Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
This Scripture hath the name given it in the very first words; Recordare fili, 'Son, remember;' it is a remembrance.
There be many sermons of remembrance here on earth; this is one from heaven, from the mouth of Abraham. Not now on earth but in Heaven, and from thence beholding, 'not in a glass or dark speech,' but intuitive, that which He telleth us; and 'He that saw it bare witness, and His witness is true.'
Which may somewhat move attention; or if that will not, let me add further, That it is such a remembrance, that it toucheth our estate in everlasting life; that is, the well or evil hearing of this recordare is as much as our eternal life is worth. For we find both in it. That our comfort or torment eternal--comfort in Abraham's bosom, torment in the fire of hell--depend upon it; and therefore as much as we regard them, we are to regard it.
[78/79] This remembrance is directed to a son of Abraham's, not so much for him, as for the rest. For it is to be feared, that both the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah forget this point overmuch; and many of them, with this party here to whom it is spoken, never remember it till it be too late.
To Abraham's sons then, and every one. But specially such of his sons as presently are in the state that this son here sometimes was, of whom it is said, 'He had received good things in his life. By virtue whereof, I find, this recordare little, I will not say how little, but sure too little for that we have received.
Now albeit it be all our case, for we all have received, yet not all our case alike, but of some more than other. For, some have received in far more plenitful manner than other some, and they therefore more deeply interested in it. And look, who among us have received most, then it most concerneth; and they of all other most need to look to it.
If you ask, Why they more than others? For that, besides the duty, to whom a great recepisti is given, of them a great recordare will be required. The danger also helps them forward. For so it oft happeneth unhappily; that whereas recepisti is made, and so may well be, a motive for us to remember; so cross is our nature, none is so great an enemy to recordare as it. Our great receiving is often occasion of our little remembering. And as a full diet in the vessels of our body, so a plenteous receipt breed stoppings in the mind and memory, and the vital parts of our soul.
We have hereof a lively example before our eyes; and such an one, as if it move us not, I know what will. A receipt for memories that suffer obstructions.
Our Saviour Christ unlocketh hell-gates to let us see it. In discovering what sighs and what sufferings are in the other world, He sheweth us one lying in them, to whom Abraham objecteth, that this frank receiving had marred his memory. And as he sheweth us his fault, so withal what came to him for it, in that strange and fearful consequent; 'Now therefore you are tormented.'
[79/80] This example is told by our Saviour, in the fourteenth verse, to other rich men, and troubled with the same lethargy. Who when He put them in mind, It would not be amiss while they were here, 'to make them friends of that they had received,' that when this failed them, as fail them it must, that 'might receive them into everlasting tabernacles;' forgat themselves so far, as they derided His counsel,' not in words, but per mycterismum. Which maketh Him fall from parables to a plain story, for so it is holden by the best interpreters, both old and later; and from everlasting tabernacles to everlasting torments; that howsoever they regarded not His recordare on the earth, they had best given better ear to Abraham's from Heaven.
It is His intent in reporting of it, that our remembering of it should keep us from it. Non vult mortem, et minatur mortem ne mittat in mortem, saith Chrysostom: 'He would not have us in that place, yet He telleth us of that place, to the end we never come in that place.'
Yes it is Abraham's desire too we should not be overtaken, but think of in time; and prevent it before it prevents us. And therefore he lifteth up his voice, and crieth out of Heaven, Recordare fili.
And not only Abraham, but he that was in the place itself, and best knew the terror because he felt it--felt that in it as he heartily wisheth and instantly sueth that they whom he loveth or any wisheth well to, may some way take warning, ne et ipsi veniant, 'that they also come not into that place of torment.'
This use Christ on earth, Abraham from Heaven, and he out of hell, wish we may have of it. And we, I trust, will wish ourselves no worse than they; and therefore look to our recordare, carry it in mind, and (in recordare there is cor too) take it to heart, and by both in time take order, Ne et ipsi veniamus.
The verse itself, if we mark it well, is in figure and proportion an exact cross. For as a cross it consisteth of two bars or beams so situated, as the one doth quarter the other. 'Thou receivedst good things, and Lazarus received evil.' The two lie clean contrary, but meet both at the middle word, 'Now therefore;' and there, by a new antithesis, cross each other: [80/81] _ de, he that 'received evil, is comforted;' and s_ de 'thou that didst receive good, art tormented.' And to make it a perfect cross, it hath a title or inscription to set over it; and this it is, Recordare fili. And sure next to the cross of Christ, and the memory thereof, this cross of Abraham's invention and exaltation is of all others most effectual. And I verily persuade myself, it we often would fix it before our eyes, and well mark the inscription, it would be a special preparation to our passover, meaning by our passover our end, whereby pass we must ere long into another state, either of misery or bliss; but whether of misery or bliss, it will lie much in the use of this word recordare.
