By occasion of this text, most honourable audience, I have walked this Lent in the broad field of scripture, and used my liberty, and entreated of such matters as I thought meet for this auditory. I have had ado with many estates, even with the highest of all. I have entreated of the duty of kings, of the duty of magistrates and judges, of the duty of prelates; allowing that that is good, and disallowing the contrary. I have taught that we are all sinners: I think there is none of us all, neither preacher nor hearer, but we may be amended, and redress our lives: we may all say, yea, all the pack of us, Peccavimus cum patribus nostris, "We have offended and sinned with our forefathers." In multis offendimus omnes: there is none of us all but we have in sundry things grievously offended almighty God. I here entreated of many faults, and rebuked many kinds of sins. I intend today, by God's grace, to shew you the remedy of sin. We be in the place of repentance: now is the time to call for mercy, whilst we be in this world. We be all sinners, even the best of us all; therefore it is good to hear the remedy of sin. This day is commonly called Good-Friday: although every day ought to be with us Good-Friday, yet this day we are accustomed specially to have a commemoration and remembrance of the passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ. This day we have in memory his bitter passion and death, which is the remedy of our sin. Therefore I intend to entreat of a piece of a story of his passion; I am not able to entreat of all. That I may do that the better, and that it may be to the honour of God, and the edification of your souls, and mine both, I shall desire you to pray, &c. In this prayer I will desire you to remember the souls departed, with lauds and praise to almighty God, and that he did vouchsafe to assist them at the hour of their death: in so doing you shall be put in remembrance to pray for yourselves, that it may please God to assist and comfort you in the agonies and pains of death.
The place that I will entreat of is the twenty-sixth chapter of St Matthew. Howbeit, as I entreat of it, I will borrow part of St Mark, and part of St Luke: for they have somewhat that St Matthew hath not; and especially Luke. The text is, Tunc cum venisset Jesus in villam, quae dicitur Gethsemani, "Then when Jesus came;" some have in villam, some in agrum, some in praedium. But it is all one; when Christ came into a grange, into a piece of land, into a field, it makes no matter; call it what ye will. At what time he had come into an honest man's house, and there eaten his paschal lamb, and instituted and celebrated the Lord's supper, and set forth the blessed communion; then when this was done, he took his way to the place where he knew Judas would come. It was a solitary place, and thither he went with his eleven apostles: for Judas, the twelfth, was about his business, he was occupied about his merchandise, and was providing among the bishops and priests to come with an ambushment of Jews, to take our Saviour Jesu Christ. And when he was come into the field or grange, this village, or farm-place, which was called Gethsemane, there was a garden, saith Luke, into the which he goeth, and leaves eight of his disciples without; howbeit he appointed them what they should do: he saith, Sedete hit donec illuc vadam et orem; "Sit you here, whilst I go yonder and pray." He told them that he went to pray, to monish them what they should do, to fall to prayer as he did. He left them there, and took no more with him but three, Peter, James, and John, to teach us that a solitary place is meet for prayer. Then when he was come into this garden, coepit expavescere, "he began to tremble," insomuch he said, Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem, "My soul is heavy and pensive even unto death."
This is a notable place, and one of the most especial and chiefest of all that be in the story of the passion of Christ. Here is our remedy: here we must have in consideration all his doings and sayings, for our learning, for our edification, for our comfort and consolation.
First of all, he set his three disciples that he took with him in an order, and told them what they should do, saying, Sedete hic, et vigilate mecum, et orate; "Sit here, and pray that ye enter not into temptation." But of that I will entreat afterward. Now when he was in the garden, Coepit expavescere, he began to be heavy, pensive, heavy-hearted. I like not Origen's playing with this word coepit: it was a perfect heaviness; it was such a one as was never seen a greater; it was not only the beginning of a sorrow. These doctors, we have great cause to thank God for them, but yet I would not have them always to be allowed. They have handled many points of our faith very godly; and we may have a great stay in them in many things; we might not well lack them: but yet I would not have men to be sworn to them, and so addict, as to take hand over head whatsoever they say: it were a great inconvenience so to do.
