THE EVIDENCE Of things not SEEN, OR, Diverse Scriptural, AND Philosophical Discourses; Concerning the State of Good and Holy men after Death:

In Answer to these following Questions,

1. Whether the Soul after death, be endued with percep­tion, or sleeps▪ without exercising any of its Faculties, until the day of Judgment?

2. What is the place of the Souls abode Immediately after death, and what is then the measure of the happiness of the Faithful?

3. What will be the Condition of the Soul and Body, at the Resurrection; when they shall be Joyning, and Re-joyned together?

4. What will be the Nature of a good Mans Happiness in Eternal Glory, after the Resurrection?

By that Eminently Learned Divine MOSES AMYRALDUS.

Translated out of the French Tongue, By a Minister of the Church of England.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Cockerill at the Sign of the Three Legs, in the Poultry.


My Dear,

THE Excellent Author of the following Discourses, wrote them for the only use of his Dear Wife, without any intention of Printing them; but some Friends (obtaining a sight of them in Manuscript) were so delighted with them, and so satisfied with the Philosophy and Reason of them; together with the Scriptural evidences here made use of, (which do clearly reveal and plainly Manifest very [Page] [...] [Page] [...] [Page] much of the nature of mans future State and Condition) as that they did not only judge them worthy of the Publick view, but making it their earnest re­quest to him, did (by the Me­diation of so prevalent a person as his nearest Relation) gain his consent (as he tells us) for the publishing of them.

Dear Heart, I did, sometimes since, Translate them also for your use, and now at your desire, I do suffer them to pass the Press; you have Communicated them to some of your Relations: who think that they may be of great advantage to devout and pious Souls. I do therefore, willingly commit them to your and their Disposal; and if they may pro­mote, and increase a love to, and a faith in that blessed future State, [Page] which is the Subject of them; I shall most Heartily Rejoyce therein.

I very well know that such subjects are very congruous, suit­able, and pleasant to your Soul; and it was the knowledge there­of, that did engage me at some Vacant hours to Translate them. You have Experienced much good already by them; and I doubt not, but they will tend yet further to encrease a passion in you for God and Heaven.

It may be also, that God may bless them to produce the same Effects, upon many others, that shall peruse them.

But as the Author inscribed them to no other Name than Hers, for whose sake he Wrote [Page] them: So I, having made them English for your Use in a Espe­cial manner; do now make the Dedication of them only to your self; always praying, that God would so bless them to the profit of all that shall Read them, that they (together with us) may be made Partakers of that blessed Inheritance; a clear Map where­of, is herewith so lively Deline­ated, and so plainly Exhibited, to our, and their Eyes.

Now the God of peace fill thee (my Dear) with all joy through Believing, which is the Dayly Prayer of, thine,

G. J.

Concerning the STATE Of the FAITHFUL After Death.

ALthough the Apostle St. Paul writing to the Thessalo­nians, exhorts them to de­rive their Comforts in the loss of their Friends from the hopes of a happy Resurrection, and tho the full Revelation of our happiness be re­served indeed till the day when that shall be. Nevertheless we do not cease to Comfort those to whom such [Page] accidents arrive by this Considera­tion, that assoon as the Soul is separate from the body, it is re­ceived into a place of refreshment and repose, where expecting this Resurrection it enjoys a Contentment greater than can be expressed. We have been accustomed to give this hope to the diseased, that we see in danger of death, that if they be removed from this life, it will be to enter into a better, where they shall forthwith possess joy and happi­ness, which we essay to describe in the most Illustrious manner that we are able. But the thing it self must infinitely surpass all that we can in our words say concerning it. And forasmuch as 'tis apparent that naturally things a far off touch us little; whereas those that are near, and such as we think under our hand, give to our Spirits motions [Page] and perceptions far more lively; this Consolation hath (I know not how) more of efficacy both to sweet­en the trouble of those that live, and to abate the regret of those that die, than the expectation of the re­establishment of this Body, which according to all appearance of things seems to be differred to a time suf­ficiently long: Now as 'tis suitable to the Christian Religion, and to the Office of those that are to Publish it, to fill the minds of men with generous hopes, and to make them feel, the most lively Consolations; so 'tis worthy of its Excellence, that these hopes and Consolations be true and certain, and that those that do receive them have a full perswasion of it. For the efficacy of such things depends on the evidence and solidity of their truth, and in what degree a man doubts the truth of [Page] what is promised, or whereof he receives assurance, in the same de­gree, the content that he receives from it, doth weaken and diminish. Forasmuch then as there is nothing, the use whereof, returns more fre­quently in the life of man, and that, there is not a Family among Christi­ans, that doth not sometimes need such Consolations, and that the infirmity of the flesh finds always much of difficulty to impress on us aforehand the belief of these things, and that even among Christians themselves some have doubted of the Estate of Souls after death, and that it cannot be avoided but that in the parti­cular Entercourse and Conversation, of men they will happen on the dis­course of this matter. I do believe that it will not be altogether with­out reason, to bestow some hours on the attentive Consideration of [Page] this Subject. If my thoughts about it be of no use to the Edification of the Publick, at least my near Allies may derive with me some par­ticular utility from them, in the Afflictions of this sort wherewith God hath visited us. I propound to my self, therefore to examine by the word of God (for 'tis from thence only that we can fetch such light as may satisfy us in these mat­ters) principally four things. First what is the Estate of the faithful Soul after death. Whether it be endowed with perception, or whe­ther it remain asleep without any use of its faculties until the day of Judgment. Secondly (it being supposed, which we shall make ap­pear, that it exercises them with much joy and satisfaction) what is the place where 'tis received, and what is the measure of the joy and [Page] happiness that it doth enjoy. Third­ly what will be its State at the Re­surrection, and what the condition of the Body to which it shall be re­joined. Lastly, what will be the quality of its happiness, then when it shall be received into Heaven, with its Body there to live an eter­nal and glorious Life.

Whether the SOUL OF A BELIEVER, Be indued With Perception after Death.
The First Discourse.

THat I may come to the Resolution of the first of these Questions, whether the Soul of a believer be indued with perception after death, I desire that I may be pardoned, if at first I enter upon con­siderations a little Philosophical, which [Page 2] nevertheless I shall endeavour to explain as briefly, and intelligibly as I am able. I lay down therefore as a foundation, a thing which remains indisputable among Christians, viz. that the Soul and Body are two substances in their natures mar­velously differing, and in like manner endowed with faculties altogether various, for the Body is in its nature material, and taken from the Earth and the other Elements, the Soul is a spiritual substance almost of the same kind with those in­telligences separate from Matter, which we usually call by the name of Angels. The Body hath indeed certain Organs (as they are called) by the mediation whereof it is capable of receiving the Images of sensible things, and to judge of their qualities, the Hearing, the Seeing, the Smelling, and those other things which we name Senses, are without doubt Corporeal powers in us, and ap­pointed to judge of Colours sounds odours, and other qualities which attend and accompany material objects; never­theless 'tis the Soul that Comunicates to the Body the power of using its own Organs, and imploying its self in the use of those Senses, and this appears manifestly, because as soon as the Soul [Page 3] is separate from it, all the powers of these Organs are extinct and there remains not the least shadow of their Operations, moreover the body seems likewise to be the seat of certain appetites, and passions. For Choler and lust do very much affect and trouble it when they are moved, and the part that the temperament of the Body hath in their motions, is a proof sufficiently certain, that they also are powers naturally bound and fastened with it: the Cholerick would not be naturally subject to anger, the Sanguin of good humor and mercy, the Melancholick soure and sad, the Flegmatick slow and little affected on the accurance of trouble­some objects, if this mixture of humors out of which the temper of the Body arises, had not a marvelous power to give the byass, and inclinations, to the motions of the Soul. But so it is that these passions, are not moved but by means of some external object; that touches the Phantasy, and by the Phantasy moves the affections. For 'tis offence which awakens Choler, and 'tis the occurence of objects pleasant and agreeable, which makes the bud of joy, that lies latent in the blood, to put forth bloom: now 'tis the Soul that gives assistance to the Phantasy [Page 4] to receive the Images as external things, which either offend, or charm our passions, variously according to the dif­ference of our humors, and that which is more 'tis the Soul that reasons with understanding upon those things, that are presented to it by the interposition of the bodily Senses, and which bestirs it self either to embrace, or reject that whereof it hath endeavoured to know the nature and qualities by its reasonings, in such sort that although objects have a great Connexion with our humors, and our humors a great power to give a tendency to our motions, the Soul never­theless ought to be the Mistress of them, and to put bounds to the efficacy of ob­jects, and to the motion of our humors and passions. And that which I have already said of the Senses, viz. that the Body destitute of the Soul, utterly loses them, experience obliges me to say also, of all those passions which Philosophers comprehend, under those two general names of the Irascible and Concupiscible, that the separation of the Soul doth equally abolish them. Whereof the dis­courses of reason do easily discover the Cause: For be the Constitution of the Organs of the Body what it will, be it [Page 5] for the use of the external senses upon the qualities of things sensible, be it for the Operation of the internal senses (as is the imagination) so it is, that seeing they cannot Act any further than the Soul moves them, (as when the main spring in a Watch foiles, all the other movements stand in a moment) it must necessarily be, that when the Soul with­draws, all the actions of the Organs cease; so that both reason and experience, with one consent teach us, what we ought to think of the faculties of our bodies. Touching the Soul we have no expe­riences visible, and ordinary, of what it doth or doth not after death, and if we consult the discourses of our reason concerning it, we find there difficulties great beyond comparison. For first of all every one makes here this consideration, which appears to them of no small con­sideration. And 'tis this, though the Body and Soul be two substances very different, nevertheless they are so united in man, that they make but one subject: so that neither Body apart nor Soul a­part, do constitute (as they say) any perfect Being, or any compleat Nature neither the Body makes the Man, nor the Soul, but both together go to his [Page 6] Composition, and when they are separa­ted, the Body holds no place, among the particular kinds of Beings, that exist absolutely, without dependance on each other, nor the Soul neither. Of the one we say 'tis the body of a man, and of the other 'tis in like manner his Soul, of both, if they come to be united, we say, and that properly 'tis the man, to whom they have this respective Re­lation. Now it seems that imperfect natures produce no operations. Every thing that you observe in nature, be they such as have Souls, forms which do inform and animate their matter as are Plants and Animals; be they such as have only a form, which in some sort supplies to them, the place of a Soul, as are Minerals and Metals, if you imagin that after their dissolution the Form subsist a while; so as the Matter do not exercise the functions of the whole Composition, nor will the Form exercise them neither. That is to say, as the body of a dead Horse hath no motion, his Soul if you imagin it to subsist some time after its separation, will be as great a stranger to Horse-like actions and operations: more­over as it is true that as long as the Soul of a man is in his Body, it gives activity [Page 7] to his Senses, so on the other hand it seems that it hath absolutely need of its presence, and the mediation of its Or­gans, for the forming of its own dis­courses and ratiocinations 'tis the Soul, that gives unto the Body the virtue of Seeing, Tasting, and Smelling, and gene­rally of knowing by the operation of the Senses, those things that nature hath indued with qualities, that fall under their observation, but in like sort if the Body do neither see, nor tast, nor smell, nor in a word apprehend any thing that is sensible. Without doubt the Intellect of the Soul will remain without motion, and languish without action, by default of matter whereon to apply, and exercise its thoughts: and as a Lute cannot sound unless there be some person to touch it, nor a humane body move, if there be no Soul to give it Action. So it seems at first, that as the Lutenist cannot perform the Office of his Art, without a Lute furnished with its strings, the Soul cannot reason without a well tempered, and well disposed Body; in short it it appears that as long as the Soul is in the Body, it reasons on the Images of things, which occur to it from Cor­poreal things which are formed in the [Page 8] Phantasy, and there depurated, and sub­tilised, and made so thin, small, and lu­minous, that they are capable of applying themselves to the Intellect, to the end that it may compound, divide, and com­pare them one with the other, and there make such reflections, as are necessary for its ratiocinations in such sort, that when the Soul is separate from the Body, having no longer any Corporeal Senses; to receive sensible things, nor any faculty of imagination, (which is a Corporeal power) to polish these Images, and make them capable of being presented to the Intellect, it seems that it hath lost the use of that understanding, by which it is naturally adapted to contemplate on all such objects.

Nevertheless if we attentively examine these Reasons, we shall find that they are by no means concluding: For touch­ing the first, that which makes that a­mong things without understanding (such as are generally all Animals except men) incompleat natures, perform no Actions, is not properly, and precisely because they are incompleat, but because they have no faculties for them, the form being reduced to nothing, when it is separated from the matter, (as doth the [Page 9] Soul of a Horse when it dies) it loses its faculties necessarily with its being, it being impossible that what is not, should have any power of Action. As to the matter 'tis true it subsists after the form, the body of the Horse remains after he is dead, but simply under the notion of Matter it hath no power to perform any operations, all the power that it had be­fore, came necessarily from its Form, 'tis the Soul of the Horse, that gives action and motion to his body; the matter therefore having not the form, which it had before cannot act as it was wont to do. And if it comes to be assisted, or reinvested, or informed with some new form, (as if Wasps or any other insects be ingendred out of the body of the Horse) as it will have its faculties from thence, its operations also will be con­formable, to the new Being that it shall receive from its new Soul, to that instead of marching and doing like a Horse as before, the matter whereof it was formed will (it may be) fly, or creep, and crawl after the manner of Caterpillars and Worms. In man the case is not at all thus. For the Body loses indeed its Actions, because they depended upon the Soul, which is no more there but [Page 10] the Soul is presupposed, to retain those faculties, which were truly proper and natural to it, so that nothing remains but to enquire, whether it use them at that time yea or no. I say then for a second Reason, that although we should suppose, (that which neither is nor can be) that the Soul of a Horse, subsists after its separation from the body; the reason why it will not be able to exercise its actions, will not be at all agreeable to that of a Man. For 'tis without doubt very true, that the Soul furnisheth mo­tion to the body of the Horse: but so it is, that this motion is Corporeal, and cannot be found in any Being, which is not Corporeal and Material, they are the Legs of the Horse, which are moved, and all the parts of his body which are turned, and wheeled according to the inclinations of him that Rides, and governs him according to his will. So that if his Soul were some Thing so distinct from the body, that it were not at all Corporeal it self, it were impossible that it should exercise such actions apart, and by it self alone: but as to the actions of the Soul of man, whereof we speak at this time, they are altogether of ano­ther kind, and are found in Beings never [Page 11] joyned, or united to any bodies. For to understand, and will, and to receive plea­sure or discontent from things that are understood willed or refused, is a thing that is found in the nature of An­gels.

Although then it be true that the Soul, as long as it is in the body, makes no use of its reasonable faculties, but with the aid, and by the mediation of Corporal Organs; So it is, that these Actions are not themselves Corporeal, seeing they are found in Beings, that have no Allyance, or Communication with Body, so that though it be very certain, that the Soul of a Horse, cannot all alone do the part of a Horse, although it should subsist after the body. And although the Soul of a man, do not use any of his powers without the Organs of the Body, whilst 'tis lodged there it will in no wise there­fore follow that it hath unavoidable need of them, to exercise those powers when 'tis lodged there no more. And by the same method of discourse, it may be proved, that the comparison of the Lute, and the Lutenist do not at all accord to this matter: for 'tis very true that the Lute cannot sound without the Lutenist, nor the Lutenist play without his Lute, [Page 12] because to play is to cause by the oc­currence of the fingers, and the strings of the Lute a certain harmonious sound, which as it is Corporeal, so it cannot proceed otherwise than from something Corporeal. But as the Player on the Lute, (though he can produce no sound effectively because he hath no instrument proper for it) doth not cease the ability of reasoning in his mind, upon the mea­sures, the accords and diversities of sounds of which the harmony is made when he plays, and in like manner on the structure of the Lute, and composition of its parts; so the Soul although it actually exercise not bodily actions, because it is no longer there, it is not disabled from discoursing and making speculations on the nature of the humane Body, upon the use of its faculties, and on all other ob­jects, which offer themselves to its con­sideration. It cannot then cause the Body to be nourished, or that it move from place to place, or that it use its Senses, but from thence it will not follow, that it cannot make pleasant Contemplations, upon the manner of perceiving the Images of things in the Senses upon the marvelous activity of those springs in the Body, that serve for the local motion [Page 13] of its members, and on the incomparable disposition that nature hath established among the parts, which are to digest, distribute, receive, and appropriate, that which is necessary for their nourish­ment.

To conclude, the last reason hath no more force than the precedent. For seeing Angels (which are as I have said) Beings totally separate from Matter or Body, have nevertheless certain means, (which in truth we cannot easily comprehend, but yet certainly believe) of knowing things sensible and Corporeal, and form­ing excellent discourses upon them, where­of the Scripture furnishes us with indu­bitable proofs, wherefore (the Soul being a substance well nigh like that of Angels) should it not be capable of the same oper­ations; let us imagin, that by the power of God, an Angel should be incarnate, in such manner that he become the form of a humane Body, and that he animate it after the manner of a reasonable Soul, without doubt whiles he lodges there he will see, and perceive things Corporeal by the Organs of sense and reason, upon the Images which are brought from and perfected in the Phantasy, as we now do. And if actually he become the Soul of [Page 14] this body, it will be as much subject to the use of its Organs for the exercise of his understanding, as our Soul is at this time for the exercise of its most excellent faculties: but if after this, it should please God to disintangle it from the bonds of of the Body, will it lose the use of those powers wherewith he served himself, so advantageously without the use of Or­gans before it was made to serve there? But there is something more, 'tis a con­stant truth, and all the World assent to it, that there is nothing in the understanding which was not in some manner first in the sense, but this which is so indubitable to speak generally, is not without difficulty when it comes to be explained; because it may be taken in this sense, (viz.) that universally we can have no other Idea's of things in our minds, than such as have proceeded from things material, and which our eyes, or our ears, or our other senses have been capable of receiving; and again it may be so explained, that although these be in our mind Idea's purely intellectual, and which retain no­thing of the nature of Body, yet so it is that they are not formed, but by occasion of the Images of Corporeal things, which are received in the Phantasy, upon which [Page 15] the Intellect makes its first Reflections. And I think that if a man make but little use of his reason, he shall find that 'tis in this second manner, but the aforesaid truth must be understood. For to say no­thing of our passing from Physicks, or natural Philosophy to that of Meta­physicks, or which is above nature by the means of certain obstructions, which conduct the Spirit of a man from the Contemplation of Bodies to that of Spirits, and things Immaterial, I think Religion puts the thing out of all controversy and doubt. For 'tis indeed, by the inter­position of our Senses, that we see the Heavens, and the Earth, and that we hear the word of God Preached, and 'tis upon the Idea's, which the exercise of our senses introduce upon our Phantasy; that we put our selves upon reasoning concerning the Deity. But 'tis a thing known by our proper experience, that when we have sometimes seriously ap­plied our selves thereunto, from the con­sideration of things sensible, which have given us the first notions or knowledg thereof, we ascend to speculations con­cerning the nature of God, and his pro­perties which are entirely and absolutely separated, from the qualities and matter [Page 16] of Bodies. Although then our minds produce no operations, whereof things Corporeal have not presented them the occasions, as Saint Paul says Rom. 1. that from the workmanship of the World, we come to the knowledg, of the eternal power, and goodness of the Divinity or Godhead, nevertheless there are some actions of our minds which are purely Spiritual, and which in no wise depend on Bodies, any further than that Cor­poreal objects, do furnish us with oc­casions to produce them by discourse, now if there be any of the actions of our minds, which to speak properly have nothing in common with Bodies, even during the time that they inhabit there, and are in some kind fastened and bound to their instruments; why should they not be capable of producing them with­out the service of the Senses, then when they are altogether losened from the bonds that have joyned and united them? if then we can have any proofs from the Scripture, that Souls use their faculties after the death of the Body: that Divine Revelation ought not only to have suf­ficient Authority, to impress this be­lief upon our minds, notwithstanding the contradiction of the pretended dis­courses [Page 17] of our reason, but these dif­ficulties which some persons think to be in the thing it self, ought not to leave in our minds, the least hesitation, or sus­pition. Let us see then what the word of God doth teach concerning it.

Those Divines which have attempted to derive a proof of this verity, from the Parable of the wicked Dives and Lazarus have received this contradiction, on the part of those who believe that the Soul loses the use of its faculties in death; (viz.) that what our Saviour says there, is no History but only a Parable, and that it is an impertinence to endeavour to make such discourses pass for narra­tions of things effectively accomplished. And thereupon there is much and great Contestation; because on one hand there is no other Parable in the Scripture, where the persons that are there intro­duced are designed by their names, and represented exactly by many circum­stances, as Lazarus is described in that place or Paragraph; and on the other hand, the discourse which our Saviour reports that Abraham, and the Rich man had, the one with the other, or cross the great Gulph, or Abyss, hath no appearance, or likeness of an Historical narration, [Page 18] to commend it to acceptance as a real truth. Wherefore seeing it may be in part an History, and in part a Parable, let us examine it briefly, under this last Con­sideration in all the Parables which our Saviour makes use of in the Gospel; we must have regard to the end where­unto it tends, and also to what he says that he may come to it; as to what concerns the end of this Parable, 'tis sufficiently apparent by its Conclusion, that our Lord had in design to shew, that the ob­stinacy of mans mind in opposition to things proposed unto him on the part of God, is so great that neither Revelations made by the word of God, nor Miracle laid open before our eyes, is capable of moving or affecting us. In such sort, that although the dead themselves should rise, we should give no more credit to their Testimony, than we do to the writings of Moses and the Prophets, if God touch us not inwardly by his Spirit.

All the rest of this discourse is im­ployed to come to this Conclusion, as we set shadows and leaves round about Pictures, which serve for nothing but to fill up the void space, and give some little Ornament to the Table; so there is some­thing in this discourse of our Lord, the [Page 19] use whereof consists wholly in making the Parable more full, bright, and lu­minous. 'Tis therefore to be Considered, whether it were the common opinion of the Jews, that the Souls of unbelievers are tormented, immediately after death or that being deprived of all perception, and use of their faculties, they remain as if they were in a profound sleep: if it were the last of these, our Lord did not (it seems) a thing worthy of his wisdom to establish his Parable upon an Hypo­thesis, contrary to the common belief of the Jews. For if a parable be not taken from a truth really and indeed accom­plished at least it ought not to contradict the common conceptions of men. And our Lord never proposed any, in which we might not easily see much reason, and appearance of possibility; and by how much the more of difficulty there is to comprehend, for these two persons could reason together, there being too great a gulph between them, by so much the rest of the Parable, ought to be accom­modated to the sense, and apprehension of the Auditors to the end that they may not accuse him that speaks, of giving them instructions, built upon false and extravagant opinions. If it were the [Page 20] common opinion of the Jews, that Souls enjoy perception after death, our Lord sufficiently confirms it, not only in that he makes no opposition to it; but moreover in that he builds thereupon instructions excellent, and full of wisdom. I make no doubt therefore, but that he gives us to understand in this Emblem, that the Souls of the wicked are tormented from the time they go out of this life, and that the Souls of the faithful do receive Con­solation which cannot be without some notable sense or perception, nor can there be so notable a sense, if they have not their faculties active, and awake.

When the Apostle St. Paul tells us, he was caught up into Paradise where he heard things that could not be uttered, 'tis true he tells us, that he knew not whether'twas in the body, or out of the body. So that although it be not with­out probability, that it was rather out of the body, yet it would be great boldness positively to determine concerning it; since he himself would not do it. But 'tis clear that he supposes that it might be done out of the body, and by consequent that Souls can make use of their faculties, when they are separated from it; for in that estate in which he supposes his Soul [Page 21] was, or might be they could not hear things unspeakable soon after, without some use of their understanding: more­over it must be an excellent use thereof, as well because of the greatness of the object, which without doubt could not be comprehended unless by an under­standing very active, as because it so vehemently applyed it self unto it, and it received such deep impressions from it, that after it was rejoined to its body, and again offered unto its Organs as be­fore, it nevertheless retains the memory thereof. Now it is enough that St. Paul supposes that it might be to rescue our minds from all difficulty and doubt in this matter.

The Apostle in the Epistle to the He­brews, representing in a stately manner, the condition whereunto Christians are called, says that it is to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to thousands of Angels, to the assembly of the first born who are enrolled, or whose names are written in Heaven, and to the Spirits of just men sanctified. I will not stay to search out what is signified, by those words enrolled in the Heavens, although it seems to be a manner of speech, taken from publick Registers, and Rolls wherein are written, the names [Page 22] of such Citizens which ought to have the right of Free-men, and to partake in the priviledges of the Corporation. Which will signify that these first born are al­ready received into the Heavens, a place of abode not at all proper for a sleep so profound, and void of all perception, as is that to which some condemn Souls till the day of the Resurrection. I will only say that this word the Spirits doth signify without doubt Souls separated from their Bodies, and that the word which we Translate, Sanctified, signifies properly perfect, or accomplished. A Title that in the New Testament is not given un­less it be to those which (be it in know­ledg or holiness) have obtained that de­gree of perfection whereunto before they did aspire, and whereunto those that they have left behind them are not yet arrived. Thus we are said to be perfect, in com­parison with the Jews, who lived under the dispensation of the Law, but imper­fect in comparison with them that have obtained that knowledg whereunto we cannot come in this life; so that these just men made perfect, concerning the Spirit of whom he speaks in this Text, are those that have obtained a degree of perfection which we have not as yet: [Page 23] which cannot be obtained without an ex­cellent use of those faculties, which are called Understanding and Will.

In the Book of the Revelation, Chap. 14. Vers. 13. It is said that the Spirit declares those happy which are dead in the Lord, now happiness, and the privation of the use of all their faculties are in­consistent; Aristotle himself says, that happiness cannot properly be attributed, unless it be to such who are actually in the exercise of the most excellent operations of their noblest, and most excellent powers, and vacant in the contemplation, and love of the bravest and sublimest Objects: and to the end, that we may not think, that they are called happy, because they are appointed to the in­joyment of the happiness, which is to be revealed at the last day, as the same Philosopher says, we call little Children happy, by a kind of hope, when there is much of probability, that one day they will obtain it. 'Tis said that they rest from their labours, and their works follow them. Now 'tis true indeed that we call sleep by the name of rest, in op­position to the labours and troubles of the day; but nevertheless if speaking of a person that is returned into his Country, [Page 24] after great and memorable battels, fought in Forreign Lands, we should say, that henceforth he rests from his labours. I do not think that any one would under­stand thereby, that he had slept for a long time, but that he enjoyed in peace and tranquillity, the fruit of his former pains and labours, and indeed these words [and their works follow them] do mean they enjoy their reward.