First then, we will treat 1. of the cross; after, 2. of the title.
We have in the cross two bars; but with both we will not meddle. For why should we deal with Lazarus? This place is not for him, nor he no room in this auditory. Therefore waving his part, in this other of the rich man's, we have two quarters, representing unto us two estate: 1. the upper part or head, recepisti bona in vitâ, his estate in this life; 2. the nether or foot, jame vero torqueris, his estate in the other.
Of these two: 1. That two they are. 2. Which they be. 3. And how they be fastenend or tenanted the one to the other with the illative, 'Now therefore.'
To quarter out this cross. Two parts it stands of, which two parts are two estates. One past, the other present; the one in memory, the other in experience. Now both memory and experience--memory of things past, and experience of things present--are both handmaids to providence, and serve to provide for things to come. And of all points of providence, for that which is the highest point of all, that our memory of it keep us from experience of this place, this conclusion.
These two are set down: 1. the one estate, in the words vitâ tuâ: 2. the other in the words jam vero, 'but now.' The former past with him, and yet present with us; for we yet 'receive.' The latter present with him, but with us yet to come, or rather I trust never to come; jam vero torqueris.
1. The first is the life in esse, which we all now live; [81/82] which, though it be one and the same, yet is there in it a sensible difference, pauper et dives obviaverunt, of some poor and some rich every day meeting with each other.
2. But nemo dives semper dives; and again, nemo pauper semper pauper. 'They that be rich in it will not ever be rich, nor they that are poor, poor always.' It came to pass, saith the Scripture, that the beggar died. Mortuus est etiam et dives, 'and the rich man,' for all his riches, died also. There ends the first estate.
3. But that is no final end. For after vitâ tuâ there is a jam vero still, a second state in reversion to take place when the first is expired. Our hearts misgive us of some such estate; and, as the heathen man said, they that put it off with quis scit? 'who can tell whether such estate be?' shall never be able to rid their minds of quid si? 'but what if such a one be,' how then? But to put us that be Christians out of all doubt, our Saviour Christ by this story openeth us a casement into the other life, and sheweth us whither we go when we go hence.
1. First, that as in this life, though but one, yet there are two diverse estates; so death, though it be but one neither, hath two several passages; and through it, as through one and the same city gate, the honest subject walketh abroad for his recreation, and the lewd malefactor is carried out to his execution.
2. Two states then there be after death, and these two disjoined in place, dislike in condition; both set down within the verse; 1. one of comfort: 2. the other of torment.
3. And that both these take place jam 'presently.' For immediately after his death, and while all his 'five brethren' yet lived, and ere any of them were dead, he was in his torments, and did not expect the general judgment, nor was not deferred to the end of the world.
4. And to make it a complete cross, for so it is, as the poor and the rich meet here, so do they there also otherwhile; and go two contrary ways, every one to 'his own place.' Lazarus to his bosom, the rich man to his gulf; and one's misery ends in rest, the other's 'purple and fine linen' in a flame of fire. Vere stupendæ vices, saith Chrysostom, 'Verily a strange change, a change to be wondered at;' to be wondered at and [82/83] feared of those whom it may concern any manner of way, and at any hand to be had in remembrance.
First, That he was Abraham's son, and so of the religion only true; and one that, as himself saith of himself, had had 'Moses and the Prophets,' though tanquam non habens, 'as though he had them not.' For little he used, and less he regarded them; yet a professor he was.
