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THE BEST BARGAIN: A SERMON; PREACHED TO THE COURT AT THEOBALD'S, ON SUNDAY,
SEPTEMBER 21, 1623.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
WILLIAM, EARL OF PEMBROKE,
LORD HIGH CHAMBERLAIN; CHANCELLOR OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD; ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S MOST HONOURABLE PRIVY COUNCIL.
RIGHT HONOURABLE: LET it please you to receive from the press, what you vouchsafed to require from my pen : unworthy, I confess, either of the public light, or the beams of your Honour's judicious eyes; yet such as, besides the motive of common importunity, I easily apprehended, might be not a little useful for the times; which, if ever, require quickening. Neither is it to no purpose, that the world should sec in what stile we speak to the Court, not without acceptation. This, and whatever service I may be capable of, are justly devoted to your Lordship; whom all good hearts follow with true honour, as the great Patron of Learning, the sincere Friend of Religion, and rich Purchaser of Truth. The God of Heaven add to the number of such Peers, and to the measure of your Lordship's graces and happiness.
PROVERBS xxiii. 23.
Buy the Truth, and sell it not. The subject of my Text, is a BARGAIN and sale; a Bargain enjoined, a Sale forbidden: and the subject of both bargain and sale, is Truth; a Bargain able to make us all rich, a Sale able to make any of us miserable. Buy the Truth, and sell it not. A sentence of short sound, but large extent. The words are but seven sylla. bles; an easy load for our memories: the matter is a world of work; a long task for our lives.
And first, let me call you to this Mart, which holds both now and ever. If ye love yourselves, be ye customers at this shop of heaven: Buy the Truth.
1. In every BARGAIN there is merx and mercatura; the Commodity, and the Match.
1. The COMMODITY to be bought is the Truth; the match made for this commodity, is Buying: Buy the Truh.
An ill Judge may put a good interrogatory: yet it was a question too good for the mouth of a Pilate, What is Truth? The Schools have wearied themselves in the solution. To what purpose should I read a Metaphysical Lecture to Courtiers?
Truth is as Tíme, one in all: yet, as Time, though but one, is distinguished into past, present, future, and every thing hath a time of its own; so is Truth variously distinguished, according to the subjects wherein it is. This is Anselin's, cited by Aquinas.
I would rather say, Truth is as Light; (Send forth thy Truth, and thy Light, saith the Psalmist;) which, though but one in all, yet there is one light of the sun, another of the moon, another of the stars, another of this lower air. There is an essential and causal truth in the Divine understanding, which the Schools call Primo-primam. This will not be sold, cannot be bought: God will not part with it, the world is not worth it. This truth is as the light in the body of the sun. There is an intrinsical or formal truth in things truly existing: for, Being and True are convertible ; and St. Austin rightly defines, Verum est illud, quod est. All this created truth in things, is derived, exemplarily and causally, from that increated truth of God. This the Schools call Secundo-primam; and it is as the light of the sun-beams, cast upon the moon and stars. There is an extrinsecal or secondary truth of propositions, following upon and conformable to the truth of the things expressed: thus, verum is no other than esse declarativum, as Hilary. And this truth, being the thing itself subjectively, in words expressively, in the mind of nian terminatively, presupposeth a double conformity. or adequation; both of the understanding to the matter conceived, and of the words to the understanding; so as truth is, when we speak as we think, and think as it is. And this truth is as the light diffused from those heavenly bodies, to the region of this lower air.
This is the truth we are called to buy. But this derivative and relative truth, whether in the mind or in the mouth, hath much multiplicity, according to the matter either conceived or uttered. There is a theological truth; there is a natural; there is a moral; there is a civil: all these must be dear bought; but the best at the highest rate, which is Theologicals or Divine; whether in the principles, or necessary conclusions. The Principles of Divine Truth aré Scriptura Veritatis; Dan. X.21: The Law of Truth; Mal. ï. 6: The Word of Truth; 2 Coro vi. 7. The necessary Con, clusions are they, which, upon irrefr.gable inferences, are deduced
from those holy grounds. Shortly then, every parcel of Divine Truth, whether laid down in Scripture or drawn necessarily from Scripture, is this mercimonium sacrum, which we are bidden to Buy; Buy the Truth.
