Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology
Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
SERMONS OF THE NATIVITY.
PREACHED UPON CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1624.
Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Saturday, the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCXXIV.
Transcribed by Dr Marianne Dorman
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten You.
Praedicabo legem, de qua dixit ad Me Dominus: Filius Meus Tu, hodie genui Te.
This text, the first word of it is predicabo, ‘I will preach.’ So here is a Sermon toward. And it of Filius—Filius Meus genui Te; of the begetting or bringing forth a child. And that hodie, ‘this very day.’
And let not this trouble you that it is ‘begotten’ in the text, and ‘born’ on the day. In all the three tongues one word serves for both. In Latin, alma Venus genuit; Venus did but bear ģneas, yet it is said genuit. In Greek, heunhqýnta ™k Map…aj. He was but born of the Virgin, yet He was said geunqeŲj, genitus. And I report me to the masters of the Hebrew tongue, rytrly, whether the original word in the text bear not, be not as full, nay do not more properly import His birth than His begetting. It is sure it doth. So it may be used, and so will use it indifferently. And let this serve once for all. We return to our Sermon.
1. Prĺdicabo. Here is One saith, ‘He will preach.’ Hath He a license? Yes: dixit ad Me, He was spoken to, or indeed He was commanded. Amar is to command. Commanded by whom? By Him That hath lawful authority so to do, dixit Dominus. He stepped not up of His own head, He came to it [284/285] orderly, made no suit for the place, was appointed for it.
What will He preach of? Whence will He take His text? Out of dixit Dominus, out of the word of God. And that is right. So do we take ours, for so did He take His. To dixit Dominus He held Him, preached not voluntary; but as He preached the law, so He had a law to preach by, the word of God. Dixit Dominus.
And what was His text? Filius Meus Tu, hodie genui Te. This text He preached on, as it might be at the bringing forth of a Son, And that, as it should seem by the word hodie, ‘this very day.' his day the birth, this day the Sermon. And if so, by the same equity the same text may well be preached on again, whensoever that day comes about by the circling of the year.
It useth to be the first question, I kept it last, Who preacheth? For if we like him we will hear him, else not. Sure He to Whom this is spoken, Filius Meus Tu, He it is That saith prĺdicabo. And He to Whom it is said, Filius Meus Tu, is Christ. Christ them preacheth. And Christ is worth the hearing. There will lie no exception to the Preacher, that I am sure of.
And indeed so it was most meet that He should. He That was the Lawgiver, most meet to read upon His own law; He That the Son, most meet to preach upon Filius Meus Tu; He That was born, upon His own birth.
Upon His own birth. And if upon it any day, that day especially whereon He was born. So is the text. The day He preached on, He was born; the day He was born, He preached on. No time so kindly to preach de Filio hodie genito as hodie. So shall you have Christ preach of Christ's Nativity; and that upon the very day of His Nativity; which, according to the Christian account, is the day of all the days of the year.
And first I must tell you, this same hodie here is said signanter, that Christ was ‘begotten’ to-day. For He was begotten besides this, had more begettings than one. Two natures He had, and so two Nativities. One eternal, as the Son of God; the other temporal, as the Son of Man. And as it falls out, this very place here I find vouched for both. Vouched for His begetting as the Son of God by the Apostle, [285/286] ‘For to which of the Angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.’ Alleging this place to prove His Deity, as One Whose nature was far above, far more excellent than the Angels.
But of the twain, more properly we apply it to this day's birth, His birth as the Son of Man. And for our so applying it, we have the warrant not of one, but of all the Apostles at once, and even of the whole Church assembled in prayer. Where to God Himself they say, that the prophecy of this Psalm was fulfilled, when Herod, the High-Priests, and the rest took counsel against His holy Child Jesus; and that we know was at His birth. So applying it to this birth, sure are we apply it aright.
And indeed it cannot be otherwise. For in the very next words, God bids Him ask, and He ‘will give Him the heathen, and the uttermost parts of the earth.’ This must needs be said to Him as the Son of Man, and can no ways be said to Him as the Son of God. As the Son of God He asked not, He needed not ask, He had all; all ĺquo jure with His Father, as ‘being in form of God.’ Nothing was, nothing could be given to Him; He was not a Person capable of any gift, all was His own. So it was spoken as to the Son of Man, this day born. And so the Son of Man, this day born we apply it.