Secondly, as by nature Abraham's son, so by condition or office, one of God's receivers. Receivers we are every one of us more or less, but yet in receipts there is a great latitude. Great between her that received 'two mites,' and him that received 'a thousand talents.' Between them that receive tegumenta only, 'covering for their nakedness,' and them that receive ornamenta, 'rich attire' also, for comeliness; and again, that receive alimenta, 'food for emptiness, and oblectamenta, 'delicious fare for daintiness.' Now he was not of the petty, but of the main receipt. It is said; 'he received good things,' and it is told what these good things were--purple of the fairest and linen of the finest; and quotidie splendide, 'every day a double feast.' Which one thing, though there were nothing else, asketh a great receipt alone. Here 'rich,' in this life; and who would not sue to succeed him in it? One would think this wood would make no cross, nor these premises such a 'now therefore.' But to him that was thus and had thus, all this plenty, all this pleasure, post tantas divitas, post tantas delicias, to him is this spoken, but 'now thou art tormented.' Which first estate, as it was rich, so it was short; therefore I make short with it to come to cruciaris. Which, though in syllables it is shorter, yet it is in substance, that piece to which he is fastened, in length of continuance far beyond it.
Cruciaris is but one word, but much weight lieth in it; therefore it is not slightly to be passed over, as being the special object of our recordare, and the principal part of the cross indeed. Two ways our Saviour expresseth it: 1. one while under the term b£sa#oj which is 'torture;' [83/84] 2. another under the term ÑdÚnh which is 'anguish of the spirit;' referring this to the inward pain, and that to the outward passion, the soul being there subjected by God's justice, to sensual pain, for subjecting itself willingly to brutish sensuality in this life, it being a more noble and celestial substance.
Of which pain St. Chrysostom noteth, That because many of us can skill what torment the tongue hath in extremity of a burning ague, and what pain our hands feeleth when from the hearth some spark lighteth on it; Christ chose to express them in these two. Not but they may be incomparably greater than these, yes far above all we can speak or think; but that flesh and blood conceiveth but what it feeleth, and must be spoken to it as it may understand. And it is a ground, that in terms here and elsewhere proportioned to our conceit, torments are uttered far beyond all conceit, which, labouring to avoid, we may, but labouring to express, we shall never do it.
Yet to help them somewhat, we shall the more deeply apprehend them if we do but compare them; as we may, and never go out of the confines of our own verse.
With recepisti, first. To consider this; that his torment is in the present tense, now upon him, cruciaria: His good, all past and gone, recepisti. Mark, saith St. Augustine, of his pleasure, omnia dicit de præterito; dives erat, vestiebatur, epulabatur, recepisti, 'He was rich, did go, did fare, had received; was, did, and had; all past, and vanished away;' all, like the counterpane of a lease, expired, and our Abraham likeneth it to wages, received and spent beforehand.
Secondly, If we lay together his torments, and bona tua in vitâ. For we shall find, they are of a divers scantling. The one had an end with his life; and ô quam subito! The other, when it beginneth once, shall never have an end. That life is not like this. No: if the lives of all--I say not, men, women, and children, but of all--and every of the creatures that ever lived upon the earth or shall live to the world's end, were all added one to another, and all spun into one life, this one exceedeth them all. This then, I make no question, will make another degree to think, quod delectabat fuit momentsneum, quod cruciat est æternum.
[84/85] Thirdly, If we match it with Lazarus autem, that is, with the sight of others in that estate whence he is excluded; and, in them, with sorrow to consider what himself might have had and hath lost for ever. 'There shall be,' saith Christ of this point, 'weeping, and gnashing of teeth, to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out of doors.' Not only 'weeping' for grief that themselves have lost it, but 'gnashing of teeth' also for very indignation, that others have obtained it. And of others not some other, but that Lazarus iste, one of these poor people whom we shun in the way, and drive our coaches apace to escape from; that of them, it may fall, we may see some in bliss, 'when they shall lie in hell like sheep,' saith the Psalmist, that walked on earth like lions. Will not this bear a third?
But beyond all these, if we counterpoise it with the word parakalet 'is comforted,' with which Abraham hath set it in opposition 'torment' opposed to 'comfort;' that is, torment comfortless, wherein no manner hope of any kind of comfort. Neither of the comfort of mitigation; for, in the verse next before, all hope of kat£yáxxij 'relief' is denied, even to 'a drop of water;' neither of the comfort of delivery at last; for, in the verse next following, he is willed to know, that by reason of the great partition, their case is such, ut non possint, that they cannot presently, or for ever, look for any passage from thence, but must there tarry in torments everlastingly. So neither comfort of relief, or of delivery; nor the poor comfort, which in all miseries here doth not leave us,
- dabit Deus his quoque finem;
An end will come; no end will never come, which 'never' is never deeply enough imprinted nor seriously enough considered. That this now will be still now, and never have an end; and this cruciaris be cruciaris for ever, and never declined into a preterite tense, as recepisti was. This is an exaltation of this cross, above all else; none will ever come down from it, none will ever beg our body to lay it in our sepulchre.