For because the work, and the reward are inseparable by the appointment of the good will of God, and the holy Spirit being willing to inform us, that believers shall not lose their labours in the good works that they do here below, and that they shall obtain the reward that is pro­mised them above by a manner of speech frequent in the Scripture, where that which goes before is put for that which follows, he makes no scruple to name one for the other. Now the gratuitous reward of good works, consists not in a privation of all perception, but in the possession of Contentment, and glory.

In the same Book, the Souls of those that had been Martyred for the word of God, are represented crying; how long Lord just, and true, wilt thou not judge [Page 25] and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth? which is a proof that there is in them memory, and apprehension. And it cannot be said here, that this cry is attributed to them, as in the eighth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, sighs, and groans, and desires are as­cribed to the whole frame of Heaven, and Earth, or as the cry of vengeance is attributed to the blood of Abel, by a kind of Prosopopeia, or ficttion of per­sonality: because it being notorious that the Heavens, and the Earth, and the blood of a man have no knowledg or preception, there is no danger that such manner of figurative expressions should beget erroneous opinions in the mind of any one: the nature of the thing gives sufficient notice, that necessarily there must be some figure, in the enunciation, or discourse, but where 'tis said of the Souls of men, which we see (during the time that they are in the body) endued with lively, and excellent perception, (supposing that they were extinct, or at least wholly asleep after death) who can hinder himself by Reading these words from drawing opinions, of a quite con­trary nature. Now to the end, that no man may doubt of the meaning of this [Page 26] Text, it is appointed them to rest, and expect a little while. Now although by a kind of Prosopopeia, or fiction of person we may attribute such voices, to things void of all perception, who ever saw God introduced making answer to them, or any one for him forming a Dialogue in the manner with things, without all understanding? To conclude, there is given unto them white garments which can signifie nothing less than some great light of knowledg, and some great purity of holiness, or perfection of sancti­fication. Now neither the one nor the other can subsist, without a perfect use of the understanding faculty, and all the affections of the Soul. And although these white Robes should signify either the grace of justification, or the hope of happiness and glory, (because sometimes white Robes were the marks of those that aspired to the most eminent Offices in the Roman Common Wealth) yet that cannot be without some perception, and affection. For if it be the first, in as much as these Souls are represented in a place, whether they could have had no admission, if they had not been justified and their sins pardoned, it is not properly justification (which they have already) [Page 27] which is given to them, 'tis the Taste and Sense of it, whereof the fulness is bestowed on them, whereas here below we have nothing but the foretasts of it, in the peace and joy of our Souls; and if it be the second that can represent nothing, but the desire of their full and perfect glorification, accompanied with assurance, and by consequence with in­credible contentment, which cannot be reconciled with the sleep of the Soul, and the extinction of all its powers.

The Apostle writing to the Philippians saith that he was ballanced, or in a strait between two thoughts: whether he ought to desire death, or to continue a longer time in the World. Because if he had regard to the Edification, that his Mi­nistry might give to the Church, and the profit that it might draw from hence, he ought much rather to chuse a longer life, but if he had regard to his own particular good, death was more desirable to him than life. I pray, if he had be­lieved that all the powers of his Soul, as well as those of the body had remain­ed at death benummed for so long a time; would he have thought that death would have been more advantageous to him? I do acknowledge that he had endured [Page 28] many evils, for the confirmation of the truth that he Preached from which a death (such as those against whom I dis­pute do represent it) drousie and void of all understanding would have secured him, but so it is, that the knowledg he had of our Lord Jesus whilst alive, the marvellous Revelations that had been made unto him the Joy, and Consolation that came unto him from the sense of the love, and peace of God, and the ex­ercise of so many excellent Virtues, wherewithal he was endued, were in my opinion things of such importance, that they should rather cause him to pre­fer life, in which he retained the pos­session of them, though accompanied with many afflictions, than to embrace death which (what ever it might be otherwise) deprived him of the enjoyment of them. But the reason that he adds, wherefore he ought to chuse death, if he had no re­gard but to his own person that it is much better to be with Christ, cuts off all occasion of doubting, concerning the mind of St. Paul in this matter. For those without doubt are not with Christ, which sleep without perception, and without any knowledg of their felicity, though they were received into the most holy, and [Page 29] most illustrious place of his glory. O­therwise those might be said to live, and dwell with Kings which are interred in the Chappels of their Palaces, whether the least ray of the glory, that compasses them about cannot enter.

That other passage seems not to me less express, 2 Cor. 5. 1, 2, 3. where the Apostle explains himself in these words: we know, that if the earthly house of this Tabernacle were dissolved, we have a build­ing of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens, wherefore we groan desiring earnestly to be clothed with our house that is from Heaven. For is there any probability, that he should desire with so much vehemency to be stripped of this Tabernacle of earth, to be clothed with that which is from Heaven, if he not only got nothing new, but lost all the knowledg of things that he had in this life totally and altogether. Now that he intends to speak there of the change that was to betide him before the Resurrection, is a thing clear and mani­fest by the whole issue of the discourse: 'tis true he had said before, that he knew that he that raised up the Lord Jesus, would raise us up also by Jesus, and cause us to appear in his presence, and 'tis for [Page 30] that reason that he testifies, that he fainted not in his Tribulations, and adds that though our outward man grew into de­cay, nevertheless the inward man was renewed day by day, going on from strength to strength: and if we are ex­posed to several afflictions, he says, that our light affliction that is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more ex­ceeding, and eternal weight of glory. Which shews sufficiently that he hath some respect, to the day of the full Re­velation of our Salvation; but that which follows of the destruction of this earthly Tabernacle can it be understood other­wise than of the dissolution of the body? That which he writes immediately after­wards, that as long as we are lodged in this body, we are absent, and as it were, strangers from our Lord, but that through the assurance that we have of our Salva­tion, we desire rather to be strangers from the body, and be with the Lord, can it be understood of the blessed Re­surrection? Shall we be then absent and strangers from our bodies, or rather will not our Spirits have thereon eternal Habitations. I therefore think that the Apostle in that place, opposes the time in which we are in this life, to that in [Page 31] which we shall be in it no more, and that he says that as long as we are in this life, we are absent from the Lord, but when we are dislodged we are present with him. and because (although this future time consist of two parts, the one wherein we are stripped of our bodies by death, the other wherein we are reinvested in them by the Resurrection) it is to that in the one, and the other our condition must always be the enjoyment of the presence of Jesus Christ, he considers it not but as one and the same tract of time, in the first part whereof our happiness begins, and is compleated in the second, which excites our desires and affections to be now stripped of these bodies, that we may enter on the possession of those happy beginnings, till the time of full and com­pleat perfection shall come. Now this is marvellously far from the opinion of those, that take from the Souls of be­lievers, all sense, and perception what­soever, even that of their proper facul­ties and essence.

St. Luke reports that St. Stephen being about to die, recommended his Spirit to our Lord Christ saying, Lord Jesus into thy hands I commend my Spirit, and our Lord himself commended his to his [Page 32] Father on the Cross. To what purpose was this then? It was not without doubt to secure it from perishing, and being reduced to nothing. For the substance of the Soul contains nothing of matter, nor of the mixture of the Elements; 'tis of its nature incorruptible, and imperish­able, as are the Angels. Was it then to be protected from the Temptations, and assaults of the Devil, or to be put into the fruition of happiness and glory? As to the first, it can have no place, if the Spirits of the faithful remain swallowed of a sleep so deep, that they absolutely lose all use of their understandings. For the Temptations of the Devil consist, either in an Artificial external presenting to our senses such objects as are proper to move our desires and appetites: or in this, that internally he forms in our Phantasy, such Images of things as may stir and provoke us, and in favouring with his efficacy such as are already there; or in moving our humours, and by our humours soliciting the appetites, and passions of our Souls: what can these attempts do upon substances, which are not at all subject to the motion of hu­mours, which in death have lost the faculty of imagination, which have no [Page 33] Corporeal senses, seeing they are not Bodies, and all whose Spiritual capacities are so fettered in the excercise of their powers, that neither exteriour objects▪ can by any means touch them, nor visions from within be get the least thought there? As to the second there is neither felicity nor glory can happen to Spirits, without the exercise of their understand­ing and will. There is not a person to whom we say that the Spirits of the faithful gone hence are happy and glo­rious, which doth not immediately con­ceive, that they are so far from being swallowed up in a profound drousiness or sleep, that on the contrary they have a very lively and notable sense of their happiness and glory.

I am much of the opinion of those that think that in the words of our Sa­viour, John 11. 26. and John 5. 24. he that believeth in me shall never see death▪ He is passed from death to life. There is a particular Emphasis which makes much to our present purpose. I very well know that in divers places it seems probable, that what interprets these words by that promise, I will raise him up at the last day.

Nevertheless, if since the time where­in he spake those words, believers that [Page 34] are departed hence, have slept unto this day, and must yet sleep till the consum­mation of Ages, without any bodily or mental sense of their condition, or essence; I am not able to comprehend, how the hopes of the Resurrection, can perfectly satisfy and compleat the sense, and mag­nificence of the words. Although the body sleep after that manner, if the principal part of man, and that whereof the Scriptures sometimes speaks as if it were the man, and the body nothing but its Habitation, live and be awake and perceive and exercise with content and joy, such operations as are worthy the dignity of his nature; death is not pro­perly death, nor doth it seem to deserve a name so terrible and odious. 'Tis much rather a sleep, as the Scripture sometimes speaks, wherein man entertains himself with visions very pleasant and delightful. But if the perception of the Soul, and body both, be equally extinct, and that not only for a little time, but for, I know not how many Ages, how comes it to pass that it is not called death but a pas­sing from death to life. And it will ap­pear yet much more strange, if we apply it to the Fathers, and Patriarchs that lived in the first Ages: Such as were [Page 35] Adam, Noah, Seth, and Abraham. For since the Apostle, Heb. 11. Attributes unto them one and the same faith with us, although the things which faith embraces were not so plainly revealed to them as to us, yet they ought to produce one and the same effect, with respect to them and us, Jesus Christ being the same, yesterday and to day and for ever. Are those then passed from death to life, who from before the deluge and soon after, were as to their bodies reduced to dust, and as to their Souls carried in a profound sleep and total insensibility? Truly it seems manifest that they had other hopes and expectations. When Jacob after too many afflictions and irksom and trou­bleous Pilgrimages, comforted himself with this, that he hoped for the Salvation of God, Gen. 49. 18. If he had no hope but that of losing the sense of all good, and evil for so long a succession of Ages, he would have had more occasion, to be afflicted than to rejoyce, to fear death than to draw comfort, from the near approach and prospect of it, besides 'tis here very considerable; that as he was at a greater distance from the day of judgment than we are now, and as he did not perceive unless it were a far off, in the [Page 36] darkness of what to come, the mani­festation of a Redeemer, so also he did not see so clearly as we do, the hopes of the Resurrection nor had not such distinct knowledg, of the glory that attends us in Heavenly places.

I observe, that David as he approached nearer to the time of our Saviours ap­pearance, did both receive from God, and deliver to his Church, much greater explanations upon these matters, than did any of his Ancestors, and yet neverthe­less had experience of very different emotions of Spirit, when he saw him­self in danger, or in likelyhood of death. Sometimes in the Psalms he gives evi­dence that he was much afraid of death, and desires of God with great earnestness, that by his good providence, and the power of his hand he would hinder his falling under it, and these motions of his so frequently reported, and repeated in his Writings, accompanied with vows so ardent, and praises so vivid and full of Devotion, when God had rescued him from his dangers, do sufficiently shew that this object, when it presented it self unto him, occasioned terrible agitations to his mind. And nevertheless when he was to die, he disposed himself to it with [Page 37] great Tranquillity, and gave no Testi­mony of fear, or any the least alteration. If you enquire of those that think the perceptions of the Soul perish, and die with those of the body, why David fear­ed death so very much they will say, that he himself gives the reason of it: 'Tis because in death he makes no men­tion of the name of God, nor sings unto him any Songs of praise, Psal. 6. which proves according to their opinion, that death takes away at once, both from Soul and Body, the knowledg of all things. But if this were the only rea­son, why did he not fear death as much when he was old? Will it hinder the loss of all sense, and memory of objects to die old? Or would it be a greater af­fliction, to David when in the flower of his age, to lose by losing life, the means, and opportunity of singing the praises of God, than to be deprived of this pleasure, and content by dying in a good old age? It is therefore much more reasonable to say, that David and other Saints of times past, did think that God sent them into the world for two ends: the one (which respects his glory) was to advance and celebrate it as much as they were able: the other was to enjoy [Page 38] therein for a long time the Testimonies of his Faviour in those Temporal bles­sings, the promises whereof he had given unto them. When therefore any danger of death did threaten them before the time, which nature seems to have ap­pointed for it, (viz.) seventy or eighty years, or if there were in the time of David any other natural and ordinary term of life; They were extraordinarily moved and troubled, because it seemed that death before full age, was a Testi­mony of the anger and curse of God. So that to prevail with God to protect them from it, after having begged the pardon of their sins, they alledge this reason, that otherwise he himself will in some sort be deprived of the end to which he had respect, when he sent them into the world. For it is as if some young plant should complain to the Gardiner, or Master of the plants, that having put him in the rank with others, to bear some quantity of fruits, he would neverthe­less cut it off at the root, when it began to bud and to give some good hopes there­of: But concerning that great tranquillity of Spirit, wherewith they received death, when it came in such time, wherein the untimeliness of it, was no mark of the [Page 39] anger of God, it came without doubt from hence that it was accompanied with the peace of God, and some hope of happiness for their Souls. Otherwise, by the confession of those with whom I now discourse, the being deprived of praising God after death, and of per­ceiving any taste of his love towards them, should have given them great fears, and inconceivable aversions. Some of the Pagans (as Socrates) have sometimes supported themselves, by this meditation against the fears of death, that either it did, or it did not take from them all sense and perception of things. If it did not, those that die ought (if they be honest men) to hope for Contentments after death, in the Conversation of those persons that had gone hence before them; the company of Cepheus, Museus, Homer, Hesiod, Ʋlysses, and Agamemnon without doubt as they imagined, would give them incomparable satisfaction: if it did, there was no reason to fear death, since it reduced men to a state of utter insensibility, but these persons never tasted any thing, of the sweetness of the peace of God, nor of the Contentment that arises from the assurance of his pa­ternal love. Having therefore no expe­rience [Page 40] of any other good things, than such as this world affords, they might well depart from life, as they themselves do express it, as from a banquet, after they had been satisfied therewith, without much complaint that they are obliged to leave the fruition, and use of it to those that were to come after: but as for David, and other servants of God, to whom he had given the beginnings, and foretasts of his glory, with what grief ought they to receive the news of death, whensoever it should be, if they had been not only reeling, and staggering as were the Pagans, between the hope of seeing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the fear of losing all kind of sense and perception; but deeply and fully per­swaded that in stead of being put into the full fruition, of what they had had some foretasts here below, death would utterly ravish from them even the total memory of it.

This same David testifies in many places, a very sensible and deep regret, and trouble for being separated from the Ark of God, because 'twas there that God gave demonstrations of his presence in an extraordinary manner. Never­theless [Page 41] in Caves and Deserts, and the wildest Forests, he might entertain him­self with God, and derive from the Fountains of his own Meditations as it appears he often did, abundance of pleasant consolations to allay the trouble, which was occasioned by his estrangment and separation from it. I pray you therefore if he had believed that death would have taken from him all know­ledg, and memory of God for so many ages, what Lamentations would he have made? Or could he have found words sufficient to express the anguish of his Soul on this occasion? Ever and anon he enquires with some kind of impatience when shall I see the face of my God? If by these words he understands the Ark, how much more ought he to desire to see the face of God after his death: and with what unquietness must he be filled, when he considers that death takes from him, not only the pleasure of seeing the face of God, but even the memory of ever having seen him or learned any thing of him, either in the Tabernacle or in the World? If he understands by seeing the face of God, seeing him as he is seen in Heaven, how could David make this wish or holy aspiration, if he were of [Page 42] this opinion that sleep should lock up the eyes of his understanding for so long a time? Certainly this was not the opinion of David, nor any of the faithful of that time or age; their common opinion was that which is plainly expressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes. That when man dies the body returns to the dust from whence 'twas taken, and the Soul returns to God that gave it. Now to believe that the Spirits of the faithful can be with God, without having any know­ledg of his presence, or enjoying one beam of his happiness, is a thing altoge­ther without reason or probability. At such times as God promises some parti­cular assistance to his faithful ones, he says I will be with you. And 'tis also their common and ordinary wish for those to whom they wish grace and benediction, the Lord be with you. If God then cannot be with any person, without giving him some taste of his favours how can our spirits be with God without enjoying some gracious effect of his pre­sence?

Certainly though we had no other proof of the state of the faithful after death, than those words of our Saviour [Page 43] to the Thief that was Converted upon the Cross, this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise, they would be sufficient (unless we were willingly blind) to assure us that they are at rest; but 'tis such a rest, as is accompanied with much content and joy: For that the word to day ought to be taken in the ordinary and common sense, to signify the time that was im­mediately to follow the death of our Lord, whilst his Soul remained separate from his body, is a thing that cannot be doubted unless by those that out of jo­cundness of humours abuse their reason. In what place of the New Testament doth our Saviour, or any one else use it in any other sense? And although the Au­thor of the Epistle to the Hebrews having met with it in Psal. 95. 7, 8. to day if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: Understands it of the time of the Preach­ing of the Gospel of Salvation, is there any probability that in imitation of him we should expound those words of Jesus Christ after this manner? Verily, veri­ly, I say unto thee, that in the day of the Resurrection, I will receive thee to a par­ticipation of my own glory in Paradise. If such comments be allowed, will there be any thing certain either in the word [Page 44] of God, or Language of men? Doth it not plainly appear that our Lord seeing this Thief in anguish of Spirit, through the fear of the judgment of God, the execution whereof he expected accord­ing to the common sense, and appre­hension of Conscience, immediately after death, was willing to comfort him by the assurance of the pardon of his sins, and hope of happiness which his Soul should enjoy assoon as it was separated from his Body? Either the Spirit of Christ being dislodged from the body, ascended into Paradise or not. If it did not ascend thither, our Lord promised nothing but that the Soul of this person should on that very day be present with his Deity in Heaven. Now though our Lord were God blessed for ever, there is no probability that he had any regard to his Deity in the speaking of those words: For besides that his Divinity was not then so clearly Revealed, as that from thence he should begin, to give knowledg of what he was to that man, who can doubt but that seeing both their Bodies, in one and the same condemna­tion, he was willing to raise the hope of this Wretch, who in the midst of his anguish discovered some faith and expect­ation [Page 45] from him, by the assurance that he gave him that within a few moments, their spirits should be well near in the same Condition, in a place of bliss and happiness? But let it be granted that he understands his Divinity: So it is in my opinion that it cannot come into a sound mind, that Christ should promise to the Soul of this person, to give it from that same hour the enjoyment of Para­dise, and yet notwithstanding it should have no knowledg of the glory thereof, or the happiness that doth attend it. Moreover it had been much more to the purpose, to have been content to have consented to be mindful of him, when he came into his Kingdom as he desired; then by great words to give him occasion to hope for content and happiness near at hand, and afterwards fill this Soul, which he had made so desirous of happi­ness, with nothing but darkness and for­getfulness. If the spirit of our Lord ascended into Paradise, doubtless it was not to sleep there, for the little time of its separation from the body, but to re­ceive inexpressible Consolations in the bosom of his Father. Otherwise to what purpose was it to transport it on high? Had it not been more to the purpose to [Page 46] leave it buried in the same Tomb with the Body, to the end that it might be there united again when the time should come. Now if the Soul of Christ, could be sensible of some Contentments after death, ours may be sensible of them also. And no inconsistance will be found between their separation from the Organs of their Bodies, and the use of their Powers and Capacities.

But what need is there of so many Texts, and of so much discourse in a case so plain, that nature it self seems to have taught it us. For certainly, it is not more generally believed among men, that their Souls are immortal and subsist after the Body, than it is generally ac­knowledged that they subsist with know­ledg and sense either of some felicity, for those that lived in the practice of Piety and Vertue; or of some punish­ment for those that have given up them­selves to Impiety and Vice. From thence comes the hopes of the Elysian fields among the Pagans, and the fear of the Torments of Hell. From thence is pre­served among the Jews the expectation of Paradise, and the fear of the bottom­less Pit. Thence is produced among the Turks the opinion of their Paradise and the [Page 47] fear of an infernal state, and that without attending the Resurrection immediately after the dissolution of the Body, and the separation of the Soul. Lastly, thence comes among Christians, to some a belief of Pur­gatory, to others a hope of a better life than this, and to others dreadful frights con­cerning what will betide them after death, when they are not in their Consciences assured of the forgiveness of their sins. I say that nature it self teaches it; Because things that are so universal, and concern­ing which there is no controversy among Nations, whose inclinations are divers, whose professions are different, and whose Religions in all other things are directly opposite, must have without doubt some common Foundation, and it cannot be common in such sort as it is, unless it be established even in the very nature of things: So that although it be not possible clearly, and distinctly to explicate the reasons of it, yet they may be sufficiently seen darkly and in gross, to impress upon the mind an indelible perswasion of it. For there are multitudes of persons, that would find themselves much perplexed, if you should oblige them to discourse particularly the reasons that have per­swaded them, that there is a natural [Page 48] difference between Vice and Virtue, the most able among the Philosophers, have found some difficulty in freeing them­selves from the natural reasons, that do either prove, or deny the immortality of our Souls. And among Christians there are none but Spirits much exercised in discourse, which are fit by natural reason, to dispute for the Being and Pro­vidence of a God against Atheists, and yet nevertheless, these things prove them­selves so smartly to our understandings, that the ignorant and vulgar themselves have an abhorrence for those that make any doubt of them. Certainly the holy Scripture, as I said in the beginning, is the only place from whence we may draw lights sufficiently clear, to perswade our selves of this truth, by a perswasion that will deserve the name of faith, and may be capable of giving, any sound Consolation to our Consciences: But nevertheless I shall not scruple to say, that if the holy Scripture had not spoken it so clearly, the belief of the immortality of our Souls would have been sufficient to have satis­fied our reason, that they make use of their faculties, though the body should supply no Organs unto them. For it is easy to conceive that there is in man, [Page 49] whilst he is compounded of Soul and Body, an understanding faculty, which for some space of time doth not exercise its own proper Operations. Since this conjunction is made in such sort, that the Organs of the one must serve to the Operation of the faculties of the other; and that they do Operate either always, or for the most part, by their Mediation, when the Organs come to be disordered or hindred, 'tis necessary that the Ope­rations of the mind do cease of them­selves. But that there is a substance that doth actually exist separate from the Body, which is endued with an under­standing faculty, and nevertheless cannot use it because it hath no Body, is a thing in my apprehension absolutely incon­ceivable: For it cannot actually exist unless it live, nor can we conceive any sort of life in it, which doth not include in the same thought, the use of its facul­ties. You may easily conceive that the Body lives, though the man do neither see nor discourse: Because life may subsist in a man without seeing or discoursing▪ But you cannot imagin that the Body of a man lives, but you must likewise imagin that it is nourished, and that his heart beats, or at least, that the Spirits [Page 50] have some heat, and motion in the seat of life. So that the faculty wherein life consists, will move and Act, though all the rest should be laid to sleep; in the reasonable Soul then when 'tis separated from the Body, what power will act if it have no use of that of the under­standing? For there's in them no power vital, animal, or natural like to those of our Bodies; and as to that which we call the Locomotive, that is to say, the power by which we move from place to place, if it have no use of its understand­ing there is no reason to imagin that it will have any power of removing it self from one place to another: a thing whereunto nature it self will furnish us with a Testimony, sufficiently evident and authentique, in as much as it hath not given to any living Creature this power of moving it self, unless it be to Animals endued with Phantasy, and cer­tain appetites, which do necessarily re­quire the removal of the Body for their satisfaction, in such manner, that if there be in the Soul, neither understanding nor appetite, it will be against all reason to imagin in it any use of the Locomotive faculty. So that it will be the same thing to say that the Soul dies with the [Page 51] Body, and will rise again with it, as to say that it lives▪ and yet nevertheless per­forms none of the actions of life.

But this is not all, in this power of understanding that we here possess, are imprinted certain habits which without doubt, have nothing common with the Organs of the Body, unless it be as I have said above, that they have given occasion to the intellect to exercise Con­templations and to form those ratiocina­tions, and discourses by which these habits are obtained: Such is for Example, the habit which in Philosophy we call by the name of wisdom, which consists in a clear and certain understanding of the first principles of things, and in the knowledg of Conclusions that depend thereon, in objects the most Excellent and Noble that can be presented to the mind of Man. For that this is an habit purely intellectual, reason teaches us, and experience consents unto it. Because on the one side, it performs its Operations on objects that have nothing of the na­ture of Bodies; and on the other side it is not found in any subject, of the nature of those that have no powers but Cor­poreal. For there was never found nei­ther [Page 52] Horse, nor Elephant, nor any other Animals devoid of Reason, in whom appeared the least ray of that which we call wisdom: Either then these kind of habits, are wholly razed out by death, or they remain in the Soul; now there is no good reason why we should say they are obliterate: For though I wil­lingly grant, that in some sort they in­tered the intellect by the means of the Body, and that the Organs of the Body have contributed something to those rea­sonings by which they are formed, never­theless they are in themselves totally intellectual, and have their proper seat in the reason it self, as on the contrary although it be by the conduct of the intellect, that the body learns to accustom it self to certain motions directed by measure and art, as is for example the habit of Fencing well, or Riding the great Horse, the habit is nevertheless Corporeal. So then when the reason­able Soul comes to be separated from the Body, if the body by the presence of the sensitive Soul alone, can subsist alive without it, there is nothing can hinder, but that it may preserve some of those habits which it obtained by the direction of the understanding, as they say there [Page 53] are some Horses so well trained, that they will of themselves move regularly, though there be no Rider to govern them. 'Tis much more likely that the Soul remaining alive, and subsisting after the Body▪ the habits which are so perfectly proper to it, should also remain, and subsist with it. If then they do subsist, as 'tis altogether apparent, how will it be possible, that a Being effectively living endued with faculties so excellent, and those faculties adorned with habits so comly, should remain so many ages, without being awakened in any manner to discover them by some Operations? Is it not the property of habits to incline the faculties to action, to facilitate the action to which they do incline them, yea, and in some manner to spur them thereunto? And since that man is a being naturally active, and that 'tis the Soul that gives him this activity, and since that which makes the Soul incline it self more to one thing, than another in its actions, is because its habits give him a tendency that way: Why is it that the Soul cannot preserve in it self, when separated, the activity that it Communi­cated to the Body, and that its proper habits should not have the power they [Page 54] had before to bend it in its actions that way to which they themselves are in­clined.