Of this sermon these be the parts. The matter of it at large, or in general. I. That it is a law first. Then what manner of law, or how qualified. 1. A law to be preached, as other laws use not to be. 2. A law de quČ diixit Deus; where other laws are, de quČ dixit homo; which is the reason why it is to be preached. 3. And then, out of the very body of the word in the text, that it not a law at large, but a statute law, for so is qjla Elchok, which but by publishing none can take notice of. A second reason why it is to be preached. And this is the first part.
II. The second is the very text itself, or the body of the law in these words; ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.’ The points in it are five. 1. Of ‘a Son.’ 2. Of ‘My Son,’ that is, the Son of God. 3. Genui, ‘the Son of God begotten.’ 4. Hodie, the Son of God, ‘this day begotten.’ 5. And Dixit genui, that is, dicendo genuit, [286/287] ‘begotten only by saying;’ only said the word, and it was done, and the ‘Word became flesh.’ This is the second part.
III. The third is the hardest. For it would make one study Filius Meus Tu, how this should be a law, as here it is called. It looks not like one. But said it must be, which Christ hath said; a law He calls it, and a law we must find it. Now be but two laws, as the Apostle tells us, lex fidei and lex factorum; if both these ways a law it be, a law we shall find it. And both these ways a law it is.
1.Lex fidei. A law limiting what to believe of Him. Of Him, that is, of His Person, His Natures, and His Offices. His Person, out of the words, Ego and Tu. His Natures, out of hodie and genui. His Offices, out of prĺdicabo and legem.
2. Then lex factorum. Setting out first what He doth for us; and then what we are to do for Him. What He doth for us, Filius Meus Tu, to us He conveyeth all filial rights. What we do for Him, Filius Meus Tu, we to return to Him all filial duties. Which duties are comprised in prĺdicabo legem. And legem, that law is no more than Filius Meus Tu, for Filius Meus Tu goes through all, and is all in all. These are the parts. Of these, &c.
I. Praedicabo legem, saith Christ. And we like it well that He will preach. But He hath not chosen so good a text; legem were a fitter text for Moses to preach on. We had well hoped, Christ would have preached no law, all Gospel He. That He would have preached down the old Law, but not have preached up any new. We see it is otherwise. 1. A law He hath to preach, and preach it He will; He saith it Himself, prĺdicabo legem.
So if we will be His auditors, He tells us plainly we must receive a law from His mouth. If we love not to hear of a law, we must go to some other Church; for in Christ's Church there a law is preached. Christ began, we must follow and say every one of us as He saith, prĺdicabo legem.
2. Nay, there is another point yet more strange. These very words Filius Meus Tu, &c. are as good Gospel as any in the New Testament; yet are here, as we see, delivered by Him under the terms of a law. And we may not change His word, we may not learn Christ how to use His terms. [287/288] The words are plain, there is no avoiding them; a law He calls it, and a law it is.
1. First then, to take notice of both these. 1. That Christ will preach a law, and they who are not for the law, are not for Christ. It was their quarrel above, at the third verse, they would none of Christ for this very cause, that Christ comes preaching the law, and they would live lawless; they would endure no yoke that were ‘the sons of Belial;’ ‘Belial,’ that is no yoke; ‘but what agreement hath Christ with Belial?’
2. And then, that these words Filius Meus Tu are a law, and so as a law by Christ preached. So as in the very Gospel itself all is not Gospel, some law among it. The very Gospel has her laws. A law evangelical there is which Christ preached; and as He did, we to do the like. Whereof more is to be said by and by.
In the meantime it is not without danger to let any such conceit take head, as though Christian religion had no law-points in it, consisted only of pure narratives—believe them, and all is well: had but certain theses to be held, dogmatical points, matters of opinion. And true it is, such points there be, but they be not all. There is a law besides, and it hath precepts, and they to be preached, learned, and as a law to be obeyed of all.
Look but into the grand commission by which we all preach, which Christ gave at His going out of the world; ‘Go,’ saith He, ‘preach the Gospel to all nations teaching them’—what? ‘to observe the things that I have commanded you.’ Lo, here is commanding, and here is observing. So the Gospel consists not only of certain articles to be believed, but of certain commandments also, and they to be observed. And what is that but praedicabo legem!
