COL. 3. 3.
AFter the Death and Resurrection of our blessed Saviour, it will not be un∣seasonable, especially in these times of Danger, to meditate upon our own. Loe therefore Life and Death, not now proposed to your Choice, but to your Meditation. The matter of my Text is the whole Race of Man, both while he is, and while he is not: he still Tra∣vells to and fro, betwixt two Stages; which are ever the same, though the order be mutually inverted. For we are no sooner enterd into Life, but we are Dead, dead and buried with Christ in Baptisme; no sooner dead to the World but new borne to God through the same meanes; when we are thus borne againe, (notwithstanding this spi∣rituall Parenthesis,) we still proceed in a naturall course of Death; no sooner dead so, but our Life is hid with Christ Page 2 in God. Thus on the Corner-stone we ketch Corners, alive and dead, dead and alive: and 'tis quickly done: for Life and Death, or Death and Life are not so farre disjoyn'd as we account, none indeed so neare Neighbours; they are sever'd not onely but by an Inch, as the Poet phansi∣ed, at Sea, Tabula distinguimur, but on Land also they are scarce distant by a moment of Time: we finde them so close united in my Text, that they meet in the selfe same Instant, nay further in the very nullity of Time. For now even now Ye are Dead, and Then even Then after Time your Life is hid with Christ in God.
So that my Text affords a contrary Assurance in two contrary Cases; Assurance of Death while ye Live, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for ye are Dead, and Assurance of Life when ye Dye, for your Life is hid with Christ in God: the first is the Death of Life, the second the Life of Death; that pas∣sing sure, for ye are surer of nothing on Earth then of yourselves, and yet howsoever ye are, ye are Dead, the second surer yet, for God is surer then your selves, your Life is hid with Christ in God. In the first part I shall strike you Dead; ye are Dead.
How Dead? yes already; in the Aorist;〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which we render not, ye shall dye, but ye have died, or now are dead. Man borne of a Woman is not borne (as you may think) into Life, but into Death. Ye that are most awake sit asleep with your Eyes open; and when ye walk about, ye walk like Ghosts. What? shall I tell my Hearers they are Dead? who then shall heare me? I know to whom I speake, to the Dead, that come hither to learne the way of Life. Thrice Noble and thrice worshipfull, thrice worthy and thrice welcome, that ye may truly know how dead ye are, I say, ye are thrice Dead; yes, three wayes, Page 3 Dead in Law, Dead by the Course of Nature, Dead by the▪ Covenant of Grace.
First, ye are Dead in Law: the Generall Sentence hath already passed upon all: In the day thou eatest of the for∣bidden fruit thou shalt surely dye. From that Day to This, every sprig of Adam lives meerly by reprieve. For which we have nothing to pleade but our Book and Child∣bearing; our Book which containes Gods mercifull Pro∣mise, and the Child-bearing of Christ, whereby we become Consanguineous with the Innocent and Holy One of God.
If so, let me turne the Inference of my Text to the Consequence, For to Therefore, and so read backward, Therefore set not your Affections on things on the Earth, as you are warned in the precedent verse. When we draw neare to the End, we minde nothing else, and onely there∣to we set our strength. Would you not think the man mad, who being sentenced to death should be sollicitous for Titles to set forth Hìc jacet; if being streight to be de∣molish'd in Person, he should seek out Surveyors to build Castles and Barnes; if being strip'd for the Axe, he should send for the Taylour; if when he should gaine Peace with God by sacrificing his Affections, he should chuse to die like Zimri and Cosbi? so vaine, so mad are we: all our toyle is for an Epitaph; we build Houses when we must dwell in the Grave; we take measure for Clothes when Death takes measure for the Coffin, we and the wormes look for Provision at once, and we dye in our Lusts. The Iudge, under whose Repreive we stand, forbids Anxiety for things that perish, yet still our wisedome teacheth us to be thus foolishly Anxious: and therefore God pre∣vents our Projects as he did the project of that uncertaine Page 4 rich man in the Parable: while he was driven into agony of thought what he should doe with his great increase, while he became extreme miserable through much pros∣perity, and was ready to burst for want of a larger Store∣house, his Repreiver sayes unto him, Thou Foole, this Night will I take away thy Soule, this Night; for the Soule is alwayes due, because we are Dead in Law. That which Christ spake concerning the End of the World, Let not he that is on the house top come downe to take any thing out of the house, nor he that is in the Field returne to fetch his Clothes, Mat. 24. the same may I apply to the End of eve∣ry particular Person, that promiseth Life to himselfe for the accomplishment of remote projects; let not he that is below thinke of cutting downe Trees to make Ladders for his advancement, nor he that stands above thinke of securing his Condition by descending lower; for we are dead in Law. The Goard, wherein Ionas delighted, had a worme inbred to make it wither, so have all Earthly de∣lights: if that will not weane us from them, we have a worme of Corruption within our selves to make us let goe our hold. Abraham the Representation of all the Faithfull, had no Inheritance in the Land of Canaan, not a Foot of his owne Perpetuity, save onely a place of Buriall: of this we are capable by Law. Dust thou art and to Dust thou shalt returne.* Indeed a Grave we cannot misse, be∣cause the Body will consume and bury it selfe.
