Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
The commendation of the word of God is, that 'Every Scripture is profitable for our instruction.' 'Every Scripture [3/4] is profitable;' yet not 'every Scripture,' in every place alike. For the place and auditory have great interest in some Scripture, and a fit Scripture hath a greater and fuller force in his own auditory. And God in so excellent a manner hath sorted His Scriptures, as there lie dispersed in them several texts seasonable for each time, and pertinent to each place and degree: for Prince, for people, for rich, for poor, for each his peculiar Scripture in due time and place to be reached them.
The Scripture which I have read, whose it is, and to whom it speaketh, is at the very reading straightway evident. As one saith of forty-first Psalm, 'Blessed is he that judgeth rightly of the poor,' that it is, Scriptura pauperum, the poor man's Scripture; so of this it may be rightly said, that it is Scriptura divitum, 'the rich man's Scripture.' And if this be the Scripture for rich men, this place is the place of rich men; and therefore, if this Scripture have his place, no where so fit as in this place. For no where is there such store of riches by the 'harvest of the water,' which far surpasseth the harvest of the ground; no where are the like sums sealed; no where do they 'suck the abundance of the sea and the treasures his in the sand,' in like measures; nowhere are the merchants noblemen's fellows, and able to lend the Princes of the earth, so much as here. Therefore when as I gave all diligence to speak, not only true things but also seasonable, both for this time and this place, I was directed to the Scripture. I need not to say much in this point, to shew it concerneth this audience. I will say as the Fathers say upon the like occasion: Faxit Deus tam commoda, quam est accomoda, 'I pray God make it profitable as it is pertinent,' as fruitful to you as it is fit for you.
I. 1. The whole Scripture hath his name given it even in the first word: 'Charge,' saith he, 'the rich,' etc. It is a charge.
2. It is directed to certain men, namely, to 'the rich of this world.'
3.It consisteth of four branches; whereof two are negative, for the removing of two abuses.
II 1. The first, 'Charge them, that they be not highminded.' The second, 'Charge them, that they trust not in their riches.'
[4/5] The reason is added, which is a maxim and a ground in the law of nature, that we must trust to no uncertain thing: 'Trust not in the uncertainty of riches.'
The other two are affirmative, concerning the true use of riches.
1. The first: 'Charge them that they trust in God.' The reason: because 'He giveth them all things to enjoy plenteously.'
2. The second: 'Charge them that they do good;' that is the substance. The quantity, that 'they be rich in good works;' the quality, that they be 'ready to part with,' (and a special kind of doing good) 'to communicate,' to benefit the public.
And all these are one charge. The reason of them all doth follow; because by this means they shall 'lay up in store, and that for themselves, a good foundation, against the time to come. The end; that they may obtain eternal life.'
Præcipe divitibus, 'Charge the rich of this world,' &c. Beloved, here is a charge, a Præcipe, a precept or a writ, directed unto Timothy, and to those of his commission to the world's end, to convent and call before him; he the rich men of Ephesus, and we the rich men of this city; and others of other places of the earth, and to give them a charge.
Charges, as you know, use to be given at assizes in courts from the bench. From thence is taken this judicial term Par£ggelle, as it appeareth, Acts the fifth chapter and twenty-eighth verse: 'Did not we charge you straitly?' saith the bench in the consistory judicially assembled. Whereby we are given to understand that in such assemblies as this is the Lord of heaven doth hold His court, whereunto all men, and they that of all men seem least, the rich and mighty of the world, owe both suit and service. For as earthly princes have their laws, their commissions, their ministers of the law, their courts, and court-days, for the maintenance of their peace; so hath the King of kings His laws and statutes, His precepts and commissions by authority delegate, Ite prædicate, 'Go preach the Gospel;' His counsellors at law, whom Augustine calleth divini juris consultos; His courts in occulto conscientiæ, 'in the hid and secret part of the heart and conscience,' for the preservation of His 'peace,' which [5/6] the world can neither give nor take away, to the end that none may offend or be offended at it.
This we learn. And with we learn, all of us, so to conceive of and to dispose ourselves to such meetings as this, as men that are to appear in court before the Lord, there to receive a charge, which when the court is broken up we must think of how to discharge.
In which point, great is the occasion of complaint which we might take up. For who is there that with that awe and reverence standeth before the Lord at His charge-giving, that he receiveth a charge with at any earthly bar? Or with that care remembereth the Lord and His charge, wherewith he continually thinketh upon the judge and his charge? Truly, the Lord's commission is worthy to have as great reverence and regard attending on it as the charge of any prince, truly it is. Weight with yourself; is not God's charge with as much heed and reverence to be received as an earthly judge's? Absit ut sic, saith St. Augustine, sed utinamn vel sic; God forbid, but with more heed and reverence; well, I would it had so much in the meantime; and, which to our shame we must speak, I would we could do as much for the Bible as for the statute-books, for heaven as for the earth, for the immortal God as for a mortal man. But whether we do or no, yet as Saviour Christ said of St. John Baptist, 'If ye will receive, this is that Elias which was to come;' so say I of this precept, If ye will receive it, this is the charge the Lord hath laid on you. And this let me tell you farther; that it is such a charge as it concerneth your peace, the plentiful use of all your wealth and riches, in the second verse of my text. 'Which giveth us all things to enjoy plenteously,' &c. Which may move you. Or if that will not, let me add this farther; it is such a charge, as toucheth your estate in everlasting life -the very last words of my text. That is, the well or evil hearing of this charge is as much worth as your eternal life is worth. And therefore, 'he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.'
2. It is a charge then, and consequently to be discharged. To be discharged? where? 'Charge,' saith he, 'the rich.' He speaketh to 'the rich;' you know your own names, you know best what those 'rich' men are. Shall I tell your? You [6/7] are the 'rich,' he speaketh unto you. It is the fashion and the fault of this world to exercise their authority on them that most need it least; for rich men to feast them that least need it, for mighty men to prefer them that least deserve it. It is an old simile, we have oft heard it, that the laws are like cobwebs; that they hold fast the silly flies, but the great hornets break through them as oft as they list. And as there are cob-webs which exempt mighty men, so the same corruption that was the cause thereof would also make cob-web divinity. For notwithstanding the commission runneth expressly to the rich, 'Charge,' &c; and withstanding they be in great danger, and that of many 'snares,' as the Apostle saith in this chapter, and therefore need it greatly; yet I think themselves too wise to receive a charge, any charge at all; or because they think themselves too good to receive it at the hands of such men as we be--and, if they must needs be charged, they would be charged from the council, from men more noble and honourable than themselves--they would not gladly hear it, surely they would not; and because they would not gladly hear it, we are not hasty they should hear it. And great reason why, as we think; for as it is true which is in the Psalm, 'So long as they do good to themselves, men will speak good of them, so it is true backward too; so long as we speak well of them, spare them, call not on them, they will do good to us. And otherwise, if we spare them not, but prosecute our charge, then cometh Odi Michæam filium Jemla, 'I hate Micaiah the son of Imlah.' And who would willingly live in disgrace and sustain, I say not the fierce wrath but the heavy look of a man in authority? That makes this office of giving a charge a cold office, and therefore to decay, and be shunned of all hands; that makes us, if we cannot of the eunuch learn to 'speak good to the King,' yet to follow Balak's counsel at the least, 'neither to bless nor curse;' that makes that though for shame of the world we will not set up for upholsters and stuff cushions and pillows to lay them under their elbows, yet for fear of men we shun the prophet Esay's occupation to take the 'trumpet' and disease them, lest we lose Balak's promotion, or Ahab's friendship, Esau's portion, or I wot not what else, which we will not be without.
[7/8] In a word, this maketh that Jonah was never more unwilling to deliver his message at Nineveh, than is Timothy to give his charge at Ephesus.
The Apostle saw this and what it would come to, and that you may see that he saw it, you shall understand he hath besides this of yours directed another writ to us, verse the thirteenth, 'I charge thee,&c.' running in very rigorous and peremptory terms, able to make any that shall consider them aright to tremble; straitly commanding us in the name of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ; laying before us the Passion of Christ, if there be any grace, and the day of judgment, and there be any fear, that we fulfil every part of our charge, and immediately after nameth this your charge for one. And knowing that we are given to fear princes and lords, he telleth us of the 'Prince' of all princes, and 'Lord of all lords;' knowing that we are given to fear and be dazzled with the glittering of their pomp, which yet a man may abide to look on, he telleth us of Him Whose brightness no eye may once abide. Knowing that we fear honour and power though it last but for a small time, he feareth us with One whose honour and power lasteth for ever.
Beloved in the Lord, I beseech you weight but the place; weight it, and have pity on us. For Nunquid nos recipimus, nunquid nos delere possumus? Si delemus, timemus deleri, saith St. Augustine. We writ not this charge, our pens dealt not in it; it was we that writ it, and it is not we that can blot it out, unless we ourselves will be blotted out of the book of life.
Such is our charge, as you see, to charge you; and but for this charge, but that we are commanded, but that we are threatened, and that in so fearful manner threatened, we should never do it; of all men, we should never deal with the rich. For who would not choose to hold his peace and to seek his own ease from this charge, many times chargeable, sometimes dangerous, evermore unsavoury, but for this process that is out against us? For myself I profess that, in the same words that St. Augustine did sometime ad istam otiosissiman securitatem nemo me vinceret, if St. Paul would be content; if order might be taken to have these verses cancelled, if we [8/9] could deliver, I say not yours, but our own souls with silence. But this standing in force, Cogit nos Paulus iste, 'we are enforced by this Paul;' his Præcipio tibi, 'I charge you,' drives us to our Præcipe illis, 'to charge them;' we charge not you, but when we are charged ourselves; we terrify not you, but when we are charged ourselves; we terrify not you, but when we are first terrified ourselves. And I would to God we knowing this terror might both fear together this day at the charge-giving, that so we might both rejoice together in the great day at the charged-answering. This may serve, and I beseech you let it serve to stand between us and your displeasure in this behalf; and seeing the commission is penned to our hand, and that rich men are in it nominatim, (except the leaven of affection shew itself too evidently in us) to think we cannot otherwise do; and that therefore it is, because the commandment of our God is upon us, is heavy upon us. The charge itself followeth.
'Charge the rich,' &c. This is the first point of the charge, 'that they be not highminded.' 1. First against that which, if it come with all riches, yea all the virtues in the world, it spoileth them all; that is, against pride. 2. Secondly, against that which is the root of this bitter branch, and the prop and stay of a high-raised mind, namely, a vain trust in our riches. Both these forbidden by means of their uncertainty, ¢dhlÒthj such, as a man cannot tell where to have them, therefore not to be boated of, therefore not to be trusted in.
Ever since our first fathers by infection took this morbum sathanicum, this devilish disease, pride, of the devil, such tinder is our nature, that every little spark sets us on fire; our nature hath grown so light, that every little puffeth us up, and set aloft in our altitudes presently. Yea indeed, so light we are, that many times when the gifts are low, yet for all that the mind is as high as the bramble; low in qualities, God knoweth, yet had his mind higher than the highest cedar in Lebanon. But if we be but of mean stature once, but a thought higher than others our fellows, if never so little more in us than is in our neighbours, presently we fall into Simon's case, we seem to ourselves as he did, to be tij m_gaj, no doubt 'some goodly great thing.' But if [9/10] come once to any growth indeed, then presently our case is Haman's case: who but he? 'Who was he that the King would honour more than him?' Nay, who was there that the King could honour but he? he, and none but he. Through this aptness in us that we have to learn the devil's lesson, the devil's Discite a me, for I am proud--for so it is, by opposition of Christ's lesson, which is Discite a Me, quia mitis sum, 'because I am meek and gentle'--we are ready to corrupt ourselves in every good gift of God; in wisdom, in manhood, in law, in divinity, in learning or eloquence: every and each of these serveth for a stirrup to mount us aloft in our own conceits. For where each of the former hath. as it were, his own circuit--as wisdom ruleth in counsel, manhood in the field, law in the judgment-seat, divinity in the pulpit, learning in the schools, and eloquence in persuasion--only riches ruleth without limitation, riches ruleth with them all, ruleth them all, and overruleth with them all, his circuit is the whole world. For which cause some think when he saith, Charge the rich, he presently addeth, 'of this world,' because this world standeth altogether at the devotion of the riches, and he may do what he will in this world that is rich in this world. So said the Wise Man long ago, Pecuniae obediunt omnia,' all things answer money,' money mastereth all things; they all answer at his call, and they all obey at his commandment. Let us go lightly over them all; you shall see that they all else have their several predicaments to bound them, and that riches is only the transcedent of this world.
