Clavis mystica a key opening divers difficult and mysterious texts of Holy Scripture; handled in seventy sermons, preached at solemn and most celebrious assemblies, upon speciall occasions, in England and France. By Daniel Featley, D.D.
Featley, Daniel, 1582-1645.
Page  385

THE BELOVED DISCIPLE. THE XXX. SERMON.


JOH. 21. 20.

The Disciple whom Jesus loved, which also leaned on his breast at Supper.

IF wee must abstaine from all appearance of evill in our civill conversation, much more, certainly, in our reli∣gious devotion. For God is most jealous of his ho∣nour, which is all he hath from us for all we hold of him:* and the streight rule of religion will in no wise bend to any obliquity on either side; either by attributing any true worship to a false, or any false worship to the true God. From both which aspersions hee that seeth not the Liturgy establi∣shed by law in the Church of England to bee most cleare and free, either is short-sighted, or looketh on her through a foule paire of spectacles; and thereby ignorantly imagineth that dust to bee in her sacred Canons and Constitutions, which indeed is not in them, but sticketh in his glassie eyes: let him but rub his spectacles and he shall see all faire, and without any the least deformity or filth of superstition, as well in the Service appointed for the Lords day, as for the Saints feasts. For though wee adorne our Ca∣lendar with the names of some eminent Saints, and make honourable men∣tion of them in our Liturgy, as the ancient Church did of her Martyrs,anon tamen invocamus, yet wee call not upon them, wee lift not up our hands, wee bow not our knees, wee present not our offerings, wee direct not our prayers, wee intend not any part of religious worship to them, sed uni Deo Page  386 & martyrum & nostrum, but to their God and ours, as Saint Austine answe∣reth for the practice of the Church in his time. Which may serve as a buckler to beare off all those poysonous darts of calumny, which those of the concision cast at that part of our Church-service, wherein upon the yeerly returne of the Feast of the blessed Virgin, the Archangell, Apostles, Evan∣gelists, Protomartyr, Innocents, and All-holy-ones, wee remember the Saints of God; but in no wise make Gods of Saints: sanctificamus Deum, non deificamus Sanctos; wee blesse God for them, wee worship not them for God.

Although our devotion glanceth by their names, yet it pitcheth and is fixed upon the Angel of the covenant, and sanctum sanctorum, the holy of all holy ones, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the blessed Virgins an∣niversary wee honour him in his Mother: on Saint John Baptists wee ho∣nour him in his forerunner: on Saint Michaels we honour him in his Arch∣angel (the Captaine of his celestiall squadron): on the Apostles wee ho∣nour him in his Ambassadours: on the Evangelists wee honour him in his Chroniclers: on Saint Stevens wee honour him in his Martyr: on S. John the Divine his day wee honour him in his beloved Disciple, who also lea∣ned on his breast at Supper.

  • 1 The Disciple.
  • 2 The Disciple beloved.
  • 3 Beloved of Jesus.
  • 4 In Jesus bosome.

All Christians are not Disciples, this is the Disciple: all the Disciples were not beloved, this is the beloved Disciple: all that are beloved are not beloved of Jesus, this is he whom Jesus loved: lastly, all whom Jesus lo∣ved were not so familiar with him, or neare unto him, that they leaned on his breast: this was his bosome friend, and, as the text saith, at supper lea∣ned on his breast. Every word is here a beame, and every beame is reflected, and every reflection is an intention of the heat of Christs affection to Saint John.

  • *1 A Disciple; there is the beame:
  • 2 Ille, the, or that Disciple; there is the reflection.
  • 1 Beloved; there is the beame:
  • 2 Beloved of Jesus; there is the reflection.
  • 1 Leaning; there is the beame:
  • 2 Leaning on his breast; there is the reflection.

It is a great honour to bee a Disciple, but a greater to bee the Disciple: a great honour to bee beloved, a greater to bee beloved of Jesus: a great honour to leane on such a personage, a greater to leane on his breast.

