Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology
Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
SERMONS OF THE NATIVITY.
PREACHED UPON CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1609.
Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Monday, the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCIX
Transcribed by Dr Marianne Dorman
But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, To redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
At ubi venit plenitudo temporis, misit Deus Filium suum factum ex muliere, factum sub Lege, Ut eos, qui sub lege erant, redimeret, ut adoptionem filiorum reciperemus.
If, when the ‘fullness of time came,’ ‘God sent His Son,’ then when ‘God sent His Son,’ is ‘the fulness of time’ come. And at this day ‘God sent His Son.’ This day therefore, so oft as by the revolution of the year it cometh about, is to us a yearly representation of ‘the fullness of time.’ So it is; and a special honour it is to the feast that so it is. And we ourselves seem so to esteem of it. For we allow for every month a day—look how many months so many days—to this feast, as if it were, and we so thought it to be, the full recapitulation of the whole year.
This honour it hath from Christ who is the Substance of this and all other solemnities. Peculiarly, a Christi missa, ‘from Christ's sending.’ For they that read the ancient writers of the Latin Church, Tertullian and Cyprian, know that missa and missa, and remissa and remissio, with them [45/46] are taken for one. So that Christa missa, is the sending of Christ. And when then hath this text place so fit as now? Or what time so seasonable to entreat of it as this? of the sending of His Son, as when ‘God sent His Son;’ of ‘the fulness of time,’ as on the yearly return and memorial of it?
To entreat of it then. The heads are two. I. Of ‘the fulness of time.’ II. And of that wherewith it is filled. I. Time's fulness in these, ‘When the fulness of time came.’ II. Time's filling in the rest, ‘God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law,’ &c.
I. In the former, Quando venit plenitudo temporis, there be four points. 1. Plenitudo te poris, ‘that hath a fulness;’ or, ‘that there is a fulness of time.’ 2. Venit plenitudo, ‘that fulness cometh by steps and degrees;’ not all at once. 3. Quando venit, that it hath a quando, that is, ‘there is a time when time thus cometh to this fulness.’ 4. And when that when is and that is ‘when God sent His Son.’ And so pass we over to the other part in the same verse, Misit Deus; ‘God sent His Son.’
II. For the other part, touching the filling of time. There be texts, the right way to consider of them is to take them in pieces, and this is of that kind. And if we take it in sunder, we shall see as it is of fullness so a kind of fulness there is in it, every word more full than the other; every word a step in it whereby it rises still higher, till by seven several degrees it comes to the top and so the measure is full. 1. ‘God sent;’ the first. 2. ‘Sent His Son;’ the second. 3. ‘His Son made;’ the third. 4. And that twice made; ‘made of a woman;’ the fourth 5. ‘Made under the Law;’ the fifth; every one fuller than other, still.
And for all this, for some persons, and some purpose; the person ut nos, ‘that we.’ The purpose, reciperemus, ‘that we might receive.’ Nay, if you mark it, there be two uts, 1. ut ille; 2. ut nos, ‘that He might,’ and that ‘we might.’ He might redeem, and we might receive; that is, He pay for it, and we reap the benefit. 6. A double benefit, of 1. Redemption, first, from the state of persons cast and condemned under the Law; which is the sixth. 7. And then, of 2. Translation into the state of adopted children of God, which is the seventh, and the very filling up of the measure.
[46/47] III. All which we may reduce to a double fulness: God's as much as He can send; ours as much as we can desire. God's in the five first. 1. ‘God sent.’ 2. ‘Sent His Son.’ 3. ‘His Son made.’ 4. ‘Made of a woman.’ 5. ‘Made under the Law.’ And ours in the two latter; 6. ‘We are redeemed,’ the sixth. 7. ‘We receive adoption,’ the seventh.
In that of God's every point is full. The thing sent, full; the sending, and the manner of sending, full. The making, and the two manners of making. 1. ‘of a woman,’ and 2. ‘under the Law,’ both full. And our fulness in the two latter, the effects of these two acts or makings, 1. ‘of a woman,’ 2. ‘under the Law,’ redemption and adoption, which make up all. That when we were strangers from the adoption, and not that only, but lay under the Law, as men whose sentence had passed on; from this latter we are redeemed—He ‘under the Law,’ that we from under the Law—that being so redeemed we might further ‘receive the adoption of children,’ and as He the ‘Son of man,’ so we might be made the ‘sons of God’—which two are as much as we can wish. And this is our fulness.
