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time, Veritas nihil erubescit præterquam abscondi: "Truth blusheth at nothing but secrecy;" as Tertullian.
However then, fond or false hearts value the Truth, let us, that should be wise Christians, esteem it as the pearl hid in the field, which the man sold all that ever he had to purchase. Would it not set any heart on fire with a holy anger, to see what the enemies of truth bid and give for falsehood, for faction? Their liberty, their country, the life of their sovereign, the eternal state of their souls, hath not seemed too dear to cast away upon an ill bargain of misreligion; and shall not we bid so much as our zealous well-wishes, our effectual endeavours, our careful observances, for the undoubt ed Truth of our Maker and Redeemer? What shall I say to the miserable and stupid carelessness of these thriftless and godless times; wherein every thing is appraised, every thing is bought, save that which is most precious, most beneficial, Truth?
Ye Great Ones are made for precedents to the inferior world. Your example is able to bring either good or evil into fashion. For God's sake, for your souls' sake, whatever transactions ye make for the world, lay your plots for the blessed purchase of Truth. Oh, let not your fickle honours, your unsatisfying pleasures, your worthless profits, yea your momentary lives, seem dear to you, in comparison of Heavenly Truth. It is no shame, in other parts, for great Peers to be Merchants; Mercatores tui erant Principes, saith the angel concerning Babylon, Rev. xviii. 23. Thy Merchants were the Princes of the earth. And why should not ye Great Ones be the Merchants of Truth? Blessed be the God of Truth, ye are so. It is no proud word to say, that no Court under heaven hath so rich a stock of truth, as this of Great Britain: yet, let me tell you, the very Angels knew not so much, but they desired to know more; Eph. iii. 10. And if ye had already that vespertine knowledge of the Saints, which ye shall once have in heaven; yet know, that this Bargain stands not more in the Judgment, than in the Affections. Whatever our speculations may be, if our hearts be not set upon Truth, we may be brokers, we are not merchants; brokers for others, not merchants for ourselves. As our Saviour then, when he bids us sell all, forsake all, holds it done, when, in preparation of mind, we are ready to abdicate all for his Name, though we do it not; so doth God hold us to buy Truth, when we bestow our best thoughts, our dearest well-wishes upon it, though we have it already. Oh, stir up your languishing zeal, ye Noble Courtiers: rouse up your drooping love to Divine Truth: give your hearts to it; ye cannot but give all for it. And, if you do not find the sweet gain of this bargain, in this lower region of error and confusion, ye shall once find it in those eternal and empyreal habitations of truth, where the God of Truth shall make up the truth of his promises, with the everlasting truth of his glorious performances; where Mercy and Truth shall so meet, and embrace one another, that both of them shall embrace the faithful soul, for ever and ever.
II. This for the Bargain of Truth. The forbidden SALE followeth; Sell it not..
Commonly, what we buy, we may sell. Alexander, not the great, but the good, sold Mitres, Keys, Altars: the verse gives the reason; Emerat ille priùs; "He bought them.". So St. Austin of Simon Magus; Volebat emere Spiritum Sanctum, quia vendere volebat Spiritum Sanctum; "He would buy the Holy Ghost, because he meant to sell it." Give me a man, that buys a Seat of Judicature; I dare not trust him for not selling of Justice: he, that sits in the chair of Simony, will not give Orders, will not stick to sell souls. Some things we may buy to sell; as Joseph did the Egyptian corn. Some things we must sell, if we buy; as an Israelite's inheritance, Lev. xxv. But here we are charged to buy, what it is a sin to sell; Buy the Truth, and sell it not.
There is many a good thing ill sold. Esau sells his birthright, for pottage: Hanun and Shechem sell their country, for love: Dalilah sells her lover, for a bribe: the Patriarchs sell their brother, for twenty silver rings: Haman sells the Jews, for nought: the Gentiles sell the Jewish girls, for wine; Joel iii. 3 Israel sells the righteous for silver, and the poor for shoes; Amos ii. 6: their Judges sell sins or innocency, for rewards; Isaiah v. 23: Ahab sells himself to wickedness: Judas sells his Master: Demas sells the Truth. All these make an ill market. And, in all, it is a sure rule, the better the commodity is, the more pernicious is the sale.
