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nour, and glory, and power, be to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for evermore.
II. Thus our speech of Christ's Last Word is finished. His LAST ACT accompanied his words: our speech must follow it. Let it not want your devout and careful attention; He bowed, and gave up the ghost.
The Cross was a slow death, and had more pain than speed; whence a second violence must dispatch the crucified: their bones must be broken, that their hearts might break. Our Saviour stays not death's leisure, but willingly and courageously meets him in the way; and, like a champion that scorns to be overcome, yea knows he cannot be, yieldeth in the midst of his strength, that he might by dying vanquish death. He bowed, and gave up: not bowing, because he had given up; but because he would. He cried with a loud voice, saith Matthew. Nature was strong, he might have lived; but he gave up the ghost, and would die, to shew himself Lord of Life and Death. wondrous example! he, that gave life to his enemies, gave up his own: he gives them to live, that persecute and hate him; and himself will die the while for those that hate him. He bowed, and gave up: not they; they might crown his head, they could not bow it: they might vex his spirit, not take it away: they could not do that without leave; this they could not do, because they had no leave. He alone would bow his head, and give up his ghost: I have power to lay down my life. Man gave him not his life; man could not bereave it: No man tukes it from me. Alas, who could? The high-priest's forces, when they came against him armed, he said but, I am he; they flee, and fall backward. How easy a breath dispersed his enemies! whom he might as easily have bidden the earth, yea hell to swallow, or fire from heaven to devour. Who commanded the devils and they obeyed, could not have been attached by men: he must give not only leave, but power to apprehend himself, else they had not lived to také him. He is laid hold of; Peter fights: Put up, saith Christ; Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to my Father, and he will give me more than twelve legions of angels? What an army were here! more than threescore and twelve thousand angels, and every angel able to subdue a world of men. He could, but he would not be rescued: he is led by his own power, not by his enemies; and stands now before Pilate, like the scorn of men, crowned, robbed, scourged, with an Ecce homo; Yet thou couldest have no power against me, unless it were given thee from above.
Behold, he himself must give Pilate power against himself, else he could not be condemned: he will be condemned, lifted up, nailed; yet no death without himself. He shall give his soul an offering for sin; Isaiah liii. 10. No action, that savours of constraint, can be, meritorious *: he would deserve, therefore he would suffer and die. He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. O gracious
* Quod emittitur voluntarium est: quod amittitur necessarium. Ambr.
and bountiful Saviour! he might have kept his soul within his teeth, in spite of all the world; the weakness of God is stronger than men: and, if he had but spoken the word, the heavens and earth should have vanished away before him: but he would not. Behold, when he saw, that impotent men could not take away his soul, he gave it up; and would die, that we might live. See here a Saviour, that can contemn his own life for ours; and cares not to be dissolved in himself, that we might be united to his Father. Skin for Skin, saith the Devil, and all that he hath a man will give for his life. Lo here, to prove Satan a liar, skin and life and all hath Christ Jesus given for us.
We are besotted with the earth, and make base shifts to live; one with a maimed body, another with a perjured soul, a third with a rotten name: and how many would rather neglect their soul, than their life; and will rather renounce and curse God, than die! It is a shame to tell: many of us Christians dote upon life, and tremble at death; and shew ourselves fools in our excess of love, cowards in our fear. Peter denies Christ thrice, and forswears him: Marcellinus twice casts grains of incense into the idol's, fire: Ecebolius turns thrice: Spira revolts and despairs: “Oh, let me live," saith the fearful soul. Whither dost thou reserve thyself, thou weak and timorous creature? or what wouldest thou do with thyself? Thou hast not thus learned Christ: he died voluntarily for thee; thou wilt not be forced to die for him: he gave up the ghost for thee; thou wilt not let others take it from thee for him; thou wilt not let him take it for himself.
