Peace be unto you. As My Father sent Me, even so send I you.
And when He had spoken these words, He breathed on them and said, Receive the holy Ghost;
Whose sins you do remit they are remitted,&c.
We are here this day about the consecration of a reverend Father, and St. Paul tells its in one place that we are about a good work; in another, that we are about an honourable work; St. John in this place, that we are about Christ's own work. Which work is the solemn deriving of a sacred ghostly power upon the persons of the holy Apostles, for the use and benefit of Christ's Church ever after. We call it the Power of the Keys, and those keys, which, over and besides them that are committed to the custody of a priest in his [87/88] ordination, to bind a sinful and to loose a penitent soul, are here given over, once for all, into the hands of bishops; the key of order to send as Christ sent, and the key of jurisdiction to govern as He governed. A power that till this time Christ had kept, it seems, in his own hands, never parted with it till now; promised it before, I will give you the keys, but gave them not till now; made his will before, but sealed it not till now; gave them many a very fair legacy, jus ad rem, as we say, when He chose them to be Apostles at first, but gave them not livery and seisin yet, not jus in re, He put them not into possession till now. And now He did it, we have his Band and his seal for it; his own words first, which He spake here, As My Father sent Me, so send .I you, (I trust we will believe him,) and then his own Spirit, in Quo signati estis, saith St. Paul, to make his word good and to seal up his saying, 'Receive the Holy Ghost.'
That if any the new Pharisees of our time, the elders of the people, shall put the question to us, as they did to Christ, and ask us, 'By what authority do ye these things? or who gave you this authority?' we will also ask them a question, and let them answer us. 'This same sic and sicut here, can they spell it? Can they tell what as and so means if they can, let them answer themselves.
For we say, with the consent of all, that this is the original privy-warrant of ordering and of sending bishops into the Church, that here it is first found, and here founded first too; that to this very place we reduce the whole practice of the Church for these fifteen hundred years and upwards, the practice of the holy Apostles themselves, so often mentioned in Scripture, a man would think, of purpose to let us know how they understood this place; that of the Acts, super quem posuit vos episcopos, 'over which the holy Ghost has made you bishops,' and, 'his bishopric let another man take,' and again, that of St. Paul to Timothy, 'Stir up the gift that is in thee, by the imposition of my hands,' and again, 'lay hands suddenly on no man,' that to Titus, 'for this cause have I set thee, that thou shouldest ordain priests;' all to this head. For do but ask them what text they had for [88/89] saying as they did, and hither will they come. Our Saviour's sicut must be theirs too, this their warrant, and no other.
To entreat of it then. The heads are divers. And now I am about to divide the text, St. Paul puts a word into any mouth, that will help us to order it and to divide it aright. He says that he and his fellow Apostles had a commission to be ambassadors for Christ; and under the notion we can best tell what to make of this text, for here was their commission and their embassage drawn up for them at large.
Ambassadors are men commonly that must have some special quality in them above other people; their treaties are ordinarily for concord, and therefore above all other things they should be peaceable men.
The quality and disposition, then, which Christ requires here in ambassadors to be our first part, and this out of the first words of the text, 'Peace be unto you,' set there, as it seems, as a preparative to their mission, and a condition re-quisite before they could be sent; for whatsoever other ambassadors be, Christ's must be sure to be peaceable men.
2. Our second point to be their mission, Mitto vos, 'I send you.' For be it that men are never so fitly and so ably disposed, yet unless they be sent, and have letters of credence with them, they can be no ambassadors; step up of their own head and run they may not, but expect a mission.
3. A mission these had, and a commission too, that to be our third part; the nature and authority of their mission, which the sicut and the sic here gives us, such another as Christ had from his Father, 'as My Father sent Me.' These three in the first verse.
In the next, 4. the enabling of them to perform and execute their commission; in other commissions it goes by putting to the seal, in this also by putting upon them the seal of the Holy Ghost, and this to be our fourth point, 'Receive the holy Ghost.'
5. Which was given here, as most an end such great commissions are, with a ceremony; the ceremony used was a blast of Christ's breath, 'He breathed upon them, and said, Receive;' that to be another, a fifth point. The last being but one part of His great commission, a power of the Holy Ghost to remit and retain sins, which in one sense is communicable [89/90] to Priests, but in another is casus reservatus, kept proper and peculiar to Bishops only. These are the parts; you see they depend all upon the holy Ghost, which is the earnest and the seal of all.