The indefiniteness of the charge implies a generality. Buy it, at any price: at no price, sell it. It is the favour of God, that it may be bought for any rate: it is the justice of God, that upon any rate it should not be sold.
As buying and selling are opposites in relation; so that, for which we must not sell truth, is opposite to that, for which we may buy it. We must buy it with labour; therefore we may not sell it for ease: if need be, we must buy it with loss; therefore we may not sell it for gain: we must buy it with disgrace; we may not sell it for honour: we must buy it with exile or imprisonment; we may not sell it for liberty: we must buy it with pain; we may not sell it for pleasure: we must buy it with death; we may not sell it for life. Not for any, not for all of these, may we sell Truth. This were damnosa mercatio; as Chrysostom. In every Bargain and Sale there must be a proportion: now ease, gain, honour, liberty, pleasure, life, yea worlds of all these, are no way countervailable to Truth; For, what shall it profit a man, to win the whole world, and lose his own soul? Mat. xvi. 26. And he cannot sell Truth, but his soul is lost.
And if any thing in the world may seem a due price of Truth, it is Peace. O sweet and dear name of Peace, the good news of angels, the joy of good men! who can but affect thee, who can but magnify thee? The God of Heaven, before whom I stand, from whom I speak, knows how oft, how deeply, I have mourned for the divisions of his Church; how earnestly I have set my hand on work upon such poor thoughts of re-union, as my meanness could
reach: but, when all is done, I still found we may not offer to sell Truth for peace.
It is true, that there be some scholastical and immaterial truths, the infinite subdivisions whereof have rather troubled than informed Christendom, which, for the purchase of peace, might be kept in; and returned into such safe generalities, as minds not unreasonable might rest in: but sold out, they may not be. If some truths may be contracted into a narrower room, none may be contracted for. Qui divinis innutriti sunt eloquiis, as that Father said, "Those that are trained up in divine truths," may not change a syllable for a
Tene quod habes, "Hold that thou hast," is a good rule in all things; which, if in temporalities it were well observed, we should not have so many gallants squander away their inheritances to live, camelion-like, upon the air of favour. But, however this be too well observed in these earthly things by frugal hands, which take as if they were quick, hold as if they were dead; yet, in spiritual graces, it can never be observed enough. We get Truth, we buy it, as Jacob did his birthright, to keep, to enjoy, not to sell again. If therefore the world, if Satan, shall offer to grease us in the fist for Truth, let us answer him, as Simon Peter did Simon the Sorcerer, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought the Truth of God may be purchased with money.
What shall we say then to those pedling petty-chapmen, which we meet withal in every market, that will be bartering away the Truth of God for trifles? Surely the form of our spiritual market is contrary to the civil: in our civil markets, there are more buyers than sellers; there would be but poor takings, if many did not buy of one: but in the spiritual, there are more sellers of truth than buyers.
Many a one sells that he never had, that he should have had, the Truth of God. Here, one chops away the Truth, for fear or ambition; there, another lets it go, for the old shoes of a Gibeonitish pretence of antiquity: here, one parts with it, for a painted, gilded hobby-horse of an outwardly pompous magnificence of the Church; there, another, for the baubles of childish superstition: one, for the fancy of hope; another, for the breath of a colloguing impostor. Amongst them all, Diminute sunt veritates à filiis hominum; Psalm xii. 1. Truth is failed from the children of men: yea, as Isaiah complained in his time, Corruit in plateá veritas; Isaiah lix. 14: Truth is fallen in the streets. What a shame it is to see, that, in the clear and glorious sunshine of the Gospel, under the pious government of the true Defender of the Faith, there should not want some souls, that should truck for the Truth of God, as if it were some Cheapside, or some Smithfield commodity Commutaverunt Veritatem Dei; They have changed the Truth of God into a lie; Rom. i. 25. and all their care is, that they may be deceived good cheap. Whose heart cannot bleed, to see so many well rigged and hopeful barks of our young gentry, laden with the
most precious merchandizes of nature and grace, haled in every day to these deceitful ports of error; the owners partly cheated, partly robbed of truth; despoiled of their rich freight; and, at last, turned overboard into a sea of desperation? O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey, that ye should not hold fast the Truth?
