Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, which is done unto Me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me in the day of His fierce anger.
At the very reading or hearing of which verse, there is none but will presently conceive, it is the voice of a party in great extremity. In great extremity two ways: 1. First, in such distress as never was nay, 'If ever there were sorrow like My sorrow;' 2. And then in that distress, having none to regard Him; 'Have ye no regard, all ye?'
To be afflicted and so afflicted as none ever was, is very much. In that affliction, to find none to respect him or care for him what can be more? In all our sufferings, it is a comfort to us, that we have a sicut; that nothing has befallen us, but such as others have felt the like. But here, si fuerit sicut; 'If ever the like were'--that is, never the like was.
Again, in our greatest pains it is a kind of ease, even to find some regard. Naturally we desire it, if we cannot be [138/139] delivered, if we cannot be relieved, yet to be pitied. It sheweth there be yet some that are touched with the sense of our misery, that wish us well, and would give us ease if they could. But this Afflicted here findeth not so much, neither the one nor the other; but is even as He were an out-cast both of Heaven and earth. Now verily an heavy case, and worthy to be put in this book of Lamentations.
I demand then, 'Of whom speaketh the Prophet this? Of himself or some other?' This I find; there is not any of the ancient writers but do apply, yea in a manner appropriate, this speech to our Saviour Christ. And that this very day, the day of His Passion, truly termed here the day of God's wrath, and wheresoever they treat of the Passion, ever this verse cometh in. And to say the truth, to take the words strictly, as they lie, they cannot agree, or be verified, of any but of Him, and Him only. For though some other, not unfitly, may be allowed to say the same words, it must be in a qualified sense; for in full and perfect propriety of speech, He and none but He. None can say, neither Jeremy, nor any other, si fuerit dolor Meus, as Christ can; no day of wrath like to His day, no sorrow to be compared to His, all are short of it, nor His to any, it exceedeth them all.
And yet, according to the letter, it cannot be denied but they be set down by Jeremy in the person of his own people, being then come to great misery; and of the holy city, then laid waste and desolate by the Chaldeans. What then? Ex Ægypto vocavi Filium Meum, 'out of Egypt have I called My Son,' was literally spoken of this people too, yet, is by the Evangelist applied to our Saviour Christ. 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?' at the first uttered by David; yet the same words our Saviour taketh Himself, and that more truly and properly, than ever David could; and of those of David's and of these of Jeremy's, there is one and the same reason.
Of all which the ground is that correspondence which is between Christ, and the Patriarchs, Prophets, and people before Christ, of whom the Apostle's rule is, omnia is figurâ contingebant illis; 'that they were themselves types,' and their sufferings forerunning figures of the great suffering of the Son of God. Which maketh Isaac's offering, and Joseph's [139/140] selling, and Israel's calling from Egypt, and that complaint of David's, and this of Jeremy's, appliable to Him; that He may take them to Himself, and the Church ascribe them to Him, and that in more fitness of terms, and more fulness of truth, than they were at the first spoken by David, or Jeremy, or any of them all.
And this rule, and the steps of the Fathers proceeding by this rule, are to me a warrant to expound and apply this verse, as they have done before, to the present occasion of this time; which requireth some such Scripture to be considered by us as doth belong to His Passion, Who this day poured out His most precious Blood, as the only sufficient price of the dear purchase of all our redemption.
Be it then to us, as to them it was, and as most properly it is, the speech of the Son of God, as this day hanging on the cross, to a sort of careless people, that go up and down without any manner of regard of these His sorrows and sufferings, so worthy of all regard. 'Have ye no regard? Of all ye who pass by the way, consider and behold, if there were sorrow like to my sorrow, which was done unto me, wherewith the Lord afflicted me in the day of the fierceness of His wrath.'
Here is a complaint, and here is a request. A complaint that we have not, a request that we would have the pains and Passions of our Saviour Christ in some regard. For first He complaineth, and not without cause, 'Have ye no regard?' And then, as willing to forget their former neglect, so they will yet do it, He falleth to entreat, 'O consider and behold!'
And what is that we should consider? The sorrow which He suffereth, and in it two things: the quality, and the cause. 1. The quality, Si fuerit sicut; 'if ever the like were;' and that either in respect of Dolor, or Dolor Meus, 'the sorrow suffered,' or 'the Person suffering.' 2. The cause: that is God That in His wrath, in His fierce wrath, doth all this to Him. Which cause will not leave us, till it have led us to another cause in ourselves, and to another yet in Him; all which serve to ripen us to regard.
