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God, the way of virginity, the way of martyrdom, and the way of preaching; for by this, they become Sancti Majores, as they call them, saints in favour, saints in office, and fitter to receive our petitions, and mediate between God and us, than those whom they call Mediocres, and Inferiores, saints of a middle form, or of an inferior rank. Yet these are so far provided for, by them too, that we must pray also to these inferior saints, either because I may have had a more particular interest in this life in that saint, than in a greater, and so the readiness, and the assiduity of that saint may recompense his want of power, or else, ad tollendum fastidium, lest a great saint should grow weary of me, if I trouble him every day, and for every trifle in heaven; and some other such reasons, it pleases them to assign, why though some saints have more power with God than others, yet we are bound to pray to all.
And thus they play with divinity, as though after they had troubled all states with political divinity, with their bulls, and breeves of rebus sic stantibus, that as long as things stood thus, this should be Catholic doctrine, and otherwise, when otherwise, and in this political divinity, Machiavel is their pope; and after they had perplexed understandings with philosophical divinity in the school, and in that divinity, Aristotle is their pope; they thought themselves in courtesy, or conscience bound, to recreate the world with poetical divinity, with such a heaven, and such a hell as would stand in their verses, and in this divinity, Virgil is their pope. And so, as Melancthon said, when he furthered the edition of the Alcoran, that he would have it printed, Ut videamus quale poema sit, That the world might see what a piece of poetry the Alcoran was; so I have stopped upon this point, that you might see what a piece of poetry they have made of this problematical point of divinity, the disparity, and degrees of glory in the saints in Heaven.
Be this then thus settled; in the matter, the difference of degrees of glory, we will not differ; in the manner, we would not differ so, as to induce a schism, if they would handle such points problematically, and no farther. But when upon matter of fact they will induce matter of faith, when they will extend problematical divinity to dogmatical, when they will argue and conclude thus,
be thus, therefore it must be thus, a man may be saved, though he believes this, therefore he cannot be saved except he believe this, when in this point in hand) out of our ackr.owledgment of these degrees of glory in the saints they will establish the doctrine of merits, and of invocation of saints, then we must necessarily call them to the rule of all doctrines, the Scriptures. When they tell us historically, and upon historical obligation, and for a historical certitude, that Peter was at Rome, and that he was bishop of Rome, we are not so froward as to deny them that: but when upon his historical and personal being at Rome, they will build that mother article, of an universal supremacy over all the church, then we must necessarily call them to the rule, to the Scriptures, and to require them to prove both his being there, and his being bishop there, by the Scriptures, and either of these would trouble them; as it would trouble them, in our present case, to assign evident places of Scripture, for these degrees of glory in the saints of Heaven. For though we be far from denying the consentaneum est, that it is reasonable it should be, and likely it is so, and far from denying the piè creditur, that it may advance devotion, and exalt industry to believe that it is so, though we acknowledge a possibility, a probability, a very similitude, a very truth, and thus far a necessary truth, that our endeavours may flag and slacken, except we do embrace that help, that there are degrees of glory in Heaven, yet if we shall press for places of Scriptures, so evident, as must constitute an article of faith, there are perchance none to be found, to which very learned, and very reverend expositors have not given convenient interpretations, without inducing any such necessity.
At least, however other places of Scripture may seem to contribute more, this proposition of our text, In my Father's house are many mansions (though it have been applied to the proof of that) hath no inclination, no inclinableness that way. For in this text, our Saviour applies himself to his disciples, in that wherein they needed comfort, that Christ would go away, that they might not go too, that Peter had got a non-obstante, he might, and they might not, and Christ gives them that comfort, that all might, In my Father's house are many mansions. When the apostle presents a great part of our Christian religion together, so as that he calls it a mystery, and a great mystery, yet he calls it a mystery without controversy; Without controversy great is the mystery of God manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, preached to the Gentiles, believed in the world, received into glory**. When he presents matter of consolation, he would have it without controversy ; to establish a disconsolate soul, there is always divinity enough, that was never drawn into controversy. I would pray? I find the spirit of God to dispose my heart, and my tongue, and mine eyes, and hands, and knees to pray? do I doubt to whom I should pray? To God, or to the saints? That prayer to God alone was sufficient, was never drawn into controversy. I would have something to rely and settle and establish my assurance upon ; do I doubt whether upon Christ, or mine own, or other's merits? That to rely upon Christ alone was sufficient, was never drawn into controversy. At this time, Christ disposed himself to comfort his disciples in that wherein they needed comfort; now their discomfort, and their fear lay not in this, whether there were different degrees of glory in heaven, but their fear was, that Christ being gone, and having taken Peter, and none but him, there should be no room for them, and thereupon Christ says, Let not that trouble you, for, in my Father's house are many mansions. And so we have done with the former branch of this last part, that it is piously done to believe these degrees of glory in heaven; that they have inconsiderately extended this problem in the Roman church; that no Scriptures are so evident as to induce a necessity in it; that this Scripture conduces not at all to it; and therefore we pass to our last consideration, the right use of the right sense of these words.
