St. Luke ii:14
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men.
Gloria in altissimis Deo,et in terra pax, hominibus bonae voluntatis
(vel, in homines bona voluntas).
The anthem of the choir of Heaven for this day; For having the Angel's
sermon at twice; 1. Of the Nativity, 2. of the Invention of Christ, and
seen the choir of Angels set with their nature and condition; there remains
nothing but the anthem to make up a full service for the day.
This is it. St. Luke, besides that he is an Evangelist, hath the honour
farther that he is the Psalmists of the New Testament: four hymns more
hath he added to those of the Old. Of which four, this is no much the more
excellent than the rest, in that it is not of any man's setting, though
never so skilful; the ditty and it are both angelical from the Angels both.
That we praise God with the tongue of Angels, whensoever we praise Him
with this, with Gloria in excelsis.
The sum of it is, that though all days of the year and for all benefits,
yet this day and for this now above all God is highly to be glorified;
more highly than in others--nay, most highly then; for it is in altissimis,
‘the highest of all.’
That Heaven and earth and men are to join in one concert; [215/216]
Heaven and earth first; Heaven on high, earth beneath to take up one hymn;
both in honour of His birth--both are better by it. Heaven has glory, earth
peace, by means of it. Heaven hath glory; lætentur Coeli. Earth,
peace; exultet terra at Thy Nativity, O Lord. warranted by this song, at
Thy Nativity, O Lord, let the Heavens rejoice for the glory, let the earth
be glad for the peace that come to them by it.
And men, hominibus though they rest and come in last after both, yet
they to do it as much, nay much more than both, for God's good-will toward
them which brought all this to pass in Heaven and earth both; restoring
men to God's favour and grace, and all by means of this Child, their Reconciler
to God who has been, their Pacifier on earth that is, their Glorifier in
Heaven that shall be. They therefore if any, nay more than any. And now
if ever, no more than ever, to bear their part in this glorious hymn at
the cratch side.
Ita canunt in Nativitate quæ per Nativitatem ‘Thus sing they at
His Nativity of those things that came by His Nativity.’ Came to heaven,
to earth, to men. Glory to Heaven, peace to earth, grace and favour to
To take a song right it behoveth to know the parts of it. And they are
easily known; they divide themselves into the number blessed above all
numbers, because it is the number of the blessed Trinity; and the mystery
of the Trinity do the Fathers find in the parts of it. 1. In God on high,
the Father; 2. In peace, Ipse est Pax nostra, the Son; 3. And in the good-will,
the Holy Ghost, the essential love and love-knot of the Godhead, and this
day of the manhood and it.
Being Ode natalitia, if we consider it as a nativity, they that calculate
or cast nativities in their calculations stand much upon triplicities,
and trigons, and trine aspects. And here they be all, a triplicity of things.
1. Glory, 2. Peace, 3. and Good-will. A trigon of parties; 1. God, 2. Earth,
and 3. Men. And a trine aspect, referendo singula singulis; 1. To God glory,
2. to earth peace, 3. to men favour, grace, or goodwill.
But if, as it is most proper, we consider the parts as in a song, the
three will well agree with the scale of music. 1. In excelsis, on high,
hypate; 2. on earth, nete; 3. and men, [216/217] howsoever they come in
last, they make mese, ‘the mean.’ Most fitly; for they, as in the midst
of both the other, partake of both; 1. their soul from on high, 2.their
body from the earth. Not the Heathen but did confess the soul Divinæ
particulam auræ. And for the body there needs no proof that earth
it is; ‘earth to earth’ we hear, we see before our eyes every day.
Of these three parts then assunder. And after, as the nature of a song
requireth, of their 1. conjunction, 2. order, and 3. division. 1.Conjuncton;
glory on high, and in earth peace. 2. Then the order or sequence; but first
glory, then peace. 3. And last, the division, sorting them suum cuique,
‘each to his own.’ 1. To God glory; 2. peace to the earth; 3. Eùdok…a
a to mean. 4. Last of the singing of the hymn, 1. When, the time; 2. and
There are in this hymn, as the Greeks read and we with them, three rests.
The ground of which three are three parties. 1. In excelsis Deo, ‘God on
high;’ 2. In terrâ, ‘earth;’ 3. and hominibus, ‘men.’ To these three
other three; 1. ‘glory,’ 2. ‘ peace,’ 3. ‘good-will,’ as it were three
streams having their head or spring in Christ's cratch, and spreading themselves
thence three sundry ways, having their influence into the three former;
one of these into some one of them. Glory upwards in excelsis; peace downward
to the earth; good-will to men in the midst between both, compound of both.
