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He knows what pleases God, and can best tell by what instruments he is reconciled. "The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom; and the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable," saith Solomon.° He cannot be cozened by names of things, and feels that reformation to be imposture that is sacrilegious: himself is humble and obedient, and therefore knows that is not truth that persuades to schism and disobedience and most of the questions of christendom are such which either are good for nothing, and therefore to be laid aside; or if they be complicated with action, and are ministries of practice, no man can judge them so well as the spiritual man. That which best pleases God, that which does good to our neighbour, that which teaches sobriety, that which combines with government, that which speaks honour of God, and does him honour,—that only is truth. Holiness, therefore, is a proper and natural instrument of Divine knowledge, and must needs be the best way of instruction in the questions of christendom, because, in the most of them, a duty is complicated with the proposition.
No man that intends to live holily, can ever suffer any pretences of religion to be made to teach him to fight against his king. And when the men of Geneva turned their bishop out of doors, they might easily have considered, that the same person was their prince too; and that must needs be a strange religion, that rose up against Moses and Aaron at the same time: but that hath been the method ever since. There was no church till then ever governed without an apostle or a bishop: and since then, they who go from their bishop, have said very often to their king too, "Nolumus hunc regnare:" and when we see men pretending religion, and yet refuse to own the king's supremacy, they may, upon the stock of holiness, easily reprove their own folly, by considering that such recusancy does introduce into our churches the very worst, the most intolerable parts of popery for perfect submission to kings is the glory of the protestant cause; and really the reprovable doctrines of the church of Rome are by nothing so much confuted, as that they destroy good life by consequent and evident deduction; as by an induction of particulars were easy to make apparent, if this were the proper season for it.
2. Holiness is not only an advantage to the learning all wisdom and holiness, but for the discerning that which is wise and holy from what is trifling, and useless, and contentious; and to one of these heads all questions will return: and therefore, in all, from holiness we have the best instructions. And this brings me to the next particle of the general consideration. For that which we are taught by the Holy Spirit of God, this new nature, this vital principle within us, it is that which is worth our learning; not vain and empty, idle and insignificant notions, in which when you have laboured till your eyes are fixed in their orbs, and your flesh unfixed from its bones, you are no better and no wiser. If the Spirit of God be your teacher, he will teach you such truths as will make you know and love God, and become like to him, and enjoy him for ever, by o Prov. x. 31, 32.
passing from similitude to union and eternal fruition. But what are you the better, if any man should pretend to teach you whether every angel makes a species? and what is the individuation of the soul in the state of separation? what are you the wiser, if you should study and find out what place Adam should for ever have lived in, if he had not fallen? and what is any man the more learned, if he hears the disputes, whether Adam should have multiplied children in the state of innocence, and what would have been the event of things, if one child had been born before his father's sin?
Too many scholars have lived upon air and empty notions for many ages past, and troubled themselves with tying and untying knots, like hypochondriacs in a fit of melancholy, thinking of nothing, and troubling themselves with nothing, and falling out about nothings, and being very wise and very learned in things that are not and work not, and were never planted in paradise by the finger of God. Men's notions are too often like the mules, begotten by equivocal and unnatural generations; but they make no species; they are begotten, but they can beget nothing; they are the effects of long study, but they can do no good when they are produced; they are not that which Solomon calls "viam intelligentiæ," "the way of understanding." If the Spirit of God be our teacher, we shall learn to avoid evil, and to do good, to be wise and to be holy, to be profitable and careful; and they that walk in this way, shall find more peace in their consciences, more skill in the Scriptures, more satisfaction in their doubts, than can be obtained by all the polemical and impertinent disputations of the world. And if the Holy Spirit can teach us how vain a thing it is to do foolish things, he also will teach us how vain a thing it is to trouble the world with foolish questions, to disturb the church for interest or pride, to resist government in things indifferent, to spend the people's zeal in things unprofitable, to make religion to consist in outsides, and opposition to circumstances, and trifling regards. No, no; the man that is wise, he that is conducted by the Spirit of God,-knows better in what Christ's kingdom does consist, than to throw away his time and interest, and peace and safetyfor what? for religion? no: for the body of religion? not so much for the garment of the body of religion? no, not for so much; but for the fringes of the garment of the body of religion; for such, and no better, are the disputes that trouble our discontented brethren; they are things, or rather circumstances and manners of things, in which the soul and spirit is not at all concerned.
