Today’s sermon, by Hugh Latimer, can be found at:
THE TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 1552,
BY MASTER HUGH LATIMER.
MATTHEW ix. LUKE viii. MARK v.
While he spake unto them this, behold there came a certain ruler, and
worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now diseased, but come and
lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose and followed
him, and so did his disciples: and behold, a woman which was diseased
with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, &c.
THIS is a notable story, and much comfort we shall find in it, if we will consider and weigh it, with all the circumstances. The Evangelist Mark saith, the Ruler’s name was Jairus; he was an officer, some think that he was a reader of scripture, as there were at that time; or perchance he was such an officer as we call churchwardens; which is a great office in the great cities: Churchwardens can bring much matter to pass; such a great officer he was. For though the Jews had a law, that they should make no sacrifices no where but at Jerusalem, where the temple was, and all the ceremonies, yet for all that they had in every town their churches or synagogues, like as we have churches here in England, commonly every town hath a church. And this word Church sometimes it signifieth the congregation, the people that is gathered together: sometimes it signifieth the place where the people come together; Continens pro contento, that is to say, "The thing that containeth, for that which is contained."
Now our Saviour coming to Capernaum, where that great man dwelt, which was such a town as Bristow or Coventry is, Jairus cometh unto him in all haste, and falleth down before him, Et precabatur multum, "and maketh great suit unto him, that he would come to his house and heal his daughter, which was sick." No doubt he had heard what manner a man our Saviour was, and wherefore he was come into this world; namely, to save sinners both in souls and bodies; and he had heard also the general proclamation, written in the eleventh chapter of Matthew, where our Saviour saith, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will ease you."
This proclamation this Jairus had heard, and believed it. And therefore he cometh to Christ: he, did not as a great many of us do, which when we be in trouble, or sickness, or lose any thing, we run hither and thither to wizards or sorcerers, whom we call wise men; when there is no man so foolish and blind as they be; for the devil leadeth them according unto his will and pleasure, and yet we run after them, seeking aid and comfort at their hands. But this good man did not so, he knew that God had forbidden to run to wizards. But what doth he? Marry, he cometh to Christ our Saviour, with a good, strong, and unfeigned faith. For, as I told you before, he had heard before of Christ, of his proclamation, which moved him now in his distress to come unto him. And no doubt he had a good substantial faith, as it appeared by his behaviour; yet he had not so good a faith as the Centurion had, which sent a message unto him, saying, "Lord, say but one word, and my servant shall be whole." This was a wondrous great faith: insomuch that Christ saith, Dico vobis, ne in Israel quidem tantam fidem inveni, "I have not found such a faith in all Israel." But though this Jairus had not so good a faith as the centurion had, yet he hath had such one which leadeth him to Christ. He cometh to Christ, he believeth that Christ is able to help him, and according unto his belief it happeneth unto him; for his daughter was healed, as ye shall hear afterward; and so upon him is fulfilled the scripture, Credite propter quod loquutus sum, "I have believed and therefore I have spoken." For look what man soever hath a good faith, he will not hold his peace, he will speak, he will call for help at his hands. For if this Jairus had not had a good faith, he would not have humbled himself so much, to fall down before such a poor man as our Saviour was.
Some would have had respect to their honours; they would have thought it scorn to fall down before such a poor man as our Saviour was, or else he would have been afraid of the people that were present, to honour him so highly, and to confess him to be a helper. And no doubt, that Jairus was in great danger of his life; for Christ was not beloved amongst the Jews; therefore it was a great matter for this Jairus to honour Christ so openly before all the multitude. And no doubt if he had not had so good, strong, and earnest faith, he would not have done as he did; but he had a good strong faith; therefore he was not afraid of any thing in the world.