You will mark, the Child here is God and Man. God from on high, Man
from the earth. To Heaven whence He is God, thither goes glory; to earth
whence Man, thither peace. Then as God and Man is one Christ, and as the
reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so Christ consisting of these two
brings eÙdk…an ‘the fullness of God's favour,’ the true and real
cause of both; yielding them peace while here on earth, and assuring them
of glory when there on high; as thither on high we trust to be delivered
after our time here spent in procuring Heaven glory and earth peace. Thus
But let me not keep from you that the Latin hath but two rests, and
of the Greek some likewise. To two they reduce all, and well. The places
are but two; 1. ‘on high.’ 2. and ‘in earth.’ The persons but two; 1. God,
2. and men. So [217/218] the parts to be but two; 1. glory on high to God;
2. peace on earth to men. But then what shall become of good-will? Good-will
is a good word, would not be lost or left out.
No more it shall. And indeed, the diverse reading of that one word makes
the parts to be either two or three. The Greeks read it in the nominative
case, eiudk…a, which refers to men; then there must needs be three, there
are two besides. The Latins seem to have read it in the genitive, eiudok…aj;
but E, but one letter more. And so they make it of the nature of a limitation,
‘peace on earth to men.’ What, to men promiscue, good and bad, elect and
reprobate? No, but to such as pertain to His endÑkia, God's beneplacitum,
His 'good-will' and purpose; to the children of it.
Eùdok…a, or eÙdk…aj, nominative or genitive, let it not
trouble you. ‘To men a good-will;’ or ‘to men of good-will’ - no matter
whether, so long as eÙdk…a refers to God and to His ‘good-pleasure,’
not to men or any will of theirs. And that so it is to be referred, I will
use no other witness but Cardinal Tolet himself; who in his readings at
Rome, and in the Pope's own Chapel, and upon this very place confesseth
as much, that so is the native signification of the word; and no otherwise
to be taken here, but in that sense.
And in that sense being taken, it goes well. Glory from us to Him, peace
from Him to us. From men on earth to God on high, glory; from God on high
to men on earth, peace. Men I say, towards whom He is now appeased, and
with whom now He well-pleased; and both, for this Child's sake here in
the cratch, ™n û eÙdÒknoa, in Whom He is so absolutely
well-pleased, as of the fullness of His favour we all receive. God spoke
it once, and twice; once at His Baptism; and again in the Holy Mount.
And hoc erit signum, this may be a sure sign that He is well-pleased
with our nature, that He has in this Child taken it and united it to His
own; which, if He had not been highly well-pleased, He would never have
done. What greater good-will can there be than this? It passes the greatest,
even that of marriage, - union of nature, unity of person.
Then riseth there another doubt, what verb to put to here. For never
a verb there is at all. Whether some indicative, - [218/219] glory is or
shall be; and then it is an hymn of gratulation, and agreeth well with
laudantium, a praise to God that these now are. Now hath God glory, now
earth peace. Men are now received to favour and grace. Thus; or whether
siti or estoi in the optative; and then it is votum bene ominatum, ‘a vow
or wish,’ that glory may be to God; and so to the rest.
I say again here, as before I said, it skilled not then whether nominative
or genitive, it skills not know whether indicative or optative. Tehilla,
a praise it is, and tephilla, a wish it may be, do commence. Either is
well, but both are best; for both are most true.
By way of gratulation. Glory now is, or shall be to God for this birth.
Before it was not, at least not so as after. Before it was gloria in excelsis,
but Deo was left out. All nations in a manner worshipping the Host of Heaven,
the superior bodies; deifying the creature, passing by the Creator quite.
Excelsa they did, but Deum in excelsis they did not. But by this birth
now’ down should all idolatry go, as down it went wheresoever Christian
religion took place. From the creature there, all to the Creator. To none
on high, but God on high. The point of glory much mended; God more glory
And the earth more at peace, if you take peace in things spiritual,
matters concerning the soul. One only I will mention. There was, as out
of Varro St. Augustine reckons them, no less than two hundred sixty and
odd several opinions, and that of the wisest then on the earth, touching
man's sovereign good, or chief end. The very highest point, and that did
most concern them; and least peace, most variance in it. This mist also
was scattered, and that point well cleared by Him That was the ‘Way and
the Truth.’ That this eÙdok…a here is it; the favour of God it is,
and the assurance of it, and nothing but it makes a man truly happy when
all is done.
