صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

fallen, yet then, in that undervalue, he cost God his own and only Son, before he could have him. Neither became the Son of God capable of redeeming man, by any less, or any other way, than by becoming man.

The Redeemer must be better than he whom he is to redeem; and yet, he must abase himself to as low a nature as his; so his nature; else he could not redeem him. God was aliened from man, and yet God must become man, to recover man.

God joined man in commission with himself upon his creation, in the replete and dominamini' when he gave man power to possess the earth, and subdue the creature; and God hath made man so equal to himself, as not only to have a soul endless and immortal, as God himself, (though not endless and immortal as himself, yet endless and immortal as himself too, though not immortal the same way, for God's immortality is of himself, yet as certainly, and as infallibly immortal as he) but God hath not only given man such an immortal soul, but a body that shall put on incorruption and immortality too, which he hath given to none of the angels. Insomuch, that howsoever it be, whether an angel may wish itself an archangel, or an archangel wish itself a cherubin ; yet man cannot deliberately wish himself an angel, because he should lose by that wish, and lack that glory, which he shall have in his body. We shall be like the angels, says Christo, in that wherein we can be like them, we shall be like them, in the exalting and refining of the faculties of our souls; but they shall never attain to be like us in our glorified bodies. Neither hath God only reserved this treasure and dignity of man to the next world, but even here he hath made him filium Dei', the son of God, and semen Dei, the seed of God, and consortem dicina naturæ, partaker of the divine nature", and deos ipsos, gods themselves, for ille dixit Dii estis, he hath said we are gods. So that, as though the glory of heaven were too much for God alone, God hath called up man thither, in the ascension of his Son, to partake thereof; and as though one God were not enough for the administration of this world, God hath multiplied gods here upon. earth, and imparted, communicated, not only his power to every

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

8 Mark xii. 25.

7 Gen, i. 28.

10 1 John iii. 9.

9 Luke vi. 35. 11 2 Peter i. 4.

magistrate, but the divine nature to every sanctified man. David asks that question with a holy wonder, Quid est homo? What is man that God is so mindful of him? But I may have his leave, and the Holy Ghost's, to say, since God is so mindful of him, since God hath set his mind upon him, What is not man? man is all.

Since we consider men in the place that they hold, and value them according to those places, and ask not how they got thither, when we see man made the love of the Father, the price of the Son, the temple of the Holy Ghost, the signet upon God's hand, the apple of God's eye, absolutely, unconditionally we cannot annihilate man, not evacuate, not evaporate, not extenuate man to the levity, to the vanity, to the nullity of this text, Surely men altogether, high and low, are lighter than vanity. For, man is not only a contributary creature, but a total creature; he does not only make one, but he is all; he is not a piece of the world, but the world itself; and next to the glory of God, the reason why there is a world.

But we must not determine this consideration here, that man is something, a great thing, a noble creature, if we refer him to his end, to his interest in God, to his reversion in heaven; but when we consider man in his way, man amongst men, man is not nothing, not unable to assist man, not unfit to be relied upon by man; for, even in that respect also, God hath made hominem homini Deum, he hath made one man able to do the offices of God to another, in procuring his regeneration here, and advancing his salvation hereafter; as he says, Saviours shall come up on Mount Sion"; which is the church. Neither hath God determined that power of assisting others, in the character of priesthood only, (that the priest should be a god, that is, do the offices and the work of God to the people, by delivering salvation unto them) but he hath also made the prince, and the secular magistrate, a god, that is able to do the offices, and the works of God, not only to the people, but to the priest himself, to sustain him, yea, and to countenance, and favour, and protect him too, in the execution and exercise of his priestly office; as we see in the first plantation of those two great cedars, the secular and the ecclesiastical power, (which, that they might always agree like brethren, God planted at first in those two brethren, Moses and Aaron) there, though Moses were the temporal, and Aaron the spiritual magistrate, yet God says to Moses, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, (but not only to Pharaoh) but Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet's ; for, (as he had said before) thou shalt be to him instead of a god". So useful, so necessary is man to man, as that the priest, who is of God, incorporated in God, subsists also by man; for, Principes hujus seculi rationem reddituri sunt", The princes of this world must give God an account, propter ecclesiam, quam à Christo tuendam susceperunt, for that church, which Christ hath committed to their protection. In spiritual difficulties, and for spiritual duties, God sends us to the priest; but to such a priest as is a man; and (as our comfort is expressed) a priest which was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was in all points tempted like as we are16: for the businesses of this world, rights, and titles, and proprieties, and possessions, God sends us still to the judge; (Judges and officers shalt thou make in all thy gates"') judges to try between man and man; and the sword in battle tries between state and state, prince and prince; and therefore God commands and directs the levying of men to that purpose, in many places of the history of his people ; particularly God appoints Gideon to take a certain proportion of the army, a certain number of soldiers. And in another place, there goes out a press for soldiers from Moses' mouth; he presses them upon their holy allegiance to God, when he says, Who is on the Lord's side, let him come unto me. So, in infirmities, in sicknesses of the body, we ask with the prophet, Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?0? God does not reprove A sa for seeking of help of the physicianse); but the increpation lies only upon this, that he sought to the physician, and not to the Lord. God sends man to the priest, to the prince, to the judge, to the physician, to the soldier, and so, (in other places) to the merchant, and to. cunning artificers, (as in the building of the temple) that all that man needs might be communicated to man by man.