Now I know not how, but we are fallen clean from the term ‘Law;’ nay, we are even fallen out with it. Nothing but Gospel now. The name of Law we look strangely at; we shun it in our common talk. To this it is come, while men seek to live as they list. Preach them Gospel as much as you will; but hear ye, no prĺdicabo legem, no law to be preached, to hold or keep them in. And we have gospelled it so long that the Christian Law is clean gone with us, we have lost it; if prĺdicabo legem here get it us not again. [288/289] But got it must be, for as Christ preacheth, so must we; and law it is that Christ preacheth.
I shall tell you, what is come by the drowning of the term ‘Law.’ Religion is even come to be counted res precaria. No law—no. no; but a matter of fair entreaty, gentle persuasion; neither jura, nor leges, but only consulta patrum, ‘good fatherly counsel,’ and nothing else. Consilia Evangelica were a while laid aside; now there be none else. All are Evangelical counsels now. The reverend regard, the legal vigour and power, the penalties of it are not set by. The rules—no reckoning made of them as of law-writs, none, but only as of physic bills; if you like them you may use them, if not, lay them by. And this comes of drowning the term, ‘Law.’And all, for lack of prĺdicabo legem.
I speak it to this end; to have the one term retained as well as the other, to have neither term abolished; but with equal regard, both kept on foot. They are not so well advised that seek to suppress either name. If the name once be lost, the thing itself will not long stay, but go after it and be lost too.
They that take them to the one term only, are confuted once a month. For every month, every first day of every month, the verse faileth not but is read in our ears. And here a law it is. And so was the Christian religion called in the very best times of it, Christiana lex, ‘the Christian law;’ and the Bishops, Christianĺ legis Episcopi, ‘the Bishops of the Christian law.’ And all the ancient Fathers liked the term well, and took it upon them.
To conclude. Gospel it how we will, if the Gospel has not the legalia of it acknowledged, allowed and preserved to it; if once it lose the force and vigour of a law, it is a sign it declines, it grows weak and unprofitable, and that is a sign it will not long last. We must go look our salvation by some other way than by Filius Meus Tu (I say not to be preached, but) be not preached, as Christ preached it; and Christ preached it as a law. And so much for legem.
Now of this law, three things are here said; 1. first, legem turns back upon prĺdicabo. And this privilege it hath that it is materia predicabilis, a law which may, nay a law which ‘is to be preached.’ And that laws use not to be; [289/290] not to be preached. To be read upon at times privately, but to be preached, not any law but this. But this is, and it serves for a special difference to sever it from other laws, and make it a kind by itself. Even this, that it is to be preached.
To be preached; and that, even to Kings themselves that make laws; to judges themselves that are presumed to be best seen in the law; yet they to learn, they to be learned in this law. Erudimini is the word, qui judicatis terram, in the tenth verse after.
2.And the reason is; for this is a law, de quČ dixit Deus. And so is none else. And that is a second difference. There is a law de quČ dixit homo, quam sanxerunt homines, ‘which men among themselves make for themselves,’ as by-laws are made. This is of a higher nature. This God Himself made, is a law of His own making. De quČ dixit, or rather edixit, for so is ryka, Amar; which God enacted first, and then gave commandment, it should be preached.
And to whom? Dixit ad Me. Who is that? Christ. First, and before all others to be preached by His Son. His preaching He thought it worth, and gave it Him in charge, and accordingly we see He performed it, and professed prĺdicabo, that He will ‘preach it.’
3. But the third is a reason why it could not be otherwise, why it could not but be preached. Because as I told you out of the very body of the word, it is not a law at large, but a staute law. And the nature of that law is, without publishing it cannot be known.
God hath His Law in the same division that man hath his; His statute and His common law. ‘The law of nature which is written in the hearts of all men,’ that is the common law of the world. Of that every man is to take notice at his peril. But this law here is no part of that law; Filius Meus Tu is not written in the heart, it must be preached to the ear. No light of nature could reveal it from within—preached from without it must be. And so and no otherwise come we to the qj knowledge of it. The very word gives it for such, which is properly ‘a statute’ as this is, enacted and decreed in the High Court of God's Council above, and reserved ‘to be revealed in the latter times;’ and of that we cannot ‘hear without a preacher,’ and the preaching thereof was committed to Christ. [290/291] He began and we follow. And so much for prĺdicabo legem, de quČ dixit Dominus ad Me—the matter at large. And now to His text wherein is the letter of the law itself.