Thus I might with an exact division cut the bread of life: but I choose ra∣ther after the manner of our Saviour, to breake it, and that into three pieces onely, viz. John his

    Page  387
  • 1 Calling in Christ.
  • 2 Favour with Christ.
  • 3 Nearenesse unto Christ.
  • 1 His calling in Christ, The Disciple.
  • 2 His grace and favour with Christ, whom Jesus loved.
  • 3 His nearenesse unto Christ, who also leaned on his breast.

The Disciple. The Spouse in the Canticles setting out her husband in his proper colours, saith,bMy beloved is white and ruddy, that is, of admirable and perfect beauty: or, white in the purity of his conversation, and ruddy in the hiew of his passion: white in his life, and ruddy at his death; or, white in his garland ofc lilies, unspotted Virgins; ruddy in his garland of roses, victorious Martyrs; or lastly, as some flourish upon the letter, ruddy in all his Disciples (save St. John) who shed their blood for his name and Gos∣pell, and white in the Disciple in my text, who alone came to a faire and peaceable end; abiding (according to the words of our Saviour) till hee came unto him by an easie and naturall death. For this priviledge Christ gave him above them all, that none should have power to lay violent hands on him, who lay in his Redeemers arms.dThe law was given by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ: and with grace came in John, a name that signifieth grace. Wee read of no John in the old Testament, but wee finde two in the Gospell; the one the forerunner, the other the follower of Christ; the one, in allusion to the Hebrew Etymology of his name, may bee called Gratia praeveniens, grace prevenient; the other Gratia subsequens, grace subse∣quent; the one may bee compared to 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 the Morning, the other to 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Evening starre: for Saint John Baptist, as the Mor∣ning starre, ushered in the Sunne our Saviour; Saint John the Evangelist, as the Evening starre, appeared long in the skie, shining in the Churches of Asia, after the Sunne of righteousnesse Christ Jesus was set, at his death. This latter John is the Disciple whose feast wee now keepe, and memory wee celebrate, and graces wee admire, and title wee are now to declare. As Christ spake of the Baptist,eWhat went yee out to see? a Prophet? nay I say unto you, and more than a Prophet; wee may say of this Evangelist: what are yee come to heare of? a Disciple? nay I say unto you and more than a Disciple; a Prophet, an Evangelist, an Apostle:fO noble stocke, on which many grafts of the plants of Paradise are set! In some parts of the skie wee see single starres, in others a conjunction or crowne of many starres: the o∣ther Disciples were like single starres, some were Prophets, some were E∣vangelists, some Doctors, some Apostles; but in Saint John, as a constella∣tion, shine the eminent gifts and callings of many Disciples. Saint Luke was an Evangelist, but no Apostle; Saint Peter was an Apostle, but no E∣vangelist; Saint Matthew was an Evangelist and Apostle, but no Prophet; Saint John was all:

  • 1 In his Gospell an Evangelist.
  • 2 In his Epistle an Apostle.
  • 5 In his Apocalypse a Prophet.
And in all, according to his divine Hieroglyphicke,gAn Eagle. Hee was Page  388 an Eagle in his Apostolike function;hwhere the body was, there was this Ea∣gle still lying at his breast. In his Gospell like an Eagle hee soareth higher than the other three, beginning with, and more expresly delivering the di∣vinity of Christ than any before him. Lastly, in the Apocalypse like an Ea∣gle with open eye hee looketh full upon the Sunne of righteousnesse, and the light of the celestiall Jerusalem, whereat all our eyes at this day are dazeled. Yet this divine Eagle here flyeth low, and in humility toucheth the ground, stiling himselfe nothing but a Disciple.

