Imatges de pàgina

shall obtain glories at an easier rate, than to drink of the brook in the way in which Christ was drenched. When the devil appeared to St. Martin, in a bright splendid shape, and said he was Christ; he answered, "Christus non nisi in Cruce apparet suis, in hac vita." And when St. Ignatius was newly tied in a chain to be led to his martyrdom, he cried out, "Nunc incipio esse Christianus." And it was observed by Minutius Felix, and was indeed a great and excellent truth," Omnes viri fortes, quos Gentiles prædicabant in exemplum, ærumnis suis inclyti floruerunt;"the Gentiles in their whole religion never propounded any man imitable, unless the man were poor or persecuted.' Brutus stood for his country's liberty, but lost his army and his life; Socrates was put to death for speaking a religious truth; Cato chose to be on the right side, but happened to fall upon the oppressed and the injured; he died together with his party.

Victrix causa Deis placuit, sed victa Catoni1.

And if God thus dealt with the best of heathens, to whom he had made no clear revelation of immortal recompenses; how little is the faith, and how much less is the patience of Christians, if they shall think much to suffer sorrow, since they so clearly see with the eye of faith the great things which are laid up for them, that are 'faithful unto the death?" Faith is useless, if now in the midst of so great pretended lights, we shall not dare to trust God, unless we have all in hand that we desire; and suffer nothing, for all we can hope for. They that live by sense, have no use of faith: yet, our Lord Jesus, concerning whose passions the Gospel speaks much, but little of his glorifications; whose shame was public, whose pains were notorious, but his joys and transfigurations were secret, and kept private; he who would not suffer his holy mother, whom in great degrees he exempted from sin,-to be exempted from many and great sorrows, certainly intends to admit none to his resurrection but by the doors of his grave, none to glory but by the way of the cross. "If we be planted into the likeness of his death, we shall be also of his resurrection;" else on no terms. Christ took away sin from us, but he left us our share of sufferings; and the cross, which was first printed upon us, in the waters of baptism, must for ever be born by us in penance, in morti

Lucan. 1. 128.

fication, in self-denial, and in martyrdom, and toleration, according as God shall require of us by the changes of the world, and the condition of the church.

mea cum Christianis;" "I pray God my soul

For Christ considers nothing but souls, he values not their estates or bodies, supplying our want by his providence; and we are secured that our bodies may be killed, but cannot perish, so long as we preserve our duty and our consciences. Christ, our captain, hangs naked upon the cross our fellow-soldiers are cast into prison, torn with lions, rent in sunder with trees returning from their violent bendings, broken upon wheels, roasted upon gridirons, and have had the honour not only to have a good cause, but also to suffer for it; and by faith, not by armies,-by patience, not by fighting, have overcome the world. "Et sit anima may be among the Christians." And yet the Turks have prevailed upon a great part of the Christian world, and have made them slaves and tributaries, and do them all spite, and are hugely prosperous but when Christians are so, then they are tempted and put in danger, and never have their duty and their interest so well secured, as when they lose all for Christ, and are adorned with wounds or poverty, change or scorn, affronts or revilings, which are the obelisks and triumphs of a holy cause. Evil men and evil causes had need have good fortune and great success to support their persons and their pretences; for nothing but innocence and Christianity can flourish in a persecution. I sum up this first discourse in a word: in all the Scripture, and in all the authentic stories of the church, we find it often that the devil appeared in the shape of an angel of light,' but was never suffered so much as to counterfeit a persecuted sufferer. Say no more, therefore, as the murmuring Israelites said, 'If the Lord be with us, why have these evils apprehended us?' for if to be afflicted be a sign that God hath forsaken a man, and refuses to own his religion or his question, then he that oppresses the widow, and murders the innocent, and puts the fatherless to death, and follows Providence by doing all the evils that he can, that is, all that God suffers him,-he, I say, is the only saint and servant of God: and upon the same ground the wolf and the fox may boast, when they scatter and devour a flock of lambs and harmless sheep.




2. It follows now that we inquire concerning the reasons of the divine Providence in this administration of affairs, so far as he hath been pleased to draw aside the curtain, and to unfold the leaves of his counsels and predestination. And for such an inquiry we have the precedent of the Prophet Jeremy; "righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee; yet let us talk to thee of thy judgments. Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy, that deal very treacherously? thou hast planted them, yea they have taken root: they grow, yea they bring forth fruit." Concerning which in general the Prophet Malachi gives this account after the same complaint made: “and now we call the proud happy; and they that work wickedness are set up; yea they that tempt God are even delivered. They that feared the Lord, spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine (saith the Lord of hosts) in that day when I bind up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not"." In this interval, which is a valley of tears, it is no wonder if they rejoice who shall weep for ever; and they that sow in tears' shall have no cause to complain, when God gathers all the mourners into his kingdom, they shall reap with joy.'