II. I reckoned up to you five particulars in this law. 1. Filius, a ‘Son.’ 2. Filius Meus, ‘My Son,’ that is, the Son of God. 3. Filius Meus genui, ‘the Son of God begotten.’ 4. Hodie genui, the Son of God ‘begotten this day.’ 5. And fifthly, dixit genui, that is dicendo genuit, ‘begotten by saying,’ as the Word should be.
1. Of ‘a Son,’ first. Which plainly sheweth it is not the old, it is a new law this. The old runs, Ego sum Dominus, which must needs imply, servus Meus tu. This is Filius Meus Tu in another style, which necessarily doth imply, Ego sum Pater Tuus. A Father to be the giver of it. According to the former He saith, Ego sum Dominus, and we say, Dominus meus Tu. According to this latter He saith, filius Meus tu, and we say Pater meus Tu. This the better by far, as far as the condition of a son is better than that of a servant. And indeed, the main difference between the two laws is but this: Do it, saith the one, servus Meus tu—the unperfect law of fear and servitude, Do it, saith the other, filius Meus tu—the ‘perfect law of love and liberty.’
2. Of a Son. Whose Son? Filius Meus. And He who speaks it, who says Meus, is God; and so He to whom it is spoken, ‘the Son of God.’ And the Son of God is a high title, and of a special account. Solomon before his crown or sceptre prized that speech of God; ‘I will be his Father and he shall be My son.’
But nothing makes it more clear than this place. The last verse He saith, Posui te Regem, ‘I have set Thee a king;’ that He speaks not of, thinks it not fit. But here now, Filius Meus Tu—this, lo, preach He will, this He thinks worth the preaching. Filius Meus Tu rather than posui Te Regem, to be ‘the Son of God’ than to be ‘a Prince in Sion.’
3. The Son of God; and ‘the Son of God’ begotten. For sons of God there be who are not begotten, they who come in another way, who come by adoption. To beget is an act of nature, and is ever determined in the identity of the same nature with him who did beget. And this putteth the difference. [291/292]
Otherwise, God speaks of Angels as of His sons;—‘when all the sons of God praised Him' Speaks it of Israel His people; ‘out of Egypt have I called My son.’ Speaks it of rulers and governors; ‘ye are all the sons of the Most High.’ To every of these as much in effect is said as filius Meus tu. But to which of them all, ‘to which the Angels said He at nay time, genui te, I have begotten thee?’ Not to nay. Filii they were but not geniti, none of them all. So filius Meus tu is communicated to others, but genui te to no creature, either in Heaven or earth. Of none is genui to be verified in proper terms, but of Christ, and of Christ only.
4. ‘Begotten’ and ‘this day begotten;’ genui and hodie genui; for begotten He had been before. Another begetting besides this. Two genuis. A genui before hodie; ex utero ante luciferum genui Te, ‘saith the Lord to my Lord,’ in the hundred and tenth Psalm. Twice begotten He was. This day begotten and begotten ante luciferum, ‘before there was any morning star;’ and so before there was any day at all; and so before any quod cognominatur hodie, any time that ‘is called to-day.’
We are to take notice of both these generations 1.of Christus ante luciferum, and of 2. lucifer ante Christum. To take notice of both, but to take hold of this latter. For that ante luciferum was not for us; His second begetting, His hodie genui, His this day's begetting is for us, is it we hold by. Not by His ‘going out from everlasting;’ not by His olim, ante luciferum, ante secula genitus—none of these. Hodie genitus is the law, that we are to preach; that is, not His eternal, but his hodiernal generation. Not as God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds, but as Man, of the substance of His mother, born in the world; ‘when in the fulness of time God sent His Son, made of a woman.’ And that was the hodie genui of this day.
5. Now the speculative Divine pierceth yet deeper, he finds a farther mystery in these two words, dixit genui, that is, saith he, dicendo genuit. He said He begat, that is, by His very saying He begat. Wherein the very manner of His begetting is set forth unto us.
There is a very near resemblance between dixit and genui, between begetting and speaking. To beget is to bring forth; so is to speak to bring forth also, to bring forth a word, and [292/293] Christ you know is called the Word. Now when we speak either we do it within to ourselves, or without to others. Either of which two may well be compared to a like several begetting.
