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enjoins such virtues, which do violence to nature, that our proclivity to sin is occasioned by the accident, and is caused by ourselves; whatever mischief Adam did to us, we do more to ourselves. We are taught to be revengeful in our cradles, and are taught to strike our neighbour, as a means to still our frowardness, and to satisfy our wranglings. Our nurses teach us to know the greatness of our birth, or the riches of our inheritance; or they learn us to be proud, or to be impatient, before they learn us to know God, or to say our prayers. And then, because the use of reason comes at no definite time, but insensibly and divisibly, we are permitted such acts with impunity too long ; deferring to repute them to be sins, till the habit is grown strong, natural, and masculine. And because from the infancy it began in inclinations, and tender overtures, and slighter actions, Adam is laid in the fault, and original sin did all: and this clearly we therefore confess', that our faults may seem the less, and the misery be pretended natural, that it may be thought to be irremediable, and therefore we not engaged to endeavour a cure; so that the confession of our original sin is no imitation of Christ's humility in suffering circumcision, but too often an act of pride, carelessness, ignorance, and security.
8. At the circumcision, his parents imposed the holy name told to the Virgin by the angel, “ his name was called Jesus ;" a name above every name. For, in old times, God was known by names of power, of nature, of majesty. But his name of mercy was reserved till now, when God did purpose to pour out the whole treasure of his mercy by the mediation and ministry of his holy Son. And because God
Neglectis urenda filix ipvascitur agris.-Horat, 1. s. iii. 37. Antè palatum eorum quàin os instituimus. Gaudemus, si quid licentiùs dixerint. Verba ne Alexandrinis quidem permittenda deliciis risu et osculo excipimus. Fit ex his consuetudo, deinde natura. Discunt hæc miseri, antequam sciunt vitia esse.-Quintil. lib. i. c. 2.
Tanta est corruptela malæ consuetudinis, ut ab ea tanquam igniculi extinguantur à natura dati, exorianturque et confirmentur contraria vitia.Cicero, 3. T. Q. 2.
Ειώθασι γαρ οι πλείστοι των ανθρώπων, ουχ όντως επαινείν και τιμήν τους εκ των πατέρων των ευδοκιμόυντων γεγονότας, ως τους εκ των δυσκόλων και χαλεπών, ηνπες φαίνονTat under opeosos torc yoveūtu ÖYTES.-- Isocrates Ep. ad Timoth. p. 746. ed. Lange.
gave to the holy Babe the name, in which the treasures of mercy were deposited, and exalted “ this name above all names, we are taught that the purpose of his counsel was, to exalt and magnify his mercy above all his other works ; he being delighted with this excellent demonstration of it, in the mission, and manifestation, and crucifixion, of his Son; he hath changed the ineffable name into a name utterable by man, and desirable by all the world; the majesty is all arrayed in robes of mercy, the tetragrammatons, or adorable mystery of the patriarchs, is made fit for pronunciation and expression, when it becometh the name of the Lord's Christ. And if Jehovah be full of majesty and terror, the name Jesus is full of sweetness and mercy. It is God clothed with circumstances of facility, and opportunities of approximation. The great and highest name of God could not be pronounced truly, till it came to be finished with a guttural, that made up the name given by this angel to the holy Child ; nor God received or entertained by men, till he was made human and sensible, by the adoption of a sensitive nature, like vowels pronunciable by the intertexture of a consonant. Thus was his person made tangible, and his name utterable, and his mercy brought home to our necessities, and the mystery made explicate, at the circumcision of this holy Babe.
9. But now God's mercy was at full sea, now was the time when God made no reserves to the effusion of his mercy. For to the patriarchs, and persons of eminent sanctity and employment in the elder ages of the world, God, according to the degrees of his manifestation or present purpose, would give them one letter of this ineffable name. For the reward, that Abraham bad in the change of his name, was, that he had the honour done him to have one of the letters of Jehovah put into it; and so had Joshua, when he was a type of Christ, and the prince of the Israelitish armies : and when God took away one of these letters, it was a curse.