Wisdom ruleth in counsel--so do riches; for we see in the court of the great King Artaxerxes, there were counsellors whose wisdom was to be commanded by riches, even to hinder a public benefit, the building of the temple. Manhood ruleth in war--so do riches, experience teacheth us it is so; it is said, it was they that won Daventer, and that it was they and none but they that drove the Switzers out of France, and that without stroke stricken. Law governeth in the seat of justice--so do riches; and oftentimes they turn justice itself into wormwood by a corrupt sentence, but more often doth it turn justice into vinegar by long standing and infinite delays ere sentence will come forth. Divinity ruleth in the church and pulpit--so do riches; for with a set of silver [10/11] pieces, saith Augustine, they brought Concionatorem mundi, 'the Preacher of the world,' Jesus Christ, to the bar, and the disciple is not above his Master. Learning ruleth in the schools--so do riches; and indeed there money setteth us all to school. For, to say the truth, riches have so ordered the matter there, as learning is now the usher; money, he is the master; the chair itself and the disposing of the chair is his too. Eloquence ruleth in persuasion, and so riches. When Tertullus had laboured a goodly flowing oration against Paul, Felix looked that another, a greater orator should have spoken for him, namely, that something 'should have been given him,' and if that orator had spoken his short pithy sentence, Tantum dabo, Tertullus' oration had been dashed. Tantum dabo is a strange piece of rhetoric; devise as cunningly, pen as curiously as you can, it overthrows all. Tantum valent quatuor syllabæ, 'such force is there in four syllables.' Though indeed some think -, it being so unreasonable short as it is, but two words--that it cannot be the rhetoric of it that worketh these strange effects, but that there is some sorcery or witchcraft in them, in Tantum dabo. And surely a great sorcerer, Simon Magus, used them to Peter; and it may well be so, for all estates are shrewdly bewitched by them. I must end, for it is a world to think and tell what the rich of the world may do in the world.
So then riches seeing they may do so much, it is no marvel though they be much set by. Et divites cum habeant quæ magni fiunt ab omnibus, quid mirum si ab omnibus magni fiant; et cum magni fiant ab omnibus, quid mirum si et a se? 'Rich men having that which is much set by, no marvel though of all men they be much set by; and if all other men set much by them, no marvel if they set much by themselves: and to set much by a man's self, that is to be highminded. It is our own proverb in our own tongue: 'As riseth our good, so riseth our blood.' And St. Augustine saith, that each fruit by kind hath his worm breeding in it; as the pear his, the nut his, and the bean his, so riches have their worm, et vermis divitiarum superbia, 'and the worm of riches is pride.' Whereof we see a plain proof in Saul, who while he was in a poor estate, that his boy and he could not make fivepence between them, was as the Scripture saith low in his [11/12] eyes. After, when the wealth and pleasant things of Israel were his, he grew so stern as he forgot himself, his friends and God too; and at every word that liketh him not was ready to run David, Jonathan, and every one through with his javelin. It is very certain where riches are, there is great danger of pride. I desire you to think there is so, and not me to justify God's wisdom herein, in persuading and proving that this charge is needful for you that be 'rich;' that it was needful for the Prophet to preach under the law, 'If riches increase, set not your heart on the top of them,' let not that rise as they rise; nor for the other Prophet, 'Give me not riches, lest I wax proud;' nor the Apostle Paul under the Gospel to say, 'Charge them that be rich in this world that they be not highminded.' I beseech you, honour God, and ease me so much as to think there was high cause it should be in charge, and that if a more principal sin had been reigning in the rich this sin should not have the principal place as it hath.
How then? what, are you able to charge any here? will some say; it is not the manner of our court, nor of any court that I know. To us it belongeth only to deliver the charge, and to exhort, that if none be proud none would be, and if any be they would be less; and if any be humble they would be more. You that the court, your part is to enquire, and to present, and to indict; and that, every one in his own conscience, as in the presence of God, unto Him to approve your innocency, or of Him to sue for your pardon. You will find none, you will say; I would to God you might not.
When a judge at an assize giveth his charge concerning treason and such like offences, I dare say he would with all his heart that his charge might be in vain, rather than any traitor or offender should be found. A physician, when he hath tempered and prepared his potion, if there be in him the true heart of a physician, desireth I know that the potion might be cast down the kennel, so that the patient might recover without it; so truly it is the desire of my heart, Christ He knoweth, that this charge may not find one man guilty amongst all these hearers, amongst so many men not one highminded man. I wish it might be in vain. The best [12/13] sessions and potions, and sermons are those which are in vain. I say not in vain, if there be cause of reproof and no amends; but if there be no cause, and so it be in vain, 'I joy therein, and will joy.' But if it be far unlikely, amongst so great riches as is here, to find no pride at all, very unlikely; then hear the charge, and present yourselves, and find yourselves guilty here in our office this day, while you find grace, lest you be tried and found so in that day when there shall be no hope of grace, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.
Which that you may do the better, so many as God shall make willing, as some I hope. He doth, I will inform you how to try yourselves, referring you to the several branches in our statutes, in the high court of parliament in Heaven, laying them out unto you as I find them in the records of the Holy Ghost.
The points are three in number. First, if the mind of any man be so exalted that he looketh down on his brethren as if he stood on the tops of a leads, and not on the same ground they do, that man is highminded. St. Augustine saith well: Excipe pompatica haec et volatica, they are the same that you are. They have not vestem communen, the same coat, but they have cutem communem, the same skin; and within a few years when you die, if a man come with a joiner and measure all that you carry with you, they shall carry away with them as much; and within a few years after, a man shall not be able to discern between the shoulder-blade of one of them and one of you. Therefore no cause why you should incedere inflati, insericati, and from a high mind betraying itself by a high look contemn them, as many of you do. I say then, if any of you be a child of Anak, and look down so upon another as in his sight his brethren seem as 'grasshoppers:' 1.whether it appear in the countenance, in drawing up his eye-brows, in a disdainful and scornful eye, such an one as David, though he found no penal statute to punish it, could never abide, and David was a man after God's own heart, and therefore neither can God abide it: 2. or whether it appear in a proud of dialect of speech, as was that of Saul's, Ubi nun iste filius Ishai? where is the son of Jesse? that he come to the Pharisees Non sum sicut: [13/14] or whether it be in the course of their life, that they be like to the great fishes, to pikes, that think all the little fishes in the stream were made for them to feed on. So that it appeareth they care not what misery, what beggary, what slavery they bring to all men to, so they may soak in the broth of the caldron, and welter in their wealth and pleasure; who are in their streets and parishes as 'lions' a great deal more feared than beloved, as implacable as Lamech to forbear any injury, and will have for one drop of blood no less than a man's life. What speak I of bearing injury? which will do injury, and that for no other reason but this: Thus it must be, for Hophni will have it not thus but thus, and except they may do this, what they will to whom they will, when and how they will forsooth they do not 'govern,' their authority is nothing; in this sort overbearing all things with their countenance and wealth, and who soever standeth but up, drawing him before the 'judgment seats', and wearing him out with law. These men who do thus from a high in-bearing of the head, in phrase of speech, and in the order or rather disorder of their dealing, overlook, overcrow, and overbear their brethren of mean estate, it is certain they be high-minded Enquire and look whether any be so.
Secondly, if any mind climb so high that the boughs will bear him no longer, by exalting himself above either his ability, condition or calling--a fault which hath like to cost our times dear--that man's footing will fail him, he will down he and his mind are too high a great deal. The late treasons and conspiracies came from such kind of minds. For when the minds of men will overreach their abilities, what must be the end, but as we have seen of late to prove traitors? Why? because they have swollen themselves out of their skin. Why so? because they had lashed on more on their pleasure than they had. For so doing, when they had overreached themselves, they became propetüij, they must tackle some heady enterprise in hand. What is that? to become prodÒtai, that seeing their credit is decayed in this state, they may set up a new, and that is by overturning the old.
And not only this passing the ability is dangerous of a man's condition too; and tendeth to the impoverishing, and at last [14/15] to the overthrow of the estate also. 1. Whether it be excess of diet; as when being no magistrate, but plain Master Nabal, his dinner must be 'like to the feast of a King.' 2. Or whether it be in excess of apparel, wherein the pride of England now, as 'the pride' of Ephraim in times past, 'testifieth against her to her face.' 3. Or whether it be 'in lifting up the gate too high,' that is, in excess of building. 4. Or whether it be in keeping too great a train, Esau's case, that he go with 'four hundred' men at his tail, whereas the fourth part of the fourth part would have served his father well enough. 5. Or whether it be in perking too high in their alliance; the bramble's son in Lebanon must watch with the cedar's daughter. These are evidences and signs set down to prove a high mind: see and search into yourselves, whether you find them or no.
There is yet of this feather another kind of exalting ourselves above that we ought, much to be complained of in these days. St. Paul calleth it, 'a stretching of ourselves beyond measure.' Thus if a man be attained to any high skill in law, which is the gift of God; or if a man be grown wise, and experienced well in the affairs of this world, which is also His good blessing; presently by virtue of this they take themselves to be so qualified as they be able to overrule our matters in divinity, able to prescribe Bishops how to govern and Divines how to preach; so to determine our cases as if they were professed with us; and that, many times affirming things they know not, and censuring things they have little skill of. Now seeing we take not upon us to deal in cases of your law, or in matters of your trade. We take this is a stretching beyond your line; that in so doing you are a people that control the Priest; that you are too high when you set yourselves over them that 'are over you in the Lord;' and that this is no part of that sober wisdom which St. Paul commendeth to you, but of that cup-shotten [i.e. drunken] wisdom which he there condemneth. Which breaking compass and outreaching is, no doubt, the cause of these lamentable rents and ruptures in the Lord's net in our days. For 'only by pride cometh contention,' saith the Wise Man. Which point I wish might be looked upon and amended. Sure it will mare all in the end.
