Slike strani

precept. God hath enjoined it, to the comfort of parents, and behoof of children: which therefore, as it may not be superstitiously hastened, so not negligently deferred.

That the contempt of baptism damneth, is past all doubt; but, that the constrained absence thereof should send infants to hell, is a cruel rashness. It is not their sin to die early : death is a punishment, not an offence; an effect of sin, not a cause of torment: they want nothing but time; which they could not command. Because they could not live a while longer, that therefore they should die everlastingly, is the hard sentence of a bloody religion.

I am only sorry, that so harsh an opinion should be graced with the name of a Father, so reverend, so divine: whose sentence yet let no man plead by halves. He, who held it impossible for a child to be saved unless the baptismal water were poured on his face, held it also as impossible, for the same infant, unless the sacramental bread were received into his mouth. There is the same ground for both; the same error in both; a weakness, fit for forgetfulness : see yet, how ignorant or ill-meaning posterity could single out the one half of the opinion for truth, and condemn the other of falsehood. In spite of whom, one part shall easily convince the other; yea, without all force: since both cannot stand, both will fall together for company. The same mouth, which said, Unless ye be born again of water, and the Holy Ghost, said also, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood : an equal necessity of both. And, lest any should plead different interpretations, the same St. Austin avers this latter opinion also, concerning the necessary communicating of children, to have been once the common judgment of the Church of Rome: a sentence so displeasing, that you shall find the memory of it noted with a black coal, and wiped out in that infamous bill of Expurgations.

Had the ancient Church held this desperate sequel, what strange and yet wilful cruelty had it been in them, to defer baptism å whole year long: till'Easter; or that Sunday, which hath his name, I think, from the white robes of the baptized! Yea, what an adventure was it in some, to adjourn it till their age, with Constantine: if, being unsure of their life, they had been sure the prevention of death would have inferred damnation !

Look unto that Legal Sacrament of Circumcision; which, contrary to the fancies of our Anabaptists, directly answers this Evangelical. Before the eighth day, they could not be circumcised: before the eighth day, they might die. If, dying the seventh day, they were necessarily condemned; either the want of a day is a sin, or God sometimes condemneth not for sin: ther of them possible; neither, according with the justice of the Lawgiver.

Or, if, from this parallel, you please to look either to reason or example, the case is clear.

Reason. No man, that hath faith, can be condemned; for Christ dwells in our hearts by faith: and he, in whom Christ dwells, cannot be a reprobate. Now it is possible a man may have a saving

faith, before baptism: Abraham first believed to justification : then, after, received the sign of circumcision, as a seal of the righteousness of that faith, which he had when he was uncircumcised: therefore, some, dying before their baptism, may, yea must be saved. Neither was Abraham's case singular: he was the father of all them also, which believe, not being circumcised: these, as they are his sons in faith, so in righteousness, so in salvation: uncircumcision cannot hinder, where faith admitteth : these, following his steps of belief before the sacrament, shall doubtless rest in his bosom, without the sacrament; without it, as fatally absent, not as willingly neglected. It is not the water, but the faith : not the putting away the filth of the flesh, saith St. Peter, but the stipulation of a good conscience ; for, “Who takes baptism without a full faith,” saith Jerome, “ takes the water, takes not the Spirit."

" Whence is this so great virtue of the water, that it should touch the body, and cleanse the heart,” saith Austin; “ unless by the power of the word; not spoken, but believed ?" “ Thou seest water," saith Ambrose;

every water heals not: that water only heals, which hath the grace of God annexed:" and, “ if there be any grace in the water,” saith Basil, “ it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit.” Baptism is indeed, as St. Ambrose styles it,

“ the pawn and image of our resurrection;" yea, as Basil," the power of God to resurrection :" but, as Ignatius expounds this phrase aright, believing in his death, we are by baptism made partakers of his resurrection. Baptism therefore, without faith, cannot save a man; and, by faith, doth save him: and faith, without baptism, where it cannot be had; not where it may be had, and is contemned, may save him. That Spirit, which works by means, will not be tied to means.