As for the point of God's good-will and favour, that was never in kind
till this day. Many favours, much good-will before, never so as when God
and man, the Godhead and manhood meet both in one. God never so pleased,
as when He was pleased to assume it into one Person with Himself, uniting
both with the straightest union that can be. Never [219/220] that till
this day when for eÙdok…a ™u ¢uqrèpoij ‘good-will towards
men,’ He forsook gloriam in excelsis to come into the cratch for them.
So that for God's favour the gratulation is most just; more than both the
Bishop Bradwardine did join a good issue. Let that be the religion,
let that prevail as best and most true of all other, that is Deo honorabilior,
‘brings more honour to God,’ paci amicabilior, ‘best friend to the earth's
peace,’ and homini favorabilior, ‘most favourable to man,’ as shewing God
better affected to him, and making men better affected to God, better one
to another. That religion is Christian religion. None sings this hymn in
time, in true note, but it; all other are out. So that we have a compendium
of true religion, and three notes of it, out of the three notes of the
song in this anthem. And this, if it be the indicative, or by the way of
But I confess it is more usual per modum voti, ‘by way of wish,’ by
sit than be est. Sit doth better become the Church militant; est is more
fit for the Church triumphant. ‘Glory be to God, peace be to the earth,’
&c. Exoptando that these may be so; and so being continue still, and
be daily more and more. And so taking it, to the triplicity again.
First, glory we wish to God. ‘On high’ stands in the midst, you may
either cast it to the first word glory – ‘glory on high’ and then the point,
that is, ‘high glory;’ or with the point after glory, and cast ‘on high’
to God. A third variety, but easily reconciled if we take in both; ‘glory
on high to God on high.’ One ‘on high’ may serve for the reason why we
wish glory to God; for God being Altissimus, ‘the most High’ as Melchizedek
first styled Him, and glory being the altitude or highest pitch we can
fly or perform, by good reason we wish Him That is highest the highest
thing we have.
But not every glory do we wish, but wish it Him at the highest. All
glory is high, yet is there one glory higher than another. If any be so,
that they wish to God the very height of it, even glory in altissimis,
as high as it can go.
Now the more He is glorified, the higher His glory. Higher if by Heaven
and earth, on high and below, by men and Angels, than by either alone.
This then they wish, when they say ‘glory be in the highest;’ that high
and low, heaven and earth, men and angels would do their parts, to make
His praise glorious, glorious at the highest. On earth, sound it out far
and wide all the world over, to the ends of the earth; and lift up our
voices, and help them with instruments of all kinds, and make them to be
heard up to the very heavens, that so it may be in altissimis indeed. Yea,
that all creatures in both, ravished with the consideration of the great
favour and good-will of God in this day's birth testified, would take occasion
to fill their mouths with the praise of His goodness in resolving, His
wisdom in contriving, His mercy in promising, His truth in performing the
work of this day, the blessed birth of His Son.
For the work of the day, to make the day of the work a glorious day,
causing it to be attended with a number of days according to the number
of months of the year, as no feast else. Glorious in all places, as well
at home with carols, as in the Church with anthems. Glorious in all ages;
even this day, this year, as on the very day on which He was born. Glorious
in habit, in fare; but specially, as we see the angels here do, with the
service of God, the most solemn service, the highest, the most melodious
hymns we have; and namely, with this here of the choir of heaven. In a
word, all the ways we can; all the ways God can have any glory from us,
to let Him have it; and have it even at the height, in altissimis.
And good reason we should so wish; Christ lost his glory by being thus
in the cratch. We took some from Him; to wish Him some for it again. That
was ignominia in infinis, to wish Him gloria in altissimis in lieu of it.
Again, we get glory by it; our nature so. For the glory we get by God
below, to return some glory to God there on high. This is votum gloræ;
this wish we when we wish gloria in altissimis.
The next is votum pacis; they wish peace may be upon earth. Even Augustus'
peace first, that is the first comes to our minds when we hear that word,
the shutting of Janus, for that also was a blessed fruit of the birth.
