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Certain Sermons Preached at Sundry Times, Upon Several Occasions
John Henry Parker.
This edition © 2018 CrossReach Publications,Kerry, Ireland
Hope. Inspiration. Trust.
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Certain Sermons Preached at Sundry Times, upon Several Occasions
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The present volume completes the “Ninety-six Sermons,” the only authentic Sermons of Bishop Andrewes which had been so far finished under his own hand as to be considered by those to whom his papers were entrusted, Bishops Laud and Buckeridge, in a fit state for publication.
The Funeral Sermon, preached by one of these, his friend Bishop Buckeridge, is appended in the place which it has usually occupied in former editions of the Ninety-Six Sermons, being as it were the seal of their authenticity, and marking the boundary between Andrewes’s finished and authenticated and his imperfect and less authenticated Sermons and Lectures.
Of this latter class are the Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer and on the Temptation, The Exposition of the Moral Law, and the Orphan Lectures on Genesis; of which it is as certain from their matter and manner that they had no other author than Bishop Andrewes, as it is from other circumstances that they were not, strictly speaking, from his pen.
The account to be given of these publications is probably this.—In a Preface to the first edition of the work on the Moral Law, which was printed in a very negligent imperfect way in the year 1642, it is said that “he was scarce reputed a pretender to learning and piety in Cambridge (during Andrewes’s residence there) who made not himself a disciple of Bishop Andrewes by diligent resorting to his lectures, nor he a pretender to the study of divinity who did not transcribe his notes;” and that these “had ever after passed from hand to hand in many hundreds of copies.”
To the labours of these “disciples” and students, whether they were transcripts surreptitiously made from his MSS. or notes taken down in short hand from his lips as he delivered them, we owe the imperfect and unauthenticated Sermons and Lectures of Bishop Andrewes.
It is on record that King Charles the First, with his characteristic reverence for holy subjects, and a tender jealousy for the reputation of the Bishop, gave his special charge to the Bishops of London and Ely, on confiding his papers to their care, that none should be committed to the press but such as they found perfected by his accurate hand. It seems to have been his desire to put a stop perhaps to the currency of those imperfect draughts or broken notes which had already crept into print, and to prevent a style at once so striking and so familiar from becoming, in less delicate and reverent hands, unlike itself. At the same time it seems to have been evident all along, nor indeed is it denied by those most concerned, that in the “undigested chaos” put forth in 1642, there were many good materials, and those originally from the mind of Andrewes. It is only insisted upon, that they were but ruins and fragments.
With these remarks, and this caution as to the probable amount of their authenticity, it has seemed desirable to print the Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer and on the Temptation, both of which are early works, the former most probably to be assigned to the period during which Andrewes occupied the office of Catechist at Pembroke Hall. They were both appended to the above-mentioned edition of the work on the Moral Law, but had both appeared before, and had been uniformly ascribed to him.
The Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer had been published originally in a small 12mo. in 1611, under the title of “Scala Cœli,” and subsequently, in a very improved state, in 1641, an edition extremely rare.
Of those on the Temptation, there does not appear to have been more than one original edition, and that as early as 1592, marked a in the present edition.
In the Prefaces to both the early editions of the Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, it is assumed that though the Author’s name is concealed, they could hardly fail to be identified. In that prefixed to those on the Temptation, which was sent to the publisher “by a gentleman, a friend of his, for publication,” it is said that “he was driven to let these pass without name, desiring the reader to suspend his judgment, whose they were, yet not doubting but that in printing them he had done God good service, and pleased many who had happily heard them preached.”—Elsewhere he supposes that “the tree from which this heavenly fruit was gathered, would be discovered both by the beauty and taste.” They are considerably less perfect than those on the Lord’s Prayer, and the figure here employed, “fruit gathered,” seems to imply the way in which they were obtained.
The edition of the Exposition of the Moral Law, published in 1642, had both these series appended to it. But in the new and improved edition of it, which appeared in 1650, retouched and perfected after the Author’s own copy, we do not find them, nor were they directly or indirectly alluded to in it; from which it may perhaps be inferred, either that the Editor of the improved edition rejected them altogether as the Bishop’s works, which can scarcely be imagined, or that, as these had appeared before, he had the less occasion to make particular reference to them, and more especially if he had not the means by him of correcting their errors or of supplying their deficiencies. At all events he left them alike unnoticed and untouched.
The differences between the existing editions are in some instances such as might render it doubtful whether they were not originally obtained from different transcripts: but on the whole it may be perhaps rather concluded that they were from the same. This doubt has induced the Editor where the improvement seemed certain, in the Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, to correct by the improved edition of 1641, but in others to mark the differences as various readings.
The particulars above stated have determined him to collate carefully and reprint in the best form in which he could obtain them, these valuable remains, if no more, as completing the Sermons of Bishop Andrewes.
[“St. Mary’s Hospital was founded by Walter Brune, citizen of London, and others, 1197; in whose yard was a pulpit-cross of equal celebrity with that of St. Paul’s. At the latter ‘some special learned man’ says Mr. Newcourt, ‘by appointment preached on Good-Friday a Sermon treating of Christ’s Passion; and on the three next Easter days the like learned men, to wit, on Monday a Bishop, on Tuesday a Dean, and on Wednesday a Doctor of Divinity used to preach in the forenoons, at the Spittle, on the Resurrection.’ After the fire of London the Spital Sermons were preached at St. Bride’s in Fleet Street, and the Good Friday Sermon in the choir of St. Paul’s.
