But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughter will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men will dream dreams:
And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out, in those days, of My Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood and fire, and vapour of smoke; The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
These words may well serve for a sermon this day; they were part of a sermon preached as this day. The first Whitsun-sermon that ever was; the first Whit-Sunday that ever was. St. Peter preached it. And this was the text, out of the second chapter of the prophet Joel. Both took texts; both for the day, and for the present occasion.
The occasion of this here was a lewd surmise given out by some, touching the gift of tongues, this day sent from Heaven.
It shall be my first note. That look, how soon God from heaven had sent His fiery tongues upon his Apostles, the devil from hell presently sent for his fiery tongues, and put them in the mouths of his apostles, to disgrace and scoff at those of God's sending.
Ye may hear them speak, at the thirteenth verse: Well fare this same good new wine! These good fellows have been at it, and now they can speak nothing but outlandish. Some little broken Greek or Latin they had, and now out it comes.
Thus that which was indeed grande miraculum, they turned into grande ludibrium. Of the great mystery of this day, they made a mere mockery. Those who were 'baptized with the Holy Ghost' they traduced, as if they had soused themselves in 'new wine.' Here is the Holy Ghost's welcome into the world. This use doth the devil make of some men's wits and tongues, to pour contempt on that which God pours forth, all that ever they can; even 'to work despite to the Spirit of grace.'
[302/303] Being to make an apology for himself and the rest, and indeed for the Holy Ghost, St. Peter first prays audience, at the fourteenth verse; then tells them soberly, they miss the matter quite, at the fifteenth. It was too early day to fasten any such suspicion upon any such men as they were, to be gone before nine in the morning. But this he stands not on, as not worth the answering.
Here, at this verse, he tells them it was no liquor, this specially, no such as they surmised. If it were any, if they would needs have it one, it was the prophet Joel's, and none other. Something poured on, nothing poured in. Nothing but the effusion of the Holy Ghost. 'This is it that was spoken by the Prophet Joel.'
So, habemus firmiorem sermonem propheticum; and this which seemed to happen thus on the sudden, it was long since foretold; and he alleges for it this text of the Prophet, that such a thing 'there should come to pass,' an 'effusion of the Spirit,' and that a strange one. And this they would find it to be, this prophecy of the Spirit poured, this day fulfilled in their ears.
Of which text the special points be two: 1. of the Spirit's pouring; 2. of the end whereto.
The first I reduce to these four. 1. The thing; 2. the act; 3. the party by whom; 4. the parties upon whom. 1. De Spiritu Meo is the thing. 2. Effundam the act. 3. Dicit Dominus, the Party by Whom. 4. Super omnem carnem, the parties upon whom it is poured.
Then the end whereto. And in that four more. The last end of all in the last word of all salvabitur. That is the very end, and a blessed end, if by any means we may attain to it. Then are there three other conducting to this; two main ones, and one accessory, but yet as necessary as the other. 2. Close to it, in the end, there is calling on the name of the Lord: 'He that calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' 3. And farthest from it at the beginning, there is prophetabunt, to call upon us to that end: 'And my servants will prophesy.' And between both these there is a memorandum of the 'great day of the Lord.' Which is not from the matter neither, nor more than needs. For then, at that day, we shall stand most in need of saving; if we perish [303/304] then, we perish for ever. And the mention and memory of that day will make us not despise prophesying, or forget invocation; but be more attentive in hearing of prophecy, and more devout in 'calling on the name of the Lord.' So it may go well for a third conducting means to our salvation.
Now to bring this to the day. This, it is said, shall be 'in the last days.' Which with St. Peter here, and with St. Paul, Hebrews the first; yea, and with the Rabbins themselves, are the days of the Messiah. So, of our Messiah Christ, to us, and of none other. Of Whose days this is the very last. For having done His errand, He was to go up again, and to send His Spirit down, to do his another while; which is the work of this day. As His first then, the taking of our flesh, so His last, the giving of the His Spirit; the giving it abundantly, which is the effundam here.
It remaineth that we pray to him, Who thus of His Spirit poured forth this day, that He would vouchsafe on the same day to pour of It on us here; that we may so hold this feast, the memory of it, and so hear the words of this prophecy, as may be to His good acceptance, and our own saving in the great day, 'the day of the Lord.'
Of the thing poured, first. De Spiritu Meo, the Spirit of God. First of Him, to give Him the honour of his own day.
The Spirit is of Himself Author of life; and here is brought in, as Author of prophecy. They both are in the Nicene creed: 1. 'The Lord and Giver of life,' 2 and 'Who spake by the prophets.' Life and speech have but one instrument, the spirit or breath both. Of it these four.
1. Prophecy can come from no nature but rational; the Spirit then is natura rationalis. And determinate it is, distinct plainly here two ways: 1. the Spirit, from Him whose the Spirit is, Him that says, de Spiritu Meo. 2. That which is poured, from Him That poureth it, Fusus a Fusore. Being then natura rationalis determinata, He is a Person, for a person is so defined.
