2. What the Lord then may give to be ministered unto you, do ye with earnest attention, that is, with hunger, receive; and when I shall have spoken it, ye will doubtless with sound taste5 approve what is placed before you out of the Lord’s store. The Lord Jesus knew whereby the soul of man, that is, the rational mind, made after the image of God, could be satisfied: only, that is, by Himself. This He knew, and knew that it was as yet without that fulness. He knew that He was manifest, and He knew that He was hidden. He knew what in Him was exhibited, what concealed. He knew all this. “How great,” says the Psalm, “is the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden to them that fear Thee; which Thou hast wrought for them that hope in Thee!”6 “Thy sweetness” both great and manifold “hast Thou hidden to them that fear Thee.” If thou hidest it to them that fear Thee, to whom dost Thou open it? “Thou hast wrought it for them that hope in Thee.” A twofold question has arisen, but either is solved by the other. If any one inquires after the other, what is this, “Thou hast hidden it to them that fear Thee; wrought it for them that hope in Thee”? Are they that fear, and they that hope, different? Do not the very same who fear God, hope in God? Who hopeth on Him who doth not fear Him? Who in a godly sort feareth Him, and hath not hope in Him? Let this then first be solved. Somewhat would I say concerning those who hope and those who fear.
3. The Law hath fear, Grace hope. But what difference is there between the Law and Grace, since the Giver both of the Law and Grace is One? The Law alarmeth him who relieth on himself, Grace assisteth him who trusteth in God. The Law, I say, alarmeth; do not make light of this because it is brief; weigh it well, and it is considerable. Look well at what I have said, take what we minister, prove wherefrom we take it. The Law alarmeth him who relieth on himself, Grace assisteth him who trusteth in God. What saith the Law? Many things: and who can enumerate them? I bring forward one small and short precept from it which the Apostle hath brought forward, a very small one; let us see who is sufficient7 for it. “Thou shalt not lust.”8 What is this, Brethren? We have heard the Law; if there be no grace, thou hast heard thy punishment. Why dost thou boast to me whosoever thou art that hearing this dost rely upon thyself, why dost thou boast to me of innocence? Why dost thou flatter thyself thereupon? Thou canst say, “I have not plundered the goods of others;” I hear, I believe, perhaps I even see it, thou dost not plunder the goods of others. Thou hast heard, “Thou shalt not lust.” “I do not go in to another man’s wife;” this again I hear, believe, see. Thou hast heard, “Thou shalt not lust.” Why dost thou inspect thyself all round without, and dost not inspect within? Look in, and thou wilt see another law in thy members Look in, why dost thou pass over thyself? Descend into thine own self. Thou wilt “see another law in thy members resisting the law of thy mind, and bringing thee into captivity in the law of sin which is in thy members.”9 With good reason then is the sweetness of God hidden to thee. The law placed in thy members, resisting the law of thy mind, bringeth thee into captivity. Of that sweetness which to thee is hidden, the holy Angels drink; thou canst not drink and taste that sweetness, captive as thou art. “Thou hadst not known concupiscence, unless the Law had said, Thou shalt not lust.” Thou heardest, fearedst, didst try to fight, couldest not overcome. For “sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought death.” Surely ye recognise them, they are the Apostle’s words. “Sin taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.”10 Why didst thou vaunt thyself in thy pride? Lo, with thine own arms hath the enemy conquered thee. Thou verily, didst look for a commandment as a defence: and, lo, by the commandment the enemy hath found an occasion of entering in. “For sin taking occasion by the commandment,” he saith, “deceived me, and by it slew me.”11 What means what I said, “With thine own arms hath the enemy conquered thee”? Hear the same Apostle going on, and saying; “Wherefore the Law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”12 Make answer now to the revilers13 of the Law: make answer on the Apostle’s authority, “The commandment is holy, the Law holy, the commandment just and good. Was then that which is good, made death unto me? God forbid! But sin that itmight appear sin, by that which is good wrought death in me.”14 Why is this but because on receiving the commandment thou didst fear, not love? Thou fearedst punishment, thou didst not love righteousness. Whoso feareth punishment, wisheth, if it were possible, to do what pleaseth him, and not to have what he feareth.God forbiddeth adultery, thou hast coveted another’s wife, thou dost not go in unto her, thoudost not do so, opportunity is given thee, thou hast time, a favourable place is open, witnesses are absent, yet thou dost not do it, wherefore? Because thou fearest the punishment. But no one will know it. Will not God know it? So it is clear, because God knoweth what thou artabout to do, thou doest it not; but here thou fearest the threatenings of God, not lovest His commandments. Why dost thou not do it? Because if thou do, thou wilt be cast into hell