On the south of the pulpit was a house of two stories, the first of which was for the Mayor and Aldermen when they came to the Spital Sermons, the second for the prelates who might attend.” Gent.’s Mag. lxix. p. 590.]
AT ST. MARY’S HOSPITAL,
on the tenth of april, being wednesday in easter week, a.d. mdlxxxviii
1 Timothy 6:17, 18, 19
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, that they trust not in the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, Which giveth us all things to enjoy plenteously;
That they do good, be rich in good works, ready to distribute and to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.
The commendation of the word of God is,1* that “Every Scripture is profitable for our instruction.” “Every Scripture is profitable;” yet not “every Scripture,” in every place alike. For the place and auditory have great interest in some Scripture, and a fit Scripture hath a greater and fuller force in his own auditory. And God in so excellent a manner hath sorted His Scriptures, as there lie dispersed in them several texts seasonable for each time, and pertinent to each place and degree; for Prince, for people, for rich, for poor, for each his peculiar Scripture in due time and place to be reached them.
This Scripture which I have read, whose it is, and to whom it speaketh, is at the very reading straightway evident. As one saith of the forty-first Psalm,2* “Blessed is he that judgeth rightly of the poor,” that it is Scriptura pauperum, ‘the poor man’s Scripture;’ so of this it may be rightly said, that it is Scriptura divitum, ‘the rich man’s Scripture.’ And if this be the Scripture for rich men, this place is the place of rich men; and therefore, if this Scripture have his place, no where so fit as in this place. For no where is there such store of riches by the “harvest of the water,”3* which far surpasseth the harvest of the ground;4* no where are the like “sums sealed;”5* no where do they “suck the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand,” in like measure; no where are the merchants noblemen’s fellows,6* and able to lend the Princes of the earth, so much as here. Therefore when as I gave all diligence to speak, not only true things but also seasonable, both for this time and this place, I was directed to this Scripture. I need not to say much in this point, to shew it concerneth this audience. I will say as the Fathers say upon the like occasion: Faxit Deus tam commoda, quam est accommoda, ‘I pray God make it as profitable as it is pertinent,’ as fruitful to you as it is fit for you.
1. This whole Scripture hath his name given it even in the first word: “Charge,” saith he, “the rich,” &c. It is a charge.
2. It is directed to certain men, namely, to “the rich of this world.”
3. It consisteth of four branches; whereof two are negative, for the removing of two abuses.
1. The first, “Charge them, that they be not highminded.”
2. The second, “Charge them, that they trust not in their riches.”
The reason is added, which is a maxim and a ground in the law of nature, that we must trust to no uncertain thing: “Trust not in the uncertainty of riches.”
The other two are affirmative, concerning the true use of riches.
1. The first: “Charge them that they trust in God.” The reason: because “He giveth them all things to enjoy plenteously.”
2. The second: “Charge them that they do good;” that is the substance. The quantity, that “they be rich in good works;” the quality, that they be “ready to part with,” (and a special kind of doing good) “to communicate,” to benefit the public.
And all these are one charge. The reason of them all doth follow; because by this means they shall “lay up in store,” and that “for themselves, a good foundation, against the time to come.” The end; “that they may obtain eternal life.”
1. Præcipe divitibus, “Charge the rich of this world,” &c. Beloved, here is a charge, a Præcipe, a precept or a writ, directed unto Timothy, and to those of his commission to the world’s end, to convent and call before him; he the rich men of Ephesus, and we the rich men of this city, and others of other places of the earth, and to give them a charge.
Charges, as you know, use to be given at assizes in courts from the bench. From thence is taken this judicial term Παράγγελλε, as it appeareth, Acts the fifth chapter and twenty-eighth verse:7* “Did not we charge you straitly?” saith the bench in the consistory judicially assembled. Whereby we are given to understand that in such assemblies as this is the Lord of heaven doth hold His court, whereunto all men, and they that of all men seem least, the rich and mighty of the world, owe both suit and service. For as earthly princes have their laws, their commissions, their ministers of the law, their courts, and court-days, for the maintenance of their peace; so hath the King of kings His laws and statutes, His precepts and commissions by authority delegate, Ite prædicate,8* “Go preach the Gospel;” His counsellors at law, whom Augustine calleth divini juris consultos;9* His courts in occulto conscientiæ, ‘in the hid and secret part of the heart and conscience,’10* for the preservation of His “peace,” which the world can neither give nor take away, to the end that none may offend or be offended at it.
This we learn. And with this we learn, all of us, so to conceive of and to dispose ourselves to such meetings as this, as men that are to appear in court before the Lord, there to receive a charge, which when the court is broken up we must think of how to discharge.
