Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter Week: A Sermon on the Resurrection, part 7

In the final section of this sermon, Andrewes ties together many of the strands of thinking and feeling he has created, producing a conclusion that connects Mary Magdalene's "resurrection" to a new life and faith to the Resurrection of Christ. This connecting the events of a particular passage of Scripture to the Nicene Faith, while at the same time opening the words of Scripture up to hearers as a living encounter and then applying the experience of that encounter to Christian discipleship is a challenge each preacher must accept. Needless to say, Andrewes was a master of it.

At the end, Andrewes connects this appearing in John to the Emmaus story in Luke, and draws a surprising conclusion: that these two accounts of the risen Christ show us that God speaks to us equally in sermon and in sacrament (a much-contested matter in Andrewes' day). At the heart of Andrewes' theology is always the centrality of catholicity in its deepest sense: a unitive, holistic vision and experience of the Faith: sermons and sacraments; the mystery of the Incarnation-Atonement-Resurrection-Ascension-Pentecost-Parousia; Divine Love and Divine Judgment; our fragility and need for redemption, and yet our destiny to share in the Divine Nature through divinizing Grace: all of these things are for Andrewes bedrock unities, as they must be for all who would accept and live the catholic Faith "once delivered to the saints," which is the true vision of classical Anglicanism.

Ver. 16. 'Jesus said to her, Mary; she turned herself, and said to Him, Rabboni, that is to say, Master.'

Now magnes amoris amor; 'nothing so allures, so draws love to it, as doth love to itself.' In Christ especially, and in such in whom the same mind is. For when her Lord saw there was no taking away His taking away from her, all was in vain, neither men, nor Angels, nor Himself, so long as He kept Himself gardener, could get anything of her but her Lord was gone, He was taken away, and that for want of Jesus nothing but Jesus could yield her any comfort, He is no longer able to contain, but even disclosed Himself; and discloses Himself by His voice.

For it should seem before, with His shape, He had changed that also. But now He speaks to her in His known voice, in the wonted accent of it, does but name her name, Mary--no more, and that was enough. That was as much to say, Recognosce a quo recognosceris, 'she would at least take notice of Him who showed He was no stranger by calling her by her name;'for whom we call by their names, we take particular notice of. So God says to Moses, Te autem cognovi de nomino, 'thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name.' As God Moses, so Christ Mary Magdalene.

And this is indeed is the right way to know Christ, to be known of Him first. The Apostle saith, now we `have known God,' and then correcteth himself, 'or rather have been known of God.' For till He know us, we shall never know Him aright.

And now, lo Christ is found; found alive, That was sought dead. A cloud may be so thick we shall not see the sun through it. The sun must scatter that cloud, and then we may. Here is an example of it. It is strange a thick cloud of heaviness had so covered her, as see Him she could not through it; this one word, these two syllables, Mary, from His mouth, scatters it all. No sooner had His voice sounded in her ears but it drives away all the mist, dries up her tears, lightens her eyes that she knew Him straight, and answers Him with her wonted salutation, Rabboni. If it had lain in her power to have raised Him from the dead, she would not have failed but done it, I dare say. Now it is done to her hands.

And with this all is turned out and in; a new world now. Away with sustulerunt, His taking away, is taken away quite. For if His taking away were her sorrow, contratiorum contraria consequentia. Si de sublato ploravit, de suscitato exultavit, we may be sure; 'if sad for His death, for His taking away, then glad for His rising, for His restoring again.' Surely if she would have been glad but to have found but His dead body, now she finds it and Him alive, what was her joy, how great may we think! So that by this she saw Quid ploras was not asked her for nought, that it was no impertinent question, as it fell out. Well now, He that was thought lost is found again, and found, not as He was sought for, not a dead body, but 'a living soul;' no, 'a quickening Spirit' then. And that might Mary Magdalene well say. He shewed it, for He quickened her, and her spirits that were as good as dead. You thought you should have come to Christ's resurrection to-day, and so you do. But not to His alone, but even to Mary Magdalene's resurrection too. For in very deed a kind of resurrection it was wrought in her; revived as it were, and raised from a dead and drooping, to a lively and cheerful estate. The gardener had done His part, made her all green on the sudden.

And all this by a word of His mouth. Such power is there in every word of His; so easily are they called whom Christ will but speak to.

But by this we see, when He would be made known to her after His rising, He did choose to be made known by the ear rather than by the eye. By hearing rather than by appearing. Opens her ears first, and her eyes after. 'Her eyes were holden' till her ears were opened; comes aures autem aperuisti mihi, and that opens them.

With the philosophers, hearing is the sense of wisdom. With us, in divinity, it is the sense of faith. So, most meet. Christ is the word; hearing then, that sense, is Christ's sense; voce quam visu, more proper to the word. So, sicut audivimus goes before, and then sic vidimus comes after. In matters of faith the ear goes first ever, and is of more use, and to be trusted before the eye. For in many cases faith holdeth where sight faileth.

This then is a good way to come to the knowledge of Christ, by hodie si vocem, to 'hear His voice.' Howbeit, it is not the only way. There is another way to take notice of Him besides, and we take notice of it. On this very day we have them both.

For twice this day came Christ; unknown first, and then known after. To Mary Magdalene here, and to them at Emmaus. To Mary Magdalene unknown, in the shape of a gardener. To those who went to Emmaus unknown, in the likeness of a traveller by the way-side. Come to be known to her by His voice, by the word of His mouth. Not so to them. For many words He spoke to them, and they felt them warm at their hearts, but knew Him not for all that. But 'He was known to them in the breaking of the bread.' There is the one and the other way, and so now you have both. And now you have them, I pray you make use of them. I see I shall not be able to go farther than this verse.

It were a folly to fall to comparisons, committere inter se, to set them at odds together these two ways, as the fond fashion now-a-days is, whether is better, Prayer or Preaching; the Word or the Sacraments. What needs this? Seeing we have both, both are ready for us; the one now, the other by-and-by, we may end this question soon. And this is the best and surest way to end it; to esteem of them both, to thank Him for both, to make use of both; having now done with one, to make trial of the other. It may be, who knows? If the one will not work, the other may. And if by the one or by the other, by either if it be wrought, what harm have we? In case it be not, yet have we offered to God our service in both and committed the success of both to Him. He will see they will have success, and in His good time, as will be expedient for us, vouchsafe every one of us as He did Mary Magdalene in the text, 'to know Him and the virtue of His resurrection;' and make us partakers of both, by both the means before remembered, by His blessed word, by His holy mysteries; the means to raise our souls here, the pledges of the raising up our bodies hereafter. Of both which He makes us partakers, Who is the Author of both, 'Jesus Christ the Righteous.'&c.

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