But let us not fasten our selves on the teaching, and institutions of nature. Let us consult the Analogy of Religion: Cer­tainly all believers have Communion with Christ. And this Communion on their parts consists in faith, whereby they receive him and on his part, in the Communication of his Spirit, by which he comforts and sanctifies them. Now this Communion is so strict, and close that it never suffers any separation. And as the death of the body in our Saviour did not hinder in him, the personal union of the Divine nature with the humane, so that the saying of the Ancient Church is true, that what Christ once takes, in that regard he never leaves; so the death of our Bodies hinders not the mysterious union of our Saviour with us. In such manner, that those that he hath once taken for his members cannot but always remain so. Therefore, even after death, the Communication of his Spirit of ho­liness, and Consolation abides with us. Now what is this Spirit of holiness, and Consolation which doth never comfort, [Page 55] or sanctify us? Or what is this holiness and comfort, if it gives us no sense of it self or us. When any member of the body becomes mortified, it is not reputed a member of it, because 'tis not esteemed a member, but by reason of its Com­munion in the same life, and with the same Soul which is the principle both of life and action. If then the Soul do not partake in the Spirit of Christ, who alone animates the whole mysterious body composed of himself, and the faithful that he hath redeemed, how can it be his member? And how can it partake of him if it have no use of any of its facul­ties? For the participation of the Spirit consists either in those actions to which it moves, and excites us, or in the habits which it impresses upon the faculties of our minds. Now there is no action where the faculties are deeply asleep: for 'tis the property of sleep, to arrest and intercept the action of our faculties; and as to habits, 'tis neither reasonable, nor imaginable that they should be pre­served, so many ages in a subject, where they never discover themselves by any Operations; the body may certainly in a sense, retain the quality of a member of Christ▪ in the dust of the grave, al­though [Page 56] it feel no effect of the Commu­nication of this Spirit, because though it have immediately and by it self no con­nexion with the head, it may have it at least by the mediation of the Soul, which is the other part of the whole which both together they do compound. For the Soul by the relation that it hath to it in that respect, always considers it as a dependance, or appendix of his essence, in as much as without it, it cannot con­stitute any subject, and as an essence on which it self in some sort depends: For as much as without it, it cannot constitute a compleat man. So that the Soul having an effective, and immediate Communion with Christ by the participation of his Spirit, the Body also retains some con­nexion with the head, at least mediately, and by virtue of the interposition of the Soul: But if all connexion between Christ and the Soul comes to be broken, which will certainly happen, if the Spirit do not Communicate to it, neither in habits nor actions, the Soul will by it self cease to be a member of Christ; and the body cannot be so by its intervention. I con­clude then touching this first point, that the Soul separate from the body hath understanding and perception, and by [Page 57] consequence, that the Souls of the faith­ful departed hence, do enjoy some de­grees of felicity and glory. Let us see whither it may proceed or what may be the degrees thereof, as far as the word of God, and the Analogy of faith will inform us.

What is the happiness of faith­ful Souls, after their separation from the Body; and what is the place where they are gathered together, or assembled.
The Second Discourse.

BEcause the place whereinto the Souls of the faithful are assem­bled, at the time of their sepa­ration doth contribute without doubt, very much to their contentment, and when we shall have decided where it is, it will be much more easy to speak [Page 58] of the nature of happiness it self; before we proceed to enquire into the degrees of the happiness of good men, it seems necessary to search and examine what is the place which is appointed for their abode and residence. To the end there­fore that I may there begin my discourse, it must be known that many have been of this opinion, that the Souls of the Patriarchs, and Fathers that lived under the Old Testament were not received into Heaven till the manifestation of the New, and that by the ascension of Christ on high, admission thither was granted to them. And the principal foundation that they have for this opinion, is that passage in the ninth Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is said, Vers. 8. that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest under the time of legal dispensation, whilst the first Taber­nacle was standing. Having therefore banished Souls from the habitation of Heaven, for all the time that ran by till the ascension of our Saviour: and it being necessary to provide for them, some certain habitation to the end they might not remain wanderers, and vagabonds, because they did not believe any place more proper to mark out for them, than [Page 59] the bosom of Abraham, of which our Saviour speaks in the Gospel, they have made no difficulty to determine, that is, there they have made their abode all this long tract of time, only they have found themselves much perplexed, when they have been to determine precisely in what part of the World, the bosom of Abraham should be. For some have placed it in the near neighbourhood of Hell, although our Lord put a great deep between them, others have made it the Porch or Antichamber of Heaven; to conclude, others not knowing well what to hold or affirm, have left the Question undecided.

Now as to what concerns the bosom of Abraham: as when our Lord saith, Mat. 8. 11. that many shall come from the East and West, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He never intended to design, or determin the place where these Patriarchs are together, so that if the place where they are, may be ga­thered from this Text, 'tis from those words [in the Kingdom of Heaven.] And not from those, [and shall sit with Abra­ham, Isaac, and Jacob;] So there is no appearance that he intended to determine [Page 60] any certain place by those words in Abra­hams bosom: Because in his time there were two manners of eating together, the one by sitting round a Table as we now do; the other by lying on beds, in such fashion that their heads were near each other, and one did repose himself as it were in the bosom of his neigh­bour: in the one of those Texts, the Lord hath respect to one of these customs; and in the other to the other, to signify one and the same thing, (viz.) that they shall eat with Abraham. And because to eat together after this manner is a Testimony of a Familiar Conversation, and of a Society full of friendship, to signifie that Lazarus had this strict familiarity with Abraham, he says that he was in his bosom: as to signifie that others shall enjoy the same sweet society with him, he says they shall be with him at Table. Which shews without doubt that they must be in the same place, but doth in no manner determine, whe­ther this place be above the Heavens, or beneath the earth.

As to the meaning of the other Text, surely those that make use of it, to ex­clude the Spirits of the Fathers from en­tring [Page 61] into Heaven, before the Ascension of Christ, are deceived in the interpre­tation of it. The Apostle means nothing thereby, but that by the Ceremony of the High Priests entring once a year into the Holy of Holies, with Blood for the expiation of Sins, the holy Spirit did give them sufficiently to understand, that the true High Priest was not as yet entred into the Sanctuary of Heaven, and that the means by which that was to be accom­plished, was not yet made evident or re­vealed; and indeed it could not be made evident, but by the coming of the Thing it Self: now the Thing it Self, and the Ceremony could not subsist at the same time; for the one had the place of a Fi­gure, the other of Reality and Truth: and the Figure and Truth are appointed for divers times, and differing dispensati­ons: the Truth therefore existing, the Figure necessarily ceases; And therefore as long as the Figure did by the appoint­ment of God subsist, the Truth could not be presumed actually exhibited: But be the interpretation that they have given to this Text, What it will, it will be of no great importance, whether they be deceived in it, yea or no, since that which the most part of them hold is a constant [Page 62] truth, and the whole World are at an agreement with them in it: And 'tis, that since our Lord Jesus is ascended on high, the entrance into the Heavens hath been open, not only to the faithful that have departed since him, but also generally to all those that have lived under the dis­pensation of the times passed, as well since, as before the publication of the Law upon the mountain. For what doth it concern me that Abraham and the other Patriarchs, Fathers, Believers, and good men that lived in former times, had not the advantage of entring into Heaven, till our Saviour ascended thither, since I my self, shall enter there at death, and meet them all there to partake with them in the same joy. I say, what doth it im­port me that God hath at other times ta­ken the Souls of Believers, (as Elias speaks of his own) and hath lodged them apart in some place at a distance from him until the ascension of our Saviour, since that when he takes mine, he will place it in his Sanctuary? But because all Christians are not of this Opinion and that some have thought, that although the faithful after death, do enter into a deep Repose, accompanied with Conso­lation, and joy marvellously sensible: [Page 63] nevertheless, they will not be permitted to enter into the presence of God in the Heavens, nor to enjoy the Vision of him, until the Resurrection; I think my self obliged briefly to examine the Texts and Reasons upon which they do, establish their Persuasion.

They say therefore, that the holy Scrip­ture doth ordinarily remit us to the Re­surrection for the accomplishment of our hopes, and that it is on that day alone, that our Lord doth promise to give Re­wards to those that believe in him, as may be seen Joh. 6. and in many other places of like nature: even some have made no scruple to alledge to this purpose, that Text of St. Peter, where he says that Christ was quickened in the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the Spirits in Prison: because although he there speaks of the Spirits of those that lived long before the Revelation of the new Covenant, ne­vertheless according to their opinions, there is a likeness of Reason, and that we ought to make the same judgment of Be­lievers now, and those of times past in this matter; and behold well near how they explain themselves: There is none, say they, that is either rewarded or pu­nished with those Rewards or Punishments [Page 64] that are appointed by the Laws until the Sentence be given, and pronounced ju­dicially: now the Judgment that must pass judicially upon us, is differred till the last day; so that it will be contrary to all ordinary forms of Administring Justice, that the Spirits of Believers should be ad­mitted to the Vision of God, before our Lord shall have pronounced: Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the King­dom prepared for you before the beginning of the World, for I was an hungry, &c. Therefore as Criminals were kept in Prison (and that's it which is signified by the word Prison, 1 Pet. 3. 19.) until the pronunciation of Judgment; and as they are not brought forth in publick to be pu­nished, till after Judgment is pronounced; so it is reasonable, that some place be ap­pointed for the Reception of those which shall be absolved at the Coming of Christ, which is different from the place wherein they shall receive their Reward; but as those that are in Prison are racked, and tormented in their Consciences by the fear of Judgment, and the punishment that doth attend them, (which is proper­ly in their opinion the pain that the dam­ned at this time endure) so it is reason­able, that those that expect their Reward [Page 65] in the place of Repose, should enjoy Con­solation in the assurance of their future absolution and hopes of Glory; Now if this Consideration be valid for the Fathers of the most ancient times, without doubt it will be as good for the faithful of the new Covenant, as for those of the old.

As to this Text of Scripture, I observe that 'tis understood after diverse manners, whereof among others, there are two wor­thy of Consideration: for some have thought that by the Spirit of Christ is meant his Soul: by his preaching, the knowledge that he gave to the Souls of the ancient Believers, of the propitiation that he made upon the Cross: by the word which we translate Prison, a kind of Watch-Tower, wherein these Souls expected the Redemption hoped for, according to the promises that had been given them con­cerning it; they suppose then the Souls of the ancient Believers in condition some­thing like those that are set in Centinel, on some high place in a besieged City, to discover afar off, from whence, and when succour will appear unto them, only they put this difference, that the hopes of suc­cour in a place besieged is always mixed with doubts, because of the uncertainty of all human Counsels and Events, and [Page 66] this doubt is not without fear, nor fear without unquietness, nor by consequent without anxiety and perturbation, where­as the Souls of the holy Persons of passed ages, never having any doubt concerning the promise of God, have possessed a hope altogether assured, and by consequent a tranquillity very profound, and a content­ment without any mixture of afflictions: others have thought that by the Spirit of Christ, must be meant his Divine Na­ture, by his preaching, the invitation to Repentance, that he caused to be made, in the days of Noah; And by the Spirits that are in Prison, (for they believe that to accommodate this Hebrew phrase to our Language, 'tis necessary to supply these words, which are, or which are now) the Souls of those which would not hearken to this invitation, and who by reason of their obstinacy, have been put under chains of darkness, in those horrible Pri­sons, where they expect their final punish­ment; Now to make here a small Digres­sion, and to return again after a little while, to the preceding Question: I say, that whether of these two interpretations we do embrace, it will evidently con­clude, that Souls are not destitute of all knowledge after death, for if we fasten [Page 67] on the first, the Souls of the faithful ex­pect with great longing, the revelation of the Redemption of Jesus Christ: and if we follow the second, Offenders do not use always to sleep in their holes, the worm of their Conscience, and the fear of what is to come, will awaken them. Besides, if the Souls of the wicked lose all sense, at their going out of the Body, there will be no need of assigning to them, one certain and common Prison, they will be sufficiently well disposed of for the ex­pectation of Judgment, in whatsoever part of the World they shall be found. But let us return to the Question in hand. I think this second Interpretation much the better, and most agreeable both to the intention, and words of the Apostle: and if I should hold my self to that, I should have nothing to answer, but that although the Prison, and place of punishment, be different sufficiently often, yet they are not always so; sometimes Offenders are punished in the Gaols, and Prisons where­in they are kept, expecting the sentence of the Judge; and in the time that St. Peter wrote, 'twas a thing sufficiently common, among the Ramans and Greeks, to make use of the same place first as a Prison, and then as the Theater of pu­nishment: [Page 68] so that this Text proves not at all, that the Souls of Unbelievers are not now kept in Hell, although one day they must there be tormented for their Crimes; And by the same reason it will not follow, that the Souls of Believers are not now assembled in the Heavens, although that must be one day, the place of their recompence and their glory; But let us give this honour to those that have proposed this first interpretation, to see if by receiving it, it can be proved that the Souls of the faithful have not at present their habitation in the Heavens: Al­though the Vision of God, in which con­sists our supream happiness, must be chief­ly Communicated in the Heavens, never­theless the Court of Heaven, and the Vi­sion of God may be things distinct. I say God may make himself seen out of Heaven, if he pleases; and if he pleases, he may receive a person to Heaven, who shall not see God, by that Vision in which consists the top and highest part of hap­piness. Let us put the Case, that the Souls of the faithful have in other ages, or are at present, put in some place as in a Watch-Tower, those of the faithful of times past in expectation of the Redemp­tion of the Cross: and those of the faith­ful [Page 69] of the time present, in expectation of the appearance of the same Redeemer: this place may very well be in the Hea­vens, though the Vision of the glory of God be not yet Communicated to them: and if we compare this Text so interpret­ed with that, This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise, there will be much more reason to believe that the place of this Sentinel is in Heaven, than any where else: for the Paradise, whither the Soul of our Lord Ascended is in the Heaven, and there by consequence, are the Souls of those to whom he will give the knowledge of his satisfaction.

As to what concerns those other Texts, wherein the Scripture sends us to the day of the blessed Resurrection, for the obtain­ing of our Reward, it seems not at all necessary to understand them in such manner, as may persuade us to exclude faithful Souls from Heaven: There is no term more usual to represent the glory, which we expect on that very happy day, than that of triumph. Let us then com­pare the Condition of them that have formerly Triumphed at Rome, with the faithful that expect the Reward of Glory: they first of all fought at a distance from the City in strange Countreys, some near­er [Page 70] and some farther off, according as the emergency of things, and the extent of the Empire did require, after they had vanquished their Enemies, they were permitted to enter into the City of Rome as private persons, there to demand the charges of the Common-wealth, or the honour of Triumph; the Senate first ap­pointed it, and no man ever triumphed at Rome without consent of the Senate, or by authority of the People: After a permission of Triumph was obtained, they went out of the City to return again in some short time, not as private Persons, without any Attendance or Ornaments, but as victorious Captains, and Conque­rors, with solemn pomp and magnifi­cence; Wherefore then after the Believer hath fought here below, against the Ene­mies of the glory of God and his Salva­tion, and is escaped victorious in all his Combates, may he not be permitted to enter, as a private person stripped of his body, into the heavenly Jerusalem, not to demand a Triumph, for that is already determined, but to expect the day on which it must be Celebrated? in the mean whiles passing its happy time, in the company of those Saints and Angels, which are in the same expectation. The [Page 71] same thing is practised towards Embassa­dors, who first enter as private persons into the capital Cities of those Empires, whither their Embassies are addressed, and soon after go forth, to return again on another day, in the glory of a great and courtly Attendance: and at the Entry of Princes, when they return from some Conquest or some glorious Expedition, the same method of proceeding is fre­quently observed; the Pomp and Magni­ficence is differred to some solemn day, but in the mean while they live at home with their ordinary Court: To conclude, the same thing having been used towards our Lord Jesus, it may not be thought strange if God make use of it towards Believers. For first of all He fought upon the Cross, and by his courage, became victorious, his Body being laid in the Grave, his Soul ascended into Paradise, and if I may so say, without any noise: and afterwards being returned, and his Body raised, he was carried up on high, mounted on the Clouds, and entred in triumph into Hea­ven, among the applauses of happy Spi­rits, and the acclamations of Angels: in the mean time, 'tis no wonder if the Scrip­ture speaks something more rarely, of the reception of Souls into Heaven, than [Page 72] of the glorious day of the blessed Resur­rection: for those beginnings of our hap­piness, which we enjoy immediately after death, are indeed very marvellous, if we consider them precisely and in themselves: but they are obscure, imperfect, and of little or no lustre, if we compare them with the splendor and magnificence, in which we shall see the accomplishment of it; therefore as the promises of reward made to Jesus Christ, for his obedience to the death of the Cross, do properly re­spect his ascension into Heaven, and his exaltation to the right hand of his Father in glory: so that St. Paul refers it thither, Phil. 2. that hinders not, but that his Soul might obtain the right of entring in­to Paradise, during the time of its separa­tion from the body, and that he did make use of it; so that although the promises of Reward, have a particular respect to the Resurrection, that doth not infer, that our Souls are deprived of the liberty, of entring into the heavenly Sanctuary, there to live in the expectation of it. And if any of us, according to the manner of the ancient Romans, should adopt any one for his Child, with resolution to de­clare this adoption publickly, and accord­ing to Law, upon some certain day, to [Page 73] the end that he may be capable of suc­ceeding to our Estate and Honours, no­thing hinders but that in the mean time, he may lodge in our House, though per­haps he may keep a little more close, and private till the day apointed for this publick and solemn action or installa­tion.

'Tis true there are some that make some scruple of lodging the Souls of those in Heaven, that God hath raised up, with purpose to permit them to live yet a while in the World, as that of Lazarus and some others. For what likelyhood is there, say they of bringing them back from that place of glory and happiness, to one so wretched as is that of our Conversation on this Earth? Had it not been much better, never to have given them any taste of the joys of Heaven, than to pluck them thence, and return them to live among the infirmities and inconveniencies of the present life? They are therefore willingly enclined to say: that it would have been more adviseable to have assigned them an Habitation in some place, whereof the deprivation would neither be so sensible nor so pre­judicial. But methinks these men give [Page 74] themselves a great deal of trouble to no purpose. For if there be any incon­venience therein, is it not easie for God to appoint some particular Habitation for those, and in the mean time receive all others into the Heavens, to the end that none may go thence till on the final Resurrection: A score of Souls it may be, which were to be reunited to their Bodies, by a particular dispensation must they give Law to so many Millions of Spirits, as are not at all subject to it; nor must have experience of any other Resurrection, than that of the general and last day? To which we may add, that although they should have been received into Heaven, seeing that in their first Creation they were made for the glory of God, and on other accounts have so many obligations to him because he hath redeemed them, they will have no reason to complain, if they suffer something extraordinary for his service. Scipio Africanus after very glorious Triumphs, went to War for the ob­taining of Forreign Conquests, under the Authority of his Brother, and in the quality of his Lieutenant, for the sole love that he bore to him, and to assist him in arriving at the highest dignities [Page 75] of the Common-Wealth. In which he suffered some diminution of his own, besides the incommodities which he re­ceived in his own person, and the sensible griefs that he had experience of by the captivity of his Son. The Angels them­selves descend from Heaven, where they enjoy the vision of God, with unspeak­able contentments, to the end that they Minister to the Protection, and Salvation of believers: To conclude in whatsoever place those Souls be lodged, which by a particular Resurrection return again to the Habitation of their bodies, they are delivered from their infirmities as long as they are separated from them, and it seems probable that they cannot re-enter there without some disadvantage by that change of condition. Wherefore since they cannot return into the world with­out some abatement to their felicity, it cannot be more troubleous to them to be brought back from the Heavens, than from the Elementary Region.

If it were reasonable absolutely to decide this Question, touching the place where the faithful are received after death, by simple reasonings drawn either from the probability of things, or even from [Page 76] the harmony that the parts of Theology and Religion have among themselves, there are those that are clear enough and pregnant enough, to perswade us to believe, that they are received into the Heavens; for since as St. Paul teaches us, our Conversation is in Heaven, and we have the honour to be Citizens thereof, for what reasons are we so long exiled from our Country? What sin remains unpardoned which should hinder our return to the place whence we are de­scended? Since we are exhorted to tend thither and henceforth to think of no­thing but Heavenly things, why are we so long deprived of the fruit of our thoughts and desires? How is it that the Gospel labours so powerfully to beget in us a desire after it, if it give us not also the enjoyment of it? Since we are dead to the World and our life is hid with Christ in God, why do we not go to converse where our life is kept in reserve for us? Since our head is there, and the Communion that we have with him is so strict and indissoluble, wherefore doth not he assemble his members about him, although by his wise dispensation some part of them remain yet a while on Earth? Since he hath prayed that where [Page 77] he is we may be also, why is the fruit of this prayer which without doubt God did hear, differred for so many ages? Since he hath said that he went thither to prepare a place for us, why should we doubt that he doth receive us to the place that he hath designed and marked out for us? To conclude since he shews him­self to those that enquire not after him, why doth he depart or withdraw him­self so far from those, that seek and de­sire him with so great passions, and af­fections? When Mary cast her self at his feet to embrace him, he said touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Fa­ther. Without doubt because this woman transported with the pleasure of seeing him raised again, was willing as we say to rejoyce and congratulate with him, in so glorious a Victory, and because she and his other disciples, had hither­unto had some hope, that the Lord would remain on Earth with them, to re-esta­blish the Kingdom of Israel, she was ravished with joy, as if henceforth there were nothing that could hinder, but that she might enjoy his presence according to her wish, and content there with all the desires of her Soul. For that reason he repressed this heat and ardour, and [Page 78] tells her that 'tis not yet done, it re­mains as yet that he ascend on high, ere they must see the accomplishment of their expectations. For according to his admirable goodness and wisdom, he knew so to dispose his actions, and discourses to his servants, and to accommodate them for a little time, to the quality of their knowledg and understanding, but at this time that he is ascended upon high: wherefore in expectation that he will descend thence to raise our Bodies, should he not permit our Souls to go cast themselves at his feet, and refresh themselves with the pleasant enjoyment of his presence; all these considerations certainly ought to make very great im­pressions upon our minds, but that which ought fully to perswade them is, that the holy Scriptures given us most evident, and indubitable instructions concerning it. Let us therefore chuse some passages very express, and which will render the thing wholly manifest.

St. Paul in the place that I alledged above saith, that if the earthly House of our Body be dissolved, we have a Building of God, an House eternal in the Heavens. And we have seen above that he speaks [Page 79] of what happens to the faithful immedi­ately after death, and not only of what they expect at the last Resurrection. Will any one say that these words [in the Hea­vens] do not signify the place but the condition, that is to say, that Habitation is called Heavenly, not because 'tis in the Heavens, but because 'tis very holy and happy? Certainly this neither can nor must be. For besides that we may not have recourse to interpretations which seem a little forced, without an absolute and invincible necessity, he says 'tis an house Eternal in the Heavens. Now the Court of Heaven which is appointed for the faithful, may well be called Eternal although it be necessary that Souls leave it for a moment at the time of the Re­surrection: Because things that are done for a very little space of time, and only by dispensation, are not at all considered; and so small an interval hinders not, but that we say, they have always continued in that same place. Even as we do not quit our dwelling, by making a voyage into the Country, and although the Angels come sufficiently often on Earth, yet we do not cease to name them the Angels of Heaven; but if Souls be in any place out of Heaven, until the day [Page 80] of the Resurrection, that Habitation being to be abandoned for ever, it cannot in any wise be said to be Eternal. The same Apostle says, that he desired to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, Foras­much as it was much better for him: without doubt Jesus Christ is in the Hea­vens; and if St. Paul had not believed that he should go thither when he died, but that he must be confined in some other place of the world wherever it be, out of the presence of our Lord, he had not served himself of such expressions; our Lord promised the Thief, that he should that day be with him in Paradise: now Paradise is in Heaven, and although our Lord did soon redescend from thence to reunite himself to his body, the thief without all controversy continued there, having no need or occasion to return to this Earth. In the Book of the Revel. Chap. 14. Vers. 4. All the faithful de­parted hence, are represented under the number of an hundred and forty and four thousand gathered together in the Heavens, in the company of the Lamb and following him whithersoever he goes. Now there is no probability that God would represent to his Prophet Visions of this nature for the confirma­tion, [Page 81] and consolation of his Children, if they were contrary to the truth of things. In the Epistle to the Hebrews 'tis said that we are come to the assembly, and Church of the first born whose names are written in Heaven: Now 'tis not the manner to enrol and make men free of a City, and soon after exile them for a very long time into the Countrey: Besides 'tis apparent that this word, writ­ten or enrolled, signifies in this Text as­sembled, for here are no publique Rolls or Records in the Heavens, where the names and qualities of believers are actually written: But because those that are admitted to the priviledges of Free­men in a City, are wont first of all to be Enrolled, after that manner of speak­ing, which I have before remarked, where that which goes before, is put for that which follows, and that which fol­lows, for that which goes before, the holy Apostle calls those written or en­rolled, which are actually received into the possession of their Heavenly freedom; and truly it seems to me that there is no reason to doubt of a thing whereof God hath been pleased to give most express assurance in all the periods and parts of the holy Scriptures. For why think we, [Page 82] did he raise and Translate Enoch before the Law, Elias under the legal Oeco­nomy, and Jesus Christ under the Gospel, so apparently and manifestly that no man could doubt but that they are carried to Heaven, if it were not to this end that we might raise our desires, thoughts, and affections thither after them? I very well know that these things have a par­ticular regard to the hope of the Re­surrection; but I do also maintain that God would not have drawn the hearts of men so visibly to himself, if he had had any intention to command their Souls separated from their Bodies, to re­main I know not where, very far from the place whereof he had raised in them very strange and pleasant hopes and ex­pectations. And this good God which hath had so much care by all means to provide for the comfort of our faith, would not have commanded us to em­bark with so much Courage and Resolution upon a Sea so troublesome, and full of darkness and Abysses as is death, if he had not clearly shewed us the Haven, where our Souls must arrive after such troublesome agitations.