Now, because there is no speaking, nor hearing neither, of him without his assistance, no discoursing of his gift of the Spirit without the Spirit itself, I shall therefore desire you that we may call upon God the Father, in the name and mediation of God the Son, for the aid and help of God the Holy Ghost, and that with meek heart, &c.
THE BIDDING OF THE COMMON PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH. Pater noster Qui es in coelis, &c.
I. We begin as the text begins, and as Christ began once before this, with the preparative to their mission, 'Peace be unto you,' which I know well by many frigid and common expositors is taken for no more than an ordinary salutation among the Jews; by the best and more ancient for a higher and deep mystery, as being well assured that Christ came not here among his Apostles a-visiting only, to spend away his time by seeing how they did, and so bid them good morrow; but that his coming was for greater matters, to leave that peace first which He had so lately purchased betwixt God and man among men themselves, and then to leave that power which God had bestowed upon him for the benefit of his Church for ever.
Before He puts the Apostles then, into any other commission, He puts them first here into the commission of peace. Before He gives them the Spirit of peace, He will have order taken that they be peaceably given first, and when they are so fitted for him they shall receive Him. Thus was way made for the gift of the Spirit then; and look, as his former gift was, so will his after-gift be too; as he was given here, so He must and will be given still; the Spirit of unity to [90/91] them that keep the unity of the Spirit, and the Author of Peace to them that are maintainers of the bond of peace. For otherwise the ordination that some men get among us, it is somewhat inordinate, and well may they get an impres-sion of the Spirit, a free grace, as we say, to do others good; but spirit get they none nor grace to do themselves any. It is the care and wisdom of our Church, therefore, and so it has been in all antiquity, before any man be ordained a priest, or consecrated a bishop, to put this question to him, 'Will you maintain quietness and peace among all Christian people?' As much to say as, unless you promise this, you can have no Holy Ghost here, see an ye can get Him among them that are enemies to peace; for with us, the bishop is to give Him upon this condition, or otherwise to suspend his office. That they now who cry us up 'No peace,' and 'No moderation,' that curse the peacemakers and bless them that keep the rents of the Church from being made up, I wonder where they had their orders, or of whose sending they were. For Christ and his Church are for peaceably-minded men; his Spirit for men of a calmer temper. For such unquiet messengers and such unpeaceable people we may sing, 'Come, holy Spirits,' long enough; sing it and say it too, as they use to do before every sermon', and yet the holy Spirit come down ne'er a whit the faster. The reason is, they are not reasonable men; they are fomenting the factions on both sides, and they hate the very name of peace on all sides; whereas his coming must ever be, as here it was, to them that are studious of peace and lovers of concord. And now who should look to this peace more than they that are consecrated for it? whose office it is to mark and to rebuke them that sow dissensions among us, to practise as the Church prays, and to do their utmost endeavours that all Christians may agree in the truth of God's holy Word, and live in unity and godly love. In so doing what thanks they shall have here, as this world goes now, I cannot tell; but high shall their reward be in [91/92] heaven, and their honour great among the Saints, that here love and labour for the peace of Christ's Church. And so I proceed.
II. Having for our next point an orderly proceeding here, that they stepped not up of their own heads and bishoped themselves, but had One to put them into office, were sent, and had a mission; for there are that run, and I sent them not, saith God in Jeremiah; a sort of forward men that are crept into office, nobody knows how, and so overweening of their own worth that the Church shall never need to trouble herself for the matter, to call them, or to send them, for they are upon their journey long ago; they sent themselves, and can preach, order, rule and govern, or do any thing ye will have them do, better than all the mitred bishops with their Letters Missive in their hands, and better than all the priests, scribes, and pharisees in the world besides. Was it thus of old, trow? might men run God's errands before they had their errand given them, or could well tell what to say? might they shuffle themselves into the High-Priest's office, be meddling with mysteries before they could well tell how to use the very snuffers of the Temple? nor this, nor that? Ad hæc quis idoneus, then? And Mitte quem missurus es, but here was a mission howsoever. 'There was a man sent from God,' saith St. John the Evangelist of St. John the Baptist; he came not of his own authority; et ordinaverunt seipsos in ministerium sanctum, is such a solecism in divinity, that I suspect the Latin in the vulgar translation of St. Paul, as I do their honesty that gulled the too-credulous Papists with a tale, and falsely here accused us, in the beginning of the late Queen's reign, that our bishops had then no lawful succession, no orderly consecration, but laid one another's hands upon their heads, and so made themselves bishops; not, 'I send you,' or 'The holy Ghost sends you,' but 'Let us rise up from table and send one another,' which the Public Records of those times can tell us, and this day's solemnity [92/93] shall tell us again, is as true as if the father of lies had said it and sent it into the world; or as true as another report they have, in print too, that we bound their bishops and priests to mangers, and fed there with hay like horses. But there let them stand and devise such mischievous fables of a Church which deserves them not; which ever held firm (and we are able to make it good) in a continued line of succession from former known bishops, and so from this very mission of the Apostles.