[15/16] Thirdly, if any man lift up himself too high, any of both these ways, God hath taken order to abate him and take him down, for He hath appointed His Prophets to 'prune those that are too high,' and He hath ordained His word to 'bring down every imagination that shall be exalted against it.' Now then, if there be any man that shall seek to set himself without the shot of it, and is so highminded as that he cannot suffer the words of exhortation, and where God hath said, 'Charge them that be rich,' he cannot abide to hear any charge--and such there be; sure that man without all question is very highminded, and if he durst he would tear out this leaf, and all other where like charge is given, through the Bible. Of Nabal it is recorded, 'He was so surly, a man might not speak to him;' of Abner, a great man, and a special stay of the house of Saul, that upon a word spoken of his adulterous life with one of Saul's minions, he grew to such choler that he forgot all, and laid the plot that cost his master Ishbosheth his kingdom. Micaiah, prophesies good things, that is to say, profitable to Ahab--the event shewed it; yet because he did not prophesy good things, that is, such as Ahab would hear, he spared not only to profess he hated him; and whereas the false Prophets were fed at his own table, and fared no worse than he and the Queen, he took order for Micaiah's diet, that it should be the 'bread of affliction' and the 'water of trouble,' and all for a chargegiving. These were, I dare boldly affirm, highminded men in their generations: if any be like these, they know what they are. If then there be any that refuse to be pruned and trimmed by the word of God; 1. who either when he heareth the words of the charge, blesseth himself in his heart and saith, Tush, he doth but prate, these things shall not come upon me, though I walk still according to the stubbornness of mine own heart; 2. Either in hearing the word of God, takes upon (his flesh and blood, and he) to sit on it, and censure it, and say to himself one while, This is well spoken, while his humour is served; another while, This is foolishly spoken, now he babbleth, because the charge sits somewhat near him; 3. either is in the Pharisees; case, which after they have heard the charge do, as they did as Christ, kmnkthrxeiu, jest and scoff, and make themselves [16/17] merry with it, and wash it down with a cup of sack, and that because they 'were covetous:' if in very deed 'the word of God be to them a reproach,' and they take like delight in both, and well were they if they might never hear it; and to testify their good conceit of the word, shew it in the account of the ephod, which is a base and contemptible garment in their eyes, and the word in it and with it--this is Michal's case. Whosoever is in any of these men's cases is in the case of a highminded man, and that of the highest degree; for they lift themselves up, not against earth and man, but against Heaven and God Himself. O beloved, you that be in wealth and authority, love and reverence the word of God. It is the root that doth bear you, it is the majesty thereof that keepeth you in your thrones, and maketh you be that you are; but for Ego dixi, Dii estis, a parcel-commission out of this commission of ours, the madness of the people would bear no government, but run headlong and overthrow all chairs of estate, and break in pieces all the swords and sceptres in the world, which you of this city had a strange experience of in Jack Straw and his meiny [i.e.multitude], and keep a memorial of it in our city scutcheon, how all had gone down if this word had not held all up. And therefore honour it I beseech you; I say, honour it. For when the highest of you yourselves, which are but 'grass,' and your lordships' glory and worship, which is 'the flower' of this grass, shall 'perish and pass away, this word shall continue for ever.' And if you receive it now, with due regard and reverence, it will make you also to continue for ever.
This is your charge, touching the first branch. I beseech you, enquire of it, whether there be any guilty in these points; and if there be, suffer us to do our office, that is, to humble you, or else sure the Lord will do His, that is, pull down riches and mind, and man and all: Patimini falcem occantem, ne patiamini securim extirpantem. God will not suffer it certainly; He would not suffer it in a king, He would not suffer it in an Angel, He cannot bear it to rise in an Apostle, 'for the greatness of revelations;' therefore He will not bear it in any man for any cause whatsoever. Let this be the conclusion of this point.
We shall have pride well plucked up, so long as the [17/18] root of it sticks still; that is, a vain confidence in riches. For if we doubted them, we would not trust in them, we would not boast of them. But we trust in them, and that inordinately, as countermeans against God; not subordinately, as undermeans unto God; and in so doing, we translate God's office unto us, and our homage unto Him, to a plate of silver or a wedge of gold. And that is, St. Paul saith, the worldly man's idolatry.' And indeed there is little difference, it is but turning the sentence of the Prophet David: of idolaters, to say thus, 'Their idols are silver and gold;' and of the worldly men thus, Silver and gold are their idols.
We may examine ourselves in this point of the charge, namely, whether our trust be in our riches, by two ways; for it being a received ground that our strength is our confidence, where we take our chief strength to lie, that is it certainly which we trust to. Now what that is, we shall soon find: 1. if we can certify ourselves in our need, among all means, what doth first offer itself in our intention; 2. And again, when all our means forsake us, and fail us, what is our last succour in execution.
1. By course of nature, every thing when it is assaulted ever rouseth that part first wherein his prinicipal strength lieth: if it be in his tusks, them; or in his horns, or whatsoever it is, that. To a poor man, if he have a cause in hand, there is nothing cometh to mind but God and innocency, and the goodness of his cause; there is his strength, and that is the 'horn of his salvation.' But the rich, saith Amos, hath 'gotten him horns in his own strength;' and not 'iron horns,' as were Zedekiah's, but golden horns, with which he is able to 'push' any cause, till he have consumed it. For indeed if he be to undertake aught, the first thing that cometh to his head is, Thus much will despatch it, such a gift will assure such a man, and such a gift will stop such a man's mouth, and so it is done: 'neither is God in all his thoughts.'
Tell me, then, in your affairs what cometh first to mind? Nay, tell yourselves what it is. Aures omnium oulso, saith St. Augustine, conscientias singulorum convenio: tell yourselves what it is, and by this try and know wherein your trust is; whether this charge meet with you or no, whether your riches be the strength of your confidence.
[18/19] Now lightly, what we first think of, that we last fly to. It is so. Solomon saw it in his time, and said, 'The rich man's wealth is his castle;' that ever as men, when they are foiled in the field and beaten from the city walls, fly last of all into the castle, and there think themselves safe as in their place of chief strength, so it falleth out with 'the rich of this world' in many of their causes; when justice and equity, and truth and right, and God and good men, and a good conscience and all forsake them--they know, when all other have forsaken them, their purse will stand to them; and thither as to their strongest salvation they fly, when nothing else comforts them. So that when they cannot in heart say to God, Thou art my hope, their matter is so bad; they do say--it is he in Job--to their wedge of gold, Well yet, 'thou art my confidence.' And surely, he that deviseth or pursueth an unrighteous cause because his hand hath strength, that man may be arraigned of the point. As again, if any say, and say within, truly, (Dic, dic, sed intus dic, saith Augustine)--With all my riches, with all my friends, and all the means I can make, I can do nothing against the truth. When a man is so rich that he is poor to do evil; so wise, that he is a fool to do evil; so trusteth in his riches that he dare not take an evil cause in hand, no more than the poorest commoner in the city; I dare discharge that man the court for this point. Oh beloved, think of these things, and secretly betwixt God and you, use yourselves to this examination; sure if God be God, and if there be any truth in Him, you shall find great peace and comfort in it at the last.
'Charge the rich, that they be not highminded, nor trust,' &c. And, why not 'highminded?' and why 'not trust?' Inclusively the reason is added in these words, because of 'the uncertainty of riches.' It is Paul's reason, and it is Solomon's too, who knew better what belonged to riches than Paul or any other. 'Travail not too greedily for them, bestow not all thy wisdom upon them,' saith he, 'for they have the wings of an eagle, and will take their flight of a sudden.' Such is St. Paul's word here, the very same. We behold them, we hold them, they are here with us; let us but turn ourselves aside a little, and look for them, and they are [19/20] gone. It is as if he should say, Indeed, if we could pinion the wings of our riches, if we could nail them down fast to us, then were there some shew or shadow why we should repose trust in them; but it is otherwise, they are exceeding uncertain, even the harvest of the water much above all trades. Yea, I take it the merchants confess so much before they be aware; for by this he claimeth to be allowed an extraordinary gain, because he ventureth his traffic as uncertain, and that he is driven to hazard and put in a venture his goods continually, and many times his person, and, to make him a right venturer, many times his soul too. And if they be not uncertain, how cometh it them to pass that rich men themselves are so uncertain? that is, that they that were but the other day even a little before of principal credit, within a while after, and a very short while after, their bills will not be taken? And if riches be not uncertain, what need they upon a night of foul weather any assurances upon the exchange? What need the merchants have security one of another? What need they to have their estates sure, and so good? such assurances and conveyances, so strong, yea more strong than the wit of man can devise, if both riches and men be not uncertain? I know they pretend the man's mortality of his riches rather than himself, or at the least of the one as of the other. I will be judged by themselves.
I would have you mark St. Paul's manner of speech. Before, he called them not rich barely; but with an addition, 'the rich of this world.' Sure it is thought of divers of the best writers both old and new--I name of the new Master Calvin, and of the old Saint Augustine--that this addition is a diminution, and that it is as it were a bar in the arms of all rich men; and that even by that word he means to enthwite them; and that even by that word he means to enthwite them, and as I may say to cry them down, so to make an entrance to his charge that men should not be too proud of them. For being 'of this world' they must needs savour of the soil, be as this world is, that is, transitory, fickle, and deceitful. And now he comes in with riches again, and will not put it alone, but calleth it 'the uncertainty of riches.' And I see it is the Holy Ghost's fashion, not in this place only but all along the Scriptures, to speak nothing magnifically [20/21] of them, as the manner of the world is to do. St. Paul calleth not rich, but the 'rich of this world;' St. John likewise calleth them not goods simply, but 'this world's goods.' St. Paul calleth them not riches, but the 'uncertainty of riches;' our Saviour Christ calleth them not riches, but the 'deceitfulness of riches.' So David, the plate and arras and rich furniture of a wealthy man, calleth it of purpose, 'the glory of a man's house,' not his glory, but the glory of his house--that is St. Chrysostom's note. And Solomon calleth them, as they be indeed, God's blessing of His left hand. For immortality, eternal life, that only is the blessing of His right hand. All to learn us not to boast ourselves or stay ourselves, or as Christ calleth it to 'rejoice'--I say not, as He to His Disciples, that a few devils, but--that a few minerals be subject unto us, but that by our humbleness of mind, trust in God, dealing truly with all, and mercifully with our poor brethren, we are assured that our names are written in the book of life. This then is the uncertainty of our riches, because they are the riches of this world the world and they are all within the compass of our text--that is, you must leave them to the world, they are none of yours. Denique si vestra sint, saith Gregory, tollite ea vobiscum, 'If they be yours, why do you not take them with you, when you go?' By leaving them behind you to the world, you confess they are not yours, but the world's. But indeed they are the riches of this world: hîc enim acquiruntur, hîc vel amittuntur, vel dimittuntur; 'here you get them and here you may lose them, here you get them and here you must leave them.' And in this disjunctive you have the certainty of riches: the very certainty is losing or leaving, that is, foregoing; so the very certainty is an uncertainty. Leave them or lose them we must, leave them when we die, or lose them while we live. One end they must have, finem tuum, or finem suum, 'thy end,' or 'their own end.' You must either leave them when you die, or they will leave you while you live--this is certain; but whether you them, or they you, this is uncertain. Job tarried himself, his riches went; the rich man's riches tarried, but he himself went. One of these shall be we know; but which of them shall be, or when, or how, or how soon it shall be, that we know not.
[21/22] Let us briefly consider this double uncertainty:
1.Of our riches staying with us, first;
2. And then, of our staying with them.
1.In the second of Corinthians, eleventh chapter, thirtieth verse, when as he would glory, he saith, 'He will glory in his infirmity;' which when he would recount as a principal part of it he reckoneth, that he, 'had been in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, of his own nation, among the Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, and amongst false brethren.' If this were frailty, then sure frail and weak are riches. And sure if the rich will glory they must glory with St. Paul, for they are in all, and in more, and greater than the Apostle ever was. He was 'in perils of water,' they in peril both of water and fire; he was 'in peril of robbers,' they in peril of rovers by sea, and robbers by land; he 'in peril of his own nation,' they are in peril of our own nation and of other nations, both removed as the Moor and Spaniard, and near home as the Dunkirker; he 'in peril of strangers,' they not of strangers only but of their own household, their servants and factors; he 'in peril of the sea,' they both of the tempest at the sea, and the Publican on land; he 'in peril of the wilderness,' that is, of wild beasts, they not only of the wild beasts called the sycophant, but of the tame beast too called the flatterer; he in danger 'of false brethren,' and so are they in peril of certain false brethren called wilful bankrupts, and of certain other called deceitful lawyers: for the one their debts, for the other their estates and deeds can have no certainty.