Secondly, we are Dead by the Course of Nature. Beleeve it, ye are all dead men (as we say of those that are despe∣rately sick) for ye cannot hold out long, ye are Going while I speake. Ye finde that the Dust flyeth away: are ye not made of Dust? that the winde vanisheth; is not your breath in your nostrills? that the shadow creepeth; Page 5 doe not your Bodies cast a Shadow? as the Element such is the Compound; and as the Shadow, such is the sub∣stance, But more expresly Dust ye are, Psal. 103. 14. v. Your Life is a winde, Iob. 7. 7. v. Your dayes a Shadow, Iob. 8. 9. v. You see the Dust Raised, not the Rising of every Atome; the wind Past, not the Passage; the Shadow re∣moved, not the motion; and so your dayes slide away without present observation of declining. That ye are changed ye feele, though not the changing: you perceive in your Age, a Spring, a Summer, an Autumne, a Winter, and happily severall Months of these great quarters: for every seaven-yeare brings a sensible Change: within the number of 70 yeares, (which David accounted a full Pitch of Life) Solon observed ten Changes, for ten times seven; Teeth, Youth, Beard, Ability, Wedlock, Under∣standing, Wisedome, Vertue, Equity, and then Recesse; these Changes we plainly discerne at the Stages, though not in the course: the Items in their summe, the granes in their Pounds we easily comprehend, but the little mo∣ments in themselves passe undiscerned, and we are stolne from our selves unawares. Sometimes merrily, for we bring our yeares to an end as a Tale that is told, Psal. 90. 9. sometimes painfully, for our dayes are like the dayes of a Hireling, Iob. 7. 1. sometimes idly, for our Life is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a dreaming shadow, halfe of it sheere sleepe; and ever we passe them swiftly; for our dayes are swifter then a Wea∣vers Shuttle, Iob. 7. 6. v. and so runs our thread of Life, just so; as that from hand to hand, so this from Morning to Evening, till we come from the beginning of the Web to the Fag, from the Wombe to the Grave. Howsoever we move, still we move forward, we never stay; the present tense is but a moment, that which is past is nothing, the Page 6 Future is not yet. What can we call our selves, who are changed before the word is pronounced? I am is the Name of God, the Name of the Creature is I am not.
We are much deceived, if we thinke we die not till the last Gaspe. The beginning of Death is our Birth; we bring it with us; because we bring both Flesh, and Sin, whereof one makes us capable of Death, the other ready to earne it; and therefore as our Strength and worke in∣creaseth, so doth our wages, Death comes on the faster from the first day to the last. We thinke sometimes we are growne younger by Recoveries; as when we proceed from Creeping to walking, from weakenesse to strength: 'tis not so; for the yeare turnes about, as well in faire wea∣ther as in foule, no lesse in Spring then in Autumne; and as the Time such is the Timed, our very growth leads to decay, all addition to Life is but an Abatement. Turne your Conceit a little from Time to Motion, you shall finde the Pilgrims Life such as his Way, which by further progresse, whether up-hill or downe-hill growes ever shorter and shorter; or lay the Voyage not by Land but by Sea; in a Ship whether we stand or sit, lie or goe, sleepe or wake, play or worke, on we sayle, till we arrive at the Port: so is our Life still bound for Death, through all Varieties of Posture in Rest or Motion, through all chan∣ges of Condition by chance or purpose. They that tary within dores, cannot misse a significant Embleme of their owne Fading;*All Flesh (saith the Prophet Esay) waxeth old as doth a Garment; which whether it be worne, or fol∣ded in a Chest, is consumed by degrees; and as the Cloth such is the Wearer; I may adde, (since every thing farre and neare Preaches the same Lecture,) as the House also, such is the Dweller; and as the Meat, such is the Eater; Page 7 and as the Thought, such is the Thinker; in the best Con∣dition ever vanishing: but if the Garment be neglected, the house unrepaired, the meate ill cook'd, the Thoughts destructive, if the Master too become more ruinous by Sin then by Mortality, how swift is the decay of Nature so hastened by wast, how headlong is the race of a preci∣pice so impelled by Running?