Fifthly, if we lay it to recordare. For, may I not add to all these, that being in this case he heareth recordare, and is willed to 'remember,' when his remembering will do him no [85/86] good; but though he remember it in sorrow and in the bitterness of his soul, yea though his sorrow be above measure sorrowful, it will profit him nothing? I say, grief both utterly comfortless, and altogether unprofitable.
These five make him that feels it here wish, that none of those he wisheth well may ever come there to know how hot that 'fire,' or how terrible that 'torment' is.
These five words are all within the compass of the verse itself, and may serve every one as a nail to fasten our memory to this cross; that we may ever remember it and never forget it, and never forgetting it, never feel it.
This then is his cross. We long, I know, to have it taken down; our ears are dainty, and the matter melancholic, and we little love to hear it stood on so long. But Chrysostom saith well, of that fire: Nunquid, si tacuimus, extinximus? 'If we speak not of it, will it go out?' No, no: sive loquamur, sive taceamus, ardet ille; 'speak we, or keep we silence, it burneth still, still it burneth.' Therefore let us speak and think of it, and let it stand in the name of God; et exerceamus auditum, saith the good Father, ne ita mollescat, 'and keep our ears in exercise, that they grown not nice.' If to hear of it be painful, to feel it will be more. The invention is to keep the exaltation, to take it up. For one so near it as they, qui non tollant, donec super-imponitur, 'that take it not up till it be laid upon them.'
Thus we have severally seen the counterpoints of this cross; the top. which is in vitâ, 'in this life;' and the foot, which reacheth ad novissima inferni, 'to the bottom of hell.' It remaineth we tenon both these together, as antecedent and consequent: 'Thou didt receive;' 'Now therefore.' 1. First, that they may be; 2. and then, how they may be joined.
1. First then, we find, that recepisti, is as it ends; and that, by this example, it may end in cruciaris, and prove the one end of a heavy cross. Which first bringeth us out of admiration of the riches of this life. When we see that these 'good things' which after the tax of the world are counted, and in a manner styled, the only good things, and in the deceitful balance of this world weigh down 'Abraham's bosom,' be not ever demonstrative signs of God's special liking; nor they, ipso facto, highest in His favour that receive them in [86/87] greatest measure; nor peradventure, as Christ saith, so highly accounted of in Heaven as they be on earth. Therefore, they that have them, not to reflect too much on them; nor be ideo inflati, as saith St. Augustine, quia obsericati, 'as much pride in their soul as purple on their body.' And they that have them not, not to æmulari, 'vex and grieve themselves' at Nabal's wealth, Haman's preferment, this man's table; seeing there cometh a jam vero, and when that cometh, we shall see such an alteration in his state, as he that wisheth him worst shall wish, that for every 'good thing' he received here he had received a thousand; and, with St. Bernard, ut omnes lapides converterentur in rosas 'that every stone under his feet here had been turned into a rose.' Such is his case, and such theirs that come where he is.
Is this all? No. But as it bringeth us out of admiration, so it bringeth us into fear. For two things it offereth, either of which is, or may be, matter of fear. 1. First, in that he is Abraham's son. That Abraham hath of his seed in hell, and that all his sons shall not rest in their father's bosom. Which offereth us occasion to fear, for all our profession. For though he were a son too, and so acknowledged by Abraham, yet there he is now.
2. In that he is of Abraham's rich sons, and one that received good things in his life. Which ministereth new matter of fear; that, as the Prophet saith, 'Tophet is prepared of old, and that even for great ones,' for such as go in purple, and wear fine linen, and fare full daintily;--even for such is it prepared. Not as every prison for common persons, but as tophet, or the tower, for great estates. So that it may seem either of both these have their danger at their heels; for that they to him were, to many they are, and to us they may be as antecedents to an evil consequent.