1. When we think a word in our thought, and speak it there, within to ourselves, as it were in silence, and never utter it, this if you mark it well is a kind of conceiving or generation; the mind within of itself engendering a word, while yet it is but in notion, kept in and known to none but to ourselves. And such was the generation of the eternal Word, the Son of God, in the mind of His Father before all worlds; and even to that doth the Apostle apply the genui of this verse. And this is the first begetting or speaking.
2. Now as the word yet within us in our thought, when time comes that we will utter it, doth take to itself an airy body, our body, our breath by the vocal instruments being framed into a voice, and becometh audible to the outward sense; and this we call the second begetting or speaking: right so, the eternal Word of God, by Dominus dixit, by the very breath of God, the Holy Spirit, which hath His name of spiro, ‘to breathe,’ (corpus autem aptasi Mihi,) had a body framed Him, and with that body was brought forth, and came into the world. And so these words, genui Te, this very day, the second time, verified of Him. Genui and dixit genui, ‘said, and by saying, begot Him;’ for how soon the Angels' voice sounded in the blessed Virgin's ear, instantly was He incarnate in the womb of His mother.
1. Of both which words, dixit and genui, we can spare neither. There is good use of both. Of genui, to show the truth of the identity of His nature and substance with His Father who begat Him, and with His mother that bare Him. For to beget, is when one living thing brings forth another living thing, of the same nature and kind itself is.
2. But, I know not how, the term of begetting, the very mention of that word carrieth our conceit to a nature of carnality; therefore is the word dixit well set before it, to shew this genui was not by any fleshly way, to abstract it from any mixture of carnal uncleanness. That the manner of it was only as the word is purely and spiritually conceived in the mind. The one word, genui, noting the truth; the other [293/294] word, dixit, the no way carnal, but pure and inconcrete manner of His generation. And so I have gone over the five terms of this law, or, if you please, the five points of His text.
III. The hardest is yet behind; for it will not sink into our heads how this should be called a law. It seems nothing less; rather a dialogue between a Father and his Son. But a law sure it cannot be. A law runs in the imperative—this is merely narrative, declares somewhat, enjoins nothing, gives not any thing in charge as laws use to do.
Sed non potest solvi Scriptura, ‘God must be true in all His sayings,’ Christ may not preach false doctrine. A law He hath called it, and we may not give it any other name.
There be that think this verse is but the preamble, and that the body of the law doth follow and reacheth to the end of the Psalm.
But the better sort are of mind that even this verse, taken by itself, contains in it a law full and whole. Let us see then whether we can find it so.
We pitched upon the Apostle's division of the law, into lex fidei and lex factorum. If both these to found in it, we may well allow it for a law.
We will begin with lex fidei, what we are to believe of Him. Of Him, that is, of these three; 1. of His Person; 2. His Natures; 3. and His Offices.
And then come to lex factorum. 1. First, what He doth for us—the benefit of this law. 2. And then what we are to do for Him again our duty of this law. The former of which, the benefit, is the Gospel of this law. The latter, the duty, is the law of this Gospel.
1. Of His Person first. That He is of Himself, a Person subsisting. Plain by the two Persons who are in the text, Ego and Tu, the first and second person in grammar; and the same, the first and second Person in Trinity. Here is, Ego genui, the Person of the Father; and Filius Meus Tu, the Person of the Son. Here is one begets; and sure it is nemo generat seipsum, ‘none begets himself,’ but he whom begets is a person actually distinguished from him that begets him.
But of these Persons, this you will mark. That the first that is named, is Filius Meus Tu. He stands first in the [294/295] verse before genui Te. We hear of Filius before ever we hear of genui; for that is the Person we hold by. By nature, genui Te should go before Filius Meum, but quod nos, Filius Meus is before genui; to show there is no coming to the Father but by Him, no interest in the Father but from and through Him. This for His Person.
And in His Person we believe two natures, set down here in the two words, hodie and genui. If you do observe, there is somewhat a strange conjunction of these two words. One is present, hodie, the other is perfectly past, genui. In propriety of speech it would be a present act for a present time, or it would be an act past with an adverb of the time past; and not join a time in being, hodie, with an action ended and done, genui.
The joining of these two together, the verifying them both of one and the same person, must needs seem strange. And indeed could not be made good, but that in that one Party there are two distinct natures. To either of which, in a different respect, both may agree and be true, both. Some little difference there will be about the sorting of the two words, which to refer to which. But that will easily be accorded, for they will both meet in the end.
