Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology
Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One
SERMONS OF THE NATIVITY.
PREACHED UPON CHRISTMAS-DAY, 1612.
Preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Friday, the Twenty-fifth of December, A.D. MDCXII.
Transcribed by Dr Marianne Dorman
God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the Fathers by the prophets, Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Multifariam, multisque modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis, Novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio, Quem constituit Heredem universorum, per Quem fecit et saecula; Qui cum sit Splendor gloriae, et Figura substantiae Ejus, portansque omnia verba virtutis Suae, purgationem peccatorum faciens, sedet ad dexteram majestatis in excelsis.
Et erunt novissimi primi, saith our Saviour, ‘And the last shall be first.’ And this text tells us of a great prerogative of these last days above the first. Of which last days, this is the first day; the day of Christ's birth. For, make a partition [102/103] of the two times, olim, and dies novisssimi: and this day will be found to end olim, and to begin dies novissimi; to be the first day of these last days; the very Kalends of Christianity, from whence we begin our era, or Christian computation.
The dignity of this day, and ours in it, is here set out two ways. First, by a case of comparison—of comparison between the times past and these now; between the Fathers and us. The point wherein is God's speaking, speaking to both; but in a more excellent manner, and by a far more excellent Person to us, than to them. The end; that so we might know, know and acknowledge, quĺ a Deo data sunt nobis, ‘what God hath done for us,’ and done for us this day. For all the difference is in this day; all the dignity we have above them is by it; that so we may be highly thankful to God for it, and hold the day itself as an high feast.
God is the same in both, He that speaketh to both. 1. Of old to them, 2. of late to us. Thus far, even; they and we. One God, one Speaker, to both. The odds; both spoken to, but not both spoken to, alike: not alike in three points. 1. Not in the matter, or parts, of which; 2. not in the form, or manner, after which; 3. not in the persons by whom. 1. To the Fathers He spake polumerĒj, ‘by many pieces;’ not entirely. 2. To them polutrŮpwj, ‘after sundry fashions;’ not uniformly. 3. To them, by His servants, the Prophets; not by His Son.
But when the Apostle cometh to rejoin upon these three, he repeateth not the two first, but pitcheth only on the Person; that He, that the Person by Whom, is without all comparison; that He, that the Person by Whom, is without all comparison more honourable and excellent than the Prophets, His servants; (He will do as much to the Angels by and by after;) that look, how much a son is better than a servant, so much our estate above theirs.
This for the comparative. But then, fearing it might be we would not conceive high enough of this Son, or weigh Him as He is worthy, he goeth to it, positive; and as it were sets up His arms, consisting of eight several coats; or proclaimeth His style, of as many several titles. Which we may reduce to four several combinations. 1. ‘Son and Heir;’ 2. ‘the Brightness and Character;’ 3. ‘Maker and [103/104] Supporter of all things;’ 4, ‘That purgeth our sins, and That is set down in the throne.' And these again may be abridged to these two: 1.what He is in Himself, 2. and what to us. 1. In Himself, all the rest; 2. to us. 1. ‘Made Heir,’ 2. ‘purgeth our sins,’ 3. and so cleanseth our nature; that, being so cleansed, He may exalt it. For it is for us, and not for Himself, He taketh up the place mentioned, ‘at the right hand on high.’
Then our duty; bona si sua nôrint, ‘ if we can skill of our own good,’ to find our estate greatly dignified by it; and, to honour this day, the beginning of this dignity to us, wherein God gave His Son to speak vivČ voce unto us, to purge our sins, and to exalt us to His throne on high.
‘God in times past spake to the Fathers;’ and His speech was polumerŻj, of many several parcels; to several persons, at several times; some at one time, some at another. And as the time grew, so grew their knowledge, piece and piece, of the great mystery this day manifested.
‘God in times past,’ &c. ‘in many parts spake’ concerning His Person. First, one piece; Man He should be ‘of the woman's seed,’ That ‘should bruise the serpent's head;’ and, there was all. Then another piece; of what nation He should be, ‘of the seed of Abraham.’ Then another yet; of what tribe, ‘of the tribe of Juda.’ Then again, a fourth piece, of what family; ‘of the house of David.’
