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he never gave him over, till he had accomplished his purpose in him.

Whether this grace, which God presents so, be irresistible or no, whether man be not perverse enough to resist this grace, why should any perverse or ungracious man dispute? Hath any man felt a temptation so strong upon himself, but that he could have given another man reason enough to have kept him from yielding to that temptation? Hath any man felt the grace of God work so upon him at any time, as that he hath concurred fully, entirely with that grace, without any resistance, any slackness? New fashions in men, make us doubt new manners; and new terms in divinity were ever suspicious in the church of God, that new doctrines were hid under them. Resistibility, and irresistibility of grace, which is every artificer's wearing now, was a stuff that our fathers wore not, a language that pure antiquity spake not. They knew God's ordinary proceeding, they knew his common law, and they knew his chancery. They knew his chief justice Moses, that denounced his judgments upon transgressors of the law; and they knew his chancellor Christ Jesus, into whose hands he had put all judgments, to mitigate the rigour and condemnation of the law. They knew God's law, and his chancery: but for God's prerogative, what he could do of his absolute power, they knew God's pleasure, nolumus disputari: it should scarce be disputed of in schools, much less served in every popular pulpit to curious and itching ears; least of all made table-talk, and household discourse. Christ promises to come to the door, and to knock at the door, and to stand at the door, and to enter if any man open'; but he does not say, he will break open the door: it was not his pleasure to express such an earnestness, such an irresistibility in his grace, so. Let us cheerfully rely upon that; his purpose shall not be frustrated; his ends shall not be prevented; his ways shall not be precluded: but the depth of the goodness of God, how much good God can do for man; yea the depth of the illness of man, how much ill man can do against God, are such seas, as, if it be not impossible, at least it is impertinent, to go about to sound them.

Now, what God hath done, and will do for the most heinous

1 1 Revel. iii.

offenders, we consider in this man: first, as he was execrable to men, a thief; and then, as he execrated God, a blasphemer. Now this thief is ordinarily taken, and so, in all probability, likely to have been a bloody thief, a murderer: for, for theft only, their laws did not provide so severe an execution as hanging upon the cross. We find that Judas, who was a thief, made it a law upon himself, by executing himself, to hang a thief; but it was not the ordinary justice of that country. First, then, he had been an enemy to the well-being of mankind, by injuring the possession, and the propriety, which men have justly in their goods, as he was a thief; and he had been an enemy to the very being of mankind, if he were a murderer.

And certainly, the sin of theft alone would be an execrable, a detestable sin to us all, but that it is true of us all, Si videbas furem, currebas cum eo: We see that all men are thieves in their kinds, in their courses; but yet we know, that we ourselves are so too. We may have heard of princes that have put down stews, and executed severe laws against licentiousness; but that may have been to bring all the licentiousness of the city into the court. We may have heard sermons against usury; and this may have been, that they themselves might put out their money the better. We may cry out against theft, that we may steal the safelier. For we steal our preferment, if we bring no labour, nor learning to the service; and we steal our learning, if we forsake the fountains, and the fathers, and the schools, and deal upon rhapsoders, and common-placers, and method-mongers. Let him that is without sin, cast the first stone; let him that hath stolen nothing, apprehend the thief: rather, let him that hath done nothing but steal, apprehend the thief, and present himself there, where this thief found mercy, at the cross of Christ. Every man hath a sop in his mouth; his own robberies will not let him complain of the theft of excessive fees in all professions; of the theft of preventing other men's merit with their money; (which is a robbing of others, and themselves too;) of the theft of stealing affections, by unchaste solicitations; or of the great theft of stealing of hearts from princes, and souls from God, by insinuations of treason, and superstition, in a corrupt religion in every

* Psalm L.

corner. No man dares complain of other's thefts, because every man is felo de se; not only that himself hath stolen, but that he hath stolen away himself. Yea, he is homicida sui, a murderer of himself. Omnis peccator homicida3, Every sinner is a murderer. Quæris quem occiderit? Doth he plead not guilty, or doth he put me to prove whom he hath murdered? Si quid ad elogii ambitionem faciat, non inimicum, non extraneum, sed seipsum. If he think it an honour to him, let him know, it is not an enemy, it is not a stranger, that he hath murdered, but himself, and his own soul. And such a thief, such a murderer was this; but not only such, but a public malefactor too; and so execrable to men which is his first indisposition.

