Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.
This is the feast of the Holy Ghost. And here have we in the text, a visible descending of the Holy Ghost.
Another there was, besides this; but this hath the vantage of it, three ways: 1. the worthiness of the Person. Here, it descends upon Christ, Who alone is more worth than all those there. 2. The priority of time: this here was first, and that other, the Holy Ghost but at the second hand. 3. The generality of the good: that other was proper but to one calling, of the Apostles only. All are [241/242] not Apostles; all are Christians. This of Christ's, concerns all Christians; and so the more general by far.
That it is of Baptism, is no whit impertinent neither; for this is the feast of baptism. There were 'three thousand,' this day baptized by the Apostles, the first Christians that ever were. In memory of that baptism, the Church ever after held a solemn custom of baptizing at this feast. And many, all the year, reserved themselves till then; those except, whom necessity did cause to make more haste.
But, upon the point, both baptisms fell upon this day. That wherewith the Apostles themselves were baptized of fire. And that wherewith they baptized the people of water. So that, even this way, it is pertinent also.
To look into the text, there is no man but at the first blush will conceive there is some great matter in hand. 1. First, by the opening of Heaven; for that opens not for a small purpose: 2. then, by the solemn presence of so great estates at it; for here is the whole Trinity in person. The Son in the water, the Holy Ghost in the dove; the Father in the voice. This was never so before, but once; never but twice in all, in all the Bible. Once in the Old Testament, and once in the New. In the Old, at the creation, the beginning of Genesis. There find we God, and the Word with God creating, and 'the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters.' And now here again, at Christ's christening in the New.
The faces of the Cherubims are one toward the other; that is, there is a mutual correspondence between these two. That was at the creation; this, a creation too: 'if any be in Christ, he is a new creature' of this new creation. That was the genesis, that is, 'the generation' of the world; this, the paliggeuoia.--the Apostle's word--that is 'the regeneration, or spiritual new birth.' whereby we were born again the sons of God. And better not born at all, than not so born again.
This then, being every way as great, (indeed, the greater of the twain) meet it was they all should present themselves at this, no less than at that; and every one has his part in it, as we they have. All, I say, seeing the commission for baptism was to run in all their names, and itself ever to be ministered accordingly.
[242/243] To lay forth, the members of the division. A double baptism we have here; double for the parties, and double for the parts.
For the parties; we have here two parties. First the people. then Christ.
For the parts; we have here two parts. For this first, both of Christ and the people, was but John's baptism was but baptismus fluminis, as they call it, 'water-baptism.' But there is another part besides to be had, even baptismus Flaminis, 'the baptism of the Holy Ghost.'
That second part is set down in a sequel of four:
1. For first, after John's baptism, Christ prays. 2. Then, after His prayer, Heavens opens. 3. After Heaven open, the Holy Ghost descends. 4. Lastly, after His descent, comes the voice. And these four make up the other part, and both together a full baptism.
Of these then in order. I. Of the people's baptism. II. Of Christ's baptism. Christ's 1. by water, and then 2. by the Holy Ghost. In which, the four: 1. Christ's prayer, 2. Heaven open, 3. the Dove, and 4. the voice.
'It came to pass, that when,' &c. Two baptisms we have here: 1. the people's first. 2. Then Christ's. How it should come to pass the people should be baptized, we see good reason; but not how it should come to pass that Christ also. The people, they came 'confessing their sins,' and so needed 'the baptism of repentance'--so was John's baptism. For the people not being baptixÒmeuoi, 'baptized,' but, to use the Apostle's word, byqixÒmevoi, 'even soused over head and ears' in their sins, in 'many foolish and noisome lusts, which drown men in perdition,' tanquam sus a volutabro, they had need to be washed from the wallow of their sin they had long lain in.
And not only for their sin: even their righteousness, take it at the best, even that was not so clean but it needs come to baptism; utpote stillantes quotidie super telam justitiæ saniem concupiscentiæ--they be Pope's Adrian's own words; 'as dropping every other while upon the web of those few good works we do, such stuff,' the Prophet resembles it to so homely a thing as I list not tell you what it is; but it is pannus menstruatus, English it who will. Reason then, for the people; [243/244] and not only for fæx populi,but even flos populi, to be baptized. It might well 'come to pass,' that.
Yea reason, that even they who of all the rest seem least to need it, the people's children, ¢rtig_uhta br_fh, the poor 'new-born babes.' For being 'conceived of unclean seed,'--Job; and warmed in a sinful womb--David; at their birth, 'polluted' no less in sin, than 'in their blood'--Ezekiel; there is 'not a child a day old' but needs baptismus lavacri, if it be but for baptismus uteri; 'the baptism of the Church, if it be but for the baptism it had in the womb'. Let the people then be baptized in God's name; good and bad, men and children and all.