Musculus on that place where Christ willeth 'our treasure to be laid where no moths come,' saith his auditors did laugh in conceit at Christ That frayed them with moths; their maids should deal wth the moths well enough. Saith he, You think he meant the poor silly flies; tush, you are deceived, what say you to tineæ urbanæ, 'evil creditors?' You must needs credit, you can have no vent for your merchandise; and what say you to a second kind of moths called tineæ forenses, 'Westminster Hall moths?'--for I trust I may speak of the corrupt lawyer, with the favour of the better sort--you must needs credit them with your evidences and estates, it is not certain what wealth these two moths do waste, and in what uncertainty men's riches are by their means.
[22/23] These are out of St. Paul's 'perils,' he was free from these moths. But many rich men might be brought forth in a fair day and shewed, whose substance hath by these moths been fretted to pieces. Thus little certainty have we of their staying with us.
2. But grant, let it be that they were certain; yet except we ourselves were sure to stay with them also, it is as good as nothing. That there may be a certainty between two things, as a man and his wealth, to continue together, they must either of them be sure; else if the one fail, where is the other's assurance? Grant then we were certain of them, we are not certain of ourselves, and in very deed we are no more certain of them than they of us. Leases of them we have for sixty years, but they have no leases of us for three hours; if they might take leases of us too, it were somewhat. Now when the lease is taken, nay when the fee simple is bought, and the house and the warehouse filled, and the purse too, if God say but hâc nocte, it dashes all. For which cause, I think, St. James speaking in two several places of our life and our riches--our riches he compareth to 'the grass,' of no certainty, it will either wither or be plucked up shortly; but this is a great certainty in respect of that of our life, which he resembleth to 'a vapour' which we see now, and by and by we turn us to look for it, and it is vanished away. To us then that uncertain of ourselves, they cannot be but riches of uncertainty.
But let us admit we were sure of both these, what is it to have riches and not to enjoy them? And the enjoying of riches dependeth upon two uncertainties more.
1. First, a man's uncertainty, which hangeth upon the favour of a Prince, which is many times wavering and uncertain. I know not whether I shall make you understand it, because of the want of examples in our times, by means of the mild and blessed government that we live in. For a practice it hath been, and many records do our chronicles afford in the days of some Prince of this realm, when a man was grown to wealth, to pick holes and make quarrels against him, and so seize his goods into the Prince's hand; to use wealthy citizens as sponges, to roll them up and down in moisture till they be full, and then to wring all out of them [23/24] again. God wot, an easy matter it is, if a Prince stand so minded, to find matter of disgrace against a subject of some wealth; and then he might fare never a whit the better for his wealth, for fine and forfeiture whereof, rather than any fault else, the business itself was made against him. We cannot tell what this meaneth, we may thank the gracious government we live under, so that I think I do scarce speak so that I am understood. But such a thing there is, such an uncertainty belonging to riches, whether we conceive it or no.
2. Again, if the times which we live in happen to prove unquiet and troublesome, then again comes another uncertainty. For the days being evil and dangerous, a man can have no joy, and indeed no certainty neither of riches. For if there fall an invasion or garboil [i.e.trouble] into the state by foreign or civil war, then if ever is Job's smile verified, that riches are like 'a cobweb;' that which a man shall be weaving all his life long, with great ado and much travail, there comes me a soldier, a barbarous soldier, with his broom, and in the turning of a hand sweeps it clean away. How many in our neighbour countries, during their misery, have tasted this uncertainty! How many have gone to bed rich, and risen poor men in the morning! Great troubles are looked for, and great troubles there must be and will be, doubtless. The world now 'knoweth his Master's will and doeth it not; it must therefore certainly be beaten with many stripes,' with many more than the ignorant world was. And therefore this word--'of this world'--in this text, we may with an emphasis pronounce and say, 'Charge them that are rich in this world, that they trust not in the uncertainty of riches.'
There are but three things in riches; 1. The possessing, 2. The enjoying. 3. And last the conveying of them. Little assurance is there in the two former, and what shall we say of the conveyance? If our pomp cannot descend with us, well yet if we were certain to whom we should leave them, somewhat it were for the certainty of them. These considerations oft had in mind would loosen both our assurance in and our liking of them.
What for the conveyance? Do we not see daily that men make heritages, but God makes heirs; that many sons roast not their fathers got in hunting? that they that have [24/25] been in chief account for their wealth, their sons should be driven even 'to flatter the poor,' and have nothing in their hands, no not bread? That never snow in the sun melted faster, than do some men's riches as they be gone?
These things are in the eyes of the whole world. O beloved, these are the judgments of God Deceive not yourselves with vain words; say not in your hearts, This is the way of the world, some must get and some must lose. No, no, it is not the way of the world, it is the way of God's judgment, For to the reason of man nothing can be alleged, but that considering the infinite number of infinite rich men in this place, the posterity of them these many years should by this time have filled the whole land, were it much bigger than it is, with their progeny, even with divers both worshipful and honourable families from them descended; and it is well known it is otherwise, that there is scarcely a handful in comparison. This is not the way of the world, for we see divers houses of divers lines remain to this day in continuance of the same wealth and worship which they had five hundred years since. It is not therefore the way of the world, say not it is so, but it is a heavy judgment from the Lord. And these uncertainties, namely this last, came upon some of them for their wicked and deceitful getting of them; upon some of them for their proud and riotous abusing them; upon some of them for their wretched and covetous retaining them. And except ye now hear this the Lord's charge, look unto it, howsoever you wrestle out with the uncertainties yourselves, assuredly this last uncertainty remaineth for your children. 'The Lord's hand is not shortened.' I shall never get out of this point if I break not from it.
These are but three fruits of all your getting: 1. The tenure, 2. The fruition, 3. The parting with. See whether the Lord hath not laid one uncertainty on them all: 1.uncertainty in their tarrying with us, and uncertainty in our tarrying with them; 2. uncertainty of enjoying of our leaving them, by reason of the danger of our children's scattering. The estate in them, the enjoying of them, the departing with them, all being uncertain, so many uncertainties, might not St. Paul truly say, 'the uncertainty of riches.'
[25/26] There is yet one behind worse than them all. I will add no more but that; and that is, that our riches and our worship they shall leave us, because they are uncertain, but the pride of our minds and the vain trust in them, them we shall be certain of, they shall not leave us. And this is grave jugum, a heavy misery upon mankind: the goods, the lordships, the offices that they got, them they shall leave here; the sin that they commit in getting and enjoying them, they shall not leave behind them for their hearts, but shall cleave fast unto them. This is a certainty, you will say; it is indeed a certainty of sin, but therefore an uncertainty of the soul: so doth Job reckon it amongst the uncertainties of riches. For 'what hope hath the hypocrite when he hath heaped up riches, if God take away his soul?' where is his hope or his trust then? Never will they shew themselves in their own kind to be a 'staff of reed,' as then; both deceiving them which lean on them, and besides going into their souls and piercing them. For very sure it is, many of that calling die in great uncertainty this way, wishing they had never seen that wealth which they have seen, that so they might not see that sin which they then see. Yea some of them, I speak it of mine own knowledge abroad, wish they had never come further than the shovel and the spade; crying out at the hour of death, both of the uncertainty of the estate of their souls too.
This point, this is a point of special importance to be spoken of by me, and to be thought of by you. I would God you would take it many times, when God shall move you, into sad consideration. With a great affection, and no less great truth, saith Chrysostom, that Heaven and earth and all the creatures in them, if they had tears they would shed them in great abundance, to see a great many of us so careless in this point as we be. It is the hand of the Lord, and it is His gracious hand, if we could see it, that He in this manner maketh the world to totter and reel under us, that we might
Not stay and rest upon it, where certainty and steadfastness we shall never find. But in Him above, where only they are to be found. For if riches, being so brittle and unsteady as they be, men are so made upon them, if God had settled them in any certainty, what would they have done? What poor [26/27] man's right, what widow's copy, or what orphan's legacy should have been free from us?
Well then, if riches be uncertain, whereto shall we trust? If not in them, where then? It is the third point: 'Charge them that be rich in this world, that they be not highminded, neither trust in the uncertainty of riches, but that they trust in God.' It is the third point of the charge in general, and the first of the affirmative part; and containeth partly a homage to be done for our riches to God, and that is, trust in him; and partly a rent-charge laid upon our riches, which is doing good. And indeed, no other than David had said before, 'Trust in the Lord and be doing good.'
St. Paul will batter down and lay flat our castle, but he will erect us another wherein we may trust. Yea indeed, so as Solomon did before, setteth up a tower against the tower, the 'tower of righteousness, which is the name of the Lord,' against the rich man's tower, which is as you have heard before, his riches. Instead of the worldling's faith, which is to make money an articles of his faith, teacheth us the faith of a Christian, which is to vouchsafe none but God that honour, Even so doth the Apostle her, and that for great reason; nam qui vult securus sperare, speret in Eo Qui non potest perire, 'he that will trust and be secure in his trust, let him trust in Him Who himself never failed, and never failed those that put their trust in Him; in Whom is no uncertainty, no not so much as any shadow of uncertainty.
Trust in Him, by looking to Him first ere we admit any else into our conceit; and by looking to Him last and not looking beyond Him to any, as if we had a safer or trustier than He.
And that because He is 'the living God:' as if He should say, That you fancy to yourselves to trust in, is a dead idol, and not a 'living God,' and if ever you come to any dangerous disease, you shall find it an idol dead in itself, not able to give itself life, much less to another; not able to preserve life when it is present; not to remove death, nay not to remove sickness, not any sickness, not the gout from your feet, not [27/28] the palsy from your hands, nay not so much as the ache from your teeth; not able to add one hair to your head, nor one hair's breadth to your stature, nor one hour to your days, not one minute to the hours of your life. This moth-eaten god, as our Saviour Christ calleth it, this canker-eaten god, this god that must be kept under lock and key from a thief, trust not in it for shame. O let it be never said the living trust in the dead. Trust in 'the living God' That liveth Himself, nay That is life Himself; in His Son That was able to quicken Himself and is able to quicken you, of Whose gift and inspiration you have already this life, by Whose daily Spirit and visitation your soul is preserved in this life, in this mortal and corruptible life, and of Whose grace and mercy we look for our other immortal and eternal life.
Who not only liveth but also 'giveth you,' &c. A living and a giving God, that is, That liveth and That giveth; of Whose gift you have not only your life and term of years, but even also your riches themselves, the very horns that you lift so high, and wherewith unnnaturally many times you push against Him That gave them. He giveth, for 'the earth He gave unto the children of men;' and 'silver and gold' were the Lord's, till not by a casual scattering but by His appointed giving, not by chance but by gift, He made them thine. He gave them; thou broughtest none of them with thee into the world, thou camest naked. He gave them, and when He gave them He might have given them to thy brother of low estate, and made thee stand and ask at his door as He hath made him now stand and ask at thine. He giveth you riches, you get them not, it is not your own wisdom or travail that getteth them not, it is not your own wisdom or travail that getteth them, but His grace and goodness that giveth them. For you see many men of as great understanding and foresight as yourselves, want not only 'riches' but even 'bread.' It is not your travail; except the Lord had given them, all the early uprising and the late down-lying had been in vain. It is God That giveth: make your recognizance it is so, for fear lest if you deny Dominus dedit, you come to affirm Dominus abstulit. God teacheth it was He That gave them, by taking them away.