3. -Holiness of life is the best way of finding out truth and understanding; not only as a natural medium, nor only as a prudent medium, but as a means by way of Divine blessing. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Here we have a promise for it; and upon that we may rely.
P John xiv. 21.
good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy," said the wise preacher. But this is most expressly promised in the New Testament, and particularly in that admirable sermon, which our blessed Saviour preached a little before his death: "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things."t Well, there is our teacher told of plainly: but how shall we obtain this teacher, and how shall we be taught? Christ will pray for us that we may have this Spirit." That is well: but shall all christians have the Spirit ? Yes, all that will live like christians: for so said Christ, "If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him." Mark these things. The Spirit of God is our teacher:-he will abide with us for ever to be our teacher:-he will teach us all things;-but how? If ye love Christ," if
The old man that confuted the Arian priest by a | lieve a lie." But "God giveth to a man that is plain recital of his creed, found a mighty power of God effecting his own work by a strange manner, and by a very plain instrument; it wrought a Divine blessing just as sacraments use to do; and this lightening sometimes comes in a strange manner, as a peculiar blessing to good men. For God kept the secrets of his kingdom from the wise heathens and the learned Jews, revealing them to babes; not because they had less learning, but because they had more love; they were children and babes in malice; they loved Christ, and so he became to them a light and a glory. St. Paul had more learning than they all; and Moses was instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians; yet because he was the meekest man upon earth, he was also the wisest; and to his human learning, in which he was excellent, he had a Divine light and excellent wisdom superadded to him, by way of spiritual blessings. And St. Paul, though he went very far to the knowledge of many great and excellent truths by the force of human learning, yet he was far short of perfective truth and true wisdom, till he learned a new lesson in a new school, at the feet of one greater than his Gamaliel: his learning grew much greater, his notions brighter, his skill deeper, -by the love of Christ, and his desires, his passionate desires after Jesus.
The force and use of human learning, and of this Divine learning I am now speaking of, are both well expressed by the prophet Isaiah; "And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; ́and he saith, I am not learned."a He that is no learned man, who is not bred up in the schools of the prophets, cannot read God's book for want of learning. For human learning is the gate and first entrance of Divine vision; not the only one indeed, but the common gate. But beyond this, there must be another learning; for he that is learned, bring the book to him, and you are not much the better as to the secret part of it, if the book be sealed, if his eyes be closed, if his heart be not opened, if God does not speak to him in the secret way of discipline. Human learning is an excellent foundation; but the top-stone is laid by love and conformity to the will of God. For we may further observe, that blindness, error, and ignorance, are the punishments which God sends upon wicked and ungodly men. "Etiamsi propter nostræ intelligentiæ tarditatem et vitæ demeritum, veritas nondum se apertissime ostenderit," was St. Austin's expression: "The truth hath not yet been manifested fully to us, by reason of our demerits:" our sins have hindered the brightness of the truth from shining upon us. And St. Paul observes, that when the heathens gave themselves "over to lusts, God gave them over to strong delusions, and to be
ye keep his commandments, but not else: if ye be of the world, that is, of worldly affections, ye cannot see him, ye cannot know him. And this is the particular I am now to speak to; the way by which the Spirit of God teaches us in all the ways and secrets of God, is love and holiness.
"Secreta Dei Deo nostro et filiis domus ejus," "God's secrets are to himself and the sons of his house," saith the Jewish proverb. Love is the great instrument of Divine knowledge, that is the
wμa riv didaσkoμévwv, “the height of all that is to be taught or learned." Love is obedience, and we learn his words best when we practise them; | Α γὰρ δεῖ μανθάνοντας ποιεῖν, ταῦτα ποιοῦντες pavėávoμev, said Aristotle; "those things which they that learn ought to practise,—even while they practise they will best learn."- -"Quisquis non venit, profectò nec didicit: ita enim Dominus docet per Spiritûs gratiam, ut quod quisque didicerit, non tantum cognoscendo videat, sed etiam volendo appetat et agendo perficiat ;" St. Austin: "Unless we come to Christ, we shall never learn: for so our blessed Lord teaches us by the grace of his Spirit, that what any one learns, he not only sees it by knowledge, but desires it by choice, and perfects it by practice."