Esay foretold it, there should then be a bridge from Ashur to Egypt, [221/222]
and from Canaan to them both; that is, from every nation to other, to traffic
and to trade together.
That; but not only that, but the taking down also of the ‘partition
wall’ which formerly Moses had set up between the Jew and Gentile, the
making of them both one in the body of His flesh; St. Paul's peace.
And yet further. For both these are ‘peace upon earth,’ of earth with
earth. Augustus can, the world can give that peace, though many times they
will not. But He speaks in a place of the ‘peace which the world cannot,’
that is peace with Heaven. That there should not be Esay's bridge only,
but Jacob's ladder set up from Bethel to heaven, a peaceable intercourse
with that place by the Angels ‘descending and ascending’ between us and
And further yet, peace at home with ourselves, and with our own consciences.
‘Turn again to your rest, O my soul;’ for in finding Him we will find rest
to our souls.
And last, to answer gloria in altissimis, pax in novissimis, peace at
the parting, which is worth all; Simeon's peace, a good nunc dimittis in
pace, ‘a departing hence in peace.’ And all by means of viderunt oculi,
‘the sight of the salvation’ of this day. All these are in voto pacis.
The third is, there may be in God a ‘good-will towards men.’ And good-will
is a kind of peace, but somewhat more with an extent or prorogation, a
kind of peace peculiar to men which the other parts of the earth are not
capable of. So a farther matter to men than bare peace; even doke‹n eâ,
to ‘think well,’ to bear good-will, to be well-pleased with men. And what
greater wish can there be than in Quo complacitum est Christ hath no more
than ™n û eÙdÒkhsa. It is high glory, that for His,
and this His birth's sake, which we now celebrate, that which is verified
of His Person is verified of both His natures; of Him not only as Son of
God, but even as Son of Man too. And what is verified of Him as Son of
Man, may be verified also of the sons of men, of all mankind. This wish
is at the highest, and more cannot be wished than this favour to-day begun
may still and ever continue to us all. So have you now the three parts
of the Angels' wish, summa votorum, ‘glory be to God.’ &c.
What is now to be done? Three things more; to see the [222/223] 1. connection
copulative, 2. the sequence, 3. and the division. 1. The connection copulative
- a blessed couple, Glory and Peace. 2. The sequence: but first Glory and
then Peace. 3. The division, which to which. 1. One to God, 2. the other
to earth, 3. the third to man.
Glory and Peace are coupled together with an ‘and’ – ‘and in earth peace;’
that Glory would not be sung alone, but Peace together with it. We will
not, we may not skip the copulative; that couples together high and low,
Heaven and earth, and in them God and man; but that which I respect specially,
Glory and Peace must be sung together. If we sing Glory without Peace,
we sing but two halves. No Glory on high will be admitted without peace
upon earth. No gift on His altar, which is a special part of His glory,
but ‘lay down your gift and there leave it, and first go your way and make
peace on earth;’ and that done come again, and you will then be accepted
to give glory to Heaven, and not before. And O that we would go and do
the like, have like regard of His glory that He has of our peace. But this
knot of Gloria et Pax is against those who are still wrangling with one
thing or other, and all for the glory of God forsooth, as if these two
could not join - God could not have His glory if the Church were at peace,
as if no remedy the Angels' et must out.
Glory and Peace; but Glory first, and then Peace. There is much in the
order. Glory to be first, else you change the clef, the clef is in Glory,
that the key of the song. That is to be first and before all, Peace to
give place to her; Glory is the elder sister. And no Pax in terris, unless
it be first considered how it will stand with Gloria in excelsis. To set
Peace before Glory is to set earth above heaven. Keep the order then, each
in her place. So goeth the song; the Child born is God and Man - God from
on high, Man from the earth. Coelestem primo, dein et terrestrem celebrant,
‘they keep the right order in singing of Him:’ we to do the like, Heaven's
part ever to be first.
But then next after His glory nothing more dear, more precious, nay
nothing so dear, so precious to us then as peace. Set Glory safe, and then
by all means inquire Pacem, saith the Psalmist, ‘seek Peace.’ If she hide
herself, [223/224] seek her out, et persequere eam, ‘and pursue her;’ if
she fly away, follow her hard. Peace is not sought, no man follows her
to make any pursuit; they know not the value of Peace that lose her so
easily, that follow her so faintly. Nay instead of pursuit, persecute her
and drive her away, and make the chasing her away the seeking of God's
glory. The second thing in the world is Peace; only one, one only before
it, the glory of God.
