Donne’s Sermon Preached at Lincolns Inne, preparing them to build their Chappell.
GENESIS. 28.16 and 17. THEN JACOB AWOKE OUT OF HIS SLEEP, AND SAID, SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, AND I WAS NOT AWARE. AND HE WAS AFRAID, AND SAID, HOW FEARFULL IS THIS PLACE. THIS IS NONE OTHER BUT THE HOUSE OF GOD, AND THIS IS THE GATE OF HEAVEN.
IN THESE verses Jacob is a Surveyor; he considers a fit place for the house of God; and in the very next verse, he is a Builder, he erects Bethel, the house of God it selfe. All was but a drowsinesse, but a sleep, till he came to this Consideration; as soon as he awoke, he took knowledge of a fit place; as soon as he found the place, he went about the work. But to that we shall not come yet. But this Text, being a preparation for the building of a house to God, though such a house as Jacob built then, require no contribution, yet because such Churches, as we build now, doe, we shall first say a little, of that great vertue of Charity; and then somewhat of that vertue, as it is exercisd by advancing the house of God, and his outward worship; And thirdly we shall consider Jacobs steps, and proceedings, in this action of his.
This vertue then, Charity, is it that conducts us in this life, and accompanies us in the next. In heaven, where we shall know God, there may be no use of faith; In heaven, where we shall see God, there may be no use of hope; but in heaven, where God the Father, and the Son, love one another in the Holy Ghost, the bond of charity shall everlastingly unite us together. But Charitas in patria, and Charitas in via, differ in this, That there we shall love one another because we shall not need one another, for we shall all be full; Here the exercise of our charity is, because we doe stand in need of one another. Dives & pauper duo sunt sibi contraria; sed iterum duo sunt sibi necessaria; Rich, and poor are contrary to one another, but yet both necessary to one another; They are both necessary to one an other; but the poor man is the more necessary; because though one man might be rich, though no man were poor, yet he could have no exercise of his charity, he could send none of his riches to heaven, to help him there, except there were some poor here.
He that is too fat, would fain devest some of that, though he could give that to no other man, that lackd it; And shall not he that is wantonly pampered, nay, who is heavily laden, and encombred with temporall abundances, be content to discharge himselfe of some of that, wherewith he is over-fraighted, upon those poor souls, whom God hath not made poor for any sin of theirs, or of their fathers, but onely to present rich men exercise of their charity, and occasions of testifying their love to Christ; who having given himselfe, to convey salvation upon thee, if that conveyance may be sealed to thee, by giving a little of thine own, is it not an easie purchase? When a poore wretch beggs of thee, and thou givest, thou dost but justice, it is his. But when he begs of God for thee, and God gives thee, this is mercy; this was none of thine.
When we shall come to our Redde rationem villications, to give an accompt of our Stewardship, when we shall not measure our inheritance by Acres, but all heaven shall be ours, and we shall follow the Lamb, wheresoever he goes, when our estate, and term shall not be limited by years, and lives, but, as we shall be in the presence of the Ancient of dayes, so our dayes shall be so far equall to his, as that they shall be without end; Then will our great Merchants, great practisers, great purchasers, great Contracters, find another language, another style, then they have been accustomd to, here. There no man shall be calld a prodigall, but onely the Covetous man; Onely he that hath been too diligent a keeper, shall appear to have been an unthrift, and to have wasted his best treasure, the price of the bloud of Christ Jesus, his own soule. There no man shall be calld good security, but he that hath made sure his salvation. No man shall be calld a Subsidy man, but he that hath relieved Christ Jesus, in his sick, and hungry Members. No man shall be calld a wise Steward, but he that hath made friends of the wicked Mammon; Nor provident Merchant, but he that sold all to buy the pearle; Nor a great officer, but he that desires to be a dore-keeper in the kingdome of Heaven.
Now, every man hath a key to this lore of heaven: Every man hath some means to open it; every man hath an oyle to anoint this key, and make it turn easily; he may goe with more ease to Heaven, then he doth to Hell. Every man hath some means to pour this oile of gladnesse and comfort into anothers heart; No man can say, Quid retribuam tibi Domine; Lord what have I to give thee? for every man hath something to give God: Money, or labor, or counsail, or prayers: Every man can give; and he gives to God, who gives to them that need it, for his sake. Come not to that expostulation, When did we see thee hungry, or sick, or imprisoned, and did not minister? Nor to that, Quid retribuam, What can I give, that lack my selfe? lest God come also to that silence, and wearinesse of asking at thy hands, to say, as he sayes in the Psalme, If I be hungry, I will not tell thee; That though he have given thee abundance, though he lack himselfe in his children, yet he will not tell thee, he will not ask at thy hands, he will not enlighten thine understanding, he will not awaken thy charity, he will not give thee any occasion of doing good, witl1 that which he hath given thee.
But God hath given thee a key: yea as he sayes to the Church of Philadelphia, Behold I set before thee an open dore, and no man can shut it. Thou hast a gate into Heaven in thy selfe; If thou beest not sensible of other mens poverties, and distresses, yet Miserere animce tuae, have mercy on thine own soule; thou hast a poor guest, an Inmate, a sojourner, within these mud wals, this corrupt body of thine; be merciful and compassionate to that Soule; cloath that Soul, which is strippd and left naked, of all her original righteousnesse; feed that Soule, which thou hast starvd; purge that Soule, which thou hast infected; warm, and thaw that Soul, which thou hast frozen with indevotion; coole, and quench that Soul, which thou hast inflamed with licentiousness; Miserere animce tuce, begin with thine own Soule; be charitable to thy self first, and thou wilt remember, that God hath made of one bloud, all Mankind, and thou wilt find out thy selfe, in every other poor Man, and thou wilt find Christ Jesus himselfe in them all.
