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How many remorseful souls have sent back, with Jacob's sons, their money in their sack's mouth! How many great testators have, in their last will, returned the anathematized peculium of impropriations to the church, choosing rather to impair their heir, than to burden their souls ? Dum times ne pro te patrimonium tuum perdas, ipse pro patrimonio tuo peris, saith Cyprian; " While thou fearest to lose thy patrimony for thy own good, thou perishest with thy patrimony. Ye great men, spend not all your time in building castles in the air, or houses on the sand; but set your hands and purses to the building of the porches of Bethesda. It is a shame for a rich Christian to be like a Christmas box, that receives all, and nothing can be got out till it be broken in pieces : or like unto a drowned man's hand, that holds whatsoever it gets. “ To do good, and to distribute, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
This was the place, what was the use of it? All sorts of patients were at the bank of Bethesda : where should cripples be but at the spittle? The sick, blind, lame, withered, all that did either morbo laborare, or vitio corporis, “complain of sickness or impotency, were there." In natural course, one receipt heals not all diseases, no, nor one agent; one is an oculist, another a bone-setter, another a chirurgeon; but all diseases are alike to the supernatural power of God.
Hippocrates, though the prince of physicians, yet swears by Esculapius, he will never meddle with cutting for the stone. There is no disease that art will not meddle with; there are many that it cannot cure. The poor hæmoirrboissa was eighteen years in the physician's hands, and had purged away both her body and her substance. Yea, some it kills instead of healing: whence one Hebrew word signifies both physicians and dead men. But, behold, here all sicknesses cured by one hand, and by one water : O all ye that are spiritually sick and diseased, come to the pool of Bethesda, the blood of Christ: do ye complain of the blindness of your ignorance? here ye shall receive clearness of sight: of the distemper of passions? here ease: of the superfluity of your sinful humours ? bere evacuation : of the impotency of
your obedience? here integrity : of the dead witheredness of good affections ? here life and vigour. Whatsoever your infirmity be, come to the pool of Bethesda, and be healed.
All these may be cured; yet shall be cured at leisure; all must wait, all must hope in waiting. Methinks I see how enviously these cripples look one upon another, each thinking other a let, each watching to prevent other, each hoping to be next; like emulous courtiers, that gape and vie for the next preferment, and think it a pain to hope, and a torment to be prevented : but Bethesda must be waited on. He is worthy of his crutches that will not wait God's leisure for his cure: there is no virtue, no success without patience. Waiting is a familiar lesson with courtiers, and here we have all need of it; one is sick of an overflowing of the gall, another of a tumour of pride, another of the tentigo of lust, another of the vertigo of inconstancy, another of the choking squinancy of curses and blasphemies; one of the boulitny of gluttony, another of the pleuritical stitches of envy; one of the contracting cramp of covetousness, another of the atrophy of unproficiency; one is hidebound with pride, another is consumed with emulation, another rotten with corrupt desires ; and we are so much the sicker, if we feel not these distempers. O that we could wait at the Bethesda of God, attend diligently upon his ordinances : we could no more fail of cure, than now we can hope for cure. We wait hard, and endure much for the body. Quantis laboribus agitur ut longiore tempore laboretur! multi cruciatus suscipiuntur certi, ut pauci dies adjiciantur incerti : “What toil do we take that we may toil yet longer ! we endure many certain pains for the addition of a few uncertain days," saith Austin. Why will we not do thus for the soul? Without waiting it will not be. The cripple (Acts iïi. 4.) was bidden Bréfov cis nuas, “ look up to us :” he looked up, it was cold comfort that he heard, “Silver and gold have I none;" but the next clause made amends for all, Surge et ambula ; “Rise and walk;" and this was, because TEIXEv Tipoodorov, “ he attended expecting,” ver. 5. Would we be cured, it is not for us to snatch at Bethesda, as a dog at Nilus; nor to draw water and away, as Rebecca; nor to set us a while upon the banks, as the Israelites by the rivers of Babylon : but we must dwell in God's house, wait at Bethesda. But what shall I say to your courtiers, but even as St. Paul to his Corinthians, “Ye are full, ye are rich, ye are strong without us?” Many of you come to this place, not as to Bethel the house of God, or Bethesda the house of effusion, but as to Bethaven, the house of vanity. If ye have not lost your old wont, there are more words spoken in the outer closet by the hearers,
than in the chapel by the preacher ; as if it were closet, quasi close set, in an Exchange, like communication of news. What do ye think of sermons ? As matters of formality, as very superfluities, as your own idle compliments which either
ye hear not, or believe not?. What do
What do ye think of yourselves ? have ye only a postern to go to heaven by yourselves, where through ye can go, besides the foolishness of preaching? or do ye sing that old Pelagian note, Quid nunc mihi opus est Deo? " What need have I of God?” what should I
say this but increpa domine? As for our household sermons, our auditors are like the fruit of a tree, in an unseasonable year, or like a wood new felled, that hath some few spires left for star:ders some poles distance ; or like the tythe sheaves in a field, when the corn is gone, eis, dúo; tpeis, &c. as he said. It is true, ye have more sermons, and more excellent than all the courts under heaven put together; but as Austin said well, Quid mihi proderit bona res non utenti bene?