So likewise God, in times past, spake of His offices. To Moses one piece; He should be ‘a Prophet,’ To David another; He should be ‘a Priest.’ To Jeremy, a third; He should be ‘a King, and His Name, Jehova Justitia nostra.’
And, not to hold you long in this, ‘God, in times past, in sundry parts spake’ concerning this day's work. That came by pieces too. One parcel to Esay, of His birth: to Mica, the place of it: to Daniel, the time of it by weeks. So you see it was by pieces, and by many pieces, they had it. Well said the Apostle that ‘prophesying is in part;’ one may now in a few hours come to as much as came to them in many hundred years. This for the matter.
Now for the manner. It was multiformis. ‘God,’ &c. ‘many manner ways.’
One manner, ‘by dreams in the night;’ another manner, [104/105] by visions. And those again of two manners. 1. Either presented to the outward sense, as Esay 6. Or in an extasy represented to the inward, as Dan. 10. Another yet, by Urim, in the breast of your Priest. And yet another, by a small still voice, in the ears of the Prophet. And sometime by an Angel speaking in him. But most-what by His Spirit. And to trouble you no more, very sure it is that as for the matter in many broken pieces, so for the manner in many divers fashions, spake He to them.
But then, if in polutrŮpwj you understand tropos, figures; then were they yet many more. The Paschal Lamb, the Scape-goat, the Red Cow, and I know not how many, even a world of them. Many they were, and tropes they were; shadowed out darkly, rather than clearly expressed. Theirs was but candle-light to our day-light, but vespertina cognitoin comparison of ours, whom the ‘day hath visited sprung from on high.’ This form the matter and manner. Now for the men.
‘God in times past spake by the prophets;’ and but by Prophets He spake not, from Moses to John Baptist who was the horizon of the Law and Gospel. I will not stand to run through them all. And now, then Apostle when he is to come to us ‘in the last days’—when he should oppose three more to match the former three, he doth not; but passeth by the two first, the parts and the manner; leaveth out polumerĒj and polutrŮpwj, and so insinuates thereby thus much; that He hath spoken to us entirely without reservation, and uniformly without variation. But those two He waveth, and insisteth only on this last, as the fairest mark of difference, the Prophets and His Son.
The prophets were ‘holy men’ but men. And there is a nature more perfect than that of man, even the nature of God, And in the House of God they were faithful servants, but yet, servants; and that we know, is but an imperfect condition in comparison of a son. To us in the last days is given, what we have not from any Prophet, though never so excellent from the Lord of the Prophets; not from any servant, though in never so great place, but from the Son; and, not from any of the sons of men, but from His own Son, the Son of God. From His mouth we have received [105/106] notice of God's will; He himself, ore tenus, imparted it to us.
But then, if any ask; seeing ‘God in times past,’ and ‘God in these last days,’ is the same God; He that ‘spake to the Fathers,’ and He that ‘to us,’ but one Speaker; why not by his Son at first? I will give a reason, fit for this place. A decorum was to be kept, and some kind of correspondence with state. That as, at the proceeding of a great Prince before he himself cometh in sight, many there be that go before him, and those of divers degrees, and at last himself doth appear; so, this Prince that sits in the Throne should not start out at the first and show Himself, but be allowed His train of Patriarchs, and Prophets, to be His ante ambulones, and ‘in the fulness of time’ Himself should come with ‘with the fulness of grace and truth,’ and establish one entire uniform way to continue for ever.
From this comparison these are the points we learn; we must ferri ad perfectionem. And these are notes of imperfection; there be too many parts and too many manners in that, to be a perfect state. If the matter were full, no more would be added; if the manner were perfect, it would no more be altered. Never then to rest in these. Moses himself pointeth us to One after him, by his Ipsum audite. Who is that? God Himself in the Mount tells us by His Ipsum audite, And when God said it, Moses and Elias were there in the Mount for himself, and Elias as well in His own name as in the name of all the Prophets.
This, against the Jews, that will no farther than Moses; that will rest in the Law. For, nihil ad perfectum adducit Lex, ‘the Law brings nothing to perfection;’ but finis Legis Christus. And all prophecy hangs in suspense as imperfect, till the fulfilling of it; which was done by Christ, to Whom they all gave witness. Now ‘when that is perfect is come, that that is imperfect must away.’ Not to rest in them then, but to Christ; and never rest till we come to Him.