IV. And to these I will crave leave to add another fulness of ours, rising out of these, and to make a motion for it. That as it is the time when we from God receive the fulness of His bounty, so it might be the time also when He from us may likewise receive the fulness of our duty. The time of His bountifulness, and the time of our thankfulness: that it may be plenitudo temporis, qua ad illum, qua ad nos; ‘downward and upward, from Him to us, and from us to Him again;’ and so be both ways ‘the fulness of time.’
Quando venit plenitudo temporis
I. Plenitudo temporis. First there is a fulness in time. The term ‘fulness’ carrieth our conceit to measure straight from whence it is borrowed; which is then said to be full when it hath as much as it can hold. Now ‘God hath made all things in measure;’ and if all things then time. Yea time itself is by the Apostle called mensura temporis, ‘the measure of time.’ As then all other measures have theirs; so the measure of time also hath his fulness, when it receiveth so much as the capacity will [47/48] contain no more. So time is a measure; it hath a capacity; that hath a fulness. That there is such a thing as ‘the fulness of time.’
2. Venit plenitudo. But nothing is full at first; no more is time by and by. Venit plenitudo, it coemth not at once or straightways, but by steps and paces, nearer and nearer; fills first a quarter, and then half, till at last it come to the brim. And degrees there be by which it cometh. Ecce palmares posuisti dies meos; from which word [palmares] it is an observation of one of the Fathers, [Alcuin] ‘a man may read his time.’ In his own hand visibly there in an ascent, the fingers rise still till they come to the top of the middle finger; and when they be come thither, down again by like descent till they come to the little which is the lowest of all. So is it in our time. It riseth still by degrees till we come to the full pitch of our age, and then declineth again till we grow to the lower end of our days. But howsoever it may be—as it oft falls out—the descent is sudden, we go down headlong without degrees, go away in a moment; yet ever this holdeth, to our fulness we come not but by degrees.
3. Quando venit. Now thirdly, this coming hath a quando venit, ‘a time when it cometh thither.’ As a time there is a great while when we say, nondum venit hora, ‘the time is not yet come.’ while the measure is yet but in filling; so at the last a time too that we may say, venit hora, ‘the time is now come,’ when the measure is full; that is, a time there is when the time cometh to the full. As in the day, when the sun cometh to the meridian in the line; in the month, when it cometh to the point of opposition with the moon; in the year, when to the solstice; in man, when he cometh to his full years; for that is the ‘fulness of time' the Apostle allegeth in three verses before.
And when is that when that time thus cometh to his fulness? Quando misit Deus, ‘when God sends it;’ for time receives his filling from God. Of itself time is but an empty measure, hath nothing in it. Many days and months run over our heads, Dies inanes, saith the Psalmists; Menses vacui, saith Job, ‘empty days,’ ‘void months,’ without any thing to fill them.
That which filleth time is some memorable thing of God's pouring into it; or, as it is in the text, of His sending to fill it [48/49] withal. Misit Deus is it; and so cometh time to be more or less full, thereafter as that is which God sends to fill it.
Now many memorable missions did God make before this here, whereby in some measure He filled up certain times of the year under Moses and the prophets; all which may well be termed, The implements of time.
But for all them, the measure was not yet full;—filled perhaps to a certain degree, but not full to the brim; full it was not, seeing it might be still fuller, till God sent That than Which a more full could not be sent.
And That He sent when ‘He sent His Son,’ a fuller than Whom He could not send, nor time could not receive. Therefore with the sending Him when that was, time was at the top, that was the quando venit, then it was plenitudo temporis.
1. And well might that be called ‘the fullness of time.’ For when He was sent into the world, ‘in Whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily;’ in Whom ‘the Spirit was not by measure;’ in Whom was ‘the fulness of grace and truth;' of Whose fulness we all receive;—when He was sent That was thus full, then was time at the full.
2. And well also might it be called ‘the fullness of time’ in another regard. For till then all was but in promise, in shadows and figures and prophecies only, which fill not, God knows. But when the performance of those promises, the body of those shadows, the substance of those figures, the fulfilling or filling full of all those prophecies came, then came ‘the fullness of time,’ truly so called. Till then it came not; then it came.
3. And well might it be called ‘the fulness of time’ in a third respect. For then the heir, that is, the world, was come to his full age; and so that the fittest time for Him to be sent. For to that compares the Apostle their estate then; that the former times under Moses and the prophets were as the non-age of the world, sub pĺdagogo, ŰpÕ otoice‹a at their A. B. C. or rudiments, (as in the very last words before these.) Their estate then, as of children in their minority, little differing from servants. For all this while, nondum venit. ‘the fullness of time’ was not yet come. But a time there was, as for man, so for mankind to come to his full years; that time [49/50] came with Christ's coming, and Christ's coming with it, and never till then was `the fullness of time;' but then it was.
