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pound of Bethlehem and eternity. And now we have Him,
what shall we do to Him ? But first, what shall He do to
us ? With God, Officium fu?idatur in beneficio ; ' He first
doth for us, before He require aught of us.' This He shall
do for us; He shall be to us, — ^\^\'o is the word of the text,
St. Matthew turns it 'Hyovf/^svog. 1. Which in the first and
native sense is a guide for the way, Dux vice to' lead us : 2.
In a second, is a Captain, Dz^x militice, to guard us. 3.
And to these two by way of paraphrase St. Matthews adds,
OoT/f <7roffj)avs7, Qui pascet, "a Guide That shall feed us."


1 62 Of the Nativity,

I. To lead us in the way. 2. To guard us in the way. 3.
To feed us in the way. In these three, His office. From
a place, He came to be our Guide to a place. Still he holds
on with his local terms he began with. For a guide serves
properly to bring one to a place. There is in that word
both the office He to perform to us, and the benefit we to
receive by Him guiding. And it implieth also our duty
to Him again. For if He to lead, we to be led by Him;
" He is become the Author of eternal salvation," saith the
Apostle, "to them as will obey Him and be guided by
Him," (Heb. v. 9), and to none other.

Will ye see, first, the necessity of both those "His
comings forth " for this office to be our Guide ? Egredietur
ex te, first. He was to be of us, being to guide us; for
being of us, He would the better understand our wants, and
have the more compassion on them. (Heb. iv. 15.) There-
fore if a Prophet, " A Prophet shall the Lord raise up unto
you, from among your brethren," (Deut. xviii. 18); — Moses'
egredietur ex te. If a Prince, " your noble Ruler shall be of
yourselves, even from the midst of you;" — Jeremy, (xxx. 21.)
So he, egredietur ex te. If a Priest, then " to be taken from
men, and be ordained for men, in things pertaining unto
God," (Heb. v. i) ; the Apostle's egredietur ex te. To be
every one of these; and these three be the three great
guides of mankind.

And again ; as meet He should come forth " from
eternity," if thither He to bring us. None can bring to a
place so well as He that hath been there. There He had
been, had "inhabited eternity" saith Esay. (Ivii. 15.)
Thence He came, and coming thence best knows the way
thither again. So neither of His " outgoings " more than

Now to our " Guide." Where the terms of way and of
walking and leading meet us so thick, are so frequent all
along the Scripture, as plain it is our very life is held as a
journey; and we, as the schoolmen term us, viatores, 'in
state of way-faring men or travellers ' all, from our coming
into the world to the going out of it again, still going on in
the way or out of the way, the one or the other. If so, in a
journey two things we have to look to; i. our quo, and 2.
our qua. i. quo, our end 'whither;' 2. qua, our way 'by
which.' St. Thomas said well, " Lord, we know not whither

Sermon X. 163

Thou goest ; and how then can we know the way ? " (John
xiv. 5.) Right ; for ignoranti quem portum petat nullus
secundus est ventus^ ' no wind is good for him that knows not
for what port he is bound.' He that knows not whither he
goes, wanders, and is never in his way ; is never in it, for he
hath none to be in.

First then, quo, ' whither ? ' Now the end of the verse is
our journey's end, "eternity." Where if we may arrive,
happy we ; that is agreed on presently. So is not the way

But yet, this I take is agreed ; that if it be a ready way, we
care the less for a guide j but if hard to it, then dux nobis
opus, ' we need one.'

And sure, the way is not ready to hit; not so easy a
fool may find it. It is a foolish imagination so to ween
of it.

By-ways there be divers, many cross paths and turnings
in and out j and we like enough to miss it, if we venture on
it without a guide. If there be not one to call to us ever
and anon, as Esay (xxx. 21.) Jlcec est via, ambulate in eci,
" This the right way, keep it ; " — if not, you go you know
not whither.