Now, of those divers gates, which God opens in this life, those divers exercises of charity, the particular which we are occasiond to speak of here, is not the cloathing, nor feeding of Christ, but the housing of him, The providing Christ a house, a dwelling; whether this were the very place, where Solomons Temple was after built, is perplexedly, and perchance, impertinently controverted by many; but howsoever, here was the house of God, and here was the gate of Heaven. It is true, God may be devoutly worshipped anywhere; In omni loco dominationis ejus benedic anima mea Domino; In all places of his dominion, my Soule shall praise the Lord, sayes David. It is not only a concurring of men, a meeting of so many bodies that makes a church; If thy soule, and body be met together, an humble preparation of the mind, and a reverent disposition of the body, if thy knees be bent to the earth, thy hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, if thy tongue pray, and praise, and thine ears hearken to his answer, if all thy senses, and powers, and faculties, be met with one unanimous purpose to worship thy God, thou art, to this intendment, a Church, thou art a Congregation, here are two or three met together in his name, and he is in the midst of them, though thou be alone in thy chamber. The Church of God should be built upon a Rock, and yet Job had his Church upon a Dunghill; The bed is a scene, and an embleme of wantonnesse, and yet Hezekiah had his Church in his Bed; The Church is to be placed upon the top of a Hill, and yet the Prophet Jeremy had his Church in Luto, in a miry Dungeon; Constancy, and setlednesse belongs to the Church, and yet Jonah had his Church in the Whales belly; The Lyon that roares, and seeks whom he may devour, is an enemy to this Church, and yet Daniel had his Church in the Lions den; Aquce quietudinum, the waters of rest in the Psalme, were a figure of the Church, and yet the three children had their Church in the fiery furnace; Liberty and life appertaine to the Church, and yet Peter, and Paul had their Church in prison, and the thiefe had his Church upon the Crosse. Every particular man is himselfe Templum Spiritus sancti, a Temple of the holy Ghost; yea, Solvite templum hoc, destroy this body by death, and corruption in the grave, yet there shall be Festum encceniorum, a renuing, a reedifying of all those Temples, in the general Resurrection: when we shall rise again, we, not onely as so many Christians, but as so many Christian Churches, to glorifie the Apostle, and HighPriest of our profession, Christ Jesus, in that eternall Sabbath. In omni loco dominationis ejus, Every person, every place is fit to glorifie God in.
God is not tyed to any place; not by essence; lmplet & continendo implet, God fills every place, and fills it by containing that place in himselfe; but he is tyed by his promise to a manifestation of himselfe, by working in some certain places. Though God were long before he required, or admitted a sumptuous Temple, (for Solomons Temple was not built, in almost five hundred years after their returne out of Egypt) though God were content to accept their worship, and their sacrifices, at the Tabernacle, (which was a transitory, and moveable Temple) yet at last he was so careful of his house, as that himselfe gave the modell, and platforme of it; and when it was built, and after repaired again, he was so jealous of appropriating, and confining all his solemne worship to that particular place, as that he permitted that long schisme, and dissention, between the Samaritans, and the Jews, onely about the place of the worship of God; They differed not in other things: but whether in Mount Sion, or in Mount Garizim.
And the feast of the dedication of this Temple, which was yearly celebrated, received so much honor, as that Christ himselfe vouchsafed to be personally present at that solemnity; though it were a feast of the institution of the Church, and not of God immediately, as their other festivalls were, yet Christ forbore not to observe it, upon that pretence, that it was but the Church that had appointed it to be observed. So that, as in all times, God had manifested, and exhibited himselfe in some particular places, more then other, (in the Pillar in the wildernesse, and in the Tabernacle, and in the poole, which the Angell troubled) so did Christ himselfe, by his owne presence, ceremoniously, justifie, and authorise this dedication of places consecrated to Gods outward worship, not Onely once, but anniversarily by a yearly celebration thereof.
To descend from this great Temple at Jerusalem, to which God had annexed his solemne, and publique worship, the lesser Synagogues, and Chappells of the Jews, in other places, were ever esteemed great testimonies of the sanctity and piety of the founders, for Christ accepts of that reason which was presented to him, in the behalfe of the Centurion, He is worthy that thou shouldst do this for him, for he loveth our Nation; And how hath he testified it? He hath built us a Synagogue.
He was but a stranger to them, and yet he furthered, and advanced the service of God amongst them, of whose body he was no member. This was that Centurions commendation; Et quanta commendatior qui cedificat Ecclesiam, How much more commendation deserve they, that build a Church for Christian service? And therefore the first Christians made so much haste to the expressing of their devotion, that even in the Apostles time, for all their poverty, and persecution, they were come to have Churches: as most of the Fathers, and some of our later Expositors, understand these words, (Have ye not houses to eate and drinke, or doe ye despise the Church of God ?) to be spoken, not of the Church as it is a Congregation, but of the Church as it is a Material building.
Yea, if we may believe some authors, that are pretended to be very ancient, there was one Church dedicated to the memory of Saint John, and another by Saint Marke, to the memory of Saint Peter, whilest yet both Saint John, and Saint Peter were alive. Howsoever, it is certaine, that the purest and most innocent times, even the infancy of the Primitive Church, found this double way of expressing their devotion, in this particular of building Churches, first that they built them onely to the honour, and glory of God, without giving him any partner, and then they
built them for the conserving of the memory of those blessed servants of God, who had sealed their profession with their bloud, and at whose Tombs, God had done such Miracles, as these times needed, for the propagation of his Church. They built their Churches principally for the glory of God, but yet they added the names of some of his blessed servants and Martyrs; for so says he, (who as he was Peters successor, so he is the most sensible feeler, and most earnest, and powerful promoter and expresser, of the dignities of Saint Peter, of all the Fathers) speaking of Saint Peters Church, Beati Petri Basilica, quce uni Deo vero & vivo dicata est, Saint Peters Church is dedicated to the onely living God; They are things compatible enough to beare the name of a Saint, and yet to be dedicated to God.
