« السابقةمتابعة »
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 judgment; 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 27, 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 Isaiah XL. 1.
25 Psalm ci. 1. VOL. III.
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 creaturæ, 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 divinæ naturæ, 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 pardon, where you found a delinquent penitent? How ruefully Col we hear the prophets groan under that onus visionis, which ness repeat so often, O the burden of my vision upon Judah, or a morn Moab, or Damascus, or Babylon, or any place! Which is preach p that that judgment would be a heavy burden upon that people who. hat it was a heavy burden to them to denounce that be not angry No. n upon God's enemies. Our errand, our joy, our
tion for, if we consider the three Persons of the
holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, and their working upon us, a third part of their work (if we may so speak) is consolation; the Father is power, the Son wisdom, and the Holy Ghost consolation for the Holy Ghost is not in a vulture, that hovers over armies, and infected cities, and feeds upon carcasses, but the Holy Ghost is in a dove, that would not make a congregation a slaughter-house, but feeds upon corn, corn that hath in nature a disposition to a reviviscence, and a repullulation, and would imprint in you all, the consolation and sense of a possibility of returning to a new, and better life. God found me nothing, and of that nothing made me; Adam left me worse than God found me, worse than nothing, the child of wrath, corrupted with the leaven of original sin; Christ Jesus found me worse than Adam left me, not only soured with original, but spotted, and gangrened, and dead, and buried, and putrified in actual and habitual sins, and yet in that state redeemed me; and I make myself worse than Christ found me, and in an inordinate dejection of spirit, conceive a jealousy and suspicion, that his merit concerns not me, that his blood extends not to my sin; and in this last and worst state, the Holy Ghost finds me, the spirit of consolation, and he sends a Barnabas, a son of consolation unto me, a Barnabas to my sick bed side, a physician that comforts with hopes, and means of health, a Barnabas to my broken fortune, a potent and a loving friend, that assists the reparation, and the establishing of my state, a Barnabas into the pulpit, that restores and rectifies my conscience, and scatters, and dispels all those clouds that invested it, and infested it before. That unimaginable work of the creation were not ready for a Sabbath, though I be a creature, and a man, I could have no Sabbath, no rest, no peace of conscience; that unexpressible work of the redemption were not ready for that seal, which our Saviour set to it upon the cross, in the consummatum est; all were not finished that concerned me, if the Holy Ghost were not ready to deliver that which Christ sealed, and to witness that which were so delivered, that that spirit might ever testify to my spirit, that all that Christ Jesus said, and did, and suffered, was said, and done, and suffered for my soul. Consolation is not all, if we consider God, but if I consider myself, and my state, consolation is all.
Christ's meaning then in this place, was to establish in his disciples this consolation; but thus, Si quo minus, If it were not thus, I would tell you; if this were not true consolation, I would not delude you, I would not entertain you with false for he is Deus omnium miserationum, The God of all mercies, and yet he will not show mercy to them, who sin upon presumption; so he is Deus omnium consolationum, The God of all comforts, and yet will not comfort them, who rely upon the false, and miserable comforts of this world. How many, how very many of us do otherwise! Otherwise to others, otherwise to our own consciences! Delude all with false comforts! They would not suffer Christ himself to sleep upon a pillow in a storm, but they waked him with that, Master, carest not thou, though we perish1? When will we wake any master, any upon whom we depend, and say, Master, carest not thou, though thou perish? We suffer others, whom we should instruct, and we suffer ourselves to pass on to the last gasp, and we never rebuke our consciences, till our consciences rebuke us at last, alas, it is otherwise, and you never told us.
Christ comforts then, he disputes not, that is not his way; he ministers true comfort, he flatters not, that is not his way; and in this true comfort, the first beam is, that that state which he promises them is a house, In my Father's house, &c. God hath a progress house, a removing house here upon earth, his house of prayer; at this hour, God enters into as many of these houses, as are opened for his service at this hour: but his standing house, his house of glory, is that in heaven, and that he promises them. God himself dwelt in tents in this world, and he gives them a house in heaven. A house, in the design and survey whereof, the Holy Ghost himself is figurative, the fathers wanton, and the schoolmen wild. The Holy Ghost, in describing this house, fills our contemplation with foundations, and walls, and gates, of gold, of precious stones, and all materials, that we can call precious". The Holy Ghost is figurative; and the fathers are wanton in their spiritual elegancies, such as that of St. Augustines, (if that book be his) Hiems horrens, Estas torrens, and Virent prata, cernant sata, and such other harmonious, and melo29 Rev. xxi.
18 Mark iv. 38.
dious, and mellifluous cadences of these waters of life. But the schoolmen are wild; for as one author, who is afraid of admitting too great a hollowness in the earth, lest then the earth might not be said to be solid, pronounces that hell cannot possibly be above three thousand miles in compass, (and then one of the torments of hell will be the throng, for their bodies must be there, in their dimensions, as well as their souls) so when the schoolmen come to measure this house in heaven, (as they will measure it, and the master, God, and all his attributes, and tell us how almighty, and how infinite he is) they pronounce, that every soul in that house shall have more room to itself, than all this world is. We know not that; nor see we that the consolation lies in that; we rest in this, that it is a house, it hath a foundation, no earthquake shall shake it, it hath walls, no artillery shall batter it, it hath a roof, no tempest shall pierce it, it is a house that affords security, and that is one beam; and it is Domus Patris, His Father's house, a house in which he hath interest, and that is another beam of his consolation.
It was his Father's, and so his; and his, and so ours; for we are not joint purchasers of heaven with the saints, but we are co-heirs with Christ Jesus. We have not a place there, because they have done more than enough for themselves, but because he hath done enough for them and us too. By death we are gathered to our fathers in nature; and by death, through his mercy, gathered to his Father also. Where we shall have a full satisfaction, in that wherein St. Philip placed all satisfaction, Ostende nobis patrem, Lord, show us thy Father, and it is enough. We shall see his Father, and see him made ours in him.
And then a third beam of this consolation is, that in this house of his Father's, thus by him made ours, there are mansions; in which word, the consolation is not placed, (I do not say, that there is not truth in it) but the consolation is not placed in this, that some of these mansions are below, some above stairs, some better seated, better lighted, better vaulted, better fretted, better furnished than others; but only in this, that they are mansions; which word, in the original, and Latin, and our language, signifies a remaining, and denotes the perpetuity, the everlastingness