When I look back to the first Christians, and compare their zealous contempt of death with our backwardness, I am at once amazed and ashamed. I see there even women, the feebler sex, running, with their little ones in their arms, for the preferment of Martyrdom; and ambitiously striving for the next blow. I see holy and tender virgins, chusing rather a sore and shameful death, than honourable espousals. I hear the blessed martyrs, entreating their tyrants and tormentors for the honour of dying. Ignatius, amongst the rest, fearing lest the beasts will not devour him; and vowing the first violence to them, that he might be dispatched *. And what less courage was there in our memorable and glorious forefathers of the last of this age and do we, their cold and feeble offspring, look pale at the face of a fair and natural death; abhor the violent, though for Christ? Alas, how have we gathered rust with our long peace! Our unwillingness is from inconsideration, from distrust. Look but up to Christ Jesus upon his Cross, and see him bowing his head, and breathing out his soul, and these fears shall vanish: he died, and wouldest thou live? he gave up the ghost, and wouldest thou keep it? whom wouldest thou follow, if not thy Redeemer? If thou die not, if not willingly, thou goest contrary to him, and shalt never meet him. Though thou shouldest every day die a death fot him, thou couldest never requite his own death *; and dost thou stick at one? as
* Quod si.venire noluerint, ego vim faciam ut devorer.
Every word hath his force; both to him and thee: he died, which is the Lord of Life, and Commander of Death; thou art but a tenant of life, a subject of death: and yet it was not a dying, but a giving up; not of a vanishing and airy breath, but of a spiritual soul, which, after separation, hath an entire life in itself; He gave up the ghost : he died, that hath both overcome, and sanctified, and sweetened death. What fearest thou? He hath pulled out the sting and malignity of death: if thou be a Christian, carry it in thy bosom, it hurts thee not. Darest thou not trust thy Redeemer? If he had not died, Death had been a tyrant; now he is a slave. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Yet the Spirit of God saith not, He died, but gave up the ghost. The very Heathen poet saith, He“ durst not say that a good man dies.” It is worth the noting, methinks, that when St. Luke would describe to us the death of Ananias and Sapphira, he saith, EZÉLUEE, he expired: but when St. John would describe Christ's death, he saith, wepéSWAE Tò mvūna, he gave up the ghost : how? how gave he it up, and whither? so, as after a sort he retained it: his soul parted from his body; his Godhead was never distracted either from soul or body: this union is not in nature, but in person. If the natures of Christ could be divided, each would have his subsistence; so there should be more persons : God forbid! One of the natures thereof may have a separation in itself; the soul from the body: one nature cannot be separate from other, or either nature from the person. If you cannot conceive, wonder: the Son of God hath wedded unto himself our Humanity, without all possibility of divorce: the body hangs on the Cross; the soul is yielded; the Godhead is eviternally united to them both, acknowledges, sustains them both. The soul, in his agony, feels not the presence of the Godhead; the body upon the Cross feels not the presence of the soul. Yet, as the Fathers of Chalcedon say truly, eduétus, exwpíçws, indivisibly, inseparably is the Godhead with both of these, still and ever, one and the same person.
“ The Passion of Christ,” as Augustin, “was the sleep of his Divinity:" so I may say, The death of Christ was the sleep of his Humanity. If he sleep, he shall do well, said that disciple, of Lazarus. Death was too weak to dissolve the eternal bonds of this heavenly conjunction. Let not us, Christians, go too much by sense: we may
be firmly knit to God, and not feel it. Thou canst not hope to be so near thy God, as Christ was; unted personally: thou canst not fear, that God should seem more absent from thee, than he did from his own Son t: yet was he still one with both body and soul, when they were divided from themselves; when he was absent to sense, he was present to faith; when absent in vision, yet in union one and the
* Si per singulos dies pro eo moreremur, qui nos dilexit, non sic debitum er. olreremus. Chrys.
# Quantumcunque te dejeceris, humilior non eris Christo. Hier.
same: so will he be to thy soul, when he is at worst. He is thine, and thou art his: if thy hold seem loosened; his is not. When temptations will not let thee see him, he sees thee and possesses thee: only believe thou against sense, above hope; and, though he kill thee, yet trust in him.
Whither gave he it up? Himself expresses ;. Father, into thy hands; and, This day thou shalt be with me in paradise. It is justice to restore, whence we receive; Into thy hands. He knew where it should be both safe and happy : " True, he might be bold,” thou
sayest, the Son with the Father.” The servants have done so; David before him, Stephen after him. And, lest we should not think it our common right; Father, saith he, I will that those thou hast given me, may be with me, even where I am : he wills it; therefore it must be.