This is St. Paul's reason: let us see how it serves his conclusion [28/29] to the overthrow of our vain pride and foolish trust in them. If it be gift, si accepisti quid gloriaris? Be not proud of it. And if it be gift, He That sent it can call for it again; trust not in it.
'Who giveth us all things,' &c. All things, spiritual or corporal, temporal or eternal, little or great; from the least, and so upward; from the greatest, and so downward; from panem quotidianum, 'a morsel of bread,' to Regnum coelorum, 'the kingdom of heaven.' He giveth us all, even unto Himself; yea He giveth us Himself and all, and more we cannot desire.
Why then, if He give all, all are donatives, all that we hold we hold in frank-almoigne [i.e. a tenure by divine service] and no other tenure is there at God's hands, or in our law. For quid habes quod non accepisti? 'what is there?' that is to say, name one thing thou hast not received; and if there be any one thing, boast of that and spare not. But if that be nothing, then let Cyprian's sentence take place, so much commended and so often cited by St. Augustine, De nullo gloraindum est, quia nullum est nostrum; and add unto it, De nullo fidendum est, quia nullum est nostrum, We must glory of nothing, for that we have nothing of our own; neither must we trust any thing, for that we have nothing of our own.'
'That giveth us all things to enjoy.' Not only to have, but 'to enjoy.' For so to have them, that we have no joy of them; so to get all things, that we can take no part of them when we have gotten them; so to possess the labours of our hands, that we cannot eat the labours of our hands, as good be without them. This is a great 'vanity' and vexation, and indeed, as Solomon saith, 'an untimely birth were better' than so to be. But blessed be God That besides these blessings to be enjoyed giveth us healthful bodies to enjoy them with, the favour of our Prince to enjoy them under, the days of peace to enjoy them in, whereby our souls may be satisfied with good things, and every one may eat his portion with joy of heart.
'That giveth all things to enjoy;' that is, dealeth not with you as He hath dealt with the poor, hath given you things not only of use and necessity, but things also of fruition and pleasure; hath given you not only manna for your need, but also quails for your 'lust;' hath given you out of Ophir, not [29/30] only linen cloth, and horses, for your service, but also 'apes, ivory, and peacocks,' for your delight. Unto them He giveth indumenta, 'covering for their nakedness;' but unto you ornamenta, 'clothing for your comeliness.' Unto them He giveth alimenta, 'nourishment for their emptiness;' into you delectamenta, delicious fare for daintiness.' Therefore you above all men are to rejoice in him, (there is great cause) that He may rejoice over you, unto whom He hath given so many ways so great cause of rejoicing.
That giveth us things to enjoy plenteously.' 'Plenteously' indeed, may Israel now say, said the Prophet; may England now say, say I, and I am sure upon as great cause. He hath not dealt so with every nation, nay 'He hath not dealt so with any nation.' And 'plenteously' may England now say, for it could not always; nay, it could not ever have said the like. 'Plenteously' indeed, for He hath not sprinkled, but poured His benefits upon us. Not only, 'blessed be the people whose God is the Lord,' that blessing which is highly to be esteemed if we had none besides it, but 'blessed be the people that are in such a case.' That blessing He hath given us, 'all things to enjoy plenteously;' we cannot, nay our enemies cannot but confess it. O that our thankfulness to Him, and our bounty to His, might be as plenteous as His gifts and goodness have been plenteous to us!
To move us from the two evils before, the Apostle used their uncertainty, which is a reason from law and the course thereof. So he might now have told us, if we trusted not in God we should have the tables turned, and His giving changed to taking away; our all things into want of many things, and having nothing near at all; our plenty into penury; and our enjoying more than we need into no more than needs, nor so much neither. Thus he might have dealt, but he is now in a point of Gospel and therefore taketh his persuasion from thence. For this indeed is the evangelical argument of God's goodness, and there is no goodness to that which the consideration of God's goodness worketh in us.
The argument is forcible, and so forcible, as that choose whether this will move us or no. Sure if this will not prevail with us, we shall not need Moses nor Christ, to sit and give sentence upon us, the devil himself will do it. For as wicked [30/31] as he is, and as wretched a spirit, yet thus he reasoneth upon Job: 'Doth Job fear Thee for nought?' As if he should say, Seeing Thou hast dealt so plenteously, yea so bounteously with him, if he should not serve Thee, if he should so far forget himself, it were a fault past all excuse, a fault well worthy to be condemned. A bad fault it must be, that the devil doth abhor; yet so bad a fault it is, you see, that the devil doth abhor it. When men receive blessing plenteously from God, and return not their homage back again, unthankful rich men shall need no other judge but the devil, and then, as you see, they are sure to be condemned. For if God will not do it, the devil will.
Let me then recommend this third part of the charge to your careful remembrance and regard. It concerneth your homage, which is your trust in Him, that you trust in Him with your service of body and soul, Who hath trusted you with His plenty and store, and hath made you in that estate that you are trusted with matters of high importance both at home and abroad. For it is the argument of all arguments to the true Christian: because God hath given him, saith St. James, 'without exprobation;' and given 'all things,' without exception of any; and that 'to enjoy,' which is more than competency; and that 'plenteously,' which is more than sufficiency; therefore, even therefore, to trust in Him only. If there be in us the hearts of true Christians, this will shew it, for it will move us; and so let it, I beseech you. Let us not as men under the law be tired with the uncertainty of the creatures, but as men under grace have our hearts broken with the goodness of God. In that God to place our trust, Who beyond all our deserts giveth: if we respect the quantity, 'all things;' if the manner, very 'plenteously;' if the end, 'to joy' in them; yet so, that our joy and repose end in Him--a very blessed and heavenly condition.
'Trust in the Lord and be doing good,' saith David. St. Paul saith the same: 'charge the rich of this world that they do good.' The last was a very plausible point, which we have dwelt in with great delight. What? The plenty of all things, that we enjoy--and long may enjoy, I beseech God; who is not moved with joy to hear it reported?
But little know they what a consequent St. Paul will infer [31/32] upon this antecedent. For thus doth Paul argue: God hath done good to you by giving you, you also are bound to do good to others by giving them. If He hath given you 'all things,' you ought to part with something--and the more you part with, the liker ye become to Him That giveth 'all things.' If He have given you 'to enjoy,' you ought to receive others into the fellowship of the same joy; and not to think that to do others good is to do yourselves hurt. If 'plenteously' He hath given you, you ought to be plenteous in giving; and not when the Lord hath His epah great, wherein He hath meted to you, to make your hin small, whereby you measure to the poor, turning the plenty of Heaven into the scarcity of earth.
Thus doth the Apostle fetch the matter about, and thus doth he infer your doing good to these little lambs and such like, out of God's doing good unto you.
And that which he inferreth he doth exceedingly fitly, and sheweth great art and learning of it. For, speaking of enjoying, his very last word, he is carried in a very good zeal and affection to 'the rich of this world,' to desire of God, and to entreat of them that they may not have only ppÒskairoon ¢pÒlausin of them, that is, 'enjoy them for a season,' but they may enjoy them for ever; not only for a few years, or weeks, or days, we cannot tell well which, but from everlasting to everlasting. And that is, by doing 'good.' So 'enjoy,' that we may do 'good,' too.
To say truth, St. Paul could not better devise than here to lace it. For our too much enjoying eateth up our well-doing, clean. Our too much lashing on in doing ourselves good, maketh that we can do good to none but ourselves. Our present enjoying destroyeth our well-doing utterly, and consequently the eternal enjoying we should have of our riches. As Pharaoh's lean kine devoured the fat, and it was not seen on them, so doth St. Basil, our f` § m_ deÐ, our riotous misspending, where we should not, eat up our f` _ deÐ, our Christian bestowing, where we should; and a man cannot tell what is become of it. Very well and wisely said the Father, `AkÒonh g_r tÁj ¢swtaj _ filotima 'Pride is prodigality's whetstone,' and it sets such an edge upon it in our enjoying, that it cuts so deep into our wealth, and [32/33] shares so much for our vain and riotous enjoying, that it leaves but little for our well-doing.
Look how the trust in God and the trust in riches are set one against another here by the Apostle; so are our high minds, and our doing good. One would not think it at the first, but sure so it is; we must have lower minds and less pride, if we will have more good works and greater plenty of well-doing. You may therefore enjoy your wealth, that is true; but you must also take this with you, you must do good with it, and learn of the Apostle there be two uses of your riches, and that therefore God hath given them: 1. to enjoy, 2. to do good; not to enjoy only, but to enjoy and to do good.
Enjoying is doing good, but to ourselves only; but by doing good here St. Paul meaneth to do it to others, that they may be better for us. The very same two doth Solomon in very fit terms set down; that water is given into our 'cistern,' 1. That we may drink of it ourselves, 2. That our fountains may flow out, and they that dwell about us fare the better for them. The very same two doth 'a greater than Solomon,' our Saviour Himself, count of too, for of His purse we read He had these two uses, to 'buy' that He hath need of Himself, and to 'give something to the poor.' It is good reason, that man consisting of two parts, the soul and body, the body only should not take up all, but the soul should be remembered too. Enjoying is the body's part, and well-doing is the soul's; your souls are suitor to you to remember them, that is, to remember well-doing, which is the soul's portion.
Remember this second; the other, I doubt not but you will remember fast enough. This was the use of our Saviour Christ's purse, and if yours be like His this must be the use of yours also. For surely it is greatly to be feared that many rich at this day know not both these; indeed know no other use of their wealth than an ox or an ass or other brute beasts would know, to have their crib well served, sweet and clean provender of the best in the manger, and theirs furniture and trappings fit and of the finest fashion. No other than the glutton did, to go in soft linen and rich silk and to fare deliciously every day. Or than the other his pew-fellows, than professed it was all the use he counted of; and therefore [33/34] we see he saith to his soul, Eat thy fill, soul, and drink thy fill, fill and fat thyself and enjoy this life, never look to enjoy any other.
We must learn one use more, one more out of our charge, and consequently. When we look upon our sealed sums, our heaps of treasure, and continual comings in, thus to think with ourselves. This that I see here hath God given me 'to enjoy,' but not only for that but to 'do good' with also. The former use of my riches I have had long, and daily still have, but what have I done in the other? The rich men in the Gospel they had the same, they did enjoy theirs, but now it is sure little joy they have of them. Why? For want of this other. Abraham, he did both; he enjoyed his riches here, and now another,an eternal joy of them. Yea, he received Lazarus into his bosom. Why? He received him into his bosom and cherished him, and do good here on earth. And so did Job, and so did Zaccheus. Now good Lord, so give me grace so 'to enjoy' here, that I lose not my endless joy in Thy heavenly kingdom. Let me follow their steps in my life, with whom I wish my soul after death. These things are good and profitable for the rich oft to think on.
Well then, if to 'do good' be a part of the charge, what is it to 'do good?' It is a positive thing, 'good;' not a privative, to do no harm. Yet as the world goeth now, we are fain so to commend men. He is an honest man, he doth no hurt: of which praise any wicked man that keeps himself to himself may be partaker. But it is to do some good things; what good thing? I will not answer as in the schools, I fear I should not be understood, I will go grossly to work. These that you see here before your eyes, to do them good, to part with that that may do them good; use the goods that you have to do but that which sundry that have heretofore occupied those rooms where you now sit--whose remembrance is therefore in blessing upon earth and whose names are in the book of life in Heaven have done before you in divers works of charity, to the maintenance of the Church, the benefit of learning, and the relief of the poor of the land. This is to 'do good.' This I trust you understand.