The first point then is to find our own want, to think we
are in case to need a guide. For if we need none, this text
is superfluous j "and thou Bethlehem," and Thou Christ,
ye may both well be spared. If we be able to go the way
without a guide, to be guides to ourselves, nay to be guides
to our guides, then ; — the world is come to that now.

Well, he was a wise man and a great counseller that said
when time was, " How can I without a guide ? " (Acts viii.
31) ; and the wise men at this feast were not so well per-
suaded of their own skill, but they sought and took direc-
tions. (Matt. ii. 2.) Let us follow them.

To get us one then. And not any one, but one that is
skilful in the way : no one thing need we so to be advised of
as this. For strange it is, but true it isj even they that be
blind themselves will take upon them to be guides to others.
You know who said. Si ccecus ccecuni. (Matt. xv. 14.) That
si was no vain si, no idle supposition j usque hodie, it is done
daily. But the end there is infoveam, a place we would not
come to ; and God keep us from it !

One then that is skilful. And where shall we have any

1 64 Of the Nativity.

so skilful as This, This of ours ? He cannot but be so. It
is sure, there were no better guide than the way itself, if the
way could speak to us, and tell us when we were right or
wrong in it. Now He, '^ He is the Way," (John xiv. 6) ;
the Way and the End both. As God, He is the End ; — the
fruition of the Godhead, the end of our journey. As man.
He is the Way ; both Way and Guide too. His doctrine,
our guide j His example, in the whole tract .of His life, the
very way thither.

Nothing remaineth but that we now set forward in this
way. For as we daily sing in the Benedictus, He came, not
to whet our wits or to file our tongues, but to " guide our
feet into the way." (Luke i. 79.) And into what way? Not
of questions and controversies whereof there is no end, about
which we languish all our life long, but " into the way of
peace," even of those duties about which there is no dis-
agreement. Look but to this feast, it is St. Augustine's
note, didicerunt Magi, et abiertmt ; doaierunt ScribcB et re-
manserufit, ' The wise men they learnt the way and they
went ; the Scribes they taught the way, but they tarried still
behind..' O do as did the wise men, dimittunt Scribas
ina7iiter lectitare, ipsi pergunt fideliter adorare, ' Let the
Scribes sit still, and scan and read lectures of the way ; on
v/ent the wise men on their way, and performed their wor-
ship, the end of their journey' — and so let us. This for
dux vicE.

And this would serve for the way, if there were nothing
but the way, if that were all. But if there be enemies
beset the way to stop our passage, then will not dux, "a
guide," serve our turn ; we must have dux, " a captain "
then, (the second sense of the word r,yo\JiMivog,) one to guard
us and to make way for us. For we are not only to be led
surely without error, but safely without danger also. Such
a guide we behove to have, as will see us safe at the place
we would be at. And Bethlehem breeds such. Out of little
Bethlehem came he that fetched down great Golias. (i Sam.
xvii. 49.) And again, out of it this day He That "shall
tread down Satan under our feet." (Rom. xvi. 20.) Dux
Messias, Captain Messias, as the Angel in Dan. ix. 25, calls

And for Qui pascet, we may not miss that neither. For
say we be guarded from enemies ; yet shall we go our

Sermon X. 165

journey but evil, if we faint by the way for hunger or thirst,
and have not to relieve us. He is not a good guide that in
that case cannot lead us where we may be purveyed of
necessary food for our relief. It is all one to perish out of
the way by error, and to perish in the way by want of need-
ful refreshing. St. Matthew therefore, to make Him a com-
plete Guide by way of supply, adds Qui pascet ; such an
One as shall lead more pastoritio^ * as a shepherd doth his
flock j' not lead them the way only, but lead them also to
"good green pasture, besides the waters of comfort," (Ps.
xxiii. 2) ; see they want nothing. Dux Qui pascet^ or Pastor
Qui duceti choose you whether, for He is both.

