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The Resurrection & The Sending of the Holy Ghost
John Henry Parker.
This edition © 2018 CrossReach Publications, Kerry, Ireland
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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Sermons of the Resurrection, Preached on Easter-Day, Cont.
Sermons of the Sending of the Holy Ghost, Preached upon Whit-Sunday
About CrossReach Publications
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The present volume contains nineteen Discourses; the remainder of those preached on Easter-day, on our Lord’s Resurrection, and the whole series preached on Whit-Sunday, on the Sending of the Holy Ghost.
Of those on the Resurrection, the first four were preached before King James I. at Whitehall, between the years 1620 and 1623, both inclusive; and the last was only prepared for delivery on Easter-day 1624, but was never actually preached.
With respect to the subject-matter of these Sermons little need be said. The first three are occupied with a consideration of the great love and devotion displayed by St. Mary Magdalene, at the tomb of her Divine Master; together with a particular examination of the probable grounds which induced our blessed Saviour to repress her ardent zeal, and through her to inculcate upon us the necessity of spiritualizing our affections, and at the same time of reposing with implicit confidence upon Him, Who is at once our Father and our God.
The two last discourses in this series, from different texts, enforce the same practical lesson, namely, the obligation which is laid upon every Christian of making a suitable and correspondent return for the great blessings of salvation.
The Sermons preached on Whit-Sunday, on the Sending of the Holy Ghost, come next under consideration.
They are fifteen in number, and, with the exception of the last, were all preached before King James I. at Greenwich, Whitehall, Windsor, and Holy-rood House, between the years 1606 and 1621, both inclusive. The last, which was just excepted, was only prepared to be preached on Whit-Sunday 1622.
This series is particularly valuable for the light which it throws upon some of the very highest, and most mysterious—and it may be added the most essential—Articles of the Catholic Faith; and also for the arguments which it affords to the controversialist who combats the Socinian and other rationalistic heresies. Herein we have asserted, and established, the distinction of Persons and the unity of essence, in the Godhead,—the Divinity, personality, and agency of the Holy Spirit in particular—His procession from the Father and the Son,—His three-fold coming—His office, His works, His gifts, His place, in the economy of redemption—the power which He confers in Holy Orders—the danger of grieving Him—the necessity of receiving Him—His indwelling—the comfort He imparts, the meetness with which He endues the soul for the inheritance of the Saints in glory. These, and other points of a similar character, form the substance of the above sermons; and it will at once be perceived on perusal that they are not merely speculative, but that they abound in practical applications to the consciences of individual Christians, such indeed as cannot easily be resisted, except in cases where the mind is inveterately prejudiced against the reception of the truth.
On the whole, it is hoped that these discourses may, in the full depth of their meaning, be blessed to the edification of those whom a false philosophy, or perhaps the mere pride of intellect, has unhappily influenced against the mysteries of Revelation, by satisfactorily shewing that there is nothing in them to prevent a rightly-constituted mind from still embracing and holding them fast, as forming a part of that sacred deposit of faith once given to the Saints, and entrusted to us for transmission to succeeding generations.
The Hebrew Quotations have for the most part been revised and corrected by the Rev. C. Seager, M.A. late Scholar of Worcester College, to whom the Editor is glad of having an opportunity of thus recording his obligations.
The Variations between the texts heading the Sermons, and the same as they occur in the Genevan Bible, are given as before (the most important of them) in a note below1*.
It is not impossible but that, in the course of the volumes already published, a few obvious and literal misprints may be detected. The Editor hopes, however, that they are not numerous, or important, or indeed such as require particular notice. Any one, who is at all conversant with the press, is of course aware that occasional misprints are unavoidable in a work of this nature.
J. P. W.
ERRATUM IN VOL. II. p. 119
For Who … reporting the Passion, and the last act of the Passion—this opening of the side, and piercing of the heart—our Saviour Christ saith plainly, … read, Who … reporting the Passion, and the last act of the Passion—this opening of the side, and piercing of the heart of our Saviour Christ—saith plainly, …
preached before the
KING’S MAJESTY, AT WHITEHALL,
on the sixteenth of april, a.d. mdcxx. being easter-day
But Mary stood by the sepulchre weeping; and as she wept, she stooped, and looked into the sepulchre,
And saw two Angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, the other at the feet, where the Body of Jesus had lain.
And they said to her, Woman, why weepest thou? She said to them, They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.
When she had thus said, she turned herself about, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She, supposing He had been the gardener, said to Him, Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him thence.
Jesus saith to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to Him, Rabboni, that is to say, Master.
Jesus said to her, Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren, and say to them, I ascend to My Father and to your Father, and to My God and your God.
It is Easter-day abroad, and it is so in the text. We keep Solomon’s rule,2* Verbum diei in die suo. For all this I have read, is nothing else but a report of Christ’s rising, and of His appearing this Easter-day morning, His very first appearing of all. St. Mark is express for it, that Christ was no sooner risen this day but “He appeared first of all to Mary Magdalene;”3* which first appearing of His is here by St. John extended, and set down at large.
The sum of it is, 1. The seeking Christ dead; 2. The finding Him alive.
The manner of it is, That Mary Magdalene staying still by the sepulchre, first she saw a vision of Angels; and after, she saw Christ Himself. Saw Him, and was herself made an Angel by Him, a good Angel to carry the Evangel, the first good and joyful tidings of His rising again from the dead. And this was a great honour, all considered, to serve in an Angel’s place.4* To do that at His resurrection, His second birth, that at His first birth an Angel did. An Angel first published that. Mary Magdalene brought first notice of this. As he to the shepherds, so she to the Apostles, the Pastors of Christ’s flock, by them to be spread abroad to the ends of the world.