In which point, great is the occasion of complaint which we might take up. For who is there that with that awe and reverence standeth before the Lord at His charge-giving, that he receiveth a charge with at an earthly bar? Or with that care remembereth the Lord and His charge, wherewith he continually thinketh upon the judge and his charge? Truly, the Lord’s commission is worthy to have as great reverence and regard attending on it as the charge of any prince, truly it is. Weigh with yourself; is not God’s charge with as much heed and reverence to be received as an earthly judge’s? Absit ut sic, saith St. Augustine, sed utinam vel sic; God forbid, but with more heed and reverence; well, I would it had so much in the mean time; and, which to our shame we must speak, I would we could do as much for the Bible as for the statute-books, for heaven as for the earth, for the immortal God as for a mortal man. But whether we do or no, yet as our Saviour Christ said of St. John Baptist,11* “If ye will receive, this is that Elias which was to come;” so say I of this precept, If ye will receive it, this is the charge the Lord hath laid on you. And this let me tell you farther; that it is such a charge as it concerneth your peace, the plentiful use of all your wealth and riches, in the second verse of my text, “Which giveth us all things to enjoy plenteously,” &c. Which may move you. Or if that will not, let me add this farther; it is such a charge, as toucheth your estate in everlasting life—the very last words of my text. That is, the well or evil hearing of this charge is as much worth as your eternal life is worth.12* And therefore, “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
It is a charge then, and consequently to be discharged. To be discharged? where? “Charge,” saith he, “the rich.” He speaketh to “the rich;” you know your own names, you know best what those “rich” men are. Shall I tell you? You are the “rich,” he speaketh unto you. It is the fashion and the fault of this world to exercise their authority on them most that need it least; for rich men to feast them that least need it, for mighty men to prefer them that least deserve it. It is an old simile, we have oft heard it, that the laws are like cobwebs; that they hold fast the silly flies, but the great hornets break through them as oft as they list. And as there are cobweb-laws which exempt mighty men, so the same corruption that was the cause thereof would also make cobweb-divinity. For notwithstanding the commission runneth expressly to the rich, “Charge,” &c.; notwithstanding they be in great danger,13* and that of many “snares,” as the Apostle saith in this chapter, and therefore need it greatly; yet I know not how it comes to pass, whether because they think themselves too wise to receive a charge, any charge at all; or because they think themselves too good to receive it at the hands of such mean men as we be—and, if they must needs be charged, they would be charged from the council, from men more noble and honourable than themselves—they would not gladly hear it, surely they would not; and because they would not gladly hear it, we are not hasty they should hear it. And great reason why, as we think; for as it is true which is in the Psalm,14* “So long as they do good to themselves, men will speak good of them,” so it is true backward too; so long as we speak well of them, spare them, call not on them, they will do good to us. And otherwise, if we spare them not, but prosecute our charge,15* then cometh Odi Michæam filium Jemla, “I hate Micaiah the son of Imlah.” And who would willingly live in disgrace and sustain, I say not the fierce wrath but the heavy look of a man in authority? That makes this office of giving a charge a cold office, and therefore to decay, and be shunned of all hands; that makes us, if we cannot of the eunuch learn to “speak good to the King,”16* yet to follow Balak’s counsel at the least,17* “neither to bless nor curse;” that makes that though for shame of the world we will not set up for upholsters and stuff cushions and pillows to lay them under their elbows, yet for fear of men we shun the prophet Esay’s occupation to take the “trumpet”18* and disease191 them, lest we lose Balak’s promotion, or Ahab’s friendship, Esau’s portion, or I wot not what else, which we will not be without. In a word, this maketh that Jonah was never more unwilling to deliver his message at Nineveh, than is Timothy to give his charge at Ephesus.
The Apostle saw this and what it would come to, and that you may see that he saw it, you shall understand he hath besides this of yours directed another writ to us, verse the thirteenth,20* “I charge thee, &c.” running in very rigorous and peremptory terms, able to make any that shall consider them aright to tremble; straitly commanding us in the name of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ; laying before us the Passion of Christ, if there be any grace, and the day of judgment, and there be any fear, that we fulfil every part of our charge, and immediately after nameth this your charge for one. And knowing that we are given to fear princes and lords, he telleth us of the “Prince” of all princes, and “Lord of all lords;”21* knowing that we are given to fear and be dazzled with the glittering of their pomp, which yet a man may abide to look on,22* he telleth us of Him Whose brightness no eye may once abide. Knowing that we fear honour and power though it last but for a small time, he feareth us with One Whose honour and power lasteth for ever.
Beloved in the Lord, I beseech you weigh but the place; weigh it, and have pity on us. For, Nunquid nos recipimus, nunquid nos delere possumus? Si delemus, timemus deleri, saith St. Augustine. We writ not this charge, our pens dealt not in it; it was not we that writ it, and it is not we that can blot it out, unless we ourselves will be blotted out of the book of life.
Such is our charge, as you see, to charge you; and but for this charge, but that we are commanded, but that we are threatened, and that in so fearful manner threatened, we should never do it; of all men, we should never deal with the “rich.” For who would not choose to hold his peace and to seek his own ease from this charge, many times chargeable, sometimes dangerous, evermore unsavoury, but for this process that is out against us? For myself I profess that, in the same words that St. Augustine did sometime, ad istam otiosissimam securitatem nemo me vinceret, ‘in this discreet kind of idleness no man shall go beyond me,’ if St. Paul would be content; if order might be taken to have these verses cancelled, if we could deliver, I say not yours, but our own souls with silence. But this standing in force, Cogit nos Paulus iste, ‘we are enforced by this Paul;’ his Præcipio tibi, “I charge you,” drives us to our Præcipe illis, “to charge them;” we charge not you, but when we are charged ourselves; we terrify not you, but when we are first terrified ourselves. And I would to God we knowing this terror might both fear together this day at the charge-giving, that so we might both rejoice together in the great day at the charge-answering. This may serve, and I beseech you let it serve to stand between us and your displeasure in this behalf; and seeing the commission is penned to our hand, and that “rich” men are in it nominatim, (except the leaven of affection shew itself too evidently in us) to think we cannot otherwise do; and that therefore it is, because the commandment of our God is upon us, is heavy upon us. The charge itself followeth.
