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Lord and Patron. Cæsar rules by his laws; Christ, by religion. If execution be the life of laws, I am sure religion is the life of execution. In short, religion is the strongest pillar of policy; the base of the palace; the feet and arms of the chair of state ; the frame of the council-board.
As ye love your peace, ye Great Ones, make much of it: plant it, where it is not; enlarge it, where it is : maintain it, at home; encourage it, abroad. And, if distressed Religion shall come, with her face blubbered and her garments rent, wringing her hands and tearing her hair, and shall prostrate herself at the feet of earthly Greatness for lawful succour, with veni opitulari, come and help, as Macedonia in the Acts; woe be to the power, that fails it! and blessed, thrice blessed from heaven be that hand, that shall raise her on her feet, and wipe off her tears, and stretch out itself mightily for her safeguard ! Let me never prosper, if that hand make not that head immortally glorious.
For us, blessed be God, we live here in the warm zone; where the hot beams of the Sun of Righteousness beat right down upon our heads.
But what need I tell your Sacred Majesty, that, in the northwest part of your dominions, there are some that live in the frozen and dark climate of ignorance and superstition ; whose eyes have seldom, if ever, been blest with so much as an oblique irradiation of the Gospel? I know the bowels of your princely compassion cannot but be stirred with the 'misery of these poor Cimmerian souls, that have not so much light as to wish more. Oh, may it please your Gracious Majesty to shine into those darksome corners, by improving your Sovereign Authority to the commanding of a Learned and Powerful Ministry amongst them. Let true religion be settled in them; and true religion shall settle their hearts to your Majesty, more than all conquests, laws, violences, oaths, endearments whatsoever.
And, for these happy regions, which are comfortably illuminated with the saving doctrine of Jesus Christ, may it please you to forbid their impuration, by the noisome fogs and mists of those misopinions, whose very principles are professedly rebellious; as being well assured, that the more your Majesty shall advance the Spiritual Kingdom of Christ, the more he shall advance the strength and glory of your Temporal: the more perfectly he is your Christ, the more unmoveably shall you be his Cæsar. And may he still and ever be yours, and you his, till earth and time be no more; till he shall have delivered up his Mediatory Kingdom into the hands of his Father: To whom, &c.
SAINT PAUL'S COMBAT.
IN TWO SERMONS
PREACHED AT THE COURT TO HIS MAJESTY, IN ORDINARY
I COR, XV. 32.
If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephe
'E9ηριομάχησα. Our Saviour foretold us, that these last days should be quarrelsome. All the world doth either act, or talk' of fighting. Give me leave therefore, to fall upon the common theme of the times; and to tell you of a Holy Combat.
St. Peter tells us, there are many knots in St. Paul's epistles: this may well go for one of them, which is the relation of his conflict at Ephesus.
There are, that have held it literal; and those not mean, nor only modern authors.
Nicephorus tells us a round tale of St. Paul's commitment to prison by Hieronymus the governor of Ephesus; his miraculous deliverance for the Christening of Eubula and Artemilla; his voluntary return to his gaol; his casting to the lion; of the beast couching at the feet of the Saint; of the bail-storm sending away the beholders with broken heads, and the governor with one ear shorn oft; of the Jion's escape to the mountains; (Nic. I. i. c. 25.) It is a wonder in what miut he had it. There was indeed a theatre at Ephesus for such purposes, Acts xix. 29: and, Christianos ad leonem, was a common word; as we find in Tertullian. Ignatius, Tecla, Prisca, and many other blessed martyrs were corn allotted to this mill.
But what is this to St. Paul's Combat? It is one thing, to be cast: to the beasts, as an offender; another thing, to fight with beasts, as a champion; a difference, which I wonder the sharp eyes of Erasmus saw not. Those were forced by the sentence of condemnațion; these voluntaries, as in the Jogo de toros: those were brought to suifer; these came to kill: those naked; these armed. Can
any man be so senseless, as to think that Si. Paul (tricubitalis ille, as Chrysostom calls him) would put himself into the theatre
with his sword and target, to maintain a duel with the lion? Thus he must do; else he did not, according to the letter, Sugionameñv.