Sed quid facitis baptizantes Jesum? as Bernard asks at His circumcision., Quid facitis circumcidentes Puerum hunc? 'What do you circumcising Him,' in Whom nothing unclean? What should He do being baptized? How comes that to pass? Go wash your spotted lambs, and spare not; this Lamb is 'immaculate,' hath not the least spot upon Him. Qui non fecit peccatum--it is Peter; qui non novit peccatum--it is Paul; 'neither did, nor knew sin,' He hath none to repent of: what should He do at the 'baptism of repentance?' One might well ask, Why did not the Baptist repel Him finally? Not say, 'I have need to be baptized of thee,' that is, Thou hast no need to baptized of me--that was too faint, that was not enough; but, Thou hast no need to be baptized at all. Yes, one might well ask the water, with the psalmist, 'Why it fled not, and Jordan, why it was not driven back,' at this baptism?
Yet the verse is plain; that with the people, Christ also was baptized.
How came this to pass? Why baptized? Why with the people?
Was it this? Though He needed it not, yet for exemplum dedi vobis He would condescend to it, to give all a good example of humility; as He did at His Maundy, when He washed His Disciples' feet.
Indeed, I must needs say, great humility there was in it; [244/245] as at His circumcision, to take on Him the brand of a malefactor, so here to submit Himself to the washing proper to sinners only. 2. Then again, not to take it alone, but to take it at the hands of one so far inferior to Him, as He reckoned not himself worthy to stoop and 'unloose His shoe latchet.' 3. Again, that not baptized only, but baptized with the people. Not, St. John come and baptize Him at home; but with the multitude, the meanest of them--they and He together. And when? Not upon a day by Himself, but when they. And where? Not in a basin by Himself, but even in the common river, with the rest of the many. When and where they, then and there He.
This sure was great humility, and to it we well might, and gladly we would ascribe it, but that Himself will not let us so do. For when the Baptist strained courtesy at it, He bade let be, 'Thus it behoved' implere omnem justitiam. Justitiam--mark that, no courtesy, but 'justice;' He makes a matter of justice of it, as if justice should not have been done, at least not 'all justice,' if He had not been baptized.
Why, what justice had been broken? What piece of it, if He had not? To show you how this come to pass, we are to consider Christ as having two capacities, as they term them. So are we to consider Him,--the second Adam; for so do we the first Adam, as a person of Himself, and as the author of a race, or head of a society. And even so do we Christ; either as totum intergrale, a person entire, they call it a body natural, or as pars communitatis, which they call a body politic, in conjunction and with reference to others; which others are His Church, which 'Church is His body.' They His body, and He their head--so told us often by the Apostle. And as by Himself considered, He is Unigenitus, 'the Only begotten,' hath never a brother; so as together with the people, He is Primogenitus inter multos, 'the First begotten among many brethren.'
To apply this to our purpose. Take Christ by Himself, as severed from us, and no reason in the world to baptize Him. He needed it not. Needed it not? Nay, take Him so, Jordan had more need to come to Him, than he to Jordan to be cleansed. Lavit, aquas Ipse, non aquae Ipsum, 'the waters were baptized by Him, they baptized Him not;' He went [245/246] into them ut aquæ nos purgaturæ prius per Ipsum purgarentur--it is Epiphanius 'that they who should cleanse us, might by Him first be cleansed.' It is certain; so He received no cleanness, no virtue, but virtue He gave to Jordan, to the waters, to the Sacrament itself.
But then, take Him the other way as in conjunction cum populo, they and He one body, and the case is altered. For if He be so cum populo, with them, as He be one of them, as He be a part of a body with them, a principal part I grant, yet part though, reason would He do as they do, part and part alike. Inasmuch, saith the Apostle, 'as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also took part with them.' And so, inasmuch as they baptized, He also took such part as they, both went to baptism together. For, ut pars toti congrua, a kind of justice there is in it they should so do.
But if we look a little further, then shall we find greater reason yet. A part He is, and parts there be that in some case undertake for the whole; as the arm, to be let blood for all the body. And it 'came to pass,' that such a part He was; He undertook for us. For in His baptism, He put us on, as 'put Him on' in ours. Take Him then, not only as cum populo, but as pro populo; not only as nobiscum, but as pro nobis; put Him in the case the Prophet doth, Posuit super Ipsum iniquitates omnium nostrûm, 'put upon Him the transgressions of us all;' put Him as the Apostle put Him, Factus est peccatum pro nobis, 'make Him sin for us,' put all our sins upon Him; and then it will come to pass. He will need baptizing, He will need that for me and you that for Himself He needed not, and baptism in that case may well be ministered unto Him.
