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Christ; I forbid thee not David's sigh, Hei mihi, Woe is me that I must dwell so long with them that love not peace! I only enjoin thee thy Saviour's Veruntamen, Yet not mine, but thy will, O Father, be done; that all thy wishes may have relation to his purposes, and all thy prayers may be inanimated with that, Lord manifest thy will unto me, and conform my will unto thine.
So shalt thou not be affrighted, as though God aimed at thee, when he shoots about the mark, and thou seest a thousand fall at thy right hand, and ten thousand at thy left; nor discouraged as though God had left out thee, when thou seest him take others into garrison, and leave thee in the field, assume others to triumph, and leave thee in the battle still. For as Christ Jesus would have come down from heaven, to have died for thee, though there had been no soul to have been saved but thine; so is he gone up to heaven, to prepare a place for thee, though all the souls in this world were to be saved as well as thine. Trouble not thyself with dignity, and priority, and precedency in heaven, for consolation and devotion consist not in that, and thou wilt be the less troubled with dignity, and priority, and precedency in this world, for rest and quietness consist not in that.
PREACHED AT WHITEHALL, APRIL 30, 1620.
Psalm cxliv. 15.
[Being the First Psalm for the Day.)
Blessed are the people that be so; yea blessed are the people, whose God is
The first part of this text hath relation to temporal blessings, Blessed is the people that be so: the second part to spiritual, Yea blessed is the people, whose God is the Lord. His left hand is under my head, saith the spouse'; that sustains me from falling
· Cant. ii. 6.
into murmuring, or diffidence of his Providence, because out of his left hand he hath given me a competency of his temporal blessings; But his right hand doth embrace me, saith the spouse there ; his spiritual blessings fill me, possess me, so that no rebellious fire breaks out within me, no outward temptation breaks in upon me. So also says Solomon again, In her left hand is riches and glory, (temporal blessings) and in her right hand length of days, all that accomplishes and fulfils the eternal joys of the saints of heaven. The person to whom Solomon attributes this right and left hand is Wisdom; and a wise man may reach out his right and left hand, to receive the blessings of both sorts. And the person whom Solomon represents by Wisdom there, is Christ himself. So that not only a worldly wiseman, but a Christian wiseman may reach out both hands, to both kinds of blessings, right and left, spiritual and temporal. And therefore, , Interrogo ros, filios regni cælorum, saith St. Augustine, Let me ask you, who are sons and heirs of the kingdom of heaven, Progeniem resurrectionis in æternum, You that are the offspring of the resurrection of Christ Jesus, and have your resurrection in his, Membra Christi, templa Spiritus Sancti, You that are the very body of Christ, you that are the very temples of the Holy Ghost, Interrogo ros, Let me ask you, for all your great reversion hereafter, for all that present possession which you have of it, in an apprehensive faith, and in a holy conversation in this life, for all that blessedness, Non est ista felicitas? Is there not a blessedness in enjoying God's temporal blessings here too? Sit licet, sed sinistra, saith that father ; it is certainly a blessedness, but a lefthanded blessedness, a weaker, a more imperfect blessedness, than spiritual blessings are.
As then there is dextra, and sinistra beatitudo, a right-handed, and a left-handed blessedness in the text: so there is dextra, and sinistra interpretatio, a right and a left exposition of the text. And as both these blessednesses, temporal and spiritual, are seals and testimonies of God's love, though not both of equal strength, and equal evidence ; so both the interpretations of these words are useful for our edification, though they be not both of equal authority. That which we call sinistram interpretationem, is that sense of these words, which arises from the first translators of the Bible, the Septuagint, and those fathers which followed them; which, though it be not an ill way, is not the best, because it is not according to the letter; and then, that which we call dextram interpretationem, is that sense which arises pregnantly, and evidently, liquidly, and manifestly out of the original text itself,
2 Prov. iii. 16.
The authors and followers of the first sepse read not these words as we do, Beatus populus, That people is blessed, but Beatum dixerunt populum, That people was esteemed blessed ; and so they refer this and all the temporal blessings mentioned in the three former verses to a popular error, to a general mistaking, to the opinions, and words of wicked and worldly men, that only they desire these temporal things, only they taste a sweetness, and apprehend a blessedness in them; whereas they who have truly their conversation in heaven, are swallowed up with the contemplation of that blessedness, without any reflection upon earth or earthly things. But the author of the second sense, which is God himself, and his direct word, presents it thus, Beatus populus, That people is truly blessed, there is a true blessedness in temporal things; but yet, this is but sinistra beatitudo, a less perfect blessedness; for the followers of both interpretations, and all translators, and all expositors meet in this, that the perfect, the accomplishing, the consummatory blessedness is only in this, That our God be the Lord.
