Imágenes de páginas

not, as the days which the Lord hath made. When are joy and triumphs seasonable, if not at feasts? but not excess.



I know not how feasts are kept at the court, but, as Job, when he thought of the banquets of his sons, says, “It may be they have sinned ;" so let me speak at peradventures, if sensual immoderation should have set her foot into these Christian feasts, let me at least say with indulgent Eli, non est bona fama, filii, It is no good report, my sons.” Do you think that St. Paul's Rule, non in comessationibus et ebrietate, “not in surfeiting and drunkenness," was for work-days only? The Jews had a conceit that on their sabbath and feast days, the devils fled from their cities ad montes umbrosos, “to the shady mountains." Let it not be said that on our Christian feasts they should e montibus aulam petere; and that he seeks and finds not loca arida but madida. God forbid that Christians should sacrifice to Bacchus, instead of the ever-living God; and that, on the day when you should have been blown up by treacherous fire from earth to heaven, you should fetch down the fire of God's anger from heaven on you by swilling and surfeits; God forbid: God's service is unum necessarium, one thing necessary," saith Christ. Homo ebrius, superflua creatura, drunken man is a superfluous creature," saith Ambrose. How ill do these two agree together! This I have been bold to say out of caution, not of reproof.

Thus much that there was a feast of the Jews. Now what feast it was is questionable ; whether the Pasch, as Irenæus and Beza with him thinks on the warrant of John iv. 35, where our Saviour had said, “Yet four months, and then comes harvest ;" or whether Pentecost, which was fifty days from the shaking of the sheaf, (that was Easter Sunday,) as Cyril, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, and some later; or whether one of the September feasts, as some others. The excellency of the feast makes for Easter, the feast kar' boxúv; the number of inter

[ocr errors]


preters for Pentecost; the number of feasts for September. For as God delighted in the number of seven, the seventh day was holy, the seventh year, the seventh seventh year; so he showed it in the seventh month, which reserves his number still, September; the first day whereof was the sabbath of trumpets, the tenth dies expiationum, and on the fifteenth began the feast of Tabernacles for seven days. It is an idleness to seek that which we are never the better when we have found. What if Easter? what if Tabernacles? what if Pentecost? what loss, what gain is this? Magna nos molestia Johannes liberasset, si unum adjecisset verbum, “ John had eased us of much trouble, if he had added but one word,” saith Maldonat. But for us, God give them sorrow that love it: this is one of St. Paul's diaTraparpißaì, “vain disputations,” that he forbids his Timothy; yea (which is the subject thereof), one of them which he calls μωράς και απαιδεύτoυς ζητήσεις, , “ foolish and unlearned questions," 2 Tim. ii. 23, quantum mali facit nimia subtilitas, “how much mischief is done by too much subtilty !” saith Seneca. These are for some idle cloisterers, that have nothing to do but to pick straws in divinity ; like to Appian, the grammarian, that with long discourse would pick out of Homer's first verse of his Iliads, and the first word uñviv, the number of the books of Iliads and Odysseys: or like Didymus xadkévtepos, that spent some of his four thousand books, about which was Homer's country, who was Æneas's true mother, what the age of Hecuba, how low it was betwixt Homer and Orpheus; or those wise critics of whom Seneca speaks, that spent whole volumes whether Homer or Hesiod were the elder, Non profuturam scientiam tradunt, “they vent an unprofitable skill,” as he said. Let us be content with the learned ignorance of what God hath concealed; and know, that what he hath concealed will not avail us to know.

Rather let us inquire why Christ would go up to the feast. I find two silken cords that drew him up thither ; 1. His obedience. 2. His desire of manifesting his glory.