To passe over Particulars, the whole Generation of men collected is like that of leaves, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,* the blind Poet could see so much: on a Tree still furnished, while one leafe waxeth greene ano∣ther withers, while one is in the bud another drops off, and every leafe by blasting, winde, or Age, successively vani∣sheth: so follow the Generations of men; though the World be ever full, yet they that fill it are ever voy∣ding the Roome; so you may see the high wayes filled with unabiding Passengers, and Channells with fleeting streames.
Is it so? then what Counsell in such a case? First, be not over grieved for the losse of a Friend by Death, considering that thy selfe also doest lie wounded by his side, thou dead in Fieri as he in Facto, Fish tumbling in the same Net. Thou shalt follow him, but he shall not returne to Thee; and sorrow for necessity must needes be un∣necessary.
Next reckon to thy selfe how Death invades thee: know that every gray haire is a summons, and that every Ach, every Swelling is a Venny or Thrust made at thee, take it for a warning. Likewise cast thy account, how thou art chang'd ever since thy birth, or within a certain distance of time; then by proportion of declining, thou maiest con∣jecture, how near thou art to thy naturall period. But thou Page 8 must further add the various contingence of possible dan∣gers; though the way be smooth, the Robbers may be rough and many; our escape from infinite Casualties, if well considered, makes every day a Birth day. This mul∣tiplicity of danger may teach us the warier provision, and by provision death may be stav'd off. For though we al∣wayes travell to it, yet our travell may be to and fro, long in passage of a little space, as the Israelites through fre∣quent Meanders were travelling forty yeares from Ae∣gypt to Canaan.
After sufficient Provision, the next Caution must be a∣gainst Anxiety and Immoderate Pensivenesse for more perso∣nall safety then belongs to our share: when all the world tot∣ters, and so many eminent Worthies are dayly sacrific'd by the Sword, now to cover a particular Exemption from danger is too much partiality of tendernesse. The onely meanes of security is to expect none upon Earth, but to stand armed with Patience and Resolution to indure the Lot which God hath appointed. The heart being thus setled and prepared for Death, nothing else can seem ter∣rible, quid ad me quàm magnis moriar, ipsum mori non est magnum.
But the best use is, dayly to add to our future life as much as we loose of the present, and as fast as we perish here, so with all speed to lay the Foundations of Immortality in Heaven; selling both profit and pleasure for one inestima∣ble Iewell, and making friends of the unrighteous Mam∣mon. Since die we must, let us learne betimes how to die; that we may turne our necessity into Vertue, and meet our Destiny not in Horrour, but in Honour; not as a Losse▪ but as an Advantage; not as a Trapdore swallowing up in Destruction, but as a Gate opening to everlasting Life. Page 9 And this is done, first by recounting our looser dayes in bit∣ternesse, so shall we unlive the time we have lived amisse; then by frequent Meditation and foretast of Death; Think thine Eyes grown dim in the fainting twylight of life, and thou shalt soon turn them aside from vanity; think thine Eares grown deafe with sicknesse, and thou wilt soon stop them against Idle words; think thy Tongue grown stiffe with drowth, and that thought will be a watch before thy mouth, to Examine what thou lettest out and what thou lettest in; think on the cold sweat of Death, so thou wilt abhorre to swim in Lust; think how naked thou must goe hence, even as bare as thou camest, onely with a shrowd as thou camest in with a Cawle, and almost with as little flesh, then thou wilt easily contemne all wordly pomp, and subdue thy carnall Tumours. Thinkest thou, that Death drawes nearer when it is thought of, or dares not to ap∣proach unlesse it be call'd? no such matter: this practice of dying dayly will not make us to die the sooner, but so to live as that we may die the happier. And this or the like practice belongs to our Christian Profession assumed in Baptisme, where by the Covenant of Grace we become Dead in a third Acception.