4. When this is reduced to practice and experience, we find not only in things of practice, but even in deepest mysteries, not only the choicest and most eminent saints, but even every good man can best tell what is true, and best reprove an error.
He that goes about to speak of and to understand the mysterious Trinity, and does it by words and names of man's invention, or by such which signify contingently, if he reckons this mystery by the mythology of numbers, by the cabala of letters, by the distinctions of the school, and by the weak inventions of disputing people; if he only talks of essences and existences, hypostasies and personalities, distinctions
y De Gratia Christi, lib. i. c. 14. noscitur quod non perfectè amatur. Gratià Christi.
Nullum bonum perfectè
without difference, and priority in coequalities, and unity in pluralities, and of superior predicates of no larger extent than the inferior subjects;-he may amuse himself, and find his understanding will be like St. Peter's upon the mount of Tabor at the transfiguration: he may build three tabernacles in his head, and talk something, but he knows not what. But the good man that feels the "power of | the Father," and he to whom "the Son" is become "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;" he in "whose heart the love of the Spirit of God is spread;" to whom God hath communicated the "Holy Ghost, the Comforter; "this man, though he understands nothing of that which is unintelligible, yet he only understands the mysteriousness of the holy Trinity. No man can be convinced well and wisely of the article of the holy, blessed, and undivided Trinity, but he that feels the mightiness of "the Father begetting him to a new life," the wisdom of "the Son building him up in a most holy faith," and the "love of the Spirit of God making him to become like unto God."
He that hath passed from his childhood in grace, under the spiritual generation of the Father, and is gone forward to be a young man in Christ, strong and vigorous in holy actions and holy undertakings, and from thence is become an old disciple, and strong and grown old in religion, and the conversation of the Spirit; this man best understands the secret and undiscernible economy, he feels this unintelligible mystery, and sees with his heart what his tongue can never express, and his metaphysics can never prove. In these cases faith and love are the best knowledge, and Jesus Christ is best known by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and if the kingdom of God be in us, then we know God, and are known of him; and when we communicate of the Spirit of God, when we pray for him, and have received him, and entertained him, and dwelt with him, and warmed ourselves by his holy fires, then we know him too: but there is no other satisfactory | knowledge of the blessed Trinity but this: and, therefore, whatever thing is spoken of God metaphysically, there is no knowing of God theologically, and as he ought to be known, but by the measures of holiness, and the proper light of the Spirit of God.
But in this case experience is the best learning, and christianity is the best institution, and the Spirit of God is the best teacher, and holiness is the greatest wisdom; and he that sins most, is the most ignorant, and the humble and obedient man is the best scholar: "For the Spirit of God is a loving Spirit, and will not enter into a polluted soul but he that keepeth the law, getteth the understanding thereof; and the perfection of the fear of the Lord is wisdom," said the wise Ben-Sirach. And now give me leave to apply the doctrine to you, and so I shall dismiss you from this attention. Many ways have been attempted to reconcile the differences of the church in matters of religion, and all the counsels of man have yet proved ineffective: let us now try God's method, let us betake ourselves 2 Ecclus. xxi. 11.
to live holily, and then the Spirit of God will lead us into all truth. And indeed-it matters not what religion any man is of, if he be a villain;-the opinion of his sect, as it will not save his soul, so neither will it do good to the public: but this is a sure rule, if the holy man best understands wisdom and religion, then by the proportions of holiness we shall best measure the doctrines, that are obtruded to the disturbance of our peace, and the dishonour of the gospel. And, therefore,
1. That is no good religion, whose principles destroy any duty of religion. He that shall maintain it to be lawful to make a war for the defence of his opinion, be it what it will, his doctrine is against godliness. Any thing that is proud, any thing that is peevish and scornful, any thing that is uncharitable, is against the vyaivovoa didaokaλía, that "form of sound doctrine" which the apostle speaks of. And I remember that Ammianus Marcellinus, telling of George, a proud and factious minister, that he was an informer against his brethren, he says, he did it " oblitus professionis suæ, quæ nil nisi justum suadet et lene;” “He forgot his profession, which teaches nothing but justice and meekness, kindnesses and charity."-And however Bellarmine and others are pleased to take but indirect and imperfect notice of it, yet goodness is the best note of the church.