Nay then, as in another case the Prophet saith, that all Lebanon was little enough to find wood for a sacrifice; so may we in this, that all Jordan is little enough to find water to His baptism. A whole river too little, in that case. For being first baptized, as I may say, in so many millions of sins of so many million of sinners, in so foul a puddle; well might He then be baptized, if it were but to wash away that His former foul baptism. Well might it come to pass then.
Only one scruple remains, how Jordan or any water could [246/247] do this, wash away sin. To clear it shortly; the truth is, it could not. It is no water-work, without somewhat out to it, to help it scour. But nothing on earth; not, if you put to it, 'nitre,' 'much soap,' 'fullers'-earth,' 'the herb borith,' say the Prophets, all will not do, it will not off so. Therefore, this of His in Jordan did not, could not do the feat, otherwise than in the virtue of another to follow. For, after this was past, He spoke of another 'baptism He was to be baptized with.' And that was it indeed; that 'the fountain that was opened to the house of Israel, for sin and for uncleanness;' that was baptismus sanguinis. 'For without blood,' without the mixture of that, 'there is no doing away sin.'
And so was He baptized. And He had trinam mersionem; 1. one in 'Gethesemane,' 2. one in 'Gabbatha,' 3.and a third in 'Golgotha.' In 'Gethesemane,' in His sweat of blood. In 'Gabbatha,' in the blood that came from the scourges and thorns; and in 'Golgotha,' that which came from the nails and spear. Specially the spear. There, met the two streams of 'water and blood,' the true Jordan, the bath or laver, wherein we are purged 'from all our sins.' No sin of so deep a dye but this will command it, and fetch it out. This in Jordan, here now, was but an undertaking of that, then, and in virtue of that, does all our water baptism work. And therefore are we baptized into it: not into His water baptism, but into His death. 'So many as are baptized, are baptized into His death'--it is the Apostle.
To take our leave of this point. this may be said: if it be justice, that Christ come to baptism. much more than the people. And how then comes it to pass that there is such sacrilegious pride in some of the people, that, as if no such thing were, set so light by it as they do? and that not John's, as this was, but Christ's own baptism? Be sure of this, if Christ thus did, to countenance and credit John's baptism because it was the ordinance and credit John's baptism because it was the ordinance of God, much more His mind is to give countenance, and to have countenance given, to His own, which is God's ordinance, of a far higher nature.
And if the Lord thought not much to come to the baptism of His servant, He will think much if the servant come not to the baptism of his Lord. This of His then is but a [247/248] lesson to us, to invite us thereto; and we take it as the voice that spake to St. Paul, Et nunc quid moraris? Surge, ablue peccata tua; 'And now why stay you?' why protract you the time? 'Up, wash away your sins,' with all the speed you may. For, if when the people was baptized, Christ was so, much more strongly it holds, when Christ Himself is so, that then the people should and ought to be baptized.
Now Christ is baptized. And no sooner is He so, but He falls to His prayers. Indigentia mater orationis, we say, 'want begets prayer.' Therefore, yet there wants somewhat. A part, and that a chief part of baptism, is still behind.
There goes more to baptism, if it be as it should be, than baptismus fluminis; yea,. I may boldly say, there goes more to it, if it be as it should, than baptismus sanguinis. Christ 'came in water and blood, not on water only, but in water and blood'--that is not enough, except 'the Spirit also bear witness.' So baptismus Flaminis is to come too. There is to be a Trinity beneath, 1. water, 2. blood, and 3. the Spirit, to answer to that above; but the Spirit's baptism coming too, in the mouth of all three all is made sure, all established throughly. This is it He prays for as man.
For the baptism of blood that was due to every one of us, and each of us to have been baptized in His own blood, to have had three such immersions; that hath Christ quit us of. When He was asked by the Prophet, 'how His robes came so red?' He says, 'He had been in the winepress.' But there He had been, and that He had trod, alone; et vir de gentibus non fuit Mecum, 'and not one of the people with Him,' none but He there, in that; spares us in that.
But the other two parts He sets down precisely to Nicodemus, and in him to us all: 1. water, 2. and the Holy Ghost. Now the Holy Ghost we yet lack. So doth St. Paul 'baptized in the sea and the cloud;' by 'the sea' meaning the elementary part, by 'the cloud' the celestial part of baptism. Now that of the cloud we have not yet. So doth St. Peter 'the doing away the soil of the flesh,' that Jordan can do; but that wherewith the conscience, or soul, should be presented before God, that is still wanting. And the baptism of the body, is but the body of baptism; the soul of baptism, is the baptism of the soul. Of the soul, with the blood of Christ, by the [248/249] hand of the Holy Ghost, as of the body with water, by the hand of the Baptist; without which it is but a naked, a poor, and a dead element.
