Abbildungen der Seite


Considerations touching the Vocation of five Disciples, and of

the first Miracle of Jesus, done at Cana, in Galilee.

1. As soon as ever John the Baptist was taught, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, that this was Jesus, he instantly preaches him to all that came near him. For the Holy Ghost was bis commission and instruction; and now he was a minister evangelical, and taught all those that have the honour to be servants in so sacred employment, that they must not go till they be sent, nor speak till they be instructed, nor yet hold their peace when their commission is signed by the consignation of the Spirit in ordinary ministry. For “all power and all wisdom is from above,” and in spiritual ministrations is a direct emanation from the Holy Spirit: that as no man is fit to speak the mysteries of godliness, be his person never so holy, unless he derive wisdom in order to such ministries; so, be he never so instructed by the assistance of art or infused knowledge, yet, unless he also have derived power as well as skill, authority as well as knowledge, from the same Spirit, he is not enabled to minister in public in ordinary ministrations. The Baptist was sent by a prime designation, to prepare the

way to Jesus,” and was instructed by the same Spirit, which had sanctified or consecrated him in his mother's womb to this holy purpose.

2. When the Baptist had showed Jesus to Andrew and another disciple, they immediately followed him, with the distances and fears of the first approach, and the infirmities of new converts ; but Jesus seeing them follow their first light, invited them to see the Sun : for God loves to cherish infants in grace; and having sown the immortal seed in their hearts, if it takes root downwards, and springs out into the verdure of a leaf, he still waters it with the gentle rain of the Holy Spirit, in graces and new assistances, till it brings forth the fruits of a holy conversation. And God, who knows that infants have need of pleasant, and gentle, and frequent nutriment, hath given to them this comfort, that himself will take care of their first beginnings, and improve them to the strength

of men, and give them the strengths of nature, and the wisdom of the Spirit, which ennoble men to excellences and perfections. By the preaching of the Baptist they were brought to seek for Christ: and when they did, Christ found them, and brought them home, and made them “stay all night with him ;" which was more favour than they looked for. For so God usually dispenses his mercies, that they may run over our thoughts and expectations, and they are given in no proportion to us, but according to God's measures; he considering not what we are worthy of, but what is fit for him to give; he only requiring of us capacities to receive his favour, and fair reception and entertainment of his graces.

3. When Andrew had found Jesus, he calls his brother Simon to be partaker of his joys, which (as it happens in accidents of greatest pleasure) cannot be contained within the limits of the possessor's thoughts. But this calling of Peter was not to a beholding, but to a participation of his felicities : for he is strangely covetous who would enjoy the sun, or the air, or the sea, alone; here was treasure for him and all the world : and, by lighting his brother Simon's taper, he made his own light the greater and more glorious. And this is the nature of grace, to be diffusive of its own excellences; for here no envy can inhabit : the proper and personal ends of holy persons, in the contract and transmissions of grace, are increased by the participation and communion of others. For our prayers are more effectual, our aids increased, our encouragement and examples more prevalent, God more honoured, and the rewards of glory have accidental advantages, by the superaddition of every new saint and beatified person; the members of the mystical body, when they have received nutriment from God and his holy Son, supplying to each other the same which themselves received, and live on, in the communion of saints. Every new star gilds the firmament, and increases its first glories : and those who are instruments of the conversion of others, shall not only introduce new beauties, but when themselves "shine like the stars in glory,” they shall have some reflections from the light of others, to whose fixing in the orb of heaven themselves have been instrumental. And this consideration is not only of use in the exaltations of the dignity apostolical and clerical, but for the enkindling even of private

charities; who may do well to promote others' interests of piety, in which themselves also have some concernment.

4. These disciples asked of Christ where he dwelt: Jesus answered, “ Come and see.” It was an answer very expressive of our duty in this instance. It is not enough for us to understand where Christ inhabits, or where he is to be found; for our understandings may follow him afar off, and we receive no satisfaction unless it be to curiosity; but we must go where he is, eat of his meat, wash in his lavatory, rest on his beds, and dwell with him: for the holy Jesus hath no kind influence upon those who stand at distance, save only the affections of a loadstone, apt to draw them nigher, that he may transmit his virtues by union and confederations; but if they persist in a sullen distance, they shall learn his glories, as Dives understood the peace of Lazarus, of which he was never to participate. Although “ the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head,” yet he hath many houses where to convey his graces; he hath nothing to cover his own, but he hath enough to sanctify ours : and as he dwelt in such houses which the charity of good people then afforded for his entertainment; so now he loves to abide in places, which the religion of his servants hath vowed to his honour, and the advantages of evangelical ministrations. Thither we must come to him, or anywhere else where we may enjoy him: he is to be found in a church, in his ordinances, in the communion of saints, in every religious duty, in the heart of every holy person; and if we go to him by the addresses of religion in holy places, by the ministry of holy rites, by charity, by the adherences of faith, and hope, and other combining graces, the graces of union and society, or prepare a lodging for him within us, that he may come to us, then shall we see such glories and interior beauties, which none know, but they that dwell with him. The secrets of spiritual benediction are understood only by them, to whom they are conveyed, even by the children of his house a. « Come and see.

