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God?” what should I say to this, but increpa, Domine. As for our household sermons, our auditors are like the fruit of a tree, in an unseasonable year; or like a wood new felled, that hath some few spires left for standers some poles' distance; or like the tythe sheaves in a field, when the corn is gone, eis, dúo, tpeis, &c., as he said. It is true, ye have more sermons, and more excellent, than all the courts under heaven put together ; but as Austin said well, Quid mihi proderit bonas res non utenti bene? “what am I the better for a good thing, if I use it not well !” Let me tell you, all these forcible means, not well used, will set you the further off from heaven. If the chapel were the Bethesda of promotion, what thronging would there be into it? yea, if it were but some maskhouse, wherein a glorious, though momentary show were to be presented, neither white staves nor halberts could keep you out: behold here, ye are offered the honour to be, by this seed of regeneration, the sons of God. The kingdom of heaven, the crown of glory, the sceptre of majesty ; in one word, eternal life is here offered and performed to you. Oh let us not so far forget ourselves, as in the ordinances of God to contemn our own happiness: but let us know the time of our visitation ; let us wait reverently and intentively upon this Bethesda of God, that when the angel shall descend and move the water, our souls may be cured, and, through all the degrees of grace, may be carried to the full height of their glory.
CONTEMPLATION XII. The First Part of the Meditations upon the Transfiguration of Christ
. A Sermon preached at Havering-Bower, before King James. THERE is not in all divinity a higher speculation than this of Christ transfigured: suffer me therefore to lead you up by the hand into mount Tabor, for nearer to heaven ye cannot come while ye are upon earth, that you may see him glorious upon earth, the region of his shame and abasement, who is now glorious in heaven, the throne of his majesty. He that would not have his transfiguration spoken of till he were raised, would have it spoken of all the world over, now that he is raised and ascended, that by this momentary glory we may judge of the eternal. The circumstances shall be to us as the skirts of the hill, which we will climb up lightly; the time, place, attendants, company: the time, after six days: the place, a high hill apart: the attendants, Peter, James, John: the company, Moses and Elias : which when we have passed, on the top of the hill shall appear to us that sight which shall once make us glorious, and in the mean time happy
All three evangelists accord in the terminus a quo that it was immediately after those words, “ There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the Son of man come in his kingdom:" wherein, methinks the act comments upon the words. Peter, James, and John, were these some; they tasted not of death till they saw this heavenly image of the royalty of Christ glorified. But the terminus quo disagrees a little, Matthew and Mark say, after six ; Luke, post fere octo; which, as they are easily reconciled by the usual distinction of inclusive and exclusive, necessary for all computations ; and Luke's about eight, so methinks, seems to intimate God's seventh day, the Sabbath: why should there be else so precise mention of six days after, and about eight, but to imply that day which was betwixt the sixth and eighth? God's day was fittest for so divine a work ; and well might that day, which imported God's rest and man's glory, be used for the clear representation of the rest and glory of God and
But in this conjecture, for aught I know, I go alone; I dare not be too resolute : certainly it was the seventh, whether it were that seventh, the seventh after the promise of the glory of his kingdom exhibited: and this, perhaps, not without a mystery ; “God teacheth both by words and acts,” saith Hilary," that after six ages of the world should be Christ's glorious appearance, and our transfiguration with him." But I know what our Saviour's farewell was, oùx úuwv yvūval,“ it is not for us to know ;” but if we may not know, we may conjecture; yet not “above that we ought, " saith, St. Paul ; we may not super sapere, as Tertullian's phrase is.
