« السابقةمتابعة »
did. Then God hid the church; he hid her, in a great part in the wilderness, in hermitages, and such retirings, singly one by one; and after in penurious and obscure monasteries, many of these single hermits gathering themselves together into one house ; when those monasteries were both schools of learning, and shops of manufactures; they taught and wrought in them; Nemo cuiquam onerosus', No man was a burden to any others, no man fed upon another's labours, nor drunk the sweat of another's brow: but, Operabantur manibus ea, quibus et corpus pasci possit, et à Deo mens impediri non possit, They laboured in such manufactures, as might sustain their bodies, and not withdraw their minds from the service of God. So God hid the church, not that the persecution did not find and lop off many a great, and top bough, but he hid the root, and prevented the extirpation of that tree, which his own right hand had planted.
Tu absconsio, Thou art my hiding place, says the primitive church, and so may the reformed church say too. For when the Roman church had made this latibulum, this hiding place, this refuge from persecution, hermitages and monasteries, to be the most conspicuous, the most glorious, the most eminent, the richest and most abundant places of the world; when they had drawn these, at first remote corners in the wilderness, first into the skirts, and suburbs, then into the body and heart of every great city; when for revenue and possession, they will confess, that some one monastery of the Benedictine had ten thousand of our pounds of yearly rent; when they were come for their huge opulency to that height, that they were formidable to those states that harboured them, and for their numbers, (other orders holding proportion with that one) to reckon out of one order, fifty-two popes, two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops and bishops, and almost three hundred emperors and kings, and their children, and fifty thousand declared and approved saints; when they were come to that over-valuation of their religious orders, as to say, that a monk, a friar merited more in his very sleep, or meals, than any secular man, (though a churchman too) did in his best works, that to enter into any order of religion was a second baptism, and wrought as much as the first; their revenue,
their number, their dignity being come to this, and then their viciousness, their sensuality, their bestiality, to as great a height and exaltation, as that; yet in the midst of all these, Tu absconsio mea, may the reformed church say, the Lord was their hiding place, that mourned for this, when they could not help, and at all times, and by all means that God afforded them, endeavoured to advance a reformation. And though God exposed them as a wood to be felled, to a slaughter of twenty, of forty, of sixty thousand in a day, yet Ille absconsio, He hath been our hiding place, he bath kept the root alive all the way; and though it hath been with a cloud, yet he hath covered us.
God came unto Moses, though he came In caligine Nubis, In a thick cloud”; when the glory of the Lord is said to have filled the tabernacle, even that glory was a cloud'; and so it was in the second place of his worship too, in Solomon's temple, that was filled with a cloud. St. Chrysostom when he considered that Christ ascended in a cloud, and that he shall return again in a cloudb, Paternum currum deligere voluit, The Son would mako use of his Father's chariot, and show mercy, nay show glory in a cloud, as his Father had done often. The primitive church, the reformed church, must not complain of having been kept under clouds; for Ille absconsio, God hath made those clouds their hiding place, and wrapped up the seed, and the root safe in that cloud. Though the church were trodden upon like a worm of the earth, yet still she might hear God in that cloud, Noli timere rermis Jacob, Be not afraid thou worm of Jacob, for I will keep thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel'. God hid her then, and hath manifested now, that there was never any time, when he had not some of his to oppose her tyranny and her idolatry They can name no time, when we cannot name some such; and it would be much harder for them, to name men in every age, that have professed all the doctrines of the present Roman church, than for us to find men that have opposed those points that we oppose. Will they say, that these were too few, to constitute or establish, or give name to a church? They were never so few, as Elias thought there had been in his time, when he said, I only am left”; no nor so few, as God, for Elias' comfort, named to him, seven thousand; they were more than so, else they could not have found so many to kill, as they did. Howsoever, since so great schoolmen amongst them as Alexander Ales, and so great canonists amongst them, as Cardinal Turrecremata, with many others, (as they themselves call them) gravissimi theologi", of the gravest divines, asseveranter affirmant, do dogmatically affirm, that during the time that Christ lay in the grave, there was no faith, and consequently no church, but only in one, in the person of the Virgin Mary; in relation to which it is, that in the ceremonies of the church, they put out all their candles but one, in the church, at that time, to denote that all the apostles lost their faith, and one, she alone, retained one; if the church were then in one person, they may well afford a church to have consisted of such numbers, as the Lord did hide under his wings, all the stormy time of their persecutions.
. Exod. xix. 9.
3 Exod. xL. 34. 4 2 Chron. v. 13.
b Matt. xxiv,
Tu absconsio, may the primitive church, and the reformed church say, Thou hast been our hiding place, and so must every timorous soul too, (for you may remember, that these words are by our expositors ascribed to particular souls in the church, as well as to the church in general) every such soul, that for fear of temptations in the world, is loath to come abroad from its retiredness, and venture on the public view, must rely upon that, Tu absconsio, The Lord is able to hide them, able to cover them.