[Page 83] The other point which concerns the quality, and degree of the blessedness of those Souls that are gathered together in Heaven, will put us to some little more trouble; whether it be seriously to search what may be said concerning it from the word of God, which speaks not so plainly of it, or whether it be to contain our selves modestly within the bounds of what it hath revealed, and of what we can comprehend by the A­nalogy of Faith, without passing the limits of it. I shall endeavour notwithstand­ing to do the one and the other; I must lay down here for the foundation of our discourse, that the Souls of the faithful are put by death into a state of perfect sanctification, seeing they enter into Heaven. For nothing enters there that doth pollute, or foul: In short, seeing that sin either in Bodily affections, such as the Schools call the Irascible and Con­cupiscible, or in the habits of the mind it self, and in the evil dispositions of the understanding and will, death must en­franchise them from subjection to the one and the other. For first of all the Soul being delivered from the body, it can be no longer subject to its affections: and that among others is the reason why we [Page 84] die, that the affections and desires of our members which have not been perfectly mortified by the grace of God, which we receive here below, might entirely be extinguished by the destruction and dis­solution of the members themselves, which 'tis like the Apostle would signify when he says the body is dead because of sin, that is to say, mortal or subject to death, to the end that sin might be ex­tinguished. Moreover as to what con­cerns the habits of the Spirit, as it was that of God that began to dissipate them here below, to the end that he might introduce those that are better, so it is he himself that doth altogether cleanse us of them after death, and impress upon us a perfect and compleat sanctity: Now compleat Holiness doth necessarily sup­pose some perfection of knowledg. For we are so framed that the love and af­fection of our wills is generated by the light that is in our understandings, and this Frame or Constitution being essential to our Souls, and by consequence abso­lutely inseparable from them, in what place or in whatsoever state they be, it must be that they be such as well after as before their separation from the Body; for it cannot be conceived, either that [Page 85] we can love those things that we do not at all understand; or that we cannot love those which we do know to be truly lovely, or that we love more or less in proportion to the knowledg we have of them. In the mean time, the perfection of knowledg depends of two things; the one is the object which is presented to us, the other is the manner in which we receive it: the object may have the ad­vantage of being presented to us after an excellent manner, but if we be not well disposed to receive it, the effect which it ought to produce in our Souls is not produced at all. And on the other side, we may be well disposed to receive it, but if it be not presented to us in good manner, we cannot derive those lights from it which otherwise we might. Now as to the disposition of the faculties of our Souls, we do here suppose, that after death they will be perfectly, well consti­tuted, since they will be delivered from sin by the extinction of the lusts and desires of the Body, and be rendred in­comparably more strong, and luminous (than naturally they could be) by the presence of the Holy Ghost. It remains now that we consider what may be the objects that present themselves to [Page 86] the contemplation of Souls, thus quali­fied and prepared.

It seems to me, that we may boldly say they are necessarily of three kinds. The first are such as our Souls may have had some knowledg of whilst we lived, and whereof we continue to retain the memory. The second contain those works of God which are presented to their eyes. The third are the persons that will there be seen, and the Com­munion which they will have on high, with those other Spirits, which are found there. Now as touching memory, I think there is no person, which doth not easily conceive that we have two sorts thereof; For their is one that con­sists in the retention of things sensible and singular, with their circumstances and particularities, according to which our memories received the images of them which we recal in our Fantasy, when occasions are presented, or our Spirits engage themselves in the search of them, for there is no person that knows not by experience▪ what it is to review his memory, there to recover the Idea's, or Images of diverse sensible things, which are there laid in reserve: almost [Page 87] as a person passes his eyes over the Books in his Closet, to find one there that he hath present use of: But there is another also which consists in things more uni­versal, and which have their foundation in reason and discourse. For there never were men which have not or might not make this Observation in themselves, that after having as it seemed so forgotten certain conclusions which at some other times we had known, that at the first attempt they did not present themselves to our thoughts; but when we come attentively to consider the principles whereon they depend, immediately we find the foot-steps of our reasonings, and without any great difficulty return to the consequences that we had drawn from them, in such manner that there is a like difference between a man that never knew science, and another that hath had knowledg of it, but the dis­continuance of Meditating thereon hath a little obscured the Idea's thereof in his mind, as there is between a man which never was in a Country, and another who after having exactly known it, hath been a stranger to it for some few years; the one finds much difficulty in obtain­ing the knowledg of it, and if he wan­der [Page 88] never so little from the beaten rode, behold him utterly bewildred, the other immediately recollects himself, and the least thing which presents it self before his eyes, replaces in his memory the Situation of the whole Country, and if I may so say repaints in his mind the Map of a Province. As to what concerns this first sort of memory, 'tis a corporeal faculty in us, whereof I desire no other argument but that 'tis found among beasts: 'Tis very true that as the most part of those faculties that we have in common with beasts, are more excellent in us, our memory without doubt is more strong, and of larger capacity than theirs, and our imagination more clear and full of Light; but so it is that Dogs, and Horses, and Elephants, and Foxes know infinite things by their figures, and colours, and other sensible marks of that kind, and 'tis also seen that some­times they act by simple memory, al­though they have no objects before their sences. Therefore seeing 'tis a Corpo­real faculty, 'tis to be presumed that death hath great power upon it when it dissolves and universally ruines all the Organs of the Body. So that I do not doubt▪ but that our Souls do forget an [Page 89] infinite number of the little singularities, and particularities of sensible things at their departure hence, which we easily remember whilst we are living here: But as to the other, because 'tis a power of the Soul it self, as endowed with reason, it must most necessarily remain. So that we may by no means doubt, whether they do remember that they have here seen a World, and learnt by the Preaching of the Gospel, that the Sun of God came thither to save sinners. They will Remember that there is a Church on Earth, and that they were members of it, having believed in this Redeemer. And generally all the Doct­rines of the Gospel, wherein they had been instructed, for their Consolation and Salvation, will remain most firmly im­pressed upon their memories: and that 'tis so appears by the Book of the Reve­lation, where the Holy Spirit attributes unto them, the memory of their Mar­tyrs, and charity for the Church, and gratitude towards God, and the Lamb for the benefit of their Redemption, and other things of like kind. Concerning which I conceive it will be necessary to make two Considerations. The first is, that if in the ordinary Preaching of the [Page 90] Gospel, or in the study of things that do concern Religion, the minds of the faith­ful have received any impressions less true than might be desired, (as there is none so advanced in the knowledg of this Divine truth, who is not deceived on divers occasions) at death they shall be delivered from those errors: For that which occasions our mistake in these matters, is that although we very well believe the principal and fundamental Articles of Religion, and if we know well how to draw our Conclusions from these principles, we should certainly pre­serve our selves from these false impres­sions, so it is that we commit many faults in the conduct of our reason, and joyn together perswasions that do not well agree: Whereof we do not see the discord and contradiction, for besides that naturally since the fall, there is some weakness in our discursive faculty, espe­cially when there is any Question of things that are a little distant from their principles, we there mingle our passions and our interests, and permit our selves easily to be carried to that natural ob­stinacy, which causes us to hold fast the things that we have once preconceived, even without any appearance of reason. [Page 91] The Souls of the faithful being therefore delivered, not only from the trouble of the Body, but also from all sorts of vices and passions, and endued by the presence of the Holy Spirit with a light totally new, they then find no difficulty to dis­cern truth from falshood, and by con­sequence to deliver themselves from all false opinions, wherewith they may have been prepossessed. The second consider­ation is that although we have been in­structed, in the belief of the funda­mental truths of the Gospel, neverthe­less we do not as yet comprehend them perfectly enough, there remains always some darkness in our conceptions, some remnants of incredulity which shake sometimes this way, and sometimes that way, the things that the word of God hath established in our belief. Whereas separate Souls see all these truths so clearly, that there remains no darkness in their knowledg of them: So that they lose their errors if they had any before, they retain the belief of things certain and veritable, which they had already received into their minds, and those very objects which they had known before, they shall perceive by a view in­comparably [Page 92] more distinct, more perfect and more clearly enlightned.

As to what concerns the Works of God which are presented to their Contem­plation, if they were to remain within the compass of this Elementary World, it were to be presumed, that active and a­wake as we suppose them, they would employ themselves in a great measure, in the Contemplation of the most excel­lent things of the Universe, to the end they might observe the marvellous Per­fections of their Author; Even as I be­lieve that, 'tis not to be doubted, that the Angels that God employs here and there in all parts of the World, have derived an infinite number of good and excellent knowledge thence. I know not whether I may dare to say that, as the Apostle teaches us, that the Angels are present in our Assemblies, for which reason, he com­mands that women behave themselves there with humilty, that they may not offend their eyes by any indecency: Souls may be found there voluntarily present to entertain with us a holy Communion as far as they can, but we have already said and proved that they are assembled in Heaven, and even in that Heaven where [Page 93] our Lord Jesus is in magnificent glory: Now it is not my intention carefully to enquire, how this Heaven is made, and those that permit themselves, to be transported by the elevation of their thoughts, do much more deserve the blame of rashness and presumption, than the praise of subtility or sublimity in their Speculations. I will only say two things which cannot be ac­cused of too much curiosity; the one is, that as if ascending from Earth to the more raised parts of the World, we find that progress is made for the better: The Water being more transparent than the Earth, the Air more transparent than the Water, the Fire more pure than the Air, and yet the Heavens more pure and lu­minous than the Fire, we should imagine, as it is very reasonable, that things always advance after the same manner and pro­portion, certainly the Heaven of Heavens must be incomparably beautiful and of a structure most excellent. The other is, that God having built this lower World to be the Habitation of man, neverthe­less made it so beautiful, that on which side soever we turn our eyes, if we be at­tentive, we find not only matter of satis­faction, but also of admiration, surely seeing he hath chosen this Heaven for his [Page 94] Habitation, it must be that the whole Constitution thereof must be infinitely more glorious: whereupon I make this Consideration. A Pagan Philosopher sometimes entertained this Meditation, that if some one had been nourished, till the age of five and twenty years in some Cavern where he had never seen the light, and where he could learn nothing of the form of the World, nor of the things that are done there, and that if all of a sudden, he should be taken thence, and the Heavens and the Earth, the Sun the Moon, the Stars, the Clouds, the force and power of the Winds, and in ge­neral all that is peculiarly worthy of knowledge in all the parts of nature, be shewed unto him, 'tis indubitable that he would fall into a very great admiration, and that he would immediately cry out, this is the Work and Habitation of the Gods themselves. And there is no Person that Considers the thing as it ought, which doth not easily apprehend that this Philosopher had reason: For although the custom of seeing all these marvellous Objects, diminishes the admiration of them, 'tis nevertheless from thence, that all Nations have first learned that there is an infinite Being, that by the wisdom of his [Page 95] understanding, and power of his hand hath given being to all these things. What may we then think of the ravishments that the Souls of the Faithful have expe­rience of, then when being delivered from the chains of the body, and carried on high between the hands of Angels, after having passed all the extent of the Air, and gone through the vast and immense spaces of the Celestial Orbs, and consi­dered near at hand the vast and prodigi­ous greatness, the marvellous splendour of the Sun, and other Stars, they come to enter that stately Palace, where God and our Lord Jesus dwell in glory? When Jacob saw a Ladder which reached from Earth to Heaven, and the Angels that ascended and descended from above, he cried out, this is the House of God, or at least, it is certainly the Gate of Heaven, and testified that this place so venerable, filled his Soul with fear and wonder both together. David placed among his most earnest desires, that of entring into the Tabernacle of God, and of seeing on all sides the marvels that shined there. And truely I do not doubt, but that Spectacle was capable of overwhelming the Spirit, with unspeakable content: the matter it self was illustrious and amazing, but the [Page 96] work and design much exceeded the mat­ter; But what is all that in comparison of what we may presume concerning the Heavens, and the wonders that on all sides shine and sparkle there? When we view the palaces of Kings, the costliness of their Houses, the stateliness of their seylings, the variety of their Pictures, the richness of their Tapestry, the rarity of their Statues, the lofty grandeur of their Pillars and Arches; give a pleasure marvellously sensible, and affecting to all men that have eyes, and have not their internal senses marvellously stupid and blockish: those that are knowing in Arts, and well understand Building, Painting, Carving, Embroidery, and other things of that nature, do there take much more content than others, because they dis­cover all the beauties that are in those Objects, the most curious stroaks, and the most delicate devices cannot escape them. Whereas the generality observe nothing there, but the various sparkling of Colours, some order and general har­mony, and proportion, which the most gross cannot be ignorant in, and in such or such a Picture, some likeness to persons that at some time they have seen: If there be either Histories or Emblems, [Page 97] Riddles, or Devices in the Tapestries or Pictures, those which are conversant in good Learning, and pride themselves either in quickness of wit, or the know­ledg of Histories and Fables, do there receive yet more satisfaction if they can lay open what is wrapt up there, and go to the bottom of what others see no­thing but the bark. And if with so many other things, the Spirit of Prophecy had given to David some understanding of the Mysteries which were vailed under the Types and Allegories of the Old Testament: I do believe that in the contemplation of the Tabernacle, neither the price of the matter whereof it was composed, nor the Divine industry that Bezaleel and Aholiab employed there, did never so much content either his senses or his understanding, as he felt of ravishment in the marvellous wisdom, wherewith God directed the design of all these things, to represent by them others incomparably more excellent, which were yet hid in the darkness of time to come. Imagine you therefore a Soul, first of all ready instructed in the truths of Christianity, and purified from all false impressions which may have been mingled with them, then afterwards ex­traordinarily [Page 98] illuminated by the Spirit of God, and by that means made capable of all that the most sublime intelligences are capable of, to be introduced into this place so full of Magnificence and splendor, and there finding the substance of that, whereof the Sanctuary of the Tabernacle was heretofore but a shadow; If you do so I assure my self that you will fall so short of being able to con­ceive all the contentment that it will find there, that you cannot attentively affix your Spirit thereon, but it will re­main swallowed up, and fall and faint under the admiration of the knowledg, that it will obtain there, although you be not able to comprehend it. There re­mains the third of these objects, which is the presence of our Lord Jesus, and our Communion with happy Spirits and Holy Angels.

To begin there, as I believe that there is no reason to doubt, but that Angels can communicate among themselves: So I hold for certain that happy spirits can do the same, and that Angels and Souls can mutually entertain each other. What is the manner of this communi­cation, is a thing as difficult to explain, [Page 99] as is the nature of Angels themselves, and the substance of Spirits. For such as is the nature of things, such is the manner and quality of their Operations, and no man will ever well explain the one, if he have not first of all perfectly comprehended what may be understood of the other. But although we do not well understand the manner, neverthe­less we do not fail to be fully assured of the thing it self. Every understanding Being, is enclined to society, as on the other side, no Beings have any society among themselves but those that are endued with understanding. 'Tis for that reason that among Animals man alone is Politick and Sociable, as there­fore with an understanding, but which is inclosed in a Body, God hath given us speech, which is a Corporeal means of mutual Conversation; so to substances separate from Body, but nevertheless endued with understanding, he hath given some power to entertain society and converse, although it be not Cor­poreal. And those that imagine, that neither Angels, nor Souls can move themselves, unless it be by the means of a Body, nor discover their thoughts and sentiments to each other, unless it [Page 100] be by some Corporeal medium, to say no more, pretend to know what they do not at all understand: For seeing they dare to determine the nature of the facul­ties of Spirits, and the manner of their Operations, they must be presumed to have an exact, and perfect knowledg of the nature of substances purely Spiritual: Therefore where the Book of the Reve­lation attributes to Angels and Spirits that are assembled in Heaven, a voice that says without ceasing, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, and Lord thou art worthy to receive honour and power for thou hast created all things, and by thy will they are, and were Created: and again, thou wert slain and hast Redeemed us to God out of every Tribe, and Language, and People, and Nation; and hast made us Kings, and Priests to our God. There are two things distinct; the one is the voice it self, which St. John represents as if it might be heard by the ears of the Body; the other is the thing signified by the voice: Forasmuch as 'tis that which presents it self to the understand­ing. Now as to what concerns the at­tributing a voice unto them, 'tis a thing Symbolical accommodated to the manner of Prophetical Visions, which must not [Page 101] necessarily be so taken, as if really and indeed the Angels and blessed Spirits had so cried. The Angels are indeed repre­sented in the Holy Scripture, sometimes as speaking to men, and as forming sounds in the air, so as it happened in the publishing of the Law upon the mountain: and it is certain they have sufficient power and force upon the Ele­mentary Bodies, to impress Images, and sounds there when it is convenient, and to articulate them in such manner, that our ears shall be capable of receiving them, and presenting them intelligibly to our minds: But there is great pro­bability that all the things that St. John reports are Visions, the Idea's whereof had no subsistance any farther, than the Spirit of God did impress them upon his imagination, and not things so really existing that they could be perceived even by his Bodily senses: as to what concerns that which is pronounced by the voice, there appears a manifest consent in cele­brating the nature, virtues, and Opera­tions of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Now all consent of that kind, necessa­rily infers that those among whom 'tis found, have knowledg of the minds and affections of each other. The Soul there­fore [Page 102] is not content to employ it self alone, in the contemplation, and ad­miration of those objects which are of­fered to it, it communicates with those of its own kind, and they all with the Holy Angels conspire on this occasion, to give unto God the praises, and bles­sings that are due unto him.: St. Paul says that in his ravishment into the third Heaven he heard words and things that could not be uttered, that is to say, he would not report them to us. Nor was it permitted to him that heard them, to come from thence either to astonish the Spirits, or entertain the curiosity of men. For without doubt if he had once given himself the liberty to tell them News from on high, they would have for­gotten the mystery of the Cross, and have so wasted their Spirits in enquiring how Paradise was made, that they would have neglected the knowledg of the means by which they might ascend thi­ther. Because therefore he did not tell us what it is, and he himself hath con­cealed from whose mouth he understood these marvels, 'tis neither lawful for us to enquire, nor possible to obtain more knowledg than he hath given us concern­ing it. I will only infer this, that al­though [Page 103] God hath had a marvellous care to instruct his Church here below, and to this end hath given to his Prophets, and Apostles incomparable illuminations, and which infinitely exceed the sublimest thoughts that ever entred into humane understanding, nevertheless he intends things yet more ravishing in the Hea­vens, seeing St. Paul who hath explained to us so clearly the Mysteries of Religion, keeps these other secrets hidden as far surpassing our present condition, and the capacity of our understanding. As to what concerns the presence of our Lord, as we do not willingly behold the Sun it self directly: Forasmuch as the lustre of its light, doth dazle our eyes, there­fore we rather behold its image in the water, where its splendour is much less illustrious, so I shall not dare to fix my mind, on the contemplation of the Idea's of his body, such as we imagine it to be now on high. I believe it will be better to search out some representation of it elsewhere, where its glory will give less darkness and confusion to my thoughts, the Evangelists report that he was once transfigured upon the moun­tain, in the presence of St. Peter, James and John, and that his face became [Page 104] shining as the Sun, and his garments white and glittering as the light. Which was nevertheless but an essay of his glory, as we make sometimes an image of the Sun in the night, by some kind of Art, and notwithstanding St. Peter remained so ravished in the admiration of it, that although he did not altogether sink, it appears plain enough by his words, that his mind staggered under it, and that he was not able to bear the weight of a Spectacle so glorious. How will it be then with a mind, perfectly purified from the infirmities of nature and the Body, when it comes to contemplate the Lord Jesus in the Heavens amidst the glory wherewithal he glitters there: there is no one among us that reading the History of the Gospel, and there observing the discourses of our Lord, the sweetness and wisdom of his conversa­tion, his wondrous actions, the report of his miracles, and all that Divine con­duct, whereof we have the description in the New Testament, who doth not esteem them very happy who had the honour, not only to converse familiarly with him as his disciples did, but even to touch his garments and see that coun­tenance so full of incomparable sweet­ness, [Page 105] and great Majesty both together: Notwithstanding that then he was en­compassed with infirmity, and always carried with him the presages of his Cross, and ignominious passion. How will it be then with a blessed Soul, when it comes to present it self before him, and shall see him in that estate that becomes him that is sate down on the right hand of God in infinite Power and Glory? And if we that have eyes so weak, and understandings so dark, do not happen on those words where it is said that he is the brightness of his Fathers glory, and the Table which bears a deep and in­delible impression of his Power and Au­thority, But the lustre of these expres­sions and the glory of the thoughts that they produce in our minds, do cause within us very extraordinary emotions. What must be the vision of this glorious object then when the separate Soul shall apply it self to contemplate him with an understanding full of light? There it will remember indubitably what the Holy Gospel learnt it here below, there it will enter into these discourses, if at least the attempts that we make upon it, are capable of representing any of its thoughts. This is he, will it say, which [Page 106] hath put on our nature with its infir­mities, but by his Resurrection and as­cension upon high, hath changed his in­firmities into glory: This is he that conversed here below in mean condition among men, and behold him raised above the magnificence of all the Angels: This is he that suffered the contradiction of sinners, but receives now the ap­plause and veneration of all the Inha­bitants of Heaven: This is he that igno­miniously hung upon the Cross, but now all Creatures behold him with reverence and trembling: This is he that here below suffered death▪ but who now holds in his hand the life of all things, and the subsistance of the universe: This is he that was seen laid in a dark Tomb, in comparison of whom now the splendor of the Sun is but as a shadow: This is he that was thought unworthy that the Earth should bear him, who now walks upon the Heavens, and under whose feet the whole Fabrick of the World doth Tremble: This is he in whom some­times I believed indeed, but with a faith always imperfect, always spotted with some darkness, always mingled with some remainders of incredulity, whom I now see fully and manifestly, and to [Page 107] whom I have liberty to approach with­out fear, and behold him face to face.

After having in some sort represented, what is the excellence of the knowledg, which the believing Soul obtains when 'tis received into Heaven, there is no need that I should stay long to examine what is the measure of the happiness▪ that it there enjoys. For happiness consists as well in the absence of evils, as in the fruition of good which are inconsistent or agreeable to the nature of those Beings which we call by the name of happy. As for evils there are none that enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which is a marvellous happiness to a nature sensible as ours is: As for good things what may they be which are suitable to a reasonable Soul, notwithstanding 'tis separate from the Body: Certainly as the happiness of the eye consists in seeing agreeable things, and as the happiness of the ear in hearing pleasant and harmo­nious sounds; and generally the hap­piness of all the other senses, in exer­cising themselves upon those Objects whereunto nature hath appointed them, with pleasure and content, the happiness of the separate Soul consists in a suitable [Page 108] exercise of its faculties upon the most excellent Objects which can be presented to it, and in the joy that is consequent thereunto. Its understanding there­fore being both perfectly purified in it self, and filled with the presence of Ob­jects so admirable, its happiness in this respect is proportionable to the excel­lency of its Operation, and those con­templations in which it is perpetually employed. If those therefore that have any spark of generosity, and any thing brave in their Souls, do esteem those happy that have obtained any skill in those Sciences, to which men ordinarily apply themselves, and yet nevertheless an excellent Philosopher had reason to say, that one drop of the knowledg of the nature of Celestial Bodies, is more to be desired by reason of the nobleness of their essence, and the advantage of their utility, than all the Sciences that men have formed upon the other Beings of the World; how happy must that Soul be that perfectly knows those things, whose excellency as far surmounts the Sun and other the Stars of Heaven, as they are to be esteemed more worthy than all the other Bodies of these Elementary Re­gions? And if none of our faculties do [Page 109] employ themselves in their Operations in a suitable manner upon those subjects that are proportionable unto them, with­out receiving some sensible pleasure, what may be the satisfaction, that a faithful Soul receives in being incessantly exer­cised in such marvellous Operations? Certainly the pleasure of the eyes and ears is great, when they are filled with such Objects, whose colour, or figure, or harmony, and justness of proportion is capable, reasonably as satisfying the hunger that uncorrupted nature hath placed in those Senses. For pleasure properly consists in this, that now when the Objects that are without do occur unto our faculties, and apply themselves to the desires or capacities that are there, with so much proportion, and equality, that the motions that they make there be neither too languishing nor too vio­lent, but in an agreeable measure. The pleasure of the mind, when it employs it self with success, in the contemplation of things intellectual, is much more great than that of the eyes or ears, be­cause 'tis a more noble faculty, and things Spiritual are more excellent than Bodies, and by consequence Operations more exquisite and curious do arise from [Page 110] the occurrence of them. From whence it follows necessarily that when the fa­culties of the Soul are come to that point of perfection, in which they do as it were as much surpass themselves, when they were in a state of nature, as in this state of nature, they did surpass the eyes and ears; and that when the Objects that are presented to them have as many, or more degrees of excellency above those things intellectual which we ordinarily apprehend, as they have above sensible and Corporeal Objects; it is in­dubitable that the joy and content, that doth accompany Operations so Divine, must infinitely excel, that which can be Ministred by the knowledg of the most perfect and sublime Sciences. The un­derstanding being filled with such excel­lent knowledg, it must necessarily be, that the will be full of love marvellously ardent towards those Objects from whence it doth derive: For things that are excellent do draw our affections for their own sake, and deserve our love by the sole respect of their beauty. And the content that we take in the know­ledg of them, is a cause that we love them also for our own sake, because we love our selves, it cannot be that in that [Page 111] respect we should not love those things that Minister to our satisfaction. Besides we are so naturally disposed, that we do not only love those Objects from whence such excellent knowledg derives, but we singularly esteem the means by which we do enjoy it, and 'tis for that reason that some have said that we have our eyes above our other Bodily Senses, because they discover to our knowledg a far greater multitude of things than our others, and under greater variety. And experience teaches us, that of all visible Objects light seems to be most beautiful and pleasant, which comes to pass not only from its natural constitution, in that it seems to be the Object which hath the most proportion with the faculty of see­ing, but also because 'tis that which ren­ders other things visible, and which if I may so say, doth colour even colours themselves, and give the form and figure to the forms and figures of Bodies. So that we may not doubt, but that blessed Souls are wholly inflamed with the love of the persons and things which on high are perpetually presented to the eyes of their understandings. Now love is of it self a thing full of contentment and joy, when we enjoy the thing we love, and [Page 112] know that we are beloved thereof. The believing Soul therefore ardently loves the happy Spirits which are received on high, and likewise the Holy Angels, and being likewise reciprocally loved by them, and loving our Lord Jesus with an affection far above what it bears to Angels and Spirits, and being much as­sured that it is yet much more beloved of him: and to conclude, seeing in its Habitation in the Heavens, in the aspect of the marvellous things, that are there, in the company of Holy Spirits, in the Society of Angels, in the presence and Communion of Jesus Christ, so many and such irrefragable Testimonies of the love of God towards it, it plunges and drowns and totally swallows it self in the love that it bears to him, and finds in all these motions a sensible and sublime taste of unspeakable felicity.

What it is that the Resurrection will add to the blessedness of the believing Soul.
The Third Discourse.