There be that, because hodie, the present, is yet in fieri, and so not come to be perfect, understand by it His temporal generation as Man which is the less perfect, as subject to the manifold imperfections of our human nature and condition. And then by genui, which is in factum esse, and so done and perfect, understand His eternal generation as the Son of God, in Whom are absolutely all the perfections of the Deity.
There be other, and they a higher pitch and are of a contrary mind, for whatsoever is past is in time say they, and so genui is temporal; and that hodie—that doth best express His eternal generation, for that nothing is so properly affirmed of eternity itself as is hodie. Why? For there all is hodie; there is neither heri nor cras, no ‘yesterday’ nor ‘to-morrow.’ All is ‘to-day,’ there. Nothing past, nothing to come—all present. Present as it were in one instant or centre, so in the hodie of eternity. ‘Past and to come’ argue time, but if it be eternal, it is neither; all there is present. ‘To-day’ then, sets forth eternity best, say they, which is [295/296] still present, and in being. But genui, that being past, cannot be His eternal at any hand, but must needs stand for His temporal.
But whether of these it be; Genui, His eternal as perfect, and hodie as not yet perfect, His temporal; or visa versa, hodie represents eternity best, and genui, time, as being spent and gone; between them both, one way or other, they will show His begettings. You may weave hodie with genui, or genui with hodie, and between them both they will make up the two natures of Him That was the hodie genitus of this day. Concerning whom we believe; as first, that He is one entire person and subsists by Himself, so second, that He consists of two distinct natures, eternal and temporal. The one as perfect God, the other as perfect Man.
Now for His offices. Them we have likewise in the two words, prĺdicabo and legem. Prĺdicabo, by that it is plain He doth ‘preach.’ And that seems strange; for the last news we heard of Him in the verse before was, that He was ‘set a King in Sion.’ And the word legem imports as much, for laws with us are the King's laws.
A King to preach? Let that alone for the Priests. That is their office; ‘they shall teach Jacob His judgments, and preach to Israel His law.’ But preach He will, as He saith. So Meus Filius will prove a priest; as it seems, a Priest indeed. And which is yet more strange, by virtue of these very words, Filius Meus Tu. No words, one would think, to prove Him a Priest by; and we should hardly believe it, but that in Hebrews 5:4 the Apostle deduceth His priesthood from these very words: ‘No, man, saith he, ‘taketh unto him this honour,’ that is, the honour of the Priesthood, but he that was called of God,’ as was Aaron. And then he adds, ‘No more did Christ, He took not this honour upon Him, to be our High-Priest; but that He said to Him, Filius Meus Tu, hodie genui Te, He gave it Him.’ So that by virtues of these words, Christ was consecrate a Priest, as by virtue of the other, posui Te Regem, ‘He was set a King in Sion.’
And the place, Sion suits well with both. For Mount Sion had two tops. On the one was the Temple built, on the other was the King's palace situated. The one for prĺdicabo, the other for legem. In one, as King, he makes a law; in [296/297] the other, as Priest, preacheth it. First, posui Regem, and then prĺdicabo legem.
And indeed the Kings that were His types, were mixed of both. Melchizedek—him the Apostle stands on a t large, in Heb.7. And if this Psalm be David's, as questionless it is, for his it is avowed to be, why then he preached too. And for Solomon it is too evident, we have his book of the Preacher. The like may be said of Ezekias, and the rest by whom this King here was in any sort represented. And by virtue thereof, they all had a greater care of publishing this law here, than of any of their own laws; as, on the contrary, Ahab and his race had more care of ‘the keeping the statutes of Omri than they had of the laws of God.
We believe then for His offices, that He is both King and Priest. Hath a Kingdom to rule, hath a diocese to preach in. His kingdom, ‘the heathen, to the uttermost parts of the earth;’ His diocese as large. His auditory all States, even the highest, Kings and judges; for praedicabo legem, concerns them all. And this for lex fidei, what it binds us to believe of Him.
2. Now for lex factorum. First, what shall be done to them who live by and under the law? They speak of laws of grace: this is indeed a law of grace, no, it is the law of grace; not only as it is opposite to the law of nature, but even because it offereth grace, the greatest grace that ever was. For what greater grace or favour can be done to any, than to have these words, filius Meus tu, said unto him? This law doth it, ‘for to them that receive it, it giveth power to be made sons of God.’