To look a little into it. 1. Mary is the name of a woman; 2. Mary Magdalene of a sinful woman.
That to a woman first—it agreeth well to make even with Eve: that as by a woman came the first news of death,5* so by a woman also might come the first notice of the Resurrection from the dead. And the place fits well, for in a garden they came both.
That to a sinful woman first—that also agrees well. To her first that most needed it; most needed it, and so first sought it. And it agrees well, He be first found of her that first sought Him: even in that respect she was to be respected.
In which two there is opened unto us “a gate of hope,”6* two great leaves, as it were; one, that no infirmity of sex—for a woman we see; the other, that no enormity of sin—for a sinful woman, one that had the blemish that she went under the common name of peccatrix,7* as notorious and famous in that kind; that neither of these shall debar any to have their part in Christ and in His resurrection: any, that shall seek Him in such sort as she did. For either of these non obstante, nay notwithstanding both these, she had the happiness to see His Angels—and that was no small favour: to see Christ Himself, and that first of all, before all others to see and salute Him: and to receive a commission from Him of vade et dic,8* to “go and tell,” that is as it were to be an Apostle, and that to the Apostles themselves, to bring them the first good news of Christ’s rising again.
There are three parties that take up the whole text, and if I should divide it, I would make those three parties the three parts: I. Mary Magdalene, II. the Angels, III. and Christ our Saviour.
Mary Magdalene begins her part in the first verse, but she goes along through them all.
Then the Angels’ part in the two verses next. 1. Their appearing, 2. and their speech to her; appearing in the twelfth, speech in the thirteenth.
And last, Christ’s part in all the rest. 1. His appearing, 2. and speech likewise. Appearing first, unknown, in the fourteenth, and His speech then in the fifteenth.
After, His appearing and speech again, being known, in the sixteenth and seventeenth. 1. Forbidding her, mane et tange, to stay and to touch; 2. and bidding her, vade et dic, to get her quickly to His brethren, and tell them His resurrection was past, for ascendo, He was taking thought for His Ascension, and preparing for that. Thus lieth the order and the parts.
The use will be, that we in our seeking carry ourselves as she did;—and so may we have the happiness that she had to find Christ, as He is now to be found in the virtue of His resurrection!
Ver. 11. “But Mary stood by the Sepulchre weeping, and as she wept she stooped, and looked into the Sepulchre.”
Of the favours vouchsafed this same felix peccatrix, as the Fathers term her, this day; 1. To see but Christ’s Angels, 2. To see Christ at all, 3. To see Him first of all, 4. But more than all these, to be employed by Him in so heavenly an errand, reason we can render none that helped her to these,9* but that which in a place Christ Himself renders, Quia dilexit multum, “because she loved much.”
“She loved much;” we cannot say, She believed much; for by her sustulerunt thrice repeated, the second, thirteenth, fifteenth verses, it seems she believed no more than just as much as the High Priests would have had the world believe, that “he was taken away by night.”
Defectus fidei non est negandus, affectus amoris non est vituperandus:—it is Origen; ‘We cannot commend her faith, her love we cannot but commend,’ and so do—commend it in her, commend it to you. Much it was, and much good proof gave she of it. Before, to Him living; now, to Him dead. To Him dead, there are divers: 1. She was last at His cross, and first at His grave; 2. Stayed longest there, was soonest here; 3. Could not rest till she were up to seek Him: 4. Sought Him while it was yet dark,10* before she had light to seek Him by.
But to take her as we find her in the text, and to look no whither else. There are in the text no less than ten, all arguments of her great love; all as it were a commentary upon dilexit multum. And even in this first verse there are five of them.
The first in these words, stabat juxta monumentum, that “she stood by the grave,” a place where faint love loves not to stand. Bring Him to the grave, and lay Him in the grave, and there leave Him; but come no more at it, nor stand not long by it. Stand by Him while He is alive—so did many; stand, and go, and sit by Him. But stans juxta monumentum, stand by Him dead; Mary Magdalene, she did it, and she only did it, and none but she. Amor stans juxta monumentum.
The next in these, Maria autem stabat, “But Mary stood.” In the autem, the “but”—that helps us to another. “But Mary stood,” that is as much to say as, Others did not, “but” she did.11* Peter and John were there but even now. Thither they came, but not finding Him, away they went. They went, but Mary went not, she stood still. Their going away commends her staying behind. To the grave she came before them, from the grave she went to tell them, to the grave she returns with them, at the grave she stays behind them.12* Fortior eam figebat affectus, saith Augustine, ‘a stronger affection fixed her;’ so fixed her that she had not the power to remove thence. Go who would, she would not, but stay still. To stay, while others do so, while company stays, that is the world’s love; but Peter is gone, and John too; all are gone, and we left alone; then to stay is love, and constant love. Amor manens aliis recedentibus, ‘love that when others shrink and give over, holds out still.’
The third in these, “she stood, and she wept;” and not a tear or two, but she wept a good as we say, that the Angels, that Christ Himself pity her, and both of them the first thing they do, they ask her why she wept so. Both of them begin with that question. And in this is love. For if, when Christ stood at Lazarus’ grave’s side and wept,13* the Jews said, “See, how He loved him!” may not we say the very same, when Mary stood at Christ’s grave and wept, See, how she loved Him! Whose presence she wished for, His miss she wept for; Whom she dearly loved while she had Him, she bitterly bewailed when she lost Him. Amor amare flens, ‘love running down the cheeks.’