Of all the three, the name of the place He was born in
seems to favour this most \ to be ominous toward Qui pascet.
Beth is a house, lehem bread, and Ephratah is plenty ;
" bread," " plenty." And there was in Bethlehem a well of
such water as King David, we read, longed for it, (i Chron.
xi. 17) — the best in all the country. Bethlehem then sure a
fit place for Qui pascet to be born in, and Qui pascet as fit a
Person to be born in Bethlehem. He is not meet to be
ruler, saith Esay, that saith in domo mea non est panis. (Isa.
iii. 7.) He can never say that Bethlehem is his house, and
that is domus panis, and in do?no panis semper est panis.
Never take Him without bread, His house is the house of
bread, inasmuch as He Himself is Bread ; that in the house
or out of it— wheresoever He is, there is Bethlehem. There
can no bread want.

These three abilities then are in Christ our Leader.
I. Skill to be a Guide; 2. valour to be a Captain ; 3. and
for Qui pascet, Bethlehem, the house of bread, is His house.
Of which, T. skill serves for direction ; 2. strength for de-
fence ; 3. food for refreshing.

1. Luce sacerdotalis scienfice, 'by the light of His priestly
knowledge j' — so He guides us, " For the priest's lips are to
preserve knowledge." (Mai. ii. 7.)

2. And brachio regalis pofe?itice, 'by the arm of His royal
power ;' — so He guards us, for power pertains to the prince

3. And for Qui pascet, He is Melchizedek, King and
Priest ; ready to bring forth as he did bread and wine.
(Gen. xiv. 18.) But in another manner far than he did.
The bread and wine Melchizedek brought forth were not

1 66 Of the Nativity.

his body and blood j Christ's are. Both Qui pascet and
Qiio pascet. As before Dux et Via, "the Guide and the
Way j " so now here Pastor et Pabulum, " the Feeder and
the Food," both.

You may see all this represented in the shadows of the
Old Testament. There is a book there called Exodus, of
Israel's egredietur out of Egypt. Therein they had Moses
for their guide ; and he led them to the borders of the Holy
Land, and there he left them ; to shew " the law brought
nothing to perfection." (Heb. vii. 19.) Then comes
Joshua, whom the Epistle to the Hebrews calls Jesus,
(Heb. iv. 8), the figure of ours here, and by his con-
duct they were led and put in possession of the land of

All this but in type of another Testament " after to be
made," saith Jeremy, (Jer. xxxi. 31); and "upon better
promises," saith the Apostle, (Heb. viii. 6); namely, our
spiritual leading through this vale of vanity to the true land
of promise, ''the Heavenly Jerusalem that is from above,"
(Gal. iv. 26); whither This our Jesus undertakes to bring
all those that will be guided by Him.

Observe but the correspondence between the type and
the truth. Moses, when he came to lead the people, found
them how ? " scattered over all the land of Egypt, to seek
stubble for brick," (Exod. v. 12), to build him a city that
sought the ruin of them all. Our case right the very pattern
of it j when our Guide finds us wandering in vanity, picking
up straws, things that shall not profit us ; " seeking death in
the error of our Hfe," (Wis. i. 12), till we be so happy as to
light into His guiding.

Secondly, Moses was to them not alone dux vicB, 'a guide
for the way j ' but when enemies came forth against them,
dux militicB, ' a captain for the war.' Christ was so too, and
far beyond Moses. For He made us way with the laying
down of His life. (Isa. liii. 12.) So did neither Moses nor
Joshua. Would die for it, but He would open us a passage
to the place He undertook to bring us to. Was Di^x, a
Guide, in His Life ; Dux, a Captain, in His death.

Thirdly, Moses when they fainted by the way obtained in
their hunger manna "from Heaven," (John vi. 32), and in
their thirst " water out of the rock for them." Christ is
Himself the " true Manna ; " Christ, the spiritual Rock.

Sermon X. 167

(i Cor. X. 4.) Whom He leads He feeds ; carries Bethlehem
about Him.