THis which I have said hitherunto very imperfectly, concerning the happiness of the believing Soul, after it is separate from the Body, may enable us to conceive some­thing of its grandeur, as by the lightning that passes before our eyes, we do in some manner judge of the quantity of fire that is wrapt up in the dark clouds. But although there be attractives enough in what we understand of it, to excite the desire and admiration of it in our hearts, yet it falls far short of its per­fection, as long as man remains deprived of the other half of his essence. For the believer of whose happiness we are now discoursing, may be considered after three manners. First in himself, then [Page 114] as the world hath some Relation to, and Connexion with him: And lastly as he hath some Relation to the Church, as a member hath Relation to his Body. Now to consider him in himself, seeing he is composed of a Soul and a Body, to whatsoever perfection the Soul be advanced, so it is, that whilst the Body remains under the power of death, its happiness is not compleat. To consider it in the Relation that it, and the World have between each other, forasmuch as the World was made for-man, and hath been made subject to vanity, by reason of him, when man shall be placed all entire in perfect happiness, as far as precisely concerns himself, nevertheless he cannot be said to be absolutely and entirely happy, as long as the World remains subject to misery by reason of him, and by occasion of him, bears the marks of the cruse of God.

Lastly, to consider him after the third manner: Forasmuch as he is a part of that whereof the Church is the whole, although he should behold himself per­fectly happy in himself, and although he should see the World delivered from the curse that it incurred for his sake, never­theless [Page 115] he cannot be said to enjoy a full felicity, until the whole Church on its part partake in the enjoyment of it. If Esther esteemed her self miserable, although she were advanced to the glory of a great Empire, whilst she beheld her Nation in danger of desolation, the Be­liever may not account it self happy, whilst some of his brethren are fighting upon Earth, and others with respect to their Bodies are under the power of death and rotting in their graves. Forasmuch then, as the Soul in that beatitude that it enjoys in the Heavens, hath sufficient knowledge of all these Relations, 'tis impossible that it should not desire the Resurrection of its Body to the end that it may be united with it; and the deli­verance of the World out of its misery and vanity, so that it may no longer be subject to corruption for its sake; and the glorification of the Church in a perfect felicity, so that the state of that where­with it hath such inviolable ties, may not divide its thoughts betwixt grief and and joy. Now he is not happy perfectly that doth desire, and hath yet reason and subject to desire something. 'Tis very true, the desire of the Soul in all these regards, is without inquietude and [Page 116] anxiety; for these passions are generated either from the impatience of our spirits, or the uncertainty of the event of what we desire, or from hence that although the event that we expect is sure, yet the condition that we are in in the mean while, is troublesome in it self, and uneasy to be born. As to what concerns impatience, there is not the least string or fiber there-of in the Souls that are on high, they are endued with all sorts of Virtues, principally they are all swallowed up in a profound respect to the providence of God. And as to the assurance of their hope they are more than most assured that it will never fail them, since God hath promised it, and the power that he hath to execute his Counsels, finds no where either difficulty or impossibility to arrest or hinder it; to conclude, as to what respects their condition, the little which I have above reported of it, repre­sents it capable of swallowing up in the sweetness of its contents, all resentments they may have, for the length of their expectations. When the Holy Ghost in the Revelation causeth us to hear them cry, how long Lord wilt thou not avenge our blood, we may not take that for any mark of inquietude of mind, any more [Page 117] than for an inordinate desire of vengeance Forasmuch as in this place, they consider their enemies as reprobated, and ad­judged by God to the suffering of pu­nishment, and are no longer obliged to have any charity for them.

Our charity having none for its ob­ject, but such as may have some access to the mercy of our Heavenly Father; Is the gate then closed upon any one? Yea, as it hath been from the beginning upon Devils, or on those that have sin­ned against the Holy Ghost, or on those against whom God hath pronounced an irrevocable sentence of death and con­demnation; our charity remains utterly extinct in respect of them. And to desire the Execution of this condemnation as the Souls of the faithful do, is nothing but a conformity to the Divine Justice and will. So that the words [how long] are purely and simply a Holy breathing of Zeal which they have to see the glory of God shining in the Execution of his judgments which doth not pass the bounds of respect which they owe to the conduct of his wisdom. Nevertheless although they be without inquietude, so it is as I have said, they are not with­out [Page 118] out desire. Now he which desires gives evidence, that something is wanting to his condition, and by consequent is not accomplished in all things. And 'tis for this reason that we must see what will be the happiness of believers in these three respects at the last day.

For the first, it seems that there are principally two things to be considered: that is to say what will be the quality and condition of the body, when it shall be raised again, and then what will be the estate of the Soul, when it shall be rejoined unto it. Touching the Body, 'tis beyond comparison more easy to tell what it will not be, then what it will be: For we see very clearly what things it must necessarily be delivered from, but we do not see in the same manner the things wherewithal it must be endued, on that very happy day. There are in us two sorts of infirmities, whereof the one are so very natural, that we should have been sub­ject to them, though we had continued in the state of our integrity: The others are so far natural, that we are subject to them from the womb and from the first principles of our being and yet not­withstanding they have come upon us, [Page 119] since the constitution of our nature, and had never come into the world but in consequence of sin; with regard to these last, such as is the deformity of members, the ugliness of the visage, the want or weakness of any sense, maladies, wounds, ill proportion of stature, and to conclude, liableness to death, since they have no other cause nor original but sin, it must necessarily be that sin being entirely and absolutely abolished, all these infirmities will necessarily cease of themselves. So that though we had nothing else to expect from the Resurrection, it must however replace us in a condition not less excellent in what appertains to the constitution of the Body, than was the condition of Adam at the hour of his Creation. For 'tis neither agreeable to the wisdom or mercy, nor it may be, to the justice of God, that having absolved our whole and entire persons from all kind of sin by justifi­cation, and having delivered our Souls from all evil habits by Sanctification, he should notwithstanding leave on our Bodies some trace of those infirmities, which had never come there but for the punishment of sin, or which are ne­cessary and indubitable dependances of it. Imagine you then, the most beautiful [Page 120] man upon earth, and the most perfectly composed, endued with the most lively, and vigorous, and exquisite senses that can be imagined, free him from the danger of all kinds of incommodities in his health, make his vigour always equal and flourishing, and suppose you that no consequence of years can ever alter or change him, and to conclude, give him assurance that he shall continue so ever­lastingly, and you will after a sort have conceived the first beginnings of the perfection which we expect in the happy Resurrection. Touching the first sort of infirmities which are absolutely natural, they consist in the desire of meat drink and sleep, and in all those things which are either in some manner like unto them, or depend upon them. For without doubt Adam desired all this, and this desire in a State so Holy and Perfect as was his, is an indubitable argument of need, and need a necessary consequence of the estate of nature in which he was placed, and which the Holy Scripture expresses by this manner of speech, he was made a living Soul, that is to say, that in this respect he was like to other Animals, in which the living Soul (which the Scrip­ture also attributes unto them) derives all [Page 121] these things in consequence to his being. Now we ought also to be delivered from these kind of infirmities. For the Hea­vens whither we aspire, are not an Ha­bitation agreable to these things, although it be said that we shall be there at the Table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that we shall there be satisfied with the fatness of the House of God, and moistened with the Rivers of his pleasures, that doth not mean nevertheless that we must make feasts there, or to take it according to the Letter, that Rivers of pleasure do actually run there. But because as long as we are here below we conceive no­thing almost but under the Images of things, which we see the Scripture ac­commodating it self unto us, as we do to Children, doth as it were cover the Heavenly pleasure under the shadow of those that are earthly. And as to what concerns generation: For as much as it was not instituted in nature, unless first of all for the multiplication of single per­sons, for the peopling of the universe, and afterwards for the preservation of the species, when death removed the in­dividuals, the necessity of these two causes then ceasing, 'tis no wonder that our Saviour hath told us, that in that [Page 122] respect we shall be like the Angels. Now 'tis no disadvantage to be deprived of these things when we have no need of them.

But to subsist in our being, and to ex­ercise perfectly the Operations which are agreeable to our most noble faculties, and nevertheless to be delivered from that condition that makes all these base and wretched Actions of our Bodies abso­lutely necessary, is (without lying) an Estate that ought to be judged very ad­vantageous, by those that are com­pounded more of Spirit than Body, and have a Soul a little roused and generous, if therefore you add this to those other perfections of which I have made mention, you will yet much advance the excellence of that Estate whereof I have formed the Idea. In the mean time all these infirmities have their root in us in that we have a Body compounded of the Elements in the same manner as are the Bodies of all other Animals, and in that we are endued with a Soul sensitive and vegetative, as they speak, which hath faculties altogether like to the faculties of the Souls of beasts, unless peradven­ture we be above them in some higher degree of perfection, and this compo­sition [Page 123] of the Elements, and of a Soul vegetative, and sensitive in the consti­tution of our essence, is a cause that al­though the providence of God should hinder, as it did in our integrity, our being sick or wounded, so it is that our Bodies in themselves would be capable of the impression of the causes of all these alterations, and that although God should perpetually preserve us from death, nevertheless the constitution of our Body in it self, would be perishable and mortal, for that the first man had been exempt from all these evil accidents, and immortal, if he had persevered in his inno­cence, would have proceeded from the care of the Divine Providence, and not from the temperature of his Body. 'Tis therefore necessary that although our Bodies be raised again, and remade of the same matter of which they are now compounded, the constitution of them must nevertheless be so changed, that nothing must remain of all its natural qualities, or of that Animal life, which we have in common with Creatures en­dued with sense and destitute of Reason. Let us therefore oppose a little those things that depend on this natural com­plexion of our Bodies, to those qualities [Page 124] that are contrary unto them, and so let us Endeavour to come to some know­ledg of the perfection of the Estate that we expect our Bodies are now in their nature, capable of all sorts of evil ac­cidents and impressions, which cause in­commodity and grief unto them; then they shall be so no more. They are at this time corruptible and mortal; then they shall be incorruptible and immortal: They are now heavy by reason of the Earth that doth predominate in them, there they shall be agile beyond all im­agination, they are at this time capable of being wearied, there they shall be indefatigable: they are at this time dark, then they shall be bright and shining, to that degree that the Holy Scripture compares them to the Sun, they are at this time perpetually subject to repletion and excretion, then they shall be in a Constitution perpetually uniform; they are at this time defective in their confor­mation many ways, then the proportion of their parts shall surpass all the mea­sures of nature and art. Here they are troubled with the ill taste of their plea­sures, there their contentments being perfectly pure, they will have always [Page 125] a Savour exquisite and eternally agree­able. They are now a burthen and hinderance to our minds, then they will assist to the vigour and quickness of their Operations. In a word, they are at this time marvellously earthly, then they shall be altogether Heavenly.

As to what concerns the Operations of the senses, and the motions of the affections, which as we have said above have their seat in the Body, forasmuch as it respects rather the Estate of the Soul when it shall at some time be reunited there, and doth not respect the qualities of the body it self; I shall speak but one word of it here; and 'tis this; the objects that are perfectly well proportioned to them, do indeed delight them, but others do offend them, so that light it self, which in its own nature, is so lovely and agree­able, offends the eyes, if it be but a little too lively and sparkling. Instead where­of then the constitution of our senses will be such, that they will be impassible and unalterable by grief, whatever be the nature of the Objects that do occur unto them, and that is it that the Apostle would teach us when he says, there is a natural and there is a Spiritual Body. [Page 126] For by Spiritual he doth not understand that which is entirely separate from mat­ter, otherwise since he calls it matter, his words would imply a contradiction, but he understands that which although it be matter, hath notwithstanding those qualities that follow the nature of Spirits, such as are to be immortal, incorruptible, and impassible. When the wife of Lot, became a Pillar of Salt, if this change were made by degrees, and by little and little, she was marvellously astonished, to see all the colour of her skin, and all the substance of her body change; and yet more, when she perceived all her members to grow stiff, in that manner that at last the obduration proceeded even to her very bowels: If a while after she had seen her natural constitution to return little by little, her Body to become soft and supple, her skin return to its former colour, and her members retake their precident pliableness, in proportion to the horrour that she had of her self in her change, in the same proportion will she have experience of ravishment and joy. But if immediately after she had seen her self re-established in her first Estate, she had begun to perceive an extraordinary strength in her person, an Angelical [Page 127] beauty in all her Fabrick and Compo­sition, a vigour unknown before in all the Organs of her senses, a nimbleness more agile than that of Birds, in all her motions, and that Majestick aspect that we suppose to have been in the female Hero's of time past, implanted in all the comportment of her Body, and on all the lines and stroaks of her countenance, neither the word joy nor that of ravish­ment are capable of representing the emotions, that she would have there­upon in her Soul. Now the change that happens in our Bodies by death, is much worse than a Transformation into a pillar of Salt, and the condition into which they will be re-established, in the Resur­rection incomparably more Excellent, than all that at this time can be imagined concerning it. From whence 'tis easy to conjecture in some manner what a spectacle so marvellous will produce in us.

Concerning the Soul, and the condi­tion wherein it will be found, then when it shall be reunited to the Body, if from these goodly lights wherewithall it is filled, and encompassed in the Heavens, it should be brought back into a Body, incommodated with the trouble, and [Page 128] confusion that is found in the affections and Organs of ours at present, without doubt it would receive much disadvantage thereby; this would be well nigh, as if you should recal an excellent Philosopher from the top of an high Mountain, where he did contemplate the Heavens, and the Stars which are there, and saw the Clouds and Fogs under his feet: and make him descend to the bottom of it, where he can contemplate nothing but through the darkness of the Clouds. But the thing that happens to the Body, will place it in such a condition, as will in no wise incommodate the actions and Operations of the Soul. Let the nature thereof be what it will, 'tis necessary that besides the Operations of under­standing and reason, that it now attend to the Conservation of the three faculties which we have in common with beasts; The vital, the natural, and the animal: As to the vital faculty, our Soul will then so animate our Body, that it will no longer hold it fast unto it self by the bond of that Coelestial heat, and those Spirits that continually beat in our hearts, it will be there even as light is in the Body of the Sun, and will not keep it self there by any other bonds than it self, [Page 129] the Body such as we now have, is too far removed from the nature of Spiritual substances, to be capable of being joined with them so closely, unless it be by the means of something more subtil and less Earthy: but the qualities where­withall it will be reclothed by the Re­surrection, will purify and subtilize it in such manner, that it will be further re­moved then from the gross qualities which we observe therein, than now are those little Bodies which we call by the name of Spirits, which serve as a bond and medium between our Bodies and Souls. As to the natural faculty, our Soul will be neither imployed in the Con­coction as they call it, nor in the assi­milation of nourishment as now it is obliged to do, to preserve unto the parts of the Body their just vigour and stature. For in the frame wherein the power of God shall place them at first, they shall remain for ever without any need of reparation, in their substance or in their powers. Such well near as is the nature of the Stars according to the Peripate­ticks, whose matter is so pure, or form so perfect, or the bond that joins the matter to the form, so strict and indis­soluble that they can never suffer any [Page 130] alteration, according to the opinion of those Philosophers. As to the Animal faculty, which displays it self chiefly in the Operations of sense, and motion. I know not at all, what will be then the constitution of our Organs, nor what will be the nature of the Operation of our Soul upon them, nor how the species of sensible things will be received by them. And what is more I am not afraid to be esteemed an ignorant on this ac­count, at least for certain I shall have many Companions to partake with me in the blame thereof: For I do not be­lieve there is a man upon Earth that knows it. But so it is that I very well know, all will be otherwise than now it is, the constitution of such Organs as now we have, and the dispensation of Spirits whereupon depends all their Operations, being a certain consequence of the passi­ble, and corruptible state of nature. Now that which is natural will be swallowed up with that which is supernatural, as that which is sensual by that which is Spiritual, and that which is mortal by immortality and life. And although we do not know the manner, after which the Soul will be then joined to the Body for its Operations, they will not be for [Page 131] that either the less certain, or the less decorous: If the measure of our know­ledg were the measure of the Existence of things; the greatest part of the ob­jects of our faculties, and their Opera­tions would suffer very notable dimi­nutions in the qualities of their Being, yea some would be even absolutely ex­pelled out of nature. And I do not know whether we have used any of our senses as we ought. That is to say, whether of any of them we have very exactly and distinctly comprehended, what it is that the Soul doth in their Operations; what is the agency and activity of the Spirits. And lastly, what it is that the Organ it self contributes thereunto, how ever it be the Organ, after what manner so ever it be constituted, the Soul after whatsoever manner it operate there, will exercise so admirably each one what is proper to it self, that they will do it without offence, impediment errour or weariness, with a vigour and clearness, with an exactness and perfection wholly beyond imagination. In conclusion, to say something also of the appetites which have properly their seat in the Body, and which as I have said, are included under desire and anger, these are passions [Page 132] which forasmuch as they are Corporeal, will be so extinguished by death, that they will return no more to life by the Resurrection. And if it be true, that there be virtues which have their seat in these passions, as 'tis apparent that Phi­losophy hath there placed those that they call properly moral, either they will be no longer necessary, because there will be no objects upon which they may be exercised, or they consist not in the mo­deration of those appetites, but in an excellent and invariable temper of the mind and will, which will then be ir­revocably fastened to all sorts of excel­lent objects, by the light of the under­standing. All these impidements being removed, if there were nothing else, the reasonings of the Soul must be supreamly excellent: For, a good part of the failures which happen to us, come either by the errour of our senses, in the report that they make to us concerning sensible things, or from the fumes of our pas­sions which blind our understandings, or from this that the aliments being not well concocted, the Spirits which are formed out of part of their substance, do retain something of their grossness, and im­purity, wherewithal they infect the Or­gans, [Page 133] which serve for the use of discourse, or from this, that from their first con­formation there was some fault in their natural temper and construction: But the same change which will put all the other parts of the Body into so excellent a con­stitution, will put also those into the same condition, wherein the intellective power of the Soul hath its seat and where it will form its ratiocinations. This will be done the rather, because all the other parts of the Body are not to be restored, unless it be for their own proper felicity, these are to serve the Operations of the Soul, on which depends the happiness of the whole entire man, and all the parts of him: the Soul therefore being otherwise full of the illuminations of the Divine Spirit, and strengthened by his presence far above the natural vigour of its faculties, and coming to be lodged in a Body, all whose power will be ad­mirably perfect, and bringing thither the impression of much excellent knowledg, which it had already gained during the time of its residence in the Heavens, it cannot effect any thing, but productions worthy of its marvellous essence. And as if during the time of a long separa­tion, the husband and wife had equally [Page 134] encreased in beauty and virtue, and all other advantages, they would receive in­credible contentment if they might re­turn to each other, to enjoy long one and the same common felicity. The Soul will rejoyce in its reunion to the Body, and the Body will rejoyce in the presence of the Soul, and both together composing one onely essence, will be equally ravished with the happiness of their condition, and with the assurance that they will have that it will be Eter­nal.

The second respect according to which man hath a Connexion, and Relation to the World, will deserve very attentive Consideration; many things do mani­festly show that the world was created for man. The dignity of his nature which raised him infinitely above all other Creatures, if he had remained in his integrity, would not have permitted that he should have held any other place than that of an end, to the use whereof other things were appointed. The Em­pire that God gave him over all Plants and Animals at the beginning, when he placed him in the Terrestrial Pardadise, confirms it evidently. For God would not have so ordained it, if it had not [Page 135] been agreeable to the nature of the things themselves. But nothing Teaches it unto us more expresly than the misery whereunto the world is subject on the occasion of mans sin. For that's it which the Apostle means, when he says, that the Creature is made subject to vanity, not of it self but by reason of him which hath subjected it, Rom. 8. 20. And if it be lawful to illustrate this by a Compa­rison taken from things Pagan, the World was in regard of God, as the statue of Minerva in regard of Phidias, and man which is the image of God in the middle of the world, as the image of Phidias in the middle of her Shield. So that all the parts of the Statue were so aptly placed by their Jointures and Colligations, that they met all together in the image of the workman, in such manner that if it were plucked from thence, all the work would fall in pieces: all the parts of the World do so Abutt on this image of God, that it cannot be corrupted by sin, but the whole compages of the universe must fall into a dreadful ruin. So that if it had pleased God in his just severity, to have forsaken man in his accursed State, the entire destruction of the World had unavoidably followed thereupon: For as [Page 136] when a subject hath committed Felony, or Treason against his Soveraign; we are not content only to punish his per­son, we cut down his woods, pull down his Houses, and in a word, we make all things that have any necessary depen­dance on him, bear some marks of the indignation of his Prince; so it was convenient that the world that was made for man, and consequently depended on him as its end, should follow his condi­tion, and as it were, pass with him under the same condemnation, but also since it hath pleased God to shew mercy to man, and to promise Redemption to him, and to decree to gather his Church out of his Posterity. It is agreeable both to the wisdom and mercy of God, to use the same conduct towards the World. For first of all he ought to sustain it, that it may be the Habitation of his Church, during the time that it sojourns here be­low. Even as after a Prince is recon­ciled to his subject; he is not content to testify that he hath received his per­son into his favour he permits him to restore his Houses to their former State, yea he furnishes him out of his bounty wherewithal to make them more boun­tiful and magnificent. Not only to [Page 137] the end that he may obliterate all foot­steps of his indignation, but also that all things may bear the undoubted marks of his Clemency and Favour: and 'tis this that hath caused the subsistance of the World hitherunto, and will yet cause that at the last day it shall not only be delivered from the disorders which are here seen, but honoured with a Com­munication of the glorious liberty of the Sons of God, after which St. Paul says it hath groaned and travailed for so many ages. Therefore one part of our hap­piness, will consist in the contentments of seeing the breaches which the order, and beauty of the world hath suffered for our sakes, magnificently repaired, and the resplendent glory that we expect for our selves, spread universally over all the parts thereof.

I very well understand, that there have been some that have held an opinon quite contrary; and have believed that as the World was produced of nothing it shall be reduced to nothing, to the end that the maxim of the Philosophers, as nothing is made of nothing, so nothing can be reduced to nothing; may remain totally confounded. For they think 'tis a maxim [Page 138] prejudicial to the glory of the Divine power, and that the event of things must necessarily confute it: But 'tis an opinion that hath no firm foundation either in Scripture or Reason. Touching Scripture all that it says is that the Hea­vens and the earth, shall pass away but the word of God shall never pass away: that the Heavens and the Earth shall pass a­way, but God remains Eternally the same, which easily receives two answers. The one, that the meaning is, that although the Heaven and the Earth should pass away; Nevertheless the word of God would remain immutable; and of such manners of speech or affirmation, which seeming strict and absolute which must be interpreted by a simple supposition, examples are found elsewhere: as Psal. 45. the Earth is removed, and the Moun­tains are carried into the midst of the Sea, the Waters thereof roar and are troubled, the Mountains shake with the swelling thereof; the streams of the River shall make glad the City of God. For so the words are read in the Original, and yet we Translate them, although the Mountains be carried into the midst of the Sea, and the waters thereof Roar and be troubled, and the rest in the same [Page 139] manner. And the nature of the thing, and design of the Author of this Divine Song, do demonstrate clear as the day, that so it ought to be understood. The other Answer is that things pass away after two Fashions: That is to say, by a perfect abolition of their essence, or by so great and considerable a change in their qualities, that there appears no trace or footstep of what they were before. For when things suffer so great a change that we know them no more at all, we may certainly very well say in some sort that they are passed away. Now without doubt these Texts may be understood in this manner, and 'tis plain­ly said, Psal. 110. that the Heavens shall be changed, which shews that the Holy Spirit understands no otherwise, that they shall pass away, but by suffering a change marvellously considerable. To conclude St. Peter who describes so glo­riously the ruin of the world at the last day, adds immediately after that accord­ing to the promise of God, we expect a new Heaven, and a new Earth, in which righteousness shall dwell. Which fore­tells a change of things into a better State, not an utter abolition of their essence: Touching reason there is no [Page 140] appearance of it in saying, that because the world proceeded from nothing, that therefore it must return to nothing again: If that pass in such manner, very strange consequence will follow, concerning the Church and the humane nature of Jesus Christ, which reason doth not so much reject, as Piety and Conscience doth ab­hor, God hath given proofs sufficiently certain of his infinite power, in creating the World as he hath done, without any need of giving Testimony of it, by an entire and universal abolition of its es­sence. And those miserable Philosophers, if they have believed that Creation from nothing, and the abolition of things to nothing doth surpass the power of God, will be sufficiently convinced, and pu­nished for their errour although God do not destroy, and abolish his own work for their confutation. To conclude, the glory of his power will not remain so illustrious if he reduce it to nothing, as that of his goodness and mercy will re­main darkned and dishonoured, if after having given Being to the World, and had such particular consideration of man, as to punish it only for his sake, he should soon after totally ruin it, although he received man to favour who alone was [Page 141] guilty of those things which drew all this curse upon the World.

It remains therefore that we see, what will be the constitution of the World: by this great and memorable change, that will happen to it at the last day. Upon which I shall make some general consi­derations following the method of our preceeding discourses. The first is that all things that appear to have come into the world in consequence of sin, and not being of the first institution of the Crea­tion, must undoubtedly be abolished. For since they have no subsistance but in vice, or the depravation of sin. Sin being in all regards obliterated, there remains no place for the fruits and con­sequences of it. If then there be any evil influence in the Stars, or any pesti­lential exhalation in the air; if there be any Curse on the Earth, or disorder in the Sea: If there be any irregularity in the other Elements or fault in their mix­ture, for the constitution of things; if there be any venom in plants, or fero­city in Animals, which may bring dam­age to mankind, in a word if there be any disorder in the Laws of nature, and in their Conduct if the world receive no [Page 142] other advantage, 'tis necessary that it be freed from all that, and that it be re­stored to that Constitution, in which it was placed in its first Creation. Imagine therefore a little the world new clad in an instant; from East to West, and from North to South, of that air so gay and flourishing, and in manner so smiling and full of assurances of the goodness of its Creatour as that it had at the be­ginning. Imagine that the Heavens hath no Stars which do not send down, even to the envy of each other benign influences, and favourable aspects; that in the clouds there are no Lightnings, Thunders, or Poysonous Exhalations, which threaten by their open violence or secret venom; that in the Earth all seeds of hurtful plants are utterly ex­tinguished, and that it furnishes all sorts of pleasant and agreeable fruits for the nourishment of man; that the Sea hath no Tempests nor other agitations, but those of its reflux, no winds any far­ther than is necessary to prevent the languishing of Ships at Anchor, and to favour Navigation, that the Rivers never overflow their banks, that the Fire never commit any spoil, that the heat and cold and other qualities of the Elements, keep [Page 143] universally a very regular temper, and such as does no hurt neither by its ex­cesses or defects. That the Fishes and Birds, and the most Savage beasts of the Earth have laid aside their savage hu­mour, and all their ferocity, that they may be familiar with man and ready to all his Commands. In a word, form in your mind the most lively and perfect image that you are able, of that admi­rable Paradise, where God placed the first man, and as much as 'tis possible to your thoughts, plant this first Eden in all the World; and you will conceive the beginning of that lovely State, after which St. Paul says that the whole Creation ardently groans, with restless­ness and loud sighings, which give Testi­mony to its impatience.