“Charge the rich,” &c. This is the first point of the charge, “that they be not highminded.” 1. First against that which, if it come with all the riches, yea all the virtues in the world, it spoileth them all; that is, against pride. 2. Secondly, against that which is the root of this bitter branch, and the prop and stay of a high-raised mind, namely, a vain trust in our riches. Both these forbidden by means of their uncertainty, ἀδηλότης· such, as a man cannot tell where to have them, therefore not to be boasted of, therefore not to be trusted in.
Ever since our first fathers by infection took this morbum sathanicum, this devilish disease, pride, of the devil, such tinder is our nature, that every little spark sets us on fire; our nature hath grown so light, that every little thing puffeth us up, and sets us aloft in our altitudes presently. Yea indeed, so light we are, that many times when the gifts are low, yet for all that the mind is as high as the bramble;23* low in qualities, God knoweth, yet had his mind higher than the highest cedar in Lebanon. But if we be but of mean stature once, but a thought higher than others our fellows, if never so little more in us than is in our neighbours, presently we fall into Simon’s case, we seem to ourselves as he did, to be τις μέγας, no doubt “some goodly great thing.”24* But if we come once to any growth indeed, then presently our case is Haman’s case:25* who but he? “Who was he that the King would honour more than him?” Nay, who was there that the King could honour but he? he, and none but he. Through this aptness in us that we have to learn the devil’s lesson, the devil’s Discite a me, for I am proud—for so it is, by opposition of Christ’s lesson,26* which is Discite a Me, quia mitis sum, “because I am meek and gentle”—we are ready to corrupt ourselves in every good gift of God; in wisdom, in manhood, in law, in divinity, in learning or eloquence: every and each of these serveth for a stirrup to mount us aloft in our own conceits. For where each of the former hath, as it were, his own circuit—as wisdom ruleth in counsel, manhood in the field, law in the judgment-seat, divinity in the pulpit, learning in the schools, and eloquence in persuasion—only riches ruleth without limitation, riches ruleth with them all, ruleth them all, and overruleth them all, his circuit is the whole world. For which cause some think when he saith, “Charge the rich,” he presently addeth, “of this world,” because this world standeth altogether at the devotion of riches, and he may do what he will in this world that is rich in this world. So said the Wise Man long ago,27* Pecuniæ obediunt omnia, “all things answer money,” money mastereth all things; they all answer at his call, and they all obey at his commandment. Let us go lightly over them all; you shall see that they all else have their several predicaments to bound them, and that riches is only the transcendent of this world.
Wisdom ruleth in counsel—so do riches; for we see in the court of the great King Artaxerxes,28* there were counsellors whose wisdom was to be commanded by riches, even to hinder a public benefit, the building of the temple. Manhood ruleth in the war—so do riches, experience teacheth us it is so; it is said, it was they that won Daventer291, and that it was they and none but they that drove the Switzers out of France, and that without stroke stricken. Law governeth in the seat of justice—so do riches; and oftentimes they turn justice itself into wormwood by a corrupt sentence, but more often doth it turn justice into vinegar by long standing and infinite delays ere sentence will come forth. Divinity ruleth in the church and pulpit—so do riches; for with a set of silver pieces, saith Augustine, they brought Concionatorem mundi, ‘the Preacher of the world,’ Jesus Christ, to the bar, and the disciple is not above his Master. Learning ruleth in the schools—so do riches; and indeed there money setteth us all to school. For, to say the truth, riches have so ordered the matter there, as learning is now the usher; money, he is the master; the chair itself and the disposing of the chair is his too. Eloquence ruleth in persuasion, and so do riches. When Tertullus had laboured a goodly flowing oration against Paul, Felix looked that another, a greater orator should have spoken for him,30* namely, that something “should have been given him;” and if that orator had spoken his short pithy sentence, Tantum dabo, Tertullus’ oration had been clean dashed. Tantum dabo is a strange piece of rhetoric; devise as cunningly, pen as curiously as you can, it overthrows all. Tantum valent quatuor syllabæ, ‘such force is there in four syllables.’ Though indeed some think—it being so unreasonable short as it is, but two words—that it cannot be the rhetoric of it that worketh these strange effects, but that there is some sorcery or witchcraft in them, in Tantum dabo. And surely a great sorcerer,31* Simon Magus, used them to Peter; and it may well be so, for all estates are shrewdly bewitched by them. I must end, for it is a world to think and tell what the rich of the world may do in the world.
So then riches seeing they may do so much, it is no marvel though they be much set by. Et divites cum habeant quæ magni fiunt ab omnibus, quid mirum si ab omnibus ipsi magni fiant; et cum magni fiant ab omnibus, quid mirum si et a se? ‘Rich men having that which is much set by, no marvel though of all men they be much set by; and if all other men set much by them, no marvel if they set much by themselves:’ and to set much by a man’s self, that is to be highminded. It is our own proverb in our own tongue: ‘As riseth our good, so riseth our blood.’32* And St. Augustine saith, that each fruit by kind hath his worm breeding in it; as the pear his, the nut his, and the bean his, so riches have their worm, et vermis divitiarum superbia, ‘and the worm of riches is pride.’ Whereof we see a plain proof in Saul, who while he was in a poor estate,33* that his boy and he could not make fivepence between them, was as the Scripture saith low in his own eyes. After, when the wealth and pleasant things of Israel were his, he grew so stern as he forgot himself, his friends, and God too; and at every word that liketh him not was ready to run David, Jonathan, and every one through with his javelin. It is very certain where riches are, there is great danger of pride. I desire you to think there is so, and not to put me to justify God’s wisdom herein, in persuading and proving that this charge is needful for you that be “rich;” that it was needful for the Prophet to preach under the law,34* “If riches increase, set not your heart on the top of them,” let not that rise as they rise;35* nor for the other Prophet, “Give me not riches, lest I wax proud;” nor for the Apostle Paul under the Gospel to say, “Charge them that be rich in this world that they be not highminded.” I beseech you, honour God, and ease me so much as to think there was high cause it should be in charge, and that if a more principal sin had been reigning in the rich this sin should not have the principal place as it hath.