Where shall I lay the fault of this miscarriage? Methinks I could ask the Disciples' question, Nunquid ego, Domine, Is it we, Lord? Are there of us, that preach ourselves, and not Christ? Are there, that preach Christ, and live him not? Woe to the world, because of offences! It must needs be, that offences should come; but woe to the man by whom the offence cometh! God forbid, that we should be so bad, that the Seven Hills should not justify us. But, whatever we be, the Truth is still and ever itself; neither the better for our innocence, nor worse for our guilt. If men be faulty, what hath Truth offended? Except the Sacred Word of the Ever Living God can misguide you, we have set you right. We are but dust and ashes; yet, O God, give us, thine humble vassals, leave, in an awful confidence, so far to contest with thee, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, as to say, If we be deceived, thou hast deceived us. It is thou, that hast spoken by us to thy people. Let God be true, and every man a liar. Whither should we go from thee? Thou hast the words of eternal life.
Dear Christians, our forefathers transmitted to us the entire inheritance of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, repurchased by the blood of their martyrdom: Oh, let not our ill husbandry im pair it. Let not posterity once say, they might have been happy, but for the unthriftiness of us, their progenitors. Let it not be said, that the coldness of us, the teachers and professors of Truth, hath dealt with religion as Rehoboam did with his shields, which he found of gold, but left of brass.
If Truth had no friends, we should plead for it: but now, that we have before our eyes so powerful an Trees, “Defender " of Christian Faith, that with his very pen hath so laid error upon the back, that all the world cannot raise it; what a shame were it, to be wanting to him, to Truth, to ourselves?
But, perhaps, now I know some of your thoughts. You would buy Truth, ye think, you would hold it, if ye could be sure to know it. There are many slips amongst the true coin. Either of the mothers, pleaded the living child to be hers, with equal protestations, oaths, tears. True, yet a Solomon's sword can divide truth from falsehood: and there is a test, and fire, that can discern true metals from adulterate. In spite of all counterfeiting, there are certain infallible marks, to know truth from error. Take but a few of many: whether in the Originals, in the Natures, in the Ends of both.
In the first: truth is divine, error is human: what is grounded upon the divine word must needs be irrefragably true; that, which upon human traditions, either must or may be erroneous.
In the second: truth is one, conformed ever to itself; ana
cuvaλydɛúa, as one said: Omne verum omni vero consonat, “All truth accords with every truth;" as Gerson. And, as it is pure, so peaceable: error is full of dissonance, of cruelty. No particulars of ours dissent from the written verity of God. We teach no man to equivocate. Our practice is not bloody with treasons and mas
In the third: truth, as it came from God, so is referred to him; neither hath any other end than the glory of the God of Truth: error hath ever some self-respects; either airxgoneрdíav, or xevodožíav, filthy lucre, or vain-glory; profit, or pride. We do not prank up nature. We aim not, either to fill the coffers, or feed the ambi tion of men. Let your wisdoms apply and infer.
And now, if ye can, shut your eyes, that you should not see the Truth; and, if ye care not for your souls, when ye see it, sell it. Let no false tongue persuade you there is no danger in this sale. How charitably soever we think of poor blinded souls, that live in the forced and invincible, darkness of error, certainly Apostacy is deadly. However those speed, that are robbed of Truth, you cannot sell Truth, and be saved. Have mercy therefore on your own souls, for their sakes; for the sake of him, that bought them, with the dear ransom of his precious blood: and, as God hath blessed you with the invaluable treasure of Truth, so hoard it up in your hearts, and manage it in your lives. Oh, let us be gens justa custodiens veritatem; Isaiah xxvi. 2: a just nation keeping fast the Truth: so, while ye keep the Truth, the Truth shall keep you, both in Life, in Death, in Judgment; in life, unto death; in death and judgment, unto the consummation of that endless and incomprehensible glory, which the God of Truth hath prepared for them that
To the happy possession whereof, he, that hath ordained, in his good time as mercifully bring us; and that, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Righteous: To whom with thee, O Father, and thy Blessed Spirit, One Infinite God, be given all praise, honour, and glory, now and for ever. Amen.