Plain, by the ordaining of His last Sacrament, as the
means to re-establish " our hearts with grace," (Heb. xiii. 9),
and to repair the decays of our spiritual strength ; even
" His own flesh, the Bread of life," (John vi. 33, 48), and
*' His own blood" "the Cup of salvation." (Ps. cxvi. 13.)
Bread made of Himself, the true Granum frumenti, "Wheat
corn." (John xii. 24.) Wine made of Himself, "the true
Vine." (John xv. i.) Went under the sickle, flail, millstone,
and oven, even to be made this Bread ; " trod, or was
trodden, in the wine-press alone," (Isa. Ixiii. 3), to prepare
this Cup for us.

And in this respect it may well be said, Bethlehem was .
never Bethlehem right, had never the name truly till this
day this birth, this Bread was born and brought forth there.
Before it was the house of bread, but of the bread that
perisheth ; but then of the " Bread that endureth to ever-
lasting life." (John vi. 27.) That it might seem inter alia^
to have been one of the ends of His being born there to
make it Bethlehem veri nominis^ ' Bethlehem truly so called/

And this is His office. Now all the doubt will be how
He can perform this office to us, go before us and be our
Guide, seeing He is now in Heaven at His journey's end,
and we in earth by the way still. No matter for that. He
hath left us first the way traced by the steps of His blessed
life, which we keeping us to, sure we are we cannot go
amiss. And then, as before He came in the flesh " He
led them by the hand of Moses and Aaron," (Ps. Ixxvii. 20)
— ^guides chosen and sent by Him — so doth He us now by
the hands of those whom the Apostle three several times in
one chapter calleth by this very name, ^Hyov/xsvovi, our
" guides," (Heb. xiii. 7, 17, 24), by whom He leads us if He
lead us at all. And other leading we are not to look for
any; only to pray they may lead us right, and then all
is well.

And they cannot but lead us right, so long as they but
teach us to " follow the Lamb whither He goeth." (Rev.
xiv. 4.) For their office is but to lay forth before us the
way traced by the steps that He went. Those steps, when
all is done, are ever our best directions. And I mean to do
but so now. As here, not to go a step out of the text, there

1 68 Of the Nativity,

are four or five of these steps, as many as we shall well
carry away at once. And these they be.

The main point is ; it is a place, and so to be gone to.
We take this from the Shepherds directed thither by the
Angel, to resolve of traiiseamus usque Bethlehem, " that v/e
get us to Bethlehem." (Luke ii. 15.) There is the rendez-
vous to-day, there He will be first seen and saluted, there
He began with us, there we to begin with Him ; where He
set forth, there our setting forth to be also. Indeed, there
is no finding Him but there, this feast. There the shepherds
found Him this day the first; there the wise men on twelfth-
day, the last. But thither they came both ; both the shep-
herds directed by the Angel (Luke ii. 12), and the wise men
guided by the star. (Mat. ii. 9.) The shepherds — in them,
the Jews ; the wise men — in them the Gentiles. The shep-
herds — in them unlettered persons. The wise men — in
them the profoundest clerks. The shepherds — in them
mean men. The wise men — in them great states. Be
what we will be, at Bethlehem to begin, all. Thither to go
to Him, thence to set out after Him. Transeamus usque

How shall we do that ? What, shall we go in pilgrimage
to the place ? We learn a shorter course of the Apostle,
"The righteousness of faith," saith he, "speaketh on this
wise ; say not thou in thy heart, Who shall go over the sea
for me ? that were to bring Christ again into earth. But
what saith it ? The word is near thee, in thy mouth, and
in thy heart." (Rom. x. 6, 8.) And this it is. Bethlehem
hath here two twins — an epithet, a virtue or two. Get but
them, get your souls possessed of them, it will save you a
journey. You shall never stir hence, but be at Bethlehem
standing where you do.

