Paulisper & non conspicietis me: & rursum paulisper, & videbitis me, quia ego vado ad Patrem.
A little while, and ye shall not see me; and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.
They be the words of Christ spoken to his disciples to comfort them, being in heavinesse, because Christ was to be taken from them, verse the sixth, for here is a matter of double sorrow. For first, that they should not see him: Secondly, That he was to goe such a journey from them. But there is a double comfort answerable. The comfort of not seeing him is, after a little while ye shall see me. The comfort against his departure is, that he goeth to his Father. The words in effect are as much as if he said, within a while I shall suffer death upon the Crosse, and be buried; and within a while after, I shall rise again, and ascend up to my Father, which is a special matter of comfort and rejoycing, as John the fourteenth chapter and the twenty eighth, If ye loved me, ye would rejoyce, because I said, I goe to my Father. They knew not what he meant by those words, verse the eighteenth; therefore our Saviour maketh a commentary on them, verse the twentieth, ye shall not see me, that is, ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoyce: And again, ye shall see me, that is, your sorrow shall be turned into laughter and joyes. Again, he makes it more plain with a comparison, verse the twenty first, non videbitis, that he shall be to you as the pangs of a woman labouring with childe, and ye shall see me, that is like the joys she conceiveth after her deliverance. For the first point he saith, verse the fourth, he did not tell them of his departure from the beginning, nor yet a great while before his passion, but only now, that is some diminishing of their grief. But on the second point there is much more comfort; that is, albeit he must be taken from them, yet they shall not only see him again, but very shortly after. The vision that is for many dayes, maketh us to long and thirst after the accomplishment of it; but Christ tells them, they shall see him again, and that very shortly. The same course he keeps in the reason, for he saith, quia vado, not the Crosse and passion, that was not a mater so pleasing but ad Patrem, that is it that doth increase the joy. Wherein we are to observe Christs method of comfort, not to minister comfort before the time.
To see is a good and comfortable thing, Ecclesiastes the eleventh chapter; the want of which benefit, made Tobias that he had no joy. 648/649 And as God giveth light, so hath he made many excellent Creatures for us to behold; whereof the Wise-man saith, non satiatur oculus. And there are not only real, but personal objects. Adam opened his eyes and saw the light, but saw nothing, till God made one like himself. The personal object is the more comfortable. But in the person many things make it more desirous: As to see a person whom we love, and who loveth us, that is a sight of comfort: So was it a great joy to Jacob, to see Joseph, Genesis the forty sixt[h] chapter, such is the joy of the Spouse to see Christ, Canticles the sixth chapter. Touching Christs love, himself saith, John the fifteenth chapter. Majorem hac charitatem habet nemo; he loved us being his enemies. If then the view of a man be comfortable, what shall we say of the sight of God, that must needs be Visio beatifica: In him is fullnesse of joy, Psalm the sixteenth; The pure in heart shall be blessed, quia videbit Deum, Matthew the fift[h] chapter: That was it that made Phillip say, John the fourteenth chapter, Oftende nobis Patrem & sufsicit. But he that seeth Christ, seeth God the Father, as he saith, He that seeth me, seeth the Father. When Moses desired God to shew him his glory, Exodus the thirty third chapter: though he shewed but his back parts, yet it was so glorious a sight, that they beheld Moses face, saw the skin shine, Exodus the thirty fourth chapter, so that he was fain to cover it. And, as in the second epistle to the Corinthians the third chapter, we are transformed into his image: Christ in his corruptible nature being transfigured in the presence of the Disciples, was so glorious, that they desired they might goe no more home, Matthew the seventeenth chapter: Therefore if the sight of Gods presence be a matter of great joy, non videbitis must needs be occasion of great sorrow: Which is exemplified in Adam; who having sinned, though he were in Paradise, a place of all comfort; yet he had no joy, because he could not see God, as he was wont: therefore Cain complaineth, I am cast out of thy presence, Genesis the fourth chapter. And not only the Reprobate, but David saith, Psalm the thirty first verse and the twenty second chapter, I said in my haste, I am cast out of thy presence, or sight: which shewed, that as videbitis must be the perfection of all felicity; so non videbitis is the sum of all misery; especially if it be not qualified with modicum, Psalm the thirteenth; How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, for ever? Psalm the seventy seventh; Will the Lord absent himself for ever? Psalm the eighty ninth: And that which he saith, John fourteenth chapter and the nineteenth verse, the world shall see me no more; if modicum, be not added, there is no sorrow like this.
