong or disgrace, offered to a person of excellency, is more than a hundred times more to one of mean condition; so weighty is the circumstance of the person. Consider then how great the Person was; and I rest fully assured here we boldly challenge and say, si fuerit sicut.

Ecce Homo! saith Pilate first: a Man He is as we are, and were He but a Man,* nay, were He not a Man, but some poor dumb creature, it were great ruth to see Him so handled as He was.

"A Man," saith Pilate, and a "just Man," saith Pilate’s wife. "Have thou nothing to do with that just Man."* And that is one degree farther. For though we pity the punishment even of malefactors themselves, yet ever most compassion we have of them that suffer and be innocent.* And He was innocent; Pilate and Herod, and "the prince of this world,"* His very enemies, being His judges.

Now among the innocent, the more noble the person, the more heavy the spectacle. And never do our bowels yearn so much as over such.* "Alas, alas for that noble Prince," saith this Prophet;—the style of mourning for the death of a great personage. And He that suffered here is such, even a principal Person among the sons of men, of the race royal, descended from Kings.* Pilate styled Him so in his title, and he would not alter it.

Three degrees. But yet we are not at our true quantus. For He is yet more, more than the highest of the sons of men, for He is the Son of the Most High God. Pilate saw no farther but Ecce Homo!* the centurion did, vere Filius Dei erat Hic,* "now truly This was the Son of God." And here all words forsake us, and every tongue becometh speechless.

We have no way to express it but a minore ad majus;—thus. Of this book, the book of Lamentations, one special occasion was the death of King Josias; but behold a greater than Josias is here.

Of King Josias, as a special reason of mourning, the Prophet saith,* Spiritus oris nostri, christus Domini, "the very breath of our nostrils, the Lord’s anointed," for so are all good Kings in their subjects’ accounts, he is gone. But behold, here is not christus Domini, but Christus Dominus, "the Lord’s christ,"* but the "Lord Christ Himself;" and that not coming to an honourable death in battle as Josias did, but to a most vile reproachful death, the death of malefactors in the highest degree. And not slain outright as Josias was, but mangled and massacred in most pitiful strange manner; wounded in Body, wounded in Spirit, left utterly desolate. O consider this well, and confess the case is truly put, si fuerit Dolor sicut Dolor meus! Never, never the like person; and if as the person is, the passion be, never the like Passion to His.

It is truly affirmed, that any one, even the least drop of blood, even the least pain, yea of the body only, of this so great a Person, any Dolor with this Meus, had been enough to make a non sicut of it. That is enough, but that is not all; for add now the three other degrees; add to this Person those wounds, that sweat and that cry, and put all together, and I make no manner question the like was not, shall not, cannot ever be. It is far above all that ever was or can be, abyssus est. Men may drowsily hear it and coldly affect it, but principalities and powers stand abashed at it. And for the quality both of the Passion and of the Person, that never the like, thus much.

Now to proceed to the cause and to consider it, for without it we shall have but half a regard, and scarce that. Indeed, set the cause aside, and the passion, as rare as it is, is yet but a dull and heavy sight, we list not much look upon spectacles of that kind, though never so strange, they fill us full of pensive thoughts and make us melancholic. And so doth this, till upon examination of the cause we find it toucheth us near; and so near, so many ways, as we cannot choose but have some regard of it.

What was done to Him we see. Let there now be a quest of enquiry to find who was doer of it. Who? who but the "power of darkness," wicked Pilate, bloody Caiaphas,* the envious Priests, the barbarous soldiers? None of these are returned here. We are too low by a great deal, if we think to find it among men. Quæ fecit Mihi Deus, ‘it was God That did it.’ An hour of that day was the hour of the "power of darkness;" but the whole day itself, is said here plainly, was the day of the wrath of God. God was a doer in it; "wherewith God hath afflicted Me."

God afflicteth some in mercy, and others in wrath. This was in His wrath. In His wrath God is not alike to all; some He afflicteth in His more gentle and mild, others in His fierce wrath. This was in the very fierceness of His wrath. His sufferings, His sweat, and cry, shew as much; they could not come but from a wrath si fuerit sicut, for we are not past non sicut, no not here,—in this part it followeth us still, and will not leave us in any point, not to the end.

The cause then in God was wrath. What caused this wrath? God is not wroth but with sin, nor grievously wroth but with grievous sin. And in Christ there was no grievous sin; nay, no sin at all. God did it, the text is plain. And in His fierce wrath He did it. For what cause? For, God forbid, God should do as did Annas the high-priest,* cause Him to be smitten without cause!* God forbid, saith Abraham, "the Judge of the world should do wrong" to any! To any, but specially to His own Son, that His Son, of Whom with thundering voice from Heaven He testifieth, all His joy and delight were in Him,* "in Him only He was well-pleased." And how then could His wrath wax hot to do all this unto Him?

There is no way to preserve God’s justice, and Christ’s innocency both, but to say as the Angel said of Him to the Prophet Daniel,* "The Messias shall be slain," ואין לו ve-en-lo, "shall be slain but not for Himself." "Not for Himself?" For whom then? For some others. He took upon Him the person of others, and so doing, justice may have her course and proceed.

Pity it is to see a man pay that he never took; but if he will become a surety, if he will take on him the person of the debtor, so he must. Pity to see a silly poor lamb lie bleeding to death; but if it must be a sacrifice, such is the nature of a sacrifice, so it must. And so Christ, though without sin in Himself, yet as a surety, as a sacrifice, may justly suffer for others, if He will take upon Him their persons; and so God may justly give way to His wrath against Him.

And who be those others? The Prophet Esay telleth us, and telleth it us seven times over for failing,* "He took upon Him our infirmities, and bare our maladies. He was wounded for our iniquities, and broken for our transgressions: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes were we healed. All we as sheep were gone astray, and turned every man to his own way; and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." "All," "all," even those that pass to and fro, and for all this regard neither Him nor His Passion.

The short is, it was we that for our sins, our many great and grievous sins,—Si fuerit sicut, the like whereof never were,—should have sweated this sweat and have cried this cry; should have been smitten with these sorrows by the fierce wrath of God, had not He stepped between the blow and us, and latched it in His own body and soul, even the dint of the fierceness of the wrath of God. O the non sicut of our sins, that could not otherwise be answered!

To return then a true verdict. It is we—we, wretched sinners that we are—that are to be found the principals in this act, and those on whom we seek to shift it, to drive it from ourselves, Pilate and Caiaphas and the rest, but instrumental causes only. And it is not the executioner that killeth the man properly, that is, they; no, nor the judge, which is God in this case; only sin, solum peccatum homicida est, ‘sin only is the murderer,’ to say the truth, and our sins the murderers of the Son of God; and the non sicut of them the true cause of the non sicut both of God’s wrath, and of His sorrowful sufferings.

Which bringeth home this our text to us, even into our own bosoms, and applieth it most effectually to me that speak and to you that hear, to every one of us, and that with the Prophet Nathan’s application; Tu es homo, "Thou art the man," even thou,* for whom God in "His fierce wrath" thus afflicted Him. Sin then was the cause on our part why we, or some other for us.