[Obser. 2] Wee read iniExodus, They came to Elim, where are twelve Wels of wa∣ter, and seventy Palme trees. In these twelve Springs of water SaintkJerome conceived that hee saw the face of the twelve Apostles, and on the branches of these seventy Palme trees, the fruit of the seventy Disciples labour. In allusion whereunto, most of the Ancients make the Apostles the Parents and patterns of all Bishops, and the seventy Disciples of Priests: the Bishops they make as it were the springs, from whence the Presbyters, like the Palme trees, receive sap and moisture, whereby they grow in the Church, and bring forth fruit in the parochiall Cures where they are planted. The Bishops they called Pastours and Teachers primi ordinis, of the first order or ranke: the Presbyters or Priests Praeceptores secundi ordinis, teachers as it were in a lower fourm. To confound which rankes in the Church, and bring a Bishop perforce 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, downe to the lower fourm or degree of a Priest, is defined sacriledge in the great Councell of Chalcedon. Yet Saint John the Apostle here of himselfe descendeth into that lower step or staire, assuming to himselfe the name onely of a Disciple,

  • 1 In humility:
  • 2 In modesty:
  • 3 In thankfulnesse to his Master.

1 In humility to take all Christians into his ranke, hëe giveth himselfe no higher title than was due to the meanest follower of Christ. The weigh∣tier the piece of gold is, the more it presseth downe the scale; even so where there is more worth, you shall ever find more lowlinesse: the empty and light eares pricke up, but the full bow to the earth.

2 In modesty Saint John was the youngest of the Apostles, and in that respect tearmeth himselfe rather a Disciple, that is, a learner, than as hee was indeed, a great Master in the Church: though hee were 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, yet hee was not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, young hee was in yeeres but not in conditions, his youth was wiser than others age, his dawning was brighter than their noon∣tide, his blossomes fairer than their fruits, his Spring exceeded their Au∣tumne; yet like Moses, hee saw not the beames of his face which all other be∣held. Young men doe not so much usually over-value themselves, as here Saint John doth under-value himselfe: the stile wherewith the Church hath most deservedly graced him, is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, John the Divine, but the title which hee taketh to himselfe is but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Scholar or Disciple.

3 In thankfulnesse to his Master he chuseth this title before any other, thereby professing that whatsoever knowledge hee had, hee suckt it from Page  389 him on whose brest he lay. About the time of our Saviours birth, aslPla∣tina writeth, Augustus by a Proclamation forbad that any should call him Lord: whereby, though he intended no such thing, yet God, who secret∣ly moved him to it, may seeme to give all men to understand, that no Lord ought to be named the same day with his sonne: that when he came into the world all other Lords and Kings were as much obscured as the starres are at the rising of the Sunne.

m〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.