2. This is the Commodity: the MATCH is, Buy; that is, Beat the price, and pay it.
Buy it: of Whom? for What?
(1.) Of whom, but of the Owner, of the Maker? The Owner: it is Veritas Domini, God's Truth; Psalm cxvii. 2. His stile is the Lord God of Truth; Psalm xxxi. 5. The Maker: The works of his hands are truth and judgments; Psalm cxi. 7. And if any usurping spirit of error shall have made a free-booty of truth, and shall withhold it in unrighteousness, we must redeem it out of his hands with the highest ransom.
(2.) What is the Price? That is the main thing in buying; for buying is no other than pactio pretii
. Elsewhere God proclaims; Ho, every one that thirsteth, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price; Isaiah lv. 1: this is a donation, in furin of sale: but, here must be a price in the hand: God will give mercy, and not sell it; he will sell truth, and not give it.
For what will he sell it?
First, for Labour. The Heathen Poet could say, his gods sold learning for sweat; the original word here used is 737, compara, get it any way, either labore or pretio; yea, labore and pretio. This great foreman of God's shop tells us we cannot have it under, Prov. ii. 4. We must seek for her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures. The vein of truth lies low: it must be digged and delved for, to the very centre. If truth could be bought with ease and pleasure, many a lazy Christian would bid fair for it; who now resolve rather upon want, than toil. The slothful worldling will rather take up a falsehood for truth, than beat his brain to discern truth froin falsehood. An error of free-cost is better than a highrated verity.
Labour for truth is turned over for the task of Churchmen. No life savours to these phlegmatic spirits, but that of the lilies; Neque laborant, neque nent; They neither labour, nor spin. This dull resolution is unworthy of a Christian; yea, of a reasonable soul: and, if we should take up no other for the body, we should be fed with hunger, and clothed with nakedness; the earth should be our feather-bed, and the sky our canopy; we should abound with want, live savagely, and die miserably. It was the just canon of the Apostle, He, that labours not, let him not eat, Certainly, he can never eat of the heavenly Manna of Truth, that will not step forth to gather it. Hear this, ye Delicate Courtiers, that would hear a sermon, if ye could rise out of your beds; that would lend God an hour, if ye could spare it from your pleasures. The God of Heaven scorns to have his precious Truth so basely undervalued. If ye bid God less than Labour for Truth, I can give you no comfort, but that ye may go to hell with ease.
The markets of Truth, as of all other commodities, vary. It is the rule of casuits; Justitia pretii non consistit in individuo : “ The justice of price doth not pitch ever upon a point." Sometimes, the price of Truth hath risen; it would not be bought but for Danger: sometimes, not under Loss, not under Disgrace, not under Imprisonment, not under Exile: sometimes yet dearer, not under Pain: yea, sometimes it hath not gone for less than Blood. It did cost Elijah, danger; Micajah, disgrace; Jeremiah, imprisonment; the Disciples, loss; John and Athanasius, exile; the holy Confessors, pain; the holy Martyrs, death. Even the highest of these is pretiuin legitimum, if God call for it, however nature may tax it as rigorous; yea, such as the frank hearts of faithful Christians have bidden, at the first word, for Truth: What do ye, reeeping, and breaking my heart ; for I am ready, not to be bound only, but to die for the name of the Lord Jesus, saith St. Paul; Acts, xxi. 13. Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath will he give for
, saith Satan: but skin,
and life, and all, must a man give for Truth, and not think it a hard pennyworth. Neither count I my life dear unto me, that I may finish my course with joy; saith the Chosen Vessel, to his Ephesians. O the heroical spirits of our blessed forefathers, that stuck not to give their dearest heart-blood for but some Corollaries of Sacred Truth; whose burning zeal to Truth consumed them before those fires of Martyrdom, and sent up their pure and glorious souls, like Manoah's angel, to heaven, in the flame! Blessed be God, blessed be his Anointed, under whose gracious sceptre we have enjoyed days as much more happy than theirs, as their hearts were more fervent than ours. We may now buy Truth at a better hand. Stake but our labour, we carry it with thanks. I fear there want not those, that would be glad to mar the market. It can be only known to heaven, what treacheries the malice of hell may be a brewing. Had but that powder once taken, nothing had been abated of the highest price of our predecessors: we had paid for every dram of truth, as many ounces of blood, as ever it cost the frankest Martyr. Should the Devil have been suffered to do his worst, we might not have grudged at this price of truth. Non est delicata in Deurn, et secura confessio; qui in me credit, debet suum sanguinem fundere; saith Jerome: « Christian profession is no secure or delicate matter; he, that believes, must be no niggard of his blood."