Now ye shall learn of this Jairus, first by his ensample to go to Christ, in all distresses to seek help by him: and also ye shall mark and observe his great and fatherly love, that he hath towards his daughter: for he maketh great suit to Christ for her, which signifieth that he hath a great and earnest love towards her. The same fatherly affection and love of the parents towards their children is the good gift of God; and God hath planted the same in their hearts; and this specially for two respects: First, for the children’s sake: for it is an irksome thing to bring up children; and not only that, but also it is a chargeable thing to keep them, and to wait upon them, and preserve them from all peril: if God had not planted such love in the parents’ hearts, indeed it were impossible to do so much for them; but God hath planted such love in their hearts, which love taketh away all irksomeness of all labour and pain. For what is a child when it is left alone? what can it do? how is it able to live? Another cause is, wherefore God hath planted such love in the parents’ hearts towards their children, that we might learn by it, what affections he beareth towards us. For though the love of parents towards their children be very great, yet the love of God towards us is greater; yea, his love towards us passeth far all fatherly love which they have towards their children. And though Christ only be the very natural Son of God, yet with his death and passion he hath merited that we be the chosen children of God. For God for our sake hath bestowed his only natural son, unto the death, to the end that we should be made through him his chosen children. Now therefore all that believe in Christ, and trust through his passion to be saved, all they are the children of God, and God loveth them more than any natural father loveth his child. For the love of God towards us is more earnest, and more vehement towards us, than is the fatherly love towards his natural child: which thing shall comfort us in all our distress, in what peril of danger soever we be, we shall believe that God is our Father. And therefore we shall come unto him in the name of Christ his natural son our Saviour: therefore we need not to despair in any manner of thing; but rather whatsoever we have in hand, let us run to him, which beareth such a fatherly affection towards us, more a great deal than our natural fathers and mothers can do. As for our carnal or temporal fathers and mothers, sometimes they be unnatural, so that they will not help their children in their distress; sometimes, again they would fain help, but they are not able to help them; but our heavenly Father, he is loving and kind towards us, so that he will help. And then again he is mighty, he is almighty; he can and may help: so that there lacketh neither good-will in him, neither power. Therefore let us not despair, but rather come unto him in all tribulation, and no doubt we shall be eased by him. For certain it is, that the Almighty God hath greater affection towards us, than our natural fathers and mothers can have. And this appeareth by that that he hath given his natural son (the highest treasure that ever he had in heaven or in earth) for us, even unto the death, in his bitter passion.
Further, in the prophets every where, he setteth out his great love which he hath towards us, saying, Nunquid potest mulier oblivisci, &c.; "Can a woman forget her own child which she hath borne into this world? Yea, and though she do forget the same, yet will not I forget thee." (Is. xlix.) It is a rare thing when the devil so much prevaileth in parents, that a mother should neglect or forget her own child; yet, saith God, though it were so that she would forget her child, yet will not I forget thee, when thou believest in my son Christ: for the devil cannot prevail against me, though he prevail against women, so that sometimes they forget their own chiidren, or kill them; yet shall he not prevail against me, for I am mightier than he is.
Further, his love which he beareth towards us, is expressed in the seventh chapter of Matthew, where Christ saith; "Is there any man amongst you which if his son ask bread, will he offer him a stone? or if he asketh fish, will he offer him a serpent? If ye then being evil, can give your children good gifts, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven, give good things if ye ask them of him?" As who should say, though you be evil, yet when your children would have any thing that might hurt them, yet you being fathers and mothers do give them good things, which shall not hurt them. Now saith he, seeing ye, whose nature is ill, corrupt, and poisoned with wickedness, for there is no saint in heaven, neither St. Peter, or Paul, but when they were here, their nature was corrupt and given to wickedness, (and so they might be called ill,) can give good gifts unto your children, how much more will God, which is the fountain of all goodness, give you good things when ye desire them of him? Here ye may learn now, that the love of God towards mankind, passeth all natural love: and that he is ready to give unto everyone that cometh to him for help, yea, the very Holy Ghost he will give us, when we will desire it.
Now to the matter: this Jairus is a good and loving father towards his child, he cometh and desireth help of Christ, that his daughter may be healed. A covetous man would have passed on, he would not have taken so much pain as to come to Christ and desire his help. Therefore by this Jairus we may learn to have a good faith towards God, and a right natural love towards our children. But it is a comfortable thing to consider this fatherly affection of God towards us: If we would well consider the same, it would stir up a childly love in our hearts towards him, so that we would be content to be ordered by him, and ruled according to his pleasure; like as a good and godly child is content to be ruled by his father and mother, and will in no wise do against them; so we should be obedient unto God like as the child is unto his parents.