But yet what was the cause, why He on His part? what was that that moved Him thus to become our surety, and to take upon Him our debt and danger? that moved Him thus to lay upon His soul a sacrifice for our sin? Sure,* oblatus est quia voluit, saith Esay again, "Offered He was for no other cause, but because He would." For unless He would, He needed not. Needed not for any necessity of justice, for no lamb was ever more innocent; nor for any necessity of constraint, for twelve legions of Angels were ready at His command, but because He would.

And why would He? No reason can be given but because He regarded us:—Mark that reason. And what were we? Verily, utterly unworthy even His least regard, not worth the taking up, not worth the looking after.* Cum inimici essemus, saith the Apostle; "we were His enemies," when He did it, without all desert before, and without all regard after He had done and suffered all this for us; and yet He would regard us that so little regard Him. For when He saw us a sort of forlorn sinners, non prius natos quam damnatos, ‘damned as fast as born,’ as being "by nature children of wrath,"* and yet still "heaping up wrath against the day of wrath," by the errors of our life, till the time of our passing hence; and then the "fierce wrath of God" ready to overwhelm us,* and to make us endure the terror and torments of a never dying death, another non sicut yet: when, I say, He was in this case, He was moved with compassion over us and undertook all this for us. Even then in His love He regarded us, and so regarded us that He regarded not Himself, to regard us.

Bernard saith most truly, Dilexisti me Domine magis quam Te, quando mori voluisti pro me: ‘In suffering all this for us Thou shewedst, Lord, that we were more dear to Thee, that Thou regardest us more than Thine ownself;’ and shall this regard find no regard at our hands?

It was sin then, and the heinousness of sin in us, that provoked wrath and the fierceness of His wrath in God; it was love, and the greatness of His love in Christ, that caused Him to suffer the sorrows, and the grievousness of these sorrows, and all for our sakes.

And indeed, but only to testify the non sicut of this His love, all this needed not that was done to Him. One, any one, even the very least of all the pains He endured, had been enough; enough in respect of the Meus, enough in respect of the non sicut of His person. For that which setteth the high price on this sacrifice, is this; that He which offereth it unto God, is God. But if little had been suffered, little would the love have been thought that suffered so little, and as little regard would have been had of it. To awake our regard then, or to leave us excuseless, if we continue regardless, all this He bare for us; that he might as truly make a case of Si fuerit amor sicut amor Meus, as He did before of Si fuerit dolor sicut dolor Meus. We say we will regard love; if we will, here it is to regard.

So have we the causes, all three: 1. Wrath in God; 2. Sin in ourselves; 3. Love in Him.

Yet have we not all we should. For what of all this? What good? Cui bono? That, that, is it indeed that we will regard if any thing, as being matter of benefit, the only thing in a manner the world regardeth, which bringeth us about to the very first words again. For the very first words which we read, "Have ye no regard?" are in the original, לוא אליכם lo alechem, which the Seventy turn, word for word, οὐ πρὸς ὑμᾶς; and the Latin likewise, nonne ad vos pertinet? Pertains it not to you, that you regard it no better? For these two, pertaining and regarding, are folded one in another, and go together so commonly as one is taken often for the other. Then to be sure to bring us to regard, he urgeth this: "Pertains not all this to you?" Is it not for your good? Is not the benefit yours? Matters of benefit, they pertain to you, and without them love and all the rest may pertain to whom they will.

Consider then the inestimable benefit that groweth unto you from this incomparable love. It is not impertinent this, even this, that to us hereby all is turned about clean contrary; that "by His stripes we are healed," by His sweat we refreshed, by His forsaking we received to grace. That this day, to Him the day of the fierceness of God’s wrath, is to us the day of the fulness of God’s favour, as the Apostle calleth it,* "a day of salvation." In respect of that He suffered, I deny not, an evil day, a day of heaviness; but in respect of that which He by it hath obtained for us, it is as we truly call it a good day, a day of joy and jubilee. For it doth not only rid us of that wrath which pertaineth to us for our sins; but farther, it maketh that pertain to us whereto we had no manner of right at all.

For not only by His death as by the death of our sacrifice, by the blood of His cross as by the blood of the paschal lamb,* the destroyer passeth over us, and we shall not perish; but also by His death,* as by the death of our High Priest—for He is Priest and Sacrifice both—we are restored from our exile, even to our former forfeited estate in the land of Promise. Or rather, as the Apostle saith,* non sicut delictum sic donum; not to the same estate, but to one nothing like it, that is, one far better than the estate our sins bereft us. For they deprived us of Paradise, a place on earth; but by the purchase of His blood we are entitled to a far higher, even the Kingdom of Heaven; and His blood,* not only the blood of "remission," to acquit us of our sins, but "the blood of the Testament too," to bequeath us and give us estate in that Heavenly inheritance.

Now whatsoever else, this I am sure is a non sicut, as that which the eye by all it can see, the ear by all it can hear, the heart by all it can conceive, cannot pattern it, or set the like by it. "Pertains not this unto us" neither? Is not this worth the regard? Sure if any thing be worthy the regard, this is most worthy of our very worthiest and best regard.

Thus have we considered and seen, not so much as in this sight we might or should, but as much as the time will give us leave. And now lay all these before you, every one of them a non sicut of itself; the pains of His body esteemed by Pilate’s Ecce; the sorrows of His soul, by His sweat in the garden; the comfortless estate of His sorrows, by His cry on the cross; and with these, His Person, as being the Son of the Great and Eternal God. Then join to these the cause: in God, "His fierce wrath;" in us, our heinous sins deserving it; in Him, His exceeding great love, both suffering that for us which we had deserved, and procuring for us that we could never deserve; making that to appertain to Himself which of right pertained to us, and making that pertain to us which pertained to Him only, and not to us at all but by His means alone. And after their view in several, lay them all together, so many non sicuts into one, and tell me if His complaint be not just and His request most reasonable.

Yes sure, His complaint is just, "Have ye no regard?" None? and yet never the like? None? and it pertains unto you? "No regard?" As if it were some common ordinary matter, and the like never was? "No regard?" As if it concerned you not a whit, and it toucheth you so near? As if He should say, Rare things you regard, yea, though they no ways pertain to you: this is exceeding rare, and will you not regard it? Again, things that nearly touch you you regard, though they be not rare at all: this toucheth you exceeding near, even as near as your soul toucheth you, and will you not yet regard it? Will neither of these by itself move you? Will not both these together move you? What will move you? Will pity? Here is distress never the like. Will duty? Here is a Person never the like. Will fear? Here is wrath never the like. Will remorse? Here are sins never the like. Will kindness? Here is love never the like. Will bounty? Here are benefits never the like. Will all these? Here they be all, all above any sicut, all in the highest degree.

Truly the complaint is just, it may move us; it wanteth no reason, it may move; and it wanteth no affection in the delivery of it to us, on His part to move us. Sure it moved Him exceeding much; for among all the deadly sorrows of His most bitter Passion, this, even this, seemeth to be His greatest of all, and that which did most affect Him, even the grief of the slender reckoning most men have it in; as little respecting Him, as if He had done or suffered nothing at all for them. For lo, of all the sharp pains He endureth He complaineth not, but of this He complaineth, of no regard; that which grieveth Him most, that which most He moaneth is this. It is strange He should be in pains, such pains as never any was, and not complain Himself of them, but of want of regard only. Strange, He should not make request, O deliver Me, or relieve Me! But only, O consider and regard Me! In effect as if He said, None, no deliverance, no relief do I seek; regard I seek. And all that I suffer, I am content with it, I regard it not, I suffer most willingly, if this I may find at your hands, regard.