And, as never to rest till we come to Him, so there to rest, when we are come to Him. As soon as His voice has sounded in our ears, that they itch no more after any new revelations. For, ‘in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge.’ [106/107]
‘God spoke once and twice,’ a third time He will not speak. This is the last time; He will speak no more. Look for no more pieces, nor fancy no more fashions; consummatum est, there are no more to look for. He is ‘the Truth,’ and he that hath found the truth and seeks farther, no remedy he must needs find a lie; he can find nothing else. To get us therefore to Christ, and never be got from Him, but there hold us.
We cannot follow a better pattern than the Apostle here; we see what haste he makes. For as if he were upon thorns till he were with Christ, without any exordium or preamble here in the beginning of his Epistle he hits on the point straight; as if all time were lost till he were there. Yea, having names the parts and manners of the time past, for very haste to be at Him he forgets both parts and manners, only desire to be with Him the sooner.
And so, with him in haste and pass to the second positive part. Wherein being careful we should take perfect notice of Him, and fearing we would not weigh these words ‘by His Son’ as were meet but hear them slightly and pass them lightly over, the rest of the text he sends in making a commentary of this word Son; that we may consider how great this Party is, and consequently how much it imports us to regard His speech, and to esteem of His feast with no mean account. And to say truth, it was more than needful—considering the meanness of His birth to-day—that He should thus proclaim His style of eight titles, and over the place of it stick them up as so many scutcheons, to give us true notice of the greatness of the Party.
But withall, his meaning was to describe Christ at all points; as indeed these eight contain a perfect description of His natures, His Person, His offices, His agency.
1. His natures, in the very beginning; Quem fecit is man, Per Quem fecit is God. Not quem only, man alone; but Per Quem sĺcula, God also. But. for His Divine nature He is more full yet; that He is ‘His Son, the splendour of His glory, the Character of His substance, the Maker and Upholder of the world and all in it.’
2. His person, in this word semet ipso. He did it Himself, that is, in His own person. Himself is ever said of a person. [107/108]
3. His offices, in His speaking—His prophecy, by which He unfoldeth the mysteries of God. In His purging our sins is His priesthood; and His Kingdom, in the throne of Majesty wherein He sits.
4. His agency, or quid ad nos, in locutes est nobis, ‘to us He speaketh;’ ‘our sins He purgeth.’. Nobis, and nostra; to us, and for us, He is who He is. All His speaking and doing, propter nos homines, et propter salutem nostram, ‘for us men and for our salvation, and our part in Him and His.’
We reduced all these eight to two. 1. What in Himself; and what, referendo to us. In Himself; what by nature? Son and Heir. What by excellency? Splendour and Character. What by power? Maker and Upholder of all. To us; what in love already performed? ‘He hath purged our sins.’ In hope yet expected? He is set and in possession of the throne of glory; which is in our names and to our behoof, and not His own.
His Divine Nature hath no less than three to express it. 1. Son, 2. Brightness, and 3. Character. And to prove it the 1. making, and 2. supporting of all.
I have heretofore remembered you that the high perfections of that nature are such and so many, as no one term will suffice to set if forth; we are glad to borrow from many to do it, and yet but brokenly too. And that though there be not any resemblance translated from the creatures though never so excellent that will hold full assay, yet withall this we are to think, that since the Holy Ghost hath made choice of these terms, they are no idle speculations that are drawn from them.
If these three then; 1. ‘Son,’ 2. ‘Brightness,’ 3. ‘Character.’ 1.In ‘Son’ there is true identity of nature; upon it is grounded ∆mooÚsoin, ‘being of one substance,’ even as the Son is with the Father. 2. But the Son comes after the Father in time, and that a good time; amends is made for that in the next term, ‘brightness.’ For, it is not to be imagined that there ever was or could be a light body, but in the very same instant there must stream from it a brightness. So upon this is grounded co-eternal.