There the bodies of the blessed Martyrs, did peacefully attend their glorification; There the Histories of the Martyrs were recited and proposed to the Congregation, for their example, and imitation; There the names of the Martyrs were inserted into the publique prayers, and liturgies, by way of presenting the thanks of the Congregation to God, for having raised so profitable men in the Church; and there the Church did present their prayers to God, for those Martyrs, that God would hasten their glory, and finall consummation, in reuniting their bodies, and soules, in a joyfull resurrection.
But yet though this divers mention were made of the Saints of God, in the house of God, Non Martyres ipsi, sed Deus eorum, nobis est Deus, onely God, and not those Martyrs, is our God; we and they serve all one Master; we dwell all in one house; in which God hath appointed us several services; Those who have done their days work, God hath given them their wages, and hath given them leave to goe to bed; they have laid down their bodies in peace to sleep there, till the Sunne rise againe; till the Sunne of grace and glory, Christ Jesus, appeare in judgment; we that are yet left to work, and to watch, we must goe forward in the services of God in his house, with that moderation, and that equality, as that we worship onely our Master, but yet despise not our fellow servants, that are gone before us: That we give to no person, the glory of God, but that we give God the more glory, for having raised such servants: That we acknowledge the Church to be the house onely of God, and that we admit no Saint, no Martyr, to be a Jointendant with him; but yet that their memory may be an encouragement, yea and a seale to us, that that peace, and glory, which they possesse, belongs also unto us in reversion, and that therefore we may cheerfully gratulate their present happinesse, by a devout commemoration of them, with such a temper, and evennesse, as that we neither dishonor God, by attributing to them, that which is inseparably his, nor dishonor them in taking away that which is theirs, in removing their Names out of the Collects, and prayers of the Church, or their Monuments, and memorialls out of the body of the Church: for, those respects to them, the first Christian founders of Churches did admit in those pure times, when Illa obsequia, ornamenta memoriarum, non sacrificia mortuorum, when those devotions in their names, were onely commemorations of the dead, not sacrifices to the dead, as they are made
now in the Romane Church: when Bellarmine will needs falsifie Chrysotome, to read Adoramus monumenta, instead of Adornamus; and to make that which was but an Adorning, an adoring of the Tombes of the Martyrs.
This then was in all times, a religious work, an acceptable testimony of devotion, to build God a house; to contribute something to his outward glory. The goodnesse, and greatnesse of which work, appears evidently, and shines gloriously, even in those several names, by which the Church was called, and styled, in the writings, and monuments of the Ancient Fathers, and the Ecclesiastique story.
It may serve to our edification (at least) and to the exalting of our devotion, to consider some few of them: First then the Church was called Ecclesia, that is, a company, a Congregation; That whereas from the time of John Baptist, the kingdome of heaven suffers violence, and every violent Man, that is, every earnest, and zealous, and spiritually valiant Man, may take ho1d of it, we may be much more sure of doing so, in the Congregation, Quando agmine facto Deum obsidemus, when in the whole body, we Muster our forces, and besiege God. For, here in the congregation, not onely the kingdome of heaven, is fallen into our hands, The kingdome of heaven is amongst you, (as Christ says) but the King of heaven is fallen into our hands; When two, or three are gathered together in my Name, I will be in the midst of you; not onely in the midst of us, to encourage us, but in the midst of us, to be taken by us, to be bound by us, by those bands, those covenants, those contracts, those rich, and sweet promises, which he hath made, and ratified unto us in his Gospell. A second name of the Church then in use, was Dominicum: The Lords possession; It is absolutely, it is intirely his; And therefore, as to shorten, and contract the possession and inheritance of God, the Church, so much, as to confine the Church onely within the obedience of Rome, (as the Donatists imprisoned it in Afrique) or to change the Landmarks of Gods possession, and inheritance, which is the Church; either to set up new works, of outward prosperity, or of personal, and Locall succession of Bishops, or to remove the old, and true marks, which are the Word, and Sacraments, as this is lnjuria Dominico mystico, a wrong to the mystical body of Christ, the Church, so is it injuri a Dominico materiali, an injury to the Material body of Christ sacrilegiously to dilapidate, to despoile, or to demolish the possession of the Church, and so farre to remove the marks of Gods inheritance, as to mingle that amongst your temporall revenues, that God may never have, nor ever distinguish his owne part againe.
And then (to passe faster over these names) it is called Domus Dei, Gods dwelling house. Now, his most glorious Creatures are but vehicula Dei; they are but chariots, which convey God, and bring him to our sight; The Tabernacle it selfe was but Mobilis domus, and Ecclesia portatilis, a house without a foundation; a running, a progresse house: but the Church is his standing house; there are his offices fixed: there are his provisions, which fat the Soule of Man, as with marrow and with fatnesse, his precious bloud, and body: there work his seales; there beats his Mint; there is absolution, and pardon for past sinnes, there is grace for prevention of future in his Sacraments. But the Church is not onely Domus Dei, but Basilica; not onely his house, but his Court: he doth not onely dwell there, but reigne there: which multiplies the joy of his houshold servan ts: The Lord reigneth, let all the earth rejoyce, yea let the multitude of the Islands be glad thereof. That the Church ,vas usually called Martyrium, that is, a place of Confession, where we open our wounds and receive our remedy, That it was called Oratorium, where we might come, and aske necessary things at Gods hands, all these teach us our severall duties in that place, and they adde to their spirituall comfort, who have been Gods instruments, for providing such places, as God may be glorified in, and the godly benefited in all these ways.