The fourth in these, “And as she wept, she stooped, and looked in” ever and anon. That is, she did so weep as she did seek withal. Weeping without seeking, is but to small purpose. But her weeping hindered not her seeking, her sorrow dulled not her diligence. And diligence is a character of love, comes from the same root, dilectio and diligentia from diligo, both. Amor diligentiam diligens.
To seek, is one thing; not to give over seeking, is another. For I ask, why should she now look in? Peter and John had looked there before, nay had been in the grave, they. It makes no matter; she will not trust Peter’s eyes, nor John’s neither.14* But she herself had before this, looked in too. No force, she will not trust herself, she will suspect her own eyes, she will rather think she looked not well before, than leave off her looking.15* It is not enough for love to look in once. Thus we use, this is our manner when we seek a thing seriously; where we have sought already, there to seek again, thinking we did it not well, but if we now look again better, we shall surely find it then. Amor quærens ubi quæsivit, love that never thinks it hath looked enough. These five.
And, by these five we may take measure of our love, and of the true multum of it. Ut prosit nobis ejus stare, ejus plorare et quærere, saith Origen, ‘that her standing, her weeping, and seeking, we may take some good by them.’
I doubt ours will fall short. Stay by Him alive, that we can, juxta mensam; but juxta monumentum, who takes up His standing there? And our love it is dry-eyed, it cannot weep; it is stiff-jointed, it cannot stoop to seek. If it do, and we hit not on Him at first, away we go with Peter and John; we stay it not out with Mary Magdalene. A sign our love is little and light, and our seeking suitable, and so it is without success. We find not Christ—no marvel; but seek Him as she sought Him, and we shall speed as she sped.
Ver. 12. “And saw two Angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.”
For what came of this? Thus staying by it, and thus looking in, again and again, though she saw not Christ at first, she sees His Angels. For so it pleased Christ to come by degrees, His Angels before Him. And it is no vulgar honour this, to see but an Angel; what would one of us give to see but the like sight?
We are now at the Angels’ part, their appearing in this verse. There are four points in it: 1. Their place; 2. Their habit; 3. Their site; 4. and their order. 1. Place, in the grave; 2. Habit, in white; 3. site—they were sitting; 4. and their order in sitting, one at the head, the other at the feet.
The place. In the grave she saw them; and Angels in a grave, is a strange sight, a sight never seen before; not till Christ’s body had been there, never till this day; this the first news of Angels in that place. For a grave is no place for Angels, one would think; for worms rather: blessed Angels, not but in a blessed place. But since Christ lay there, that place is blessed. There was a voice heard from Heaven,16* “Blessed be the dead:” “Precious the death,” “Glorious the memory” now,17* “of them that die in the Lord.” And even this, that the Angels disdained not now to come thither, and to sit there, is an auspicium of a great change to ensue in the state of that place. Quid gloriosius Angelo? quid vilius vermiculo? saith Augustine. Qui fuit vermiculorum locus, est et Angelorum. ‘That which was the place for worms, is become a place for Angels.’
Their habit. “In white.” So were there divers of them, divers times this day, seen, “in white” all; in that colour. It seems to be their Easter-day colour, for at this feast they all do their service in it. Their Easter-day colour, for it is the colour of the Resurrection. The state whereof when Christ would represent upon the Mount,18* “His raiment was all white, no fuller in the earth could come near it.” And our colour it shall be,19* when rising again we “shall walk in white robes,”20* and “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.”
Heaven mourned on Good-Friday,21* the eclipse made all then in black. Easter-day it rejoiceth, Heaven and Angels, all in white.22* Solomon tells us, it is the colour of joy. And that is the state of joy, and this the day of the first joyful tidings of it, with joy ever celebrated, even in albis, eight days together, by them that found Christ.
“In white,” and “sitting.” As the colour of joy, so the situation of rest. So we say, Sit down, and rest. And so is the grave made, by this morning’s work, a place of rest. Rest, not from our labours only—so do the beasts rest when they die; but as it is in the sixteenth Psalm, a Psalm of the Resurrection,23* a “rest in hope”—“hope” of rising again, the members in the virtue of their Head Who this day is risen. So to enter into the “rest,”24* which yet “remaineth for the people of God,” even the Sabbath eternal.
“Sitting,” and in this order “sitting;” “at the head one, at the feet another, where His body had lain.
1. Which order may well refer to Christ Himself, Whose body was the true ark indeed,25* “in which it pleased the Godhead to dwell bodily;” and is therefore here between two Angels,26* as was the ark, the type of it, “between the two cherubims.”
2. May also refer to Mary Magdalene.27* She had anointed His head,28* she had anointed His feet: at these two places sit the two Angels, as it were to acknowledge so much for her sake.
3. In mystery, they refer it thus. Because caput Christi Deus,29* “the Godhead is the head of Christ,” and His feet which the serpent did bruise, His manhood; that either of these hath his Angel.30* That to Christ man no less than to Christ God,31* the Angels do now their service. In principio erat Verbum,32* His Godhead; there, an Angel. Verbum caro factum, his manhood; there, another. “And let all the Angels of God worship Him” in both.33* Even in His manhood, at His cradle the head of it,34* a choir of Angels; at His grave, the feet of it, Angels likewise.
4. And lastly, for our comfort thus. That henceforth even such shall our graves be,35* if we be so happy as to “have our parts in the first resurrection,” which is of the soul from sin. We shall go to our graves in white, in the comfort and colour of hope, lie between two Angels there; they guard our bodies dead, and present them alive again at the Resurrection.