In his presence, and in comparison of him, there is no King, Lord or Ma∣ster. For as all Kings are but his subjects, all Lords his servants, so all Ma∣sters his scholars: in whose schoole there is great difference betweene the scholars, some are able to construe a lecture to others, but none can give a lecture, but he who is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, both the wisedome and the word of God. From whence we hearenLearne of me: of whom we heare,oThis is my well beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; heare him:pIn whom we heare all the treasures of wisedome and knowledge are hid: to whom wee heare St.qPeter beareth record, Thou hast the words of eternall life: and St. Ig∣natius,rChrist is my ancient record: and Tertullian,sThere needs no curiosi∣tie after Christ, nor farther enquiry after or beyond the Gospell; when we be∣leeve it we desire to beleeve no more: and St. Cyprian,tIt is agreeable to the Religion we professe, and our reverence to God, to keepe the truth of that which our Lord hath delivered, and according to his commands, to correct what is amisse; that when he shall come in his glory and majesty, he may find that we hold that he admonished us to keepe, and observe what he taught, and doe what he did: and St. Jerome,uWe follow none as first but Christ: and Vin∣centius Lerinensis (adver. heres.) Keepe the Depositum.xWhat is the Depo∣situm? That wherewith thou art trusted, not which thou hast found out; that which thou hast received, not which thou hast invented: keepe the talent of the Catholike faith, be thou a Bezaleel of the spirituall Tabernacle, cut the gems of divine doctrine shining in his word, insert them curiously in thy discourse, set them off with a good foyle; let men understand that by thy exposition clearly, which before they beleeved obscurely; yet be sure to teach no more than thou hast learned of Christ: though thou speake in a new manner, yet deliver no new matter. If we teach not that which we have learned of Christ, or teach any thing as needfull to salvation, which we have not learned of Christ, we haz∣zard, if not lose, the name of Christians; for Disciples of Christ & Christians are all one; no Disciple of Christ no Christian, & every one so far a Christi∣an as a Disciple of Christ. What Christians then are Papists, whose Creed consisting of foure and twenty articles, twelve of them they learned of Christ, the other twelve of Antichrist, as may be seene in the Bull of PopeyPius affixed to the Councel of Trent? Shall we simply affirm that they are Christians? we wrong then our selves and all the reformed Churches who have severed from them. Shall we absolutely deny that they are Christi∣ans? we wrong them who hold with us the profession of the Trinity, the two Sacraments, Baptisme and the Lords Supper, and the three Creeds, Page  390 the Apostles, the Nicene or Constantinopolitane, and that of Athanasious. Although the Roman Cardinall might justly be blamed, who caused his Painter to draw King Solomon halfe in heaven and halfe in hell: yet I sup∣pose they could not justly be censured, who should draw Popery or the Church of Rome, as she is at this day, partly in heaven, and partly in hell; in heaven in respect of those heavenly truthes which she maintaineth with us against Atheists, Jewes, Turkes, and all sorts of Infidels, and many ancient Heretiques; but in hell in respect of many pernicious and hellish errours, which she pertinaciously defendeth against the cleere letter of Scripture, and doctrine and practice of the Primitive Church. The blessed Apostle resolveth a like question concerning the Jewes, who received the Old Testament, but rejected the New in a like man∣ner:yAs concerning the Gospell they are enemies for your sake: but as touch∣ing the election they are beloved for the Fathers sake. Wee can hardly come off this controversie upon better tearmes than these, that Papists, as concer∣ning the principles of the common faith, are Christians; but as touching their proper errours by addition to it, detraction from it, corruption of it, they are no Christians. You wil say this is no simple or direct answer: neither need it so to be, because the question is not simple. As it is superfluous to give a mixt or double answer to a simple question, so it is dangerous to give a simple and single answer to a mixt question, or a question of a mixt sub∣ject. 1 For instance, let the question be concerning Ayat the Jew, who used indifferently either of his hands as we use our right hand; Whether was he a right handed or a left handed man? 2 Or concerning a part of speech, which taketh part of a noune, and part of a verbe: Whether is it a noune or a verbe? 3 Or concerning a Myrmaid, which in the upper part resembleth a maid, in the lower a fish: Whether is it a fish or a maid? 4 Or concerning the Muscovy Monster, which feedeth like a sheepe, yet groweth like a plant, and hath his root affixed to the earth: Whether is it a beast or a plant? 5 Or concerning an Androgyne, that hath in it both sexes: Whether is it a man or a woman? 6 Or concerning the apple men∣tioned by Seneca, that hath in it a middle kinde of taste, bitterish at first, and sweetish at last: Whether is it a sweet or a bitter fruit?

To the first we must not answer simply, that he was a right handed or left handed man, but as the Historian termeth him, an Ambodexter.

To the second we must not answer simply, that it is a noune, or a verbe, but as the Grammarians call it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, participium, a participle.

To the third we must not answer simply, that it is a maid, or a fish, but with the Poet a Syren; in some respect a maid, in some a fish.

Prima hominis facies, & pulchro corpore virgo
Pube tenus, postremâ immani corpore pistrix.

To the fourth we must not answer simply, that it is a plant, or a beast, but with the Geographer, a Plantanimall.

To the fift we must not answer simply, that it is a man, or a woman, but with the naturall Philosopher, an Hermaphrodite.

To the sixt we must not answer simply, that it is a sweeting, or a bitter Page  391 apple, but with Seneca, that it is pomum suave-amarum, a bitter-sweet.