I had now done with their sending if I had once told you of Whose sending they were, and of Whom they held their authority. It was of Christ. He sent them, and He had power enough; all power in heaven and in earth was given Him. Of Him they held it, and of him we hold it ever since. The bishop imposes hands, but God gives the grace, saith St. Ambrose, of Whom we depend immediately for the power of our orders, and are subordinate to no power besides. I speak not of the execution, which I know bishops may suspend; but of the power of order itself, which none call take away when it is once given. Neither did any bishop ever challenge more, acknowledging themselves but ministers of Christ's power, unless it were He that came, not (it seems) to minister, but to monarch it over the world, and he forsooth, will have us hold of him, that unless he sends us, all the power that Christ and His Apostles had, will do us no good. Without his licence we are neither bishops nor priests; and whereas other bishops are content to be masters of the ceremonies only, he must be master of he substance too. For ye must know that Christ had but all power in heaven and in earth. Make we a 'but' of it? Yes, there was a fellow who preached it before the Council of Lateran for good Catholic-Roman doctrine, that the Pope had more; that he had a power above all power in heaven and in earth; and therefore he to do with order, and power, and jurisdiction, [93/94] and Church too, what he list himself; the main quarrel (though God knows, a very unjust quarrel) betwixt him and us at this day; and no peace must be had unless we will hold all of him. But then must we go mend our text here; for if so, Christ was properly to have said, not, I send you all, but, I send St. Peter, and let him scud the rest. Enough to let you see the vanity of his claim and the iniquity of his quarrel. Let the world judge then, where the schism lies; for we have our mission from Christ as well as he. And so from the mission and the nature of it I will come to their commission and the nature of it; for every one that is sent, is not scat with a like commission, which is our third point.
(III.) The Apostles then were sent, as all other bishops and priests are. What commission have they with them? For at large they are not sent, either to teach and to govern as they list themselves, but they have a sicut and a sic with them to keep all right. 'As My Father sent Me, so send I you.'
We demand then, How was Christ sent? And He was sent for two ends. The first, to be the Redeemer of our souls, and to reconcile God unto men, which He did by His death; the second, to be the Bishop of our souls, and to reconcile men unto God, which He did by leaving us a Gospel, His life and doctrine, in a Church behind Him. In the first sense the Apostles were not sent, they were to be no redeemers nor mediators neither. For it cost more to redeem men's souls, and both they and their successors must let that sicut alone for ever. And yet there is a sicut similitudinis in it for all that, though there be no sicut æqualitatis, there is some likeness in their sendings this way. He, sent by His Father to be a Mediator for mankind, and to reconcile the world by His death and sacrifice upon the cross. They, sent by Him, to mediate and to pray for the people, to be ministers of the reconciliation, as St. Paul speaks, and in a manner, to be sacrificers too, representers at the Altar here, and appliers of the Sacrifice once made for all; without which last not, the first will do us no goods.
[94/95] But then in the second sense more properly. And here the sicut runs many ways; we will choose them only which are the chief, and for which the Scripture is plain, Christ was of purpose sent.
