صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the way.

they have credoes enow, Pater nosters enow, and Ave Marias more than enow; but when we consider them in the Commandments, what we are to do, (as great workers as they pretend to be) though they enlarge their credoes, and multiply their Pater nosters, they contract the Commandments, and put two into one, for fear of meeting one against images. This then expresses God's daily care of us, that he teaches us

But then, even that implies, that we are all out of our way; still all bends, all conduces to that, an humble acknowledgment of our own weakness, a present recourse to the love and power of God; the first thing I look for in the exposition of any Scripture, and the nearest way to the literal sense thereof, is, what may most deject and vilify man, what may most exalt, and glorify God. We are all, all out of our way; but God deals not alike with all; for, for the wicked, Their way is dark and slippery', and then, the angel of the Lord persecutes them; but for those whom he loves, He will weigh the paths of the just, (says our later translation) and, He will make the paths of the righteous equal and eren", says our former; it shall be a path often beaten by him, for it is not righteousness, to be righteous once a year, at Easter, nor once a week, upon Sunday. An anniversay righteousness, an hebdomadary righteousness, a Sabbatarian righteousness is no righteousness. But it is a path ; and so made even, without occasions of stumbling; that is, he shall be able to walk in any profession, and to make good any station, and not be diverted by the power of any temptations incident to that calling. The angel of the Lord, the evil angel, distrust and diffidence, shall persecute the wicked, in his dark and slippery way; this is no teaching; but because the godly have a teaching, even their direction hath a correction too; God beats his scholars into their way too. The difference is expressed in the prophet, When the Lord hath given you the bread of adversity, and the water of afflictiona, (for in God's school that is scholar's fare) yet, says God, Thy teachers shall not be removed from thee into a corner ; still in thine affliction thou shalt have a teacher, or even the affliction itself shall be God's usher; and thou shalt have evidence of it, thy teacher shall not be removed into a corner; thou shalt soe it; and (as it follows there) Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee; (that is, a voice arising even from that affliction that thou hast suffered) and that voice shall say, This is the way, walk ye in it; as dark as affliction is, it shall show thee the way, Hæc est via, This is the way, as much as affliction enfeebles thee, yet it shall enable thee to walk in it, ambulate in ea. God is a schoolmaster; not as the law was, to teach with a sword in his hand; but yet he teaches with a rod in his hand, though not with a sword.

18 Psalm xxxv. 6.

19 Isaiah xxvi. 7.

20 Isaiah xxx. 21.

Now in teaching us the way, he instructs us de via, and in via; which is the way, and what is to be done in it. He sees all our ways; All my ways are before thee, says Davido. And he sees them not so as though they belonged not to him, for he considers them, Does not he behold all my ways, and tell all my step32? He sees them, and sees our irremediable danger in them; Formido, et fooea, et laqueus, Fear, and a pit, and snares are upon thee 23 ; Upon whom? There we see the generality of this single word, thee, that it is all; for so, it follows there, upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. The danger then is general, and the Lord knows it; Who then can teach us a better way, but he? But how doth he teach us this way? When God had promised Moses to send an angel to show the people their way, (I will send an angel before thee) Moses says to God, See, thou sayest, Lead this people forth, and thou hast not showed me whom thou wilt send with me; (so those translators thought good to render it) God had told him of an angel, but that satisfied not Moses ; he must have something showed to him, he must see his guide. If thy presence go not with me, carry me not from hence'', says he to God. For, wherein shall it be known, that I, and thy people have found favour in thy sight? Shall it not be when thou goest up with us? And therefore God satisfies him, Ny presence shall go with thee. Go? but how? says Moses; Wilt thou be pleased to show me thy glory"? Shall we see anything? They did see that pillar in which God was, and that presence, that pillar showed the way. To us, the church is that pillar; in

21 Psalm cxix. 168. 23 Job xxxi. 4. 24 Exod. xxxiii. 2, 12.

25 Ver. 15.

23 Isaiah xxiv, 17.

26 Ver. 18.

that, God shows us our way. For strength it is a pillar, and a pillar for firmness and fixation : but yet the church is neither an equal pillar, always fire, but sometimes cloud too; the church is more and less visible, sometimes in splendour, sometimes in an eclipse; neither is it so a fixed pillar, as that it is not in divers places. The church is not so fixed to Rome, as that it is not communicated to other nations, nor so limited in itself, as that it may not admit changes, in those things that appertain to order, and discipline. Our way, that God teaches us, is the church ; that is a pillar; fixed, for fundamental things, but yet a moveable pillar, for things indifferent, and arbitrary.

