Tum alter ad alterum dixerunt, Nonne cor nostrum ardebat in nobis, dum loquertur nobis in via, & dum adaperiret nobis Scripturas?
And they said to one another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Which is another, or second passion that cometh unto men at the preaching of the word; for as Acts the second chapter and the thirty seventh verse, there were some that suffered a pricking at the heart upon the hearing of the word; so here are others that suffer an inflaming or burning in the heart: For if we look in verse the twenty first, these two disciples with whom Christ travelled, were dead in spirit, and cold in faith before the word was spoken; for they confessed, nos autem sperabamus; But after our Saviour Christ hath spoken with them and opened the Scriptures, their hope revived, and their hearts waxed warme: Which, as it is a fruit and effect of the word in the hearts of the hearers; so is it a certain signe and argument of the efficacy and operation of Christ, which he sheweth in the ministry of the word, as the Apostle speakes, in the second epistle to the Corinthians, and the thirteenth chapter, Quæritis experimentum quì in me loquitur Christi, so when we feel this burning in our hearts, it is a great comfort to us, and a signe that Christ speakes in us; and we must in such a case pray to God, that he will establish in us the good things that he hath begun, Psalm the sixty eighth; if it work no such effect in us, we must suspect ourselves, and pray that we may have a feeling of the word when wee hear it, that whereas St. Peters hearers, in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, had a pricking at their hearts, and those of Christ, felt a burning; we may be in the number of those hearers, and not of those, of whom the Prophet testifieth in the sixth chapter of Isaiah, and the ninth verse that have eyes, but see not, eares, but such as are heavy and hear not, and a hardned heart, so as though they hear, yet they understand not, because they should not convert and be saved. Which is a grievous curse and judgement pronounced and executed upon the unworthy hearers of Gods word, as Christ sheweth, in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, and the eighth chapter of Luke: And therefore both our Saviour Christ in the twelfth chapter of John and St. Paul, in the twenty eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, to conclude their preaching sheweth this as a reason why their preaching was not received, because God had 607/608 blinded their eyes and hardned their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their hearts, and convert and be healed.
The other effect of the word was said to be a pricking; this is a beginning: For as the Preacher ascribes a prick or point to the word when he saith, The words of the wise are tanquam acuta & stimuli, Ecclesiastes the twelfth chapter. So here we see there are certain sparks of fire in the word, which will soon kindle a fire in the hearts of the hearers. The pricking is referred to fear, as Psalm the hundred and nineteenth, Confringe cor meum timore tuo: the warming is an effect of hope and love, as Canticles the eighth chapter and the sixth verse, where love is compared to fire, that ardent coals, that burn so, as much water cannot quench them; that is, As there are some Scriptures that intreat of the wrath of God, that lay mens sinnes before their eyes, and tells them of the terrible and great day of the Lord, when they shall be rewarded all according to their works; and so breeds a fear in the hearts of the hearers, as Acts the fifth chapter and the eleventh verse; and prick them, verse the thirty seventh, unlesse their hearts be stonie and their flesh a dead flesh: So on the otherside some Scriptures set forth the goodnesse of God and his gracious promises, as when Christ telleth the two disciples, Ought not Christ suffer these things, and to enter into glory? verse the twenty sixth; which shews the love of God the Father, in giving his sonne to suffer for us; and the love of the sonne, in being given for us, no man hath greater love than this, to dye for his friend, John the fifteenth chapter; and the great reward that God hath for his children, which is the hope of glory, assuring them that as Christ is entred into glory, so we shall be with him. And such scripture will stirre up in the hearers both affection of love and hope; wherewith, as with coals or sparks of fire, their hearts are wounded. And those several parts of Scripture are tempered according to the nature of the hearers or auditors; for there are some that scoffe and deride and blaspheme the holy spirit of God, Acts the second chapter and the thirteenth verse: And to such the threatnings and judgement of God must be laid before them, as Peter doth. But here we have Auditors of such nature, that is, such as did not mock and sit in the Chair of Scorners, but were dejected in Spirit and were of a faint heart; which confesse, we were in hope that this was he that should have delivered Israel, but now our hope is faint and we quake; and to such the opening of Gods love and of his great and pretious promises, is expedient.
In this verse we have to consider, First, The manner of uttering of these words; for they say not, Our hearts did burn, but ask the question, Did not our hearts ? Secondly, The substance of the verse, which consists of three parts, First, the part wherein this effect was wrought, Cor nostrum. Secondly, A passion or work, a burning. Thirdly, The time, when he talked with us.
