Of His fulness! Of whose fulness? Of Verbum Caro's, for thither this ejus points us, this day leads us. To 'the Word made flesh,' to Christ's, to His. Yet of His fulness when so made? Of His emptiness, it would be rather. Of His emptiness to-day it is, that we have all received, that we still receive all: there is nothing we receive, but it is from this day's emptiness; and there is nothing that we receive not from it, from His this day's emptying Himself into the form of a servant, from this day's exinanition.
Yet it is a day of 'fulness' too. His thus very emptying Himself for us, His thus very emptying Himself upon us, is the very fulness of His grace and favour to us: the day, then, wherein it was, a day of fulness, wherein He was full, and we were filled; He full of grace, and we filled from it. 'The fulness of time,' the apostle calls it upon this account; a day wherein law and prophets, types and promises, came all to their full, were fulfilled: we received them all fulfilled to us. A day wherein He gave and we received; gave Himself with all His fulness, and we received Him. So then we here did, and I hope we here will do so too.
A day then this worthy to be observed in our generation, wherein to fill our hearts with gladness and our tongues with joy; to return back somewhat for our great receipts; to confess [93/94] we received a great grace to-day by His coming to us, grace upon grace, favour upon favour by it. To return, therefore, 2, gratiam pro gratiâ, thanks to Him for His grace; and do it, 3, to the full too, with full mouths, in full congregations, so to answer to His 'fulness' somewhat like.
For to us this 'we' reacheth too, this fulness pours out still. We, therefore, in all reason to acknowledge it, as well as any 'we' whatsoever, at any time whensoever, at all times whatsoever; but at the full time, this time howsoever. No times comes amiss to do it in, but this time it comes best; a word in season always best. Now here is a day of fulness, and a text of fulness. There wants nothing but our fulness of praise and duty for it; fulness of humility and thanksgiving to receive it. All the 'we' in the text received it so, no doubt; all that will be of the 'we' in the text received it so, no doubt; all that will be of the 'we' of St. John's congregation will receive it in the day, will be glad this day to receive it, and thank God for it,--God for sending, Christ for coming with this fulness to us: be glad with Abraham to see a day, with the shepherds to hear a text, that brings new and tidings of it; be full glad at it.
And it will become us well to do so; we have good reason, for all this fulness is for us. His fulness for our filling: He full, that we might be filled. The fulness His, the redundance ours; ours the benefit; we receive the grace, 'grace for grace,' one grace after another, till we also come to a kind of fulness too, the fulness of the stature of Christ.
That we may then receive it as we ought, know we that in the text there is a fulness and a filling to be considered: the fulness His, the filling ours. 'Of His fulness we all;' there is His fulness,--a complete, gracious, glorious, communicative, universal fulness. 'Of this we have all received, and grace for grace;' there is our filling,--a good, plentiful, gracious, universal filling too.
Yet to understand them fully both, both the fulness and the filling, we must consider this fulness. 1, whose it is; 2, what it is; 3, in what respect it is; 4, how great it is; 5, how large it is: five particulars. First, his it is whom we read of a verse or two before; for ejus is a relative, and refers to the antecedent. Secondly, a fulness it is that is answerable to his greatness, fulness with a double article, [94/95] toà a_toà ; an emphatic fulness. Thirdly, to him it is, or his it, as he is Verbum Caro--God and man both; both natures' fulness, according to them both: for this ejus has not more syllable than natures, and relates as well to the one as to the other. Fourthly, so great it is, tha tit may--nay, that it does-- communicate itself, and yet it is fulness still. De plenitudine: nor case, nor preposition can take any thing from it, to diminish it. Fifthly, so large that it extends as far as all; all some way or other partake of it, more or less, according to their capacity and receipt.
