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plants it with gracious motions, he waters it with his word, yea with his own blood, he weeds it by wholesome censures. O blessed Saviour, what is it that thou neglectest to do for this selected inclosure of thy church? As in some respect thou art the true Vine, and the Father the husbandman; so also in some other we are the vine, and thou art the husbandman. Oh be thou such to me as thou appearedst unto Magdalen: break up the fallows of my nature, implant me with grace, prune me with meet corrections, bedew me with the former and latter rain : do what thou wilt to make me fruitful.

Still the good woman weeps, and still complains, and passionately inquires of thee, O Saviour, for thyself. How apt are we, if thou dost never so little vary from our apprehensions, to misknow thee, and to wrong ourselves by our misopinions! All this while hast thou concealed thyself from thine affectionate client; thou sawest her tears, and heardest her importunities and inquiries : at last (as it was with Joseph, that he could no longer contain himself from the notice of his brethren) thy compassion causes thee to break forth into a clear expression of thyself, by expressing her name unto herself, “ Mary.” She was used as to the name, so to the sound, to the accent. Thou spakest to her before, but in the tone of a stranger; now of a friend, of a master. good Shepherd, thou callest thy sheep by their

name, and they know thy voice. What was thy call of her, but a clear pattern of our vocation ?

As her, so thou callest us; first, familiarly, effectually. She could not begin with thee otherwise than in the compellation of a stranger: it was thy mercy to begin with her. That correction of thy Spirit is sweet and useful; “Now after ye have known God, or, rather, are known of him.” We do know thee, O God, but our active knowledge is after our passive; first we are known of thee, then we know thee that knewest us. And as our knowledge,

Like a

so is our calling, so is our election ; thou beginnest to us in all, and most justly sayest, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” When thou wouldst speak to this devout client as a stranger, thou spakest aloof; “Woman, whom seekest thou ? Now, when thou wouldest be known to her, thou callest her by her name, “Mary.” General invitations and common mercies are for us as men; but, where thou givest grace as to thine elect, thou comest close to the soul, and winnest us with dear and particular intimations.

That very name did as much as say, Know him of whom thou art known and beloved, and turns her about to thy view and acknowledgment. “She turned herself and saith unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master." Before, her face was towards the angels; this word fetches her about, and turns her face to thee, from whom her misprision had averted it. We do not rightly apprehend thee, O Saviour, if any creature in heaven or earth can keep our eyes and our hearts from thee. The angels were bright and glorious ; thy appearance was homely, thy habit mean: yet, when she heard thy voice, she turns her back upon the angels, and salutes thee with a Rabboni, and falls down before thee, in a desire of an humble amplexation of those sacred feet, which she now rejoices to see past the use of her odours.

Where there was such familiarity in the mutual compellation, what means such strangeness in the charge; “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father ?” Thou wert not wont, O Saviour, to make so dainty of being touched : it is not long since these very same hands touched thee in thine anointing; the bloody-fluxed woman touched thee; the thankful penitent in Simon's house touched thee. What speak I of these? The multitude touched thee, the executioners touched thee; and, even after thy resurrection, thou didst not stick to say to thy disciples, “Touch me, and see;" and to invite Thomas to put his fingers into thy side: neither is it long after this before thou sufferest the three Marys to touch and hold thy feet. How then sayest thou, “ Touch me not !” Was it in a mild taxation of her mistaking ? as if thou hadst said, “ Thou knowest not that I have now an immortal body, but so demeanest thyself towards me, as if I were still in my wonted condition ; know now that the case is altered: howsoever indeed I have not yet ascended to my Father, yet this body of mine, which thou seest to be real and sensible, is now impassible, and qualified with immortality; and therefore worthy of a more awful veneration than heretofore. Or was it a gentle reproof of her dwelling too long in this dear hold of thee, and fixing her thoughts upon thy bodily presence ; together with an implied direction of reserving the height of her affection for thy perfect glorification in heaven? Or, lastly, was it a light touch of her too much haste and eagerness in touching thee, as if she must use this speed in preventing thine ascension, or else be endangered to be disappointed of her hopes ? As if thou hadst said, Be not so passionately forward and sudden in laying hold of me, as if I were instantly ascending ; but know that I shall stay some time with you upon earth, before my going up to my Father. O Saviour, even our well-meant zeal in seeking and enjoying thee may be faulty ; if we seek thee where we should not, on earth ; how we should not, unwarrantably. There may be a kind of carnality in spiritual actions. “If we have heretofore known thee after the flesh, henceforth know we thee so no more.” That thou livedst here in this shape, that colour, this stature, that habit, I should be glad to know ; nothing that concerns thee can be unuseful. Could I say, There thou satest, here thou layest, here and thus thou wert crucified, here buried, here settest thy last foot; I should with much contentment see and recount these memorials of thy presence; but if I shall so fasten my thoughts upon