But of all Names, which were then usually given to the Church, the name of Temple seems to be most large, and significant, as they derive it a Tuendo; for Tueri signifies both our beholding, and contemplating God in the Church: and it signifies Gods protecting, and defending those that are his, in his Church: Tueri embraces both; And therefore, though in the very beginning of the Primitive Church, to depart from the custome, and language, and phrase of the Jews, and Gentiles, as farre as they could, they did much abstain from this name of Temple, and of Priest, so that till lreneus time, some hundred eighty years after Christ, we shall not so often find those words, Temple, or Priest, yet when that danger was overcome, when the Christian Church, and doctrine was established, from that time downward, all the Fathers did freely, and safely call the Church the Temple, and the Ministers in the Church, Priests, as names of a religious, and pious signification; where before out of a loathnesse to doe, or say any thing like the Jews, or Gentiles, where a concurrence with them, might have been misinterpretable, and of ill consequence, they had called the Church by all those other names, which we passed through before; and they called their Priests, by the name of Elders, Presbyteros: but after they resumed the use of the word Temple againe, as the Apostle had given a good patterne, who to expresse the principal holinesse of the Saints of God, he chooses to doe it, in that word, ye are the Temples of the holy Ghost: which should encline us to that moderation, that when the danger of these ceremonies which corrupt times had corrupted, is taken away, we should returne to a love of that Antiquity, which did purely, and harmelesly induce them: when there is no danger of abuse, there should be no difference for the use of things, (in themselves indifferent) made necessary by the just commandement of lawful authority.
Thus then you see (as farre as the narrownesse of the time will give us leave to expresse it)
the general manner of the best times, to declare devotion towards God, to have been in appropriating certaine places to his worship; And since it is so in this particular history of
Jacobs proceeding in my text, I may be bold to invert these words of David, Nisi Deus cedificaverit domum, unlesse the Lord doe build the house, in vaine doe the labourers work, thus much, as to say, Nisi Domino cedificaveritis dominum, except thou build a house for the Lord, in vaine dost thou goe about any other buildings, or any other businesse in this world. I speake not meerly literally of building Material Chappells; (yet I would speake also to further that) but I speake principally of building such a Church, as every man may build in himselfe: for whensoever we present our prayers, and devotions deliberately, and advisedly to God, there we consecrate that place, there we build a Church. And therefore, beloved, since every master of a family, who is a Bishop in his house, should call his family together, to humble, and powre out their soules to God, let him consider, that when he comes to kneele at the side of his table, to pray, he comes to build a Church there; and therefore should sanctifie that place, with a due, and penitent consideration how voluptuously he hath formerly abused Gods blessings at that place, how superstitiously, and idolatrously he hath flatterd and humourd some great and usefull ghests invited by him to that place, how expensively, he hath served his owne ostentation and vain-g, lory, by excessive feasts at that place, whilest Lazarus hath lien panting, and gasping at the gate; and let him consider what a dangerous Mockery this is to Christ Jesus, if he pretend by kneeling at that table, fashionally to build Christ a Church by that solemnity at the table side, and then crucifie Christ again, by these sinnes, when he is sat at the table. When thou kneelest down at thy bed side, to shut up the day at night, or to, beginne it in the morning, thy servants, thy children, thy little flock about thee, there thou buildest a Church too: And therefore sanctifie that place; wash it with thy tears, and with a repentant consideration; That in that bed thy children were conceived in sinne, that in that bed thou hast turned mariage which God afforded thee for remedy, and physique, to voluptuosnesse, and licenciousnesse; That thou hast made that bed which God gave thee for rest, and for reparation of thy weary body, to be as thy dwelling, and delight, and the bed of idlenesse, and stupidity. Briefly, you that are Masters, continue in this building of Churches, that is, in drawing your families to pray, and praise God, and sanctifie those severall places of bed, and board, with a right use of them; And for you that are servants, you have also foundations of Churches in you, if you dedicate all your actions, consecrate all your services principally to God, and respectively to them, whom God hath placed over you. But principally, let all of all sorts, who present themselves at this table, consider, that in that receiving his body, and his bloud, every one doth as it were conceive Christ Jesus anew; Christ Jesus hath in every one of them, as it were a new incarnation, by uniting himselfe to them in these visible signes. And therefore let no Man come hither, without a search, and a privy search, without a consideration, and re-consideration of his conscience. Let him that beganne to think of it, but this morning, stay till the next. When Moses pulled his hand first out of his bosome, it was white as snow, but it was leprous; when he pulled it the second time, it was of the color of flesh, but it was sound. When thou examines thy conscience but once, but slightly, it may appear, white as snow, innocent; but examine it againe, and it will confesse many fleshly
infirmities, and then it is the sounder for that; though not for the infirmity, yet for the confess, ion of the infirmity. Neither let that hand, that reaches out to this body, in a guiltinesse of pollution, and un cleannesse, or in a guiltinesse of extortion, undeserved fees, ever
hope, to signe a conveyance, that shall fasten his inheritance upon his children, to the third generation, ever hope to assigne a will that shall be observed after his death; ever hope to lift up it selfe for mercy to God, at his death; but his case shall be like the case of Judas, if the devill have put in his heart, to betray Christ, to make the body and bloud of Christ Jesus false witnesses to the congregation of his hypo critical sanctity, Satan shall enter into him, with this sop and seale his condemnation.