But the air of the song is in the division, wherein each is sorted to
his own; God to His, the earth to hers, men to theirs. Justice's division,
which makes peace in Heaven and earth, scored here out so plainly, as it
is easily seen which pertain to which. And we by all means so to distribute
and seal them, and by all means to preserve and hold up this division.
Else we change the note which is as much as the whole harmony is worth.
Now in this partition Glory goes whither? Up ‘on high.’ To whom there?
To God, and to none but God. The place and the person are both set forth.
‘On high’ - there is the place. ‘To God’ - there is the Person. Earth is
not the place of glory, it is in excelsis on high; earth is not on high.
Here below it is, as it were the cellar or vault of the world; where though
there be excelsis and excelsi, ‘high places’ and ‘high persons’ both, yet
the word is ™u Øy…stoij, in altissimus, and altissimi they be not,
‘there be higher than they.’
And as earth is not the place, so man is not the person, for man is
upon earth, and is earth. No glory to man then, especially none this day
of all days. Glory to Him for what? For entertaining Christ and lodging
Him in a stable? Confusion rather; somewhat to be ashamed of, nothing to
glory of. Had men deserved it, some to them; now let God above have the
glory of this day.
Yet conceive it aright; we wish it as our duty, not as any longing of
His. It were a silly conceit to imagine of God as if He were avidior gloriæ,
‘did hunger or thirst for our glory.’ What is He the better for it? Only
nothing we have but that, and so either that or nothing; for nothing but
that can He receive from us. But we have nothing to render Him for all
His goodness, for His eÙdok…a, but dÒxa Give it Him then,
but give it entirely; give it none but Him. Soli Deo, [224/225] saith St.
Paul; Soli saith St. Jude; Soli, let us all say. ‘Not unto us O Lord, not
unto us;’ - it is David, as if he were afraid to touch any part of it.
No: but, as Paul and Barnabas, rend our clothes, if any ‘divine honour’
be forced upon us.
Yet glory we may, I grant, but not this here, gloria in altissimis,
if we sing to any but Him we sing a false note. Men do so now and then,
but the angels are never out; and thus sing they, and set out glory for
Let ‘earth’ be content with ‘peace;’ peace is her portion, and a blessed
portion if she may well hold it; a fair portion, a rich wish. For I would
fain know, what could be said more to the praise of this portion, than
is here in this song? First, that in general it reacheth to the whole earth;
not to men alone, though they have their share too in whatsoever good cometh
to the earth, but it reacheth to all on earth; omni animantium or vegetantium
generi, ‘to all the beasts, all the green things on the earth;’ all are
the better for it.
Secondly, what more for the credit of peace than that it is votum militare,
it comes from the mouths of soldiers' that were there in their military
habit. Even they sing of peace, and praise it, and wish it, where they
wish any good; and know not what better thing to wish to the earth than
it. It is the earth's happiness, peace; it flourisheth by it. ‘Before was
the earth as the garden of Paradise,’ saith the Prophet, ‘behind it was
a waste and barren wilderness, all spoiled and burnt up.’
Thirdly, that is votum Angelicum, ‘an Angels' wish,’ peace. They being
Heavenly Spirits, wish not any thing at any time but Heavenly; so that
a Heavenly thing is peace. And so it is, as Nazianzen here well observed,
pugnas et dissidia nescire Deum et Angelos, ‘no broils, no brabbles in
Heaven, nothing but peace there.’ And a kind of heaven there is upon earth,
when there is peace upon earth; and justly are they blessed, and rightly
are they ‘called the children of God,’ the most blessed that are, or shall
be at any time, who are the procurers of it. This lo, is the Angels' division
But here we are like to have no little ado to maintain this; as we said
before, huic signo a multis contradicitur, ‘as the sign [225/226] so the
song is gainsaid of many.’ The devil doth all he can to mar the Angels'
music, to bring in his own, his own black sanctus, to procure contempt
to God's ‘glory on high,’ to bring God's glory as low as he can, to make
garboiles [= tumult] upon earth, to work men all evil-will, mischief, and
malice that he can.
And first, to make a confusion in this division, persuades earth not
to stand content with the Angels' partition, but earth forsooth must have
glory, must be dealing with Heaven's part. It is well said, ‘to God on
high;’ there be certain gods here below aspire to glory. And glory we would
allow, but no glory will serve, unless gloriam altissimis be sung to it.