Truly, this so passionate a complaint may move us, it moved all but us; for most strange of all it is, that all the creatures in Heaven and earth seemed to hear this His mournful complaint, and in their kind to shew their regard of it. The sun in Heaven shrinking in his light, the earth trembling under it, the very stones cleaving in sunder, as if they had sense and sympathy of it, and sinful men only not moved with it. And yet it was not for the creatures this was done to Him, to them it pertaineth not; but for us it was, and to us it doth. And shall we not yet regard it? shall the creature, and not we? shall we not?

If we do not, it may appertain to us, but we pertain not to it; it pertains to all but all pertain not to it. None pertain to it but they that take benefit by it; and none take benefit by it no more than by the brazen serpent, but they that fix their eye on it. Behold, consider, and regard it; the profit, the benefit is lost without regard.

If we do not, as this was a day of God’s "fierce wrath" against Him, only for regarding us; so there is another day coming, and it will quickly be here,* a day of like "fierce wrath" against us, for not regarding Him. "And who regardeth the power of His wrath?" He that doth, will surely regard this.

In that day, there is not the most careless of us all but shall cry as they did in the Gospel, Domine, non ad Te pertinet, si perimus?* "Pertains it not to Thee, carest Thou not that we perish?" Then would we be glad to pertain to Him and His Passion. Pertains it to us then, and pertains it not now? Sure now it must, if then it shall.

Then to give end to this complaint, let us grant Him His request, and regard His Passion. Let the rareness of it, the nearness to us, let pity or duty, fear or remorse, love or bounty; any of them or all of them; let the justness of His complaint, let His affectionate manner of complaining of this and only this, let the shame of the creatures’ regard, let our profit or our peril, let something prevail with us to have it in some regard.

Some regard! Verily, as His sufferings, His love, our good by them are, so should our regard be a non sicut too; that is, a regard of these, and of nothing in comparison of these. It should be so, for with the benefit ever the regard should arise.

But God help us poor sinners, and be merciful unto us! Our regard is a non sicut indeed, but it is backward, and in a contrary sense; that is, no where so shallow, so short, or so soon done. It should be otherwise, it should have our deepest consideration this, and our highest regard.

But if that cannot be had, our nature is so heavy, and flesh and blood so dull of apprehension in spiritual things, yet at leastwise some regard. Some I say; the more the better, but in any wise some, and not as here no regard, none at all. Some ways to shew we make account of it, to withdraw ourselves, to void our minds of other matters, to set this before us, to think upon it, to thank Him for it, to regard Him, and stay and see whether He will regard us or no. Sure He will,* and we shall feel our "hearts pricked" with sorrow, by consideration of the cause in us—our sin; and again,* "warm within us," by consideration of the cause in Him—His love; till by some motion of grace He answer us, and shew that our regard is accepted of Him.

And this, as at all other times, for no day is amiss but at all times some time to be taken for this duty, so specially on this day; this day, which we hold holy to the memory of His Passion, this day to do it; to make this day, the day of God’s wrath and Christ’s suffering, a day to us of serious consideration and regard of them both.

It is kindly to consider opus diei in die suo, ‘the work of the day in the day it was wrought;’ and this day it was wrought. This day therefore, whatsoever business be, to lay them aside a little; whatsoever our haste, yet to stay a little, and to spend a few thoughts in calling to mind and taking to regard what this day the Son of God did and suffered for us; and all for this end, that what He was then we might not be, and what He is now we might be for ever.

Which Almighty God grant we may do, more or less, even every one of us, according to the several measures of His grace in us!

Andrewes, L. (1841). Ninety-Six Sermons (Vol. 2). Oxford: John Henry Parker. (Public Domain)

Good Friday 1597 Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1597 Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Good Friday 1597 — Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Zechariah 12:10

And they shall look upon Me, Whom they have pierced.

That great and honourable person the Eunuch, sitting in his chariot, and reading a like place of the Prophet Esay, asketh St. Philip. "I pray thee,* Of Whom speaketh the Prophet this? of himself, or some other?" A question very material, and to great good purpose, and to be asked by us in all prophecies. For knowing who the party is, we shall not wander in the Prophet’s meaning.

Now, if the Eunuch had been reading this of Zachary, as then he was that of Esay, and had asked the same question of St. Philip, he would have made the same answer. And as he out of those words took occasion, so may we out of these take the like, to preach Jesus unto them. For neither of himself, nor of any other, but of Jesus, speaketh the Prophet this;* and "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of this prophecy."

That so it is the Holy Ghost is our warrant, Who in St. John’s Gospel reporting the Passion, and the last act of the Passion—this opening of the side, and piercing of the heart—our Saviour Christ saith plainly, that in the piercing the very words of the prophecy were fulfilled,* Respicient in Me Quem transfixerunt.

Which term of piercing we shall the more clearly conceive, if with the ancient writers, we sort it with the beginning of Psalm 22. the Psalm of the Passion. For, in the very front or inscription of this Psalm, our Saviour Christ is compared cervo matutino, "to the morning hart;" that is, a hart roused early in the morning, as from His very birth He was by Herod, hunted and chased all His life long, and this day brought to His end, and, as the poor deer, stricken and pierced through side, heart, and all; which is it we are here willed to behold.

There is no part of the whole course of our Saviour Christ’s life or death but it is well worthy our looking on, and from each part in it there goeth virtue to do us good; but of all other parts, and above them all, this last part of His piercing is here commended unto our view. Indeed, how could the Prophet commend it more, than in avowing it to be an act of grace, as in the fore part of this verse he doth? Effundam super cos Spiritum Gratiæ, et respicient, &c.* as if he should say; If there be any grace in us, we will think it worth the looking on.

Neither doth the Prophet only, but the Apostle also, call us unto it,* and willeth us what to "look unto" and regard, "Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith." Then specially, and in that act, when for "the joy of our salvation set before Him He endured the cross, and despised the shame;" that is, in this spectacle, when He was pierced.

Which surely is continually, all our life long, to be done by us, and at all times some time to be spared unto it; but if at other times, most requisite at this time, this very day which we hold holy to the memory of His Passion, and the piercing of His precious side. That, though on other days we employ our eyes otherwise, this day at least we fix them on this object, respicientes in Eum. This day, I say, which is dedicated to none other end,* but even to lift up the Son of Man, as Moses did the serpent in the wilderness, that we may look upon Him and live; when every Scripture that is read soundeth nothing but this unto us, when by the office of preaching Jesus Christ is lively described in our sight, and as the Apostle speaketh,* is "visibly crucified among us;" when in the memorial of the Holy Sacrament,* "His death is shewed forth until He come," and the mystery of this His piercing so many ways, so effectually represented before us. This prophecy therefore, if at any time, at this time to take place, Respicient in Me, &c.

The principal words are but two, and set down unto us in two points. I. The sight itself, that is, the thing to be seen; II. and the sight of it, that is, the act of seeing or looking. Quem transfixerunt is the object, or spectacle propounded. Respicient in Eum, is the act or duty enjoined.

Of which the object though in place latter, in nature is the former, and first to be handled; for that there must be a thing first set up, before we can set our eyes to look upon it.