Men verily may flatter themselves; but sure I can never think but there is more in this 'Now therefore,' than the world will allow. And that this recordare of Abraham's is not a matter so slightly to be slipped over. There is some danger no doubt, and that more than willingly be acknowledged, to such as are 'wealthy and well at ease in Sion.' St. Gregory confesseth by himself, that never any sentence entered so deep into his soul as this. [87/88] And surgite mortui was ever in St. Hierom's ear, and non in comessationes, 'not in surfeiting,' in St. Augustine's, by which he was first converted; so this was with him, and he could not get it out of his mind. For he, sitting in the See of Rome, when it was grown rich and of great receipt, was as he saith still in doubt of recepisti; whether his exalting into that Chair might not be his recompense at God's hands, and all that ever he should receive from Him for all his service. And ever he doubted this recepisti, which we so easily pass over, and whether his case might not be like. Thus did the good Father, and, as I think, not unwisely; and would God, his example herein might make due impression, and work like fear, in so many as have in the eyes of all men 'received the good things in this life!' For this may daily be seen everywhere, that divers that received them if ever any did, and that in a measure heaped up and running over, carry themselves so without remembrance or regard of this point, as if no such simile were in the Scripture as that of the needle's eye; no such example as of this rich man, no such recordare as this if Abraham which we have in hand. It should seem, they have learned a point of divinity Abraham never knew--Ballam's divinity I fear, 'to love the wages of unrighteousness' and a gift in the bosom, and yet to cry Moriatur anima mea, his soul should go straight to Abraham's bosom for all that; and so, in effect, to deny Abraham's consequence.
We must then join issue upon the main point, we cannot avoid it; to enquire how this 'Now therefore' cometh in; and how far and to whom this consequent holdeth. I demand then, Was he therefore 'tormented,' because he 'received good things?' Is this the case of all them that wear purple and fare well in this life? Shall every one, to whom God reacheth such 'good things' as these, be quit for ever from Abraham's bosom? By no means. For Cujus est sinus, 'Whose is the bosom?' Is it not Abraham's? And what was Abraham? Look Gen. 13.2 'Abraham was rich in cattle, in silver and gold.' There is hope then for rich men, in a rich man's bosom. Then the bosom itself is a rich man's, though a Lazarus be in it. Yea though we find here Lazarus in it; yet elsewhere, we find, he is not all. For the great [88/89] lord that bare rule under Queen Candace; the elect lady; Joseph of Arimathæa, and the Areopagite--grave and wise counsellors; the purple seller; and if the purple seller, why not the purple wearer? Yes, the purple wearers too were in earth Saints as we read, and are we doubt not in Abraham's bosom also.
It was not therefore because he was rich; for then must Abraham himself have been subject to the same sentence. Nay, one may be so rich, and so use his riches together, as they shall conclude in the other figure, and end in solaris; and no ways hinder, but help forward his account, and bring him a second recipies of the 'good things' of that eternal life. And, if you mark it well, we have here in this Scripture two rich men: 1. One that giveth the recordare; 2. The other, to whom it is given. the example of a rich man, which rich men to avoid; the sentence of a rich man, which rid men to remember.
It is evident it was not for that he had 'received good things in this life,' seeing as truly as Abraham said to him, 'Son, remember, thou didst receive good things, so truly might he have rejoined, 'Father, remember, thou didst receive, &c.' It was not that.
Neither was it because he came by them unduly, by such ways and means as the soul of God abhorreth; for it is, saith Bernard, recordare quia recepisti--not, quia rapuisti, or quia decepisti, 'by ravine or deceit.'
Neither was it because he received them and wrapped them up. For as his receipts are in this verse, so his expenses in the nineteenth. So much in purple and linen, so much in feasting.
Neither was it, because receiving plenty, he took his portion of that he received in apparel or diet. For Num solis stultis apes mellificant? saith the philosopher; 'Do bees make honey, or worms spin silk, for the wicked or reprobate only?' Howbeit it cannot be excused, that being but homo quidam, he went like a prince; for purple was princes' wear. [89/90] Or that he feasted, and that not meanly, but l«mprêj 'in all sumptuous manner;' and that not at some set times, but kaq _m_ran, 'day by day;' for this portion was beyond all proportion.
None of these it was. Yet we hold still some danger there is; there is some, and this recordare is not idle or needless.
What was it then that brought him thither, or, as St. Bernard calleth it, what was his scala inferni, 'the ladder by which he went down to hell?' that we may know, what is the difference between Abraham's receipt and his; and when recepisti will conclude with cruciaris.