The words seem to be spoken to one person only; but as laws of grace use to be, are to receive ampliation, and to be extended to the most benefit.
Dixit ad Me. Said He it to Him, and said He it to Him alone, and said it to no other but to Him? No; for He gave it Him in charge to preach it, and to preach it is to say it to others. Therefore it is dixit ad ut ad alios per Me; ‘it was so said to Him, as that by Him it might be said to others.’ Prĺdicabo makes it plain.
Prĺdicabo. When Christ doth preach, He is not to be understood to preach to Himself—no man doth so at any time, [297/298] but to others more or less, that may be or should be the better for His preaching. For what needed it be preached, if it concern none but Him? if none to have benefit but He? if they that hear it preached shall receive no benefit by it.
3. So say we of legem. This law was not made for Christ, it needed not for Him any law. He was Filius Meus Tu, fÚsei,kaŲ on nŮmw needed no law to make Him that which by nature He was. The law was for others which by this law were to be made that which by nature they were not, that is, ‘the sons of God.’
4.Take the very words. You see His text is not in the first person, Filius Tuus Ego: His text is filius Meus tu. And who is that tu? It cannot be Christ Himself by common intendment. The Father saith to Him, ‘Thou art My Son.’ But to whom is it that Christ saith, Thou art My son? For filius Meus tu is His text, that He must preach on; He may not go from the words, or change the tenor of His text. Who is then that son? To whom applieth He His text? To some other certainly.
The Apostle saith, ‘He was set and sent, that He might bring many sons unto God,’ to whom God also might say, filius Meus tu. And Himself likewise saith of Himself in the Prophet; ‘Behold, here am I, and the children which God hath given Me.’
And who be those children? Those, whom He will regenerate, and beget anew by His prĺdicabo legem, the immortal seed; for, ‘of His own good will begat He us, by the word of truth, that we might be the first-fruits of His creatures.’ These are the children that art here meant. Of whom it will be said, quod Filium filii, that in and by this Son they will be His sons, all. And what was said to Christ, shall be said to them and every one of them, filius Meus tu.
Of Sion saith the eighty-seventh Psalm, ‘It shall be said, He was born in here.’ And that is true, for so He was. But he goes on farther, and saith, ‘He did remember Himself of Rahab, and Babylon, the Philistines' and the Morians' land, for, lo, there He was born.’ ‘Born there?’ How can that be? Yes, born there, and here, and every where, where by this prĺdicabo legem, He begets children to God. The power and [298/299] virtue reacheth even thither. Every place that receiveth His law, wherever it be, even there He is born. This for His birth.
To this birth there belongs a birthright. They talk much of the law as of a birth-right; but, lo, this here is a birth-right indeed, and that veri nomini, and amounts to more than a child's part. And it grows out of the double title or interest, which He hath to all that is given Him. For as He is twice a Son, twice begotten, 1. ante luciferum, and 2. hodie; so hath He a double right grows to Him, expressed in two distinct words in the next verse, 1. one of inheritance, 2. the other of possession, or purchase; for Ahuzza is a true Hebrew for a purchase. Of which two one contents Him, His title as Heir. The other He transcribes and sets over to us, which is that of His purchase, as hodie genitus.
But we need not so much as to go to the next verse for it. Filius Meus Tu will serve; which was said twice to Him. 1. Once at His Baptism, Hic est Filius Meus. And so it is likewise at ours, to us, for therein we are made members of Christ, and the children of God. 2. And again, Hic est Filius Meus, at His transfiguration in the mount. And we keeping the law of our Baptism, the same will be said to us likewise the second time; and when time comes, we shall also be ‘transfigured into the glorious image of the Son of God.’ And this lex factorum on His part, this will be done for us by Him. This we called the gospel of the law.
And what shall be done for us by Him? Which is the law of duty on our part required, and which we call the law of this gospel, implied in the first two words, prĺdicabo and legem. Either word hath his condition. First, if he preach, that we bestow the hearing of Him. And then legem, that we know it is ‘a law’ He preacheth, and therefore so, and no otherwise than so, to hear it.
Hear Him preach? That we be entreated to easily. If that be all, we will never stick with Him for that. Nay, God's blessing on His heart! for, as the world goes, we are now all for preaching.