So if the question be of a Christian by profession of all or the most fundamentall points, who yet holdeth some hereticall opinion, wee must not answer simply, that he is a Christian, or a Miscreant, but a Miscre∣ant or mis-beleeving Christian. Some write of the River Jordane, that the water thereof is sweet, and that store of fish breed and live in it: o∣thers, that it is brackish, yea and venemous also, in such sort that no fish can live in it; and both write most truly in a reference to divers parts there∣of. For all that is behether the lake Asphaltites is most sweet and whole∣some; all that is beyond it is salt and brackish, and in some places poyso∣nous: and accordingly the fish that swim not beyond the lake, or tasting the water salt, return speedily back to the sweet springs, live: but if they are car∣ried farther with a full streame into Mare mortuum, or the dead sea, they instantly perish. What then? shall wee deny Jordan, in which Christ him∣self was baptized, to be a sweet river? or do we doubt but that the doctrine of the Church of Rome, like the river Jordan, is sweet in the spring, I mean the Font of baptisme, in which so many thousands of our fathers were chri∣stened? or that good Christians may live the life of grace there, so long as they keepe within the bounds of the common Principles of Christiani∣ty; or if they have tasted some of the brackish waters, the errours of pope∣ry, if yet they returne back to the springs of holy Scripture, may they not recover? questionlesse they may: but if they passe over the lake Asphalti∣tes, and swimme with the full current into the midst of the Mare mortuum of Antichristian errours, superstitions, and Idolatries, and are not taken up in the net of the Gospell, before the venemous water hath sunke into their heart and bowels, and corrupted all their blood, wee can have little, if any hope of their safety. Those that are such, and have a resolution to continue such, I leave In mari mortuo, in the sea of death, and come to the Disciple in the bosome of Jesus the Fountaine of life, even that Disciple

[Object.] Whom Jesus loved. Did Jesus love him onely? did hee not love all his Apostles, save Judas, to the end? nay, doth hee not love us all with an endlesse love?zSurely greater love than this can no man shew, to lay downe his life for his friend. Is not hee the good Shepheard that gave his life for the sheepe? did he not lay down his life for us all? did one of us cost him more than another? shed he not as much and as pure life blood for one as for another? doth the Sunne of righteousnesse shine brighter up∣on one than another? in perfection of love can there be any remission or in∣tention? in that which is infinite are there any degrees? can any thing be said to bee more or lesse infinite? The determination of this point dependeth upon the consideration of our blessed Saviour:

  • 1 As God.
  • 2 As Man.
  • 3 As Mediatour.
As God his love is his nature, and his nature is himselfe,* and himselfe is infinite, and in that which is infinite no degrees can bee distinguished. As Mediatour hee seemeth to bee like the Center, from which all lines drawne to the circumference are equall; hee casteth the like beames of affection, if Page  392 not upon all, yet certainly upon all his Elect; for whom hee prayed joint∣ly, and satisfied entirely, whom hee washeth equally in the same Font of Baptisme, feedeth equally with his blood, incorporateth equally in his bo∣dy, and maketh equally coheires with him of his kingdome in heaven. Not∣withstanding as man hee might, and did affect one more than another, and in particular hee loved John more than the rest of his Disciples. Neither is it any disparagement at all to our discretion or charity, to enlarge our hearts more to one than another, if the cause bee not a by or carnall respect, but a different measure of gifts; if those bee more in our grace, in whom Gods graces shine brighter. Saint Paul had his Barnabas, Saint Austine his Aly∣pius, Saint Jerome his Heliodorus, Saint Bernard his Gervafius, Saint Basil his Nazianzene, Eusebius his Pamphilus, David his Jonathan, and Jesus here in my text his beloved Disciple. But here Saint Austine putteth in a cu∣rious Quere; Why did Jesus love John best, sith it should seeme Peter lo∣ved Jesus best? else why doth Christ say unto him,*lovest thou mee more than these? Hee who more loved Jesus is the better, but he whom Jesus more lo∣veth is the happier. To avoid this seeming jarre in Christs affections, S. Austin streineth up the plaine history to a mystery: Saint Peter, saith hee, was a type of the Church militant, Saint John of the triumphant: now the Church militant expresseth more love to Christ, in fighting his battailes, and suffering for him; but Christ manifesteth more love to the Church triumphant, crowning her with celestiall glory: in this life, like Peter, we more shew our love to Christ; in the other Christ sheweth more love to us, as he did here to Saint John. These conceptions of that seraphicall Doctour, like a waxe light newly blowne out, yeeld a sweet savour, and have much heat in them of pious affection, but little light of knowledge. For as Christs love to us is consummate in heaven at the Lambes marriage, so is then our love most complete in him. And for the two Disciples, Saint Peter and Saint John, betweene whom there was never any contention greater than this, Whether should more love our Saviour; wee may safely resolve, that though both exceedingly loved him, yet (if wee must needs enter into a comparison betweene them) that the oddes is on Saint Johns side. For doubtlesse hee whom Christ more loved, hee found or made him more thankefull: the ground of our Saviours love could be no other than grace, and he who hath a greater mea∣sure of grace, must needs more love the Fountaine of grace, Christ Jesus. As Jesus therefore more loved John, so John more loved Jesus; hee fol∣lowed him boldly to the high Priests hall, hee never denyed him once, as Peter did thrice; hee with his mother attended him at the crosse, and from that day tooke the blessed Virgin to his owne home; and therefore though Christ promised the keyes of heaven to Peter first, yet hee gave Saint John a greater priviledge, to leane on his breast.