2. Secondly, effusion is a plain proceeding of that which is poured; as spiration is so too, in the very body of the word spirit. So, a Person proceeding.
3. Thirdly, being a Person, and yet being poured out, He [304/305] behoves to be God. No person, angel or spirit, can be poured out, can be so participate. Not at all; but not 'upon all flesh'--not dilated so far. God only can be that. So the person, the proceeding, the Deity of the Holy Ghost, all in these words. And not a word of all this mine; but thus deduced by St. Ambrose, and before him by Didymus Alexandrinus, St. Hierome's master.
4. But fourthly, you will mark; it is not 'My Spirit,' but 'of My Spirit.' The whole Spirit, flesh could not hold--not 'all flesh.' And parts it has none. Understand then, 'of My Spirit,' that is of the gifts and graces of the Spirit--beams of this light, streams of this pouring. Otherwhere others, here the gift of prophecy and tongues.
2. Which de Spiritu is also said, to keep the difference between Christ and us. Upon Him the Spirit was; 'the Spirit of God upon Me,' last year. Upon us, not the Spirit; but de Spiritu, 'of My Spirit' only, this year.
The next is the act, effundam; in it four more. 1. The quality, in that it is compared to a thing liquid, fusile, 'poured out.' This seems not proper. Pouring is as it had been water, He came in fire. It would have been kindled rather than poured. True, but St. Peter in proper terms makes his answer refer to their slander; and that was, 'that it was nothing but new wine,' a liquor. Their objection being in a thing liquid, his answer behoved to be accordingly. And well it might so, Christ had so expressed it, both lately in His promise, 'Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost within few days;' and formerly, under the terms of 'waters of life,' where St. John's exposition is, 'This He spake of the Spirit.' Not then given, but to be given, straight upon Christ's glorifying, which is now, this very day. the Holy Ghost then is not all fire.
And this quality falls well within the two graces, of 1. prophecy, and 2. invocation, here given. 1. Prophecy; Moses the great Prophet likened it to the 'dew falling upon the herbs,' or 'the rain poured on the grass.' And that likening is so usual as jdwzk moreh, the word in Hebrew for rain, is so for a preacher too, that it poseth the translators which way to turn it; and even in that very chapter of Joel, whence this text is taken.
[305/306] 2. And invocation is so too; a pouring out of prayer, and of the very heart in prayer.
3. And the third, of the latter day, may be taken in too. Then there shall be a pouring forth also of all the phials of the wrath of God.
2. The quality then first; the quantity no less. For pouring is a sign of plenty: effundam not aspergam, the first prerogative of this day. For the Spirit had been given before this time, but never with such a largess; sprinkled but never poured. Never till now, in that bounty that now. This was reserved for Christ. For when there was copioa sanguinis effusio, on His part, there was likewise to be copiosa Flaminis effusio on the Holy Spirit's. He as liberal of His grace, as Christ of His blood. That there might be to us copiosa redemptio between Them both, it is effundam copiose in both.
Effundam tells us farther, the Spirit came not of Himself, not till He was thus poured out. It is no effluet, but effundam. Sic oportet implere, that so order might be kept in him, in the very Spirit, and we by him taught to keep it. Not to start out till 'we be sent,' nor to go on our own heads, but to stay 'till we be called.' Not to leak out or to run over, but to stay till we be poured out in like sort. Seeing Christ would not go unsent, misit Me, last year; nor the Holy Ghost run unpoured this year; it may well become us to keep in till we be poured and sent, any year. And yet the Spirit is no less ready to run than God is to pour It. One of these is no bar to the other. Ecco ego, miite me. Ecce ego, 'Behold I am ready,' saith Esay, and yet mitte me, 'send me,' for all that. Effluence and effusion, influence and infusion, will stand together well enough.
4. Lastly, effundam is not as the running of a spout. To pour is the voluntary act of a voluntary agent, who hath the vessel in his hand, and may pour little or much; and may choose whether he will pour out any at all, or no. As shut the heaven from raining, so refrain the Spirit from falling on us.
2. And when He pours, He strikes not out the head of the vessel and lets all go; but moderates His pouring, and dispenses His gifts. Pours not all upon every one; no, not upon any one, all; but upon some [306/307] in this manner, upon some in that; not to each the same. And to whom the same, not in the same measure though; but to some 'five,' to some 'two,' to some but 'one' talent. The text is plain for this. There are divers assignations in it: 1. To divers parties; 'sons,' 'servants,' 'old men,' and 'young men.' 2. Of divers gifts; 'prophecies,' 'visions,' and 'dreams,' 3. And then of divers degrees; one clearer than the other, the 'vision' than the 'dream.' singulis prout vult, at the Pourer's discretion, to each as pleaseth Him best.