But ye will say, I pray you tell us what is the will of God? Answer, The general will of God is expressed in the ten commandments: there we shall find what we shall do, and what we shall leave undone. But there is a special will of God, which is every man’s calling; for it is the will and pleasure of God that every one shall do according unto his calling, whereunto God hath appointed him: as the magistrates, their calling is to see that all things be well, that justice be executed, that the wicked be punished, and the good be rewarded. Item, that the good and godly laws be maintained and executed; and most specially, that the word of God be taught, that the people be not ignorant in that: and this is the will of God. When the magistrates do so, and when they endeavour themselves that God’s honour and glory be set abroad, and that wickedness be abolished, then they do according unto their calling. So likewise the calling of the subjects is to be obedient unto the magistrates; not to rebel against them; for when they do, they strive against God himself, and shall be punished of him. Item, the married man ought to do his duty towards his wife, that is the will of God; to love his wife, to provide for her, &c. Likewise the woman ought to do her duty towards her husband, in obeying him in all things that be not against God: For she may not obey her husband in wicked things; which be against God, but else there is no exception, but obey she must: for so it is written, so saith God unto her, "In sorrow shalt thou bring forth thy children, and thy lust shall pertain unto thy husband, and he shall have the rule of thee." (Gen. iii.) Now when the woman doth so, then she doth according unto her calling.
Further, masters ought to do their duties towards their servants and household, to instruct them in God’s word, to let them have their meat and drink. Likewise, servants ought to obey their masters with all humbleness, to serve them uprightly and diligently, according as God willeth them to do. Now this is the special will of God, namely, that everyone shall do according unto his calling, as God willeth him to do. Now to fulfil this will of God, we should be moved by the great love and fatherly affections which God beareth towards us: this love should move us to obey him, like as the good child obeyeth his father and mother.
Now cometh another matter; for as our Saviour was going to the house where this young maid lay sick, there cometh a good faithful woman creeping through the people; for our Saviour was tossed and turmoiled in the multitude: for ye must understand that this Jairus was a great rich man, a man of great estimation, therefore the people hearing that his daughter was sick, or dead, came unto him to go with the corse.
Here I must take occasion to speak somewhat: they be many nowadays very hasty to bury their friends, yea, sometimes before they be well dead. I heard say once, that a young woman was sick, and fell in a swoon; her friends which were with her, by and by made her ready to be buried; and when they went with the corse, and were coming into the churchyard, the corse stirred, and the vicar commanded them that bare her to set her down, and so finally the woman recovered. I tell this tale, to the end to give you warning, not to be too hasty with sick folks.
I have read in St. Augustine, that there was once a man which lay seven days speechless, neither seeing, nor hearing, nor yet receiving any sustenance, except some liquor, which they poured in his throat with a quill. Now that same man, after seven days, spake again; and the first word that he spake was this, What is the clock? he thought he had lain but a little while. Now, if his friends had been so hasty with him, he should have been buried before that time. Therefore I admonish you, not to be too hasty with dead corses, as long as they be warm, keep them in the bed; or when a man is dead indeed, he will soon be cold.