For innocence and joy were appointed to dwell together for ever. And joy went not first; but when innocence went away, sorrow and sickness dispossessed joy of its habitation; and now this world must be always a scene of sorrows, and no joy can grow here but that which is imaginary and fantastic. There is no worldly joy, no joy proper for this world, but that which wicked persons fancy to themselves in the hopes and designs of iniquity. He that covets

m Jer. xii. 1, 2.

"Mal. iii, 14, &c.

his neighbour's wife or land, dreams of fine things, and thinks it a fair condition to be rich and cursed, to be a beast and die, or to lie wallowing in his filthiness: but those holy souls who are not in love with the leprosy and the itch for the pleasure of scratching, they know no pleasure can grow from the thorns which Adam planted in the hedges of paradise; and that sorrow, which was brought in by sin, must not go away till it hath returned us into the first condition of innocence the same instant that quits us from sin and the failings of mortality, the same instant wipes all tears from our eyes; but that is not in this world. In the mean time,

God afflicts the godly, that he might manifest many of his attributes, and his servants exercise many of their virtues.

Nec fortuna probat causas, sequiturque merentes,
Sed vaga per cunctos nullo discrimine fertur:
Scilicet est aliud, quod nos cogatque regatque,
Majus, et in proprias ducat mortalia leges.

For, without the sufferings of saints, God should lose the glories, 1. Of bringing good out of evil: 2. Of being with us in tribulation: 3. Of sustaining our infirmities: 4. Of triumphing over the malice of his enemies. 5. Without the suffering of saints, where were the exaltation of the cross, the conformity of the members to Christ their head, the coronets of martyrs? 6. Where the trial of our faith? 7. Or the exercise of long-suffering? 8. Where were the opportunities to give God the greatest love? which cannot be but by dying and suffering for him. 9. How should that which the world calls folly, prove the greatest wisdom? 10. And God be glorified by events contrary to the probability and expectation of their causes? 11. By the suffering of saints, Christian religion is proved to be most excellent; whilst the iniquity and cruelty of the adversaries prove the Illecebra sectæ,' as Tertullian's phrase is; it invites men to consider the secret excellences of that religion, for which and in which men are so willing to die for that religion must needs be worth looking into, which so many wise and excellent men do so much value above their lives and fortune. 12. That a man's nature is passible, is its best advantage; for by it we are all redeemed: by the passiveness and sufferings of our Lord and brother we were all rescued from the portion of devils; and by our

suffering we have a capacity of serving God beyond that of angels; who indeed can sing God's praise with a sweeter note, and obey him with a more unabated will, and execute his commands with a swifter wing and a greater power; but they cannot die for God, they can lose no lands for him; and he that did so for all us, and commanded us to do so for him, is ascended far above all angels, and his heir of a greater glory. 13. Do this, and live,' was the covenant of the law; but in the Gospel it is, Suffer this, and live:'-" He that forsaketh house and land, friends and life, for my sake, is my disciple." 14. By the sufferings of saints God chastises their follies and levities, and suffers not their errors to climb up into heresies, nor their infirmities into crimes.

παθὼν δέ τι νήπιος ἔγνω.


• Affliction makes a fool leave his folly.'-If David numbers the people of Judea, God punishes him sharply and loudly : but if Augustus Cæsar numbers all the world, he is let alone and prospers.

Ille crucem sceleris pretium tulit, hic diadema".

And in giving physic, we always call that just and fitting that is useful and profitable: no man complains of his physician's iniquity, if he burns one part to cure all the body; if the belly be punished to chastise the floods of humour, and the evils of a surfeit. Punishments can no other way turn into a mercy, but when they are designed for medicine; and God is then very careful of thy soul, when he will suppress every of its evils, when it first discomposes the order of things and spirits. And what hurt is it to thee, if a persecution draws thee from the vanities of a former prosperity, and forces thee into the sobrieties of a holy life? What loss is it? what misery? Is not the least sin a greater evil than the greatest of sufferings? God smites some at the beginning of their sin; others, not till a long while after it is done. The first cannot say that God is slack in punishing, and have no need to complain that the wicked are prosperous; for they find that God is apt enough to strike: and therefore, that he strikes them, and strikes not the other, is no defect of justice, but because there is not mercy in store for them that sin, and suffer not.

Juv. 13. 105.

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