Well, let us go forward. He took Peter, James, and John, into this garden. And why did he take them with him, rather than other? Marry, those that he had taken before, to whom he had revealed in the hill the transfiguration and declaration of his deity, to see the revelation of the majesty of his Godhead, now in the garden he revealed to the same the infirmity of his manhood: because they had tasted of the sweet, he would they should taste also of the sour. He took these with him at both times: for two or three is enough to bear witness. And he began to be heavy in his mind; he was greatly vexed within himself, he was sore afflicted, it was a great heaviness. He had been heavy many times before; and he had suffered great afflictions in his soul, as for the blindness of the Jews; and he was like to suffer more pangs of pain in his body. But this pang was greater than any that he ever suffered: yea, it was a greater torment unto him, I think a greater pain, than when he was hanged on the cross; than when the four nails were knocked and driven through his hands and feet; than when the sharp crown of thorns was thrust on his head. This was the heaviness and pensiveness of his heart, the agony of the spirit. And as the soul is more precious than the body, even so is the pains of the soul more grievous than the pains of the body: therefore there is another which writeth, Horror mortis gravior ipsa morte; "The, horror and ugsomeness of death is sorer than death itself." This is the most grievous pain that ever Christ suffered, even this pang that he suffered in the garden. It is the most notable place, one of them in the whole story of the passion, when he said, Anima mea tristis est usque ad mortem, "My soul is heavy to death"; and cum coepisset expavescere, "when he began to quiver, to shake." The grievousness of it is declared by this prayer that he made: Pater, si possibile est, &c., "Father, if it be possible, away with this cup: rid me of it." He understood by this cup his pains of death; for he knew well enough that his passion was at hand, that Judas was coming upon him with the Jews to take him.
There was offered unto him now the image of death; the image, the sense, the feeling of hell: for death and hell go both together. I will entreat of this image of hell, which is death. Truly no man can shew it perfectly, yet I will do the best I can to make you understand the grievous pangs that our Saviour Christ was in when he was in the garden. As man's power is not able to bear it, so no man's tongue is able to express it. Painters paint death like a man without skin, and a body having nothing but bones. And hell they paint with horrible flames of burning fire: they bungle somewhat at it, they come nothing near it. But this is no true painting. No painter can paint hell, unless he could paint the torment and condemnation both of body and soul; the possession and having of all infelicity. This is hell, this is the image of death: this is hell, such an evil-favoured face, such an uglesome countenance, such an horrible visage our Saviour Christ saw of death and hell in the garden. There is no pleasure in beholding of it, but more pain than any tongue can tell. Death and hell took unto them this evil-favoured face of sin, and through sin. This sin is so highly hated of God, that he doth pronounce it worthy to be punished with lack of all felicity, with the feeling of infelicity. Death and hell be not only the wages, the reward, the stipend of sin: but they are brought into the world by sin. Per peccatum mors, saith St Paul, "through sin death entered into the world." Moses sheweth the first coming in of it into the world. Whereas our first father Adam was set at liberty to live for ever, yet God inhibiting him from eating of the apple, told him: "If thou meddle with this fruit, thou and all thy posterity shall fall into necessity of death, from ever living: morte morieris, thou and all thy posterity shall be subject to death." Here came in death and hell: sin was their mother: therefore they must have such an image as their mother sin would give them.
An uglesome thing and an horrible image must it needs be, that is brought in by such a thing so hated of God; yea, this face of death and hell is so terrible, that such as have been wicked men had rather be hanged than abide it. As Achitophel, that traitor to David, like an ambitious wretch, thought to have come to higher promotion, and therefore conspired with Absolon against his master David: he, when he saw his counsel took no place, goes and hangs himself, in contemplation of this evil-favoured face of death. Judas also, when he came with bushments to take his master Christ, in beholding this horrible face hanged himself. Yea, the elect people of God, the faithful, having the beholding of his face, (though God hath always preserved them, such a good God he is to them that believe in him, that "he will not suffer them to be tempted above that that they have been able to bear,") yet for all that, there is nothing that they complain more sore than of this horror of death. Go to Job, what saith he? Pereat dies in quo natus sum, suspendium elegit anima mea; "Wo worth the day that I was born in, my soul would be hanged:" saying in his pangs almost he wist not what. This was when with the eye of his conscience and the inward man he beheld the horror of death and hell: not for any bodily pain he suffered; for when he had boils, blotches, blains, and scabs, he suffered them patiently: he could say then, Si bona suscepi de manu Domini, &c., "If we have received good things of God, why should we not suffer likewise evil?" It was not for any such thing that he was so vexed but the sight of this face of death and hell was offered to him so lively, that he would have been out of this world. It was this evil-favoured face of death that so troubled him. King David also said, in contemplation of this uglesome face, Laboravi in gemitu meo, "I have been sore vexed with sighing and mourning." Turbatus est a furore oculus meus, "Mine eye hath been greatly troubled in my rage." A strange thing! When he had to fight with Goliath, that monstrous giant, who was able to have eaten him, he could abide him, and was nothing afraid. And now what a work! What exclamations makes he at the sight of death! Jonas likewise was bold enough to bid the shipmen cast him into the sea, he had not seen that face and visage: but when he was in the whale's belly, and had there the beholding of it, what terror and distress abode he! Hezekiah, when he saw Sennacherib besieging his city on every side most violently, was nothing afraid of the great host and mighty army that was like to destroy him out of hand; yet he was afraid of death. When the prophet came unto him, and said, Dispone domui tuae, morte morieris et non vives, "Set thy house in order, for thou shalt surely die, and not live;" (2 Kings xx.), it struck him so to the heart that he fell a-weeping. O Lord, what an horror was this! There be some writers that say, that Peter, James, and John were in this feeling at the same time; and that Peter, when he said, Exi a me Domine, quia homo peccator sum, "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man," did taste some part of it: he was so astonished, he wist not what to say. It was not long that they were in this anguish; some say longer, some shorter: but Christ was ready to comfort them, and said to Peter, Ne timeas, "Be not afraid." A friend of mine told me of a certain woman that was eighteen years together in it. I knew a man myself, Bilney, little Bilney, that blessed martyr of God, what time he had borne his fagot, and was come again to Cambridge, had such conflicts within himself, beholding this image of death, that his friends were afraid to let him be alone: they were fain to be with him day and night, and comforted him as they could, but no comforts would serve. As for the comfortable places of scripture, to bring them unto him it was as though a man would run him through the heart with a sword; yet afterward, for all this, he was revived, and took his death patiently, and died well against the tyrannical see of Rome. Wo will be to that bishop, that had the examination of him, if he repented not!