1. First then, Christ was sent to preach the Gospel to the poor; and of the same errand are His Apostles and bishops sent, 'Go ye and teach all nations.' The priests' office not so large, who preach too, but yet under the bishop's licence only; they then to be the great pastors of the diocese, and we but as servants and substitutes under them, to preach by their commission and not by our own. For by virtue of our orders we are only put to offer up the prayers and sacrifices of the Church, to administer the Sacraments, to bind and to loose, and not to preach unless we be thereunto appointed, says the book. And indeed, so went the old canons and the stories of the ancient Church. For canons I name the Sixth in Trullo, and the decree of Damasus the pope, one whom St. Jerome made much esteem of, that otherwhiles presbyters were not to preach at all, as Balsamon there observes of them in Alexandria. For stories I name Sozomen, and Nicephorus, and St. Chrysostom himself that was much troubled about it, and would fain have given over preaching (as in his second homily upon Esay), when he saw the [94/95] bishop come into the church, he being then but a priest. Good men; they thought priests had a deal to do besides, to say their hours, to sing their service, to visit the sick, to reconcile penitents, and not to preach so much, though they neglected not this neither: but then it was when the bishop set them a-work, when he was otherwise employed, and could not so often attend it; for there must be preaching howsoever. I would not be mistaken, I come not here to preach down preaching; but this I wonder at, that preaching now-a-days should be counted our only office, as if we had nothing else to do, and an office independent too, as if we were all bishops when we preach. But let them preach, they have licence perhaps to do it.
Then would both bishops and they be put in mind of a second sicut here, that we may keep us to the text.
2. For secondly, Christ was sent, as the Scripture many times tells us, not to preach his own will, but his Father's; 'As My Father said unto Me, so I speak.' Nor were the Apostles sent to preach what they would themselves, but whatsoever Christ had commanded them; that they, which preach as voluntary as the organ plays, or the sudden motions of a spirit, as their fancy leads them that call it speaking by the Spirit when never a wise word is spoken, and they which preach us up new doctrines, or a new faith, which was never heard on since the world began afore, may go seek some other commission to make good what they do, for from Christ here have they none.
3. Christ was sent to preach a law, as we read in the second Psalm; 'I will preach the law whereof the Lord spake unto Me;' and they that are sent by Him are sent to make men observe a law and to do what He hath commanded. If we love not to hear of a law, of a working and a doing religion, we must go to some other Church, for in Christ's Church men are to preach us a law, set us somewhat to do, and hold us or keep us in with a law; that they now which preach us all Gospel and put no law among it, bishops and priests that will tell the people all is well if they can but say their Catechism and hear sermons, make them believe that there is nothing to be done more but to believe and so be [96/97] saved, these men, they preach by some other pattern sure, for Christ, He is sent not to preach down the old law so much as to preach up a new. Now to make men observe and do what the Church teaches them is, or should be, in the bishop's hands. We suffer scandal from them of the Church of Rome in many things, in nothing more than this, that we are sent to preach sermons to the people, as men that lead some pretty commodities to sell them which, if they liked, they might buy and use; if not, they might let them alone; that we talk of devotion but live like the careless; that we have a service, but no servants at it; that we have churches, but keep them not like the houses of God; that we have the Sacraments, but few to frequent them; Confession, but few to practise it; finally, that we have all religious duties (for they cannot deny it), but seldom observed; all good laws and canons of the Church, but few or none kept; the people are made to do nothing; the old discipline is neglected, and men do what they list. It should be otherwise, and our Church intends it otherwise; (enough to free her from slander, let them condemn them that will not obey her,) but enough to free her, and to stir up men, specially them whom it concerns, to make others active, for therefore are they sent, even as Christ also was.
4. And to make this take the better effect, we say, fourthly, that Christ was sent to preach by his own life, and to give an example to others, exemplum dedi vobis, which is the best kind of preaching, when all is done; that they which stand like idols and statues, to point out the way to others, and yet stir not themselves to lead the way, they are by this very mark known to be none of Christ's ambassadors.
5. And now I come to another sicut; sicut oves, saith Christ, 'Behold I send you as sheep among wolves.' As sheep among wolves? Now above all other sicuts, let us have none of that. For will the comparison hold here too, trow we? Yes, Christ was sent so Hirnself, sicut ovis, saith the Prophet, as a sheep to the slaughter, and sicut agnus inter lupos, as a lamb among the wolves. A. lesson this which my lord bishop of home hath, it seems, long ago forgot, for he has turned the text now quite another way and made it run [97/98] backwards, sicut lupus inter agnus, comes he like a wolf among the sheep that is ready to devour them, and like a lion among the lambs that is greedy of his prey. Christ came not so, and the Apostles came not so. I wonder of whose sending he should be that comes after this marnner.