Paruula is the first; you know, Bethlehem is "little."
And look, what little and low is in quantity, that is little
in our own eyes and lowly in quality. Get that first,
humility, it is the Bethlehem of virtues where He in great
humility was found this day. If we begin not there, we
lose our way at the first setting out. For this is sure ;
where eternity is the termiiius ad quem^ there humility is
the terminus a quo. Humility is the first comma of the
sentence, where eternity is the period, as in this verse it is.
And even here now at the first is Christ like to lose

Sermon X, i6g

a great part of His train. The Pharisees are gone, all
too big for Bethlehem they ; and with them all that are n
/j.sya, " some great matter/' (Acts viii, g), in their own sight.
Touching whom we may use the Apostrophe ; " And thou
Bethlehem" are too "little " for these great conceits. None
of them will come out of thee, or come at thee by their
will — every one of them is a cunning guide himself; and no
guide they, but sequuntur spiritum suum, " their own bold
spirit," (Ezek. xiii. 3), bid Bethlehem farewell; at it they
come not. 'We\\,parvula is the first.

The next station is to the next virtue, and that is
Ephratah, " fruitfulness ; " — so it signifies : little it is, but
fruitful. Fruitful, first, that it brought forth Him ; for He
hath brought forth, seen come of Himself saith Esay,
longcevu?n semen, "a lasting seed," (Isa. liii. 10); the fruit
whereof to this day " shake th like Libanus, and as the green
grass covereth all the earth." (Ps. Ixxii. 16.) I mean the
Christians that were, are, or ever shall be. How great an
Ephratah of how little a beginning ! It is not only little,
but Ephratah too ; and by that know it. For indeed, good
heed would be taken that we go not to the wrong Beth-
lehem; not to Bethlehem Zebulon, that is Bethlehem on
the sands, (so lay Zebulon by the sea,) " Bethlehem the
barren;" but to "Bethlehem Judah," "Bethlehem Ephratah,"
that is " Bethlehem the Fruitful." That is, to humility to
add fruitfulness, I mean plenteousness in all good works.
Else it is not Ephratah, not right. Not right repentance
unless it be Ephratah, " bring forth fruits of repentance,"
(Luke iii. 8); nor faith, without "the work of faith;" nor
love, " without the labour of love," (i Thes. i. 3) ; nor
any other virtue without her Ephratah. Ephratah is not the
surname of humJlity only, but even of the rest too — re-
pentance Ephratah, and faith Ephratah ; et sic de cceteris, if
they be true. Else be they but vites frondosce, " leaves and
nothing else," (Hos. x. i) ; simulachra virtutum, and not
virtues indeed ; of Zebulon, not of Judah ; and so, not the

Fruitful then, and of what fruit ? That is in the very
name itself of Bethlehem. Not the fruit of the lips, a few
good words, but " the precious fruit of the earth," (James
V. 7), as St. James calleth it — lehem, " good bread ;" that
fruit. Such fruit as St. Paul carried to the poor saints at

170 Of the Nativity,

Jerusalem, (Rom. xv. 28), "alms and offerings." That is
the right fruit ; cum signavero fructmn hmc, " it hath the
seal on it " for right. Such as the Philippians sent him for
supply of his want, whereby he knew they were alive again
at the root -, in that they thus fructified, yielded this fruit of
a " sweet odour and wherewith God was highly pleased,"
(Phil. iv. 10, 18), as there He tells them.

It was not sure without mystery, that the Temple was first
heard of at Ephratah, (Ps. cxxxii. 6), at this "fruitful"
place. No more was it, that which the Fathers observe of
the trees, that were used about it. Not a post of the Temple,
not a spar, nay not as much as a pin, but was made of the
wood of a fruit-bearing tree ; no barren wood at all in it. No
more was it, that the Altar of the Temple was founded on a
threshing-floor (2 Sam. xxiv. 25) (Araunah's) where good
corn was threshed. All to shew, it would be plenteous in
feeding and clothing, and such other pertaining to this of
Ephratah. Which, however, they be with us, will be the
first and principal point of inquiry at the day of doom ; even
about feeding and clothing, and other works of mercy.
(Matt. XXV. 35, 36, 42, 43.)