First then, Christ proposes in these words consolation ; a work, than which none is more divine, nor more proper to God, nor to those instruments, whom he sends to work upon the souls and consciences of others. Who but myself can conceive the sweetness of that salutation, when the spirit of God says to me in a morning, Go forth to-day and preach, and preach consolation, preach peace, preach mercy, and spare my people, spare that people whom I have redeemed with my precious blood, and be not angry with them for ever; do not wound them, do not
31 1 Tim. iii. 16.
grind them, do not astonish them with the bitterness, with the heaviness, with the sharpness, with the consternation of my judgments. David proposes to himself, that he would sing of mercy, and of judgmentas; but it is of mercy first; and not of judgment at all, otherwise than it will come into a song, as joy and consolation is compatible with it. It hath fallen into disputation, and admitted argument, whether ever God inflicted punishment by his good angels ; but that the good angels, the ministerial angels of the church, are properly his instruments, for conveying mercy, peace, consolation, never fell into question, never admitted opposition.
How heartily God seems to utter, and how delightfully to insist upon that, which he says in Isaiah, Consolamini, consolamini populum meum, Comfort ye, comfort ye my people“, and Loquimini ad cor, Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and tell her, thine iniquities are pardoned? How glad Christ seems that he had it for him, when he gives the sick man that comfort, Fili confide, my son be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee? What a coronation is our taking of orders, by which God makes us a royal priesthood? And what an inthronization is the coming up into a pulpit, where God invests his servants with his ordinance, as with a cloud, and then presses that cloud with a Væ si non, woe be unto thee, if thou do not preach, and then enables him to preach peace, mercy, consolation, to the whole congregation. That God should appear in a cloud, upon the mercy seat, as he promises Moses he will do", that from so poor a man as stands here, wrapped up in clouds of infirmity, and in clouds of iniquity, God should drop rain, pour down his dew, and sweeten that dew with his honey, and crust that honied dew into manna, and multiply that manna into gomers, and fill those gomers every day, and give every particular man his gomer, give every soul in the congregation, consolation by me; that when I call to God for grace here, God should give me grace for grace, grace in a power to derive grace upon others, and that this oil, this balsamum, should flow to the hem of the garment, even upon them that stand under me; that when mine eyes look up to heaven,
25 Psalın ci. 1.
28 Isaiah xl. 1.
27 Levit. xvi. 2.
the eyes of all should look up upon me, and God should open my mouth, to give them meat in due season ; that I should not only be able to say, as Christ said to that poor soul, Confide fili, my son be of good comfort, but fratres et patres mei, my brethren, and my fathers, nay domini mei, and rex meus, my lords, and my king be of good comfort, your sins are forgiven you; that God should seal to me that patent, Ite prædicate omni creature, go and preach the gospel to every creature, be that creature what he will, that if God lead me into a congregation, as into his ark, where there are but eight souls, but a few disposed to a sense of his mercies, and all the rest (as in the ark) ignobler creatures, and of brutal natures and affections, that if I find a licentious goat, a supplanting fox, an usurious wolf, an ambitious lion, yet to that creature, to every creature I should preach the gospel of peace and consolation, and offer these creatures a metamorphosis, a transformation, a new creation in Christ Jesus, and thereby make my goat, and my fox, and my wolf, and my lion, to become semen Dei, the seed of God, and filium Dei, the child of God, and participem dicina natura, partaker of the divine nature itself; this is that which Christ is essentially in himself, this is that which ministerially and instrumentally he hath committed to me, to shed his consolation upon you, upon you all ; not as his almoner to drop his consolation upon one soul, nor as his treasurer to issue his consolation to a whole congregation, but as his Ophir, as his Indies, to derive his gold, his precious consolation upon the king himself.
What would a good judge, a good-natured judge give in his circuit, what would you, in whose breasts the judgments of the Star-chamber, or other criminal courts are, give, that you had a warrant from the king, to change the sentence of blood into a vardon, where you found a delinquent penitent? How ruefully
we hear the prophets groan under that onus risionis, which repeat so often, O the burden of my vision upon Judah, or
Toab, or Damascus, or Babylon, or any place! Which is preach pi that that judgment would be a heavy burden upon that people who be not angry
hat it was a heavy burden to them to denounce that in upon God's enemies. Our errand, our joy, our
tion : for, if we consider the thrce Persons of the