Dead in Quality; Dead to all Wordly and Carnall Lusts; though we may sometimes fall upon them by In∣firmity, yet to pursue them is against our Profession. The Desire is Dead, and the Renunciation made against them is a kind of Death. The spirituall Pharaoh with all his. Hoast lies drown'd in the Font, representing a Red Sea, the Blood of Christ: there Christ and We enter into Co∣venant, he to free us from Sin, and we to forsake it; he to strike off the Dominion and Guilt thereof, we the Service and Confederation. Because by nature we are born Dead Page 10 in Sin, and subject to Corruption, therefore by a second birth we are born Dead unto Sin, the spirituall Death is a Countermine against the Naturall. For by the Power of Baptisme the Old man together with his Lusts is taken and crucified, nayl'd hand and foot to the Crosse of our Saviour, quite disabled from acting what he would, and at length with much adoe, with striving and strugling; with Gall and Vineger, with Piercing or Breaking forc'd to die outright.
How then shall we that are Dead to Sin live any longer therein? 'tis the Use of the Apostle, Rom. 6. 2. v. Is it not strange to heare that a dead man walkes? is it not stranger to heare that he speakes and workes, yes eates and drinkes abundantly, and yet dead? how is it then that the Old man so long since crucified, dead, and buried, doth yet so fre∣quently exercise the Actions of Life, moving the Tongue to Idle words, Lying, & Swearing, the Throat to Excesse, the Eie to Adultery, the Hands to Oppression, and all the members to severall Iniquity! how is it that the Church of God is haunted with such Evill Spirits and Goblins! sure there is some Spell or Magick in this foule Prodigie; otherwise without the help of the Devill it could not be. I grant, that a rotten Tree after it is hewn down and laid in the Durt, may put forth a Sprig, a Leafe, or so; but they come to no Strength, they never prosper. Haire may grow on a Carcasse, but such haire is never dressed nor keemed. So may the Reliques of the Old man have a Counterfeit shew of Life, but must not gather Head, never be cherish'd within any Christian bosome. Death frees us from all worldly Relations, and Bonds (as S. Paul disputes in the sixth to the Romanes) it frees the Wife from the yoake of her Husband, the Servant from the Task of his Master: Page 11 shall we then who are freed by Death forsake a fresh and lovely Spouse who died for our Love, and be reunited to an old rotten Carcasse? shall we forgoe this new Master who bought us with his blood, for an Old tyrannous Can∣niball that feedes on our destruction? God forbid.
So much for this point; wherein you have heard, that we are now dead already, and in three respects: Dead in Law, through the sentence pronounced on sin, that there∣fore we ought not to be over-sollicitous for much provisi∣on where we have no right to tarry longer. Dead by the Course of Nature, as appeares by the mutability of those elements whereof we consist, and of things appertaining; by dayly declynations, insensibly but yet continually growing into sensible changes, in our owne Persons, and by the successive defluction of all mankinde: from whence we should gather patience for the losse of others, Caution for our selves, but without Anxiety, and above all godly Preparation for a better life. Lastly, that we are Dead by the Covenant of Grace, Dead to sin, and sin to us, that therefore sin ought not to rule and exercise our Members. Then if the Old Adam Die within us while we live, we shall live in the New when we Dye; as we were Buried in Baptisme, we shall be Baptized in Buriall, and returne with Bodies as clean from the Grave as we did with soules from the Font. So from the Death of life I passe to my se∣cond Generall, the Life of death, Your Life is hid with Christ in God.
Death having lost her sting cannot kill us utterly; some Life is left, else it could not be hid. You may then observe these three degrees of Comfort, the safety of life in the Chamber of Death, 'tis Hid; the ready Meanes of safety, 'tis hid with Christ, the strong Author of the Meanes, 'tis Page 12 hid with Christ in God. The Subject is aptly disposed to a resurrection, the Meanes are already prepar'd, the Author is All-sufficient and Infallible.
First, our Life is Hid. then it is not quite extinguished, but safe laid, as coales rak'd up in Ashes, safe though un∣seen, alive though close covered. It lies like Treasure un∣der Ground, not out of Minde, though out of Sight, and shall again be dig'd up, if not for the worth of the Mettle, yet for the Image of God which it beares.