This know, that God hath not given sight to the eye to enjoy, but to lighten the members; nor wisdom to the [34/35] honourable man, but for us men of simple shallow forecast; nor learning to the divine, but for the ignorant; so neither riches to the wealthy, but for those that want relief. Think you Timothy hath his depositum, and we ours, and you have none? It is sure you have. We ours in inward graces and treasures of knowledge; you yours in outward blessings and treasures of wealth. But both are deposita, and we both are feoffees of trust. I see there is a strange hatred and a bitter gainsaying every where stirred up against unpreaching Prelates, as you term them, and pastors that feed themselves only: and they are well worthy. If I might see the same hatred begun among yourselves, I would think it sincere. But that I cannot see. For that which a slothful divine is in things spiritual, that is a rich man for himself and nobody else in things carnal: and they are not pointed at. But sure you have your harvest as well as we ours, and that a great harvest. Lift up your eyes and see the streets round about you, 'the harvest is verily great and the labourers few.' Let us pray both that the Lord would thrust out labourers into both these harvests, that the treasures of knowledge being opened they may have the bread of eternal life; and the treasures of well-doing being opened they may have the bread of life, and so they may want neither.
I will tell you it another as easy a way. St. Augustine making it plain to his auditory, somewhat backward as it should seem, was fain to tell them thus, thus to define doing good: Quod non vultis facere, hoc bonum est, said he 'that that you will not do, that that I cannot get you to do, that is to do good.' Shall I say so to you? No indeed I will not, I hope better things, and partly I know them. But this I will say; that which the Papists with open mouth, in all their books, to the slander of the Gospel, that which they say you do not, nay you will not do, that is too 'do good.'
One of them saith that our religion hath comforted your force attractive so much, and made it so strong, that nothing can be wrung from you. Another, he saith that our religion hath brought a hardness into the bowels of our professors, that they pity little, and the cramp or chiragra into their hands, that they give less. Another, that our preaching hath bred your minds full of Solomon's horseleeches, that cry 'Bring [35/36] in, bring in,' and nothing else. All of them say that your good works come so from you, as if indeed your religion were to be saved by faith only. Thus through you, and through want of your doing good, the Gospel of Christ is evil spoken of among them that are without. They say, we call not to you for them; that we preach not this point, that we leave them out of our charges. Libero animam meam, 'I deliver here mine own soul.' I do now call for them, I have done it elsewhere ere now. Here I call for them now, I take witness, I call you to record, I call heaven to record, Domine scis quia dixi, scis quia locutus sum, scis quia clamavi, 'Lord, thou knowest I have spoken for them, I have called for them, I have cried for them,' I have made them a part of my charge, and the most earnest and vehement part of my charge, even the charge of doing good.
Unto you therefore that be rich be it spoken; hear your charge. I pray you. There is no avoiding, you must needs seal this fruit of well-doing, you must needs do it. For having wealth and wherewithal to 'do good,' if you do it not, imprimis, talk not of faith, for you have no faith in you; if you have wherewith to shew it and shew it not, St. James saith you have none to shew. Nor tell me not of your religion, there is no religion in you; 'pure religion is this,' as to very good purpose was shewed yesterday, 'To visit the fatherless and widows,' and you never learned other religion of us.
Secondly, if you do it not I warn you of it now, you shall then find it when you shall never be able to answer the exacting of this charge in the great day; where the question shall not be of the highness or lowness of your minds, not of your trust and confidence, or any other virtues, though they be excellent, but of your feeding, clothing, visiting, harbouring, succouring, and in a word, of your well-doing only. This I say to you, bear witness I say it.
Now to them in your just defence I say--for God forbid but while I live I should always defend this honourable city in all truth--to them whom the mist of envy hath so blinded that they can see no good at all done but by themselves, I forbid them, the best of them, to show me in Rheims or in Rome, or any popish city Christian, such a show as we have seen here these two days. To-day but a handful of the heap, [36/37] but yesterday and on Monday the whole heap, even a mighty army of so many good works as there were relieved orphans, 'the chariots' of this city, I doubt not, and 'the horsemen thereof.'
They will say it is but one, so the say; be it so, yet it is a matchless one. I will go further with them, spoken be it to God's glory, Non, nobis Domine, non nobis, sed Nomini Tuo da gloriam: 'Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto Thy Name give the praise, for Thy loving mercy and for Thy truth's sake which we profess.' I will be able to prove that learning in the foundation of schools and increases of revenues within colleges, and the poor in foundation of almshouses, and increase of perpetuities to them, have received greater help in this realm within these forty years last past, since not the starting up of our Church as they fondly use to speak, but since the reforming ours from the error of theirs, than it hath I say in any realm Christian, not only within the selfsame forty years, (which were enough to stop their mouths) but also than it hath in any forty years upwards, during all the time of popery, which I speak partly of mine own knowledge, and partly by sufficient grave information to this behalf. Thy may be said, and said truly.
And when we have said this, what great things have we said? that time for time, so many years for so many, thirty years of light have made comparison with thirty years of trouble. But this is not as we would have it, we would have it out of all comparison. This that hath been said is strange to them I know, and more than they reckoned of. But I would have you in these times of peace and truth so far beyond them, as that you might fimm_un, 'snaffle' them in this. So that they durst not once offer to enter into this theme with us, or once to mention it more. So it should be, I am sure, so the Gospel deserves to have it.
You have the substance of that you must do, to 'do good.' Now here is the quantity: 'Be rich in good works;' that seeing you are rich indeed, you would not be poor men but rich in good works.
'Good works,' St. Paul saith, not good words. 'Good,' with the goodness of the hand, not with the goodness of the tongue, and tongue only, as many now are--well therefore resembled [37/38] to the tree that Pliny speaketh of, the leaves of it as broad as any target, but the fruit is no bigger than a bean--to talk targets and to do beans. It were better reversed, if we were, as St. Paul saith, 'perfect in all good works,' than perfect in certain curious and quaint terms and set phrases, wherein great part of many men's religions do now-a-days consist; plain speech and sound dealing, plain speech and good works, best.
And 'rich' in them. The rich man in the Gospel, would as he said, build his barns bigger to put in them p£nta ¢gaq_, 'all his goods' he had; no good out of his barn. Yes, yes, some 'in good works' too. St. Paul hath here within the compass of this text two rich men; his desire is they may both meet together in every rich man. 'Rich,' n tù nàn a"îni, 'in the world that now is,' so ye are: rich in the world that shall be after this; be that too. Rich in coffer; so ye are: rich in conscience; be so too. Your consciences you shall carry with you, your coffers you shall not. Thus you are valued in the Queen's books; what are you in God's books? So much worth in this land of the dying? how much worth in the land of the living? St. Paul's advice is, that you strive for both; which you shall be, if ye be 'rich in good works.' The true riches are the riches of 'His glorious inheritance.' They be the true riches, which except a man can assure himself of after the lease of his life is out, he shall be in a marvellous poor case, as was the rich man; and beg of Lazarus there, that begged of him here. Those riches must be thought of, marry then you must be 'rich in good works.' Not to give something to somebody at some time. Why? who doth not so? That is not to be 'rich.' To give feidom_nwj, 'sparingly,' a piece of bread or a draught of drink, and that only, that belongeth to him whom God hath sparingly blessed, to the brother of low estate; it is not your work.
In the law, the building of the Tabernacle the poor gave goats' hair and badgers' skins; that was for them, and that was accepted: the rich, they gave purple, gold and jewels, to the Tabernacle, they were 'rich in good works.' And in the Gospel, 'To Whom much is given,' of him proportionally 'much shall be required.' That is, in a word, As you are assessed in the Queen's books so are you in God's books, each one according [38/39] to his ability. And God will look, that according to that sessment they should be done; that you should perisseàsai, 'abound' in good works as you do in wealth, that you should prostasqai, 'go before' and sit highest and have a precedence in works as you have in your places. And in a word that you should be lords, knights, aldermen, masters, wardens, and of the livery in good works, as you be in your several wards and companies. And indeed to say the truth, to commit so many sins as no auditor can number them, and to afford so few good works as a child may tell them; to receive such profits as great count-books will not hold them; and to yield so small store of good works as a little paper not so broad as my hand may contain them; to lash out at a banquet you know what, and to cast to a captive's redemption all the world knows what; to cast your pride with pounds and your good works with pence, what coherence is there in these? This is not to be 'rich.' But that is a part of the charge too. I pray you remember it, remember to be 'rich;' not only to do good, but to be 'rich' in doing good. That will make you in case well to die, as now, God be thanked, you are well to live.
And with the quantity take the quality too, I pray you for the quantity, richly; for the quality, readily. 'Ex ¢n£gkhj, 'with compulsion,' not willingly; and k lÚphj, 'with grudging,' not cheerfully, these are the faults contrary to this virtue. God must have it done with a facility, with a readiness, easily. And good reason easily, for easily you may. We that want, cannot without difficulty; we would, and we cannot; we have a heart without a hand; though we be willing, nothing is done. Why? we are not able. You are able, God be thanked; if you be well willing, there is no more to do, it is done. This readiness is a necessary virtue in our days, where ere a benefit come, nay many times ere a debt, so much ingenuity is spent, so many rogos, such a Vade et redi, 'go and come' such a time; such a dancing on the threshold, such a failing of the eyes ere it can be seen, such a cleaving to the fingers ere it will come off, such instillation by now a drop and then a drop, as to a liberal nature when it cometh it is like to bread full of gravel; for hunger a man must needs have it, and but for needs must a man had as lief be without it. [39/40] O beloved, mar not all you do before God and man for want of this one thing. You love a fair seed-time, all of you: Hilaris dutio, serena satio, 'cheerful giving is like a fair seed-time.' As you for your seed, to bury it wish a seasonable time, so and no less God desireth for His, that His seed may not be sown with an overcast mind, but with gladness of heart and cheerfulness of countenance. Even as He doth Himself, Who what He besotweth, bestoweth so as He taketh as much yea more delight in giving than we of receiving. So do, and then this charge is at an end: 'Be ready to communicate.'
There is of this word some difference among writers, but such as you may easily reconcile. Some think the Apostle would have rich men to be eÙprosÒdonj, 'easy to be spoken with,' and to be spoken to. Some, that he would not only have them give readily, but lend freely, and practise the devil's alchemistry, as they do, by multiplication in lending. Some, that they should not think their beneficence to be a taking from them without receiving back, inasmuch as there is an intercourse of the giver's grace, and the receiver's prayer. Some, that his mind is, that they should not do good to some few, but even to a multitude. All are good and godly, and agreeable to the analogy of faith; and you by doing all may verify and agree all, and make of a discord in opinions a harmony in practice. St. Hierome, me thinketh, saith best, that Communicare est communitati dare, aut aliquid commune, 'to be beneficial to a society, or to bestow to some common use.'
This is the perfection or pitch of well-doing 'that most plenteous grace, by the thanksgiving of many, may redound to the glory of God.' The Apostle therefore is a further suitor that be rich, and will not end his charge till he hath laid this on you too, to do good to societies and foundations, either necessary to be erected, or more than necessary to be maintained, lest through our evil doing our fathers' well-doing perish. It is not for every man to reach unto them, there is no hope to have them upholden but by you; that you would therefore have them in remembrance, and to think upon them to do them good.
But alas, what hope is there to hear that good will be this [40/41] way done, since it is thought that many may be indicted for seeking to eat up companies, and to convert that which was the good and making of many into their own, singulare commmodo by out-buying and out-bidding all besides themselves, that they alone may appropriate civil livings, turn common into private, the whole body's nourishment into one foregrown member, and in the end 'dwells alone' upon the earth.