But, if it be pleaded, that some bloody sentence might cast him into the theatre to be devoured, and his will. and natural care of self-preservation incited him to his own defence; is it possible, that so faithful a historian as St. Luke should, in his Acts, omit this passage, more memorable than all the rest that he hath recorded?' Indeed St. Paul, who had reason to keep the best register of his own life, hath reported some things of himself, which St. Luke hath not particularized: he tells us of five scourgings, three whippings, three shipwrecks; 2 Cor. xi. 24, 25: whereas St. Luke tells us but of one shipwreck; Acts xxvii: of one scourging; Acts xvi. 23. But so eminent an occurrence as this could not have passed in silence; at least, amongst that catalogue of less dangers, his own pen would not have smothered it.
Yea, let me be bold to say, that this not only was not done, but could not be. Paul was a citizen of Rome: if that privilege saved him from lashes, Acts xxii. 25. much more from the beasts: their contemptible jaws were no death for a Roman.
I am with those Fathers, (Tertullian, Chrysostom, Jerome, Theophylact, others,) who take this metaphorically, of nien in shape, beasts in condition; paralleling it with 2 Tim. iv. 17. I was deli vered out of the mouth of the Lion, that is, Nero: and, with that of the Psalmist, Ne tradas bestiis animas confitentes tibi; Give not unto the beasts the souls, that confess thee, as the Vulgate reads; Psalm lxxiv. 19.
Who then were these beasts at Ephesus? Many and great authors take it of Demetrius's faction and their busy tumult, Acts xis. Neither will I strictly examine, with St. Chrysostom, whether St. Paul sent away this former epistle from Ephesus before those broils of their Diana and her silver-smiths; as may seem to be gathered by conferring of St. Luke's journal with St. Paul's epistle. Others take it of those Ephesian conjurers, Acts xix. Tertullian hits it home; while, in a generality, he construes it of those beasts of the Asiatic pressure, whereof St. Paul speaks 2 Cor. i. 8. That text glosses upon this at large. Turn your eyes to that commentary of Št. Paul: For we would not have you ignorant of our trouble, which came to us in Asia ; that we were pressed out of measure, above strength; insomuch as that we despaired of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves. Lo here the beasts; lo here the combat. Ephesus was the mother-city of Asia: there St. Paul spent three years, with such perpetual and hot bickerings, that his very life was hopeless. As some great conqueror, therefore, desires to have his prime and most famous victory engraven in his last monument, so doth our Apostle single out this Ephesian: ,I have fought with beasts at Ephesus.
My text then shall be this one word ETHEPIOMAXHEA. But, as this word is a compound, so it' compounds my text and discourse of two parts: the first comprehends the BEASTS wherewith St. Paul conflicts; the latter the CONFLICTS that he had with those beasts.
Both of them worthy of your most careful attention. My first subject is harsh, and therefore will need a fair construction.
The world is a wide wilderness, wherein we converse with wild and sayage creatures: we think them men, they are BEASTS. It is contrary to the delusions of lycanthropy. There, he, that is a man, thinks himself a beast: here, he, that is a beast, thinks himself a man; and draws others' eyes into the same error.
Let no man misconstrue me, as if, in a Timon-like or cynic bumour, I were fallen out with our creation. I know what the Psalmist says; Thou hast made man little lower than the angels; Psalm viii. 5: there is but paulò minus. I know some, of whom it is said sicut Angeli, as the Angels of God: yea, yet more; there are those, of whom it is said, Dii estis, ye are gods. Besides these, every renewed man is a saint: his regeneration advances him above the sphere of mere humanity: but, let him be but a very man, that is, a man corrupted, I dare say, though he be set in honour, he is more than compared to the beast ihat perisheth.
Far be it from us then, to cast mire into the face of our Creator. God never made man such as he is: it is our sin, that made our soul to grovel; and, if the mercy of our Maker have not condemned our hands to fore-legs, how can that excuse us from bestiality?