These two then specially we are moved to regard. 1. Regard is the main point. But because therefore we regard but [140/141] faintly, because either we consider not, or not aright, we are called to consider seriously of them. As if He should say, Regard you not? If you did consider, you would; if you considered as you should, you would regard as you ought, Certainly the Passion, if it were throughly considered, would be duly regarded. Consider then.
So the points are two: 1. The quality, and 2. the cause of His suffering. And the duties two: 1. To consider, and regard; 2. So to consider that we regard them, and Him for them.
'Have ye no regard,' &c.? To ease this complaint, and to grant this request, we are to regard; and that we may regard, we are to consider the pains of His Passion. Which, that we may reckon no easy common matter of light moment, to do or not to do as we list; first, a general stay is made of all passengers, this day. For, as it were from His cross, doth our Saviour address this His speech to them that go to and fro, the day of His Passion, without so much as entertaining a thought, or vouchsafing a look that way. O vos qui transitis, 'O ye who pass by the way,' stay and consider. To them frameth He His speech, who pass by; to them, and to them all, O vos omnes, qui transitis, 'O all ye who pass by the way, stay and consider.'
Which very stay of His sheweth it to be some important matter, in that it is of all. For, as much as for some to be stayed, and those that go thus, there may be reason; the most part of those that go thus to and fro, may well intend it, they have little else to do. But to except none, not some special person, is hard. What know we their haste? their occasions may be such, and so urgent, as they cannot stay. Well, what haste, what business soever, pass not by, stay though. As much to say as, Be they never so great, your occasions; they are not, they cannot be so great as this. How urgent soever, this is more, and more to be intended. The regard of this is worthy the staying of the journey. It is worth the considering of those, that have never so great affairs in hand. So material is this sight in His account. Which serveth to shew the exigence of this duty. But as for this point, it needeth not be stood upon to us here at this time; we are not going by, we need not be stayed, we have stayed all other our affairs [141/142] to come hither, and here we are all present before God, to have it set before us, that we may consider it. Thither then let us come.
That which we are called to behold and consider, is His sorrow. And sorrow is a thing which of itself nature inclineth us to behold, 'as being ourselves in the body,' which may one day in the like sorrowful case. Therefore will every good eye turn itself; and look upon them that lie in distress. Those two in the Gospel that passed by the wounded man, before they passed by him, though they helped not as the Samaritan did, yet they looked upon him as he lay. But, this party here lieth not, He is lifted up as the serpent in the wilderness, that unless we turn our eyes away purposely, we can neither will nor choose but behold Him.
But because, to behold and not to consider is but to gaze, and gazing the Angel blameth in the Apostles themselves, we must do both--both 'behold' and 'consider;' look upon with the eye of the body, that is 'behold;' and look into with the eye of the mind, that is 'consider.' So saith the Prophet here. And the very same doth the Apostle advise us to do. First, ¢For©u, to look upon Him, that is, to 'behold,' and then ¢ualogixesFai, to think upon Him, that is, to 'consider' His sorrow. Sorrow sure would be considered.
Now then, because as the quality of the sorrow is, accordingly it would be considered--for if it be but a common sorrow the less will serve, but if it be some special, some heavy case, the more would be allowed it; for proportionally with the suffering, the consideration is to arise; to raise our consideration to the full, and to elevate it to the highest point, there is upon His sorrow set a si fuerit sicut, a note of highest eminency; for si fuerit sicut, are words that have life in them, and are able to quicken our consideration, if it be not quite dead; for them we are provoked, as it were, to 'consider,' and considering to whether ever any sicut may be found to set by it, whether ever any like it.
For if never any, our nature is to regard things exceeding rare and strange; and such as the like whereof is not else to be seen. Upon this point then, there is a case made, as if He should say, 'if ever the like, regard not this;' but if never [142/143] any, be like yourselves in other things, and vouchsafe this, if not your chiefest, yet some regard.
To enter this comparison, and to shew it for such. That are we to do, three sundry ways; for three sundry ways, in three sundry words, are these sufferings of His here expressed, all three within the compass of the verse.
The first is gwabm_ Mac-ob, which we read 'sorrow,' taken from a wound or stripe, as all do agree.
The second is llw[ Gholel; we read 'Done to me,' taken from a word that signifieth melting in a furnace, as St. Hierome noteth out of the Chaldee, who so translateth it.