Of the object generally, first. Certain it is, that Christ is here meant: St. John hath put us out of doubt for that point. And Zachary here could have set down His name, and said, Respice in Christum; for Daniel before had named his name, Occidetur Messias;* and Zachary, being after him in time, might have easily repeated it. But it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to him, rather to use a circumlocution; and suppressing His name of Christ, to express Him by the style or term, Quem transfixerunt. Which being done by choice, must needs have a reason of the doing, and so it hath.

1. First, the better to specify and particularize the Person of Christ, by the kind, and most peculiar circumstance, of His death.* Esay had said, Morietur, "Die He shall, and lay down His soul an offering for sin." 2. Die—but what death? a natural or a violent?* Daniel tells us, Occidetur; He shall die, not a natural, but a violent death. 3. But many are slain after many sorts, and divers kinds there be of violent deaths. The Psalmist, the more particularly to set it down, describeth it thus:* "They pierced My hands and My feet;" which is only proper to the death of the Cross. 4. Die, and be slain, and be crucified. But sundry else were crucified; and therefore the Prophet here, to make up all, addeth, that He should not only be crucifixus, but transfixus; not only have His hands and His feet, but even His heart pierced too. Which very note severs Him from all the rest, with as great particularity as may be; for that, though many besides at other times, and some at the same time with Him were crucified, yet the side and the heart of none was opened, but His, and His only.

2. Secondly, as to specify Christ Himself in Person, and to sever Him from the rest; so in Christ Himself, and in His Person, to sever from the rest of His doings and sufferings, what that is that chiefly concerneth us, and we specially are to look to; and that is this day’s work—Christ pierced. St. Paul doth best express this:* "I esteemed," saith he, "to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." That is, the perfection of our knowledge is Christ; the perfection of our knowledge in, or touching Christ, is the knowledge of Christ’s piercing. This is the chief sight; nay, as it shall after appear, in this sight are all sights; so that know this, and know all. This generally.

Now, specially. In the object, two things offer themselves; 1. The Passion, or suffering itself, which was, to be "pierced." 2. And the Persons, by whom. For if the Prophet had not intended the Persons should have had their respect too, he might have said Respicient in Eum Qui transfixus est;—which passive would have carried the Passion itself full enough—but so he would not, but rather chose to say, Quem transfixerunt; which doth necessarily imply the piercers themselves too. So that we must needs have an eye in the handling, both to the fact, and to the persons, 1. quid, and 2. quibus, both what, and of whom.

In the Passion, we first consider the degree; for transfixerunt is a word of gradation, more than fixerunt, or suffixerunt, or confixerunt either. Expressing unto us the piercing, not with whips and scourges; nor of the nails and thorns, but of the spear-point. Not the whips and scourges, wherewith His skin and flesh were pierced; nor the nails and thorns wherewith His feet, hands, and head were pierced; but the spear-point which pierced, and went through, His very heart itself; for of that wound,* of the wound in His heart, is this spoken. Therefore trans is here a transcendent—through and through; through skin and flesh, through hands and feet, through side and heart, and all; the deadliest and deepest wound, and of highest gradation.

Secondly, as the preposition trans hath his gradation of divers degrees, so the pronoun me hath his generality of divers parts; best expressed in the original. "Upon Me;" not, upon My body and soul. "Upon Me" Whose Person, not Whose parts, either body without, or soul within; but "upon Me," Whom wholly, body and soul, quick and dead, "they have pierced."

Of the body’s piercing there can be no question, since no part of it was left unpierced. Our senses certify us of that—what need we farther witness?

Of the soul’s too, it is as certain, and there can be no doubt of it neither; that we truly may affirm; Christ, not in part, but wholly, was pierced. For we should do injury to the sufferings of our Saviour, if we should conceive by this piercing none other but that of the spear.

And may a soul then be pierced? Can any spear-point go through it? Truly Simeon saith to the blessed Virgin by way of prophecy,* that "the sword should go through her soul," at the time of His Passion. And as the sword through hers, so I make no question but the spear through His. And if through hers which was but anima compatientis, through His much more, which was anima patientis; since compassion is but passion at rebound. Howbeit, it is not a sword of steel, or a spear-head of iron, that entereth the soul, but a metal of another temper; the dint whereof no less goreth and woundeth the soul in proportion, than those do the body. So that we extend this piercing of Christ farther than to the visible gash in His side, even to a piercing of another nature, whereby not His heart only was stabbed, but His very spirit wounded too.

The Scripture recounteth two, and of them both expressly saith, that they both pierce the soul. The Apostle saith it by sorrow:* "And pierced themselves through with many sorrows."* The Prophet, of reproach: "There are whose words are like the pricking of a sword;" and that to the soul both, for the body feels neither. With these, even with both these, was the soul of Christ Jesus wounded.

For sorrow—it is plain through all four Evangelists; Undique tristis est anima Mea usque ad mortem!* "My soul is environed on every side with sorrow,* even to the death." Cœpit Jesus tædere et pavere,* "Jesus began to be distressed and in great anguish."* Factus in agoniâ, "being cast into an agony."* Jam turbata est anima Mea; "Now is My soul troubled." Avowed by them all, confessed by Himself. Yea, that His strange and never else heard of sweat—drops of blood plenteously issuing from Him all over His body, what time no manner of violence was offered to His body, no man then touching Him, none being near Him; that blood came certainly from some great sorrow wherewith His soul was pierced. And that His most dreadful cry, which at once moved all the powers of Heaven and earth,* "My God, My God, &c." was the voice of some mighty anguish, wherewith His soul was smitten; and that in other sort, than with any material spear. For derelinqui a Deo—the body cannot feel it, or tell what it meaneth. It is the soul’s complaint, and therefore without all doubt His soul within Him was pierced and suffered, though not that which—except charity be allowed to expound it—cannot be spoken without blasphemy. Not so much, God forbid! yet much, and very much, and much more than others seem to allow; or how much, it is dangerous to define.

To this edge of sorrow, if the other of piercing despite be added as a point, as added it was, it will strike deep into any heart; especially, being wounded with so many sorrows before. But the more noble the heart, the deeper; who beareth any grief more easily than this grief, the grief of a contumelious reproach.* "To persecute a poor distressed soul, and to seek to vex Him that is already wounded at the heart," why, it is the very pitch of all wickedness; the very extremity that malice can do, or affliction can suffer. And to this pitch were they come, when after all their wretched villanies and spittings, and all their savage indignities in reviling Him most opprobriously, He being in the depth of all His distress, and for very anguish of soul crying, Eli, Eli, &c., they stayed those that would have relieved him; and void of all humanity then scorned,* saying; "Stay, let alone, let us see if Elias will now come and take Him down." This barbarous and brutish inhumanity of theirs, must needs pierce deeper into His soul, than ever did the iron into His side.

To all which if we it add, not only that horrible ingratitude of theirs, there by Him seen, but ours also no less than theirs by Him foreseen at the same time; who make so slender reckoning of these His piercings, and, as they were a matter not worth the looking on, vouchsafe not so much as to spend an hour in the due regard and meditation of them; nay, not that only, but farther by incessant sinning, and that without remorse, do most unkindly requite those His bitter pains, and as much as in us lies,* "even crucify afresh the Son of God, making a mock of Him and His piercings." These I say, for these all and every of them in that instant were before His eyes, must of force enter into, and go through and through His soul and spirit; that what with those former sorrows, and what with these after indignities, the Prophet might truly say of Him, and He of Himself in Me, "upon Me;" not whose body or whose soul, but whom entirely and wholly, both in body and soul, alive and dead, they have pierced and passioned this day on the cross.