When our Saviour was going amongst this great multitude to Jairus’s house, there cometh a woman through the people, desirous to touch his garment. The evangelist Mark setteth out this story more plainly than Matthew doth; he saith, “There was a certain woman which had been diseased of an issue twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and felt, no amendment at all, but rather was worse and worse. When she had heard of Jesus, she came in the press of the people behind him, and touched his garment: for she said, If I only may touch the hem of his clothes I shall be whole." This woman was sick of a shameful disease, and had been sick of it twelve years, Passa est multa, "She had suffered much sorrow by it;" for no doubt whosoever hath ado with physicians he must be a sufferer: it is an irksome thing to go to physic: a man must receive many bitter medicines and potions. Therefore Mark saith, “She suffered much; they had put her to great pain, and she had bestowed all her substance upon them, and was never the better, but rather the worse." Belike she had been a woman of great riches, of great substance, else she should not have been able to wage physicians so long. This place of scripture reproveth not physicians, as though physic were a superfluous thing, and not necessary, because this woman was not healed; as when ye would reason of this manner: What, shall I go to physic? no, that I will not, for I read in scripture, that a woman spent all her goods upon physicians, and yet Was never the better. But this text maketh no more against physic, than this text doth against labour, where Peter saith, Per totam noctem laboravimus et nihil caepimus, "We have laboured the whole night, and have gotten nothing:" Now a rash fellow will say, What, hath St. Peter laboured all night and caught nothing? then I will not labour at all, for I shall get nothing with my labour: but this is a foolish reasoning. For though the woman spent all upon physicians, and yet was not healed; and though Peter laboured all night, and catched nothing, yet for all that we are allowed to use physic, and commanded to labour. For so saith scripture; Honora medicum propter necessitatem, "Honour the physician for need’s sake." Item, a Deo est omnis medela, "from God is all cure, and the highest hath created the medicine." If we knew the virtue of every herb, we might be our own physicians, but we know them not; therefore God hath ordained, that some should give themselves to the knowledge of such things, and then teach others.
We read in the fourth book of Kings, the twentieth chapter, when Hezekiah the king was sick, God sendeth Isaiah the prophet unto him, saying, Dispone domui tuae quia morieris, "Put thy house in an order, for thou shalt die." But here note by the way, that God required the king to set his things in an order, to make his testament; so we shall follow this ensample. When we perceive that God will call us out of this life, we shall order all things so that there be no strifes after our departure; that men may know what every body shall have.
For that which was said to Hezekiah is said to every one of us; for God loveth not strifes nor contentions; he is a God of unity and concord: therefore to avoid all contentions, we ought to set our things in good order. Now although God sendeth Isaiah thither, to tell him that he shall die, yet it was not such a straight sentence, that it should be done out of hand, by and by: but rather God would move him by this message that Isaiah brought, to make suit for longer life. Like as he sendeth Jonas to Nineveh, with a straight commandment, whereby God would move them to make suit, and moan to him, and so to leave their sins and wicked life.
Now Hezekiah hearing such a message of the prophet, what did he? Marry, he fell to prayer, rehearsing how beneficial God had been unto him; saying, "I beseech thee now, O Lord, remember how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight; and. Hezekiah wept very sore:" and so God sendeth the prophet unto him again, promising him that he should live yet fifteen years more. Now did he nothing else after that he had this promise of God? Yes, he used physic, he took a lump of figs, and laid it upon the sore, like as we in sickness time lay plasters upon it. So ye see by the ensample of Hezekiah, that it is lawful to use physic.
But now at our time, physic is a remedy prepared only for rich folks, not for poor, for the poor man is not able to wage the physician. God indeed hath made physic for rich and poor; but physicians nowadays, seek only their own profits, how to get money, not how they might do good unto their poor neighbour. Whereby it appeareth that they be for the most part without charity; and so, consequently, not the children of God: and no doubt but the heavy judgment of God hangeth over their heads: for they are commonly all wealthy, and ready to purchase lands, but to help their poor neighbour, that they cannot do; but God will find them out one day, I doubt not.
We must beware when we go to physic, that we trust not too much to physicians, and forget God in the mean season. Like as king Asa did, which had a disease in his feet, and is much reproved because he sought not the Lord: he trusted not in God, but rather in physicians: for scripture saith, "In his sickness he sought not the Lord, but physicians." (2 Chron. xvi.)
I knew once a great rich man and a covetous fellow, he had purchased about an hundred pound; that same stout man came once to London, where he fell sick, as stout as he was; and in his sickness, when he was exhorted to bear it well, and submit himself unto God, he cried out with horrible swearings, Shall I die? shall I die? Physicians, physicians, call physicians. As well as he loved his gold, which was his god, yet he could find in his heart to spend it upon physicians; but in the end he died like a beast, without any repentance. This man now abused the physicians: for we may use physic, but we must not trust in physic, as Asa the king did, and that wicked man of whom I told you: we may use God’s provisions and remedies which he hath left for us, yet for all that we may not trust in them.