Which leaned on his breast. Of Saint Johns leaning on Christs breast foure kindes of reasons are given:

  • 1 A civill by Calvin.
  • 2 A Morall by Theophylact.
  • 3 A mysticall by Saint Austine.
  • 4 A tropologicall by Guilliandus.
Page  393Though, saithaCalvin, for a servant to lye on his masters breast may seeme un∣seemly, yet the custome of the Jewes being not to fit at table, as we do, but at their meales to lye on beds or carpets on the ground; it was no more for Saint John to lye on Christs breast, than with us to sit next to him: unlesse with The∣ophylact we conceive, that Saint John upon the mention of our Lords death, and that by treason, tooke on most grievously, and beginning to languish through griefe, was taken by Christ into his bosome to comfort him: or wee interpret with Saint Austin, and others of the Ancients, Sinum Chri∣sti, Sapientiae secretum; the bosome of Christ, the cabinet of celestiall jew∣els, or treasury of wisedome; and inferre with Saint Ambrose from thence,bThat John when hee laid his head to Christs breasts, sucked from thence the profound secrets of wisedome: and withcBeda, That Christ revealed to Saint John as his bosome friend, more secrets; and that the reason why his wri∣tings are more enriched with knowledge, especially of things future than the rest, is, because he had free accesse to Christs breast, wherein all the treasures of wisdome and knowledge were hid. Moreover, asdGuilliandus observeth, S. John lay upon Christs breast for the same reason that Moses appointed in the law the breast of all sacrifices for the Priest: to teach us, that wisedome and understanding, whose seat is the breast and heart, ought to be the speciall portion of the Priests.

Among so many ingenuous reasons of this gesture of Saint John, if wee leane to Saint Austines opinion, the use wee are to make of it is, with re∣verence and religious preparation to read and heare all the bookes of holy Scripture, and especially Saint Johns writings, who received those hidden and heavenly mysteries in Jesus his bosome, which Jesus*heard in his Fa∣thers bosome. All Scriptures are given byedivine inspiration, and are e∣qually pillars of our faith, anchors of our hope, deeds and evidences of our salvation; yet as the heaven is more starry in one part than another, and the seas deeper in one place than another, so it is evident that some passages of Scripture are more lightsome than others, and some books contain in them more profound mysteries and hidden secrets; and most of all S. Johns Gos∣spell, and his Apocalypse, wherein, by Saint Jeromes reckoning, the num∣ber of the mysteries neare answereth the number of the words, quot verba tot sacramenta.