1. Yet before we leave them, to learn somewhat of the Angels; specially, of “the Angel that sat at the feet.” That between them there was no striving for places. He that “sat at the feet,” as well content with his place as he that “at the head.” We to be so by their example. For with us, both the Angels would have been “at the head,” never an one “at the feet;” with us none would be at the feet by his good will, head-Angels all.
2. Again, from them both. That inasmuch as the head ever stands for the beginning, and the feet for the end, that we be careful that our beginnings only be not glorious—O an angel at the head in any wise—but that we look to the feet, there be another there too. Ne turpiter atrum desinat, ‘that it end not in a black Angel,’ that began in a white. And this for the Angels’ appearing.
Ver. 13. “And they said to her, Woman, why weepest thou? She said to them, They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him.”
Now to their speech. It was not a dumb show this, a bare apparition, and so vanished away. It was visio et vox, ‘a vocal vision.’ Here is a dialogue too, the Angels speak to her.
And they ask her, Quid ploras? Why she wept, what cause she had to weep. They mean she had none, as indeed no more she had. All was in error, piæ lachrymæ sed cæcæ, ‘tears of grief but false grief,’ imagining that to be that was not,36* Him to be dead that was alive. She weeps, because she found the grave empty, which God forbid she should have found full, for then Christ must have been dead still, and so no Resurrection.
And this case of Mary Magdalene’s is our case oftentimes. In the error of our conceit to weep, where we have no cause; to joy, where we have as little. Where we should, where we have cause to joy, we weep; and where to weep, we joy. Our ploras hath never a quid. False joys and false sorrows, false hopes and false fears this life of ours is full of—God help us!
Now because she erred, they ask her the cause, that she alleging it they may take it away, and shew it to be no cause. As the elench, a non causâ pro causâ, makes foul rule among us, beguiles us all our life long.
Will ye hear her answer to “Why weep you?” why? sustulerunt, that was the cause, her Lord was gone, was “taken away.”
And a good cause it had been, if it had been true. Any have cause to grieve that have lost, lost a good Lord, so good and gracious a Lord as He had been to her.
But that is not all; a worse matter, a greater grief than that. When one dieth, we reckon him taken away; that is one kind of taking away. But His dead body is left, so all is not taken from us; that was not her case. For in saying, “her Lord,” she means not her Lord alive—that is not it; she means not they had slain Him, they had taken away His life—she had wept her fill for that already. But “her Lord,” that is,37* His dead body. For though His life was gone, yet His body was left. And that was all she now had left of Him that she calls her Lord, and that “they had taken away” from her too. A poor one it was, yet some comfort it was to her, to have even that left her to visit, to anoint, to do other offices of love, even to that. Etiam viso cadavere recalescit amor, at the sight even of that will love revive, it will fetch life of love again. But now here is her case; that is gone and all, and nothing but an empty grave now left to stand by. That St. Augustine saith well, sublatus de monumento grieved her more than occisus in ligno, for then something yet was left; now nothing at all. Right sustulerunt, taken away quite and clean.
And thirdly, her nescio ubi. For though He be taken away, it is some comfort yet, if we know where to fetch Him again. But here, He is gone without all hope of recovery or getting again. For “they”—but she knew not who, “had carried Him” she knew not whither; “laid Him,” she knew not where; there to do to Him, she knew not what. So that now she knew not whither to go, to find any comfort. It was nescio ubi with her right. Put all these together, His life taken away, His body taken away, and carried no man knows whither; and do they ask why she wept? or can any blame her for it?
The truth is, none had “taken away her Lord” for all this; for all this while her Lord was well, was as she would have had Him, alive and safe. He went away of Himself, none carried Him thence. What of that? Non credens suscitatum, credidit sublatum, ‘for want of belief He was risen, she believed He was carried away.’ She erred in so believing; there was error in her love, but there was love in her error too.
And, give me leave to lay out three more arguments of her love, out of this verse, to make up eight, towards the making up of her multum.
The very title she gives Him, of Dominum meum, is one; “My Lord,” that she gives Him that term. For it shews her love and respect was no whit abated by the scandal of His death. It was a most opprobrious, ignominious, shameful death He suffered; such, as in the eyes of the world any would have been ashamed to own Him, or say of Him, Meum; but any would have been afraid to honour Him with that title, to style Him Dominum. She was neither. Meum, for hers; Dominum meum, for her Lord she acknowledgeth Him, is neither ashamed nor afraid to continue that title still. Amor scandalo non scandalizatus.
Another, which I take to be far beyond this, That she having looked into the grave a little before, and seen never an Angel there, and of a sudden looking in now and seeing two, a sight able to have amazed any, any but her, it moves not her at all. The suddenness, the strangeness, the gloriousness of the sight, yea, even of Angels, move her not at all. She seems to have no sense of it, and so to be in a kind of extacy all the while. Domine, propter Te est extra se, saith Bernard. Amor extasin patiens.
And thirdly, as that strange sight affected her not a whit, so neither did their comfortable speech work with her at all. Comfortable I call it, for they that ask the cause why, “why weep you?” shew they would remove it if it lay in them. Neither of these did or could move her, or make her once leave her weeping—she wept on still: Christ will ask her, quid ploras? by and by again. If she find an Angel, if she find not her Lord, it will not serve. She had rather find His dead body, than them in all their glory. No man in earth, no Angel in Heaven can comfort her; none but He that is taken away, Christ, and none but Christ; and till she find Him again, her soul refuseth all manner comfort, yea even from Heaven, even from the Angels themselves; these three. Amor super amissum renuens consolari.