Now to the purpose; "This woman had spent all her goods and was never the better:" Well, that the physicians could not do, Christ our Saviour did it, and on this wise: There was a great multitude of people about Christ, they pressed upon him: Now the woman cometh amongst the press of the people to him, desiring to touch only the hem of his garment, for she believed that Christ was such a healthful man, that she should be sound as soon as she might touch him; which came to pass so as she believed. For as soon as she had touched him, her issue was stopped, and her sickness gone quite and clean. She was a shamefaced woman; she was not so bold as to speak to our Saviour, but she cometh behind his back, and stealeth, as it were, her health. But what doth our Saviour? he would not suffer her to be hid, but saith to his disciples, Quis me tetigit? "Who hath touched my clothes?" His disciples made answer, saying, "Thou seest the people thrust thee, and askest thou, Who touched me?" And he looked round about for to see her that had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what was done within her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. No doubt this woman was ashamed to confess her filthy sickness before the whole multitude: But what then? Christ would have it so. "I perceive, saith Christ, that virtue is gone out of me:" he saith not, my cloke, or my vestment hath done a work: but he saith, Ego cognovi virtutem a me exiisse. "I know virtue is gone out of me," Therefore we shall not be so foolish to think that our Saviour’s hem had made the woman whole; but rather her good faith and trust which she had in our Saviour.
We must not do as the foolish blind papists do, which impute great holiness unto the vestment of our Saviour. So ye see that this woman was made whole by Christ, through him, by his divine power. And so is verified this which scripture saith, "That which is impossible unto man, is possible unto God." Physicians had despaired of that woman, it passed their cunning to help her; but our Saviour he declared his divine power, and healed her out of hand, she doing nothing but touching the hem of his vestment. So God can help, when men cannot.
An ensample we have in scripture, when the people of Israel going out of Egypt came unto the Red Sea, they had great hills of both sides. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, followed with all his host at their backs, the Red Sea was afore them, so that there was nothing, after man’s reason, but to perish: What doth God? Marry, he divided by his infinite power the Red Sea, and delivered them out of all danger. So it appeared that God is able to defend his people that believe in him, extraordinarily. Likewise in the wilderness they had no corn, nor anything to eat, there was no ordinary way to live: What doth God? He taketh an extraordinary way; he sendeth manna from heaven. So we see that he is able to help us supernaturally; but yet we must take heed and not tempt God, we must use all such means as he hath appointed to sustain this life, else we should tempt God, which is forbidden. So likewise we read, that when David was in the wilderness, and Saul had compassed him round about, so that he, after man’s judgment, could not escape; What doth God? Marry, he sendeth the Philistines into the land of Saul; which when Saul heard of, he went back and left David. So by that means God delivered his faithful servant David out of the hands of this cruel enemy Saul. (1 Sam. xxiii.)
By these ensamples we may learn to put our trust and hope in God, in all manner of troubles, like as this woman did hers: she believed in our Saviour, and therefore she was healed. All England, yea all the world, may take this woman for a schoolmistress, to learn by her to trust in Christ, and to seek help at his hands.
Again, by this woman you may learn, that God sometimes bringeth some low, and humbleth them to that end to promote them, and to bring them aloft: as in this woman, she was sick twelve years and vexed with such an irksome sickness; but at the length she was healed, and not only that, but also exalted, for Christ called her his daughter; which was the greatest promotion that could be. So likewise Joseph was in great misery, sold into Egypt, and afterward cast into prison, where he lay a great while; he was greatly humbled: but what was the end of it? Marry, he was a ruler over all Egypt: this was a great promotion. So likewise David was humbled, made an outlaw, an outcast, durst not shew himself; but in the end, he was made king over all Jewry, being at the first but a shepherd, and afterward an outlaw, but in the end he was made king. So this woman, though she was low, and loth to confess her filthy disease, yet she was well promoted, after she had confessed it; she was made his, daughter, which was a great promotion.
But mark that Christ saith not to her, My hem hath healed thee; but he saith, "Thy faith hath holpen thee." Peradventure if we had this hem, we would make a great matter of it; which thing were but foolery: let us use prayer, which hath a promise, for God promiseth, that when we pray unto him, we shall be heard; when we pray with a faithful heart, as this woman did, which believed that Christ would help her: and for this faith sake, she was so highly commended of Christ; and all the people were edified by her ensample. But specially Jairus, that great man, whose daughter lay sick; he had cause to strengthen his faith by the ensample of this woman, which woman believed the word of God, and therefore she came unto Christ.