St. Paul tells us, that besides the circumcision that was the manufacture, there was another 'made without hands.' There is so, in baptism, besides the hand seen that casts on the water; the virtue of the Holy Ghost is there, working 'without hands' what here was wrought.
And for this Christ prays; that then it might, might then, and might ever, be joined to that of water. Not in His baptism only, but in the people's; and as He afterwards enlarges His prayer, in all others' that 'should ever after believe in his name.' That was in his here was, in all theirs might be; what in this first, in all following; what in Christ's, in all Christians': Heaven might open, the Holy Spirit come down, the Father be pleased to say over the same words, toties quoties, so often as any Christian man's child is brought to his baptism. Christ has prayed now.
See the force of His prayer. Before it, heaven was mured up, no dove to be seen, no voice to be heard--altum silentium. But straight upon it, as if they had but waited the last word of His prayer, all of them follow immediately.
Heavens open first. For if when the lower heaven was shut three years, Elais was able with his prayer to open it--it is our Saviour, in the next chapter following--and bring down rain; the prayer of Christ, Who is more of might than many such as Elias, shall it not be much more of force, to enter the Heaven of heavens, the highest of them all, and to bring down thence the waters above the heavens, even the heavenly graces of the Holy Spirit?
For so, when our Saviour cried, 'If any be athirst let him come unto Me, and I will give him of the waters of life.' 'This,' saith St. John, 'He spake of the Spirit.' For the Spirit and His graces are very super-celestial waters; one drop whereof, issued into the waters of Jordan, will give them an admirable power to pierce even into the innermost parts of the soul, and to baptize it; that is, not only take out the stains of it and make it clean, but further, give it tincture, lustre, or gloss: for so is baptism properly, b£ptw,. of taking [249/250] from the dyer's fat, and is a dyeing or giving a fresh colour, and not a bare washing only.
Always, the opening of Heaven opens unto us, that no baptism without heaven open; and so that baptism is de caelo, non ab hominibus, 'from heaven, not of men.' So was it here, so it is to be holden for ever. 2. And 'from Heaven;' not clanculum, as Prometheus is said to get his fire, but ¢ueJcqÁuai, orderly, by a fair door set open, in the view of much people; for all that were present saw the impression in the sky. Which door was not mured up again; for we find it still open, and we find that the keys were made and given of it, after this. 3. And all this, that there might not only be a passage for these down, but for us up. For Heaven-gate, ab hoc exemplo, doth ever open at baptism; in sign, he who new comes from the font, has then right of entrance in thither. Then, I say, when by baptism he is cleansed; for before, nihil inquinatum, 'nothing defiled can enter there.'
Out of Heaven now open, somewhat is seen, and somewhat is heard. 1. Seen: a dove descend--the apparition. 2. Heard: Tu es Filius Meus--the voice. Under one, the testimony visûs et vocis, 'of hearing and sight' both: that sicut audivimus sic et vidimus, that 'as we see we hear;' and back again, as we hear, see; which is as much as can be to make full faith.
1. The apparition. Wherein the points are six: 1. 'The Holy Ghost.' First, that Person, for the Person by Whom Christ was conceived, by the same it was most convenient Christians should also be. But to go higher: the Person That was the author of genesis the generation, meet to be the Author likewise of regeneration. The same Person, and in the same element--the element whereof all were made, and wherewith all were destroyed after; that with the same all should be saved again, the water itself now becoming the Ark--the drowning water, the saving ark, as St. Peter notes. That as then by His moving on the waters He puts into them a life and heat to bring forth, so now by His coming down upon them, He should impregnate them to a better birth. That as His title is, the Lord and Giver of life, He might be the Giver of true life, that is, eternal life, whereto this life of ours is but a passage of entry, and not otherwise to be accounted of.
[250/251] 2. 'The Holy Ghost came down;' that is to say, in His sign or symbol, the dove. Otherwise, the Spirit of God neither goes up nor comes down, it is everywhere, beneath as well as above; but be a familiar phrase in Scripture, what the dove did that represented Him, that is said to do.
3. 'Came down upon Him;' which is a degree yet further than in Genesis. There He did but 'move or flutter over the waters'--enough for that effect then; here He cometh nearer, light and abides upon Him; which argues a greater work in hand. And which argues too, a greater familiarity to grow between the Spirit and our nature; for a bird, we know, is familiar, when it does so light upon one, and stay too. But all this He doth, not to make Him to be aught, but to show Him only to be. Upon us when He comes, it is to confer something. Not so upon Him; from the first minute of His conception, He had the Spirit without measure. To confer nothing; only to declare that this was He who to John's water-baptism should have power to add the Holy Spirit, and so make it His own for ever after.