12 Obad. 21.

13 Exod. vii. 1.
16 Heb. iv. 15.
19 Exod. xxxii. 26.

14 Exod. iv. 16.
17 Deut. xvi. 18.
20 Jer. viii. 22.

15 Isidore.

18 Judges vi. 21 2 Chron.xvi. 12.

So that still, simply, absolutely, unconditionally, we cannot say, Surely men, men altogether, high or low, or mean, all are less than vanity. And surely they that pervert and detort such words as these, to such a use, and argue from thence, man is nothing, no more than a worm or a fly, and therefore what needs this solemn consideration of man's actions, it is all one what he does, for all his actions, and himself too are nothing; they do this but to justify or excuse their own laziness in this world, in passing on their time, without taking any calling, embracing any profession, contributing anything to the spiritual edification, or temporal sustentation of other men. But take the words as the Holy Ghost intends them, comparatively, What man compared with God, or what man considered without God, can do anything for others, or for himself? When the apostle says, That all the world is but dung, when the prophet says, That all the nations of the world are less than nothing 25, when the apostle says even of himself, That he is nothing*, all this is nothing in comparison of that expression in the same apostle, That even the preaching of the Gospel is foolishnesses, that that which is the savour of life unto life, God's own ordinance, preaching, is but foolishness; let it be a Paul that plants, and an Apollo that waters, if God give not increase, all is but frivolousness, but foolishness; and therefore boldly, confidently, uncontrollably we may proceed to the propositions of our text, which constitute our second part, Mau, any man, every man, all men, collectively, distributively, considered so, (comparatively with God, or privatively without God) is but a lie, but oanity, less than canity.

To make our best use of the words, (as our translation exhibits them) we make our entrance, with this word of confidence, and infallibility, which only becomes the Holy Ghost, in his asseverations, and in which he establishes the propositions following ; Surely, surely men of low degree, and as surely, men of high, and, surely still all men together, are lighter than vanity. Men deliver their assertions otherwise modified, and under other qualifications. They obtrude to us miraculous doctrines of transubstantiation, and the like, upon a possibility only; It may be done, say they, it is possible, God can do it. But that is far from the assuredness of the Holy Ghost, Surely it is so; for Asylum hæreticorum, est omnipotentia Dei?$, is excellently said, and by more than one of the fathers, The omnipotence of God is the sanctuary of the heretics ; thither they fly, to countenance any such error; this God can do, why should you not believe it? Men proceed in their asseverations farther than so, from this possibility to a probability; it will abide argument, it hath been disputed in the school, and therefore is probable; why should not you believe it? And so they offer us the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin without original sin; but this probability reaches not to this assuredness of our text, surely. They will go farther than this probability, to a veri-similitude, it is more than merely possible, more than fairly probable, it is likely to be so some of the ancient fathers have thought so; and then, why should not you believe it? and so they offer us prayer for the dead. Farther than this veri-similitude they go too; they go to a pie creditur, it may be piously believed, and it is fit to believe it, because it may assist and exalt devotion to think so; and then why should you not believe it? And so they offer us the worship of images and relics. But still, all this comes short of our assuredness, surely, undoubtedly, indisputably it is so.

29 Phi, iii. 8.

2 Cor. xii. 11.

23 Isaiah xl. 15. 25 1 Cor, i. 21.

And when the Roman church would needs counterfeit the language of the Holy Ghost, and pronounce this sureness upon so many new articles in the Council of Trent, it hath not prospered well with them; for we all know, they have repented that forwardness since, and wished they had not determined so many particulars to be matter of faith ; because after such a determination by a council, they have bound themselves not to recede from those doctrines, how unmaintainable soever they be in themselves, or how inconvenient soever they fall out to be to them. And therefore we see, that in all the solicitations that can be used, even by princes, to whom they are most affected, they will not come now to pronounce so surely, to determine so positively upon divers points that rest yet in perplexity amongst them. Which hath raised so many commotions in the kingdom of Spain, and put more than one of their later kings, to send

[blocks in formation]
« السابقةمتابعة »