Here is a good lesson for you, my friends; if ever you come in danger, in durance, in prison for God's quarrel, and his sake, as he did for purgatory-matters, and put to bear a fagot for preaching the true word of God against pilgrimage, and such like matters, I will advise you first, and above all things, to abjure all your friends, all your friendships; leave not one unabjured. It is they that shall undo you, and not your enemies. It as his very friends that brought Bilney to it.
By this it may somewhat appear what our Saviour Christ suffered; he doth not dissemble it himself, when he saith, "My soul is heavy to death:" he was in so sore an agony, that there issued out of him, as I shall entreat anon, drops of blood. An ugsome thing surely, which this fact and deed sheweth us, what horrible pains he was in for our sakes! But you will say, "How can this be? It were possible that I, and such other as be great sinners, should suffer such affliction; the Son of God, what our Saviour Christ, [who] never sinned, how can this stand that he should be thus handled? He never deserved it."
Marry, I will tell you how. We must consider our Saviour Christ two ways, one way in his manhood, another in his Godhead. Some places of scripture must be referred to his Deity, and some to his humanity. In his Godhead he suffered nothing; but now he made himself void of his Deity, as scripture saith, Cum esset in forma Dei, exinanivit seipsum, "Whereas he was in the form of God, he emptied himself of it, he did hide it, and used himself as though he had not had it." He would not help himself with his Godhead; "he humbled himself with all obedience unto death, even to the death of the cross:" this was in that he was man. He took upon him our sins: not the work of sin; I mean not so: not to do it, not to commit it; but to purge it, to cleanse it, to bear the stipend of it and that way he was the great sinner of the world. He bare all the sin of the world on his back; he would become debtor for it.
Now to sustain and suffer the dolours of death is not to sin: but he came into this world with his passion to purge our sins. Now this that he suffered in the garden is one of the bitterest pieces of all his passion: this fear of death was the bitterest pain that ever he abode, due to sin which he never did, but became debtor for us. All this he suffered for us; this he did to satisfy for our sins. It is much like as if I owed another man twenty thousand pounds, and should pay it out of hand, or else go to the dungeon of Ludgate; and when I am going to prison, one of my friends should come and ask, "Whither goeth this man?" and after he had heard the matter, should say, "Let me answer for him, I will become surety for him: yea, I will pay all for him." Such a part played our Saviour Christ with us. If he had not suffered this, I for my part should have suffered, according to the gravity and quantity of my sins, damnation. For the greater the sin is, the greater is the punishment in hell. He suffered for you and me, in such a degree as is due to all the sins of the whole world. It was as if you would imagine that one man had committed all the sins since Adam: you may be sure he should be punished with the same horror of death, in such a sort as all men in the world should have suffered. Feign and put case, our Saviour Christ had committed all the sins of the world; all that I for my part have done, all that you for your part have done, and that any man else hath done: if he had done all this himself, his agony that he suffered should have been no greater nor grievouser than it was. This that he suffered in the garden was a portion, I say, of his passion, and one of the bitterest parts of it. And this he suffered for our sins, and not for any sins that he had committed himself for all we should have suffered, every man according to his own deserts. This he did of his goodness, partly to purge and cleanse our sins, partly because he would taste and feel our miseries, quo possit succurrere nobis, "that he should the rather help and relieve us;" and partly he suffered to give us example to behave ourselves as he did. He did not suffer, to discharge us clean from death, to keep us clean from it, not to taste of it. Nay nay, you must not take it so. We shall have the beholding of this ugsome face every one of us; we shall feel it ourselves. Yet our Saviour Christ did suffer, to the intent to signify to us that death is overcomeable. We shall indeed overcome it, if we repent, and acknowledge that our Saviour Jesu Christ pacified with his pangs and pains the wrath of the Father; having a love to walk in the ways of God. If we believe in Jesu Christ, we shall overcome death: I say it shall not prevail against us. Wherefore, whensoever it chanceth thee, my friend, to have the tasting of this death, that thou shalt be tempted with this horror of death, what is to be done then? Whensoever thou feelest thy soul heavy to death, make haste and resort to this garden; and with this faith thou shalt overcome this terror when it cometh. Oh, it was a grievous thing that Christ suffered here! O the greatness of this dolour that he suffered in the garden, partly to make amends for our sins, and partly to deliver us from death; not so that we should not die bodily, but that this death should be a way to a better life, and to destroy and overcome hell! Our Saviour Christ had a garden, but he had little pleasure in it. You have many goodly gardens: I would you would in the midst of them consider what agony our Saviour Christ suffered in his garden. A goodly meditation to have in your gardens! It shall occasion you to delight no farther in vanities, but to remember what he suffered for you. It may draw you from sin. It is a good monument, a good sign, a good monition, to consider how he behaved himself in this garden.