How then? what, are you able to charge any here? will some say; it is not the manner of our court, nor of any court that I know. To us it belongeth only to deliver the charge, and to exhort, that if none be proud none would be, and if any be they would be less; and if any be not humble they would be, and if any be humble they would be more. You that are the court, your part is to enquire, and to present, and to indict; and that, every one in his own conscience, as in the presence of God, unto Him to approve your innocency, or of Him to sue for your pardon. You will find none, you will say; I would to God you might not.
When a judge at an assize giveth his charge concerning treason and such like offences, I dare say he would with all his heart that his charge might be in vain, rather than any traitor or offender should be found. A physician, when he hath tempered and prepared his potion, if there be in him the true heart of a physician, desireth I know that the potion might be cast down the kennel, so that the patient might recover without it; so truly it is the desire of my heart, Christ He knoweth, that this charge may not find one man guilty amongst all these hearers, amongst so many men not one highminded man. I wish it might be in vain. The best sessions, and potions, and sermons are those which are in vain. I say not in vain, if there be cause of reproof and no amends;36* but if there be no cause, and so it be in vain, “I joy therein, and will joy.” But if it be far unlikely, amongst so great riches as is here, to find no pride at all, very unlikely; then hear the charge, and present yourselves, and find yourselves guilty here in our office this day, while you may find grace, lest you be tried and found so in that day when there shall be no hope of grace, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.
Which that you may do the better, so many as God shall make willing, as some I hope He doth, I will inform you how to try yourselves, referring you to the several branches in our statutes, in the high court of parliament in Heaven, laying them out unto you as I find them in the records of the Holy Ghost.
The points are three in number. First, if the mind of any man be so exalted that he looketh down on his brethren as if he stood on the top of a leads, and not on the same ground they do, that man is highminded. St. Augustine saith well: Excipe pompatica hæc et volatica, they are the same that you are. They have not vestem communem, the same coat, but they have cutem communem, the same skin; and within a few years when you die, if a man come with a joiner and measure all that you carry with you, they shall carry away with them as much;37* and within a few years after, a man shall not be able to discern between the shoulder-blade of one of them and one of you. Therefore no cause why you should incedere inflati, insericati, and from a high mind betraying itself by a high look contemn them, as many of you do. I say then, if any of you be a child of Anak, and look down so upon another as in his sight his brethren seem as “grasshoppers:”38* 1. whether it appear in the countenance, in drawing up his eye-brows,39* in a disdainful and scornful eye, such an one as David, though he found no penal statute to punish it,40* could never abide, and David was a man after God’s own heart, and therefore neither can God abide it: 2. or whether it appear in a proud kind of dialect of speech, as was that of Saul’s,41* Ubi nunc est iste filius Ishai? where is this son of Jesse?42* that he come to the Pharisee’s Non sum sicut: 3. or whether it be in the course of their life, that they be like to the great fishes,43* to pikes, that think all the little fishes in the stream were made for them to feed on. So that it appeareth they care not what misery, what beggary, what slavery they bring all men to, so they may soak in the broth of the caldron,44* and welter in their wealth and pleasure;45* who are in their streets and parishes as “lions,” a great deal more feared than beloved,46* as implacable as Lamech to bear any injury, and will have for one drop of blood no less than a man’s life. What speak I of bearing injury? which will do injury, and that for no other reason but this: Thus it must be,47* for Hophni will have it not thus but thus, and except they may do thus, what they will to whom they will, when and how they will,48* forsooth they do not “govern,” their authority is nothing; in this sort overbearing all things with their countenance and wealth, and whosoever standeth but up, drawing him before the “judgment seats,”49* and wearying him out with law. These men who do thus from a high in-bearing of the head, in phrase of speech, and in the order or rather disorder of their dealing, overlook, overcrow, and overbear their brethren of mean estate, it is certain they be highminded. Enquire and look whether any be so.
Secondly, if any mind climb so high that the boughs will bear him no longer, by exalting himself above either his ability, condition or calling—a fault which hath like to cost our times dear—that man’s footing will fail him, he will down, he and his mind are too high a great deal. The late treasons and conspiracies came from such kind of minds. For when the minds of men will overreach their abilities, what must be the end, but as we have seen of late to prove traitors? Why? because they have swollen themselves out of their skin. Why so? because they had lashed on more on their pleasure than they had. For so doing, when they had overreached themselves, they became προπετε͂ις, they must take some heady enterprise in hand. What is that? to become προδόται,50* that seeing their credit is decayed in this state, they may set up a new, and that is by overturning the old.
And not only this passing the ability is dangerous to the overturning of a commonwealth, but the passing of a man’s condition too; and tendeth to the impoverishing, and at last to the overthrow of the estate also. 1. Whether it be excess of diet; as when being no magistrate, but plain Master Nabal,51* his dinner must be “like to the feast of a King.” 2. Or whether it be in excess of apparel, wherein the pride of England now,52* as “the pride” of Ephraim in times past, “testifieth against her to her face.”53* 3. Or whether it be “in lifting up the gate too high,”54* that is, in excess of building. 4. Or whether it be in keeping too great a train, Esau’s case, that he go with “four hundred” men at his tail, whereas the fourth part of the fourth part would have served his father well enough. 5. Or whether it be in perking551 too high in their alliance; the bramble’s son in Lebanon must match with the cedar’s daughter.56* These are evidences and signs set down to prove a high mind: see and search into yourselves, whether you find them or no.