And let this be enough for this point; more there is not in the text. But if any shall further ask why then, at that age of the world the world was at his full age, just then and neither sooner nor later? I know many heads have been full of devices, to satisfy men's curiosity in that point. But I hold it safest to rest with the Apostle, in the second verse, on God's Įpoqesm…a. Let that content us. Then was the time, for that was tempus prĺfinitum a Patre, ‘the time appointed of the Father.’ For even among men, though —the fathere being dead—the law setteth a time for the son to come to his heritage; yet the father living, no time can be prefixed, but only when it liketh him to appoint; and the Father here liveth; and therefore let His proqesm…a stay us. ‘The times and seasons He hath put in His own power, it is not for us to know them.’ This is for us to know, that with His appointment, we must come to a full point. So doth the Apostle, and so let us, and busy ourselves much with it; doth more concern us. To that therefore let us come.
II. ‘God sent.’ The degrees are seven, as I said. To take them as they rise. Misit Deus, ‘God sent.’ That standeth first, and at it let our first stay be. That will fall out to make the first degree. For even this, that God sent at all, ipsum mittere Dei, this very sending itself is a degree. It is so; and so we would reckon of it, if we knew the Sender, and Who He is; the Majesty of His presence how great it is, and how glorious, how far surpassing all we can see on earth.
For Him—for such an one as He—to condescend but to send, is sure a degree. For enough it had been, and more than enough for Him, to be sent to; and not to send Himself. To have sit still, and been content that we might send to Him, and have our message and petition admitted, and not He send to us. That had been as much as we could look for, and well if we might have been vouchsafed but that. But it was He that sent; not we to Him first, nay not we to Him at all, but He to us.
He to us! And what were we that He to us? Us, as elsewhere He termeth us, ‘mere aliens’ from Him and His [50/51] Household; not that only, but us, in case of men whom the law had passed upon. So is our estate described in the end of the text. For Him to send to us, so great as He to such as we; to think us tanti, ‘so much worth,’ as to make any mission, or motion, or to disease any about us—this may well be the first. Be it then so; that to us, or for us, or concerning us, God would trouble Himself to make any sending; a fulness there is in this. Full He was; a fulness there was in Him—even the fulness of compassion in His bowels over our estate—else such a Sender would never once have sent.
2. ‘His Son.’ ‘God sent;’ ‘sent,’ and ‘sent His Son.’ That I make no question will bear a second. Others He might have sent; and whosoever it had been He had sent, it might well have served our turns. If sent by the hand of any His servants, any Patriarch, Prophet, any ordinary messenger, it had been enough. So hitherto had been His sending. So, and no otherwise, ever till now.
Then, if to send by any may seem sufficient, to send ‘His Son’ must needs seem full. For ever the more excellent the person sent, the more honourable the sending; the greater he, the fuller it. Now greater there is not than ‘His Son,’ His first, His only-begotten Son, ‘in Whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt;’ in sending Him He sent the greatest, the best, the fullest thing He had.
To heap the measure up yet more with the cause of His sending, in the word ‘exapýsteila. It was voluntary. He sent Him not for need; but for mere love to us, and nothing else. There was no absolute necessity that He should have sent Him. He might have done what He intended by the means and ministry of some besides. God could have enabled a creature; a creature enabled by God, and the power of His might, could soon have trod down Satan under our feet. But if it had been any other He had sent, His love and regard to us had not showed so full. It had been Ostendit Deus charitatem, but not Ecce quantam charitatem ostendit Deus. Whomsoever He had sent besides, His love had not been full; at least, not so full, at least, not so full as it should have been, if He had sent His Son. That therefore it might be full, and so appear to us for full, Misit Deus Filium suum. Enough it was, in compassion of our estate, to have relieved us by any. [51/52] Men that are in need to be relieved care not who they be that do it. Enough then for compassion; nut not enough to manifest the fulness of His love, unless to relieve us He sent His own Son.
3. ‘Made.’ This full one would think; yet the manner of His sending Him is fuller still. Misit Filium; Filium factum. ‘Sent His Son;’ ‘His Son made.’ Sent Him, and sent Him ‘made.’ This is a third. For if He would have sent Him, He should not have sent Him `made;' but as He was, ‘neither made nor created,’ but like Himself in His own estate, as was meet for the Son of God to be sent. To make Him anything is to mar Him, be it what it will be. To send Him made, is to send Him marred, and no better. Therefore I make no doubt Christ's sending is one degree, His making is another; so to send as withal to make are two distinct measures of this filling. As He is, He is a Maker, a Creator. If God make Him any thing, He must be a thing made, a creature, and is a great disparagement. So that howsoever the time is the fuller for this, He is the emptier; pl/hrwma crŮnou kýnwma Cristoą ‘the fulness of time is His emptiness;’ the exalting of that, His abasing. And this very exinanivit seipsum, ‘emptying Himself’ for our sake, is a pressing down the measure; and so even by that still the measure is more full.