Beloved, in the bowels of that Jesus, who is coming into you, even in spiritual riches, it is an unthrifty thing, to anticipate your monies, to receive your rents, before they are due: and this treasure of the soule, the body, and bloud of your Saviour, is not due to you yet, if you have not yet passed a mature, and a severe examination, of your conscience. It were better that your particular friends, or that the congregation, should observe in you, an abstinence and forbearing to day, and make what interpretation they would, of that forbearing, then that the holy Ghost should deprehend you, in an unworthy receiving; lest, as the Master of the feast said to him that came without his wedding garment, then when he was set, Amiee quomodo intrasti, friend how came you in? so Christ should say to thee, then vvhen thou art upon thy knees, and hast taken him into thy hands, Amice quomodo intrabo, friend how can I enter into thee, who hast not swept thy house, who hast made no preparation for me? But to those that have, he knocks and he enters, and he sups with them, and he is a supper to them. And so this consideration of making Churches of our houses, and of our hearts, leads us to a third part, the particular circumstances, in Jacobs action.
In which there is such a change, such a dependence, whether we consider the Metall, or the fashion, the several doctrines, or the sweetnesse, and easinesse, of raising them, as scarce in any other place, a fuller harmony. The first linke is the Tunc Jacob, then Jacob; which is a Tunc consequentice, rather then a Tunc temporis; It is not so much, at what time Jacob did, or said this, as upon what occasion. The second linke is, Quid operatum, what this wrought upon Jacob; It awaked him out of his sleep; A third is Quid ille, what he did, and that was, Et dixit, he came to an open profession of that, which he conceived, he said; and a fourth is, Quid dixit, what this profession was; And in that, which is a branch with much fruit, a pregnant part, a part containing many parts, thus much is considerable, that he presently acknowledged, and assented to that light which was given him, the Lord is in this place; And he acknowledged his owne darknesse, till that light came upon him, Et ego nesciebam, I knew it not; And then upon this light received, he admitted no scruple, no hesitation, but came presently to a confident assurance, Vere Dominus, surely, of a certainty, the Lord is in this place; And then another doctrine is, Et timuit, he was afraid; for all his confidence he had a reverential feare; not a distrust, but a reverent respect to that great Majesty; and upon this feare, there is a second Et dixit, he spoke againe; this feare did not stupifie him, he recovered againe and discerned the manifestation of God, in that particular place, Quam terribilis, how fearful is this place; And then the last linke of this chaine is, Quid inde, what was the effect of all this; and that is, that he might erect a Monument, and marke for the worship of God in this place, Quia non nisi domus, because this is none other then the house of God, and the gate of heaven. Now I have no purpose to make you afraid of enlarging all these points: I shall onely passe through some of them, paraphrastically, and trust them with the rest, (for they insinuate one another) and trust your christianly meditation with them all.
The first linke then is, the Tunc Jacob, the occasion, (then Jacob did this) which was, that God had revealed to Jacob, that vision of the ladder, whose foot stood upon earth, and whose top reached to heaven, upon which ladder God stood, and Angels went up and down. Now this ladder is for the most part, understood to be Christ himselfe; whose foot, that touched the earth, is his humanity, and his top that reached to heaven, his Divinity; The ladder is Christ, and upon him the Angels, (his Ministers) labour tor the edifying of the Church; And in this labour, upon this ladder, God stands above it, governing, and ordering all things, according to his providence in his Church. Now when this was revealed to Jacob, now when this is revealed to you, that God hath let fall a ladder, a bridge between heaven, and earth, that Christ, whose divinity departed not from heaven, came downe to us into this world, that God the father stands upon this ladder, as the Originall hath it, Nitzab, that he leanes upon this ladder, as the vulgar hath it, lnnixus scalte, that he rests upon it, as the holy Ghost did, upon the same ladder, that is, upon Christ, in his baptisme, that upon this ladder, which stretches so farre, and is provided so well, the Angels labour, the Ministers of God doe their offices, when this was, when this is manifested, then it became Jacob, and now it becomes every Christian, to doe something for the advancing of the outward glory, and worship of God in his Church: when Christ is content to be this ladder, when God is content to govern this ladder, when the Angels are content to labour upon this ladder, which ladder is Christ, and the Christian Church, shall any Christian Man forbeare his help to the necessary building, and to the sober and modest adorning of the material Church of God? God studies the good of the Church, Angels labour for it; and shall Man, who is to receive all the profit of this, doe nothing? This is the Tunc Jacob; when there is a free preaching of the Gospell, there should be a free, and liberall disposition, to advance his house.
Well; to make haste, the second linke is Quid operatum, what this wrought upon Jacob: and it is, Jacob awoke out of his sleep. Now in this place, the holy Ghost imputes no sinfull sleep to Jacob; but it is a naturall sleep of lassitude and wearinesse after his travel; there is an ill sleep, an indifferent, and a good sleep, which is that heavenly sleep, that tranquillity, which that soul, which is at peace with God, and divided from the storms, and distractions of this world, enjoys in it selfe. That peace, which made the blessed Martyrs of Christ Jesus sleep upon the rack, upon the burning coales, upon the points of swords, when the persecutors were more troubled to invent torments, then the Christians to suffer. That sleep, from which, ambition, nor danger, no nor when their own house is on fire, (that is, their own concupiscences) cannot awaken them; not so awaken them, that it can put them out of their own constancy, and peacefull confidence in God. That sleep, which is the sleep of the spouse, Ego dormio, sed cor meum vigilat, I sleep, but my heart is awake; It was no dead sleep when shee was able to speak advisedly in it, and say she was asleep, and what sleep it was: It was no stupid sleep, when her heart was awake. This is the sleep of the Saints of God, which Saint Gregory describes, Sancti non torpore, sed virtute sopi ntur ; It is not sluggishnesse, but innocence, and a good conscience, that casts them asleep. Laboriosius dormiunt, they are busier in their sleep; nay, Vigilantius dormiunt, they are more awake in their sleep, then the watchful men of this world; for when they close their eyes in meditation of God, even their dreames are services to him, Somniant se dicere Psalmos, says Saint Ambrose; they dream that they sing psalmes; and they doe more then dream it, they do sing.