First, It was a general law, all males must appear thrice a year before the Lord. Behold, he was the God whom they went up to worship at the feast, yet he goes up to worship. He began his life in obedience, when he came in his mother's belly to Bethlehem, at the taxation of Augustus, and so he continues it. He knew his due. “Of whom do the kings of the earth receive tribute ? of their own or of strangers ? then their sons are free." Yet he that would pay tribute to Cæsar, will also pay this tribute of obedience to his Father. He that was above the law, yields to the law : Legi satisfacere voluit etsi non sub lege; “He would satisfy the law, though he were not under the law.” The Spirit of God says, “He learned obedience in that he suffered.” Surely also he taught obedience in that he died. This was his apérov ļoti to John Baptist, “It becomes us to fulfil all righteousness.” He will not abate his Father one ceremony. It was dangerous to go up to that Jerusalem which he had left before for their malice ; yet now he will up again. His obedience drew him up to that bloody feast wherein himself was sacrificed; how much more now that he might sacrifice ! What can we plead to have learned of Christ if not his first lesson, obedience? The same proclamation that Gideon made to Israel, he makes still to us, “ As ye see me do, so do ye;" whatsoever therefore God enjoins us, either immediately by himself, or mediately by his deputies, if we will be Christians, we must so observe as those that know themselves bound to tread in his steps that said, “In the volume of thy book it is written of me, I desired to do thy will, O God,” Psal. xl. 6. “I will have obedience (saith God) and not sacrifice ; but where sacrifice is obedience, he will have obedience in sacrificing: therefore Christ went up to the feast. The second motive was the manifestation of his glory ; if we be the light of the world, which are so much snuff, what is he that is the Father of lights? It was not for him to be set under the bushel of Nazareth, but on the table of Jerusalem : thither and then was the confluence of all the tribes; many a time had Christ passed by this man before, when the streets were empty (for there he lay many years), yet heals him not till now. He, that sometimes modestly steals a miracle with a vide ne cui dixeris, “see thou tell no man,” that no man might know it, at other times does wonder on the scaffold of the world, that no man might be ignorant, and bids proclaim it on the house-tops. It was fit the world should be thus publicly convinced, and either won by belief, or lost by inexcusableness. Good, the more common it is, the better: "I will praise thee (saith David) in ecclesia magna, “in the great congregation;" glory is not got in corners : no man, says the envious kinsman of Christ, keeps close and would be famous ; no, nor that would have God celebrated. The best opportunities must be taken in glorifying him. He, that would be crucified at the feast, that his death and resurrection might be more famous, will, at the feast, do miracles, that his divine power might be approved openly. Christ is flos campi, non horti, “the flower of the field and not of the garden,” saith Bernard. God cannot abide to have his graces smothered in us. “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart,” saith the Psalmist. Absalom, when he would be insigniter improbus, “notoriously wicked,” does his villany publicly in the eyes of the sun, under no curtain but heaven. He that would do notable service to God, must do it conspicuously. Nicodemus gained well by Christ, but Christ got nothing by him, so long as, like a night-bird, he never came to him but with owls and bats. Then he began to be a profitable disciple, when he durst oppose the Pharisees in their condemnation of Christ, though indefinitely: but most, when in the night of his death the light of his faith brought him openly to take down the sacred corpse before all the gazing multitude, and to embalm it. When we confess God's name with the Psalmist, before kings; when kings, defenders of the faith, profess their religion in public and everlasting monuments to all nations, to all times, this is glorious to God, and in God to them. It is no matter how close evils be, nor how public good is.

II. This is enough for the chronography; the topography follows. I will not here stand to show you the ignorance of the vulgar translation in joining probatica and piscina together, against their own fair Vatican copy, with other ancient: nor spend time to discuss whether αγορά or πύλη be here understood for the substantive of apopaticń ; it is more likely to be that sheep-gate spoken of in Ezra : nor to show how ill piscina in the Latin answers the Greek κολυμβήθρα; ; ours turns it a pool, better than any Latin word can express it: nor to show you, as I might, how many public pools were in Jerusalem ; nor to discuss the use of this pool, whether it were for washing the beasts to be sacrificed, or to wash the entrails of the sacrifice, whence I remember Jerome fetches the virtue of the water, and in his time thought he discerned some redness, as if the blood spilt four hundred

years before could still retain its first tincture in a liquid substance; besides, that it would be a strange swimming pool that were brewed with blood, and this was κολυμβήθρα. This conceit arises from the error of the construction, in mismatching kolvußnopa with Trpoßatikń. Neither will I argue whether it should be Bethsida, or Bethzida, or Bethsheda, or Bethesda.

If either you or myself knew not how to be rid of time, we might easily wear out as many hours in this pool as this poor impotent man did years. But it is edification that we affect, and not curiosity. This pool had five porches. Neither will I run here with St. Austin into allegories, that this pool was the people of the Jews, aquæ multe, populus multus; and

« AnteriorContinuar »