fire. It is the fire thou fearest. O if thou didst love chastity, thou wouldest not do it, even though thou mightest be altogether unpunished. If God were to say to thee, “Lo, do it, I will not condemn thee, I will not condemn thee to hell fire, but I will withhold My Face from thee.” If thou did it not because of this threat, it would be from the love of God that thou didst not do it, not from the fear of judgment. But thou wouldest do it, perhaps I mean thou wouldest do so; for it is not my place to judge. If thou do it not on this principle because thou abhorrest the contamination of adultery, because thou lowest His precepts, that thou mayest obtain15 His promises, and not because thou fearest His condemnation, it is the grace which maketh saints that aideth thee; it is all of grace, ascribe it not to thine own self, attribute it not to thine own strength. Thou actest from delight in it, well; thou actest in charity, well; I assent, I agree. Charity worketh by thee, when thou actest with thy will. At once dost thou taste sweetness, if thou hope on the Lord.
4. But whence hast thou this charity, if yet thou hast it? for I am afraid lest even yet it is through fear thou doest it not, and lest thou seem great in thine own eyes. Now if it is through charity that thou doest it not, thou art truly great. Hast thou charity? “I have,” you say. Whence? “From myself.” Far art thou from sweetness, if thou hast it from thine own self. Thou wilt love thine own self, because thou wilt love that from which thou hast it. But I will convict thee that thou hast it not. For in that thou dost think that thou hast so great a thing from thine own self, by that very fact I do not believe thou hast it. For if thou hadst, thou wouldest know from whence thou hadst it. Hast thou charity from thyself, as if it were some light, some little thing? “If thou shouldest speak with the tongues of men and Angels, but have not charity, thou wouldest be a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. If thou shouldest know all mysteries, and have all knowledge, and all prophecy, and all faith so that thou couldest remove mountains, but not have charity,” these things could not profit thee. “If thou shouldest distribute all thy goods to the poor, and deliver up thy body to be burned, but not have charity, thou wouldest be nothing.”16 How great is this charity, which if it be wanting, all things profit nothing! Compare it not to thy faith, not to thy knowledge, not to thy gift of tongues,17 to lesser things, to the eye of thy body, the hand, the foot, the belly, to any one lowest member compare charity, are these least things to be in any way compared to charity? So then the eye and nose thou hast from God, and hast thou charity from thine own self? If thou hast given thyself charity which surpasseth all things, thou hast made God of light account with thee. What more can God give thee? Whatever He may have given, is less. Charity which thou hast given thyself, surpasseth all things. But if thou hast it, thou hast not given it to thyself. “For what hast thou which thou hast not received?”18 Who gave to me, who gave to thee? God. Acknowledge Him in His gifts, that thou feel not His condemnation. By believing the Scriptures, God hath given thee charity, a great boon, charity, which surpasseth all things. God gave it thee, “because the charity of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts;” by thine own self, perhaps? God forbid; “by the Holy Ghost, who hath been given us.”19
5. Return with me to that captive, return with me to my proposition. “The Law alarmeth him that relieth on himself, grace assisteth him who trusteth in God.” For look at that captive. “He seeth another law in his members resisting the law of his mind, and leading him captive in the law of sin, which is in his members.”20 Lo, he is bound, lo, he is dragged along, lo, he is led captive, lo, he is subjected. What hath that profited him, “Thou shalt not lust”? He hath. heard, “Thou shalt not lust;” that he might know his enemy, not that he might overcome him. “For he had not known concupiscence,” that is, his enemy, “unless the Law had said, Thou shalt not lust.”21 Now thou hast seen the enemy, fight, deliver thyself, make good thy liberty, let the suggestions of pleasure be kept down, unlawful delight be utterly destroyed. Arm thyself, thou hast the Law, march on, conquer if thou canst. For what good is it that through the little portion of God’s grace thou hast already, thou “delightest in the Law of God after the inward man? But thou seest another law in thy members resisting the law of thy mind;” not “resisting” yet powerless for aught, but “leading thee captive in the law of sin.” Behold, whence to thee who fearest that “plentifulness of sweetness is hidden!” to him that feareth it “is hidden,” how is it” wrought” out for him that “trusteth”?22 Cry out under thine enemy, for that thou hast an assailant, thou hast an Helper too, who looketh upon thee as thou tightest, who helpeth thee in difficulty; but only if He find thee “trusting;” for the proud He hateth. What then wilt thou cry under this enemy? “Wretched man that I am!”23 Ye see it already, for ye have cried out. Be this your cry, when haply thou art distressed under the enemy, say ye, in your inmost heart say, in sound faith say, “Wretched man that I am!” Wretched