But take legem with you too. It is so prĺdicabo as it legem. Preached and so preached as it is law, His sermons are so many law-lectures; His preaching is our law to live [299/300] by; and law binds and leaves us not to live as we list. And if that which is preached be law, it is to be heard as a law, kept as a law, to be made our lex factorum, as well as lex fidei. If we hear it otherwise, if we hear it not so, if we lose legem, we may let go praedicabo too and all.
And here now we break. As a law? Nay, none of that. The hearing we will give Him; but sot, no law, by your leave. Our case is this: so long as it but prĺdicabo, but preaching, we care not greatly though we hear it; but if it once come to legem, to be pressed upon as ‘a law,’ farewell our parts; we give Him over, for law binds, and we will not be bound. Upon the point, we are fast at prĺdicabo, and loose at legem. Leave Christ His book to preach by, but keep the law, hear it not but as news; if we bring our sermons ‘to an end as a tale that is told;’ if that be all, we forfeit all that follows, all our part and portion in filiu Meus, and hodie genui and all.
Now if you ask what law it is here meant? No other but the law of these words, filius Meus tu; for filius Meus tu, in the body of it, carrieth the law that contains all filial duties, which is the perfectest law when all is done.
For the law of a son is more than all laws besides. For besides that it is lex factorum, that a son will do anything that is to be done, he will further do it out of filial love and affection, which is worth all. And this law, indeed, is worth the preaching. It is exibit de Sion lex, ‘the law that came from Sion.’
The ‘law of Sinai’ that begins with Ego sum Dominus, it is a law of servitude, a law for the bond-woman and her brood. Never preach it, at least not to children. That law is to give place, and in place thereof is to come the law of Sion, which we preach; the law of the free-woman, and ‘the children of promise;’ the law of love, of filial love, proceeding not from ‘the spirit of bondage,’ but from ‘the spirit of adoption.’
There is lex factorum in both; but, as Gregory well expresseth it, Si servus es, metue plagas, ‘if thou be bond, as Ismael, do it out of servile fear, for fear of the whip.’ [300/301] Si mercenarius, expecta mercedem, ‘if thou be an hireling, as Balaam, do it out of mercenary respect.’ Sed, si filius Mesu tu; then do it out of true natural affection; perform all duties of a kind son to Him That said, genui te, as did Isaac the son of the free-woman to Abraham that begot him, ‘even to the laying down of his life.’ None to Timothy, saith St. Paul, ‘none like minded to him; for as a son with his father, so hath he laboured with me in the Gospel.’ ‘So,’ that is, so freely, so sincerely, so respectfully, as a loving, kind, natural son could do no more. And that is lex factorum indeed. And so much for lex factorum on our part, what we do for him—the filial duties, the law of this Gospel.
We lack nothing now but the time. And as legem is the condition, so hodie is the time. We are willed by the Apostle to insists upon this word hodie, to call upon men for this duty while it is called ‘to-day.’ Not to defer, or to put it off, or make a morrow matter of it. We are all inclined to be crastini or perendini, ‘for to-morrow or next day,’ or I know not when, but not to be hodierni. Hodie is no adverb with us, for where shall we find one but will take days for any matter of duty? To look to this hodie, and not deceive ourselves, for no time but hodie has any promise—witness hodie si vocem, ‘to-day if you will hear His voice,’ which every day sounds in our ears.
But hodie genui is more than hodie, for every day in the year while it lasts is hodie, but every day is not hodie genui. There is but one of them in the whole year, and that is this day. This day then to take, of all other hodies, not to let slip the hodie of this day. A day whereon this Scripture was fulfilled, whereon dixit et factum est, ‘He said it and did it,’ whereon this Son was born and given us; a day whereon as it is most kindly preached, so it will be most kindly practised of all others. And so I hold you no longer, but end.
Praying to Him That was the hodie genitus of this day, Him That was begotten, and Him by Whom He was begotten, that we may have our parts, as on prĺdicabo, ‘preaching’ so likewise in legem, ‘the law;’ in both, legem fidei, ‘to believe aright,’ and legem factorum ‘to live according;’ that we performing the filial duties required, may obtain filial rights [301/302] promised, and may be in the number of those to whom first and last filius Meus tu will be said, to our everlasting comfort, and ‘to the praise of the glory of His grace,’ through Christ our Lord.