3. But then, there is some inequality between the light body itself and the beam of brightness of it; the beam not full [108/109] out so clear. This is the imperfection in the term ‘Brightness.’ But that is supplied by the next, ‘Character;’ for that is ever just equal, neither bigger nor lesser than the type or stamp that made it. Upon this then is grounded coequal, and like per omnia, ∆moioÚsioj: so like, as ‘Shew us the Father,’ saith Philip; why, he that seeth the character never desires to see the stamp; if ye see the one, ye see the other; ‘He that seeth Me seeth the Father,’ Whose express Form I am.
Agreeable to these three, we believe of Him who is consubstantial, as the ‘Son;’ co-eternal as ‘the Brightness;’ co-equal as ‘the Character;’ against the new heads of the old hydra sprung up again in our days.
This term, ‘son of God,’ is sometime communicated to Saints; sometimes to Magistrates. Lest we might understand it as we do in Saints, or as we do in Magistrates, he addeth two words; 1. the one, ‘glory;’ 2. the other, ‘substance.’ Of which, glory is imparted to others; substance, to none but Him. His glory on earth He imparteth to Magistrates, and they are called ‘the sons of the Most High.’ His heavenly grace, which is glory inchoate, He imparteth to His Saints; and ‘to them gave He power to be sons of God.’
But His substance is in neither. For the first, Magistrates, are by ego dixi; but He by Ego genui. And the second, Saints, to them He giveth privilege, or prerogative, so to be. So they kat’ ™xous…an, but He kat’ oŰs…an; per prĺtantiam they, per substantiam He.
He, ‘the Brightness of His glory, and Character of His substance;’ that is, not in glory only which may be imparted to another, but even in His very substance too itself.
And again, not in substance of the Deity alone, but in that which belongeth to it, the glory also. ‘Substance’ us Deus, ‘glory’ is Dei. All that He is, and all that He hath Ý ‘substance’ and ‘glory,’ both.
‘The Brightness of His glory.’ He was such a Son, as did no way eclipse His Father's glory, but as a beam made it shine more bright. ‘The Character,’ the true stamp of His substance; nor He rendered not a broken image as if the stamp had been set on or driven away, but was His very true express Form.
Another mystery yet. These three note a proceeding; [109/110] the ‘Son,’ from the Father; the ‘Brightness,’ from a light; ‘the Character,’ from the Type; and so, a second Person. ‘I proceeded, and came from the Father;’—He saith it Himself.
First, a true and natural proceeding from Him as the Son. Secondly, to take away all conceit of gross or carnal generation, by a pure and clean proceeding, as de luce lux, in which there is nothing but pure and undefiled. Thirdly, characterwise from His hypostatis—it is the word in the text, mark it well; not from His oŰsia, that is, not from His substance at large, but from His determinate personal Essence; ( for so is hypostatasis properly;)—that is, not from the Deity or Essence of it which neither begets nor is begotten, but from a Person in the Deity.
Now these three, if we refer them to olim, ‘the times past;’ then, as the Son, He is opposed to His servants, that is, the Prophets. As He is a Beam of light, to the many parts, as it were many sparks;—that was all the light before. As ‘the Character,’ or firm impression, to the many vanishing shadows under the Law.
But if to the present we refer them; as He is the ‘Son,’ we shall find no estate but servitude, no adoption but in Him. As ‘the Brightness;’ no clear light of knowledge, nothing but mists and darkness, but by Him. And, as ‘the Character;’ no true soundness or sound truth, but figures and flitting shadows without Him. From Him as the ‘Son’ receive we grace, whereby we are adopted; as ‘the Beam’ the clearness of faith whereby lightened; as ‘the Character,’ the true signature of charity whereby stamped to know ourselves, and be known of others, that we have heard Him aright, and are His true disciples.
These three express His Divine nature; two more, to prove it. In them His excellency, in these His power. Which is set out two ways; 1. in the creation; omnia per Ipsum facta, et sine Ipso nihil, ‘all made by Him, nothing without Him.’ 2. And again, in the preservation, by virtue of His et ergo usque operor, which is His work to this day; to continue and uphold in their being all that He hath made to be. One by His word spoken; so, made. The other, by His Law given; so, made fast to continue. In a word, all had [110/111] been nothing but for Him; and all would fall to nothing without Him.