The Party pouring is, dixit Dominus, 'the Lord That said.' But dixit Dominus Domino meo, 'The Lord said to my Lord;' Which of these? The latter Domino meo. 'My Lord,' David's Lord and ours, Dominum nostrum, in our Creed, that is, Christ. How appears that? Directly at the thirty-third verse after, 'He being now exalted by the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Ghost from the Father, He hath poured out this that you now see and hear.' Christ then. And not the Father? Yes, He too; for of Him Christ is said to receive it. Not only dixit Dominus Domino meo, but dedit Dominus Domino meo. And so, as in the nineteenth of Genesis, Pluit Dominus a Domino, 'from the Lord the Lord poured it.' And but one effundam, with but one effusion Both, as with one spiration He came from Both. Both with one effusion pour Him; Both with one spiration breathe Him. It is expressly so set down, Revelations, chapter twenty-two, 'The fountain of the water of life issued from the seat of God and of the Lamb.' So have you here the whole Trinity: 1. Quis, 2. Quid 3. a Quo; The Father by the Son, or the Son from the Father, pouring out the Holy Ghost.
2. And may we not also find the two natures of Christ here? Effundam is fundam ex. 'I will pour out;' out of what? what the cistern into which it first comes, and out of which it is after derived to us? That is the flesh or human nature of Christ, on which it was poured at His conception, fully to endow it, for 'in Him the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily;'--mark that 'bodily.' And it was given to Him without measure, and 'of His fulness we all receive.' From this cistern this day issued the Spirit by so many quills [307/308] or pipes, as it were, as there are several divisions of the graces of the Holy Ghost. And so now we have both a Quo and ex Quo. The divinity into this humanity pouring the Spirit, Which from His flesh was poured down this day, super omnem carnem, 'upon all flesh.' Which fitly brings in the next, super omnem carnem.
On whom this pouring is, which is the last point; super omnem earnem. In which there are three points, as the words are three. 1. Carnem first, that is, men. 'For doth God take care for oxen,' saith the Apostle, or for any flesh but ours? No, not for any flesh, but the 'flesh' which 'the Word' did take. And for that He doth.
But we are spirit too, as well as flesh; and in reason, spirit on spirit were more kindly. There is nearer alliance between them.
Yet you shall find the other part, flesh, is still chosen.
1. First, to magnify His mercy the more, that part is singled out that seemeth farther removed; nay, that is indeed quite opposite to the Spirit of God here poured out. For what is flesh? It is proclaimed, in the fortieth of Esay, 'it is grass.' And not gramen, but foenum, that is, grass withering and fit for the scythe. Is that the worst? I would it were; but caro peccati, 'sinful flesh' it sets forth. Upon 'sinful flesh' He should have poured somewhat else than His Spirit.
So two oppositions: 1. Flesh and the Spirit absolutely in themselves; 2. Then, 'sinful flesh' and the Holy Spirit. All which commends His love the more, thus to combine things so much opposite. This first.
And withal, that which right now I touched, to shew the introduction to this conjunction of these so far in opposition either to other, even Verbum caro factum, that made this symbolism. By which 'a gate of hope' was opened to us by His incarnation, in spem of our inspiration, which this day came in rem. For His flesh exalted to the right hand of God remembered us that were flesh of His flesh, and derived down this fountain of living water to it, saliens in vitam æternam; springing, and raising us with it whence it came, for water will ever rise as high as the place from whence it came, that is, up to heaven, up to eternal life.
[308/309] 2. Super, 'upon' it; 'upon' it is without, on the outside of it. Had not fundam in been better than fundam super; 'into' them than 'upon' them? Not a whit.
Indeed, both way, I find the Spirit given. At Christ's baptism the dove came 'upon Him.' At His resurrection, insufflavit, 'He breathed into them.' And so has He parted His Sacraments: baptism is effundam super, upon us, from without; the Holy Eucharist, that is comedite, that goeth in. Upon the matter, both come to one. If it be poured on, it soaks in, pierces to the very centre of the soul, as in baptism sin is washed thence by it. If it be breathed in, it is no sooner at the heart but it works forth, out it comes again; out at the nostril in breath, out at the wrist in the beating of the pulse. So both in effect are one.
1. But it is 'super' here, for these reasons; first that we may know the graces of the Spirit, they are xeqeu, 'from without.' In us, that is, in our flesh, they grow not; neither they, nor any good thing else. And not only xeqeu , 'from without,' but St. James' ¢uwqeu too, 'from above, from the Father of lights.' Both these are in super; and but for these, we might fall into a fantasy they grew within us, and sprung from us; which God knows they do not.
2. Another reason is, for that 'upon' is the preposition proper to initiation into any new office. So is the manner, by some such outward ceremony 'upon,' to initiate. By anointing or pouring oil 'upon.' By including, induemini, putting some robe or other ensign 'upon.' By induing, induemini, putting some robe or other ensign 'upon.' By imposition, or laying hands 'upon.' All 'upon.' Baptism, which is the Sacrament of our initiation, is therefore so done. So the dove came 'upon' Christ. The 'tongues,' here 'upon' these, to enter them, either, into their new offices.