The third is jw'wj Hoga, where we read afflicted, from a word which importeth renting off, or bereaving. The old Latin turneth it Vindemiavit me, as a vine whose fruit is all plucked off. The Greek, with Theodoret, ¢peFÚllioe/ me, as a vine or tree whose leaves are all beaten off, and is left naked and bare.
In these three are comprised His sufferings--wounded, melted and bereft leaf and fruit, that is, all manner of comfort.
Of all that is penal, or can be suffered, the common division is, sensus et damni, grief for that we feel, or for that we forego. For that we feel in the two former, wounded in body, melted in soul; for that we forego in the last, bereft all left neither fruit nor so much as a leaf to hang on him.
According to these three, to consider His sufferings, and to begin first with the first. The pains of His body, his wounds and His stripes.
Our very eye will soon tell us no place was left in His body, where He might be smitten and was not. His skin and flesh rent with the whips and scourges, His hands and feet wounded with the nails, His head with the thorns, His very heart with spear-point; all His senses, all His parts laden with whatsoever wit or malice could invent. His blessed body given as an anvil to beaten upon with the violent hands of those barbarous miscreants, till they brought Him into this case of si fuerit sicut. For Pilate's Ecce Homo! his shewing Him with an Ecce, as if He should say, Behold, look if ever you saw the like rueful spectacle; this very [143/144] shewing of his shewth plainly, He was then come into woeful plight, so woeful as Pilate very believed His very sight so pitiful, as it would have moved the hardest heart of all to have relented and said, This is enough, we desire no more. And this for the wounds of his body, for on this we stand not.
In this one peradventure some sicut may be found, in the pains of the body; but in the second, the sorrow of the soul, I am sure, none. And indeed, the pain of the body is but the body of pain; the very soul of sorrow and pain is the soul's sorrow and pain. Give me any grief, save the grief of the mind, saith the Wise Man; for saith Solomon, 'The spirit of a man will sustain all his other infirmities, but a wounded spirit, who can bear?' And of this, this of His soul, I dare make a case, Si fuerit sicut.
'He began to be troubled in soul,' saith St. John; 'to be in agony,' saith St. Luke; 'to be in anguish of mind and deep distress,' saith St. Mark. To have His soul round about on every side environed with sorrow, and that sorrow to the death. Here is trouble, anguish, agony, sorrow, and deadly sorrow; but it must be such, as never the like, so it was too.
The estimate whereof we may take from the second word of melting, that is, from His sweat in the garden; strange, and the like whereof was never heard or seen.
No manner violence offered Him in body, no man touching Him or being near Him; in a cold night, for they were fain to have a fire within doors, lying abroad in the air and upon the cold earth, to be all of a sweat, and that sweat to be blood; and not as they call it diaphoreticus, 'a thin faint sweat,' but grumosus 'of great drops;' and those so many, so plenteous, as they went through His apparel and all; and through all streamed to the ground, and that in great abundance; read, enquire, and consider, 'if ever there were sweat like this sweat of His.' Never the like sweat certainly, and therefore never the like sorrow. Our translation is, Done unto Me;' but we said the word properly signifieth, and so S. Hierome and the Chaldee paraphrase read it, 'melted Me.' And truly it should seem by this fearful sweat of His He was near some furnace, [144/145] the feeling whereof was able to cast Him into that sweat, and to turn His sweat into drops of blood. And sure it was so; for see, even in the very next words of all to this verse, He complaineth of it; Ignem misit in ossibus meis, 'that a fire was sent into His bones,' which melted Him, and made that bloody sweat to distil from Him. That hour what His feelings were, it is dangerous to define; we know them not, we may be too bold to determine of them. To very good purpose it was, that the ancient Fathers of the Greek Church in their Liturgy, after they have recounted all the particular pains, as they are set down in His Passion, and by all, and by every one of them, called for mercy, do after all shut up all with this; Dii _guwwsstïu ko/pwu kai bass£uwwu ele/hsou kai sîsou »m©j, 'By Thine unknown sorrows and sufferings, felt by thee, but not distinctly known by us, Have mercy upon us, and save us!'
Now, though this suffice not, nothing near, yet let it suffice, the time being short, for His pains of body and soul. For those of the body, it may be some may have endured the like, but the sorrows of His soul are unknown sorrows, and for them none ever have, ever have or ever will suffer the like, the like, or near the like in any degree.