Yea the very manner of this making hath his increase too, addeth to it still. In the word geuŮmwnou, which is not every making, but ‘making it His nature.’ To have made Him a body and taken it upon Him for a time till He had performed His embassage, and then laid it off again, that had been much; but so to be made as once made and ever made; so to take it as never lay it off more, but continue so still, gýnesqai, ‘it is to become His very nature;’ so to be made is to make the union full. And to make the union with us full, He was content not to be sent alone but to be made; and that gýnesqai, ‘to be made so as never unmade more.’ Our manhood becoming His nature, no less than the Godhead itself. This is Filium factum indeed.
‘Made,’ and twice ‘made,’ for so it is in the verse, 1. Factum ex, and 2. Factum sub; ‘made of,’ and ‘made under;’ ‘of a woman.,’ ‘under the Law.’ So two makings [52/53] there be; either of them of itself a filling to the measure, but both of them maketh it perfectly full.
‘Made,’ first, ‘of a woman;’ that I take clearly to be one. For if He, if the Son of God must be made a creature, it were meet He should be made the best creature of all. And if made of any thing, if any one thing better than another, of that; made some glorious Spirit, some of the orders of the Angels. Nay ‘made,’ but made no Spirit; Verbum caro factum est, ‘The Word became flesh;’ ‘made’ no Angel; nusquam Angelos, ‘He in no wise took the Angels; nature upon Him.’
But ‘made’ man. First I will ask with David, Domine, quid est homo? ‘Lord what is man?’ And then tell you his answer. Homo quasi res nihili, ‘Man is like a thing of nought.’ And this He was ‘made,’ this He became, ‘made’ man, ‘made of a woman;’ ‘did not abhor the Virgin's womb,’ as we sing daily to the high praise of the fullness of His humility, to which His love brought Him for our sakes. For whatsoever else He had been ‘made,’ it would have done us no good. In this then was ‘the fulness' of His love, as before of His Father's—that He would be made, and was made, not what was fittest for Him, but what was best for us; not what was most for His glory, but what was most for our benefit, and behoof.
‘Made of a woman.’ For man He might have been ‘made,’ and yet have had a body framed for Him in Heaven, and not ‘made of a woman.’ But when He saith, Factum ex muliere, it is evident He passed not through her as water through conduit pipe, as fondly dreameth the Anabaptist. ‘Made of,’ Factum ex; ex dicit materiam. ‘Made of her;’ she ministered the matter, ‘the flesh of her flesh.’ Semen mulieris, ‘the seed;’ and semen intimum substantiĺ, ‘that is the principal and very inward chief part of the substance.’ Made of that, made of her very substance.
And so have we here now in one both twain His natures. ‘God sent His Son’—there His divine; ‘made of a woman,’—here His human nature. That, from the bosom of His Father before all worlds; this, from the womb of His mother in the world. So that as from eternity God His Father might say that verse of the Psalm, Filius Meus es Tu, hodie genui Te [53/54] ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee:’ so, in ‘the fulness of time’ might the Virgin His mother no less truly, Filius me Tu, hodie peperi Te, ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I brought Thee into the world.’
And here now at this word, ‘made of a woman,’ He beginneth to concern us somewhat. There groweth an alliance between us; for we also are made of a woman. And our hope is as He will not be confounded to be counted inter natus mulierum: no more will He be, saith the Apostle, to say, in medio fratrum, ‘to acknowledge us His brethren.’ And so by this time He growth somewhat near us.
This now is full for the union with our nature to be ‘made of a woman.’ But so to be ‘made of a woman’ without He be also ‘made under the Law,’ is not enough yet. For if He be out of the compass of the Law that the law cannot take hold of Him, factum ex muliere will do us small pleasure. And He was so born, so ‘made of a woman.’ As the verity of His conception is in this factum ex muliere, so the purity is in this, that it is but ex muliere, and no more; of the Virgin alone by the power of the Holy Ghost, without mixture of fleshly generation. By virtue whereof no original soil was in Him. Just born He was, and Justo non est lex posita, ‘no law for the just’—no law could touch Him. And so we never the better for factum ex muliere.