Thus she, in her love, for her supposed loss or taking away. And what shall become of us in ours then? That lose Him 1. not once, but oft; 2. and not in suppose as she did, but in very deed; 3. and that by sin, the worst loss of all; 4. and that not by any other’s taking away, but by our own act and wilful default; and are not grieved, nay not moved a whit, break none of our wonted sports for it, as if we reckoned Him as good lost as found. Yea, when Christ and the Holy Ghost, and the favour of God, and all is gone, how soon, how easily are we comforted again for all this! that none shall need to say, quid ploras? to us rather, quid non ploras? ask us why we weep not, having so good cause to do it as we then have? This for the Angels’ part.
Ver. 14. “When she had thus said, she turned herself about, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.”
Always the Angels, we see, touched the right string, and she tells them the wrong cause, but yet the right, if it had been right.
Now to this answer of hers they would have replied, and taken away her error touching her Lord’s taking away; that if she knew all, she would have left her seeking, and set her down by them, and left her weeping, and been in white as well as they.
But here is a supersedeas to them, the Lord Himself comes in place. Now come we from the seeking Him dead, to the finding Him alive. For when He saw no Angels, no sight, no speech of theirs would serve, none but her Lord could give her any comfort, her Lord comes. Christus adest.
Adest Christus, nec ab eis unquam abest a quibus quæritur, saith Augustine; ‘Christ is found, found by her; and this case of hers shall be the case of all that seriously seek Him.’ This woman here for one, she sought Him we see. They that went to Emmaus to day, they but talked of Him sadly, and they both found Him.38* Why, He is found of them that seek Him not; but of them that seek Him, never but found. “For Thou Lord never failest them that seek Thee.”39* “God is not unrighteous,40* to forget the work and labour of their love that seek Him.”
So find Him they shall, but happily not all so fully at first, no more than she did. For first, to try her yet a little farther, He comes unknown, stands by her, and she little thought it had been He.
A case that likewise falls out full oft. Doubtless, “He is not far from every one of us,”41* saith the Apostle to the Athenians. But He is nearer us many times than we think;42* even hard by us and we not aware of it,43* saith Job. And O si cognovisses et tu, O if we did know, and it standeth us in hand to pray that we may know when He is so,44* for that is “the time of our visitation.”
St. John saith here, the Angels were sitting; St. Luke saith,45* they stood. They are thus reconciled. That Christ coming in presence, the Angels which before were sitting stood up. Their standing up made Mary Magdalene turn her to see who it was they rose to. And so Christ she saw, but knew Him not.
Not only not knew Him, but mis-knew Him, took Him for the gardener. Tears will dim the sight, and it was not yet scarce day, and she seeing one, and not knowing what any one should make in the ground so early but he that dressed it,46* she might well mistake. But it was more than so; her eyes were not holden only that she did not know Him, but over and beside He did appear ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ,47* in some such shape as might resemble the gardener whom she took Him for.
Proper enough it was, it fitted well the time and place, this person. The time, it was the spring; the place, it was the garden: that place is most in request at that time, for that place and time a gardener doth well.
Of which her so taking Him, St. Gregory saith well, profecto errando non erravit. She did not mistake in taking Him for a gardener; though she might seem to err in some sense, yet in some other she was in the right. For in a sense, and a good sense, Christ may well be said to be a gardener, and indeed is one. For our rule is, Christ as He appears, so He is ever; no false semblant in Him.
1. A gardener He is then. The first, the fairest garden that ever was, Paradise, He was the gardener, it was of His planting. So, a gardener.
2. And ever since it is He That as God makes all our gardens green, sends us yearly the spring, and all the herbs and flowers we then gather;48* and neither Paul with his planting, nor Apollos with his watering, could do any good without Him. So a gardener in that sense.
3. But not in that alone; but He it is that gardens our “souls” too, and makes them, as the Prophet saith, “like a well-watered garden;”49* weeds out of them whatsoever is noisome or unsavory, sows and plants them with true roots and seeds of righteousness, waters them with the dew of His grace, and makes them bring forth fruit to eternal life.
But it is none of all these, but besides all these, nay over and above all these, this day if ever, most properly He was a gardener. Was one, and so after a more peculiar manner might take this likeness on Him. Christ rising was indeed a gardener, and that a strange one, Who made such an herb grow out of the ground this day as the like was never seen before, a dead body to shoot forth alive out of the grave.
I ask, was He so this day alone? No, but this profession of His, this day begun, He will follow to the end. For He it is That by virtue of this morning’s act shall garden our bodies too, turn all our graves into garden plots; yea, shall one day turn land and sea and all into a great garden, and so husband them as they shall in due time bring forth live bodies, even all our bodies alive again.
Long before, did Esay see this and sing of it in his song, resembling the resurrection to a spring garden.50* “A wake and sing,” saith he; “ye that dwell for a time are as it were sown in the dust, for His dew shall be as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall shoot forth her dead.” So then, He appeared no other than He was; a gardener He was, not in show alone, but opere et veritate, and so came in His own likeness. This for Christ’s appearing. Now to His speech, but as unknown still.
Ver. 15. “Jesus saith to her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?” She, supposing He had been the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him thence.”