And now to the third. It was said before, to be in distress, such distress as this was, and to find none to comfort, nay not so much as to regard Him, is all that can be said to make His sorrow a non sicut. Comfort is it by which, in the midst of all our sorrows, we are confortati, that is strengthened and made the better able to bear them all out. And who is there, even the poorest creature among us, but in some degree findeth some comfort, or some regard at some body's hands? For if that be not left, the state of that part is here in the third word said to like the tree, whose leaves and whose fruit are all beaten off quite, and itself left bare and naked both of the one and of the other
And such was our Saviour's case in these His sorrows this day, and that so as what is left the meanest of the sons of men, was not left Him, not a leaf, Not a leaf! Leaves may well call all human comforts and regards, whereof He was then left clean desolate, 1. His own, they among whom He had gone about all his life long, healing them, [145/146] teaching them, feeding them, doing them all he good He could, it is they that cry, 'Not, Him, no, but Barabbas rather;' 'away with Him,' 'His blood be upon us and our children.' It is they that in the midst of His sorrows shake their head at Him, and cry, 'Ah, thou wretch;' they that in His most disconsolate estate cry Eli, Eli, in most barbarous manner, deride Him and say, 'Stay, and you shall see Elias come presently and take Him down.' And this was their regard.
But these were but withered leaves. They then that on earth were nearest Him of all, the greenest leaves and likest to hang on, and to give Him some shade; even of them some bought and sold Him, others denied and forswore Him, but all fell away, and forsook Him ApeFÚllise/, me, saith Theoderet, not a leaf left.
But leaves are leaves, and so are all earthly stays. The fruit then, the true fruit for the Vine indeed, the true comfort in all heaviness, is desuper, 'from above,' is divine consolation. But Vindemiavit Me, saith the Latin text;--even that was, in this sorrowful complaint of all others; not find not that His friends upon earth, but that His Father from Heaven had forsaken Him; that neither Heaven nor earth yielded Him any regard, but that between the passioned powers of His soul, and whatsoever might any ways refresh Him, there was a traverse drawn, and He left in the state of a weather-beaten tree, all desolate and forlorn. Evident, too evident, by that His most dreadful cry, which at once moved all the powers in heaven and earth, 'My God, My God, why hast You forsaken Me?' Weigh well that cry, consider it well, and tell me, si fuerit clamor sicut clamor iste, 'if ever there were cry like that of His;' never the like cry, and therefore never the like sorrow.
It is strange, very strange, that none of the martyr's the like can be read, who yet endured most exquisite pains in their martyrdom; yet we see with what courage, with what cheerfulness, how even singing, they are reported to have passed through their torments. Will ye know the reason? St. Augustine setteth it down: martyres non eripuit, sed nunquid deseruit? 'He delivered not His martyrs, but did he [146/147] forsake them?' He delivered not their bodies, but He forsook not their souls, but distilled into them the dew of His heavenly comfort, an abundant supply for all they could endure. Not so here. Vindemiavit Me, saith the Prophet; Dereliquisti Me, saith He Himself;--no comfort, no supply at all.
Leo it is that first said it, and all antiquity allow of it, Non solvit unionem, sed subtraxit visionem. 'The union was not dissolved: true, but the beams, the influence was restrained,' and for any comfort from thence His soul was even as a scorched heath-ground, without so much as any drop of dew of divine comfort; as a naked tree, no fruit to refresh Him within, no leaf to give Him shadow without; the power of darkness let loose to afflict Him, the influence of comfort restrained to relieve Him. It is a non sicut this, it cannot be expressed as it should, and as other things may; in silence we may admire it, but all our words will not reach it. And though to draw it so far as some do, is little better than blasphemy, yet on the other side to shrink it so short as other some do, cannot be but with the derogation to His love, Who, to kindle our love and loving regard, would come to a non sicut in His suffering; for so it was, and so we must allow it to be. This, in respect of His passion, Dolor.
Now in respect of His Person, Dolor Meus. Whereof, if it please you to take a view even of the Person thus wounded, thus afflicted and forsaken, you shall then have a perfect non sicit. Indeed the Person is here a weighty circumstance, it is thrice repeated--Meus, Mihi, Me, and we may not leave it out. For as is the Person, so is the Passion; and any one, even the very last degree of wrong or disgrace, offered to a person of excellency, is more than a hundred times more to one of mean condition; so weighty is the circumstance of the person. Consider then how great the Person was; and I rest fully assured here we boldly challenge and say, si fuerit sicut.
Ecco Homo! saith Pilate first: a Man He is as we are, and were He but a Man, nay, were He not a Man, but some poor dumb creature, it were ruth to see Him so handled as He was.
