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purge me, do thou wash me; and the action is twofold, purgabis, do thou purge me, and lavabis, do thou wash me. In which last part, and in the first branch thereof, we shall see first, the action itself, purgabis, thou shalt purge me, and what that imports; and then the means, purgabis hyssopo, thou shalt purge me with hyssop, what that implies; and then the effect, mundabor, I shall be made clean, and what that comprehends. And in the other branch of that second part, lavabis, thou shalt wash me, we shall also look upon the action on God's part, lavabis, thou shalt wash me, and the effect on our part, dealbabor, I shall be white, and the degree, the extent, the exhaltation of that emundation, that dealbation, that cleansing, supra nicem, I shall be whiter than snow. And then we shall conclude all with that consideration, that though in the first part, we find two persons in action; for God works, but man prays that God would work, yet in the other part, the work itself; though the work be divers, a purging, and then a washing of the soul, the whole work is God's alone: David doth not say, no man can say, Do thou purge me, and then, I will wash myself; nor do thou make the medicine, and I will bring the hyssop; nor do thou but wash me, begin the work, and I will go forward with it, and perfect it, and make myself whiter than snow; but the entire work is his, who only can infuse the desire, and only accomplish that desire, who only gives the will, and the ability to second, and execute that will, he, he purges me, or I am still a vessel of peccant humours; his, his is the hyssop, or there is mors in olla, death in the cup; he, he washes me, or I am still in my blood; he, he exalts that cleanness, which is, his washing hath indued, or I return again to that red earth, which I brought out of Adam's bowels; therefore do thou purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; do thou wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

First then, for our first part, we consider the persons. Of these God is the first; Esay spoke boldly, saith the apostle, when he said, God is found by them that seek him not; but still we continue in that humble boldness, to say, God is best found, when we seek him, and observe him in his operation upon us. God gives audiences, and admits accesses in his solemn and public

2 Rom. x. 20.

and out-rooms, in his ordinances; in his cabinet, in his bedchamber, in his unrevealed purposes, we must not press upon him. It was ill taken in the Roman state, when men inquired in arcana imperii, the secrets of state, by what ways and means, public businesses were carried: private men were to rest in the general effects, peace, and protection, and justice, and the like, and to inquire no more; but to inquire in arcana domus, what was done in the bed-chamber, was criminal, capital, inexcusable. We must abstain from inquiring de modo, how such or such things are done in many points, in which it is necessary to us to know that such things are done: as the manner of Christ's presence in the sacrament, and the manner of Christ's descent into hell, for these are arcana imperii, secrets of state, for the manner is secret, though the thing be evident in the Scriptures. But the entering into God's unrevealed, and bosom purposes, are arcana domus, a man is as far from a possibility of attaining the knowledge, as from an excuse for offering at it. That curiosity will bring a man to that blasphemy of Alfonsus king of Castile, the great astronomer, who said, that if he had been of God's counsel in the creation of the world, he could have directed him to have done many things better than he did. They that look too far into God's unrevealed purposes, are seldom content with that that they think God hath done; but stray either into an uncharitable condemning of other men, or into a jealous, a suspicious, a desperate condemning of themselves. Here, in this first branch of this first part, we seek God, and because we seek him, where he hath promised to be, we are sure to find him; because we join with David, in an humble confession of our sins, the Lord joins us with David, in a fruition of himself. And more of that first person, God himself, we say not, but pass to the other, to the petitioner, to the penitent, to the patient, to David himself.

His example is so comprehensive, so general, that as a wellmade, and well-placed picture in a gallery looks upon all that stand in several places of the gallery, in several lines in several angles, so doth David's history concern and embrace all. For his person includes all states, between a shepherd and a king, and his sin includes all sin, between first omissions, and complica

tions of habits of sin upon sin: so that as St. Basil said, he needed no other book, for all spiritual uses, but the Psalms, so we need no other example to discover to us the slippery ways into sin, or the penitential ways out of sin, than the author of that book, David. From his example then, we first deduce this, that in the warfare of this life, there are no emeriti milites; none of that discipline, that after certain years spent in the wars, a man should return to ease, and honour, and security, at home. A man is not delivered from the temptation of ambition, by having overcome the heats and concupiscencies of his youth; nor from the temptation of covetousness in his age, by having escaped ambition, and contented himself with a mean station in his middle years. David, whom neither a sudden growth into such degrees of greatness, as could not have fallen into his thought, or wish before, nor the persecution of Saul, which might have enraged him to a personal revenge, considering how many advantages, and occasions he might have made shift to think that God had put into his hands, to execute that revenge; David, whom neither the concourse and application of the people, who took knowledge of him, as of a rising sun, nor the interest and nearness in the love and heart of Jonathan the king's son, which falls seldom upon a new, and a popular man; David, whom not that highest place, to which God had brought him, in making him king, nor that addition even to that highest place, that he made him successor to a king of whom the state was weary; (for, as the panegyric says, Onerosum est succedere bono principi, It is a heavy thing, and binds a prince to a great diligence, to come immediately after one, whom his subjects loved, so had David an ease, in coming after one, with whom the kingdom was discontented) David, whom this sudden preferment, and persecutions, and popularity, did not so shake, but that we may say of him, as it is said of Job, That in all this height, David did not sin, nor in all these afflictions, He did not charge God foolishly; though he had many victories, he came not to a triumph; but him, whom an army, and an armed giant, Goliah, near hand, could not hurt, a weaker person, and naked, and far off, overthrows and ruins.