Now, in that He thus made all and makes all to last, the meetest person He was to make all new—to restore that He had made. And it was a convenience that He should, and it was an inducement that He would undertake the business and go through with it.
All this He is in Himself; yet not so, but in all His splendour and glory He mindeth us. And that, so as He is desirous to bring us to the joint partaking of His inheritance, as ‘Son;’ of His glory, as ‘the Brightness;’ yea, of the very Divine nature, as ‘the Character of His substance.’ The ground whereof is laid in Quem fecit Hĺredem, ‘Whom He made Heir;’ and that was as Man; for per Quem fecit we said is God, Quem fecit is Man.
‘Made Him Heir.’ Heirs are either born or made; so by nature, or so made by purchase. He was His Son, and His only Son, and so born His heir. He was born, and yet He would be made. There is a mystery in this—we are to look to it; it will fall out to concern us. Heir born He was, and so claims all as His inheritance, by due of birthright. But it is farther here said, He was ‘made;’ what means this? Quem fecit? Nay, Quem genuit. That is true; but Quem fecitis true likewise. Fecit Hĺredem Qui prius fuit Hĺres, so born and so made too; Hĺres natus, and Hĺres factus. So cometh He to a double right—two titles. How so? He needed but one; He would have two. To what end? Not for Himself? for Himself one was enough. Belike, His meaning was to have two, that He might set over one to somebody else. There is the point. He was born heir for Himself, but ‘made heir’ for us. Hĺres natus, that He serveth Him; that He retains to Himself. Hĺres factus that He disposeth of to us. By this we hold, even by Quem fecit, that is our tenure and best hope. He is, and ever was, in the bosom of His Father, as Hĺres natus. He now is but on our behalf and to our behoof ‘at the right hand of His Father,' as Hĺres factus. And no followeth, ‘ He purged our sins.’
For He could not bring us to sit with Him in His throne thus purchased, being so spotted and foul as we were, [111/112] by means of the pollution of our sins. He was then to purge and make clean our nature first, that He might exalt it to partake His purchase, being so cleansed. Where first our case is set down wherein He found us, and wherein we are without Him. A sinner's case, how gloriously soever he or she glister in the eyes of men, being in God's eyes as the case of a foul diseased person; and we thereby taught so to conceive of sins as of foul spots without, or of such humours within as go from us by purging. Inquinamenta carnis et spiritus, as St. Paul terms them right, ‘defiling both flesh and spirit;’ which unless they be purged, there is no entering into the heavenly Jerusalem where the throne is; into which nihil inquinatum, ‘no polluted thing shall ever enter.’
Exalt us He could not, being in that plight; for love or pity therefore purge us He would. And here now is the top, or the highest point of elevation in this text, ‘Who being the brightness,’—or, ‘though He were the Brightness,’ that is, a Party so excellent in nature, glory, Person and power; nature as ‘Son,’ glory as ‘Brightness,’ person as ‘Character,’ power as ‘Maker and Supporter of all;’ who though He were all this, did not abhor to come and visit us being in that foul and wretched case. This will teach us, Domine quid est homo? ‘What is man, that Thou shouldest visit him?’ Visit him;—not as ‘the day-spring from on high’ doth the earth; but visit him, as if a great prince should go into an hospital, to visit and look on a loathsome diseased creature.
2.And not only visit him, but not refuse the base office to look to his ‘purging’ from that his uncleanness.
3. And thirdly, not cause it to be done by another, but to come and do it in semet Ipso, ‘by His own Self in Person.’’
4. And fourthly, in doing, not to stand by and prescribe, but Himself to minister and make the medicine.
5. And fifthly, to make it Himself, and make it of Himself; in semet ipso, and de semet ipso, ‘to make the medicine, and be the medicine.'
6. And how, or of what? Spots will out with water; some will not with anything but with blood; ‘without shedding of blood, there is no taking away sin.’ And not every blood will serve, but it must be lamb's blood, and ‘a Lamb without spot.’ And not every lamb neither, but ‘the Lamb [112/113] of God,’ or, to speak plainly, a Lamb that is God. His blood, and nothing else will serve to do this.