So let us do too, let us stay ourselves upon God’s word. Christ saith, Venite ad me, omnes, "Come ye all to me." let us follow this word, and let us come unto him, for this faith that hath God’s word is a true faith; but that faith which hath not God’s word is a lying faith, a false faith. As the Turks and Jews, they have a faith, but their faith is not grounded in God’s word, and therefore it is a lying faith, because it hath not the word of God, Therefore, like as the doctrine is nothing, bringeth no profit, without the word of God, so the word of God bringeth no commodities except faith be there, except it be believed, else it is to no purpose. But this woman believed the word of God, she believed that Christ was come to heal the sick, of souls and bodies; therefore according unto her belief it happened unto her: and no doubt she is a saint in heaven; for we read not that she fell afterward from Christ.
So we learn by this woman to have a good faith in Christ we must not run hither and thither to seek the hem. No, we must believe in him in all distresses, come unto him, seek help and comfort by him.
Now our Saviour, after that he had healed this woman, he goeth to this great man’s house, which had called him to make sound his daughter; when he cometh near unto the house, there cometh one of Jairus’s servants, saying, "Thy daughter is dead, she is gone; trouble the master no longer, for all help is past." Lo, this had been enough to bring Jairus out of his faith, hearing that his daughter was dead already; it was a great temptation unto him. But here ye may learn, that when ye go by the way, and ye have occasion to do a good deed, do it; follow the ensample of Christ, for he was going to Jairus’s house, and in the way he did this good deed, in healing that diseased woman; giving unto us an ensample, that we should intermit no occasion, but whensoever we have opportunity to do good, we shall do it. And here we learn another thing in our Saviour, namely, that there is no respect of persons with him, he regardeth not the outward shew of men, whether they be poor or rich. But, as St. Peter saith, "In all people he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, he is accepted unto him." For Christ refused no man, neither rich nor poor. But we see they that be poor, are commonly ill handled in this world, no man regardeth them, every man despiseth them.
Again, we read every where that the rich and great men, are ill spoken of in scripture: Potentes potenter tormenta patientur, "Thy mighty men shall mightily suffer pains in hell:" yet this scripture disalloweth or reproveth not great men and mighty rulers; but it speaketh against those which abuse their power wherewith God hath endued them, oppress other poor men, do them wrong and injuries. For commonly it is seen, that they that be rich are lofty and stout, and abuse their riches or their power; for no doubt riches may be used to good purposes. But our Saviour, he hath no respect to persons, whether they be poor or rich; for here we see how he helpeth first the poor woman, and now is going to help the rich man too, to raise up his daughter, which was dead and ready to be buried.
Further, we learn here by this Jairus to be constant and stedfast in our faith, not to be moved with every wind: for there were many things which might have moved this Jairus to mistrust our Saviour, and to run from him: First, his servant, that came and told him, "Thy daughter is gone;" which was a great discomfort: for as long as she was yet alive, he had a good hope, but when he heard that she was gone, it discouraged him very sore. Secondarily, the preparation which was made for her to be buried; for all the people were come now to go with the corse, which was a great discomfort unto him also. Thirdly, the words of our Saviour most and above all things discomforted him, when our Saviour saith, "She is not dead, but she sleepeth." By these words Jairus might have conceived an ill opinion in him, saying, What? he thinketh that she sleepeth; no, if it were so, I could raise her up myself. Of such wise this Jairus was tempted. Now when they came near unto the house, there was a great number of people which laughed our Saviour to scorn when he said that she slept. Where we may learn to be content, though we be despised and not set by in this world; seeing that our Saviour himself was of such wise despised. I doubt not but I have been laughed to scorn when I have preached that the way to get riches is to give away to the poor this that we have. They have called me old doting fool; but what then, we must be content to be despised with Christ here in this world, that we may be glorified with him in yonder world.