But yet even from this holy, and religious sleep (which is a departing from the allurements of the world, and a retiring to the onely contemplation of heaven, and heavenly things) Jacob may be conceived to have awaked, and we must awake; It is not enough to shut our selves in a cloister, in a Monastery, to sleep out the tentations of the world, but since the ladder is placed, the Church established, since God, and the Angels are awake in this businesse, in advancing the Church, we also must labour, in our several vocations, and not content our selves with our own spiritual sleep; the peace of con science in our selves; for we cannot have that long, if we doe not some good to others. When the storm had almost drownd the ship, Christ was at his ease, in that storm, asleep upon a pillow. Now Christ was in no danger himself; All the water of Noahs flood, multiplyed over again by every drop, could not have drownd him.
All the swords of an Army could not have killed him, till the houre was come, when hee was pleased to lay down his soul. But though he were safe, yet they awaked him, and said, Master carst thou not though we perish? So though a man may be in a good state, in a good peace of conscience, and sleep confidently in it, yet other mens necessities must awaken him, and though perchance he might passe more safely, if he might live a retired life, yet upon this ladder some Angels ascended, some descended, but none stood still but God himself. Till we come to him, to sleep an eternal Sabbath in heaven, though this religious sleep of enjoying or retiring and contemplation of God, be a heavenly thing, yet we must awake even out of this sleep, and contribute our paines, to the building, or furnishing, or serving of God in his Church.
Out of a sleep (conceive it what sleep soever) Jacob awakned; and then, Quid ille? what did he? Dixit, he spoke, he entred presently into an open profession of his thoughts, he smotherd nothing, he disguised nothing. God is light, and loves cleernesse; thunder, and wind, and tempests, and chariots, and roaring of Lyons, and falling of waters are the ordinary emblems of his messages, and his messengers in the Scriptures. Christ who is Sapientia Dei, the wisdome of God, is Verbum, Sermo Dei, the word of God, he is the wisdome, and the uttering of the wisdome of God, as Christ is expressd to be the word, so a Christians duty is to speak clearly, and professe his religion. With how much scorn and reproach Saint Cyprian fastens the name of Libellaticos upon them, who in time of persecution durst not say they were Christians, but under-hand compounded with the State, that they might live unquestioned, undiscovered, for though they kept their religion in their heart, yet Christ was defrauded of his honour. And such a reproach, and scorn belongs to them, who for fear of losing worldly preferments, and titles, and dignities, and rooms at great Tables, dare not say, of what religion they are.
Beloved, it is not enough to awake out of an ill sleep of sinne, or of ignorance, or out of a good sleep, out of a retirednesse, and take some profession, if you winke, or hide your selves, when you are awake, you shall not see the Ladder, not discern Christ, nor the working of his Angels, that is, the Ministery of the Church, and the comforts therein, you shall not hear that Harmony of the quire of heaven, if you will bear no part in it; an inward acknowledgment of Christ is not enough, if you forbear to professe him, where your testimony might glorify him. Si sufficeret fides cordis, non creasset tibi Deus os, If the heart were enough, God would never have made a mouth; And to that, we may adde, Si sufficeret os, non creasset manus, if the mouth were enough, God would never have made hands; for as the same Father says, Omni titba clarior est per opera demonstratio, no voice more audible, none more credible, then when thy hands speak as well as thy heart or thy tongue; Thou are then perfectly awaked out of thy sleep, when thy words and works declare, and manifest it.
The next is, Quid dixit; he spake, but what said he? first, he assented to that light which was given him, The Lord is in this place. He resisted not this light, he went not about to blow it out, by admitting reason, or disputation against it. H e imputed it not to witchcraft, to illusion of the Devill; but Dominus est in loco isto, The Lord is in this place; 0 how many heavy sinnes, how many condemnations might we avoid, if wee would but take knowledge of this, Dominus
in loco isto, That the Lord is present, and sees us now, and shall judge hereafter, all that we doe, or think. It keeps a man sometimes from corrupting, or soliciting a woman, to say, Pater, Maritus in loco, the Father, or the Husband is present; it keeps a man from an usurious contract to say, Lex in loco, the Law will take knowledge of it; it keeps a man from slandering-or calumniating another, to say, Testis in loco, here is a witnesse by; but this is Catholica Medicina, and Omnimorbia, an universal medicine for all, to say, Dominus in loco, The Lord is in this place, and sees, and heares, and therefore I will say, and think, and do, as if I were now summond by the last Trumpet, to give an account of my thoughts, and words, and deeds to him.