The second Consideration is that since the World follows the Condition of man, and that God hath been so good to­wards him, that he is not content, only to restore him to the Estate of his Ori­ginal Integrity, but will raise him to a supernatural State, 'tis agreeable to the same goodness of God, that he not only restore the World, to its own natural constitution, but that he raise the quality [Page 144] of its being, to a degree more glorious, In such manner that by how much the Bodies of believers at the Resurrection, must be more Excellent then that of Adam at the time of his Creation (and we have seen above that the difference is very great) by so much the quality of the new World, must excel that of the Old, how ever perfect it might be in the integrity of its nature. Therefore all those alterations, and continual vicis­situdes according to which nature moves continually, in the generation and cor­ruption of things, that are produced out of the composition of Elements will then cease, and whatever be the things that are found in the world they will have a permanent and invariable Being.

Finally, to proceed to the third con­sideration: as I have said above concern­ing the future condition of our Bodies, that it is much more easy to say what they shall not be, than what they shall be, so is it much more easy to define, what qualities and what conditions, will not then be found in the World, than to determine those wherewithal it will be adorned. And for that reason, 'tis not less rash to say boldly, what the [Page 145] World will be in its restauration, whe­ther the days and the nights will be made by the revolution of the Sun, or whether the Sun will remain fixed in the one or other Hemisphere, whether the Sea shall have its flux and reflux, and the earth be covered with plants, whe­ther it shall be dark as it is now, or whe­ther it shall be Luminous and Transpa­rent, and things of like nature, than to pronounce boldly concerning the qualities of our Bodies in their glorification: modesty and humility is not less neces­sary in this subject than in the other. Therefore it shall suffice me to say that when Adam was Created, he was with­out doubt marvellously moved at the aspect of this World, and of all the marvels which were therein presented to him; and that besides the admiration of the beauty of the work, he had expe­rience without doubt of contentment singularly great, when he made this reflection thereon, that it was particu­larly designed for him, and that God had made him Lord thereof, willing that it should Minister to his happiness. In like manner 'tis necessary, that the be­liever be overwhelmed altogether, with satisfaction and wonder, when this new [Page 146] World shall be presented to his eyes in an Estate so flourishing and glorious, and that (if I may so say) he may there read on all sides, that 'tis to encrease his happiness that God hath renewed this Stately Fabrick, and reinvested it with a form, beyond Comparison more beau­tiful and advantageous than what it had before.

There remains the third respect under which man ought to be considered, in as much as he is a part of the Church of God, and the happiness of the whole Body must encrease the sense that each member hath of its own. Now without scruple there are divers things here, which do raise our happiness to a pitch marvellously high. For because the A­postle St. Paul writing to the Thessalo­nians says that those which sleep shall rise first, and afterwards that those that shall be found alive shall be changed, the first spectacle that the believer will have before his eyes, will be the resur­rection of all those that in all ages have dyed. When we read, Ezek. 37. That magnificent promise, which God there makes to the Children of Israel, con­cerning their restauration, representing it under the figure of a Resurrection, [Page 147] the only reading of this Divine vision, forms in our minds an Idea that gives them cause of admiration, and makes them easily conceive, that it must be, that the Spirit of God had seised that of the Prophet, certainly for this reason, because of it self the imagination of man, was not capable of such Meditations. He reports, that this Spirit placed him in the midst of a large plain, all covered with bones. Though he says, that it caused him to turn all round, to the end that he might attentively consider them, and that he might observe their quantity, which was great to Admiration, and their dryness which was such, as there did not ap­pear the least sign, that ever they had either life or sense. After he had sufficiently considered them, he demands if he be­lieved that those bones could revive: about which as it seems, he found him­self perplext, and suspended between the impossibility that appeared to be in the thing it self, and the consideration of the power of God, with whom nothing is impossible; and for that reason he an­swers doubtfully and modestly, Lord thou knowest, being unwilling to determine any thing, thereupon God commands him to prophecy upon those bones, and [Page 148] to say unto them, as if they had been endowed with understanding and sense. Yea dry bones, hear the word of the Lord, thus saith the Lord, behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews upon you, and I will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath into you, and ye shall live, and know that I am the Lord, the Prophet having pronounced these words in vision, there was immediately a sound accom­panied with a general motion of these bones, which began to draw one after the other, and to approach each unto that wherewith it was to be joyned, to make the just and perfect skeleton of a Body, immediately after the sinews began to be extended, and the muscles to be formed, and the flesh to cover all their protuberancies, and to fill up all their cavities, and last of all the skin warps up altogether, in such manner that all the Organs, and all the members being perfectly composed, there remained nothing but the wind to give them life and motion. Which was done then, when God commanded the Prophet to Prophesy towards the wind it self, and to call it crying, thus saith the Lord, come from the four winds, and breath [Page 149] upon these slain that they may live. Which being punctually executed, every one of these Bodies was enlivened, and stood up upon their feet, and the number was found so great, that it seemed an Army arranged for the Battel. Now if the sole reading of this vision, doth seize our Spirits with some admiration, it cannot be doubted, but the vision it self did fill that of the Prophet with much more of wonder: be it that the thing were actually represented to the Corpo­real senses, be it that it were only drawn within, by the Spirit of God upon the imagination, the impression thereof, without doubt was much more illustrious, and vehement than that which we can impress upon our selves, by the Idea that we can form of it. Therefore it must also be that the emotions of his mind concerning it be in proportion much more great, as well for the astonishment that he received from a spectacle so strong and unusual, as for the joy that the hope of the miraculous re-establishment of the people of Israel, (foretold by this vision) did give unto him, and for which the Prophet had extraordinary desires and passions. Nevertheless what is this in Comparison of what we shall see then [Page 150] when not men, but Angels, and the sound of the Trumpet of God, shall effectu­ally command the Earth that it open its Graves, and the Sea that it give up its dead, and to all the other Elements that they restore what each of them do pos­sess; and that from the dust of the grave, and the bottom of the Sea, shall come forth the matter of our Bodies to be re-establisht in life. And how much will the subject of admiration yet increase, when we shall see that the power of God will form them, neither of bones, or nerves or muscles, or skin, like to what we now have, but of a Fabrick so new, that excepting the humane shape, which it will give us, and that lovely confor­mation, wherein we must express the image of our Lord in the Resur­rection, 'tis likely, that they are not humane Bodies, but Millions of Stars Illustrious and Shining, which are pro­duced of all sides, and born out of the very bowels of the Earth.

The second thing which will be pre­sented to our eyes, will be the change and transmutation of those that will re­main alive, which will not be less won­derful than the former. For we see what [Page 151] are the divers infirmities wherewithal humane Bodies are incommoded. Some are Dwarfs, and others are of a prodi­gious, and Gigantick greatness, some want some member, and others have too many; one hath some part of a monstrous shape, another is maimed in some of those senses, which we usually call na­tural; one hath the bone of his back bowed like an Arch, another crooked like a Serpent, and another bended in­ward, and another hath some other fault in the Fabrick of his neck or head; generally all have some imperfection in the constitution of their Bodies, and if any be seen in which there is none, he is a kind of Miracle. But although there were less by many of the infirmi­ties of that nature which I have menti­oned, we have always those that nature necessarily draws after it, which are very great and considerable in them­selves. When therefore by this mar­vellous power, which will be displayed at the time of the coming of our Lord, we shall see in one day all these incom­modities corrected, and the Bodies of the living changed so of a sudden, that there shall not be found one in that num­berless number, which shall not have [Page 152] obtained as in the twinkling of an eye. I will not say all the perfections that can be desired or imagined, in what concerns stature and beauty, but all the splendour and incorruption that is in the Heavenly Bodies themselves, what will be the Transport in which our Spirits will be sound at the aspect of a change so strange and wonderful?

Many here enquire whether we shall then know each other, and as the love we bear to each other, and the sensible and deep regret which we have on the loss of our Friends, do encline us ex­treamly to desire it, so in like manner they make us very willing to believe it. and truly forasmuch as God promised the enjoyment of a happiness so perfect, that nothing shall be wanting to its com­pleating, nor to the perfection of the joy and content that we shall receive from thence, we may be assured that if it will minister any thing to the accom­plishment of our felicity, we shall enjoy the Consolation of mutually knowing each other at that day. But neverthe­less I think here may be place for some considerations. First of all knowledge consists in the memory of what we have [Page 153] seen before, and as I have said above, there are in us two sorts of Memories, the one consists in this, that the images of sensible things remain impressed upon our Memories, with all their circum­stances and particularities; and the other in this, that our understandings remain imbred with the general Idea's of things intellectual, and which consist in dis­course. Now as to what concerns this first sort of memory, I have said already that forasmuch as the faculty of memory in which the images of things sensible are laid in reserve, is either wholly or in great part Corporeal, there is great pro­bability that this faculty being extinct with the Body, its images will by that means be obliterated, in such sort that there is no great appearance that we can call to mind at the Resurrection, the sensible and Corporeal shape of those that we have seen and known during the time of life. But though we should re­tain some memory of them, knowledge depends on the conformity that is found between the qualities which at present you find in the objects that are offered to your eyes and other senses, and the images of those qualities which they had when you formerly knew them, [Page 154] which are remaining in your memories: So that if you find them such as you have seen them, you may indeed remem­ber them. But if they be so changed, that there be no likeness between their qualities, and the Idea's which you have formerly received of them, as if you had known some infant, and should see him again along time after well advanced in years, it would be impossible for you ever to recal him to mind. Now we have already said, that there will be a change marvellously great in all the con­stitution of our Bodies, so that those that have seen us here below, will find no­thing at all of that by which we may become knowable unto them. More­over whilst the state of nature subsists, the natural affections are both necessary to its subsistance, and very beautiful and lovely in themselves, when they are governed, and conducted by that judg­ment, and right reason that ought to preside over all our passions: So 'tis supreamly agreeable that Husbands love their Wives, and Wives their Husbands, and that Parents have great tenderness for their Children, and Children vehe­ment affections and profound respects for their Parents. And by consequent it [Page 155] agrees perfectly well to the institutions of nature, that those should cordially love each other, between whom it hath established these Relations, but when the estate of nature shall be changed, and all things put in a supernatural state, there is great probability that the ne­cessity of these affections ceasing, they will either be totally extinct, or at least they will certainly lose much of their heat and vigour, and our Lord Jesus answering to the Question which was made to him, concerning the Woman that had seven Husbands, and teaching us that in the Kingdom of Heaven all these Relations will cease, hath as it seems likewise taught us, that the af­fections that depend thereon will also be reduced to nothing. Add to this that we know nothing more sweet nor more affecting in this life, than the affections that we mutually bear to each other, be it that they proceed from the inclinations and sentiments of nature, and the Re­lations that it doth establish between us; be it that familiar conversation, and a conformity of humours, and inclina­tions do generate and produce them. Therefore as we are inclined to measure all things by the knowledg that we have, [Page 156] and as it were conceive nothing above it. Scarcely can we imagin that in the Hea­vens there be enjoyment more agreeable and pleasant than those that we have here on earth, even our Lord accommo­dating himself to these inclinations, and to the capacity of our minds, promises us, as it hath been said above, that we shall there sit at Table with the Ancient Patriarchs; but nevertheless there is great probability, that as when St. Peter saw the transfiguration of Christ, he was so swallowed up in the admiration of those objects, that he forgot all those that at other times he knew, and said 'tis good for us to be here. So then when we shall have our Souls filled with that love and joy, which the presence of the Redeemer, and the vision of God him­self will beget within us, we shall no more remember any of all that tender­ness of affection, that we had experience of in the present life. Notwithstanding I shall not in this place neglect to observe two things that concern this matter, the first is that St. Paul writing to the Thes­salonians, and being willing to exhort them effectually, to something of im­portance, speaks to them after this man­ner, Brethren we beseech you by the com­ing [Page 157] of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, the mean­ing is without doubt, that he conjured them by that which might be most glo­rious, and most desirable for them in the coming of our Saviour, and by all that which might be one day most sweet and consolatory in our Holy Commu­nion, then when we shall be found toge­ther, and from all our dispersions assem­bled round about him: which seems to signify that he expected to enjoy content in their presence; as they should enjoy in his at the coming of our Lord. Now 'tis difficult to conceive what that manes, if their be no mutual knowledge of each other, I think therefore if it may be per­mitted to speak our apprehensions, in things concerning which we have but little light from the word of God, that the intellectual memory that is in us, retaining the remembrance of general things which have been committed to it, neither the Apostle St. Paul will forget that he Preached the Gospel to the Thes­salonians, nor will the Thessalonians for­get that by the Preaching of St. Paul they had been called to the Communion of the Gospel. If then St. Paul have any signal, or mark, by which he may [Page 158] be known among the Ministers of the Gospel of Christ (and we shall see by and by what can be said about it) the memory of it may awaken in the Thes­salonians their ancient affections, so that they may approach St. Paul and give unto him, and receive from him, as far as the glory of their Condition will per­mit them, mutual Testimonies of their love and good will. And forasmuch as our happiness will not be only for that day, but for all Eternity, and this Eter­nity will not pass in Solitude, but in most pleasant and agreeable Communication, who doubts but that in so long a conse­quence of Ages, there may be presented an infinite number of accidents, which may awaken in us those general remem­brances which do remain of what we have seen here below, and which by this means will reanimate our affections towards those persons which we have dearly loved in this life? But as a Father which equally loves his Children, per­ceives his love for a time more lively towards him among them, which returns from a far Country, after a very long absence, than towards those that have been always with him; but afterwards when time hath quieted that extraordi­nary [Page 159] emotion, he returns to that equality of affection, wherewithal he doth em­brace them, in like manner that joy which St. Paul and the Thessalonians will have, to find themselves together at the appearance of Christ, will not hinder but that in a short time their love will return, and equally divide it self to all the faithful, which they shall see parta­king with them in the glory of the Sa­viour of the World.

The other thing is, that it seems that the holy Apostle would not that we should doubt, but that there is something remarkable at the Coming of Christ, which will make him knowable to those to whom he preached the Gospel of Sal­vation; You are, says he to the Philip­pians, my joy and Crown in the day of Christ. And things of like nature or manners of speech have given occasion to some to think, that glory will be un­equally divided among Believers at the day of Christ, because it cannot apper­tain to all to make such discourses▪ and that the Apostle doth design thereby to tell us, that there is some peculiar ho­nours reserved for him in that day. Cer­tainly if Believers shall be unequa lly par­takers [Page 160] in the enjoyments of the happi­ness that is on high, 'tis a thing that may deserve very attentive consideration; and the diversity of Opinions of great Per­sons upon this Subject, do sufficiently demonstrate, that the proofs that are produced on both sides, are not at the first sight extreamly evident, whatso­ever be the force of the Reasons of those that hold an inequality of glory in the Heavens; So it is that there is not one among us which humility doth not o­blige to have this apprehension aforehand imprest upon his mind, that he will be none of the number of those that will be so advanced above their Brother, for eminence of glory is presupposed to be the Reward of eminent Virtues, on which account 'tis not permitted us to esteem our selves more excellent than others. Now if this opinion be true, and confirmed by the event in any of us, 'twill be difficult to comprehend in what this opinion will be found verified, that there will be some that must have great advantages in this inheritance; and if some must be more advantage­ously partakers of it there, there must be some notable variety in the dispen­sation of the will of God concerning [Page 161] glory and the degrees thereof, for to ob­tain glory it self, God hath expresly appointed us to believe that we shall have it, and by how much the more firmly we believe it, by so much the more certain is it, that it shall be gi­ven to us: Whereas to obtain the most sublime degrees thereof, 'tis most suit­able that we do not hope or believe it at all; and for as much as humility, which hinders us from expecting it, is one of the most excellent virtues, the less we hope to obtain them, the more certain it is that our humility will be recom­pensed. And lastly to excite us to reach after the supream pitch of Virtue, the Scripture sets the reward of glory before our eyes; whereas to come to its most raised degrees, 'tis necessary that we turn our minds from it, humility, which is that which must make us highest there, not permitting us to affix our thoughts thereon. So that we come to glory as he that runs a Race, who sees the Butt whither he tends, whereas we obtain the highest degrees thereof, as Rowers which always turn their backs upon the Port, to which nevertheless at last they do arrive: However it be, for this is not as yet the proper place to speak of the [Page 162] glory of Heaven, but of that of the most happy day of the Saviour of the World. I say that 'tis certain, that God will make some difference in the testimony that he will give unto his Servants, in that day, and that those who besides many labours that they have undergone, and many journeys which they have made, have besides, as St. Paul, passed through ma­ny reproaches here below, shall receive this testimony from the mouth of their good Master, that they have been faith­ful and loyal Servants, and that they de­served other things than the Calumnies whereof they had experience. This is that which will then make them known, and I do not at all doubt, but that the Apostles will be particularly signallized among others, and if there be any one now, not which may be equallized with the Apostles in gifts and authority, (for there hath been nor will be none such) but in passing through Trials, like unto those that have exercised them, doth imi­tate in those Combates the example of their Piety, of their Zeal, and their Constancy. I do not conceive that he will do ill to comfort himself, by this hope, that God will put all things in open light at his Coming, so that if [Page 163] Athanasius, Bazil, and Chrysostom a­mong the Ancients, if John Husse, Je­rom of Prague, Wickliff, Luther, Co­lain, and many other good Servants of God, which may with regard to the former be reckoned among the Moderns, have in the midst of the Persecutions that they suffered both from within and from without, had regard to this Consolation, surely they will not find themselves deceived in their expectation. Now these had many Friends in this life that knew them, and may have retained an intellectual remembrance of this know­ledge, in such sort that what happened to St. Paul may very well happen to them, nevertheless preserving with pro­portion the inequality that is between the least and the greatest things.

But be the particularities of our hap­piness what they will, in general it will be such in that happy day, that I dare not attempt to describe it through fear of obscuring the splendor of it. Assur­edly I shall diminish by the feebleness of my Expressions, the Efficacy of what he may conceive of it, whoever he be, who shall set himself very attentively to consider what I have said concern­ing [Page 164] the estate of each of us, of the World, and that of the whole Church. When our Saviour appeared at his first Coming, as all the Church was in a mar­vellous expectation of his appearance, so those that saw and believed in him, did thence receive an incomparable Con­tentment. Simeon testifies that he could dye in peace, having seen the Sal­vation of God in this little glorious In­fant. Zachary was ravished to see his forerunner, the Virgin that Conceived, and brought him forth, had such Tran­sports as cannot be expressed: the Angels themselves that declared him to the Shepherds, although they had no part neither in the need nor hopes of Re­demption, nevertheless conceived thence a marvellous joy; at the sight of his miracles and the hearing of his Preach­ing some one cryed out, blessed are those that see and hear him, and then when he entred into Jerusalem on the day, which is yet observed by the solemnity of boughs, all the people cryed Osanna with unimaginable pleasure, what will it be then to see him come accompanied with Angels, in the glory of his Father, with a shout, with the sound of Trum­pet, and the voice of an Archangel, ma­king [Page 165] king the clouds his Chariots, and pre­paring a Throne in the Air, there to pronounce eternal judgments upon all the World, and to confirm the hopes and promises of Salvation, that he hath made to believers? What Triumph was ever to be compared to a spectacle so glo­rious? What pomp of a Conqueror did ever Crown his Battels and Victories after this manner? A good old man of Lacedemonia that Travelled even to the furthest part of Asia, only to see Alex­ander after he vanquished Darius, said with very great emotion and pleasure of mind, that the Greeks that died in the Battel of Marathon, and that of Sala­mine, were deprived of a marvellous contentment in that they did not see this Prince sitting upon the Throne of Xer­xes, and Triumphing gloriously over the pride of the Enemies of Greece. When we see how Historians report the Proclamation made by Calaminius in fa­vour of all the Greek Nations and how they represent the affections of the people, the acclamations that they made, the Co­ronets of Flowers that they wrought, and the Garlands that they threw upon him, and the incomparable demonstra­tions of Love which they gave to his [Page 166] person, we cannot contain without feel­ing some emotion of mind and partaking in some sort in their joy. Now what is either this assembly of Greece, in com­parison of that of all the faithful of the Universe, or this Calaminius or Alex­ander in comparison of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the liberty of these people, in comparison of that of the Sons of God, or of deliverance from the do­minion of the Persians, the Macedonians, the Tyrant of Lacedemon, and other Usurpers from whom these deliverers set them free, in comparison of being deli­vered from Sathan and Death, to be put into the enjoyment of Eternal life and glory. Moreover it is said, that the comparing of the Calamity of another, doth assist in making us more sensible of our own proper felicity. And indeed the Poet saith, that he took pleasure in seeing upon the bank of the Sea, a Ship tossed upon the waves, not for that he had any pleasure in the danger of ano­ther, but for that he saw it from with­out, and that Perils either passed or present, but where we have no part, do give some sense of joy. If it be so, cer­tainly the horrour of the condemnation of unbelievers, must infinitely add to [Page 167] the joy of our pardon and glory. Christ will shew to them a visage severe and full of rigour; to us one supreamly plea­sant and full of serenity. Christ will fill their minds full of trembling and horrour; whereas he will overwhelm our hearts with assurance and consolation. Christ will set them at his left hand with indignation, and us at his right hand with demonstration of love and peace. Christ will examine them as a Judge inflexible, and implacable to their in­credulity. And us as our advocate and witness of our faith. Christ will pro­nounce to them, go ye cursed into eternal fire; to us he will say, come ye blessed of my Father. Christ will effectively throw them down into Hell, and as to us, he will advance us to Eternal glory in his Kingdom.

Concerning the Happiness of Believers after the Resurrecti­on.
The Fourth Discourse.

WE are now come to the Consideration of the last degree of that happiness to which we aspire, let us therefore see briefly what is revealed concerning it in the word of God, and let us not approach it, with less discre­tion and wariness than we have done the former Questions. The Apostles writ­ing to the Corinthians, and speaking to them of the mysteries of the Gospel, whereof the Spirit of God had given the Revelation to him and his Com­panions in the Apostleship, says after the Prophet Esaias, that they are things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entred int o the heart of man to conceive, what God hath [Page 169] laid up for those that love him: words that we use to accommodate to the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven of which we are speaking.

And truly it is not without good rea­son: For although this way of inter­pretation be not suitable to the subject whereof they were first spoken, so it is that such as was the Condition of the Jews which lived under the old Covenant with respect to us, such well nigh is our Condition now with respect to what it will be when God shall have assembled us altogether in the Heavens. And as in this comparison of the Jews with us, they are compared to Children, with respect to the measure and degree of their knowledg, and we in the Scripture are esteemed as perfect men, so the Apostle in comparing himself with himself makes a different judgment thereon. For he says, that now he is as a Child, that he knows as a Child and speaks as a Child, but when that which is perfect shall come, (and we expect it not absolutely, but in the Kingdom of Heaven) then that which is in part shall be done away and he shall know as he is known, that is to say, in a light which will not be mixt with any [Page 170] darkness. For he adds that now we see nothing, but the simple images of things, as in a glass, whereas then we shall behold things in their proper realities. Moreover we consider not these images but as we regard riddles, where we know not what they signify, but through a great deal of darkness, whereas when the time of perfection shall come, we shall see, says he, face to face. When the Jews formerly did attempt to expound the Oracles of the Prophets, touching things to come, and thence clearly and distinctly to Divine of events, they were marvellously mistaken in their conje­ctures, and had apprehensions touching the Kingdom of the Messiah, which were found infinitely distant from the nature thereof, when it came to be manifest, and for that reason 'tis necessary that we take head that we do not fall into the same inconveniencies, and that being willing to anticipate things to come by the Curiosity of our Spirits, depaint ima­ginations in the fancy, which the event of things will one day refute to our shame. Notwithstanding provided we be mindful of the modesty that becomes us, the search of what it will be is not [Page 171] at all forbidden us. And the faults that others have formerly committed in such matters, may be helpful to hinder us from falling into errours of like nature in the subject whereof we are discoursing. For that which made them to stumble, was that they followed the inclinations of the flesh in the interpretation of pro­phecies, and whereas they ought to have placed the Soveraign perfection of the Kingdom of the Messiah, in the clear knowledg of the nature of God, and the means of their Salvation, and in true and spiritual sanctity which this clear knowledg was to produce, they dreamt of worldly grandeur and dominion, and of the Triumphs of Conquerours. There­fore if now we do separate our thoughts from all earthly and carnal imaginations, and following the steps of our Lord and his Apostles, we place the principal part of this Kingdom in knowledg and sanctity, we shall escape the precipice on which these persons have fallen, and if it should happen that we should com­mit any fault in this discourse at the least it will not be of like consequence with theirs.