4. 'Upon Him in a bodily shape.' For His coming being to bear witness to John and to all, that this was He; convenient it was He should appear, and so have 'a bodily shape,' to come into the face of the court, and there to be seen and taken notice of, as witnesses use to be. And one end it was, why His baptism was set at the time when all the people's was; that so all the people might see, and so take notice of the Holy Spirit, and indeed of the whole Trinity.
5. What shape then? of what creature? All things quick in motion, as angels, as the wind, whereto He is elsewhere compared, are set forth with 'wings' 'the wings of the wind.' Of one with wings then, as most apt to express the swiftness of His operation in all His works; but specially in this. None of the other kind of creatures, though never so light of foot, can sufficiently set forth the quickness of his working. He goes not, He flies, He; nescit tarda molimina that He doth, He is not long in doing, therefore, in specie volatilis, 'in the shape of a thing flying.'
6. And among those of that kind, in the shape of 'a dove,' as fittest for the purpose in hand. Not so much for that it is noted to love the 'waters' well, specially clear waters, as these [251/252] now be after Christ has purified them. That is not all; but indeed special choice is made of it, to set forth to us the nature and properties of the Holy Ghost, which have many ways resemblance with those of this creature.
And I will not go to Pliny for them, nor to any heathen writer of them all. For the word of God, the word of God hath sufficient. To that we will hold us.
There, the first dove we find, is Noah's dove with the olive branch in her bill, a sign of peace 'peace,' which is the very 'first fruits of the Spirit.' It is Tertullian's note this; that as after the deluge, the world's baptism as it were, the first messenger of peace was the dove, so is it here again just: after Christ's baptism, the deluge or drowning of that which indeed drowned the world, that is, of sin, the very same apparition of the dove, and with another manner of peace than that; but with peace in both.
2. Next have you David's dove, for the colour, pennae columbae deargentatae, with 'feathers silver-white,' to note candor columbinus, white as a dove, not 'speckled' as a bird of divers colours. And to the same effect, Solomon's spouse for the eye; three several times there said to have oculos columbarum, 'eyes single and direct as a dove,' not leering as a fox, and looking divers ways. Oculos columbinos, not vulpinos.
3. Then Esay's dove, for the voice, gemebat ut columba; in patience, mourning, not in impatience murmuring or repining; for carmen amatorium, her voice. And no other voice to be heard from the first Church. Now they are ashamed of that voice; it is not gemebant ut columbæ, but rugiebant ut ursi; to groan they begin like bears, but not mourn any more like doves. No such voice to be heard now, that put to silence.
4. And last, our Saviour Christ's own, that is innocent as doves; 'harmless,' both for bill and claw, not bloody or mischievous. Who ever heard of a dove that drew blood, or did any mischief to any?
Now, qualis species, talis Spiritus, 'such as the shape was, such is the Spirit;' and these all four properties of it in the Holy Ghost. 1. He is a Spirit That loves _moqumadÕu, men 'of one accord'--as was seen this day. 2. Et Qui fugit fictum, cannot abide these new tricks, mere fictions indeed, feigned [252/253] by feigned Christians; party propositions, half in the mouth and half in the mind. 3. And when He speaketh, 'speaketh for us with signs not to be expressed,'--such is love, and so earnest. 4. And hurts none, not when He is a dove, as here; no, not when He was fire, but innoxius ignis even then.
2. And as these in the Spirit, which came down, so the very same in Christ, upon Whom He came down. The Spirit a dove, and Christ 'a lamb'- like natured both: what the one in the kind of beasts, the other in the kinds of fowls; that we may see the Holy Ghost lighted right. Super Quem? 'Upon whom shall my Spirit rest,' saith God, in Esay; and He answers super humilem, 'on the humble and meek,' 'Humble and meek?' Why, discite a Me, 'learn' both those 'of Me,' saith Christ, for I am both, and a Master professed in them both. The Spirit of the olive-branch, that is peace, on Him. For Ipse est pax nostra, 'He is our peace.' The Spirit That loves omni fictione carentes, that is, all that hate equivocations, on Him; 'for never was there guile found in His mouth.' And lastly, the harmless Spirit on Him; for He was so too, would 'not break a bruised reed,' He, 'nor quench flax, though it did but smoke.' Do not hurt at all.