That the world is towards an end, other men may be persuaded by other reasons; none more effectual to persuade me than this one, that every man doeth what in him lieth to discommon communities, and to bring all the first privation. For the world being itself a main society, these men by dismembering under-societies seek and do what they can to dissolve the whole. So that God must needs come to make an end of the world, or else if this hold on we should shortly make an end of it ourselves.
It is further complained, that whereas there hath been and is given charitably to the poor and their maintenance, that the poor themselves want, and they that have the receiving of the profits do yet increase mightily. Had not these things need to be put in the charge? Are they not in the ears of the Lord? Is it not a sin crying to Heaven? Shall He not visit for these things? for this discredit of His Gospel, for this inexcusable, unfaithful dealing, in the ears of Jew and Gentile, of Turk and Christian, of God and man? I beseech you still, 'suffer the words of exhortation;' it is good for you to know what things are said abroad. For my part, in God's presence I protest, I know none; and if there be none, present none. It is that I desire; the charge is now given, may be given in vain.
Nor, if you enquire to whom your doing good should stretch itself, St. Paul himself will tell you. To them that instruct you- they are to communicate with you in all your goods, that is the Church; and 'to the necessity of the Saints,' or to the Saints that be in necessity, that is, to the poor.
The Church first: for this end came Esther 'to the kingdom,' and Nehemiah to his great favour with the prince, even to do good to the Church; and for this end hath Tyrus, that rich city, that abundance bestowed on her, even to be 'a covering [41/42] cherub,' to the Church of God, and to stretch out her wings over it. The Prophet's meaning was, that rich men must be a shadow of maintenance and defence to the ark, to divinity; their riches must serve them as wings to that end, they must be covering cherubs on earth to the Church militant, if ever they will be singing cherubs in Heaven with the Church triumphant.
And much good might be done, and is not, in this behalf; and that many ways. I will name but one, that is, that with their wings stretched out they would keep the filth and pollution of the sin of sins whereof you heard so bitter complaint both these days, of simony and sacrilege, from falling on the ark, and corrupting and putrifying it, which it hath almost already done. That seeing the Pope do that he doth--howsoever some have alleged the Papists' great destestation of this sin, and of us for this sin, for a motive, it is all but dissembling their hand is as deep in this sin as any man's--I say, seeing the Pope doth as he doth: that is, as he hath dispensed with the oath and duty of subjects to their Prince against the fifth commandment; with the murder, both violent with dags, and secret with poison, of the sacred persons of Princes, against the sixth; with the uncleaneness of the stews, and with incestuous marriages, against the seventh; so now of late, with the abomination of simony against the eighth; having lately--as it is known by the voluntary confession of their own priests--by special and express warrant of the See Apostolic sent hither into this land his licence dispenstative to all patrons of his mark to set up simony, and to mart and make sale of all spiritual livings which they have or can get to the uttermost penny, even if it were possible by the sound of a drum; and that with a very clear conscience, so that some portion thereof be sent over to the relief of his seminaries, which by such honest means as this come to be now maintained; seeing thus do the Papists, and we loath to be behind them in this gain of blood make such merchanside with this sin, of the poor Church and her patrimony, as all the world crieth shame of it; to redeem the orderly disposing them to the Church's good, were a special way for you rich men to do good in these days. Neither, as these times are, do I know a better service, nor which I am [42/43] persuaded will please God better than this, or be better accepted at His hands.
This for the Church; you must have a wing stretched abroad to cover it. And for the poor, you must have a bosom wide open to receive them. Lazarus in a rich man's bosom is a goodly sight in Heaven, and no less goodly in earth. And there shall be never a rich man with Lazarus in his bosom in heaven, unless he have had a Lazarus in his bosom here on earth
Then the poor are of two sorts such as shall be with us 'always,' as Christ saith, to whom we must do good by relieving them: such is the comfortless estate of poor captives, the succourless estate of poor orphans, the desolate estate of the poor widows, the distressed estate of poor strangers, the discontented
estate of poor scholars; all of which must be suffered and succoured too.
There are others, such as should not be suffered to be in Israel, whereof Israel is full; I mean beggars and vagabonds able to work; to whom good must be done, by not suffering them to be as they are, but to employ them in such sort as they may do good. This is a good deed no doubt; and there being, as I hear, an honourable good purpose in hand for the redress of it, God sent it good success. I am as one, in part of my charge, to exhort you by all good means to help and further it.
Me thinketh it is strange that the exiled Churches of strangers which are harboured here with us, should be able in this kind to do such good as not one of their poor is seen to ask about the streets; and this city, the harbourer and maintainer of them, should not be able to do the same good. Able it is no doubt, but men would have doing good too good-cheap. I know the charges will be great. Great good to their bodies in redeeming them from divers corrupt and noisome diseases, and this city from danger of infection. Great good to their souls in redeeming them from idleness, and the fruit of idleness, which is all naughtiness, nowhere so rife as among them; and this city from much pilfering, and loss that way. Great good to the commonwealth in redeeming unto it many rotten members, and making them [43/44] men of service, which many hereafter do good in it to the public benefit, and redeem this city from the blood of many souls which perish in it for want of good order. Last of all, great good to the whole estate, in bringing the blessing of God upon it; even that blessing that there shall not be a beggar in all Israel. So much for doing good.
'Laying up store,' &c. That is, your work shall not be in vain in the end, but receive a recompense of reward; which is a prerogative, the which God's charges have above all other. In man's there is death to the offender; but if any kept his charge, he may claim nothing but that he hath, Only the Lord's charges are rewarded.
So that, besides the two reasons which may be drawn out of the former, 1. one of the uncertainty, 2.the other of God's bounty: 1. of the uncertainty, Da quod potes retinere, 'that we would part with that that we cannot keep long,' that we must part with ere long, whether we will or no; 2. of the bounty of God, De Meo peto, dicit Christus, ' that God Which gave asketh but His own,' but of that He gave us a part to be given Him, and we--if there be in us the heart of David--will say, quod de manu Tuâ accepimus; 3. besides these a third: Though God might justly challenge a free gift without any hope of receiving again, He will not; but tell us His meaning is not to impoverish or undo us, but to receive these which He gave us, and came from Him every one, and those that within a while forgo we must, to give us that we shall never forgo. That is that He teacheth us, commandeth not our loss, but commendeth to us a way to lay up for ourselves, if we could see it, not to lease and leave all, we know not to whom.
Well said Augustine, preaching on these very words: At the very hearing these words 'part with and distribute' the covetous man shrinks in himself, at the very sound of parting with; as if one should pour a basin of cold water upon him, so doth he chill and draw himself together and say, Non perdo; he saith not I will not part with, but I will not lose, for he counteth all parting with to be losing. And will ye not lose, saith St. Augustine? yet use the matter how you can, lose you shall; for when you can carry nothing away of all you have, do you not lose it? But go to, saith he, [44/45] be not troubled; hear what follows, shut not thy heart against it.
'Laying up' for yourselves. I know Judas was of the mind that all that went besides the bag was, Utquid perditio? and so be all they that be of his spirit. But St. Paul is of that mind, that ¢gaqoergeÐn, 'to lay out to good uses,' is to lay up to our own uses; that in parting thus with it, we do not dimittere but præmittre; not lose it by leaving it here from whence we are going, but store it up be sending it thither before whither we are going. And indeed one of the two, we must needs either leave it behind and lose it for ever, or send it before and have it our own for ever. Now choose whether you will hold of Judas' or Paul's.
For indeed it is not the laying up St. Paul findeth fault with, but the place where; not building or obtaining or purchasing, all which three are specified, and the Apostles speaketh in your own terms, and the things you chiefly delight in; but the laying up in the flesh will rot, and with it whatsoever is laid up with it; or in the world, which is variable now, and will be consumed all to nought, and with it whatsoever is laid up in it. But he would have us to lay it up in Heaven; which, besides that it is our own country, and this but a strange land, is the place whither we pass, leaving this place behind, and from whence we must never pass but stay here, and either for ever want or have use for ever of that we part with here. And to say truth Ut quid respicimus? With what face can we look up, and look upon heaven where we have laid up nothing? or what entertainment can we hope for there, whither we have sent no part of our provision, but for aught of our sending the place is clean empty?
You will say, how can one reach heaven to lay any thing there? I will ask you also another question? How can a man being in France reach into England to lay any thing there? By exchange. And did you never hear of our exchange, cambium coeleste? You know that to avoid the danger of pirates and the inconvenience of foreign coin not current at home, it is the use of merchants to pay it there, to receive it here. Such a thing is there in this 'laying up.' We are here as strangers; the place where we wish ourselves is our country, even paradise- if so we send our carriage [45/46] thither before, if not, I fear we intend some other place, it is not our country, When we shall take our way thither through the way of all flesh, through death, certainly we lose all; he strips every one he lays hold of. And put case we could get through with all our bags; here it is current, for it is the coin of the world, but there it is base, and goeth for nought: what shall we then do? Quare non facis? Why deal you not with exchange, paying here so much to have so much repaid you there. Adires trapezitas, 'you should go to the bankers:' who be those? Cum quæsiveris, 'when you have sought all,' pauperes sunt campsores, ' they be the poor.' Da pauperibus, et accipies thesaurum. Where is our bill? Quod, vel quantum uni. Who will repay it? Ego resolvam: nec repetit mercedem sed dat mercerdem What? refuse you to take Christ's bill? if you dare trust your servants without fear of losing, if you trust your Lord fear you to lose? If them of whom you receive nothing but they of you, what, not Him of Whom erst you professed to receive all things? If Christ be of credit and heaven be not Utopia, if we think there is such a life after this, we shall ever have to do there, lay up here. Think it is a laying up: upon the believing of this one word, the weight of doing and not doing, all the text lieth.
When we recount our good deeds we commonly say, For him and not for him we have done this and that. It is true, saith St. Paul. That good you do you do for them, and for yourselves too; but more for yourselves than for them. To lay up and to do good, yea to others, nay to do yourselves good, to lay up for yourselves. Before, you thought it scattering, it was indeed laying up. Now you think it is for them, it is for you and your sakes God commandeth it.
God hath no need of you to feed the poor, no need of the widow to feed Elias; He could still have fed him by ravens, and as He fed Elias by one, so could He them by others or other means, and never send them to Sarepta among you. He could have created sufficient for all men, or so few men as all should have been sufficient for them. He would not. He ordered there should ever be 'poor' in the 'land.' Why? To prove them, and to prove you by them; that He which feedeth you might feed them by you, that your superfluities might be their necessaries; that they of their patience in [46/47] wanting, and you of your liberality in supporting, might both together of Him That made you both receive reward. They with you in your bosoms there, as here; a good sight in heaven, and a good sight in earth. For sure there shall never be a rich man in heaven without a Lazarus in his bosom. Therefore we have need of them as they have need of us, yet that we make theirs remaineth ours still.
It liketh the Holy Ghost, as to term our preaching our seed, so to term your wealth your seed. The seed, the husbandman casts it, the ground receives it. Whose is it? the ground's? no, the husbandman's. And though it be cast out of his hands and rot in the bowels of the earth and come to nothing, and there becomes of it no man can tell what, yet this count he maketh, it is his still, and that every grain will bring him an ear at time of the year, and so that he hath in casting it from him stored it up for himself. Whereas, in foolishly loving it--as many do their wealth--he might have stored it up for worms and mustiness, and by that means indeed have lost it altogether. The seed is your alms, the ground is the poor, you are the sowers. When it is therefore sown among them, how it is spent, or what becomes of it, you know not; yet this you know, and may reckon, that at the fulness of time, at the harvest of the end of the world, for every grain of temporal contribution, you shall receive an ear of eternal retribution. Whereas, storing it up here, it may after your decease be stored for harlots and gamesters and rioters, in whose hands it shall corrupt and putrify, and yourselves lose the fruit thereof for ever. By this comparison you may know, that when you are dealing for the poor, it is your own business you intend; that not forgetting them, you remember yourselves; pitying them, you have pity on your own souls, and that 'your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.'