Sicut Dii cannot be gotten out of us. We cannot yet get Dominus Deus noster
Papa out of the gloss, no not now after it is reformed. And King Herod
would be content to be made more than a man, and to hear. Nec vox hominem
sonat. And we beneath are too ready to sing it otherwhile, to deify those
that are on high, and give that belongs to ‘God on high’ to gods below.
Now that earth is thus willing to entitle herself to Heaven's part, this
brings all out of tune.
But in tune, or out of tune, to die for it, have it we will. What the
Apostles rent their clothes to put from them, we would rend our skins to
pluck to us. So greedy are we to be held for gods upon earth. Nay, earth
is content to thrust from her own part, that is peace, to invade God's
part, that is glory; Et dum gloraim usurpant pacem turbant, ‘to usurp glory,
they lose peace;’ we can dispense with that. Shift God's glory how it can,
rather than our own should suffer the least disgrace, away with peace,
moveatur terra, ‘let all the world be on a welter.’
What comes of this? Pacem contemnentes et gloriam appetentes, et gloriam
perdunt et pacem: even this peace, their own part, they set light by; glory,
God's part, they gape after, and lose glory and peace both by the means;
and when they have brought all to confusion, set down by their losses.
For first, by seeking glory, glory is lost. The heathen man well observed;
Glory is one of those things that to seek them is the next way to lose,
and to neglect them the way to gain them; Quærendo amittitur, no
readier way to miss it than [226/227] eagerly to seek it. And again, by
seeking glory peace is lost clear. Yielding glory to God does bring with
it pacem in terris; diverting it from Him does take pacem de terris. In
very deed, ‘peace upon earth,’ as it stands after it, so it hath a dependance
upon God's glory; comes, as it were, in exchange for it.Da gloriam et accipe
pacen, saith God; ‘let men on earth send glory up to God on high, and God
on high will send down peace to men on earth,’ and will not fail - Heaven's
peace for earth's glory. Whereby we see, if we miss ‘peace on earth’ at
any time, what it is long of. It is that which makes the Angels here keep
on their armour still. Upon glory detained from God, or transferred whither
it should not, they are up in arms straight, have power to take peace from
the earth, till the point of glory be set right again. The setting right
of which point is the way to recover it. Let Heaven, let God be well deserved
with their part, peace will not long be away. It is coupled to it you see,
it followeth close, Et pax in terris. So much for that division.
‘To men a good-will.’ For besides earth's peace wherein they enter common,
men have a part by themselves which is their prerogative. And first, I
would have you to note that here it is entered first into the music of
heaven. In the Angels' hymn in Esay, in the Old Testament, men are out
there; no mention at all, not a word of them in that. Heaven is in and
earth, but no men there. In the Angels' hymn here in the New Testament,
here men are in; that all may know that for this Child's sake now made
Man, men are now come into the Angels' song, to be a part and a principal
part there who before were left out.
A principal part I say; for mark again, they have never an et, they
stand by themselves. For both those former resolve into this of men, they
the epitome of Heaven and earth; the parties from whom this glory to whom
this peace is principally intended to come. Glory to God, glory and peace;
why both? for God hath received men to grace, men are now in favour again.
But Heaven and earth, and men and all, resolve into the free grace and
good-will of God. How shall they perform either peace of glory, but if
there be toward them first? and secondly, but if there be in them this
third of good-will? [227/228] Thence issues God's glory, thence the earth's
peace. The fountain of both that, nay of Christ and all. For Him this glory,
for Christ; through Him this peace, through Christ. But Christ Himself,
whence? Whence, but from the ‘good-will’ of God towards men? From whence
also the good-will in men to God, and one to another, if any be in them.
That if we higher yet, even of this birth God's good-will was the cause;
and because His will was men should be restored, therefore His will was
Christ should be incarnate and born. Can we go any higher? are we not in
altissimis? Verily, as we said the humility of the sign was so deep we
could not sound it, so may we now that the sublimity of this point is so
high we cannot reach it. There is a part of divinity that dazzles; if we
look too long on it, we may well lose our sight.
