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obedience they staid till the end of the Sabbath, yet, as soon as that was done, they had other parts of duty and affection, which called with greatest importunity to be speedily satisfied. And if obedience had not bound the feet of love, they had gone the day before; but they became to us admirable patterns of obedience to the Divine commandments. For though love were "stronger than death," yet obedience was stronger than love, and made a rare dispute in the spirits of those holy women, in which the flesh and the spirit were not the litigants, but the spirit and the spirit; and they resisted each other, as the angel-guardian of the Jews resisted the tutelar angel of Persia, each striving who should with most love and zeal perform their charge, and God determined. And so he did here too. For the law of the Sabbath was then a Divine commandment; and although piety to the dead, and to such a dead, was ready to force their choice to do violence to their will, bearing them up on wings of desire to the grave of the Lord, yet at last they reconciled love with obedience. For they had been taught, that love is best expressed in keeping of the Divine commandments. But now they were at liberty; and sure enough they made use of its first minute: and going so early to seek Christ, they were sure they should find him.
10. The angels descended guardians of the sepulchre; for God sent his guards too, and they affrighted the watch appointed by Pilate and the priests: but when the women came, they spake like comforters, full of sweetness and consolation, laying aside their affrighting glories, as knowing it is the will of their Lord, that they should minister good to them that love him. But a conversation with angels could not satisfy them, who came to look for the Lord of the angels, and found him not: and when the Lord was pleased to appear to Mary Magdalen, she was so swallowed up with love and sorrow, that she entered into her joy, and perceived it not; she saw the Lord, and knew him not. For so, from the closets of darkness, they that immediately stare upon the sun, perceive not the beauties of the light, and feel nothing but amazement. But the voice of the Lord opened her eyes, and she knew him, and worshipped him, but was denied to touch him, and commanded to tell the apostles: for therefore God ministers to us comforts and revelations, not that we
may dwell in the sensible fruition of them ourselves alone, but that we communicate the grace to others. But when the other women were returned and saw the Lord, then they were all together admitted to the embracement, and to kiss the feet of Jesus. For God hath his opportunities and periods, which at another time he denies; and we must then rejoice in it, when he vouchsafes it, and submit to his Divine will, when he denies it.
11. These good women had the first fruits of the apparition: for their forward love, and the passion of their religion, made greater haste to entertain a grace, and was a greater endearment of their persons to our Lord, than a more sober, reserved, and less active spirit. This is more safe, but that is religious; this goes to God by the way of understanding, that by the will; this is supported by discourse, that by passions; this is the sobriety of the apostles, the other was the zeal of the holy women; and because a strong fancy and an earnest passion, fixed upon holy objects, are the most active and forward instruments of devotion, as devotion is of love, therefore we find God hath made great expressions of his acceptance of such dispositions. And women, and less knowing persons, and tender dispositions, and pliant natures, will make up a greater number in heaven, than the severe, and wary, and inquiring people, who sometimes love because they believe, and believe because they can demonstrate, but never believe because they love. When a great understanding and a great affection meet together, it makes a saint great like an apostle; but they do not well, who make abatement of their religious passions by the severity of their understanding. It is no matter by which we are brought to Christ, so we love him and obey him; but if the production admit of degrees, that instrument is the most excellent, which produces the greatest love and although discourse, and a sober spirit, be in itself the best, yet we do not always suffer that to be a parent of as great religion as the good women make their fancy, their softness, and their passion.
12. Our blessed Lord appeared next to Simon: and though he and John ran forth together, and St. John outran Simon, although Simon Peter had denied and forsworn his Lord, and St. John never did, and followed him to his passion and his death; yet Peter had the favour of seeing Jesus first.
Which some spiritual persons understand as a testimony, that penitent sinners have accidental eminences and privileges sometimes indulged to them beyond the temporal graces of the just and innocent, as being such who not only need defensatives against the remanent and inherent evils even of repented sins, and their aptnesses to relapse; but also because those-who are true penitents, who understand the infiniteness of the Divine mercy, and that for a sinner to pass from death to life, from the state of sin into pardon and the state of grace, is a greater gift", and a more excellent and improbable mutation, than for a just man to be taken into glory,-out of gratitude to God, and endearment for so great a change, added to a fear of returning to such danger and misery, will re-enforce all their industry, and double their study, and observe more diligently, and watch more carefully, and "redeem the time," and make amends for their omissions, and oppose a good to the former evils, beside the duties of the present employment; and then, commonly, the life of a holy penitent is more holy, active, zealous, and impatient of vice, and more rapacious of virtue and holy actions, and arises to greater degrees of sanctity, than the even and moderate affections of just persons, who (as our blessed Saviour's expression is) "need no repentance," that is, no change of state, nothing but a perseverance, and an improvement of degrees. "There is more joy in heaven, before the angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety-nine just persons that need it not" for, "where sin hath abounded, there doth grace superabound;" and that makes joy in heaven.