'A Man,' saith Pilate, and a 'just Man,' saith Pilate's wife. 'Have thou nothing to do with that just Man.' And [147/148] that is one degree farther. For though we pity the punishment even of malefactors themselves, yet ever most compassion we have of them that suffer, and be innocent. And He was innocent; Pilate and Herod, and 'the prince of this world,' His very enemies, being His judges.
Now among the innocent, the more noble the person, the more heavy the spectacle. And never do our bowels yearn so much as over such. 'Alas, alas for that noble Prince,' saith this Prophet;--the style of mourning for the death of a great personage. And He that suffered here is such, even a principal Person among the sons of men, of the race royal, descended from Kings. Pilate styled Him so in his title, and he would not alter it.
Three degrees. But yet we are not at our true quantus. For He is yet more, more than the highest of the sons of men, for He is the Son of the Most High God. Pilate saw no farther but Ecco Homo! the centurion did, vere Filius Dei erat Hic, 'now truly This was the Son of God.' And here all words forsake us, and every tongue becometh speechless.
We have no way to express it but a minore ad majus--thus. Of this book, the book of Lamentations, one special occasion, was the death of King Josias; but behold a greater than Josias is here.
Of King Josias, as a special reason of mourning, the Prophet saith, Spiritus oris nostri, christus Domini, 'the very breath of our nostrils, the Lord's anointed,' for so are all good Kings in their subjects' accounts, he is gone. But behold, here is not christus Domini, but Christus Dominus, 'the Lord's christ,' but the 'Lord Christ Himself;' and that not coming to an honourable death in battle as Josias did, but to a most vile reproachful death, the death of malefactors in the highest degree. And not slain outright as Josias was, but mangled and massacred in most pitiful strange manner; wounded in Body, wounded in Spirit, left utterly desolate. O consider this well, and confess the case is truly put, si fuerit Dolor sicut Dolor meus! Never, never the like person; and if as the person is, the passion be, never the like Passion to His.
It is truly affirmed, that any one, even the least drop of blood, even the least pain, yea of the body only, of this so [148/149] great a Person, any Dolor with this Meus had been enough to make a non sicut of it. That is enough, but that is not all; for add now the three other degrees; add to this Person those wounds, that sweat and cry, and put all together, and I make no manner question the like was not, will not, cannot ever be. It is far above all that ever was or can be. Men may drowsily hear it and coldly affect it, but principalities and powers stand abashed at it. And for the quality both of the Passion and the Person, that never the like, thus much.
Now to proceed to the cause and to consider it, for without it we shall have but half a regard, and scarce that. Indeed, set the cause aside, and the passion, as rare as it is, is yet but a dull and heavy sight, we list not much look upon spectacles of that kind, though never so strange, they fill us full of pensive thoughts and make us melancholic. And so doth this, till upon examination of the cause we find it toucheth us near; and so near, so many ways, as we cannot choose but have some regard of it.
What was done to him we see. Let there now be a request of enquiry to find who was the doer of it. Who? who but the 'power of darkness,' wicked Pilate, bloody Caiaphas, the envious Priests, the barbarous soldiers? None of these are returned here. We are too low by a great deal, if we think to find it among men. Quæ fecit Mihi DeusI, 'it was God That did it.' An hour of that day was 'the hour of the power of darkness;' but the whole day itself, is said here plainly, was the day of the wrath of God. God was a doer in it; 'wherewith God hath afflicted Me.'
God afflicteth some in mercy, and others in wrath. This was in His wrath. In His wrath God is not alike to all; some He afflicteth in His more gentle and mild, others in His fierce wrath. This was in the very fierceness of His wrath. His sufferings, His sweat, and cry, shew as much; they could not come but from a wrath si fuerit sicut, for we are not past non sicut, no not here,--in this part to followeth us still, and will not leave us in any point, not to the end.
The cause then in God was wrath. What caused this wrath? God is not wrath but with sin, nor grievously wroth but with grievous sin. And in Christ there was no grievous sin, nay, no sin at all. God did it, the text is plain. And in [149/150] His fierce wrath He did it. For what cause? For, God forbid, God should do as did Annas the high-priest, cause Him to be smitten without cause! God forbid, saith Abraham, 'the Judge of the world should do wrong' to any! To any, but specially to His own Son, that His Son, of Whom with thundering voice from Heaven He testifieth, all His joy and delight were in Him, 'in Him only He was well-pleased.' And how then could His wrath wax hot to do all thus unto Him?