A third, last but not least, to inure them to this preposition super, which many can but evil brook. No super, no superiority they; all even, all equal; fellows and fellows. 'The right hands of fellowship,' if you will; but not so much as imposition of hands, super. For id super, then sub follows; if 'upon,' then we 'under;' if above, then we beneath. But no sub with some; submit neither head nor spirit to any, Yet super Me, said Christ, last year, and it may become any that became Him; it may well become super carnem. Super [309/310] then must stand, and be stood upon; confusion will come if it be not.
Super carnem, super omnen carnem, 'upon flesh, and upon all flesh.' Not some one, not Jews' flesh alone; in regard of whom this omnem is here specially put in, for they had in a manner engrossed the Spirit before, by a non taliter omni. And yet upon them too, for upon their 'sons' and and their 'daughters,' as it followeth; but upon them now no more, than upon any other. This is a second prerogative of this day, the first effundam that is. 1. Before, sparingly sprinkled; now, plentifully poured. 2. Now again, super omnem: before, upon but some; now indifferently, upon all.
For so when we say 'all,' we mean none is excluded, but now may have it. 'He hath put no difference between them and us,' saith St. Peter. Non est distincto, saith St. Paul. 'The partition is thrown down' now. Go but to the letter of the text, 'all flesh.' 1. No sex barred--upon 'sons and daughter;' so either sex. 2. No age -upon 'young men' and upon old.' The one, 'visions;' the other, 'dreams.' 3. No condition--on 'servants' as well as 'sons,' on 'handmaids' no less than 'daughter.' 4. No nation --for, if ye mark, the Spirit is poured twice; upon their 'sons' in this, and again upon his 'servants' in the next verse. His 'servants,' whether they be their sons or not, whose sons soever they be, though the sons of them that are perhaps strangers to the first covenant; and yet even then God had ever His 'servants,' as well out of that nation as in it.
Now in sign that thus, 'upon all flesh,' they heard them speak the tongues of 'all flesh,' even of 'every nation under Heaven.' That where before a 'few in Jewry,' now many all the world over. No longer now, notus in Judæâ Deus, 'His way should be known upon earth, His saving health among all nations.'
Yet not promiscuè though, without all manner limitation. No; the text limits it. I must again put you in mind of the two pourings mentioned in it. One, the super omnem carnem, in this the fifteenth verse; the other, the second, super servos Meos in the next, the eighteenth. And super servose Meosis the qualifying of super omnem carnem. 'Upon all flesh,' that is, all such as will be 'My servants;' as will give in their names [310/311] to that end, as 'will call upon me.' Quicumque invocaverit--son concludes Joel. 'As will believe and be baptized'--so concludes St. Peter his sermon. This gives them the capacity, makes them vessels meet to receive this effusion. By which all Turks, Jews, Infidels, are out of the omnen; and counterfeit Christians too, that profess to serve Him, but all the world sees whom they serve. And by this, much flesh is cut off from omnem carnem. But so with this qualifying, 'upon all;' for any other I know not. And this for the pouring.
And now, Utquid effusio hæc? 'To what end all this?' For it is not to be imagined this pouring was casual, as the turning over a tub, nor that the Spirit did run waste; then it were Utquid perdito hæc? An end it had. And that follows now; 'and your sons,' &c. The Spirit is given to many ends, many middle, but one last, and that last is in the last word, salvabitur; the end then of this pouring is the salvation of mankind. Mankind was upon the point to perish, and the Spirit was poured, as a precious balm or water, to recover and save it. So the end of all is--and mark it well! that the Spirit may save the flesh, by the spiritualizing it; not, the flesh destroy the Spirit, by carnalizing it; not the flesh weigh down the Spirit to earth hither, but the Spirit lift up the flesh thither to heaven, whence it came.
To this last here are three, middle, conducing end more. 1. Prophecy first; 2. Invocation last; both of which are well here represented, three ways. 1. In the 'tongues,' the symbol of the Holy Spirit this day, the one, prophecy, being God's tongue to us; the other, invocation, being our tongue to God. 2. In the Spirit--Both being acts of the Spirit or breath: prophecy breathes it into us, prayer breathes it out again. 3.In the pouring--both pourings after a sort; that which prophecy doth infuse, pour in at the ear, invocation doth refundere, or 'pour forth back again,' in prayer out of the heart.
And besides these two a third there is, which is wedged in between them both, as stirring us, first and last, both to hear prophecy more attentively, and to practise invocation more devoutly, which I wish may never depart out of our minds--the memory of the latter day.
Thus they stand subordinate. That men may be saved, pp.311/312 they are to 'call upon the name of the Lord:'--that at least. That they may so call to purpose, they are to be called on to it, and directed in it, by et prophetabunt. And that they might perform this to 'all flesh,' they were to speak with the 'tongues' of all flesh; which was the gift here of this day, without just cause scoffed at. But tongues are but as the cask, wherein prophecy, as the liquor, is contained: I will set by the empty cask and deal with prophetabunt, the liquor in it only.