St. Chrysostom doth lay the weight on the word recepisti, in his natural or proper sense. For it is one thing, saith he, l£bbeiu, that is, accipere, 'to receive or take;' another ¢rol£beiu, that is, recipere, to 'receive it as it were in full discharge and final satisfaction.' And the same distinction doth Christ Himself observe in e"ceiu and ¢pe/cceiu the sixth chapter of St. Matthew. Both have, and both receive; but they that do l£beiu, 'receive them' as a pledge of God's farther favour; but they that do ¢pol£beiu, 'receive them as a full and complete reward,' and have no more to receive, but must thereupon release and quit claim all demands in whatsoever else. Tanquam arrham, and tanquam mercedem, is the distinction in schools.
1. With God verily it is righteous thing to let every man receive for any kind of good he hath done here. Yea. even the heathen for their moral virtues, as St. Augustine holdeth of the Romans, and the victories they received.
2. But the righteous it is also, that the Reubenites, which choose their lot in Gilead on this side of Jordan, and their seat themselves, should not after claim their part too in the Land of Promise. Even so, that they will have, and have their receiving time here, should not have it here and elsewhere also.
Then all is in the choice where we shall lay our recepisti; whether here or there, in this or that life; in purple and silk, and the delights of the world, or in the rest and comfort of Abraham's bosom. Whether we will say; Lord, if I may so receive, that I may be received; if I may receive so the good of this life, that I be not barred the other to come, tanquam arrham, 'as the earnest of a better inheritance,' Ecce me. But if my receiving here shall be my last receipt, if I shall receive them tanquam mercedem, 'as my portion for ever,' I renounce them; put me out of this receipt, and reserve my part [90/91] in store for the land of the living. And of evil. If it must come here or there, with St. Augustine, Domine, hic ure, hic seca, ibi parce; 'Let my searing and smart be here; there let me be spared;' and from cruciaris, the 'torment' to come, libera me Domine.
To very good purpose said the ancient Father: Quisque dives, quisque pauper; Nemo dives, nemo pauper; Animus omnai facit. 'It is somewhat to be rich or poor, it is nothing to rich or poor; it is as the mind is; the mind maketh all.' Now, saith, St. Chrystosom, what mind he carried is gathered out of Abraham's doubling and trebling. Tu, tua, and tuâ: recepisti tu, bona tua, in vitâ tuâ; which words are working words, as he taketh them, and contain in them great emphasis. Understanding by tua, not so much that he had in possession, as that he made special reckoning of, for that is most properly termed ours; Animus omnia facit.
This life is called 'his life;' not because he lived in it, but because he so lived in it as if there had been no other life but it. And in his account there was no other; DÑj moi tÑ s§h/merouu, l£be soi tÑ aÙriou, 'give him this life, let this day be his day, take to-morrow who will.' This did not Abraham; for 'he saw a day,' and that after this life, that rejoiced him more than all the days of his life.
This life as it was his life, so the good of it his good--bona tua. This his life, these the portion of his life; these he chose for his good; they his, and he theirs. They that make such a choice, their recepisti may well end in crucuaris.
This way St. Chrysostom, by the mind. St. Augustine taketh another by the memory, more proper to the Patriarch's meaning; and that four ways.
1. For, saith he, Abraham willing him to remember he had received such things, implieth, in effect, that he had clean forgotten that any such things he had ever received. Look how Esau speaketh, Habeo bona plurima, 'I have enough my brother;' and, as his pew-fellow here, Anima habes, 'Soul, thou hast goods enough;' even so for all the world it seemeth this party here he had them, sure he was he had them; but that he 'received' them he never remembered. Now he is put in mind, quia recepisti; 'Now, therefore, thou art tormented.'
[91/92] 2. Now, not remembering he had received them, no marvel if he forgat why he received them, or with what condition; fogetting God in Heaven, no marvel if he remembered not Lazarus on earth. Verily, neither he nor any man receive them as proprietaries, but as stewards and as accountants, as Christ telleth us above in this chapter. Not for ourselves only, or for our own use, but for others too; and among others, for Lazarus by name. If Lazarus receive not, it was his fault, and not God's, Who gave him enough to supply his own uses and Lazarus' wants too. For both which two, he and all receive that receive at God's hands. But he it seemeth, received them to and for himself alone, and nobody else; that Abraham saith truly Recepisti tu--tu et nemo alius; 'You and yours and nobody besides.' For his recepisti ended in himself, and he made himself summam omnium receptorum. For if you call him to account by the writ of redde rationem, this must be his audit. In purple and linen so much, and in belly-cheer so much; so much on his back, and so much on his board, and in them endeth the total of his receipt; except you will put in his hounds too, which received of him more than Lazarus might. This is indeed recepisti tu solus. This did not Abraham, for his receipt reacheth to strangers, and others besides himself; and Lazarus he received in his bosom on earth, or else he had never been in Heaven to have him there.