13. The holy Jesus, having received the affections of his most passionate disciples, the women and St. Peter, puts himself upon the way into the company of two good men going to Emmaus, with troubled spirits and a reeling faith, shaking all its upper building, but leaving some of its foundation firm. To them the Lord discourses of the necessity of the death and resurrection of the Messias, and taught them not to take estimate of the counsels of God by the designs and proportions of man: for God, by ways contrary to
b Majus est, peccatorem ex peccato in gratiam migrare, quàm ex hoc mundo in cœlum.-S. August.
© Luke, xv. 7.
human judgment, brings to pass the purposes of his eternal providence. The glories of Christ were not made pompous by human circumstances; his kingdom was spiritual: he was to enter into felicities through the gates of death; he refused to do miracles before Herod, and yet did them before the people; he confuted his accusers by silence, and did not descend from the cross, when they offered to believe in him, if he would; but left them to be persuaded by greater arguments of his power, the miraculous circumstances of his death, and the glories of his resurrection; and, by walking in the secret paths of Divine election, hath commanded us to adore his footsteps, to admire and revere his wisdom, to be satisfied with all the events of providence, and to rejoice in him, if by afflictions he makes us holy, if by persecutions he supports and enlarges his church, if by death he brings us to life; so we arrive at the communion of his felicities, we must let him choose the way; it being sufficient that he is our guide, and our support, and our "exceeding great reward." For therefore Christ preached to the two disciples, going to Emmaus, the way of the cross, and the necessity of that passage, that the wisdom of God might be glorified, and the conjectures of man ashamed. But whilst his discourse lasted, they knew him not; but, in the breaking of bread, he discovered himself. For he turned their meal into a sacrament, and their darkness to light; and having to his sermon added the sacrament, opened all their discerning faculties, the eyes of their body, and their understanding too; to represent to us, that when we are blessed with the opportunities of both those instruments, we want no exterior assistance to guide us in the way to the knowing and enjoying of our Lord.
14. But the apparitions which Jesus made, were all upon the design of laying the foundation of all Christian graces; for the begetting and establishing faith, and an active confidence in their persons, and building them up on the great fundamentals of the religion. And therefore he appointed a general meeting upon a mountain in Galilee, that the number of witnesses might not only disseminate the fame, but establish the article, of the resurrection; for upon that are built all the hopes of a Christian; and "if the dead rise not, then are we of all men most miserable," in quitting the present
possessions, and entertaining injuries and affronts without hopes of reparation. But we lay two gages in several repositories; the body in the bosom of the earth, the soul in the bosom of God: and as we here live by faith, and lay them down with hope; so the resurrection is a restitution of them both, and a state of re-union. And therefore, although the glory of our spirits, without the body, were joy great enough to make compensation for more than the troubles of all the world; yet, because one shall not be glorified without the other, they being of themselves incomplete substances, and God having revealed nothing clearly concerning actual and complete felicities till the day of judgment, when it is promised our bodies shall rise; therefore it is, that the resurrection is the great article upon which we rely, and which Christ took so much care to prove and ascertain to so many persons, because, if that should be disbelieved with which all our felicities are to be received, we have nothing to establish our faith, or entertain our hope, or satisfy our desires, or make retribution for that state of secular inconveniences, in which, by the necessities of our nature, and the humility and patience of our religion, we are engaged.
15. But I consider, that holy Scripture only instructs us concerning "the life of this world," and "the life of the resurrection, the life of grace," and "the life of glory," both in the body, that is, a life of the whole man; and whatsoever is spoken of the soul, considers it as an essential part of man, relating to his whole constitution, not as it is of itself an intellectual and separate substance; for all its actions which are separate and removed from the body, are relative and incomplete. Now, because the soul is an incomplete substance, and created in relation to the body, and is but a part of the whole man, if the body were as eternal and incorruptible as the soul, yet the separation of the one from the other would be, as now it is, that which we call "natural death;" and supposing that God should preserve the body for ever, or restore it at the day of judgment to its full substance and perfect organs, yet the man would be dead for ever, if the soul for ever should continue separate from the body. So that the other life, that is, the state of resurrection, is a re-uniting soul and body. And although, in a philosophical sense, the resurrection is of the body, that is,