But the Lord was there and Jacob knew it not. As he takes knowledge by the first light of Gods presence, so he acknowledges that he had none of this light, of himself, Ego nesciebam, Jacob a Patriarch and dearly beloved of God, knew not that God was so near him. How much lesse shall a sinfull man, that multiplies sinnes, like clouds between God and him, know, that God is near him? As Saint Augustine said, when hee came out of curiosity to hear Saint Ambrose preach at Milan, without any desire of profiting thereby, Appropinquavi, & nesciebam, I came neer God, but knew it not; So the customary and habitual sinners, may say, Elongavi, & nesciebam, I have eloyn’d my selfe, I have gone farther, and farther from my God,
And was never sensible of it; It is a desperate ignorance, not to bee sensible of Gods absence; but to acknowledge with Jacob, that we cannot see light, but by that light, that we cannot know Gods presence but by his revealing of himself, is a religious, and a Christian humility. To know it by Reason, by Philosophy, is a dimme and a faint knowledge, but onely by the testimony of his own spirit, and his own revealing, we come to that confidence, Vere Domine, Surely the Lord is in this place.
Est apud malos, sed dissimulans, God is with the wicked, but he dissembles his beeing there, that is, conceals it; he will not be known of it; Et ibi, malorum dissimulation quodammodo Veritas non est, when God winks at mens sinnes, when he dissembles, or disguises his knowledge we may almost say, says Saint Bernard, Veritas non est, Here is not direct dealing, here is not intire truth, his presence is scarce a true presence. And therefore as the same Father proceeds, Si dicere licet, if we may be bold to expresse it so, Apud impios est, sed in dissimulatione, he is with the wicked, but yet he dissembles, he disguises his presence, he is there to no purpose, to no profit of theirs; but Est apud justos in veritate, with the righteous he is in truth, and in clearnesse. Est apud Angelos in fcelicitate, with the Angels and Saints in heaven, he is in an established happinesse; Est apud inferos in feritate, he is in Hell in his fury, in an irrevocable, and undeterminable execution of his severity: God was surely, and truly with Jacob, and with all them, who are sensible of his approaches, and of his gracious manifestation of himself. Vere non erat apud eos quibus dixit, quid vocatis me Dominitm, & non facitis quae dixi vobis? God is not truly with them, whom he rebukes, saying; Why call ye me Lord, and do not my commandements? but ubi in ejus nomine Angeli simul & homznes congregantur, When Angels and men, Priests and people, the Preacher and the congregation labour together upon this Ladder, study the advancing of his Church (as by the working of Gods gratious Spirit we doe at this time) Ibi vere est & ibi vere Domznus est, surely he is in this place, and surely he is Lord in this place, he possesses, he fills us all, he governs us all: and as, though we say to him, Our Father which art in heaven, yet we beleeve that he is within these walls, so though we say Adveniat regnum tuum, thy kingdome come, we beleeve that his kingdome is come, and is amongst us in grace now, as it shall be in glory hereafter.
When he was now throughly awake, when he was come to an open profession, when he acknowledged himselfe to stand in the sight of God, when he confessed his owne ignorance of Gods presence, and when after all he was come to a setled confidence, Vere Dominus, surely the Lord is here, yet it is added, Et timuzt, and he was afraid. No man may thinke himselfe to bee come to that familiar acquaintance with God, as that it should take away that reverential feare which belongs to so high and supreme a Majesty. When the Angell appeared to the wife of Manoah, foretelling Samsons birth, she says to her husband, the fashion of him was like the fashion of the Angell of God; whats that? Exceeding fearful. When God appears to thy soule, even in mercy, in the forgivenes of thy sins, yet there belongs a fear even to, this apprehension of mercy: Not a fearfull diffidence, not a distrust, but a fearfull consideration, of that height, and depth; what a high Majesty thou hast offended, what a desperate depth thou wast falling into, what a fearful thing it had been, to have fallen into the hands of the living God, and what an irrecoverable wretch thou hadst been, if God had not manifested himselfe, to have been in that place, with thee. And therefore though he have appeared unto thee in mercy, yet be afraid, lest he goe away againe; As Manoah prayed, and said, I beseech thee my Lord, let the Man of God, whom thou sentest, come againe unto us, and teach us, what we shall doe with the child, when he is born, so when God hath once appeared to thy soul in mercy, pray him to come again, and tell thee what thou shouldest doe with that mercy, how thou shouldest husband those first degrees of grace and of comfort, to the farther benefit of thy soule, and the farther glory of his name, and be afraid that thy dead Byes may putrefie his ointment; those reliques of sinne, (though the body of sinne, be crucified in thee) which are left in thee, may overcome his graces: for upon those words, Pavor tenuit me & tremor, & omnia ossa mea perterrita sunt, feare came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake, Saint Gregory says well, Quid per ossa nisi fortia acta designantur, our good deeds, our strongest works and those which were done in the best strength of grace, are meant by our bones, and yet ossa perterrita our strongest works tremble at the presence and examination of God. And therefore to the like purpose (upon those words of the Psalme) the same Father says, Omnia ossa mea dicent, Domine quis similis tibi, all my bones say, Lord who is like unto thee? Carnes mete, verba non habent, (my fleshly parts, my carnal affections) In firma mea funditus silent, my sinnes, or my infirmities dare not speak at all, not appear at all, Sed ossa mea, quce fortia credzdi, sua consideratione tremiscunt, my very bones shake, there is no degree, no state neither of innocence, nor of repentance, nor of faith, nor of sanctification, above that fear of God: and he is least acquainted with God, who thinks that he is so familiar, that he need not stand in feare of him.