There is no way to preserve God's justice, and Christ's innocency both, but to say as the Angel said of Him to the prophet Daniel, The Messias 'shall be slain,' `wlza¦z ve-en-lo, 'shall be slain but not for Himself.' 'Not for Himself?' For whom then? For some others. He took upon Him the person of others, and so doing, justice may have her course and proceed.
Pity it is to see a man pay that he never took; but if he will become a surety, if he will take on him the person of the debtor, so he must. Pity to see a silly poor lamb lie bleeding to death; but if it must be a sacrifice, such is the nature of sacrifice, so it must. And so Christ, though without sin in Himself, yet as a surety, as a sacrifice, may justly suffer for others, if He will take upon Him their persons; and so God may justly give way to His wrath against Him.
And who be those others? The Prophet Esay telleth us, and telleth it us seven times over for failing. 'He took upon Him our infirmities, and bare our maladies. He was wounded for our iniquities, and bare our maladies. He was wounded for our iniquities, and broken for our transgressions; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes were we healed. All we as sheep were gone astray, and turned every man to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.' 'All,' 'all,' even those who pass to and fro, and for all this regard neither Him nor His Passion.
The short is, it was we that for our sins, our many great and grievous sins, si fuerit sicut, the like whereof never were,--should have sweated this sweat and have cried this cry; should have smitten with these sorrows by the fierce wrath of God, had not He stepped between the blow and us, and latched it in His own body and soul, even the dint of the [150/151] fierceness of the wrath of God. O the non sicut of our sins, that could not otherwise be answered!
To return then a true verdict. It is we--we wretched sinners that we are--that are to be found the principals in this act, and those on whom we seek to shift it, to drive it from ourselves, Pilate and Caiphas and the rest, but instrumental causes only. And it is not the executioner that killeth the man properly, that is, they; no, nor the judge, which is God in this case; only sin, solum peccatum homicida est, 'sin only is the murderer,' to say the truth, and our sins the murderers of the Son of God; and the non sicut of them the true cause of the non sicut both of God's wrath, and of His sorrowful sufferings.
Which bringeth home this our text to us, even into our own bosoms, and applieth it most effectually to me that speak and to you that hear, to every one of us, and that with the Prophet Nathan's application; Tu es homo, 'Thou art the man,' even thou, for whom God in 'His fierce wrath' thus afflicted Him. Sin then was the cause on our part why we, or some other for us.
But yet what was the cause, why He on His part? what was that that moved Him thus to become our surety, and to take upon Him our debt and danger? that moved Him thus to lay upon His soul a sacrifice for our sin? Sure, oblatus est quia voluit, saith Esay again, 'Offered He was for no other cause, but because He would. For unless He would.' He needed not. Needed not for any necessity of justice, for no lamb was ever more innocent; or for any necessity of constraint, for twelve legions of Angels were ready at His command, but because He would.
And why would He? No reason can be given but because He regarded us. Mark the reason. And what we were? Verily, utterly unworthy even His least regard, not worth the taking up, not worth the looking after. Cum inimici essemus, saith the Apostle; 'we were His enemies,' when He did it, without all desert before, and without all regard after He had done and suffered all this for us; and yet He would regard us that so little regard Him. For when He saw us a sort of forlorn sinners, non prius natos quam damnatos 'damned as fast as born,' as being by 'nature children of wrath,' and [151/152] yet still 'heaping up wrath against the day of wrath,' by the errors of our life, till the time of our passing hence; and then the 'fierce wrath of God' ready to overwhelm us and to make us endure the terror and torments of a never dying death, another non sicut yet, when, I say, He was in this case, He was moved with compassion over us and undertook all this for us. Even then in His love He regarded us, and so regarded us that He regarded not Himself, to regard us.
Bernard saith most truly, Dilexisti me Domine magis quam Te, quando mori voluisti pro me: 'In suffering all this for us Thou shewest, Lord, that we were more dear to Thee, that Thou regardest us more than Thine ownself,' and shall this regard find no regard at our hands?
It was sin then, and the heinousness of sin in us, that provoked wrath and the fierceness of His wrath in God; it was love, and the greatness of His love in Christ, that caused Him to suffer the sorrows, and the grievousness of these sorrows, and all for our sakes.
And indeed, but only to testify the non sicut of this His love, all this needed not that was done to Him. One, any one, even the very least of all the pains He endured, had been enough; enough in respect of the Meus, enough in respect of the non sicut of his person. For that which setteth the high price on this sacrifice, is this; that He which offereth it unto God, is God. But if little had been suffered, little would the love have been thought that had suffered so little, and as little regard would have been had of it. To awake our regard then, or to leave us excuseless, if we continue regardless, all this He bare for us; that He might as truly make a case of Si fueit amor sicut amor Meus, as he did before of Si fuerit dolor sicut dolor Meus. We say we will regard love; if we will, here it is to regard.