Prophecy stands first in the text, 'without which, saith Solomon, the people must needs perish.' That saying of Esay is much used by the Fathers, Tenebræ et palpitio, donec effundatur super nos Spiritus de excelso.' All is dark; men do but grope till the Spirit be poured on us from above,' to give us light, by this gift of prophecy.
This term is kept by Joel, as well when he speaks of God's 'servants,' that is of us, as when of them and their 'sons.' And ever after, in the New Testament, it is retained still as a usual term by the Apostle to the Corinthians, Ephesians, Thessalonians, all his Epistles through.
But not in the sense of fortelling things to come. For so can it be verified only upon Agabus, St. Philip's daughters, and upon St. John; which are too few for so great an effusion as this. That indeed was the chief sense of it in the Old Testament; and well, while Christ was yet to come. Christ, He was the stop of all prophetical predictions. Then it had his place, that. But now, and ever since Christ is come, it has in a manner left that sense, at least in a great part, and is not so taken in the New.
The sense it is there taken in--to expound this place of Peter by another of Paul, citing this very same text of the prophet, is et prophetabunt here, by quomodo praedicabunt there, prophesying, that is preaching. Whereby, after a new manner, we do prophesy, as it were, the meaning of the ancient prophecies; not make any new, but interpret the old well, take off 'the veil of Moses' face.' Find Christ, find the mysteries of the Gospel, under the type of the law; apply the old prophecies so as it may appear 'the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.' And he the best prophet now, that can do this best.
This sense we prove by these in the text. 'The Spirit [312/313] was poured on them, and they did prophesy.' What did they? How prophesied St. Peter? He foretold nothing; all he did was, he applied this place of the prophet to this feast. And a little beneath, the passage of the sixteenth Psalm, to Christ's resurrection. And after that, the place of another Psalm, to His ascension.
And the rest, on whom It was poured too, how prophesied they? All, we read, they did was, loquebantur magnalia Dei, they 'uttered forth the wonderful things of God,' but foretold not anything that we find. So as to prophesy now, is to search out and disclose the hidden things of 'the oracles of God,' and not to tell beforehand what will come to pass.
But what say you to 'visions' and 'dreams' here? Little; they pertain not to us. The text saith it not. You remember the two pourings. 1. One upon their 'sons;' 2. The other upon His 'servants.' This latter is it by which we come in. We are not of their 'sons,' we claim not by that; God made us His 'servants,' for by that word we hold.
Now in this latter pouring on His 'servants,' which only concerns us, 'visions' and 'dreams' are left out quite, If any pretend them now, we say with Jeremiah, 'Let us dream go for a dream,' and 'let My word,' saith the Lord, 'be spoken as My word:' Quid paleæ ad triticum? What, mingle you chaff and wheat? We are to lay no point of religion upon them now; prophecy, preaching is it, we to hold ourselves unto now. As for 'visions' and 'dreams,' transeant, 'let them go.'
But then, for prophecy in this sense of opening or interpreting Scriptures, is the Spirit is poured 'upon all flesh' so? Is this of Joel a proclamation for liberty of preaching, that all, young and old, men-servants and maid-servants may fall to it? Nay, the she sex. St. Paul took order for that betimes, cut them off with his nol mulieres. But waht for the rest? may they? For to this sense hath this Scripture been wrested by the enthusiasts of former ages, and still is, by the anabaptists now. And by mistaking of it, was given to a foul error, as if all were let loose, all might claim and take upon them, forsooth, to prophesy.
Nothing else this but a malicious device of the devil, to pour contempt upon this gift. For, indeed, bring it to this once, and waht was this day falsely surmised will then be [313/314] justly affirmed.--musto pleni, or cerebro vacui, whether you will: but musto pleni, 'drunken' Prophets then indeed; howbeit 'not with wine,' as Esay saith, but with another as heady a humour, and that doth intoxicate the brain as much as any must or new wine; even of self-conceited ignorance, whereof the world grows too full. But it was no part of Joel's meaning. nor St. Peter's neither, to give way to this phrensy.
No? Is it not plain? The Spirit is poured 'upon all flesh.' True, but not upon all to prophesy though. The text warrants no such thing. In the one place it is, 'And your sons shall:' in the other, 'And my servants shall.' But neither is it, All their 'sons;' nor, All His 'servants' shall. Neither, indeed, can it be. There must be some 'sons,' and some 'servants,' to prophesy to, to whom these Prophets may be sent, to prophesy to, to whom these Prophets may be sent, to whom this prophecy may come. 'All flesh' may not be cut out into tongues; some left for ears, some auditors needs. Else a Cyclopian Church will grow upon us, where all were speakers, nobody heard another.
How then, will the Spirit be poured 'upon all flesh?' Well enough. The Spirit of prophecy is not all God's Spirit, He has more beside. If the spirit or grace of prophecy upon some, 'the spirit of grace and prayer' in Zachary, upon the rest. So between them both, the Spirit will be upon all flesh, and the proposition hold true: prophetabunt must not make us forget invocaverit. All the Spirit goes not away in prophesying, some left for that too; and there is the quincunque (quicunque invocaverit) and no where else.