Consider we must again, 2, in the filling:--that 1, it is not an active but a passive filling, as it were, a being filled, an receiving: that, 2, it is a receiving of, not a receiving all; not a perfect fulness, but a proportional: that it is, 3, a receiving gratis; nothing but mere gratia in it; of grace, not of desert: that it is, 4, yet a receiving sufficient, full, every one enough; and that not single grace neither, but one for another, one after another, one upon another: that it is, 5, a general business; all receiving somewhat, some grace or other, and that seldom or never by itself; none without receiving: that, 6, it is from Christ; from Him it is, from His grace, and from His fulness, that we receive whatever we receive: that lastly, 'grace for grace' it is; for some end and purpose it is that we receive it;--receive grace that we may say grace, give thanks, and acknowledge it; 2, receive grace, that we may show grace; receive grace from God that we may show it unto men; receive grace even for grace itself, to increase and grow in it daily more and more till both it and we come both to perfection.
Of all these this is the sum: that in Christ there is 'fulness,' all fulness, fulness in both natures, fulness that contents not itself till it have filled others, till it fills us all. That from this fulness 'we receive,' receive all we have; all we have, though not all He has, all sorts of graces fitting for us; and all gratis, are therefore to give thanks for it, as we have received, so to repay again 'grace for grace.' And of all, this is the scope--the exaltation of Christ and of His grace; the scope of the text, the sermon, and the day. It is but making it yours too, and then all will be full. And that it may so, I begin now particularly to open to you all this [95/96] fulness, Where I am first to show you whose it is. 'His fulness.'
i. 'His,' you know, is a relative, must relate to somewhat that is before; 'His,' to some that was spoken of before. Who is that? One to whom S. John bare witness, that 'He was before,' long before, in the 'beginning,' but was fain to draw nearer, ere we could see Him or His fulness; to draw Himself into the flesh, ere we could fully discern His grace or behold His glory; was made flesh, 'the Word made flesh,' the only-begotten of the Father become the only-born of a Virgin Mother, before we hear of anyone 'full of grace and truth.'
This Word, this eternal Word, this only-begotten Son of God, is He this 'his' belongs to: yet this fulness then fully His, when He was made the Son of Man. In that first appeared the fulness of His love, the fulness of His word and promise, the fulness of His grace and mercy, the infinite grace and favour done to our flesh, the fulness of His truth and reality above all those empty types and shadows, which more amused than filled the world. The body, that is 'of Christ,' says the Apostle; the full body of truth, full bodies grace, never till He took a body to make it full. The Law, that could not fill us; the very life of things there was poured out at the foot of the altar, and all the rest went into smoke. The prophets, they could not fill us with anything but expectations, fill us with good words; but alas! they are but wind, would have proved so too, had He not embodied them. All the world could not fill us; the fulness of time was not come upon it till the Son of fulness came: all that was in it till He came was vanity and emptiness--could neither satisfy itself nor us. It is Christ 'that filleth all in all.' He the end of the Law, the completion of the Prophets, the fulness of the world. To Him it is that this fulness is attributed, 'to the fulness of Christ.' In Him it is it 'dwells.' So it pleased God, says the Apostle there, so to 'gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth, even in Him.' Fulness must needs be His, in whom all things are gathered all together, in whom earth and heaven together.