Will ye see, 'Now therefore,' the consequent in kind? Therefore is this party now in the gulf, because living himself was a gulf; it is now gurges in gurgite, 'but one gulf in another.' While he lived, he was as a gulf swallowing all: 'Now therefore' the gulf hath swallowed him. Remember this for a special point. For if our purple and fine linen swallow up our alms; if our too much lashing on, to do good to ourselves, make us in state to do good to none but ourselves; if our riotous wasting on expenses of vanity, be a gulf and devour our Christian employing in works of charity; there is danger in recepisti, even the danger of 'Now therefore;' gurges eras et in gurgitem projicieris, 'a gulf thou wert, and into the gulf shalt thou go., Ever, for the most part, you shall find these two coupled. In Sodom 'pride and fulness of bread,' with not stretching the hand to the poor. In [92/93] Judah great bowls of wine, and rich 'beds of ivory,' with little compassion on the misery of Joseph. And here, going richly, and faring daintily, with Lazarus' bosom and belly both empty. The saying if St. Basil is highly commended, that _ko/uhh tÁjjj ¢swwtiaj h/ Filotoima, 'Pride is prodigality's whetstone.' And so it is sure; and sets such an edge upon it in our expenses, that it cuts so deep into our receipt, and shares so much for purple and linen, as it leaves but a little for Lazarus' portion. Sure so it is: less purple must content us, and somewhat must be cut off from quotidie splendide, if we will have Lazarus better provided for.
This I have stood a little on, that it may be remembered. It is Christ's special drift, both in the parable before and in this story here; and 'remember' it we must, if either as in that we will be received into 'everlasting tabernacles,' or as in this we will be delivered from 'everlasting torments.'
3. Now I add that, in this forgetting Lazarus to remember himself, he remembered not himself neither, but failed in that too. For whereas he consisted of two parts, a body, and a soul, he remembered the one so much as he quite left the other out of his memento. For his recepisti tu was his body, and nothing else. Now reason would, the body should not take up the whole receipt, but that the poor soul should be thought upon too. Purple and silk, and Ede, bibe, they are but the body's part but alms and works of mercy, they be the soul`s. May not our souls be admitted suitors that we would remember them, that is, remember Lazarus? for that is the soul's portion; for the other part, he and we all remember fast enough.
4. Thus remembering neither God nor Lazarus, nay, nor his own soul; his memory thus failing him, God provided and sent some to put him in mind. Sure, as he had received those former 'good things,' so also had he received 'Moses and the Prophets' by his own confession; and in receiving them, he had received a great benefit, and peradventure greater in this than the other; and Moses had told him as much as Abraham tells him now. Utinam novissima providerent, 'Would God, saith Moses, men would remember the four novissima;' 1. That there is a death; 2. there is a judgment; [93/ 94] there is a Heaven; 4. there is a hell. But of all four, novissima inferni, in the same chapter, 'the nethermost, the place of torments.' The Prophets said as much; Jeremy--Ever think that an end there will be, Et quid fiet in novissimo, 'what will become of us in that end?' 'Who among us,' saith Esay, 'can endure devouring fire?' who can dwell with ardores sempiterni, 'everlasting burnings?' These he had, and if he had heard these, it is plainly affirmed, audiant ipsos would have done it; they would have kept him for ever coming in that place. But these also, living, he strove to forget, and as ingenderers of melancholy, to remove them far away. And that he might the more easily do it, it was thought not amiss to call their authority into question, whether they were worth the hearing or not. It is in effect confessed by him, that his five brethren and he were of opinion, that the hearing of Moses and the Prophets was a motive far unworthy to carry such men as they. It was for nothing he complaineth of his tongue; illâ linguâ, 'with that tongue,' he had scorned the holy oracles; peradventure that place wherein he now lay, with that tongue which in that place feeleth the greatest torment, and from that place the smallest comfort; both which it had before profanely derided.