5. St. Andrew was first called, and that by Christ immediately; his brother Simon next, and that by Andrew; but yet Jesus changed Simon's name, and not the other's; and by this change designed him to an eminency of office, at least in signification, principally above his brother, or else separately and distinctly from him: to show that these graces and favours, which do not immediately co-operate to eternity, but are gifts and offices, or impresses of authority, are given to men irregularly, and without any order of predisponent causes, or probabilities on our part, but are issues of absolute predestination; and as they have efficacy from those reasons, which God conceals, so they have some purposes as concealed as their causes; only if God pleases to make us vessels of fair employment and of great capacity, we shall bear a greater burden, and are bound to glorify God with special offices. But as these exterior and ineffective graces are given upon the same good will of God, which made this matter to be a human body, when, if God had so pleased, it was as capable of being made a fungus or a sponge: so they are given to us with the same intentions as are our souls, that we might glorify God in the distinct capacity of grace, as before of a reasonable nature. And, besides that it teaches us to magnify God's free mercy, so it removes every such exalted person from being an object of envy to others, or from pleasing himself in vainer opinions : for God hath made him of such an employment, as freely and voluntarily as he hath made him a man, and he no more co-operated to this grace than to his own creation, and may as well admire himself for being born in Italy, or from rich parents, or for having two hands or two feet, as for having received such a designation extraordinary. But these things are never instruments of reputation among severe understandings, and never but in the sottish and unmanly apprehensions of the vulgar. Only this, when God hath imprinted an authority upon a person, although the man hath nothing to please himself withal but God's grace, yet others are to pay the duty, which that impression demands; which duty, because it rapports to God, and touches not the man, but as it passes through him to the fountain of authority and grace, it extinguishes all pretences of opinion and pride.

a Secreta mea mibi et filiis domus nicæ. - Clem. Alex, Strom.

6. When Jesus espied Nathanael (who also had been called by the first disciples) coming towards him, he gave him an excellent character, calling him “ a true Israelite, in whom was no guile,” and admitted him amongst the first disciples of the institution ; by this character in one of the

first of his scholars hallowing simplicity of spirit, and receiving it into his discipline, that it might now become a virtue and duty evangelical. For although it concerns us, as a Christian duty, to be prudent, yet the prudence of Christianity is a duty of spiritual effect, and in instances of religion with no other purposes than to avoid giving offence to those, that are without and within ; that we cause no disreputation to Christianity; that we do nothing that may encourage enemies to the religion; and that those that are within the communion and obedience of the church, may not suffer as great inconveniences by the indiscreet conduct of religious actions, as by direct temptations to a sin. These are the purposes of private prudence, to which, in a greater measure, and upon more variety of rules, the governors of churches are obliged. But that which Christian simplicity prohibits, is the mixing arts and unhandsome means for the purchase of our ends; witty counsels that are underminings of our neighbour, destroying his just interest to serve our own; stratagems to deceive, indefinite and insignificant answers, with fraudulent design ; unjust and unlawful concealment of our purposes ; fallacious promises and false pretences; flattery, and unjust, and unreasonable praise; saying one thing and meaning the contrary; pretending religion to secular designs ; breaking faith; taking false oaths; and such other instruments of human purposes framed by the devil, and sent into the world to be perfected by man. Christian simplicity speaks nothing but its thoughts; and when it concerns prudence that a thought or purpose should be concealed, it concerns simplicity that silence be its cover, and not a false vizor; it rather suffers inconvenience than a lie ; it destroys no man's right, though it be inconsistent with my advantages ; it reproves freely, palliates no man's wickedness; it intends what it ought, and does what is bidden; and uses courses regular and just, sneaks not in corners, and walks always in the eye of God and the face of the world.

7. Jesus told Nathanael that he knew him, when he saw him “under the fig-tree;" and Nathanael took that to be probation sufficient that he was the Messias, and believed rightly upon an insufficient motive : which, because Jesus did accept, it gives testimony to us, that however faith be produced, by means regular or by arguments incompetent,

« ZurückWeiter »