Ex eo quòd maxima illa nobis ac pretiosa promissa donavit &c.
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises &c.
A Scripture applyed to this time wherein we solemnize the memory of his taking of our nature, as we have here a promise of being partakers of his; and it conteins, as all other Scripture of comfort, a Covenant between God and us.
That which is performed on Gods part, That he hath made us most great and pretious promises: The condition on our partie is, that we eschue the corruption that is in the world through lusts.
In the former part there is a thing freely bestowed on us. Secondly, That is a promise. Thirdly, the promise is, that we shall be partaker of the divine nature.
Concerning which, A promise being once past is no more a free thing, but becomes a debt, and in justice is to be performed; in which respect the Apostle saith, in the second epistle of Timothy the fourth chapter, There is laid up for me a crown of righteousnesse, which is the Lord, the just judge, shall render to me; and hence the Prophet is bold to challenge God with his promise, Psalm the hundred and nineteenth, Perform thy promise wherein thou hast caused me to put my trust; and therefore Augustine saith, Redde quod non accepisti, sed quod promisisti.
Promises doe affect two wayes, because they stand upon two points; First, The party promising: Secondly, The thing promised.
If it were the promise of a man, it were to be doubted of; for all men are lyars, Psalm the hundred and sixteenth; They either promise that which they cannot perform, as being weak, as Psalm the twenty first and the tenth verse; or which they will not perform, as Naball in the first book of Samuel and the twenty first chapter. But if we can finde one that is both able and willing to keep his promise, that is a great kindnesse, not to be distrusted. And such a one is God; who, of his own goodnesse, is become indebted to us, by making us most great and pretious promises: he is true of his word; for he is Deus menriti nesciens, Titus the first chapter; he cannot lye: And for his power and ability, Apud eum non erit impossibile omne verbum, Luke the first chapter: And for his willingness the Angels testifie of it, that there [620/621] is in God good will towards men, even the same which he beares to Christ his own Sonne, of whom he witnesseth from heaven, in the third chapter of Luke, This is my well beloved Sonne.
Secondly, For the thing promised: Though it be God that promiseth, yet if the thing promised be a matter of no great value, wee respect it the lesse; but this is a great and most precious promise. Now that is precious, for which a man will give anything; as for a pearle, a man will sell all that he hath to compasse it, Matthew the thirteenth chapter; and what will not a man give for the ransom of his soul? the whole world, nay a thousand of worlds, is little enough to give for it, Matthew the sixteenth chapter and the sixteeth verse: So then, this promise is pretious, in respect of the things promised.
Secondly, It is pretious in regard that it cost dearly; For wee are bought, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the pretious blood of Christ the first epistle of Peter the first chapter and the eighteenth verse;
Thirdly, It is a pretious promise in this respect, because our blessednesse here promised, stands, not only in having our sinnes forgiven, or in being made righteous; that is not the thing we are satisfied with; or to be with God, which was the desire of our first Parents, Genesis the third chapter; and of Lucifer, Isaiah the fourteenth chapter, ero similis Altissimo; but it stands herein, that we shall be made partakers of the Divine nature, and enjoy those things which they hath not seen &c. in the first epistle to the Corinthians the second chapter and the third verse; he doth not promise that we shall be partaker of God's glory, joy and felicity, as Zebedees sonnes would have been, Matthew the twenty first chapter; but partakers of his nature: That as we subject to sicknesse, death and all crosses, by being partakers of the nature of the first Adam; so we shall be partakers of glory, joy and immortality: And being partakers of the second Adam, as the branches receive life from the vine, John the fifteenth chapter; so it shall be between Christ and us, he will derive his benefits to us: As the root is holy, so wee that are branches, ingraffed into him, shall be holy, Romans the eleventh chapter and the sixteenth verse: As we partake of the miseries of the first Adam; so of the joy and felicity of the second Adam: As we have been partakers of the earthly, so of the heavenly, in the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter.
Fourthly, If we consider from how base estate we, to whom this promise is made, are exalted; not only from the nature of beasts, Psalm the fourty ninth; Of wormes and rottennesse, Job 17 and, which is more base, from being the Children of wrath, Ephesians the second chapter, and Children of the Devil, Acts the thirteenth chapter, to be partakers of the divine nature; that will appear to be a precious promise, containing matter of so great comfort; whereby, that is, by the knowledge of God, that hath called us to glory and virtue, or by whom, that is, by Christ taking knowledge of him, as in the fifty third chapter of Isaiah, My righteous servants, by his knowledge, shall justifie many, and in the seventeenth chapter of John and the third verse, This is eternall life, to know thee and Jesus Christ. [621/622] The Heathen and Turkes are not capable of this pretious promise, because they take no notice of Christ: It is a promise made to Christians, for, because they are partakers of flesh and blood, He also took part with them, Hebrews the second chapter: As Christ took part of our nature, so he makes us partakers of his. It is the Christian only that beleeves this; and therefore he is capable of this so pretious promise; for albeit Christ were man, yet it pleased God, that the fulnesse of the God head should dwell in him bodily, Colossians the second chapter and the ninth verse; and as he is in us by his humanity, so are we in him in respect of his divinity. God partakes with Christ because of his Divine nature, and man partakes with Christ in as much as he hath assumed our humane nature: He is partaker of our humane nature, for he is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, Ephesians in the fift[h] chapter; and we, by his Spirit, are partakers of his Divine nature; for in the first epistle to the Corinthians the sixt[h] chapter, He that cleaveth to the Lord is one Spirit: Hereby we knowe, that we dwell in him, and he in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us, in the first epistle of St. John the fourth chapter and the thirteenth verse.