7. And seventhly, not any Blood of His; not of a vein—one may live still for all that—but His best, most precious, His heart-blood, which bringeth certain death with it. With that blood He was to make the medicine. Die He must, and His side be opened, that there might issue both the Water and the Blood that was to be the ingredients of it. By Himself, His Ownself, and by Himself slain; by His death, and by His Blood-shedding, and by no other means; qui audivit talia? The Physician slain, and of His Flesh and Blood a receipt made, that the patient might recover!
And now, we may be at our choice whether we will conceive of sin as of some outward soil in the soul; and then, the purging of it to be per viam balnei, ‘needs a bath’ with some cleansing ingredients, as the Prophet [Jeremiah] speaks of the herb of Borith, and this way purged He us; made a bath of the water that came out of His side to that end opened, that from thence might flow ‘a fountain for sin and for uncleanness.’ Water, and mixed with His Blood; as forcible to take out the stains of the soul, as any herb Borith in the world to take away the soil of the skin.
Or, whether we will conceive of sin as of some inward pestilent humour in the soul and conscience, casting us into peril of mortal, or rather immortal death; then, the purging of us to be by way of electuary [i.e. A medicinal powder, mixed with honey or another sweet substance.] or potion; and so He purges our sins too. To that end He has made an electuary of His own Body, ‘Take, eat it,’ and tempered a Cup with His own Blood, ‘Drink ye all of it,’ which by the operation of His eternal Spirit in it is able effectually ‘to purge the conscience from dead works or actual sins,’ and from the deadly effect of them; no balsam or medicine in the world like it.
The sum of all is; there be two defiling sins and two ways He purgeth them. Clean we are from the first, as washed from the original uncleanesse of our nature, and that, ‘by the laver of regeneration.’ And whole we are, as purged within from the actual sins of our persons; and that, by ‘the Cup of New Testament, which we bless in His Name;’ ‘and the Blood of Jesus Christ purgeth us from our sins.’ By both He purged us from both. And this, for His purging. [113/114]
‘And is set down.’ Of we are not to conceive as of a thing merely touching Him, that His labour being done, He took His rest, and there is all; but that His sitting down is a taking possession of that His dear-made purchase; and that, not in His own name, He had it before; He was in glory, and in the self-same glory with His Father, before ever the world was.
This hĺres factus pertaineth to us, as done for us; not for Himself Who needed it not, nor could have any use of it.
These two between them comprehend all, even all we can wish; 1. to be purged of the one, 2. and to be seized of the other. They follow well; for to what end purged He us? To leave us there? No; but for some farther matter, which though it be last in execution, was first in intention. Having so cleansed us—not content with that, it was His purpose farther to bring us to glory; to no less matter than to sit on His throne with Him, purchased by Him for no other end.
And these two, ‘purging,’ and ‘sitting down in the throne,’ as the alpha and omega, the first and last of what He doth for us. And so, in them is all well represented; ‘purging our sins,’ the first; ‘sitting in the throne,’ the last. To purge our sins He began this day, the first day, the day of His birth; wherein He purified and sanctified, by His holy Nativity, the original uncleanness of ours. And ‘sit in the throne’ was His last work, on the last day of His Ascension; then took He possession in our names, ĺj prŮdromj saith the Apostle, ‘as forerunner for us.’
The degrees of this exaltation be these. 1. First, a throne it is, and that is not every seat, but a special, and chief, and honourable seat. 2.And secondly, of thrones there be some inferior, as the thrones of justice. This is the highest, for it is a throne of majesty. 3. Thirdly, it is in excelsis, and that maketh up all. For the thrones here below, even of majesty, sooner or later they that sit in them must come down from them. But ‘the throne on high, Thy seat, O God, is for ever and ever;’ not fading and transistory, as ours here. 4. Fourthly, in this throne set He is; and sitting is the site or position of rest, that is, rest in glory. Here, where most glory, least rest. 5. And fifthly, ‘on the right hand,’ which is on the throne the best and next place to God Himself. [114/115] And by this are we above the Angels; for, ‘to which of them’ as the Apostle after deduceth, ‘said He at any time, Sit on My right hand?’ No; but, stand before Me, as ‘ministering spirits,’ all. Or when they rest, it is on the other hand; the right hand is kept for us, and possessed already by One in our nature, Who in this seat will not sit alone, sed consedere nos secum fecit in coelestibus. Even now, we sit there in Him, and shall there sit with Him in the end. So He promiseth in express terms that ‘we shall sit with Him in His throne,’ as He doth in His Father's. And so, not in the throne will He be above us, but only that He in the midst, and we on His right hand.
