Quicquid dat mihi Pater, ad me veniet: & eum qui venit ad me, nequaquam ejecerim foras.
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,.
The words of Christ's, and are both agreeable to the action we have in hand, also a good dependance upon that at wherein we have been heretofore conversant. But that these words are to be supplyed to the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of the Lords Supper appears, for that before he calls himself the bread of life verse the thirty first; The bread from Heaven, verse the fourty first; The living bread verse fiftieth first; and all along this chapter there is nothing spoken of Christ but [594/595] as he is the matter of this Sacrament: and therefore these words are to be understood of the holy Eucharist.
And so these words as they yeeld comforts to the commers, perswading them that they are of those, whom the God the Father hath given to Christ; no lesse comfort is reached to them here; for that they shall not be cast out, but received of him as none shall be able to take them out of his hands, John the tenth chapter and twenty eighth verse.
On the other side, They that came not, may know from hence, that as they are not in the number of the Fathers Donatives, that is, such as are given to Christ, but are the portion of Satan, For they shall be cast out into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstones, Apocalyps, the twenty first chapter and eighth verse. And into utter darkenesse where is weeping and gnashing of teeth, Matthew the eigth chapter and twelfth verse.
Touching the dependance his words have with that part of Scripture which we usually have held, when we spake of Cains departure from Gods presence, we heard that he did set himself as neer Eden as he could be; that he was content for a little trifling pleasure, that shortly fadeth, to forgoe Gods presence, where is pleasure for evermore; that for a little wordly gain with Balaam, he gives over all godlinesse, which is the true gain; and that not he, but the whole world through ambition, as Lords, doe seek the worlds honor with the losse of the honor and favour of God. Being thus departed from God, we heard he came to a Land called Nod, that is, a Land of unquietnesse and trouble, both in respect of the inward disquietness of his soul by continual fear & the outward vanities of the whole world; where he found that having forsaken God, with whom is fulnesse of joy, he could not have his desire satisfied by any pleasure that the world could afford. But we left not Cain there, but heard, that the end of that journey was woe, as it shall be the end of all those that walk in Cains way, Jude the eleventh chapter.
And for that there is none but may fall into the same way, it concerns every man to think how, being departed from the presence of God, he may come back to Christ, and especially that he watch his opportunity, to come at such a time as Christ will not cast him out; And that is taught us here, in these words, where Christ saith That whosoever commeth to him, as he is the bread of life, he shall not be cast forth.
But we must watch this opportunity; for there are two venite's, Come to me all Matthew the eleventh chapter, that what have departed from me, to receive worldly pleasures an gain; The other Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdome, Matthew twenty fift[h] chapter and the thirty fourth verse. But he that will have his part in this latter venite, must have his part also in the first: He must come again to Christ by repentance, else he cannot come to be partaker of the heavenly Kingdome.
[595/596]. In these words of Christ we have three persons: First, Pater dans. Secondly, Homo veniens. Thirdly. Christus non ejiciens. Whereof the two former parts be the Condition, the three persons belongeth to the Promise. The Condition stands in The Fathers giving, and our comming, The promise is Christs not casting out.
Touching which part joyntly, we are to observe these, That every one by experiencing findes that the estate of sinners, live they never so pleasantly, is but as Cain called his sonne Chanoch, that is, a good beginning; For the mid'st of that state is unquietnesse, and the end everlasting death. Which being considered, it will make every man willing to come again to God if there be any hope, they shall be received: In regard of our selves, as St. Paul speaketh of her that departeth from her husband, the first epistle to the Corinthians, the seventh chapter and eleventh verse, so it were just that in as much as we have willingly forsaken God, and departed from him, preferring transistory and earthly delights before his favour, he should say, Qui discedit, discedat, that being once gone from him, he should not receive us again.