Death is but a longer and sounder sleep, and life is hid in sleep, as well as in Death; for in sleep the senses are fetterd, as in Death all bodily Faculties. Howsoever from the Cap∣tivity of one part an utter Destruction of the whole is not concluded. When halfe the body is struck and possessed by a dead palsie, there still remaines a living Body, because there is life in some part. So when the whole Body is seazd by Death, there still remaines a living Man, because there is life in the best part, the Soule. Abraham, Isaack, and Iacob have being enough to preserve their Names, and our Saviour proves them to be also Living. What though the Union of parts be Actually dissolved? Yet the Dis∣solution is not Totall, because there still remaines a possi∣bility and a Naturall Desire of reuniting. The parts which stand separate are in want and Imperfect, as without the whole they needes must; therefore the widowed Soule longs for the Bodies Fellowship, to supply this want, and to gaine the fullnesse of Perfection: How long (cry the Saints under the Altar) O Lord Holy and True, how long? Rev. 6. 9. v: This Naturall Desire cannot ever be frustra∣ted. So then upon the matter, the Dead are but asleepe; and if they sleepe, then (as the Apostles well answered) they shall doe well: for as men, that have slep'd soundly, Page 13 arise from their Couch more fresh and lively, the dull and cumbersome humours being well concocted; so the dead roused with a loud summons from the Grave, will ap∣peare more Glorious and Agil, all Imperfections being worne off by the Furnace of Corruption. In the meane time, while the Bodies of both Sleepers lie senselesse, their Soules are alike busied; as in the living sleepe they are ta∣ken up with dreames, so in the dead sleepe with heaven∣ly Visions.
But shall we call it a Sleeping or Hiding, when the Body is turn'd to the substance of the Bed, Flesh to Mold? still we may. For what think you of the Seedes sown in your Ground? is that sowing a destruction, or onely a Hiding? say then, doth our Creed, in this point extend to our Corne, and not to our selves? Behold in a little seed there sleepes the bulk of a rising Tree: when 'tis grown to a vast extent, consider in what secret crany so spacious vertue lodg'd: where was the ruggednesse of the bark, the soli∣dity of the trunk, the verdure of the Leafe, the pleasant∣nesse of the fruit? feele and examine the Seed, 'tis not rough, whence this grate of the bark? 'tis not tough, whence in processe this hardnesse of the wood? 'tis not greene, whence this tincture of leaves? it smells not, whence this fragrance in the fruit? wherefore in Secrecy they all at once lay dormant, though at once they doe not break forth. From the Seed is the Root produced, from the Root the Trunk and bark, from them the Twig, from the Twig the Leaves and Fruit, and againe from the Fruit the Seed. Now man like Seed lies resuscitable in the womb of the Earth: If from a small kernell having no distinction of parts, wood, bark, leaves and fruit be dayly raised into the massy bulk of a Tree, what more wonder, Page 14 if out of dry Homogeneous Dust, Bones, Sinewes, Veynes, Flesh, Skin, and Hayre, be reduced into Man. He that askes a Reason of the manner, must be cunningly an∣swered by asking other questions, of things continually obvious to sight, yet no way comprehended by Rea∣son; that since by seeing we cannot penetrate the depth of things Visible, we may beleeve by hearing the Truth of the Invisible. So S. Gregory on the twentieth of S. Iohns Gospell. The Philosopher may object, that the raising of a Tree out of Seed is rather a Reparation of kind then of the particular, and so an Instance of Generation rather then of the Resurrection; but since this Generation is from the womb of the Earth, not from the Stock of the Tree, we reply that it is also an Argument of the Resurrection, so urged both by our Saviour and by S. Paul.
And to make this Doctrine more familiar, the Steps of the Resurrection are imprinted in most of the Creatures. The Phoenix waxing old fills her Nest with billets of Spice, on her funerall pile she turnes into Ashes, and after by the dew of Heaven springs up a new Phoenix. Divers imperfect bodies, which yesterday lay labouring in some deep puddle, now start into Life; Bees in the Hive, Flies in the Clefts of Walls, which lay all winter without sense or motion, suddenly revive at the Suns approach: Day it selfe dies into night, and the life of the Sun is hid with the Antipodes, yet within a few houres he appeares in his sparkling dresse, to cheere the forsaken world. All things are preserved by perishing, and are new trim'd by Disso∣lution. So Tertullian. Though these Arguments seeme meerly Rhetoricall, and farre short of demonstrating the Resurrection of man; yet upon better consideration, since they plainly demonstrate an Aptitude of Reviction Page 15 in nature, under the power and providence of the Author, from the raising of these inferiour Creatures, we may confi∣dently conclude, a proportionall likelyhood of raising that, which beares his own Image.