So have we the causes, all three: 1 Wrath in God; 2. Sin in ourselves; 3. Love in Him.
Yet have we not all we should. For what of all this? What good? Cui bono? That, that, is it indeed that we will regard if any thing, as being matter of benefit, the only thing [153/154] in a manner the world regardeth, which bringeth us about to the very first words again. For the very first words which bringeth us about to the very first words again. For the very first words which we read, 'Have ye no regard?' are in the original, eskylt twl lo alechem, [152/153] which the Seventy turn, word for word, oÙ prÕj Øm©j; and the Latin likewise, nonne ad vos pertinet? Pertains it not to you, that you regard it no better? For these two, pertaining and regarding, are enfolded one in another, and go together so commonly as one is taken often for the other. Then to be sure to bring us to regard, he urgeth this: 'Pertains not all this to you?' is it not for your good? Is not the benefit yours? Matters of benefit, they pertain to you, and without them love and all the rest may pertain to whom they will.
Consider then the inestimable benefit that groweth unto you from this incomparable love. It is not impertinent this, even this, that to us hereby all is turned about clean contrary; that 'by His stripes we are healed,' by His sweat we refreshed, by His forsaking we received to grace. That this day, to Him the day of the fierceness of God's wrath, is to us the day of the fulness of God's favour, as the Apostle calleth it, 'a day of salvation.' In respect of that He suffered, I deny not, an evil day, a day of heaviness; but in respect of that which He by it hath obtained for us, it is as we truly call it a good day, a day of joy and jubilee. For it doth not only rid us of that wrath which pertaineth to us for our sins; but farther, it maketh that pertain to us whereto we had no manner of right at all.
For not only by His death as death by the death of our sacrifice, by the blood of His cross as by the blood of the paschal lamb, the destroyer passeth over us, and we shall not perish; but also by His death, as by the death of our High Priest for He is Priest and Sacrifice both we restored from our exile, even to our former forfeited estate in the land of Promise. Or rather, as the Apostle saith, non sicut delictum sic donum; not to the same estate, but to one nothing like it, that is, one far better than the estate our sins bereft us. For they deprived us of Paradise, a place on earth; but by the purchase of His blood we are entitled to a far higher, even the Kingdom of Heaven; and His blood, not only the blood of 'remission,' to acquit us of our sins, but 'the blood [153/154] of the Testament too,' to bequeath us and give us estate in that Heavenly inheritance.
Now whatsoever else, this I am sure is a non sicut, as that which the eye by all it can see, the ear by all it can hear, [153/154] the heart by all can conceive, cannot pattern it, or set the like by it. `Pertains not this unto us neither?' Is not this worth the regard? Sure if anything be worthy the regard, this is most worthy of our very worthiest and best regard.
Thus have we considered and seen, not so much as in this sight we might or should, but as much as the time will give us leave. And now lay all these before you, every one of them a non sicut; the pains of His body esteemed by Pilate's Ecce; the sorrows of His soul, by His sweat in the garden; the comfortless estate of His sorrows, by His cry on the cross; and with these, His Person, as being the Son of God, 'His fierce wrath;' in us, our heinous sins deserving it; in Him, His exceeding great love, both suffering for us that we could never deserve; making that to appertain to Himself which of right pertained to us, and making that pertain to us which pertain to Him only, and not to us at all but by His means alone. And after their view in several, lay them all together, so many non sicuts into one, and tell me if His complaint be not just and His request most reasonable.
Yes sure, His complaint is just, 'Have ye no regard?'' None? and yet never the like? None? and it pertains unto you? 'No regard?' As if it were some common ordinary matter, and the like never was? 'No regard?' As if it concerned you not a whit, and it toucheth you so near, As if He should say, Rare things you regard, yea, though they no ways pertain to you: this is exceeding rare, and will you not regard it? Again, things that nearly touch you, you regard, though they be not rare at all: this toucheth you exceeding near, even as near as your soul toucheth you, and will you not yet regard it? Will neither of these by itself move you? Will not both these together move you? What will move you? Will pity? Here is distress never the like. Will duty? Here is a Person never the like. Will fear? Here is wrath never the like. Will remorse? Here are sins never the like. Will kindness? Here is love never the like. Will bounty? Here are benefits never the like. Will all these? Here they be all, all above any sicut, all in the highest degree.