Now if we could bring these two together, make a con-
junction of them in Ge77iini^ it were worth all. For I know
not how but if there be in us ought of Ephratah, if we happen
to be any thing fruitful but in any degree, away goes par-
mila straight. Straight we cease to be little ; we begin to
talk of merit and worth, and I wot not what. Indeed, if we
be all barren and bare, it may be then and scarce then
neither, but peradventure then we grow not high-minded.
But so we fall still upon one extreme or other. If fertile,
then proud ; if humble, then barren. We cannot get to be
humble yet not fruitless, or to be fruitful yet keep our
humility still. Not Ephratah BXid parvula together. But
that is the true Bethlehem, and " there was He born." (Ps.
Ixxxvii. 4.) And thus far I hope we have been led right,
and are in our way.

But leading is not all. Here is Qui pascei too, and we
may not pass it. For to that He leads us also, Dux Qui
pascet. We followed a false guide at first that led us to the
forbidden fruit, the end whereof was morte mori€7?iini.
This now will lead us to a food of the nature of the Tree of
Life, (Gen. iii. 6), even the Bread of life, (John vi. 48), by

Sermon X, 171

eating whereof we shall have life in ourselves, even life im-
mortal. That is His food He leads us to. And if we would
forget this, both the Person and the place — the Person, Qui
pascet, " That shall feed ; " and the place, Bethlehem, " the
house of bread," would serve to put us in remembrance of
it. Even of the breaking of bread, which the Church as
this day ever hath, and still useth as the Childhouse feast.

We speak of the transeamus usque Bethlehem, "going
thither." That may we even locally do and never go out of
this room, inasmuch as here is to be had the " true Bread
of life that came down from Heaven." (John vi. 51.)
Which is " His flesh " this day born, which *' He gave for
the life of the world," (John vi. 32, 41, 31), called by Him
so, the true Bread, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of life —
and where that Bread is, there is Bethlehem ever. Even
stride loquendo, it may be said and said truly, the Church in
this sense is very Bethlehem no less than the town itself.
For that the town itself never had the name rightly all the
while there was but bread made there, bread {panis homi-
nwri) ' the bread of men.' Not till this Bread was born there,
which is Funis Angeloru??ij as the Psalm calleth it, "and
man did eat Angels' Food." (Ps. Ixxviii. 25.) Then, and
never till then, was it Bethlehem ; and that is in the Church,
as truly as ever in it. And accordingly the Church takes
order we shall never fail of it. There shall ever be this day
a Bethlehem to go to — a house wherein there is bread, and
this bread. And there shall be Bethlehem, and so near us,
and shall we not go to it ? Or, shall we go to it, to the
House of Bread, this Bread, and come away without it?
Shall we forsake our Guide leading us to a place so much
for our benefit ?

Ubi Domine, was the Apostle's question ; and his answer
Ubi corpus, ibi aquilce, " where the body is, there the eagles
will be." (Luke xvii. 37.) Let it appear we are so, for here
is the "body."

Else do we our duty to Him but by halves. For as our
duty to Dux is to be led, so our duty to Qui pascet is to
be fed by Him. To end. And thus ducendo pascit, and
pascendo ducit, ' Leading He feeds us, and feeding He leads
us ' till He bring us whither ? Even to a prittcipio, back
again to where we were at the beginning ; and at the
beginning we were in Paradise. That our beginning shall

\J2 Of the Nativity..

be our end. Thither He will bring us — nay, to a better
estate than so \ to that whereunto, even from Paradise, we
should have been translated, to the state of eternity, to the
joys and joyful days there \ even to glory, joy, and bliss
eternal. To which He bring us, even our blessed Guide,
That this day was in Bethlehem born to that end, "Jesus
Christ the righteous !" (i John ii. i.)


A Sermon preached before the King's Majesty at
Whitehall, on Wednesday, the Twenty-fifth of
December, a.d. mdcxvi., being Christmas-day.

Online LibraryLancelot AndrewesSeventeen sermons on the nativity → online text (page 17 of 30)