Wherefore I returne to the meditation of Nature, whose reparation is most apparant at this present season: behold now the Revolution of the whole world is an earnest of mans Re∣stitution; now all the Emblems of mortality enjoy their spring; Grasse and Flowers rise from the sullen clod, under which their life lay hid. Shall we borrow their names onely in time Fading, and not when they flourish? Why so? for all these things are renew'd for man, and man doubteth not of their re∣newing: shall he for whom they are reviv'd, dispaire of his owne Resurrection? What though he lye long, and wast in the earth? so he ought. Creatures, that soon fade againe, may have quick returnes of their spring, but man, who after his ri∣sing is sure to wake for ever, may well endure a long sleep. Again, Creatures lesse Noble, unlesse they spring quickly, can∣not spring at all; but man consisting of a reasonable soule, and indued with vegetant power in the most Excellent manner, is ripened more Deliberately, (saith Athenagoras) and must rise the last of all: he hath a Priviledge to rise after many thousands of yeares, out of any Elements, Fire, Ayre, Sea, and Earth, wheresoever he hath been scatterd. Nothing springs before the due time, at the due time Man shall also: Would you have the Harvest before all the graine be sown? Mundi tempora homini Annus est, the end of the world is mans Harvest; and best of all so, least again he should rise to sin: but when men have been all sown, when the Winter of dying is past, when God the hus∣bandman hath sufficiently purged us, and clarified the Flesh from drosse, he will call us up to an endlesse Summer; a Sum∣mer answerable to the past Winter. For which purpose, we also have our peculiar Sun, and proper Dew; Sun and Dew as Page 16 well as the Creatures: our Sun is the Sun of Righteousnesse; when He appeares, then (as it followes after my Text) we shall appeare together with him in glory: our Dew, whether it be the Dew of Teares, it ushers in the Reaping of Ioy, or whether the Dew of God's promise, it shall not faile of performance. Awake and sing (saith he) Ye that dwell in the dust, for thy Dew is as the Dew of Hearbs; and the earth shall cast out her Dead, Esay. 26. 19. v. When this comes to passe (as who dares doubt it?) then it shall appeare, that we lay as Flos in Hyeme, that we Winter'd in Christ our Cause, and only sunk into his Root, who is the true Vine, and Tree of Life. This is our second degree of Comfort, that our Life is hid with Christ.
With Christ, he is the Meanes: under the power of his Resur∣rection our life is hid. Shall not he be able to effect for us, what the Sun can doe for Flowers? some will ask, How shall the Dead rise, or with what body shall they come? Christ an∣swers; With my dead Body shall they rise, Esay. 26. at the 19. v. By vertue of his body already risen from Death. Vbi gloria praecessit Capitis, eòsequetur & spes Corporis, (saith Leo) whither the Head hath gloriously gone before, the Members hope to follow after.
At the first veiw there appeares no more in Christs Resur∣rection, but a man Risen; but when we consider the Condition and Relation of that Man; that being the Innocent and Holy one of God, he was neither worthy of Death, nor Tenable by it, that therefore he dyed not for Himselfe, but for the Guilty, not as an Offendor, but Vndertaker, and Laid downe his Life with Po∣wer to take it up again, for the benefit of those for whom he laid it downe; that Death unadvisedly seizing upon an unlaw∣full prize, forfeited the Lawfull hold of sinners together with the Iust; when the Gospell hath yeilded this Discovery, then we find that this Sonne of Man is become the Everlasting Fa∣ther, the Lord and giver of Life to all Mankinde; that our Re∣surrection Page 17 is virtually included under His; and that though power thereof, we shall rise as surely, as if we had his power to raise our selves. For as to us a Childe was borne, and for us a Man was Crucified, so for us a Saviour is risen. Whatsoever Christ did on Earth, the same he did in our behoofe, not for Himselfe, so that if we rise not, in vaine is Christ risen. Why is he cal'd the Foundation, the Head, the Roote, the First fruites, but in relation to Vs? If the Foundation be laid by wisedom, it implies a rising Structure, if the Head be above Water, the Members are safe, if the Roote be quick, the Branches will sproute, if the first Fruites be Holy, so is the whole Crop.