Of the persons;—which, as it is necessarily implied in the word, is very properly incident to the matter itself. For it is usual, when one is found slain as here, to make enquiry, By whom he came by his death. Which so much the rather is to be done by us, because there is commonly an error in the world, touching the parties that were the causes of Christ’s death. Our manner is, either to lay it on the soldiers, that were the instruments; or if not upon them, upon Pilate the judge that gave sentence; or if not upon him, upon the people that importuned the judge; or lastly, if not upon them, upon the Elders of the Jews that animated the people; and this is all to be found by our quest of enquiry.

But the Prophet here indicted others. For by saying, "They shall look," &c., "Whom they have pierced," he intendeth by very construction, that the first and second "They," are not two, but one and the same parties. And that they that are here willed to look upon Him, are they and none other that were the authors of this fact, even of the murder of Jesus Christ. And to say truth, the Prophet’s intent is no other but to bring the malefactors themselves that pierced Him, to view the body and the wounded heart of Him, "Whom they have so pierced."

In the course of justice we say, and say truly, when a party is put to death, that the executioner cannot be said to be the cause of his death; nor the sheriff, by whose commandment he doth it; neither yet the judge by whose sentence; nor the twelve men by whose verdict; nor the law itself, by whose authority it is proceeded in. For, God forbid we should indict these, or any of these, of murder. Solum peccatum homicida; sin, and sin only, is the murderer. Sin, I say, either of the party that suffereth; or of some other, by whose means, or for whose cause, he is put to death.

Now, Christ’s own sin it was not that He died for. That is most evident.* Not so much by His own challenge, Quis ex vobis arguit Me de peccato?* as by the report of His judge, who openly professed that he had examined Him, and "found no fault in Him." "No, nor yet Herod," for being sent to him and examined by him also, nothing worthy death was found in Him.* And therefore, calling for water and washing his hands he protesteth his own innocency of the blood of this "Just Man;" thereby pronouncing Him Just, and void of any cause in Himself of His own death.

It must then necessarily be the sin of some others, for whose sake Christ Jesus was thus pierced. And if we ask, who those others be? or whose sins they were? the Prophet Esay tells us,* Posuit super Eum iniquitates omnium nostrûm, "He laid upon Him the transgressions of us all;" who should, even for those our many, great, and grievous transgressions, have eternally been pierced, in body and soul, with torment and sorrows of a never-dying death, had not He stepped between us and the blow, and received it in His own body; even the dint of the wrath of God to come upon us. So that it was the sin of our polluted hands that pierced His hands, the swiftness of our feet to do evil that nailed His feet, the wicked devices of our heads that gored His head, and the wretched desires of our hearts that pierced His heart. We that "look upon," it is we that "pierced Him;" and it is we that "pierced Him," that are willed to "look upon Him." Which bringeth it home to us, to me myself that speak, and to you yourselves that hear; and applieth it most effectually to every one of us, who evidently seeing that we were the cause of this His piercing, if our hearts be not too hard, ought to have remorse to be pierced with it.

When, for delivering to David a few loaves, Abimelech and the Priests were by Saul put to the sword, if David did then acknowledge with grief of heart and say,* "I, even I, am the cause of the death of thy father and all his house;"—when he was but only the occasion of it, and not that direct neither—may not we, nay ought not we much more justly and deservedly say of this piercing of Christ our Saviour, that we verily, even we, are the cause thereof, as verily we are, even the principals in this murder; and the Jews and others, on whom we seek to derive it, but only accessories and instrumental causes thereof. Which point we ought as continually, so seriously to think of; and that no less than the former. The former, to stir up compassion in ourselves, over Him that thus was pierced; the latter, to work deep remorse in our hearts, for being authors of it. That He was pierced, will make our bowels melt with compassion over Christ. That He was pierced by us that look on Him, if our hearts be not "flint," as Job saith, or as "the nether mill-stone,"* will breed remorse over ourselves, wretched sinners as we are.

The act followeth in these words; Respicient in Eum. A request most reasonable, to "look upon Him"—but "to look upon Him," to bestow but a look and nothing else, which even of common humanity we cannot deny, Quia non aspicere despicere est. It argueth great contempt, not to vouchsafe it the cast of our eye, as if it were an object utterly unworthy the looking toward. Truly, if we mark it well, nature itself of itself inclineth to this act. When Amasa treacherously was slain by Joab, and lay weltering in his blood by the way side, the story saith that not one of the whole army, then marching by,* but when he came at him, "stood still and looked on him."

In the Gospel, the party that goeth from Jerusalem to Jericho was spoiled and wounded and lay drawing on, though the Priest and Levite that passed near the place relieved him not, as the Samaritan after did; yet it is said of them, they "went near and looked on,"* and then passed on their way. Which desire is even natural in us; so that even nature itself inclineth us to satisfy the Prophet.

Nature doth, and so doth Grace too. For generally we are bound to "regard the work of the Lord,* and to consider the operations of His hands;" and specially this work, in comparison whereof God Himself saith, the former works of His "shall not be remembered,* nor the things done of old once regarded."

Yea Christ Himself, pierced as He is, inviteth us to it. For in the Prophet here it is not in Eum, but in Me; not ‘on Him,’ but "on Me Whom they have pierced." But more fully in Jeremy; for, to Christ Himself do all the ancient writers apply, and that most properly, those words of the Lamentation;* "Have ye no regard all ye that pass by this way? Behold and sec, if there be any sorrow like My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce wrath."

Our own profit, which is wont to persuade well, inviteth us;* for that as from the brazen serpent no virtue issued to heal but unto them that steadily beheld it, so neither doth there from Christ but upon those that with the eye of faith have their contemplation on this object; who thereby draw life from Him, and without it may and do perish, for all Christ and His Passion.

And if nothing else move us, this last may, even our danger. For the time will come when we ourselves shall desire, that God looking with an angry countenance upon our sins, would turn His face from them and us, and look upon the face of His Christ, that is, respicere in Eum; which shall justly be then denied us, if we ourselves could never be gotten to do this duty, respicere in Eum, when it was called for of us. God shall not look upon Him at ours, Whom we would not look upon at His request.

In the act itself are enjoined three things: 1. That we do it with attention; for it is not Me, but in Me; not only "upon Him," but "into Him," 2. That we do it oft, again and again, with iteration; for respicient is re-aspicient. Not a single act, but an act iterated. 3. That we cause our nature to do it, as it were, by virtue of an injunction, per actum elicitum, as the schoolmen call it. For in the original it is in the commanding conjugation, that signifieth, facient se respicere, rather than respicient.

First then, not slightly, superficially or perfunctorily, but steadfastly, and with due attention, to "look upon Him." And not to look upon the outside alone, but to look into the very entrails; and with our eye to pierce Him That was thus pierced. In Eum beareth both.

1. "Upon Him" if we "look," we shall see so much as Pilate shewed of Him;—ecce Homo, that He is a Man. And if He were not a man, but some other unreasonable creature, it were great ruth to see Him so handled.