There is yet of this feather another kind of exalting ourselves above that we ought, much to be complained of in these days.57* St. Paul calleth it “a stretching of ourselves beyond measure.” Thus if a man be attained to any high skill in law, which is the gift of God; or if a man be grown wise, and experienced well in the affairs of this world, which is also His good blessing; presently by virtue of this they take themselves to be so qualified as they be able to overrule our matters in divinity, able to prescribe Bishops how to govern and Divines how to preach; so to determine our cases as if they were professed with us; and that, many times affirming things they know not,58* and censuring things they have little skill of.59* Now seeing we take not upon us to deal in cases of your law, or in matters of your trade, we take this is a stretching beyond your line; that in so doing you are a people that control the Priest;60* that you are too high when you set yourselves over them that “are over you in the Lord;”61* and that this is no part of that sober wisdom which St. Paul commendeth to you,62* but of that cup-shotten631 wisdom which he there condemneth. Which breaking compass and outreaching is, no doubt, the cause of these lamentable rents and ruptures in the Lord’s net in our days.64* For “only by pride cometh contention,” saith the Wise Man. Which point I wish might be looked upon and amended. Sure it will mar all in the end.
Thirdly, if any man lift up himself too high, any of both these ways, God hath taken order to abate him and take him down,65* for He hath appointed His Prophets to “prune those that are too high,” and He hath ordained His word to “bring down every imagination that shall be exalted against it.”66* Now then, if there be any man that shall seek to set himself without the shot of it, and is so highminded as that he cannot suffer the words of exhortation, and where God hath said, “Charge them that be rich,” he cannot abide to hear any charge—and such there be; sure that man without all question is very highminded, and if he durst he would tear out this leaf, and all other where like charge is given, through the Bible.67* Of Nabal it is recorded, “He was so surly,68* a man might not speak to him;” of Abner, a great man, and a special stay of the house of Saul, that upon a word spoken of his adulterous life with one of Saul’s minions, he grew to such choler that he forgot all, and laid the plot that cost his master Ishbosheth his kingdom. Micaiah prophesied good things, that is to say, profitable to Ahab—the event shewed it; yet because he did not prophesy good things, that is, such as Ahab would hear, he spared not openly to profess he hated him; and whereas the false Prophets were fed at his own table, and fared no worse than he and the Queen, he took order for Micaiah’s diet,69* that it should be the “bread of affliction” and the “water of trouble,” and all for a charge-giving. These were, I dare boldly affirm, highminded men in their generations: if any be like these, they know what they are. If then there be any that refuse to be pruned and trimmed by the word of God; 1. who either when he heareth the words of the charge, blesseth himself in his heart and saith,70* Tush, he doth but prate, these things shall not come upon me, though I walk still according to the stubbornness of mine own heart; 2. either in hearing the word of God, takes upon him (his flesh and blood, and he) to sit on it, and censure it, and say to himself one while, This is well spoken, while his humour is served; another while, This is foolishly spoken, now he babbleth, because the charge sits somewhat near him; 3. either is in the Pharisees’ case, which after they have heard the charge do, as they did at Christ,71* ἐκμυκτηρίζειν, jest and scoff, and make themselves merry with it, and wash it down with a cup of sack, and that because they “were covetous:”72* if in very deed “the word of God be to them a reproach,”73* and they take like delight in both, and well were they if they might never hear it; and to testify their good conceit of the word, shew it in the account of the ephod, which is a base and contemptible garment in their eyes,74* and the word in it and with it—this is Michal’s case. Whosoever is in any of these men’s cases is in the case of a highminded man, and that of the highest degree; for they lift themselves up, not against earth and man, but against Heaven and God Himself. O beloved, you that be in wealth and authority, love and reverence the word of God. It is the root that doth bear you, it is the majesty thereof that keepeth you in your thrones, and maketh you be that you are;75* but for Ego dixi, Dii estis, a parcel-commission out of this commission of ours, the madness of the people would bear no government, but run headlong and overthrow all chairs of estate, and break in pieces all the swords and sceptres in the world, which you of this city had a strange experience of in Jack Straw and his meiny761, and keep a memorial of it in our city scutcheon, how all had gone down if this word had not held all up. And therefore honour it I beseech you; I say, honour it. For when the highest of you yourselves, which are but “grass,” and your lordships’ glory and worship,77* which is “the flower” of this grass, shall “perish and pass away, this word shall continue for ever.” And if you receive it now, with due regard and reverence, it will make you also to continue for ever.
This is your charge, touching the first branch. I beseech you, enquire of it, whether there be any guilty in these points; and if there be, suffer us to do our office, that is, to humble you, or else sure the Lord will do His, that is, pull down riches and mind, and man and all: Patimini falcem occantem, ne patiamini securim extirpantem. God will not suffer it certainly;78* He would not suffer it in a king, He would not suffer it in an Angel,79* He cannot bear it to rise in an Apostle, “for the greatness of revelations;”80* therefore He will not bear it in any man for any cause whatsoever. Let this be the conclusion of this point.