2. It is but an ill sign of holiness when a man is busy in troubling himself and his superior in little scruples and fantastic opinions, about things not concerning the life of religion, or the pleasure of God, or the excellencies of the Spirit. A good man knows how to please God, how to converse with him, how to advance the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, to set forward holiness, and the love of God and of his brother; and he knows also that there is no godliness in spending our time and our talk, our heart and our spirits, about the garments and outsides of religion: and they can ill teach others, that do not know that religion does not consist in these things; but obedience may, and reductively that is religion: and he that, for that which is no part of religion, destroys religion directly, by neglecting that duty that is adopted into religion,-is a man of fancy and of the world; but he gives but an ill account, that he is a man of God and a son of the Spirit.
Spend not your time in that which profits not; for your labour and your health, your time and your studies are very valuable; and it is a thousand pities to see a diligent and a hopeful person spend himself in gathering cockle-shells and little pebbles, in telling sands upon the shores, and making garlands of useless daisies. Study that which is profitable, that which will make you useful to churches and commonwealths, that which will make you desirable and wise. Only I shall add this to you, that in learning there are variety of things, as well as in religion: there is mint and cummin, and there are the weighty things of the law: so there are studies more and less useful, and every thing that is useful will be required in its time and I may in this also use the words of our blessed Saviour, “These things
ought you to look after, and not to leave the other | his portion; his lot is a "lie;" his portion is there, unregarded." But your great care is to be in the where holiness can never dwell. things of God and of religion, in holiness and true wisdom, remembering the saying of Origen, "That the knowledge that arises from goodness is Jɛiorɛpóv τι πάσης ἀποδείξεως, ' something that is more certain and more divine than all demonstration,' than all other learnings of the word."
3. That is no good religion that disturbs government, or shakes a foundation of public peace. Kings and bishops are the foundations and the great principles of unity, of peace, and government; like Rachel and Leah, they build up the house of Israel: and those blind Samsons that shake these pillars, intend to pull the house down. "My son, fear God and the king," saith Solomon; " and meddle not with them that are given to change." That is not truth that loves changes; and the new nothings of heretical and schismatical preachers are infinitely far from the blessings of truth.
In the holy language, truth hath a mysterious name, "emet ;" it consists of three letters, the first and the last and the middlemost of the Hebrew letters; implying to us, that truth is first, and will be last, and it is the same all the way, and combines and unites all extremes; it ties all ends together. “Truth is lasting, and ever full of blessing:"-For the Jews observe that those letters which signify truth, are both in the figure and the number quadrate, firm, and cubical; these signify a foundation, and an abode for ever. Whereas, on the other side, the word which in Hebrew signifies a lie,
secher," is made of letters whose numbers are imperfect, and their figure pointed and voluble; to signify that a lie hath no foundation.
And this very observation will give good light in our questions and disputes: and I give my instance in episcopal government, which hath been of so lasting an abode, of so long a blessing, hath its firmament by the principles of christianity, hath been blest by the issues of that stabiliment; it hath for sixteen hundred years combined with monarchy, and hath been taught by the Spirit which hath so long dwelt in God's church, and hath now-according to the promise of Jesus, that says, "the gates of hell shall never prevail against the church ". been restored amongst us by a heap of miracles; and as it went away, so now it is returned again in the hand of monarchy, and in the bosom of our fundamental laws. Now that doctrine must needs be suspected of error, and an intolerable lie, that speaks against this truth, which hath had so long a testimony from God, and from the wisdom and experience of so many ages, of all our ancestors, and all our laws.
When the Spirit of God wrote in Greek, Christ is called A and ; if he had spoken Hebrew, he had been called & and, that is, " emet;" he is "truth," "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever:" and whoever opposes this holy sanction, which Christ's Spirit hath sanctified, his word hath warranted, his blessings have endeared, his promises have ratified, and his church hath always kept; he emet," and "secher" is
אמת ights against this
And now to conclude: to you, fathers and brethren, you who are or intend to be of the clergy; you see here the best compendium of your studies, the best abbreviature of your labours, the truest method of wisdom, and the infallible, the only way of judging concerning the disputes and questions in christendom. It is not by reading multitudes of books, but by studying the truth of God: it is not by laborious commentaries of the doctors that you can finish your work, but by the expositions of the Spirit of God: it is not by the rules of metaphysics, but by the proportions of holiness: and when all books are read, and all arguments examined, and all authorities alleged, nothing can be found to be true that is unholy. "Give yourselves to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine," saith St. Paul. Read all good books you can; but exhortation unto good life is the best instrument, and the best teacher of true doctrine, of that which is "according to godliness."