3. Thirdly, what He is in Himself; and what He is, on whom He descended, that, the very same, such for all the world, does He make His Church, homogenea cum homogeneis, like nature, like properties, per omnia. And it is not so much, all this, to show His nature, as to show His operation; or what He found in Christ, as what He works in Christians; qua anima animet, quos spiritus spiret, 'what soul He puts into them, what manner spirit He makes them of,' that He even endues them with these qualities of the bird whose shape He made choice of to present Himself in. Quâ specie in Him, shows quo spiritu in us. To wit, it makes them peaceable, to love singleness in meaning, speaking and dealing, to suffer harm, but to do none.
Peace, sincerity, patience, and innocency, these be the 'silver feathers' of this Dove; they be virtues, and which is more, virtutes baptismales, 'the very virtues of our baptism,' no Christian to be without them; to be found in all, where humidum radicale of baptism is not clean dried up.
[253/254] The Holy Spirit is a Dove, and He makes Christ's Spouse, the Church, a Dove; a term so often iterate in the Canticles, and so much stood on by St. Augustine and the Fathers, as they make no questions, no Dove, no Church. Yea, let me add this: St. Peter, when the keys were promised, never but then, but then I know not how, he is called by a new name, and never but there, 'Bar-jona,' that is Filius columbæ. But so he must be, if ever he will have them. And his successors, if they claim by any other fowl, painted keys they may have, true keys they have none. For sure I am, extra Columban, out of that Church, that is, such and so qualified, non est Columba, there is no Holy Ghost, and so no remission of sins. For they go together, 'Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins ye remit, they are remitted.'
And what shall we say then to them that will be Christians, that they will, and yet have nihil columbæ, nothing in them of the dove; quit these qualities quite, neither bill, nor eye, nor voice, nor colour; what shall we say? This, that Jesuits they may be, but Christians, sure, they are none. No dove's eye, fox-eyed they; not silver-white feathers, but party-coloured; no genitus columbæ, but rugitus ursi; not the bill or foot of a dove, but the beak and claws of a vulture; no spirit of the olive-branch, but the spirit of the bramble, from whose root went out fire to set all the forest on a flame.
Ye may see what they are, they even seek and do all that in them lies to chase away for the baby-Church, for them to be humble and meek, suffer and mourn like a dove. Now, as if with Montanus they had yet Paracletum alium, 'another Holy Ghost' to look for, in another shape, of another fashion quite, with other qualities, they hold these be no qualities for Christians now. Were indeed, they grant, for the baby-Christians, for the 'three thousand' first Christians, this day; poor men they did all in simplicitate cordis. And so too in Pliny's time: harmless people they were, the Christians, as he writes, did nobody hurt. And so to Tertullian's, who tells plainly what hurt they could have done, and yet would do none. And so all along in the primitive Churches, even down to Gregory, who, in any wise, would have no hand in any man's blood. But the date of these meek and patient Christians is [254/255] worn out, long since expired; and now we must have Christians of a new edition, of another, a newly-fashioned Holy Ghost's making. Gregory the Seventh forsooth, who indeed was the first that, instead of the Dove, hatched this new misshapen Holy Ghost, and sent him into the world.
For do they not begin to tell us in good earnest, and speak it in such assemblies and places as we must take it for their tenet, that they are simple men that think Christians were to continue so still; they were to be so but for a time, till their beaks and talons were grown, till their strength was come to them, and they able to make their party good; and then this dove here might take her wings, fly whither she would, 'and take her ease;' then a new Holy Ghost to come down upon them that would not take it as the other did, but take arms, depose, deprive, blow up; instead of an olive-branch, have a match-light in her beak or a bloody knife.
Methinks, if this world go on, it will grow a question problematic, in what shape it was most convenient for the Holy Ghost to have come down? Whether as He did, in the meek shape of a dove? or whether, it had not been much better He had come in some other shape, in the shape of the Roman eagle, or of some other fierce fowl de vulturino genere?
Sure, one of the two they must do; either call us down a new-fashioned Holy Ghost, and institute a new baptism--and if both these new, I see not why not a new Christ too--or else, make a strange metamorphosis of the old; clap Him on a crooked beak, and stick Him full of eagle's feathers, and force Him to do contrary to that He was wont, and to that His nature is.
But lying men may change--may, and do; but the Holy Ghost is unis idemque Spiritus, saith the Apostle, changes not, casts not His bill, moults not His fathers. His qualities at the first do last still, and still shall last to the end, and no other notes of a true Christian, but they.
It is rather like to prove true that Samuel long since said, 'Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft;' for witches, they say, begin, are initiated, with renouncing of their baptism. And sure, these prick prettily towards it; for, say what they will, [255/256] they be in the way to it, when they plainly disclaim and renounce His qualities That was the author of it. For these baptismal virtues, they that take them away do what in them lieth to take away Holy Ghost, and baptism, and all.