ii. Thus the fulness you see is His, and it being the fulness [96/97] of heaven and earth, you see in general what His fulness is. In particular, it cannot be measured. 'It is as high as heaven, what can you do? deeper than hell, what can you know? the measure of it is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.' There is no end of His fulness, no more than of His greatness: in Him are hid 'all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;' all wisdom and knowledge treasured up in Him; all in the very knowing Him; all the very treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the choicest to be found there; all even hidden and obscured by His, swallowed up in that. He knows all, and to know Him is to know all; the highest wisdom, the deepest knowledge, is but silliness and ignorance in respect of His--hides itself at the comparison, as lesser lights do at the sun's glaring beams; in Him is all knowledge, and in the knowledge of Him is all wisdom hidden and contained. In Him, 2, is 'the fulness of grace;' 'Full of grace are your lips;' and if the lip is full, the heart is not empty; for out of the abundance there, the fulness here,--the very 'stature of fulness.' In Him, 3, is 'the fulness of truth;' so full, that He is styled the very truth itself: 'I am the truth;' the truth of the promises, all the promises since the creation. All the promises of God are 'in him, yes,' and 'in him, Amen.' The truth of all the types and shadows and sacrifices from the world's first cradle; the true Paschal Lamb, the true Scape-Goat, the true High Priest: Adam, and Isaac, and Joseph, and Joshua, and Samson, and David, and Solomon, were but the representations of Him, or what was to be more substantially done by Him. They are but the draughts and pictures, He the substance all the way. To Him they are all related; had not their offices, actions, or passions, scarce their very names, fulfilled but in Him; all their fulness was in Him. Their truth, and all truth besides; the doctrine of truth never fully delivered, never fully revealed or known, till He came with it. We knew it but in pieces, we saw it but in clouds, we heard it but in dark and obscure prophecies, till He came, 'a light into the world,' to manifest it all; it is then we first hear of the whole will of God, and the declaring that, the 'whole counsel of God:' truth was not at the fulness till He taught it.
Nor, 4, was His the fulness of wisdom and knowledge, [97/98] grace and truth, but of the Spirit too: not 'by measure,' but immeasurably full He; all the graces of the Spirit, and all of them to the full in Him. The Spirit Himself proceeds from Him; He must, therefore, needs be full of that.
Full, 5, with the fulness of riches too, the 'unsearchable riches of Christ,' says St. Paul; so full that we can find out no bottom of it, come to no end of it--unsearchable.
His fulness, 6, was the fulness of glory too. 'We saw it,' says S. John (two verses before the text), 'such a glory as of the only-begotten Son of the Father,' and that sure is all the fulness of the Godhead, too, expressly; 'all the fulness' of it, and all of it 'bodily,' too, says St. Paul. 'Bodily,' how is that? Why, that is full in all dimensions--in all dimensions of a body, length and breadth, and height and depth; the length and infinity of His power, the extent and breath of His love, the height and eminency of His majesty, the depth and unfathomedness of His wisdom, all met together in Christ.
iii. Nor will this seem strange at all, if we consider, for our third point, in this fulness, how and in what respect it is His: and it is His, both as He is God, and as Man. He could not be thus full as I have told you, unless He were God; could not have the Godhead dwell in Him bodily, unless God were in the body, unless He were incarnate God. Nor could other kinds of His fulness be in Him, unless He were man. He could not be a full and sufficient sacrifice, and so offered for one, had He not been man; nor a perfect High Priest to mediate for us, if not taken from among men: the great promise that contains all the rest--that of the seed of the woman--could not have been fulfilled, would not have had its fulness from Him, but as man. The very attribute of fulness speaks Him God; none full but God; no fulness or satisfaction but in Him; yet some kinds of His fulness evidence Him man--are not the fulness of God, as God, but as God made man: and so the Evangelist by the context delivers it: as the fulness of 'the Word made flesh,' of the Eternal Word becoming man. This fulness is the fulness of Christ; and Christ is both God and man, so the fulness of both.
iv. And such a fulness that more runs over, 'anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows;' [98/99] that is fulness, but that is not all. So above them too it is, as it runs down upon His fellows: He is not full only for Himself; for us it was that He was born, that He was given, that He was anointed, that He was full, full of grace, and full of truth, and full of glory, that we might be filled with grace, and truth and glory. He, indeed, is the head that was anointed with oil, but that Head is ours; the Church is the body upon which it runs down from the Head.