For if one be in debt and danger of the law, to have a brother of the same blood, made of the same woman, both as we say lying in one belly, will little avail him, except he will also come ‘under the law,’ that is, become his surety and undertake for him. And such was our estate. As debtors we were by virtue of chirigraphum contra nos, ‘the hand-writing that against us.’ Which was our bond, and we had forfeited it. And so, factus ex muliere, to us, without factus sub Lege, would have been to small purpose.
No remedy therefore, He must be new made; made again once more. And so He was, cast in a new mould; and at His second making ‘made under the Law;’ under which if He had not been made, we had been marred; even quite undone for ever, if this had not been done for us too. Therefore He became bound for us also, entered bond anew, took on Him not only our nature but our debt, our nature [54/55] and condition both. Nature as men, condition as sinful men, expressed in the words following, ‘them that were under the Law;’ for that was our condition. There had indeed been no capacity in Him to do this, if the former had not gone before, factum ex muliere; if He had not been, as we, ‘made of a woman.’ But the former was for this; ‘made of a woman’ He was, that He might be ‘made under the Law:’ being ex muliere, He might then become sub Lege, which before He could not, but then He might and did; and so this still is the fuller.
And when did He this? When was He ‘made under the Law?’ Even then when He was circumcised. For this doth St. Paul testify in the third of the next chapter, ‘Behold, I Paul testify unto you whosoever is circumcised,’ factus est debitor universĺ Legis, ‘he becomes a debtor to the whole Law.’ At His circumcision then He entered bond anew with us; and in sign that so He did, He shed then a few drops of His blood, whereby He signed the bond as it were, and gave those few drops then, tanquam arrham universi effundendi, ‘as a pledge or earnest’ that ‘when the fullness of time came,’ ‘He would be ready to shed all the rest;’ as He did; For I would not have you mistake; though we speak of this sub Lege, being ‘under the Law,’ in the terms of a debt sometimes, yet the truth is this debt of ours was no money debt; we were not sub Lege pecuniariČ, but capitali; and the debt of a capital law is death. And under that, under death He went, and the worst death law had to inflict, ‘even the death of the cross,’ the most bitter, reproachful, cursed death of the cross. So that upon the matter, factus sub Lege, and factus in cruce, come both to one; one amounts to as much as the other. Well, this He did undertake for us at His circumcision, and therefore then and not till then He had His name given Him, the name of Jesus, a Saviour. For then took He on Him the obligation to save us. And look, what then at His circumcision He undertook, at His Passion He paid even to the full; and having paid it, delevit chirographum, ‘cancelled the sentence of the Law,’ that till then was of record and stood in full force against us.
Howbeit, all this was but one part of the Law; but He was made sub Lege universČ, ‘under the whole Law;’ and that not [55/56] by His death only, but by His life too. The one half of the Law, that is, the directive part—He was made under that, and satisfied it by the innocency of his life, without breaking so much as one jot or tittle of the Law; and so answered that part, as it might be the principal. The other half of the Law which is the penalty—He was under that part also, and satisfied it by suffering a wrongful death, no way deserved, or due by Him; and so answered that, as it might be the forfeiture. So He was made under both, under the whole Law. Satisfying the principal, there was no reason He should be liable to all, that the whole Law might be satisfied fully, by His being under both parts; and so no part of it light upon us.
These two then, 1. ‘made of a woman,’ 2. ‘Made under the Law,’ ye see, are two several makings, and both very requisite. Therefore either hath a several feast, they divide this solemnity between them. Six days apiece to either; as the several moities of this ‘fulness of time.’ This day, Verbum caro factum, ‘the Word made flesh;’ that day, ‘Him that knew no sin, He made sin,’ that is, made Him undertake to be handled as a sinner, to be ‘under the Law,’ and to endure what the Law could lay upon Him. And so now the thing sent is full; and fully sent, because made; and fully made, because made once and twice over; fully made ours, because fully united to us. ‘Made of a woman,’ as well as we; ‘made under the Law,’ as deep as we; both ex muliere and sub Lege. So of our nature ‘of a woman,’ that of our condition also ‘under the Law.’ So, fully united to us in nature and condition both.
And so we are come to the full measure of His sending. And that we are come to the full ye shall plainly see by the overflowing, by what which we receive from this fulness; which is the latter part of the verse and is our fulness, even the fulness of all that we can desire. For if we come now to ask, for whom is all this ado, this sending, this making, over and over again? It is for us. So is the conclusion, ut nos, that we might from this fulness receive the full of our wish. For in these two behind, 1. Redemption and 2. Adoption; to be redeemed and to be adopted are the full of all we can wish ourselves.