Still she weeps; so He begins with Quid ploras? asks the same questions the Angels had before; only quickens it a little with quem quæris, “whom seek you?” So, Quem quæris quærit a te, Quem quæris? Whom she sought, He asks her “Whom she sought.” Si quæris, cur non cognoscis? si cognoscis, cur quæris? saith Augustine. If she seek Him, why knows she Him not? If she know Him, why seeks she Him still? A common thing with us, this also; to seek a thing, and when we have found it, not to know we have so, but even Christum a Christo quærere, ‘to ask Christ for Christ.’ Which however it fall in other matters, in this seeking of Christ it is safe. Even when we seek Christ, to pray to Christ to help us to find Christ; we shall do it full evil without Him.
This quid ploras? it comes now twice. The Angels asked it, we stood not on it then. Now, seeing Christ asks it again the second time, we will think there is something in it, and stay a little at it. The rather, for that it is the very opening of His mouth, the very first words that ever came from Him, that He spake first of all, after His rising again from death. There is sure some more than ordinary matter in this quid ploras? if it be, but even for that.
Thus say the Fathers; 1. That Mary Magdalene standing by the grave’s side, and there weeping, is thus brought in to represent unto us the state of all mankind before this day, the day of Christ’s rising again, weeping over the dead, as do the heathen “that have no hope;”51* comes Christ with His quid ploras, “Why do you weep?” As much to say, as ne ploras; “Weep not, why should you weep?” there is no cause of weeping now. Henceforth none shall need to stand by the grave to weep there any more. A question very proper for Easter-day, for the day of the Resurrection. For if there be a rising again, quid ploras? is right, why should she, why should any weep then?
So that this quid ploras of Christ’s, wipes away tears from all eyes, and as we sing in the thirtieth Psalm, whose title is,52* the Psalm of the Resurrection, puts off our “sackcloth,” that is our mourning weeds, girds us “with gladness,” puts us all in white with the Angels.
Ploras then, leave that for Good-Friday, for His Passion; weep then, and spare not. But quid ploras? for Easter-day is in kind the feast of the Resurrection, why should there be any weeping upon it? Is not Christ risen? Shall not He raise us with Him? Is He not a gardener, to make our bodies sown to grow again? Ploras, leave that to the heathen that are without hope; but to the Christian man, quid ploras? Why should he weep? he hath hopes; the Head is already risen, the members shall in their due time follow Him.
I observe that four times this day, at four several appearings, 1. at the first, at this here, He asked her, quid ploras? why she wept.53* 2. Of them that went to Emmaus, quid tristes estis? Why are ye sad? 3. Within a verse following, the nineteenth,54* He saith to the Eleven, Pax vobis, “Peace be to them:” 4. And to the women that met Him on the way, χαίρετε,55* that is, rejoice, be glad. So, no weeping, no being sad; now, nothing this day, but peace and joy; they do properly belong to this feast.
And this I note the more willingly now this year, because the last Easter we could not so well have noted it. Some wept then; all were sad, little joy there was, and there was a quid, a good cause for it. But blessed be God That hath now sent us a more kindly Easter, of this, by taking away the cause of our sorrow then, that we may preach of Quid ploras? and be far from it. So much for Quid ploras? Christ’s question. Now to her answer.
She is still where she was; at sustulerunt before, at sustulisti now—si tu sustulisti: we shall never get that word from her.
But to Christ she seems somewhat more harsh than to the Angels. To them she complains of others; “they have taken.” Christ she seems to charge, at least to suspect of the fact, as if He looked like one that had been a breaker up of graves, a carrier away of corpses out of their place of rest. Her if implies as much. But pardon love; as it fears where it needs not, so it suspects oft where it hath no cause. He, or any that comes in our way, hath done it, hath taken Him away, when love is at a loss. But Bernard speaks to Christ for her; Domine, amor quem habebat in Te, et dolor quem habebat de Te, excuset eam apud Te, si forte erravit circa Te: that ‘the love she bare to Him, the sorrow she had for Him, may excuse her with Him, if she were in any error concerning Him in her saying,’ Si tu sustulisti.
And yet see how God shall direct the tongue! In thus charging Him, Prophetat et nescit, ‘she says truer than she was aware.’ For indeed, if any took Him away, it was He did it. So she was not much amiss. Her si tu was true, though not in her sense. For, quod de Ipso factum est, Ipse fecit, ‘All that was done to Him, He did it Himself.’ His taking away, virtus fuit, non facinus, ‘was by His own power, not by the act of any other;’ et gloria, non injuria, ‘no other man’s injury it was, but His own glory,’ that she found Him not there. This was true, but this was no part of her meaning.
I cannot here pass over two more characters of her love, that so you may have the full ten I promised.
One, in si tu sustulisti Eum, in her Eum, in her “Him.” Him? Which Him? Her affections seem so to transport her, as she says no man knows what. To one, a mere stranger to her, and she to him, she talks of one thrice under the term of “Him;” “if thou hast taken Him away, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will fetch Him;” Him, Him, and Him, and never names Him, or tells who He is. This is Solæcismus amoris, an irregular speech, but love’s own dialect. “Him” is enough with love: who knows not who that is? It supposes every body, all the world bound to take notice of Him Whom we look for, only by saying “Him;” though we never tell His name, nor say a word more. Amor, quem ipse cogitat, neminem putans ignorare.
The other is in her ego tollam: if He would tell her where He had laid Him, she would go fetch Him, that she would. Alas poor woman, she was not able to lift Him. There are more than one, or two either, allowed to the carrying of a corpse.