We shall never have pride well plucked up, so long as the root of it sticks still; that is, a vain confidence in riches. For if we doubted them, we would not trust in them, we would not boast of them. But we trust in them, and that inordinately, as countermeans against God; not subordinately, as undermeans unto God; and in so doing, we translate God’s office unto us, and our homage unto Him, to a plate of silver or a wedge of gold. And that is, St. Paul saith, the worldly man’s “idolatry.”81* And indeed there is little difference, it is but turning the sentence of the Prophet David: of idolaters, to say thus,82* “Their idols are silver and gold;” and of the worldly men thus, Silver and gold are their idols.
We may examine ourselves in this point of the charge, namely,83* whether our trust be in our riches, by two ways; for it being a received ground that our strength is our confidence, where we take our chief strength to lie, that is it certainly which we trust to. Now what that is, we shall soon find: 1. if we can certify ourselves in our need, among all means, what doth first offer itself in our intention; 2. and again, when all our means forsake us, and fail us, what is our last succour in execution.
By course of nature, every thing when it is assaulted ever rouseth that part first wherein his principal strength lieth: if it be in his tusks, them; or in his horns, or whatsoever it is, that. To a poor man, if he have a cause in hand, there is nothing cometh to mind but God and innocency, and the goodness of his cause; there is his strength, and that is the “horn of his salvation.”84* But the rich, saith Amos, hath “gotten him horns in his own strength;”85* and not “iron horns,” as were Zedekiah’s,86* but golden horns, with which he is able to “push” any cause, till he have consumed it. For indeed if he be to undertake aught, the first thing that cometh to his head is, Thus much will despatch it, such a gift will assure such a man, and such a gift will stop such a man’s mouth, and so it is done:87* “neither is God in all his thoughts.”
Tell me, then, in your affairs what cometh first to mind? nay, tell yourselves what it is. Aures omnium pulso, saith St. Augustine, conscientias singulorum convenio: tell yourselves what it is, and by this try and know wherein your trust is; whether this charge meet with you or no, whether your riches be the strength of your confidence.
Now lightly, what we first think of, that we last fly to. It is so.88* Solomon saw it in his time, and said, “The rich man’s wealth is his castle;” that even as men, when they are foiled in the field and beaten from the city walls, fly last of all into the castle, and there think themselves safe as in their place of chief strength, so it falleth out with “the rich of this world” in many of their causes; when justice and equity, and truth and right, and God and good men, and a good conscience and all forsake them—and yet yield they will not, in the pride of a high mind—they know, when all other have forsaken them, their purse will stand to them; and thither as to their strongest salvation they fly, when nothing else comforts them. So that when they cannot in heart say to God, Thou art my hope,89* their matter is so bad; they do say—it is he in Job—to their wedge of gold, Well yet, “thou art my confidence.” And surely, he that deviseth or pursueth an unrighteous cause because his hand hath strength,90* that man may be arraigned of the point. As again, if any say, and say within, truly, (Dic, dic, sed intus dic, saith Augustine)—With all my riches, with all my friends, and all the means I can make, I can do nothing against the truth. When a man is so rich that he is poor to do evil; so wise, that he is a fool to do evil; so trusteth in his riches that he dare not take an evil cause in hand, no more than the poorest commoner in the city; I dare discharge that man the court for this point. Oh beloved, think of these things, and secretly betwixt God and you, use yourselves to this examination; sure if God be God, and if there be any truth in Him, you shall find great peace and comfort in it at the last.
“Charge the rich, that they be not highminded, nor trust,” &c. And, why not “highminded?” and why “not trust?” Inclusively the reason is added in these words, because of “the uncertainty of riches.” It is Paul’s reason, and it is Solomon’s too, who knew better what belonged to riches than Paul or any other.91* “Travail not too greedily for them, bestow not all thy wisdom upon them,” saith he, “for they have the wings of an eagle, and will take their flight of a sudden.” Such is St. Paul’s word here, the very same. We behold them, we hold them, they are here with us; let us but turn ourselves aside a little, and look for them, and they are gone. It is as if he should say, Indeed, if we could pinion the wings of our riches,92* if we could nail them down fast to us, then were there some shew or shadow why we should repose trust in them; but it is otherwise, they are exceeding uncertain, even the harvest of the water much above all trades. Yea, I take it the merchants confess so much before they be aware; for by this he claimeth to be allowed an extraordinary gain, because he ventureth his traffic as uncertain, and that he is driven to hazard and put in a venture his goods continually, and many times his person, and, to make him a right venturer, many times his soul too. And if they be not uncertain, how cometh it then to pass that rich men themselves are so uncertain? that is, that they that were but the other day even a little before of principal credit, within a while after, and a very short while after, their bills will not be taken? And if riches be not uncertain, what need they upon a night of foul weather any assurances upon the exchange? What need the merchants have security one of another? What need they to have their estates sure, and so good? such assurances and conveyances, so strong, yea more strong than the wit of man can devise, if both riches and men be not uncertain? I know they pretend the man’s mortality; but they know they mean many times the mortality of his riches rather than himself, or at the least of the one as of the other. I will be judged by themselves.