If wee like of Theophylact his reason, wee are from thence to learne, not to adde affliction to the afflicted, not to vexe them that are wounded at the heart; but to stay with flaggons, and comfort with apples those that are in a spirituall swoune, and by no meanes to withhold from them that faint under the burden of their sinnes, the comforts of the Gospell to support them; especially considering, that hee as well killeth a man who ministreth not to him in due time those things which may hold life in him, as hee that slayeth him downe right.

Lastly, if wee sticke with Calvin to the letter, it will discover unto us the errour of many among us, that contend so much for sitting at the Commu∣nion, and a table gesture (as they speake); whereas Christ at his last Supper neither sate nor used any table at all. In eating of the Passeover wee readf〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that Christ with the twelve fell down, or lay downe after the Jewish manner, which was nearer to kneeling than sitting. But what ge∣sture Page  394 precisely hee used in the delivery of the holy mysteries, it is not ex∣pressed in Scripture: most probable it is that he kneeled, or at least that the Apostles kneeled when they received the sanctified Elements from him. For no doubt they who in the first ages immediatly succeeded the Apostles, received the Communion as the Apostles maner was; and that they kneeled, the heathen cavill against them, that they worshipped bread and wine, maketh it in a maner evident. For had they sate or stood in the celebration of the Sa∣crament, the Gentiles could have had no colour to cast an aspersion of bread-worship on them: but because in receiving the sacred elements of bread and wine, they kneeled downe, and religiously called upon God, the Pay∣nims conceived that they adored the creatures of bread and wine. And they among us who cannot distinguish betweene kneeling at the Sacrament, and kneeling to the element; bread worship and the worship of Christ, in re∣ligiously and reverently participating the holy mysteries of his body and blood, are as grossely ignorant in Christian rites as the ancient heathen were. Verely did they consider seriously who it is that under the forme of bread and wine offereth unto them his body and blood, even Christ him∣selfe by his Spirit, and what they at the same time in a thankfull love offer to God, their bodies for a holy and living sacrifice, and what then they re∣ceive, a generall pardon of all their sinnes under the seale of the King of heaven; I perswade my selfe their hearts would smite them, if they stri∣ved not to receive so great a benefit from so gracious a Majesty, as in the most thankfull, so in the most humble manner. But it is not the position of your bodies, but the disposition of your mindes, which in this rare patterne of my text I would commend to your Christian imitation.

The best keeping the Feast of a Saint, is to raise him as it were to life, by expressing his vertues and graces in ours: doe you desire my brethren to be Johns, gracious in the eyes of your Redeemer? make much of those things for which hee was so much made of; love those vertues above o∣thers, which made him beloved above others; decke your soules with those jewels, the beauty whereof enamoured the Sonne of righteousnesse; which are three especially:

  • 1 The Emerauld, the embleme of chastity.
  • 2 The Ruby, the embleme of modesty.
  • 3 The Carbuncle, the embleme of love.

Chastity is resembled by the Emerauld, which, asgRueus writeth, hath a singular vertue to coole the heat of lust; and in this stone was the name of Levi engraven, who revenged the wrong done to the chastity of his si∣ster by thehShechemites.

Modesty is resembled by the Ruby, in whose colour the hue of that vertue appeareth. And who cannot see in the glowing fire of the Carbun∣cle, the ardencie of love? Saint Jerome attributeth the overflowing measure of Christs love to Saint John, to his chastity; Saint Chrysostome to his mo∣desty, Aquinas to his love of Christ.

Saint John lived and dyed a Virgin, and if wee will beleeve the Ancients, the cleerenesse of his complexion answered the purity of his conversation, Page  395 and beauty of body and minde met here in one. The beauty of the body is faire and brittle, like chrystall glasse; but if the gift of spirituall chastity bee incident to it, like the beames of the sunne it: is most lovely in the eyes of God and man. Eriphile was so taken with the sparkling of an orient jewell exhibited to her, that for it she sold her loyalty to her husband, a farre more pretious jewell. Take heed, Beloved, lest for favour of great ones, or worldly honour, or earthly treasure, you put away that jewell, which if you once part withall you can never recover againe. There can bee nothing more hatefull to him that was borne of a pure Virgin, continued a Virgin all his life, and now in heaven is attended by Virgins (iThese are they which were not defiled with women, for they are Virgins; these are they which follow the Lambe whithersoever he goeth:) than to make his members the members of an harlot.