[56/57] The transcendent division of good and evil is it that comprehendeth all. And here it is. Our desire can extend itself no further than to be rid of all evil, and to attain all that good is. By these two, being redeemed and being adopted, we are made partakers of them both. ‘To be redeemed from under the Law,’ is to be quit of all evil. ‘To receive the adoption of children,’ is to be stated in all that is good. For all evil is in being ‘under the Law’ from whence we are redeemed, and all good in being invested in the heavenly inheritance whereunto we are adopted. Thus stood the case with us, ‘aliens we were from God, His covenant, and His kingdom.’ More than that, prisoners we were, fast laid up under the Law. From this latter we are freed; of the former we are seized; and what would we more?
Only this you shall observe that in the idiom of the Scriptures it is usual, two points being set down, when they are resumed again, to begin with the latter and so end with the former. So is it here. At the first, ‘made of a woman, made under the Law.’ At the resuming, He begins with the latter, ‘made under the Law, that He might redeem them that were under the Law.’ And then comes to the former, ‘made of a woman,’ made the Son of man, `that we by adoption might be made the sons of God.’ But this we are to mark, it is He that is at all the cost and pain; and we that have the benefit by it. At the redeeming it is, ut ille; at the receiving it is, ut nos.
Briefly of either. And first, of our redeeming. Redeeming, as the word giveth it, is a second buying, or buying back of a thing before aliened or sold. Ever, a former sale is presupposed before it. And such a thing there had gone before. A kind of alienation had formerly been whereby we had made away ourselves, for a sale I cannot call it, it was for such a trifle; our nature aliened in Adam for the forbidden fruit, a matter of no moment. Our persons likewise; daily we ourselves alien them for some trifling pleasure or profit, matters not much more worth. And when we have thus passed ourselves away, by this ‘selling ourselves under sin,' the Law seizeth on us, and under it we are sukekleismýnoi even ‘locked up’ as it were in a dungeon, ‘tied fast with the cords of our sins;’ the sentence passed on us, and we waiting but for [57/58] execution. What evil is there not in this estate, and on every soul that is in it? Well then, the first ut, the first end is to get us rid from under this estate.
He did it; not by way of entreaty, step in and beg our pardon; that would not serve. Sold we were, and bought we must be; a price must be laid down for us. To get us from under the Law it was not a matter of intercession, to sue for it and have it. No, He must purchase it and pay for it. It was a matter of redemption.
And in redemption or a purchase we look to the price. For if it be at any easy rate, it is so much better. But with a high price He purchased us; it cost Him dear to bring it about. Non auro, nec argento; neither of them would serve; at an higher rate it was, even pretioso sanguine. ‘His precious Blood was the price we stood Him in.’ Which He paid, when ‘He gave His life a ransom for many’. It stood thus between Him and us in this point of redemption. Here are certain malefactors under the Law, to suffer—to be executed. What say you to them? Why, I will become ‘under the Law,’ suffer that they should, take upon Me their execution, upon condition they may be quit. In effect so much as His Passion He said, Si ergo Me quĺritis, ‘If you lay hold on Me,’ if I must discharge all, sinite hos abire, ‘let these go their way.’ Let the price I pay be their redemption, and so it was. And so we come to be ‘redeemed from under the Law.’
And this is to be marked, that ‘them that were under the Law’ and ‘we that are to receive’ are but one, one and the same persons both; but being so redeemed, then we are ourselves. Till then the Apostle speaks of us in the third person, ‘them that were under the Law,’ as of some strangers, as of men of another world, none of our own. But now being redeemed, the style changeth. He speaketh of us in the first person ut nos, ‘that we.’ For till now, we were not our own, we were not ourselves; but now we are. Till this it was the old year still with us, but with the new year cometh our new estate.
Being thus redeemed, we are got from under the Law; and that is much. Till a party come to be once under it and feel the weight of it, he shall never understand this aright; [58/59] but then he shall. And if any have been under it, he knows what it is, and how great a benefit to be got thence. But is this all? No, He leaves us not here; but to make the measure complete, yea even to flow over, He gives us not over when He had rid us out of this wretched estate, till He has brought us to an estate as good as Himself is in. After our redemption we stood as prisoners enlarged; that was all: but still we were as strangers; no part nor portion in God or His Kingdom, nor no reason we should hope for any. He now goeth one step further, which is the highest and farthest step of all. For farther than it He cannot go.