Well; he saith to his disciples, "Sit here and pray with me:" He went a little way off, as it were a stone's cast from them, and falleth to his prayer, and saith: Pater, si possibile est, transeat a me calix iste; "Father, if it be possible, away with this bitter cup, this outrageous pain." Yet after he corrects himself, and says, Veruntamen non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu vis; "Not my will, but thy will be done, O Father." Here is a good meditation for christian men at all times, and not only upon Good Friday. Let Good Friday be every day to a Christian man, to know to use his passion to that end and purpose; not only to read the story, but to take the fruit of it. Some men, if they had been in this agony, would have run themselves through with their swords, as Saul did: some would have hanged themselves, as Achitophel did. Let us not follow these men, they be no examples for us; but let us follow Christ, which in his agony resorted to his Father with his prayer. This must be our pattern to work by.
Here I might dilate the matter as touching praying to saints. Here we may learn not to pray to saints. Christ bids us, Ora Patrem qui est in coelis, "Pray to thy Father that is in heaven;" to the Creator, and not to any creature. And therefore away with these avowries [protectors.]: let God alone be our avowry. What have we to do to run hither or thither, but only to the Father of heaven? I will not tarry to speak of this matter.
Our Saviour Christ set his disciples in an order, and commanded them to watch and pray, saying, Vigilate et orate; "Watch and pray." Whereto should they watch and pray? He saith by and by, ne intretis in tentationem, "that ye enter not into temptation." He bids them not pray that we be not tempted; for that is as much to say, as to pray that we should be out of this world. There is no man in this world without temptation. In the time of prosperity we are tempted to wantonness, pleasures, and all lightness; in time of adversity, to despair in God's goodness. Temptation never ceases. There is a difference between being tempted, and entering into temptation. He bids therefore not to pray that they be not tempted, but that they "enter not into temptation." To be tempted is no evil thing. For what is it? No more than when the flesh, the devil and the world, doth solicit and move us against God. To give place to these suggestions, and to yield ourselves, and suffer us to be overcome with them, this is to enter into temptation. Our Saviour Christ knew that they should be grievously tempted, and therefore he gave them warning that they should not give place to temptation, nor despair at his death: and if they chanced to forsake him, or to run away, in case they tripped or swerved, yet to come again.
But our Saviour Christ did not only command his disciples to pray, but fell down upon his knees flat upon the ground, and prayed himself, saying, Pater, si fieri potest, transeat a me calix iste; "Father, deliver me of this pang and pain that I am in, this outrageous pain." This word, "Father," came even from the bowels of his heart, when he made his moan; as who should say, "Father, rid me; I am in such pain that I can be in no greater! Thou art my Father, I am thy Son. Can the Father forsake his son in such anguish?" Thus he made his moan. "Father, take away this horror of death from me; rid me of this pain; suffer me not to be taken when Judas comes; suffer me not to be hanged on the cross; suffer not my hands to be pierced with nails, nor my heart with the sharp spear." A wonderful thing, that he should so oft tell his disciples of it before, and now, when he cometh to the point, to desire to be rid of it, as though he would have been disobedient to the will of his Father. Afore he said, he came to suffer; and now he says, away with this cup. Who would have thought that ever this gear should have come out of Christ's mouth? What a case is this! What should a man say? You must understand, that Christ took upon him our infirmities, of the which this was one, to be sorry at death. Among the stipends of sin, this was one, to tremble at the cross: this is a punishment for our sin.
It goeth otherways with us than with Christ: if we were in like case, and in like agony, almost we would curse God, or rather wish that there were no God. This that he said was not of that sort; it was referring the matter to the will of his Father. But we seek by all means, be it right, be it wrong, of our own nature to be rid out of pain: he desired it conditionally, as it might stand with his Father's will; adding a veruntamen to it. So his request was to shew the infirmity of man. Here is now an example what we shall do when we are in like case. He never deserved it, we have. He had a veruntamen, and notwithstanding: let us have so to. We must have a "nevertheless, thy will be done, and not mine: give me grace to be content, to submit my will unto thine." His fact teacheth us what to do. This is our surgery, our physic, when we be in agony: and reckon upon it, friends, we shall come to it; we shall feel it at one time or another.
