From Sermon Preached at St. Giles, London (1598)

Abraham’s desire was a desire joined with trust and confidence. Without this our desire is in vain, be it ever so hot. Abraham’s desire of seeing Christ’s day was joined with hope that he should see it… God had blessed Abraham with abundance of temporal blessings, yet he considered a day would come when his present joy should be taken from him… Therefore, he desired a joy that had a foundation… So Abraham desired a redeemer, and such a one he had: for thus says the Lord who redeems Abraham… that he might redeem his soul from hell… and his body out of the dust of death…

For Abraham confessed himself to be both dust and ashes… Dust in regard of his nature, and therefore subject to corruption; but ashes in regard for his sins, by which he is subject to everlasting condemnation. In respect of both, Abraham desired a redeemer who would deliver both his body from death and his soul from destruction… Though Abraham did not actually see Christ in the flesh, yet he had a desire, which was all one as if he had seen him with bodily eyes.

Abraham rejoiced to think that he was delivered from being dust and ashes, that now he might say with David, you will not leave my soul in hell, nor allow me to see corruption. Abraham rejoiced, considering that by means of Christ his redeemer, he should not only escape the corruption, which is death of body and the death of the soul, which is the wages of sin, but also should have an actual blessing, and that not temporal, but spiritual in heavenly things…

The matter of Abraham’s joy was the hope of a heavenly blessing by Christ. This God signified when he promised that his seed should not only be as the dust of the earth, which is an earthly blessing, but as the stars of heaven… This blessing was, that Abraham should enjoy those things which the eye has not seen…

This blessing should also come to him by his own seed, not by a strange or foreign mean… and his joy was the greater considering that this benefit was not appropriated to the Jews only that were of the stock of Abraham, but that in him all nations should be blessed; not only Abraham and all his children, but as many as were to be blessed, should obtain this blessedness in him…

To desire Christ’s days before he come, and to joy when it is come, are the true touchstones of our love to him. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, heard God was come, they hid themselves. So he who is in a state of sin desires not God’s coming or presence, neither rejoice at it… Abraham knew a day would come that should take away all his earthly joy, and therefore desired the day of Christ’s birth which might make him to rejoice in tribulation… and rejoice in afflictions…

As we must rejoice at this day of Christ, after Abraham’s example; so Christ has a second day, wherein he will give to every man according to his works… If we rejoice at this day, when it comes, and desire it, if we love the glorious coming of Christ, if we look for the appearing of the just God, then shall we show ourselves the children of Abraham. Of that day to see it, he says it shall be matter of joy: Lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near. To others, a matter of sorrow, for they shall hide themselves in the rocks.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was Bishop of Chichester and Winchester, one of the most influential scholars and church leaders of his day. He was one of the principal translators of the Authorized “King James” Version of the Bible, and a widely admired preacher. He developed his reputation as an erudite, literary preacher while serving as vicar of London’s Church of St. Giles, Cripplegate in the 1590’s. He is commemorated on September 26 on the calendar of several Anglican churches.