Christ is our Life (in the next words after my Text) this Life lay Hid in our Grave, and therefore it is but a correspondent exchange, that our Life should be hid with Christ; that since he lay in a sepulcher hewd out for another, others should be quic∣ken'd by his Rising. But how was Christ hid in our Grave? himselfe hath shew'd in the 12. of St. Iohn, 24. v. Except a Corne of Wheat fall into the Ground and dye, it abideth alone, but if it dye, it bringeth forth much fruite; he lay then in the Grave as a graine of Wheat in the furrow, so purposely sowne for us, that our Life might be hid with him, as increase in the Graine which was sown. It is not to be forgotten, that as Christ at his Passion compar'd Himselfe to a Graine of Wheat, so the A∣postle in his Resurrection hath fitly compar'd him to the First Fruites. Cor. 15. 20. the compleat Allegory declares this Vertue in Him, this Dependance in us; that since he lay in the Ground not like a stone, but like Corne, therefore in springing up he rose not single, not as Ionas from the belly of the Whale, (unlesse to Ionas you reckon the Ninivites rais'd by his Preaching) but multiplyed to more then Fifties, to more then Hundreds, to a world of Graines besides Himselfe: that since at His Resurrection he likewise became the first Fruites of them that sleep, he hath consequently obtain'd a blessing for the whole field.
Page 18Wherefore as the Lord Iesus (who is blessed for evermore) hath return'd Victor in spite of invading Death, and all Impe∣diments wherewith he was blocked, so shall it be, that all his Dependants in the utmost skirts of the world shall rise from Death, notwithstanding the drowning, burning, mangling, confounding, scattering of Carcasses, whose disorderd destiny makes a distinct Recollection of Parts to seem impossible. But in presence of a sufficient meanes, and unresistible Power, Im∣possibility must Vanish. We finde in the Generall Course of Nature, things as much beyond our reach dayly renew'd; we finde in Humane nature no Reluctance, no repugnance against the Resurrection, but rather an Aptitude and desire, if there come a sufficient cause to reduce it into Act. Now when Chri∣stian Religion hath discovered to Reason an able Meanes in Christ, who for this purpose became the first fruites of them that slep'd, and hath gotten power to be judge of the Quick and Dead, that the Dead might rise and appeare before his Tribunall, now the Resurrection is more then possible, more then fecible, 'tis in Vertue already perform'd; and when I shall shew you that the Author, who hath chosen and appoynted this meanes, is God, it will be found to be necessary. And here∣in consists the third degree of comfort, our Life is Hid with Christ in God.
In God. Where could our Life be better or safer plac'd▪ For as the Soule is the Life of the Body, so God is the Life of our Soules, and consequently both Soules and Bodies are in his hand; hardly to be poynted out, but safe kept in an Invincible and Infallible Custody. The same who of his Infinite good∣nesse hath appointed Christ to be the meanes of our Resurre∣ction, he having Power and will to produce the deserv'd Ef∣fect, will not faile of his Iustice and Truth to bring it to passe. If yet you can doubt, consider your own Creatures, the works of man: when a musicall Ayre hath been plaid, is it quite lost, Page 19 never to be called for againe? or what is become of it? is it hid in the Bowells of the Instrument, in the prick'd or con∣ceivd Copy, or in the hand and Power of the Musition? in all these? so when the breath of man is expired, he is hid in the Mold as in the Matter, with Christ as with our Idea and Pat∣tern, in God as in the Author and harmonious Composer. A∣gaine, when a Printer dissolves his Impression, and casts it into the first Elements or Letters, is it quite lost, or what is become of it? is it hid in the Boxes which contain those Letters, or in the book out of which it was copied, or in the hand of the Printer that sets the Letters together? in all these? such is the Case of Man: though all his quarters be divided into the quar∣ters of the world, though his parts be distributed like those of the Levites wife, or digested into other bodies, or scattered in∣to all Elements, they are still within Gods Boxes; though his Figure be lost to the memory of men, it remaines fresh with Christ, and in his Book are all our Members written; though they cannot meet of themselves, yet God can finde them out, and will joyne them together after his Sonnes likenesse, and his particular Register. Who turned the round world, who fa∣shioned the parts of man at first? was not God that Carpen∣ter, and Christ his Sonne? Now which is harder, to make a Table and the Timber too, or to joyne the parts taken a sunder? to create that which was not, or to new cast that which was be∣fore? That Potentiall being, which man had within the hand of his Maker before his Creation, the same, and more, re∣maines after his Dissolution. Look on Nature, the Creature is potentially couch'd under her Power in the Seed; look on Art, so is the frame within the Artificers call in the wood; look up to God, so are they that shall rise, within the Mold, before him: how grosse is it to beleeve Nature in her Naturall Ef∣fects, Art in her Artificiall, and onely to mistrust God in his workes Divine? Ask not, how the Bodies confounded one Page 20 with another shall be sifted and sever'd; for God is the Keeper of Bodies and Elements, he knowes where every Atome lies, what belongs properly to every Person, and how to call it forth. How vaine is it, to question Gods Power in things im∣possible to our scant Apprehension? yet to widen your Ap∣prehension in this particular, and to shew you an Answer to more then ever was objected, Though all adventitious matter should be separated, and none should remaine but that which issued from the loynes of our Parents, and was also derived from our first Parents Adam and Eve, God out of those few drops could raise distinct and proper bodies to all mankind.