But if the pope on the one side has forgotten how St. Peter was sent, there are the common people on the other side that will remember it well enough, how he and all the rest were sent; and they mean, it seems) to take an order for it that their successors shall never be sent otherwise, never but as sheep among wolves. Let us be sheep and they will he sure to be wolves, keen enough to prey upon the Church, and to prey upon churchmen too, leave them by their good will neither goods nor good name behind them. We know the world has studied this test well, and though they keep never a saying of Christ's besides, yet will they be sure to keep this since Christ has said it, they will take Him at His word; we shall be sheep still, and they will be wolves. Christ told the clergy that they were the salt of the earth, and the world has taken him; because He has said it, it shall be made good; account made of us as of salt indeed? a poor contemptible thing, salt, ye may buy enough of it for a farthing. This is their jest; but as contemptible as it is, ye can savour nothing without it, and this is our answer. But what do I pleading for account, or for any good words from the world, whenas Christ here has bidden us look for none beforehand; not but that we should have them, but because we are never like to have them. Men speak well of their clergy? No. There is a saying of his which spoiled that long ago, 'They shall speak all manner of evil against you;' and so they do. I know no saying in all the Blible studied better than this. But since Christ was willing to bear it, we must be content to endure it too. In the meanwhile we would desire all men to remember whose ambassadors they are that are thus used; assuring them that any, the least injury done to them, reflects upon Christ their Lord and Master.
6. Who, to make them amends for this, hath not sent them without another sicut, a sicut of honour and dignity, whereas He sent them to he the ambassadors of God and the dispensers of his sacred mysteries. This shall be the last. [98/99] In priests this to consecrate the Sacrament and to meddle with the keys; but I meddle not with them, as being not proper for the day. In bishops (opus diei) to send, ordain, and govern others, as He sent and governed them. For it was the high-Priest of old and not the presbytery; it is the hilltop now amid not the vestry-man, nor the priest neither, that hth authority to put into the priesthood, or to give any orders at all. It is the full consent of reverend antiquity to distinguish the ministers of the Gospel into three degrees, answerable to the triple order under the Law, as servants to the same Trinity, the God both of Law and Gospel. There are bishops, successors to the Apostles, answerable to the High-Priest, presbyters suceeeding the seventy disciples, answerable to the priests; and deacons, instituted by the Apostles, answerable to the levites. I gather then, that as the putting into the priest's office was penes Pontificem, in the High-Priest's power alone, so the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests and deacons, and the putting of them into office or place within the Church, was, and is, in the authority and jurisdiction of bishops only, who are the height and the princes of the clergy, as Optatus said, and said it from Ignatius, the oldest Father that is, and St. John's owns scholar. If Fathers would do it, we could bring two juries of them; but this place is clear, and St. Paul is clear, what need we any more witnesses? Propter hanc causam, 'for this cause,' saith St. Paul to Titus, 'have I set thee in Crete' (not anybody else) 'that thou shouldest ordain presbyters.' Neither is there any one example to be found in all the stories of the Church of any holy orders that were ever given but by a bishop. I will shew you all that may be found. There was an old Arian heretic, they called hme Ischyras, a fellow suborned by a faction to accuse Athatnasius in the great Council of Nice, and he was ordained a priest indeed by Coluthus an imaginary bishop; but because it was afterwards proved that the one was no bishop, [99/100] the Council concluded that the other was no priest, and so put them both off with contempt and scorn. This was one. There is but another example to be had, and it is out of the second Council of Seville, where the priest takes upon him to give orders like a bishop; you shall see what came of it. The priest dies presently, or they had met with them; and his imaginary clergy-men were by that council turned back again to their lay-brethren with shame enough.
Yet starts me up Aerius, and he would have bishops and priests to be all one, held for so holding as little better than mad; but ye should have given him a bishopric, saith St. Austin, and then the heretic would have been quiet. Forsooth bishops and priests had otherwhiles been both one name; so had bishops and angels too, were they therefore both one order? I may call the bishop a priest when he consecrates the Sacrament, and the priest a bishop when he looks to his charge; butt what makes this to the power of ordination? Cum de re constat, qui fit de nomine pugna? Let the priests submit themselves then, saith St. Ignatius, it is none of theirs; they were not sent for this purpose.