But this fear hath no ill effect. It brings him to a second profession, Et dixit; and he spoke againe. He waked, and then he spoke, as soon as he came out of ignorance; He was afraid, and then he spoke againe that he might have an increase of grace. The earth stands still: and earthly Men may be content to doe so: but he whose conversation is in heaven, is as the heavens are in continuall progresse. For Inter profectum, & defectum, medium in hac vita non datur. A Christian is always in a proficiency, or deficiency: If he goe not forward, he goes backward. Nemo dicat, satis est, sic manere volo; Let no man say, I have done enough, I have made my profession already, I have been catechizd, I have been thought fit to receive the Communion, sufficit mihi esse sicut heri & nudiustertius; though he be in the way, in the Church, yet he sleeps in the way, he is got no farther in the way, then his godfathers carried him in their armes, to engraffe him in the Church by Baptisme: for this man, says he, In via residet, in scala subsistit, quad nemo angelorum fecit, he stands still upon the ladder, and so did none of the Angels. Christ himself, increased in wisdome, and in stature, and in favour with God, and Man; so must a Christian also labour to grow and to encrease, by speaking and speaking again, by asking more, and more questions, and by farther, and farther informing his understanding, and enlightening his faith; pertransiit benefaciendo, & sanavit omnes, says Saint Peter of Christ; He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the Devill; and it was prophesied of him, Exultavit ut Gigas ad currendam viam, He went forth as a Gyant, to· run a race; If it be Christs pace, it must be a Christians pace too. Currentem non apprehendit, nisi qui & pariter currit; There is no overtaking of him that runnes, without running too. Quid prodest Christum sequi, si non consequamur? and to what purpose do we follow Christ, if not to overtake him, and lay hold upon him? Sic currite, ut comprehendatis, fige Christiane cursus & profectus metam ubi Christus suum; runne so as ye may obtain; and if thou beest a Christian, propose the same end of thy course, as Christ did; factus est obediens usque ad mortem; and the end of his course was, to be obedient unto death.
Speak then, and talke continually of the name, and the goodnesse of God; speak again, and again; It is no tautology, no babling, to speak, and iterate his prayses: Who accuses Saint Paul for repeating the sweet name of Jesus so very many times in his Epistles? Who accuses David for repeating the same phrase, the same sentence [for his mercy endureth for ever] so many times, as he doth in his Psalms? nay, the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm is scarce any thing else, then an often repetition of the same thing. Thou spokest assoon as thou wast awake, assoon as thou wast born, thou spokest in Baptism. So proceed to the farther knowledge of Religion, and the mysteries of Gods service in his house; and conceive a fearful reverence of them in their institution, and speak again, enquire what they mean, what they signify, what they exhibit to thee. Conceive a reverence of them, first, out of the authority that hath instituted them, and then speak, and inform thy self of them. God spent a whole week in speaking for thy good; Dixit Deus, God spake that there might be light, Dixit Deus, God spake that there might be a firmament; for immediately upon Gods speaking, the work followd: Dixit & factum, he spake the word, and the world was created. As God did, a godly man shall do; If he delight to talk of God, to mention often upon all occasions, the greatnesse, and goodnesse of God, to prefer that discourse, before obscene, and scurrile, and licentious, and profane, and defamatory, and ridiculous, and frivolous talke; If he delight in professing God with his tongue, out of the abundance of his heart, his works shall follow his words, he will do as he says. If God had given over, when he had spake of Light, and a Firmament, and Earth, and Sea, and had not continued speaking till the last day, when he made thee, what hadst thou got by all that? what hadst thou been at all for all that? If thou canst speak when thou awakest, when thou beginnest to have an apprehension of Gods presence, in a remorse, if then, that presence,
and Majesty of God, make thee afraid, with the horrour and greatnesse of thy sinnes, if thou canst not speak again then, not goe forward with thy repentance, thy former speech is forgotten by God, and unprofitable to thee. Jacob at first speaking confessed God to be in that place; but so, he might be every where; but he conceived a reverential fear at his presence; and then he came to speak the second time, to professe, that that was none other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven; that there was an entrance for him in particular, a fit place for him to testifie and exercise his Devotion; he came to see, what it was fit for him to doe, towards the advancing of Gods house.
Now whensoever a man is proceeded so far with Jacob, first to sleep, to be at peace with .God, and then to wake, to doe something for the good of others, and then to speak, to make profession, to publish his sense of Gods presence, and then to attribute all this onely to the Light of God himself, by which light he grows from faith to faith, and from grace to grace, whosoever is in this disposition, he may say in all places, and in all his actions, This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. He shall see heaven open, and dwell with him, in all his undertakings: and particularly, and principally in his expressing of a care, and respect, both to Christs Mysticall, and to his material body; both to the sustentation of the poor, and to the building up of Gods house. In both which kinds of Piety, and Devotion, (non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam; Not unto us O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy Name be given the glory;) As to the confusion of those shamelesse slanderers, who place their salvation in works, and accuse us to avert men from good works, there have been in this Kingdome, since the blessed reformation of Religion, more publick charitable works performd, more Hospitals and Colleges erected, and endowed in threescore, then in some hundreds of · years, of superstition before, so may God be pleased to adde one example more amongst us, that here in this place, we may have some occasion to say, of a house erected, and dedicated to his service, This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven: and may he vouchsafe to accept at our hands, in our intention, and in our endevour to consummate that purpose of ours, that thanksgiving, that acclamation which he received from his Royall servant Salomon, at the Consecration of his great Temple, when he said, Is it true indeed, that God will dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens are not able to contain thee, how much more unable shall this house bee, that we intend to build? But have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord, my God,to hear the cry and the prayer that thy servant shall make before thee that day; That thine eye may bee open towards that house night and day, that thou mayst heare the supplications of thy servants, and of thy people, which shall pray in that place, and that thou mayst hear them in the place of thy habitation even in heaven, and when thou hearest, mayst have mercy.