Nihil Deo Impossibile nisi quod non vult, (saith Tertullian) nothing is Impossible to God but what he will not doe, and what he will that's necessary. Now God hath reveal'd his will by appointing and using the meanes of Raising us, and hath past his promise by his Son Iesus; that through him he will raise us up at the last day. This is the Fathers will which hath sent me (saith our Savlour) that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up againe at the last day, Ioh. 6. 39. v. so that now Gods Iustice and Truth are deeply at stake, till there come a Resurrection. His Iustice would have stood ingag'd however, though no such meanes, no such promise had been reveal'd; if we grant, there is a God, it may be evinc'd out of morall principles, that of necessity there must be a Re∣surrection, though we knew not how: for either there would be no difference of Vertue and Vice in respect of Reward and Punishment, and so divine Iustice would be but a Bug-beare, or else there would be need of a Resurrection, that they who have been prosperous in their wickednesse might be called to account hereafter, and they that have here suffered by Vertue might then shine in Glory. But since the meanes are expressely revealed, since Christ hath paid the price of our Resurrection, and God hath promised to make it good, since many Martyrs Page 21 have died in defence of this Hope, upon Gods word, God is further ingag'd both to Christ and Them, both in his Iustice and Truth, to performe his purpose and promise. And we may be sooner induc'd, to yeeld, that there is no God, or that he was not at all our Builder, nor Christ his Corner stone, then that he should begin to build and not make an End, or Promise an End and not fulfill it. Wherefore without doubting, let us here rest our Hope, that as the Glory of the Father hath raised his Sonne, so he will perfect his Glory in raising his Sonnes Attendants.
Thus you have heard the three Degrees of our Comfort; the Safety of Life in Death, in that it is hid; the sure meanes of safety for that it is bid with Christ; and the strong Author of the meanes, in that it is hid with Christ in God.
It remaines now on our part, that we be not affrighted with Death, because it is no longer the Iaw of Destruction, but the Gate of Life, and a Passage into Everlasting Happinesse.* If those bold Spirits, that having heard of the Immortality of the Soule, or at least her Rest from misery, presently dispatched themselves out of this World, without any other call, or fur∣ther warrant, but onely this Notion; if those undaunted Ven∣turers had been likewise taught the Resurrection of the Body to a better Life, and had such an occasion to spend their lives, as is now offer'd to us, the defence of Religion, Lawes, and Li∣berties; doubtlesse their Courage had been so inflam'd, that either through too much Valour they would undeservedly have found their seeking, or have gotten such honour, as might stay the desire of death by pursuing the death of others, and by taking content in Acts of Glory. I doe not wish any to run this Course unadvisedly; a sober Expectation of Death or Vi∣ctory, in usefull Service, both by charging and sustaining, is Valour sufficient, and not too much, for any Souldierly Martyr.
Page 22Further since Christ by the wood of his Crosse hath sweet∣ned our bitter waters, and died for Sin to make Death easie, since he hath risen againe to lead us the way into Life Eternall, I cannot too much inculcate this other Lesson; that we walk not disorderly in this our Pilgrimage; least we turn the Gift of Life into double Death, the Ioy of our Hearts into Horror and Iudgement, our Rising into Bottomlesse Falling. In it selfe, nothing can be so sweet and desireable as the Appearance of the Lord Iesus in the Resurrection. Why should we so confound the Conscience with unrepented Guiltinesse, that we should need Mountaines to cover us from his Presence? Let us rather amend our wayes, and live carefully, that we may die with Comfort and Rise with Ioy; that the Hope of a Ioy∣full Rising may remaine comfortably seal'd unto us in the time of our Hiding, by Assurance of the Holy Ghost, through Christ the Meanes, and God the Author. To whom be all Thankes, Praise, Dominion, and Glory, now and for evermore. Amen.