Thus then you see his scalam inferni, the brief of his faults for which his receipt endeth in this bitter receipt of torments without end. 1. Epicurism: no life but this, no good but these here, good attire, good cheer. 2. This was his reward; Amen, dico vobis, recepistis. St. Chrysostom's two. 1. Remembering neither God in Heaven, nor Lazarus on earth; 2. but being a gurges, 'a gulf' of all that he received, himself. 3. No, not his own soul; 4. nor at last of all, this place of torments before he was in it, and scorning at Moses for remembering him of it. This you see; and in him you see who they be over whom Abraham shall read the like sentence: Qui habet aures &c.
Now then we have set up both sides of this cross, and fastened each part to other with 'Now therefore;' let us afix the inscription and so an end. That is recordare fili, [94/95] the want of which brought him thither, the supply of it shall keep us thence.
Fili recordare--optime dictum sed sero, 'excellently well said, but too late,' saith St. Bernard. For alas! cometh Abraham in now with recordare? doth he now affix the title? why, it is too late. True it is so, but till now he would not suffer any to set it up. Before, while it was time, and when it might have done him good, then he would not endure it; now he is fain when it is out of time, to know what in time might have done him good; and may do others, if in time they look to it. Indeed, to him now it is of no use in the world, but only to let him see by what justice he is where he is, and what he suffereth he suffereth deservedly. The best is, Abraham has more sons than this son, and they may take good by it, and have use of that whereof he had none. With this son it is too late, with some others it is not. Not with us we are yet upon the stage, our jam vero is not yet come. And for us is this inscription set up, and for our sakes both Christ reported, and St. Luke recorded this recordare.
If you ask, What good is that? What is the good of exemplary justice? What good is it to see a malefactor punished, or to read in a paper the crime wherefore? What, but only that by reading what brought him thither, we may remember what will keep us from thence. The neglect of recordare is the cause he is there; why then recordare fili, and keep thee from thence. So with one view of this inscription, we read both his ruin and our own remedy.
This is the right use of this title; God forbid we should have no use of it, till we come where he is! But it is therefore set over his head in that life, that we may read it in this; read it and remember it; remember it, and never have title set over ours.
It will be good then sometimes to keep some day holy to the exaltation of this cross, and to set this title before our eyes; to approach it and read it over; yes not once, but often to record this recordare. Indeed, it is that St. Gregory saith; Recordatione magis eget versus quam expositione; 'indeed it more needs a disposition to remember it, than an exposition to understand it.'
[95/96] We are yet; how long we shall we know not, nor how soon vitâ tuâ will be gone, nor how quickly this jam veri will come in place. Thus we know; between his state and ours there is only a puff of breath in our nostrils. That this life, short though it be, and in a manner a moment, yet hoc est momentum unde pendet æternitis; 'on it no less matter dependeth than our eternity;' or bliss or bane, comfort or torment. That in this place, without all hope either of relief, escape, or end; and that from thence, neither our profession of truth, nor the greatness of our receiving shall deliver, but only this recordare. It standeth us then in hand to take perfect impression of this recordare; and, as St. Augustine saith, oblivisci quid simus, attendre quid futuri simus, 'to forget what we now be, to consider what we shall be' without all question ere long, but we know how soon; but oft it falleth, the shorter and sooner the less we think of it.
Three things then I wish for conclusion; 1. that we may remember; 2. remember in time; 3. remember effectually. That we may remember the fire, the thirst, and the torments; and know what they mean by memory rather than by sense. Abraham from Heaven calls to us to that end; the party in hell crieth, ne veniant et ipsi.
That we do it in time, that we be not in his case, never 'lift up our eyes' till we be 'in hell,' nor remember that may do us good till it be too late.
That we do it effectually from the heart; for there is a heart in recordare, and that this being our greatest business, we make it not our least care.
Our remembering will be effectual, if we pray to God daily we may so receive as we may be received. And our remembering will be effectual, if it have the effect, that is, make us remember Lazarus. Quotidie Lazarus, you may find Lazarus if you seek him, everyday; no, you shall find him, though you seek him not. Our present estate, by present occasion of the dearth now upon us, makes the memory more fresh than at other times it would be. Remember then, our being remembered there lieth on this their remembrance here, and upon their receiving our recipies or rather recipieris. And remember that day, wherein what we have received shall be forgotten, and what He hath receiveth of us, shall [96/97] be remembered, and nothing else will be remembered, but quod uni ex minimis. The attaining 'everlasting Tabernacles,' the avoiding 'everlasting torments,' lie upon it. That which we remember now in Lazarus' bosom, shall be remembered to us again in Abraham' s bosom. To which, &c.