As for His,56* it had more than a hundred pound weight of myrrh and other odours upon it, beside the poise of a dead body. She could not do it. Well, yet she would do it though. O mulier, non mulier, saith Origen, for ego tollam seems rather the speech of a porter, or of some lusty strong fellow at least, than of a silly weak woman. But love makes women more than women, at least it makes them have νοῦνὑπὲρἰσχὺν, the courage above the strength, far. Never measures her own forces, no burden too heavy, no assay too hard for love, et nihil erubescit nisi nomen difficultatis, ‘and is not ashamed of any thing, but that any thing should be too hard or too heavy for it.’ Affectus sine mensurâ virium propriarum. Both these argue dilexit multum. And so now, you have the full number of ten.
Ver. 16. “Jesus saith to her, Mary; she turned herself, and said to Him, Rabboni, that is to say, Master.”
Now magnes amoris amor; ‘nothing so allures, so draws love to it, as doth love itself.’ In Christ specially, and in such in whom the same mind is. For when her Lord saw there was no taking away His taking away from her, all was in vain, neither men, nor Angels, nor Himself, so long as He kept Himself gardener, could get any thing of her but her Lord was gone, He was taken away, and that for the want of Jesus nothing but Jesus could yield her any comfort, He is no longer able to contain, but even discloses Himself; and discloses Himself by His voice.
For it should seem before, with His shape He had changed that also. But now He speaks to her in His known voice, in the wonted accent of it, does but name her name, Mary—no more,57* and that was enough. That was as much to say, Recognosce a quo recognosceris, ‘she would at least take notice of Him, that shewed He was no stranger by calling her by her name;’ for whom we call by their names, we take particular notice of. So God says to Moses,58* Te autem cognovi de nomine, “thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.” As God Moses, so Christ Mary Magdalene.
And this indeed is the right way to know Christ, to be known of Him first.59* The Apostle saith, now we “have known God,” and then correcteth himself, “or rather have been known of God.” For till He know us, we shall never know Him aright.
And now, lo Christ is found; found alive, That was sought dead. A cloud may be so thick we shall not see the sun through it. The sun must scatter that cloud, and then we may. Here is an example of it. It is strange a thick cloud of heaviness had so covered her, as see Him she could not through it; this one word, these two syllables, Mary, from His mouth, scatters it all. No sooner had His voice sounded in her ears but it drives away all the mist, dries up her tears, lightens her eyes, that she knew Him straight, and answers Him with her wonted salutation, “Rabboni.” If it had lain in her power to have raised Him from the dead, she would not have failed but done it, I dare say. Now it is done to her hands.
And with this all is turned out and in; a new world now. Away with sustulerunt; His taking away, is taken away quite. For if His taking away were her sorrow, contrariorum contraria consequentia. Si de sublato ploravit, de suscitato exultavit, we may be sure; ‘if sad for His death, for His taking away, then glad for His rising, for His restoring again.’ Surely if she would have been glad but to have found but His dead body, now she finds it and Him alive, what was her joy, how great may we think! So that by this she saw Quid ploras was not asked her for nought, that it was no impertinent question, as it fell out. Well now, He that was thought lost is found again, and found, not as He was sought for, not a dead body, but “a living soul;”60* nay, “a quickening Spirit” then. And that might Mary Magdalene well say. He shewed it, for He quickened her, and her spirits that were as good as dead. You thought you should have come to Christ’s resurrection to-day, and so you do. But not to His alone, but even to Mary Magdalene’s resurrection too. For in very deed a kind of resurrection it was was wrought in her; revived as it were, and raised from a dead and drooping, to a lively and cheerful estate. The gardener had done His part, made her all green on the sudden.
And all this by a word of His mouth. Such power is there in every word of His; so easily are they called, whom Christ will but speak to.
But by this we see, when He would be made known to her after His rising, He did choose to be made known by the ear rather than by the eye. By hearing rather than by appearing.61* Opens her ears first, and her eyes after. Her “eyes were holden” till her ears were opened;62* comes aures autem aperuisti mihi, and that opens them.
With the philosophers, hearing is the sense of wisdom. With us, in divinity, it is the sense of faith. So, most meet. Christ is the word; hearing then, that sense, is Christ’s sense; voce quam visu,63* more proper to the word. So, sicut audivimus goes before, and then sic vidimus comes after. In matters of faith the ear goes first ever, and is of more use, and to be trusted before the eye. For in many cases faith holdeth, where sight faileth.
This then is a good way to come to the knowledge of Christ, by hodie si vocem, to “hear His voice.” Howbeit, it is not the only way.64* There is another way to take notice of Him by besides, and we to take notice of it. On this very day we have them both.
For twice this day came Christ; unknown first, and then known after. To Mary Magdalene here, and to them at Emmaus. To Mary Magdalene unknown, in the shape of a gardener. To those that went to Emmaus unknown, in the likeness of a traveller by the way-side. Come to be known to her by His voice, by the word of His mouth. Not so to them. For many words He spake to them, and they felt them warm at their hearts,65* but knew Him not for all that. But “He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Her eyes opened by speaking a word; their eyes opened by the breaking of bread. There is the one and the other way, and so now you have both. And now you have them, I pray you make use of them. I see I shall not be able to go farther than this verse.
It were a folly to fall to comparisons, committere inter se, to set them at odds together these two ways, as the fond fashion now-a-days is, whether is better, Prayer or Preaching; the Word or the Sacraments. What needs this? Seeing we have both, both are ready for us; the one now, the other by-and-by; we may end this question soon. And this is the best and surest way to end it: to esteem of them both, to thank Him for both, to make use of both; having now done with one, to make trial of the other. It may be, who knows? if the one will not work, the other may. And if by the one or by the other, by either if it be wrought, what harm have we? In case it be not, yet have we offered to God our service in both, and committed the success of both to Him. He will see they shall have success, and in His good time, as shall be expedient for us, vouchsafe every one of us as He did Mary Magdalene in the text,66* “to know Him and the virtue of His resurrection;” and make us partakers of both, by both the means before remembered, by His blessed word, by His holy mysteries; the means to raise our souls here, the pledges of the raising up of our bodies hereafter. Of both which He make us partakers, Who is the Author of both,67* “Jesus Christ the Righteous,” &c.