v. And that not to the near parts alone--to the beard or shoulders--but even to the skirts of the garment it runs, so full it runs. Ex hoc omnes,--all the members, no, all the clothes; not only those who are true members of the Church, but even those who have but an outward relation to it: all who have but an external right or adherence, as skirts and clothes, have yet some benefit of this oil, of this fulness of His. Christ is no niggard, His fulness nothing so stinted, as some narrow and envious souls will have it; here is enough for all--enough for the whole world to take, and yet leave all full still. You may light a thousand candles at one, and yet the light of it no way lessened by it. You may fill a thousand worlds, if there were so many, from His fulness, and yet He never a whit the less full. Take all you can cope, all that will, no, all who are or will be, here is still for all, as much as the first. 'Oh the depth of the riches of the fulness of Christ!' I could fill the hour, I could fill the day, I could fill all the remnant of my days, with the discourses of it; and should I do it, I could yet say nothing of it near the full, but be as far from sounding the depth of it at the end as I was at the beginning. I pass, therefore, to that which we can better comprehend, easier reach our filling out of this fullness, the second general.
II. Our filling is here said to be 'receiving.' Be our fulness never so great, it is no other, we have received it all. Alas, poor things! we have nothing of ourselves. 'What hast thou that thou hast not received? says the Apostle. Is it grace? That grows not in our gardens--it comes from paradise: what we have transplanted from thence. Is it nature? Why that, too, is received. We did not make ourselves; we received as well our natural as our spiritual [99/100] endownments from Him that made us. Is it glory? Why God calls it, 'His glory:' a thing He will not share but by beams and glances. What should I now mention worldly riches, estate, and honour? They are too evidently received, to be denied they are so. It is the 'blessing of the Lord that makes rich;' so riches are received. I shall deliver him, and bring him to honour,' says God; so honour is received. And 'the earth has God given to the children of men;' so our estates and lands, every clod and turf of them is received. 'For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof;' and from His fulness we receive of it what we have.
Enough this to humble us; for if thou hast received it, 'why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not?' It is St. Paul's inference upon it. Thou hast no reason to boast thyself, O man; thy honour, thy riches, thy good parts, thy graces, they are not from thyself, thou didst but receive them, thou hast nothing of your own; why art thou proud?
And, 2, if all received,--all we have nothing but so many receipts; look we then well to our accounts, they are things we are to reckon for: we had best see how we expend them, that at the general audit we may give up our accounts with joy.
To do so, it will be convenient to think often of our receipts, our own poverty and indigence. A third business we may learn hence--to grow sensible of our emptinesses and necessities, that we are a mere bill of receipts, so much received to-day, so much yesterday, so much day by day; item our souls, item our bodies, item our health, item our wealth, and so onward, nothing but received, and, without receiving, nothing.
Upon this reflection upon our vacuities, we cannot, 4, but open our hearts to receive, our hands to take, anything from His fulllness to supply us; to desire to have them filled, ourselves filled out of His fulness, something thence to make us full.
III. Yet, 3, we must not expect to be so filled that we should have an absolute or perfect plenitude, a plenitude without a diminishing preposition before it: plenitudinem, properly speaking, it will not be; de plenitudine, that is the proper [100/101] speech--somewhat taken from the fulness, a kind of ablative, secondary, proportional one. We are not capable of other; somewhat taken off the height, somewhat bated of the perfection of it. With this fulness it was that the Blessed Virgin, the protomartyr S. Stephen, S. Peter, S. Paul, S. Barnabas, and other saints, are said in holy Scripture to be full or filled, full of grace, or full of faith, or full of the Holy Spirit; full as the bucket, not as the spring; full as the streams, not as the ocean; full as the measure, not as the immeasurable; full with a fulness of abundance, not of redundance; of sufficiency, not of efficiency; full enough for ourselves, but not for others. Alas, poor narrow shallow things that we are, we cannot hold enough for ourselves and others too!
Take from the bucket or the stream, and the bucket will not be full, and the stream will want of what it had. 'Lest there be not enough for us and you,' was more than a just fear of the wise virgins. There is not, will not, cannot be enough. No man is sanctified by another's grace, no man justified by another's faith: the father's goodness will not satisfy for the son's unrighteousness, nor the mother's piety for the daughter's vanity; their righteousness, be it as full as it can, will but suffice only for themselves: it is only Christ's fulness, His grace, His righteousness, that can communicate itself, that we can take anything from to fill up our own. Sufficient I think this, to read us a second lesson of humility, not to think too much of our own righteousness, nor to pride ourselves in our receipts; for of another they are, but from them no other; they are received of His, but none receive of ours.
