« VorigeDoorgaan »
Of the Works of God and Man.
Of the Miracles of our Saviour.
Of the Innocency of the Dove,and the Wisdom of the Serpent.
Of the Exaltation of Charity.
Of the Moderation of Cares.
Of Earthly Hope.
Of the several kinds of Imposture.
Of the Church and the Scripture.
OF THE WORKS OF GOD AND MAN. GOD beheld all things which his hands had made, and lo they were all passing good. But when man turned him about, and took a view of the works which his hands had made, he found all to be vanity and vexation of spirit: wherefore, if thou shalt work in the works of God, thy sweat shall be as an ointment of odours, and thy rest as the sabbaoth of God: thou shalt travail in the sweat of a good conscience, and shalt keep holy day in the quietness and liberty of the sweetest contemplations; but if thou shalt aspire after the glorious acts of men, thy working shall be accompanied with compunction and strife, and thy remembrance followed with distaste and upbraidings; and justly doth it come to pass towards thee, O man, that since thou, which art God's work, doest him no reason in yielding him well pleasing service, even thine own works also should reward thee with the like fruit of bitterness.
OF THE MIRACLES OF OUR SAVIOUR. "He hath done all things well."
A true confession and applause. God when he created all things saw that every thing in particular and all things in general were exceeding good; God, the word in the miracles which he wrought, (now every miracle is a new creation, and not according to the first creation) would do nothing which breathed not towards men favour and bounty: Moses wrought miracles, and scourged the Egyptians with many
plagues Elias wrought miracles, and shut up heaven, that no rain should fall upon the earth; and again brought down from heaven the fire of God upon the captains and their bands: Elizeus wrought also, and called bears out of the desart to devour young children Peter struck Ananias, the sacrilegious hypocrite, with present death; and Paul, Elymas, the sorceror, with blindness; but no such thing did Jesus, the spirit of God descended down upon him in the form of a dove, of whom he said, "You know not of what spirit you are." The spirit of Jesus is the spirit of a dove; those servants of God were as the oxen of God treading out the corn, and trampling the straw down under their feet; but Jesus is the Lamb of God, without wrath or judgments; all his miracles were consummate about man's body, as his doctrine respected the soul of man: the body of man needeth these things; sustenance, defence from outward wrongs, and medicine; it was he that drew a multitude of fishes into the nets, that he might give unto men more liberal provision: He turned water, a less worthy nourishment of man's body, into wine, a more worthy, that glads the heart of man: He sentenced the fig-tree to wither for not doing that duty whereunto it was ordained, which is, to bear fruit for men's food: He multiplied the scarcity of a few loaves and fishes to a sufficiency to victual an host of people: He rebuked the winds that threatened destruction to the seafaring men: He restored motion to the lame, light to the blind, speech to the dumb, health to the sick, cleanness to
the leprous, a right mind to those that were possessed, and life to the dead. No miracle of his is to be found to have been of judgment or revenge, but all of goodness and mercy, and respecting man's body; for as touching riches he did not vouchsafe to do any miracle, save one only, that tribute might be given to Cæsar.
OF THE INNOCENCY OF THE DOVE, AND THE WISDOM OF THE SERPENT.
"The fool receiveth not the word of wisdom, except thou discover to him what he hath in his heart."
To a man of a perverse and corrupt judgment, all instruction or persuasion is fruitless and contemptible, which begins not with discovery and laying open of the distemper and ill complexion of the mind which is to be recured, as a plaster is unseasonably applied before the wound be searched; for men of corrupt understanding, that have lost all sound discerning of good and evil, come possest with this prejudicate opinion, that they think all honesty and goodness proceedeth out of a simplicity of manners, and a kind of want of experience and unacquaintance with the affairs of the world. Therefore, except they may perceive that those things which are in their hearts, that is to say, their own corrupt principles, and the deepest reaches of their cunning and rottenness to be thoroughly sounded, and known to him that goes about to persuade with them, they make but a play of the words of wisdom. Therefore it behoveth him which aspireth to a goodness
(not retired or particular to himself, but a fructifying and begetting goodness which should draw on others) to know those points, which be called in the Revelation the deeps of Satan, that he may speak with authority and true insinuation. Hence is the precept," Try all things, and hold that which is good;" which endureth a discerning election out of an examination whence nothing at all is excluded: out of the same fountain ariseth that direction, "Be you "wise as serpents, and innocent as doves." There are neither teeth nor stings, nor venom, nor wreaths and folds of serpents, which ought not to be all known and, as far as examination doth lead, tried: neither let any man here fear infection or pollution, for the sun entereth into sinks and is not defiled; neither let any man think that herein he tempteth God, for his diligence and generality of examination is commanded, and God is sufficient to preserve you immaculate and pure.
OF THE EXALTATION OF CHARITY.
"If I have rejoiced at the overthrow of him that hated me, or took pleasure when adversity did befall him."
The detestation or renouncing, of Job. For a man to love again where he is loved, it is the charity of publicans contracted by mutual profit and good offices; but to love a man's enemies is one of the cunningest points of the law of Christ, and an imitation of the divine nature. But yet again, of this charity there be divers degrees; whereof the first is, to pardon our enemies when they repent of which