First then, to make our best use of the first sense, that temporal things conduce not at all to blessedness, St. Cyprian's wonder is just, Deum nobis solis contentum esse, nobis non sufficere Deum; That God should think man enough for him, and man should not be satisfied with God; that God should be content with Fili da mihi cor, My Son give me thy heart, and man should not be content with Pater da mihi Spiritum, My God, my Father, grant me thy Spirit, but must have temporal additions too. Non est castum cor, saith St. Augustine, si Deum ad mercedem colit; as he saith in another place, Non est casta uror, quæ amat quia dives, She is never the honester woman, nor the lovinger wife, that loves her husband in contemplation of her future jointure, or in fruition of her present abundancies; so he
says here, Non est castum cor, That man hath not a chaste, a sincere heart towards God, that loves him by the measure and proportion of his temporal blessings. The devil had so much colour for that argument, that in prosperity there can be no trial, whether a man love God or no, as that he presses it even to God himself, in Job's case : Doth Job serve God for nought? hast not thou hedged him in, and blessed the works of his hands, and increased his substance? How canst thou tell whether he will love thee, or fear thee, if thou shouldest take away all this from him? Thou hast had no trial yet. And this argument descended from that father to his children, from the devil there, to those followers of his whom the prophet Malachi reprehends for saying, It is in rain to serve God, for what profit is it, that we have kept his commandments*? When men are willing to prefer their friends, we hear them often give these testimonies of a man; he hath good parts, and you need not be ashamed to speak for him; he hath money in his purse, and you need not be sorry to speak for him ; he understands the world, he knows how things pass, and he hath a discreet, a supple, and an appliable disposition, and he may make a fit instrument for all your purposes, and you need not be afraid to speak for him. But whoever casts into this scale and valuation of a man, that weight, that he hath a religious heart, that he fears God? What profit is there in that, if we consider this world only? But what profits it a man, if he get all the world, and lose his
And therefore that opinion, that there was no profit at all, no degree towards blessedness in those temporal things, prevailed so far, as that it is easy to observe in their expositions upon the Lord's Prayer, that the greatest part of the fathers do ever interpret that petition, Da nobis hodie, Give us this day our daily bread, to be intended only of spiritual blessings, and not of temporal; so St. Hierome saith, when we ask that bread, Illum petimus, qui panis vious est, et descendit de cælo; we make our petition for him, who is the bread of life, and descended from the bosom of the Father; and so he refers it to Christ, and in him, to the whole mystery of our redemption. And Athanasius ayd St. Augustine too (and not they two alone) refer it to the sacramental bread; that in that petition, we desire such an application of the bread of life, as we have in the participation of the body and blood of Christ Jesus in that communion. St. Cyprian insists upon the word nostrum, our bread; for, saith he, temporal blessings cannot properly be called ours, because they are common to the saints, and to the reprobates; but in a prayer ordained by Christ for the faithful, the petition is for such things as are proper, and peculiar to the faithful, and that is for spiritual blessings only. If any man shall say, Ideo quærenda, quia necessaria, We must pray, and we must labour for temporal things, because they are necessary for us, we cannot be without them, Ideo non querenda quia necessaria, says St. Chrysostom, so much of them, as is necessary for our best state, God will give us, without this laborious anxiety, and without eating the bread of sorrow in this life, Non sperandum de superfluis, non desperandum de necessariis, says the same father; it is a suspicious thing to doubt or distrust God in necessary things, and it is an unmannerly thing to press him in superfluous things. They are not necessary before, and they are not ours after: for those things only are ours, which no body can take from us : and for temporal thing, Auferre potest inimicus homo, incito: Let the inimicus homo be the devil, and remember Job's case, Let the inimicus homo be any envious and powerful man, who hath a mind to that that thou hast, and remember Naboth's case, and this envious man can take any temporal thing from thee against thy will. But spiritual blessings cannot be taken so, Fidem nemo perdidit, nisi qui sprecerit, says St. Augustin, No man ever lost his faith, but he that thought it not worth the keeping.
3 Job i. 9, 10.
* Mal. iii. 14,
But for Job's temporal estate says St. Augustine, all was lost. And lest any man should say, Uxor relicta erat, Job had not lost all, because his wife was left, Misericordem putatis diabolum, says that father, qui ei reliquit Uxorem? Do you think that Job lighted upon a merciful and good-natured devil, that the devil did this out of pity and compassion to Job, or that Job was beholden to the devil for this, that he left him his wife? Norerat per quam deceperat Adam, says he, the devil knew by what instrument he had deceived the first man, and by the same instrument he practises upon Job; Suam reliquit adjutricem,