But here we are to admire the goodnesse and mercy of God and Christ, that instead of a revenger and punisher, he is a merciful receiver; that where in Justice Christ might be a rock of offence, to such as depart from him, he will be a rock of refuge to them, that he is so farre from casting out, if they come, that he is content to seek such as are lost, Luke the nineteenth chapter and tenth verse, That he sends and sends again, that they should come back Matthew the twenty second chapter. That he stands at the dore knocking, Apocalyps, the third chapter, And saith, Come to us all ye, Matthew the eleventh chapter: So there is no doubt but Christ will receive them that come to him. For, as the ancient Fathers note, if he comes to us, we cast not him out, neither will he cast us out when we come to him: and that no unworthinesse by means of any filth, either of body or soul, doth keep him from us; we see for bodlily uncleanesse, he was content to be received by Simon the leper, Mark the fourth chapter and the third verse: And again in regard of spirituall pollution, howsoever a man know himself to be a sinner, that is, to have an unclean soult not to despair, because Christ by the confession of his enemies, is such a one as doth not only receive sinners, but eats with them, Luke the fifteenth chapter and the third verse; yea, he not only receiveth them that deserve to be cast out, as unworthy to inherit the Kingdom, the first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter six, and the ninth verse; but doth also wash, sanctifie, and justifie them in his own name, and by the spirit of God.
The Condition on our part was That we come, the meaning whereof, if we look into the Ancient Fathers upon the thirty first verse, He that commeth to me is some externall part of Gods worship; for so they expound it by the Apostle's words, Romans the tenth chapter, If thou believe in thy heart, and confesse with thy mouth, for beleeving is the affection of the heart, but confession is outward in the conversation [596/597] of life, as some are said to deny God in their workes, Titus the first chapter and verse sixteenth.
There are diverse sort of comming; First, We are said to come to Christ in Baptisme, Mark, the tenth chapter. Sinete parvulos venire ad me. Secondly, In Prayer; for as Augustine saith Precibus, non passibus, iter ad Deum. Thirdly, In the hearing of the word: so many resorted and came to Christ, Luke the fifteenth chapter and verse one: And we likewise come to Christ, when we come to hear his Ministers; for he that heareth him heareth us, Luke, the tenth chapter and the fourth verse. Fourthly, By repentance, as Luke, chapter fifteen, I will go to my Father. But Christ receiveth none of these, but that we come to him as he is panis vitae; when we come to Christ, as he offers himself in the Sacrament to be the lively food of our souls; when we come to the same, and doe it in remembrance of his death. And there is reason why both we should come to Christ, and he should receive us comming.
First, there is reason we should come to Christ, in regard of our sinnes already past: For we have need of a Sacrifice, both in respect of the grinding and upbraiding of our consciences for the sinnes we have committed, and by reason of the punishment we have deserved by them. This sacrifice we are put in minde of in this Sacrament, that Christ hath offered himself to God an oblation and sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour, wherein we have planted in our hearts the passive grace of God, for the quieting of our consciences against sinnes past, by the taking of the cup of Salvation makes us say, Return into thy rest O my soul, Psalm the hundred and sixteen; and for the turning away of deserved punishment, as the blood of the Paschal Lamb sprinkled upon the dores, saved the Israelites, from destroying, Exodus the twelfth chapter. So in this true passover we receive the blood of the immaculate Lamb Christ, to assure us of peace with God, and to deliver us from the destroying Angel. As the Heathen had their Altar, whereupon they offered to their gods; so we have an Altar, that is, the Lords Table, where we celebrate the remembrance of that oblation once made by Christ, Hebrews the thirteenth chapter and the twelfth verse.
In respect of sinne to come likewise, we have need to come to Christ; for thereby there is wrought in us active grace, whereby we are enabled to resist sinne: For the endowing of our souls with much strength, Psalm the hundred and thirtieth eighth, and with much power from above, is here performed unto us that come aright, Luke the twenty fourth chapter: And therefore the Apostle would have us to stablish our hearts with grace, the spirituall food, and not with meat, Hebrews the thirteenth chapter: For by this means we shall be made able both to indure the conflict of sinne, and to be conquerors over Satan and own our corruptiopns. Thirdly, For that the eating of the flesh of Christ and the drinking of the blood, is a pledge of our rising up at the last day, the fifty fourth verse; and that after this life we which come to the Lords Supper shall be invited to the supper of the Lamb, [597/598] of which it is said, Apocalyps the nineteenth chapter and the ninth verse blessed are they which are called the Lambs Supper.