Sufficient, 2, this too to teach us not to trust to the piety of our forefathers, as if their fulness of good works should excuse our emptiness. They had but their share, what would serve their turns; we must afresh to the Spring-head, to have enough to serve ours. And the comfort is in the next point, that it will cost us nothing; we have it gratis, for gratia it is, of free grace and favour that we receive it.
3. That we may not doubt it, is is doubled in the text, redoubled; grace, all merely grace, nothing but grace, from it, and for it, and by it. Nothing from desert, nothing from works; [101/102] 'for if of works, not of grace,' says S. Paul, that is plain; for if of the desert, not of grace, but duty; not bought or purchased neither,--'freely, without money,' says the Prophet [Isaiah]. Come, drink and eat, and fill yourselves. The ocean runs not freer than His grace. 'Who has first given unto him?' says the Apostle [St. Paul]. Who first? Why nobody, sure: for before there was anybody, 'before the foundation of the world,' He began with us; all grace from the beginning.
Hence too is a lesson of humility; the text and day is full of it, from one end of the text to the other, one end of the day to the other: grace, grace, to put down all opinion of merit or desert; as if it meant to teach us to be filled with humility from the fulness of it this day showed by Christ, and to be read from all the texts that concerns it: as if grace itself had this day appeared to teach it.
IV. So much perhaps to be pressed the rather from the fullness of the grace that now follows to be considered in the next particular: lest by the abundance of it we should be 'exalted above measure,' as S. Paul, by the abundance of his revelations. For men may be proud of graces, and here are store received in the text.
1. Gratiam pro gratiâ, the grace of the gospel for the grace of the law; that is the more abundant, says St. Paul; though this was a grace too, a favour, when time was,--and that such, He showed no such grace to any people as to the Jew. To them the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, the promises, the Fathers, the coming of Christ also according to the flesh,--all these graces appertained: these all were great ones, but the 'law brought nothing to perfection.' The very 'end of it' was Christ. The Law, as great a favour as it was, was but the law still: full of shadows and imperfections, full of rigours without ability to perform them. That came by Christ: the very grace and beauty and glory of the Law was Christ: the grace of the Gospel, that was it which was the perfection of the Law--the fulness of the adoption, the performance of the covenants, the finishing, bringing in a better service, the fulfilling of the promises, the expectation of the fathers, the fulness of Christ, [102/103] not according to the power of the Spirit, and of an endless grace. This is de plenitudine right, over and above all graces and favours that were showed before, all that ever any received before us.
So much above them, as spiritual and eternal blessings are above the temporal, as the reward of glory is above all other rewards; for 'grace for grace,' 2, is grace for glory: grace given us by Christ, to the end we may obtain eternal glory by it. All the graces, if I may so call the good works of the law, tended only to temporal promises: read the whole law over, and show me any other if you can. The grace of the Gospel of Christ it is that first revealed the hopes of glory: thence the kingdom of heaven is heard of first,--there first of grace for glory: grace was single grace, till Christ took a second nature to double it, to grace all to us.
And, 3, here is 'glory' again 'for grace,' according to other interpreters: the reward as sure as the work is. Grace is not only given us to purchase glory, but glory as surely given us for that grace. The glory of the Gospel, and the glory after it, and from it, is that only that exceeds in glory. Thus grace is doubled upon grace; we have grace for glory, grace to come to glory, and glory again to reward our grace; two great ingredients of the fulness we receive, et gratiam pro gratia, even each of these for the other.