I know they will fly to the fire of this day and say, He came in another shape. True, but for another purpose. It was to make Apostles, that; not Christians, as this here. Christians are made in a cooler element; and we have no Apostles to make now. God send us to make good Christians, to yield no worse souls to God than this dove here did so many hundred years together, till new Jesuits came up, and old Jesuits went down.
But, give them their fire, it will do them small pleasure, it will not light them a match, nor give fire to their train. When it came, that, it did no hurt; 'it sat upon them all,' but not so much as singed any one of them. Let them shew this fire ever blew up any. True, it gave them courage--they needed it, they were to undertake the whole world--but within the bounds of modesty, still 'we ought to obey God rather than man;' not in saucy and traitorous terms, of old hats or rotten figs. Non est vox columbæ hæc--rugitus ursi, rather.
In a word, this was none of Elias' fire; and you remember, they that harped upon that string, who said to them 'You know not what Spirit you are of;' not, what shape appeared at your baptism; not Noah's 'raven,' that delights in dead carcases, but his dove. That shape came down upon Christ; the same comes down upon all that are baptized with His baptism, and are inspired with the same Spirit that He was. This for the apparition.
Now to the voice. Accedat verbum ad elementum. The dove was but a dumb show, and shows what was done in us; the voice, that speaks plainly, and declares what is done for us in our baptism. The dove, what the Spirit makes us; the voice, from whom the Father takes us.
We saw Christ's humility before, in yielding to be baptized. This heavenly oracle here pronounced of Him, is in a sort a reward for His former humility. There He was among a rabble of sinners, even in the midst of them. One that had seen Him so, would have taken Him for none other. This [256/257] dove, and this voice from heaven, testifying so great things of Him--no sinner, no servant, but the very Son of God, His love, His joy, the in Quo, for Whom we all fare the better--this so honourable an elogy makes full amends for that. He lost nothing by His humility. No more did the Baptist, by his non sum dignus neither. That hand which he held not worthy to touch His shoe, was dignified to touch His head, and to pour water on it. Thus they both of them fulfilled righteousness, and both of them had a glorious reward for it.
But first mark. Till the Spirit is come, the voice comes not: all depends on this day's work, the Holy Spirit's coming. He is the medius terminus, between Christ in Jordan and the Father in heaven. He it is That makes the Father speak. Tu, that is, Tu super Quem Spiritus, Tu es Filius. 'Thou,' that is, 'Thou, on whom the Spirit in this shape comes down, Thou art my Son:' that to go before. So was it in Genesis. The Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, and then Et dixit Deus, but no dixit Deus before the Spirit be there first.
Then, that non propter Me vox ista, as Christ elsewhere says, 'This voice came not for Him,' but for us. Spoken to Him indeed, but to Him, not in His own, but sustaining our persons. It were fond to imagine otherwise, that this voice, or any of the rest, He needed for Himself. Either to have heaven opened to Him;--it was no time to shut. Or the Holy Ghost come down to Him: as God, the Holy Spirit proceeded from Him; as man, He proceeded from the Holy Spirit, they never parted company. Least of all the voice, Tu es Filius; who knew not that? It was said and sung long before, in the psalm, 'Thou art my Son.' So all were for us, voice and all. Indeed, His whole baptism is not so much His as ours.
The meaning is, 'Thou,' Christ, in their persons, art this. 'Thou art;' and for Thy sake, all that are in Thee, all that by baptism have put Thee on, all and every of them are to Me, as Thou Thyself art; filii, dilecti, complancentes.
Will ye see what is in them ? In filii first.
1. 'Enemies' we were. Now are we no enemies, but in league with Him, in 'the new' league or 'covenant,' never to be altered as the former was. 2. So may we be, and yet, 'strangers' still. [257/258] Nay 2. no 'strangers,' but naturalized now, and of 'the commonwealth of Israel.' 3. And that may we be too, and yet foreigners though, and no citizens, without the franchise. Yes, now enfranchised also, and 'citizens with the saints.' 4. Well, though of the city, not of the family though. Yes, Domestici Dei, 'of His very household,' now. 5. Of His household? so we may, and yet be but servants there. Nay, 5. no 'servants,' now, but 'sons,' by virtue of this Tu es Filius. So many degrees do we pass, ere we come to this Filius. Go forward now. 6. All sons are not beloved--Ham was not, Sons and beloved sons, a new degree, a sixth. 7. And yet again, all we love we take not pleasure in. Even beloved sons offend sometime, and so please not. The father, in the fifteenth chapter after, loved his wild riotous son but too well; yet small pleasure took he in him or his courses. But complacitum est, the seventh, that makes up all; a sons, a beloved son, his father's delight and joy there, there is no degree higher. And such are we by baptism made to God in Christ, through 'the renewing of the Holy Ghost.'