Christ imputeth his nature two wayes; First, by regeneration in Baptism; for except ye be born again of water and the holy Ghost, John the third chapter and the second verse, by eating and drinking in the Sacrament: In which respect the Apostle saith, that we must bibere spiritum, the first epistle to the Corinthians the twelfth chapter and the thir[t]eenth verse. In this life we must seek for Gods grace and glory; and he hath promised to give both, Psalm the eighty fourth; and then we shall Intrare in gaudium Domini, Matthew the twenty fift[h] chapter; and so we shall be alwaies with him, the first epistle to the Thessalonians the fourth chapter; and see him as he is, the first epistle of John the third chapter and the first verse; that is, be partakers of his divine nature: and which goes beyond all, he shall not be glory in one and joy in another, and immortality in a third, but he shall be omnia in omnibus, the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter and the twenty eighth verse. Now the promise is with a restraint, nobis qui, that is, to us which eschue the corruption: The like we have in John the third chapter and the sixteenth verse, ut omnes qui credant, and Matthew the eleventh chapter, Come to me omnes qui: And great reason it is, that if we will have God to perform his promise to us, we keep the condition on our part towards him; so the Apostle disputes, in the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter and the first verse, seeing we have so great promises, let us cleanse ourselves; for the Divine essence is incorruptible and it is impossible that corruption should inherit incorruption, the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter. Therefore albeit our outward man corrupteth daily, yet we must labour to be renewed in the inner man, the second epistle to the Corinthians the fourth chapter. But whence is this corruption? From lust: So saith the Apostle [622/623] here, agreeing with St. James, in the first chapter and the fourteenth verse, Every man is tempted, when he is intised and drawn away of his own lust.
The place where this corruption is, is the world; So St. Peter saith, and the first epistle of John and the second chapter, There is nothing in the world but concupiscentia oculorum & carnis; and St. Paul saith, They that will be rich in this world, fall into many foolish and noysom lusts, the first epistle to Timothie the sixt[h] chapter. There are molnsmo¦ sark'j [the abominable lusts], the second epistle to the Corinthians the seventh chapter and the first verse, and the second epistle of Peter the second chapter and the tenth verse; but we must keep ourselves unspotted of the world, as in the first chapter of St. James epistle; and hate the garment spotted of the flesh Jude, the twenty fift[h] verse. For avoiding of corruption we must know, That temptations, which come by fair and flattering speeches, are not to be resisted, but a man must fly from them, Heb. 12.1. There is eperÖstttiaton °martÖan an embracing sinne, and James the 1.13; There is a line or bait, or angle which you must flye from; so shall you be safe: If you resist not you will be taken; and James the fourth chapter and the seventh verse; Resist the Devil; but in the first epistle to the Corinthians the sixt[h] chapter, Fugite fornicationem; for it is an embracing sinne; the second epistle of Timothy the second chapter, Flye lusts of youth: There is no other way; for by talking and arguing the point, is the way to be catched, that is, seeing the world from without doth corrupt; as in the first epistle to the Corinthians the fift[h] chapter, A little levan maketh sower the whole lump, they that will not avoid it, are servants of corruption, the second epistle of Peter the second chapter; and Jude calls them spots and blots; they that will be partakers of those promises, must avoid the evil company of such: As, when Jacobs rod lay before the Ewes, they brought forth party coloured Lambs, Genesis the thirtieth chapter: So that is the effect of evil company. And for ill speeches, that corrupts good manners, in the first epistle to the Corinthians the fifteenth chapter; for as Michah the seventh chapter and the third verse, there are some that speak out of the corruption of their soul, it spreads like a canker and corrupts many, the second epistle to Timothy and the second chapter. Evil example and bad companies, lewd speeches and vain songs, are to be avoided, if we will avoid corruption: For, lest that we may know from whence it proceeds, he that flies not allurements, and provocations, cannot avoid them: Therefore, in Psalm the hundred and nineteenth, the Prophet prayeth Turne away mine eyes: So for occasions, Proverbs the fift[h] chapter, they come not neer the harlots house: And for the time and opportunity, that is carefully to be respected, Proverbs the seventh chapter, In the twilight the young man was found going to the harlots house, and so was corrupted. So though neither object nor opportunity be offered, yet a man being idle and without exercise may be corrupted; for that was the sinne of Sodome; Ezekiel the sixteenth chapter and the fourty ninth verse, Pride, abundance of bread, and idlenesse. Then a man [623/624] must never purpose to sinne, for so he corrupteth the spirit of his minde; nor to let his desire to be corrupted; He must shun evil company, Ephesians the fift[h] chapter, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darknesse, and that is a signe of grace. Grace is the motion of the spirit, the end of grace is glory. He whose reasonable soul doth not purpose to doe evil, and his will doth not desire it, but shunnes all occasiones and opportunity of evil, such a one hath a beginning of grace, which will not forsake him till it have brought him to glory, and made partaker of the Divine nature.