What doth he now? What came to pass now, when he had heard no voice, his Father was dumb? He resorts to his friends, seeking some comfort at their hands. Seeing he had none at his Father's hand, he cometh to his disciples, and finds them asleep. He spake unto Peter, and said, "Ah Peter, art thou asleep?" Peter before had bragged stoutly, as though he would have killed, (God have mercy upon his soul!) and now, when he should have comforted Christ, he was asleep. Not once buff nor baff to him: not a word. He was fain to say to his disciples, Vigilate et orate, "Watch and pray; the spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak:" he had never a word of them again. They might at the least have said, "O Sir, remember yourself; are you not Christ? Came not you into this world to redeem sin? Be of good cheer, be of good comfort: this sorrow will not help you; comfort yourself by your own preaching. You have said, Oportet Filium hominis pati, 'It behoveth the Son of man to suffer.' You have not deserved any thing, it is not your fault." Indeed, if they had done this with him, they had played a friendly part with him; but they gave him not so much as one comfortable word. We run to our friends in our distresses and agonies, as though we had all our trust and confidence in them. He did not so; he resorted to them, but trusted not in them. We will run to our friends, and come no more to God; he returned again. What! Shall we not resort to our friends in time of need? And, trow ye, we shall not find them asleep? Yes, I warrant you: and when we need their help most, we shall not have it. But what shall we do, when we shall find lack in them? We will cry out upon them, upbraid them, chide, brawl, fume, chafe, and backbite them. But Christ did not so; he excused his friends, saying, Vigilate et orate; spiritus guidem promptus est, caro autem infirma. "O!" quoth he, "watch and pray: I see well the spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak." What meaneth this? Surely it is a comfortable place. For as long as we live in this world, when we be at the best, we have no more but promptitudinem spiritus cum infirmitate carnis, the readiness of the spirit with the infirmity of the flesh. The very saints of God said, Velle adest mihi, "My will is good, but I am not able to perform it." I have been with some, and fain they would, fain they would: there was readiness of spirit, but it would not be; it grieved them that they could not take things as they should do. The flesh resisteth the work of the Holy Ghost in our hearts, and lets it, lets it. We have to pray ever to God. O prayer, prayer! that it might be used in this realm, as it ought to be of all men, and specially of magistrates, of counsellors, of great rulers; to pray, to pray that it would please God to put godly policies in their hearts! Call for assistance.
I have heard say, when that good queen [Catherine Par, who married the lord admiral Saymour.] that is gone had ordained in her house daily prayer both before noon, and after noon, the admiral gets him out of the way, like a mole digging in the earth. He shall be Lot's wife to me as long as I live. He was, I heard say, a covetous man, a covetous man indeed: I would there were no more in England! He was, I heard say, an ambitious man: I would there were no more in England! He was, I heard say, a seditious man, a contemner of common prayer: I would there were no more in England! Well: he is gone. I would he had left none behind him! Remember you, my lords, that you pray in your houses to the better mortification of your flesh. Remember, God must be honoured. I will you to pray, that God will continue his Spirit in you. I do not put you in comfort, that if ye have once the Spirit, ye cannot lose it. There be new spirits start up now of late, that say, after we have received the Spirit, we cannot sin. I will make but one argument: St Paul had brought the Galatians to the profession of the faith, and left them in that state; they had received the Spirit once, but they sinned again, as he testified of them himself: he saith, Currebatis bene; ye were once in a right state: and again, Recepistis Spiritum ex operibus legis an ex justitia fidei? Once they had the Spirit by faith; but false prophets came, when he was gone from them, and they plucked them clean away from all that Paul had planted them in: and then said Paul unto them, O stulti Galati, quis vos fascinavit? "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" If this be true, we may lose the Spirit that we have once possessed. It is a fond thing: I will not tarry in it. But now to the passion again.
Christ had been with his Father, and felt no help: he had been with his friends, and had no comfort: he had prayed twice, and was not heard: what did he now? Did he give prayer over? No, he goeth again to his Father, and saith the same again: "Father, if it be possible, away with this cup." Here is an example for us, although we be not heard at the first time, shall we give over our prayer? Nay, we must to it again. We must be importune upon God. We must be instant in prayer. He prayed thrice, and was not heard; let us pray threescore times. Folks are very dull nowadays in prayer, to come to sermons, to resort to common prayer. You house-keepers, and especially great men, give example of prayer in your houses.