Examples. Cast your eyes upon that good thief; good in his death, though in his life abominable: he was never washed in Jordan, yet is received into Paradise: his soul was foul with rapines and injustice, yea bloody with murders; and yet, being scoured only with the blood of his Saviour, not with water of baptism, it is presented glorious to God. I say nothing of the souls of Trajan and Falconella; mere heathens; living and dying without Christ, without baptism : which yet their honest legend reports to be delivered from hell, transported to heaven, not so much as scorched in purgatory: the one, by the prayers of Gregory; the other, of Tecla. what partiality is this; to deny that to the children of Christians, which they grant to known Infidels! The promise is made to us, and our seed ; not to those, that are without the pale of the Church. Those intiocents, which were massacred for Christ, are by them canonized for Saints; and make one day in their Kalendar, each year, both holy and dismal; whereof yet scarce any lived to know water, none to know baptism. Yea, all martyrs are here privileged; who are Christened in their own blood, instead of water : but where hath God said, “ All, that die without baptism, shall die for ever, except martyrs ?” why not, “ except believers ?" It is faith, that gives life to martyrs; which if they should want, their first death could not avoid the second. Ambrose doubted not to say, his Valentinian was baptized, because he desired it; not, because he had it: he knew the mind of God; who accounts us to have what we unfeignedly wish. Children cannot live to desire baptism : if their parents desire it for them, why may not the desire of others be theirs, as well as, according to Austin's opinion, the faith of others' believing, and the mouth of others' confessing? In these cases therefore, of any souls but our own, it is safe to suspend, and dangerous to pass judgment. Secret things to God. He, that made all souls, knows what to do with them : neither will make us of his counsel. But, if we define either way, the errors of charity are inoffensive. We must honour good means, and use them; and, in their necessary want, depend upon him, who can work, beyond, without, against means.

Thus have I endeavoured your Ladyship's satisfaction, in what you heard ; not without some scruple. If any man shall blame my choice, in troubling you with a thorny and scholastical discourse, let him know, that I have learned this fashion of St. Jerome, the_Oracle of Antiquity; who was wont to entertain his Paula and Eustochium, Marcella, Principia, Hedibia, and other devout ladies, with learned canvasses of the deep points of divinity. This is not so perplexed, that it need to offend: nor so unnecessary, that it may be unknown.




Discoursing of the comfortable Remedies of all Afflictions. Wise men seek remedies before their disease; sensible patients, when they begin to complain ; fools, too late. Afflictions are the common maladies of Christians: these you feel; and, upon the first groans, seek for ease. Wherefore serves the tongue of the learned, but to speak words in season ? I am a scholar of those, that can comfort you: if you shall, with me, take out my lessons, neither of us shall repent it.

You smart and complain : take beed lest too much. There is no affliction not grievous: the bone, that was disjointed, cannot be set right without pain. No potion can cure us, if it work not: it works not, except it make us sick : we are contented with that sickness, which is the way to health.

There is a vexation, without hurt. Such is this. We are afflicted; not over-pressed: needy; not desperate : persecuted; not forsaken: cast down; but perish not. How should we, when all the evil in a city comes from the providence of a good God; which can neither be impotent, nor unmerciful? It is the Lord: let him do what he will. Woe were us, if evils could come by chance ; or were let loose to alight where they list : now they are overruled, we are safe.

The destiny of our sorrows is written in heaven, by a wise and eternal decree. Behold, he, that hath ordained, moderates them : a faithful God, that gives an issue with the temptation ; an issue, both of their end, and their success. He chides not always; much less striketh. Our light afflictions are but for a moment : not so long, in respect of our vacancy and rest. If we weep sometimes, our tears are precious. As they shall never be dry in his bottle, so they shall soon be dry upon our cheeks. He, that wrings them from us, shall wipe them off. How sweetly doth he interchange our sorrows and joys; that we may neither be vain nor miserable !

It is true; to be struck once in anger, is fearful : his displeasure is more than his blow : in both, our God is a consuming fire.

Fear not: these stripes are the tokens of his love: he is no son, that is not beaten; yea, till he smart, and cry; if not, till he bleed. No parent corrects another's child; and he is no good parent, that corrects not his own. O rod, worthy to be kissed, that assures us of his love, of our adoption !