He had also execrated God; he had reviled Christ. This evangelist St. Luke does not say so, that both the thieves reviled Christ: but that acquits not this thief, that St. Luke does not say it, no more than it acquits them both, that St. John does not say, that either of them reviled Christ. And then both the other evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Mark, charge them both with it. The same (that is, those reviling words which others had used) the thieves that were crucified cast in his teeth. And, they also that were crucified with him, reviled him. Athanasius in his sermon Contra omnes hæreses, makes no doubt of it: Duo latrones; altero execrante, altero dicente, quid execramur? One thief said to the other, Why do we revile Christ? so that de facto, he imputes it to them both; both did it. Origen says, Conveniens est, imprimis ambos blasphemasse; not only that that is the most convenient exposition, but that it was the most convenient way to God, for expressing mercy, and justice too, that both should have reviled him. Origen admits a conveniency in it. Chrysostom implies a necessity, Ne quis compositorem factam putaret: lest the world should think it a plot, and that this thief had been well disposed and affected towards Christ before, therefore, says he, first he declares himself to be his enemy, in reviling him, and then was suddenly reconciled unto him. Hilary raises and builds a great point of divinity upon it; that since both the thieves, of which one was elect to salvation,

3 Tertullian.

* Matt. xxvii. 43.

5 Mark xv. 32.

did upbraid Christ with the ignominy of the cross, Universis etiam fidelibus scandalum crucis futurum ostendit: This shows, says he, that even the faithful and elect servants of God, may be shaken and scandalized, and fall away for a time, in the time of persecution. He raises positive and literal doctrine. And Theophylact raises mystical and figurative doctrine out of it; Duo latrones figura Gentilium et Judæorum: both Jews and Gentiles did reproach Christ, Sicut et primo ambo latrones improperabant, as at first both the thieves that were crucified did. St. Hierome inclines to admit a figure in St. Matthew's words: and he saith, that St. Matthew imputes that to both, which was spoken by one: but St. Hierome had no use of a figure here; for himself says, that Matthew which imputes this to both; and Luke, which imputes it to one, differ not: For, saith he, both reviled Christ at first; and then, one, Vicis miraculis credidit, upon the evidence of Christ's miracles, changed his mind, and believed in him. Only St. Augustine is confident in it, that this thief never reviled Christ; but thinks, that that phrase of Matthew, and of Mark, who impute it to both, is no more, but as if one should say, Rusticani insultant; Mean men, base men, do triumph over me: which, says he, might be said, if any one such person did so. Now, this might be true, if it had been said, thieves and malefactors reviled Christ: but, when it is expressly said, The thieves that were crucified, I take it to be a way of deriving the greater comfort upon us, and the greater glory upon Christ, and the greater assurance upon the prisoner, to leave him to the mercy of God, rather than to the wit of man; and rather to suffer Christ Jesus to pardon him, being guilty, than to dispute for his innocence. For, perchance, we shall lack an example of a notorious blasphemer, and reviler of Christ, to be effectually converted to salvation (of which example, considering how our times abound and overflow with this sin, we stand much in need) except this thief be our example; that though he were execrable to men, and execrated God, yet Christ Jesus took him into those bowels which he had ripped up, and into those wounds which he had opened wider by his execrations, and had mercy upon him, and buried him in them. And this was his second indisposition. Now, for the speed and powerful working of this grace, to his

conversion; we must not insist long upon it, lest we be longer in expressing it, than it was in doing. We have no impression, no direction of the time, when his conversion was wrought. None of the evangelists mention when nor how it was done: none, but this evangelist, that it was done at all. But he mentions it in the clearest and safest demonstration of all; that is, in the effects of his conversion, his desire to convert others. And therefore we may discern, Impetum gratiæ, in impetu pœnitentis: the force, the vehemence of God's grace, in the vehemence of his zeal. Christ himself was silent, when this thief reviled him: and yet this thief comes presently to a zealous impatience, he cannot hear his companion revile. Christ had estated his apostles in heaven; he had given them reversions of judiciary places in heaven, twelve seats, to judge the twelve tribes: and yet Facit fides innocentes latrones, facit perfidia apostolos criminosos: he infuses so much faith into this thief, as justifies him; and leaves his apostles so far to their infirmity as endangers them. To the chief of these apostles (in some services) to Peter himself, he says, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; and to this thief he says, Hodie mecum eris, This day shalt thou be with me in paradise. So soon did he bring this thief, Cui damnari ad tempus expedivit, that had a good bargain of death, that escaped by being condemned, and was the better, and longer lived for being hanged; (for he was thereby, collega martyrii, and particeps regni, partaker of Christ's martyrdom, and partner of his kingdom; he brought him so soon to that height of faith, that even in that low state upon the cross, he prayed for a spiritual kingdom: whereas the apostles themselves, in that exaltation, when Christ was ascending, talked to him of a temporal kingdom. He came to know those wounds which were in Christ's body, Non esse Christi, sed latronis, et amare cæpit; then he began to love him perfectly, when he found his own wounds in ne body of his Saviour. So he came

to declare perfect faith, in professing Christ's innocence", This man hath done nothing; and perfect hope, in the Memento mei, Remember me in thy kingdom; and perfect charity, in this increpation and rebuking of his companion. He was, as St. Augustine

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