Well; did his Father look upon him this second time? No, he went to his friends again, thinking to find some comfort there, but he finds them asleep again; more deep asleep than ever they were: their eyes were heavy with sleep; there was no comfort at all; they wist not what to say to him. A wonderful thing, how he was tost from post to pillar; one while to his Father, and was destitute at his hand; another while to his friends, and found no comfort at them: his Father gave him looking on, and suffered him to bite upon the bridle awhile. Almighty God beheld this battle, that he might enjoy the honour and glory; "that in his name all knees should bow, coelestium, terrestrium et infernorum, in heaven, earth, and hell." This, that the Father would not hear his own Son, was another punishment due to our sin. When we cry unto him, he will not hear us. The prophet Jeremy saith, Clamabunt ad me et ego non exaudiam eos; "They shall cry unto me, and I will not hear them" These be Jeremy's words: here he threateneth to punish sin with not hearing their prayers. The prophet saith, "They have not had the fear of God before their eyes, nor have not regarded discipline and correction." I never saw, surely, so little discipline as is nowadays. Men will be masters; they will be masters and no disciples. Alas, where is this discipline now in England? The people regard no discipline; they be without all order. Where they should give place, they will not stir one inch: yea, where magistrates should determine matters, they will break into the place before they come, and at their coming not move a whit for them. Is this discipline? Is this good order? If a man say anything unto them, they regard it not. They that be called to answer, will not answer directly, but scoff the matter out. Men the more they know, the worse they be; it is truly said, scientia infiat, "knowledge maketh us proud, and causeth us to forget all, and set away discipline." Surely in popery they had a reverence; but now we have none at all. I never saw the like. This same lack of the fear of God and discipline in us was one of the causes that the Father would not hear his Son. This pain suffered our Saviour Christ for us, who never deserved it. O, what it was that he suffered in this garden, till Judas came! The dolours, the terrors, the sorrows that he suffered be unspeakable! He suffered partly to make amends for our sins, and partly to give us example, what we should do in like case. What comes of this gear in the end?
Well; now he prayeth again, he resorteth to his Father again. Angore correptus prolixius orabat; he was in sorer pains, in more anguish than ever he was; and therefore he prayeth longer, more ardently, more fervently, more vehemently, than ever he did before. O Lord, what a wonderful thing is this! This horror of death is worse than death itself, and is more ugsome, more bitter than any bodily death. He prayeth now the third time. He did it so instantly, so fervently, that it brought out a bloody sweat, and in such plenty, that it dropped down even to the ground. There issued out of his precious body drops of blood. What a pain was he in, when these bloody drops fell so abundantly from him! Yet for all that, how unthankful do we shew ourselves toward him that died only for our sakes, and for the remedy of our sins! O what blasphemy do we commit day by day! what little regard have we to his blessed passion, thus to swear by God's blood, by Christ's passion! We have nothing in our pastime, but "God's blood," "God's wounds." We continually blaspheme his passion, in hawking, hunting, dicing, and carding. Who would think he should have such enemies among those that profess his name? What became of his blood that fell down, trow ye? Was the blood of Hales [A noted "relic," kept in the abbey of Hales in Gloucestershire. It was said to be a portion of our Saviour's blood, but when examined it was found to be coloured honey.] of it? Wo worth it! What ado was there to bring this out of the king's head! This great abomination, of the blood of Hales, could not be taken a great while out of his mind.
You that be of the court, and especially ye sworn chaplains, beware of a lesson that a great man taught me at my first coming to the court: he told me for goodwill; he thought it well. He said to me, "You must beware, howsoever ye do, that ye contrary not the king; let him have his sayings; follow him; go with him." Marry, out upon this counsel! Shall I say as he says? Say your conscience, or else what a worm shall ye feel gnawing; what a remorse of conscience shall ye have, when ye remember how ye have slacked your duty! It is a good wise verse, Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo; "The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling." Likewise a prince must be turned; not violently, but he must be won by a little and a little. He must have his duty told him; but it must be done with humbleness, with request of pardon; or else it were a dangerous thing. Unpreaching prelates have been the cause, that the blood of Hales did so long blind the king. Wo worth that such an abominable thing should be in a christian realm! But thanks be to God, it was partly redressed in the king's days that dead is, and much more now. God grant goodwill and power to go forward, if there be any such abomination behind, that it may be utterly rooted up!
O how happy are we, that it hath pleased Almighty God to vouchsafe that his Son should sweat blood for the redeeming of our sins! And, again, how unhappy are we, if we will not take it thankfully, that were redeemed so painfully! Alas, what hard hearts have we! Our Saviour Christ never sinned, and yet sweat he blood for our sins. We will not once water our eyes with a few tears. What an horrible thing is sin; that no other thing would remedy and pay the ransom for it, but only the blood of our Saviour Christ! There was nothing to pacify the Father's wrath against man, but such an agony as he suffered. All the passion of all the martyrs that ever were, all the sacrifices of patriarchs that ever were, all the good works that ever were done, were not able to remedy our sin, to make satisfaction for our sins, nor anything besides, but this extreme passion and blood-shedding of our most merciful Saviour Christ.