‘That we might receive the adoption,’ that is, from the estate of prisoners condemned be translated into the estate of children adopted. Of adopted, for of natural we could not. This is His peculiar alone, and He therein only above us; but else, fully to the joint fruition of all that He hath, which is fully as much as we could desire. And this is our fieri out of His factum ex muliere. We made the sons of God, as He the Son of man; we made partakers of His divine, as He of our human nature. To purchase our pardon, to free us from death and the law's sentence, this ‘seemed a small thing’ to Him, yet this is lex hominis. Man's goodness goeth no farther, and gracious is the prince that doth but so much. For who has ever heard of a condemned man adopted afterward, or that thought it not enough and enough if he did but scape with his life? So far then to exalt His bounty to that fulness as pardon and adopt both, non est lex hominia hĺc, ‘no such measure amongst men;’ zelus Domini exercitum, ‘the zeal of the Lord of Hosts’ was to perform this; ‘the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him’ that brought this to pass.
For, to speak of adopting, we see it daily; no father adopts unless he be orbe, have no child; or if he have one, for some deep dislike have cast him off. But God had a Son, ‘the brightness of His glory, the true character of His substance.’ And no displeasure there was; no, in Quo complacitum est, ‘in Whom He was absolutely well pleased;’ yet would He by adoption for all that ‘bring many sons to glory.’ Is not this full on His part?
We see again no heir will endure to hear of adoption, nay nor divide his inheritance; no, not with his natural brethren. [59/60] Then, that ‘the Heir of all things’ should admit ‘joint-heirs’ to the Kingdom He was born to; and that admit them not out of such as were near Him, but from such as were strangers; yea, such as had been condemned men under the law—is not this full on His part? To purchase us, and to purchase for us, both at once? And not to do this for us alone, but to assure it to us. For as His Father in this verse sends Him, so in the next verse ‘He send the Spirit of His Son’ to give us seisin of this our adoption; whereby we now call Him, the Jews Abba, the Gentiles Pater, as children all and He our Father, which is the privilege of the adoption we here receive.
And now are we come to the fulness indeed. For this adoption is the fullness of our option; we cannot extend —we our wish, or He—His love and goodness any farther. For what can we ask, or He give more, seeing in giving this He gives all He is worth? By this time it is full sea; all the banks are filled. It is now as Ezekiel's waters that he saw ‘flow from under the threshold of the Temple;’ that took him to the ancles first, then to the knees, after to the loins; at last, so high risen there was no more passage.
1. From the fulness of His compassion, He ‘sent’ to release us. 2. From the fulness of His love, ‘He sent His Son.’ 3. In the fulness of humility, ‘He sent Him made.’ 4. ‘Made of a woman,’ to make a full union with our nature. 5. ‘Made under the Law,’ to make the union yet more perfectly full with our sinful condition. 6.’That we might obtain a full deliverance from all evil, by being redeemed.’ 7.’And a full estate of all the joy and glory of His Heavenly inheritance, by being adopted.’ So there is fulness of all hands. And so much for the fulness of the benefit we receive.
Now, for the fulness of the duty we are to perform this day, For, ‘in the fulness of time’ all things are to be full. Plenitudo temporis, tempus plenitudinis. And seeing God hath suffered us to live, to see the year run about to this plenitudo temporis; if it be son on God's part, meet also it be so on ours; and that we be not empty in this ‘fulness of time.’ It is not fit, if He be at the brink that we at the bottom. But, as we be willing to yield Him of ours again, of our duty, I [60/61] mean; that it to Him in a measure and proportion be like full, as His bounty hath been full above measure towards us. That so from us, and on our parts, it may be plenitudo temporis, or tempus plenitudinis, ‘the fulness of time,’ or ‘time of fulness,’ choose you whether.
1.And a time of fullness it will be, I know, in a sense; of fulness of bread, of fulness of bravery, of fulness of sport and pastime; and this it may be. And it hath been ever a joyful time in appearance, for it should be so. ‘With the joy,’ saith Esay a verse or two before puer natus est nobis, ‘unto us a Child is born,’ ‘that men rejoice with in the harvest.’ Not to go from our text here, with the joy of men that are come out of prison, have scaped the law; with the joy of men that have got the reversion of a goodly heritage. Only, that we forget not the principal; that this outward joy eat not up, evacuate not our spiritual joy proper to the feast; that we have in mind in the midst of our mirth the cause of it, Christ's sending, and the benefits that come thereby. And it still be a good sign unto us if we can this rejoice, if this our joy can be full, if we can make a spiritual blessing the object of our mirth. Beatus populus qui scit jubilationem, ‘Blessed is the people that can rejoice on this manner.’