Here is mention made of minstrels; no doubt they have their good use to make folk merry, and to drive away phantasies: at that time they used minstrels to their burials, as we use here bells. Now our Saviour seeing the people that were come to go with the corse, and the pipers and minstrels ready, he comforted Jairus, which no doubt was in great anguish, therefore Christ saith unto him, Noli timere, tantum crede, “Fear not, but only believe; continue only in thy faith towards me, and all things shall be well." Now like as he saith to Jairus, so he saith to us too, in what peril or tribulation soever we be, we should not faint, we should not fear, but believe; he will regard our faith, as much as he regarded the faith of Jairus. And we shall attain to such an end as he did. For ye must consider, that the Almighty God doth sometimes put off the fulfilling of his promises, and helpeth not by and by; but wherefore doth he so? marry for his own glory’s sake; for if we should have by and by that thing which we desire, then peradventure we should attribute it unto our own selves and not unto God: therefore it cometh not by and by, that we may afterwards, when we have it, be the more thankful for his help. Therefore let us continue in prayer, and in faith, and no doubt he will help when it is the very time. Expecta Dominum (saith David) tarry for the Lord, veniet et non tardabit, "Tarry, saith David, for the Lord; he will come, and not tarry; and when he cometh, he will set all things in good order."
Now he saith to the people, Quid ploratis, "What weep ye?" You must understand that our Saviour condemneth not all manner of weeping, but only that which is without hope: of which St. Paul speaketh, Tanquam qui spem non habent, “As they that have no hope." But charitable weeping is allowed, yea commanded; for St. Paul saith, Flete cum flentibus, "Weep with them that weep, be sorrowful with them that be sorrowful." Yet do it measurably, as it becometh christians.
In the time of popery, before the gospel came amongst us, we went to burials with weeping and wailing, as though there were no God: but since the gospel came unto us, I have heard say, that in some places they go with the corses grinning and flearing, as though they went to a bear-baiting; which thing no doubt is naught: for like as too much weeping is naught, so to be αςοργος, “without affection," is naught too; we should keep a measure in all things. We read in holy scripture, that the holy patriarch Abraham mourned for his wife Sarah. So likewise did Joseph for his father Jacob; therefore to weep charitably and measurably is not ill, but good, and allowed in God’s word: So likewise in the new testament, when that holy man St. Stephen was stoned to death. the text saith, that the church fecerunt planctum magnum. "made great lamentation and weeping over him." Here I might have occasion to speak against those women which so soon forget their husbands that be departed; which thing I cannot very well allow, for it is a token of an unperfect love. It was a law among the Romans, that no woman should marry again before twelve months were expired; which no doubt was an honest law: but to avoid whoredom, let the christian woman use her liberty.
Now when our Saviour was come to the house, he suffered no man to go in with him but Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the child; all the other he thrust out: and took the maid by the hand, saying, Tabitha cumi, "Maid, I say unto thee, arise:" and her spirit came again, and she arose straightways. What shall we learn here? marry, we shall learn here that our Saviour did overcome death, that he is the Lord over death, that he hath the victory over him. Secondarily, we learn here that our Saviour is very God, because he commandeth death. For I tell you death is such an arrogant and stubborn fellow, that he will obey no body but only God. Now he obeyed our Saviour, whereby it appeareth, that he is Lord over death. He said, "Maid, I say unto thee, arise;" and by and by she was perfectly whole: for she eat, to signify that she was made right whole. Here our Saviour shewed himself to be very God, and so the Lord over death; fulfilling the saying of St. Paul, Ero mors tua, ? mors, "O death, I shall be thy death." This is now a comfortable thing, that we know that Christ hath overcome death, and not for himself, but for us, for our sake: so that when we believe in Christ, death shall not hurt us, for he hath lost his strength and power; insomuch that it is no more a death, but rather a sleep, to all them that be faithful and fear God; from which sleep they shall rise to everlasting life. Also the wicked truly shall rise, but they shall rise to their damnation; so that it were better for them never to rise.