2. Among men we less pity malefactors, and have most compassion on them that be innocent. And He was innocent, and deserved it not, as you have heard, His enemies themselves being His judges.

3. Among those that be innocent, the more noble the person, the greater the grief, and the more heavy ever is the spectacle. Now if we consider the verse of this text well, we shall see it is God Himself and no man that here speaketh, for to God only it belongeth to "pour out the Spirit of grace," it passeth man’s reach to do it; so that, if we look better upon Him, we shall see as much as the Centurion saw, that this party thus pierced "is the Son of God."* The Son of God slain!* Surely he that hath done this deed "is the child of death," would every one of us say; Et tu es homo, "Thou art the man," would the Prophet answer us. You are they, for whose sins the Son of God hath His very heart-blood shed forth. Which must needs strike into us remorse of a deeper degree than before; that not only it is we that have pierced the party thus found slain, but that this party, whom we have thus pierced, is not a principal person among the children of men, but even the only-begotten Son of the Most High God. Which will make us cry out with St. Augustine, O amaritudo peccati mei, ad quam tollendam necessaria fuit amaritudo tanta! ‘Now sure, deadly was the bitterness of our sins, that might not be cured, but by the bitter death and blood-shedding Passion of the Son of God.’ And this may we see looking upon Him.

But now then, if we look in Eum, "into Him," we shall see yet a greater thing, which may raise us in comfort, as far as the other cast us down. Even the bowels of compassion and tender love, whereby He would and was content to suffer all this for our sakes.* For that, whereas "no man had power to take His life from Him," for He had power to have commanded twelve legions of Angels in His just defence;* and without any Angel at all, power enough of Himself with His Ego sum, to strike them all to the ground;* He was content notwithstanding all this, to lay down His life for us sinners. The greatness of which love passeth the greatest love that man hath; for "greater love than this hath no man, but to bestow his life for his friends,"* whereas He condescended to lay it down for His enemies. Even for them that sought His death, to lay down His life, and to have His blood shed for them that did shed it; to be pierced for His piercers. Look how the former in Eum worketh grief, considering the great injuries offered to so great a Personage; so, to temper the grief of it, this latter in Eum giveth some comfort, that so great a Person should so greatly love us, as for our sakes to endure all those so many injuries, even to the piercing of His very heart.

Secondly, respicient, that is, re-aspicient; not once or twice, but oftentimes to look upon it; that is, as the Prophet saith here, iteratis vicibus, to look again and again; or, as the Apostle saith, recogitare,* "to think upon it over and over again," as it were to dwell in it for a time. In a sort, with the frequentness of this our beholding it, to supply the weakness and want of our former attention. Surely, the more steadily and more often we shall fix our eye upon it, the more we shall be inured; and being inured, the more desire to do it. For at every looking some new sight will offer itself, which will offer unto us occasion, either of godly sorrow, true repentance, sound comfort, or some other reflection, issuing from the beams of this heavenly mirror. Which point, because it is the chief point, the Prophet here calleth us to, even how to look upon Christ often, and to be the better for our looking; it shall be very agreeable to the text, and to the Holy Ghost’s chief intent, if we prove how, and in how diverse sorts, we may with profit behold and "look upon Him" Whom thus we have "pierced."

First then, looking upon Him, we may bring forth for the first effect that which immediately followeth this text itself in this text, Et plangent Eum:—Respice et plange. First, ‘look and lament,’ or mourn; which is indeed the most kindly and natural effect of such a spectacle. "Look upon Him that is pierced," and with looking upon Him be pierced thyself; respice et transfigere. A good effect of our first look, if we could bring it forth. At leastwise, if we cannot respice et transfigere, ‘look and be pierced,’ yet that it might be respice et compungere, ‘that with looking on Him we might be "pricked in our hearts," ’* and have it enter past the skin, though it go not clean through. Which difference in this verse the Prophet seemeth to insinuate, when first he willeth us to mourn as for one’s only son, with whom all is lost. Or, if that cannot be had, to mourn as for a first-begotten son, which is though not so great, yet a great mourning; even for the first-begotten, though other sons be left.

And,* in the next verse, if we cannot reach to natural grief, yet he wisheth us to mourn with a civil; even with such a lamentation as was made for Josias. And behold a greater than Josias is here. Coming not, as he, to an honourable death in battle, but to a most vile death, the death of a malefactor; and not, as Josias, dying without any fault of theirs, but mangled and massacred in this shameful sort for us, even for us and our transgressions. Verily, the dumb and senseless creatures had this effect wrought in them, of mourning at the sight of His death; in their kind sorrowing for the murder of the Son of God. And we truly shall be much more senseless than they, if it have in us no work to the like effect. Especially, considering it was not for them He suffered all this, nor they no profit by it, but for us it was, and we by it saved; and yet they had compassion, and we none. Be this then the first.

Now, as the first is respice et transfigere, ‘look upon Him and be pierced;’ so the second may be, and that fitly, respice et transfige, ‘look upon Him and pierce;’ and pierce that in thee that was the cause of Christ’s piercing, that is, sin and the lusts thereof. For as men that are pierced indeed with the grief of an indignity offered, withal are pricked to take revenge on him that offers it, such a like affection ought our second looking to kindle in us, even to take a wreak or revenge upon sin, quia fecit hoc, ‘because it hath been the cause of all this.’ I mean, as the Holy Ghost termeth it, a mortifying or crucifying; a thrusting through of our wicked passions and concupiscences, in some kind of repaying those manifold villanies, which the Son of God suffered by means of them. At leastwise, as before, if it kindle not our zeal so far against sin, yet that it may slake our zeal and affection to sin; that is, respice ne respicias, respice Christum ne respicias peccatum. That we have less mind, less liking, less acquaintance with sin, for the Passion-sake. For that by this means we do in some sort spare Christ, and at least make His wounds no wider; whereas by affecting sin anew we do what in us lieth to crucify Him afresh, and both increase the number, and enlarge the wideness of His wounds.

It is no unreasonable request, that if we list not wound sin, yet seeing Christ hath wounds enough, and they wide and deep enough, we should forbear to pierce Him farther, and have at least this second fruit of our looking upon Him; either to look and to pierce sin, or to look and spare to pierce Him any more.

Now, as it was sin that gave Him these wounds, so it was love to us that made Him receive them, being otherwise able enough to have avoided them all. So that He was pierced with love no less than with grief, and it was that wound of love made Him so constantly to endure all the other. Which love we may read in the palms of His hands, as the Fathers express it out of Esay 49:16;* for "in the palms of His hands He hath graven us," that He might not forget us. And the print of the nails in them, are as capital letters to record His love towards us. For Christ pierced on the cross is liber charitatis, ‘the very book of love’ laid open before us. And again, this love of His we may read in the cleft of His heart. Quia clavus penetrans factus est nobis clavis reserans, saith Bernard, ut patcant nobis viscera per vulnera;* ‘the point of the spear serves us instead of a key, letting us through His wounds see His very bowels,’ the bowels of tender love and most kind compassion, that would for us endure to be so entreated. That if the Jews that stood by said truly of Him at Lazarus’ grave,* Ecce quomodo dilexit eum! when He shed a few tears out of His eyes; much more truly may we say of Him, Ecce quomodo dilexit nos! seeing Him shed both water and blood, and that in great plenty, and that out of His heart.