First, For the manner, did not our hearts burne? Of which kinde of negative speaking, there are two examples in Scripture; First, it is a more [608/609] vehement affirmation, than if a man should only affirm a truth; as where Christ saith before, Ought not Christ to suffer these things? and enter into glory? as if he should say, he ought without doubt: for when the matter is questionable, we use to speak affirmatively; but in a plain case that is evident and out of doubt, then we ask a question negatively, as, Doth not the Sunne shine? as if one should say, It is cleere, We see it doth. So here they knew well before Christ spake to them, their hearts were cold, and their hope was faint and dead; but now remembring that while Christ spake to them, they felt their hearts warm within them; they ask, Did not our heart burn? as if they should say, doubtlesse we felt a heat and burning within us.
Another use of this negative question is asked out of Christs deed, Luke the seventeenth chapter, Were there not ten cleansed? he marvelled what was become of the other nine. This admiration serves to tax and to reprehend the unthankfulnesse of those nine which returned not to praise God: And seeing the Disciples ask the Question, Did not our heart burn? as if they should say, seeing we felt our hearts burn within us, why did we not know that it was Christ the Sonne of God, that spake to us: Surely it is not the work of a man to touch the heart, but God only; and seeing our hearts were touched thus, doubtlesse it was Christ that spake to us: Which shewes that at the present time that Christ spake to them, they felt him not; but when Christ was gone out of their sight, then they remembred that their hearts felt this heat within them; for by Jacob's experience we learn, that God may be in a place, and we know not of it; for so he confesseth, in the twenty eighth chapter of Genesis, and the sixth verse, God was here, and I was not aware; and in the ninth chapter of Job, and the eleventh verse, He will be by me, and I shall not see him; and in the thirteenth chapter of John, Quid ego faciam tu nescis nunc, scies autem posthac; that is, hereafter yee shall feel your hearts moved: So the attention of these two Disciples was so great, and they were in such an extasie, that they observed no such thing, for the present, while he spake; they perceived it not till Christ had made an end, and was taken from them. For, as there are things that appear and are not, as visards and maskes which make a shew of that which is not; so there are things that appear not and yet are, as the Spirits and souls of men, which are invisible. There was one that boasted of that he had not, that was the false prophet that said to Michaiah, in the first book of Kings, the twenty second chapter, It is impossible that the spirit of the Lord should goe from me to thee: and in the first epistle to the Corinthians, the seventh chapter, there is one that with more modesty and coldnesse saith, I think I have the spirit of God, and he had it indeed: The wisest that ever was of men saith, there is not in me the understanding of a man, Proverbs the thirtieth chapter and the second verse: And Caiaphas that understood as little as any, as if he only understood all, said, Vos planè nihil intelligitis, John the eleventh chapter, and the forty ninth verse.
Touching the substance of the question, and the first part: First, The part wherein that which Christ spake did work, is the heart which [609/610] is the commander of man; for as the word comes out of the heart, bonus homo ex bono thesauro cordis sui, Luke the sixth chapter so if it have its right course, it goeth to the heart; for there be three wards and locks to be opened, that the sound of Gods word may enter; that is, the eare Psalm the fourtieth, Mine ear hast thou opened, which is the gate of wisdome. Secondly, the understanding to conceive what is heard; of which it is said here, Their eyes were opened, Luke the twenty fourth chapter and the thirty first verse, that is, oculimentis, Ephesians, the first chapter and the eighteenth verse. Thirdly, the heart as Lydia's heart was opened by the Lord, Acts the sixteenth chapter. Many are present, but hear not attentively, what is said; other hear, but understand not; and some have both these degrees, and yet have not their hearts opened, and so it is to no purpose that is spoken: Though we hear and understand, yet if the heart be not touched with it, it is but verbum ærium, it is mans word, and not Gods; for the property of God's word is, to pierce to the heart and marrow, And to the dividing of the soul, Hebrews the fourth chapter and the twelfth verse: therefore by the eare man may examine his own heart; for unless he feel himself touched inwardly with the word, his hearing is in vain: And this is the service which God rejects, Isaiah the twenty ninth chapter and the thirteenth verse, Matthew the fifteenth chapter and the eighth verse, populus labiis me honorat, so if either we bring our ears alone, or both ears and eyes, both hearken and conceive; yet so long as this is true of us, that our heart is departed from God: If the heart be not affected with the preaching of the word, it is in vain. For the profitable hearer is he that with an honest and good heart receiveth the word of God, Which is the immortal seed, that bringeth forth much fruit, Luke the eighth chapter.