Filii. This is a new tenor now, the old style is altered. The voice that came last from heaven before, ran thus: Ego sum Dominus, and that infers Tu es servus--that is the best that can be made of it. But here now it is Tu es Filius, and that necessarily infers Ego sum Pater; for haec vox Patrem sonat, 'this is a father's voice' to his child. A great change; even from the state of servants, as by creation and generation we were, and so still under the law, into the state of 'sons,' as now we are, being 'new creatures' in Christ, regenerate and translated into the state of 'grace wherein we stand.'
And not only a great change, but a great rise also. At the first we were but washed from our sins, there was all; but here, from a baptized sinner to an adopted son is a great ascent. He came not down so low, but we go up as high for it. For 'if sons, then heirs,' saith the Apostle--so goes the tenor in Heaven; 'heirs' and 'joint heirs' of Heaven, 'with Christ,' that is, for the possession and fruit of it, full every way as Himself; and this He brings us to, before He leaves us.
We speak much 'of adoption:' would you know when it was, where, and by what words? Why now, here it is; [258/259] these the very adopting words, by them the act of adoption actually executed. This, the very feast of adoption. A feast therefore, to be held in high account with us, as high as we hold this, to be the adopted children of God.
But we must remember, not only what we are, but in Quo all this; to whom we owe it all, that is, to Christ, the true natural Son. In Him it is, and out of Him it proceeds to come to us.
The Fathers do ponder this, in Quo, to good purpose; that it is not, Qui placet, Who pleases me well, or, which is all one, with Whom I am well pleased--yet so He might have said--but, 'in Whom.' And that is more than both. Who pleases Me, or with Whom I am pleased, goeth no further than Himself, His own person; but, 'in Whom,' that is for Whose sake, with others. To Whom I bear such favour, as not only Himself pleaseth Me; but in him, and for Him, others please Me also.
Again; if it had been Qui, it had shewed but what by nature He is, but this in Quo sheweth what end He was sent--to be the in Quo, to bring all this about; even that in Him, the Son beloved, and well pleasing, we who neither were sons, but servants, and those but bad ones neither; nor beloved, but full unlovely; and in whom no pleasure at all, displeasure rather; that in Him we might be received to grace, and made by adoption what He Himself is.
The in Quo, what we are in Him, we shall best conceive by the sine Quo, what we are without Him. For sine Quo, but that He with the people, none of these had come to them. Heaven shut still, no dove seen, no Tu es Filius ever heard. We had 'rotted,' away in our sins without baptism, 'the evil spirit,' had seized on us instead of the Holy Ghost; no sons, but 'cast out, with the evil servant, into utter darkness.'
But in Quo, God so highly well pleased with Him as at the very contemplation of Him, but turning to Him, and beholding Him, He lays down all His displeasure, and is pleased to accept us, and our poor weak obedience; and further to be so pleased with it as even to reward it also, in Quo complacitum est.
Complacitum est; and baptism leave us, and would God there we might hold us, and it might never be, but [259/260] complacitum est. But when we fall into sin, especially some kind of sin, we put it in hazard; for He is not, He cannot then be well pleased with us. How then? His favour we may not finally lose, and to baptism we may not come again. To keep this text in life, complacitum est, it has pleased the Holy Spirit, as He applied Christ's blood to us in baptism one way, so out of it to apply it to us another way, as it were in supplement of baptism. In one verse they be both set down by the Apostle; 1. in uno Spiritu baptizati, 2. in uno Spiritu potati. And whom He receiveth so to His table to eat and drink with Him, and every one who is well prepared He so receiveth, with them He is well-pleased again certainly. On this day of the Spirit, every benefit of the Spirit is set forth and offered us, and we shall please Him well in making benefit of all. Specially of this, the only means to renew His complacency, and to restore us thither, where our baptism left us.
I end--only this: this voice, it came once more. Two several times it came. 1. Once here at His baptism, 2. and again, after, at His transfiguration in the mount; where He was not only said to be, but then and there shewed to be, in glory, as the Son of God indeed 'His face like the sun, His raiment like the lightning.' And both of these pertain to us likewise. The first is spoken of us, when by baptism we are received into Him, for the possibility and hope we have of it thereby. But time will come when this second will be spoken, and verified of us likewise. What time He will change our vile bodies and make them like to His glorious body, as then it was, and as now it is; the heaven will open, and He receive both them and us to eternal bliss, where we in Him, and He in us, will have a perfect complacency for ever, &c.