[Page 172] Saint John Collects the brief sum of our happiness in these few words, we shall be like him in as much as we shall see him as he is; Certainly to see God as he is, is to acquire the supream degree of per­fection in matter of knowledg and un­derstanding; and to be made like unto him, is to attain the supream pitch of Holiness and Virtue. Forasmuch there­fore as the first is the cause of the second, and that on the knowledg of God as he is, depends necessarily our transforma­tion into his likeness, it behoves us to enquire what is meant by seeing God as he is, and what is the nature of that knowledg: Because God is a Spiritual Essence, and totally separate from the matter of Bodies, 'tis absolutely impos­sible that he should be seen as he is with our bodily eyes; and therefore 'tis neces­sary that we refer the word see by a Metaphor, to that faculty of our minds that consists in understanding: Now al­though the nature of God be marvellously one and simple, so it is that according to our manner of conception, we distin­guish his virtues and Properties from his Essence. Concerning his properties, we conceive them under very different re­spects, and pretend not when we say that [Page 173] he is merciful, to beget an apprehension in the minds of those that hear us, that he is just, or when we say that he is wise, to give occasion to think of his power and might, as his Attributes have very different Objects, so we comprehend them in our understandings under very different Idea's: But then when we speak of his Essence, we make a kind of abstraction of it from his Properties, and represent it as a single and simple thing, in which all his Attributes exist as in a common Subject. As to what concerns his Attributes, we see them in some sort in this life, in that we under­stand at least in some degree, what is the nature of those Operations, by which they display themselves upon their Ob­jects. For we are not perfectly ignorant what may be that inclination in God of pardoning sins to the penitent, and pu­nishing the obstinate and impenitent and things of like nature. But as to his Es­sence, there is no man that doth not acknowledg, that we understand it not at all in this life; that is to say, we are not able to form any conception in our minds, which hath any respect to the nature of his Essence, only some think that when we shall be received into the [Page 174] Heavens, our supream happiness will consist in the vision of this Essence, which certainly seems extream difficult to be imagined: for since the question here is not concerning the Corporeal Vi­sion, seeing God is absolutely invisible after that manner: But concerning the Vision of the Mind, our understandings here below know not in any wise the Essence of things, but fix themselves alone on the Contemplation of their Pro­perties, so that it is not at all possible for us now to comprehend, how this faculty of understanding, shall be so changed in the Heavens, that not fixing it self on the Contemplation of the Pro­perties of things, it should pass on to the very Essence it self. Add to this, that if there be any Being in the World, whose Essence is incomprehensible, 'tis that of God, for all others have at least this conformity with us, that they are Created, and by consequence there being some proportion between their Essence and ours, it will not be so strange, if there should be some proportion between them and the operation of our faculties; where­as God being an Increated Being, which exists by it self, it is more than difficult to conceive, how created faculties can [Page 175] attain to the comprehension of his Es­sence: as long as we are encompassed with this body, although we be Spiri­tual as to the most excellent part of our Essence, so it is that we know not at all what is the nature of Spirits; and however subtilly we do contemplate, however precise and delicate be the Ab­stractions, by which we endeavour to withdraw our minds from all Commerce with matter in our Contemplations, so it is that if we try to form any concep­tion in our minds, as they speak, which we will accommodate to the nature of a Spirit, we know not how to hinder some Corporeal Idea from gliding insensibly on our thought and imagination; Now I am of this opinion, that though our Souls be truely Spiritual, if you compare them with the nature of bodies, never­theless they are in some sort Corporeal, if you do compare them with the nature of God; that is to say, there is as much disproportion betwixt the simplicity of the nature of God, and the quality of our minds, as there is between the na­ture of our minds, and the quality of that part in us that is Corporeal; and for that reason there seems to be a like impossibility for our Spirits to compre­hend [Page 176] the nature of the Essence of God, as there is for us whilst we are clothed with this body, to conceive the nature of our own Souls and that of Angels. Lastly, The Divine nature cannot be Divine, that is to say, endued with the Perfection that becomes the excellency of its Being, if its Essence be not alto­gether infinite. Either then this concep­tion of our minds, by which we compre­hend the Essence of the Deity, equal­leth it self to the whole extent of this Essence, so as entirely to comprehend it, or else it comprehends only as much as is proportionable to its capacity, and to its extent to that same Essence: if it be equal to the nature of God, it will become infinite, and we shall become so many Gods, which is too absurd and erroneous to be received by any under­standing of regular apprehensions; if it comprehend only what will be propor­tionable to its capacity, seeing this ca­pacity is finite, and that between finite and infinite there is no proportion, there will always be an immense disproportion, between the Essence of God, and what we comprehend concerning it.

[Page 177] I know well that here are alledged certain subtil distinctions, which put us to as much trouble to confute them as they give us trouble to understand them; For some say that we see the Es­sence of God all entire, but that we do not see it entirely. Well near as if we said that on the Sea Shore we see the Sea in whole, but not in all its latitude and extension, for we see it in whole or in its integrity, in that it is the Sea, and because in all the parts of the World it hath no other nature, than that which it hath upon our Shores. But we do not not see it in all its latitude because our sight cannot extend it self so far as the extent of our Horizon, so far is it short of being able to see what is at the Antipodes. But this doth not at all weaken my Argument, for if the word Sea signifie nothing but a certain kind of water salt in its original, and which by hidden causes in nature, hath certain fluxes and refluxes more or less observa­ble, on such and such Shores, according as it hath pleased the Providence of God to dispose of them, 'tis true we see the Sea all entire, though we see it not entire­ly: for if we should encompass the World by all sides of the Ocean, we [Page 178] should not find there any other sort of Sea, than what we see in our own Har­bours and Havens. But if the Sea sig­nifie all that extension of Water which encompasses the World, in such manner that, as we say, its desinition includes universally all its parts, and that if we divide it, then it loses the name and nature of Sea, without doubt he doth not see the Sea, who sees nothing of it but an Arm or a Haven. Now such is the nature of God that his infinity enters its definition, or, to express it otherwise, his immensity is of the na­ture of his Essence: so that he sees not God in his Essence, which sees him not infinite, and he cannot see him infinite, that is to say, know him such as he is in that respect, who hath not an immense capacity of understanding.

But there is yet more. We cannot only not see the Essence of God by por­tions, but although we could see some portion of it, that is not properly the thing in which our happiness doth con­sist. I say we cannot see it by portions, for the Properties of things are conceived by certain degrees, which do in some sort divide their efficacy and virtues; [Page 179] but Essences are absolutely indivisible to our understanding, and if they could be conceived, they would not be conceived but as a point: so that either we do not comprehend that of God, or we must comprehend it all intire, though we do not consider it as infinite. Now this is a thing absolutely impossible to our un­derstandings; moreover it will not be in that, that our felicity will consist, for 'tis very true that the happiness of our understandings, will consist in the su­pream excellence of their operations, and that the excellence of their opera­tions in great measure depend on the perfection of the Objects upon which they are employed. Now 'tis very true, without doubt, that the Essence of God is something supreamly perfect, never­theless this perfection of the Divine Essence, is not acknowledged principally in that 'tis an Essence, but in that 'tis an Essence which hath such Properties, as that 'tis supreamly powerful, supreamly wise, supreamly merciful, that 'tis eter­nal, immutable and most happy in it self, and things of like nature, in such sort that to the end that the operations of our understanding may be as perfect as they ought to be, that we may be ac­counted [Page 180] happy, in that we do produce them, there is no need that they fix themselves on the Essence of God, in such sort as 'tis an Essence, 'tis nccessary that they employ themselves in the knowledge of those virtues which I have named, and of all others that may be mentioned of the same sort. Besides, to the end that these operations of our understanding be such as they ought to be, 'tis necessary that they produce in us conformity with God, for we must be made like him because we shall see him as he is; Now our happiness in this respect cannot consist in being made like to God in this that we shall have an Essence, much less in this that our Essence be Divine, but in this that we be holy, just and good as he is. And therefore this Vision of God which will make us such must consist in the knowledge of his admirable properties and perfecti­ons.

Behold then well nigh what it is to see God as he is, and how the words of St. John must be understood, 'tis that now we know the virtues and perfecti­ons of God, but it is not but very im­perfectly, as well because the revelation [Page 181] doth not discover him fully, as princi­pally because of the imperfect constitu­tion of our Faculties and Beings; Then we shall understand them as perfecty as they can be understood by a created un­derstanding, when 'tis exalted to as high a degree of perfection as it can ascend unto, and according to the most excel­lent degree of revelation, in which they can be presented to a Creature, which hath attained the highest degree of per­fection in the constitution of his Facul­ties and Essence: for as long as a thing doth not discover its qualities and vir­tues perfectly, whatsoever attention we bring to the consideration of them, we can neither see nor know it as it is, and when 'tis perfectly discovered, we know it not as it is, if we be not in a condi­tion to know and consider it. But when these two things meet together, then a perfect vision or knowledge of it is made, or obtained.

The declaration that God gives of his Properties to his Creatures, consists ei­ther in the testimony that he gives to himself, that such and such perfections are in him, or in this, that he doth some works, and displays himself in some ope­rations, [Page 182] in which he puts the marks and impressions of them, for every Effect bears some Character of its Cause, and the more excellent the Cause, and the more elaborate the Effect is, the more evident and knowable are the Characters thereof. Now as to what concerns te­stimony, that consists in the word, ei­ther which God himself pronounces, or which he causes to be pronounced by his Servants, therefore because 'tis a means which he employs, forasmuch as men have not understanding sufficiently clear nor strong, to be able to perceive in the works of God, the Virtues and Perfecti­ons whereunto his word gives testimony; Then when man shall be put in such estate that his understanding shall be endowed with all necessary light, to be able to know in the works of God, his marvel­lous virtues, 'tis easie to imagine that this mean will then cease; St. Paul says, That since in the wisdom of God the World by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. When therefore the World shall be re-establisht in such an estate that it by wisdom can know God, and that the objects that will be in his mar­vellous works can lead it to all the raised [Page 183] and sublime knowledge, to which the ministry of the Word is capable of ad­vancing it, there will be without doubt no more need of making use of it, so that we shall know God chiefly by the Contemplation of his Works; when God created man, he gave him the works of Heaven and Earth, and all things con­tained in them; for the object of his Contemplation, and because the faculty of his understanding was then in condi­tion so perfectly good, as the condition of nature would bear, he was able to see God in them, that is to say, to know the Virtues whose Characters he had im­pressed upon them: And the chief of those virtues were his goodness, which alone induced him to create the World, his wisdom, which is so admirably dis­covered in all the parts whereof it is composed, and his power, which appears not only in the greatness of the work, and in the great variety of forms where­with it is replenisht, but especially in this, that it was drawn from nothing, and formed without the aid of any pre­existent matter: And that leads him to the knowledge of the infinity and im­mensity of the nature of God, for the World could not be created of nothing [Page 184] unless by an infinite power, and an infi­nite power cannot reside in a finite or limited Essence; from the infinity of his Essence, he was able to ascend to his Eternity, for it is impossible but that a thing that had a beginning should have a limited nature, to which the cause that produced it, doth necessarily deter­mine it, so that what is infinite in its Essence hath no beginning of its Exi­stence, and what hath no beginning of its Existence, can have no end; 'tis for this reason that St. Paul in the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans, saith, that men may know the Eternal Power of God in his works by the Creation of the World; joyning with the declaration of his Power, the revelation of his Eternity, from thence he was able to conduct his discoursive power a little farther, and know yet some other attributes of this blessed Essence, and see God a little far­ther; Nevertheless to see him in this fort, is not called properly the seeing of him as he is, and the reasons of it are evident; Firstly, In that the perfections which God hath displayed in this work of nature might have been more magni­ficently discovered, if God had set it, as one day it must be, in a Supernatural [Page 185] State: for as I have said already, the more excellent the work is, the more clearly doth it give us to understand the virtues and properties of its Cause. A­gain, though God hath revealed therein some of his Perfections, nevertheless he hath not revealed all of them; for as to his Justice, he hath given no other know­ledge of it besides what may be con­tained in that threatning, Thou shalt dye the death; now there is a great deal of difference between the knowledge that these threatnings may give us of it, and that which is made from experience of the thing it self: for what concerns his mercy, there was no declaration made of it, and therefore Adam could have no understanding of it.

After the fall till the first coming of Christ, God hath revealed among others these two attributes, for death and other sorts of judgments which he hath caused to fall upon men, have given testimony to his Justice, and his mercy is made known in the promise of Remission of Sins, so that the faithful that have known them, have in some sort seen God in that respect; but nevertheless diverse things hinder, so that we cannot say that they did see him as he is; the one is, that as [Page 186] to what concerns his Justice, though death and other judgments of God, do bear evident testimonies thereof, nevertheless the punishment that God made of our Sins on the person of his only Son, was a far more apparent evidence, and more authentick demonstrations thereof: un­til then it appeared that God was just, but it did not appear that he was infle­xible, and altogether inexorable in his Justice, but when he delivered his welbe­loved Son unto death for the punishment of our Sins, he gave us to understand that his nature did so abhor Sin, that 'tis absolutely impossible that he should suf­fer it without punishing it in a very dread­ful manner; this is it which St. Paul teacheth Rom. 3. That God had made his Son a propitiatory through faith, to the end that he might demonstrate his Justice, which had not been sufficiently known dur­ing the forbearance of the times past; for how ever it was, God, as says the same St. Paul, did as it were connive during the times of the ignorance of Gentilism, and permit that men should entertain thoughts of his severity less congruous, than became a Nature so holy and exactly just as is his; the other is, that where the Justice of God is not known to the [Page 187] utmost, the Mercy of God is not known neither, for he that knows not perfectly the whole greatness of the Evil, cannot sufficiently comprehend the whole excel­lence of the Remedy; add to this that the mercy of God was then indeed known by excellent premises, but it was not sufficiently known by the experience of the effects themselves, for death always reigned, and Believers were always ex­posed to afflictions, which did precede death, and all this bore the Characters, or were Signs of that inclination that solicited God to punish Sin; so that all these things did in a manner obscure the splendor of this Mercy; the third is, that the mean by which this mercy makes it self known to be shed abroad upon us, be­ing not yet manifest, the wisdom of God that reconciled justice and mercy between themselves, could not be known in this affair, which is the most magnificent and most admirable of all the works that ever it did produce, for all the marvels that it hath so liberally scattered in the Heavens and in the Earth, approach not that of the incarnation of our Saviour, by which God was made capable of suf­fering the pains which the Sins of men deserved; man knows God just by the [Page 188] threatnings of his Laws, and merciful by the sweetness of his Promises, and the Efficacy whereby he accompanies his word, render the one and the other of these two Properties sensible to the Con­sciences of those whose hearts he touches: and besides, he is not ignorant that God is sufficiently wise in reconciling them to­gether, but nevertheless what sublimity of knowledge and understanding could di­vine, that the mean of this accord was to consist in making God become man, and this same man God, without mix­ture or confusion between the natures that constitute his Person, or the Pro­perties that do accompany them; To conclude, man being not only in a State of Nature, but also in a State of Corrup­tion, and having not received the Spirit of Illumination then, unless in some small measure, he could not apprehend all the beauties of his Perfections, though they had been much more clearly and illustri­ously revealed.

From the first Coming of Christ until the second the faithful are in that Con­dition, that we cannot sufficiently express how much of encrease their knowledge hath received. For the Justice of God hath [Page 189] appeared in the highest degree in the death of Christ, his Mercy in the effect of his satisfaction, his Wisdom in the conduct of the mystery of our Salvation, his Power in the Resurrection of our Saviour, and in the Conversion and San­ctification of our Souls so far that Saint Paul says, that we have believed accord­ing to the excellent greatness of the mighty power of God himself; and al­though we see not with our bodily eyes the Lord Jesus, nevertheless by the Do­ctrine of the Gospel, in which he is re­presented so lively, the Divine Perfecti­ons that are there displayed in him, are set before our eyes with so much lustre, that we may now say, that he which knoweth and seeth Christ in some sort seeth the Father. Nevertheless 'tis certain, that as yet we do not see God as he is, for on the one side the Spirit that is given us doth not perfectly illuminate us, to be able to perceive all that is in the lovely Objects of the Gospel, and it cannot be that the remainders of the darkness of our understandings should not obscure its brightness; on the other, the Objects themselves are not arrived at that high degree of Revelation, which may give them all their splendor and [Page 190] glory. We do not see as yet the love that God bears us, but through Tribulations and the Cross: we do not see the wonder of his Wisdom in our Salvation, unless it be through an infinity of difficulties, which are not as yet cleared in the Gos­pel: we do not as yet see the greatness of his Power, unless it be through the sha­dows of death, and the natural infirmi­ties of our bodies, which make our Re­surrection a thing comprehensible with great difficulty: in a word, God doth indeed reveal himself in the Gospel, and we may there contemplate his glory in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ: but there are so many Shadows and Clouds thereon, so many dark stroaks and aenig­matick lines, that the greatest Saints of God, and those that have had the greatest occasion of praising him, by reason of the excellency of his Revelations, have nevertheless always acknowledged, and frankly confessed the imperfection, and obscurity of their knowledge.

As to what appertains to the State of the believing Soul, I have already said above, that it obtains very much light by death, but that nevertheless many things are yet wanting to the plenitude [Page 191] of its happiness, because it sees not as yet the real and effectual accomplishment of those things that were promised to it, as well touching its re-union with its bo­dy, and for what concerns the renovation of the World, and the entire redemption of the Church: it remains now that we endeavour to see what accomplishment of the Promises, will add to the knowledge, that we may have of these admirablevir­tues of God. I will repeat nothing of the Constitution in which we shall then be for the application of our Faculties, to the consideration of the Objects, that will be presented to us, to the end that we may profit by them in proportion to their excellency. I have said above, that our Souls will be in such estate, that the operations of our understandings, can be no less than admirable in all kinds. One thing only I will add, 'tis that Saint Paul says, That God will be all in all, then when the Lord Jesus shall have delivered up the Kingdom into the hands of his Fa­ther; which signifies in my opinion, that our Lord Jesus must exercise the Office of Mediator till the works of Sal­vation be finished; 'tis by his interposi­tion that we receive the favour of that Spirit of illumination, which makes us [Page 192] whilst here below, more and more ca­pable of receiving the knowledge, and assurance of all the Christian verities in our minds, in such manner that we have no communion with God, as long as yet remains any remnant of Sin, or any ene­my of our Salvation to be overcomed, unless it be that whereof Christ is (if I may so speak) the Buckle and Bond; but when the work of Salvation shall be finished, the Office of the Mediator be­ing to cease, and the Communion that we shall have with God being then imme­diate, he will himself fill us with his Spirit in such manner that all the powers of our Souls will be fully and perfectly enlight­ned thereby: now they cannot be filled in that manner, but they will be marvel­lously strengthened in their operations, and by consequence the productions that will follow thereon, will be supreamly exquisite and admirable, therefore we have nothing to consider here, unless it be the Objects which we shall have for our Contemplation, the time during which we shall be exercised therein, with other circumstances which will accompany it, and to conclude, the Fruit which this Con­templation will produce for the advantage of our own happiness; Now for what [Page 193] concerns Objects, I will reserve them all to two, the World, and the Church: As to the World, though it should continue such as it was when it was first Created, it bears so many marks of the goodness of God in the Creation and Production of its being, so many proofs of the Wis­dom of God in the variety of its forms, and in their fitness for their operations, so many Testimonies of his power, in that 'tis made so vast and great, and drawn from the womb or bosom of no­thing, and to conclude so many demon­strations of all his properties in its Con­servation and Government, that there will be enough to raise faculties such as ours will then be, to knowledg marvellously sublime and raised. Therefore since the Estate wherein it will be then set, will be incomparably more rich in all effects of the Divine perfections, what may be the thoughts, which our Souls will form upon such admirable objects? For from henceforth 'twill not be his goodness only which will be resplendent there, 'tw [...] be his mercy, yea his Mercy in its most Glorious Lustre, and in its brightest splendour, his Wisedom will there sparkle of all sides▪ far above what the State of nature can furnish us with any arguments [Page 194] or proofs of, and his Power, which hath given to it an incorruptible Essence, and perpetually immutable, will ravish our hearts without doubt, in the admiration of its infinite extension, and although this natural constitution of things will be changed: Nevertheless the memory of them will not be obliterated, and the Idea that we shall have of them in our minds, will help much to furnish matter to our Speculations, be it that we con­sider it in it self, be it that we compare it with the constitution in which the World will then be. First in it self, for at present we do only touch the surface of the wonders of nature, and Fathom nothing to the bottom. Because the edge of our minds is blunted at the occurrence of the first difficulty, and our under­standings are perplexed, and wearied immediately in the search of things, profound and difficult, whereas then the light of our understandings, will find nothing so dark and so intricate, which they cannot disintangle and make plain; and the facility that we shall have in our ratiocinations, (which will be that we shall be able to attempt all sorts of ob­jects, without any pain) will cause that we shall use this Contemplation, as with [Page 195] a success eternally happy, so with content wholly incomprehensible. And if Py­thagoras or Archimedes, or some other such renowned Mathematicians, have been Transported with joy in having been able to find out the truth of some Geo­metrical Problems, even so far as to feel some kind of ravishment therein, how will it be with us, when there will be nothing in all those secrets of Sciences, to which men ordinarily addict them­selves, which is not exposed to our sight, as in perfect light? In comparing them also with the estate of things then: For although all these wonders of nature be supreamly lovely in themselves, so it is that by comparison they cause us to find those of the supernatural State, yet in­finitely more lovely, and will contribute so much the more to our satisfaction and ravishment, and if it may be permitted to compare small things with great, it will be as if after we had considered a glass of frail and ordinary constitution, mingled with store of knots, which hindered much of its transparency and luster, we should see it in a moment transformed into Christal, not only pure, and resplendent to a wonder, but also easy to be hammered and resisting all kinds of strokes without any offence or [Page 196] damage. For it cannot be doubted but that our astonishment would then be very great, and that we should enquire with extream care, from what cause a change so observable should proceed.

As to what concerns the Church, I shall not consider it at present so much in it self; as with respect to that, Religion by which it arrives at this glory, and which now seems to be composed prin­cipally of the Histories of things past, of the predictions of those that are yet to come, of Doctrines that have no par­ticular regard to any difference of times, and of promises in which God hath de­clared his good will, and the riches that he hath designed for us. All which things do now compose a Body of science altogether admirable; as well in the ex­cellency of the parts whereof 'tis con­stituted, as in the wonderful symmetry, and agreement that is among them, and in the beautiful Harmony which they make with the Ceremonies which have been appointed to confirm the promises of God unto us. Now 'tis very true that touching Ceremonies, we shall make no use of them in the Kingdom of Hea­ven. They are helps for the support of [Page 197] our present infirmities, which can have no place in the perfect State that is to come. We shall not any more consider the promises as objects of our faith, be­cause they will be performed, and Faith as the Apostle teaches us, will in that respect be abolished. We shall no more consider the predictions of things to come, in that quality or under that no­tion, because we shall see the events of them accomplished, whereof the most part will eternally subsist before our eyes, and that which is at this time a pre­diction, will become a History. In like manner, we shall no more consider the Doctrines, that have particular respect to any difference of times, as things, the belief and assurance whereof is a means to bring us to the fruition of happiness. For when we are in the enjoyment of the end, the means as such, lose their use and value. But nevertheless, both the Histories appertaining to Religion, which at the present we Consider as such and the things contained in the Prophecies, to which we give the name of predicti­ons, and the Doctrines which we appre­hend as Eternal verities, and which change not their nature, with change of times, [Page 198] and that which is contained under the promises, and the reasons of the insti­tution of Ceremonies, and Sacraments, will form, in the perfection in which we shall see them, Objects so noble and lovely, to be presented to our under­standings, and instructions so illustrious concerning the perfections of God, where­of I have spoken before, that we know not how to express with what greediness our Souls will continually feed their thoughts on them; and we may not reckon what will be their emotions and transports then, by that sluggishness and stupid negligence, wherewithal we be­have our selves very often at present in the contemplation of these Divine Ob­jects. The little knowledg that we have of their excellence, and the little vivacity of desire, that is in our inward thoughts for things of this nature, is a cause that very few men apply themselves unto them, and even of those few, there are not any that have that taste of them as they ought. We must measure and reckon them by the inclinations of Angels them­selves, who find in these Mysteries, al­though they be at this time but imper­fectly revealed, so many beauties, depths, and wonders, that St. Peter represents [Page 199] them as bending, and inclining them­selves downwards, attentively to consider them, and to endeavour to fathom them, as far as the light of Intelligences so ex­cellent and perfect can attain. But if besides this, you add to the consideration of Religion in it self, that of the images and types thereof, which God hath put in the constitution of the World, and the old Covenant, you will easily conceive that the searching out of the agreements that ought to be between the figures and the truths, is an employment in specu­lations very profitable and agreeable to our minds. For we may not imagine, that so many lovely similitudes, as are between the first Creation, and Redemp­tion of the World, whereof the Apostle St. Paul only observes some few, nor that so many lovely things, as the shadows of the Old Testament do now cover, and whereof we shall have little or no knowledge, as long as the World endures, will remain Eternally buried in obscurity. All the marvels which are unknown both in nature and in Religion, which not­withstanding have been produced by the Divine wisdom, to the end that under­standing Creatures, might by them be raised to praise and adore it, shall one [Page 200] day be unfolded from the darkness in which they are, that they may serve the end and use to which they were intended. That cause to which they owe their Ori­ginal is too wise to have them buried like Gold in mines so deep, that we shall never be able to fetch them thence. 'Tis necessary that the nature of things do open, if I may so express it, its bowels and give us one day a view, and enjoy­ment of the inestimable treasures which the hand of God hath hidden there.

Now the time that will be given us for this Divine employment with the other circumstances that will accompany it, is very considerable. For 'tis certain, that to be profitably employed in the Contemplation of things, 'tis necessary that we be exempt from all incommodi­ties from elsewhere. Because the sense of incommodity, carries away the mind from its Object and recalls it, however unwilling it be, to that which troubles it. Now we shall be there, both so far removed from all evils, and possest of so great an affluence of all sorts of content, that there is not the least reason in the World to fear, that any thing will divert (be it never so little) our Spirits, or [Page 201] hinder them from remaining fixed upon objects so agreeable and Divine. It is moreover certain, that to be imployed in the Contemplation of things with delight and pleasure, 'tis necessary, that we have such with whom we may Com­municate the knowledg that we acquire, and the satisfaction that we derive from thence. Assuredly the most knowing man in the World, would lose half the pleasure that his knowledg gives him, if he had no man to whom he might im­part any thing thereof. And that Roman that said that he was never less alone then when alone, had the advantage of having a mind so great and so strong (according to the opinion of Cicero) that he could content himself with his own Medita­tions, nevertheless 'twas the mind of a man which hath a natural and irrecon­cileable inconsistency with solitude. Add that although the Spirit or mind of man may in some manner be content with it self, without needing the Conversation of any other, nevertheless it is naturally Communicative, and the more perfecti­ons, and advantages it possesseth in it self, the more inclination it hath to dis­perse them. Now we shall be in the company of so many happy believers, [Page 202] and in a Conversation so continual and ravishing, that we shall never want per­sons to whom we may discover the thoughts of our minds, and who may discover theirs to us, to our common joy and consolation. To conclude 'tis cer­tain that to obtain knowledg sufficient to correspond to that happy condition that we shall possess, there will need a long time for the humane mind, which however excellent it be, is nevertheless always finite, and for that reason cannot receive the images of all in a moment, it must necessarily be that they enter there successively, and one after the other. For there is none but God alone whose understanding is infinite, who sees all at once, all sorts of objects in an instant, and who perceives in that same instant; both their sides, and their bottom, their Essence and their Properties, their Prin­cipal and their Dependances. Now for this we shall have an Eternity, so that it seems there will be more reason to fear, that objects may be wanting to our Me­ditation, than that time should fail us for the gaining a perfect knowledg of them. And certainly this deserves attentive Con­sideration. For blessedness will consist properly in the contentment that we take [Page 203] in the Operations of our faculties, and in great part contentment arises from this, that the Operation of the faculty is performed with nimbleness and vigour. For the objects which we conceive and lay hold on but languidly, do not as it were at all touch our understandings, nor stir up any Considerable emotion there, the force and vehemence of the action comes also in great degree from this, that the object appear new to us, and that by its Novelty it excite and awaken our minds, and enflame them with a desire of understanding it. As soon as we know it, it seems that our minds lan­guish a little concerning it, and accord­ing to the measure that we accustom our selves to see or consider it, in the same measure ordinarily the satisfaction that at first we had therein, doth diminish: So that at last we leave it altogether, and search out other objects, to serve as pasture to that greediness of knowledg, that is natural to our Souls. So that the time that we shall have to exercise our selves in this pleasant employment being infinite, and the Objects of our con­templation being not so, it seems that there may be reason to fear, whether there will be always there, what will [Page 204] keep and preserve our minds in this raised taste and relish of their happi­ness and joy.