Which sight ought to pierce us with love too, no less than before it did with sorrow. With one, or with both, for both have power to pierce; but specially love, which except it had entered first and pierced Him, no nail or spear could ever have entered. Then let this be the third, respice et dilige; ‘look and be pierced with love of Him’ that so loved thee, that He gave Himself in this sort to be pierced for thee.

And forasmuch as it is Christ His Ownself That, resembling His Passion on the cross to the brazen serpent lift up in the wilderness, maketh a correspondence between their beholding and our believing—for so it is John 3:14.—we cannot avoid,* but must needs make that an effect too; even respice et crede. And well may we believe and trust Him, Whom looking a little before we have seen so constantly loving us. For the sight of that love maketh credible unto us, whatsoever in the whole Scripture is affirmed unto us of Christ, or promised in His Name; so that believe it, and believe all. Neither is there any time wherein with such cheerfulness or fulness of faith we cry unto Him,* "My Lord, and My God," as when our eye is fixed upon "the print of the nails, and on the hole in the side" of Him that was pierced for us. So that this fourth duty Christ Himself layeth upon us, and willeth us from His own mouth, respice et crede.

And believing this of Him, what is there the eye of our hope shall not look for from Him? What would not He do for us, That for us would suffer all this? It is St. Paul’s argument,* "If God gave His Son for us, how shall He deny us any thing with Him?" That is, respice et spera. ‘Look upon Him, and His heart opened, and from that gate of hope promise thyself, and look for all manner of things that good are.’ Which our expectation is reduced to these too: 1. The deliverance from evil of our present misery; 2. and the restoring to the good of our primitive felicity. By the death of this undefiled Lamb, as by the yearly Passover, look for and hope for a passage out of Egypt, which spiritually is our redemption from the servitude of the power of darkness. And as by the death of the Sacrifice we look to be freed from whatsoever evil, so by the death of the High Priest look we for and hope for restitution to all that is good; even to our forfeited estate in the land of Promise which is Heaven itself, where is all joy and happiness for evermore. Respice et spera, ‘look and look for;’ by the Lamb that is pierced to be freed from all misery, by the High Priest that is pierced fruition of all felicity.

Now, inasmuch as His heart is pierced, and His side opened; the opening of the one, and the piercing of the other, is to the end somewhat may flow forth. To which end, saith St. Augustine, Vigilanti verbo usus est Apostolus, ‘the Apostle was well advised when he used the word opening;’* for there issued out "water and blood," which make the sixth effect, Respice et recipe. Mark it running out, and suffer it not to run waste, but receive it.* Of the former, the water, the Prophet speaketh in the first words of the next chapter,* that out of His pierced side God "opened a fountain of water to the House of Israel for sin and for uncleanness;" of the fulness whereof we all have received in the Sacrament of our Baptism. Of the latter, the blood, which the Prophet,* in the ninth chapter before, calleth "the blood of the New Testament," we may receive this day; for it will run in the high and holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ. There may we be partakers of the flesh of the Morning Hart,* as upon this day killed. There may we be partakers of "the cup of salvation,"* "the precious blood" "which was shed for the remission of our sins."* Our part it shall be not to account "the blood of the Testament an unholy thing,"* and to suffer it to run in vain for all us, but with all due regard to receive it so running, for even therefore was it shed. And so to the former to add this sixth, Respice et recipe.

And shall we alway receive grace, even streams of grace issuing from Him That is pierced, and shall there not from us issue something back again, that He may look for and receive from us that from Him have, and do daily, receive so many good things? No doubt there shall, if love which pierced Him have pierced us aright. And that is, no longer to hold you with these effects, Respice et retribue. For it will even behove us, no less than the Psalmist, to enter into the consideration of quid retribuam.* Especially since we by this day both see and receive that, which he and many others desired to see, and receive, and could not.* Or if we have nothing to render,* yet ourselves to return with the Samaritan, and falling down at His feet, with a loud voice, to glorify His goodness, Who finding us in the estate that other Samaritan found the forlorn and wounded man, healed us by being wounded Himself, and by His own death restored us to life. For all which His kindness if nothing will come from us, not so much as a kind and thankful acknowledgment, we are certainly worthy He should restrain the fountain of His benefits, which hitherto hath flowed most plenteously, and neither let us see nor feel Him any more.

But I hope for better things—that love, such and so great love, will pierce us, and cause both other fruits, and especially thoughts of thankfulness to issue from us. Thus many, and many more if the time would serve, but thus many several uses may we have of thus many several respects, or reflexed lookings upon Him Whom we have pierced.

Thirdly, facient se respicere. For the Holy Ghost did easily foresee, we would not readily be brought to the sight, or to use our eyes to so good an end. Indeed, to flesh and blood it is but a dull and heavy spectacle. And neither willingly they begin to look upon it, and having begun are never well till they have done and look off of it again. Therefore is the verb by the Prophet put into this conjugation of purpose, which to turn in strict propriety is respicere se facient, rather than respicient. ‘They shall procure or cause, or even enjoin or enforce themselves to look upon it;’ or, as one would say, look that they look upon it.

For some new and strange spectacle, though vain and idle, and which shall not profit us how strange soever, we cause ourselves sometimes to take a journey, and besides our pains are at expenses too to behold them. We will not only look upon, but even cause ourselves to look upon vanities; and in them, we have the right use of facient se respicere. And why should we not take some pains, and even enjoin ourselves to look upon this, being neither far off, nor chargeable to come to, and since the looking on it may so many ways so mainly profit us?* Verily it falleth out oft, that of Christ’s; violenti rapiunt illud, nature is not inclined, and where it is not inclined, force must be offered, which we call in schools actum elicitum. Which very act by us undertaken for God, and as here at His word, is unto Him a sacrifice right acceptable. Therefore facias, or fac facias; ‘do it willingly, or do it by force.’ Do it, I say, for done it must be. Set it before you and look on it; or if you list not, remove it, and set it full before you: though it be not with your ease, respice, ‘look back upon it’ with some pain; for one way or other, look upon it we must.

The necessity whereof, that we may the better apprehend it, it will not be amiss we know, that these words are in two sundry places two sundry ways applied.* 1. Once by St. John in the Gospel, 2. and the second time again by Christ Himself in the Revelation. By St. John to Christ at His first coming, suffering as our Saviour upon the cross. By Christ to Himself at His second coming, sitting as our Judge upon His throne, in the end of the world:* "Behold He cometh in the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, yea, even they that pierced Him;" et plangent se super Eum omnes gentes terræ. The meaning whereof is, Look upon Him here if you will; enjoin yourselves if you think good, either here or somewhere else; either now or then, look upon Him you shall. And they which put this spectacle far from them here, and cannot endure to "look upon Him Whom they have pierced," et plangere Eum, "and be grieved for Him," while it is time; a place and time shall be, when they shall be enforced to look upon Him, whether they will or no, et plangent se super Eum, ‘and be grieved for themselves,’ that they had no grace to do it sooner. Better compose themselves to a little mourning here, with some benefit to be made by their beholding, than to be drawn to it there when it is too late, and when all their looking and grieving will not avail a whit. For there respicientes respiciet, et despicientes despiciet; ‘His look shall be amiable to them that have respected His piercing here, and dreadful on the other side to them that have neglected it.’ And as they that have inured themselves to this looking on here,* shall in that day "look up and lift up their heads with joy, the day of their redemption being at hand;" so they that cannot bring themselves to look upon Him here, after they once have looked upon Him there, shall not dare to do it the second time, but cry to the mountains, "Fall upon us, and to the hills,* Hide us from the face of Him That sits upon the throne." Therefore, respicient is no evil counsel. No, though it be facient se respicere.