Then to ™n ¢nqrèpoij, last. It may be turned two ways, it
will bear both; and for my part I wish no word ever narrowed by a translation,
but as much as might be left in the latitude of the original tongue. 1.:En
¢nqrèpoij will bear eˆj ¢nqrèpouj, in homines,
‘to or toward men.’ So we turn it, and we turn it well. 2. But ™n ¢nqrèpoij
is also in hominibus, ‘in or among men;’ ™n ¢nqrèpoij, as well
as ‘en Øy…stoij, and no less properly. And no hurt if we turn it
so, in hominibus, provided in or erga homines go first, be sung before
it. In hominbus, so ever, as coming from in homines. For then Donum magnum
bonævoluntatis Dei, bona voluntas in hominibus - it is Augustine;
‘of the good-will in men’ to God and man both. The best way is, where there
are two to take in both, so we shall be sure to leave out neither.
Yet in their sequence. To or toward men then first, but to or toward
them for this Child's sake. In Whom He ‘is so well-pleased,’ as for His
sake He is pleased first to receive men to pardon, though grievous sinners,
and so utterly unworthy of it.
Secondly, He is pleased to reward their works also, otherwise, but for
this good-will in God accepting them, that might justly be excepted to
for their many imperfections; to take them well in worth, though they want
worth, and to vouchsafe them a reward, and that a high reward, for ‘it
is your heavenly Father's good pleasures to give you a kingdom.’ [228/229]
Thirdly, beyond both these, He is farther pleased, in some case to accept
even of this eÙdok…a at our hands; and though skill and power both
fail and be wanting, yet a willing mind if there be, if there be but that,
‘a man is accepted, according to that he hath, not according to that he
hath not.’ Mary Madgalene’s quod potuit fecit; the poor widow’s quod habuit
dedit, and God wot it was but two mites, yet well taken though – one eÙdok…a
by another. That He placeth not acceptance, neither in eÙgnes…a,
‘deep capacity of wit,’ nor in eÙdhnas…a, ‘great ability of power;’
but in eÙdok…a, ‘readiness of good-will,’ an honest true meaning,
an unfeigned hearty desire; ut si sit actionis infirmatas, at si sit voluntatis
integritas, ‘though there be weakness in the act, yet if there be soundness
in the will,’ out of His ‘good-will towards men’ He will accept this good-will
in men. Nehemiah's ‘desire to fear Him,’ Ezekias' ‘setting his heart to
seek’ - the servant's but preparing to do his master's will. And even in
David's secundum cor meum, his honest true heart was fairest flower in
And this, if it were well weighed and digested aright, if Christ, if
all that comes by Christ, and that is ‘all in all,’ be by His free grace
and favour; if men were but rightly conceited in this point, it would soon
bring them out of conceit with their own I wot not what, it would make
them truly humble. And it is the humble man that gives God the true glory,
that sings this song right, when all is done. The glory that comes to God
is dÒxa di: eÙdok…an, the first word for the last, With glory
it begins, with good-will it ends; and with good-will it begins, and with
glory ends; as the ‘first shall be last, and the last first.’
But when we have fixed bona voluntas in homines, what hurt will it do
to wish bona voluntas in hominibus? Sure none. Bon voluntas in homines
is to work this bonam voluntatem in hominibus, and that by the very course
of kind. For suum simile, grace to beget his own like is most natural;
bene placitum Dei, to beget bene placitum Deo, Who out of His good pleasure
‘worketh in us both to will and to do,’ and Whose only work it is, Ut respondeat
bonæ voluntati Dei bona voluntas hominis.
What harm then if the Angel should wish it or commend it to men, in
whom if it be it comes from that of God merely [229/230] and from no other.
Verily, what is praiseworthy in God cannot but be so in men too. Summa
religionis est, assimilari Ei quem colis, ‘to become like to Him we worship
is the pitch of all religion.’
Now an eÙdok…a at the second hand there is in men. The word itself
is ascribed to them of Achaia towards the poor saints at Jerusalem, to
St. Paul towards the Jews, to the Philippians towards St. Paul, and in
To wish then in men this eÙdok…a toward God; which where it is
makes men to doke‹n eâ, ‘to have good conceit or opinion’ of God,
which will bring forth a goof affection to God. It is well observed, it
is not ¢gaq¾ qšlhoij, which is properly Greek, for ‘good-will,’
but eÙdok…a, which is rather a ‘good-thinking,’ if we go to the
very nature of the word; but it will come all to one. Only the affection
that begins in the opinion is noted for good, and the opinion that is bred
in the affection not so.