But why thus dear? Not without good reason. Monopolies use to enhance the price. Ye can buy truth at no shop but one; Ir cælo præparata est veritas tua; Psalm lxxxix. 2: Thy truth is prepared in heaven. And it is a just rule of law, Quisque in rebus suis est moderator et arbiter; “Every man may rate his own.” Neither is this only the sole commodity of God; but, besides, dear to the owner: Dileristi Veritatem, 1 hou hast loved the Truth, saith the Psalmist. And it is a true rule in the cases of commerce, Iffectus estimari potest, “ Our love may be valued in the price." Yea, o God, thy love to truth cannot be valued. It is thyself. Thou, that art Truth itself hast said so; I ain the way, the Truth, and the Life. We cannot therefore know how much thou lovest thy truth, be cause, as thyself is infinite, so is thy love to thyself. What should
we hunt for comparisons? If all the earth were gold, what were it, when even very heaven itself is trash to thee in respect of truth? No marvel if thou set it at a high rate. It is not more precious to thee, than beneficial to us. It frees us; John vii. 32: it renews us; James i. 18: it confirms us; Prov. xii. 19: it sanctifies us; John xvii. 17: it defends us; Psalm xci. 4: shortly, it doth all for us that God doth; for God works by his Almighty Word, and his Word is Truth; John xvii. 17. Therefore, Buy the Truth.
And, if Truth be thus precious, thus beneficial; how coines it to pass, that it is neglected, contemned? Some pass by it; and do not so much as cheapen it: others cheapen it; but bid nothing; others bid something but under-foot: others bid well; but stake it not: others, lastly, stake down; but revoke it. The first, that pass by and cheapen it not, are careless unbelievers : the next, that cheapen it, and bid nothing, are formal Christians: the third, that bid something but not enough, are worldly semi-Christians: the fourth, that bid well and stake it not, are glorious hypocrites: the last, that stake down and revoke it, are damnable apostates. Take all these out of the society of men; and how many customers hath God, that care to buy the Truth? If truth were some rich chattel; it would be bought: if truth were some goodly lordship, or the rem version of some good office; it would be bought: if truth were some benefice, or spiritual promotion (Oh times !) it would be bought: yea, how dear are we content to pay for our filthy lusts! we will needs purchase them, too oft, with shame, beggary, disease, damnation: only the Saving Truth of God will not off hand. What is the reason of this?
First of all; it is but bare, simple, plain, honest, homely Truth, without welt, without guard. It will abide none but native
colours. It scorneth to woo favour with farding, and licking, and counterfeisance. It hates either bought or borrowed beauty; and there, fore, like some native face among the painted, looks coarse and rusty. There are two shops, that get away all the custom from Truth; the shop of Vanity, the shop of Error: the one sells knacks and gewgaws; the other, false wares, and adulterate: both of their commodities are so gilded, and gaudy, and glittering, that all fools throng thither, and complain to want elbow-room, and strive who shall be first served; whereas, the secret work of artless and unpolisted truth can win no eye to view it, no tongue to ask so much, as, “What will it cost me?" O ye sons of men, how long will ye love vanity, and seek after lies ?
Secondly; though 'Truth in itself be always excellent, yet the issue of it is not seldom distasteful; Veritas odium: There is one Micaiah whom I hate: Am I become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? And this is the cause that Friar Menot alleges, why truth in his time was so unwelcome to the Court. But if Truth be the Mother of Hatred, she is the Daughter of Time; and Truth hath learned this of Time, to devour her own brood; so that, in Time, Truth shall consume Hatred, and, at last, a galling Truth shali have more thanks, than a smoothing supparisitation. In the mean