Men use to reason with themselves: It will not always be health, let us lay up for sickness; it will not always be youth, for age; and why not, saith St. Paul, it will not always be this life, nor alway present life, lay up for yourselves against the life to come. In this place here we shall not be always, but in another of our eternal abode. This time, that is, will not be always, but such a time will come, as in which that we [47/48] 'call a thousand years, shall be no more than a day now.' That place and that time would be thought of; and good wisdom it will be for a man to forget what he is, and to weigh what he shall be. Surely for any present matter God did not make us, sed as nescio quid aluid,' to some further matter yet to come.' Not yet present: as yet in promise, not yet in performance; as yet in hope, not in possession. I know that even in this place the Lord doth reward, and sheweth us plainly that Date and Dabitur are two twins: we ourselves have by good trial found it true, when our careful Date and provision for the poor last year save one was requited in presenti with a great Dabitur of the last years's increase. Thus is but an &c; making nothing to the main promise which is to come, which our Saviour would never have out of our eyes: Habetis hîc, 'here you have' your comfort; habete illic, ' have it there' too, for here you cannot ever have it. For the present time, you have officers and servants to wait on you; in the time to come, none will, accompany you, all will leave you, when to the grave they have brought you, save mercy only; none will wait or make room but opera eorum, your works which you have laid up for the time to come.
The Scripture speaketh of this life, and all the felicity therein, as of tent or booth, spread for a day and taken down at night. Even like Jonas' gourd for all the world, fresh in the morning, and stark withered ere evening. But of the life to come as of groundwork, never to remove itself, or we from it; but to abide therein, n tÁ fulakÁ or u tÁ basilikÁ, 'in the prison' or 'the palace' for evermore. We shall not therefore lose, but lay up in store; not for others, but for ourselves; not for a few days now, but for hereafter; not a tent to be taken down, but a foundation never to be removed.
Of all the words in the text, not one was meet for the teeth of the Rheimists save this only; here you have a perilous note close in the margin: Good works are a 'foundation.' 'A foundation'--very true. Who denies it? but whether a 'foundation' in our graces, as Christ is without us, that is the point. The ground whereon every building is raised, is termed fundamentum. The lowest part of the building immediately lying on it is so termed too. In the first sense, Christ is said [48/49] to be the only 'foundation,' yet the Apostles, because they are the lowest row of stones, are said to be 'foundation;' in the second. So among the graces within us, faith is properly in the first sense said to be the foundation; yet in the second, do we not deny but, as the Apostles calleth them, as the lowest row, next to faith, charity, and the works of charity may be called foundations too. Albeit the margin might well have been spared at this place; for the note is here all out of place. For being so great schoolmen as they would seem, they must needs know it is not the drift of the Apostle here in calling them a 'foundation' to carry our considerations into the matter of justifying, but only to press his former reason of uncertainty there, by a contrary weight of certain stability here, and so their note comes in like Magnificat at Mattins.
Thus reasonth St. Paul: This world is uncertain, of a sandy nature; you may rear upon it, but it is so bad a soil, as whatsoever you raise will never be settled, and therefore ever tottering: and when 'the rain' and 'the wind' and the waves 'beat' against it, it cometh down on your heads. Therefore to make choice of a faster spoil, build upon God's ground, not upon the world's ground; for p£nta keÐna b_baia, metabol_ oÙdwma, saith Chrysostom, 'there all is firm, there you may build and be sure:' fall the rain upon the top of it, blow the wind against the side of it, rise the waves against the foot of it, it stands immoveable. Wherein the Apostle saith Chrsyostom, doth teach a very goodly and excellent art, how to make of our fugitive riches a trusty and fast friend, how to make gold of our quicksilver, and of the uncertainty of riches a sure and certain groundwork.
Assurance and security are two things, we know, that rich men many times buy dear. Here they may be had; not for thus much, or thus long, but for as much as you list, and as long as eternity is long, that never shall have an end. The meaning is, that if you lay out or lay on that you have on these earthly things--the plot which the world would fain commend unto you--with this life, or at the furthest with this world, they shall be shaken in pieces and come to nought; and you possibly in the hour of death, but most certainly in the day of judgment, shall shake, when the world your groundwork [49/50] shakes, and be in trembling fear and perplexed agony, touching the estate of your soul; knowing there is nothing coming to you but the fruit of this world which is ruin, or the fruit of the flesh which is corruption. But if you shall have grace to make choice of God's plot, which He hath here levelled for you to raise upon, O quanto dignum pretio! that will be worth all the world in that day; the perfect certainty, sound knowledge, and precious assurance you shall then have, whereby you shall be assured to be received, because you are sure you are Christ's, because you are sure you have true faith, because you are sure you have framed it up into good works. And so shall they be a foundation to you-ward, by making evident the assurance of salvation; not naturâ to Godward, in bringing forth the essence of your salvation.
Look you how excellent a groundwork here is ! (not for a cottage) whereon you may raise your frame to so notable a height, as standing on it you may lay hand on, and lay hold of, eternal life. O that you would mind once these high things, that you would be in this sense highminded! St. Paul's meaning is to take nothing from you, but give you a better to reunite it by far. He would have you part with part of your wealth to do good; he will lay you up for it 'treasure in Heaven' for your own use. He would have you forsake the world's sand and uncertainty, wherein you cannot trust; but therefore he marks you out a plot out of the rock, whereto you may trust. He would not have you highminded on consideration or comparison of aught on this earth, but he would have your minds truly exalted to reach up to heavenly things higher than the earth. And last, instead of this world, the lusts and riches thereof, to match that if you will lay hold of it, he holdeth out eternal life, and the glory thereof.
To take a short prospect into 'eternal life.' Life itself, first, you know, is such a thing as, were it to be sold, would be stapleware; if it stood where hold might be laid on it, some would thrust their shoulders out of joint but they would reach it. It was a great truth out of a great liars's mouth--'skin and all.' And I mean not 'eternal' but this 'life,' and therefore some readings have, 'to lay hold of true life,' as if in this were little truth. Indeed St. Augustine saith, it is nothing [50/51] but a disease. We say of dangerous sicknesse, he hath the plague, he is in a consumption, sure he will die; and yet if fails, divers die not; whereas, saith he, of life itself it may be said and never fails, 'He lives, therefore he will certainly die'.
Well yet, this life such as it is, yet we love it, and loath we are to end it; and if it be in hazard by the law, what running, riding, posting, suing, bribing, and if all will not serve, breaking prison is there for it! Or if it be in danger of disease, what ado is there kept, what ill-savoured drugs taken! what scarifying, cutting, searing! and when all comes to all, it is but a few years more added; and when they are done, we are where we should have been before; and then, that which is now life, shall be then no life. And then, what is it the nearer? What, if Adam had lived till this morning, what were he now nearer? Yet for all that, as short and frail as it is, we do what possibly man can do to eke it still; and think ourselves jolly wise men when we have done , though we die next year after for all that. If then with so great labour, diligence, earnestness, endeavour, care and cost, we busy ourselves sometimes to live for a while, how ought we to desire to live for ever? if for a time to put death away, how to take death away clean? You desire life I am sure, and 'long life;' and therefore a long life, because it is long, that is, cometh somewhat nearer in some degree to eternal life. If you desire a long-lasting life, why do you not desire an everlasting life? If a life of many years, which yet in the end shall fail, why not that life whose years shall never fail? If we say it is lack of wit or grace when any man runs in danger of the law of man, whereby haply he abridges himself of half a dozen years of his life, what wit or grace is there wilfully to incur the loss of eternal life? -For indeed, as in the beginning we set down, it is a matter of touching the loss of eternal life we have in hand; and withal, touching the pain of eternal death. It is not a loss only, for we cannot lose life and become as a stone, free from either. If we leese [i.e, lose] our hold of this life, eternal death taketh hold upon us; if we heap not up the treasure of immortality, we heap up the treasure of 'wrath against the day of wrath.' If your wealth be not with us to life, pecunia vestrta vobiscum est in perditionem.[512/52] We have not far to seek for this. For if now we turn our deaf ear to this charge, you shall 'fall into temptations:' fear ye not that? Into many 'foolish and noisome lusts:' nor fear ye that neither? Yet fear whither these lead; 'Which drown men in perdition and destruction of body and soul.' Fear ye not these? doth the Lord thunder thus, and are ye not moved? Quibus verbis te curabo? I know not how to do you good. But let eternal life prevail. Sure if life come not, death comes. There is as much said now, not as I have to say, but as the time would suffer; only let me in a few words deliver the charge concerning this, and so I will break up the court for this time.
And now, Right honourable, beloved, &c., albeit that according to the power that the Lord hath given us, I might testify and charge you, 'in the presence of God' the Father, 'Who quickenth all things;' and of the Lord Jesus, Who shall shew Himself 'from Heaven with His mighty Angels in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them' not only 'that know not God' but to them also 'that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,' that ye think upon these things which you have heard, to do them; yet humanum dico, 'for your infirmity I will speak after the manner of men,' the nature of a man best loveth to be dealt withal, and even beseech you by the mercies of God, even of God the Father, Who hath loved you, and given you an everlasting consolation, and a good hope through grace, and by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our assembly unto Him, that you receive not this charge in vain; that ye account it His charge, and not mine; received of Him, to deliver you. Look not to me, I beseech you; in whom whatsoever you regard, countenance or learning, years of authority, I do most willingly acknowledge myself far unmeet to deliver any; more meet a great deal to receive one myself, save that I have obtained as fellowship in this business in dispensing the mysteries and delivering the charge of the Lord. Look not on me, look on your own souls and have pity on them; look upon Heaven, and the Lord of Heaven and earth from Whom it cometh, and of Whom it will be one day called for again. Surely there is a Heaven, surely there is a hell; surely there will be day when enquiry shall be made how we have discharged that we [52/53] have received of the Lord; and how you have discharged that you have received of us in the Lord's name. Against which day your consciences stand charge with many things at many times heard. 'O seek not death in error of your life,' deceive not yourselves; think not that when my words shall be at an end, both they shall vanish in the air and you never hear of them again. Surely you shall, the day is coming when it shall be required again at your hands. A fearful day for all those that for a little riches thin basely of others; upon all those that repose in these vain riches--as they shall see them, a vain confidence; upon all those that that enjoy only with the belly and the back, and do either no good, or miserable sparing good, with their riches; whose riches shall be with then to their destruction. Beloved, when your life shall have an end, as an end it shall have, when the terror of death shall be upon you; when your soul shall be cited to appear before God, in novissimo; I know and am perfectly assured all these things will come to mind again, you will perceive and feel that which possibly now you do not. The devil's charge cometh then, who will press these points in another manner than we can; then it will be too late. Prevent this charge, I beseech you, by regarding and remembering this now. Now is the time while you may, and have time wherein, and ability wherewith; think upon it and provide for eternal life; you shall never in your life stand in so great need of your riches as in that day; provide for that day, and provide for eternal life. It will not come yet it is true, it will be long in coming; but when it comes, it will never have an end.
This end is so good that I will end with 'eternal life' which you see is St. Paul's end. It is his and the same shall be my end, and I beseech God it may be all our ends. To God immortal, invisible, and only wise, God Who hath prepared this eternal life for us, Who hath taught us this day how to come unto it, Whose grace be ever with us, and leave us not till it have thereto brought us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be all glory, power, praise and thanksgiving now and for ever. Amen.