Yet, to make the glory yet more glorious, the grace more gracious, here is, 4, 'grace for grace' yet in another sense; one grace for another, one to advance another; grace upon grace, that we may have glory upon glory. For Christ will fill us, if we will, with more than a simple grace or glory; increase and advance us by degrees in both. 'Grace for grace,' that is, grace after grace will God give us, one after another: never leave giving; will not only give us one or two simple graces, but a confluence and full tide of them; one crowding upon the other, gratiam cumulatam, graces upon heaps, 'all spiritual blessings,' [103/104] 'redemption, forgiveness of sins,' 'the knowledge of the mystery of His will,' 'the seal of the Spirit,' all the gifts and graces of the Spirit, all holy virtues and accomplishments, all sanctifying and edifying graces, for to procure us grace in the eyes of God, and graces to gain us grace in the eyes of men; grace to make ourselves gracious in the sight of God, and grace to make other gracious also, to bring others into grace, into the grace of the Gospel. Thus also we receive: and this 'and' here hath an emphasis of grace,--that especially, whatever else.
Yet this 'and' may be an adversative, as much as sed or quamvis; peradventure this we receive, and grace we receive, and grace in this abundance, but not all grace alike, but 'grace for grace;' that is, either according to His grace wherewith He loves us: some more, some less, one this, another that, according to 'the measure of the gift of Christ;' or 2, 'grace for grace;' according to the measure of the use we make of one grace, we receive another: He who has, to 'him will be given;' or 3, 'grace for grace,' that is, 'one after this manner, another after that;' one receives one grace, another receives another; not all alike, not all the same: 'To one is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another faith, etc,' and so onward: and, which adds much to the fulness of this grace, it reaches now, fifthly, unto' all' we all have received.
V. 'All' is a large word, yet no larger than Christ's grace. 'Ho, every one,' cries the Prophet [Isaiah], 'every one,' come take it; he disgraces Christ's grace, nay ungraces it, that ties it up only to I know not what elect ones. 'All things were made by Him,' and received they nothing by it? 'He fills all things living with plenteousness,' and receive they nothing? 'He enlightens every man who comes into the world,' and is that nothing neither? 1. Does He that receives light from Christ, receive nothing? Yes, yes, all receive some benefit or other from Christ's coming. It were to deny His fulness, to deny that.
All the patriarchs who went before, all drank of the same rock, 'which rock was Christ;' they received their fill [104/105] of him, according to their capacity of their vessels. All the prophets who followed after, they also were partakers of the same grace, in another manner. But they who followed him, they, Gentiles as well as Jews, they above all 'received, and grace for grace.' Nay, I am persuaded that there was no man, no creature--there is no man, no creature, the devil only excepted--but receive some benefit or other from this fulness; the goodness of God, which is 'not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,' and to everlasting life, would not suffer any to perish for want of receiving that without which they could not but perish: that first grace which might in some measure dispose him for a second, and so forward, were he but willing to work it.
Nay, even 'we.' And what were we? We who were His enemies, St. Paul tells us, we receive reconcilement by His grace; and why not any enemies as well as we? We that were 'haters of God,' and 'hateful to men;' we who were 'dead in trespasses and sins,' full of all abominable iniquities; we received pardon of them all, and were received to grace; and what reason have we then to exclude any?--who, be they what they will, cannot be worse than we were once, nor in less capacity to receive it. To be sure, omnes will reach them all; and God is gracious to all, not only to them who call upon Him, but to them also who never seek Him, nor call upon Him. This is grace indeed, and it is that makes up the fulness, that shows it full.
VI. It is time we should know to whom we owe it. Look we back again once more to the ejus, and you have it. 'Of His fulness,' that is, of Christ's, it is that we thus all receive; that we receive all this. 'In the beloved' it is that we are thus gratified, thus graced, this begraced. And 'the beloved' is he in whom 'He was well pleased' with us all. 'Grace and truth'--why, that is true grace, and that 'came by Jesus Christ,' in the verse next to the text. We were all ungracious children; He the only gracious Son, who makes us gracious. 'In Him He chose us;' 'in Him He predestinated us to adoption of children;' 'in Him He has made us accepted;' 'in Him we have redemption, forgiveness, and the very riches of grace.' All in him, and without Him nothing. So get Him, and get all; lose Him, and lose all. [105/106] There is 'no other name' but His, no other grace but His, 'by which we can be saved.' From the grace He had with His Father from the beginning, we have ours in time; from the grace He has purchased with Him, to which He was 'exalted' by His obedience, we are also exalted to His grace. From the grace wherewith He loved us, are we made partakers of His grace. He designed it for us, He deserved it for us; He infuses it into us, He works it in us; and after all He has yet reserved a greater for us, an eternal glory for the reward of grace.