Wee have had the glympse of the Emerauld; let us now view the Ru∣by, Saint Johns modesty; who, though hee might glory truely, if any, in the spirit, For he had seene with his eyes, and heard with his eares, and hand∣led with his hands the Word of life: hee was an eye-witnesse of Christs trans∣figuration, one of the threek pillars mentioned by Saint Paul; he was a Prophet, an Evangelist, and an Apostle, and in greater grace with his Lord and Master than any of the rest, yet hee will bee knowne of no more than that hee was a Disciple, hee concealeth his very name. The modest opini∣on of our knowledge is better than knowledge, and humility in excellency excelleth excellency it selfe. That stone is most resplendent which is set off with a darke foyle; modesty is the darke foyle which giveth lustre to all vertues. How many, saith Seneca had attained to wisedome if they had not thought so, and therefore given over all search after it? how many had proved men of rare and singular parts, if they had not knowne them too soone themselves? Moses face shined, but he knew not of it; the blessed of the Father at the day of judgement shall heare of their good workes, but they shall not acknowledge them, but answere saying,lLord, when saw we thee hungry, or a thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sicke, or in prison, and mi∣nistred unto thee? If wee take no knowledge of our good parts, God will acknowledge them; but if like Narcissus wee know and admire our owne beauty, this very knowledge will metamorphize us, and make us seeme de∣formed in the eyes of God and man.

Wee have viewed the Ruby, let us now cast a glaunce on the Carbun∣cle, the third precious stone, Saint Johns love to Christ. The maine scope of his Gospel is Christs love to us, and the argument of his Epistles our love one to another. As he is stiled the beloved, so he might well be called the loving Disciple: as hee was one of the first that came to Christ, so hee was the last that left him; hee was never from his side, I had almost sayd out of his bosome. Out of confidence of his loyall affection to his Lord, when neither Peter nor any of the rest durst, hee was bold to enquire of our Savi∣our,mwho is it that shall betray thee? Hee followeth Christ to the high Priests hall, to the judgement seat, and to the crosse, where our Lord com∣mended hisn Mother to him, and him to his Mother, and his soule to his Fa∣ther. Love is the load-stone of love, that love that drew Saint Johns heart to Christ drew Christs to him. If thou desire above all things that Christ Page  396 should love thee, love him above all things: love him with all thy heart, whose heart was pierced for thee: love him with all thy soule, whose soule was made an offering for thee: love him with all thy strength, who for thee lost not onely his strength but life also.

Yea, but you may say, how can wee now shew our love to Christ? he is in heaven, and our bounty cannot reach so high; wee have him not here to offer gold, myrrhe, or frankincense, as the wise men did; or minister to him of our substance, as some religious women did; or breake a boxe of pre∣cious oyntment, and poure it on his head, as Mary did; or feast him, as Si∣mon did; or wrap his corps in fine linnen, as Joseph did; wee have not his mother with us, to keepe, cherish, or comfort her, as Saint John did: yet wee have his Spouse, his Word, his Sacraments, his Disciples, his mysti∣call members; and if out of sincere love to him wee honour his Spouse the Church; wee frequent his house, the Temple; wee delight in his Word, the Scriptures; wee come reverently and devoutly to his board, the Com∣munion Table; wee give countenance and maintenance to his Meniall ser∣vants, the Ministers of the Gospell; and relieve his afflicted members, the poore and oppressed among us, wee shall bee as Johns to him, gracious in his eyes; Disciples, nay, which is more, beloved Disciples; yea so beloved, that to our endlesse rest and comfort, wee shall lye in his bosome, not on earth, but in heaven. Which hee grant unto us, whooloved us, and washed our sinnes in his blood, and made us Kings to command, and Priests to offer our dearest affections unto him. To whom, &c.