I would have you mark St. Paul’s manner of speech. Before, he called them not rich barely; but with an addition, “the rich of this world.” Sure it is thought of divers of the best writers both old and new—I name of the new Master Calvin,93* and of the old Saint Augustine—that this addition is a diminution, and that it is as it were a bar in the arms of all rich men; and that even by that word he means to enthwite them, and as I may say to cry them down, so to make an entrance to his charge that men should not be too proud of them. For being “of this world” they must needs savour of the soil, be as this world is, that is, transitory, fickle, and deceitful. And now he comes in with riches again, and will not put it alone, but calleth it “the uncertainty of riches.” And I see it is the Holy Ghost’s fashion, not in this place only but all along the Scriptures, to speak nothing magnifically of them, as the manner of the world is to do. St. Paul calleth them not rich, but the “rich of this world;” St. John likewise calleth them not goods simply,94* but “this world’s goods.” St. Paul calleth them not riches, but the “uncertainty of riches;” our Saviour Christ calleth them not riches, but the “deceitfulness of riches.”95* So David, the plate and arras and rich furniture of a wealthy man, calleth it of purpose,96* “the glory of a man’s house,” not his glory, but the glory of his house—that is St. Chrysostom’s note971. And Solomon calleth them,98* as they be indeed, God’s blessing of His left hand. For immortality, eternal life, that only is the blessing of His right hand. All to learn us not to boast ourselves or stay ourselves, or as Christ calleth it to “rejoice”—I say not,99* as He to His Disciples, that a few devils, but—that a few minerals be subject unto us, but that by our humbleness of mind, trust in God, dealing truly with all, and mercifully with our poor brethren, we are assured that our names are written in the book of life. This then is the uncertainty of our riches, because they are the riches of this world—the world and they are all within the compass of our text—that is, you must leave them to the world, they are none of yours. Denique si vestra sint, saith Gregory, tollite ea vobiscum, ‘If they be yours, why do you not take them with you, when you go?’ By leaving them behind you to the world, you confess they are not yours, but the world’s. But indeed they are the riches of this world: hîc enim acquiruntur, hîc vel amittuntur, vel dimittuntur; ‘here you get them and here you may lose them, here you get them and here you must leave them.’ And in this disjunctive you have the certainty of riches: the very certainty is losing or leaving, that is, foregoing; so the very certainty is an uncertainty. Leave them or lose them we must, leave them when we die, or lose them while we live. One end they must have, finem tuum, or finem suum, ‘thy end,’ or ‘their own end.’ You must either leave them when you die, or they will leave you while you live—this is certain; but whether you them, or they you, this is uncertain. Job tarried himself,100* his riches went; the rich man’s riches tarried, but he himself went. One of these shall be we know; but which of them shall be, or when, or how, or how soon it shall be, that we know not.
Let us briefly consider this double uncertainty:
1. Of our riches staying with us, first;
2. And then, of our staying with them.
1. In the second of Corinthians, eleventh chapter, thirtieth verse, when as he would glory, he saith, “He will glory in his infirmity;”101* which when he would recount as a principal part of it he reckoneth,102* that he “had been in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, of his own nation, among the Gentiles, in the city, in the wilderness, in the sea, and amongst false brethren.” If this were frailty, then sure frail and weak are riches. And sure if the rich will glory they must glory with St. Paul, for they are in all, and in more, and greater than the Apostle ever was. He was “in perils of water,” they in peril both of water and fire; he was “in peril of robbers,” they in peril of rovers by sea, and robbers by land; he “in peril of his own nation,” they are in peril of our own nation and of other nations, both removed as the Moor and Spaniard, and near home as the Dunkirker; he “in peril of strangers,” they not of strangers only but of their own household, their servants and factors; he “in peril of the sea,” they both of the tempest at the sea, and the Publican on land; he “in peril of the wilderness,” that is, of wild beasts, they not only of the wild beast called the sycophant, but of the tame beast too called the flatterer; he in danger “of false brethren,” and so are they in peril of certain false brethren called wilful bankrupts, and of certain other called deceitful lawyers: for the one their debts, for the other their estates and deeds can have no certainty.
Musculus on that place where Christ willeth “our treasure to be laid where no moths come,”103* saith his auditors did laugh in conceit at Christ That frayed them with moths; their maids should deal with the moths well enough. Saith he, You think he meant the poor silly flies; tush, you are deceived, what say you to tineæ urbanæ, ‘evil creditors?’ You must needs credit, you can have no vent for your merchandise; and what say you to a second kind of moths called tineæ forenses, ‘Westminster Hall moths?’—for I trust I may speak of the corrupt lawyer, with the favour of the better sort—you must needs credit them with your evidences and estates, it is not certain what wealth these two moths do waste, and in what uncertainty men’s riches are by their means.
These are out of St. Paul’s “perils,” he was free from these moths. But many rich men might be brought forth in a fair day and shewed, whose substance hath by these moths been fretted to pieces. Thus little certainty have we of their staying with us.
2. But grant, let it be that they were certain; yet except we ourselves were sure to stay with them also, it is as good as nothing. That there may be a certainty between two things, as a man and his wealth, to continue together, they must either of them be sure; else if the one fail, where is the other’s assurance? Grant then we were certain of them, we are not certain of ourselves, and in very deed we are no more certain of them than they of us. Leases of them we have for sixty years, but they have no leases of us for three hours; if they might take leases of us too, it were somewhat. Now when the lease is taken, nay when the fee simple is bought, and the house and the warehouse filled, and the purse too, if God say but hâc nocte,104* it dashes all. For which cause, I think, St. James speaking in two several places of our life and our riches—our riches he compareth to “the grass,”105* of no certainty, it will either wither or be plucked up shortly; but this is a great certainty in respect of that of our life, which he resembleth to “a vapour”106* which we see now, and by and by we turn us to look for it, and it is vanished away. To us then that are uncertain of ourselves, they cannot be but riches of uncertainty.
But let us admit we were sure of both these, what is it to have riches and not to enjoy them? And the enjoying of riches dependeth upon two uncertainties more.