Out of this we learn to seek Gods favour, as Psalm the twenty first, and he saith, Seek my face, to answer My heart never leaveth thinking on this. And if we have lost the comfort of it, to complain as David, the thirty first, I am cast cast out of thy presence: For albeit men in the time of their youth, delight in other sights; yet the dayes will come, when they shall say, Shew us the light of thy countenance, [649/650] Psalm the fourth; Turn us again, O Lord, shew us the light of thy countenance, and we shall be whole, Psalm the eightieth. We shall desire to see one of Christs dayes, Luke the seventeenth chapter and the twenty second verse: All flesh shall see him at his appearing, even they that pierce him. Apoc 6.
Secondly, we are to enquire, what manner of sight he speaketh of, for as much as men see not only with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of understanding. They that with their bodily eyes beheld Christ before his Passion, and after his Resurrection, did not understand it, Luke the twenty fourth chapter and the eleventh verse. As there is an outward light, so an inward light of the minde, into which the doctrine of the Gospel doth shine, the second epistle to the Corinthians the fourth chapter, as the light of the Sunne shineth to our outward sense. There are things that cannot be seen of the bodily eyes, which we doe yet behold and look on with the eye of faith, the second epistle to the Corinthians the fourth chapter. And Moses is said to have loved God invisible, Hebrews the eleventh chapter. So the bad qualities of men, as Heresie, are invisible to the outward eye, but yet we see it by the light of our understanding. Such a sight is that which he promiseth John the fourteenth chapter, I will make myself manifest to him. He shewed himself to Judas as well as to Peter bodily: But as it was a special touch, wherewith he now touched the hem of his garment and was healed Matthew the ninth chapter; so the view that Peter had of Christ, had another manner of effect then Judas beholding, Luke the twenty second chapter. But even this spiritual sight hath also a deceit, as in the first epistle to the Corinthians the thirteenth verse, Now we see through a glasse, but then face to face: So there are 2 words to that purpose, is to see in a glasse, but is to see a thing as it is. The Angels doe continually behold Gods face; we have but an enigmaticall sight of him in this life, and it is soon lost, as Christ being risen from death; was seen of Mary Magdalen and others, in the habit of a Gardiner: To them that travelled to Emaus, at one time they did see him, and at another time the could not see him.
Touching which, he that shall consider the desire which the Saints of God have of this benefit, shall easily perceive what matter of sorrow it was; for Psalm the ninety second, My soul is athirst for the living God, Psalm the eighty fourth, it saith, For the city of my God, again, How long wilt thou forget me, for ever? but modicum & videbitis, that gives comfort again. Heavinesse may endure for a night, that is, modicum & non videbitis, but joy cometh in the morning, that modicum & videbitis Psalme the thirtieth. The delaying of hope is the fainting of the heart, Proverbs the eighteenth, but the desire accomplished is the tree of life. Modicum & videbitis, is as the tree of life, that quicknes the soul, Isaiah the sixty fourth. For a moment in my anger I forsake them, but with great compassion will I gather them.