But to draw toward an end. What became of this threefold prayer? At the length, it pleased God to hear his Son's prayer; and send him an angel to corroborate, to strengthen, to comfort him. Christ needed no angel's help, if he had listed to ease himself with his deity. He was the Son of God: what then? Forsomuch as he was man, he received comfort at the angel's hand; as it accords to our infirmity. His obedience, his continuance, and suffering, so pleased the Father of heaven, that for his Son's sake, be he never so great a sinner, leaving his sin, and repenting for the same, he will owe him such favour as though he had never committed any sin. The Father of heaven will not suffer him to be tempted with this great horror of death and hell to the uttermost, and above that he is able to bear. Look for it, my friends, by him and through him, we shall be able to overcome it. Let us do as our Saviour Christ did, and we shall have help from above, we shall have angels' help: if we trust in him, heaven and earth shall give up, rather than we shall lack help. He saith he is Adjutor in necessitatibus, "an helper in time of need."
When the angel had comforted him, and when this horror of death was gone, he was so strong, that he offered himself to Judas; and said, "I am he." To make an end: I pray you take pains: it is a day of penance, as we use to say, give me leave to make you weary this day. The Jews had him to Caiaphas and Annas, and there they whipped him, and beat him: they set a crown of sharp thorns upon his head, and nailed him to a tree: yet all this was not so bitter, as this horror of death, and this agony that he suffered in the garden, in such a degree as is due to all the sins of the world, and not to one man's sins. Well; this passion is our remedy; it is the satisfaction for our sins.
His soul descended to hell for a time. Here is much ado! These new upstarting spirits say, "Christ never descended into hell, neither body nor soul." In scorn they will ask, "Was he there? What did he there?" What if we cannot tell what he did there? The creed goeth no further, but saith, he descended thither. What is that to us, if we cannot tell, seeing we were taught no further? Paul was taken up into the third heaven; ask likewise what he saw when he was carried thither? You shall not find in scripture, what he saw or what he did there: shall we not, therefore, believe that he was there? These arrogant spirits, spirits of vainglory, because they know not by any express scripture the order of his doings in hell, they will not believe that ever he descended into hell. Indeed this article hath not so full scripture, so many places and testimonies of scriptures, as others have; yet it hath enough: it hath two or three texts; and if it had but one, one text of scripture is of as good and lawful authority as a thousand, and of as certain truth. It is not to be weighed by the multitude of texts. I believe as certainly and verily that this realm of England hath as good authority to hear God's word, as any nation in all the world: it may be gathered by two texts one of them is this; Ite in universum mundum, et praedicate evangelium omni creaturae, "Go into, the whole world, and preach the gospel to all creatures." Again, Deus vult omnes homines salvos fieri, "God will have all men to be saved." He excepts not the Englishmen here, nor yet expressly nameth them; and yet I am as sure that this realm of England, by this gathering, is allowed to hear God's word, as though Christ had said a thousand times, "Go preach to Englishmen: I will that Englishmen be saved." Because this article of his descending into hell cannot be gathered so directly, so necessarily, so formally, they utterly deny it.
This article hath scriptures two or three; enough for quiet minds: as for curious brains, nothing can content them. This the devil's stirring up of such spirits of sedition is an evident argument that the light is come forth; for his word is abroad when the devil rusheth, when he roareth, when he stirreth up such busy spirits to slander it. My intent is not to entreat of this matter at this time. I trust the people will not be carried away with these new arrogant spirits. I doubt not, but good preachers will labour against them.
But now I will say a word, and herein I protest first of all, not arrogantly to determine and define it: I will contend with no man for it; I will not have it to be prejudice to any body, but I offer it unto you to consider and weigh it. There be some great clerks that take my part, and I perceive not what evil can come of it, in saying, that our Saviour Christ did not only in soul descend into hell, but also that he suffered in hell such pains as the damned spirits did suffer there. Surely, I believe verily, for my part, that he suffered the pains of hell proportionably, as it corresponds and answers to the whole sin of the world. He would not suffer only bodily in the garden and upon the cross, but also in his soul when it was from the body; which was a pain due for our sin. Some write so, and I can believe it, that he suffered in the very place, and I cannot tell what it is, call it what ye will, even in the scalding-house, in the ugsomeness of the place, in the presence of the place, such pain as our capacity cannot attain unto: it is somewhat declared unto us, when we utter it by these effects, "by fire, by gnashing of teeth, by the worm that gnaweth on the conscience." Whatsoever the pain is, it is a great pain that he suffered for us.