[154/155] Truly the complaint is just, it may move us; it wanteth no reason, it may more; and it wants no affection in the delivery of it to us, on His part to move us. Sure it moved Him exceeding much; for among all the deadly sorrows of His most bitter Passion, this, even this, seems to be His greatest of all, and that which did most affect Him, even the grief of the slender reckoning most men have it in; as little respecting Him, as if He had done or suffered nothing at all for them. For lo, of all the sharp pains He endureth He complaineth not, but of this He complaineth, of no regard; that which grieveth Him most, that which most He moaneth is this. It is strange He should be in pain, such pain as never any was, and not complain Himself of them, but of want of regard only. Strange, He should not make request, O deliver Me, or relieve Me! But only, O consider and regard Me! In effect as if He said, None, no deliverance, no relief do I seek; regard I seek. And all that I suffer, I am content with it, I regard it not, I suffer most willingly, if I may find at your hands, regard.
Truly, this so passionate a complaint may move us, it moved all but us; for most strange of all it is, that all the creatures in Heaven and earth seemed to hear this, His mournful complaint, and in their kind to shew their regard of it. The sun in Heaven shrinking in his light, the earth trembling under it, the very stones cleaving in sunder, as they had sense and sympathy of it, and sinful men only not moved with it. And yet it was not for the creatures this was done to Him, to them it pertaineth not; but for us it was, and to us it doth. And shall we not yet regard it? Shall the creatures, and not we? shall we not?
If we do not, it may appertain to us, but we pertain not to it; it pertains to all but all pertain not to it. None pertain to it but they that take benefit by it; and none take benefit by it no more than by the brazen serpent, but they that fix their eye on it. Behold, consider and regard it; the profit, the benefit is lost without regard.
If we do not, as this was a day of God's 'fierce wrath' against Him, only for regarding us; so there is another day coming and it will quickly be here, a day of like 'fierce wrath' against us, for not regarding Him. 'And who regardeth [155/156] the power of His wrath?' He that doth, will surely regard this.
In that day, there is not the most careless of us all but shall cry as they did in the Gospels, Domine, non ad Te pertinet, si perimus? 'Pertains it not to Thee, care Thou not that we perish.' Then would we be glad to pertain to Him and His Passion. Pertain it to us then, and pertains it not now? Sure now it must, if then it shall.
Then to give end to this complaint, let us grant Him His request, and regard His Passion. Let the rareness of it, the nearness to us, let pity or duty, fear or remorse, love or bounty; any of them or all of them; let the justness of His complaint, let His affectionate manner of complaining of this and only this, let the shame of the creatures' regard, let our profit or our peril, let something prevail with us to have it in some regard.
Some regard! Verily, as His sufferings, His love, our good by them are, so should our regard be a non sicut too; that is, a regard of these, and of nothing in comparison of these. It should be so, for the benefit ever the regard should arise.
But God help us poor sinners, and be merciful unto us! Our regard is a non sicut indeed, but it is backward, and in a contrary sense; that is, no where so shallow, so short, or so soon done. It should be otherwise, it should have our deepest consideration this, and our highest regard.
But if that cannot be had, our nature is so heavy, and flesh and blood so dull of apprehension in spiritual things, yet at leastwise some regard. Some I say; the more better, but in any wise some, and not as here no regard, none at all. Some ways to shew we make account of it, to withdraw ourselves, to avoid our minds of other matters, to set this before us, to think upon it, to thank Him for it, to regard Him, and stay and see whether He will regard us or no. Sure He will, and we shall feel our 'hearts pricked' with sorrow by consideration of the cause in us--our sin; and again, 'warm within us,' by consideration of the cause in Him--His love; till by some motion of grace He answers us, and shew that our regard is accepted of Him.
And this, as at all other times, for no day is amiss but at all times some [156/157] time to be taken for this duty, so specially on this day; this day, which we hold holy to the memory of His Passion, this day to do it; to make this day, the day of God's wrath and Christ's suffering, a day to us of serious consideration and regard of them both.
It is kindly to consider opus diei in die suo, 'the work of the day in the day it was wrought;' and this day it was wrought. This day therefore, whatsoever business be, to lay them aside a little; whatsoever our haste, yet to stay a little, and to spend a few thoughts in calling to mind and taking to regard what this day the Son of God did and suffered for us; and all for this end, that what He was then we might not be, and what He is now we might be for ever.
Which Almighty God grant we may do, more or less, even every one of us, according to the several measures of His grace in us!