Nevertheless if we consider well what will be the nature of this contemplation, we shall easily free our selves of this fear and pain. If it be necessary that I serve my self of School terms, this contem­plation will have two acts, the one di­rect, which is carried directly to the object, which presents it self before our eyes; the other reflex, that is to say, that from the object makes reflexion upon the cause. For other is (for example) the motion by which our mind is carried towards some engine artificially compo­sed, as is a watch, to consider the wheels and springs thereof, and other that by which it turns it self from the watch to the workman, to consider that in­dustry and dexterity wherewithal he composed that work. Now touching the object, if we imagine that Adam had remained in his integrity, and by conse­quent had lived eternally, I say the sole work of the world had been capable everlastingly of furnishing matter to his speculations. And when we shall have represented to our selves, how far he [Page 205] might have led his ratiocinations in Lo­gick, Physicks, Metaphysicks, Morality, Arithmetick, Geometry, Algebra, Astro­nomy, Opticks, and other Mathematical Sciences, in the natural History of Ani­mals, Fishes, Birds, Creeping things, Insects, Plants, Metals, Minerals, their Qualities, Properties, and Powers, and then how far his understanding might have proceeded in the knowledg of Re­ligion, such as he might gather from the works of God, and was agreeable to the condition in which he then was, we shall find that there had been in all this, im­ployment for him, until, I know not how many, millions of ages. For men at pre­sent see nothing but the fringes of those sciences, and the superficies or outside of the wisdom of God in the subjects that are explained in them. There is through­out them all such knowledg to be en­quired into and fathomed, that if our minds were capable of apprehending the latitude and extent thereof, there is none of us who would not remain swallowed up of despair ever to come, I will not say, to the end, but to the least part of the considerations that may be made only on one of these Sciences. And it seems to me that he had good reason that said, [Page 206] that all that we know compared with what we know not, and yet may be known, is as if we should compare a little brook which is dryed, and drained during the heat of Summer, to the vast extent and depth of the Ocean it self. And verily I believe that Geometry alone, to him that would follow it whither its figures and proportions would go, and Chymistry alone to him that would search all its secrets, would be able to furnish to the humane mind, wherewithal to employ it self many hundreds of years. Now 'tis to be known that as the difficulties that are in things, and the labour that our understandings have experience of in Fathoming them, doth oblige us as much as we are able to make abridgment of Sciences, and to restrain our selves with­in the bounds, either of what we judge profitable, or of what we can attain, the facility that we shall there find in them, and the success wherewithal weshall apply our understanding to them, will cause us to extend them to that length that the desire of knowledge will not terminate it self, un­less it be where the object of knowledg it self determines. We are at this time like those that Sail along by the borders, and which, by the fear that they have [Page 207] of Pirates and Tempests, do not put themselves out upon the main Sea. Then there being nothing to fear in Voyages of the longest circuit, we Sail with as­surance upon the deepest Gulphs, and in no wise fear any danger in discovering new Seas and unknown Lands. But what need is there of going farther than the objects that are continually exposed to our senses, to know how God and na­ture hath prepared matter for mens Me­ditation? There is in the production of the qualities of things that touch our senses, and the images by the interposi­tion whereof they do come thither, and in the manner after which our Nostrils, our Taste, our ears, and particularly our eyes do exercise their functions on them, so many Miracles, that the custom of ex­periencing them, or despair of being able to Fathom them, hinders us from searching them, but if we had obtained only some little part of the knowledg of them, we should be equally touched with the admiration of their beauty, and an astonishment at our former igno­rance. Certainly those that take some little notice of things, find matter of admiration, on which side soever they turn. And when I consider, that as yet [Page 208] we know not, what is either the nature of the light that doth enlighten us, or that of fire that doth warm us, or that of the Air which we breath, and that some maintain that there are no such things as Colours, and that 'tis the Earth that moves, and the Sun stands still, by such reasons as 'tis the hardest thing in the World to confute them, I am almost ready to say, that we shall be long in the spaces of Eternity, before we shall exhaust all that is found difficult in things, on which at present we scarcely form any at all. Now how will it be then when besides the employment that the remembrance of the natural state of the universe will give us. We shall more­over have it before our eyes in that super­natural state without comparison more rich and more glorious, and besides that we shall have also so many Divine My­steries in Religion to know and contem­plate? Certainly when I set before my mind the beauties which we find in the truths of the Gospel, and the admirable agreement of all those truths among themselves, the correspondencies that are found between the old World and the New, whereof St. Paul hath given us notice, as I have said above, the allegories [Page 209] that are found in the Histories of Genesis, whereof the birth of Isaac, and Ishmael, of Jacob, and Esau is but a small part, which we do but imperfectly under­stand; the Mysteries that are covered in the History of the people of Israel, and in the institution of their Ceremonies, whereof the Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews hath only shewed us a little part; the Visions of the Prophets of the old Covenant, in Ezechiel, Daniel, Za­chary, and many others whereof at pre­sent we scarce understand the least fully and distinctly; and the Revelations of the Apocalypse, which will never exactly be unfolded, unless it be after we shall have had a perfect knowledge of an in­finite number of events which at this time we know not at all, or do not know how to apply to those Mysteries whereof they are the Explication; my mind is swallowed in astonishment of that which we are ignorant of, and in the joy of the hope, that I have to see removed one day from before our eyes, the band that hides from us so many marvels. Add to this, that although it be true, that the Operations of our minds do become a little more languishing, when they apply themselves to objects that are [Page 210] known already, so it is that it never almost happens, unless it be then, when the things that we Contemplate, are not in themselves very excellent: But be­cause there are objects so excellently lovely and beautiful, that although we have seen them many times, and per­fectly understand them, so it is that of it self their excellency gives content and admiration, in as much as their beauty doth not diminish, by the knowledge that we have of them, we do not cease to return often to the Contemplation of them, and find almost as much satis­faction at the last as at the first. And I imagine that if we could see the Sun near at hand, and observe all the marvels of his Body and his Light, Nevertheless we should never distaste it, and that if the novelty should not draw us thither, the sole magnificence of the object would be capable of fixing our eyes and thoughts steddily upon it. Therefore where there will be a marvellous variety of things, whereof every one will sur­pass all that can be most attractive and shining in the Sun, can it be feared, that there should not be enough wherewith to content the activity of our mind to all Eternity?

[Page 211] As to what concerns the cause whence all these things proceed, when we shall come to make Reflexions on it, to ad­mire the perfections thereof, according to the measure that we advance in the knowledge of its effects, we shall find it so infinite in all respects, that on which side soever we turn the eyes of our minds, we lose our selves in the largeness of it. Shall we set our selves to consider his goodness? There we cannot content our selves to admire, how God possessing in himself eternally his own felicity, and having no need of the Existence of any thing: For his satisfaction, was notwith­standing willing to give Being to the universe and man. Shall we cast our eyes upon his Justice? We can never sufficiently admire neither the invariable rectitude of its conduct in all things, nor the inexorable rigour of its severity in the punishment of our sins on his Son. Shall we affix our minds on the Con­sideration of his power? The Testimo­nies, which the effects thereof that are before our eyes, give us, will indeed astonish us; But as much as the immensity of the void Spaces above the Heavens, do exceed the extensions of the Heaven [Page 212] of Heavens themselves, so much shall we be ravished in admiration by knowing and understanding that this power of God, which might have filled these in­finite spaces with thousands and thou­sands of worlds if he had pleased, exceeds that which was necessary to be displayed in the Creation and Restauration of the Heavens and the Earth. Shall we at­tempt to enter the wonders of his wis­dom? They are curiosities beyond all imaginations agreeable, But neverthe­less inexplicable to all Eternity, and al­though we never wander, yet we shall never be able to get out of those Laby­rinths. Shall the Immensity, the Eter­nity, the Simplicity of the nature of God be presented to the Consideration of our minds? There will be neither strength nor subtilty of Spirit that can ever attain to a sufficient Conception of them. And although our understandings be not repelled by the impossibility of success, and do desire to advance them­selves as much as may be, from day to day, and from much to more in the knowledge of these objects, notwith­standing they will always see infinite spaces above their thoughts. Shall we call our minds from thence to the Con­templation [Page 213] of his mercy towards us? These are Abysses that will never be sounded, whose length and bredth, whose height and depth, will Eternally exceed all understanding and comprehension, after this manner; as the Eternity of our duration will consist in this, that we shall never live so long above, but we must yet live there, and that the ages to come appear yet infinitely more long than those which we shall have passed already: So will our knowledge, and Conceptions be infinite in this point, that the Eter­nally Flourishing beauty, and the Eter­nally inexhaustible fertility of our Ob­jects, will give us always new matter for Consideration, so that the things that remain to be seen, will always ap­pear to us as much and more worthy of our Contemplation, than those that we shall have seen already. Imagine then a Knowing and Curious man to whom every wave of the Sea brings some very fine singularity, who at every step that he makes upon the earth finds some Rarity among the Plants, and who at every time that he lifts his eyes towards the Heavens discovers some new Star. Sup­pose you that he constantly Recollect them without weariness, that he con­sider [Page 214] them with understanding, the one after the other, and Contemplate them with admiration. Imagine you that he oft casts his eyes upon the vast extent of the Ocean, from whence they come, then that he recal them to consider in gross the beauties of the earth which doth produce them, and afterwards that he pass through in an instant, all the extent of the Heavens, where so many wonders are scattered. Give him friends with whom he may Communicate the content that he receives from thence, and receive from them the Communica­tion of that which the Observations which they on their part have made, do give unto them. Suppose you also, that without ceasing he always moves about the World, sometimes along the banks of the Sea, sometimes amidst the Fields, always Contemplating, always Learning, and never ceasing to Learn, always in the company of his Friends, without in­commodity from the Air, without in­disposition of Body, without unquietness in his mind, without fear of any evil accident. And above all, imagine that without ceasing he lifts up his heart to God, to admire and avow that his good­ness is without bottom, his wisdom [Page 215] inexpressible, and you will have formed, I know not what shadow, of that hap­piness, the substance whereof, we shall possess in the Heavenly places.

Here were properly the place, to touch the question, concerning the equality, or inequality of the glory of the Blessed; for as it is certain, that happiness will uni­versally fill all the powers, both of our souls and bodies, so it is not to be doubted, but that this plenitude of happiness, must adopt it self to the capacity of the facul­ties that do possess it, that it may be more or less great according as the facul­ties shall be more or less capable; so that the understanding being the most noble part of our Being, and by consequence most capable of glory and happiness, so that it seems indubitable, that although the other powers of our souls, and all the parts of our bodies, shall possess as much of it as they can contain, never­theless, according to the proportion of its nature, and its greatness, our under­standing will possess more of it; for 'tis here that the comparison that we ordina­rily make use of on this subject, must have place, that although diverse Vessels, that are plunged into a River at the same [Page 216] time, are all equally filled, in as much as there is not any one of them which re­ceives not as much Water as the extent of its capacity will bear, nevertheless they receive it unequally, because this extent of their capacity is not equal: such therefore as is naturally the propor­tion of the excellency of the parts where­of we are composed among themselves, such without doubt must be that of the happiness and glory which doth attend them; besides, in a work so well compos­ed as is man, and which will be in much better condition by the Resurrection, the most excellent parts, and where the understanding resides, do hold the go­vernment of the rest, in such manner that they depend upon it, every one in the degree of its subordination, from whence it comes to pass, that not only the proportion of more and less, must be observed in what concerns their glori­fication in proportion to their natural excellency, but it even seems that the glory and happiness of the understanding, is in some sense the cause of that of all the other faculties; if therefore the glory of the understanding of every Believer be unequal, it will be also unequal in all that depends thereon. On the contrary, [Page 217] if the understanding of each Believer be equally glorified, it will follow thence in like manner that they will be also equal in the remainder of their happiness. Now we see indeed a marvellous great diffe­rence between the quickness, the large­ness and the vigour of spirit in men, such as now we are: For there are some that we look on with some kind of ad­miration, and as persons in whom it hath pleased God to shew what he can do if he pleases, they have so much both of lively and fruitful imagination, a vast and constant memory, subtil and curious fancies, reasonings sublime, vigorous, and full of light. Some others appear stupid and blockish, and as one would think, but little raised above the condi­tion of beasts themselves. Among be­lieving Christians, it cannot be denied but that there are many, of whom we cannot speak more advantageously, than by saying that they are indifferent: But that proceeds either from the variety of their Temperaments, and the Constitu­tion of their Organs, or from the di­versity of their Exercises and Employ­ments, or from the great difference that is put in the manner of their Instruction and Education, or chiefly from the diffe­ring [Page 218] manner after which it pleases God to deal with them, be it by the efficacy of his Providence, be it by the power of his Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation; And all this seems a consequence of Sin, and effect of that conduct which it hath pleased God to follow, as well in the Establishment and Government of Kingdoms, as in the Constitution of his Church, and the Edi­fication thereof: This notwithstanding there is great probability that the Souls of men are well near all equal, and that if they had remained in their integrity, as all these differences had been neither equals nor expedients, so we had never seen so great an inequality among us: Therefore, when Sin shall be totally abolished, and all variety of Tempera­ments, and Conformation of Organs done away, when the Faithful shall be eternally fixed on the same Occupations, and shall have perpetually the same Ob­jects before their eyes, when there shall be nothing to divert them neither one nor other from being exercised without any intermission in the contemplation of excellent things, and that God who is all in all shall fill them with the illumi­nations of his Spirit, it is difficult to [Page 219] conceive how some shall be more advan­ced than others in this Knowledge. Ne­vertheless it is not my intention to de­termine any thing concerning it in this place, and it is much more to the pur­pose to be exercised in embracing the Cross of Christ, by which alone we have right to partake with him in the inheri­tance of the Heavens, than to busie our selves in computing our good actions, or measuring the degrees of our virtues, that one day in the highest Heavens we may see, if our Rewards be proportion­able unto them: it remains therefore that we explain in a few words what fruit the Contemplation of all these won­ders will produce, towards what concerns our happiness.

We have in us two Faculties absolutely inseparable, the Understanding and Will; and as to what concerns the Understand­ing, forasmuch as its felicity consists in its Perfection, and that its Perfection lies in knowledge, and a Perfection of what it knows, it cannot be filled with so ma­ny Divine Illuminations, as I have es­saied to represent by my words, as if I should have drawn the Sun with a Cool, but it must perceive it self eternally happy, [Page 220] and taste therein inexpressible pleasure: They which think that the contentment that we take in seeing things, depends of this, that they excite the operation of our faculties, and that by the Operation of our faculties we perceive that we are, and that the perception of our own Being gives satisfaction and joy, joy indeed something very considerable and very true: for Being, if you compose it with Not-Being, seems to be good in some kind in­finite, the sense of the enjoyment where­of, must give a great deal of content. Nevertheless, because griefs also give us a sense of our Being, 'tis necessary to add to this opinion, that the Objects where­upon we act, must have such proportion with the faculties whose operations they do excite in us, that they do not at all offend them: otherwise instead of giving us pleasure, they importune and trouble us. We may yet go a little farther, and say that excellent things being more active than others, do also more powerfully a­waken our faculties, and excite our opera­tions in such manner that giving us more sense of our Being than things common and ordinary do, they render the plea­sure that ariseth from them proportion­ably more excellent and sensible. To [Page 221] conclude, it seems to me that as grief de­pends of this, that the thing which cau­ses it tends to the destruction of the fa­culty, in which it produces this afflictive and troublesom sentiment, so the plea­sure and the joy that comes to us from the fruition of our Objects depends of this, that our faculties are perfected and raised to a more noble and advantageous condition by their presence; for by rea­son that the faculty is designed unto cer­tain operations, and that Operations are not performed without Objects, and by consequence do not act at all, they re­main imperfect, as Matter void and de­stitute of Form, which desires some one that may fill it with extream greediness: according to the same measure therefore that the Object is excellent, encreases the perfection of that estate in which the faculty is placed, and by consequent the pleasure which is generated from the Perception of the Perfection of its Es­sence: as if the Matter whereof bodies are formed here below, had any know­ledge of it self, there is no doubt but it would receive incomparably less content to see it self filled and possessed with the Form of a vile and contemptible Stone, than with that of a rich and precious Dia­mond; [Page 222] and of whatsoever Matter, Ele­mentary, or Quint-essential the Heavens be made, I know not whether in that in­sensibility which is attributed to them, they do not experiment some pleasing touch of joy, to see themselves united to a Form so pure, so incorruptible and shin­ing; our understandings therefore being so marvellously filled with the forms of so many excellent Objects, and becoming (if I may so say) one and the same thing with them by the power of Contempla­tion, it can neither be expressed nor con­ceived, what will be the greatness of their content and happiness to see themselves transformed into those admirable Idea's wherewithal they will be enlightned, and into the Perfections of Jesus Christ, and those of God himself.

Concerning the Will; its happiness consists in loving things amiable, accord­ing to the knowledge that the Under­standing hath of them, and in that which necessarily follows, the perception that it loves them: Not only for that we perceive our Being in perceiving that we love them, and that in the degree, that the things that we esteem worthy of our love, are excellent, in the same they a­waken this perception with much the [Page 223] greater efficacy: but also for this, that as the Understanding transforms it self, in some manner into the nature of its Objects by Contemplation, the Will unites it self so to his by the force of love, that it confounds it self with them, and in­corporates them with it self. So that there being so many brave things in the world whose excellency and worth we shall perfectly understand, it cannot be, but that we must earnestly love them, nor that according to the proportion of our love, we should not have a sense of pleasure and joy. There is yet more; the nature of things that we love on Earth is such, that there is nothing in them surely permanent; Be it therefore that they absolutely cease to be, or that they only cease to be amiable, the fear of not loving them at some time or other, mingles it self ordinarily with the affection that we bear them, and so holding our minds in suspense, it weakens both our love and the exercise of it, and by consequent so much diminish the con­tent and joy thereof. And it hath been well said by some, that this maxim, that we ought to love so as we may one day hate, ruins all friendship from bottom [Page 224] to top, it being impossible it should sub­sist with thoughts as bespatter the object, which at present we ought to love, with qualities worthy of hatred wherewith it may be possessed in the time to come. This is it that causes it to give us an aversion, whereas it should attract our good will and affections. The love therefore that we shall have for so many brave Objects, as will be in the Heavens, will have this advantage which cannot be sufficiently esteemed, that never suf­fering any change, they will always be presented to us, under one and the same Idea, and that being always considered by us under the same aspect, they will enkindle in our hearts an affection, the pleasant and agreeable flame whereof will endure eternally.

To Conclude, as it happens that there are two sorts of things that we love. One whereof are insensible of our love, because they are so in themselves: The other have knowledge of our affection, and on their part correspond unto it, the love that we have for the first, gives not a pleasure, that comes near that of the love, that we have for the second, [Page 225] then when we are assured that they love us reciprocally. And the reason thereof is two fold. The first is that the things that cannot love us reciprocally, how­ever excellent they may otherwise be, are nevertheless void of understanding: those that are capable of a true affection for us, are partakers of it. Now things endued with understanding, are infinitely better than those that are not, if there­fore the satisfaction that we receive, either from our contemplation, or from our love, encreaseth, (as we have seen above) according to the proportion of the excellency of the object upon which our faculties display and exercise them­selves; the love that we have for things endued with understanding, must infinite­ly over-weigh the other. The second is, that as we love nothing earnestly, which we do not value much, so we cannot perceive our selves loved, but we per­ceive our selves also valued and esteemed by those that love us. Now 'tis a thing supreamly sweet and pleasant, to be valued and esteemed by those that we believe do exactly know us, and which otherwise we know are themselves to be valued and esteemed in a Soveraign man­ner. [Page 226] For either they esteem us for the sake of our proper worth; as when we love our Friends for the sake of their virtue. Or else they esteem us for this, that although in our selves in comparison of them, we be of no marvellous great price, so it is nevertheless that they have made us, and 'tis by them that we are; what we are. So we love our Children; so every understanding Cause loves the work that he hath produced with some Understanding and Art. The first is marvellously pleasant: For if it be a thing agreeable to be, and to know that we are, how much more is it to possess a Being, accompanied with commend­able qualities? The second ought to be much more. For although we do not perceive our selves commendable in our selves▪ 'tis no small commendation to be dependances of a great Cause, and parts of a Noble Principle, from whom we are derived; Now in the Estate in which we shall be in the Kingdom of Heaven, we shall possess both all these degrees, and all these kinds of happiness. For as we shall love both the Angels and the faithful, that shall there be partakers with us in one and the same glory, with [Page 227] tenderness unimaginable, so will they on their part love us so heartily, that they will perfectly correspond to our affections. And in the same manner that we shall love them, as well with that kind of love wherewith we embrace our Friends, by reason of their Holiness and virtue, which we shall see arrived at the highest pitch of its perfection, as with that kind of love wherewith we love our Brethren; For the sake of the Communion we shall have with one and the same Heavenly Father. So, we do certainly know that we shall be perfectly loved of them, on the same considerations, because our virtue and perfections will be the same with theirs, and we shall be equally the Sons of God. So that as by the love that we shall bear to them, we shall be so closely joined to them, that we shall have them perpetually in our minds, they will be joyned so closely to us by the affection wherewith they will embrace us▪ that they will have us perpetually in theirs, and so our Souls shall be as it were melted and mingled together. And this will be wonderful in the vehemence and sincerity of this love; that whereas 'tis impossible here below to have many [Page 228] such Friends, for whom we have such deep and great affection, there will be above in the Heavens Millions with whom we shall have these indissoluble Tyes and Obligations. For on one side, here are found but few, that upon Trial we have judged or can judge worthy of this degree of love; and on the other side our minds in this natural Constitu­tion in which they are, cannot supply to so many Operations of so great and extraordinary vehemence. Whereas there we shall be fully assured of the excellency and merit of all our Objects, without any need of Tryal, and our minds having obtained by their glorification, a super­natural and extraordinary vigour, they will become as it were fruitful and inex­haustible fountains of these kinds of ope­rations, from whence love and kindness will run down not as little streams or brooks, which presently grow dry, but as floods abounding and remaining to eternal ages. Again as we shall love the Lord Jesus, and the Heavenly Father, all, as much as the properties infinitely, and supremely amiable that are in them, shall be known by faculties such as ours will be, that is to say, with the whole [Page 229] extent of the power of a reasonable Creature raised to glory; in like manner they (both the one and the other) will love us all as much as such Creatures can be loved, by those that are wholly love. Insomuch that although we do not find in our selves (to whatever perfection we do arrive) what may correspond to the honour of so great love; Nevertheless we shall not cease to esteem our selves supremely happy in it, and to receive un­speakable joy from it. For this Relation which we shall have with God of being his Children, and that which we shall have with Jesus Christ of being his be­loved Brethren, will certainly be sufficient to give us esteem and value, and to make us eternally the objects, not only of those, which shall partake with us in the same Salvation, but the admiration of Angels themselves. Behold, will they say, those that were taken from the Earth, raised above the Heavens; those that had de­served Eternal confusion, advanced to the top of glory and honour; those that have deserved to inhabite Hell with Devils, partaking Heaven with the Son of God: Those that were sometimes worthy, that God should separate them [Page 230] from his presence Eternally, received into his own bosom, there to enjoy the Communion of his Holy Spirit, in Eter­nal life and glory. Now to him that shall have all the powers of his Soul filled with so great and perfect content­ment; what can be wanting of a most perfect and Soveraign happiness? Ob­serve principally (as I have above repre­sented it) that the Body shall become shining, incorruptible and immortal, and that the enjoyment of this happiness will be given us in an Habitation Eternally glorious. For it is not for nothing that St. John representing the Jerusalem that is on high, saith that 'tis full of the glory of God, and that its light is more spark­ling than that of Pretious Stones. That the wall thereof is Jasper, the buildings thereof of pure Gold, like unto tran­sparent glass. The foundations thereof so many Quarries of Pretious Stones: That its twelve gates were twelve Pearls, its Streets paved with Gold, and that the Lord Almighty, and the Lamb that ac­complished our Salvation, is the Temple thereof: That it hath no need of Sun nor Moon. For God enlightens it on all sides, and the Lamb is the Torch which [Page 231] makes it sparkle with an Eternal light. For although these terms be Prophetick and Mysterious, their sense is neverthe­less a representation of a magnificence which cannot be expressed. And although it have a particular regard to the light of knowledge, and the perfect holiness of the Church of God, nevertheless it in­cludes the quality of its remaining hap­piness, and the beauty of its Habitation. Now although it be not unprofitable thus to bring down (if I may so express it) Heaven to Earth by our Meditation, and from thence to form some imperfect Idea thereof in our minds: 'Tis yet not­withstanding incomparably more advan­tageous, to raise (as far as our infirmity will permit) Earth to Heaven, and even now to fix our hearts and affections on high, expecting that the Lord Jesus will do us the favour, and bestow on us the priviledge, really to contemplate there, what we do not yet see, but in the pro­mises that he hath given us: to him with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory, power, and dominion for ever and ever, Amen.



PAge 3 l. 14 r. merry, l. 16 r. occurence, p 4 l. 1 r. of, p 5 l. 7 r. fails, l. 21 r. consequence, p 6 l. 14 blot out forms, p 9 l. 22 for to r. so, p 14 l. 25 r. there, p 15 l. 4 r. that, l. 9 r. abstractions. p 17 l. 1 r. those, l. 28 r. on, p 18 l. 8 r. he, p 19 l. 22 r. how, p 21 l. 12 r. af­fixed, l. 22 r. retained, p 22 l. 28 r. Spirits, p 26 l. 8 r. this, p 30 l. 27 r. therein, p 31 l. 9 r. so, p 33 l. 27 r. Christ, p 35 l. 13 r. buried, l 16 r. so, p 39 l. 20 r. Orpheus, p 52 l. 10 r. entred, p 59 l. 3 r. it, p 75 l. 9 r. may, p 81 l. 12 r. there, p 83 l. 21 r. consists, p 85 l. 4 r. them not, p 97 l. 27 r. already, p 109 l. 12 r. of, r. All l. 15 blot out now, p. 111 l. 8 r. love, p 114 l. 3 r. so, 122 l. 14 r. rai­sed, p 123 l. 1 blot out of, p 126 l. 23 r. precedent, p 131 l. 15 r from, p 147 l. 11 r. then, p 148 l. 22 r. wraps, p 150 l. 20 r. will appear, p 153 l. 8 r, imbued, p 157 l. 15 r. means, l. 16 r. Brethren, p 163 l. 3 r. Calvin, p 165 l. 23 r. Flaminius. And Also, p 166 l. 6, and p 170 l. 12 r. and Prophets.

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