It is therefore but an imperfect comfort for any man to say,

have overcome temptations to great sins, and my sins have been but of infirmity, not of malice. For herein, more than in any other contemplation appears the greatness, both of thy danger, and of thy transgression. For, consider what a dangerous, and slippery station thou art in, if after a victory over giants, thou mayest be overcome by pigmies; if after thy soul hath been cannon-proof against strong temptations, she be slain at last by a pistol; and after she hath swam over a tempestuous sea, she drown at last, in a shallow and standing ditch. And as it shows the greatness of thy danger, so it aggravates the greatness of thy fault; that after thou hast had the experience, that by a good husbanding of those degrees of grace, which God hath afforded thee, thou hast been able to stand out the great batteries of strong temptations, and seest by that, that thou art much more able to withstand temptations to lesser sins, if thou wilt, yet by disarming thyself, by divesting thy garrisons, by discontinuing thy watches, merely by inconsideration, thou sellest thy soul for nothing, for little pleasure, little profit, thou frustratest thy Saviour of that purchase, which he bought with his precious blood, and thou enrichest the devil's treasure as much, with thy single money, thy frequent small sins, as another hath done with his talent; for, as God was well pleased with the widow's two farthings, so is the devil well pleased, with the negligent man's lesser sins. O who can be confident in his footing, or in his hold, when David, that held out so long, fell, and if we consider but himself, irrecoverably, where the tempter was weak, and afar off. De longe vidit illam in qua captus est3. Bathsheba was far off. Mulier longe, libido prope, but David's disposition was in his own bosom. Yet David came not up into the terrace, with any purpose or inclination to that sin. Here was no such plotting as in his son Hamon's case, to get his sister Tamar, by dissembling himself to be sick, to his lodging. That man postdates his sin, and begins his reckoning too late, that dates his sin at that hour, when he commits that sin. You must not reckon in sin, from the nativity, but the conception; when you conceived that sin in your purpose, then you sinned that sin, and in every letter, in every discourse, in every present, in every wish, in every dream,

3 Augustine.

that conduces to that sin, or rises from that sin, you sin it over, and over again, before you come to the committing of it, and so your sin is an old, an inveterate sin, before it be born, and that which you call the first, is not the hundredth time, that you have sinned that sin.

It is not much that David contributed to this sin on his part: he is only noted in the text, to have been negligent in the public business, and to have given himself too much ease in this particular, that he lay in bed all day; When it was evening, David arose out of his bed, and walked upon the terrace. And it is true, that the justice of God is subtile, as searching, as unsearchable; and oftentimes punishes sins of omission, with other sins, actual sins, and makes their laziness, who are slack in doing that they should, an occasion of doing that they should not.

It was not much that Bathsheba contributed to this tempta tion, on her part. The Vulgate edition of the Roman church, hath made her case somewhat the worse, by a mistranslation, Ex adverso super solarium suum, as though she had been washing herself, upon her own terrace, and in the eye of the court; whereas indeed, it is no more, but that David saw her, he upon his terrace, not her upon hers. For her washing, it may well be collected out of the fourth verse, that it was a legal washing, to which she was bound by the Levitical law, being a purification after her natural infirmity, and which it had been a sin in her, to have omitted. But had it been a washing of refreshing, or of delicacy, even that was never imputed to Susanna for a fault, that she washed in a garden, and in the day, and employed not only soap, but other ingredients and materials, of more delicacy, in that washing.

Certainly the limits of adorning and beautifying the body are not so narrow, so strict, as by some sour men they are sometimes conceived to be. Differences of ranks, of ages, of nations, of customs, make great differences in the enlarging, or contracting of these limits, in adorning the body; and that may come near sin at some time, and in some places, which is not so always, nor everywhere. Amongst the women there, the Jewish women, it was so general a thing to help themselves with aromatical oils,

2 Sam. xi. 2.

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