VII. How can we no then, lastly, but render 'grace for grace;' say grace, and bless Him over this plenty and fulness; cry, 'Grace, grace unto it,' as the Prophet [Zechariah] has it; proclaim and tell it to the world, fill our lips with songs and hymns of praise, fill the congregations with His glory, and the world with telling out His goodness?
To do it the better, to do the greater right to His grace, let us take the grace-cup in our hand and do it--the cup which Christ blessed, and gave us to remember Him and His grace in. We call it a receiving, let us then receive it; receive, and answer this receiving in the text with the receiving in the day; receive we Him and His fulness, Him and His graces, Him with all thankfulness, reverence, and devotion. Set we ourselves to do it, to 'draw waters out of these wells of salvation,' by the hand of faith and the bucket of humility, out of these fountains of our Saviour--so the Latin reads it--whose side runs out blood and water, full streams of grace and pardon, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if we will but come hither to draw or drink them. We call it a receiving, and so it is, the most signal receiving that we have, a receiving Him full and whole; body and blood, flesh and spirit, really though not corporally both; let us therefore receive it. Open we but our mouths wide, and He will fill them; open we our mouths to beg, and we shall receive; open them wide and full, and we shall be filled with fulness too, to-day at this full table, a table at this time full of heavenly delicates and dainties.
Yet, as we must open our mouths, so we must open our hands too: our mouths to receive, our hands to give. We receive of Christ; it is fit we give somewhat out of our receipts: we receive of His fulness; it is but proportionable [106/107] that we give out of our fulness to those who are not full, that our abundance may be the supply of others' want, as Christ's fulness is of ours. It is a day of fulness; and all would be full, the poor as well as the rich, that all mouths might this day be filled with his praise. 'This is not to eat the Lord's body, for one to be full.' (I give it the easiest word,) 'another to be hungry:' the poor must have their share; 'they that have not,' says the Apostle [St. Paul], that is, the poor. It is a communion; and all must communicate, one way or other, poor and all. It is a feast of fulness, both in the Church and in the house; all must communicate of this day's fulness, one way or other, in one sort or other: and surely, when we have filled ourselves with the fulness of this house, we cannot but fill others with the fulness of ours.
And yet there is _uti c£ritoj, another fulness, to which this grace and fulness leads us: to be filled henceforward with good works, to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, and all the knowledge of Christ. For this it is that this fulness is received, that this grace is received, that this grace-cup, the cup of salvation, is received, that all gifts and graces are received; that we increase in grace, go on in goodness, proceed in all kinds of holy virtues, till we come to the fulness of Christ, to the fulness of His grace here, and of His glory hereafter.
Send down thy grace, O heavenly Father, that we may all receive this fulness at thy hand; empty us of our sins, empty us of ourselves, that we may henceforward be only filled with thee; fill us this day with the plenteousness of thy table, and reject us not, though too unworthy; fill us every day with the plenteousness of thy grace, and leave us not to our own weakness, that we may go on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, from virtue to virtue, till we come to be filled with the plenteousness of thy house, to the fulness of joy, and pleasure, and grace, and glory for evermore. Amen.
Now to the God and Author of all this fulness, all our receipts, all our gifts and graces,--to the Father that gives, to the Son that purchased, to the Holy Spirit that conveys them to us,--be all the fulness of thanks, and praise, and honour, and glory, for ever and ever.