And if not they, much less the consistory, and the verdict of the vestry, to whom they say the Spirit is lately gone, and departed from the whole Church besides. But I will not here vouchsafe; to confute them, not to name them, more than that they are a tumultuous faction, and despise dominions, and speak evil of dignities; and that we own them not.
To the bishops' power of ordaining then add their power of setting Church matters in order by virtue of St. Paul's ordinabo cetera; their votes in council, by virtue of that in the Acts; their power to correct, deprive, suspend, excommunicate, and stop the mouths of offenders, specially of those that speak perverse things and draw disciples after them by virtue of the Apostle's charge to Timothy; and then you [100/101] have their full commission with all the sicuts and extents of it, drawn up at large. And now it wants nothing but the seal, which we will set to with expedition, and make an end.
It follows then, 'When He had spoken these words He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the holy Ghost.'
IV. Where we begin with the ceremony. For here is a Spirit given, and given by another spirit, Spirtitus Sanctus per spiritum oris, the Holy Spirit by the spirit and breath of His mouth.
No doubt but Christ (an it had pleased Him) might have given them the Spirit without any breathing upon them at all; the substance without the ceremony. And had He so done He had got some men's hearts by it for ever, which now He is like to lose; theirs, that condemn all ceremonies in religion for vanity and superstition.
Now much pity it was that these ceremony-haters of our days had not then been living and standing by, to advise and to put to Christ in mind what a foundation He would lay here for superstition and popery, and how much better it had been to have made no more ado but to have come, as they use to do, with the Spirit only, and so be gone. Yet thus it was not; it was as St. John here has written it, and they cannot all tell how to help it; Christ would have a ceremony as well as the Spirit; and the truth is, He did seldom or never any great act without a ceremony.
Christ would have it, and have it He would for some good purpose sure. His purpose was to have it signify somewhat; to be no idle ceremony, but significant, as indeed all ceremonies must be, though for this very cause they are so much misliked, because forsooth, we make them significant; whereas if we should not make them so, they must needs be (as they would have them to be) vain and frivolous indeed. For ceremonies, take them where ye will, let them be destitute of signification and instruction, and what are they else but the idle gestures of men, whose broken wits are not masters of what they do? Themselves, have they not a ceremony to lift up the eye-lid as if they were lifting up a pound weight? and they say it is to signify the heaviness of the heart. We beseech [101/012] them then that they would let our ceremonies be significant too; and this for one, that Christ breathed upon his Apostles.
Significant? of what? The Fathers shall tell us. St. Austin, that it signified the procession of the holy Ghost, to be from Christ himself the Son, as well as from God the Father. Athanasius, and St. Cyril, that it signified Christ to be Him, Who at the first breathed life into man, the Creator and the Re-creator, both one God; St. Ambrose, that as without the breath there is no natural life, so without the Spirit there is no heavenly; St. Basil, that the Spirit begins with a breath and comes on with a wind, not boisterous at first and feeble afterwards, as we use to be. All these are good. I will be hold to add a fifth, as in those cases we may, that Christ breathed upon them here to shew that otherwise they might have been soon out of breath to have run this embassage over the world; that it was not in the power of man, nor in the breath of his nostrils (God knows) to throw down those strong holds of the devil which they were now to encounter, but that by the Spirit of the Lord and the breath of his mouth it must be done.
Here are significations enough; but we shall stick to St. Austin's, as the Church most an end hath used to do about the procession of the holy Ghost from the Person of God the Son; which is the reason that never after this was there any more breathing to be used by the Church, for that neither Spirit nor spiritual authority proceeds from men as lords and authors of it, but was changed to imposita or admota manus, to the lifting up or laying on of their hands, who are [102/103] but God's delegates and assigns to give men possession of His graces.
V. Enough of the ceremony, I come now to the substance, the holy Ghost that was here given and received; whereof, because I said much myself here the last year, I will tell you now what another most an end has said of them, to better purpose than any else can say, and so make an end.
And one note we shall have from the word 'Received,' that it was not a spirit, spiritus transiens, but remanens et implens, afterwards; not a hot breath of furious zeal that blew upon their faces, and presently went off' again, nor a cold breath of frozen religion that blew through them, as I know not how it does through a good many of us; but a breath and a Spirit that went into them, and tarried with them, wrought upon their very hearts and converted them, a Spirit which they received.