Thus he teaches, quid ria, which is the way, it is the church, the pillar of truth. He teaches next, quid in via, what is to be done in the way; for, that counsel of the apostle, See that ye walk circumspectly27, presumes a man to be in the way; else he would have cried to have stopped him, or to have turned him, and not bid him go on, how circumspectly soever. But, In my path, says David, (not making any doubt but that he was in a right path) in my path, the proud have laid a snare for me, and spread a net with cords"; Ad manum orbita, (says the original) even at the hand of the path ; that path which should (as it were) reach out a hand to lead me, hath a snare in it. And therefore, says David, with so much vehemence in the entrance of that Psalm, Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man, who purposeth to ocerthrow my goings; though I go in the right way, the true church, yet purposes to overthrow me there. This evil man works upon us, the man of sin; in those instruments that still cast that snare in our way, in our church, there is a minority, an invisibility, and a fallibility in your church; you begun but yesterday in Luther, and you are fallen out already in Calvin. So also works this evil man amongst us, in those schismatics, who cast that snare in our way, your way (though it be in part mended) hath yet impressions of the steps of the beast, and it is a circular, and giddy way, that will bring us back again to Rome. And therefore, beloved, though you be in the way, see ye walk circumspectly, for the snares that both these have cast in the way, the reproaches, and defamations that both these have cast upon our church. But when thou hast escaped both these snares, of papist, and schismatic, pray still to be delivered from that evil man, that is within thee. Non tantum potest hominem decipere, quam per organum hominis 29, The devil hath not so powerful an instrument, nor so subtile an engine upon thee as thyself. Quis in hoc seculo non patitur hominem malum so? Who in this world (or if he go so far out of this world, as never to see man but himself) is not troubled with this evil man? When thou prayest with David, to be delivered from this evil man, if God ask thee whom thou meanest, must thou not say, thyself? Canst thou show God a worse? Qui non est malus, nihil à malo mali patitur31; If a man were not evil in himself, the worst thing in the world could not hurt him; the devil would not offer to give fire, if there were no powder in thy heart. What that evil man is, that is in another, I cannot know: I cannot always discern another's snare; for, What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him 3?? Thy spirit knows what the evil man that is in thee, is. Deliver thyself of that evil man that ensnares thee in thy way; though thou come to church; yea even when thou art there. David repeats this word A viro malo, From the evil man, twice in that Psalm. In one place, A viro malo, is in that name, Meish, which is a name of man proper only to the stronger sex, and intimates snares and temptations of stronger power, as when fear, or favour tempts a man to come to a superstitious, and idolatrous service. In the other it is but Meadam, and that is a name common to men, and women, and children, and intimates, that omissions, negligences, infirmities, may encumber us, ensnare us, though we be in the way, even in the true place of God's service; and the eye may be ensnared as dangerously, and as damnably in this place, as the ear, or the tongue in the chamber. As St. Hierome says, Nugæ in ore sacerdotis sunt sacrilegium, An idle word in a churchman's mouth is sacrilege ; so a wanton look in the church, is an adultery. Now when God hath thus taught us the way, what it is, that is, brought us to the true church, (for till then, all is diversion, all banishment) and taught us in via, what to do in that

27 Eph. v. 15.

18 Psalm cxL. 5.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

31 Chrysostom.

Augustine. 39 1 Cor. ii. 11.

way, to resist temptations to superstition from other imaginary churches, temptations to particular sins from the evil men of the world, and from the worst man in the world, ourself, the instruction in our text is carried a step further, that is, to proceed and go forward in that way, Qua gradieris, I will teach thee to walk

in that way.

When St. Augustine saith upon this place, It is ria qua gradieris, et non cui hærebis, A way to walk in, not to stick upon,

he doth not mean, that we should ever change this way, or depart from it, (that any cross in this, should make us hearken after another religion) it is not that we should not stick to it, but that we should not stick in it, nor loiter in the way. Thou hast been in this way in the true church) ever since thy baptism : and yet, if a man that hath lived morally well all his life, and no more than so, find by God's grace a door opened into the Christian church, and a short turning into this right way, at the end of his life, he, by the benefit of those good moral actions, shall be before thee, who hast lived lazily, though in the right way, at his first step; for though those good moral actions were not good works, when he did them, yet then, that grace which he lays hold upon at last, shall reflect a tincture upon them, and make them good in the eyes of God, ab initio. If thou have not been lazy in thy way, in thy Christian profession hitherto, yet except thou proceed still, except thou go from hence now, better than thou camest, (better in thy purpose) and come hither next day better than thou wentest, (better in thy practice) thou hast not learned this lesson in this instruction, I will teach thee to walk in

A Christian hath no solstice, no highest point, where he may stand still, and go no farther ; much less hath he any equator, where days and nights are equal, that is, a liberty to spend as much time ill, as well, as many hours in sinful pleasures, as in religious exercises. Quicquid citra Deum est, ria est, nec immorandum in ea ; He doth not say, præter Deum, much less contra Deum; For whatsoever is against God, nay, whatsoever is besides God, is altogether out of the way; but citra Deum, on this side of God: till we come to God in heaven, all our best is but our way to him. All the zeal of gathering knowledge,

this way.

33 Augustine.


« السابقةمتابعة »