For the place, tradition hath taken it still for Tabor; I list not to cross it without warrant: this was a high hill indeed: thirty furlongs high, saith Josephus ; mira rotunditate sublimis, saith Jerome: and so steep, that some of our English travellers, that have desired to climb it of late, have been glad to give it up in the midway, and to measure the rest with their eyes. Doubtless, this hill was a symbol of heaven, being near it, as in situation, so in resemblance. Heaven is expressed usually by the name of God's hill: and nature, or this appellation, taught the heathens to figure it by their Olympus. All divine affairs, of any magnificence, were done on hills: on the hill of Sinai was the Law delivered, on the hill of Moriah was Isaac to be sacrificed: whence Abraham's posy is, In monte providebitur. On the hill of Rephidim stood Moses with the rod of God in his stretched hand, and figured him crucified upon the hill, whom Joshua figured victorious in the valley; on the hills of Ebal and Gerizim were the blessings and curses, on Carmel was Elijah's sacrifice; the phrontisteria, schools, or universities of the prophets, were still Ramah and Gibeath, excelsa, “high places :" who knows not that on the hill of Sion stood the temple ? “I have looked up to the hills,” saith the Psalmist : and idolatry, in imitation, had their hill altars. On the mount of Olives was Christ wont to send
and sent up himself: and here, Luke saith, he went up to a high hill to pray; not for that God makes difference of place, to whose immensity heaven itself is a valley: it was a heathenish conceit of those Aramites, that God is Deus Montium, “the God of the mountains :" but because we are commonly more disposed to good by either the freedom of our scope to heaven, or the awfulness, or solitary silence of places, which (as one saith) strikes a kind of adoration into us; or by our local removal from this attractive body of the earth: howsoever, when the body sees itself above the earth, the eye of the mind is more easily raised to our heaven. It is good to take all advantage of place, (setting aside superstition,) to further our devotion : Aaron and Hur were in the mountain with Moses, and held up his hands : Aaron, say some allegorists, is mountainous; Hur, fiery: heavenly meditation, and the fire of charity, must lift up our prayers to God. As Satan carried up Christ to a high hill, to tempt him, so he carries up himself to be freed from temptation and distraction : if ever we would be transfigured in our dispositions, we must leave the earth below, and abandon all worldly thoughts, venite, ascendamus, &c. “O come, let us climb up to the hill, where God sees,” or is seen, saith devout Bernard; “O all ye cares, distractions, thoughtfulness, labours, pains, servitudes, stay me here with this ass, my body, till I with the boy, that is my reason and understanding, shall worship and return, saith the same father, wittingly alluding to the journey of Abraham for his sacrifice.
Wherefore then did Christ climb up this high hill ? Not to look about him, but, saith St. Luke, a pogavarOai, to pray ; not for prospect, but for devotion, that his thoughts might climb up yet nearer to heaven. Behold how Christ entered upon all his great works with prayers
in his mouth. When he was to enter into tħat great work of his humiliation in his passion, he went into the garden to pray; when he is to enter into this great work of his exaltation in his transfiguring, he went up into the mountain to pray : he was taken up from his knees to both. Oh noble example of piety and devotion to us! He was God that prayed : the God that he prayed to he might have commanded; yet he prayed, that we men might learn of him to pray to him! What should we men dare to do without prayers, when he that was God would do nothing without them? The very heathen poet could say, A Jove principium : and which of those versemongers ever durst write a ballad, without imploring of some deity ? which of the heathens durst attempt any great enterprise, insalutato numine,"without invocation and sacrifice ?" Saul himself would play the priest, and offer a burnt-offering to the Lord, rather than the Philistines should fight with him unsupplicated; as thinking any devotion better than none; and thinking it more safe to sacrifice without a priest, than to fight without prayers. “Ungirt, unblest,” was the old word ; as not ready till they were girded, so not till they had prayed. And how dare we rush into the affairs of God or the state ; how dare we thrust ourselves into actions, either perilous or important, without ever lifting up our eyes and hearts unto the God of heaven ? except we would say, as the devilish malice of Surius slanders that zealous Luther, Nec propter Deum hæc res cæpta est, nec propter Deum finietur, &c. “This business was neither begun for God, nor shall be ended for him.” How can God bless us, if we implore him not? how can we prosper,
if he bless us not? How can we hope ever to be transfigured from a lump of corrupt flesh, if we do not ascend and pray? As the Samaritan woman said weakly, we may seriously ; The well of mercies is deep: if thou hast nothing to draw with, never look to taste of the waters of life. I fear the worst of men, Turks, and the worst Turks, the Moors, shall rise up in judgment against many Christians, with whom it is a just exception against any witness by their law, that he hath not prayed six times in each natural day. Before the day break, they pray for