There be two kinds of people which will not sleep, the first be the children, which weep and grieve when they shall go to bed, because they know not the commodities that be in sleep, they know not that the sleep refresheth a man’s body, and maketh him to forget all the labours which he hath had before, this the children know not, therefore they go with an ill will to bed. The other be drunkards, which be given to great drinking, they care not though they be all night at it, and commonly the sleep doth them harm, for it maketh them heavy foreheads. So likewise there be two kind of men that fear death, which death in very deed ought not to be feared: for he is the best physician that ever was, he delivereth at a clap from all miseries; therefore he ought not to be feared. But as I told you, two kind of men there be that fear him; the children, that is to say, they that are childish to godward, that are ignorant in scripture, that know not what great treasures we shall receive at God’s hands after this life; but they are all wholly set and bent upon this world: and these are the children that will not go to bed; that is to say, that fear death, that are loth to go out of this world. The other be drunkards, that be customable sinners, that will not amend their lives; that are drunken, or drowned in sins and wickedness, that regard sin nothing, they are not weary of it. Like as it is written, "The sinner when he cometh in the midst of his sin, then he careth no more for it, he despiseth it, he is not sorry for it:" what remedy now? Marry this, they that be in case as children be, that is to say, they that be ignorant; let them get knowledge, let them endeavour themselves to understand God’s holy word, wherein is set out his will, what he would have us to do. Now when they have heard God’s word, and believed that same, no doubt all the fear of death will be vanished, and gone quite away. For they shall find in God’s word, that death hath lost his strength, that he cannot hurt any more. Likewise they that be drunkards, that is to say, that be customable sinners, let them repent here where the time of grace is; let them amend their lives, be sorry for that they have done, and take heed henceforward, and believe in Christ, to be saved by and through his passion. For I tell you drunkards, you customable sinners, as long as you live in sin and wickedness, and have a delight in them, so long you are not in the favour of God, you stink before his face; for we must wrestle with sin, we must hate sin, not agree unto it; when ye do so, then ye ought not to be afraid of death, for the death of Christ our Saviour hath killed our death, so that he cannot hurt us. Notwithstanding, death hath bitter potions; but what then? as soon as he hath done his office, we are at liberty, and have escaped all peril.
I will ask here a great clerkly question, Where was the soul now after it went out of this young maid? it was not in heaven, nor in hell; Nam in inferno non est redemtio, "There is no redemption in hell.” Where was it then? in purgatory? So the papists have reasoned, it was not in hell, nor in heaven, ergo, it was in purgatory; which no doubt is a vain, foolish argument. Now I will make a clerkly answer unto my question, and such an answer, that if the bishop of Rome would have gone no further, we should have been well enough, there would not have been such errors and fooleries in religion as there hath been. Now my answer is this, I cannot tell; but where it pleased God it should be, there it was. Is not this a good answer to such a clerkly question? I think it be; other answer nobody gets of me: because the scripture telleth me not where she was.
Now ye have heard that our Saviour is the Lord over death, and so consequently very God, because he raised up this young woman which was dead. But peradventure ye will say, it is no great matter that he raised up a maiden which was dead: for we read of Elisha the prophet, that he raised up a young man from death. Answer, truth it is, he raised him up, but not by his own power, not in his own name, but by the power of God; he did it not by himself: but Christ our Saviour, he raised up Lazarus, and this young maid, by his own divine power, shewing himself to be very God, and the Son of the Father eternal: therefore he saith, Ego sum resurrectio et vita, "I am the resurrection and the life:" this was his doctrine. Now to prove that doctrine to be true, he did miracles by his own divine power, shewing himself to be very God: so did not the prophets, they were God’s servants, God’s ministers; but they were not gods themselves, neither did they any thing in their own name.
Now to make an end; let us remember what we have heard, let us take heed that we be not customable sinners, but rather let us strive with sin; for I tell you, there be but few of those that spend all their time in the pleasures of the flesh, that speed well at the end; therefore let us take heed. The murderer upon the cross he sped well; but what then, let us not presume to tarry in wickedness still, to the last point of our, life: let us leave wickedness, and strive with our fleshly affections, then we shall attain in the end to that felicity, which God hath prepared for all them that love him: to whom, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, Amen.
I haven’t been too well the last few weeks, so I have taken a break from posting sermons on this Blog. I have also been trying to get some work done on the website at particularbaptist.com and hopefully a result of that will be a return to posting sermons next Sunday.
Thanks for your patience.