Neither let us be thought to strike grace through the sides of nature. When it pleaseth God to breathe upon us again in our renovation, we cease to be what we made ourselves: then do we uncase the beast, and put on an angel.
It is with depraved man in his impure naturals, that we must maintain this quarrel: we cannot challenge a worse enemy, than what we were; and what, in part, we are; and what, without God's mercy, we should be.
1. Let degenerated nature then fee her best advocate at this bar: he can but plead Shape, Speech, Ratiocination, to make himself no beast: and, if these prove but some juggling mists to make him seem other than he is, he shall be forced to grant himself other than he seems, a BEAST.
(1.) To begin with the Shape. The true essence of Humanity lies not in the outside. God hath hid the Form of every creature deeper; much more of him, that should be reasonable.
Let us give leave to holy Austin's credulity, That a man was, by a piece of an enchanted cheese, turned into an ass: tell me now, ye Philosophers, what creature ye will call this. His soul is the same: the shape is altered. Reason is, where she was; but otherwise attended. If ye dare say, it might be a beast with reason, your best fort is lost. The hide was now rough, the ears long, the hoofs round and hard, and the whole habit bestial: but if reason had not more power to make him no beast, than these outward parts had to make him no man, I have what I would. You must of force therefore say, it was a man clothed with a beast; and so shall fall upon that of Cleanthes, which Epiphanius mentions, that the " soul is the man." VOL, V.
What is the body then, but the Habit of this Spirit, which it may change, or put off without change; as under divers suits we still wear the same skin? If we had been on the scaffold, to see a man challenging the dogs in the disguise of a bear's bide, would we have said, “ Now two beasts are fighting?"
The shape therefore may well belie the substance. Our English Navigations report, that, on some Indian shores, men have been seen with the faces of beasts; and ye know the old verse, Simia quàm similis! Yea, both our stories and the Netherlandish tell us of sea-monsters, that have been taken up in the full form of men: if the outside seemed human, while the inside was mute and reasonless, who would honour that creature with the style of man? What should I tell you, that evil spirits have not seldom appeared in the shapes of men; as that Devil of Endor, in Samuel's likeness? If the outward figure could have made the man, the Prophet had survived his death.
To these let me add, that the shape is changed with disease, or casualty, or age; while the man is the same: the Face, that was fair, is now distorted and morphewed; the Hair, that was yellow or black, turned white or vanished; the Body, that was erect, bowed double; the Skin, that was white and smooth, turned tawny and writheled; and the whole Frame so altered, as if it had been moulded anew, that, while all others mis-know it, he, that dwells in that tenement, can scarce know it to be his own : and yet the owner will not say, with that mortified spirit, Ego non sum ego.
What shall we say of the proud monarch of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, during the seven years of his transformation? His outward shape was not changed: his heart was. It was the word of his vision, Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; Dan. iv. 16. What was he now, for the time, but a beast, even in his own sense? His diet was with the oxen; his hair like eagle's feathers; his nails like birds' claws: all was, obbrutescebat animus, “his heart was bestial” in a case of human flesh.
It is not therefore the Shape, that can forbid man to be a beast. And it was not for nothing, that the Cynic sought in the full streets for a man; and would not allow that acclamation to Doxippus, in the Olympian games, Dorippus viros vicit.
(2) Let us see what Speech and reason can do; Ratio et Oratio.
Every living creature hath a peculiar sound, whereby to express itself; and that, not without some variety of signification and change of note. If man only speak articulately words of voluntary formation and arbitrary imposition; yet even brutes have such natural language, as whereby each of the same kind do mutually understand other: and what can our words obtain more? If an Apollonius Tyanæus could construe them in their sense, it is all one as if he listened to his gossips.
But, besides the natural tone, have we not heard birds taught so to imitate the voice of men, that they have received replies, as not distinguished? Do not our books tell us of the Hyæna, that learns the shepherd's name, and calls him forth to his cost; so cunningly