that I am! “Therefore wretched,” because“I.” “Wretched man that I am,” both because “I,” and because “man.” For “he is disquieted in vain.”24 For though “man walketh in the Image;”25 yet, “wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Wilt thou thyself? where is thy strength, where is thy confidence? Of a surety thou both criest out, and art silent; silent, that is, from extolling thyself, not from calling upon God. Be silent, and cry out. For God Himself too is both silent, and crieth aloud; He is silent from judgment, He is not silent from precept; so be thou too silent from elation, not from invocation; lest God say to thee, “I have been silent, shall I be silent always?”26 Cry out therefore, “O wretched man that I am!” Acknowledge thyself conquered, put thine own strength to shame, and say, “Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” What did I say above? The Law alarmeth him that relieth upon himself. Behold, man relied upon himself, he attempted to fight, he could not get the better, he was conquered, prostrated, subjugated, led captive. He learnt to rely upon God, and it remaineth that him whom the Law alarmed while he relied upon himself, grace should assist now that be trusteth in God. In this confidence he saith, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord.”27 Now see the sweetness, taste it, relish it; hear the Psalm, “Taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”28 He hath become sweet to thee, for that He hath delivered thee. Thou wast bitter to thine own self, when thou didst rely upon thyself. Drink sweetness, receive the earnest of so great abundance.
6. The disciples then of the Lord Jesus Christ while yet under the Law had to be cleansed still, to be nourished still, to be corrected stilI, to be directed still. For they still had concupiscence; whereas the Law saith, “Thou shalt not lust.”29 Without offence to those holy rams, the leaders of the flock, without offence to them I would say it, for I say the truth: the Gospel relates, that they contended which of them should be the greatest, and whilst the Lord was yet on earth, they were agitated by a dissension about pre-eminence.30 Whence was this, but from the old leaven? whence, but from the law in the members, resisting the law of the mind? They sought for eminence; yea, they desired it; they thought which should be the greatest; therefore is their pride put to shame by a little child.31 Jesus calleth unto him the age of humility to tame the swelling desire. With good reason then when they returned too, and said, “Lord, behold even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name.” (It was for a nothing that they rejoiced; of what importance was it compared to that which God promised?) The Lord, the Good Master, quieting fear, and building up a firm support, said to them, “In this rejoice not that the devils are subject unto you.” Why so? Because “many will come in My Name, saying, Behold, in Thy Name we have cast out devils; and I will say to them, I know you not. In this rejoice not, but rejoice because your Dances are written in heaven.”32 Ye cannot yet be there, yet notwithstanding ye are already written there. Therefore” rejoice.” So that place again, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name.”33 For what ye have asked, in comparison with that which I am willing to give, is nothing. For what have ye asked in My Name? That the devils should be subject unto you? “In this rejoice not,” that is, what ye have asked is nothing; for if it were anything, He would bid them rejoice. So then it was not absolutely nothing, but that it was little in comparison of that greatness of God’s rewards. For the Apostle Paul was not really not anything; and yet in comparison of God, “Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth.”34 And so I say to you, and I say to myself, both to myself and you I say, when we ask in Christ’s Name for these temporal things. For ye have asked undoubtedly. For who doth not ask? One asketh for health, if he is sick; another asketh for deliverance, if he is in prison; another asketh for the port, if he is tossed about at sea; another asketh for victory, if he is in conflict with an enemy; and in the Name of Christ he asketh all, and what he asketh is nothing. What then must be asked for? “Ask in My Name.”35 And He said not what, but by the very words we understand what we ought to ask. “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. Ask, and ye shall receive, in My Name.” But what? Not nothing; but what? “That your joy may be full;” that is, ask what may suffice you. For when thou askest for temporal things, thou askest for nothing. “Whoso shall drink of this water, shall thirst again.”36 He letteth down the watering pot of desire into the well, he taketh up whereof to drink, only that he may thirst again. “Ask, that your joy may be full;” that is, that ye may be satisfied, not feel delight only for a time. Ask what may suffice you; speak Philip’s language, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.”37 The Lord saith to you, “Have I been so long time with you, and have ye not known Me? Philip, he that seeth Me, seeth the Father also.”38 Render then thanks to Christ, made weak for you that are weak, and make ready your desires39 for Christ’s Divinity, to be satisfied therewith. Turn we to the Lord, etc.