Our duty then is, for His excellency to honour Him; for His power to fear Him; for His love showed, reciprocally to love Him again; for His hope promised, truly to serve Him. God for His part, would have His servants the Prophets well used; but however they in times past were regarded by them, this He makes full account of, ‘if He send His Son, we will not fail but reverence Him.’ Specially, such a Son; of such glory, such power, and above all of such love towards us, to provoke ours again. And again, of such ability to reward with eternal glory, as He will even buy our service at, Who gives more? and pay us for it to the full with no less wages than a throne of glory.
This is general. More particular, in three terms He is set out to us here in the text; 1. Speaking, 2. Purging, and 3. Sitting. As a Prophet, He speaks; as a Priest, purges; as a King, sits speaking. Our duty is to hear Him, to lay up His sayings in our hearts. Two marks His word hath here, 1. fecit, and 2. sustinet; ‘made,’ and ‘makes continue.’ Let it have the same in us. In the sermon-time something is begun to be made in us, but it continueth not; which sheweth, it is not verbum virtutis to us. Again, let it not be as a ‘brightness,’ only to be seen by us; but as a ‘character’ too, to leave a mark behind it to be seen on us; and then it is right.
Now, hodie si vocem, ‘to-day if you will hear His voice,’ ye can hear none but vagitum infantis, ‘such a voice as useth to come from a new-born babe,’ And even so He speaks to us, if we can understand. For, even this Verbum to be infans, [115/116] and Tomans to be vagines: He to send forth such a voice—it speaketh humility, I am sure, and great love that so would humble itself, if we have ears to hear it; when He That was ‘the brightness of His Father's glory’ should be so eclipsed, He that sits on the throne thus be thrown in a manger.
Prophets spake, but purged not. Purging was ever the Priest's office. It is true, the word He speaks hath a mundifying virtue, jam mundi estis, ‘now ye are clean.’ It cleanseth then. But, not that only, nor principally. For the medicine which purgeth ex proprietate, His Flesh and Blood go to it. ‘By which will we are sanctified, even by the offering of the Body of Jesus.’ ‘That Blood of Jesus Christ, cleanseth us from all sin.’ These, the true ingredients into this medicine. But better yet, if both go together. And this day they first came together, the Word and flesh; therefore, of all days, this day they would not be parted. For, will you sever the flesh from the Word that day on which God joined them? God forbid! There is a correspondency between the word and His brightness, and between the Sacrament and His character. The word giveth a light, and His brightness sheweth in it ad horam, and not much longer. The parts of the Sacrament they are permanent, and stick by us; they are a remembrance of the characters made in His skin and flesh. And if you seek to be rid of your sins, -‘this was broken for you,’ and ‘this was shed for you,’ for that very end, ‘for the remission of sins.’ And so ye receive His Person, even Semet Ipsum; and in Semet Ipso, in His Person it was, ‘He purged our sins.’ And so, that a sure way.
Lastly, for sitting; that is His kingdom, that is kept for dies novissimorum novissimus, ‘the last day indeed.’ That is yet in hope only. That same flesh that cleansed our sins, the same now sits on the throne, and so has both virtues; for the present a power to purge, for the future a power likewise to exalt. The same blood is the blood of Sacrifice for remission of sins, and the blood of the New Testament for the passing to us the bequest, which is the right of His purchase for which He was made Heir. And the very Angels which this day adored Him in our flesh and it in Him, thereby shewed plainly not the purging only but the exalting of it also by this day's work. And that to-day, wherein they sang aloud in the sky, we have [116/117] cause to make much of, and to rejoice in it, the day of the greatest ‘glory to God, peace to the earth, and good-will towards men’ that ever rose upon the world.
God grant that we may so hold this first feast with Christian joy, as we may hold the last with like joy, and be found as cheerful in it!