What speak I of no hurt? short praises do but discommend: I say more; these evils are good. Look to their effects. What is good, if not patience? Affiction is the mother of it: Tribulation bringeth forth patience. What can earth or heaven yield, better than the assurance of God's Spirit ? afflictions argue, yea seal this to us. Wherein stands perfect happiness, if not in our near resemblance of Christ? why was man created happy, but because in God's image ? the glory of paradise, the beauty of his body, the duty of the creatures, could not give him felicity, without the likeness to his Creator.

Behold, what we lost in our height, we recover in our misery; a conformity to the image of the Son of God. He, that is not like his Elder Brother, shall never be coheir with him. Lo his side, temples, hands, feet, all bleeding; his face blubbered, ghastly, and spitted on; his skin all pearled with a bloody sweat; his head drooping, his soul heavy to the death. See you the worldling merry, soft, delicate, perfumed, never wrinkled with sorrow, never humbled with afflictions? What resemblance is here! yea, what contrariety! Ease slayeth the fool : it hath made him resty, and leaves him miserable. Be not deceived : no man can follow Christ, without his Cross; much less, reach him. And, if none shall reign with Christ, but those that suffer with him ; what shall become of these jolly ones?

Go now, thou Dainty Worldling; and please thyself in thy har. piness. Laugh always; and be ever applauded : it is a woeful felicity that thou shalt find, in opposition to thy Redeemer. He hath said, Woe to them that laugh : believest thou, and dost not weep at thy laughter ? and, with Solomon, condemn it of madness? And, again, with the same breath, Blessed are ye that weep : who can believe this, and not rejoice in his own tears; and not pity the faint smiles of the godless ?

Why blessed ? for ye shall laugh : behold, we, that weep on earth, shall laugh in heaven: we, that now weep with men, shall laugh with angels; while the feering worldling shall be gnashing and howling with devils : we, that weep for a time, shall laugh for ever. Who would not be content to defer his joy a little, that it may be perpetual and infinite ? What madman would purchase this crackling of thorns, such is the worldling's joy, with eternal shrieking and torment?

He, that is the door and the way, hath taught us, that through many afflictions we must enter into heaven. There is but one passage,

and that a strait one: if, with much pressure, we can get through, and leave hut our superfluous rags as torn from us in the crowd, we are happy. He, that made heaven, hath on purpose thus framed it: wide, when we are entered, and glorious : narrow and hard in the entrance; that, after our pain, our glory might be sweeter.

And if, beforehand, you can climb up thither in your thoughts ; look ahout you, you shall see no more palms, than crosses : you shall see none crowned, but those, that have wrestled with crosses and sorrows, to sweat, yea to blood; and have overcome. All runs here to the overcomer; and overcoming implies both fighting and success. Gird up your loins, therefore, and strengthen your weak knees. Resolve to fight for heaven; to suffer, fighting ; to persist, in suffering : so persisting, you shall overcome; and overcoming, you shall be crowned.

O reward, truly great, above desert; yea, above conceit! A crown, for a few groans : an eternal crown of life and glory, for a short and momentary suffering. How just is St. Paul's account, that the afflictions of this present life are not worthy of the glory, which shall be shewed unto us! O Lord, let me smart, that I may reign : uphold thou me in smarting, that thou mayest hold me worthy of reigning. It is no matter how vile I be, so I may be glorious.

What say you? would you not be afflicted? Whether would you

rather for a while, or for ever? One must be chosen : the election is easy. Whether would you rather rejoice for one fit, or always ? you would do both. Pardon me, it is a fond covetousness, and idle singularity, to affect it. What ! that you

fare better than all God's Saints ! that God should strew carpets for your nice feet only, to walk into your heaven; and make that way smooth for you, which all Patriarchs, Prophets, Evangelists, Confessors, Christ himself, have found rugged and bloody! Away with this self-love; and come down, you ambitious sons of Zebedee: and, ere you think of sitting near the throne,


alone may

« PrejšnjaNaprej »