“ What am I the better for a good thing, if I use it not well?" Let me tell you, all these forcible means, not well used, will set you the further off from heaven. If the chapel were the Bethesda of promotion, what thronging would there be into it? yea, if it were but some mask-house, wherein a glorious, though momentary show were to be presented, neither white slaves, nor halberts could keep you out: behold here, ye are offered the honour to be, by this seed of regeneration, the sons of God. The kingdom of heaven, the crown of glory, the sceptre of majesty ; in one word, eternal life is here offered, and performed to you: O let us not so far forget ourselves, as in the ordinances of God to contemn our own happiness : but let us know the time of our visitation, let us wait reverently, and intentively upon this Bethesda of God, that when the angel shall descend and move the water, our souls may be cured, and, through all the degrees of grace, may be carried to the full height of their glory.
The first part of the Meditations upon the Transfiguration
A SERMON PREACHED AT HAVERING BOWER, BEFORE
There is not in all divinity, an higher speculation than this of Christ transfigured: suffer me therefore to lead you up by the hand into mount Tabor, for nearer to heaven ye cannot come while ye are upon earth, that you may see him glorious upon earth, the region of his shame and abasement, who is now glorious in heaven, the throne of his majesty. He that would not have his transfiguration spoken of till he were raised, would have it spoken of all the world over, now that he is raised and ascended, that by this momentary glory we may judge of the eternal. The circumstances shall be to us as the skirts of the hill, which we will climb up lightly; the time, place, attendants, company; the time, after six days; the place, an high hill apart ; the attendants, Peter, James, John; the company, Moses and Elias: which when we have passed, on the top of the hill shall appear to us that sight which shall once make us glorious, and in the mean time happy.
All three evangelists accord in the terminus a quo, that it was immediately after those words, “ There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the Son of man come in his kingdom.” Wherein, methinks, the act comments upon the words. Peter, James and John, were these some; they tasted not of death, till they saw this heavenly image of the royalty of Christ glorified. But the terminus quo disagrees a little. Matthew and Mark say, after six; Luke, post fere octo, which, as they are easily reconciled by the usual distinction of inclusive and exclusive, necessary for all computations; and Luke's about eight; so methinks, seems to intimate God's seventh day, the Sabbath : why should there be else so precise mention of six days after, and about eight, but to imply that day which was betwixt the sixth and eighth; God's day was fittest for so divine a work; and well might that day, which imported God's rest and man's glory, be used for the clear representa
tion of the rest and glory of God and man.
But in this conjecture, for ought I know, I go alone; I dare not be too resolute : certainly it was the seventh, whether it were that seventh, the seventh after the promise of the glory of his kingdom exbibited : and this perhaps not without a mystery; “God teacheth both by words and acts, (saith Hilary), that after six ages of the world should be Christ's glorious appearance, and our transfiguration with him. But I know what our Saviour's farewell was, oix úpôv yvôval, “it is not for us to know;" but if we may not know, we may conjecture; yet not above that we ought, saith St. Paul; we may not super sapere, as Tertullian's phrase is.
For the place, tradition hath taken it still for Tabor ; I list not to cross it without warrant: this was an high hill indeed : thirty furlongs high, saith Josephus ; mira rotunditate sublimis, saith Hierom: and so steep, that some of our English travellers, that have desired to climb it of late, have been glad to give it up in the midway, and to measure the rest with their eyes. Doubtless this hill was a symbol of heaven, being near, as in its situation, in resemblance. Heaven is expressed usually by the name of God's hill: and nature, or this appellation, taught the heathens to figure it by their Olympus. All divine affairs, of any magnificence, were done on hills; on the hill of Sinai was the law delivered; on the hill of Moriah was Isaac to be sacrificed; whence Abraham's posie is, In monte providebitur. On the hill of Rephidim stood Moses with the rod of God in his stretched hand, and figured him crucified upon the hill, whom Joshua figured victorious in the valley; on the hills of Ebal and Gerizim were the blessings and curses; on Carmel was Eliah's sacrifice; the phrontisteria, schools, or universities of the prophets were still Ramath and Gibeath, excelsa ; "high places :" who knows not that on the hill of Sion stood the temple? “I have looked up to the hills,” saith the Psalmist: and idolatry, in imitation, had their bill altars. On the Mount of Olives was Christ wont to send up his prayers, and sent up
himself: and here, Luke saith, he went up to an high hill to pray; not for that God makes difference of places, to whose immensity heaven itself is a valley: it was a heathenish conceit of those Aramites, that God is Deus montium; "the God of the mountains :" but because we are commonly more disposed to good by either the freedom of our scope to heaven,