And let me tell you this, the great learning of the fathers was more owing to their piety than to their skill; more to God than to themselves: and to this purpose is that excellent ejaculation of St. Chrysostom,a with which I will conclude: "O blessed and happy men, whose names are in the book of life, from whom the devils fled, and heretics did fear them, who (by holiness) have stopped the mouths of them that spake perverse things! But I, like David, will cry out, Where are thy loving-kindnesses which have been ever of old?' Where is the blessed quire of bishops and doctors, who shined like lights in the world, and contained the word of life? 'Dulce est meminisse ;' their very memory is pleasant.' Where is that Evodias, the sweet savour of the church, the successor and imitator of the holy apostles? Where is Ignatius, in whom God dwelt ? Where is St. Dionysius the Areopagite, that bird of Paradise, that celestial eagle? Where is Hippolytus, that good man, ávǹp xpnoTòs, that gentle sweet person?' Where is great St. Basil, a man almost equal to the apostles? Where is Athanasius, rich in virtue ? Where is Gregory Nyssen, that great divine ? And Ephrem the great Syrian, that stirred up the sluggish, and awakened the sleepers, and comforted the afflicted, and brought the young men to discipline; the looking-glass of the religious, the captain of the penitents, the destruction of heresies, the receptacle of graces, the habitation of the Holy Ghost ?" These were the men that prevailed against error, because they lived according to truth: and whoever shall oppose you, and the truth you walk by, may better be confuted by your lives than by your disputations. Let your adversaries have no evil thing to say of you, and then you will best silence them for all heresies and false doctrines are but like Myron's counterfeit cow, it deceived none but beasts; and these can cozen none but the wicked and the negligent, them that love a lie, and live according to it. But if ye become burning and shining lights; if ye a Lib. de Consummat. Seculi, inter opera Ephrem Syri.
this world from sorrow and her saddest pressures, and like the twilight to the day, and the harbinger of joy; but still it is but a conjugation of infirmities, and proclaims our present calamity, only because it is uneasy here, it thrusts us forward toward the light and glories of the resurrection.
THE Condition of man, in this world, is so limited and depressed, so relative and imperfect, that the For as a worm creeping with her belly on the best things he does, he does weakly,—and the best ground, with her portion and share of Adam's curse, things he hath, are imperfections in their very lifts up its head to partake a little of the blessings constitution. I need not tell how little it is that we of the air, and opens the junctures of her imperfect know the greatest indication of this is, that we can body, and curls her little rings into knots and comnever tell how many things we know not; and we binations, drawing up her tail to a neighbourhood may soon span our own knowledge, but our igno- of the head's pleasure and motion; but still it must rance we can never fathom. Our very will, in return to abide the fate of its own nature, and dwell which mankind pretends to be most noble and im- and sleep upon the dust: so are the hopes of a perial, is a direct state of imperfection; and our very mortal man; he opens his eyes, and looks upon fine liberty of choosing good and evil is permitted to us, things at distance, and shuts them again with weaknot to make us proud, but to make us humble; for ness, because they are too glorious to behold; and it supposes weakness of reason and weakness of love. the man rejoices because he hopes fine things are For if we understood all the degrees of amability in staying for him; but his heart aches, because he the service of God, or if we had such love to God knows there are a thousand ways to fail and miss as he deserves, and so perfect a conviction as were of those glories; and though he hopes, yet he enjoys fit for his services, we could no more deliberate for not; he longs, but he possesses not, and must be liberty of will is like the motion of a magnetic content with his portion of dust; and being "a needle toward the north, full of trembling and un-worm, and no man," must lie down in this portion, certainty till it were fixed in the beloved point; it wavers as long as it is free, and is at rest when it can choose no more. And truly what is the hope of man ? It is indeed the resurrection of the soul in
before he can receive the end of his hopes, the salvation of his soul in the resurrection of the dead. For as death is the end of our lives, so is the resurrection the end of our hopes; and as we die daily,