Sermon XCVI. [CXLVI. Ben.]
On the words of the gospel, John. xxi. 16, “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?” etc.
1. Ye have observed, beloved, that in to-day’s lesson it was said by the Lord to Peter in a question, “Lovest thou Me?” To whom he answered, “Thou knowest, Lord, that I love thee.” This was done a second, and a third time; and at each several reply, the Lord said, “Feed My lambs.”1 To Peter did Christ commend His lambs to be fed, who fed even Peter himself. For what could Peter do for the Lord, especially now that He had an Immortal Body, and was about to ascend into heaven? As though He had said to him, “‘Lovest thou Me?’ Herein show that thou lovest Me, ‘Feed my sheep.’“ So then, Brethren, do ye with obedience hear that ye are Christ’s sheep; seeing that we on our part with fear hear, Feed My sheep”? If we feed with fear, and fear for the sheep;these sheep how ought they to fear for themselves? Let then carefulness be our portion, obedience yours; pastoral watchfulness our portion, the humility of the flock yours. Although we too who seem to speak to you from a higher place, are with fear beneath your feet; forasmuch as we know how perilous an account must be rendered of this as it were exalted seat. Wherefore, dearly beloved, Catholic plants, Members of Christ, think What a Head ye have! Children of God, think What a Father ye have found. Christians, think What an Inheritance is promised you. Not such as on earth cannot be possessed by children, save when their parents are dead. For no one on earth possesses a father’s inheritance, save when be is dead. But we whilst our Father liveth shall possess what He shall give; for that our Father cannot die. I add more, I say more, and say the truth; our Father will Himself be our Inheritance.
2. Live consistently, especially ye candidates of Christ, recently baptized, just regenerated, as I have admonished you before, so say I now, and give expression to my solicitude; for the present lesson of the Gospel hath forced upon me a greater fear: take heed to yourselves, do not imitate evil Christians. Say not I will do this, for many of the faithful do it. This is not to procure a defence for the soul;but to look out for companions unto hell. Grow ye in this floor of the Lord; herein ye will find good men to please you, if ye yourselves are good. For are ye our private property? Heretics and schismatics have made their own private property out of what they have stolen from the Lord, and would feed, not Christ’s flocks, but their own against Christ. It is true indeed, they place His title on these their spoils, that their robberies may be as it were maintained by the title of His Power. What doeth Christ when such as these are converted, who have received the title of His Baptism out of the Church? He casteth out the spoiler, He doth not efface the title, and taketh possession of the house; because He hath found His title there. What need is there that He should change His Own Name? Do they take heed to what the Lord said to Peter, “Feed My lambs, feed My sheep”? Did He say to him, “Feed thy lambs;” or, “Feed thy sheep”? But for them who are shut out, what said He in the Song of Songs, unto the Church? The Spouse speaking to the Bride, saith, “If thou know not thyself, O thou fair one among women, go forth.”2 As though He said, “I do not cast thee out, ‘go forth, if thou know not thyself, O thou fair one among women,’ if thou know not thyself in the mirror of divine Scripture, if thou give not heed, O thou fair woman, to the mirror which with no false lustre deceiveth thee; if thou know not that of thee it is said, ‘Thy glory shall be above all earth;’3 that of thee it is said, ‘I will give thee nations for thine inheritance, and the limits of the earth for thy possession;’4 and other innumerable testimonies which set forth the Catholic Church. If then thou know not these, thou hast no part in Me, thou canst not make thyself My heir. ‘Go forth then in the footsteps of the flocks’ not in the fellowship of the flock; and feed thy goats, not as it was said to Peter, ‘My sheep.’“ To Peter it was said, “My sheep;” to schismatics it is said,” thy goats.” In the oneplace “sheep,” in the other “goats;” in the one place “Mine,” in the other” thine.” Recollect the right Hand and the left of our Judge; recollect where the goats shall stand, and where the sheep;5 and it will be plain to you where is the right hand, where the left, the white and the black, the lightsome, and the darksome, the fair and the deformed, that which is about to receive the kingdom, and that which is to find everlasting punishment.