8 Nomen enim Jesn Hebraicè prolatum nihil aliud est nisi Tergayzáppator vocatum per Schin. Videat, cui animus est, multa de mysterio hujus nominis apud Galatinum. Ad eundem sensum fuit vaticinium Sibyllæ :
Δή τότε γας μεγάλοιo Θεού τούς ανθρώποισιν
Τέσσαρα φωνήεντα φέρων, το δ' άφωνον εν αυτώ,
now he communicated all the whole name to this holy Child, and put a letter more to it, to signify that he was the glory of God,“ the express image of his Father's person,” God eternal; and then manifested to the world in his humanity, that all the intelligent world, who expected beatitude, and had treasured all their hopes in the ineffable name of God, might find them all, with ample returns, in this name of Jesus, which God “ hath exalted above every name,
even above that, by which God, in the Old Testament, did represent the greatest awfulness of his majesty. This miraculous name is above all the powers of magical enchantments, the nightly rites of sorcerers, the secrets of Memphis, the drugs of Thessaly, the silent and mysterious murmurs of the wise Chaldees, and the spells of Zoroastres. This is the name, at which the devils did tremble, and pay their enforced and involuntary adorations, by confessing the Divinity, and quitting their possessions and usurped habitations. If our prayers be made in this name, God opens the windows of heaven, and rains down benediction : at the mention of this name, the blessed apostles, and Hermione, the daughter of St. Philip, and Philotheus, the son of Theophila, and St. Hilarion, and St. Paul the Eremite, and innumerable other lights, who followed hard after the Sun of Righteousness, wrought great and prodigious miracles : “ Signs and wonders and healings were done by the name of the holy Child Jesus.” This is the
This is the name, which we should engrave in our hearts, and write upon our foreheads, and pronounce with our most harmonious accents, and rest our faith upon, and place our hopes in, and love, with the overflowings of charity, and joy, and adoration. And as the revelation of this name satisfied the hopes of all the world, so it must determine our worshippings, and the addresses of our exterior and interior religion; it being that name, whereby God and God's mercies are made presential to us, and proportionate objects of our religion and affections.
Most holy and ever-blessed Jesu, who art infinite in essence,
glorious in mercy, mysterious in thy communications, affable and presential in the descents of thy humanity; I
adore thy glorious name, whereby thou hast shut up the abysses, and opened the gates of heaven, restraining the power of hell, and discovering and communicating the treasures of thy Father's mercies. O Jesu, be thou a Jesus unto me, and save me from the precipices and ruins of sin, from the expresses of thy Father's wrath, from the miseries and insufferable torments of accursed spirits, by the power of thy majesty, by the sweetnesses of thy mercy, and sacred influences and miraculous glories of thy name. I adore and worship thee in thy excellent obedience and humility, who hast submitted thy innocent and spotless flesh to the bloody covenant of circumcision. Teach me to practise so blessed and holy a precedent, that I may be humble, and obedient to thy sacred laws, severe and regular in my religion, mortified in my body and spirit, of circumcised heart and tongue; that what thou didst represent in symbol and mystery, I may really express in the exhibition of an exemplar, pious, and mortified life, cutting off all excrescences of my spirit, and whatsoever may minister to the flesh, or any of its ungodly desires ; that now thy holy name is called upon me, I may do no dishonour to the name, nor scandal to the institution, but may do thee honour and worship, and adorations of a pure religion, O most holy and ever-blessed Jesu. Amen.
Of the Virtue of Obedience.
1. THERE are certain excellencies, either of habit or consideration, which spiritual persons use to call general ways; being a dispersed influence into all the parts of good life, either directing the single actions to the right end, or managing them with right instruments, and adding special excellencies and formalities to them, or morally inviting to the repetition of them. But they are like the general medicaments in physic, or the prime instruments in mathematical disciplines : such as are the consideration of the Divine presence, the example of Jesus, right intention; and such also
is the virtue of obedience, which perfectly unites our actions to God, and conforms us to the Divine will, which is the original of goodness; and sanctifies and makes a man an holocaust to God, which contains in it eminently all other graces, but especially those graces, whose essence consists in a conformity of a part or the whole, (such are faith, humility, patience, and charity ;) which gives quietness and tranquillity to the spirit, and is an antepast of Paradise, (where their jubilee is the perpetual joys of obedience, and their doing is the enjoying the Divine pleasure ;) which adds an excellency and lustre to pious actions, and hallows them which are indifferent, and lifts up some actions from their unhallowed nature, to circumstances of good and of acceptation. If a man says his prayers, or communicates out of custom, or without intuition of the precept and Divine commandment; the act is like a ship returning from her voyage without her venture and her burden, as unprofitable as without stowage. But if God commands us either to eat or to abstain, to sleep or to be waking, to work or to keep a Sabbath ; these actions, which are naturally neither good nor evil, are sanctified by the obedience, and ranked amongst actions of the greatest excellency. And this also was it which made Abraham's offer to kill his son, and the Israelites' spoiling the Egyptians, to become acts laudable, and not unjust : they were acts of obedience, and therefore had the same formality and essence with actions of the most spiritual devotions. God's command is all our rule for practice; and our obedience, united to the obedience of Jesus, is all our title to acceptance.
2. But by obedience, I do not here mean the exterior execution of the work; for so, obedience is no grace, distinct from the acting any or all the commandments : but besides the doing of the thing, (for that also must be presupposed,) it is a sacrifice of our proper will to God, a choosing the duty, because God commands it. For beasts also carry burdens, and do our commands by compulsion; and the fear of slaves, and the rigour of task-masters, made the number of bricks to be completed, when Israel groaned, and cried to God for help. But sons, that labour under the sweet paternal regiment of their fathers, and the influence of love, they love the precept, and do the imposition, with the same purposes and compliant affections, with which the fathers made it. When Christ