2. And after our joyfulness or fullness of joy, our fullness of thanks or thankfulness is to ensue; for with that fulness we are to celebrate it likewise. Our minds first, and then our mouths, to be filled with blessing, and praise, and thanks to Him, Who has made our times not to fall into those empty ages of the world, but to fall within this ‘fulness of time,’ which ‘so many Kings and Prophets desired to have lived in,’ but fell short of; and lived then when the times were full of shadows, and promises, and nothing else. How instantly they longed to have held such a feast, to have kept a Christmas, it is evident by David's Inclina Caelos, by Esay's Utinam disrumpas Caelos, ‘Bow the Heavens,’ and ‘Break the Heavens:’ how much, I say, they longed for it; and therefore, that we make not light account of it.
To render our thanks then, and to remember to do it fully, to forget none; to Him who was sent, and to Him who ‘sent;’ ‘sent His Son’ in this, ‘the Spirit of His Son’ in the next verse. To begin with Osculamini Filium, it is the first [61/62] duty enjoined us this day, to ‘kiss the Babe’ new born, That when His Father would send Him said. Ecce venio, so readily; and when He would make Him, was content with Corpus aptasi Mihi, to have a body made Him, meet for Him to suffer in; who willingly yielded to be our Shilo—to this Ępýsteile here; yea, to be not only Christ but an Apostle for us, even ‘the Apostle of our profession.’
And not to Him that was sent and made alone; but to the Father that sent Him, and to the Holy Ghost that made Him, as by Whom He was conceived. To the Father for His mission, the Son for His redemption, the Holy Ghost for His adoption; for by Him it is wrought. He that made Him the Son of Man, doth likewise regenerate us to the state of the sons of God. And this for our thankfulness.
3. And to these two, to make the measure full, to join the fulness of duty, even whatsoever dutiful-minded persons may yield to a bountiful-minded Benefactor. And with this to begin, to consecrate this first day of this fulness of time even with our service to Him at the full; which is then at the full when no part is missing, when all our duties of preaching, and praying, of hymns, of offering, of Sacrament and all, meet together. No fullness there is of our Liturgy or public solemn service, without the Sacrament. Some part, yes the chief part is wanting, if that be wanting. But our thanks are surely not full without the Holy Eucharist, which is by interpretation, thanksgiving itself. Fully we cannot say Quid retribuam Domino? but we must answer, Calicem salutaris accipiam, ‘we will take the Cup of Salvation,’ and with it in our hands give thanks to Him, render Him our true Eucharist, or real thanksgiving indeed. In which the Cup is the Blood not only of our redemption, of the covenant that freeth us from the Law and maketh the destroyer pass over us; but of our adoption, of the New Testament also which entitles us and conveys unto us, testament-wise or by the way of legacy, the estate we have in the joy and bliss of His Heavenly Kingdom whereto we are adopted. We are then made partakers of Him, and with Him of both these His benefits. We there are made ‘to drink of the Spirit,’ ‘by which we are sealed to the day of our redemption’ and adoption both. So that [62/63] our freeing from under the Law, our investiture into our new adopted state, are not fully consummate without it.
And what? Shall this be all? No, when this is done, there is allowance of twelve days more for the ‘fulness of time;’ that we shrink not up our duty then into this day alone, but in the rest also to remember to redeem some part of the day, to adopt some hour at the least, to bethink ourselves of the duty the time calleth to us for; that so, we have not Job's dies vacuos, ‘no day quite empty’ in this fulness of time. Hereof assuring ourselves, that what we do in this ‘fulness of time’ will have full acceptance at His hands. It is the time of His birth, which is ever a time, as accepted, so of excepting; wherein, what is done will be acceptably taken to the full—fully accepted, and fully rewarded by Him, ‘of Whose fulness we all receive;’ with this condition ‘of grace for grace,’ ever one grace for another.
And so, growing from grace to grace, finally from this ‘fulness’ we shall come to be partakers of another yet behind, to which we aspire. For all this is but ‘the fulness of time.’ But that, the fullness of eternity, when time will run out and his glass empty, et tempus non erit amplius, which is at His next sending. For yet once more will God send Him, and He come again. At which time we shall then indeed receive the fullness of our redemption, not from the Law—that we have already—but from corruption to which our bodies are yet subject, and receive the full fruition of the inheritance whereto we are but adopted. And then it will be perfect, complete, absolute fulness indeed, when we shall all be filled with ‘the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.’ For so will all be, when nothing will be wanting in any; for ‘God will be all in all.’ Not as here He is, something and by something in every one; but then, omnia in omnibus. And then, the measure will be so full as it cannot enter into us, we cannot hold it. We must enter into it; intra in gaudium Domini tui.To this we aspire, and to this in the fullness appointed of every one of our times Almighty God bring us by Him, and for His sake, Who in this fullness of time was sent to work it for us in His Person; and work it in us by the operation of His blessed Spirit. To Whom, &c.