As he gives the matter of grief in non videbitis, and comfort [650/651] videbitis, ye shall see me within awhile; so in the reason qua vado, that is, grief, but ad Patrem, that is a matter of comfort: He goeth, but woe to him by whom the Sonne of man goeth, Matthew the twenty sixt[h] chapter, that is, a matter of sorrow; but when he saith ad Patrem that is, not to an enemy that keeps me long from you, but to my Father, the same that sent me at my birth, and will send me again, by my Resurrection. Secondly, As he went to Pilate a cruel Judge on earth, so to as severe a Judge in Heaven: But yet when you here me say, Why hast thou forsaken me? yet still he is my Father; as if he should say, this is a hard way, but yet I must goe this way. Thirdly, not quia, but quòd vado, that is contrary, I shall be carried up in a cloud. Secondly, From the consideration of Christs words, verse the first, I goe my way, and none asketh me whither I goe that is to be understood, as of the place whither; but to what purpose? for of the place Peter asked in this the thirteenth chapter and the thirty sixth verse, Domine quò vadis? So here the placing of ad patrem, is to shew that he went to reconcile God; not only that he be no enemy, but propitious and favourable; not as a friend to a friend, but as a Father to his children; to make us the children of God his Father, and so joynt heirs with himself Romans the eighth chapter; So Christ saith, Aascendo ad Patrem meum & Patrem vestrum, ad Deum meum & Deum vestrum, John the twentieth chapter and the seventeenth verse. By my death God is made your Father. Therefore as a woman travaileth in sorrow, but being delivered is glad, quia natus est homo: so by my death there is a new nativity, and you are to be glad, that by me you are made the children of God, that is, by my going away to the Father.
For the use, as Christ saith of Himself, non videbitis, and again, modicum & non videbitis; that is, verse the twentieth, Ye shall weep and lament, and the world shall rejoyce. We are to reckon of the things and persons of this life, that is truly said of the modicum & videbitis: and again modicum & non videbitis; their continuance is uncertain. We have had much peace by the space of forty one years, during which time we saw her which now we see not: it was a great time indeed, but it was but modicum; for a thousand years in Gods sight is but as yesterday, Psalm the nintieth; As all worldly things are seen for a little time, and shortly after are not to be seen. So for vado, all things in the world are passing, they fade and passe away, as in the first epistle of John the second chapter, The world passeth away. The use which we have is, the inverting of non videbitis me & videbitis.
The world saith, ye shall see me for a while, and within a while ye shall not see me, that is the state of the world, as in Proverbs the fourteenth chapter, Externa gaudia luctus occipit. But in Christ the not seeing goeth before, and the seeing goeth after, that is Psalm the thirtieth. Heavinesse goeth before, and endures for a night, but joy commeth after in the morning. But the world setteth on the best wine first, and the worst after; but Christ keepeth best wine till last, He that will [651/652] follow the world, shall see some happinesse here, and not see after: but follow Christ, and thou shalt not see here, that thou mayst see after. Whether of these sights is better, the Apostle sheweth in the second epistle to the Corinthians the fourth chapter, the things that are seen here are temporal, the things that are not see, eternal. So that we may have our choyce, either to see, and not to see; or not to see here we may see hereafter, which is better: therefore the Psalmist prayer is, Let me not see here a little while, that I may see eternally. So for Vado, as see worldly things a little here, and then see them not any more; so all worldly things passe and goe, but whither, the world knoweth not. He that seeth not Christ here by the sight of the glasse, shall never see him, for he goeth to utter darknesse; Vadit as Judicem, non ad Patrem, and the smoak of his torment shall ascend continually. The godly that have seen Christ, shall goe to his Father, though through many afflictions, seeing Christ saith, After a while ye shall not see me, to shew that he was mindfull of death. We must study and labour that our end be like his, that so we may be partakers of his promises. I will shew myselfe to him, which was matter of comfort, as in the transfiguration: That albeit to goe away by a hard way; yet we be assurred, as Christ was that we goe to the Father, Whither I goe thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me after, John the thirteenth chapter, that is, to God the Father, and to his comfortable presence, where we shall have that joy, which no man shall take away from us, John the sixteenth chapter and the twenty second verse. Whatsoever joy a man can have here, it shall be taken from him but the joy of Gods sight shall never be taken from him. We goe to the Father, which shall give us an inheritance incorruptible, underfiled, and fadeth not, in the first epistle of Peter the fifth chapter.