these, as not to look higher to the spiritual part of thine achievements, to the power and issue of thy resurrection, I am never the better.

No sooner art thou risen than thou speakest of ascending ; as thou didst lie down to rise, so didst thou rise to ascend: that is the consummation of thy glory, and ours in thee. Thou, that forbadest her touch, enjoinedst her errand; “Go to my brethren, and say, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

The annunciation of thy resurrection and ascension is more than a private fruition ; this is for the comfort of one, that for the benefit of many. To sit still and enjoy is more sweet for the present; but to go and tell is more gainful in the sequel. That great angel thought himself

, as he well might, highly honoured, in that he was appointed to carry the happy news unto the blessed virgin, thy holy mother, of her conception of thee her Saviour: how honourable must it needs be to Mary Magdalen, that she must be the messenger of thy second birth, thy resurrection, and instant ascension! How beautiful do the feet of those deserve to be, who bring the glad tidings of peace and salvation! What matter is it, O Lord, if men despise where thou wilt honour ?

To whom then dost thou send her ? brethren.” Blessed Jesu, who are those ? Were they not thy followers ? Yea, were they not thy forsakers ? yet still thou stylest them “my brethren.” Oh admirable humility! Oh infinite mercy! How dost thou raise their titles with thyself ; at first they were thy servants, then disciples, a little before thy death they were thy friends ; now after thy resurrection they were thy brethren. Thou, that wert exalted infinitely higher from mortal to immortal, descendest so much lower to call them brethren who were before friends, disciples, servants. What do we stand upon the terms of our poor inequality, when the Son of God stoops so low as to call us brethren ? But, O

Go tell my

mercy without measure! why wilt thou, how canst thou, O Saviour, call them brethren, whom, in their last parting, thou foundest fugitives ? did they not run from thee? did not one of them rather leave his inmost coat behind him, than not be quit of thee? did not another of them deny thee, yea, abjure thee? and yet thou sayest, “Go tell my brethren.” It is not in the power of the sins of our infirmity to unbrother us : when we look at the acts themselves, they are heinous ; when at the persons, they are so much more faulty as more obliged ; but when we look at the mercy of thee who hast called us, now “Who shall separate us?” When we have sinned, thy dearness hath reason to aggravate our sorrows; but when we have sorrowed, our faith hath no less reason to uphold us from despairing : even yet we are brethren. Brethren in thee, O Saviour, who art descending for us; in thee, who hast made thy Father ours, thy God our God. He is thy Father, by eternal generation, our Father by his gracious adoption ; thy God by unity of essence, our God by his grace and election.

It is this propriety wherein our life and happiness consisteth: they are weak comforts that can be raised from the apprehension of thy general mercies. What were I the better, O Saviour, that God were thy Father, if he be not mine? Oh do thou give me a particular sense of my interest in thee, and thy goodness to me; bring thou thyself home to me, and let me find that I have a God and Saviour of my own. It is fit I should mark thy order ; first, my Father,

Even so, Lord, he is first thine, and in thine only right ours. It is in thee that we are adopted, it is in thee that we are elected; without thee God is not only a stranger, but an enemy to us. Thou only canst make us free, thou only canst make

Let me be found in thee, and I cannot fail of a Father in heaven.

then yours.

us sons.

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