Again, it is reason Christ should receive us into two sorts:
First, In respect of the communicants or commers; for there is no man ever in better state and more disposed to be received than at the celebration of this Sacrament. If a contrite spirit for sinne can set a man in state to be received of Christ, man is most contrite and broken in heart at this time. If Christ will then receive us, when he may dwell in our hearts by faith, Ephesians the third chapter, at this time is our faith at the highest; for when we have the body and blood of Christ in our hands, then it makes us say with Thomas John the twentieth chapter, Domine mi & Deus mi: If prayer, made with boldnesse and confidence, may move Christ at any time to receive, we never have more confidence in prayer that at that time; then is the love of God most of all shed in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, Romans the fift[h] chapter and the first verse, by which we are received not only to give, for no man is to appear empty, but also to forgive, as Christ willeth, That remembring our brethrem hath ought against us, we leave our gift and be reconciled, Matthew the fift[h] chapter: If any one time more that other Christ be more ready to receive, then is he maxime è receptivus.
Secondly, In respect of the action it self, which is a memorial of that sacrifice, which he offered at his death to God for sins: Then he received the thief that said, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdome Luke the twenty third chapter: Then he prayed for his persecutors, Father forgive them. Therefore there is a great congruity, that now much more he must be carefull to us and receive us, when we celebrate the remembrance of his goodnesse and mercie. But the chief point is that in the Sacrament Christ himself is received and therefore it is very fit, that he which is to be received, be ready to receive them that come to him.
The second condition is touching the Father's gift, All that my Father giveth Which is a limitation: For, as many pressed upon Christ, but there was but one that touched, that was the woman healed of her issue of blood, Luke the eight chapter and the twenty fourth verse; so many come to the Lords Table, but to the end they may be received they must be known by this mark, he must be datus à Patre, tractus, & doctus, John the sixt[h] chapter and the fourty fourth and fift[h] verses. There are they that are dati ab hominibus, or as the Apostle speaks the first epistle of Peter the second chapter and the thirteenth verse, ab humanå ordinatione, that is, the most part come not, being given or drawn of the Father, but compelled by man: Their fear is taught by mens precepts, Matthew the fifteenth chapter, and Isaiah the twenty ninth chapter. Again, there are that have a shew of Godlinesse, the first epistle of Timothy the third chapter. Such come not upon any motion of Gods spirit, that they feel in themselves, but for fashions sake: They will not be seen to refuse the order of the Church, but doe as others doe; but they are given to Christ of God, are such as come [598/599] of conscience, knowing they ought to performe this duty of thankfulnesse to God; such as hunger and thirst after the righteousnesse of Christ, the spirituall food of their souls, in conscience of their unworthinesse and ill deservings; and therefore seek for righteousness in him, with as great desire for bodily food; they that come with such an earnest inclination, as given and drawn of the Father. This doth distinguisheth true Christ from Counterfeits, which say I know not whether the Father doe give me to Christ, and therefore I will not come: but to such Christ answers, Matthew the eighteenth chapter and the fourteenth verse, Non est voluntas patris, ut unus de pusillis illis pereat; De pusillis, dixit, saith Augustine, non de timentibus. Christ meaneth not such as are little in respect of the world, but little in their own eyes, that are not possessed with a spirituall pride of their righteousnesse, as though they need not now to come, another time will serve. It was the opinion of Festus, Acts the twenty fourth chapter, When I have convenient leasure, I will send for thee, So they think another time will be more fit than the present occasion; and so Christ must wait upon them, they may not upon Christ. But as the Pharisees despised the counsel of God and would not be baptized by John Luke the seventh chapter and the thirtieth verse so doe these despise the counsel of Christ against themselves, whose purpose happily was even at this time to have received them. But because they despised his counsell, that happeneth to them which befell Saul whom Samuel tells, That if he had kept the Lords Commandment, he had now established his Kingdome for ever upon Israel, the first book of Samuel the thirteenth chapter and the thirteenth verse; but for that he despised the opportunity now, it is removed to another. And of them that come, it may be they will come, but with Cains spirit, not caring how or what or what oblation they give to God: But they must come as given of the Father, and not tanquam ab hominibus dati, they may not come like that sate down at the Marriage without a wedding garment Matthew the twenty second chapter. Whoso commeth in that manner, as he, shall not be received, for that he is not given of the Father, so he shall be cast out into utter darknesse.
Thirdly, The promise is, They that come after this manner, shall not be cast out; Which is set out by Christ with a double negation o¦ m« ômbalÓv, that is, never, at no hand. This speech is not vain glorious; for Christ doth perform it and more, as the Prophet saith, Thou forsaketh them that seek thee Psalm, the ninth, the meaning is, they not only finde God, but with him finde joyes and glory everlasting: So he that comes to Christ is not only, not cast out, but received to be a member of Christs mystical body, and partaker of the divine nature, the second epistle of Peter the first chapter and the fourth verse.
