In Linen All Are Placed

From “Sermon for Whitsunday” (1619)

It is well sorted (you see): the Jews and proselytes at Jerusalem, their city; the Gentiles, at Caesarea, Caesar’s city… Well observed it is, about the calling of the Gentiles, that, in both the Old Testament and the New, they came both from one place: Joppa. From there was loosed Jonah to Nineveh; from there, set out Peter to Caesarea…

God accepted one nation before others, and that nation was the Jews. You only have I known of all the nations of the earth, said God in Amos.… [Yet] Peter saw his vision come to pass: Moses’s unclean birds and beasts are become clean all, and all to be eaten, now. And the Gentiles, whom he held for no less unclean….

All in one great sheet…In Christ there is neither Jew nor gentile; all is one – the black Ethiopian or the white Italian; the Areopagite in his long robe or the centurion in his short mantle or military habit; all conditions, all nations, are in all persons. God has shut up all in unbelief so that he might have mercy upon all.

And good reason for it. Consider the apostle’s own framing (Gal. 5:17.) If the law which came four hundred years after, could not cancel the covenant made with Abraham so long before, then by the same [reasoning], nay by a better consequence, neither could the covenant with Abraham make the promise of God of no effect, namely, the promise, that was made in paradise more than four times four hundred years before that made to Abraham’s, to the woman and to her whole seed.

The vision which Saint Peter saw was at Joppa: he was gone as far from Jewry as there was any land, hard to the seaside, to the very parting place, where they loosed usually, when they went to the lands of the Gentiles. Jonah loosed from there. And in a tanner’s house it was.

To Simon the tanner all skins were one, and he made leather indifferently using the badger’s skin as well the sheep’s skin… And it was a linen sheet which truly showed were all clean. The Jews wrapped the first-born of their clean beasts in linen, if any happened to die before they came to be offered, and so buried it. But never were any unclean beasts put in linen. Now, in linen are all placed.

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 preached the 1619 Whitsunday sermon at Greenwich before King James I. He is commemorated on September 26 on the calendar of several Anglican churches.

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