Now you will understand of yourselves that when we speak of receiving the Spirit, It is not (as the complainers of our Form to the Parliament would have it) the essence or the person of the holy Ghost that is meant; heaven and earth cannot receive That, and no power can give it: but there is meant by it certain impressions of the holy Ghost, gifts and graces which the Spirit of God doth bestow, and whereby He that receiveth the office is warranted for ever (as Leo speaks) to have the Spirit with him for his aid and support in what thing soever he shall faithfully undertake to discharge its duties.
In such sense, then, is the holy Ghost received in our ordinations. In that of priesthood for their office, and in this of bishops for theirs too; not that both their orders are one, but that both proceed from one Spirit; now there are divers degrees of gifts, saith St. Paul, and but one Spirit. [103/104] But this or that, the holy Ghost is then given them, partly to direct and strengthen then in their ways, and partly to assume unto Itself, for the more assurance and authority, those actions which belong to their place and calling. And such is the Power of the Keys.
I haste to an end. From the words I gather two things; that they received a Spirit; that they received a holy Spirit. For first, men may receive a running humour instead of a true and constant spirit. I speak now of grace making free, which the Apostles, being fitly disposed, received hero, as well as free grace; and in them it was right, a trite spirit, in others it may he an humour only. I wish it were not that humours were not sometimes mistaken for the Spirit, even in clergymen themselves; a fiery humour for the Spirit of zeal; a windy humour for the Spirit of purity; a running, busy, humour for the Spirit of diligence; and a thousand disorderly humours besides for the Spirit of freedom and godly courage, as they call it.
Again, as by that excellent prelate [i.e. Andrewes] it has been observed, man may receive the Spirit, and yet not the holy Spirit; for as there are many humours, so are there many spirits too: a private spirit, that does all by immediate revelation; a worldly spirit, that does all by human policy; a spirit of giddiness, that reels to and fro like a weathercock, blown every year to a new religion; a spirit of error that will believe lies, and a spirit of envy that will endure no peace. There is also a spirit of slumber that passes away the time without any sense of God at all. And all these are no holy Spirits; they that follow them, follow their own ghost instead of the holy Ghost, Which was here received, and no other.
Now I observe, it is last of all observed that wherever this Spirit is named, there comes in a Sanctus with it; It is always called the holy Spirit. Why this title? why not the Spirit of power, or the Spirit of government as well, specially for Apostles and bishops? Not but that He is the Spirit of them too, but for that He delights more in this than in any other attribute whatsoever. High and Mighty, Glorious and Powerful God, be His appellations too, but Holy, Holy is the anthem, the title, that the Cherubim and Seraphim [104/105] continually do cry, that the quire of heaven make choice of. Indeed the only title, when all is done, which leaves us a lesson (but that this unholy age is loath to be taught it), if God and His Spirit so esteem of it, that we should do so likewise, delight to have our actions holy, our words holy, our bodies holy, all our lives holy; we cannot please God better than with holiness, and without holiness we cannot please Him at all. If God be pleased to make such high account of this title, then we, wherever we find it, to do the like, that holy persons, holy places, holy times, and all things sacred and holy, may be had in regard of us; and more especially this holy place, wherein now we are, this holy feast which now we [Advent Sunday] we celebrate, His holy Word, which now we hear, and His holy Sacrament which we are now about to receive. Times and places are out of my way, but for persons, the person of a bishop or a priest, tell one, to which of the Angels said He at any time, 'Receive the holy Ghost?' or, 'Whose sins thou dost remit, they are remitted?' But manum, de tabula; it is a new and a long theme that, another hour must end it.
My Lord, you see you have an honourable and an holy calling, an embassage that Christ sends you on, even as his Father sent Him. And now is the commission to be sealed, first with the holy Ghost and then with the holy Sacrament, which is the reason that you kneel here alone till that be past. I will not take upon me to be your instructor, but here is your pattern, peace with men and holiness with God. Of old it was written upon the bishop's mitre. Now, (as David said to Solomon,) I know you are wise, do then according to your wisdom; that when you have performed your embassy with honour here, you may reap the fruits of it in everlasting glory hereafter. To which He bring both you and us Who hath purchased the same for us.