In a word, if thus causing ourselves to fix our eyes on Him we ask, How long we shall continue so doing, and when we may give over? let this be the answer; Donec totus fixus in corde, Qui totus fixus in cruce. Or if that be too much or too hard, yet saltem, ‘at the least,’ respice in Illum donce Ille te respexerit, ‘Look upon Him till He look upon you again.’ For so He will.* He did upon Peter, and with His look melted him into tears. He that once and twice before denied Him and never wept, because Christ looked not on him, then denied and Christ looked on him, and "he went out and wept bitterly." And if to Peter thus He did, and vouchsafed him so gracious a regard, when Peter not once looked toward Him, how much more shall He not deny us like favour, if by looking on Him first we provoke Him in a sort to a second looking on us again, with the Prophet, saying; Proposui Dominum coram me,* ‘I have set Thee, O Lord, before me;’* and again, Respice in me, &c. "O look Thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as Thou usest to do to those that love Thy Name." "That love Thy Name," which is Jesus, "a Saviour;" and which love that sight wherein most properly Thy Name appeareth, and wherein Thou chiefly shewest Thyself to be Jesus "a Saviour."

And to conclude, if we ask, How we shall know when Christ doth thus respect us? Then truly, when fixing both the eyes of our meditation "upon Him That was pierced,"—as it were one eye upon the grief, the other upon the love wherewith He was pierced, we find by both, or one of these, some motion of grace arise in our hearts; the consideration of His grief piercing our hearts with sorrow, the consideration of His love piercing our hearts with mutual love again. The one is the motion of compunction which they felt, who when they heard such things "were pricked in their hearts."* The other, the motion of comfort which they felt, who, when Christ spake to them of the necessity of His piercing, said; "Did we not feel our hearts warm within us?"* That, from the shame and pain He suffered for us; this, from the comforts and benefits He thereby procured for us.

These have been felt at this looking on, and these will be felt. It may be at the first, imperfectly, but after with deeper impression; and that of some, with such as nemo scit, ‘none knoweth,’ but He that hath felt them. Which that we may endeavour to feel, and endeavouring may feel, and so grow into delight of this looking, God, &c.

Romans 8:11 - Christ is in Us

If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure forever. (Matthew Henry)

John 14:17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. (NET)

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (NASB)

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (KJV)

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (NLT)

Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. (NET)

Translation. And assuming that the Spirit of the One who raised up Jesus out from among the dead is in residence in you, He who raised out from among the dead Christ Jesus, will also make alive your mortal bodies through the agency of the Spirit who is resident in you.  Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader.

Here we have a conditional statement that, along with a great many other conditional statements, is often overlooked.  In the information age we could easily relate this to and If…then…else statement.  If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (dwells, houses, cohabitates) in you…then…will also give life…  The question then that should be answered is, "Does the 'Spirit of Him' dwell in me?"  How can I know?  These questions should have been answered textually in chapter six.  But the real question is found in our own hearts.  The person of the Holy Spirit is the only one who can give the answer.  For He is the assurance and earnest of our faith!  This then is speaking of the quickening (regeneration) of our lives that is to be followed by sanctification.  This is not necessarily without struggle.  There have been many who have passed before us in time that have struggle mightily.  Two dear souls that come to mind are John Bunyan and John Newton.  The former wrote the book, "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners," that give an at length account of his personal struggle.  The latter is the author of the time-honored hymn, "Amazing Grace."  So then struggle in victory rather than defeat till the day when all of our struggles are over.  Be earnest in your endeavor so that you will be found faithful to the end not striving in the power of the flesh but confessing the failures of your faith and belief to Him who will  cleanse you from all unrighteousness and give you the power to do those things that please him. (1 John 1:8-9, Philippians 2:13, paraphrase mine).

He who here receives the grace and Spirit of Christ, and continues to live under its influence a life of obedience to the Divine will, shall have a resurrection to eternal life; and the resurrection of Christ shall be the pattern after which they shall be raised. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

Rom 8:11  (13) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that (o) dwelleth in you.

(13) A confirmation of the former sentence. You have the very same Spirit which Christ has: therefore at length he will do the same in you, that he did in Christ, that is, when all infirmities being utterly laid aside, and death overcome, he will clothe you with heavenly glory.

(o) By the strength and power of him, who showed the same might first in our head, and daily works in his members.

These words are not to be understood as they are by some, of the continued work of sanctification in the heart by the Spirit of God; for regeneration, and not sanctification, is signified by quickening, which quickening occurs when the Spirit of God first takes up his dwelling in the soul; besides, the apostle had spoke of the life of the spirit or soul before; and they are mortal bodies, and not its mortal souls, which are said to be quickened, for these cannot mean the body of sin, or the remains of corruption, as they are said to be, and which are never quickened, nor never can be. To understand the words in such a sense, is not so agreeable to the resurrection of Christ here mentioned; whereas Christ's resurrection is often used as an argument of ours, which is designed here, where the apostle argues from the one to the other. (Dr. John Gill)

What a difference it makes in your body when the Holy Spirit lives within. You experience new life, and even your physical faculties take on a new dimension of experience. When evangelist D.L. Moody described his conversion experience, he said: “I was in a new world. The next morning the sun shone brighter and the birds sang sweeter... the old elms waved their branches for joy, and all nature was at peace.” Life in Christ is abundant life. (The Bible exposition commentary)

This verse affirms one of the most exciting of the Spirit’s ministries. He vitalizes us here and now, even though we are sinful human beings, infusing us with that same power which raised Jesus from the dead, enabling us to live holy lives. Every one of our spiritual failures shouts out, “We can’t.” And every spiritual victory affirms, “But He can!” (The Bible readers companion)

Is That a Bible Verse?

“Is that a Bible verse?”

If I ever write the book ‘Colombo Evangelism’ (some of you will get it), one chapter will have the above title and will discuss what can be called ‘meme theology’.

We’ve all seen them. They have a cute short statement designed to express a Biblical truth. Some do contain truth, but you can’t really ascertain the original author’s intent. I read one like that yesterday morning about this time (5:15AM) while I was likewise engaged in a morning indoor 20 miles of cycle training. It was a post by a long time friend from back in my military days in Berlin. It said:

“God has a better plan for my life than I do.”

Now that is quite true! And as usual, I wanted to ask what it was supposed to mean, as the original author intended. Since it was a repost, I couldn’t do that. Did it speak of God’s provision for our lives in meeting all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19), or was it intended to mean that God has a bigger ‘dream destiny’ for us than we do (Joel Osteen, et al.). After all, it seems there are more sermons/teachings out there these days about the latter than the former, if television evangelists and a lot of Christian bookstores are indicators.

Thankfully, when I asked my friend (Tony) “Is that a Bible verse?”, he talked about trusting in God for all of his temporal needs, although he suspected it wasn’t actually a Bible verse. That’s a good thing. At least I was able to find out what the meme meant to Tony.

So now instead of getting upset with all of these low theology memes, I think I’ll just ask a simple question and wait for return comments!


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