From that good conceit of God, accepting well whatsoever it pleaseth
Him to send; if good receiving it thankfully, if otherwise taking it patiently,
ever praising God for all. But no ways entertaining of Him that opinion,
for which they cannot but love Him the worse, if as of a tyrant sentencing
men to death only for his pleasure, before they have offended him at all.
That would prove no eÙdok…a, as it may be handled. And the Apostle
tells us, the eÙdok…a that is in God is eÙdok…a ¢yaqwsÚhj;
it is not but regulate by His goodness, for which ever may there be glory
ascribed to Him!
Then, to wish it in men towards men: an eÙdok…a also which, where
it is, breeds and inclination to doke‹n eâ, ‘to take all in the better
part;’ and if possibly we can, and ‘as much as in us lieth, to have peace
with all men.’ Which if it were on earth, would make Heaven on earth. Peace
is not said as glory to be ™n, but ™pˆ, and ™pˆ is over; for indeed it
doth but hover aloft over the earth - would light, but cannot otherwise.
The raven can, but the dove cannot, for want of this bona voluntas in hominibus,
or these homines bonæ voluntatis. It finds them not well willing
to peace, while every one stands more for his own reputation or other ends,
than either for [230/231] Churches' or country's peace. Banish the opposites
of eÙdok…a, envy, malice and peace will be no stranger upon earth.
It would then be ™n gÁ where it is ™pˆ gÁj; the same preposition
in both. All depends upon the cadence, endÑk…a: perform that well,
and it will be music for and Angel.
And now you have heard all the parts, what will we do with this song?
Sing it. But we have no Angels to sing it, and it will be music for an
Angel. Angels it would be as at first it was; but when it is not, it will
please them well that men sing it whom it most concerns. But if by men,
of very congruity, an Angels' song would be by men when is some degree
they drew something near to the Angels' estate. At least when nearer than
at other times.
And when is that that men on earth come so? If ever men do rise above
themselves and approach in any sort near to those blessed spirits; if ever
they be in state with Angels and Archangels to laud and magnify His glorious
Name; if in all their lives they be in peace and charity, the bond of perfection,
the bona voluntas we speak of; if at any time it be in men, and they homines
bonae voluntatis, upon the taking of the Sacrament it is; at that time,
then or never, they lift up their hearts in true devotion. So then in best
case that in all our lives to sing it, if Christ ‘dwell in our hearts’
by faith, if we be ‘temples of the Holy Ghost.’
And that we might be in that case and so sing it, the Church is never
unprovided this day of this means of elevating our minds; and it is operæ
pretium, ‘worth the while,’ if it were but for that, and there may be joy
among the Angels in Heaven to hear their hymn kept still alive. Though
there is another congruity for Sacrament, that the ‘great mystery of godliness,’
which is ‘God manifested in the flesh,’ might not be celebrated without
the mystery of His flesh; that the day He came among us to be partaker
of flesh and blood, we also might be partakers of the flesh and blood which
He took from us to give them us again.
But otherwise, this day in this hymn, and this hymn in this day continually
have a special interest. Time in music is much. And if we will keep time
with the Angels, do it when they do it - this day they did it;. and what
fitter time [213/232] to sing it than the day it was first sung, the day
of the first singing of it. Canticum diei, in die cantici When should the
‘hymn of Christ's birth be better sun, than on Christ's birth day?’
But because it is not vox but votum, the voice is not all, but the hearts’
desire and wish it is that God chiefly respecteth, to add that. And what
should we wish from our hearts but that the Angels may have their wish,
every one may have his die as it is here set out. And what should we wish
from our hearts but that the Angels may have their wish, every one may
have his due as it is here set out.
And for Nihil æquis est, quam ut pro quis oret pro eo laboret,
‘what we wish for we should not stand wishing only but endeavour withal
it may come to pass, that it be our labour too,’ with all our endeavours
to procure the glory of heaven, and the peace of the earth; to find peace
in the good-will of God, and to give Him all glory for it, Who hath appointed
peace our portion here, and glory our hope laid up there.
Assuring ourselves, that the same eÙdok…a that was able to bring
the Son of God from Heaven into earth, shall have the like power to lift
up the sons of men from earth, to the glory of Heaven, there with the blessed
Angels to sing this glorious hymn eternally. No more of wish then but of
fruition, and so of everlasting gratulation.