But if St. Peter will not serve, St. Paul shall; He is plain. 'Ye may all prophesy one by one:'--what, the skippers of Holland and all? I trow not, But 'all' there, is plain. 'All,' that is, 'all that be 'Prophets.' And I wish with all my heart, as did Moses, that 'all God's people were Prophets;' but, till they be so, I wish they may not prophesy: no more would Moses neither. Now in the same Epistle, St. Paul holds it for a great absurdity, to hold 'all' are Prophets. With a kind of indignation he asks it, 'What, are all Prophets?' No more than 'all Apostles'--as much the one as the other. Then, if 'all' be not 'Prophets,' all may not prophesy, sure. For, with the Apostle in the same place, 'the operation,' that is, the act of prophesying, 'the administration.' that is, the office or calling, [314/315] and 'the grace,' that is, the enabling gift, these three are ever to go together. No act in the Church lawfully done, without them all. Then the Apostle's 'You all may' is, All you may that have the gift,
And not you that have it neither, 'the gift,' unless you have the calling too; for as God sent gifts, so He gave men also, 'some Apostles, some Prophets.' Men for gifts, as well as 'gifts for men.' Misit in Christ, as well as unxit, last year. And in His servants, vocavit, as well as talenta dedit. Not to be parted, these.
I conclude then. Et prophetabunt; but such as have been at the door of the Tabernacle, as have been the sons of the Prophets, men set apart for that end. And yet even they also, so as they take not themselves at liberty to prophesy whatsoever takes them in the tongue, the dreams of their own heads, or the visions of their own hearts; but remember their super, and know there be Spirits also to whom 'their spirits be subject.' So much for the seventeenth and eighteenth verses.
But how now come we thus suddenly to the signs of the latter day, and to the day itself? For they follow close, you see. It is somewhat strange that from et prophetabunt, He is straight at doomsday without more ado.
The reasons which I find the Fathers render of it are these: First, the close joining of them is to meet with another dream that hath troubled the Church much. And that is, that it may be there will be another pouring yet after this, and more Prophets rise still. Every otherwhile, some such upstart spirits there are, would fain make us believe. Here is a discharge for them.
No, saith Joel, look for no more such days as this after this, Therefore to this day he joins immediately, from this day He goes presently to, the latter day, as if He said, You have all you shall have. When this pouring has run so far as it will, then comes the end; when this is done, the world is done; no new spirit, no new effusion, this is the last. From Christ's departure till His return again; from this day of Pentecost, 'a great day and a notable,' till the last 'great and notable day' of all; between these two days, no more such days. Therefore, in the beginning of the text, He called them 'the last days,' because no days to come after them. No pouring to be [315/316] looked for from this first day of those last. No other but this, till dies novissimus novissimorum, 'the very last day of all,' till He pour down fire to consume 'all flesh' that, by the fire this day kindled by these fiery tongues, will not be brought to know Him, and call upon His name.
A second is, being to speak by and by of salvabitur, that we should be saved, He would let us see what it is we should be saved from. That helpeth much to make us esteem of our saving. Saved then from what? 'from blood, and fire, and the smoulder of smoke;' that is, from the heavy signs here, and from that which is after these, and beyond all these far, 'the great and terrible day of the Lord.' This sight of unde, 'from whence,' will make us apprize our saving at a higher rate, and think it worth our care then, in that day to be saved.
And last, it is set here, per modum stimuli, to quicken us, ut scientes terrorem hunc, saith St. Paul, and the terror of it, we might stir up ourselves by it, to prepare for it. And set it is between both, to dispose us the better to both. To that which is past, et prophetabunt, to awaken our attention to that; and to that which follows, invocaverit, to kindle our devotion in that, and so by both to make sure our salvation.
'The day of the Lord,' the prophet calls it dies Domini, as it were opposing it to dies servi, to our days here. As if he said, these are your days, and you use them indeed, as if they were your own. You pour out yourselves into all riot, and know no other pouring out but that; you see not any great use of prophesying, think it might well enough be spared; you speak your pleasures of it and say, musto pleni, or to like effect, when you list. These are your days. But know this, when yours are done, God has His day too, and His day will come at last, and it will come terribly when it comes.
When that day comes, how then? Quid fiet in novissimo? The Prophet's ordinary question, 'What will you do at the last?' How will you be saved, in Die illo, 'in that day?'
We speak sometime of great days here; -alas! small in respect of this. There is matter of fear sometime in these of ours; nothing to the terror of this. 'Great' it is, and 'notable,' as much for the fear, as for anything else in it. This a 'terrible' one indeed, et quis potest sustinere, 'Who can abide [316/317] it?' saith Joel in this very chapter. Look to it then. On whom He pours not His Spirit here, on them He will pour somewhat else there, even the phials of His wrath: possibly before, some; but then all, certainly.