I see no inconvenience to say, that Christ suffered in soul in hell. I singularly commend the exceeding great charity of Christ, that for our sakes would suffer in hell in his soul. It sets out the unspeakable hatred that God hath to sin. I perceive not that it doth derogate any thing from the dignity of Christ's death; as in the garden, when he suffered, it derogates nothing from that he suffered on the cross. Scripture speaketh on this fashion: Qui credit in me habet vitam aeternam; "He that believeth in me, hath life everlasting." Here he sets forth faith as the cause of our justificafion; in other places, as high commendation is given to works: and yet, are the works any derogation from that dignity of faith? No. And again, scripture saith, Traditus est propter peccata nostra, et exsuscitatus propter justificationem, &c. It attributeth here our justification to his resurrection; and doth this derogate any thing from his death? Not a whit. It is whole Christ. What with his nativity; what with his circumcision; what with his incarnation and the whole process of his life; with his preaching what with his ascending, descending; what with his death; it is all Christ that worketh our salvation. He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, and all for us. All this is the work of our salvation. I would be as loth to derogate any thing from Christ's death, as the best of you all. How inestimably are we bound to him! What thanks ought we to give him for it! We must have this continually in remembrance: Propter te morti tradimur tota die, "For thee we are in dying continually." The life of a christian man is nothing but a readiness to die, and a remembrance of death.
If this that I have spoken of Christ's suffering in the garden, and in hell, derogate any thing from Christ's death and passion, away with it; believe me not in this. If it do not, it commends and sets forth very well unto us the perfection of the satisfaction that Christ made for us, and the work of redemption, not only before witness in this world, but in hell, in that ugsome place; where whether he suffered or wrestled with the spirits, or comforted Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I will not desire to know. If ye like not that which I have spoken of his suffering, let it go, I will not strive in it: I will be prejudice to no body; weigh it as ye list. I do but offer it you to consider. It is like, his soul did somewhat the three days that his body lay in the grave. To say, he suffered in hell for us, derogates nothing from his death: for all things that Christ did before his suffering on the cross, and after, do work our salvation. If he had not been incarnate, he had not died: he was beneficial to us with all things he did. Christian people should have his suffering for them in remembrance. Let your gardens monish you, your pleasant gardens, what Christ suffered for you in the garden, and what commodity you have by his suffering. It is his will ye should so do; he would be had in remembrance. Mix your pleasures with the remembrance of his bitter passion. The whole passion is satisfaction for our sins, and not the bare death, considering it so nakedly by itself. The manner of speaking of scripture is to be considered. It attributeth our salvation now to one thing, now to another that Christ did; where indeed it pertained to all. Our Saviour Christ hath left behind him a remembrance of his passion, the blessed communion, the celebration of the Lord's Supper: alack! it hath been long abused, as the sacrifices were before in the old law. The patriarchs used sacrifice in the faith of the Seed of the woman, which should break the serpent's head. The patriarchs sacrificed on hope, and afterward the work was esteemed. There come other after, and they consider not the faith of Abraham and the patriarchs, but do their sacrifice according to their own imagination: even so came it to pass with our blessed communion. In the primitive church, in places when their friends were dead, they used to come together to the holy communion. What! to remedy them that were dead? No, no, a straw; it was instituted for no such purpose. But then they would call to remembrance God's goodness, and his passion that he suffered for us, wherein they comforted much their faith.
Others came afterward, and set up all these kinds of massing, all these kinds of iniquity. What an abomination is it, the foulest that ever was, to attribute to man's work our salvation! God be thanked that we have this blessed communion set forth so now, that we may comfort, increase, and fortify our faith at that blessed celebration! If he be guilty of the body of Christ, that takes it unworthily; he fetcheth great comfort at it, that eats it worthily. He doth eat it worthily, that doth eat it in faith. In faith? in what faith? Not long ago a great man said in an audience, "They babble much of faith; I will go lie with my whore all night, and have as good a faith as the best of them all." I think he never knew other but the whoremonger's faith. It is no such faith that will serve. It is no bribing judge's or justice's faith; no rent-raiser's faith; no whoremonger's faith; no lease-monger's faith; nor no seller of benefices' faith; but the faith in the passion of our Saviour Christ. We must believe that our Saviour Christ hath taken us again to his favour, that he hath delivered us his own body and blood, to plead with the devil, and by merit of his own passion, of his own mere liberality. This is the faith, I tell you, that we must come to the communion with, and not the whoremonger's faith. Look where remission of sin is, there is acknowledging of sin also. Faith is a noble duchess, she hath ever her gentleman-usher going before her,--the confessing of sins: she hath a train after her,--the fruits of good works, the walking in the commandments of God. He that believeth will not be idle, he will walk; he will do his business. Have ever the gentleman-usher with you. So if ye will try faith, remember this rule, -- consider whether the train be waiting upon her. If you have another faith than this, a whoremonger's faith, you are like to go to the scalding-house, and there you shall have two dishes, weeping and gnashing of teeth. Much good do it you! you see your fare. If ye will believe and acknowledge your sins, you shall come to the blessed communion of the bitter passion of Christ worthily, and so attain to everlasting life: to the which the Father of heaven bring you and me! Amen.