Secondly, the work wrought in the heart, is a burning or kindling; as we shewed. There is a double compunction; First, when a man being pricked in heart, falls into a rage, as they that heard Stephen, Acts the seventh chapter: Secondly, when being prickt the seek for ease and comfort, as in the second chapter of the Acts, and the thirty seventh verse: So there is a double fire: For as there is a fire from the Altar which touched the prophets mouth, Esay, the sixth chapter, so fire from Topheth, Isaiah, the thirtieth chapter, there are firie tongues, that fell upon the Apostles; But they came from heaven, Acts the second chapter; but there are firie tongues, that are set on the fire of hell, James, the third chapter; it is the fire form the Altar, and the firie tongues from heaven, that causeth the burning in the heart of such as hear aright, and not the fire of Topheth. For as the Devill with his hot iron doth cauterize and fear the consciences of some, so the fire of Gods spirit doth warm the hearts of others, so as they heare the word of God with profit. As there are wicked, whose tongues and words are like pricks and swords, Proverbs, the twelfth chapter; so there are others, whose tongues are like hot Juniper coals, Psalm the one hundered and twentieth, which slanders others: For the devill that [610/611] envier of man, Matthew the thirteen chapter, stirrs up this fire in the hearts of men; but this fire must be distinguished from that fire which Christ came to bring upon earth, Luke the twelfth chapter. As this compunction was of faith, and the other of fear; so here the good fire proceeds from love, and hope, the effect of the other, is desperate raging and hatred. The true fire is from the spirit, as it is in sixth chapter of John, Verba mea spiritus sunt & vita, for where there is spirit, there is a heat; and Christ's words being spiritually, doe warm the hearts of the hearers, & the Scriptures being inspired by the spirit of God, cannot but work this heat in mens hearts, besides, God saith of his word, Jeremiah the twenty third chapter, and the twenty ninth verse, meum verbum ignis est, it is fire, no man can deny it; for whether we respect the Law, it is ignea lex, Deuteronmie the thirty third chapter and the second verse, the word of the prophesie is firie, for the Prophet could not prophesie till the coal taken from the Altar had touched his lips, Isaiah the sixth chapter, and of the Gospel which Christ preached, he saith, Ignem veni mittere in terram, & quod volo misi ut ardeat, Luke the twelfth chapter and the forty ninth verse, and after his ascension he gave order that the firie tongues should come upon the Apostles, that their word might be a firie word, that might kindle in the hearts of the hearers. Now the word of God is therefore called fire, because the quality of fire is most actuall; for as some note, that albeit many things be hid from the Sun, Yet there is nothing hid from the heat thereof; for it pierceth into all parts of the world, Psalm the ninteenth; so the word of God is such, and mighty in operation, and sharper than any two edged sword, and entreth through, Hebrews the fourth chapter: For as much the fire consumeth all things, and turneth it in to fire; so doth the word of God turn the affections of man into word, and not the word into affection: As the word itself is fire, so the motions which it stirreth up in the heart are fierie and fervent, as the Apostle showeth, in the twelfth chapter to the Romans, and the eleventh verse, Ferventes spiritu: Fervencie proceeds of two affections: The one is hope, in the twelfth verse; that where before their hope was cold, now it rejoyceth and revives, verse the twenty-first; the other is love, which makes them compell him, Luke the twenty fourth chapter, to tarry with them, verse the twenty ninth; thus the word inflames their hearts with love, and revives their spirits, so as their hope is revived, and by working these two affections in them, he changeth then, that there is not only fire, but constancy in the word, vereba ignea faciunt igneos characteres; so as where ink may be blotted out, the stamp of the firie word of God continues for ever, and is durable. But the word hath a double operation against sinne; First, like water, because with it the spot which comes from without is taken away, Secondly, as fire, because, as rust must be burnt out, so the inward corruption of our nature must be eaten out, and consumed with the word; therefore the Prophet compares his preaching to melting and founding, Jeremiah the sixth chapter, where he complains the bellows are burnt, the lead is consumed 611/612 in the fire, the Founder melteth in vain, for the wicked are not taken away; as if he should say we have done all we can, and yet the rust of sinne doth not depart from them, for we have the wicked heart of lust and concupiscence burning in us, and in that regard the water is as water to quench it: And again we are slow and cold in affection, and have need to be quickned; in which regard the word is fire: So men are frozen in their dregs, Zephaniah the first chapter and the twelfth verse, that cold must be dissolved by the heat of Gods word: Such a passion was in these, to whom Christ said, You slow of heart, Luke the twenty fourth chapter and the twenty fifth verse. This coldness is driven away by the fire of Gods word: But although the word be never so sharp, yet it pricks not, unless the heart be fleshie; so the fault may be in the word, sometimes if it be not firie. The preaching of the word is like the striking of fire, for unless there be tinder to receive the sparks, it is no purpose, how oft soever ye strike fire; so the preaching of the word worketh not except the heart be prepared: Oile is combustible, and we must pray that our hearts may be anointed with the oyle of Gods spirit, in the first epislte of St. John, the second chapter: When the word which is fire, and the grace of Gods spirit, as tinder, doe concurre, then the heart is warmed: As there must be preparation before hand, to the end it may have this effect; so the meditation after; My heart was hot within me, and while I thus mused, the fire kindled, Psalm the thirty ninth and the third verse: If there be devotion before, and the mediation after, upon that which we have heard, then the fire is kindled: This heat, how small soever it be, though it be as smoaking flax, God will not quench it, Isaiah the fourty second chapter; for it will serve to kindle a fire in the heart.