What is meant by being cast out, appears by the casting out of the dry branch, that bringeth forth no fruits, John the fift[h] chapter, which is to be cast in the fire; by the salt that hath lost his savour and [599/600] is cast out Matthew the fift[h] chapter; by the bad fish caught in the net, which is cast away Matthew the thirteenth chapter and the fourty eighth verse. The casting out, is a degree to that casting into utter darknesse which Christ speaketh of.
There is a second for as that is, out of the Church as John the ninth chapter and the thirty fourth verse of whom Christ saith, Mark the fourth chapter and the eleventh verse, but to them which are without, the first epistle of Corinthians the fift[h] chapter and the twelfth verse, What have ye to doe with them that are without? that is, the Heathen: And this is nothing but a disposition to second foras, that is, to be cast out of the Kingdome of Heaven; of which, Apocalyps the twenty second chapter and the fifteenth verse, foras autem erant canes, and to be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, where their smoak shall ascend forever where the worms never dyeth, and the fire is never quenched, where they shall wish for death, and death shall flie from them. That is the state of them that are cast out.
But Christ promiseth, That who so commeth to him, being given, shall not be cast out, but shall be quit from death and damnation. He doth not only receive them, and eat with them, but receives them into that union that is inter alitum & alimentum, that is, to be one with him; which is a greater union that is either between brother and brother or between man and wife; for herein is that verified, That we are received to be partakers of the Divine, and, by partaking whereof, he is in us and we in him, we and Christ are made one, we receive him and he receives us: So that as God cannot hate Christ so he cannot but love us, being engrafted into him. Thus it comes to passe that we are not cast out, but are made partakers of all good things of Christ, who saith to him that comes to him, Luke the fifteenth chapter, Omnia nostra tua sunt, and Matthew the fifteenth chapter, Intra in gaudium Domini, that is the chief point in this promise.
As for them that come not to Christ, howsoever they deserve to be cast out, yet Christ doth not cast them out, but they cast out themselves, in as much as they sever themselves from this Sacrament, which is the holy of holiest; and from the memorial of his loving kindness; He that commeth not to the Lords Supper sets himself in the state of the Heathen; which albeit they have a kinde of prayer and a knowledge, no lesse than we, yet come not so farre as to celebrate this Sacrament. He is in no better state than the Jews and Turks which albeit they believe the creation of the world, and the last Judgment yet acknowledge not Christ, nor come to him tanquam panis vitæ. But they must come to the Lords Supper if they will be bidden to the Lambs Supper: Neither may they defer to come at their own pleasure: for it may be now is the time that Christ will receive them and if they neglect the opportunity, they shall be cast out, as Saul was, in the first of Samuel the thirteenth chapter.
It remains that we stirre up in our selves a willingess to come, for to come is a voluntary action, as Christ tells us John the fift[h] chapter, Vos non vultis venure ad me, namqui venit, ideao venit, quia voluit venire, [600/601] unlesse we be as willing to come as Christ is to receive, all is nothing Matthew the twenty third chapter and the thirty seventh verse, Quoties volui & noluitis? How often would I have gather thy children together, even as a Hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? Therefore we must beware of removing this willingness from our selves. To this end we must continually pray that Christ will work in us this will that the Father will draw us by his spirit; and say with Peter, Matthew the fourteenth chapter and the twenty eigthth verse, Domine mitte me ad te venire; let me be in numero pusillorum, non timentium, one of those little ones that willingly will come as often as they may, and not like those that swell with pride, and say another time will serve as well as now, as Davids servants said to Naball in the first book of Samuel the twenty fift[h] chapter; We come now in a good time, for thou makest a feast, and art in case to relieve us, another time peradventure thou wilt not be prepared: So men ought to take the opportunity, and to say in their selves, Now is the time of the celebration of Gods mercy and loving kindnesse: Now we receive Christ; and therefore there is great hope, that if we come, he will receive us: Now we celebrate the memory of his death, when he was content to receive the thief that came unto him, and therefore it is most likely that he will receive us, if we come to him. But if we come not now, happily we shall not be received when we would. It is Christ's will, That they which are given of the Father, be with him where he is, and may behold his glory, John the seventeenth chapter and the twenty fourth verse. Therefore it stands us upon to come to Christ, that he may receive us to be one with him in the life of grace, and partakers with him in his Kingdom of glory.