Jovinian the heretic whom St. Hierome opposed, would needs think, or at least say, that after baptism no man was tempted of the devil: not only not overcome, but not tempted. But our baptism does not drown the devil. Pauci inter athletas inexpugnabiles', Few wrestlers that never took fall; none that may not, since we are all at best, but wrestlers. Vita hominis piraterium, says St. Ambrose", what copy soever he followed. Others read it, Man's life is a warfare"); and that is labour enough, and danger enough. But to be still upon so inconstant an element as the water, and still pursued by pirates, or consorted with pirates, is more ; and Vita piraterium, says he,
71 Kings xix. 14. 8 Brondus in Apoc. c. i. q. 11. 10 Ser. xli.
11 Job vii. 1.
Man's life, every man's life, is spent amongst piratos, pursued by them, or consorted with them. The devil hath not a more subtile temptation to ensnare me with, than to bring me to think myself temptation proof; above temptation. Nemo diu fortis est, is excellently said by the same father : no man continues strong against temptations long. For when he sees, that some temptations have done him no harm, he grows negligent and slack towards others. Infelix ego! victorem me puto, dum capior's, Miserable mistaking man that I am! I think myself able to overcome any temptation, and I am overcome even by that temptation of thinking so. I think myself conqueror, when I am captive, and am chained to the chariot, when I think I sit in it. Tranquillitas ista tempestas est, This calm is a storm, this security is a defeat; for it is one of David's heavy imprecations, Veniat illi laqueus quem ignorat, Let him be catched in a snare, that he suspecteth not : destruction come upon him unawares's, so we read it. We are tempted, and it is well that we are so. Qui non est tentatus, quid scit'. He is an ignorant soul, and knows nothing, that hath passed no temptations; nothing at all; not himself; Nescit se homo, nisi tentatione discat se's, Except he be taught in that school, the school of temptations, no man over comes to know himself. So then, Laqueus est in securitate's; If I be secure, and negligent, that is a snare; but Laqueus in timore too, says he ; it is a snare cast by the devil's own hand, if I be over timorous, if upon pretence of hiding myself from temptations, I withdraw myself from the offices of mutual society. Tu absconsio, The Lord will be my hiding place from temptations that attempt me in my calling, but not to hide me from a calling. Scito quod in medio laqueorum ingrederis"?, Know that thou walkest in the midst of snares, but yet thou must walk, walk in a calling. So St. Chrysostom reads that; and adds, he does not say, Vide, but Scito; he does not say, see them, for they are invisible; but know that there are snares, and be wary. And then, as St. Augustine says of the whole church, (which was our first consideration) Ecclesia Catholica inter tentationes vicit, inter tentationes crescit, The whole church is in the midst of temptations, but lives and grows up in the midst of them: so, hear thy God say to thy soul, (which is the consideration that we are now upon) Son of man, though briers and thorns be with thee, though thou duell among scorpions, be not afraid of their words, nor dismayed with their looks 18. Proceed in a lawful calling, and God shall hide thee though with his clouds : and though he cover theo with a cloud of poverty, with sickness, with disgrace, and if he see no other cover safe, cover thee with the cloud of death, and the grave, all is to cover thee from the tempter, and thereby to preserve thee for himself, which is our second part, Thou art my hiding place, Thou shalt preserve me from trouble.
13 Psalm xxxv. 8.
14 Eccles. xxxiv. 9. 17 Eccles. ix. 20.
If we content ourselves with that word which our translators have chosen here, trouble, (Thou shalt preserve me from trouble) we must rest in one of these two senses ; either that God shall arm, and indue those that are his, with such a constancy, as those things that trouble others, shall not trouble them, but, As the sufferings of Christ abound in them, so their consolation also aboundeth by Christ", A8 unknown, and yet well known, as dying, aud behold we live, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all thing820; for, God uses both these ways in the behalf of his servants; sometimes to suspend the working of that that should work their torment, as he suspended the rage of the lions for Daniel, and the heat of the fire in the furnace, for the others ; sometimes by imprinting a holy stupefaction, and insensibleness in the person that suffers, so St. Laurence was not only patient, but merry and facetious when he lay broiling upon the fire, and so we read of many other martyrs, that they have been less moved, less affected with their torments, than their executioners or their persecutors have been; that which troubled others never troubled them; or else the phrase must have this sense, that though they be troubled with their troubles, though God submit them so far, to the common condition of men, that they be sensible of them, yet he shall preserve them from that trouble so, as that it shall never overthrow them, never sink them into a dejection of spirit, or diffidence in his mercy; they shall find storms, but a stout and strong ship under foot; they shall feel
18 Ezek. ii. 6.
19 2 Cor. i, 5.
2 Cor. vi. 9.