THE KING’S MAJESTY AT WHITEHALL,
on the first of april, a.d. mdcxxi., being easter-day
Jesus saith unto her, Touch Me not.
Mary Magdalene, because she loved much, and gave divers good proofs of it, had this morning divers favours vouchsafed her:68* to see a vision of Angels; to see Christ Himself; to see Him before any other, first of all. He spake to her, “Mary;” she spake to Him, “Rabboni.” Hitherto all was well. Now here, after all this love, after all these favours, even in the neck of them as it were, comes an unkind word or two, a noli Me tangere, and mars all; turns all out and in. Make the best of it, a repulse it is; but a cold salutation for an Easter-day morning.
A little before He asked why she wept.69* This is enough to set her on weeping afresh. For if she wept for sustulerunt Dominum, that others had taken away her Lord; much more now, when her Lord takes away Himself from her, that she may not so much as touch Him.
We observed that this morning Christ came in two shapes, and at either of them spake a speech. At first He came unknown, taken for a gardener; the latter, He spake in His own voice, and became known to her. I know not how, but unknown Christ proves better to her than when He came to be known; better for her, He had kept Himself unknown still, for then unknown He asked her kindly why she wept; as much to say as, Weep not, noli te angere, noli me plangere;—there is some comfort in that. But known, He grows somewhat strange on the sudden, and asks her what she means to come so near Him, or offer to touch Him; which must needs be much to her discomfort, to be forbidden once to come near or touch her Saviour, and to be forbidden by His own mouth.
But there is good use of noli me plangere, and noli me tangere, both. One we have touched already; of the other, now. One would little think it, but they sort well, Quid ploras? and noli me tangere. Quid ploras? To rejoice at His rising; noli me tangere, to do it with reverence. They amount to exultate in tremore.70*
The verse of itself, falls into two parts. We may divide it, as the Jews do the Law, into Do not, and Do; somewhat forbidden there is, and somewhat bidden. Forbidden—do not, not touch me; bidden—but do, “go your ways and tell.” The forbidding part stands of two points; 1. a restraint, and 2. a reason. I. The restraint in these; noli me tangere, &c. II. The reason in these; nondum enim, &c. “for I am not yet ascended,” &c.
The bidding part, of three. 1. A mission or commission, to go do a message, vade et dic. 2. The parties to whom; “to My brethren,” that is, to His Disciples. 3. The message itself, “I ascend to My Father,” &c. And this latter is as it were an amends for the former; that the text is like the time of the year—the morning somewhat fresh, but a fair day after. Noli me tangere, the repulse, is the sharp morning; vade et dic, the welcome message, the fair day we spake of, that makes all well again.
Either of these will serve for a sermon; the former noli me tangere, &c. it is so full of difficulties, but withal, of good and needful caution. The latter of the message, it is so fraught with high mysteries, and beside, with much heavenly comfort. They call it Mary Magdalene’s Gospel, for glad tidings it contains; and what is the Gospel else? The first Gospel or glad tidings after Christ’s resurrection. The very Gospel of the Gospel itself, and a compendium of all the four. Of which, if God will, at some other time. Now I will trouble you no farther but with, “Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to the Father.”
No sooner had Christ’s voice sounded in her ears, but she knew straight—“Rabboni,” it was He; and withal, as it may be gathered by this noli Me, &c., she did that which amounted to a volo te tangere; that is, she made toward Him, stretched forth her hand, and offered, would have touched Him, but for this “Touch Me not.” “Touch not?” why “not?” What harm had there been if He had suffered her to touch Him? The speech is strange to be spoken either by Him or to her; the reason, the “for,” yet more strange; many difficulties in both: God send us well through them! There be but three words, 1. Noli, 2. Me, and 3. tangere: “touch” at which of these three you will—tangere the thing; noli and Me, the two parties; Me, Him, Christ; noli, her, Mary Magdalene; you will find somewhat strange this speech of His.
Tangere, the thing. “Not touch?” Why, it is nothing to touch, and because it is nothing, might have been yielded to. And yet to touch Christ,71* is not nothing. Many desired, yea strove, to touch Him; there went virtue from Him, even while He was mortal; but now He is immortal, by all likelihood much more. That was not her case, to draw aught from Him; it was for pure love, and nothing else, she desired it. To love, it is not enough to hear or see; it is carried farther, to touch and take hold; it is affectus unionis, and the nearest union is per contactum.
Secondly the parties. Me; not Me, not Christ. Why not Him? Christ was not wont to be so dainty of it. Divers times, and in divers places, He suffered the rude multitude to throng and to thrust Him. What speak we of that, when not three days since He suffered other manner of touches and twitches both? Then, noli Me tangere would have come in good time; would have done well on Good-Friday. Why suffered He them then? why suffered He not her now? She, I dare say for her, would have done Him no hurt, she. Noli, is to her;72* not she, not Mary Magdalene. She had touched Him before now;73* touched His head, touched His feet, anointed them both; what was done she might not now? She hath even now, this morning, brought odours in her hand to embalm Him; and with these, and with no other hands doth she offer to touch Him at this time:—she might have been borne with.74