And that you may not only hear of this day, but see somewhat to put you in mind of it, ecce signa. Terrible signs will come upon the earth, sword and `fire:' from the sword, pouring out of 'blood;' from 'fire,' a choking 'vapour of smoke,' or as the Hebrew is, 'a pillar of smoke;' which then doth palmizare, 'goeth up straight like a pillar or a palm-tree,' when the fire increaseth more and more; for when it abateth, it boweth the head and decayeth, which this shall never do.
Nay further 'wonders in heaven.' For these tongues of Heaven thus despised, Heaven shall shew itself displeased too; the light of Heaven, as it were, for a time put out, for contempt of the heavenly light this day kindled. 'The sun dark' as if he hid his face; 'the moon red as blood,' as if she blushed at our great want of regard in this, a point so nearly concerning us.
For indeed, these eclipses, though they have their causes in nature, as the rainbow also hath; yet what hinders but as the rainbow, so they may be signs too, and have their meaning in Scripture assigned; and even this meaning here? This I seem that all flesh are smitten with a kind of horror and heaviness when they happen to fall out, as if they portended somewhat, as if that they portended were not good; for dies atri they have been, and are reckoned, all the world over.
But these 'are but the beginnings of evils,' scarce the dawning of that day; but when the day itself comes, 'the great day,' then it will pour down, 'and who,' saith Joel, 'may abide it?' A fair item for them who despise prophecies, and so doing make void the counsel of God, against their own souls.
I have much marvelled why on this Sunday, Whit-Sunday as we call it, the day of the white sun, the Prophet should present the black sun thus unto us. But the Prophet did nothing but as inspired by the Holy Ghost, which make me think he though the fire of that day would make the fire of this burn the clearer, and that pouring down make this pouring pass the readier; that he thought that day a good [317/318] meditation for this,--and for such I commend it to you, and so leave it; and come to invocaverit, the only means left us now to escape it.
I dare not end with prophetabunt, or with this; I dare not omit, but join invocaverit to them. For what? From prophetabunt come we to salvabitur straight, without any medium between? No, we must take invocaverit in our way, no passing to salvation but by and through it. For what? is the pouring of the Spirit to end in preaching? and preaching to end in itself, as it doth with us? a circle of preaching, and ineffect nothing else,--but pour in prophesying enough and then all is safe? No; there is another yet as needful, nay, more needful to be called on, as the current of our age runs, and that is, 'calling on the Name of the Lord.'
This, it grieveth me to see how light it is set; nay, to see how busy the devil hath been, to pour contempt on it, to bring it in disgrace with disgraceful terms; to make nothing of Divine service, as if it might be well spared, and invocaverit here be stricken out.
But mark this text well, and this invocation we make so slight account of sticks close, is so locked fast to salvabitur, closer and faster than we are aware of.
1. Two errors there be, and I wish them reformed: one, as it prophesying were we had to do, we might dispense with invocation, let it go, leave it to the choir. That is an error. Prophesying is not all, invicaverit is to come in too; we to join them, and jointly to observe them, to make a conscience of both. It is the oratory of prayer poured out of our hearts shall save us, no less than the oratory of preaching poured in at our ears.
2. The other is, of them that do not wholly reject it, yet so depress it, as if in comparison of prophesying it were little worth. Yet, we seem by the frame of this text, it is the higher end; the calling on us by prophecy is but gratia gratis data; and ever gratis data is for gratum faciens, a part and a special part whereof is invocation. There is then, as a conscience to be made, so like a conscience to be made of both; not to set up the one and magnify it, and to turn our [318/319] back on the other and vilify it. For howsoever we give good words of invocation, yet what our conceit is our deeds shew.
I love not to dash one religious duty against another, or, as it were, to send challenges between them. But as much as the text saith, so much may I say; and that is, that it hath three special prerogatives, by this verse of the Prophet.
1. First it is effundam, ours, properly; and effundam Spiritum Meum, the pouring out of our spirit, to answer that of God's Spirit in the text. Prophetabunt is not ours, none of all to this. To make religion nothing but an auricular profession, a matter of ease, a mere sedentary thing, and ourselves merely passive in it; sit still, and hear a Sermon and two Anthems, and be saved; as if by the act of the choir, or of the preacher, we should so be, (for these by their acts,) and we do nothing ourselves, but sit and suffer; without so much as any thing done by us, any effundam on our parts at all; not so much as this, of calling on the Name of the Lord.
2. The second: this hath the quicunque. We would fain have it, Quicunque prophetiam audiverit, he that hears so many sermons a-week cannot choose but be saved; but it will not be. No; here stand we preaching, and hearing sermons; and neither they that hear prophesying, nay nor they that prophesy themselves, can make a quicunque of either.Witness Domine, in nomine Tuo prophetavimus, and 'Lord thou hast preached in our streets,' and yet it would do them no good; Nescio vos, was their answer for all that.
And yet how fain would some be a prophesying! It would not save them, though they were; and is not a preposterous desire? we love to meddle with that pertains not to us, and will do us no good: that which is our duty and would do us good, that care we not for.