Thirdly, The time, when this was wrought in their hearts was, cum loqueretur & aperuit ipsis Scripturas. Whereby we see Christ had this power to touch the hearts of his hearers not only in the Synagogues, but now when they conferred privately together in the way. This was ordinary not only in Christ's preaching, but to his Apostles; for while Peter spake unto them, the holy Ghost fell on them all, Acts the tenth chapter and the forty fourth verse: But we must practise private conference, and instruct one another by the way, as Christ did; for that was given by commandement, Deuternomie the sixth chapter: And a promise is made by God, I will instruct thee in the way, Psalm the thirty second: But Christ did not only speak, but also open the Scriptures, that is, the words which he spake, were not vain words, or the words of the east winde, Job the fifteenth chapter. This Scripture must be opened and the key to open them, is the key of knowledge, Luke the eleventh chapter; without which key they cannot be opened. There are unlearned and unskilfull men that goe about to open the Scriptures, but they doe but pick the lock; they take not the right course; for it cannot be opened without the key of knowledge: He that will open the Scriptures must be like Apollo, who spake fervently, and taught exactly diligently, the things which pertained to the Lord, Acts the eighteenth chapter and the twenty fifth verse: The Prophet asketh not only whom he shall teach, but whom he shall teach to understand? not only quem doecbo, but quem doecbo scientiam? Isaiah the twenty eighth chapter and the ninth verse: He must be a man of knowledge that must teach; he must not only be a Doctor, but a fit Teacher: therefore Christ promiseth to his Apostles not only a mouth, but wisedome, Dabo vobis os & sapientiam Luke the twenty first chapter and the fifteenth verse; And therefore it is recorded of them, that when they had received the Holy Ghost they did not only  but also  that is, speak great and weighty sentences, Acts the second chapter and the fourth verse. And again, unto these is committed the key of David, which shutteth and no man openeth, and openeth and no man shutteth, Apocalyps the third chapter and the seventh verse: Then the force of Gods word must needs pierce very farre, when both the Preacher speaks, and openth the Scriptures with the key of knowledge, and of David; and the hearer prepares himself, by receiving direction of Gods spirit, to enlighten his understanding, and open his heart, then doth the word show forth its efficacy. Therefore when we have heard the word, we must examine ourselves and ask, Did not our heart burn?
These are three degrees of operation in Gods word: Contrition, when the heart is broken Psalm, the fifty first. Comfort, when it is rent in two pieces Joel, Compunction, when it is pricked only, Acts the second chapter. The first is the perfection; the second is a degree under it. And the last and lowest degree is Compunction, which we see was not rejected in Peters hearers: So for this second effect named in this text. That which is recorded of Josiah, at he hearing of the Law, in the second of Chronicles, the 34 chapter and the 27 verse, Liquefactum est cor Josiæ ; this melting is the highest degree. The next to that, is that which is reported of these two disciples, ardebat cor nostrum: But though it neither melt nor burn, yet if it smoake, the promise that we have from God, is, in the fourty second chapter of Isaiah, and the third vere, and in the twelfth chapter of Matthew, and the twentieth verse, Linum fumigans non extinguet Deus, The smoaking flax God will not quench; Omnis homo igne salietur, Every man must be salted with fire, Mark the ninth chapter and the forty ninth verse: If we will have God to accept us, we must be sacrifices, and sacrifices must be seasoned with fire; therefore when we hear the word, we must indeavour to have a Censer of fire in us, so as wee feel the word, if not to melt our hearts, neither to burn, yet to smoak. As without repentance we shall all perish, Luke the fifteenth chapter; so this burning of heart is so necessary, as except wee suffer the fire from Heaven to work in our hearts, wee shall suffer the fire of hell, that is, of Tophet, which burneth for ever.