It is not presumption, but faith, to charge God with thy spirit; neither can there ever be any believing soul so mean, that he should refuse it: all the fear is in thyself. How canst thou trust thy jewel with a stranger? What sudden familiarity is this? God hath been with thee, and gone by thee; thou hast not saluted him: and now, in all the haste, thou bequeathest thy soul to him. Our what acquaintance? How desperate is this carelessness ! If thou have but a little money, whether thou keep it, thou layest it up in the temple of trust; or, whether thou let it, thou art sure of good assurance, sound bonds. If but a little land, how carefully dost thou make firm conveyances to thy desired heirs ! If goods, thy Will hath taken secure order, who shall enjoy them. We need not teach you, Citizens, to make sure work for your estates. children, thou disposest of them in trades, with portions. Only of the soul, which is thyself, thou knowest not what shall become. The world must have it no more: thyself wouldst keep it; but thou knowest thou canst not: Satan would have it, and thou knowest not whether he shall; thou wouldst have God have it, and thou knowest not whether he will: yea, thy heart is now ready with Pharaoh to say, Who is the Lord ? O the fearful and miserable estate of that man, that must part with his soul, he knows not whither! which if thou wouldest avoid, as this very warning shall judge thee if thou do not, be acquainted with God in thy life, that thou mayest make him the Guardian of thy soul in thy death. Given up it must needs be, but to him that hath governed it: if thou have given it to Satan in thy life, how canst thou hope God will in thy death entertain it? Did you not hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? how then come ye to me now in this time of your tribulation, said Jephthah to the men of Gilead. No, no; either give up thy soul to God while he calls for it in his word, in the provocations of his love, in his afflictions, in the holy motions of his Spirit to thine; or else, when thou wouldst give it, he will none of it, but as a Judge to deliver it to the Tormentor.
What should God do with an unclean, drunken, profane, proud, covetous soul? Without holiness, it is no seeing of God. Depart from ine, ye wicked, I know ye not : Go to the gods you have
served.” See how God is even with men! they had, in the time of the Gospel, said to the Holy One of Israel, Depart from us ; now, in the time of Judgment, he saith to them, Depart from me. They would not krow God, when they might; now, God will not know them, when they would.
Now therefore, Beloved, if thou wouldst not have God scorn the offer of thy death-bed, fit thy soul for him in thy health ; furnish it with grace; inure it to a sweet' conversation with the God of Heaven: then mayest thou boldly give it up, and he shall as graciously receive it, yea, fetch it by his angels to his glory.
He gave up the Ghost. We must do as he did: not all with the same success. Giving up, supposes a receiving, a returning. This inmate, that we have in our bosoin, is sent to lodge here for a time; may not dwell here always. The right of this tenure is the Lord's, not ours : as he said of the hatchet, It is but lent, it must be restored : it is ours to keep; his, to dispose and require. See and consider, both our privilege and charge. It is not with us, as with brute creatures : we have a living ghost to inform us, which yet is not ours, (and, alas, what is ours, if our souls be not!) but must be given up to him that gave it.
Why do we live as those, that took no keep of so glorious a guest ? as those, that should never part with it? as those, that think it given them to spend, not to return with a reckoning?
If thou hadst no soul, if a mortal one, if thine own, if never to be required, how couldst thou live but sensually ? Oh, remember but who thou art, what thou hast, and whither thou must; and thou shalt live like thyself, while thou art, and give up thy ghost confidently, when thou shalt cease to be,
Neither is there here more certainty of our departure, than comfort. Carry this with thee to thy death-bed; and see if it can refresh thee, when all the world cannot give thee one dram of comfort. Our spirit is our dearest riches: if we should lose it, here were just cause of grief. Howl and lament, if thou thinkest thy soul perisheth: it is not forfeited, but surrendered. How safely doth our soul pass through the gates of death, without any im . peachment, while it is in the hand of the Almighty! Woe were us, if he did not keep it, while we have it; inuch more, when we restore it! We give it up to the same hands, that created, infused, redeemed, renewed; that doth protect, preserve, establish, and will crown it: I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day. O secure and happy estate of the godly! O blessed exchange of our condition ! while our soul dwells in our breast, how is it subject to infinite miseries, distempered with passions, charged with sin, vexed with temptations! above, none of these: how should it be otherwise? This is our pilgrimage; that, our home: this, our wilderness; that, our land of promise: this, our bondage; that, our kingdom: our impotency causeth this our sorrow.
When our soul is once given up, what evil shall reach unto heayen, and wrestle with the Almighty? Our lothness to give up