Tongues were given for prophecy. True; but no quicunque there, for all that; but to whom none are given to prophesy, to them yet are there given to invocate. And there comes it in, the quicunque lies there. De Spiritu Meo super omnem earnem--here it comes in; at invocation, not at the other. Let it suffice; it is not quicuncque prophetaverit here, quicunque invocaverit it is. The Prophet saith it, the Apostles say it [319/320] both p©j dj ¥u. Peter here; Paul, Romans, tenth chapter, and thirteenth verse.
Last, this is sure, invocaverit is ecÒmeuou swthriaj, 'it stands nearest, it joins closest to salvabitur.' Both one breath, one sentence; the words touch, there is nothing between them. Salvabitur is not joined hard to prophetabunt, it is removed farther off. To invocaverit it is a degree nearer at least. Nay the very next of all.
The text shews this, in a sort, but the thing itself more; for when all comes to all, when we are even at last cast, salvabitur or no salvabitur, then, as if there were some special virtue in invocaverit, we are called upon to use a few words or signs to this end, and so sent out of the world with invocaverit in our mouths. Dying, we call upon men for it; living, we suffer them to neglect it. It was not for nothing it stands so close, it even touches salvation; it is, we see, the very immediate act next before it.
And yet I would not leave you in any error concerning it. To end this point: will invocaverit serve then? Needs there nothing but it? No faith, No life? St. Paul answers this home; he is direct, Romans the tenth; 'How can they call upon Him, unless they believe?'' So invocation presupposes faith. And as peremptory he is, 'Let every one that calleth on,' no, who but 'names the Name of the Lord, depart from iniquity;'--so it presupposes life too. For 'if we incline to wickedness in our hearts, God will not hear us.' No invocation that, not truly so called; a provaction rather. But put these two, faith and recedit ab inqitate to it, and so whoso calleth upon Him, I will put him in good sureties, one Prophet, and two Apostles, both to assure him he shall be saved.
And that is it we all desire, to be 'saved.' 'Saved,' indefinitely. Apply it to any dangers, not in the day of the Lord only, but even in this our day; for some terrible days we have even here. I will tell you of one; the signs here set down bring it to my mind. A day we were saved from, the day of the Powder-treason, which may seem here in a sort to be described 'blood and fire, and the vapour of smoke;' a 'terrible' day sure, but nothing to 'the Day of the Lord.'
[320/321] From that we were saved; but we all stand in danger, we all need saving, from this. When this day comes, another manner of fire, another manner of smoke. That fire never burnt, that smoke never rose; but this 'fire' shall burn and never be 'quenched,' this 'smoke' shall not vanish but 'ascend for ever.' I say no more, but in that, in this, in all, Qui invocaverit, salvus erit; invocation rightly used is the way to be safe.
This then I commend to you. And of all invocations, that which King David doth commend most, and betake himself to, as the most effectual and surest of all; and that is, Accipiam calicem salutaris, et nomen Domini invocabo; to call on his Name, with 'the cup of salvation' taken in our hands. No invocation to that. That I may be bold to add, which is all that can be added, Quicunque calicem salutaris accipiens nomen Domini invocaverit, salvus erit. Another effundam yet, this.
Why, what virtue is there in the taking it, to help invocation? A double. Whether we respect our sins, they have a voice, a cry, an ascending cry, in Scripture assigned them. They invocate too, they call for somewhat, even for some fearful judgment to be poured down on us; and I doubt our own voices are not strong enough, to be heard above theirs.
But blood, that also hath 'a voice,' specially innocent blood, the blood of Abel, that cries loud in God's ears, but nothing so loud as the blood whereof this 'cup of blessing' is 'the communion;' the voice of it will be heard above all, the cry of it will drown any cry else. And as it cries higher, so it differs in this, that it cries in a far other key, for far 'better things than that of Abel;' not for revenge, but for 'remission of sins;' for that, whereof it is itself the price and purchase, for our salvation in that 'great and terrible day of the Lord,' when nothing else will save us, and when it will most import us, when if we had the whole world to give, we would give it for these four syllables salvabitur, 'shall be saved.'
But it was not so much for sin David took this cup, as to yield thanks for all His 'benefits.' In that case also, there is special use of it, and both fit us. As the former, of drowning of our sins' cry, so this also. For to this end are we here now met, to render publicly and in solemn manner our thanksgiving for His great favour this day vouchsafed us, in pouring our His Spirit; and with it His saving health [321/322] upon all flesh who call upon Him; then to take place when we shall have special use of it, in the 'great' day, 'the day of the Lord.' And very agreeable it is, per hunc sanguinem pro hoc Spiritu, 'for the pouring out of this His Spirit, to render Him thanks with the blood that was poured out to procure it;' (and this is our last effundam and a real effundam too) for this effusion of both, the one and the other, and for the hope of our salvation, the work both of the one and of the other.
To the final attainment whereof, by His holy word of prophecy, by calling on His Name, by this Sacrament of His blood poured out, and of His Spirit poured out with it, He brings us, &c.