Sermon XCVII. [CXLVII. Ben.]
On the same words of the gospel of John. xxi. 15, “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?” etc.
1. Ye remember that the Apostle Peter, the first of all the Apostles, was disturbed at the Lord’s Passion. Of his own self disturbed, but by Christ renewed. For he was first a bold presumer, and became afterwards a timid denier. He had promised that he would die for the Lord, when the Lord was first to die for him. When he said then, “I will be with Thee even unto death,” and “I will lay down my life for Thee;” the Lord answered him, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for Me? Verily I say unto thee, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.”1 They came to the hour; and because that Christ was God, and Peter a man, the Scripture was fulfilled, “I said in my panic, Every man is a liar.”2 And the Apostle says, “For God is true, and every man a liar.”3 Christ true, Peter a liar.
2. But what now? The Lord asketh him as ye heard when the Gospel was being read, and saith to him, “Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these?” He answered and said, “Yea Lord Thou knowest that I love Thee.”4 And again the Lord asked this question, and a third time He asked it. And when he asserted in reply his love, He commended to him the flock. For each several time the Lord Jesus said to Peter, as he said, “I love thee;” “Feed My lambs,” feed My “little sheep.” In this one Peter was figured the unity of all pastors, of good pastors, that is, who know that they feed Christ’s sheep for Christ, not for themselves. Was Peter at this time a liar, or did he answer untruly that he loved the Lord? He made this answer truly; for he made answer of that which he saw in his own heart. Whereas when he said, “I will lay down my life for Thee,” he would presume on future strength. Now every man knows it may be what sort of man he is at the time when he is speaking; what he shall be on the morrow, who knows? So then Peter turned back his eyes to his own heart, when he was asked by the Lord, and in confidence made answer of what he saw there: “‘Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.’ What I tell Thee, Thou knowest; what I see here in my heart, Thou seest also.” Nevertheless, he did not venture to say what the Lord had asked. For the Lord had not simply said, “Lovest Thou me?” but had added, “Lovest thou Me more than these?” that is, “Lovest thou Me more than these here do?” He was speaking of the other disciples; Peter could not say ought but, “I love Thee;” he did not venture to say, “more than these.” He would not be a liar a second time. It were enough for him to bear testimony to his own heart; it was no duty of his to be judge of the heart of others.
3. Peter then was true; or rather was Christ true in Peter? Now when the Lord Jesus Christ would, He abandoned Peter, and Peter was found a man; but when it so pleased the Lord Jesus Christ, He filled Peter, and Peter was found true. The Rock (Petra) made Peter true, for the Rock was Christ. And what did He announce to him, when he answered a third time that he loved Christ, and a third time the Lord commended His little sheep to Peter? He announced to him beforehand his suffering. “When thou wast young,” saith He, “thou girdedst thyself, and wentest whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”5 The Evangelist hath explained to us Christ’s meaning. “This spake He,” saith he, “signifying by what death he should glorify God;”6 that is that he was crucified for Christ; for this is, “Thou shalt stretch forth thine hands.” Where now is that denier? Then after this the Lord Christ said, “Follow Me.” Not in the same sense as before, when he called the disciples. For then too He said, “Follow Me;” but then to instruction, now to a crown. Was he not afraid to be put to death when he denied Christ? He was afraid to suffer that which Christ suffered. But now he must be afraid no more. For he saw Him now Alive in the Flesh, whom he had seen hanging on the Tree. By His Resurrection Christ took away the fear of death; and forasmuch as He had taken away the fear of death, with good reason did He enquire of Peter’s love. Fear had thrice denied, love thrice confessed. The7 threefoldness of denial, the forsaking of the Truth; the threefoldhess of confession, the testimony of love.parparpar